Saturday, December 31, 2011

My 2011 Running Stats

I only recently realized you can easily calculate your totals on the Garmin Connect website.  I don't expect many people other than myself to find this interesting, but since it appears I have some down time before the fan might get hit (hopefully it will get hit only AFTER I'm home), I figured I'd do some number crunching and show you that this blog, though neglected, has not been completely abandoned.

My yearly totals:

Count:251 Activities
Distance:3,525.90 mi
Time:693:29:13 h:m:s
Elevation Gain:580,929 ft

The "251 Activities" is fairly arbitrary-- if I run to work and then run back from BART 10 hours later, I will typically record that as one activity rather than two.  So the the only thing certain is that, on average, I don't run more than 5 days per week.

Regarding distance, I probably need to add up to 100-200 miles for really short runs when I wasn't wearing my Forerunner, or during races when I lost reception or the unit ran out of battery power.

Training Runs Over 26 Miles:  13
Training Runs Over 5 Hours:  18

Trips (About 1 Week Each) Offering Really Awesome and Beautiful Trails on Which to Run:  4


Total:  13
100-milers: 6
100-kilometers: 0
50-milers: 1
60-kilometers: 1
50 kilometers:  5 *
* = includes 1 organized Fat-Ass Run
DNFs:  0
Number of ConsecutiveYears Racing without DNFing:  8

Lifetime Ultra Races Finished:   Somewhere Between 105 and 115, depending on how you count, so I probably surpassed 100 this past year.

Races from This Year I Haven't Blog-Recapped Yet:  5
Estimated Months It Will Take Me to Catch Up with the Blogging:  15

For those who bothered to read this far:  Happy New Year!  Peace and Joy and Great Running to You.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Midwestern States, Part 3: My Kettle Moraine 100 Mile #3 and 2011 100 Mile Goof #3

This year's Kettle (the first weekend of June) was my third running of this race.  The first was my 2007 epic win over Joe Kulak, which inspired me to start this unsustainable blogging habit.  The second stab was in 2008, when brutal midday heat gave way to lightning, torrential downpours, and nearby tornadoes.

This was also my third 100-mile race this year, after HURT in January and Antelope Island Buffalo Run in March.  I finished those races much more slowly than anticipated.  Two outs, need a hit.

I had a lot of time to get to the race and prepare, so pre-race should have been glitch-free, except
I couldn't find my driver's license 2 hours before my flight.  I needed it to rent the car to drive the 2 hours from the West Chicago suburbs to the race.  As it turned out, I had left it in the glove compartment of the car I drove to drop off my family at the airport 5 days earlier, while I ran before  working a couple of long overnight shifts.  I also managed to nuke the entry on my calendar with my hotel reservation information, but eventually figured it out.

It was already hot, lower 90's even as late as 6 pm.  And remember those of you from drier western climates-- the humidity makes the effective temperature much higher.  I tried to last-minute acclimate to the heat and humidity on the drive up by keeping the windows up without any AC or even the vent, but it was unbearable and probably dangerous.  I had to keep the windows opened a crack.

For the last few miles (20 minutes) though I deliberately green-housed.  Stopped at an intersection, clothes soaked with sweat, I tried to capture my the beads of perspiration on my face and general malaise with this self portrait.  (No make-up artist with a spray bottle was used.)

I felt better getting out of the car and seeing the cheery race directors at packet pickup.  Thanks for putting on another great race!

Jason Dorgan, Tim (Timo) Yanacheck, Anne Heaslett

Timo told me I was originally going to get bib #1, but the 2009 course winner and record holder (set that year in ideal weather), Zach Gingerich, had signed up two days earlier.

I woke up before 3 a.m. (1 a.m. Pacific time) and try as I did, I could no get back to sleep.  I nontheless insisted on staying in bed until my alarms went off at 5:20, resulting in my usual late arrival.

One minute before the race started, co-RD Timo instructed us runners to make sure we go over the timing mat at the start.  I think this is probably the first 100-mile race I've run using chip timing-- and totally off my radar.  I ran over to the table with the timing straps and frantically put it around my right ankle about 20 seconds before the race started.

by Jay Smithberger

From yesterday I knew it was going to be hot and muggy, (the same day a young man apparently collapsed and died at the Chicago Half-Marathon relatively nearby), and remembering my mid-race malaise last time, decided to go out slower, and NOT 7:30 minute miles like in years past.

by Jay Smithberger

I ran and talked some with a Harry Harcrow from Colorado.

 lifted from the web.  funny, I don't remember him looking like this.

I thought he was breathing too hard so early in a 100 miler, and concluded he didn't know what he was doing, but later decided I was wrong.

entering Emma Carlin (mile 15.5) photo by Billy Thom

Entering the prairies, I turned on one of my iPods and listened to two podcasts of This American Life.  I figured this would help me keep my mind off the never-ending prairie and the rising heat, but one of them was about some guy who had been molested as a child and how he plotted to seek revenge on the perpetrator-- interesting, but not quite uplifting.

at Scuppernong turnaround (mile 31+), photo by Billy Thom


At mile 41, near the beginning of the uncovered prairie section, which you would think is untechnical, I tripped over a bump or rut in the trail, and fell forward.  My bottle took the first impact, but in the fall, I managed to strain my neck (mostly the back and right), both rear shoulder, right quadriceps and left hamstring.  Nothing too bad-- definitely nothing fractured or snapped, but I had a bad feeling.  A fall like that causing pain and tightness in so many places can haunt and taunt you later.  I had good reason to worry.

A few miles later, my right rear armpit started chafing.  I had taken care to lube my crotch every 10-15 miles, but neglected my armpits, which probably only give me trouble in hot, humid weather.  I abducted my shoulder to prevent further friction, but about half an hour later, my right deltoid went into painful spasm.

I took a while to figure out what to do with my arm to relax it enough to let the pain subside, but I found (and would continue to find) that any position to relieve one pain would trigger or exacerbate another pain.  It turned into a zero-sum game, and a game I was losing.

At the Scuppernong turnaround (mile 31) where I arrived in about 4:57 in 2nd place, there had been several runners coming in only a few minutes after I left, so I was sure that several would catch me, after my fall on the way back.  But apparently most of them were having a tough time, since only one passed me-- Harry, whom I had underestimated and felt bad about writing him off when each of two times he passed me.  I asked him how he felt, and he either said "terrible" or "like shit."  But he was running faster than I.

I didn't know it at the time, but Harry apparently dropped at Nordic (mile 62), so I was in 2nd place. However, I continued to having to work out numerous cramps and pains that kept popping out in my body.  I would run several hundred yards with one arm over my head or behind my back, until that position threatened to cause a new pain.

photos by Cathy Drexler
great aid stations at Kettle-- olives if you want them!

I turned on my light right before Highway 12 aid station (mile 77).   The first year I ran this I turned on the lamp AFTER the aid station going other way (8 miles farther).

