Frölicking trails since 2010

Frölicking trails since 2010
Frölicking trails since 2010

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Rodeo Beach 50K - Marin Headlands, San Francisco - December 31, 2011

Breathing Deep at Sea Level...
Rodeo Beach, the Family Tahoe at the Start
Mum and Dad drove to the start of the race with me. As we arrived, I had the Cowboys and Aliens intro theme song sharpening my wits through my headphones. My main goal for the race was to destroy my finishing time from last year. This is a laid back, low key race...maybe 50 runners were doing the 50k. The 30K runners were scheduled to start at the same time, so the number of people toeing the starting was a decent size. One of the race directors made an eloquent (not really) speech, quoting his friend Dave Mackey in saying that it's the responsibility of the runner to study the map prior to the race. Psshhh. As I happened to scan the crowd at the 10 second countdown, I saw a guy wearing Hoka shoes, a Hoka shirt, and a Clif Bar visor. Hey, that guy looks like Dave Mackey, I thought to myself.




3...2...1...JUMP ON IT!


Filled with anxiety and a week of carbo-loading on Christmas Cookies, I bolted up the first hill and took the lead. 30 seconds later, it dawned on me that I started too quickly. 1 minute later, it dawned on my muscles that I started too quickly. 90 seconds later, my ego caught on. Shit. I tried to pull a Matt Carrell and practically sprint up the hill regardless of how I felt, but in retrospect, it was a poor choice. Now I'm slowing down, and feel like such a young/eager fool. What will Dave Mackey think?! At the 1st mile mark, Dave Mackey trotted by as I was hiking to catch my breath. His judgmental silence I will never forget.

My turbo boosters were turning into farts, my throat was scratchy and sore from breathing deeply, and I was depressed. 2 miles in, I felt like I was at mile 10...it was bad. But at least I saw my parents at the top of the hill! This was the first ultra they've been able to attend, and they were hiking around with the dogs on Coastal Trail as I trotted by. Mom could see I was struggling, but I was still moving decently well. There were maybe 6 or 7 guys in front of me. I had no idea who was doing the 50k or the 30k, since the bibs were not obviously distinguishable between the different races. The 50k course follows a 30k route back to the start for the first loop of the course, so both races were running the exact same trails. Whatever. Any company is good company.


Bitches
After the first aid station in Tennessee Valley (Aid Station #1), there were a couple guys who couldn't see any course markers. I didn't stop and chose a somewhat obvious trail at the unmarked fork in the road and kept going despite the lack of markers. This is how I caught 3 of the runners, as the doubt and frustration helped us bond as a group. There were about 5 of us, and only 1 actually studied the course map. So, he led the way for a bit and steered us true. At the same time, I kept looking for Mackey tracks. I found one Hoka footprint, which not only gave me confidence I was going the right direction, but it complimented my excellent tracking skills. I don't just race people...I hunt them (just humor me on that one). During this stretch of trail, I FINALLY was feeling better since blowing up in the first mile of the race! I dusted the guys I got 'lost' with, found a rhythm, kept my head up, and let my hair down. Want some? Get some!


Arriving back in Tennessee Valley (Aid Station #2), now begins the long gradual climb (2-3 miles) out of the valley. My legs were moving strong as an ox and steady as a river. My speed was found more on the downhills of this race, especially with the 6,000' of climb that was slowing me on the uphills. After the long gradual climb, there was some gorgeous scenery of the bay, Golden Gate Bridge, and skyline of San Francisco/Oakland. The Marin Headlands really are a treasure among the cities and roads of the Bay Area. Following the breathtaking ridge line views, I found Aid Station #3. Then 3.5 miles of downhill/flat trail later, I was back at the start. 30K done! I refilled my bottles and had to reach around a relaxed Dave Mackey to grab some cheese-its.


Me: "Good Luck next weekend!"
Mackey: "Huh? Uh, Thanks, you too!"
Me: "...um, thanks!"


Guess I caught him off guard. What I really meant was, good luck in getting 2nd place, because Yassine is going to win THE SHIT out of Bandera. God Speed, brotha! (Dave, if you ever happen to read this...please don't take it personally, I hear you're a good guy. I'm just a little biased).


The final 20K of the race follows the exact same course, minus the section between Tenessee Valley Aid stations 1 and 2. So, burnout hill...we meet again! This time, the climb was easier since I was warmed up and taking it steady. Run run run run...run...washed-out road? shit turn-around run run run ahA! run ON CORRECT TRAIL run run run. My legs were feeling a bit drained, and I was almost jogging at some of my low points in the race...almost. There was nobody in front of me or behind me, from what I could see. I had no idea what place I was in, nor did I really care at the time. I was fighting some side-stitch cramping, and concentrating on the hills to make up for my early self-destruction. My legs were pushing well over the last 20k, and I ran 97% of the hills. Not too shabby.


Arriving at the final Aid Station, someone finally mentioned to me that I was probably in 1st place. Exsqueeze me? Qu'est-ce que c'est? Score! The last 3.5 miles were then spent pounding downhill and looking frantically behind me for any possible pursuer. I was not expecting to be in this position, so I was a bit surprised by it. Regardless, I ran my butt off like a slow cheetah and ran the homestretch with my Mum and Dad cheering/recording as I crossed the finish line.

