Monday, June 23, 2014

Jbob's Western States Mantra

I've lost myself again. Anybody got a stud finder?


Western States Silver Buckles shimmering behind me
at the 2013 Western States award ceremony. Photo by THE Mike Davis.

THE WESTERN STATES 100

This race is undoubtedly the biggest race of my life (so far), and I'm going to give it hell. I'm aiming to finish before midnight (19 hours), which I believe I'm fully capable of, but anything can happen over the course of 100 miles.

If you want to follow along on my progress, the race starts on June 28th at 5am, and you can use the following resources for live updates:

I will appreciate any good vibes you're willing to send me on race day.


MY MANTRA

For years, my favorite Mantra has been "Love Hurts. This must be Love". It was written on my arms during my first 100 mile race in 2011, and it has since been ingrained in my attitude towards long distance running. However this year, a new mantra somehow took over and has helped me to finish strong in several of my races. This new mantra stems from one of my favorite soccer commercials from the 2010 world cup: "Write the Future".





It's a simple idea, and it's fueled all of my top 3 finishes this year (Orcas Island 50k, Capitol Peak 50m, Macdonald Forest 50k). It's both inspiration for the runner's low and encouragement for my legs to keep running hard, knowing that I still have the power to change the course of the future.

Alternatively, the chant "I believe that we will win!" will also be stuck in my head during the race:




SPECIAL THANKS


It's been a crazy journey, especially with studying for the Professional Engineer exam and looking for a new place to live, all the while spending my weekends running and racing. With everything finally settled down, I'm now able to focus solely on my run at Western States. I feel like I'm as prepared as I can be, and I'm grateful for those who have helped me along my road to Western States, including Trail Butter, the Float ShoppeAnimal Athletics, and Ultra U.

I especially want to thank my family for wanting to crew me, and Andrew Miller for his commitment to pace me.

And thank you to my friends who have only encouraged me as I struggled to maintain some kind of social life.

And thanks to all the Race Directors and Volunteers who have worked hard to maintain the Western States trail, especially after the American Fire roughed up a good portion of it last August. I can't wait for race day.


FINAL THOUGHTS

I believe that we will win! I believe that we will win! I believe that we will win! I believe that we will win! I believe that we will win! I believe that we will win! I believe that we will win! I believe that we will win! I believe that we will win! I believe that we will win! 

It's so damn catchy...




Much Love,

Jbob

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Hagg Lake Double (50K and 25K) - February 15th & 16th 2014 - Forest Grove, OR

Running the Hagg Lake Double in 2014 was one of the most painful running experiences of my life.

Photo by Paul Nelson.

SATURDAY - THE HAGG LAKE 50K

Snowmageddon in PDX!
Rollin' to the start in my PT Cruiser, the rain was falling steadily. The "snowmageddon" that devastated Portland the weekend prior, compiled with about 1 inch of forecasted rainfall between Friday night and Saturday night, prompted general expectations of muddy trails. But by the end of the race on Saturday, most people were calling this THE MUDDIEST year in the race's 12 year existence.

My body was feeling pretty good at the start, and my confidence was high. In 2013, I somehow pulled the 3rd fastest 50K time out of my ass (on a dry course), and that prior success was giving me all kinds of swagger. My goal for the day was for a top 3 finish, and my plan was run the race like I had nothing to lose.

THE COURSE

Okay, so this is my 4th blog about this race. Instead of diving into the intimate details of the course, I will say that it starts with a short 1.5 mile out-n-back on a gravel road before going around the lake twice for the 50k (once for the 25k).

For those that lack imagination, check out this 4 minute video of the course that some handsome guy made with his GoBro.

COURSE VIDEO


3.....2.....1....ka-CHOW!

I took off like a cocky lightening McQueen. Taking advantage of the dry road, I pushed the pace to a barely uncomfortable uphill effort. Jacob Puzey FLEW by me on the downhill last year, so I wanted to get a little head start on him. Shortly after reaching the turnaround first (King of the Mountain?), I hauled downhill. Soon enough, Jacob Puzey flew past me, followed by Gordo Freeman. Then to my delight, they "allowed" me to catch up to them. By the time we reached the start/finish and entered the Hagg Lake trail, there were about 6 of us running together in a party train. Nobody was trying to win the damn race at this point, and it turned into an enjoyable group run.

