Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Immediately departing the Aid Station we had a long climb I remember making pretty good timing here just by power walking uphill and actually passed a few runners with pacers. I have always said that going uphill in the dark is good because you can’t see the top and after an hour we were at it. It had taken more out of me than I realized and after we hit the level ground I took my foot off the gas and slowed down, it was here that I started to feel tired and I was also starting to have some minor…well maybe major hallucinations, the floodlight shape of my flashlight was looking remarkably like a fried egg which, for some reason, I was not allowed to step into, I was also playing Pong with the light from my headlamp vs. the light from my flashlight making them bounce off each other on the trail in front of me! I saw somebody standing by the side of the trail holding two horses! And the triumph was a head sat on a falling tree smiling at me!
By this stage I was wobbling a bit on the trail, I remember weaving and catching my feet on the sides of it which jarred my knee and woke me up. We had slowed down so much that someone who we had passed then passed us and offered me a caffeine tablet which I took, I am not sure if it was the caffeine or the placebo effect but it worked and I managed to say in straighter line after that, this was around 3:30am so I had been awake for 24 hours and racing for 22.5 hours, this I knew as the alarm went off on my watch set for the previous morning’s start!
Onward we went some up but mostly down. I ran walked/walked ran, counting to 50 paces and changing pace, shorten my gait the offset my knee which was really making its presence known. From the 75 mile checkpoint we had until 10:00am to make the cutoff which gave me 8 hours to cover 25 miles! Easy right! I spent a lot of time doing pace math in my head, we reached another checkpoint and I had calculated that we needed to be doing 4 mph and we were doing 3mph so I tried to speed up and push for longer or faster running sections. I experienced something that I have only ever been on the giving end of before which was to hear Lori simply lengthen her walking stride as I basically ‘ran’ as fast as I could! On the ups I adopted the mantra of ‘keep moving’ which hissed between my teeth at every stride.
We reversed our way through the same Aid Stations that I had been through on the way out and I had somehow got them all muddled up, some we stopped at and other we blew through not needing to refill anything. I knew in my mind that once the sun rose I would get a new lease of life and eventually it did. We reached third from last Aid Stations who told us we had 16.4 miles to the Finish I think I blew through that one and before I knew it we were at the next one at least a mile earlier than I had anticipated. At this point I realized that I had made a mental arithmetic error and had reduced our time buy an hour so we had about 2.5 hours to the last 7-8 miles. A struggle at the approx 20 minute per mile pace we were holding but if we speeded up a bit…
Around this point my 305 decided to give up the ghost, in its defense it had been running for 13 hours which is way beyond its rating, of course this meant I had no idea about pace or anything. We got to the bottom of a 6 mile downhill section which had been pretty bad on my quad and crossed a bridge, on the other side there was short sharp steep section, basically a old river bank eroded away over time and here I twisted my ankle. I felt a twinge and didn’t think anything of it really but it quickly became painful quickly. Additionally the trail decided to take an uphill turn and this began what was a painful, long climb to the penultimate Aid Station. Here I hit a new low as I saw the time trickle away and tried to ignore the pain from my ankle and knee (on the same leg!) as well as a burst blister on the other foot and what felt like a blister on toes but turned out to be nothing? Onwards we went, Lori did her best to keep my spirits up but I am sure she can taste the frustration that seemed to be seeping out of every pore. We finally made it and found that they were breaking it down, which was no real surprise. They told us that we had the Sweepers on our tail and that we had about 5 miles to the finish.
I’ll be honest and say that I can’t remember how much time we had left but I do remember say to Lori that a 10k could be run in about 40-45 minutes…just not today! Sometime after that my watch chimed 10 O’clock and I was timed out! We were walking and had been pretty much for the last 10 miles or so. My ankle was really painful as was my knee and I asked Lori to pick up a stick for me so I could use it as a crutch, we carried on and I suggested that she run on to at least get a run for the day, but she stuck with me. I was passed by another runner who I had left at Mile 75 sleeping or suffering from the cold I asked him to tell Robyn, I described her, that I was on my way slowly. More time passed and for the second time I said to Lori I needed to sit down on a log and rest I really was in a lot of pain, walking was difficult and mentally I was pretty much tapped out. I suggested that she run on to the end of the trail to (a) see how far it was and (b) see if someone could pick me up at the end in a car. She ran on and I sat. I finally got my act together and before I had gone very far she came back with Robyn and a Paramedic, whose name I never got but who was a great guy!