Results: 4:28:47 – 1st out of 33 Finishers
Pace: 8:40 min/mile
50K PR. Previous PR was 4:29:19 on a Flat Muddy course (Hagg Lake)

The Official "Race Director Hand Shake"


I'm happy with my 1st place finish, but it's nothing to get cocky about. Again, I did not expect this. First of all, my winning time would have only been good for 4th place at last year's race. Although, I did beat my previous time by about 25 minutes...which I'm very happy with. I ran a strong race, and I'm definitely getting faster. My confidence will grow with more experience, as it has over the past year. This win was simply a great day on a great course put on by a great group of people. The race itself is very ultra-esque, in that it's extremely casual with no real glory except for the reward for finishing and re-discovering the joy in running. The first half of the race I had to somehow keep reminding myself why I do runs like this...and I really don't have an answer yet. Maybe I run just because I get to blog about it? That's been fun. "Hey everyone, guess where I just ran!" Bah. My true happiness comes from what running has given me over the past year...Health, Friends, and Happiness. Whether 100 mile races are deemed "healthy", that's another story. This was a Hell of an end to a Hell of a year. Thanks to everyone who reads this damn thing! Your support is beyond appreciated. Happy end to 2011!

Afterthoughts: I probably won because I wore the Hagg Lake shirt/socks combo.

Race Fuel: Mainly used GELS, a couple handfuls of pretzels, a PB&J slice that almost killed me, and a dash of coke. Skipped 2 aid stations, didn't spend more than 10 seconds at most aid station stops, and re-filled my bottles once at the 30K mark.

Cheers! -Jbob

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

North Face 50 Mile Endurance Run - Marin Headlands, San Francisco - December 3, 2011

TRAINING


I signed up for the North Face 50 miler even before I completed the Cascade Crest 100 mile race. It looked like the perfect distance and difficulty in a warm wonderful place during the relatively harsh winter months of Portland. Without any real races on my schedule for September through November, my training was hardly as serious as my skinny jeans are fashionable. Miles weren't counted, consistency was inconsistent, and the days grew short. And apparently I'm scared of the dark, since every ambitious weeknight solo run often changes from 15 miles to MAYBE 5 miles. Hmm...Anyone have a dog that I can borrow?


In short, the past few months have involved lots of trail race volunteering (Portland Trail Series, Forest Park Marathon, Autumn Leaves 50m/50K/10K) and some random adventure runs. One of the best parts of being an ultrarunner is being able to say "okay, let's run around Mt. St. Helens in a couple weeks"...or "Run the Grand Canyon with team USA, a Leadman, and the Yassine Machine? Sure, I'll join you guys!"...or "yeah, I'd enjoy a 5 hour 23-mile night run/slog up Larch Mountain on a Friday night in 6-12 inches of fresh snow from 7:30 pm to 12:30 am! Count me in!" It's been a crazy few months indeed, especially with the birth of my first nephew and niece in November. Family, Friends, and running adventures, oh my!


Mt. St. Helens: Randy, Me, Kathleen, Amy, Shane, and Ellen (taking the photo)


Grand Canyon video with LeadmanYassine MachineChasing AmyJ-Bob, and The Queen

Yassine, about to punch me in the face because I wanted a photo (or 3).
Freezing at the top of Larch Mountain with Amy, Yassine, Shane, and Aaron.


Uncle J-Bob!


THE NORTH FACE 50 MILE ENDURANCE RUN

Onward to California! I was actually studying the course on my laptop as my airplane flew over the marin headlands and the Golden Gate Bridge. It didn't look so bad from up there! The worst part about the race was that it started at 5 AM on Saturday, which isn't the easiest time especially for out-of-towners. After about 4 hours of sleep, my alarm went off at 2:00 AM and I began the early drive from Santa Clara (Mum and Dad's house) to the Marin Headlands. I got there plenty early, sorted my GUs, shook Bryon Powell's hand, took care of business, and lined up for one of the most competitive races of the year.




3...2...1...RUN WHAT YO MAMA GAVE YA!


A river of headlamps led the way down the road and onto the trailhead, and the gradual climb up Bobcat trail began. For the first mile I could recognize some of the runners around me, like Karl Meltzer, Tim Olson, Ellie Greenwood, Dakota Jones, Tsuyoshi Kaburaki, and Ian Sharman. Is this a sign that I was starting out too fast? Naaah...Then the uphill started. My stomach started to feel empty, and my running effort was turning into a calf burner. 2 miles in, I eased back into a comfortable pace, and ate the dust of what seemed like 50 elite runners. The wind blew hard, making my spit fly the opposite direction from which I spat. After cresting the top of the climb, the downhill pounded the rust from my muscles and loosened things up...but my stomach was battling nausea for a few downhill miles. After downing a GU Roctane and some M&Ms at the first aid station, my stomach problems surprisingly went away. *Ahhh*.