Photo by Paul Nelson.
The mud was sloppy, but navigable. Some portions of the trail were turning into definitive bodies of water, and the uphills were like running on banana peels. The party train didn't break apart until the Dam road (mile 7). My flat road running pales in comparison to Zach and Jacob, but I ran OH so hard to keep up with them on the pavement. As we jumped back onto the slick trail, it was just the 3 of us running together.

At the first aid station, Zach Gingerich actually drank water. That was the first time I've ever seen Zach drink anything during an ultra, and both Jacob and I were in disbelief. Given that Zach was the 2010 Badwater champion, I can't imagine how low his thirst threshold is when running in 45 degree rain.

The three of us chatted for the next several miles and enjoyed each other's company, and I ended up in the lead by way of courtesy. Eventually, I had to bail off into the blackberry bushes to drop it like it's hot. In the amount of time it took me to pull my pants down, I went from 1st to 5th place. Holy shit! I had no idea that Neil Olson and Monkey Boy were so close behind us, but I probably should have expected it. Nonetheless, I fell behind by about 1 minute and instantly felt lonely. The next several miles were spent trying to rejoin the party, which may have exacerbated issues that would eventually lead to my demise.


Photo by Paul Nelson.
The rain was absolutely ceaseless, and the trails collected much of the runoff as it flowed towards the lake. The mud was getting thicker, my shirtless body was getting colder, and my frustrations were beginning to bruise my feet. It was so hard to grip anything, I started pounding my feet into the mucky muck, desperately searching for traction. My hip flexors were also getting sore from trudging with mud covered boots and dragging my feet through ankle deep mud/water. The course was tearing me apart. As the first lap ended, I gave up pursuing the front runners and decided to coast the rest of the race. After putting on a shirt (sorry ladies), I began lap 2 with a 'survival' mentality.

The mud was much worse on the 2nd lap due to both the rain and the 300 pairs of footprints that morphed the trail into something real muddy and ugly....mugly. Runners were passing me here and there, but I didn't care anymore. I just wanted to finish the race with enough of legs for a 25k the next day, and ideally without serious injury. My mind started visualizing the growler in my hands in all it's glory (the prize for completing both the 50K & 25K), because there was very little else that could possibly prompt a positive attitude...growler...growler...growler.....1984 Kevin Bacon...growler...

Photo by Paul Nelson.
At last, the finish line cometh, ending a suffer fest that left my hip flexors pulled and my feet bruised. Jumping in Hagg Lake certainly helped, but the damage was done.


RESULTS: 4:18:33, 7th out of 210 Finishers
PACE: ~8:19 min/mile

Shivering from the Hagg Lake soak, Dana shuttled me to my car (thanks Dana!), and I helped myself to some brief nudity, dry clothes, and my car's heat vent. The rest of the day was spent eating grilled cheese, drinking hot chocolate, and cheering in my friends as they finished. The rain may damper my spirits, but it will never douse my Love for this stupid race and the community that it gathers.


RECOVERY - SATURDAY NIGHT

Recovery consisted of pizza, skinny jeans, and watching Footloose (1984) with some good friends. Best night ever.


SUNDAY - THE HAGG LAKE 25K

Holy mother of OW! Waking up, my feet were so sensitive to any pressure on my forefoot(s). But this was my 3rd time doing the Hagg Lake Double (50K + 25K), and every year there was always something that made running the 25k seem impossible. So I sucked it up, put on some dry shoes, and journeyed back out to Hagg Lake...with by GoBro.

Every GoPro needs a GoBro. Photo by Paul Nelson.
My description of running the 25K could be summed up in one sentence:

ow..ow..ow..ow..ow..ow..ow..ow..ow..mierda..ow..ow..ow..ow..ow..ow..ow..ow..ow..ow..ow..ow..ow..ow..ow..shit..ow..ow..ow..ow..ow..ow..ow..ow..balls..ow..ow..ow..ow..ow..ow..ow..ow..ow..ow..ow..ow..ow..Taylor Swift..ow..ow..ow..ow..ow..ow..ow..ow..ow..ow..

