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!