Wednesday, December 7, 2011

10 Glorious Hours

I'm not quite sure most people would use those three words together to describe a run. After looking at it a few times I'm starting to think I understand why my wife and several other people think I'm a little crazy. (But not nearly as crazy as many other ultrarunners) This past Saturday I started and finished The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile race in the Marin Headlands. It was fantastic. It was Awesome. I ran about as well as I could've over the course and ended up finishing in the top half of the field. (Probably just in the top half though...) At no moment did I experience a real low point. I managed to stay pretty well hydrated, kept up on my food intake and also on my electrolytes. Given that this was my second 50 miler ever I was actually completely shocked that this occurred. I was expecting to be a cramped mess throughout the race...but the cramps never came. Sure there was pain...but it was a welcome pain. It was manageable. Suffice it to say this was probably the most fun I've had on a run...ever. I look forward to replicating this many times over in the decades ahead. (Yes Decades...I plan to be running when I'm in my 80's)

I won't delve too much into the play by play. Instead I'll just provide a few stats on the race...provide a list of some highlights and then wrap it up for the year.

Course Statistics
Where: Marin Headlands
Max Elevation: 1800 Feet
Minimum Elevation: 0 Feet
Total Elevation Gain: 10,059 Feet
Total Mileage: 51.2 Miles
My Finishing Time: 10:15:35
My Average Pace:  12:01 min/mile
Winning Time: 6:19:00
Winning Pace:  7:24

Still smiling...40+ miles in
You are not reading that wrong...Mike Wolfe ran this freaking thing in 6 hours and 19 minutes, absolutely crushing the course and just about every other elite running it. He and Dakota Jones (A 21 year old phenom) battled it out all the way to the last climb where Wolfe finally pulled away for good. These guys are incredible. I'm not intentionally trying to belittle myself here but what they do makes my accomplishment of just finishing pale in comparison. The elites prove that running 50 miles is not as crazy as people would think. If a pro athlete can go out and run a marathon in 2:03 then an average Joe ought to be able to run one in 3:00 given dedication, will and training. That's how I look at these now....with more training I should be able to run 50 miles in under 9 hours. One of next year's goal has been lets see if I can follow through on it.

Race Highlights:
  • Seeing a train of runners headlamps snaking up the initial ascent at 5:00 AM.
  • Sunrise over the golden gate and San Francisco. I wish I had a camera on me but I doubt I would've been able to capture how awesome this was.
  • Sharing the coastal trail (and all the trails for that matter) with 300 other like minded individuals.
  • Making it to the top of the first big climb and thinking "Wait is that it?" Honestly...for some reason I expected that first big climb to be a killer...I pretty much just waltzed up it. (Slowly)
  • Bombing down the Dipsea Trail...then stuffing my face full of food and powerhiking/running back up it.
  • Passing all the hikers while I was bombing downhill to Muir Woods. I was 34 miles into a race and felt fantastic. 
  • Absolutely nailing my race day nutrition. I basically ate solid food at each aid station, sticking mainly with PBJ, Oranges, Bananas and a few cookies while supplementing with a gel or two in between stations. I also took an electrolyte tablet every hour and 20 minutes. The chicken broth I drank at a couple stations probably helped too. 
  • Finishing up with an average pace of 7:50 over the last 3 miles.
Hopefully I'll be running this again in May
I liked this race so much that I threw my name in the hat for the Miwok 100K (62 miles) in May. Not sure if I'll get in but if I do it should be another fantastic run out in the headlands. If not than I'm sure I'll find something else to run. Next year's season is looking like it'll be pretty spectacular. It starts pretty soon too...first race is February 4th so I don't really get a whole lot of downtime here. That's fine though...I'm already itching to get out on the trails.

First I should brew a batch of beer though...I still haven't gotten around to writing that first beer entry...
Here are a few pictures we took the monday after the Race. I wanted to show Brandi the headlands so we drove out and retraced some of the race. 

Heading out to Muir beach, thankfully this sand was not part of the race

Me recreating the race atmosphere for Brandi

Somehow I figured out how to levitate

Looking down the coast...rad views

Playing around with the panorama mode

I was still hungry so I decided to eat a jelly fish

Recovery Beer

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

TNF Endurance Challenge - Imminent Awesomeness...and Pain

It did not take me long to sign up for my second 50 mile race. Shortly after the White River 50M in late July I decided that I wanted to take on a second 50 mile race before the end of the year. Having already signed up for the Portland Marathon and the Defiance 50K in October a late November or December race was pretty much a requirement. It turns out there aren't a whole lot of 50 mile races in the Pacific Northwest in the fall and winter due to our weather degenerating into complete garbage. Thankfully work decided to send me to San Francisco the week after Thanksgiving which put me in prime position to run The North Face Endurance Challenge in the Marin Headlands this coming Saturday, December 3rd.

This course is going to be a bit of a beast. No incredibly long climbs like in white river (Which only has two...both around 4K feet of gain) but the course is pretty much always going either up or down a hill. With upwards of 11,000 feet of total gain this will be the most I've ever taken on in a single day. I'm optimistic though as these hills are more in line with what I'm used to training on, 1-3 miles of uphill followed by 1-3 miles of downhill. That coupled with my vast experience at this distance (one whole race) should equate to me shattering my 50M PR....or perhaps shattering my will to endure...or maybe a knee. I'm sure something will get shattered on Saturday...the most likely being my stomach.

As far as competition goes I don't really compete with people at these events. I'm slow...a perennial mid-packer that doesn't have the time or the stomach to up my game enough to compete with the top half of the field. I have aspirations to move up into the top 20% someday, and in the 50K and Marthon distances I'm pretty much there...but for 50 mile events December 3rd will probably not be that day. I haven't nailed a race of this distance yet and am still in the process of figuring out how to prevent nausea, cramping, dehydration and all of the other issues that pop up in Ultra races. I think I've finally figured out 50K races...but these are significantly shorter than 50 milers.