The 4 mile trail to the Rice Lake turnaround is probably the most technical of the course.  I had been still trying to run flatter, less technical sections, but soon after leaving Highway 12, my toe kicked a root, I feel lurched forward and my chest and shoulder muscles went into a really bad spasm, probably the worst and largest of the day.  I tried to walk it off, but with my mechanics off, my balance was affected and I felt like continuing would cause my calves to spasm on the climb.  I had to stop and rest against a tree for a couple minutes, pursing my lips as I forcibly exhaled to try to ease the pain.

I decided that besides continuing to grow more painful and less efficient, running was too dangerous to attempt.

Even power walking posed risks, such as straining a leg muscle (both posterior and anterior compartments), especially while ascending and descending stairs or other steeper sections of trail.  The risks weren't imagined-- I had several more painful, close calls.

You should all know me well enough-- though many a runner might decide to quit here, I didn't fell quitting was an option.  Besides, if it was flat and untechnical, I could manage a slow jog.

Lots of runners were passing me, but most were in the relay or the 38 mile fun run which started at 8 pm.  Realizing that my pace was going to be slow, I gave up first on the sub 17 and then the sub-18 goal, and just made aimed to win an age-group award.  So after turning around at Rice Lake aid station (mile 81), I asked everyone coming the other way or from behind which race they were in, and if they were in the 100 mile race, how old they were.  I had no problem getting "granped" by someone over 50 (Paul Schoenlaub, 51, who would finished 2nd overall), but just couldn't let anyone 40-49 pass me.  This was an imperfect research method, as people wear headphones or have no idea what I'm asking.

At Tamarack aid station (mile 92), 38-mile Fun Run participant Dominic Guinta caught up with me.  This was his last long training run before his second Western States (Dom has been extra lucky with the lottery-- some of us who have been running 100 milers years longer have yet to get in...)   Figuring that no awards were being given for placing in the Fun Run, he offered to pace me in, and got me running again.  Thanks again, Dom!

Only 46 finishers out of 131 registered runners and not sure how many starters.  Tough day (and night)!  More than hours over my personal best 4 years ago, but everyone was hurting.  The winner, elite runner Zach Gingerich, finished similarly-- 19 1/2 hours, more than 4 hours over his personal best and course record set two years ago.  I asked him how he felt when I ran into him headed the opposite way at one point, and I think he said what I think Harry said and what I probably said a bunch of times.

 Zach Gingrich setting the course record at Umstead 100 mile in 2010.  unsure of who took this photo

Still, despite nabbing that age-group award and everyone else running relatively slow, the early face plant and subsequent problems constitutes a significant failure to accomplish my original goal.  Though an out that was well worth it.

I'm not complaining.

Thanks again to all the volunteers-- who got me in and out quickly when I was doing well, and who attended to my needs later.  (I couldn't bend over or squat to pick up and open my drop boxes once the cramping started.)

Garmin Forerunner 305 recorded maps (missing a few miles) of my run: 
miles 0-31
miles 31-70
miles 70-100


race website

My previous KM 100 Race Reports:
recap of 2007 KM100: "My First Ultra Win Ever"
recap of 2008 KM100: "Sweltering, Scared, but Spared-- Surviving the Kettle Moraine 100 Mile Run from Hell (and My First Title Loss Ever)"

"Midwestern States pseudo-series"

part 1:  McNaughton 150 mile, April 2009
part 2:  Mohican 100 mile, June 2010

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Firetrails 50 #5: The Deceleration Continues

Had it continued to rain Thursday and Friday, the firetrails in Tilden, before and after the turnaround for this year's Firetrails 50 Mile would have sucked-- thick, clumpy mud adding several pounds to each foot.  Luckily the rain we had Monday through Wednesday just softened the trails.  I would have done well with any of my Sportivas, but went with my Wildcats.  Rowr.

Unlike the three 100 mile races during the summer (reports I have yet to finish), nothing too bad or crazy happened this race.  Did not kill myself trying to talk or run with anyone too fast.  I was by my count 16th at the turnaround, but had moved up 8 places the next three splits to Skyline aid station (~mile 37).  Was feeling slightly bad-ass about this, though I suspected those 8 people were just hurting more than I.   Soon I stiffened up enough that 4 people passed me before the end, losing my top-10 spot, and as I later found out, prize schwag I would've nabbed for coming 3rd in the 40-49 male division.

Leapfrogged several times with Quicksilver teammate Pierre-Yves Couteau,
who yet another time this year (lost count), finished before me.

To my credit, I did look back while on the pavement 1.5 miles from the finish and saw someone I recognized as a 50 miler gaining on me (the Golden Hills Marathoners were mixed in with us on most of the return).  I managed enough of a kick to hold him off with just 11 seconds to spare for the prestigious 12th place overall, rather than 13th, which is unlucky unless you are into baking.

No photo of the above end-of-race kick. 
Instead a photo of me being chased by a blue balloon, which at least matches my shirt and gaiters,
into Bort Meadow Aid station (mile 44). 
photo by Baldwyn Chieh

Normally about 2 km after Bort, we get on a winding single track, Cascade Trail, but this year the East Bay Park District had decided it was too storm damaged, so the course rerouted on the fireroads above it,  adding an uphill and a small amount of distance, but making the name of this race, "Firetrails 50" more true to its name by about 1.5 miles.  (map of Chabot)  I had actually offered the RDs to trim the poison oak and other growth on Cascade Trail on Monday, but our fire alarms started beeping in the middle of the night, which required shlepping ladders from the garage up two flights of stairs and a lot of precarious reaching.  So I had to sleep in a little before heading to work, and defer on the trail trimming. This was the beginning of a busy, sleep-deprived work week, further lowering my already low expectations.  At least I didn't snip a bunch of trail foliage that we ended up not running through.

I've also decided that if running this race at the age of 60 in 9 1/2 hours is not a wimpy feat, I can slow down about 6 minutes every year and not be considered to have wimpy feet.  In which case, I am about on target, given my personal course best of 7:24 at the age of 40 (2007 race report: Halloween Horrors) and 7:43 last year (2010 race report: Bodily Fluids).

The only glitch in my schedule of age-deceleration comes from older Quicksilver teammate, Jean Pommier, who seems to get faster as he approaches age 50, and who came virtually tied for 2nd just above 7 hours, killing his own PR.  This is so wrong!  Just for that, I am leaving him out of the next section and not including any pictures of him, even knowing that he stuck a picture that included me in his report.  (I anticipate some public opprobrium for this rudeness.)   Here is his race report, which actually gives you a better description the event, and which despite flying out to Dubai Sunday evening, he managed to crank out the day before mine.

Top Finishers

I usually don't write about top finishers, since this tends to get beaten to death in UltraRunning and other race recaps, sometimes by the top finishers themselves.  But for a change I'm going to put out this report BEFORE, and not MONTHS OR YEARS AFTER UltraRunning comes out.

