Sunday, November 11, 2012

Coyote Springs 100 Recap.


It took me a lot longer than I wanted or expected but I got it done. One of the nice things about Coyote Springs 100 if you ever decide to run it is that the web site lists 33 hours as cut off time, there really is no cut off time as long as you are moving and making progress, you will get an official finish. The RD's state the 33 hours simply because they do no want someone coming and taking 3 days to finish, and to keep it from a hour based event such as 24, 48, 72 hour events. At the start of the race they made this statement and instructed everyone that they would be here as long as runners were still moving along the course. This is also a 6 loop course, each loop 16.6 miles and pretty runable throughout the entire course, yes, there are some sections that are harder and technical but for the most part very doable. Also there is about 6600 feet of ascent during the 100 miles with 3 aid stations.

I arrived feeling good, really good. I was ready! Mentally and physically. Mentally I think I knew I had already finished this race and now it was just a matter of physically doing it. Why? Maybe the several hours of non-stop motivation podcasts from Making Mountains Move, Joel Osteen, and others. Seriously, I had my iphone, ipod continued to listen to all types of great stuff leading up to race day. 

Temperatures for the race were expected to be 40's to 80's so I had a good arrangement of clothes. At the starting line I was cold so I had my big jacket that I used at LOL100 when it was 18* but after chatting with Ron, running the 50 miler and accomplished 100 miler finished he suggested I not take it because I would warm up once we started and sure enough that was true. I even had to take off one of the long sleeves and wrap it around my waist. I started off very slow and making sure I was not going out too fast. I ran with Steve Hernandez for the first 3 loops and he eventually dropped at the 50 mile distance because his feet were done and not fully recovered from a couple of previous 100 mile races he had completed. 

The first 2 loops were pretty uneventful and just making sure to complete the loops and keep fueling. The second loop was actually warm and Steve and I actually walked quite a bit knowing we could make up some time on the 4th loop as the sun went down and it was dark. At the start of the 2nd loop I was at the start/finish aid station and hamburgers were being cooked up so I quickly asked for one, I was already hungry so I thought might as well while I fixed up my left foot hot spot and added some more BlisterShield to my sock. Soon the 3rd loop was starting and just after I left the the start/finish aid I realized I forgot my light and it was going to be dark so I had to go back about 1/4 mile and get it but I do remember that as we originially started the loop I ate another hamburger and some chocolate cake. Finishing up this loop was nice because it meant picking up my first pacer which was Izaac who would take me from mile 50-66. 

At the aid station I remember eating another hamburger and more chocolate cake, working on my left foot again to prevent blisters, getting extra shirt and gloves for the night and Izaac getting my head lamp, Black Diamond, which I have used before. As we started out on the 4th loop I soon realized that the head lamp was simply not enough light and although I had my flash light it was still difficult to see the trail. I eventually switched head lamps with Izaac and I could see somewhat better but still not enough to be confident to run! Matter of fact just as I thought I was confident I started running and Bam! I kicked some rock and went flying, luckily, not hitting the ground but my left toe sure took a hit and even today it's still slightly sore and my toe nail so black n blue. So with that I ended the running for the most part and walked jogged in some places but just kept moving. At the back aid stations I ate Potato Soup, Chicken Noodle Soup, Fruit Cups, and Potatoes. One of the great things about the aid stations was that the two were a little different in offering stuff. 

By the end of the 4th loop Tim would be here to help pace through the darkest hours of the morning/night. I remember eating a cheese quesidilla and some more chocolate cake and a couple of potatoes. I also had some trail mix in my pocket that I snacked on through out the day and made sure to keep to full. So far I had only drank 1 bottle of Infinite and 2 bottles of Cytomax but other than that I didn't have any other type of high profile runner food/hydration stuff. 

Starting the 5th loop with Tim I was sure to change out my head lamps to the my Fenix which proved so much better to light the trail as well as fresh batteries in my flashlight. With that combination I could easily see much better but I was starting to get tired. At the start/finish aid station I grabbed some caffeine drink for my hand held bottle that I could sip on as I pressed on. I also had that extra long sleeve shirt as I knew it was going to get colder in the early morning hours and at one time I thought I should have brought my jacket but figured I was just moving very slow and ran a little more to warm up. Finally, about 3am I was sunk! I was in complete sleepy zone and even having Tim in front of me to help lead the way I simply could not move fast enough or wake up even with my caffeine! It was frustrating but not as bad as LOL100. I kept moving and calculating the time till the Sun started to crack and I would start waking up but it would not come soon enough. After passing the first aid station the Sun started to break and it was a welcoming site heading to the next aid station. I was able to run a little but was just simply tired. After the second aid station a little more running and soon back at the start/finish line getting some more food and preparing for the final and last loop, #6.

I would be alone on this final loop, the Sun was up and it was getting warm Dez would be at the finish line and with 16.6 miles left I knew it was going to take some time to finish but I had it in my favor. My right foot had now turned against me, maybe because I had not taken care of it like I had my left foot early on in the run but I was in no mood to stop and tend to it now. As I started the final loop I left the start/finish area and was simply pissed! I was made because the Sun was up and I knew it was going to be hot, I was mad because I was clearly the last runner, I was mad because my foot was bothering but really this mad just cause a simple whimpering in knowing that I was not defeated but I had to really dig in to finish this! I walked as fast as I could taking a few short jogs in areas I knew I could take advantage of. By now both of my Big toes were banged up and all the downhill was killing with each downward step, I was actually doing better going uphill. I had my hat pulled down low that I didn't even want to see where I was or how much farther to the aid station, as you could see it from a distance, and I just walked as fast as possible. As I came up to the first aid station I could see a car which looked like Dez's car and as I got closer I realized it was her's. This just seemed to bring a sobbing emotion for the support she was showing and knowing that she was closer than I expected. I rolled into the aid station and quickly sat down. She goes me some food and cold water to pour over my head to cool down. Good thing about being last is that I had free roam of ALL the aid station so I didn't have to worry about taking the last of the ice! She reassured me I was doing good but knowing I still had 13 mile was far from good in my mind! I told her it was going to take me 2 hours to return to the next aid station and with her reassurance it was okay because then I would only have 6 miles left! I like the way she was thinking but really not helping in the grand scheme of things.

I pressed on and again kept my head down and soon enough I arrived at the last aid station with Dez waiting. I knew I only have 6 miles left so I was quick to leave the aid station and keep moving. My goal was simply to make it back to the start/finish tent where I could finish out my last 1.5 mile out/back of the last and final loop. I arrived and quickly dumped some things I had been carrying. I told Dez I'll be right back and headed out to the dreaded cone 1.5 miles away. I tried running but quickly realized my right foot was not going to take it and gave me a sharp pain and stopped me from running. I proceeded to walk as fast as I could keeping my head down and finally reaching the turn around cone for the 6th and final time. I was quick to yell at it and send it some nice cuss words and finger jesters and started heading back. Right after this I soon hit a major wall and started slowly walking, I mean really slow. I was sleepy and felt like I was starting to sleep walk and realized that if I didn't wake up at this pace it would take me over an hour to finish a mile! So I threw on the headphones, which I had not used in a long time, cranked up the AC/DC and started to move again. I was walking as fast as I could and the tent, although seemed to not really draw closer was. Finally, the last incline and I was there.

As I crested the top of the incline I threw some water all over me and was yelling and grunting, this was it! Finally!! I was back at the parking lot area of the start/finish, the race director coming over to the timing mat and Dez waiting on the other side it. I crossed that finish line in 33 hours 6 minutes! Way longer than I wanted but I got it done. I received my buckle and wanted to collapse. I quickly sat down in the tent and ate another hamburger! We got things picked up and loaded in the car and soon off we headed back to the house. It wasn't more than 10 minutes in the car and I was passed out asleep waking up just short of the house and getting some more food!

I did it! Trail 100 Complete! It's not a fluke, its not a 1 time thing. I can do it. yes, it was slower than I wanted, yes, it was harder than my first and yes, I will do it again!

My feet had small blisters on the left and a big one on the right which over the following days would be very ouchy but I would recover. Today, my foot bones are still sore and tender, my calf's and Achilles are still sore and tender even with easy stretching and massage work but overall I am still not recovered, but I guess I shouldn't be only 7 days post finish.

The nutrition or awesome buffet I seemed to stomach down was a huge success in me completing this as well as the mental mindset I had in not stopping. It simply was not an option. Weird being as this was a local race and I have spent hundreds of dollars traveling to other events and come away with less. 

I Thank Dez for being out there when I least expected it! I thank Izzac and Tim for taking on the night time duties of pacing and helping! and I thank the RD's for a good race, volunteers and aid stations. 

Now, its been all recovery and relaxation. I will take about 12 weeks off from long running and return to the gym and weights type of workouts. I will run but shorter stuff. I also look to find a new/different pair of shoes to run in as I my trail shoes are no longer being made.


Rio Del Lago 100 (50actually) recap.

A quick recap since August following the 12 hour Blue Moon Run. After that run I basically backed some of the volume down and got ready for Rio Del Lago 100 on Oct. 6. The weekend before that Dez and I took a trip out to Dallas so watch the Cowboys vs. Bears, and although it was bad loss for Dallas the trip was great. Awesome Cowboys Stadium, hanging with cousin Randy and enjoying down time with Dez.