As for those that will be competing, there are a TON of elites running this race. The winning time will most likely be sub 7 hours, which roughly equates to an 8 minute per mile pace for 50 miles with a bunch of climbing in it. I'll be lucky if I can pull 12 minute miles over the course of the event. I'm looking forward to seeing Geoff Roes, Mike Wardian, Dakota Jones, Ricky Gates and a whole smorgasbord of Ultra Elites at the starting line...for about 5 seconds...then they will pull away and I probably won't see them for the rest of the race.

My training leading up to this thing has been pretty solid. I put in some solid weeks in August and September in preparation for my Portland Marathon/Defiance 50K races which occured on succesive weekends. I topped out with a 77 mile week and strung togther a 4 week period where I topped out at 258 miles with 24,000 feet of elevation gain. Not a crazy amount but it was a really solid month with a decent amount of climbing. Ideally I would've like to have strung together 4-5 70+ mile weeks...but alas 2 seemed to be my limit this year. The two October races served as some good long distance race/training efforts. I could probably spend a few thousand words analyzing my recent training but suffice it to say it was less than ideal, but far exceeded what I would I would've considered the minimum to run this event. My stomach hasn't been "trained" nearly as much as it should...but that is more an issue with my style of training. I do not eat or drink much during my training runs much to the dismay of most of my running buddies. The plus side of this is that I'm fairly used to bonking now and have progressed past the panic that usually occurs when your heart rate and breathing skyrocket. The minus of course is that consuming even a small amount of calories on the run can result in some pretty significant nausea. I managed to tame that beast during my 50K in october...but I have no idea how things will pan out by adding an addition 19.2 miles. I guess I'll just need to eat more oreos....

Monday, October 24, 2011

Crane Kicking PR's

Ah October...leaves turning colors, rain falling, and colder weather all mix into a super combination of PR crushing awesomeness. (At least in the Pacific Northwest)  I knew that I would probably be able to put together a good race at the Portland Marathon, likely coming in well under my previous PR of 3:51 but I hadn't really anticipated running quite possibly my best race ever 6 days later at the Defiance 50K. Suffice it to say I avoided the leg sweep and crane kicked both races in the face. Thank you Mr. Miyagi and Joe Esposito for teaching me that I could be the best...AROUND! (My house that running...long distances)

Portland Marathon - October 9th - 3:31:18 PR by 20 minutes
Defiance 50K - October 15th - 5:03:20 PR by 18 minutes

Fear does not exist in my Dojo

I have to admit Portland was actually a bit of a let down for me. I was looking to improve my time by around a minute per mile, with hopes of sneaking in under the 3:25 mark. Problems with pacing and calories however resulted in a dramatic deceleration at around mile 23. I'm willing to bet that part of this was due to the spots drink of choice (ultima) being electrolyte only. I ended up eating a handful of gummy bears during the race so I guess I probably ate 100 calories over the course of 26.2 miles. Not ideal by any means. Pacing is also a big weakness for me. I, like many other runners, tend to get caught up in the atmosphere at the beginning of a race and go out way to fast. I thought I could stave off any serious leg pain and cardiac drift until the last mile but alas, it wasn't meant to be and my hopes at breaking 3:30 were dashed against the cold hard steel of portlands many bridges.

Fast forward 6 days and I was toeing the line at the Defiance 50K, the sophomore season for Tacomas only Ultramarathon. (Not sure if they can claim that anymore) The race directors are a fantastic group of fellow runners that know how to put on a great event. The course is essentially three 10+ mile laps through Point Defiance Park in Tacoma. The remarkable thing about this race is that they were able to come up with a 10 mile lap that doesn't actually intersect itself at any point. Oh and they also managed to squeeze a new hill into it this year, the aptly named "Achilles Hill". This probably added a couple minutes per lap but was a pretty fun little addition.

The two main issues I had at Portland were nowhere to be found during the 50K trail race. In a first, I actually may have managed a negative split. (Or at least a near even split) I ran laps of 1:39:23, 1:43:53, and 1:40:03. Couple that with a welcome absence of leg cramps, a completely solid stomach and a spectacularly even heart rate throughout and I can honestly say that it was the best race I've run. Perhaps not in terms of time improvement but definitely in terms of how it felt. Less than 24 hours later I felt almost fully recovered and even managed a nice 8.5 mile run. That being said...I still felt pretty exhausted throughout the week and as such ended up taking it pretty easy following the race. I'll be kicking it up a notch now though over the next 4 weeks as a prepare for the North Face Endurance Challenge. 50M set to be run in Marin on December 3rd.

So what lessons have I learned over this past week?

1) Apparently I can race marathon+ distance events twice in a week. Who knew?
2) I won't be repeating this too often. Races cost money. Training however is almost free.
3) Even pacing or negative splits are now possible. I just need to be more honest about my fitness.
4) It is possible to avoid cramps in long races! I think I'll do that from now on.
5) My wife is awesome for letting me do this stuff.
6) Even though my dog will never be a runner...she is still rad.
7) Just in case my cats see this too I should give them a shout out. They are still my favorite animals. 

Okay the last two had nothing to do with racing and I already knew my wife was awesome. Actually I already knew 5-7 but decided to put them in here any way as a shout out to the peeps that I essentially share my life with. And my pets are rad. I doubt I will have any pictures from the races to fill out this blog so I will include some of them instead. 

Pippa, the newest addition. Don't let her cuteness fool you, she pees on stuff.

But she likes Gears of War 3...which is pretty cool

A fun picture of teo enjoying the sun..which will remain hidden for the next 6 months
Ash. Named after the Evil Dead Protagonist.
Both are dumb in endearing ways.  