I seriously thought I may have had a Jone's Fracture in my right foot, mainly from running off trail on the cambered grass surface. It was bad. Twice I seriously debated dropping out, but I somehow found enough reasons to finish the 25k. One of those reasons was to complete my GoBro video of the course. Being one of the muddiest Hagg Lake years to date, I felt compelled to document the race not only for myself, but for everyone else to send to their "spartan race" friends and show them what a real mud course looks like.

Also, running with Megan was another reason why I was able to finish the race. Given that she was running with a fractured pinky toe, we became suffer partners and helped each other stay positive by singing Timbers chants, songs from Grease, and various pop songs. Megan, thank you.

RESULTS: 2:59:46, 125th out of 280 Finishers
PACE: 11:34 min/mile

Me and Megan! Photo by Paul Nelson (Dana Katz).

Growler time. Photo by Paul Nelson (Dana Katz).

Me, having a moment. Photo by Ann Peterson.


THANK YOU

Thank you Trail Butter, I'm honored to be a part of the Team this year! I Love this stuff.

Photo by Paul Nelson.



Thank you Float Shoppe for the peace of mind, and for the recovery.




Thank you Sean Meissner for being out of town.




Thank you Paul Nelson, and everyone else who was out there taking photos!!!


And last but not least, thank you Race Directors and Volunteers for enduring the cold weather to help hundreds of masochists finish the muddiest race of their lives. You all were amazing.


FINAL WORDS

I'll definitely be there for the Hagg Lake Double next year.


Much Love,

Jbob

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Jbob's Orcas Island 50k Race Report - February 1 - 2014

I want to know what Love is...I want you to show me!

Sunset on Orcas Island.
THE MINDSET
Orcas Island would be my first race in over 6 months. The physical impacts of running the Bighorn 100 were aggravated while running the Mt. Hood 50 mile race in July last year, and I opted to give myself a long recovery period through the winter. After all, taking a break from crazy ultra running for at least a couple months allows the body a chance to be happy instead of being pissed off all the time.

Building up training for the Orcas Island 50k was not a smooth road.  In the month of January, there were 4 "injuries" that could have mentally prevented me from running this race.
  1. A seemingly chronic ache located where my right achilles meets the lower part of my calf, which has been coming and going for the past 3 months.
  2. A likely case of Morton's Neuroma that started causing bruise-like pain on the bottom of my left middle toe, forcing me to run in Hokas through half the month until it went away. The use of toe spacers, golf ball massaging, and icing seemed to help the healing process.
  3. A rolled ankle (or minor sprain) 1 week prior to the race that didn't pop, yet caused minor swelling and stiffness in my left foot.
  4. Sore hip flexors from falling hard after rolling my ankle (see injury 3). My hip flexors likely suffered from the impact and strain of landing on my knees while cruising downhill. They were plenty sore throughout the week, but started to feel better just a few days prior to the race.
Thankfully, none of these issues affected my race, however, I never felt 100% confident that I would run the race without dropping out.

THE COURSE





RACE DAY MORNING

Many runners opted for the early start at 7:30am, including most of my Portland friends. The course was slow and tough, and everyone wanted to make sure they had plenty of time to finish. Also, anyone who starts early gets to see how the race unfolds when the 8:30am front-runners come passing by. I was excited to be able to see my early-start friends during the race, and it gave me something to look forward to.

3...2...1...SHAMU!


Adam Hewey's mustache, leading the way. Photo by Glenn Tachiyama.
The race started on a gradual downhill, and Adam Hewey's mustache assertively jumped into the lead before the road turned to rolling single track. The trail ran through gorgeous foliage and streams of probably delicious island runoff, and slowly but surely I found myself in a comfortable position (top 10-ish). Andrew Miller and I started to run together just before the first climb up the Mt. Constitution road (asphalt). Not before too long, Andrew kicked into a pace that put me out of my comfort zone. I stayed with him, and together we kept within site distance of the most of the runners in front of us (Jonathan, Hal, Jodee, Hayden). By the time the climb ended, my legs felt worked.


