(The above video was shot by one of my training partners, this was my last run before the race, this is the first 30 miles of the Western States course. The same 30 talked about in this post.....I would get no sun on race day. All pictures were taken prior to race day)
Dead Last! I'm not sure I've ever been dead last in a running race before. Back of the pack sure, but the very last runner? Don't think so. Determined to let that fact fall to the ground like the droplets of water that were forming on my jacket, I pressed my chin into my chest and made a climbing effort equal to what was needed to catch up. I had a plan and I was going to run my plan.
By the time we reached the mid point of the climb up Squaw I was neck and neck with the first person to ever complete the run in 1974, a guy named Gordy. I was roasting and took off my jacket. Huge mistake, within a minute I was cold, and being lazy I decided to put it on over my pack rather than deal with taking that off again. This turned out to be a good thing, once the jacket was zipped up I could position the water tube from my pack right next to my mouth and it would not move because of the jackets zipper. The tube poked my face as I ran and reminded me to drink. I need to come up with an invention for this on hot days. Hands free drinking!
Water fell from the sky in many forms at this point, hail, rain, and this snowy-hail like substance that pelted the skin. Winds had picked up to probably 20-50mph gusts and I knew from being on this mountain so much, that it would only get worse until we reached 2 miles off the back side. There would be trees at that point and they would give us some shelter.
Escarpment (3 miles) Time unknown.
I felt so bad for the people in shorts and tank tops, they looked chilled to the bone. I did have to wonder if they went to the runners meeting the day before, they warned us it would be 34 degrees. Of course in that same vein, I knew the temps and still decided to bring so many gummy worms...know what happens at 34 degrees to gummy worms? Gummy bricks hard as ice. Now I'm stuck with only gels until things warm up. I was running next to a guy from
, he was
in a tank top and looked frozen solid. All he could do was worry about going
down the switchbacks we would face some 40 miles from our current position. I said "you
are this cold and it's the switchbacks that are worrying you?" He said he
never got a chance to train on downhills this year. I cringed when he said this
and offered up the only advice I could. "Walk as much as you need, and
start slowing down way before each turn on the switchbacks. Throwing the brakes
on just before a turn to gain a couple extra seconds is what kills your
quads". South Carolina
I made my way up the little stream we had to ascend and saw my rainy cold oasis in the woods. A perfect outcropping of three trees where I could do my business, be discrete and still keep track of the number of people who were passing me (there I go again thinking about placing). I made my way off course a couple hundred feet, took off my pack grabbed my toilet paper baggy, dug a hole with my heel and dropped my shorts. The worst scenario I could imagine would follow:
1. I had diarrhea...ooof not good.
2. I had been using the same zip lock for TP for a while and it had a hole in it. TP + water = giant mess in a bag. Over half the sheets I brought (more than enough for 2 stops) were ruined and the rest of them were not going to clean a whole bunch.
3. All that was around me were pine needles, bark, branches and this weird looking plant.
What to do? Then I remembered that my pacer Goldie had shown me on a training run just weeks earlier a plant that was good for this scenario. Damn It! Why did I not pay more attention, did it look like this one? What if this is some sort of man eating plant fueled by feces or a weird kind of poison ivy or oak that only grows in the alpine regions. DOH! I looked at my watch 5 minutes had gone by, time to make a decision. I decided the plant looked close enough so I used it then used salvageable parts of the TP I had brought. By the time I got back on the trail I'd lost some 20-30 places and almost 10 minutes. "Remember to get more TP from the crew in 23 miles" I thought to myself.
Back on the road and after a mile I realized the TP did more harm than good. However, there was nothing I could do about it, I'd address the issue at mile 30, the first time I knew there would be a real bathroom and my crew to give me the supplies I needed. Until then I would try to alleviate the problem by adding bag balm or whatever lube I could find as often as possible to keep the friction down. This is not an issue I told myself.
Lyon Ridge (10.5 miles) at 7:41am
|Lyon Ridge sits right here.|
I made my way out of
Lyon ridge and
started in up the hill. It
was now blowing hard and raining harder. I started thinking about my
crew, they had no idea about the weather. I felt bad they would be standing
around all day in the rain freezing because I told them it was going
to be hot. Hopefully they brought clothes to be comfortable in.
Red Star Ridge (16 miles) 9:05 AM
|Red Star Ridge-home of the best weenies....ever!|
Back on the trail I hooked up with a guy from somewhere in
. He had run the race a couple of
times and was commenting my pacing. He said I looked great and really had
things dialed in. We talked for a bit about races, training and running in
general. I decided I
would follow him to the next aid station since I had passed the neon pink gal
in the last aid station. I would later find out she had to drop from the race a
couple miles after that. By this point a couple of other runners had joined us
to create a train of 6. We would run together all the way to the next aid stop
7.8 miles away. California
is difficult. You
are literally directed right back the way you just came from. You
have to head north for a mile or two before you can continue moving west. I was
worried about this section, 2 weeks prior I ran from Squaw to Robinson Flat and
this section killed me. I had not been eating and the last 6 miles of the run
knocked me out. I was worried the same would happen today. I held back from my
normal balls to the wall downhill ways and followed the 6 person train down to
the creek that we must pass through. Duncan Canyon
I was puzzled by what I saw at the creek, we had been running now for almost 7 hours and no part of the body was dry. Yet, here I am watching 10-12 people tip toe on the rocks sticking out of the stream so they do not get their feet wet. I announced "coming through!" as I ran into the shin deep creek and passed each and every one of them. I knew I had dry shoes and socks in 3 miles and more water was not hurting anything at this point.
I'm now about to embark on the first of 4 canyon climbs. This canyon is tricky, it just gets steeper as you go. I knew when we hit the switchbacks 1.5 miles from the aid station that things would fall apart for me. They always do on hills. I'm slow, especially when the incline is mild. I have not yet developed a running gear up hills and my hiking leaves a lot to be desired. On this day though, my legs felt great. I began slowly pulling away from the train of 12 I had passed and was now on my own. I would not run with another person for the next 10 hours. I'd see people, but I was passing them. With good legs beneath me, I started hiking hard up the hill. I caught a couple of people and I was realizing that either they were blowing up or I was in better climbing shape than I thought.
|1/2 mile.....close but no cigar!|
Robinson Flat (30 Miles) 12:37 PM
I entered the corral they had set up for runners to direct them into the weigh station 25 minutes ahead of schedule. In races like this they weigh you to make sure you are keeping up on the fluids. Weighing more or less than 7% of your body weight gets you time in a chair, and you have no choice but to wait until they feel you are ready to leave. I have worried about this to no end. Last year in my only other 100 mile race I started at 194 and would weigh at different times 188 all the way to 212. At that race they are much more lenient than this one with the numbers.
I started to figure out if I would be heavy or light 174 and 202 was the range I had to work with. Should I strip down or add some rocks to the pockets? My blow up at Zion a month earlier and a promise I made to my fiance made me decide to be honest with the scale, so I did nothing. I saw my crew member to the right of the line of runners walking into the aid station. Oh she was a sight for sore eyes, and she had a poncho and tu-tu on! Yes, I thought, they are all going to be fine I do not have to worry about them. I walked up to the scale handed my pack and jacket off and stood still. 203 the guy shouted, what's your start weight?
Damn that is over 7% do I tell him the truth?