I flew up to RDL100 on Friday morning and got the hotel and check-in all settled up then picked Dez up later at the airport. I didn't sleep that well that night but wasn't too concerned as I had slept good Thursday but I think the lack of sleep played in to some of the demise I experienced at RDL.
Race morning I was up and ready to go and once at the start line I was ready after a couple of bathroom stops, always feeling Nervous at the start of these races, which, I say is a good thing as it keeps it real. 
I was ready to finish this race and get it under my belt. The weather was expected to be much cooler than last year, about low 80's so I was ready to enjoy that. 

As the race started I just ran, not really looking at my watch for a while and just chatting and running with other runners. This went on for the first couple of aid stations but then by the 3rd and 4th, miles 15+ I soon found myself running alone. At one time when I was running with other runners I glanced down at my watch and saw I was running about 10 minute pace which is way too fast! and quickly calculated my arrival at the next couple of aid stations and once again, Way Too FAST! I felt good but just way too fast. I started slowing down because I know we are not even 20 miles in and I'm way ahead of projected time. 

My nutrition set out to be Infinite, which I had customized for this race and used a few times in training which seemed to be worthy. As I started drinking it early on, say after 8-10 miles, it appeared to be working good and I was drinking water, my downfall was that I was not carrying other types of nutrition. Soon I grew tired of the Infinite and stopped drinking it simply because it was tasting too salty but the bad thing is I was not taking in other calories.

This went on till I got to Auburn damn mile 23 and I quickly had Dez mix up an Isagenix Shake and a few other snacks I took in. Knowing that I was not taking in calories, I tried to eat as much as I could at the aid station and thinking in the back of my head I need to grab some stuff to take with me but I was so focused on keeping moving that I totally left the aid station without getting other nutrition and I was not scheduled to see Dez till mile 31. This was the major fault that sunk my race!

I continued on to No Hands Bridge which is always a great aid station because the of location and the view of the bridge. I was pretty tired and just felt sleep but also hungry. I took in some Coke and ate a couple of things but nothing substantial and just wanted to get moving to mile 31. I finally made my way into the aid station at Cool Fire Station and was completely gassed. Ray Sanchez was there helping out and came over to ask if he could help with anything. I asked for soup because I was so hungry. He said, do you need salt? I said I don't think so I'm just hungry! He replied, hold on.. walked over to aid table grabbed a potato dipped in salt and said Eat this, tell me how it tastes. I took a bit and quickly spit it out, no way dude, way too much salt. He said Okay, you don't need any salt, your good. (he said that is a quick easy way to determine your salt balance, Tastes Bad=Salt is Okay, Tastes Good=You need Salt.)
So he gave me a peanut butter jelly sandwich, several potatoes and put some ice down my shirt and in my hat. He said I was too hot and needed to cool down. I felt okay but the ice actually felt pretty good so I just left it. Turns out I was overhead and didn't realize it. I sat there for about 15 minutes eating and then I started to head out. Ray gave me some tablets to go in my water that were from Herbal Life to help with energy, mostly they were vitamin based and overall I didn't really notice a boost in energy levels but they actually tasted good and was a nice change that just drinking water.

I continued on to mile 40 aid station where I was in self pitty and misery just because I was tired and out of energy. Molly at the aid station helped out with some simple snack and I had a drop bag here with a RockStar so I grabbed that, downed it and was talked into pressing on as this was an 8 mile loop and I would be back at this aid station. I took off and noticed a guy about 1/4 mile ahead of me so I worked to catch up to him so I could have some company as I had been totally alone since mile 23! When I finally got up to him and started talking he was in worse Negative State of Mind than I was and I knew I had to quickly lose him as I was starting to come out of my funk. I took off running down a long hill and got my wheels moving and just ran as much as I could because what goes down must come up. Soon I was at the bottom of the climb and starting to head back up a long climb which took FOREVER! It finally got dark and I was about 2 miles from returning to the aid station when this one runner approaching me goes: Hey man, did you lose something? as he shines his light on me. No, I said, Why? He replies: Oh, cuz your heading back to the aid station. I quickly laughed and said, oh, no dude, I'm still heading there on my first loop, sorry I'm not as fast as you! as I walked on.
I returned to the aid station, mile 48 and was cold, so I grabbed some extra clothes and slowly moved on back to Cool aid station 2 miles away thinking I would start my return to the finish line. During this time I was taking inventory on my condition, time, speed, etc.. and realized that I was actually at the maximum time to reach the 50 mile aid station, with this I knew I was going to stop, simply because in these races, you don't have a tendency to get faster as the race goes on. I rolled into the aid station looked for Dez and said I was done. Overall my body muscle wise was Ok, but I was exhausted and just lacking energy. 

Taking the drop was of course another mental blow and a chip in my confidence in my ability to once again complete and finish my 2nd 100 miler. But I knew the overall demise of this race was the lack of nutrition early on in the race. 

I recovered pretty well and returned to Vegas ready to get a couple of other runs in. I completed some smaller training runs and one 50k at Pioneer Ghost Run which turned out to be a tougher 50k than I expected but I managed to PR it by 10 seconds! ha! After Pioneer,  I basically ran one more 10 miler and then showed up at the start of Coyote Springs 14 days later.


Monday, September 03, 2012

Aug Recap/12 hour run event/Isagenix!

After Badwater, I have been taking it easy getting back into building my mileage back up in preparation for the Rio Del Lago 100, Oct 6, 2012. I started back to simply weight training along with a more controlled nutrition plan and have been able to drop about 8 lbs. My goal is to drop another 4-5lbs and come into RDL at 200-202lbs which seems to be a good weight for me to run at from past experience.

Cath returned to the States for her cross country US driving trip a couple of weeks ago and it was great for Dez and I to get to hang out, drinks some beers and have dinner with her. It was also fun that I got to run the Las Vegas Strip with Cath before she left out to Cali where she would run the Run-de-Vous 100 miler and not only run it but get the overall win! Super Job!!

The last couple of weekends I have been running up at Mt. Charleston which is about avg. 9000 feet and the trail is always nice. My last weekend run up there was 24 1/2 miles and felt pretty good, I then took a couple days off and noticed I had some left knee pain which was part of my meniscus. I tried running one day and simply would not happen, so I knew I had to get a little help from my great friend Chiropractor and ART Speacialist Dr. Victor Leach. I previously had KT Taped my knee for support and then when I saw Victor on Thursday he performed some great ART technique along with some KT support and homework exercises for me to perform before all my runs. Good stuff as I was a little worried overall because the Once in a Blue Moon 12 run was the next night.

I arrived at the Once in a Blue Moon timed event about 5pm, race started at 7pm and runners of 1, 3, 6 or 12 hours would be partaking the 1.2 mile figure 8 course all through the night. Since I had not run I was simply wondering how far I could actually go. My goal was to get 50 miles but since the knee thing started I would go for as long as I could without pain or at least walk because I wanted to get a full night experience, even if I had to walk. After setting up my "aid-station" as the 6 and 12 hour runners could have a small area, I parked in the far parking lot and then walked about 1/2 mile to the start. I met some other runners I knew and Cynthia at last minute had signed up and was going to run the 6 hour event. 
As I finished last minute preps to start all was good and as usual the nervousness of starting had set in. About 125 runners gathered near the starting line for last minute instructions from the race director of, Joyce. and then we were off. It was somewhat crowded the first 3 loops but then the 1 hour runners finished and that cleared some of the runners. I didn't have any pain or discomfort to the knee which was awesome and so my running felt great. I ran pretty much non-stop for the first 10 miles. Since the race started at 7pm it was already dark and the 3 hour runners had finished there was areas where you were simply running alone for a short time, which was nice. I chatted with several runners and friends along the way. 
Somewhere about 3-4 hours into the event I had grabbed a pancake from the aid station table, put a spoonful of jelly on it and I was sipping on some of my Clip2 by Succeed. Now I am not really sure what set my stomach off but something did not settle with it and I started having a cramping feeling and a blah stomach. At first I thought it was the pancake and these days my system just doesn't like this type of foods anymore during racing but then I later thought it could have been the Jelly as it had been sitting outside. Overall, I am not really sure but I was in the SUCK ZONE! not only that I was somewhere around mile 13-14 and I always seem to hit my "Wall" between 14-18, not sure why, just happens. 
So as I walked along and swam in my self misery of stomach blahs and cussing my existence for being out here on the stupid 1.2 mile course, I was looking for every excuse I could come up with to stop and go home, but since I have some experience with this I knew I just had to wait it out, however long it would take. I would stop at my cooler and take a couple of minutes to relax and start again but even doing that 2x didn't work so on the 3rd time instead of sitting down I decided to lay down. 
I laid down for about 10 minutes, trying to get comfortable on the ground but there was this bigger rocks poking in my mid-back so I could never really settle in which was probably a good thing because I would have gone to sleep. After the 10 mins I got back up, mixed up pre-ready Isagenix shake (more on that later) and poured some Dr. Pepper in my hand held bottle and started walking after drinking half of the Isagenix shake and, sipping on the Dr. Pepper. After a few minutes the Dr. Pepper started to flatten out which was fine with me as it seemed to go down a little easier. It was also waking me up from the caffeine, I had not drank any type of soda in over a month so it definitely nice to enjoy. By the time I came back around to my cooler I poured the rest of the Dr. Pepper in and kept going and next thing I know I was back to running and feeling better! I was also past the 18 mile mark and out of the SUCK ZONE and on my way.