Brandi enjoying the sun...amongst near record setting snow

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Enchantments

This past weekend Doug and I decided to (Finally) pull the trigger on our plan to run through the Enchantments. I use the term run loosely as there are several parts of the trail that I would deem unrunnable, at least given my current fitness. There are probably quite a few elite trail runners out there that could run most of the trail...with the exception of some portions of Aasgard Pass and perhaps a steep sloped granite slab or two. I was still feeling some residual affects from my White River 50 Mile run on July 30th but decided this would be a great return to long mountain excursions.

For those of you unfamiliar with the enchantments area it's located just outside of Leavenworth and consists of a couple of alpine basins, a bunch of lakes and tarns, and the Stuart mountain range. You can get a bit more information on the area at wikipedia or on the WTA website. I highly recommend visiting the area, either on a long day hike, a fast through hike or run or ideally spending a few days in the back country taking in the sites at a more leisurely pace.

Doug and I decided that we would park cars at both the Snow Lakes and Stuart Lakes trail heads and travel from Stuart to Snow in one day long push. This route involves about 20 miles of hiking, slogging, scrambling and running, 6000 feet of elevation gain (Of which 2200 are done during a 1.0 mile ascent up Aasgard pass) and a near uncountable amount of incredible vistas. The pictures do not do it justice....this place is amazing. It honestly looks like something that was ripped right out of a movie. There were a few instances in which I had almost convinced myself that I was looking at a mountain range or a lake that had been computer generated...


Colchuck lake with Aasgard in the Background

In any event, the run started at Stuart lake and meandered up the mountainside. We passed many a hiker on our way to Colchuck lake and managed to stop and take a few pictures of the surrounding area. We were already in awe at what we were seeing and I have to admit I was/am a bit annoyed at myself for not getting up into this area previously during my 32 year stint in Seattle. Still...better late than never I supposed. After getting to Colchuck lake we got a little lost...winding around the wrong side of a smaller sister lake, boulder hopping and bushwacking our way to the base of aasgard pass. Aasgard was aptly named...I wouldn't have been surprised if we had found Odin waiting for us at the top. (Sadly we didn't) To classify Aasgard as a beast is to short change it a's completely doable and is actually a fun little scramble, but it would also be difficult to classify it as a normal hike. Suffice it to say that if you go this route you will be climbing some rocks, crossing some streams (And perhaps a waterfall or two) and will most likely get lost due to the fact that the trail is nigh nonexistent in parts.

Wildflowers on the pass
The boulder field leading up to Aasgard


Our friend looking out across the Central Cascades

After getting up over the summit we ran into some mountain goats, hikers and were greeted by some tremendous views of the upper basin. The area was still snowed in so we ended up running on some interesting surfaces. The way through the basins is actually marked by a series of cairns (Rock piles) due mainly to the fact that you are traveling over granite for a vast majority of the trek. We got lost many times, climbed to the top of several little rock outcroppings which opened up amazing views and had some fun "Skiing" down some snowy sections of the trail. The upper eventually gave way to the lower basin which in turn provided much greener surroundings.

Looking out over the basin

The snow in the lower basin was almost completely melted out though still stubbornly persisted in places. Thankfully the trails were almost entirely clear so we really only had to contend with the fun granite slabs from the lower basin to snow lakes. (Some sections had re bar hammered into the rock in an effort to give hikers a bit more traction on the steeper sections)

Sometimes it was more slab than trail

I was feeling pretty good at snow lakes (Still 6.5-7 miles from the trail head) so decided to give my downhill legs a workout and told Doug I'd meet him at the bottom. I was surprised at how well I handled descent. The trails are a bit rockier and technical than those around the Rainier I90 areas but I managed to get down with a minimal amount of bruises. (No painful falls thankfully) Near the bottom the trail becomes pretty exposed to the sun and almost immediately transitions from cool forest to a hot furnace. There was a nice aqua duct at the bottom of the descent near the Snow Lakes trail head that I took advantage of by dunking my head in the cool, briskly moving alpine water. After cooling off for a bit I made my way to the end of the trail, found a bit of shade and waited for Doug and our ride back to the Stuart Lake trail head.

Just another bit of spectacular trail...
Aasgard or fed it to mountain goat...those things are heavy...cameras that is.

You can find more pictures of the run here.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Who put these mountains here?

This past weekend I ran the White River 50 Miler, shuffling to the finish line in a near broken state. I knew this was going to be a tough one going in but was also aware that there wasn't anything I could do in training that would completely prepare me for what I would face out on the course. Before getting into the play by play here are a few statistics on the run:

Where - White River Area of Mount Rainier
When - July 30th 2011
Course - 50 Miles, 8750 Elevation Gain (Though a garmin would probably list it at around 12K)
Calories Burned - Between 5000-6000
Calories Consumed - Between 2200-2700
Time through first 27.3 miles - 5 hrs 20 minutes
Time from 22.7 to finish - 6 hrs 20 minutes

Who put these mountains here?'s far

From the above statistics you can probably guess where the wheels really started to come off. (Hint: I was finishing up a big downhill at the time) I probably wanted to drop around a half a dozen times...all throughout the second half of the race. The first thought of dropping occurred at Buck Creek after some extensive calf cramping on the descent had forced me to sit idle on the side of the trail while I waited for my seized up calves to quiet down. Just prior to Fawn Ridge I had told myself that my stomach was too wrecked and my legs were too shredded to go further yet after arriving at the aid station I realized that not only was it well within my physical capacity to continue forward, I actually wanted to keep going. This was due to equal parts a stubborn refusal to submit, a desire to see what was around the next corner, and because I found that being out their on the trails was just too much fun. These lows and highs became more frequent as the raced progressed which in my opinion is actually part of the appeal of these types of tests.