After a quick consult they picked me up either side and started to carry me out. The Sweepers passed at this point and with a cry of ‘bad luck’ they were gone. Putting my ankle on the floor was really hurting and we discussed the options, ambulance, helicopter and the like. We decided that calling and ambulance would at least give me more options of getting to the end of the trail. And so the paramedic left to make the call with Robyn to keep me company, we chatted about all things running and Robyn mentioned that I really wasn’t so far from the end of the trail, maybe two miles and so given that the race was actually 102 miles long, I am going to claim a 100 mile distance finish, not a race finish but a distance one!
Time trickled by and some people came by on horses, I was wearing the paramedics jacket as I was cold, and they mistook me for a medic, Robyn explained my dilemma, they moseyed on by but later one of them came back and offered me her padded vest to keep my legs warm and brought some mini bagels, Satsuma’s and water, I was pretty hungry and the thought of another gel was not very appetizing. There was some talk of using the horses to get me out, the problem was that I was technically still on the Reservation and there was a lot red tape needed to ‘officially’ drive on the land; in the end I think this was simply ignored. It wasn’t till I was sat down and chatting with Robyn that the swelling was really noticeable and it really was about three times it’s normal size! Lori came back with her husband and two children who had patiently been waiting for us to finish… “so much for an exciting adrenaline filled ultra race” I commented, for poor Lori it had essentially been a 26 mile hike! I thanked them all for their effort and support.
Some time after and the paramedic returned with two more colleagues, they splinted my knee, packed it in ice and immobilized my ankle, between them carried my the short way out to their ambulance. We discussed options and their concern was that I had torn something and it would get worse rather than simply having pulled or twisted something or things! With some hesitation I agreed to go to hospital to get at least an X-ray. I was loaded onto the gurney, Robyn dropped my bags in the ambulance, everyone took photos, said their thanks and goodbyes and we set off.
On the way I was tested fro the usual set of stats, blood pressure, resting HR and all that, and it turns out I am quite healthy! I asked the paramedic to pass me my cellphone so I could call my wife; I dialed the number and she answered; “hi, it’s me don’t panic I’m fine but I’m in an ambulance on the way to hospital…hello hello”! Thanks TMobile! We reconnected and I explained the events and said I would call her later.
We arrived at the hospital and I was checked in, X-rayed – a lot! Made comfy and that was it, I think they actually let me sleep a bit, I had been awake for 34 hours or so at this point, and when I came around it was 6:30pm!
I’ll save you all the details but here’s the prognosis, twisted knee and sprained ankle, that’s it really nothing more nothing less. I have an Air-Cast and crutches, the crutches are a real pain and got ditched day 2. RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression & Elevation) 800mg of Ibuprofen 3 x a day and prescription for Vicodin if I need it. Three days later the swelling on my knee is receding nicely; I can see my knee cap…always a bonus I think, although my quad is tender as well. My ankle is still really sore so I am limping about in; you guessed it, running shoes! Other minor niggles include nasty mess on my heel from the burst blister, a blister on my arm from my iPod case I think. The back of my bad knee is very tender where all the KTTape pulled off chunks of skin when they remove it in the hospital and I probably loose one maybe two toenails! Actually recovery wise I was not stiff or sore but this was probably due to the amount of walking rather then running I did!
So after reading this you’ll probably be thinking I’ll be hanging up my trail shoes, well kinda sorta. The commitment to the distance is huge, from both me and from my family, basically four months were spent training for this race and three months for Leona Divide last April (which was a qualifier for AC100) so out of 9 months this year I have been training for 7 of them. In reality I don’t have the physique to knock out these distances every weekend and it is about finding some balance. I have promised my wife that there will be no 100s next year (she didn’t say anything about 2011) and she has told me that I need to focus of running faster this includes some trail PRs that need to be beaten and maybe a trip to Beantown…we’ll see! So that’s the plan and more of that in another post.
