Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Zion 100 Mile, Revised

Zion 100 Mile
Friday-Saturday, April 19-20, 2013

The course was revamped by RD Matt Gunn, who had always demonstrated a commitment to making this race the best possible.  Lots of changes, all for the better, if not for the easier.  Having run both the previous inaugural year (2012) and this year (2013), I think the new course better showcased the beautiful scenery next to Zion National Park.  my 2012 race report

2013 elevation profile
2012 inaugural race map, laid to rest
I was undertrained for this race.  Here is my litany of whiny reasons why I was under-trained (that you may skip to the next bold font section):

I paced the Oakland Marathon 2 weekends before.  I would have done 3:20 or 3:30, as I had done previously, but my friend was aiming to run 3:40, so I decided to lead that pace group.  My friend ended up qualifying for Boston, but the run was hardly a workout for me (I was barely breathing faster than normal, it felt like).  Due to my work schedule, I could not get a good run the following week.  Then I left for a vacation in Mexico.  I finally got to get my runs in, but it was flat there and not the best running.

?picture of Mexico?

The day after we returned from our trip real late, I worked an 11 hour shift, somehow managing to evade exhaustion, but at 3 am awoke with leg cramping, and then the urge to defecate, following by severe cramping abdominal pain and thin liquidy diarrhea the rest of the night until my system was cleared out.  I called in sick for maybe the 4th time in my career, and slept all day.  Despite improving, I was too weak and tired to go running.  By another day off on Friday, six days before Zion, I was determined to get a long run in.  Besides wanting to exercise, I needed to assess my fitness level with the undertraining followed by illness.

I ran Chihping's Fu's inaugural Moon Eye Fat Ass, going for the longest distance of 40 miles.  It took me 2-3 hours longer than it should have, but I was able to finish.  The last 10-20 miles felt like the the last 10-20 miles of a 100-mile run.

?Moon Eye photo?

I didn't know if I was fully recovered over the weekend, since working overnights always makes me feel a little sick.  Finally Tuesday, after a normal night's sleep, I realized I was better.  Just in time.

I got in really late and missed the packet pick up and the free wood fired pizza.

My flight out of Oakland on Thursday was scheduled for 1:30, getting into Las Vegas around 3.  While working from home, I was horrified to read an email saying my flight was delayed, eventually the departure time settled at 4 pm. As it turned out, the Southwest jet was coming from somewhere in the Midwest where they were having horrific storms, causing the delay.  I ended up getting in close to 6 pm, and since I was missing the included free pre-race dinner (wood-fired pizza),

Grumpy Goat pizzas, from their blog
I had to stop for food and look for a hotel near race start.  I got in late.  I was already short of sleep, so knew I would likely get sleepy during the race.

aerial view in Michigan two days later
I guess I shouldn't complain too much about losing my free pizza and some pre-race shut-eye...
The other thing I missed was picking up a baton to carry during the race, to honor the Boston Marathon bombing victims.  They were delivered to them afterwards.

The course was modified from the previous (first) year.  The part we did at the end, which I ran in the dark, we did first, so I got to enjoy some gorgeous scenery for the first time.

I got to run and chat with Jennifer Benna again, whom I met at Tahoe Rim Trail 100 mile two years prior.  This time I suspect she stayed with me to make sure she didn't go out too fast early.  We ran together off and on for 15-20 miles.  She was no longer lactating.  I got to hear she was working with her husband JB on a documentary about ultrarunning women.  I think I suggested they also include an older woman to give the film some more longitudinal depth; maybe they already have their hands full.  I was amused when she complained after we passed through the first aids station that her hubbie was too busy shooting footage on her, rather than helping crew her at the aid stations.  JB, where were your priorities?