The ups and downs early on felt good, but I was still amazed at how fast the lead pack was running. Oh well! Running down to the Muir Beach Aid station, I threw my headlamp at Devon C-H and briefly introduced myself as I kept running "HEY I'M JASON AMY'S FRIEND SHE SAID I COULD LEAVE MY HEADLAMP WITH YOU THANKS!!!" I even wrote her a thank you note on my headlamp. Thanks again, Devon! Lord knows the weight of my headlamp would have added priceless minutes to my finish time...right? Right.
The Elites early on,
Sunrise over the hills


The long climb to Pantol Ranger Station was extremely runnable, and it was hard not to just blast up the switchbacks. Heeding Jason Hill's advice and knowing I still had a long way to go, I kept a steady pace and survived the climb as efficiently as I could. It definitely seemed to go on forever.


Cardiac Aid Station (mile 18) marked the end of the long-ass climb, and was the gateway to the fabled out-and-back section. Before I got to the out-and-back, I ran by a group of spectators walking along the road. It was JB Benna, Tony Krupicka, and some other guy wearing a bini. Pleasantly surprised, I yelled OH HEY WHAT UP?! The guy in the bini cheered back, YOU'RE RUNNING STRONG, DUDE!...What can I say? My guns don't lie.


After some winding trail that reminded me of Wildwood, I reached the fabeled out-and-back. As I started down the trail, no one was running towards me...yet. Then through the trees I see Some Guy, Dakota Jones, and Mike Wolf (with his bloody head) making their move and trying to split away from the chase group, shortly followed by Geoff Roes and other fast mother f*ckers.


Me: "Hey Geoff, which wallet is yours?"
Geoff: "The one that says Fast Mother F*cker"


Since this was an out and back section on single track, I had to dramatically dive out of everyone's way as they were running by. At the time, there were about 50 people in front of me. It got tiresome after a while. After the turn around, though, it was MY turn to rule the trail. I felt like royalty as everyone cleared my path. Eventually getting back onto the one-way trail, I had to stop and fix a side ache. Krissy Moehl ran by and told me to cough it out. *A-HOUGHABLAH*. Holy shit...it worked! And thus, the halfway point in the race was celebrated with an exaggerated awful sounding cough.


The downhill leading to Stenson Beach was my favorite part of the course! It was technical (roots, rocks, stairs), rapidly downhill, and reminded me of Predator for some reason (like everything else does). I was having a grand ol' time! And then I reached the bottom and struggled to find my uphill gear. The climb out of Stenson Beach was gradual at first, but then the stairs ate me up. I tried to run the trail space between the sets of stairs, but I was getting worn out. ENTER: Power Hiking.


During my hiking, I decided to take a quick bathroom break. This may not be a fascinating subject to anybody reading this, but I finally tried "going on the go". During CCC, I became impressed by a runner's ability to pee on the run, and so this was my first attempt at making forward progress whilst peeing. It was more of a walk, but I almost made it far enough for a first down. And for those who accuse my blog posts of TMI, you're welcome.


The climbing ended sooner than I anticipated, and I made up a lot of ground on the downhill. It's an apparent strength of mine, as I passed other 50 milers who dusted me on the hills early on. Then there were a few climbs that forced me mostly to a hike. Maybe my nutrition was inadequate, or maybe I just didn't want to run. Either way, if I were able to run I could have made up a lot of ground on a lot of people. <--Noted for next year.


Coming down the homestretch to the Old Inn Aid Station (mile 38.9), I caught up with the Queen as she was pacing Kami Semick. What an honor to run with her majesty again! Meghan paced me for a couple minutes before I took off on the downhill. Sad to say, Kami eventually dropped for one reason or another.


Climbing Out of
Muir Beach
This next section was mostly downhill to Muir Beach (mile 42.6), and nobody passed me beyond this point. The hill leading out of Muir Beach was runnable, but my legs were lacking enthusiasm. I instigated a walk 25 steps, run 100-200 steps routine that was extremely manageable. Looking back, I wish I had just sucked it up and ran every bit of that uphill. It really wasn't that bad. Hill perseverance is something I still need to work on, especially with less than 8 miles to go. At the very least, I was still running strong. And at this point in time, the tag in my shorts was beginning to itch my upper butt. If that's the biggest thing that's bothering me at 5 miles to go in a 50 mile race, then I'm having a good day.


After Tennessee Valley, the gradual uphill went by quickly and I began to recognize the sections of the course where Ellie Greenwood passed me and I almost threw up (unrelated events). The final downhill felt surprisingly good on my quads, and I was passing everybody (mostly 50K runners). The final half mile was bittersweet, having spent a perfect day on a challenging course. Smelling the finish line, I rounded the corner with a sprint.

Results: 8:05:58 sec – 45th out of  317 Finishers (360 started)
Pace: 9:44 min/mile


Rock on.

Fellow Oregonians! Jim and John (Hagg Lake Buddy) after finishing their 50K.
John had a 50K PR on this freakin' course! Unbelievable! 

