Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Crossover GTX -- The Ultimate Wet Weather and Muddy Trail Running Shoe

California is being pummeled with precipitation.  Great news for the ski slopes.  But while in the lowlands, that means rain.  And on trails, mud, LOTS of it.  Last week I pulled out and started running in my new Crossover GTXs.  Wow!

I had already run last winter in my Wildcat GTX shoes.  The same durable, neutral Wildcat shoes with Gore-tex moisture protection.  These work great, but like any Gore-tex shoe, have two limitations:

1. When crossing streams, if the water goes over the top of the shoe, you are just as wet.
2. Many of the trails in the East Bay where I run have that thick, cakey, mud, that quickly accumulates below and on the sides of any shoe, making each foot weigh several pounds.

Wildcat GTX

The Crossover GTX has an attached gaiter that zips up and cinches tight, effectively coverting the popular Crosslites into a runnable boot.  Although the mud will still cake up on the sides until it suddenly sloughs off, it no longer gets into my shoes.  Similarly, it's much easier to cross streams or splash through deep puddles and keep my feet and socks dry.

These shoes are also a huge improvement over the discontinued Nordic GTX I used 2 winters ago and for a few ten-mile laps at McNaughton 150 mile (April 2009).  The Nordic GTX gaiter is nice, but getting it on and off is a little awkward and takes some time.  
Nordic GTX:  three hooks attach gaiter to thin cord in sides and back of shoe

The Crossovers by contrast come off and on quite easily and quickly.

my cleaned Crossover GTX, one with gaiter zipped up and the other down

I am not so prissy that I mind my feet getting wet during runs, but it sort of gets old when you are running for hours and hours, and it's sort of a hassle washing and wringing the mud out of your socks.  Okay, so I am sort of a priss.  But an ultra-endurance priss...

Anyways, I am convinced these are the ultimate trail shoes for the rainy season and dealing with Bay Area winter mud.  I imagine they also work great in snow...

Friday, December 17, 2010

Pacing at the North Face 50 Mile Endurance Challenge (My First Pacing Stint)

David Schoenberg asked me a couple of months back if I could pace him at North Face 50 mile on Saturday December 4th, his first attempt at the distance.  Because of a trip to the midwest my wife had to make related to the public charter Montessori school we helped found, I couldn't give him a definite commitment, until I my brother and sister-in-law told me I could just leave the kids with them (thanks, guys!); there was a cookie making party in San Fran in the afternoon.  I was set.

You could start pacing either at Stinson Beach (mile 28.3), or at Bootjack 2nd visit (mile 31.7).  Of course, I didn't really want to drive and leave my car at either site and get driven back there (inconvenient for all parties).  Plus, I thought 19 or 22 miles was too short given I had all day to run.

After studying a trail map, I decided to start at the eastern trailhead of the Hoo-Koo-E-Koo Trail in Kentfield, run the entire trail until a transition to the Matt Davis Trail into Bootjack.  From there I could climb and descend a northerly, circuitous route to Stinson Beach if I were early enough, or take a relatively flatter and more direct route if I arrived not so early, or just stay put if I were really late.  Since David's wife Melanie was crewing him, she could tell me when he reached Bootjack the first time (mile18.9) and I could try to adjust my route and pace accordingly.
midway on Hoo-Koo-E-Koo on a dry day

After being kicked all night in the queen sized bed I shared with my two kids, they got up earlier than their cousins.  I fed them breakfast, but stuff came up.  Bathroom emergencies, spilled cereal, dental hygiene.  By the time I was dropped off at the trail head by my brother, who was going to give a medical talk in the city, it was already past 8.

It was drizzling.  The copy of the map I was using soon got soaked.  The sinusitis/bronchitis/upper respiratory infection I'd had all week made the beginning tough, but I knew from prior runs that after about 30 minutes of running, I'd feel better.  Melanie texted me that David got to Bootjack 1 at 8:10; since the race started late, he had covered the first 19 miles in 3 hours, quite fast.

Hoo-Koo-E-Koo singletrack from http://www.kenpapai.com/

I got to Bootjack from a direction no other runners were coming from. I'd never been to Bootjack before, and it was hopping.  I helped myself to food and refilled my bottle, while the leaders came in for their second visit.  I recognized Western States winner and record holder Geoff Roes, but not the other guy running neck and neck with him. 

After the mile up to Pantoll (with lots of runners going both ways on a very narrow, cambered and muddy single track--yikes), I decided that I might get caught behind David if I went descended Matt Davis trail to Stinson (the course goes this way, but with an out along Coastal Trail), so headed Steep Ravine Trail instead.  I'd run up it many times in various races, but never down-- more technical and thus slower going than Matt Davis.