Would I go back to 100 in the Hood, yes I would, this was the inaugural year and all things considered it was well run (hah, well not be me) and well executed, I was a bit surprised that the Sweepers, literally swept by, but in reality I was with company and they probably didn’t know exactly what was going on. I am sure if the RD knew what was happening she would have made an effort to assist or maybe not, but whatever I was surrounded by people who cared enough to be there in the good times and in the bad times and to be honest that’s what counts.
So thank you for your patience in reading this to the end and a massive thank you to Robyn, her Mum (I still don’t know here name!), Lori and her family, Christine, who despite her best efforts never found me and to the paramedics, doctors and nurses, who diagnosed and patched me up and who I am sure will never read this…well you never know!
You can see the Garmin Connect data in the right hand margin and there are some photos and video, so when I have time I’ll edit it and post them
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
I had taken Friday and Monday off to both travel and recover and so as I drove to Burbank Airport, somewhere I have never been before I merrily sailed by my exit, thereby turning a leisurely 45 minute 40 mile drive into a high speed 45 minutes 60 mile journey, anyway I managed to make the flight and was Oregon bound. After a short stop in San Jose I touched down and was met at the airport by Robyn and her Mum who had driven down from Seattle to crew for me. We tried to meet up with Christine but it wasn’t working timingwise so we headed out to the florally named Rhododendron to check into our hotel and go to packet pick up.
We found the hotel and checked in and then drove another 30 minutes or so to packet pick up where I met the recently married and ever high spirited Olga, I collected my number and shirt and we headed back to the town, we grabbed a bite to eat and basically parted company, I spent the next hour or so resorting my kit and all that good stuff, stood in the middle of the street to get a phone signal to phone my wife and then hit the hay with the alarm set for 3:30am.
The alarm came and by 4:45 we were at the start, it was cold, but short sleeves and armwarmers were enough and the sunrise was due in another 90 minutes. Everyone was in high spirits, headlamps were bobbing up and down everywhere and shortly we were called into line for the start, I unceremoniously headed to the back of the pack, I had a pace chart and knew what I need/wanted to do and that was really my strategy to pretty much run my own race by myself…this may seem a lonely or even selfish option but I was there to finish and to be honest to try and finish as quickly as I could.
With a whoop we were off and running down the road where we quickly turned onto a singletrack path, being that I was at the back or near the back I suffered from the dust kicked up by 100+ runners, ears, eyes and nose all became choked with it during the race (I didn’t actually realize how bad I looked until looking at myself in my hotel bathroom some 38 hours later!) and it created a fake cloud in the beam of my headlamp. I settled into a nice pace some running some walking and slowly the miles clicked by. The race comprised of two out and backs, 28 miles for the first one and 72 miles for the second. During the period the sun came out and I was treated to a great view of Mt Hood. Between mile 12 and 16, (I previously though 20 but some in some video from Mile 16 I talk about my knee), I stumbled on my right foot and landed awkwardly on my left twisting my knee, it hurt but it was very runnable on and wasn’t really and issue, I anticipated taking some ibuprofen when I got to Robyn and my bag.
To be honest a lot of the Aid Stations are a bit of a blur, Robyn and her Mum were awesome, appearing with sports drinks, gel, a smile and a cheer. I had also marked on my pace chart where to switch out 305s; I liberated my wife’s and as a result have all but the last 10 miles recorded, had I been faster I would have recorded it all, and for the last section it kept going for nearly 13 hours before dieing. I remember being at 28 miles in 6 hours (4.7mph) a sub 24 hour finish speed and thinking wow this is going really great. I was feeling strong and my hydration and nutrition was pretty dialed in, I predominantly used Cytomax in two flavors usually with a Nuun tablet thrown in and Chocolate#9 gels, I took a flask of Hammer gels also, during the day I was also refueling with PB&J sandwiches and during the night chicken noodle soup with occasional cup of coke/spirit and S-Caps although the latter did make me feel a little queasy after taking them so I only took them every other hour. For the record I drank somewhere around 30 bottles of fluid; about 660oz, which works out to be just over 5 gallons, and about 20 gels.