Finished, happy and proud. But for putting forth my best 50 mile effort, I'm still amazed at placing 45th. Being that this is the first real race I've run with so many elite runners, I'm glad I have a standard where I can compare myself to the best of the best. If I ever hope to reach that level, I've got a long way to go. It's weird to keep finishing these races, and never being truly satisfied. Maybe I'm not so much addicted to running as I am addicted to improvement. As I keep seeing myself improve, I want to keep going. At the same time, I Love meeting people who are striving for the same thing; to get stronger, faster, and to eventually reach some kind of Euphoria that always seems out of reach. For some people, it's a marathon. For others, it's every marathon...or ultramarathon.


Whatever, the beer in my hand says I'm a winner. Cheers!


Dinner at home: Hunter stew, Perogies, Sierra Nevada, and a Festive Snowman.
It's good to be home!


Here's a summary video of how the race looked from the front. It gives a great look at the course, too.




Monday, September 5, 2011

Cascade Crest 100 Mile Endurance Run - Easton, WA - August 27, 28

Love Hurts...This Must Be Love

Me and my Pacer, Matt Carrell
This is a long blog post...but then again, it's a 100 mile race.

CASCADE CREST 100 (CCC)

Tapered. Chiropractored. Watched Predator. I was ready. As the seconds counted down to the start, my emotions were locked tight. There was some hooping and hollering, but my adrenaline was being saved for later. I was running for one goal only...to break 24 hours. My confidence was solid, but all it takes is one mistake to completely destroy your state of body, mind, or digestion. My biggest concern was making sure I didn't start out too fast and burn out late in the race (leading to a death march). But, since this was my first 100 mile race, my inexperience made everything a question mark.


3, 2, 1, SEE YOU TOMORROW...
Here we go! 
Randy (green) and me (blue)

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Steady as she goes. The group of about 140 people spread out along the flat stretch of open road. Randy and I were running together for a bit, going at an easy pace with short effortless strides. When the first uphill started, the running turned into mostly hiking up to the Goats Peak Trailhead. Beyond the trailhead introduced the first single track trail to the course, but with some steeper climbing. Throughout the switchbacks, I found myself instinctively hiking hard to catch the person in front of me. Everyone was taking it easy at this point, so it's not like I'm going to gain anything by getting in front...but I did gain some ground and found myself hiking with the likes of Shawna Tompkins (this year's female winner) and other experienced ultra veterans. Women tend to run smart races, so I figured I was doing well if Shawna was nearby.


Goats Peak,
Photo by Glenn Tachiyama

Partial view from Goats Peak,
Photo by Glenn Tachiyama
Between the Cole Butte and Blowout Mt aid stations were purely exposed dirt roads. The downhill was nice and gradual, but there was no shade and hardly a breeze. It was early afternoon at this point, so the heat of the day was upon us (temperatures got up to mid 90s, so I hear). My bottles were emptying completely, between drinking water and keeping my head wet. It was extremely hard for me to stay cool in the sun, but I wasn't quite overheating...just at that uncomfortable in-between. The exposed road ended shortly after the Blowout Mountain aid station, transitioning to shaded single track.

Enter Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). A mile after Blowout Mt, the course turns onto the PCT for the next ~30 miles. This trail is phenomenal for running, as it's mostly shaded with soft trails and lovely smelling air. The first 6 miles were mostly downhill and easy to fall into a running groove. My legs were feeling solid, and running was easy. Again, it was hot and I would take off my shirt from time to time, but every now and then exposed sections forced my shirt back on. Jason was only sunscreened on the neck and moneymaker, and having a burnt back/shoulders before wearing a backpack for the last 65 miles didn't sound appealing.

Hot and Bothered, bottles empty,
Photo by Glenn Tachiyama
Arriving at Tacoma Pass was almost overwhelming with all the people that were there! I've never seen an aid station so full of cheering, clapping people. This was the first aid station that allowed crews to wait for their runner, so there was lots of commotion when runners came in. My pacer Matt Carrell was there, as he was hitching a ride with Gary Redwine (Cheri's crew for the race). Both were incredibly helpful, asking me how I felt, what I needed, and telling me I looked good (but I already knew that).



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As I left Tacoma Pass, Matt ran with me a bit and we talked about how the race was going. I told him it was hot, I was feeling good, and I'm going to slow down and preserve my legs. It felt great to hike the uphills, as it slowed my breathing and gave my legs some rest between the running.

Eventually I found myself running with this guy Mark who was a veteran on the course. It was easy to tell he’s a seasoned 100 mile runner because earlier I looked up on one of the switchbacks and noticed him peeing ‘on the run’. Well done, sir! I was still struggling to stay hydrated, so to pee would have been a miracle for me even standing still. Anyways, as we hiked together he briefly mentioned that we were on a sub-20 hour pace. Holy S***! That was disappointing news, because that was faster than I wanted to start out. Maybe I should have worn a watch to keep track better…regardless, I was at least happy with my progress at that point.