I was thus treated to a mid-course view of the all the race leaders, some of whom I recognized and some I didn't.  I scared Hal Koerner who was fooling with his headphones, then wondered how he knew my name.  For the second time in a race (1st time was Miwok 100k 2008) I saw Kami Semick (in 3rd) pants down front towards me peeing (I guess since she wasn't expecting anyone coming down the other way).

Kami with her pants up at Western States (?) 2007

Uli Steidl and a few others that probably were hammering it at the beginning didn't look so good (Uli won in 2007 and 2009, and still holds the course record-- though the course was shorter in 2009 than the previous two years).   Several times during the descent I thought I should take out my camera and take cool action photos of all these elite, semi-elite and fairly fast ultrarunners in action, but I was feeling pressed for time as it was, and it was still drizzling on and off and didn't want to screw up my camera.

link to results-- first page shows most of the people I saw coming down Steep Ravine Trail

The rain had stopped and I enjoyed the view of Stinson, arriving to see Melanie.  While I was still fueling up, David arrived-- perfect timing!

photo by Rick Gaston

At this point, if you'd like, you can stop reading my blog and read David's account, which is better written and illustrated with photos, although to give myself some credit, I took almost all the photos for the second half of his report.  (Given my huge blog backlog, I should've just posted a link to his blog, but I had already started this...)

David's race report:  Giving It My All at the The North Face 50 Mile Championships

Feeling relatively fresh (3 hours in fact), it was easy for me to prance ahead and take photos, which I tried to do often, except when we were flying on the downhills.

my picasa photo album
I had told David from the first minute that I'd talk as much or as little as he wanted.  The climb was tough on David, who'd already run more than a marathon, which probably prompted him to ask me to talk.  Not knowing any good jokes, I tried probably unsuccessfully to make an interesting story out of our possible move to a new house.

On the ascent, we caught up with my Rho Quicksilver teammate Pierre Couteau.  Besides wanting to hear how he was doing, this relieved me of talking myself so much and I figured David would be able to pass him more easily if he chatted too much.

At a later ascent, David asked me to talk about my kids. This also was difficult.  How do I summarize my kids, who are so interesting and complex (and crazy)?  I love them so much, very difficult to convey this while huffing up another killer ascent?  So I failed my kids, failed David, but the race had to go on.

The trail summitted at Pantoll, but no aid station there, then a short downhill to Bootjack.  Melanie was there so I could concentrate on my own nutrition without worrying about David.  From Bootjack, it was mostly downhill, technical single track.  David is a good technical runner and unlike on the climb, I didn't have to hold back to stay with him.  There were lots of 50k runners that we passed.  I'd never run those trails before, so it was a special treat.  Still, the 5.6 mile split was quite long; my bottle ran out and I started wondering if I was eating enough myself.

The next split, to Muir Beach, after a short climb on the Dipsea Trail and back down on Deer Park Fire Road, was the mostly flat Redwood Trail.  Flat, but not fast, as the mud was thick and slippery-- I commented this was the suckiest part of the course.

In addition to passing the 50k runners, we started passing by marathoners headed in the opposite direction.  Already in cheerleader mode for David, I tried to give a cheery and supportive "great job" or similar to every single runner we passed in either direction, figuring a lot of them were pushing themselves to their endurance limits.

David was very efficient at the aid stations-- at Muir I actually missed his departure, calling out his name a few times.

I had just gone hiking with my kids and niece a couple of weeks earlier on this trail, doing the scenic and tough Pirate's Cove Coastal trail as a loop, and with some time pressure since I had to get back to work.  Very proud of my older son and niece, who whined minimally, traversing that long trail you see in this photo (and about halfway done with the hike).

After climbing Marincello, some downhill, and then a smaller summit to Alta, the last climb.  I was wondering what kind of kick David had.  I was pushing him on the uphills (he had to run everytime the grade grew shallower) and by his breathing I knew I was working him hard. After the final descent, he kicked into this turbo mode, hyperventilating.  I wasn't breathing quite as hard as David, yet, I could not move my legs any faster.

From the time I paced David (actually even longer before), no one passed David.  Except this woman, also doing her first 50 miler-- but we cruised past her in the last mile.

I'm sure running against opposite her Circadian must have been tough too.

I cut the final turn to snap David coming into the finish shoot.

Looks like he left it all out there!  Excellent finish for a 50 mile rookie in an thick elite field, 40th overall out of  298 starters (33rd out of 221 males).

Pacing can be fun!


