Saturday, January 8, 2011

Blood, Sweat, Tears and Other Bodily Fluids at the 2010 Firetrails Fifty Mile

Bodily fluids.  Have to deal with all of these at work.  But sometimes while at play too.

Lake Chabot (where the race begins and ends.  Taken years ago, from a different angle than seen during the race, held Saturday, October 9, 2010)


Aside from being a likeable guy, I like it when Chihping Fu and I run races together, because he brings his camera and takes lots of photos, which I can use in my blog reports.

This is not without risk, even in race like Firetrails, which as hinted by the name of the race, is relatively untechnical.  Near the turnaround, while snapping a photo, he tripped, wiped out and figuratively ate dirt.

Literally he bled.  Sometimes that happens on these races.  I've done this several times myself.


Luckily, it never got so hot during the day that the temperature became an issue.  The last few aid stations I dipped my Moeben sleeves in water, but no ice in the cap.


Lots of my teammates from the Rhomobile Quicksilver team showed up to run.  The team goal is to earn team points in the PAUSATF Ultra Grand Prix.  And even though our chief rivals, Team Tamalpa, could care less, we do, because I think winning gets us some partial race fee reimbusement.  And glory.

So, at the start, I was running with a group of my teammates-- Jean Pommier, Sean Lang, Toshi Hosaka (whom I met first at the 2nd Second Saratoga Fat Ass in February).   We Rho runners ran and chatted 1.5 miles until the bridge. 

Jean had his camera and told me he was not planning on running fast this year, and was intent on taking lots of pictures.  Nonetheless, he along with Sean (and they both ran Rio del Lago 100 mile three weeks earlier) and Toshi pulled ahead from me.   (Toshi would finish 2nd fastest rookie.)

I was breathing too hard.  This wasn't a pace I can maintain for 48 more miles.  I lost them.  I could make an excuse of having run too long several times a few days before while in Ohio, but most of it is that these young guys are too fast for me (well, Jean is actually three years older than me.  He would take a gazillion pictures and finish 18 minutes ahead of me and finish his blog report 3 months faster.  Show-off!)

photo by Jean Pommier

Nonetheless, it felt good to work it, to breathe hard this early in the race.

A large part of the improvement curve in 50 mile races is improving your willingness and ability to breathe hard the whole 50 miles.  Perhaps some people can extend this to 100 miles, but I can't.  But 50 miles is still runnable.  I'm not much faster than when I started running ultras 7-8 years ago.  I'm just pushing it at a given level longer.


I was starting to feel the urge to void on the long downhill to the turnaround in Tilden.  It would have made sense to try to pee on the return up hill, but somehow I though that a steady stream of runners would prevent me from doing that decently.  So I took a minute to go behind a tree behind the aid station (to which volunteers pointed when I asked if there were a portalet).  As it turned out, I was being peeranoid.

Later through the redwoods around mile 39 some runner I don't know catches up to me to ask if I peed on the trail.  There were some other pee marks before me, but I told him yeah, probably.  Sounding a little...pissed, he complained that he had to walk through it.  I apologized.  He seemed relieved to have gotten that out.  Then he dropped back with his pacer at an aid station, his pacer handing him back a bottle to be filled, which struck me as muling, but even if he had caught up with me later, I probably would not have mentioned it.

If anyone is pissed off at me, you are free to complain to me here in my comments.  Generally I try to pee to the side, but depending on the trail, this can be quite technical.


What did I eat yesterday?  Bad pit stops x2 early in the race, once right past Bort (mile 7.9) having to dig the hole with my foot, and the porta-potty at the 2nd aid station at Skyline (mile 15).  This resulted in passing and being passed by this one guy trying again to break the 50 and over course record (which he didn't, but admirable try) until I, being 7 years younger, was able to pull ahead.

Regarding the pit stops, I luckily could later write off 5 minutes lost on my 2010 form, and be done.

Too much information, eh?  But I started this bodily fluids theme.  Fluids.

Hey-- finally finishing and publishing these long overdue race reports feels kind of like taking a big dump.


After the race, I had fun hanging out.  No cell reception in the park, even to text, so I either had to borrow others' phones or walk up to Lake Chabot Road.  I wanted my wife to bring our kids so they could eat dinner there, and I could hang out longer.  It's a very festive, family friendly affair, the post-Firetrails Cafe.

On the way home, my younger son complained of a stomach ache, but he's always crying wolf about his tummy and other things, crafty, manipulative kid that he is, so neither mommy nor daddy took him seriously.  Finally, he proved his integrity by spewing thin vomitus all over our couch.  Followed by hourly repeats most of the early night.  Lots of sheet changing crying, not lots of sleep.

By next morning, he was able to take in fluids, and by Sunday evening, back to his baseline.

I assumed it was from one of the pasta salads he wolfed down at the picnic, that his older brother ignored, and that this was a toxin mediated (as opposed to direct bacterial or viral infection) based on the fast on and off symptoms (no diarrhea).  

Two days later, my working hypothesis is debunked, as his older brother comes down with the same thing.


Heading back through Chabot around mile 45, from Brandon Trail to Cascade Trail, this very large African American guy was screaming and making threatening gestures, and even attacking to a couple of marathon runners coming through.  I encounter agitated psychotic patients infrequently but regularly enough at work.  He sounded like he was about to lose it.  When I arrived at the last aid station, I told the volunteers, who had already been warned, and had called the park rangers.  Poor guy.  Fortunately no one got seriously hurt.  He was heroically calmed down by the the husband of writer/blogger/ultrarunner Sarah Lavender Smith (who was incidentally the 2nd or 3rd female rookie finisher--- congrats!).  
Sarah's heroic husband Morgan's account (a must-read) (not 100% sure, but I think you have to have a facebook account to read this.)

A few other select kudos:

Bree Lambert won women's race. Since I came 4th overall on our team, my points counted with hers for our Rhomobile Quicksilver mixed team in the PAUSATF Ultra Grand Prix.

photo by Jean Pommier I think

A few friends, familiar and new, finishing their first 50 mile run (this will not be a new blog report tradition, but I thought I'd clap for them publicly):

John Ostezan (left), who paced me the last 25 miles at Tahoe Rim Trail 100, Jean Pommier (not a rookie) at right.  Jean's race report and his race album of 329 photos

Erika Kikuchi, who decided to run this last-minute almost on a whim, choosing between, if I remember correctly, a 5k or this 50 miler.  (sligthly different, I guess...)

Stephen Wright

Baldwyn Chieh (not his first 50 mile, but he's been injured so long, it counts).  His inspiring blog report. How can my stupid post on bodily fluids be as inspiring?

with non-rookie Clement Choy on right


Gretchen said...

Well, it wouldn't really be a Mark-race-report without some mention of bodily fluids, right?

Was your new year's resolution to finish all old race reports? You're doing a great job so far. Very entertaining stuff, as always. Congrats!

Baldwyn said...

Aww shucks, thanks for the mention. I particularly enjoyed: "Hey-- finally finishing and publishing these long overdue race reports feels kind of like taking a big dump."

Lots of reading material from you for tonight. Maybe I should take the laptop into the bathroom to keep with the theme.