Mark continued on at his own pace, and eventually I lost sight of him. Key word, “LOST”. The PCT crossed a dirt road, and I followed the road downhill for a ways. There were orange ribbons tied to a couple of trees, so I figured the road was part of the course. Then, I reached a fork in the road with no markers, and my gut dropped. *F-BOMB*. I yelled, hoping someone would yell back and direct me to the right road. A couple of the trees had the remnants of a orange ribbon that had been torn off, so then I thought some vandals had ripped the course markers off the trees. F! I went in circles for a bit, and because of the orange ribbons that were on the trees, I felt this was MAYBE the right way….I was totally freaking out. I then contemplated one of the Ultrarunning Commandments: “When unsure of the trail, go back from whence you came”. After 15 minutes of lost-ness, and to my frustration, I backtracked and somehow completely missed the obvious PCT sign and trail markers. Now I know how Yassine feels most races.

Signs, Signs,
Everywhere a Sign
Back on track! Being lost was frustrating, but now my pace was slow and steady. Maybe it was a blessing in disguise, because now my sub-20 hour pace transitioned into a ‘conserve energy, survive the warmth’ pace. Running by myself, I took inventory on my machine. Legs: limber and strong. Breathing: steady and adequate. Temperature: wish it was cooler, but was bearable. Stomach: not quite settled...At the aid stations, I was having one of my bottles filled with diluted GU Brew…and the sugars unsettled my stomach a bit. Armed with a utility belt full of Salt pills (e-caps), I decided to fill my bottles with water only for the rest of the race and supplement salt pills for my electrolyte needs. This worked like a charm, and helped later on in the race for sure. Happy stomach = no throwing up = Awesome.

Stampede Pass aid station was bursting with energy from all the support crews and spectators that were there. Matt and Gary were present, and that definitely lifted my spirits. From here on out, I would be wearing a backpack with some GUs, energy bars, and my headlamp. Basically, the backpack served as my aid between the aid stations, if I should need an extra something something. After grabbing my pack and fueling on m&m’s, pretzels, and PB&J…I was on my way.

Still Going
There’s not much to say for the next few sections of trail, except for steady PCT running. My pace was careful and conservative, the weather was beginning to cool down, and I finally had to pee…mellow yellow…ALLELUIA! A friend was pissing blood only 40 miles into the San Diego 100 miler, so I was a little paranoid about my urine color. Something like that would be cause for dropping out of the race, and it's hard to understand why such things can happen...but they do. Luckily, everything was functioning perfectly so far...thank you stomach, kidneys, and other contributing systems!

The Ollalie Meadow aid station featured Perogies! Yum yum yum...as I left the aid station, all the food and fluid I had just consumed was trying to make room in my gut. This led to some farting, much like Robin Williams after a colonoscopy. This became the norm after every aid station, but things always settled after a good fart session and no inner pressures were affecting my running. Classy, I know...

SUN DOWN, HEAD LAMP ON, NIGHT RUNNING BEGINS

This next section features the 'Ropes' and 'Tunnel’. The ropes portion was simply a steep hillside with climbing ropes harnessed to the trees to help you down the steep grade. It wasn't TOO steep, but the ropes did help speed the downhill bushwhacking process. After dropping a few hundred feet, the flat entry to the ~2.7 mile long abandoned railroad tunnel begins. The tunnel at night was a bit freaky and monotonous, and the excitement of getting to the next aid station (Hyak) to meet my pacer was slowly drained by the long flat stretch of tunnel vision that never seemed to end. My headlamp lit the ground and my breath as I again took inventory. Hmm...the bottom of my right foot feels squishy whenever my forefoot steps on a rock...Blister? Meh, keep going until it's absolutely necessary to stop. Ugh, this is tough. Maybe after this race, I can find me a girl, you know? Time to settle down and have some kids, with a nice little home in the countryside…Yeah, sounds nice…I’m at 50 miles right about meow…Halfway there, livin’ on a prayer!

FINALLY! Hyak aid station, Mile 53. My goal was to get here around 8:00 pm, but it was already 9:15 pm. Shit! Matt helped me change shirts, get my bottles filled, directed me to the food, and we were OFF!  With over half the race done, my mind started doing some fuzzy math. It took about 11.5 hours to get to Hyak, and I'll need to complete the 2nd half in about 12.5 hours to finish under my goal of 24 hours. There wasn't as much buffer as I hoped, especially since the 2nd half of the race is rumored to be harder than the first half. Ok Matt, Let's do this!

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There were a couple miles of paved road before hitting the gradual uphill dirt road to Keechelus Ridge, but it was vaguely marked. To this point, the course was consistently marked with orange ribbons, arrows on the ground, and glowsticks...but without seeing any of these course markers for about a mile, I was freaking out (Matt thought we were going the right way, but I made him stop). We waited for another runner to come meet us, and luckily the next guy ran this race 5 times before and confirmed we were on the right road. We still didn't see a course marker for a while, and after the race I found out we weren't the only ones who were thrown off by the lack of confidence arrows.

AH! No time to lose! GET TO THE CHOPPA!!! Matt and I were alternating running/hiking up the gradual uphill dirt road until we reached the Keechelus Ridge aid station. Snickers bar in hand, we ran the gradual downhill at a good pace until we reached the Kachess Lake aid station. Two kids greeted us just before the aid station, and they immediately grabbed our bottles and ran them to get filled. God bless those kids, the volunteers once again amazed me. Amy Sproston was even there with her light-up pom-poms! After a quick bowl of soup, Mattie and I swiftly made our way to the ‘Trail from Hell’.

