Thursday, July 25, 2013

Tahoe Rim Trail 100 Mile #4 -- Things Warm Up a Bit...

Tahoe Rim Trail 100 Mile Endurance Run
Saturday-Sunday 20-21 July 2013

coming into Tunnel Creek aid station, mile 12, right before changing into the tank top
photo by Janeth Siva

I came in and out of the Spooner Lake start/finish/50 mile aid station a few minutes before 4 pm (11 hours) feeling pretty optimistic-- if things continued to go well, I could finish under 24 hours, and maybe even beat my 2010 race PR.  Night was coming-- things were going to cool down.  I felt like I was running smartly and conservatively, having avoided "racing" anyone all day, saving my quads by not hammering the downhills, drinking and eating enough, dousing my sleeves, putting ice in my cap, even applying sunscreen on my shoulders, exposed with the new La Sportiva tank top uniform the last race (Inside Trail Marin Ultra Challenge 50 mile).

photo by Mountain Peak Fitness

with Juan and Federico Sanchez ultrarunning brothers from St. Helena
saw them often first half, intentionally running close together,
 though they had really good sun protection on their heads,
so had no idea what they faces looked like

When I felt really hot, I backed off, allowing a few extra minutes compared to my 2010 splits.  Although the previous week I had not been able to run due to a post-John Muir Trail speed hike groin strain, that same week pushing my limits at high altitude had to have been worth something.
Pre-Race Acclimitazation Effort

In a few stretches, I had been able to cut some of my times-- I attributed this largely to the extra night I spent at altitude. 
Normally I come up to Tahoe the day before the race, and then more often than not sleep in Carson City, which is below 5000 feet elevation. This year, I got off my ED shift before 3, drove up to Carson Pass near Kirkwood Ski Resort on Highway 88. 
Mental note: when you buy a pint of B&J's chocolate ice cream at 2000 feet and take it to 7000 feet and open it when you are stopped for road work, the melted ice cream on the top will explode and splatter all over your face, work scrubs and car seats and dashboard, which sucks though in a funny kind of way since it's not like you have to go to an emergency department.  Don't try this in your own car! 
Three first-come first-served campsites on my list were full. As it grew dark, in a pinch, I parked in an overflow parking lot in the mid 7000s, and just set up my tent.  Told tell the rangers!

The next day I drove up to the pass (mid-8000s) and studied an emergency medicine board review book (though not due until next year, I might take the recertification exam this September.  Which is another reason I should stop trying to blog...)  I read all morning by this rock

until the last minute to get to Carson City to drop off my drop bags, and attend the pre-race meeting. 

with some Quicksilver Ultrarunning teammates
Jean Pommier's (far left) report
That evening I slept at Zephyr Cove campground by the lake. Probably the extra 1500 feet altitude compared to Carson City was not worth the hassle and legwork of a long uphill hike to the campsite and the noise on a Friday night (ear plugs helped a bit).
I might have screwed over Quicksilver teammate Marco Denson by inviting him to share the campsite, 
since he said he barely slept; but he finished the 50 mile race nonetheless
I woke up at 2 am and never got back to sleep, so knew I might get sleepy running the next night. But during that first day, it was obvious that I was spared the previously inevitable altitude sickness including the pounding headache I usually get whenever I try to run at this altitude races, or even power walk above 7500 feet. 
Back to the Race-- I Start Crumping in the 2nd Half

photo by John Burton

So anyway, after getting in and out of the 50 mile Spooner Lake aid station fast (thanks including to Quicksilver Ultrarunning Teammate John Burton, who was crewing his wife Amy, at that time behind me), I headed out and toward Hobart still optimistic.  It is easy to underestimate this climb, probably because the 1st time runners do it, they are all fresh at the start of the race.  But it is almost 7 miles, with per my Forerunner, 1788 feet gain and 452 feet loss.

My 24 ounce bottle quickly ran dry.  I was going to pick up my Ultimate Direction Wasp hydration pack at Hobart, whoops-- one aid station too late.  A couple of the 6-7 runners who passed me this stretch offered me some water they could spare.  I used to worry this was a form of muling that might disqualify me, but no longer sweat it, and besides, I am always at a disadvantage being unpaced and uncrewed.  It took me 2:07 to get to Hobart, compared to 1:21the first time.

Then it took me another full half hour to recover-- rehydrate, refuel (gels or food can't help you when you are out of liquid) at Hobart.

The next splits were all disproportionately slower:  84 versus 1st time 53 minutes to Tunnel Creek over Marlette Peak, 2 hours versus 1:15 for the Red House Loop.  Back at Tunnel Creek I spent more than half an hour trying to eat again.  I thought of lying down for a nap, but the food I forced into my stomach would reflux when I laid down and there was too much noise including loud music (a great mental boost otherwise) to really sleep.