Dave Mackey won his 3rd Firetrails (set the record last year) and his 5th race all year.  This win was preceded this year by Bandera 100k (course record), American River 50 mile, Miwok 100k (not the course record but in 2008 he got that with the only sub-8 time ever), and Waldo 100k (course record).  All at the age of 41 and while working on his degree as a physicians assistant (PA).  I'm guessing he ran Firetrails at a pace I that maybe I could hold for a 10 km trail run.  Here I am trying unsuccessfully to look cool and fast next to him.

I would've gotten more of the scoop on his run, his year and his family (his wife showed up at the finish with their young kids), but my not-as-young boys had already grown impatient with my incessant small talk.

The portable fences set up as the finish chute make great makeshift soccer goals. 
Luckily a size 3 ball won't fit through the space at the bottom.

Speaking of soccer, my older son's assistant coach Ben Maxwell, finished his first 50 miler, in a solid mid-pack 10 hour finish.  Way to go, Ben!  And thanks for helping teach him real soccer.

Despite a lot of female talent and a lack of such on my end, I managed not get chicked this race.

Top 3 women, left to right:

1st:  Roxanne Woodhouse.  I ran a little with her at the start-- she goes out hard.  She possibly would have chicked me, but she got lost at a poorly marked road crossing at a complex intersection on the return (I even started heading the wrong way, but caught myself.  RD's please take note.)  48 years old, whoa!

2nd:  Jen Benna.  Ran with her at Tahoe Rim Trail 100 mile in July before she put a few minutes (well, actually, a few hours) on me.  (her TRT report)  Her baby recently turned 1.  She didn't mention bringing her breast pump to this race.  More details on this if and when I finish my TRT report.  Her husband's Western States documentary coming out soon.

3rd:  Bree Lambert.  I think she might have been a little disappointed with finish, but she also got off-track and in any case, still top 3.  We are so lucky to have her on our Quicksilver Ultra Running Team.

Speaking of our Quicksilver Team, we may have clinched all divisions of the PAUSATF Ultra Grand Prix competition.   I think I remember from years past when I won the individual Open (30-39) Men's Division, that the winning teams get a paperweight or something similarly amazing and valuable.  Undoubtedly we will give this to our Great Leader, Coach Greg Lanctot, who gave me a Guinness from his cooler.

The fairly steep rise in the race fees under the new management (Norcal Ultras) raised a few eyebrows this year, but at least everyone's family can eat for free.  My kids claimed to have only eaten 3 Smores each. 

 Diane Forrest, post-race picnic volunteer in crime with my kids

Plus the race schwag was pretty good, this from someone with already enough shirts and jackets.  Patagonia x2 and Moeben.  Plus a nice volunteer gave my visible kids a couple of Puffins cereal backpacks.  Thank all you awesome volunteers!

Stand on your head if this bothers you.
(I don't have time to figure out how to invert it.)

Friday, June 3, 2011

(Mid) Western States, Part 2: How I Was Screwed Thrice Out of Winning the 2009 Mohican 100 Mile Trail Run

Maybe it took me two years to finish this full report because I was so pissed off about the race.  (link to my short preliminary report published soon after)  Three times I was screwed at the Mohican 100 Mile Trail Run, the weekend of June 20-21, 2009.  I *suspect* it might have had something to do with course markings.  Course markings that weren't there when I needed them.

Choosing and Getting There

We hadn't been to my parents in southwest Ohio for four years. So I decided to go that summer, timing the trip for the 20th anniversary of the Mohican 100. As a result, no Kettle Moraine that year (with optimal weather conditions), since it was only two weeks prior.  We went to my in-laws' near Chicago instead in April where I ran McNaughton 150 (Mid-Western States part 1).

The first 16 days of June, I worked 155 hours. I was ready for a vacation, though I knew the relaxing part would have to wait until after the weekend.

Since Mohican was a week before Western States, I knew it would lack a thick super-fast elite field. Three weeks after Ohlone 50k and six after Quicksilver 50 mile, it was probably the only 100 mile race that year for which I would be properly trained and tapered (especially since McNaughton beat me up). I didn't have time to try to research everyone on the registered runner list, but I figured I had a decent chance of placing well, and possibly winning.  And no matter what, I'd have fun!

My drive from Cincinnati took about 4 hours, as I three 15 minutes stops to stretch out my low back.  I arrived to the campground feeling the heat and humidity to which I was not totally unaccustomed, despite spending the previous day around my parents' wearing a hooded sweatshirt and my high school letter jacket.  I would have gotten better heat training running in this gig, but I had to taper!

I set up my dad's portable tent

(my tent's actually behind this statue)

prepared my drop bags, and then went to eat dinner and hang under the large roofed shelter.

The weather forecast changed daily since it first appeared on the 10-day extended forecast. In the end, it was scattered thunderstorms. After the two lightning storms at Kettle Moraine the year before, I wasn't particularly happy about this. Before the pre-race meeting, a sudden extremely heavy downpour came. When it was over maybe 15 minutes later, I went to find I hadn't closed the lid of one  of my small bins I was using as a drop-bag crate, and dumped a large amount of water out.

Little did I realize that that single downpour would add well over 1 - 1.5 hours to my time and end my quest to win even before it began.  But I'm not going to blame it on the rain gods.

With earplugs was able to get to sleep around 10 p.m., but woke up at 2 a.m., perhaps from eating too much pasta. After using the bathroom, I was unable to get back to sleep. So at the start I had been up since 11 p.m., Pacific Time.


The start was delayed several minutes, since not everyone had signed the sheet to check in. OK with me because I was waiting for my Garmin Forerunner to pick up the satellite signals (which it doesn't do for more than half an hour into the race).  The race start was 5 a.m. Eastern Time, which was 2 a.m. in the Pacific Time I came from.  Ouch!

A guy with a long red beard darted ahead. ID'd as Stephen Godale, who won the race a few years ago in 18 hours. Except for him, I was running in front, then realized that at 5 am I couldn't see anything without a headlamp. So I let several other catch up to avoid tripping. A couple of guys doing the 50, and last year's 100 mile race winner Jay Smithberger.

I was impressed with how muggy it felt this early in the morning-- ugh. The rolling hills were bigger than I'd imagined, the scenic countryside appearing as it grew light.  A few of us complained about pounding so much pavement though.

Without trying to, a few of us caught up with Steve, so I got the scoop from him. This would be his last 100 miler-- the distance takes too much out of him.  He decided this 3 years ago. I asked him if he had decided this every year for the last three years. He explained he was holding out for his 1000 mile buckle.

mission accomplished, congrats, Stephen!

He also explained that he was going to go out hard, then crash around mile 40, and would probably finish around 26-28 hours. I calculated he was running a 16 hour pace, so didn't quite get his race strategy with predictable results. Eventually he pulled ahead of everyone, out of sight. I was not convinced he was going to take that long to finish.


The pack had spread out when I heard the voice of a woman coming from behind. She was running the 50 mile race, and leading not just the women, but the men. We ran with each other off and on for the next 30-something miles. This was only her 3rd ultra, her 1st 50 miler, and she had won both 50k races. Beth Woodward, born in Hong Kong, adopted, hence the non-Asian last name.

