Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Touch of gray made my day!! Western States 100

Western States 100 is always an exciting day for me. Whether I am running it or pacing, there is always so much excitement going on. This year was no exception.

I paced my friend Tim Quinn who is a member of TEAM DIABLO and who also happens to be 63 years old. I picked him up at Foresthill (mile 62), and ran with him to Green Gate (mile 80). He ran so well and it was great watching his enthusiasm build as he passed runner after runner on our way down to the river. His daughter Tiffany took over at Green Gate and she brought him to the finish in a great time of 26:42! Fellow TEAM DIABLO runner and good friend, Wally Hesseltine is a fast runner who happens to be 66 years young. I love Wally because he is so competitive and such a great guy! He finished in an amazing time of 27:27! Dan Williams, another TEAM DIABLO runner at age 61 finished his 20th WS in a great time of 27:48! Dan is a special friend and such a competitor! He is so tough and I just love his energy! 64 year old Rod Dixon, a friend I met years ago while doing a Ride n Tie, ran a great race in 29:44! He pushed hard and despite hating the heat, finished strong and with a smile on his face!

These four sexy, fast men all have something in common. They are all sexagenarians! Wikipedia says that a sexagenarian is a person who is 60 years old or between the ages of 60 and 69. These guys are so impressive and I am so proud of them. In my world, I know many men that run ultras in that age group. For many people, imagining a 60+ year old man running 50 miles, much less 100 miles, would be mind boggling. For some of you, it might be impossible to imagine anyone running 100 miles. It takes so much physical strength and a heap of mental strength to run 100 miles. Through heat, snow, mud, rivers, creeks, elevation and uneven trails, these guys pushed their graying hair from Squaw Valley to Auburn. How is that for inspiration? Wow, just thinking about these guys makes me tired. If this doesn't motivate you, then you must be dead. Don't couch potato it and let yourself be old. Get up and get moving. One day you will be a Sexagenarian!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Challenging Ourselves

"Racing teaches us to challenge ourselves. It teaches us to push beyond where we thought we could go. It helps us to find out what we are made of. This is what we do. This is what it's all about."
-PattiSue Plumer, U.S. Olympian

Good luck to all my friends that are lining up tomorrow morning to run Western States. I will be with each one of you in my heart. I will be pacing my friend Tim Quinn. See you all in Auburn!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

WS is a journey to be enjoyed!

Western States 100 is this weekend. At first I was bummed that I didn't get in. I was disappointed and kinda angry. All my friends got in, it wasn't fair. Then Bighorn 100 happened and all I can say is "Thank you." If I had gotten into WS, I would not have had the opportunity to run in this incredible race. I would have really missed out on a terribly hard, but beautiful run in the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming. What a shame it would have been to miss out on that! So this weekend when I am pacing my buddy Tim, I will run knowing that Tim is not only the lucky one, but I am too.

Good luck out there to all my friends running WS this weekend. I am envious, but not jealous. I am happy for all of you who are lucky enough to line up at Squaw Valley and run to Auburn. You are lucky, but so am I. Run smart my friends and enjoy the journey. It will be worth it when you reach Auburn.

Bighorn 100 2010

Well, what can I say about the Bighorn 100? I guess I will start at the beginning as I have a lot to say.

Matt and I and Leslie left from Oakland to fly to Billings, Montana on Wednesday morning. We stayed at a funky little motel with a flat uncomfortable bed, and a chain smoking lady working at the NO SMOKING motel, greeted us at the door. On Thursday morning we left Billings and drove the couple of hours to Sheridan, Wyoming where the race begins. We checked in and got through the medical check and dropped off our drop bags. We were ready for the 11:00 am start time on Friday. I was nervous and excited all at the same time. My last two hundreds left me very sick with Rhabdo in the hospital for a week each time. It was so important for me to run conservatively and keep hydrated and healthy. I went into the race undertrained. The highest mileage week was topped off at 68 miles. Low for most people training for 100's. I felt strong and my 50 mile races had gone well, but I wondered if I had done enough for the intensity of the Bighorns.