Garmin Forerunner 305 recorded map of my run

David's blogged race reports:
Giving It My All at the The North Face 50 Mile Championships
Additional North Face 50 Post-Race Thoughts

my album of photos on Picasa

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Running Sick

Started feeling sick halfway through my overnight shift Saturday into Sunday.  Ironically, I had volunteered to cover for a colleague who had to call out sick for several day (a painful sacrifice on my part, but to be rewarded with 2 fewer overnight and weekend shifts in December).

I often feel off during my overnights, or when I'm just really short of sleep, or have been working too much recently or too long at a stretch.  I can get nauseated, my stool loose.  I can feel dizzy to the point that my gait is a little unsteady.  So it wasn't 100% clear that I was really coming down with the stomach flu that hit my kids the week before, or being affected by what I'm always getting bombarded with in the course of my work-- germs.

After a few hours post-shift sleeping in the call room, I couldn't get back to sleep.  It was time to go home.  I hadn't driven to the BART station the night before, and my wife was at the gym with the kids, so I would have to cover 3.7 miles by foot.  (And okay, I confess that even if she were home, I probably wouldn't ask her to pick me up.)

With my work schedule and my kids getting sick in tandem, I had only had a few hours to run since Firetrails 50 (on Saturday the 9th).  On a couple of runs I thought of intentionally holding back to try a really relaxed pace-- one that I would be able to continue for 24 hours.  But no matter what, I couldn't settle into anything slower than an 8:30-minute mile.  With limited time, I decided I should make the most of the limited time I had to train, so would give up and pick up the pace.

Heading out of the station on Sunday morning, I thought my illness might give me the chance to do some better pacing practice for my upcoming PCTR race.  I looked at my Garmin through a light drizzle and found myself settling into a 9:45-minute pace.  I wasn't breathing very hard, but indeed I couldn't go any faster.  There simply was no energy.  Curiously, I didn't feel like I was going to throw up or pass out.  However, I knew I was sick, because sleep deprivation and Circadian disruption normally doesn't slow me down this much on my shortest running commute.

By the last mile, my average pace had upped to 9:55 minutes per mile.  If there was an initial immune system boost from being outside and breathing some fresh air, it started to be undone.  Pretty soon, my body was telling me it didn't like my decision.  Anything over three miles is TOO MUCH.  Some hint that if this continued much longer I would throw up or pass out.  You are overdoing it!

To put this into context, 10 minutes per mile in a 24 hour race is 6 miles per hour which calculates to 144 miles, a very respectable pace and distance, and more than Brian Krogmann's San Francisco One Day course record set last October.  So the effect of this particular virus =  nausea without diarrhea + malaise + fatigue + chills but no fever + headache + the cumulative decelerating effect of running 24 hours around and around in an oval real damn fast.

I think I'm finally fully recovered, though I still feel like sleeping more than normal.   The only day I have to get in a run is Friday, but being the day before the race, guess I'm not.  HUGE unintentional over-taper.  

Well, I guess I get 24 hours this weekend to make up some mileage.  As long as my immune system holds up, should be a blast!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Post-Firetrails Decision

To prevent Firetrails from being added to my list of long overdue blog reports*, I'm going to try a new approach this time.  Instead of trying to finish the whole thing and then publish, a task I can't see happening anytime soon, and maybe not before my next race in two weeks, San Francisco 24 Hour, I think I will go through different themes and knock them off one by one in manageable portions (and then index them here).  This will be easier for you readers to digest also.  We're all busy, right?

Your feedback always appreciated.

* list includes:
STORMY 100 (2008)
Fear and Loathing 50k (2008)
Mohican 100 (2009)
Cascade Crest 100 (2009)
Hundred in the Hood (2009)
Headlands Hundred (2010)
Angeles Crest 100 (2010)

I actually have at least few interesting things to write about each of them.

Yes, Firetrails is only half the distance of each of the above races (aside from the 50k), but a lot of stuff came up today.  I thought it wouldn't, but it almost always does.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Pre-Firetrails 50 Thoughts (#4, so miles 150-200)

Lake Chabot, around mile 46 or 47

This is sort of weird.  Despite the minimal hassle-- no drop bags, real short drive --in a way I'm more nervous about my next race, Firetrails 50 tomorrow than I have for any of the 100-milers I've done this year.  A few factors:
  • The 22.5 miles I ran on Tuesday was probably too much, though I tried to go easy, and I've done worse not tapering.
  • I haven't run a 50-mile race since Quicksilver in May of last year.  In fact I haven't run a non-100 mile ultra since this April.
  • I haven't run Firetrails in three years.
    • 2008-- Ironman Sports Medicine Conference in Kona 
    • 2009--had just run Hundred in the Hood, leaving my family for the weekend.  Still, I swung by Chabot and took photos of some of the 50 milers and marathoners close to the finish (click for link to Picasa album).  But I regretting not having registered and run myself.
  • Thick field looking at the entrants list (almost 300 registered-- a record).  Not that I really care that much, but if I went from 3rd place overall (2007) to 13th or 30th place overall this year, well, that would make me look so over-the-hill.
  • I think I might really be over-the-hill, so maybe just as well.  I'm a little nervous about how far over the hill I've descended.
Age-group-winner wine bottle awards, 2006 & 2007.  Highly unlikely to get another this year. 
For newer readers, blog report from 2007 detailing my close end-of-race duel with the 2nd place masters male.