Beth on left, from an earlier, different race.

The first and last 10 miles of both races is road, the rest trail. I had considered following the suggestion of veterans to start in road shoes, switch to trail shoes at mile 10, then switch back to fresh road shoes for the end. I was glad I opted to start the race with my Sportiva Wildcats, as I was in no mood to take a minute to change shoes while fresh at mile 10.

The single track of the green section is lush, green, dank. Complete opposite of the dry brown of Northern California at this time of year.  I thought I should've learned what poison ivy looks like-- there were lots of the leaves brushing against my limbs in leaves of three.

Beth was fairly timid on the downhills, so even clumsy me overtook her, and then she would hammer it uphill. Sometimes I would not pay attention to the trail, so twisted my ankle a couple times, but nothing major. A few thorn bushes that drew blood (or maybe that was later). We passed South Park aid station (mile 14.3) together. No salt, no Heed, just water, which I had to pour in from gallon containers. This sort of sucked, but this sort of thing happens a lot to front runners at races. The next time around it would be fully stocked.

By Fire Tower aid station (milw 18.6), I was REALLY worried about my lytes, so waited for a volunteer to find a salt shaker, and I poured out my estimate of 2 grams.

Covered Bridge is maybe the heart of the race, as 100 milers go through this five times during the race (miles 21, 25, 42.5, 63.5, 81).  After hitting it the first time, we went out to do the purple loop, which traversed only once in both the 50 and 100 mile races.  Beth had been ahead, but I ran into her running backwards.  There were few markings on the trail and she had run into a large rock. I remember seeing a photo of runners climbing up a wall of roots, and found this immediately to the left. At the top, it was still ambiguous which way to go, but it seemed like we should go right.  Just as I had helped orient Caitlin Smith at PCTR's Skyline to the Sea 50k two months earlier, I was helping another fast woman find her way.

Perhaps realizing that navigational help was worth a slightly slower pace, Beth slowed a bit to stay with me.  To this day I'm pretty sure it wasn't because she thought I was cute or funny.  We climbed further until he hit a road going over a dam. Because I had seen the trail returning from the left earlier, I figure we should head left. Where are those purple plates, we wondered? After climbing a bit, arrows pointed left back into the forest. I anticipated a technical downhill, but it was actually straighter and more gradual. Then, suddenly the trail T-boned into another trail.

No arrow. No plates. No ribbons.
No clue.  No way!

Volunteer course marking head at pre-race meeting holding up a colored plastic or paper plate, the supplemental course marking to the arrows.  How using plates to match the color used to name each section of the course helped us stay on the right trail was beyond me.  Some of these plates were wasted on unambiguous places on the trail.  Other confusing intersections lacked them.  There were other markings of a different color on many trails.  They didn't buy a whole lot of plates.  Definitely not enough.  I know you are volunteering your time and I appreciate that, but please can someone give me ribbon?

We deliberated a while, but using the same logic as before, I decided we should head left. We did this, and thought we could see some faint white arrows on the trail faded by the heavy rain Friday night.

We ran and ran and I started getting really nervous because the loop was only supposed to be 4 miles long-- already my Forerunner was reading 4.5 miles, though it had been under-measuring every split up to that point in the dense foliage. I remembered my Foreruner has a map function that if can zoom out to see where you've just run, and to my horror, I saw that we were basically running this convoluted route taking us back towards the road, rather than back to Covered Bridge.

Not about to retrace our steps (with no markings, we wouldn't know it even when we got back onto the right trail), I decided to bushwhack down a huge hill to the trail leading us back. Beth agreed this would minimize our being screwed over, so we went down. It was treacherous and slippery, and I wished again I knew what poison ivy looked like, but perhaps it didn't matter.  We added at least a mile, but much of it rather technical and least 15 minutes and a lot of stress.  --Screwed the first time.

Apparently, we would not be the only ones to get lost in a similar way, but even more apparently, we lost a lot more time than most people. For the next several miles starting the orange loop, we passed several people who got ahead of us during our long purple section diversion.

One guy though kept out of our reach, and we didn't catch up with him until after Hickory Ridge aid station (mile 30.4), maybe as he took off his shoe to get a rock out. The next 6.6 mile stretch was more downhill than up, so Beth let me get in front. Next thing I know, I was effectively pacing both the male and female leaders of the 50 mile race, and did so most of the way to the Grist Mill aid station (mile 37).

The aid station was off a main road, and getting to it requires running this weird flattened Z along the road. It was all uncovered; the sun beating down. I realized this is where the the 50 milers split off, so asked Beth how she's feeling. "Really tight."

My suspicion had been that she was underhydrated (she carried no bottle) and undernourished.  Selfish me-- when we entered aid stations together I was too focused on getting my stuff done to watch her.  I told her I thought she had gotten behind on her fluids and advised her to hydrate up.  Although it would be cool to catch the lead male now a little bit ahead (Dale Holdaway), this was optional-- and probable would be impossible if she didn't fix her fluids.

A true pleasure to run with Beth that long-- a major talent who would the next year down three more records (she came in 2nd, just a few minutes behind, and set the new women's 50 mile record). One of the perks of running at my sub-elite men's level.

After Finishing My Pacing Stint, I Get Screwed a Second Time

The trail exited the station in the same back and forth section, so I got a sense of how many people were following close behind. Closest was Jay, only a minute or two back, and then a few others.

The last section of the orange loop went along the river back to the Covered Bridge, but not having memorized the map, I didn't know this. After an orange plate pointed into the forest, there were no course markings, except these white rectangles on trees not associated with the race. Since this was supposed to be the "orange loop" I was very nervous the whole time and stopped at several junctures to think about which way to go. I passed a couple hiking and ask if the Covered Bridge was up ahead and they told me yes, but "it's far-- several miles." I minorly freaked out, since my Forerunner suggested I should be there in about one mile, not several. But I was not motivated to turnaround and head back.

The trail emerged onto a road with campsites on the side. I saw a string of white arrows close together on the road, leading me to a grassy island on the right. Then they stopped. Huh? I guess I'd been so deprived of course markings, I was too eager to follow them to nowhere. Okay, now what?

"Straight ahead" shouted Jay Smithberger coming from behind, laughing, and so I caught up with him. He didn't know what those arrows were either, but they weren't course markings. We eventually came to the river crossing, under the Covered Bridge (mile 42.3), and I bounded across, drenching my feet for the first time since the river crossing at the beginning of the green section.

I assumed that Jay sped off ahead of me, which is fine. Next aid station, Bridle Staging Area (mile 45.0) came soon.

Bridle Staging Area aide station; photo by Robert Smithberger

The next split is 7.2 miles, the longest of the course. I had stashed an extra bottle in my drop bag at Bridle, but decided just to hydrate well and hope for smooth sailing. There were 3 river crossings. The first was at about 1.3 miles, the second about 4.5, and I forget to take note of the third, perhaps because it was the deepest, and like at McNaughton, up to my knees.