My knee was getting sore and so when I got to Robyn I grabbed a baggie of Ibruprofen, taking four straight away, another two and hour later and another three and hour after that, I thought they were 100mgs each, turns out they were 200mgs each! They were having little effect and I didn’t want to overdose on them, thinking I had already taken 900mgs, so I left it at that. I started up the second out and back which would take me up to the turnaround at Breitenback Lake where I would meet Christine who was going to pace me from mile 65 to mile 75.
The next section entered Warm Springs Indian Reservation and we were not allowed to have any crew meet us so I was on my own till mile 54 where I would meet Robyn again. The next 22 miles were covered in 6:05 so I was clearly slowing down a combination of the terrain and my knee. We were also instructed to carry flashlights/headlamps etc for the stage which, with hindsight, seemed odd as it wouldn’t be dark when we arrived and I was hovering around DFL (Dead F%^&#@*g Last)! There were four Aid Stations along the way but like the others these were a bit hazy! I distinctly remember having a low point here after being passed by four other runners who I knew, having seen them on the first out-and-back, at least 2 hours behind me! Nevertheless I plodded on, my knee was getting sorer and I knew at mile 55 I would be able to tape it proper with some KTTape that I had in my bag, I actually had zero discomfort from either my runner’s knee that had been plaguing me for the last month and had taped it from the start, or my ITB which had threatened to make a comeback, I had removed my ITB strap earlier on.
I rolled into the Aid Station and Robyn directed me a camp chair that she had prepped for me, while he Mum got me some chicken noodle soup. I tapped my thigh with all the KTTape I had, about 7 pieces in total, basically wrapping up my quadricep in as much of a supportive way I could . I had had a hot spot on my heel for the last 10 miles so I changed my socks, there was no blister and it felt like a tiny piece of gravel had got into my shoe. It proved to be something more and a blister did appear later on; it grew, grew some more, then burst, then tore off and then just plain hurt, as it was right on my heel I got to practice my forefoot running which is all well and good but now my toenail is about to drop off…note to self; dress early! I grabbed an extra later knowing that I was heading out into the soon to be arriving darkness and unforecasted cold.
From here I headed up towards Brietenback Lake, 10 miles away, I covered the first four miles in about an hour making the next Aid Station just before sunset. I remember thinking how surprised I was about the lack of wildlife I had seen, a grand total of one grouse and a chipmunk, seriously that was it. When I ran into Aid Stations during the day typically the first question I was being asked was ‘can I fill your bottles” well not here, here I was asked ‘hey did you see the bears”? Eh no and I never did and that was just fine!
I had six miles to the turnaround and to the high point of the course at about 5500’, this was by far the gnarliest part of the course, nearly every step threatened to twist your ankle. I was seeing occasional runners walking towards me and not one of them was running, quite possibly it could have been run in the daylight but in the dark it was next to impossible. I just got my head down and got on with it, fighting the hill and fighting the cold. I reached the turnaround, took my now compulsory cup of soup, then another and asked had anyone been waiting for me, I was told no but apparently the road was nearly impassable in all but a hi-lift 4x4 which reinforced what Robyn had told me earlier on. To be honest I was concerned that the trail would be too much for Christine and she could have injured herself. I was relieved to find out the next day that she had gotten lost and given up after driving around in circles. There was no point in delaying the inevitable and so I left. I reached the next Station and headed straight to the fire pit to warm up. This twelve mile section had taken five hours!
My leg, while not too painful as I was really only walking, had slowed me down some but combined with the terrain I was really behind schedule. I had four miles to the 75 mile point where I would pick up Lori who would be pacing me through to the finish, I had given her the window of 8:00-11:00pm, I arrived at the Aid Station at about 1:45pm. I saw Lori and her husband and thanked them for coming out and waiting and waiting! Without a shadow of doubt without Lori I would not have got as far as I did during the night and next morning, but I am getting ahead of myself. We left the Aid Station just after 2:00am, just ahead of the 3:00am cutoff.