Okay, I'm actually not trembling with fear.  Looking forward to a really beautiful day on the trails and hanging out with my ultra-peeps at the post-race picnic.

with co-RD and ultrarunning goddess Ann Trason at the finish three years ago

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Lost Stuffed Puppy Bonus Miles

Despite the hangover and lack of sleep, the unofficial post-reunion party brunch we attended Sunday morning was a lot of fun-- grazing on a great spread in my friend's beautiful house catching up with a some of my high-school classmates.  (In fact, I had to travel to southwest Ohio to finally see a friend (3rd from the right) who lives in the Bay Area.)   My family was among the last to leave after we stragglers took a short walk in the neighborhood.  Well, almost the last-- my hosting friend sent me a message on facebook, which luckily I soon saw:
I found (your son's) kitty and a striped hoodie. Call me or give me your parent's address and I can run it over. Good excuse to take out the Porsche.
Of course, it was an even better excuse for me to get a quick run in, so I replied for him not sweat it-- I'll be over.  It took only 22 minutes door to door to retrieve the goods with one last goodbye.  I decided to take a roundabout route to get back to my parents, including a few short detours to run the athletic fields of my alma mater and some trails in an upscale neighborhood.

When I got home, I put the bundle on the kitchen table, but my wife noted that there was no kitty (actually I think it's a puppy, but I'm no veterinarian) wrapped in the hoodie.  Probably after I picked up a stray golf ball (bad habit of mine, especially as I rarely golf), and while fiddling with my iPod Nano, it fell out.  Somewhere.

"You better find it, or someone will be upset" my wife warned me.  My son was still napping.  There was still time.

My mother wanted to come with me and see my friend's house we were raving about.  I tried to explain briefly that I couldn't look for the animal by car, and even if we drove that it might be up to 7 miles one-way before I found it.  But in the same way that it is futile to try to make her understand the ultrarunning addiction-thing, I doubt she understood why I had to go by foot. 

Out the door I went to try to retrace my steps.

You'd be amazed at (1) how much litter there is even in the nicest of midwestern suburbs, and (2) how many paper cups, napkins, and bags look like they might be a small stuffed animal from the distance.  Plus, not having planned on losing it, I wasn't sure exactly what I was looking for.

what I was looking for, next to toddler's hoodie for scale

Luckily I found it in the high school field, 2.6 miles out; then took a different way back to my parents' for another 3.3.  So I extended my 10.5 mile run by 5.9 miles / 40-something minutes for a total 16.4 miles and 2 hours 11 minutes, not including five minutes between the two reconnaissance missions.  About right for six days before Firetrails 50 (though I might have blown it by running over 20 miles on Tuesday).

Anyways, it's an even better weekend when my wife tells me I have to go back out and run more!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


We went to the Air Force Museum in Dayton.  Interesting for my wife and me,  a little too advanced for my kids to appreciate.  I let my dad drive back, and fell asleep during the afternoon ride back, missing the drop-off en route so I could run home along the Little Miami River trail.  I mentioned this regret to my wife, who told me I should just run so she wouldn't have to hear me whine later, but I felt I should be a good daddy and take my kids to a nearby playground, which I did until the sky was almost dark and past their grandparents' usual dinnertime.

The missed workout, along with having slept in this (technically now yesterday) morning and consuming too much dark chocolate for dessert (the fruit tart pulled out of the freezer needs a full day to thaw) set me up for trouble sleeping.  On top of that lots of stuff my brain keeps trying to process.  In addition to just finishing a fun weekend of high school reunion festivities, I have all this stuff in my bedroom from my past lives.  Made the mistake of flipping through albums and boxes of photos.  (Among many questions-- what do I do with all these photos of ex-girlfriends, anyways?)  Those of you reading this who think I'm this simple Forrest Gumpian guy who just loves to keep running-- my apologies!

