Saturday, November 16, 2013

Cuyamaca 100k SoCal Vacation (Though the Run Wasn't Quite a Vacation)

Cuyamaca 100k, Saturday 12 October 2013

This race timed perfectly with a road trip to SoCal that I had been planning.  Overdue for my younger son.  His older brother enjoyed Disneyland 4 years ago and Legoland 3.5 years ago, but he was too young to ride much or remember anything, so I felt we should hit these two parks this fall, and before he got too old for Legoland.

I have mixed feelings about zoos, but the ones in San Diego are pretty nice.  This panda seemed quite happy checking the line of visitors out as he munched on bamboo.

So we did two days at Legoland, one day at the zoo, and one day at the museums in San Diego.   I learned the difference between mastodons and wooly mammoths, among other things.

Friday we drove up to the state park (Rancho Cuyamaca) and set up camp at the Green Valley site.

awesome turtle rock right at our campsite
 Both that (#2, mile 13.5) and the other campground, Paso Picacho (#4, mile 27.5) were aid stations for the course.  There was a large group of loud Chinese (national Chinese, not Chinese-Americans) nearby making a lot of noise until late, but I got some sleep.  I left my tent sometime after 5, walked almost a mile to the entrance to the campground, and tried to hitch.

You would think that out of the many people driving up to the race, some skinny Asian dude in a La Sportiva jacket with a duffel bag would look more like a fellow entrant, rather than a serial killer, but amazingly more than 12 cars passed me.  I was going to get desperate and throw myself into the middle of the road, when this very nice volunteer, finally stopped and picked me up to take me to the start at Camp Cuyamaca.

with volunteer Lisa post-race.  thanks, Lisa!
I don't do mile by mile narratives anymore, but here is the course profile:

When I got to the 2nd aid station, I was delighted to see my kids sitting on the curb waiting for me. I think this was the first time I've seen either of my kids at an aid station except at my first 100 mile run in 2005 (Rio del Lago) when my older one was but an infant.

While at their campsite, their mother had heard the sounds of clapping and cheering nearby.  She was convinced I had already passed through, but headed over to check it out.

Leaving there was a 9 mile split mostly ascending to the high point of the course and the park, Cuyamaca Peak at 6512 feet.  I noticed soon that almost everyone was carrying hydration packs, or at least two bottles.  I was able to run pretty well.  The route went through areas that looked like they were recovering from a fire.  My family later told me the story about the Cedar Fire, that they learned from a ranger at the Visitor Center near the race start and finish.

Basically it was set by a dumb-ass hunter (per my kids per the ranger, he was hunting in a place it was illegal to hunt).  From Wikipedia:

The Cedar Fire was started by Sergio Martinez of West Covina, California, a novice hunter who had been hunting in the area and had become lost. In court Martinez gave an account of his being lost earlier that day from his hunting partner; he said he did not call out for "fear of scaring away deer". At first he falsely told investigators that the fire was started accidentally by a gunshot, but he later recanted and admitted he started the fire intentionally to signal rescuers. After gathering sticks and brush together, Martinez lit the brush and quickly lost containment because of the heat, low humidity and low moisture content of surrounding vegetation. 
Martinez was charged on October 7, 2004 in federal court with setting the fire and lying about it.[12] On March 10, 2005, Martinez pleaded guilty to deliberately setting fire to timber, in a plea bargain under which the charge of lying to a federal officer was dropped. He could have faced up to five years in prison, but under the plea bargain he was sentenced to six months in minimum-security confinement, under which he was allowed to go to work and other commitments. He also was ordered to complete 960 hours of community service and five years' probation, and to pay $9,000 in restitution.[13]
The lead female caught up with me and passed me right before the top.

winner Sally McRae at the halfway mark
It was all downhill, literally and figuratively, from the peak.  My whole body was feeling super sore and tight.  The first part of the descent was somewhat technical-- lots of loose rocks and ruts, but even when the trail got smoother, my body didn't.  Aside from pain, which I can run through, I was just too stiff.

stiffly fueling up at Paso Picacho, mile 27+, photo by Keshan Dahiya
Several people passed me during the next 9 miles back to the start/finish/mile 31 point.  During the next loop of 12 miles, I fared no better, got passed a lot, but the scenery was still pretty beautiful.  It did no good to try to imagine the pain Jon Olsen did a couple of weeks ago setting the new North American 100 mile record, and try to convince myself that my pain was much less.

The 2nd loop was a short 12.6 miles that ascended to a very pretty plateau, but I continued to struggle, even (or maybe especially) on the descent.

At mile 44, before the 3rd and final loop, I was again surprised and really happy to see my family at the start/finish aid station.

My kids weren't very impressed with my performance.  "Dad!  Some guy already won, even before you got done with the 2nd loop."

winner and new course record holder Igor Campos with his dad before his dad goes to finish the 3rd loop
They also thought I was taking too long to get out of the aid station, but I had to pack my light, a jacket, gloves, food, etc.  I felt bad that I was going so slowly, and figured I would be finishing really late and would wake up my family getting into the tent.

I got some caffeine tabs,  (leftover from the ones Shir Kochavi gave me at Headlands Hundred the previous month),
drug deal caught on film...
Maybe since I am wearing the new La Sportiva cycling style cap, I have to fess up.
Though I deny using intimidating and bullying to keep fellow competitors in line.
Unfortunately I couldn't find any acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

Jack Cheng catches up with me, and we start talking.  I am initially apprehensive that he will pull ahead of me, but Jack gives me some ibuprofen and we keep each other motivated at a good pace.  Jack is a much more efficient and better fast-packer that I (he did the John Muir Trail in only (I think) 7 days with a lighter pack).   He also hasn't DNFd yet, though he had some close calls.  His finish streak is about half as long as my 10 year one.  We end up running pretty much the whole 18 mile 3rd loop together, even without waiting for each other at aid stations.  Near the finish, we pick up another friend of his, Sylvere Valentin.  Jack suggests we hold hands and cross the finish line together, an idea I whole-heartedly supported.  I was very happy with my third loop-- it's always great to overcome a tough spell and finish strong.

The three of us tied for 23rd through 25th place, but for some reason I got the coveted 23rd place in the official results
Sylver somehow missed the cue to bit his medal.
Again I was surprised that my wife and kids were there at the finish.  My older son got a big kick out of helping announce the runner's bib numbers as they approached the finish.  My younger son won the affections of a cute girl whose mother was still out on the course.

After a hot shower and stuffing myself with make-it-yourself burritos, we headed back to the campsite.

race schwag.  with La Sportiva Ultra Raptor left shoe that helped me get there.
I have since figured out the medal can take caps off bottles.
Credit to my younger son for figuring out it was "magnetical."

GPS 1st half
GPS 2nd half

results with splits, including drops
results on
results on ultrasignup


The next day, we hike up Stonewall Peak from Paso Picacho, 5730 feet above sea level.  It was really windy and the final few yards were sort of scary for the kids.

My wife was not happy that it got to about 40 degrees F at night at the campground.  Luckily, it was time to head to Disneyland, where it was not so cold at night.  My kids had a blast, enjoying rides that I couldn't handle when I was older than they are now.

relatively benign ride, quite fun, but much work to get the FastPass tix
Tower of Terror, one of my favorites
I ran several of miles of recovery each of three days, running from the Embassy Suites after I dropped my family off and parked, running to get the car in the evening, and running ahead while in the park to get the FastPasses so we could avoid lines.  My otherwise useless hobby, sometimes, comes in handy!

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