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
#2, miles 30-62
#3, miles 62-93
#4, miles 93-100

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

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

Friday, July 23, 2010

An Aid for Blackberry-Picking Many of Us Already Own

After trail trimming those prickly plants for Pacifica, more on my favorite late summer wild fruit.  I'm actually really happy I figured this out.   (Link to my short post on the La Sportiva Mountain Running blog)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

2nd at the Sequoia 50K Trail Run

Pacific Coast Trail Run's Sequoia 10, 20, 30 and 50k races are this Saturday (the 24th).  I ran it last July (2009) and had a great time.

signature PCTR coaster

I had put out-- I paid for our babysitter to entertain the kids as my wife did her hair all morning.  Everyone happy, no guilt!  And a short drive from my house.

I got rock and roll parking-- the closest spot to Joaquin Miller Park on Joaquin Miller Road.  Co-RD Wendell Doman (in yellow cap) was out front working hard.

The start / finish area was a short walk.

Got to see David Schoenberg, who had saved me from fashion disaster by lending me his shorts for Skyline to the Sea 50k three months earlier.  This race I was better prepared.

Early on I tried to run with and talk with Caitlin Smith, going up the hill right at the start. She told me she'd been having gluteal pain and might have to drop out, which I translated as "maybe this race I'll be able to keep up with her." This proves to be a BAD MOVE, since I became completely out of breath and it took two miles running on more level terrain to catch my breath.  I would realize that I paid for it later.

Caitlin doing some yoga pose-- she decided to stop at 20k.

This could have been the moment, six years after I started running trail ultras competitively, that I started to realize that, nice conversations aside, trying to keep up with fast people too early in a race is rarely smart.

I had signed up for the race sort of the last minute-- I wasn't running Tahoe this year, and figured I should take advantage of the comped entry given to Sportiva runners (thanks, PCTR!)  So I hadn't studied the course map and description as well as I probably should have.

I didn't realize how long was the stretch between Moon Gate and Canyon Meadows.  And then it was also pretty far from Canyon Meadow back a different trail to Moon Gate.  Then the second time around you don't do the orange spur to Canyon Meadow, which makes for another long stretch.  In words, this was probably a two-bottle race.  Although it wasn't the worst summer scorcher, it got fairly hot, so my bottle ran dry during these three splits, each over 8 miles-- I adjusted after that first unexpectedly long leg by drinking extra at the aid stations.  (This gave me extra time to thank all the volunteers, but I'll thank them again now.)  By the way, that (red) French Trail going out to Canyon Meadows is a running jewel of the East Bay.

I ran with the eventual winner David La Duc returning from Canyon Meadow on the 1st loop. He explained he knew the course well since he lives "just down the street." We ran together a while, before he surged ahead, putting almost half an hour on me to win in 4:31:15, which I do not attribute simply to course familiarity.

David La Duc while pacing a friend at Firetrails 50 a few months later, a couple weeks after a strong 2nd place finish at Hundred in the Hood in Oregon (which I also ran and will eventually blog about).

Coming back to Moon Gate, I caught up to Will Gotthardt who had been winning the 20K race, near the end of the stretch back to Moon Gate. He was limping up the hill, having blown something behind one of his knees. I greeted him with empathic profanity.

I would post another picture of buff Will half-naked, but he gets really upset when I do that, and refused a pre-race pic.  So instead here is a more covered shot of him I got from the web.

I passed Jason Perez finishing French Trail on the 2nd loop (so no stop at Canyon Meadow aid station).  He had passed me early in the race, but would finish 3rd overall.

Possibly Jason Perez, more likely not.  Any idea?

Someone had dropped a small red shirt on the trail right at an intersection. For some reason, my eyes and brain interpreted this as the striped pink ribbon indicating a turn, so I went left and up the hill. Despite not remembering running on pavement earlier, I continued up until I noticed I was in a playground and picnic area that was NOT part of the course. I headed back down. Had I not been this stupid, I would've come in under 5 hours.

Instead--  5:02:22  (pace: 9:44/mile), 2nd place overall

Even on a schedule to not linger too long post-race, I managed to meet someone new after these races. Here's running Jose and Hope Figuero from South Carolina, who both ran the 30k race, Jose came in 2nd overall.  Hope your trip to Yosemite was awesome!

That afternoon, our family met friends at the obon (Japanese mid-summer) festival down the Peninsula.  Summer in the multi-cultural Bay Area is great!

Bonus photo:  The next day we decided to enrich ourselves culturally even more, and went to the SF Museum of Modern Art, where my then almost 2-year-old managed within seconds to get under a probably very expensive outdoor dome sculpture made of many glass plates, which led to security asking for my name, address and phone number.  We decided it was best not to renew our membership.

results on
race website

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Brief TRT 100 Blurb

As usual, there's no way I'm going to finish my Tahoe Rim Trail 100 Mile report anytime soon.  Work and Daddy-dom come first.  Here's a brief report I posted on the Sportiva Mountain Running Team blog.