Start of race to Camp Sheppard - 3.7 miles (3.7)

We Started off in a mass start (all 300 of us) sans timing chips in the Buck Creek area near the Silver Springs Campground. The first half a mile was along a dirt road near the old air strip and served as a pleasant warm up before the course turned to almost exclusively single track with a little bit of double-track for the next 26 miles. Once the road section was over we followed a nice trail that headed out north along the white river towards the bridge to to the buck creek service road. From there we jumped on another quick section of trail that threw a few blow downs, some shotgun shells and beer cans at us before finally hopping over 410 and linking up with the white river trail to Camp Sheppard. This was a superb rolling section that lasted for about 2 miles before we blew past the aid station and started the ascent to Ranger Creek cabin. Luckily I still had plenty of fluids for the climb. I probably should have slowed down a bit on this section but I was having so much fun breezing through it that I just went with the pace. I could tell early on though that Danny was going to have a great day day was still up in the air.

Camp Sheppard to Ranger Creek - 7.8 Miles (11.7)

If you haven't hiked the Palisades trail I highly recommend that you do so. You will have the pleasure of traveling on some of the most plush single track trail in the state while taking in views of waterfalls, the Mountain, other Mountains, creek crossings and of course you will be sheltered through most of it by the combination of newer and old growth forest. I kept up a good power Hike/Run Pace through this section but in the long run probably ran a bit too much. The EFS liquid shots that I was eating weren't tasting so good at this point. I was a little put off by this considering I still had about 40 miles to go over which I would need to consume about 2200 additional calories.  I ended up losing Danny at this point as he was definitely having a good day. That was cool though, we each needed to run our own race.

Ranger Creek to Corral Pass - 5.2 Miles (16.9)

Great Photo by Glenn Tachiyama
This section of the trail continued through some nice old growth and periodically yielded some pretty stunning views of the Mountain. The higher we climbed the more we saw of the snow capped monster. Due to the insane amount of snowfall this past winter there was still some snow pack at the higher elevations of the race. Volunteers had actually come out earlier in the week to carve steps in the snow and tied up some ropes in an effort to make it a bit safer for the runners. The snowy sections were fun but a bit challenging. I actually ended up running into a few of the front runners who were on their way back on this section. They all pretty much just floated down the trail. After one last little climb we popped up out of the woods and skirted along a ridge line out to Corral pass. This was an absolutely awe inspiring section as we had the Mountain on our right and the Norse wilderness on our left. Coming back here with the digital SLR is a high priority this summer as I can't really recall being in another place that looked quite so wild.  At some point I saw Barefoot Ted, another local running celebrity, coming back out of Corral pass. Once I got out to the aid station I took a minimal amount of time to refill my bottles and grab some food and then headed back out on the trail.

Corral Pass to Ranger creek - 5.2 Miles (22.1)

This was the same section as that above only with the Mountain on the left and the Norse wilderness on the right.  I made sure to say thanks to the Ultra Running Photographer Glenn Tachiyama as I made my way back. (He took some cool shots of everybody with the Mountain in the background...I'll be picking those up before I post this to my blog) More awesome views here but I could tell that I was already starting to lose control of my stomach.

Ranger Creek to Buck Creek - 5.1 Miles (27.2)

Arriving at Buck Creek
It was make or break time. I knew I wanted to be a bit more conservative than usual on the downhill and was also acutely aware of the tightness in my legs and my increasingly upset stomach. I ended up running about an 8.5 minute per mile pace through most of this portion in an effort to save the quads. Unfortunately I ended up tripping near the bottom, caught myself temporarily, but then had both calves immediately seize up which then caused a nice face first fall into the middle of the trail. Thankfully no one witnessed my graceful crash first hand. After chilling out on the side of the trail for a few minutes I was able to gingerly make my way down the trail, first at a walk, then a faster hike and finally a decent run. Doug was at the Aid station at buck creek and did his best to be encouraging. My stomach had degraded further, my calves were killing me and I could tell my Quads and Hamstrings were going to follow suit shortly...

Buck Creek to Fawn Ridge - 4.5 Miles (31.7)

Another trip around the air strip and then on to the sun top trail. I was able to run about 2/3 of this despite my shot legs. After about 1.5 miles the trail just took off up the ridge towards the sun top lookout. This was an extremely brutal section. It was just too steep and it felt like I was going to pass out in quite a few places. My stomach was getting worse but my legs seemed okay...except for my brutalized calves. Fawn ridge was a welcome site. Nice Tropical themed aid station, filled with inflatable flowers, luau music and more helpful volunteers. I ended up eating some more fruit here and popped an electrolyte cap in an attempt to get my cramping under control.

Fawn Ridge to Sun Top - 5.3 Miles (37.0)

This is a pictorial representation of how I felt
This was probably the second worst part of the race for me. There were a couple of descents that I was able to run...until my quads started cramping. I was reduced to a fast hike downhill in some sections but by and large was still able to move forward. At this point I was still able to eat a bit and started feeling a bit better. (It was short lived) After descending from the false summit we crossed the Sun Top road and hit the last half a mile to the sun top lookout. I was expecting this to be worse than it was. I actually managed to pass a few people on this uphill legs were a bit better than my downhill legs. Towards the top I saw Glenn Tachiyama ready to snap a picture so I made sure to run a bit of that section with what I think was a smile on my face and made sure to give him a big thanks again. He does an excellent job catching some amazing moments during these races. Finally got to the US themed Aid station, lots of American flags and some cool oldies playing on the stereo. At this point I decided I was going to change into the shoes I had left in my drop bag and try to stuff as much food in my stomach as possible hoping that my decreased heart rate on the downhill would let me stomach digest things a bit better. I was able to change my shoes but couldn't actually tie them and had to ask an aid station volunteer to do that for me. I have to say without the volunteers I would've been left in a puddle of cramping agony at this point. Oh and the view of the Mountain at this point was breathtaking...too bad the imminent descent had my quaking in fear...