I continued to feel good the rest of the race and didn't have any more GI/Stomach issues and about every 2-2.5 hours I would drink some sort of caffeine, Red Bull, Dr. Pepper or RockStar but when I tried the RockStar I found it to be too sweet and it just didn't taste good but the small amounts I took in did help in the caffeine department. I didn't get sleepy the rest of the run, small lags in energy and that's when I knew it was time for more. Izaac finished up helping with the race after the 6 hour group and then joined in to help pace me along the way. We chatted and caught up on lots of things during the run/walks and it actually made the time and loops go much faster. 

Famous Isagenix! That's right, this is another event where Isagenix just saves the day/race! Earlier when I ate the pancake and jelly that caused the stomach issues I had not eaten anything since. Dez arrived for a short time about 10pm when I was in the Suck Zone and I asked her to put 1 scoop of IsaLean in my shaker and I would get it in a couple more laps. She prepped it and then had to leave and after I had laid down and as I said I got up drank the shake down and started walking. It was right thing to take my stomach into a happy place. After that I would drink another 1 scoop Isagenix IsaLean shake about 2 hours, so 3 more before the end of the race and aside from that I ate 1 Chocolate covered Biscotti when the Sun came up, 3 Strawberries and that was it. The power of Isagenix is simply amazing! The body needs all those nutrients and simply brings you back to life! 

By now its early 4 am and Izaac is about to leave to head home and super star and good friend Connie Dockendorf, who had run the 3 hour event and her awesome family who were also out there to help while she ran; had decided to come back after a few hours sleep and help pace me the last couple hours! So it was changing of the guards and now Connie and I were off and moving. It was great again as Connie and I got to catch up and lot of things and was also super fast in the crewing department when I needed to stop at the cooler for anything. The time once again just seemed to move right along and next thing I know the Sun is starting to come up. It was a cool sight because the Blue Moon is still full in the sky on one side and the Sun is coming up on the other. As the 7am hour finish was approaching, Joyce told me I had 20 minutes till finish time and asked if I wanted to go around the loop again, I quickly said heck yeah and kept going. I quickly calculated as best I could where I needed to be at the turn around to make sure I made it back to the start, although she was counting partial laps, I wanted to make sure I completed the lap, so at the turn around I was doing great and ran the downhill section all the way back to the timing mat. Connie had ran ahead to get some pictures of me finishing and when I came around the corner Joyce said, You have 5 more minutes do you want to keep going and drop a glow stick for partial lap credit? I said Sure Do! I was in the zone!! and off Connie and I went listening for the cowbell/horn to end the race at 7am. I realized I had run pretty fast on the last lap and banked some time so I thought, 5 minutes, that's like another 1/2 mile if I keep going so I walked as little as possible and Connie encouraging me and helping me push and soon I looked at my watch and said 7:00am and I was at the half way turn around part so that's where my race ended. I continued to walk and caught up with another runner that was moving pretty slow and simply out of gas. We chatted the rest of the way to the finish and then I got my medal!

Overall, it was a good race event. I had never thought I would run a loop type course simply because of the boring repeats of the loop but actually it wasn't that bad. I would say that bad part is having your aid station stuff there every lap to stop and get something which costs you time in the long run but its also a good thing to have it there because you are never more than 15-20 minutes away from something that can save your race. The course was all asphalt with a slight uphill grade on one side and downhill on the other side. The downhill portion was nice because it also gave you a view of the Vegas valley/Strip and all the lights which was great to see as you ran. Of course the Full Blue Moon was awesome and provided enough light on the trail that I didn't even use a headlamp or flashlight the entire race. 

At the finish I drank a full Isagenix shake, several more strawberries, large cup of coffee, and a banana. I would drink another Isagenix shake about 3 hours later when I was at home, with Ionix, Greens, 3,6,9 oil, and some frozen mixed berries, Awesome recovery stuff! Being as the race was Friday night at 7pm, I was up for work at 6:30am and stayed away for 28 hours as after the race I had to take my dog Kooper to the vet for a quick check up, with my race number still attached to my shorts, and sporting my new race shirt.
Saturday afternoon my feet were definitely sore and tired as well as my legs feeling more tired than sore. Sunday feet were still sore and a little more tender with my legs just being sore. Today, Monday, feet feel sore, no longer tender and legs feel tight so recover is coming along great!

Rio Del Lago 100 is up next, 33 days and counting.. I still have some solid work to put in to make the race a little more comfortable, although its a 100 miles so its not really at all comfortable! ha!


Friday, July 27, 2012

2012 Badwater 135 - Team Cath! - To the FINISH!

A short back track on our Lone Pine check-in and plan. I had told Molly and Darryl that we would get Cath checked in at the time slot, Molly could go with her to the medical to get her blisters patched up for better comfort and if they finished before Darryl and I gassing up the Mothership and grab some food they would start up the portal road but when Cath heard this plan she wanted all of us to wait for her until she was done in medical, not sure why but I'm thinking so she wouldn't be left alone too long or miss the turn to the portal road but Molly knew where she was going.

Now this plan was laid out about 30 minutes before we get to Lone Pine so I am really looking forward to my BURGER! So when Cath wanted us to wait for everything didn't quite make sense to me being as Darry and I would just be sitting there, watching/waiting, as well as Molly, so I made an over ruling decision! Here's how to work with your runner: We parked at the check-in, Darry and Cath arrive and we time check her in, then Molly walks her to medical and they go in the room, now is the time to Break! haha.!! Darryl, I said, let's go, she'll be fine.. and we jumped in the Mothership and went to refuel and get food. We were back before she was even out of medical, so I parked and we waited, eating the burgers and doing the HAPPY DANCE! After we finished a medical guy told us she was done and would be coming out so we walked over and took her back to the Mothership and she sat done for a few more minutes. Molly had went to grab the sandwich and wasn't back just yet but Cath was now ready to go. Sometimes the crew just has to work around the runner during there times of need. I told Cath I would start walking with her and Darryl and Molly could catch up, so we took off but just then Molly arrived so they jumped in the Mothership and we were off.

The Portal Road:
The road from Lone Pine to the finish is 13 miles and pretty much just climbs up in elevation. Starting at 3610 ft and finishing at 8360 ft! It's the last grind that will take you out of your can and leave you naked and wounded! You have minimal energy, your sleep deprived, your feet hurt, your legs hurt, your butt hurts and I'm not even talking about the runners! This is crew! haha.

As we started slowly up the road I told Cath to just find a nice steady pace and power walk. It was going to be a work so just pace yourself. Molly, Darryl and I would all switch out for a few miles with Molly now offering some of the sandwich to nibble on but even your jaw muscles are so tired, Cath did her best to eat as much as she could.

The Portal road is also nice because its cooler in temperature simply because you are climbing up in elevation but also for us because the Sun was starting to set, but not soon enough as Cath once again found it straight in her face. Enough to remind her body that this is Badwater and the Sun is here to stay. Molly added some sun block spray to try and minimize the searing effect of the sun rays. She made her way through the setting sun and now it was time to put the night gear on for the last time.

About mile 126-7, Molly was with Cath and I noticed she was slightly holding her low back. Maybe it was to help her go uphill, maybe it was because it was hurting/tired/achy. I pulled up next to them and Molly asked if I could stretch out her low back as she was feeling achy pain so I pulled up a little farther, Darryl inflated a camping air mattress he had and Dr. John was now in the house! I laid the air mattress down on the side of the road, told Cath she would lay on it face up and Darryl would be my assistant in helping stabilize her opposite leg while I worked on the other.
I had palpated her low back while she walking so I could tell where she needed some Fascial Stretching so when she laid down, I quickly did some easy movements for her hips and then some easy lumbar rotation and glute/hamstring work. Then we repeated on the opposite side and finished with some long traction. I stood her up and as she got her balance I told her to start walking and see how it feels. I walked next to her and she said "Wow, John your the BEST IN THE WORLD!!!" haha... I don't think it was those exact words but she did feel much better and the achy pain was now gone. The best thing she did say was that she she really didn't think it was going to help but thought What the hell, give it a try and now she was feeling better and even her power walking pace had picked up. I continued to walk with her till the finish line, which I later found out was a good thing because my two awesome crew buddies were in a much needed state of rest.

As we approached mile 131.0 Portal road time check at 35 hrs 09 mins, we had 4 miles left and Cath was looking to finish in under 37 hours. I told her she could totally do it as we had just a couple of short steep switch backs then it would be just some uphill work till the last 1/2 mile where it would switch back again and then we would be 1/4 mile to the finish. One thing I wanted to make sure on the steep switch backs was that she took a couple of seconds to look down the portal road and see all the lights/hazards from the runners behind us and Look how far she had come today, as we could see all the way back to Lone Pine and Keeler. It's really an amazing view and encouraging for the runner to feel and think of there accomplishment, no matter how far out of brain reality they may be. The road then turns away from the great view and heads what seems almost into the mountain at night. I remember this is a camp site right before the last switch back and had mentioned that to her but didn't know how far it, turns out it was still 2 miles! oops!