So now I'm paying.  And I don't have any Ambien on me.  It's either midnight + 1/2 or 3:30 in the morning depending on which time zone you pick.  Maybe I'll go and start running now.  Running at 3:30 a.m. isn't just a Calfornia thing, right?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Today's Commute to Work

Ran to work today, 21.5 miles mix of hilly trails and some flat road, 3 hours 33 minutes with the water stops.  I always enjoy doing this, but today (technically yesterday) I found it exceptionally enjoyable, pure bliss.  Several reasons:
  • Hadn't done it in a while-- with all the 100 mile races this summer and my work schedule.
  • Had worked 18 hours from home the day before.  Couldn't find anyone to cover the last few hours from hell.
  • Spun on my bike 4 hours yesterday while working.  Better than sitting on my butt the whole time, but not always fun.  Running outdoors is SO much more enjoyable.
  • Was able to nap an hour this morning.
  • Remembered to bring the tunes.
  • I thought I'd woken up from a morning nap too late to do hit the ridge with great views of the Bay Area.  But I had hammered the first 90 minutes so realized I had time.
  • Someone had cut back the poison oak in the section rife with it.
  • Was able to go around the cows (including calves) blocking the trail without causing a stampede
  • It was a gorgeous day.
  • Knew I would make it on time to shower without having to rush.
  • One more shift and then tomorrow (technically today) camping with work friends at Big Sur.  First camping trip of the year.  I'm so psyched.  Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Angeles Crest 100 and Week at Donner Lake, Brief Recap

Once again, haven't had time to finish my full AC 100 report.  So two more this year adding to my backlog of unfinished recaps.  Here's the skinny on my race I wrote on the La Sportiva Mountain Running Blog, with some photos from our family trip to Donner Lake.

Angeles Crest 100 Mile “Recovery” Runs

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


The definition of privilege, per Merriam-Webster (on-line):

a right or immunity granted as a peculiar benefit, advantage, or favor

I feel privileged and grateful about several things, but here are two big ones relevant now:

  1. Having just finished a 12-hour shift, I am thankful for the privilege of not having to exercise my privileges of examining and treating patients in the emergency department for the next thirteen days.
  2. I am thankful for the privilege of being able to run 100 miles from Wrightwood to Pasadena this weekend, my fifth 100 mile run this year, and my 3rd in six weeks.  A privilege granted to me by my body, my mind, and my family.
Life can be very good.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Disorientation on the Trail and Road; Link to Brief Headlands Hundred Recap

Occasionally while running on familiar local trails, I become so absorbed in the moment that I become completely disoriented and forget where I am.  I always find this an enjoyable experience.

Last night driving to my overnight ED shift, still trying to recover from a sleep deficit accumulated even before being up all night at PCTR's Headlands 100 Mile Trail Run this past weekend, I had a similar experience on the road.  Where the hell am I?  It was a little scarier, probably more dangerous, and not as enjoyable as when I am running trails.

Fortunately, I survived my commute and graveyard shift, and took great care of my patients.

Once again my work and family schedule is such that I'm not sure when I can get my full race report up.  But here's a link to my quick Headland Hundred blurb on the Sportiva Mountain Running Team blog.

Friday, July 30, 2010

My Return to the 100 Mile Tahoe Rim Trail Endurance Run: Huge PR and New DFL

Veni, Vidi, Vici.  The quick summary of my race, though I didn't kill or subjugate anyone.  Also at times it was dark or I had sweat all over my glasses, so I couldn't see that well.

So maybe it is better to use a more recent historical event.  The Philippines had to wait 2 1/2 years for Macarthur to return and give his famous speech on the beach.

Tahoe had to wait even longer-- a full four years for me to come back and do the real 100 mile deal, rather than the watered-down half distance.  The best thing though is that my wife, sort of representing the Filipino community, only had to wait three days and two nights for me to come back home (thanks, Honey!


My lodging and driving plans weren't finalized until the last minute, but in the end decided to go with Joe Swenson and his wife.  Our last real road trip was Rio del Lago 100 Mile in 2008.

I tend to fall asleep rather quickly when I'm not driving, especially when the road is curvy, such as the southern route via 88.  Though it was interrupted sleep, it probably helped rectify recent sleep deficits.

At registration, I quickly ran into John Ostezan, the Carson City resident I got hooked up with when I asked Assistant Race Director George Ruiz on facebook if there were any available safety runners. I wasn't planning on using a pacer, but two days before the race, thought I'd check.  If there were a race for which I might need a "safety runner," it was probably this, entailing a higher risk of becoming sick, sleepy and unsteady.  Plus the no headphone rule meant I couldn't rely on my tunes to keep me awake at night (the only time I feel I need music when I run).

John, who came from work with me looking like his adopted poster child.