The 11:00 am start gave us plenty of time to have a nice breakfast and get to the race briefing by 9 am. I saw a few friends there and it was relaxing and beautiful. The weather was perfect!

At 11:00, we were off! The climb out of the Bighorn canyon was beautiful and I went slow and deliberate through there. It was incredibly remote and breathtaking. I loved every minute of it. I enjoyed talking with a lot of friends through here and it seemed like before we knew it, we had reached Dry Fork Aid Station at mile 13. Leaving Dry Fork you begin a long rolling descent all the way to Footbridge (mile 30). They throw in enough climbs to keep you from completely freaking about the return trip. There were beautiful wildflowers, meadows, stream crossings, and great aid stations! I was feeling really good as I ran the runnable portions of this section. The last three miles into Footbridge, you descend what is called "The Wall". It is a 3.5 mile descent that drops over 2,000 feet. In addition to the steep, technical decline, there were sections of thick, sticky mud, and running creek water that made for a slippery downhill experience. I am a slow downhill runner and this section was particularly tricky for me as I didn't want to twist an ankle or trip this early into the race. The mud was shoe sucking and I lost a shoe at one really deep spot. Getting my shoe back on was a comical experience! At Footbridge, I sat there completely confused as to what to bring with me up the long 18 mile climb to Porcupine (mile 48 turnaround). We needed to bring all our warm clothes and lights and we were told it would take around 6 hours for this 18 mile trek through the snow and mud. I changed my socks and stuffed my pack with warm clothes and headed out. I turned my ipod on and I started off. I hiked a lot and ran a little too. I kept reminding myself, Relentless Forward Motion. After following the river for a while, I came into an alpine meadow which was just beautiful. I crossed numerous log footbridges and the roar of the raging rivers were amazing. At about 8:30pm, I put on my warm clothes as the temperature was beginning to change, and turned my lights on at 9:30pm. There was a crazy muddy section through an aspen grove that was solid mud and puddles for several hundred feet. There was really no good route- just plunge right in. The last few miles from Elk Camp to Porcupine were pretty nasty with long sections of muddy boggy marsh, several small streams and then about a mile or more of alternating snow piles and mud pits. A few of us came to a large river crossing with deep rushing water and couldn't find the trail markers. If we had looked to the left we would have seen a small footbridge to go over. Well, we didn't waste the time to look and we plunged in, waste high into cold freezing water. I think it took me about an hour to get some sort of blood circulation back into my numb, frozen feet. That was a terrible mistake not crossing the footbridge to avoid being wet from a freezing river. The course got more challenging toward the turn around with lots of mud, snow and creek crossings. I was so looking forward to getting to the turnaround, because I knew Matt would be there with a smile on his face, and encouraging words. Porcupine aid station was great. I came into the warm building to lots of energetic volunteers and to Matt who helped me get it together again. I think I stayed about 15 minutes, trying to get warm and then Matt got me out the door. Leaving Porcupine, I tried to stay mentally strong. I knew it was going to be a LONG night. The snow and mud were just relentless. My hands and feet were numb with cold. I was getting anxious knowing that I had several narrow bridges to cross over raging rivers. The bridges were covered in ice and my feet were wet, muddy and very slippery. I kept praying that I would slip off and fall into the raging water. The sky was clear and the stars were out and it was just beautiful. I kept my mind off of all the animals that lived among us. Watching the footing kept me focused and unafraid.

The turnaround to the finish is just one big blur. I do know that I felt great most of the time. I moved along and did not let negative thoughts cloud my forward motion. I don't know how many times I fell the last 50 miles. I was covered in mud and my teeth and mouth were filled with dirt from my dirty water bottle. The climb up to Footbridge seemed to take forever. My feet were trashed. I was covered in mud. I was excited to be moving and my stomach felt great. My fueling was working like a charm and everything seemed to be going just as I hoped it would. Running without a pacer was great. There was no need for aimless chatter and I did not need any pushing. I was motivated enough and just enjoyed the alone time. I was also excited that my Mom would be at Dry Fork to see me come in. She and her friend Lloyd were stopping by on their way from a road trip to Wyoming.