She keep looking for that camp site and finally it was there. Molly and Darryl were on the side of the road for the last crew stop! They said they were going to the finish to park and meet us down the road. It's now becoming so real, we are almost there. The Mothership pulls away and as a crew member I am actually glad to see that thing out of site. We make our way around the last steep switch back heading up. I ask Cath, so, you think this has been a good race or bad? As she had said the day before it was a bad race, getting sick, heat issues, etc... and again still answers with bad and some good. I quickly point out that she has just came 133 miles through 115*, the worst wind I have ever experienced in crewing, she over came some serious stomach issues, experienced things she's never experienced before and its a huge success. Good as I made it all sound, she replies: And I don't want to experience it again! hahaha... gotta love Badwater.

We round the top of the switch back and heading for home. We see Molly and Darryl and they join in for the cermonal group walk to the finish. We all line up together and as we approach you can see the finish line tents, lights and some people. We yell out: "Runner coming in!, Runner Finishing!!!" You can see the finish line banner/tape! Cath jogs a little and the smiles start to come. Chris Kostman is there ready for the finish photo. We all cheer, others are clapping and we cross the finish line in laughter, joy and smiles.
Official Time: 36 hours 28 minutes 21 seconds.

Molly, Darrly and I all congratualted each other for a fine crewing job and Cath gives all of us a winners hug. This is the best time of the past 36 hrs 28 minutes! To see her and all the runners I have helped here make this point. It's like nothing else I've experienced. All the hard work and sacrifice Cath put in has arrived and the joy of knowing that she did it is the Best Ever!

Chris Kostman takes some photos of us, then he proceeds to award her the finisher medal, shirt and the BUCKLE! Then they take some photos and then we take our TEAM CATH FINISHERS photo.
Cath described this race as Climbing Out of Hell, and definitely the toughest race she's ever finished.

As we finished the photos we were all so tired we quickly headed back to the Mothership to take us back to the hotel in Lone Pine and get some rest. We all piled in the Mothership and off we went chatting about the awesome event from hell. Long story short when we arrived at our hotel, there was no person to contact and basically we found out there had been a confusion in the reservation and so we had no hotel. All sold out in Lone Pine, Bishop, Independence and Furnace Creek 118 miles away! Luckily, we found a room in Stovepipe Wells, 80 miles away and I started driving. It was late, after 12am and we wouldn't be there till almost 1:30-2am.. by the time we drove into Panamint, which hours before was alive and people were moving, was now a closed up ghost town. I pulled over and parked, I couldn't drive anymore, I was so tired and started seeing things on the road so I knew it wasn't safe. I woke everyone up and said unless someone else can drive, we are sleeping here. Luckily Darryl had been sleeping and jumped in and got us to Stovepipe where we slept. I was so tired, I just laid down on the bed, wrapped myself in the bedspread, kicked off my shoes and went to sleep, running/pacing clothes and all. I would shower 9 hours later after waking up and continue to celebrate the TEAM CATH FINISH!!

Super congrats Cath, I'll crew for you anytime!

 Random Pictures:

The back of the Mothership.
Cath heading into Keeler overheating in the front seat, with a towel on her head and walking with the towel. 

Thanks Everyone for reading along and I look forward to another crewing session next year or maybe being the Runner!


Thursday, July 26, 2012

2012 Badwater 135 - Team Cath! - Part 3

Running into Panamint in the middle of the night/early morning is tough, simply because you can see the lights straight ahead and the dip in the valley is misleading as to how much elevation gain there is from the bottom of the valley. It's not crazy up but there is some gradual climbing while the road goes straight to the town and this is where Cath had it in her mind that we were closer than we kept telling her, haha. Your brain does funny things out there in Death Valley and distances, lights, elevations up or down all look different so when we told her how much farther it was she just couldn't grasp it and questioned our mathematics. Finally, I told the crew, just let her run and when she gets there, she get there, she'll then realize. haha, sorry Cath, sometimes we just have to let you experience the ever last moment but it does help when you see a road sign that says 3 miles to confirm our math. :-)

The run down from Town's Pass is always magical because you can see numerous other runners in the valley and heading up the other side with flashing hazards continually flashing, almost in a dancing fashion between all of them. At times they are all in rhythm and then there's the disruption of one set that throws the dance off but soon all others follow so it seems like it was planned. Again, I love this part of the course as well as the Whitney Portal road at night because you can see many miles to Lone Pine and back to Keeler with this same effect.

We drove up to Panamint and quickly topped off with $5.45/gallon fuel, luckily, we didn't need that much and then drove next door to the check point where we would wait for Molly and Cath to come in, check her in and then Darryl would walk with her while Molly and I went back to the store for some ice and supplies.
Cath arrived at 17 hours 48 minutes (avg. pace 14:48/mile) she immediately moved through on her way to Father Crowley's Point. Panamint is 1970 ft above sea level and Fr. Crowley's is 4000ft, the distance to get here is 7.9 miles so its pretty much continuous UP with some switch backs and steeper sections of the course.

Cath had settled into a nice rhythm after Panamint and when we returned we started to switch out a little more frequently simply because of the continuous grind up. Its just after 4 am and as I am walking with Cath we notice that the crack of light is starting break all around the valley, as the Sun rise is approaching. Cath takes notice and not sure if she remembers but she enjoyed this part of the morning as she commented on the beauty of the light approaching. I'm sure she would be cussing the amount of light she would be getting in about 7 hours heading into Keeler!

Pacing on this section of the course requires lots of attention to the runner and traffic, believe it or not, there is traffic, both oncoming and going. The roads are very narrow and basically there is No shoulder to walk on, just the White Line. Also, 18+ hours into the race your runner is very out of it and likes to wonder off the line towards the road so watching for the traffic and making sure they are close to the line is a must. I stayed with Cath till we hit Father Crowley's, 4000ft and then took a break while Darryl jumped back in. A great part here is now you start getting Cell Phone Reception! But just because we reach the 4000 ft mark doesn't mean we're done climbing, as there is another 1,050 ft of climbing into Darwin over the next 10 miles. I'm telling you, its continuous work from 72 to 90 miles!

By now the sun is up, its about 8 am and other crews have caught up or we have caught a couple as well. This is nice because it allows for more interaction between the runners and at least gives there brain something to think about and talk with as they are all going through the same stuff. Some portions of this course, you are completely alone. No runners, no humans, not even your crew because by now they are Zombies working for you. As we approached Darwin we started catching up to more runners and this seemed to bring Cath's spirits up and as we rolled into the Darwin check point, mile 90.1 at 23 hrs 02 mins. It was a quick pass through and pressing on. The morning was still relatively cool and this is the first time I have seen temperatures drop down into the upper 60's on this course. Talk about a huge temperature difference, 50*+!

The next goal was hitting the 100 mile mark on the course and I distinctly remember last year I was running with Connie at this same point and we were looking and waiting for this mysterious mark in the road but it never came so this year I remembered where it was and told Cath we still had a little ways to get there. Finally, we hit the mark and a great photo was taken by Molly!

After the this mark there is a long straight stretch that gradually declines into Keeler and then flattens out heading into Lone Pine.It's about noon and the sun is starting beat down with the temp pushing 110* and will soon hit 115*. Cath is starting to overheat again, basically, still cooked from the day before but the Sun today brings back quick memories of how it fried you the day before. We start with the cold hats and some cool water on her shirt again. Her stomach as once again decided to shut down and talking small sips of Isagenix or Aqualyte is a huge task but she manages. Just after lunch it is 115* and she has slowed to a walk/shuffle. The heat is winning out and the misery of this feeling is simply winning the battle at Badwater135.

During this time we have caught up with fellow runner, Jason Rita, a 6am starter and great guy we all met at La Ultra - The High last year. It was good to see him out there and I think it helped Cath at points. At one point she became really overheated and Molly brought out a beach towel that was soaked with cold water. At first she really didn't want to put it one but really there was no choice in the matter, crew wins, and we as I was pacing with her we just laid it over her head and her shoulders. She said it was heavy and we replied yes, but just keep it on for a few minutes to help cool you down, we have another towel that is smaller we'll get the next stop. Water was dripping all over the place and especially down her legs on her shoes which I wanted to make sure it didn't because she had already dealt with a blister from yesterday and this morning. As I walked with her she was a little bit in a sobbing moment simply due to being in misery from the searing HEAT! I chatted with her and just kept telling her she was doing good and that the towel would help, we're moving forward and that's all that counts, even if it is slow. I was holding this ends of this towel and realized it was Heavy, she was not kidding around. Just then Molly returned with the smaller towel and as I lifted the beach towel off I was really surprised how heavy it actually was! No wonder!! haha, sorry for the extra 8 lbs Cath. Now we were on to a smaller towel and continued moving. Just after this Cath asked to take a break and sit in the Mothership for a few minutes. As she jumped in to rest, it was about 5 minutes and we noticed Jason Rita passing us.