I tried to make clear to John that I might get sick and delayed.  Since he was looking to run from Diamond Peak (mile 80) to the finish, I was a little apprehensive that I might tank during the 3rd quarter like I did in 2006.  I told him that if I didn't show up after he was waiting a few hours, he should go ahead and hook up with someone else who wanted a pacer.  John seemed to think I was overly paranoid, and told me he'd plan on showing up around 11 pm, though would adjust his arrival based on how I was doing.

Fast ultrarunner Zach Landman, and his fiancée Geri Ottaviano were measuring baseline blood pressures at registration for a research study they were doing as medical students at UCSF (where I got my degree, but where I didn't discover ultrarunning).

Jon Olsen getting his blood pressure measured, as Joe talks with Geri

Preparing drop bags had been so easy without my kids rummaging through things like they did before the last two races.  I actually did most of it in the backseat during the drive up (when I wasn't asleep).

Though personally the race's headphone ban is stupid, it was one less gadget and drop-bag detail I had to worry about.

The pre-race meeting was in some Nevada State legislature building, which made for comfortable seating, though some of us still had to stand.

I listened carefully since the race website hadn't been updated well and so lacked essential information.

RD George Ruiz talks as RD David Cotter looks on

No pre-race dinner, which I didn't mind because our Italian meal was better than typical pre-race fare.

As always, woke up too early (3ish, race started at 5), but got enough sleep.


Here's a map of the 50-mile course, repeated by the 100-milers.  Joe was able to get a complete loop on his Garmin Forerunner 205.  Start at bottom, do small clockwise Red House Loop halfway up on the outbound.  Counter-clockwise loop at top replaces the out-and-back to Mount Rose.

Some of us at the start.  Not as cold as previous years.

photo by Ysa Myers

For the first time running a TRT race, I started at a controlled pace, trying to avoid the pounding headache I get with exertion at altitude.  I walked a lot more of the uphills early.

The first aid station, Hobart, wasn't where I had remembered it from years past. The mileage on my Garmin approached 7 miles for what was supposed to be a 6.0 mile split.  Turns out they had moved the station last year, but like many things on the website, this was not reflected there.

I caught up with Joe Swenson heading up there.  Several times during the first 63 miles we would pass each other and run short stretches together, which was nice.  My pre-race fear was that he would finish way earlier than I, so when I was done they would be long gone.  I had packed a camping pad and asked Debbie to drop it off at the start if he and Joe left to go sleep in the morning.

I caught up with Gretchen Brugman leaving for Marlette Peak, and we enjoyed some good trail time on the five mile stretch to Tunnel Creek (an accurate distance on the website, but only because moving Hobart shortened it-- before it was probably six miles).  She later wrote in her blog that she maybe was going too fast running with me, but I somehow remember thinking it was I who was running too fast and having the trouble breathing and conversing.

pre-race with Gretchen and Brian Myers, photo by Ysa Myers

After the 6 1/2 mile Red House Loop (descent to the lowest point on the course and ascent back to Tunnel Creek (mile 19)-- a "taste of hell" but not the toughest part of the course), I picked up an extra water bottle for the stretch of post-Bull Wheel (mile 22) mysterious mileage (we guessed between 8 and 10 miles, it ended up being a little over 8).  Joe and I ran some of this together until he left me behind.

Gradual ascent continued a couple more miles until the new sharp turnoff to the left.  The descent, which assistant RD Ruiz had described as being technical, actually wasn't.  I had a blast descending the twisting downhill, and like most of the TRT course trail surface, it was not too hard on the knees.  I caught up with Joe by the bottom and we ran the short pavement stretch to Diamond Peak together.

flashback to 2007, leaving the discontinued Mt. Rose aid station

Snow Valley aid station caption Tim Gallagher.  His shirt still says Mount Rose.
Thanks, Tim and all the other volunteers at all the stations!
Joe had an elaborate ritual planned with his crewing wife, so I ended up heading out earlier, my Moeben sleeves soaked with water to keep cool.

photos by Debbie Swenson

At first, but ascent wasn't too bad, and there were runnable stretches where it flattened out.  But then we hit this 3/4 mile wall, with a slightly sandy surface to prevent sure footing, several false summits.  Though it was a blue (intermediate) ski run going down, several of us commented that it felt like black diamonds going up.

The notorious ascent is mile 30-32 on the map.  elevation profile thanks to Joe Swenson.

Brutal, but no complaints.  The fun and fast downhill was worth the brutal ascent up; besides, it makes the course more distinctively interesting.  Near the top, Ron Gutierrez passed me, running very well for 2nd place, only behind Peter Fain, who had won the 50k three times and holds that course record.  The pace was so slow climbing that the exertional equivalent of him flying past me still allowed for a brief conversation.