Kachess Lake Aid
"Tonight we dine in the Trail from Hell!"

Kachess Lake Aid
Me and Matt (AKA Captain America)
The ‘Trail From Hell’ (I prefer ‘Enchanted Forest’) is a 6 mile section of trail that follows along Kachess Lake, littered with fallen trees, barely a trail, and a mostly uphill ascent. From what most people say, I expected us to cover this 6 miles in 2 hours. As we entered the trail, for some reason, I came alive! It started with a downhill descent over countless downed trees with a path that twisted in all directions. My instincts were on fire as I jumped up and down logs, eyeing the next glowstick and running as much of the trail I could between the technical mess, yelling ‘Parkour’ after every stunt. When the trail turned uphill, that slowed us down to a hike, but we were still doing well. When we reached the Mineral Creek Aid Station, it only took us 1 hour and 41 minutes to go through the Enchanted Forest! We smoked it, despite having to stop for a battery change in my headlamp. That was a huge boost as we began our long climb to No Name Ridge (Mile 81).

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The climb from Mineral Creek to No Name Ridge was nice and gradual. Matt and I mostly hiked but ran what we could, whatever I could muster at the time. Everything was hurting at this point, but my muscles were still functioning well. My feet were beat and my quads were screaming at me with every downhill step. This was expected, and it was just a relief that those were the only things really bothering me. When we arrived at No Name, the temptations chose to make it a Spa themed aid station. Free massages?! Must…resist…need to…get to the choppa… immediately…After countless wonderful offers to lie down and get a massage, I declined as gracefully as I could “NO!!! Nonononono…I can’t. Thank you for the offer, but I can’t.” The ladies at No Name were wonderful, but the show must go on. Can I take a rain check on that massage?

Climbing up!
Dawn in the background
The next section contains some steep climbs that some call…the Cardiac Needles. They are steep, but not impossibly steep. At this point in the race, though, this was not what I needed. Needles to say, it was a bitch (pun intended). My pace suffered greatly with these ups and downs, and the out-n-back climb to the top of Thorp Mountain didn’t help any. After getting my Thorpe Mountain ticket, I returned to the aid station to learn that I was the 9tthe male (10th overall). That was the first time someone told me my position in the race, and I was ecstatic to find out I was in top 10! This was another huge mental boost as we rode the ups and downs to the French Cabin aid station. The downs were hurting badly, and I chose to walk some of the steep descents. The ups were bearable, but I had to rest on a couple steep ascents. If I were to keep my top 10 spot, I would have to be a little more consistent with my pace…

View from Thorpe Mt just after I was there,
Photo by Glenn Tachiyama
Past French Cabin (with bacon in my engine), we hiked over the last pass before a 7 mile all-downhill section of trail. Alright! 7 miles to the last aid station! I sucked it up and ran slowly, but consistently. Matt led the way, trying to pull me along. We passed by a woman who cheered us on, “You guys are looking strong!” I flexed my muscles and thanked her for the compliment. After the longest 7 miles of my life, we got to the aid station. Almost there! Nothing can stop me now! Well…almost. For the first time in 95 miles I had to pull over and take a crap. How I went 95 miles comfortably, I will never know.

After doing my thing, we jogged on. Only 5 flat miles to go! I was in pain, tired, and barely moving at a 9:00 min/mile pace. With 4 miles to go, I looked behind me…SHIT! There was a runner only 50 yards back! Ugh, to go 96 miles and have to race somebody to the end? F. Shit. Matt picked up on it, and he immediately jumped in front and got me below a 7:30 min/mile pace. “Keep up Jason, just look at my feet. Don’t look back. Keep it up!” Without looking behind me, we ran at least a couple miles before figuring out that we burned the guy. There’s no way he’s catching us at this rate, and I was still wondering how the hell I was running sub 7:30 pace comfortably…Adrenaline is a crazy bitch, I tell you what. Running hard with the fire station in sight, it dawned on me that I would break 23 hours! We crossed the train tracks, rounded the corner and sprinted home.

Results: 22 hr 55 min 12 sec – 10th out of 106 Finishers (140 started)
                                                      Pace: 13:45 min/mile

Matt, how did we forget a final photo together?
Oh yeah, we were tired.
As soon as I stopped running, I could barely walk. Race Director Charlie Crissman (Rockstar) walked over and handed me a beautiful finisher’s belt buckle, something I’d dreamt about for more than a year. And to do it under 23 hours with a top 10 finish? I was ecstatic. Ah, time to sit down and soak my bruised feet in some water. Randy, who finished only 15 minutes behind me for 12th place, sat next to me and almost immediately started drinking a Black Butte Porter. Well done, sir.