Andrew (eventual winner),
Jonathan (red), and Me (blue shorts).
Photo by Glenn Tachiyama.
Beginning the first long descent, Andrew pulled away like a fearless teenager and just flew down the technical terrain. I mean, that kid was footloose. Andrew and I stayed close until we hit Aid Station 1 (mile 6.4), and then he bolted out of sight while I filled one of my water bottles. That would be the last I saw of him during the race. As a matter of fact, I didn't see a single front runner between the miles of 6.4 and 21, which allowed me to focus on running my own race.

The trail along Mountain Lake and Twin Lakes was rolling, beautiful, and serene. My legs recovered well along this stretch, and before too long, I was running happy! My legs felt strong on the hills, and I enjoyed interacting with the early starters. One of the early start runners in particular was having issues going down a set of stairs, and then I realized that he was running with a prosthetic leg. Turns out his name is Edward, and he originally attempted the 25k race held the previous weekend, but his prosthetic broke after only 2 miles. After that happened, he resolved to run the 50k the following weekend with a new prosthetic, and you can read his blog here. Inspiring guy!

The climb up to Mt. Pickett was gradual and runnable. The open areas of the forest had a fresh dusting of snow from the previous week that gave a sparking white contrast to the lush green ferns and moss covered trees. It was so pretty, it made ME feel pretty just being there! The next uphill climb involved a series of switchbacks that were steep enough to hike, followed by a quick downhill to Aid Station 2 (mile 14.2). I left the aid station with a mouthful of grapes and peanut m&ms for me to nom nom on the downhill. The trails mostly rolled downhill towards Aid Station 3 (mile 20.6), and this aid station was the gateway to the Powerline Trail. Knowing what was ahead of me, I ingested calories and salt prior to leaving the aid station. As I left the aid station Andrew's father told me to go catch his son. Really? I asked. Go get him! He replied. Okay! Said my mouth.


The Power Line Trail
during a past race.
Photo from the website.
The Power line trail is what some people would call a female dog. It climbs ~2,000' in ~2 miles, and it's steep enough in places to get on all fours if you really wanted to.  When I reached the Power Line Trail, I finally saw a couple of the front runners hiking laboriously up the trail. After shoving another GU in my gut, I hiked steadily with hands on knees, slowly closing the gap. Hayden Teachout (just ahead of me) dropped his water bottle, but he quickly caught it with his foot, otherwise it would have tumbled all...the way...to the bottom. Close call for him. He looked like he was struggling, but I felt awesome despite my quivering calves. Every now and then, the trail would turn gradually runnable, and I pushed myself to run every runnable stretch that I could. Hal was hiking in the distance, but I couldn't quite close the gap. He just stayed 100 yards ahead as we both hiked and ran at the same pace.

At last! The climb gave way to a ~2 mile descent, and my legs shifted gears. Running steady, I slowly caught and passed Hal. As always, he had a big smile on his face and offered words of encouragement as I ran by. The trail soon turned into a steep (but not too steep) climb, the last significant climb to the top of Mt. Constitution. I tried running, but hiking was a wiser choice at this point. Some switchbacks were runnable, but it was mostly a hike-fest. After about 1.5 miles of ascent, the trail dumped into the aid station on the top of Mt. Constitution (mile 25.8). The views were PHENOMENAL! I knew a couple of the volunteers at the aid station, but I didn't recognize them since my mind was too focused on what my body needed. Quickly downing coke, salt, and calories, someone told me I was 3rd male and 4th overall with Jodi just minutes in front of me. The last 6 miles of the race were mostly downhill, and my feet were ready to set sail. After thanking the volunteers, I flew down the trail with the hopes of a top 3 finish. Get on your horse, Jbob!



Near the top of Mt. Constitution. Photo by the stellar Glenn Tachiyama.
Shortly after running past Glenn Tachiyama (photographer), my right hamstring quivered. Gah! No no no no no, not now! The transition from the uphill push up Mt. Constitution to the downhill push for the finish line was not a smooth one. Fearing a total cramp of my hamstring, I stopped to stretch it for 10 seconds before restarting into my downhill gear. Now, my mind was filled with the fear of an impending cramping. My mantra at the time:...don't cramp, don't cramp, don't cramp, don't cramp... 