La Sportiva Mountain Running:  I Finally Get to Call Myself a Mountain Runner

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Couldn't Blame It On My Crotch at the San Diego 100 Mile

The quick summary I used in a facebook status update immediately post-race:  "San Diego 100 Mile Endurance Run: 9 hours for the first 50 miles + 14 hours for the second 50 = somewhat bruised ego + same brass sub-24 hour buckle nonetheless + another beautiful and memorable life experience."

Enough as a cute tweet, but not enough for a blog and kind of boring.

before we began, photo by Ysa Myers

Before I begin, here is a picture of Stan Debuonis, RD for Masanutten (Mountain Trails 100 Mile), handing me my sub-24 hour silver buckle.  These buckles come with a personalized engraved plate in the back, including your name, time and place--  one of the nicest buckles you can get.

So I was both the last to receive MMT buckle, and the first to receive a buckle at San Diego.  Now we can begin!

leaving the campground at the start, photo Scott Crellin

You want to know, right?  Not to rub away my scrotum again, I was ultra-fastidious with the lubrication.  Perhaps I overdid it, but first, the electrocuted rat doesn't press the wrong lever again; Massanutten was too brutal and prolonged lesson.  Second, that unintended joke on myself is probably bloggable only once a decade.  I used a zinc-oxide based diaper rash cream (Earth's Best Organic Diaper Relief Ointment by JASON, a post-Massanutten gift from my sister), carried the sample-sized Aquaphor tube, asked for Vaseline at a couple of aid stations, but was treated to superior Desitin (also zinc-oxide based) and at the Stonewall Mine aid station (mile 58.9, whose volunteers incidentally included the publisher and managing editor of Ultrarunning), volunteer Dave Cepoi gave me this cream with grit in it call Brave Soldier Friction Zone, that was guaranteed to work.  Not only did it work-- during the next 10 or so miles, it was a true pleasure feeling my inner thigh slide along my sac.  Thanks, David!

David running the Avalon Benefit 50 miler 16 years ago.

First 30+ miles, ran a fair amount with or near Rho Quicksilver teammate Sean Lang.  I finally lost him during a soft, runnable loop from and to Pine Creek aid station (miles 30.7 and 35.4), and he dropped at mile 50.6 due to worsening shin splints.

photo by Rick Gaston

On the first of two sustained ascents from Pine Creek (mile 35.4) to Pioneer Mail (mile  43.5), caught up with two runners.  One, Brian Polley, soon sped ahead, never to be seen by me again, and he would finish 2nd overall.  The other, Jai, wasn't in such a hurry.  Turned out we were in the same special category-- daddies with kids aged 5 and 2, though I told him he had it a bit easier since he had one of each instead of two boys.  I think I won in this category, since Jai isn't on the finisher's list so also must have dropped.  Could be some jinx for talking to me too much.

Though, not to complain about awards, since this race sort of  beats most for race schwag:  long sleeve race shirt, short sleeve finisher's shirt, a medal AND a buckle, bottle, coffee mug, and at the finish a choice of Moeben sleeves, canvas shoulder bag that got used the rest of our family vacation, cap courtesy San Diego Running Company, Dirty Girl gaiters or Injinji socks or Moeben sleeves (I went with another pair of Moebens, since I wear these often, needed a grey pair, thanks again, Shannon).  Maybe I'm forgetting something-- I am awash in race schwag!

Speaking of buckles, so despite taking over 8 hours to run the last 28.5 miles (plus 1.5 bonus), I was able to finish under 23 hours, and so got the brass sub-24 hour buckle, instead of the bronze buckle all the over-24 hour finishers got. Huh? Don't get it. Olympic medals: gold=1st, silver=2nd, bronze=3rd. Since when is brass better than bronze? Was my medal made from recycled tubas? Someone please explain-- I really don't have time to research this.

On the drive down to SoCal Thursday (we stayed at Arcadia, near Pasasdena), my younger son vomited on the slightly windy pass on I-5.  I thought maybe he was developing motion sickness like I have, but he had some runny stool that night.  Friday morning, while I drove backwards up I-5 to retrieve my older son's sandals we had left on beach north of Oceanside, he had this uncontrollable explosive diarrhea, resulting in a full hour's delay to temporarily and more completely clean him up.

half an hour before tragedy struck

So, was prepared to come down with their same gastroenteritis during the race.  Fortunately, I was able to snag the sole toilet in the lodge 10 minutes before race start, and held out until mile 80.  I had almost run out of around mile 57, so started upping my food intake at the aid stations.  Leaving Sunrise for the 2nd time, I felt a liquidy urge, but lacking wipes or a decent place to pull over, managed to run another 7 miles holding in it.
(Holy Crap-- did I really do that?)

At the Pioneer Mail aid station (mile 87.5), I asked where the Portalet was.  First woman pointed me back to the woods.  I got some wipes and a small plastic bad, decided I'd do it somewhere more discrete on the trail, fueled.  Before I left, asked again about the bathroom.  A couple more volunteers discussed this, and confirmed, no bathroom there.  I decided just to get it done with.

not the San Diego course, but Col-de-Portalet (the yellow pin far right), where Portalets come from.

