Sunday, May 28, 2017

Jemez 50 Mile Race Report

photo by Jim Stein

Us fifty mile runners started at five in the morning which required us to wear headlamps for the first four miles or so, which I always enjoy.  Then we were treated to a clear pristine desert sunrise.  It was cool but warm enough to start off in shorts and a t-shirt.  The landscape slowly transitioned as we gradually ascended up Guaje Ridge, from the desert to aspen filling in an old burned zone to tall pines in the mountains with little patches of snow from yesterday’s flurry.

This year’s race mostly followed the same course as it has for the last handful of years, except it was run in reverse, which was a nice change and made for better Hardrock training for me.  This year we hiked up a couple steep sections that we descended previously.   
This event is one I’ve done before and will likely continue to run in the future.  It’s a nice tune up for Hardrock since you’re at elevation and climbing/descending for long periods of time.  It also has some short fun cross-country sections.  On one of these sections, dropping into the Valles Caldera, I spooked a couple big cow elk and ran through a bunch of wild iris, idyllic mountain stuff.

Not only is this a scenic mountain 50 miler, but it’s flawlessly organized by many volunteers and the group of people that tend to be running it every year are my kind of peeps.  It isn’t a super hyped up race, yet it’s a very high quality event, which is an ideal combination.  I don’t always want to run events that are ‘big races’.

The day was exceptionally smooth for me.  I never went all out, but didn't have any bad low spots.  Just steady running to a finishing time of 8:39 which was good enough for 1st place today.  

Shout outs:

Thank you Tom Stockton for excellent race directing!  It can’t be easy coordinating 3 races (of different distances) on one day with so many volunteers running around, but you do it well and with a smile.  If I ever tried to RD a race I’m sure I’d be a stressed out nut ball, not Tom, he’s always friendly and cool as a cucumber.

VFuel:  I was stoked to have a good race at an event that VFuel was sponsoring.  I only had one gel during the race, but I mostly drank Black Cherry Cola VFuel drink mix.  My energy levels were more stable for this race than any other 50 I’ve ever run.  I’ll continue sipping on VFuel drink mix slowly as my fueling strategy in the future.

Julbo:  My go-to glasses, the Aero-Lites were perfect:  extremely light, comfortable, lenses darkened/lightened in varying sunlight.

Drymax Socks:  I had absolutely no blisters or hot spots.  Feet felt normal after nearly nine hours of mountain running in my nifty argyle socks.

Best finishing prize ever, a hug from Penny.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Run Rabbit Run 100 - Race Report

My muscles ached from start, but I didn't go out hard, I didn't run a ton during peak weeks or weeks prior to race... why?  I’ve had races turn out okay when it didn’t feel like it was going to be my day early on, but usually I feel frisky like a puppy come race day.

I loved seeing my wife and baby Penny at Olympian Hall Aid Station both times I passed through (miles 20 & 41), and Amanda Harms-Shebest was super helpful since Elissa was busy holding Penny and I wasn't toooooo far behind the hundred mile machine Bob Shebest.

Jesse Haynes and I shared a lot of miles in the first 35.  We used to have a good friendly rivalry at races back in California, usually finishing within a couple minutes of each other, and we used to run together a lot in training – loved catching up with him a bit.

My fueling worked well, taking a Vfuel gel every 30 minutes, until I ate too much 'real food' at mi 41, oranges, chips, watermelon = nausea/vomitting at ~50.  The woman's winner Courtney passed me here and offered some jelly beans to ease my nausea and offered some words of encouragement along the lines of, "you'll bounce back."  I was stoked to see her hold on to the lead, she’s the kind of person you can’t help but root for.   

It was such a slow, cold slog the last 3 or so miles into the Long Lake AS at mile 53, dozen’s of runners hung around looking like crap, many packed around the campfire.  It was 30 degrees, which isn't cold when you've got some nice light gear on and you're moving decently, but when you are hiking slowly and stopping to dry heave and puke for a couple miles, you get cold quickly wearing the aforementioned clothes. Upon reaching aid I spent so much time there and I felt irreversibly horrible.  I knew my lofty aspiration of finishing around 19-20 hours was long gone.  This thought was devastating.  In the months leading up to the race I struggled with balancing working with training and being a husband, and a father to an infant (along with the sleep deprivation that accompanies it).  In doing my best to balance everything, I don't feel like I did anything well, and for what?  So I could fall apart in my biggest race of the year?  I wanted to prove to myself, my primary sponsor Hoka and everyone else that I could do well against a big pack of fast runners in a mountainous hundred.  Instead I lost the chance.  From early on I could tell that my body wasn't quite right, quitting would stop progressing the pain I was in and would allow me to get to sleep earlier.  I'd recover quicker and feel better sooner.  I wouldn't risk further nausea and emesis that leads to getting cold and moving even slower in the cool temperatures.  I wouldn’t finish with a time that didn’t look good.  I had gone from 15th ish to 33rd place by the time I left.  