Jenn with her daughter in Barcelona (ran Transvulcania 83k) the following month
Before too long, Jen got tired of my pace and went ahead, she would eventually finish almost 5 hours ahead of me in a formidable 19:01, women's champion and 5th overall.  Jenn's race report

I had another crotch mishap
This happened at Eagle Crags aid station, mile 44, different from my worst running crotch mishap.
This was atop a hill with a nice view, the end of an out and back three miles each way, and was not on the course the previous year
It getting quite warm, I want to relube my crotch.  There were two jars, one of Vaseline, and the other this fancy looking stuff.  Unable to figure it out myself, I asked a volunteer is the other stuff was safe as crotch lube.  He looked at it, maybe asked around, and told me it should be.  So I take a large glob of it, apply it to both sides of my jewels, and proceed to the portapotty, where a useful good thing occurred, and a not so useful really bad thing was felt.

It wasn't this, but same idea.  Do NOT apply to genital area.

How the race ended
Last year, climbing Flying Monkey Trail at the very beginning of the race, was challenging but fun-- you sometime had to use your hands, there was one part with a hanging rope to help you get up an almost vertical rock side.  This year, coming at between miles 85 and 87, and for me in the dark, it was REALLY challenging, run and at times downright scary (when I realized much of it is atop a steep cliff).  I did enjoy the eerily cool ring-shaped cloud formation illuminated by the half-moon up ahead.

photo of the climb at the beginning of the previous year's inaugural race
photo from fastcory.com
no monkey this year either
After flattening and even descending at times, the route turned right, up a fire road.  Less intellectually stimulating, and despite two caffeinated gels with 50 mg each in the preceding 15 miles, I started to get really sleepy.  I swerved at times, and then finally, found myself off the side of the road, about to fall (so actually fell asleep for a couple of seconds).  Oops-- falling asleep was neither advantageous for my time nor conducive to staying alive.  I would later post this facebook, which my dad (who really doesn't say much about my running) would read and then scold me for (on facebook) for behaving recklessly and endangering my life.  I fumbled through my pack and found a caffeine chew, as my headlamp gave more warning blinks that the batteries were running low.

My GPS read 3:55-- I recalled changing the time zone on one of the three Garmins I brought, but couldn't recall which.  If this were Pacific Time, then there was no way I would make 24 hours, and I had assumed hours ago that is wasn't likely to happen.

At the aid station just past 4 am, I learned it was Rocky Mountain Time--ugh, I could make it and therefore need to inflict more pain on myself, even though there is no special sub-24 hour buckle.

but they are all hand-made and unique and quite pleasing to the eye

I had to change the battery pack for my awesome Petzl Nao headlamp, though.  The strings got tangled though, and being a new model, I knew better than to ask a volunteer to help.  I thought to myself that if I missed 24 hours by 2-3 minutes, I might be irritating at myself for screwing up the headlamp maintenance.

I was quoted a 3 mile out and back.  After downing two 50 mg caffeinated gels and water, I left my bottle and my pack at the aid station to save weight and took off at a relatively fast pace (by my estimate, about as fast as the leaders would have run it, it they kept a constant pace).

Even with the pack back on, I continued to pass runners.  My glove came off when I opened a gate leading to the roads close to the finish.  Normally I'd look to pick it up but I was in a rush as the next guy (later ID'd as Jack Carey) was catching up (I later drove back to get it).  I accelerated even more, but hitting the road, couldn't see any sign, and I or the runner chasing me couldn't remember if the start/finish area was on the same or the opposite side of the street.  The other guy then saw sign across the street and took off.  I was sort of irritated at giving up a place so late until I realized that I was likely going to be the last person to finish under 24 hours, which always way cool, and cooler than finishing as the 2nd to last sub-24 dude.  Hence, I let the other guy finish less glamorously.  Sucka!

apparently the next to finish was the famous Pam Reed; I have yet to meet and chat with her

GPS recordings of my run:
miles 0-52
miles 52-77
miles 77-100

the ever-changing blog race old website

This year (2014), Matt Gunn has picked up Tim Long (who finished 17th) as a co-RD, and added several new races under their new company Ultra Adventures.  The date for Zion has been moved up a couple of weeks to the first weekend in April...oh, I guess in a few days.  Do I have to get packed really fast?