Ron earlier, photo by Scott Dunlap

Running up to the switchbacks ascending Marlette Peak between Tunnel Creek and Hobart, I saw a couple of Gu wrappers-- I generally assume these are dropped by accident.  Since I wasn't feeling in a huge hurry, I stopped to pick them up.  Soon after, I passed several slower 50k runners, walking, and wondered why they couldn't pick these up-- especially since it wouldn't have involved any sudden deceleration.  But maybe it's a privilege to pick up litter-- to purify the soul as I was taught by a martial arts instructor.

returning back over Marlette Peak, photo by Gretchen Brugman

I had started drinking small Ensure bottles at some of the aid stations, but knew there would be freshly made Ensure smoothies at Hobart Peak.  I knew that I needed to start upping my calories, and they tasted so good, so I took the time to get three refills of the small cups.  I did have to dilute the last couple, since I was getting that freeze headache.

approaching Snow Valley aid station, photo by Gretchen Brugman

Climbing up to Snow Valley, I started running with Eric Toschi and Matt Talbott, and ended up leading the way. For partly this reason, I mixed up a conversation I had with Matt about sleeping in a Gamow bag (which I've considered purchasing but have never tried) and a different one with Eric getting sick with some febrile illness and being hospitalized for several days.  I thought the two were the same person, and thought that he thought he got sick from using the Gamow bag.

Eric (not Matt, I am sure), with buckle.

I faded a bit on the short run along Spooner Lake after the downhill.

At the start/finish/halfway point at Spooner, Geri Ottaviano measured my blood pressure for their blood pressure medical study-- 79/50-- luckily the official medical volunteers were going by my more stable weight, so I wasn't pulled from the course.  I wasn't feeling particularly dizzy; I figured my low BP was due to pooling of blood in the legs from waiting in line standing.

I had more good conversation with Trevor Hostetler from Oregon heading mostly uphill to Hobart, which predictably was much harder and slower the 2nd time around.  Trevor and I were in the same "married with two preschoolers" race demographic category.

Trevor coming through Spooner at the halfway point.

A couple of runners and their pacers passed us during the final ascent.  I started to worry-- this is where I started to really decelerate the first time I ran the race in 2006.  Was I about to get really sick again?  Or maybe I overchatted with Trevor?  I was dying coming into Hobart (mile 57), so I decided to take time to fuel up, including drinking two large cups of smoothie, loosening my shoe, relubing, the works.  I spent almost 10 minutes at the aid station, after which Joe Swenson and his pacer Marty Hoffman cruised past me uphill, Joe chatting away as I could barely keep my breath.  Was I about to hit some altitude induced wall?

The answer became apparent once I summited Marlette Peak and started down the switchbacks to Tunnel Creek (mile 62)-- I started to recover.  I felt good and relaxed-- and relatively fast.  The downhill continued into the Red House Loop, where I quickly passed both Joe and Trevor.  The 2nd Red House Loop took me three hellacious hours in 2006-- I was fairly confident I wouldn't need that much time this year.  I was able to keep jogging on the uphills and without trying to lose the two I'd passed (I actually had hoped they'd keep up so we could talk), I put about 15 minutes on them.

At Tunnel Creek (mile 69), I put on my light, but didn't turn it on until two miles past Bull Wheel (mile 72).  The downhill was a little trickier in the dark, but except at the end nothing that slowed me down too much.  I realized I was going to come into Diamond Peak (mile 80) shortly before 11 pm, the time my safety runner John Osteazan had yesterday told me he'd be there. (He actually arrived earlier.)

There were several things I wanted to take care of regarding gear and clothing and food at Diamond Peak.  The time I ate doing this may have slightly frustrated John, who was eager to start running.

Apparently in my task-oriented trance I hadn't noticed Debbie, who asking me for several minutes if I needed anything.  Finally I looked up and said "Oh, hi Deb!"  Again, before the race I hadn't planned on relying on her for anything since I didn't assume or even expect to be running around the same pace as Joe.

What the leaders might have seen looking back.  (photo of Linda McFadden by Catra Corbett)

Though the temperature cooler than the first time, climbing that wall was tougher, due to 50 more miles of fatigue and maybe because I couldn't see our progress.  Luckily John was comfortable doing most of the talking.

I thought I saw the ski lift signalling the top, but apparently it was a minor hallucination.

top of the lift before dark (photo by Catra Corbett)

I was finally able to talk to John more than a few words at a time on the summit.  Still, I found that trying to talk on any uphill would get me out of breath and even a little nauseated.