Molly was sitting with Cath in the front and Cath had said she couldn't really sleep and then asked Who was passing. Molly said,that's Jason Rita, he has been struggling all morning and having a very tough time but he is  pushing through it and moving. About that time, Cath said she had to go. I'm not really sure what clicked in her mind or maybe it was small bites of food she was nibbling on but she basically got out of the Mothership, started walking with the towel and then pitched the towel on the side of the road and started running! It was like the scene from Forest Gump, when Jenny left him in the night and the next morning he's sitting on the porch and just gets up and starts running! This was Cath, she was running, and just a slow jog, she started running. Maybe it was the fact that Jason had passed her and she didn't want that, I'm not sure but we were all glad to see her running. Her and Jason would slowly play leap frog for the next few miles but as we approached Keeler where the wind was blowing like crazy from the side, like a Dubai sandstorm, she would pull ahead. By the time we hit the junction at Lone Pine, mile 120 she was looking for the Dow Villa hotel check in at mile 122.3.

She arrived at 122.3 in 31 hours 22 minutes. She would tend to medical for her blisters and we would resupply the Mothership with gas, and burgers for us! No supplies were needed as we were still doing on ice , Molly would grab a sandwich for Cath and after medical we would be heading up the Portal road to the Finish!

Stay tuned... The Finish!

ps. sorry so long, but got lots of detail for this race.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

2012 Badwater 135 - Team Cath! - Part 2

As left out of Stovepipe it was definitely hot! 115* and the wind was just blowing. We had full supplies once again and soon were back at the crewing job.

Ed, aka, The Jester, just wrote a great piece on Crewing and hits it right on the dot! Crewing is a grind, a totally commitment to the runner of every need. There is no breaks in small crews and one vehicle, its work, all the time. Trying to make the runner eat, drink, take salts, drink more, make sure they pee, drink more, stay cool, give them ice in there hat, spray them down, drink more, salt again, eat more, and continues from about mile 1 till 134 miles! Cath started out to be fairly ease and was the standard of crewing duties but as the wheels started to come off going up Town's Pass things became much more interesting.

By now, Cath has been pretty overheated from the days heat and with the wind beating down about 15-20mph head on it made climbing up Town's pass even tougher. The Sun was setting but not fast enough and the more the Sun went down the more Wind came and by the time the Sun was down, the wind was kicking at a Strong 25-35mph headwind! UGH!!! Her stomach had decided it wasn't happy by now and although she continued to eat small bites of avocado on chips, drink her Aqualtyte, fruit juice, take a few grapes she kept moving along nicely. We had the night gear on by now and I was walking with her for a while, giving her the lay of the land and the distance, converted in Kilometers, to this point and that point, Oh Yeah, another job of crewing is giving the runner update info on EXACT miles/kilometers to a specific point, haha, and you better not be wrong because if its too long than they feel like there moving too slow and will never get there and if its too short than you didn't know where we were when you were asked in the first place, ha! I love it, although Cath was pretty good about knowing where she was on the course, it was the kilometer conversions that got us, sorry Cath. Anyway, at one point she simply said, I want to sit down for a bit and take a rest. Now this was immediately off the plans in pre-race meeting but I know this is Badwater and things change and I also thought this would be good idea, sometimes if your not moving fast enough its better to take a break, regroup and then get moving.

As we approached the Mothership, she sat down in a chair and was stating that her stomach was just not happy, achy, hot, burning, all the good stuff with a race like BW. Then she suddenly said "I think I am going to be sick! OMG!!! " and sure enough, she was. I really believe that throwing up caught her off guard and spooked her as she has never thrown up in a race event and as she started to apologize for her poor performance and vomiting, yes, runners do lose there minds out here! We all quickly said for her to forget about apologizing, that it was okay and that this is "normal". After a short freak out moment Cath was calm and we were getting her some water, then she was asking if we had any ideas what to do. We talked with her in that this type of thing is okay and that her system just needed a reset. She was tired of thing we we were giving her and she stated she could not do anything else sweet, which was pretty much her whole bag of nutrition, so right now we were in a little bit of a situation. A few minutes had passed and she thought she wanted to try moving and as she stood up, here comes Round #2, quickly she sat back down and threw up again but mostly liquid this time. As I stood there examining the contents of both vomits, I was like okay there is all the avocado, grapes we gave you over an hour ago and of course the orange color drink. I know this sounds weird but really this is good information as to what's being digested and what is not, pretty much everything we gave her over the last hour had not been digested which means her stomach had completely shut down. Now we had new LIFE! Molly and I were like, Yeah, High-5!! Now we can start with a new stomach and add slowly but the problem was we had nothing from the Runner food cooler that would work. I had thought about it just after the Round 1 but didn't say anything.

Then Molly asked me.. "What about an Isagenix Shake, John".. I quickly said I think so and we mixed up a light mixture of the IsaLean Shake Vanilla. We told her to just try baby sips of it and not big drinks, her stomach was still sensitive and needed time to bring things in slowly. She briefly asked what it was and we simply told her it was an Isagenix shake that Molly had used in India when her stomach was very upset late in the race. As Cath looked at it in the Isagenix shaker she had a puzzled look, smelled it a little and then took a little sip. She quickly said "oh that's quite nice, easy on the stomach" YES! it was going to work. As she sat and rested for about another 25 minutes sipping the shake she was feeling better. Cath then decided it was time to get moving, and with the wind still blowing 20+mph it would help warm her up. She stated walking and took the Isagenix shake with her and would continue to use the IsaLean shake the remainder of the race! It was really the only thing that helped keep her stomach calm and absorb nutrition to keep her going. She would also continue to use Aqualyte and some juice's.

The wind would simply not let up and we were so looking forward to getting to the top of Town's Pass to start making our way down and towards Panamint. But shortly after starting back she needed to stop again but this time it seemed to be more sleep deprived and beat down from the wind and sun, so we cleared out a small space for her and she laid down for about 30 minutes. We also took a short nap but I sat outside the Mothership looking at the Milky Way's Galactic Center which is so visible from Death Valley. Simply Amazing!! As I sat there thinking about lots of things I happened to notice that several other runners/crews were behind us and not moving either, it was almost like everyone decided to take rest at the same time because for the whole time we were there no one closed on us or passed us. After the short nap Cath woke up and started to walk still sipping the shake and funny thing, asked how many people passed us. Matter of fact, Zero I said, everyone is stopped for some reason or other but now made it more interesting as everyone started to move about the same time, weird!

Soon, there it was, the top! and Cath was super happy, the climb/road from Hell was finally over the hump and she started on the downhill. Now she was able to pick up her pace and the wind seemed to let up some in areas. She was also feeling better in her stomach as that rest time seemed to help a lot, secrete key in a race like this.

As we moved closer to Panamint we had the same plan as before, stop and top off with gas, pick up any snacks and get ice. All done quickly as she checked her in and she moved on and we would catch up, Darryl was pacing with her at this time. We also pick up some awesome Chicken Noodle Soup which would help Cath out as well.

Panamint Springs: Mile 72.3 Time: 17 hours 48 minutes. (well ahead of the 28 hour cut off to this location)

On to Darin, Keeler and Lone Pine! Part 3.


Monday, July 23, 2012

2012 Badwater 135 - Team Cath! - Part 1.

Wow 2012 Badwater 135 Ultramarathon, my 4th year crewing for this amazing race put on by AdventCORPS and race director Chris Kostman.

Badwater takes place in Death Valley, Ca. starting from the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere, -280 Feet below Sea Level and finishes at the top of the Mt. Whitney portal road nearly 8,300 feet above Sea Level.The Badwater course covers three mountain ranges for a total of 13,000 ft of cumulative vertical ascent and 4,700 ft of cumulative descent. The Portals are the trailhead to the Mt. Whitney summit, the highest point in the contiguous US. Competitors run through places and landmarks with names like Mushroom Rock, Furnace Creek, Salt Creek, Devil's Cornfield, Devil's Golf Course, Stovepipe Wells, Keeler and Lone Pine.

I was luckily enough to get asked to crew for Catherine Todd, who is a citizen of Australia and resident of Dubai. She would arrive on Saturday with a good friend named Darryl Chiles. We would also have veteran ultra-badass Molly Sheridan of DesertSky Adventures, 2009 Badwater Finisher, and 2010 La Ultra - The High 138 mile finisher, who I also crewed both events for. I would arrange the logistic with Cath via Skype and make sure we had all the necessary supplies, coolers, and all night gear for the trip. The coordination of the MotherShip and race day tactics were all planned.

When Cath and Darryl arrived on Saturday afternoon we finalized grocery store shopping and last minute REI supplies needed. It was then off to bed and I would pick them up early Sunday morning to head to check in at Furnace Creek between 10:30-12pm. We headed out about 7am stopping off for breakfast, Ice, and gas then headed towards Death Valley. As soon as we pulled out of the driveway to head to breakfast and got on the highway the signs which designated Cath's #9, country and residence flew off the side of the van and I pulled over to play frogger in the highway, luckily I made it. When we were about half way to Death Valley, the front sign, which was taped flew off the van and so here we were pulling over, again, to find the magnet sign. This time it took us about 20 minutes going up and down the the section of road we thought it was at. Finally, we recovered it and pressed on which we noticed we were running a little behind on time. We finally arrived at Furnace Creek Resort and runners were already checking in.