3rd river crossing.  photo courtesy Kim Rapp

Felt good, but I was feeling pressure on my big toes from all the water.

The trail lacked consistently clear course markings (where were the ribbons?!), but despite several points of ambiguity, somehow I continued to progress on course. Finally I crested a small hill, turned right and gradually descended to a gate where the trail T-boned onto a paved road.

No arrow.  No plate.


No clue.


Screw you number two.

I walked on to the road and ran up and down a bit, looking for some sort of marking, but found none. Phuck! Any hope of catching Jay soon disappeared. I decided that the safest bet was to head back from where I came. I ran about half a mile only to run into....Jay. Guess he hadn't left Covered Bridge before me.  An ironic way to catch up to him.

I was disheartened, but at least I could talk with Jay, who knew the course.  My hunch that my failure to find any course markings at the turn was not because I was stupid was validated by Jay who laughingly asked me how I could have missed such a well marked turn (friendly sarcasm). We ran together to Rock Point (mile 50.2). My blisters were starting to hurt, so I make the decision to take the extra time to take care of my feet.

This included changing into my Sportiva Ultranord GTX (you can still click to see what they look like, but they've been discontinued, and I like the Wildcat GTX they now have much better).  The Ultranords  included a gaiters but not in the elegant attached way the Crossover GTXs do.  The Ultranords are heavier than my Wildcats, but I figured that keeping my feet dry and protected needed to be new priorities. The other equipment maneuver was to turn off my Forerunner--the battery only lasts about 10 hours and I wanted to save it for the last 10 miles to the finish, especially since I hadn't been able to record the first 4-5 miles.

Although my feet felt good as I headed out, the rest of me was not. It had grown really hot, and I was a little nauseated. I couldn't run the uphills anymore. As I floundered, I suddenly heard a voice behind me, and saw a bearded runner, who I mistook intially for Steve. He introduced himself by his last name, Mongold, rather than his first name, Bradley.

This West Virginian knows me from my blog. Other cool thing is his occupation as an emergency physician. I suspected there was another ultrarunning ER doc, but hadn't met one until that day.
At least one blogger had him on the radar to win Masanutten the month prior.
Mongold holds the record for running the 292.1 mile Allegheny Trail (4 days, 13 1/2 hours)
This was his first stab at 100 miles. I tried to keep chatting with him, but he was talking and running much more easily than I.  I apologized, congratulated him for running so well his first 100, and wished him luck.

The next several miles were a definite struggle.  I was feeling the humidity, and continued to lag even more.

What got my ass moving finally was a fly (horsefly? deer fly? no clue-- had never been attacked by one in the Bay Area).  It kept going after me, including my scalp through my visor.

At Fire Tower (mile 61), I was surprised to see Jay, looking worse than even than I had earlier.  He looked green like the color of the section. I asked him if he wanted any ginger, but before I can pull some out, Lloyd Thomas came up to me and asked if I need anything.  He used to live in the Hayward Hills and run the trails of Garin / Dry Creek (my preferred longer trail commute to and from work). He offered to get me stuff (thanks, Lloyd), and we had a nice short chat as I tried to recuperate.  (Later this year I would help him organize a small fat-ass race in the same park he ran in as a kid.)

I soon saw Jay on the short 2.5 mile leg to Covered Bridge, with a pacer, walking. I gave him my ginger, half wondering if I might regret this later, since I was still slightly nauseated myself and had only one more candy left. However he definitely needed it then, while I only theoretically might need it later.

At Covered Bridge (mile 63.5), I swapped my visor for my hat with the ear and back flaps, dipping it into the water bucket to keep me cool and better protect my head and neck from biting insects.

At Hickory Ridge (mile 68.8), lots of friendly questions for the leader, which made me a bit nervous, since I didn't know who was behind me or how far. At Grist Mill (mile 75.4) I saw Jay, who had dropped from the race at Covered Bridge 5 miles back.  He crewed me a little (thanks, Jay) and confirmed what I'd calculated with my watch-- if I didn't see anyone coming out of the forest before I reenter it, I would know I was at least 20 minutes ahead of the next runner.

Less than a minute before reentering the forest, I see the next runner, Wyatt Hornsby, coming the other way. "Great job" I told him.

In contrast to the first time, I knew I was going the right way despite the paucity of course marking. But for some reason, as the sun goes down, it grew muggier.  No breeze. Ugh.

I came to a large log blocking the path. I remembered the first time around, I hoisted myself over it easily, but knew it would be trickier the second time with 40 more miles of wear and tear on my muscles. I stopped, sat on the log, lifted my left leg onto it, then to get my right leg, pushed down behind me with my arms.  As I hoisted myself over, the lower part of my rotator cuff (infraspinatus, teres major and teres minor) went into spasm. AAARRGHH!!  Severe pain--I could barely move. I spent a few minutes trying to breathe through it, will searching for a shoulder position that would ease the pain.

I tried to run, but it hurt too much, so supporting my arm and trying to gut through the pain, I walked. F*ck, he's going to catch up!  One of my problems late in 100-milers has been muscle spasming, often my upper body, despite consciously trying to keep things loose.

I mucked through the humidity.  The fairly technical trail, root-filled and cambered down to the left towards the river, along with my shoulder pain, prevented me from going very fast.

The second time returning to Covered Bridge (mile 80.9) from the orange loop, we crossed the bridge rather than the ford the river.  Not sure why.

I couldn't remember if I had left a light at the next aid station, so I put one of my Petzls, and conscious of the time I lost, quickly head out for the short (2.7 mile) but mostly uphill stretch. My shoulder was almost back to normal, so I pushed the pace. At Bridle Staging (mile 83.6), I found I did have a light.  Lloyd Thomas was there again and revealed to me that Wyatt spent "a lot of time" at Grist Mill and left 35 minutes after I did. This encouraged me.  Armed with my light and music, I headed out toward the pavement on the remaining 7.2 miles of trail of the red section.

I was in great spirits and excited.  After all the set-backs, including getting lost twice not through my own fault, and my mid-race slump probably fueled by humidity to which I could not have acclimated, I was winning the race, with a half hour gap on the next runner.  As long as I could keep a decent pace, I should be able to win this thing.  I started feeling elated and emotional, thought about my family and how excited my older son would be when I told him I won the race, and just missing them (this happens a lot toward the end of my 100 milers), though I reminded myself that it wasn't over yet, and it definitely was no time to slack.  It actually felt great putting out decent effort, especially as the temperature started to cool a bit.

My feet stayed dry through the first river crossing.  The trail and arrows on the ground were often ambiguous, but I did my best, stopping at many intersections to look and think about each turn. Maybe because I'd passed this way before, I trusted my instinct and kept going.  There wasn't anything else on which to rely anyways.  The second river crossing, I notice that the water was to my knees. I thought I recalled the deepest crossing being the third and last, but then I wasn't so sure, my first time in this large forest.  I looked at my watch and the timing seemed right. I kept on going.