Sun top to Skookum Flats - 6.4 miles (43.4)

Even LOLCatz get cramps
This was by far the worst part of the race. Relentless 6.5 mile downhill section on the fire road. I broke it up into run/hike sections due to my spotty stomach and increasingly terrible legs. I couldn't run for much more than a half a mile without suffering from some combination of Hip, Calf, Quad or Hamstring cramps or nausea. (Sometimes all at once) I kept reminding myself that this was one of the reasons why I signed up.
After what seemed like forever I got to the skookum flats section where my beautiful wife was waiting for me with some words of encouragement and a short kiss or two. I may have dropped at this point if she hadn't been there to give me a big shot in the arm. I tried to eat some more fruit, took some tums and another electrolyte cap, said by to Brandi and let her know that I would see her in about 1.5-2 hours as I ran/walked/hiked/shuffled and cramped my way through the skookum flats leg.

Skookum to Finish - 6.6 Miles (50.0)

Still Smiling with 6.6 miles to go
This trail is awesome on fresh legs, on legs that had 43.5 miles on them it was a nightmare. It is extremely technical, with numerous sections where you need to pick your way through roots, rocks and all other manners of obstacles which just serve to increase the chance of tripping and eating dirt. I figure I was able to run (Shuffle) about 1/3 of the trail and power hiked the rest. That being said it was still ridiculously slow going and by the time I popped out towards the finish I had passed 3-4 people but had been passed by probably 5-10. It didn't this point I was just racing myself. Screw you body...I was going to win this thing. And by win I mean win the battle against my body...the race had been won by Uli Steidl about 4.5 hours earlier!

Finish Line

11 hours 40 minutes later
Much like everybody else I'm sure I had an amazing feeling at the finish. I shuffled/ran as best I could despite the cramping muscles. Brandi was there to cheer me in along with my buddy Danny, his wife Jenny and their three boys. All the other finishers, spectators and volunteers also joined in and I can honestly say it was the best race experience of my life. The whole day was full of highs, lows and everything in between and I will look back fondly on every joyful, painful, god forsaken moment.  Danny came over to congratulate me and I finally introduced him to my wife Brandi. We traded "congratulations" talked a bit about the race and then I made my way over to the medical tent. After about 20 minutes of laying in a cot I felt good enough to walk around again and proceeded to drink about 60 oz of water over the next hour or two. It should be noted that I was not the only one in the medical tent as there were several other finishers that looked to be in a bit worse shape than I. We all had fun reminiscing about our experiences out on the trail and all seemed pretty stoked to try it all again.

Recovery and Beyond?

If he had trained me those checks wouldn't have bounced
It took a few days of rest but my legs feel pretty much back to normal. I haven't done much to really test them yet so I'll be interested to see how they respond to some hill climbing. I've managed to do a fair bit of walking and have even gone out on a short run. Unfortunately I came down with a bit of a cold (or perhaps the one I had before the race came back with a vengeance) and was laid up in bed for the last couple of days. I'm getting over it though and anticipate returning to a fairly full week of running starting on August 7th. As my buddy Ryan said, my ego wrote some checks my body couldn't cash and those bounced checks came back to haunt me with a bit of a cold and some lingering muscle pains. We then proceeded to run this top gun reference into the ground over a half an hour period. On the ultra running front I have to admit I fully understand that this sport isn't for everybody. It's definitely for me though and I can't wait till I'm recovered and get to run another. I've already signed up for the North Face Endurance Challenge in San Francisco on December 3rd so I can't afford to take much of a break. Lets see if I can get further before the cramping sets in...

Here are a few more miscellaneous pictures below.

Another great photo by Glenn Tachiyama. The sun was a bit of a nuisance here

The trails weren't closed like in Road Marathons
Drop bags...a runners lifeline

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Get Ready! Here we go!

For the past four months I've been focused on one goal...finishing my first 50 mile race. By finishing I hope I don't mean limping or crawling in, I want to finish on my feet, uninjured with a decent time for a first time 50 mile runner. I thought it would be fun to offer up a summary of the past 4 months of training along with some thoughts on how things have gone, what I will likely change in my next round of training, and which training runs were my favorite of the bunch.

First some notes on the math, I'm going to be offering weekly and monthly totals. Adding up the weekly mileage won't really equate easily to the monthly totals because of the way in which the weeks fall month to month. I personally just think it's interesting to see weekly vs. monthly. Weekly is much more helpful in determining overall training volume but the monthly numbers are nice ego boosters.

April Training

Week of April 4th - 30.05
Week off April 11th - 38.47
Week of April 18th - 35.54
Week of April 25th - 17.42

April Total - 127.48 Miles
Elevation Gain - 11,0059 Feet

April was a tough month. I was coming back from an extended vacation in South America that lasted the entire month of March. As such I was basically attempting to ramp up my training volume from zero. I ended up with an injury shortly after an excursion up on the Tiger Mountain trail which caused the drastic drop off seen in the week of April 25th. More core training was necessary. Sadly...I wouldn't really learn that lesson until early June.

May Training

Week of May 2nd - 41.19
Week off May 9th - 47.46
Week of May 16th - 44.48
Week of May 23rd - 55.27
Week of May 30th - 48.07

May Total - 200.09 Miles
Elevation Total - 15,779 Feet

May was pretty awesome. I finally started to feel pretty decent week to week and noticed some remarkable pep in my legs when climbing. My favorite training run had to have been the memorial day weekend 30+ mile run around the Mt. Rainier area. In fact I felt it was so awesome that I wrote a blog entry on it earlier in the year.

June Training

Week of June 6th - 61.05
Week of June 13th - 44.91
Week of June 20th - 65.05
Week of June 27th - 50.79

June Total - 232.03 miles
Elevation Total - 21,953 Feet

June was another really solid month. I spent a bit more time in the rainier area, familiarizing myself with the white river route while taking in some pretty spectacular vistas. Snow continued to be a problem at the higher elevations but we have such extensive trail systems out here in the Pacific Northwest that it was still pretty easy to link together long runs without topping out on the buried ridge lines. I didn't really have a single training session that I would call my favorite this month, though the June 30th jaunt up to the Ranger Creek Cabin (and a little beyond) was pretty spectacular. Unfortunately I bonked pretty hard and had to cut the run short.