It was about 110* and feeling nice and warm. We all quickly got in line which moved pretty fast for runner check in. We were soon inside and as Cath peeled off and went to the right, Molly, Darrly and I, aka Team Cath, went to see all the Badwater gear for sale and take pictures as she picked up her packet, Runners On Road Sign and had a quick reuniting with race director of the Brazil135 Ultramarathon, Mario Lacerda. I remember Mario from last year when I crewed Connie Dockendorf and she had run Brazil in 2010 and introduced me. Mario is such a great and fun guy. After Cath picked up her race number she took her pre-runners photo and photo's with RD Chris Kostman and then we were off to see if we could check in to the hotel as the group photo was scheduled at 12:30pm at the pool. The room wasn't ready so we chilled and then returned for the group photo.

The group photo is great because you get to see all the crews and runners together. Once the group photo and we all chatted with other awesome runners we headed back to the hotel and grabbed some lunch where Marshall Ulrich came over and shared some great words and advice with us. Then it was time to settle into the room, coolers, grab some dinner and then off to bed.

Race Morning:
Cath, #9, was scheduled in the 10am wave, which was great because now I have completed crewing in all 3 wave starts and this would also provide for us to sleep in a little more than the 6am start. We had to organized the Mothership and once we were complete with that we grabbed breakfast and then made our way to the start. I was awesome seeing the 6am and 8am runners already on the road and the feeling of race excitement increased! As we arrived at the start line, Badwater, we took some pictures, Cath talked to the media and then it was time for weigh-ins and the group 10am Badwater photo. Time went by quickly which was good because it was already 109* and the Sun was already shinning on the road where as the 6am and part of the 8am group got some shade coverage in this area from what I remember. Soon the National Anthem was playing and then the count down to start. 3..2...1.. Bang!

We took our time pulling out on the course and gave Cath a several minutes to run before pulling up for our 1st of 3467 crew stops, the joys of Badwater! The first few stops are always figuring out how things are feeling and what she might need. So far she was okay, but stated she felt the pace was FAST, and she wasn't kidding, the 10am group was FAST! We had all talked over her race plan and just reminded her to settle in to Her plan and just run her race, no matter what the others may be doing. I know this can be tough for a competitor and at some points she was feeling like she was getting left behind but in a long 135 mile race that takes 28+ hours time can be made up in many places if the Badwater Gods allow. Cath continued on her way and while Molly and Darryl were crewing, myself driving, she was doing great and moving along well on the course. Yes, she was hot, its about 111* in the Sun and feeling the baking rays of Death Valley. We continued to spray her with sunscreen and she began to mention she was hot, later on we made a command decision and put a long sleeve shirt on her which she gladly accepted because it was so hot on her skin.

As we approached Furnace Creek check point, we had plans to restock with gas, grab some Mtn. Dew, and fill with gas. This would take a few minutes so Molly would stay by the road and make sure she got checked in, this is also the place where a pacer to join the runner. Once Darryl and I got the ice and snacks, Molly had said she had passed about 10-15 minutes ago and we should go check on her and then return to the gas station. Darryl got ready to jump out and pace with her when we caught up with her. Molly and I return to to fill the car with $5.05/gallon gas and off we went to return to them. This is really a quick and somewhat high anxiety time simply because we only have one Mothership and no second crew car and so its imperative that the runner not be unattended for long periods of time, even with a pacer! This would be one downside of not having a second vehicle, as well as if something were to go wrong with the Mothership you have a second vehicle to replace the Mothership but you also need more crew members to man both vehicles which also increases the runners financial cost. So as we returned to Cath she was definitely hot and we started using a little water to spray on her shirt and keep her cool. She was still drinking and eating fruit which we had started before Furnace Creek. From here Furance Creek to Stovepipe Wells we would continue to rotate out in crewing and handing her supplies. The wind was starting to pick up and the only thing that seemed to bring some relieve was a pair of fighter jets practicing maneuvers overhead and using smoke to track there path, it was pretty neat watching them.

Somewhere here Darryl was taking pictures with his brand new small camera and somehow set it down on the side of the white line where we were parked and ran over to help crew Cath as she came by. Then we all jumped in the Mothership and took off to the next crew stop, then by the time the 3rd stop Darryl realized he left it on the side of the road. With it costing more than $200 we had to go back quickly and see if we could find it. He would stay with Cath and pace for while with a couple extra bottles so Molly and I returned to where he thought it left it and somehow, just as me stopping the magnet on the side of the road I saw the 2"x2" camera lying on the side of the white line that had flipped over. We quickly pulled over, grabbed it up and hauled ass back to them. We were getting closer to Stovepipe Wells and still with the wind beating down and the temp now 115* with the Sun straight into our faces.

In Stovepipe we would have to refuel, get ice once again and pick up some more juice-lemonade that Cath was drinking. Here once again we would leave Cath for short time as Darryl checked her in, mile 41.9 in 7 hours 24 minutes. Molly and I were tending to the gas and store needs which was quite busy compared to the 6 and 8 am starts I've come through on. We were soon back on the road and caught back up with Cath who was now heading up Town's Pass, into the wind, and Sun.

This is where the wheels start to come off... stay tuned... Town's Pass and night time to Panamint.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

a quick recap of No Angels 100.

What happened was a complete lack of regard for my stomach, thanks to Cracker Barrel. The trip started out great and as we drove out the van was all packed and ready to go. Stopping in Flagstaff, AZ for morning breakfast was at the famous Cracker Barrel, I've eaten here before, matter of fact at this same location. So we all ordered breakfast and as it came we all dug in and although I thought it all tasted pretty good there were a couple of things that just tasted mediocre, nothing special like country cooking. Anyway, we all finished and back on the road we went. I could feel my stomach taking a long time to digest the food but figured it was simply because of the butter, grease, and what ever else they use in country cooking.

Later that night I could feel my stomach just a little upset but thought it was more nerves than anything. As we arrived in Las Vegas, NM. at a friends house and settled in things just got a little more uneasy as I had to use the restroom a few more times that customary and I knew my stomach was not happy. By now, I knew this was not nerves but from the days food and finally decided to take half of an Imodium pill, which I don't like taking because they really plug you up and that's just not good when you have bad food running through your system, it needs to come out. The night was about the same routine back and forth to the bathroom and when I woke up Friday morning I seemed to be feeling better with less problems but not fully out of the woods so I took the other half of the pill and the rest of the day I was fine.

We drove up to Angel Fire Resort Friday morning and got settled into the condo, which was great! I had been eating throughout the day and all was fine so I was much more confident that I had gotten through the shittiest of times. Dinner that night was nice and relaxing with some simply boiled chicken, rice and broccoli.
I was ready!

The race meeting and packet pick up was at the Resort hotel conference room and pretty standard with a quick briefing of safety and rules. It was announced that a mandatory 50 mile 14 hour cutoff time would be held for the 100 miles and a couple of other cut times after that. I was a little disappointed and bummed because one of the main reasons I choose this race was the 32 overall cutoff and no cut times and now we have a 50 mile 14 hour cut which in all my running I have not run a 50 in less than 15 hours, so now I was going to have to PR a 50 just to make the cut, which is something that I really don't think you want to do in a 100 mile event on a new uncharted known course, ughhh!

The next morning I was up and ready to go and feeling good, no more problems. I made it down to the start line with just a few minutes to go, chatted with the Sweet Baboo on his Western States 100 Finish! and then we were off down the road.

It was a short portion of road running to get to the trails with some asphalt through the neighborhoods, about 2.5 miles and the rest was all on trails, expect two road crossings and one of them you had to run about 1/2 mile down to get to the aid station then back on the trails. All total I would say 3 miles of asphalt in the whole route of 12.5 out and back. The first aid station came quick and I ran through it with no problems. The course soon dove onto single track and woods right after rounding the lake where this aid station was and we started climbing. Some of the climbs were challenging, others just uphill like another other race. I was chatting with another guy from the East coast and he said he picked the race basically for the same reasons and now we had to break 14 hours to keep going.

As we continued to run somewhere about mile 6 my stomach started to knot up and I thought it was because I was drinking too much too fast so I slowed up but then felt like I was getting behind on hydration so I kept sipping. Once I was at the top of the climb in a more flat area of the mountain before we start heading back down my stomach was cramping hard and I had to slow down and the guy I was running with passed me and kept on. Luckily, the downhill came and although seriously rocky and technical I was glad to be going down as it seemed to help my stomach settle. The downhill was nice and finally rolled out on to a fire road which was much more manageable to run on although still somewhat rocky and technical but still easier.

I rolled into the turn around at 3 hours 8 minutes and was pretty happy about that. Dez had just pulled up and I gave her a quick update on the course and my thoughts on time and my stomach. I grabbed a small snack at the aid station and said I should be back at the start/finish in 3:30, which would still keep me on track for 14 hour 50 miler.

