First off let recap that in month of July, I logged 143 miles of Run training. No Biking or Swimming, Running! that's pretty good I think :)
Back to Holy Freakn' Crap!! the Headlands Hundred race is a 50 mile and 100 mile trail race in the San Francisco Bay area, Sausalito, CA. Antonette and I drove up on Thursday and during this time we talked about many different scenarios, situations, problems that may occur, how we handle them, how to communicate to each other, and we even decided on when and if we have to leave each other what would the circumstances be. Once in San Fran we got settled in, met up with her family and had a nice relaxing time around the Golden Gate Bridge, downtown area.
Friday, we enjoy breakfast back downtown, only due to JT getting turned around and totally talking the wrong direction but turns out Okay b/c we had an awesome breakfast with her sister and I even got to see that crazy ZigZag street that is super steep and Drive Down it! Yes! Then we headed back to the hotel for pre-race run strategy, check point times for her family to meet us and just overall race day stuff. We also got race clothes, drop bags, nutrition plans, night lights (just in case) made up our Gatorade drink mixes and had it all laid out and ready to go. Then we met up with the other Las Vegas peeps and had a great dinner and talked more race stuff with everyone. Once back at the hotel it was time to settle down and try and get some sleep as the family would be picking us up at 5:15am to head over to registration.
The morning it was cold and a little windy which brought on the long sleeves and gloves and once after registration we had a little time for bathroom, gear prep and an additional layer of clothes. Many other runners were obviously used to this temp b/c they were wearing short sleeves. Once all the drop bags were situated it was just about time to start. All of us headed over to the road start and soon we were off at promptly 7am!
There was about 1/4 mile of running up the road when it took the turn to the left and the trail began. Of course we were all bunched together and walking was the only thing you could do, not only that it was immediately climbing so that's all you really wanted to do in the 1st mile of 50. Next thing I know were walking thru this tunnel overlooking the beach and another turn back through another tunnel heading away from the beach only to come out on the other side and see all the runners heading up this ugly set of stair switch backs! I could only Laugh. Once at the top of TWO! sets of stairs, (you couldn't see the 2nd set till you got done with the 1st set) we were finally on top of the mountain and some running started. I was already warmed up, sweating and breathing hard and this is mile 2.
We started running and before long we were running downhill into the first aid station, saw Antonettes family, said hello, dropped some clothes and moved on. As a Vegas group we had already slip up and didn't see the rest of them till mile 25 once we headed back out. So off we went to next check point at Miur (take a flying hike, I hate you) Beach! Talking with other runners that were doing the 100 miler was very motivating, especially since this guy was named John, 65 years old and was attempting his 1st 100 miler (john dnf'd at mile 38 due to leg problems :( Anyway, the next uphill was pretty bad, around 12% but then once at the top we were heading to Miur Beach and the down grade was so so steep (16%) we managed to run as best we could, make the turn around and head back up power walking.
We are at mile 8 and JT's morning starts going to Shit! The climb back to the top of that Nasty ass hill took it out of me. It's about a mile in length and with that grade I paid my 1st set of dues, yes, we will back at Miur Beach Hill around mile 42. Once to the top you are at the top of the steepest section but the trail turns and continues to climb gradually and steep for another 3 miles before you hit the total down slope section. Now as I said I started to have serious cramping issues under my liver (diaphragm) and I could not really figure out what was cramping. I thought I was drinking too much liquid, so I slowed down on that but no luck. I tried pushing on it, hold my stomach in, stretching side ways and anything else but the only thing I knew is that I wasn't able to run or barely run and the fast I went the more Sharp the pain became! It was really frustrating and Antonette was trying to help in any way she could but she could only do so much. Her patience and understanding were the best and I deeply appreciate her for that. It was so pissed b/c in parts where I knew we could make up some good time I couldn't run and it just kept me derailed for 15 miles!
At one point we are on the trail and it must be only about 2 feet wide with a drop to the other side and I was feeling pretty dizzy. I thought I needed sugar or gel or something but I had just taken one so I knew it wasn't that. I told Antonette and she thought it might be the elevation climb and the exertion which I totally agree with b/c just shortly after that we were descending and I felt better. Then we came to another aid station and her family was there and it was super up lifting for me to see them around mile 21, as I didn't think we would see them till 25. I grabbed some water, cooled down as it was sunny and hot by this time and we headed off for the turn around. I was able to run a little more but still not much better due to the cramping BS! The last 1 mile coming into 25 sucked b/c about 1/2 of it was on the actual beach and the sand as you know is just not friendly to run in. Which only meant that leaving mile 25 we would once again trek trough it to get back to the trail.