July Training

Week of July 4th - 70.27
Week of July 11th - 20.23
Week of July 18th - 32.0

July Total (So Far) - 152.5 Miles
Elevation Total - 12,500 Feet

July has been interesting so far. My training called for a pretty nice even taper but the chest cold that I came down with after my 70 mile week forced me to reduce my training volume a lot more than I would've liked. I had anticipated the week of the 11th coming in around the 45 mile mark with the week of the 18th being around 30-35. I'm pretty confident though despite my forced reduction and am feeling great heading into the final week before my race.

Another 63 miles forthcoming this week, 13 from some training and another 50 from a single race coming this Saturday, July 30th. That will push me over 200 miles for the third month in a row. Am I ready? I certainly think so. I probably should've done a bit better job ramping my mileage up to my max of 70 but I got there and didn't completely destroy myself doing it. As can be seen from the weekly totals I had a difficult time increasing week over week and ended up ping ponging a fair bit between low and high mileage weeks. Still...I was able to ramp up to 70 miles without my joints failing so I'm fairly confident that I'll be able to move up into that volume again in preparation for my October races.

The race this Saturday will be awesome. If I bonk, it will still be rad, if I nail it and can move consistently through to the end then that will be even better. will be a fantastic day on the trails. Hopefully I'll see some familiar faces out there but if not I always have the Mountain.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Oops...we ran an Ultra

So what happens when you take two runners, both known for being stubborn explorers with a knack for getting lost, put them in the Rainier area on a long weekend and ask them to run 20 miles? You get a 31 mile excursion. Unintended of course. Before recapping the run in it's entirety I would first like to point out some lessons learned from this little trip.

1) Following somebodies footsteps on a snow covered portion of an unfamiliar trail is a good way to get lost in the woods.

2) Pack more gels then you think you need if your route isn't set in stone. Gels help keep up your blood sugar, which in turn prevents you from turning into an exhausted zombie.

3) Phone batteries drain fast when your in an area with a weak cell signal. I probably would've realized this sooner if I had fully appreciated lesson two listed above.

4) Don't ever let Doug or I lead you on a run unless you want to go further than originally planned.

5) Don't be intimidated by bad weather...just get out there and go for a run...or a hike...or anything.

Snow can be fun
Woefully unprepared for 8+ hours in the woods we set off with good intentions, a nice 4-5 hour, 20 mile run around the white river area of Mount Rainier. The weather was pretty decent (For Seattle) and neither of us had any afternoon plans. We should have known what we were in for when we got lost within 2 miles of the start. Our attempt to locate the Sun Top trail was ultimately successful, however we ended up adding an unexciting loop through a campground during our search. We knew full well that we wouldn't really be able to get to Sun Top this time of year but decided that it would be fun to see how far up we could get before running into impassable snow. (Note...what we thought was impassable in the beginning of the run was in sharp contrast to what we felt was impassable during the latter stages of our adventure)

Stream crossings are more fun
Before long we were running through mountain streams, post holing in snow drifts and enjoying the many views afforded by the trail while making our way up the ridge line. At about 3700 feet we decided the snow on the trail was only going to get worse and made our way back down to the buck creek area. We managed to find our way back to the parking lot without getting lost in another campground though we did run into a fun couple that were out Geo caching and stopped to chat with them for a bit. They showed us some crazy pictures of the snow up at paradise.

After making a quick stop at aid station 1 (my car) we made our way out onto the Skookum flats trail.

Aid station number 1 was a big hit

Both Doug and I had mountain biked this trail several times in the past and were pretty stoked to see how quickly we could run it. Excellent conditions and a nice 8 mile warm up set the stage for a pretty quick jaunt down the rolling single-track. Approximately a mile in we ran into a WTA trail work party. Big thanks to those guys as it turns out they have their work cut out for them. About 2/3 of the way into the trail we ran into a ridiculous amount of dead fall. Not normal dead-fall...these were giant old growth trees that blanketed a fairly large portion of the trail. Doug and I ended up doing a fair bit of tree climbing, which though fun, drastically increased the amount of time it took for us to get to the end of the trail.

It was decision time after reaching the end of the skookum flats. Would we hit highway 410, with it's miserable pavement and slight uphill? Head to snoquera falls? Hit the white river trail and run through camp Sheppard? Or perhaps we would try to link the palisades trail up with the white river trail despite the fact that it would be most certainly buried in snow? Doug and are pretty notorious in our own minds for picking what could be described by some as the stupidest path so unsurprisingly we chose to run up above the snow line, follow a bunch of footprints that may or may not have been on the actual trail and eventually turned around about 3 hours after we had run out of gels and Doug had run out of water. 