As I started back up that steep rocky part it was seriously tough and had to stop and catch m breath a couple of times but worse yet I could feel my stomach just wrenching down on me. I knew by now it was still not settled from the food incident. As I made my way to the top of the climb I sat down for a couple of minutes to regroup because I knew I had about a 6 mile gradual downhill push and I could make up some time. As I started out I was simply not comfortable in my stomach but I kept run walking to help ease it up. After a couple of miles it became harder to run because with each step my stomach/lower intestines now would just cramp like someone was squeezing them but when I walked I was okay. So I switched to power walking as fast I could to maybe let it settle. I would take short runs to test it but immediately it would cramp so back to walking I went. I had cell phone service and I text Dez and told her to meet me at the 2nd aid station which was not our plan but I thought by eating some soup it would help, especially since I was about 6 hours into the race and had only eaten one snack of about 150 calories. I came into the aid station and quickly found Dez and went to the van to sit down and eat. I also grabbed some Dr. Pepper and the combination seemed to help settle things. After about 15 minutes I started walking and although I felt full I felt better. I kept walking and soon my stomach returned to the same state as before, by now I was already 2 1/2 minutes off the maximum avg pace to finish the 50 miles in 14 hours. I continued run walking as much as possible because I wanted to get back to the start/finish.

By now several of the other runners were already heading out again and one lady I had chatted with who has run numerous 50's and 100's was that this course was superior difficult for a 14 hour 50 mile cutoff and stated she told the race director that he needed to extend the cut time or overall 32 hour cut off of the race.

As I approached the start/finish area I was not 4 minutes behind the max avg. pace time and being as I wasn't in any better shape I decided to pull out. My race was done. I guess I could have continued and missed the cut off but I would have been walking for an undetermined time.

I returned to my condo and laid down for a couple hours and when I woke up I felt better. I showered up and sat around relaxing and had dinner, again still feeling better. The next morning, Sunday, I woke and still felt good. I went down and had coffee with Sweet Baboo and Misty. They finally took off to head home and I spent the rest of the day relaxing and enjoying my time at Angel Fire.

The rest of trip was all good and although just a little too long I returned home and prepare for Badwater 135! crewing..


Sunday, June 10, 2012

San Diego RnR recap.

A few weeks back I was looking at my training scheduled and I needed a long 25+ mile run and so it turns out I received a couple for registration for the San Diego Rock n Roll Marathon and thought it would be a good idea to go run it. I had never ran this event before, it was a Team in Training national event, I knew several other people running, and it would be a great time for Dez and I to slip away and enjoy San Diego. It also turned out that my great buddy of all time ZardO, from Houston was going to be there running so it made it even better!

I elected to stay at the cheapO Motel 6 in Hotel Circle about 3 miles from the finish at Sea World, about 3.5 miles from the Starting ling at Balboa park, turns out the location was great but the motel sucked ass! Okay, Okay, I know, its Motel 6 right, but come on we have all stayed at them and some are not bad but this one was way off the side of old and run down. Dez is really good about staying anywhere and can handle cheaper hotels but this one she was not impressed with at all. It was just old, musty smell, and run down, not ever at this place again! 

We arrived on Friday afternoon and hit the closest Chick-fil-A I could find, I miss that place from Houston and then checked in early to the crappy motel. Then picked up ZardO and her son and we all went to Little Italy where they grabbed some lunch and then we went over to the Expo. It was a smooth transition through the expo, although on Saturday it was a crazy nightmare as we had to swing by there for a short time, luckily I just drove around the block and waited but traffic was crazy. The expo was great with all the classic vendors and being as I had lost my HeadSweats bandanna at the Grand Canyon run a couple of weeks back I was eager to find there location to replace it. After walking though all the vendors and grabbing my Headsweats we dropped ZardO off back at there hotel and then Dez and I went over to the beach area to see the ocean and catch a sun set. 

We walked along the beach side for a while and then found a great roof top bar where we sat and watched the sun go down. It was a great bar and seemed to be a more locals spot than tourist location, which was cool. After some beers and nachos we went back to the lovely motel. In the morning, we were up early and picked up ZardO and her son and basically headed to Sea World after the short expo stop where Zardo ran inside quickly to check on gear drop bags. Sea World was great, the weather was looking to be overcast and cooler so it would be perfect. After parking and waking in, all which moved pretty fast we were soon inside and heading our way to the newest Sea World roller coaster called the Manta. After about 15 minutes Dez and I were on the 1st cart and ready to blast off on this coaster. It was great smooth ride and had some quick switch backs and drops and short bursts where it slowed you down then blasted you a little faster. I was pretty impressed with the ergonomics of the seat as it really held you in and didn't bounce you around and make my low back jolt, like most do when I ride coasters. Definitely, 5 Stars for this coaster. Good thing we got it done early because when we got off the line was a 45 minute wait. We then moved to the dolphin tank and after patiently waiting for about 20 minutes I was able to touch a Dolphin! The first time in my life!! so cool!!!!! Of course we then hit all the other animal exhibits, Turtles, Whale Show, Sharks, Penguins, Polar Bear, Walrus, Starfish, etc..etc.. pretty cool day at Sea World since I haven't been in many years and with me getting a ticket as part of my race registration was even cooler!

Once back at the hotel we basically ordered some food and I got my race stuff ready. I would be running from the hotel to the start line, which was about 3.5 miles. I was all set and ready to go but couldn't really sleep that well, as I was worried I would miss the alarm to start early. 

Finally, I was awake and getting ready and out the door I left. The run to the start was pretty good as I just took my time and being as I had one big hill to climb about 1/2 mile long. Once at the top of the hill, mile 1.5ish it was all pretty much flat to the starting line. There was lots of traffic and cabs taking people to the starting line. I made it there about 45 minutes before the official start time so I sat down and text a few people then decided I better use the bathroom so I got in line and wait about 30 minutes!!! Seriously! So now for the second race I have found myself in the bathroom line as the gun goes off, yup, I was about 10 people from the front when the official gun went off for the race. Of course I wasn't even worried about it as I was in assigned to corral 26 but meeting some TNT peeps in 20, so I had plenty of time. I finished up my bathroom duties and got to the corral and after about 30 minutes we finally reached the starting line!

Now we were off and running and as I had told everyone I was on a training run so I would most likely take about 5 1/2 to 6 hours to finish as I was in no hurry. The first couple of miles are always the same in big races, dodging people in front of you, no place to run consistently, rubbing elbows, etc. Almost similar to a swim start of a triathlon! haha. Finally, around mile 3 the road opened up and I think that is because this is where the half marathoners and fulls split for the time being. Although early in the run, my mile 6 already I was feeling some tired legs and was thinking it was going to be a long day and 6+ hours at Sea World the day before had set me up perfectly for running on tired legs. I was soon dropped by Carmen, who said she was going to run with me as she had not been training consistently and didn't want to run too fast but by mile 4 she was no where in site! By mile 6 I was passed by two other TNT peeps, Donni and Angela just as we were passing PetCo Stadium which was pretty dang nice to run next to. Also running through Balboa Park was nice with all the churches and great gardens. At about mile 7 I had to dash into a 7-11 store as I was having some nipple chaffing starting, a totally rookie mistake for me! I was wearing my older Ink n Burn ultra shirt and for some reason I didn't think this would occur but I was not thinking about the slightly higher humidity in SD vs. Vegas so that played a role. After some band aids and a brownie I was back on the course and heading to mile 8-12 uneventful.

I finally had to stop somewhere and wait for the bathroom as I had been drinking lots of Nuun and water due to the increase humidity and sweating factor. It must have took about 5 minutes or more cuz when I started running again I felt like I had cooled down. I remember looking at my Half marathon time per my garmin (remember started earlier) and thought wow, that's a steady pace and if I keep this up I may finisher earlier than 5 1/2 hours but didn't think much about because I was only at the 10 mile-ish mark of the course, long way to go still. I pretty much just ran and looked around not really paying attention to the miles on my garmin or the course for that matter. By the time I came to the out and back section of the course, mile 14-17 I could finally start looking for peeps on the other side and see how far behind I was. I first saw Mike Duran! Bartender I yelled out! he was looking good and we stopped and chatted briefly and moved on. Next I saw Carmen, who I marked and timed how long it would take for me to reach the mark which would be about 13 minutes ahead of me. Then I saw Chris who was about 8 minutes ahead of me. I was struggling through here and just couldn't seem to find a rhythm so I took some caffeinated gels and bag I was on the move, especially at the turn around and it was slightly down hill. I had turned my sights on Chris and thought lets see if I can catch him. I was running good and consistent and then I noticed that if I kept up a certain pace I would break 5 hours on my garmin for marathon distance! so I stayed steady and pressed on, attaching the slight down hills where I could and minimizing my times at the water stops. We finally were inside Mission Bay park and running on the sidewalk which was not really the best as it was narrow and some points just full so passing was difficult at times, then I am now on a mission and moving a lot faster than everyone else. I finally calculated that I would be 4:50-4:55 for marathon distance on my garmin so stayed on the gas and just then, about my mile 23 1/2, I saw Chris around the bend and so I stepped it up going completely out of Zone to catch him. In my mind I had to catch him, slow up shortly to chat briefly, and then step on it to get back in the game or else I would slow up too much and not break 5 hours and that is exactly what I did. I chatted quickly and moved on heading towards that last 1/2 mile on my garmin. When I hit 26.2 miles at 4:55 I stopped quickly and took a picture it! HELL YEA! I had gone under 5 hours and that was with 2 stops. 