AFTERTHOUGHTS

The course was tough. It was hot. There were no small streams until after Stampede Pass. The course was extremely well marked (difficult to do over 100 miles). The Volunteers were the best I had ever experienced (Fire Station volunteers included). The views were beyond beautiful. Charlie Crissman is the man. Gary Redwine is a rockstar. Glenn Tachiyama is also a Rockstar (along with other unnamed photographers).

FUN FACTS

·      Shoes: Saucony Peregrine
·      Socks: Drymax Trail Socks
·      No chafeage except for some on my left nipple (not bad)
·      Didn’t change socks or shoes.
·      No Blisters or Black Toenails
·      Went 95 miles without taking a crap (miracle)
·      Never threw up
·      Since Mile 53, no one gained a position on me (although there was some leap-frogging)

NUTRITION

The Aid Stations were stocked with every type of food you could ask for. My consistent foods of choice were m&m’s, gummi bears, bananas, watermelon, PB&J Sandwiches, and pretzels. At night, the chicken noodle soup was SO GOOD and hit the spot every time. In between the aid stations, I had some CLIF Mojo Bars, CLIF Shot Rocks (for some protein), caffeine-free GU during the day, GU Roctane during the night, and some chocolate covered espresso beans (didn’t need many). For electrolytes, I mainly used Endurolytes (E-Caps) and drank pure water.

My stomach had no real issues, but there were times of discomfort during the day where my stomach was just sloshing things around. It went away eventually after I coincidentally stopped drinking electrolyte mixed water (that sugary stuff was too much). Maybe the heat was a factor, too…

PACER

Matt Carrell was the perfect pacer for my first 100. We ran the last ~50 miles not really being too serious about anything, just two guys going for a nighttime run. Having a pacer was a huge boost, and the company was much appreciated. We basically just shot the shit, sang whatever song came to mind, and heavily quoted Predator for 11.5 hours. Oh, and he got me to run the last 4 miles of the race faster than I had finished most of my marathons, that was unbelievable. Thanks Matt, for leading most of the way and tripping over rocks, rolling ankles, and getting your feet wet so I didn’t have to. I owe you one.



Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Journey - Training for the Cascade Crest 100 Mile Endurance Run - Portland, OR - 2011

For those who are interested in my training for CCC (the race is August 27-28). I tried not to be boring!



Chapters:
1 - Why?
2 - Training Runs
3 - Nutrition
4 - Injuries
5 - Burnout
6 - Motivation & Inspiration
7 - Top 10 running songs
8 - Top Photos


1 - Why?

I don't know. I read Born to Run, and thought people who did 100 milers were crazy. But the thought dwelled in my mind for a while...and then eventually I decided I wanted to run one. Part of it is an instinctual urge to want to run up mountains, and some of it might be my slight addiction to fitness improvement (running stronger, faster, higher). Either way here I am, tapering for the Cascade Crest 100 (CCC). To further satisfy the question, here are some positives for training for a 100 miler:
  • The Trail Running community is filled with some of the coolest, most inspiring people I've ever met
  • Running has never been easier
  • Running down a mountain is the closest thing to flying
  • Injuries have turned me into my own personal physical therapist
  • Saturday morning long runs are better than hangovers
  • Self-identity and self-sufficiency are almost required, if not, discovered along the way
  • Guilt-free eating (but mostly healthy)
  • Breathtaking views are common
  • Motivation is a youtube video away
  • Being able to outrun Zombies for days
  • If I were somehow forced to a wheelchair for the rest of my life, all I would want to do is be able to run and see how far I can go.

2 - Training Runs

As a single 24 year old living near downtown Portland, I'm probably one of the only ones who goes to bed early on a Friday/Saturday night for an early morning training run (wake up between 5-7 am). It's always worth it.

In December 2010, I began running 5 hour training runs consistently at least every other weekend. At the time, every one of those runs was done in Forest Park. The weekends in between, I usually went running in the Gorge up Larch Mountain (as high as the snow allowed). Doing long runs and hill climbs consistently throughout the early part of the year were essential in building a fitness base. During the weekdays, I ran maybe 2 or 3 days easy depending on how I felt. Again, Forest Park saw most of those runs.

My legs and feet were always chronically sore, and it took a while until my body adjusted to running a marathon+ every other weekend. Lots of icing and foam-rolling in March saved my legs for the 3 races I had planned in April (Peterson Ridge Rumble 20 miler, Boston Marathon, Capitol Peak 50 miler). In between races, I rested the hell out of my legs throughout the week and made sure I was healthy enough to finish the 50 miler (a qualifier for the 100 mile race). Everything somehow worked out perfectly, and I finished every race strong.

Up until that 50 mile race, it was difficult for my body to maintain a 50 mile training week without having my legs lock up or something similar. Afterwards, though, I began consistently keeping a 50 mile week base through May and into June. June became another race filled month with the Timberline marathon, Beacon Rock 50K, and White Salmon Trail Half Marathon. This time, I used those races as training runs to help maintaining somewhere around 70 mile weeks. My recovery was outstanding at this point.