Race rules stated that safety runners were to run behind the registered runner (and so technically not setting the pace).  However, after numerous near falls, I wondered what was safe about that?  Shouldn't the safety runner be the one out front?  But the prescribed manner worked out for us anyways, since my headlamp was brighter than John's.  (If the lamp in back is brighter, tends to cause a shadow, but then again, don't have a lot of experience with this.)

I did some calculating and figured out I would be close to 24 hours-- it would have helped to memorize the distances I recorded between aid stations the first loop, but I don't think I even looked at them.  Thus I was in the dark about how much longer I had.  I told John that I should probably run all the flats and downhills if I were to finish under 24 hours.  John did a good job keeping me to that standard.

He also figured correctly that I was at times talking too much and would try to silence me, with variable results.

I thought they gave me too many chicken pieces with the avocado and tortilla at Tunnel Creek (mile 85), but he encouraged me to eat it, getting it down on the uphill.  Process would be repeated with a pulled pork sandwich at Hobart.

On one climb I started swerving on the trail.  He quickly told me, "Focus!"  It worked.  My pacer was a true godsend.

Climbing Marlette Peak to Hobart, I was surprised to see and pass Jon Olsen with his safety runner.  He was not feeling well-- the only way I can run close to him.  His later description of what he was feeling resembled the  the malaise I was feeling four years ago.  Jon was still able to finish under 24 hours.

At Hobart, I thought I had to take a dump, so tried the blue Portalet I'd photographed pre-race.  However, it must have been jitters, since no fruits resulted from my two minutes laboring in the booth.

We buzzed through Diamond Peak pretty fast and I started pushing the pace on the descent.

Since Debbie missed a promised wake up call as she napped in her car, there are no photos of Joe and I coming into the finish.  So we staged our finish later that day, shortening the 35 minutes between us to 0.35 seconds.

Although he didn't finish under 24 hours, Joe won his age division even set the 50-and-over course record (ironically previously held by his pacer Marty Hoffman).

I think John had fun too.  I'm glad I gave him a better workout than I gave Jonathan Gunderson at last year's Headlands.

What I really looked like, with my pacer who kept me safe--\
thanks, John, it was much appreciated help!

I finished in 23 hours, 39 minutes and 49 seconds, almost 11 hours faster than 2006, for 7th place overall and more importantly, earning me the coveted 24-hour buckle, specially minted in Carson City with 0.999 silver and gold plating.


John was able to get a ride back to Diamond Peak where he left his car, so we went back to the hotel in South Lake Tahoe.  Joe's pacer Marty Hoffman also drove down so he could shower there before returning home.  Smelling and feeling nasty I decided I should just wait in the car, sitting on my towel.  I texted my wife, took this self-portrait, put the phone aside, then promptly fell asleep.

Debbie came down to wake me up.  I grabbed my two small bags and walked across the parking lot and up the stairs to the room to shower.  Only after I was scrubbed clean and more awake did I realize that I didn't have my cell phone in either bag and suspected correctly it had fallen off one of them earlier.  I looked all around the parking lot, hotel grounds, and even asked the cleaning ladies.  Only did I then realize what  pain in the ass life becomes when you lose your cell.

I also thought I'd left my pocket camera at the finish area, but decided to just go to sleep-- I'm sure it would still be there when we returned this afternoon.

Luckily the camera was in one of my bags, and my phone turned up in someone's room after they checked out and one of the housemaids brought it to the office.  Thanks stranger for finding my phone (sort of / not really).

Before the awards ceremony, we got to see Jose San Gabriel finish "DFL" as the race directors phrased it.

As the inaugural TRT 100 Mile Race DFL Finisher, I thought I should get a photo with him.

Jose told me later he's comped for next year's race.  I'd ask the RDs why I didn't get comped in 2007 for finishing DFL in 2006, but since the money goes to a good cause, figured I should let it go.  I am still feeling VERY fortunate and VERY happy with how things turned out.  New meaning of DFL:  (Dead >> Darn, F stays the same, Last >> Lucky.)

results with splits
official course website (needed a lot of work)
my Picasa photo album   (51 photos, sorry, no action shots)

Garmin Forerunner 305 recorded maps with my aid station splits
#1, miles 0-30  http://connect.garmin.com/activity/41197023
#2, miles 30-62  http://connect.garmin.com/activity/40982470
#3, miles 62-93  http://connect.garmin.com/activity/40982065
#4, miles 93-100  http://connect.garmin.com/activity/40981989

RD David Cotter, with piles of finisher's buckles.

David Cotter in his pre-race directing days with ZZ Top, with rhinestone rings