There is a bridge under there somewhere
Note that at sun top we barely got over 3700 feet but we ended up topping out at over 5000 on this portion of the run. And yes...we ran into what we should have

Here are a few more pictures of the run. Wish I would've brought a better camera. Phone camera's are just awful for these types of pictures. Oh and here is a link to the garmin if anybody is interested:

Skookum falls from 410
Snoquera Falls from the Palisades trail

Doug heading up the staircase

One of the many views of the valley from the trail. Looking forward to running this on a clear day.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The fine line between being a wuss and being injured

Most people who run deal with a manageable amount of pain...probably on a daily basis. Running is not supposed to be easy. If you push yourself then you may get faster, but running that mile or 10 miles, or 50 miles at pace always takes a bit out of you. In my case I went on a vacation in March...and didn't run at all. On return I figured I probably hadn't lost all that much fitness since my wife and I had been fairly active during our trip and decided to dive right in. My first "long" run was a paltry 12 miles...with almost 4,000 feet of elevation gain. A slight twinge in the back and a somewhat sore ankle (STUPID LEFT ANKLE) were the only casualties for the trip so I figured I'd step the mileage up again the following week. I ended up going on a 14 mile road/trail adventure over in Boston (There for Abel and Sara's awesome wedding) and unfortunately re aggravated my left ankle during a slight slip up in an outdoor area that Bostonians call the fels. No worries...I was able to run the following two days and felt pretty decent. I figured I was on pace to get myself into decent enough shape to suffer my way through the 34 miler that I had signed up for on April 30th. (I know it was originally going to be 50...suffice it to say I'm an idiot and didn't realize a month of zero running would be highly detrimental to my training) All of this just set me up for a week of pain...and my first big running failure. A DNF would've been preferable to the DNS that I now have for the Capitol Peak 55K.

I almost always try to push through the little aches and pains that pop up from every day life. Perhaps you sleep awkwardly the night before a run and have some nagging pain in your back before your jog, or maybe a late night flight causes your leg muscles to stiffen up. All of these things make it that much more difficult to buckle down, put on your gear and head out the door. Once out though these nagging issues usually fall by the wayside and one can relish in the run. Unfortunately I hadn't counted on back spasms and ankle issues.

This past week was really a double dose of pain for me. My ankle still hadn't fully healed but I knew that I could push through it providing I didn't completely wreck it during my training. The prospect of running 34 miles on a tender ankle also wasn't my idea of intelligent running. I knew that I would have to protect the ankle but also wanted to get some speed work and climbing in so I could be as prepared as possible for my "race". Two speed work sessions during the week had me optimistic as I was running fairly fast and wasn't worn out from the training. On the weekend though I could tell that I was done and wouldn't be racing on April 30th within the first 3 minutes of what I intended to be my long run. I pulled up almost immediately after setting foot on the trail with back spasms. I've never had back spasms before. They are extremely unpleasant and I really hope to never suffer from them again. (Unlikely) Being my idiot self I simply stopped for a few minutes until they went away, adjusted my running form a bit and continued on my run. As any runner can attest to though, changing ones running form can have fairly disastrous consequences when expending any decent amount of effort. I felt like I had zero pep in my legs on every uphill, I had to walk more of the sections than usual and I was paranoid on the downhill as I now had a weak back and a shoddy ankle to coddle. By mile 10 I was almost completely wiped out and as such when my running buddy Doug presented us with an alternative route that would shave a few miles off of our proposed run I figuratively leaped at the opportunity, hobbled off and finished the abbreviated training session much worse for wear.

At this point I knew I was done. No April 30th race for me. I figured I would train through the week, perhaps log 35-40 miles and would continue to build on this through May and June and knock one out of the park at White River on July 30th. This is still my plan...but this past week was terrible. Instead of 35-40 I ran 17 lowest weekly total since my December break. (Not counting my 0 mile total in March) I've since found out that my back issue was actually tied to a tight glute and hamstring. Some stretching seems to be helping there so I don't anticipate any long term issues. The ankle is feeling better as well. I figure I need to stay away from any severe climbing for a few weeks, get some fitness back and then ease into the mountains. My plans right now are to tackle a 50K in mid-June, take a road trip to Western States 100 a couple weeks later for some much  needed inspiration and then spend a fair bit of my free time on the weekends up in the Mount Rainier area familiarizing myself with the terrain. If all goes well I'm hoping to build to a sub 10 hour finish in my first 50 miler. A guy can dream right?

Friday, March 4, 2011

The last run until the next run...and beer stuff too.

Well the Orcas Island 50K came, I raced it, and got my butt kicked and my face stomped in. Rather than taking a week or so to recover I decided that I was fit enough to hit the ground running. This was a big mistake. I didn't officially take a rest day until the Thursday AFTER the race. Each day I ran I noticed a slight twinge in my knee, along with something that felt like the precursor to PF as well as the residual affects of my ankle rolling adventures both prior to and during the Orcas Island race. I'm a big proponent of active recovery but I think I took it a bit too far in this case. I ended up shortening my long run the weekend after Orcas from my originally planned 20 miles to 11 and then took a bit more time off the following week, shortening some middle distance runs and cutting one out entirely. My long run the following saturday consisted of an abbreviated 16 miles as I proceeded to roll my weak ankle (Again) and had to limp off tiger mountain. Once I got back to the car, slightly broken but not completely beaten, I vowed that I would return to conquer the spirited beast when my ankle was up to the challenge. Last weekend was the first long run I had where I actually felt halfway decent and was able to hit my target of 20+ miles. (I actually ended up doing 22 with around 1800 feet of elevation gain) Unfortunately this in no way prepares me for the potential suck-fest I'm going to have April 30th. I've signed up for a 50 miler and may end up bumping myself down to the 55K. (A paltry 34 miles....HA!) The near monthlong break I'll be taking in March while my wife and I are on vacation isn't going to help the fitness level either. (Though we will be hiking 26 miles at maybe I'll be okay) On that thought I'm pretty sure the cheeseburgers I've eaten over the past few weeks haven't assisted in my training...or recovery for that matter. They were very tasty though.

In any event...the race definitely hurt...but the past month of training has probably been the most difficult month of running I've pushed through in quite some time. Not just physically but mentally as well. The weather has been less than stellar so I've been somewhat lacking in motivation. Once I get out the door I'm's just taking that first step out into the cold rain that usually has me retreating indoors to drink another steaming cup of coffee.