And going.  And going. Seemed like I'd been out there a while-- wasn't I supposed to have ascended and hit the paved roads by now?

Suddenly after a turn, I saw three lamped runners heading towards me. Volunteers checking the course? I asked to verify I were headed toward Rock Point.   One shouted back "You're headed the wrong way!"   Crap, did I get lost again?  Pattern recognition.  No surprise that I was screwed the third and biggest time.  It didn't dawn on me that this runner was Wyatt Hornsby, now armed with two pacers (until the following summer, I had never used one.)  I only figured out his identity later.

Rather than follow them, I tried to figure out where I was. I turned on my Forerunner in an attempt to get the map of the route I ran already, but in the dense forest, it couldn't pick up the satellite signal. After several minutes, another lone runner came alone.  He oriented me both in terms of route and race standings.

As it turned out, I was at this point maybe 15 minutes from Bridle, and somehow, I had made a huge loop and was headed back from where I came.  Bonus miles, and my half hour lead lost.

I figured it made more sense to just follow him out of  this mess.

I was so-o-o-o bummed. I stayed with him, Matt Aro from Minnesota.  I figured it would be better-- two lights, two brains.

Only post-race did I learn he was the previous year's PCTR Headlands Hundred winner, and had placed 1st and 2nd in the two double Ironman distance triathlons he'd completed (that's 4.8 miles swimming, 224 miles biking and then 52 miles running). We talked.  I try to be upbeat, while debating how hard I was going to try to catch up with Wyatt. Near the end of the stretch, which for me had turned from 7 into 10-11 miles, I suggested to Matt that if I gave up on catching Wyatt, maybe we could finish together (wtf was I thinking) but told me he wanted to give it a go for 1st himself.

At the Rock Point aid station (mile 90.8-- note all these mileages are assuming you don't get repeated lost), any previous idea of changing shoes went out the window. Apparently Wyatt had just left, so Matt and I were probably holding or gaining on him as we ran together.

I would have to make my move now.

I dumped my iPod, which I'd turned off since I ran into and started talking to Matt, had my bottle filled up, grabbed a couple of Hammer gels and then headed out.

Shortly after I left, a couple of people sprinted past me. Were these the number 4 and 5 guys? They told me they were  pacing, and only later did I realize that maybe they were holding back intentionally so they could tell Wyatt how far behind I was (hopefully they weren't muling).  So even as I upped my pace, I was having trouble remaining optimistic. Wyatt was on the upswing, had 2 people helping and hanging back like spies, and knew the course.  And he didn't whack himself like I did running 3 to 4 extra miles on the last segment, drained of fluids.   Plus, I was as nervous about getting off course on this 10 mile paved section with its many turns as I had been on the trails.  I kept looking ahead to see if I could catch sight of their lights. None.  I became more and more discouraged, apathetic, and irritated that I had to keep making up for one disadvantage or screw-over after another.

I had actually had some doubts about the organization of the course due to last minute changes that weren't clearly communicated to runners, and in fact, I ended up taking matters into my own hands and revised a chart of mileage and elevation change so that it reflected those changes about 4 days before the race. Here is a link to a another blog that talks about some of the pre-race information frustration. So, my pre-race apprehensions turned out to be on target.  The race director told everyone a few days ago earlier that all drop bags had to be in extra large zip-lock bags or they wouldn't be allowed, which got a lot of people upset.  He tried to make it seem like it was a suggestion later, but they way it was phrased was that is was mandatory, not optional.

Back to the race:
Finally, I decided that a continued heroic effort was not what I cared about, especially with unsure dividends. In less than 16 hours I would be back at my parents with my younger son, wanting to ride me piggy-back around the house and up and down the stairs. Call it a cop-out, but this became a greater priority.

I also tried to rationalize that I couldn't really use much of the grand prize for the overall male and female winner, which included free entry to the December Northface 50 mile in the Marin Headlands plus $300 for airfare. I think I would drive to that race.  I was still the first master's finisher, and probably would still get some plaque.

Though tainted, this was was still a memorable, worthwhile experience.  Don't you love my smile and my positive attitude?  Great!  Now let me rag on the race director!

I have run ultras mostly because I love being out there.  The competitive aspect is great, but it's the pushing myself in the midst of natural beauty that I care about the most. I had always been a little critical of elite runners, who, when things get a little tough, decide it's beneath them to run any farther back in the pack than they are used to. (Though, not too critical-- it is a free country, and they may set their own priorities.)  While on some level, I respect their decision, on another level, they are all super-talented pussies. Just put down your ego, suck it up, and finish.

So it might have been this race that made me more sympathetic to their wussiness.  They want to win.   That's what's important to them.  If you are that good, that makes sense.  I'm okay with them now.

Though I was happy enough to finish, a large part of me really wanted to win.  Finisher me was still happy I ran the thing and put it out there, but part of me, the would-be winner me was kicked in the balls, stabbed in the heart and then decapitated.

Or least to set the record straight, which I guess I finally have, two years later.

Matt eventually caught up with me. I told him my new priorities, thought to myself he might consider me a wussy, but couldn't care less as I watched him run ahead in 2nd place.  I walked up slopes that I knew I could have run, had I had the motivation. I regret having stashed my iPod, but took advantage of the quiet, the new moon, and a few times cut my light to check out the stars of the country sky.

As I approached the campground, I actually stopped for a few seconds to figure out how to stop my watch. Had I noticed my time, I might have waited seven more seconds to finish in 20:20:20, which, though not nearly as cool as winning, would have still been cooler in a geeky-cool way.

photo by Mike Keller


Ate some, but couldn't get the chicken breast down. Made it to the shower. Climbed into my tent. Woken early due to the sun and heat.

So, Wyatt ran a great race, ran legally, and crossed the finish line first, so he got the win.

I ran the farthest, and even including the deceleration at the end mostly due to loss of motivation, ran the fastest pace per mile. I also won on getting screwed, both the in number and depth.

Maybe just as well-- I live in the Bay Area, and Sportiva sponsored, so maybe not supposed to be wearing lots of North Face garb (also part of the grand prize package).  From a the point of greatest good in the universe, maybe it was better that Wyatt got to enjoy the prize package.  (As it turned out, he couldn't make the North Face race.  But I was trying to feel good about everything.)

Still, it hurt. Not being a super fast elite runner, there are only so many races that I have a good shot at winning.  On top of that, being 42, I figured I only a few more years to find them. Had I been in 5th place and ended up coming in 7th, I would have hardly cared. To be in first, to really have deserved finishing in first, and to have been kicked in the balls not even just once, but three times, and all of them preventable if the course were marked like almost every other that I'd run-- really sucked. I might as well of had the RD greet me in the finish by landing his toe right in my nuts.

most negligent RD I have encountered in my career
as far as I can tell, he's not a runner, but a cyclist
someone help me here
I never got any honest requests for feedback or an apology.  Lots of others complained post-race about the course markings, but I found your response less than adequate.  Don't tell me you had no idea it was going to rain buckets.  Buddy, until you apologize properly to me and change your ways, I will reserve my not nice opinion of you.