Now it's late. So this is to be continued...
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Talking of pacers, you can follow them on Twitter; @jensir or at her blog; Tough Noodles (mile 75-101; 'cos 100 just isn't enough, @solorunner (mile 65-75) with @cloverc possibly helping for the 10 mile stretch of 55-65 but otherwise crewing with Robyn (MonkeyMonk) from Nike+, I can't express my thanks enough to these four very special people!
Cellphone coverage is limited so there it unlikely that there will be any real time coverage for those of you who want to follow my progress but you never know! I am flying up Friday morning to get there in plenty of time for Saturday's 5:00am start!
Finally I read this the other day by Emily Bronte and it seemed quite pertinent
What have those lonely mountains worth revealing?
More glory and more grief than I can tell
The earth thet wakes one human heart to feeling
Can center both the worlds of Heaven and Hell
See you on the flipside!
Saturday, September 19, 2009
There have been some amazing timelapse videos taken here's one of the better ones (apart from the music), it's HD so click to expand the picture you won't loose any quality.
Oh an just a qualifier on the last post; 'The List', I am not doing all of them, it's a list to choose races from. But thanks for your confidence in my abilities!
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Life has taught us that if you don’t have a list, you very rarely actually get things done, well that’s not quite true, you get stuff done but it’s never the important stuff like; get job, move house, have baby, yes that last one has been on our list twice; our sons were born in September and October…we’re efficient like that!
So I am trying to get a little ahead of the curve and have started my list early, as you can see some trails, some roads, some biking, mostly long although there will be some shorter stuff as well. In some ways it’s too much and in others it’s not complete, it’s just a list.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
You have probably read some of my reviews on products kindly supplied by the Wilderness Running Company. Well now I get to go and run with them, they have put together a great weekend of trail running in November in the Zion National Park that they are calling Pure Zion. I must confess that this post has been delayed and now all 16 slots are full, (sorry guys my bad), spaces were limited due to Park Service rules, there is a waiting list if you want to add your name email Stacy at email@example.com, there will be more events and next time I’ll be a bit quicker off the mark for you guys. Also WRC is having a summer blowout, check it out there's a whole bunch of stuff on sale, I picked a great pair of Salomon Shorts and a Salomon Top; reviews to follow, use QUAD10 at the checkout to get another 10% off.
Big valley views
Bigger valley views
Looks brutal, right!
Talking of photo’s here’s where I am heading in 9 days (must control freak out), the scenery looks awesome and is very different from what I am used to, things like trees don’t really exist round here as such, well Palm trees but they don’t count! These are from the first half of the course.
Big views of Mt Hood
Look trees, shade!
Bigfoot was here!
The taper is going wellish, my cold is going away, I am mostly hitting the targets I set and forcing myself to go to bed at a reasonable time, work is crazy insane busy and pretty stressful but that’s what pays the entry fees, right!
Oh and if anyone has any unopened Cytomax Pink Lemonade going spare please please let me know, it has become rarer than Rocking Horse poop!
Sunday, September 13, 2009
The end result was everything got switched round; I snotrocketed my way along the beach path for an hour Friday night, then I rode my bike Saturday for 21 miles, and managed to shave 4 and bit minutes off my usual double loop time resulting in just over 1:15 on the bike, then in the spirit of multitasking I decided to run to the local garage who had had our SUV in for some work to pick it up and drive it home. My transition needs some work, but whatev’, and I was back out on the road about 3-4 minutes later. I felt like I was running through treacle, with no pace and running in cycling shorts while not being as bad I thought it would be was not comfortable, the garage was only 2 miles away and when I got there I found car locked, they were supposed to leave the keys under the seat, I about faced and ran back. I walked the last 300 yards or so to cool off.
Despite feeling like I was running with my shoes laces tied together I still managed to cover the 3.8 miles in 30 minutes, my average pace, 7:55, was a huge surprise to me! I realize this is nothing really for all you triathletes out there but I was left with a huge smile on my face as the last three months have really only been about the long, longer and longest runs.