During my 30+ minute residency at the aid station I ate some ramen.  I knew this wasn't an ideal place to drop, but I totally wanted to.  I saw Bob Shebest look unShebesty for the first time ever.  A fireside companion told me that the next aid was a lot easier to drop from and was only 5.8 miles away.  After the soup and warming by the fire I knew I could make it that far so I took off.  A couple miles down the dark dirt road littered with the lights of headlamps I thought, well I'm not feeling bad enough to drop anymore, let's see how this goes.   

In our hotel room, a couple hours before the race started I was all dressed up in my tank and shorts, ready to run.  I was holding my six month old daughter, Penny, and I took a picture of us while looking in the mirror.  I couldn't live with the idea of her looking back at that picture years down the road and asking, "how'd you do Daddy?"  And having to reply, "I quit because it got tough for a little while."  I think back to a picture my parents have of me when I was about three years old, sitting on a little wooden stool at a marathon my dad was running, waiting for him to run up to the finish.  I don't really remember being there, but the whole story and feeling behind it all has a happier ending with the fathers finishing the race instead of pulling up lame.  This idea did make me a tiny bit proud, that I was able to persevere and push on as hard as I could.

I continued to eat a cup of ramen at each AS, fill my water bottle with diluted coke and I eventually started popping VFuel's again.

Around mile 72 was the turn around.  I saw a bunch of people I was slowly trying to catch up to within a handful of miles from here, this reignited my fire for a bit, then the long climb from 6,800’ to 10,800’ began.  I hiked/ran up the dirt road until 04:30 AM when I started to weave and almost fall asleep while hiking, so I mostly ran from there on out because it kept me awake.

A beautiful sunrise crept into the world, through clearings in the thin sparse sub-alpine pine forest I caught glimpses of a dark blood orange hue filling the eastern sky.  I continued to push as hard as I could.  With it being mostly dark, and having hares and tortoises continuously crossing paths, it was difficult to tell if I was  passing anyone.  From previous experience, I am accustomed to doing well in races if I'm able to push as hard as I did, for as long as I did at RRR.  I was disappointed when I crossed the finish line in 22:05 and asked the RD what place I finished in when he told me, "11th."  Ouch.

Odds & Ends:

Will I run this race again?  

I Want to because:    

-I'd like to redeem myself.
-It was fun running through the night.
-Cool temperatures feel good for running.
-It’s always a stacked field.
-The fall colors were pretty.
-It is easy to book a room at the resort and walk to and from the finish/start, and there is a nice little creek at the resort that kids and dogs play in.

I Don't want to because:

-The tortoises start 4 hours earlier resulting in you having to pass a lot of runners.
It was annoying to cross paths with hundreds of runners at on the 4.5 miles of single track to and from the final turn around.  While you see more friends at a big race like this, you don’t have the intimate feel that a lot of other ultras have.
-There are quite a few miles of wide dirt road.
-I would like to see what I'm running around when I'm out running around for hours and hours and hours instead of starting at noon and running half of the race in the dark.
-While you do run up to 10,000', you never get alpine and while the scenery is nice, the mountains are kind of soft, featureless mounds, compared to higher, rockier peaks.
-The six miles of pavement on Fish Creek Falls Rd. to Olympian Hall.

*My failing to run near my goal time and being in a generally miserable physical state during the race most likely has skewed my perspective towards the negative when listing the pro’s and con’s of this event.

Sponsor Shout Outs:

Hoka:  The Clayton's worker well and are super comfortable, but after 53 miles my lower extremities thought a little more cushion would be nice for the next 53 miles.  So I slipped on the Challenger 2's and they were perfect for the long descents down hard packed dirt roads.  

Julbo: Blast sunglasses with photochromic lenses worked well in the day.

Drymax Socks.  Wore the same Lite Trail Running Socks the entire time, the only socks I wear at races.  I had Zero feet issues, no blisters, nadda.  

Vfuel:  my stomach worked fine when I was only consuming Vfuel, and it worked well when I was taking them at the end, especially in the hours before sunrise when my body desperately craving sleep.  The small amounts of taurine and caffeine kept me awake when I needed it most.