Even if you've fixed the problem since, you sucked then.

Okay, readers, I feel much better now, thank you for bearing with me.  (and maybe I'll edit this post a little later.  soften it up a bit.  to be a nice guy...)

Regardless about my gripes, thanks to all the volunteers.  And the friends who at times gave me special help.  You were all awesome.

The pain of my blisters was nothing compared to the pain of being screwed repeatedly.

play with my feet anytime, podiatry angel!

By the way, this was the first time I met Lori Liu, who would later pace me 16 miles at the 2010 Angeles Crest  100 Mile Run.

She did a great job finishing her first 100-mile run here.  But talking to her post-race, she got dizzy and almost passed out, and had to be shipped away in a red truck.   I guess I have a way with people.  (link to how a Sportiva Mountain Running teammate almost passed out shortly after we talked post-race at the 2010 San Diego 100 Mile Run."  (read it, it's short and might make you laugh)

All med students should have the experience of being carted away in an ambulance.  Though I refused transport when it was offered to me after a swim race in the SF Bay more than a decade ago cuz I wasn't sure if it would be covered by my medical coverage (maybe a little ironic).

Garmin Forerunner 305 partial map of my run

official results-- not sure these work still.  I can't find the results of this run on line currently.
50 mile
or try the results and reports page from website.

race website (a little confusing to navigate, as it the Mohican running races are on a semi-obscured subset of links on the "Ohio Mountain Bike Championship Series" website).  Go figure.

super-volunteer Colleen Theusch's race report.  note, I didn't try to correct her story to include the navigational problems not of my fault.

other blogged reports (due to unfamiliarity with the midwestern ultrarunning scene, am probably missing lots, please tell me of others I can add)

100 mile
Kimberly Rapp
Michelle Bichsel
Wyatt Hornsby
Nick Longworth

50 mile
Mike Keller

Rob Powell

If you understand what this mysterious sign means, please tell me via a comment!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Antelope Island Buffalo Run, the Inaugural 100-Mile Version

runners in one of the shorter races that started Sunday, by Bradley K. Johnson

I learned the reason many 100-mile runs in Utah (also think the Bear and Wasatch) start on Friday is so the run ends on Saturday and people can go to church on Sunday.  Or so I heard.  Correct if I'm wrong.

The advantage of a Friday start is less weekend time from my family.

So for the inaugural Antelope Island Buffalo 100 Mile Run, I was able to leave on the first Southwest flight out of Oakland Friday morning (March 25th) and still make it to the race with its noon start without missing or having to reschedule work on Thursday.  One glitch-- I woke up more than an hour earlier than I had to, which would make me tired the next morning.

I would return home before the sun set on Saturday.  Our kids' progressive preschool celebrate Cesar Chavez Day, so I made sure to also get Sunday and Monday off work to hang out with them.  Good deal.

at Año Nuevo on Monday

Heavy snow and rain fell on the drive from the airport Friday morning, with poor visibility, and slush and snow all over the highway.  My rental was an economy car without snow tires, 4-wheel drive or anything else useful to keep me alive.  It was quite treacherous.  often it seems getting to the start line is harder than finishing these races.  Of course, I wasn't sure the snow and freezing rain would let up.

ice on car after making it to the start/finish area

Race Director Jim Skaggs asked we all bring a can for veggies for the post-race buffalo stew.  He said there was a Walmart on the way.  There were two after leaving the highway.  So many choices.

damn Walmart did not pay me anything to post this free graphic ad.

After spending enough on my plane ticket and car rental, it didn't make sense to cheap out, so I splurged on the larger Family size.

Antelope Island is a very pretty island, and there really are lots of buffalo roaming on it.  We were warned to steer clear of them.

photos by Sherry Shay or her crew

...lest they try to tongue you.

Okay, so the take-home lesson for this race:  there is not such thing as an "easy" 100-mile run.  Either something goes wrong, or else nothing goes wrong, but if you're at all the competitive type, you'll push yourself enough even in the latter situation that it will hurt.  I was hoping for the latter (and in fact, after my near DNF at HURT 100 over two months earlier, was expecting the latter), but instead got the former.

Luckily the snow let off right before the race started.

turning on my GPS, thinking this was going to be quick
photo by Catra Corbett

Each 50 mile loop is essentially two out-and-backs.  The first 19 miles involves a couple of loops and is hillier.  The last 31 miles includes a flatter and theoretically faster out-and-back running loosely along the road going down the east shore of the island, with a final counter-clockwise loop of Buffalo Point on the northwest corner.   (Note that the map incorrectly locates Mtn View Aid Station--it's at the trail intersection, so we went through it twice each 50 mile loop.)   link to same map below

The first 50 miles went pretty smoothly.

During the first 19 miles, we were running both above and below the fresh snow line, so at times could imagine I was running in the peaks of some distant Rocky Mountain range, minus the 5-digit altitude.  Parts of the trail were also very muddy as the snow melted, but most of the puddles were avoidable. 

They let us choose whether to do the short out-and-back to Elephant head or the counter-clockwise loop down to Split Rock Bay (see lower left corner on map), and most of us chose the out-and-back first opposite the order suggested by the map.

Elephant Head aid station, miles 5.3, 8.2, 13.5; 55.3, 58.2, 63.5
6 thanks, Elephant Head volunteers!
courtesy Davy Crockett

The mud was thick and clumpy on the detour back to the start/finish (around miles 16 and 17) the only unpleasant surface on the course.

Miles 19 through 30 was flatter, but still had its charms.

The Wasatch Mountains which I could see despite being right next to them while driving to the start due to the storm, from the island's east shore.  photo courtesy Davy Crockett

The half mile leading to the Lakeside Trailhead aid station, the last of each 50 mile loop went diagonally through a meadow.  Apparently this was a little confusing at night, but luckily I got there before dusk.

I got back to the halfway 50 mile mark (the start/finish) in 8:41:27, [GPS recorded map of miles 0-50] after turning on my headlamp in the last mile or two.  Coming into the start / finish, I passed Tim Long, who had been running very well and way ahead, but told me he was going to drop at 50 miles.  So now I was in 3rd place, but a far third place, as the guy in 2nd, rather famous, was hours ahead of me.

Karl Meltzer with his wife hanging out post-race.  He finished about 35 minutes behind the winner, Dan Vega.

I spent 7 minutes preparing for the night, then took off again.

Despite the dark, I ran well.  It helped that the puddles were smaller and the thick muddy part less clumpy-- the trails indeed drained well. I did notice the turnoff to the loop after leaving Elephant Head wasn't clearly marked.  Had I not been carrying a copy of the course map and referring to it, I probably would have missed the turn.  Finishing the loop I saw a woman had done this so would run the loop in reverse, which was probably harder since this involved running down the steeper technical slope.