A pack of mountain bikers appeared on the trail before me, and it took my mind off things for a bit while trying to keep up with them. The last rider kept looking back at me to see if I was gaining on them, and they stopped at the next intersection and let me pass. Score 1 for the runner.


Within a mile of the finish, I saw her. Jodee was still going strong, and she was hiking the last hill on tired legs. My legs were tired too, but I was slowly closing the gap. I had no idea that I was within a mile of the finish line at this point, so I kept my pace strong/conservative considering my legs were borderline quivering. When we hit the homestretch, I knew there was no way I was going to catch her. She'll always be the one that got away...and I'm okay with that, because she's outside of my age group/gender and she earned it.



RESULTS: 4:46:59, 3rd male (4th overall) out of 200 Finishers
PACE: ~9:10 min/mile

After hugging the Race Director, James Varner, my right hamstring seized and I was on the ground in pain...smiling and laughing. There wasn't a single moment during the race where I wished I was done, and that says a lot about how much I enjoyed the course. My mood was blissful as I was lying on the grass laughing, full of joy and gratitude that my body held itself to the very end.



Mad Props: Andrew Miller, 17 years old, won the race with the 3rd fastest time ever! He's a humble kid and super kind hearted. I'm excited to see how well he runs at Zane Grey 50m this year.


Beer'd.
Photo Credit: Gary Wang.
After showering at the nearby bunkhouse, I cheered on my friends and enjoyed great food/beer as the after race celebration was slowly getting started. Most of the runners stuck around for a while, and the party went well into the night with a live bluegrass band The Pine Hearts playing their hearts out. Eventually, the evening turned dark, the lights went down, and people started dancing. I was amazed at how limber some of these runners were, considering they just ran a tough 50K. One guy was jigging so aggressively, I prayed for his legs.


Samantha, Ann, T.J., Kevin, and Jesse! Photo Credi: T.J. Ford's Camera
T.J., Samantha, and me. Photo Credit: T.J. Ford's camera
The Pine Hearts! Photo Credit: T.J. Ford.
Not every race ends in a party that goes until 2 am, and certainly not every race celebrates community & achievement quite like a Rainshadow race. I would return and run the Orcas Island 50K again in a heartbeat, and YOU should definitely consider running the 25K or 50K someday.

Thank you James Varner, the volunteers, Glenn Tachiyama, Project Talaria, and everyone else who helped make this race happen.


Also, a special thanks to those who've helped me in my journey, especially: The Float Shoppe (Recovery), Trailbutter (Sustenance), and Dr. Brad Farra (Sports Chiropractor).


Shout out to my bunk mates who helped make my weekend so special: T.J., Ann, Annie, Samantha, Jesse, and Kevin. Love you guys!


Trailbutter on Orcas Island

The improved "Tribute to the Trails Calendar" at my work
Thanks for reading!

Much Love,

Jbob

Friday, December 27, 2013

Jbob's 2014 Race Schedule

“I know who I am and who I may be, if I choose.” - Don Quixote


My Hagg Lake ice bath.
Photo by 
Long Run Picture Company.
The year 2013 has been the best year of my life so far (as every subsequent year has been since my birth), and this past year's adventures and accomplishments have been crucial in solidifying my understanding of not only who I am, but who I can become. To those who have only ever encouraged me, I appreciate the shit out of you.

That said, I feel like I've been in a path of constant growth and improvement in my running ability, and I couldn't be more mentally ready for the race schedule that's lain before me in 2014. This coming year, I'm excited to participate in every race in my calendar (see my full race schedule here). However, there are 3 races in particular that I'm ecstatic about:


WESTERN STATES 100 MILE ENDURANCE RUN - SQUAW VALLEY TO AUBURN, CA (website)


If you haven't heard of this race, then let me introduce you to probably the most popular 100-mile race in the world. It's the "world's oldest and most prestigious 100-mile trail race", and I was one of the lucky ~275 runners chosen via lottery out of ~2700 applicants to run the race in 2014. It's not an easy race to get into, and this is an opportunity that I don't want to take for granted. Also, the competition is STACKED, and I'm looking forward to running with some faster runners.