I finally made it to Dry Fork after a long uphill trudge. I saw my Mom and Matt there and enjoyed an avocado and a V8 juice there. From there I left and I alternated between fast hiking and running up to Sheep Creek. With 17 + miles to go, I tried not to think about it. I had wanted to finish in under 30 hours, but I was having my doubts. The miles seemed to drift by and before I knew it we were at the final climb deemed "The Haul".
It was steep, but it seemed easier than "The Wall". The long downhill was never ending and the temperatures were pleasant. When I finally hit the dreaded 5 mile gravel road, I knew it was going to be long and relentless. I looked at my watch and knew I could make it under 30 hours. That had me smiling. My legs felt great and I ran the whole 5 miles encouraging the 50k and 50 mile runners to join me. No one took my encouragement, so I ran alone. At about 3 miles to go, I came across Steve Restad, a Billings Montana runner who I had met earlier in the day. I told him to get running and we took off together to run together the rest of the way to the finish. We ran hard and fast to the bridge at the park. We charged across the finish line like we were running a 10k and it was a perfect way to end a perfect race! I immediately put my poor aching paws into the cold river. That lasted only for about 30 seconds as the water was just too cold.

I finished the race with not a bit of soreness in my legs and feeling great. I am so happy that I had no issues to speak of except very sore feet. I wore Drymax socks and they worked like a charm as always. Thank you to the race director and to all the volunteers for making this race so great. I will be back. My time of 29:30 made me happy! I am happy to report that I had no stomach issues, bloating or swelling of my hands for arms. My legs never got stiff or sore. I was able to eat and drink to the finish line. Mentally, I stayed focused and strong. I think I had the perfect race for me. I didn't run the fastest, but I bet I felt better than 99% of the finishers. I finished strong and happy. I couldn't have asked for anything more!

P.S. When we arrived back to Billings, Montana to spend the night before leaving the next day, a tornado hit 2 miles from our motel five minutes after we arrived and checked into our room. It was scary and exciting all at the same time. I have included some tornado pictures as well.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Five days until the Bighorn 100

Bighorn 100 is almost here. On Friday, I will line up at the starting line in Sheridan, Wyoming to begin my race. I am excited and scared at the same time. I am not a great 100 mile runner. I don't run them they way I need to run them. My first three 100's went well, but I think I start out too fast and then crash at about 50 miles. Nothing is more painful than dragging your sorry ass over mountains for 50 long miles. I know. I've been there, done that. I can run 50 miles fairly fast without a problem. I cannot run 50 miles fairly fast and then run another 50 miles fairly fast. Doesn't work for me. This time I am going to start very conservatively and continue that way. I am not going to worry about time or pace. My goal is simply to finish healthy. Forward, Relentless Motion.

When I didn't get into the lottery for Western States (my fave), or Mont Blanc, I looked for a race that was challenging and somewhere beautiful. I had heard so many great things about BH that I decided to give it a try. I think I am ready. All I need to do is get my shizle together and line up at the start line. I can't wait!

Leslie and I went for a night run last week to try out our lights before the race. My two new lights totally sucked. I returned them and decided to use my old favorite hand held. I'm not big on headlamps I guess.

On another note, I am going back to Costa Rica for The Coastal Challenge in January! If you have been following my blog for any length of time, you will probably remember that it was an adventure of a lifetime. Having the opportunity to compete there again is going to be great. I am so lucky. If any of you would like to run The Coastal Challenge or any of their races that are run in beautiful places, use discount code KR2010 for a 10% discount at registration. You don't have to be a great runner to enter. You just need to love adventure and be ready for anything!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010