I got back to the start/finish/mile 69 about 4 hours 35 minutes later, which was only a few minutes longer than it took me to run that 19 miles the first loop [GPS recorded map of miles 50-69] still in 3rd place, though I was being pursued by the next runner.  I had a lot to prepare, anticipating colder weather.  Thanks to Catra Corbett for helping me out there.  I spent 12 minutes at the aid station, allowing the guy who was trailing me to get ahead (I later verified it was 55-year-old local ultrarunner Davy Crockett, not to be confused with the historical Davy Crockett, "the man who don't know fear."

As I continued on, I could see that I was closing the distance with Mark Tanaka ahead of me.  I decided to try to finish off the rest of this loop strong and reel him in.  I kept gaining on him, but I think he noticed because his pace picked up.  That is the great thing about running in the dark, you can usually pick out the other runners nearby easily.  We reached race headquarters again before I caught him.
Mark was still in the aid station when I arrived and complemented me on catching up.  I was rather surprised to see him sitting casually with no urgency to get back out.   I realized that 3rdplace was out in the dark waiting for me to grab. 
Davy ran a great race, and an especially awesome time for someone in his mid-50s.

A mile after leaving, despite having run that course already, I noticed that I was running by some building I hadn't before.  The course had been marked with arrows on the road, but the road was wide so if you were running and looking on the wrong side of the wrong like I was, it was easy to take the wrong fork.  This points out the need to mark things more explicitly for night running-- in the daytime, you couldn't miss the markings.  (I'll tell the race director, who has proactively demonstrated much sincere interest in getting our feedback, perhaps my most important criterion in evaluating race directors.  This was the first year for the 100 mile race, so the first year runners had to navigate in the dark.)

However, the few minutes I spent getting lost and then getting back on course, during which 1 or 2 more runners probably passed me, turned out not to be a significant problem.  

Two bigger problems:   First, it got cold, dipping to at or below freezing, resulting in me getting too cold.  And, second, I think the altitude, though not super high (some would not even call it altitude, 4000-5000 feet above sea level), was making me a little sick.  Altitude is always trying to get me.

So, here were my (rounded) splits for the last 31 miles, which took my almost 10 hours, 80 minutes longer than it took me to run the first 50 miles.  Uh, I think this is called a positive split.

Note that some mileage discrepancies are due to inherent Garmin Forerunner error, and maybe my error pressing buttons on my GPS and my stopwatch, or maybe the map distances and mileages were off.

Two points-- I was moving really slowly, having trouble running rather than walking.  And I was spending a lot of time trying to warm up in the chair, spending almost 1 hour 45 minutes at 4 aid stations.  Thanks volunteers for helping me get through.

31 minutes, 1.87 miles out to Mountain View aid station (mile 70)
26 minutes, 1.80 miles to turnaround and back 
12 minutes at Mountain View aid station (mile 71.8)
1:22, 5.0 miles
13 minutes at Lower Frary Peak aid station (mile 77.4)
91 minutes, 5.65 miles
52 minutes at Ranch aid station freezing my ass off under blanket (mile 83)
97 minutes, 5.64 miles
25 minutes at Lower Frary Peak aid station (mile 88.7)
63 minutes, 4.83 miles
2 minutes at Mountain View aid station (mile 94)
32 minutes, 2.2 miles
8 minutes at Lakeside Trailhead aid station (mile 96)
57 minutes, 4 miles to finish

Special thanks to these two sisters helped me at Ranch, including piling on the blankets.  I stayed almost an hour.  Maybe that's too long, but they saved my life.

Marcia Nielsen and Maureen Miles Lee

Maybe a third significant problem slowing my pace.  Storing gels in the back pockets or your shorts may prove hazardous.  During one of the extended periods sitting or lying on my ass, probably at Ranch, I must have ruptured one or maybe two, an unprecedented gel disaster. It wasn't just a mess.  The stuff coated my hairs on my legs and perineal (crotch) area, then with certain movements (including running, which was sort of the point of the whole event) hurt me quite a bit.  Girls (and I dunno, maybe some of you sexy guys) think of a slow, drawn out, never ending bikini wax.  Pure torture!  It was the first painful insult to my beloved scrotum since last May's Masanutten 100.  At one point I tried stuffing paper towels and plastic bagging into my shorts to minimize the sticking and pain (to no avail).   It took several baby wipes post-race to make walking comfortable. 

aftermath of my shorts
(No, NOT one of my bodily fluids!)

By the way, these were the same shorts I wore at Masanutten, where the drawstring broke.
RaceReady did fix them for me.
However, recently gels keep flying out of the pockets on downhills-- does this happen to anyone else?

Catra Corbett came out mainly to watch Linda McFadden's dog (a long story) and crew her, but I got the benefit of a fair amount of help from her several times, especially at the Gate in Fence (start/finish) aid station (mile 69) and on the last visit to Lower Frary Peak aid station (mile 88.7), where she fed me Linda's uneaten pancakes, and pushed a caffeine tablet on me.  Although I  was suffering less from the cold, I was having severe attacks of the sleepies, which was further destroying my pace.  I had been literally swerving on the trail, almost falling asleep.  Duh, caffeine works.  I became a new convert to the pill form of it in for late-100 mile sleepies.  Thanks so much, Catra, and for helping me clean up post-race! 

I also saw Linda at Lower Frary, only 11 miles behind me.  She also later let me shower in her hotel room before I drove to the airport.  Thanks, Linda!

I left Lower Frary Peak with an old, large green Gore-tex jacket, or maybe a garbage bag, I can't remember, and soon became hot.  I then saw the leaders of the 50 mile and maybe 50k race coming the other way.  The leader was wearing Sportiva yellow, one of my newer teammates, Dylan Bowman.  He greeted me post-race, though he must have thought I was brain damaged since I was pretty spent.  his race report

50 mile winner in 6:15:36, celebrating with his girlfriend Courtnee

So during the slog during the flat, theoretically fast out-and-back, I got passed quite a bit, and ended up finishing 16th overall in 23:26:58 (per my stopwatch) although the last time I checked, the results still listed me as finishing 2 hours faster in 8th place.  (Despite having written Stride Racing, the timing people, about this.)

Buffalo stew really hits the spot after eating peanut butter and gels and other typical race food for 24 hours.

Even with another "miss," -- I was now 0 for 2 with running this year's 100-milers well-- the experience of getting through and finishing one of these races was and is always worth it.  Thanks RD Jim Skaggs and all the great volunteers for putting on such a great race.

I guess to run a clean, fast hundo this year, I'll have to try my luck farther east.

tangible memento I can wear above my crotch

Here's a cool trailer for an upcoming documentary on an upcoming speed record by Nikki Kimball this September on the 271 mile Long Trail (running the length of Vermont).  The trailer has lots of footage of Antelope Island during the 50k race on Saturday March 26th.

race website

my Garmin Forerunner 305 recorded maps again, if you want to geek out
miles 0-50
miles 50-69
miles 69-100