Most of my weekends were free in July, which left my weekends free for some explorational training runs in the Gorge and central Cascades. The Warrior Dash was my only race this month, and due to circumstance, I tapered for this 3.5 miles of EPIC. It was a fun and extraordinarily manly time with my buds from college...a great way to spend a rest week. Soon afterward, my training plans led me to volunteer for the Mt. Hood 50 mile race as a course sweeper for my last long training run (50 miles in 11.5 hours, 4 weeks prior to CCC). The following weekend I had an opportunity to run with my CCC Pacer (Matt Carrell) as a final tune up before beginning my taper.

Do I feel ready? Yes. My fitness is exactly where I want it to be, but my confidence comes more from the advice that so many experienced Ultrarunners have given me over the past year. They are the true reason why I'm not freaking out right now, and for that I thank every one of them. I hope I'll make them proud.

Significant Training Runs, in date order starting in April:
  • 4/10 - Peterson Ridge 20 mile Race
  • 4/18 - Boston Marathon Race
  • 4/30 - Capitol Peak 50 mile Race
  • 6/4 - Timberline Marathon Race
  • 6/5 - Larch Mountain (4,000'), The Gorge - 15 mi
  • 6/12 - Beacon Rock 50k Race
  • 6/18 - White Salmon Half Marathon Trail Race
  • 6/26 - PGE Trail, Sunnyvale CA - 8mi
  • 7/2 - Dog Mountain 5 times (15,000') - The Gorge - 30+ miles
  • 7/9 - Angel's Rest/Devil's Rest/Larch Mountain/Bell Creek Trail Roundtrip (8,000'+) - 31 mi
  • 7/17 - Warrior Dash 3.5 Mile Race
  • 7/24 - Maiden Peak (~3,000') + getting lost, near Gold Lake - 20 mi
  • 7/30 - Mt. Hood 50 Mile Race (Sweeping Duties)
  • 8/6 - Grand Ridge 50K Race
  • 8/13 - Yocum Ridge Trail (3,500'), Mt. Hood - 18 mi
  • 8/27-28 Cascade Crest 100

3 - Nutrition

I've tried lots of different things as fuel before, during, and after runs. I have never thrown up during a race or fun-run (so far), and I typically listen to my body in order to find the right balance of water/electrolytes/salt/sweets/solid food. Here's a general list of things that I enjoy...

Good Stuff:
  • Dave's Killer Bread
  • Bagels
  • Natural Peanut Butter (Adams)
  • French Pastries
  • Pasta
  • Spinach
  • Salads
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Granola Bars (Cascadian Farms, Nature Valley)
  • Mojo (by Clif Bars)
  • Pretzels
  • PB&J Sandwiches
  • Agave
  • Pretzels
  • Beer: Some Lagers/Ambers/Pale ales (not great, but not bad)
  • Snickers Bars
  • Gummi Bears
  • m&m's
  • GU energy gel
  • GU Roctane
  • E-Caps (by Hammer)
  • "Fluid" (for recovery after runs)

Bad Stuff:
  • Most Dairy
  • High Fiber anything
  • Ginger Snaps
  • Eating half a box of Apple-Cinnamon Cheerios before a long run
  • Voodoo Donuts
  • Beer: Cheap Beer, Stouts
  • Fast Food
  • Fried Food
  • Red Meat
  • *Sigh*...cookies

4 - Injuries

I've been fairly lucky in terms of injuries. The most consistent injury I deal with is IT Band friction syndrom. I developed issues in my right leg last summer, and this year it stopped bothering me. Now my left IT band is bugging me, and I'm still trying to figure out how to make it stop. See the "Injuries"tab at the top of my blog page for more info.
  • IT Band (Right Leg cured, Left Leg currently infected)
  • Bruised Tendon at the bottom of each foot, behind the 5th metatarsal (cured with RICE)
  • Strained Upper Calf, almost behind the knee (cured with RICE)
  • Rolled ankles (cured with Time)

5 - Burnout

The high mileage weeks burned me out from time to time. 80 miles per week is about as much as I can handle mentally right now, because it takes so much time and effort to constantly run on tired legs. For example, getting home after 8 hours of work and going for a 3 hour run in Forest Park doesn't leave much time to clean, cook, or fold my laundry. When I feel burned out, sometimes I resort to running with an iPod or doing easy laps around the Portland Waterfront. Either way, I get myself out the door and run...because when I get 1-2 miles into a run, the burned out feelings usually go away.


6 - Motivation and Inspiration

Heroes:
Videos:
Books/Magazines:
  • Born to Run
  • Running on Empty
  • Ultramarathon Man
  • UltraRunning Magazine
  • Trail Runner Magazine

7 - Top 10 Running Songs

Ramona Falls

Angel's Rest

Mt. Hood, Yocum Trail

Yocum Trail


Winter on Larch Mountain

Hood to Coast, 2010

Mt. Robert's Trail, Juneau, AK
Warrior Dash with Spicy McUhlman

Warrior Dash
Warrior Dash with Tyler, Scott, Brad, and Mike

Dog Mountain

Dog Mountain
Dog Mountain
Boston Marathon
White Salmon Backyard Half
Portland Marathon 2010


Larch Mountain


Group run with some Ultra heroes. 


Mt. Hood from the PCT

Timothy Lake