Tuesday, January 11, 2011

STORMY 100 Mile (Pacific Northwest race #1)

photo by Lucinda Iglesias

I had wanted to run Cascade Crest 100 Mile at the end of August of 2008, but figured I needed to get my parents to come out to help my wife with the kids while I was running.  The earlier days for STORMY (Squamish Test of Running Mettle, Yeah!) 100, August 9-10, worked better for them.  To sweeten the deal I told them I was willing to pay for all the lodging. 

I ran into Baldwyn Lee from BC before Miwok 100k in May.  He told me he was running STORMY, and so I asked him about the course, particularly if I needed trail shoes.  Back then I was less experienced interpreting total elevation changes, and thought that 10-12 thousand feet over 100 miles might allow road shoes.

Baldwyn, stolen from his blog.

"Road shoes, definitely," he told me.
I was surprised at his certainty.  "Really?"
"Totally.  Road shoes.  It's completely UNtechnical."
"Oh, okay, thanks."

The next month (June) I ran into Gary Robbins (who I met early on the course at Miwok) at Kettle Moraine 100 mile.  He was there to pace a friend.  I decided to get a second opinion about the shoes.

"Trail shoes," he told me, as firmly as Baldwyn gave his opposite answer a month earlier.
"Really?  Baldwyn Lee told me road shoes."
"Well, no offense to Baldwyn, who's a nice guy, but look where he finishes.  I guess if you run that slowly, you can run anything in road shoes."
"Good point.  Thanks!"

In any case, I got the one available comped entry via La Sportiva that year, so figured I should wear my Lynx. (This shoe has since been at last in the U.S. discontinued.  It was a great shoe, but I do like the newer Wildcat and Raptor better.)

The night before the race, we went to friends of my parents they knew through the city's symphony orchestra, who now lived in Vancouver.  The wife went all out with the hospitality, preparing this multi-course feast, while I was scared my kids would trash their really nicely decorated, un-childproofed house.

a small part of the spread

We got home late, so at the time I was relieved that the race wouldn't start until noon the next day.

Although I slept okay, I had a long-running sleep deficit from the previous couple of weeks, and wanted to sleep longer.  There were traffic delays on the road to Squamish due to improvements being made for the 2010 Winter Olympics, but we had plenty of time.

Race Director Wendy Montgomery gave the pre-race talk.

Out of gazillion of photos my then 3-year-old older son snapped while on his rampage, this was the probably the best.

These were more typical:

(Now almost twice the age we was back then, he's become much better at framing shots now.)

The race was a diverse mix of terrain, from a few stretches of pavement, such as at the start...

...to single-track, some of it quite technical, though that pictured here was quite tame.

But it was all quite pretty.

link to course map if you want to see it bigger
(The course had apparently been modified a couple times since the 2008 race, but not by much.)

A good number of runners pushed the pace at the start, but Gary Robbins was playing it conservatively, being his first 100 miler.  He caught up to me around the Alice Lake and we ran together a few miles mostly paved.

Suddenly, the course veered into dense forest, and the twisty trail descended.  As I struggled with the roots and rocks, forced to walk clumsily down the slope, Gary bounded gracefully and aggressively ahead-- I was amazed.  I would end up not seeing him again, and he would win in 17:39:03, setting a course record that has survived the next two years.

Almost a year ago (as I am about to publish this), Gary won and set the new record of 20:12:00 for the super-technical HURT 100 mile race in Hawaii (which I am about to run in a few days.  Unfortunately, an injury has precluded Gary's racing this year.)  I feel privileged to have been one of the first to witness his superb cerebellar skills.

This and next several race and immediate post-race photos by super-volunteer Lucinda Iglesias

A short loop past Quest University, had us run up a fire road but down a single track (rather than the other way around, which would have been much easier and quicker).  I almost tripped several times on the technical descent.   In the late afternoon, though I had been only running a few hours, I could feel the heat wearing me down.  But I was able to make it back to the start/finish/50 mile mark shortly after it got dark.

Heading out on the second loop through the town of Squamish, I was tempted to run into and plunk myself down in a movie theater and call it a day.  Good thing I had no money on me!

The lack of sleep along with the double-edge sword of the noon start  really wore me down.   During the night, I was sleepy and exhausted-- the week leading up to the race I had a tough work schedule and had slept poorly.  Doing the same loop again without sunlight was psychologically tough.  I vaguely remember whining too much about lousy I was feeling.  The volunteers were nonetheless always, cheerful, helpful and great.  (You have no idea how guilty I have felt getting this report out to write that last sentence until now, 2 1/2 years later!)

The sun came up before the southern turnaround.  Nonetheless, the technical section during the end of the loop, killed my toes.  It was technically challenging enough the first lap, but the second time around, with the dark, drizzling rain and my fatigue, I stubbed them dozens of times and tripped a few.  During this time, I knew the #4 runner was in hot pursuit.  His girlfriend was nice enough to carry my drop bags back to the finish so I wouldn't have to wait for them.

Sukhi Muker finishing 4th overall with his pacer.

An emotional moment with his girlfriend and crew.

I finished 3rd overall in 21:12:22, much slower than I'd anticipated.  It's not just elevation gain that counts.

No age-group award for me, since Darren Froese finished 40 minutes ahea, din 20:33:32.

In addition to the standard tech tee-shirt and finisher's buckle, we all got a cool ski cap as hip as useful swag.  I have managed not to lose this cap yet, and love it.

My wife really loved Vancouver, and wants to check out Whistler so I hope to return to again run this race in the scenic and pretty town of Squamish caught between those two places.  This year's race will start at 10 a.m. (rather than the evil start time of noon) on Sunday, August 6, 2011, with the 50-mile race starting Sunday at 6 a.m.

2008 100 mile race results (18 finishers out of 30 starters)
lots (931) of great photos by amazing volunteer Lucinda Iglesias
official race website

Other blogged reports from 2008:

Gary Robbins (1st place and new and still current course record)


Two days later my family, parents, and I climbed up Grouse Mountain, which due to my tired legs and load (my son did hike up some of it), kicked my butt.

If you are a runner, the climb up Grouse Mountain is great.  You can pay them money and have an official time recorded.  Because of all the foot traffic, you are not supposed to run down, but pay for the tram ride down.  Apparently a few people ignore this daily. (I confess that if I lived in the Vancouver, I could see myself doing this especially on a weekday.)

For those with kids, the free shows at the top of the mountain are fun for the whole family.

The next week we drove back to Seattle and saw friends.  Mostly I took it easy, eating, doing only one easy hike, and hanging out of the beach to practice my juggling....

(okay, just a joke, that wasn't me-- too uncoordinated!)

Tiger Mountain.  Thanks again guys for letting us stay with you!

But when we went up north to our friend's dad's house on a lake, I was able to do some water skiing and wakeboarding.  No easy feat a few days after a 100-miler-- the seconds before my legs could take it no longer and I would finally wipe out were utter agony!


Anonymous said...

Great report. Trail shoes were apparently the right choice. Looks like a beautiful place to run!

Fairbanks said...

Great blog!!!!

Cool report on stormy. I'm thinking about heading up for that race next year.