And so that bring us to today I have a 12 miler scheduled for tonight which shouldn’t be too much of an issue. This coming week, if I can keep it all together, my longest run is a 9 miler and I have some cycling and yoga as well, the following week is even less and then Friday morning I fly to Portland.
In other news I have a crew member and a pacer for 100 in the Hood! A Nike+ buddy and a Twitter buddy are going to crew me for the race and pace me for the last 25 miles. I am grateful beyond measure and just blown away by the generosity of people who I know online through forums, blogs, Facebook and Twitter but have never met in person! Once again social media to the rescue!
Finally and following the social media theme I had the privilege of being interviewed last week for the Runner’s Lounge website/blog so if you still have unanswered questions about little old moi you may find an answer here.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Monday, September 7, 2009
So this is the plan, yeah that's swimming you see, I managed to throw down some laps at today's visit to the pool with the family. I am not a big swimmer it's the one thing that makes me hesitate about a doing a triathlon, something to think about another day.
The focus is on movement and stretching keeping things rolling along and in check, I'll throw a visit to my chiropractor in there as well and maybe a massage as well nearer the time
Also, being looked at are diet and sleep. My diet is pretty good on the whole but my sleeping habits are poor at the best of times so I am aiming to get at least 7 hours sleep a night increasing that as race day nears.
In other news unfortunately my crew and pacers; Sara, Rachel and Billy are unable to make the visit and I totally understand. However I am just blown away by the offers of help; crewing, pacing etc that I have received, it's a privilege to be part of this community!
Sunday, September 6, 2009
I need to get my game face on or more pertinently my game legs on, I need to taper effectively and efficiently, this means not just stopping which is kinda what’s happened over the last two weeks, dodgy-ish knee, new job, big commute all are excuses and so from today I am starting an 18 day taper plan that will get me to start line as ready as I can be, I’ll detail it in the next post. The beauty of a blog is that it is like photocopying your diary and posting it on the local bus stop, you put things out there and then you have to deliver on them. And so with that in mind now is the time to be accountable to myself, my goals, my family and to you, so if you see me diverting call me out will you!
Saturday, September 5, 2009
There are many images that are available on the web but the following is of specific interest, it’s a mash-up on Google Earth of the fire’s perimeter and the AC100 course, you can see the second half of the route is significantly impacted, however this pales when compared to the impact on Mt Disappointment which, with a the exception of the absolute summit of Mount Wilson, has fallen completely within the perimeter, (see point A, B and Josephine Summit as the basic line of the race in the map) only time will tell what impact that has on the race but based on the Santa Barbara fires of last year and the Malibu Canyon fire of 2007 it will take at least two years before it can sustain a large amount of foot traffic.
The course is marked with map pins, the fire is the circle on the left, click to enlarge
With the exception of a hire car I am all booked in for 100 in the Hood; 3 weeks to go.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
And so on to more cheerful news. Having scurried about the internet I came up with a couple of alternatives of which one was the Javelina Jundred in Arizona in October, this race was sold out but the RD opened up 50 places, this would have been a great alternative and I would have been able to run with another blogging bud, Nick but the timing sucked. There was Cactus Rose in Texas and Superior Sawtooth in Minnesota neither off which leapt of the page at me, and then through the power of Twitter, somebody (thanks Lori) suggested 100 in the Hood in Oregon. A bit of research, including an email to the RD, Olga whose, blog 'Run More Talk Less', I have read for the last year or two and who herself just complete the Hardrock 100, with some questions including; what weather can I expect? To which I got the answer:
The weather can be about anything. If we hit Indian summer, it is 80F during a day and 50 at night. It might get as low as 50 in daylight and 30 at night. It won't be hot. Most likely it won't snow, though one year it did in September. How is that for an answer? :)
So much for that heat training then, looks like I might need thermals! Anyway a couple of calls later and a chat with MsQ in the evening and, well, Oregon here I come. I just need to finalize all my travel arrangements and I’ll be off the weekend of the 26th, just one week later than AC100, to spend some quality time on the Pacific Crest Trail. If you're local stop by. You can check out some of the course photos here.
And so the adventure continues…