Mile 25: Once in, the family was at our every need and helping tremendously! They got anything we asked for and helped refuel the camelbaks! They just rocked! I was able to drink a whole bottle of Dr. Pepper, eat some chips, and a few other snacks but nothing like the PB&J's I had planned and had ready to eat. I tried eating one at mile 12 but no luck, as I basically knew the rest of the day my stomach didn't want PB&J. We got settled up and headed back out after about 10 min stop which was great b/c we were actually 30 mins ahead of schedule which was surprising and welcomed. Once through the sand and back on the road, I started feeling good and the camping was no longer around. We ran a couple of times and I felt it coming back and finally I thought to try breathing different and forcing my chest/stomach to work opposite of the diaphragm and as soon as I did that, that freakn' ass cramp STOP! It went away!!! I breathed a few more times like that to make sure and yup, it was gone. We ran a little more and no problems but now the tables had turned and Antonette's legs were really stiff and hurting and it was no time to run. I stayed on track to refuel, thanks to the help of her as she was a great time watcher and I really managed to keep that cramp away but my legs too were also stiffening up and we kept up our power walking through the really steep sections were we now heading back towards. Even though I was feeling better I really could not have gone any faster and us working together kept our pace around 16 min/miles. As Antonette had been watching over me and making sure I was Okay in the first half, I was now showing my appreciation for her and trying to help in any way I could.
Mile 34: Uncharted Territory! We were now beyond any of our training runs and passing aid station at this point we saw the family quickly and just kept moving as we would once see them again at mile 38. Things were Okay but the legs were definitely tired and not used to moving on this type of climbs and steepness we had been through. We would run here and there but as long as we were moving forward that was our main focus. Of course around mile 36 the wind picked up and again it made it cold and not having our other clothes as we had dumped them at mile 25 now made this little section a little harder to deal with. I really think from here till the end, Our race started. Yes there was issues we both dealing with earlier but the last 14 miles were of course hard but also strong for us.
Mile 38.3. Getting to this check point really took a long time to come down the long steep and slope that we had and once there it was really cold and windy. I was getting more Dr. Pepper, resupplying my gels, taking a Tylenol 800, putting Sports Rub on my entire legs and trying to help Antonette with anything I could as well. The family was there too and they were like Super Crew camps and had it down, got water, helped with the packs, trash, anything they were on it! So awesome and I couldn't thank them enough in the short time we had at all the stops. Again it was cold so we put our jackets back on and basically took back off to guess where, Freakn' Muir Beach. But no sooner than we were back on the trail Antonette said she needed to fix her toes as they were hurting. I thought she meant just adjust her shoes but she quickly said no that she had some blister that were hurting and needed to fix them or it was going to worse, so we immediately turned around and went back to the station to get our blister kit. Now not knowing really what to do with them we put some of the moleskin stuff around one of them which I can't even really understand how pain full it was but I knew it totally was b/c Antonette is tough and it was really hurting her. Once bandaged up, it was now the task of getting her sock and shoe back on and once that happened we were finally off again but it was a dicey situation there for a little as she knew the time was ticking away but I knew we had the time so all was Okay. Once back on the trail she was asking for time/pace update and I told her we would be Okay. We got back to the top of Miur Beach and headed down that steep grade, hit the aid station and quickly started back up. Now again, this is round 2 for me and although we are both feeling good now, her toes are much better, I have no cramping/breathing issues, this hill just kicked my ass! Again! I really couldn't believe that at mile 42 I was climbing this 16% mile long hill but I knew that once getting to the top it would be much better, funny, how you forget things 12 hours earlier! Anyway we made it to the top and kept going up the other short climbs to the breaking point where we could actually run. We were running and it was feeling good around mile 44 and next thing I knew we are running like a 11 min/pace which is just awesome. I went into the zone or something here and I was just running, no thought, no feeling, no nothing, Just Run! We added some good minutes to our cushion of making the 15 hour cut off as this was the only thing on the mind now. Once back to the aid station where we fixed the blisters (mile 38) its now mile 46 and we have 4 left.
The big ass climb I forgot about was not a little mental demoralizing as I was not really in the mood to climb another 1000 feet in less than 2 miles but with the sun coming down we powered walked and I kept track of pace. We stopped to get our head lamps out and now it was a little worse b/c as we were still climbing the mountain side you could see the head lamps from the 100 miler runners coming down and you could see how far you still had to go, so I tried not to look up too much. Once at the top it was 2 miles down, easy enough right! WRONG! By now Antonette is really in the zone and looking to get the end as well as I am but now my quads are just not having the down hill running and every step feels like my leg is going to give out. I know they are just tired and fatigued and I do everything I can Not to stop as that only makes it worse. I think overall I really just stopped thinking about how they felt and just worked to get to down that hill and those Stairs, (remember? from the 1st 2 miles) Yup, they are back! This is another part of the last 14 miles that I really liked for me as it was the least I could do for Antontte to lead the way down the stairs as she had been dragging my ass up the hills all day long. We made it though the stairs, through the tunnels and the last little bit to the road where we were back about 1/4 mile from the finish.
We were yelling and people were cheering us in as you could only here the people and they could only see our head lamps. It was great to finally see the finish line and cross together!! We did it! 14 hours 38 mins! The family was there and everyone was hugging and enjoying the accomplishment. It was simple amazing to be done, that we did it, that we worked together all day long, that we never gave up on each other, that we pushed each other, and that when we needed to give all we had we gave it!!
Having Antonette's family there all day really made the day even better as there energy, caring, and encouragement brings Heart to races like these. It has been the difference in triathlons (don't get me wrong, it's great to have family at tri's but they cannot help you one bit other than cheer you on, and in this race and my experience with Badwater, it just makes a huge difference, imo.)
50 miles!! Once celebrating, getting some food and changing clothes we talked about the day briefly and waited for the other Vegas runners to come in. After that it was to the hotel, shower and sleep.