In case you haven't tried it yourself, it can be very hard to squat 87.5 miles into a running race.  Plus the dirt wasn't very loose, so spent more than a minute trying to bury my job.  Stepping back over the fence, a final volunteer informed me that indeed there were bathrooms, a little bit down the parking lot.
"I guess we'll let future runners know," one of the volunteers apologetically assured me.
"No, don't-- unfair advantage!" I replied, smiling.....

As late as mile 70 I was thinking of asking to use someone's cell phone to call or text my wife, so that she would put the cabin key in our car before she went to bed.

The idea was that, after finishing at about 3 and no later than 3:30 am (20-20.5 hours), I would walk three miles along Sunrise Highway and take a nice 2-3 hour nap before my family got up.  I could shower, eat breakfast and then go back to the start feeling all refreshed to hang out, cheer runners in, get my drop bags, then we'd head to Carlsbad to the resort we'd booked for the week.

But I had too much to remember at Sweetwater (mile 71.7), and maybe it was too late anyways.
I was even well enough to mostly jog 4 miles up to Sunrise.  Then about mile 77, I started to decelerate.  Wtf, wtf, WTF was I thinking?

The stretch from Sunrise (mile 80.3) to Pioneer Mail (mile 87.5) (where I was waiting to take a dump) was a also a gaunlet these low lying bushes, a gauntlet of poking and scratching branches that made my hairy but beautiful legs, scratch and occasionally bleed.  It was very distressing!

The last aid station I asked for a garbage bag since it was really getting cold even with my jacket.  I convinced myself I could run the whole stretch without walking, and was up to steady clip as it started to become light.

I'm going to blame my subsequent mishap on the mist with each exhalation that kept obscuring my view (in fact, I had to turn my light off earlier than I had wanted because of this).  I missed the ribbons on the right and went off course-- well actually I was on course, and I remember running on it before, which is partly what threw me off, but it was the course 80 or 90 miles earlier.  Three-quarters of the mile down the wrong path, I decided I was going too long without seeing ribbons and decided to turn around, but had lost my momentum.

Analyzing the results later, I lost 2 places, and got triple-chicked, which, being secure with my masculinity, I can live with; but also went from 9th to 11th place, which is tougher to accept because I would've been able to say I finished top 10, but now I could also say I finished top 11.  This just looks pathetic, like those guys with receding hairlines who comb 3 hairs over their huge bald spot, thinking that you won't notice that they are basically bald when it is so patently obvious.

glamour shot of me being medalled with probably too MUCH stuff on my head, by Ysa Myers

One way around this is if I borrow a place from my 9th place at Massanutten, then the average of the two is 10.  "I averaged top 10 at the first two 100 mile races this year."  Am I not cool?

On a serious note, this guy who I will keep anonymous who passed me at Pioneer Mail, got lost with his pacer at mile 99, wandered 6 extra miles, before ending up at the Penny Pines aid station (miles 23.6 and 91.5) and getting a ride back.  I suggested to him he just jog backwards to mile 99 and then run in, but he didn't seem interested.  Personally I'd swallow the extra hour to hour and a half and several places, and get my medal and buckle.  But to each his own.

Finish area at the Al Bahr Shrine Camp.  I was lazy and didn't take a lot of photos.


Why did I crump the last 20 or so miles?  A few factors:

1. Altitude
Most of the race is above 5000 feet including all of the first 27 and last 20 miles.  I was feeling it a lot above 5400 feet.  Not as painful as chafing, but maybe slows me down as much.

2. Suboptimal spring training
My wife agrees that running 100+ milers too early in the year ruins my speed build-up and leads to     slower times.   However, I point out to her that aside from the crotch problem, I ran a smart race at Masanutten and would've finished a few places higher.

3. Running too much without recovery
Rick Gaston thinks that four weeks after my last 100 mile race is not adequate recovery time.  Rick is usually right.  His race report.

Rick at Paso Picacho aid station.  Photo courtesy of Jonathan Bernard.

4. Not crapping when I first felt the urge.  In general, this is Against Medical Advice (AMA).  If you feel the urge, do it!

5.  Getting behind on my calories--after leaving Sunset (about halfway point), started feeling weak on what should have been a fast gently rolling section of the course.  At Stonewall Mine, I ate up, but in doing so was standing too long, so when I left the aid station, I was so stiff I could barely do more than walk for more than a mile.

I suspect this photo was taken at an earlier aid station, but this is the only sort-of action photo of just me I could find, so I'll stick it here.  photo courtesy Scott Crellin, though I haven't actually asked him.

6. I just suck.
This sounds better, is more humble than the "I am so cool" from the last section, and by ending abruptly with this I get to finish this already too long post faster.

7. My crotch was TOO lubed, it was flopping around all over the place!

Bonus brief blog posting by me (does NOT repeat any of the nonsense I wrote here):

Sportiva Runners take 1st and 2nd After Throwing Out the Top Ten at the San Diego 100 Mile


Garmin Forerunner recorded maps:
miles 0-36
miles 36-72
miles 72-100 (plus the bonus 1.5 miles)

part of how I got my family to let me do this race

race website
results (btw, this year's new course apparently was a lot harder than previous years', so don't compare)
everyone's splits

my picasa photo album

I'd post links to everyone's blogs, but you've probably already read them, right...?