Going out to Bull Wheel, a section I did faster this morning than when I sub-24ed in 2010, I really got the sleepies.  Caffeine didn't help.  I started swerving, would lean against trees or rocks and close my eyes for a few seconds, and several times, laid down on rocks, using my Wasp pack as a pillow for a few minutes, until I started getting cold or attacked by bugs.

When I was up, anything resembled running made me nauseated, and this was something that couldn't be medicated away by ginger or any medications.

Brief Update Regarding My Thoughts About the Need to Sleep and Ultrarunning 
In addition to how much sleep you get the nights before a race, the other factor is what happens during the first day.  The heat during the day probably increased the number of people getting the sleepies (and other problems during the night).  General consensus was this was the hottest TRT ever.
Cot space was often in high demand.  I think there can also be a delayed effect-- hence, I felt pretty good the whole first 50-mile lap, then deteriorated.  There were others who experienced similar, with onsets even later than mine (when it was cooler). 
The caffeine resistant drowsiness, extreme malaise when I tried to run-- both of these were my body deciding to take control: "Okay, I let you get by for 50 miles feeling pretty good, but enough is enough.  Stop and rest now.  I said now.  Okay, you stubborn idiot, you asked for it...."

By this point, it was clear that even if I could recover, 24 hours was out of the question, and even the thought of pushing things to make 30 hours (the next tier buckle) increased my nausea.

I tried to sleep on cots at both Bull Wheel spending almost 40 minutes there.  I thought this would renew me enough that the sleepiness would go away, but away a slow descent to Diamond Peak, I repeated the process.

Total time from Spooner (mile 50) to Diamond Peak (80) including my nap there :  11 hours 45 minutes (compared to less than 11 hours for the first 50 miles).  This was starting to resemble my first TRT 100 in 2006, when I finished DFL.

I had my Black Diamond Z-poles, one of them half destroyed when I slipped while going over scree next to a mountain stream while speed-hiking the John Muir Trail a couple of week earlier.  This helped my legs, though I still continued to get passed.  I started to see runners heading back down the other way -- dropping out of the race after 80 to 90 miles (!)  Most of them without the limp of the maimed.  Looking back down, the setting moon was the color of a blood orange, reflected in Lake Tahoe.  Although not obvious at the time, all the suffering of the past 30 miles was probably worth those views.

not this guy though, whom I'd never heard of until I googled "blood orange"

I couldn't find one with mountains on the horizon.  The moon I enjoyed everytime I looked back was better!

Things stayed tough, but I didn't take any more naps the last 20 miles-- it helped that the sun came up.  I still needed maximal aid station help.  There were many volunteers at the aid stations I can't thank enough (and many of whose names I can't remember, except for a Daniela, thanks so much too).  You were all great!  As an unpaced, uncrewed runner, I rely on you all, and even more so when I deteriorate. xoxoxo

with Tunnel Creek volunteers Kelly Haston and Noé Castañón at the finish

Tiered awards are a good thing-- something to shoot for.  During the night, I thought the 30-hour silver medallion buckle might be too hard to reach, but by the time I got up to Snow Valley, I took the luxury of finishing off some mango sorbet the volunteer Boy Scouts offered me, and was able to make it in with 25 minutes to spare (60th overall, 29:35:29).

master craftsman Peter Schuler, who spends 2-3 hour making each buckle by hand,
engraving the times onto the backs at the finisher's area.

GPS recordings:
miles 0-50
miles 50-80
miles 80-100 must wait an anticipated new computer purchase in September, since my current one can't handle the Forerunner 310XT software

official results
Note, since not in the results:  There were exactly 200 starters in the 100 mile race, so a 59% finish rate, the lowest in the event's history.

Giving eventual 100 mile overall champion Bob Shebest some valuable advice.
If you get to talk with me right the start of one of these things, you be way lucky and might win too.
photo by Janeth Siva webcast (can view splits by runner or aid station, includes a list of starters-- I suspect this link won't work forever)

with Ray Sanchez, pre-race. 
Ray was nice enough to tell me during the race that I was one of two people he really respected.I can't remember the name of the other guy he mentioned, and the reason I made his list made no sense to me, but hey, thanks, Ray!  So to mention respect, Ray continues to earn mine, having just finished Badwater a few days ago

photo by Jeff Stowall

Meanwhile, Tetsuro Ogata, had just completed Hardrock last week.
Sugoi! as they say in my ancestral land.
See you back in the states sometime next year!

1 comment:

John Nguyen said...

A race report that is on time! I wonder if this rendered all your readers speechless! Congrats on another 100 mile finish, in tough conditions!