I thought okay great now you can relax a little and run slower but then realized I was at course mile marker 23, so resting too much would only prolong my finish and if I kept running 11 min/miles I would would be done sooner than 15 min miles so I kept on it. There was a short loop on the Mission Bay park we had to run around and I found it was a little warmer now and since I was running faster I was heating up quicker so I had to use the aid stations more for putting water on my head than anything. Its here where I also caught Angela, who passed me at mile 5 but she was struggling and having some issues so taking it a little slower. I moved on and thought Carmen has to be close so I kept looking but didn't see her. The last mile was actually kind of tough mostly because mentally I was ready to be done and it was coming up on my mile 29 and with the pace I had been running my legs were ready to stop. One of the best things about the last 3 miles were simply that I was though lots of people! We all know the feeling of the last 3 miles, especially if you are a new runner and are struggling, walk/running to get to the finish, and this race was no different. Lots of walks and runners struggling to make it to the end and so being able to run though all of them and still feeling good was a great feeling. The last 1/2 mile is lined with spectators and the energy is great heading into the finishing line so I turned off my music and enjoyed the cheers of many people running till the end. I saw some guy coming up on my left and wanting to beat me but I pushed it and made sure he didn't. 

I was done! 29.35 miles on my garmin and an official 26.2. My garmin time for 29.35 miles was 5 hours 33 mins and official time for SD RnR 26.2 miles 4 hours 59 mins, 12 seconds! ha!!! talk about close. If I would have known my closer clock time I would have worked a little harder the last 3 miles to get closer to my 4:55 garmin time :-)
I got my medal, took my picture and found dez. It was then a 1.4 mile walk to the Trolley to take about the stadium where she parked. A long 1.4 mile slow walk! After changing clothes, some food we were heading back to Vegas. I drove for a while but then switched off with Dez so I could rest. 

San Diego was a great race and fun event, especially since it started out as training run for me. I guess when not thinking about time and just running has its advantages. The city of San Diego was great and the weather was awesome for running, great conditions for me despite a high humidity. We will certainly go back to SD to enjoy the city and see the zoo!

Next up, Angle Fire 100!! June 30! New Mexico! wish me luck!


Thursday, June 07, 2012

R2R2R finish! 100miles for Dennys

Once at the top of the North side rim it was much cooler and to finally sit down and enjoy some food! PBJ Sandwich, chips, a Isagenix Shake, and a Pop Tart! Yes, I ate all that and love it! I only wish I had a soda of some sorts to go with it. The water refill was super cold here and Bill had earlier told me to dump all the water out of my camelbak and refill with cold water and that is exactly what I did. I took about 20 minutes here resting and eating simply to fuel as much as possible because I knew the run back down to Phantom Ranch would be great and since it was all downhill it would be enjoyable as long as I didn't push the down and blow my quads out.

I looked at my overall time here and I was just over 8 hours so I knew I would not complete the run in 15 hours so then I thought, well, maybe 17 hours. I took off down the hill heading back to South Rim! It was a great run going down and since I had been working on my downhill running I was moving quite nicely. After I passed the lower water refill stop some guys were on the way back to South rim too and were at the North side eating lunch too and were quickly coming up behind me so I let them pass and said, "hey guys, you are making this look way too easy!" little did I know that I would soon catch up to them and pass them simply because they blew up running that fast downhill. 

I soon came upon Molly and Cynthia who were taking a break on the side of the trail. I stopped to chat and then noticed Molly was not feeling well, and in classic fashion, as in ever race I have been with Molly, she had a puking episode, haha. It was perfect, like she was waiting for me to show up or something, but as soon as she did, she was feeling much better! I poured some cold water over her head and Cynthia's to help cool them down and then refilled Molly's handheld bottle with the rest. They were going to take a few more minutes and then move out, so I continued on down the trail. Soon I came upon a Team in Training gal wearing her jersey from Kansas City! She was out hiking with another gal and I stopped and chatted with them and off I went. I finally came into the next water refill area where I had to use the bathroom and the guys that passed me earlier were just getting ready to move out. I refilled, used the bathroom and moved out. The next stop was the Ranger's Station and here is where I caught up to the guys sitting on a table resting and refueling. I refilled by bottle again and sat for just a couple of minutes. I decided to move out first as they seemed to be in no hurry and were talking about an ankle hurting, legs hurting, and something else hurting but I had to get moving before I joined in on the hurting party. 

After leaving the Rangers station heading to Phantom Ranch is about 7 miles and since it was later afternoon there was some sunny/hot areas that were exposed so I took it easier in those areas. I also started running/walking with another guy, who I thought was a part of the guys at the table but turns out he was just running himself and ran into those guys and had been staying with them all day, now that we both had dropped them we were running together. His name was Chris and from Salt Lake City, he was on his was to New Mexico for a unexpected funeral in a couple of days. Once we cleared the sunny part it was pretty much easy going into Phantom Ranch but we both were slowing down and doing some more walking. 

Finally, at Phantom Ranch I took some time and ate some more food and sharing with Chris since I had plenty! I was careful not to overfill my pack as I knew there were 4 other stations heading back up so I didn't want to carry more than I had to. We left Phantom ranch, crossed the Silver Bridge at the Colorado river and I was pretty exciting know there was only about 4.5 miles let to finish, but not too excited knowing that those 4.5 miles would take 4 hours! My garmin had died out long ago and know I was just using the time on my iphone to gage the pace between mile markers of the water refills. 
It was getting dark now and the sun was clearly behind the mountain ridge. Chris did not have a light as his broke early in the morning but luckily I had two, my flashlight and my head lamp so when it was dark he took my head lamp to use. By the time we reached the 3 mile water station, our pace was about 30 minutes/mile! ouch! but not only was it just steep going up, night time, and simply just wore out tired! We sat a few minutes at the 3 mile station and chatted with some other hikers heading back up from Phantom Ranch who had dinner there, they said they had reservations 13 months ago for that dinner! Yikes! 13 month wait!
We all left together but the hikers took out in front of us which was okay by me as I was moving pretty slow.

You could see the head lamps of others either coming down the trail or heading up on the switch back. You could also see the store/lodge bldg. at the top of the trail head which was somewhat annoying because it looked so close but at 3 miles it wasn't! By this time I had cell service and had text Tim, who finished in 15 1/2 hours and told him what my projected finish time would be, which was looking between 11-11:30pm. 
I was in a serious rut here and feeling so sleepy at times I just had to sit down and take a break but then I would quickly start falling asleep! This was the same feeling of sleepiness I experienced at Labor of Love 100 during the night and since I pulled a rookie mistake by not bringing any caffeinated gels I was in sleepy land. Knowing the more I sat around the tired I would get and the longer it would take so I tried to minimize that as much as possible, especially, since Chris was leading the way and was waiting for me. With 1.5 mile left we sat down at the water refill area on the bench and just took a few more minutes, then pushed off to finish out the trail.

The last mile was just as hard as the last 4 and maybe even more so because knowing that I was so close to being done I just wanted to get there. Making the last couple of turns at the top of the trail head was quite the enjoyment thinking that I just went from one side of the Grand Canyon to the other and BACK! Holy Shit!! I did it! I hit the top of the trail head where we all started 19 hours earlier! Tim and Bill were there and we all chatted and high fived! Amazing, Simply Amazing. Now we all wondered and talked about where Molly and Cynthia were what there finish time would be, but we knew it would be much later into the morning of the next day. We dropped Chris off at his truck in the visitor center and drove back to the RV where I showered up and then Bill got cleaned up. It was about 12-12:30am and since there was nothing open in our area to eat we decide to drive 50 miles to Williams to eat breakfast at Dennys! Crazy huh!
But sure enough that food at Denny's was pretty damn good and then Tim slept while I drove back 50 miles! Guess we all don't do anything normal, it's always extreme! hahaha.
We got a couple hours sleep and then I went with Bill to the trail head about 6:30am just to make sure we were there when Molly and Cynthia finished up. About 9:30am, as I was resting in the car Tim called and I went back to the RV to pick him up and when we returned to the trail head a few minutes later, Molly and Cynthia were in site coming up the last mile or so of the trail! They reached the top and all was exciting but they were seriously hungry so we went straight to the lodge to eat breakfast, again! 

After hearing there story, stomach problems, sleeping on some rocks and running out of food it was a crazy experience but we all finished the Grand Canyon Rim 2 Rim 2 Rim crossing! 

I was glad to have experienced it with all my friends, some of the greatest people I have come to know and race/train with. I had mixed emotions while on the trail and even suffered in my own pity party for a while, had no caffeine boosts, learned more patience's and seem to find another stop in my mind where you can dig from to push through, those are the things that make this ultra-running special to me. 
The Grand Canyon crossing will definitely go down as one of my all time Best experiences in Ultra running. With 48.5 miles and 17,000ft of climbing it has to be!

Stay tuned to for the San Diego Marathon recap and PR!