Quick Facts
Total Climbing: 19,000'
Total Falling: 23,000'
Historical Weather: Hot
Twitter Activity: Severe during the race
Shit-My-Pants Rating (pre-race anxiety): 7/10
Crew: My Family
Serious Question: Does chasing cougars at 80s night count as Western States training?



SQUAMISH 50 MILE RACE – SQUAMISH, BC (website)

In 2012, I had the fortune to volunteer at this race by marking ~15 miles of the course (with a memorable last minute course marking shift at 2am with GR). Running those trails were magic, and I can’t recall having so much fun running, jumping, and hollering like a kid on a roller coaster. It’s fun shit, and I can’t wait to go back and run the full 50 miles. And since GR has enticed an impressive field of fast mother f*ckers, this 3rd edition of the race has potential to be all kinds of epic.

Quick Facts
Distance: 50 miles
Total Climbing: 11,000'
Total Falling: 11,000'
Twitter Activity: Severe in the months prior to the race, Moderate during the race.
Shit-my-pants rating: 9/10
Beer Rating: 5/5. The Howe Sound Brewery has some very, very good beer.


MOUNTAIN LAKES 100 MILE RACE– OLALLIE LAKE, OR (website)


The inaugural attempt will forever live in infamy due to epically inclement weather that flooded the trails, created hypothermic conditions, and even managed to crush a couple of cars (thankfully, no one was hurt). The inaugural 2013 race was cancelled 15 hours into the race due to unsafe weather and trail conditions, ending with Ken Sinclair and Ashley Nordell in first place at mile 80.

The course is very familiar to me, and chances are I'll know somebody at every aid station. There's no better feeling than running a race when surrounded by so many friendly faces. The course itself is beautiful and gradual, and it mostly takes place on the Pacific Crest Trail just south of Mt. Hood. I can't think of any better race directors for this race than Todd Janssen and Trevor Hostettler, and I'm looking forward to being a part of the first complete running of this race. (Check out the other races in the NW Mountain Trail Series here).

Quick Facts
Distance: 100 miles
Total Climbing: 10,800'
Total Falling: 10,800'
Twitter Activity: Moderate during the race
Shit-my-pants rating: 5/10
Knock on Wood: There's NO WAY the weather can be as bad as it was in 2013.

See the rest of my 2014 Race Schedule HERE


SOME FAVORITE PHOTOS OF 2013

Clouds Rest, Yosemite

SEE THE FULL VIDEO HERE

Dancing around Mt. St. Helens (Mt. Adams in the background).

SEE THE FULL VIDEO HERE


Ascending Mt. St. Helens before dawn, looking towards Mt. Adams
Mt. Rainier from Mt. St. Helens

Sunrise from Mt. St. Helens


Bro #2 (Brandon Sullivan)
(Mt. Hood 50m)
Photo by Long Run Picture Company.
Bro #1 (Mt. Hood 50m)
Photo by Long Run Picture Company.

Banana Face #1 (Zane Grey 50m)
Photo by Map Photography.
Banana Face#2 (Mt. Hood 50m).
Photo by Paul Nelson.




HUGS!

Hugging Glenn Tachiyama before the Peterson Ridge 40 miler start
Photo by Paul Nelson
Hugging Hands with Rick at the Peterson Ridge Rumble 20 miler
(his dog Jake took 1st place)
Photo by Paul Nelson.
Hugging my cousin Casey after he crewed for me at Zane Grey
Photo by 
Map Photography.
Hugging Dana after we both finished the Bighorn 100
Photo by the Fabulous Samantha Pinney.
Zach Violett and me at the Bighorn 100 awards ceremony.
We ran the first ~30 miles together.
Photo by Maria Sharoglazova.
Megan consoling me after I brought 2 left-footed trail shoes
to the Mt. Hood 50 miler.
Photo by Teri Smith.

Hugging Brian After getting into Western States!
Photo by Paul Nelson
Hugging Yassine (M9) after getting into Western States!
Photo by Paul Nelson.

Cheers to 2013, and here's to 2014!

Much Love,

Jbob