On the beermaking front I'm still working my way through my last batch. Turns out I can't muscle down 48 bottles of beer quite as quickly as when I was in college. (Even then I was pretty slow) I'm a little over a case into this batch and it's probably been over two months since I last brewed. I'm hoping that I can get a quick batch in after we get back from vacation in April. At that point I will christen this blog with it's first real brewing entry. I'll post fun pictures of my destroyed kitchen, portraits of me hating on the sanitation process, and maybe even post an hour and a half video showing me stirring the wort. Should be exciting times. If you are real lucky I'll make it rain...rain hops that is.

So yesterday was the last run until my next run...which probably won't occur until April. If I'm lucky I might be able to pull off the ultrarunner shuffle for short sections of the Inca trail but I'm pretty sure my lungs would burst if I tried a full on run at altitude up thousands of feet of elevation.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Orcas Island...of Pain

This past weekend I partook in the Orcas Island 50K out in the San Juan's. I had been looking forward to this race since forgetting to sign up for it back in September thus locking myself out of registration. Fortunately for me and a few others James, the directory of Rainshadow Running, kept a few spots open for individuals who volunteered to participate in a trail work party the week prior to the run. As such one week prior to the race I found myself mucking it around on some trails, wielding a MacLeod, cutting a pretty sweet new trail through Moran state park with fellow trail runners while being directed by Ranger Rich. Fast forward one week from there and I found myself toeing the line with about 200 other runners, a few of which were still feeling the residual affects of said trail work party. Runners may have a metric ton of endurance packed into their muscles but most of us lack any significant amount of upper body strength. The trail work party convinced me that I need to work my core and upper body a bit more I just really wish I had realized this before running this race. Lesson learned I guess.

Runner Arms = T-Rex Arms

No Thank You

With my arms still feeling the after affects of a whopping 5 hours of amateur MacLeoding I decided to start off slow and steady with Danny, a fellow trail work buddy and new running friend.  The single track was soft, the weather was holding (Rain in the forecast but it hadn't yet made an appearance) and my legs felt ready.  Shortly into the run the trail starts a steady series of climbs. Danny took this opportunity to get past a majority of the pack so we wished each other luck and settled into our respective paces. I was shocked to find myself running with a veteran finisher of many "real" ultramarathons. I had never met this guy before but Glen had finished several 100 milers and as such I decided to follow his pace up most of the climb to Pickett. Glen warned me after a few miles that we would be passing through an area that reminded him of the movie deliverance. This actually made me a little nervous as I signed up for a 50K not some horrible life changing experience. (Thought some could argue that the 50K itself is pretty terrible) The "Shacks" turned out to be a yurt, a house with a tarp for a roof, and a wood fired hot tub. The wood fired hot tub was also occupied by the resident of the tarp house. I think I may have unconsciously increased my pace here...

Our first real climb consisted of approximately 1200 feet of gain in about 3 miles. Nothing too incredibly crazy (8% Average Grade) though the course profile for this race has been shown to have low balled the elevation gain. Unfortunately this first climb turned out to be the easiest one of the bunch by a long shot. 

There can be only one
Towards the top of Picket we ran through a section that actually looked familiar. This turned out to be the section of a trail that we had rerouted around a huge pond that had flooded a 100 yard section of the course. The lack of the rain this past week made the work almost entirely unnecessary as the "pond" had receded and was little more than a large puddle. At least I got to wield the MacLeod solo.

Following this we turned up a pretty steep climb to top out and then descended two miles along a forest service road passing streams, little waterfalls and a few hikers. Thankfully after a mile or so of slightly boring road running we turned back onto a nice piece of single track, passed more mountain streams, a few ponds and then dropped down into the first aid station back at camp moran. I ran into Danny as he was on his way out and noticed he had ditched his jacket and was now running in a short sleeve with some gloves. We said hi and good luck as we passed and I decided that ditching the jacket would be an excellent idea. The volunteers were lively and extremely helpful. They made a point of asking each runner what they needed in our hydration systems, filled everything up while we stuffed our faces with cookies and made sure we were all feeling okay. After an abbreviated stop I took off back across the grass field, gave words of encouragement to all the runners that were making their way down to the aid station and proceeded to enjoy the next couple miles of fairly flat, soft running. This was not to last...

The easier section of the climb
The second climb is a fairly monstrous beat with over 2000 feet of elevation gain in a little over a mile. This pushed the average grade well over 20% with sections that slowed the hardest of racers to a crawl. I actually passed quite a few people on the first part of this climb and then in turn was passed by a few others about halfway up. There were several instances in which the trail would tease a descent and then rocket back up the mountain 50 yards later. This was by far the most difficult hill I've ever hiked. (I didn't see anybody run it) The arches of my feet felt like they were going to tear apart. I'm fairly certain that I started to develop PF over the course of this one mile section of the race. Despite slowing to a crawl I'm fairly certain I went up too quickly despite my pace being 1.5-2.0 MPH.

After what seemed like an eternity I finally reached the top, tentatively increased my pace to a jog on the short flat and then cut loose on the downhill. This turned out to be a huge mistake. Metering out your effort is one of the most important aspects of ultrarunning. You cannot outrun your stomach, quads, lungs or any other piece of necessary gear during the race. In this case I'm not sure what I pushed too hard but my body crashed out out about halfway down the hill. I went from a 6.5-7 minute per mile pace to about 8.5-9.0 minute per mile on technically easy single track. I really wish I would've held onto the faster pace but I just haven't trained my hill legs enough to maintain my earlier pace. After this we came down to mountain lake and ran the length of it.

Where is the lake?
This section of the trail was nice but I hit a real low spot despite the picturesque quality of the entire length of trail. I sucked down some more nuun, drank some gel and just focused on getting some calories and re hydrating. This seemed to work as shortly thereafter I felt good enough to pick up the pace a bit heading into the water only aid station. Despite being only 4 miles away from the second full service aid station I decided to top off my hydration pack and chatted with a fellow runner for a minute or so who had rolled his ankle three times over the last few miles. He finally decided to pull the plug on his race and hitched a ride back to the start. Big props to him for making it 19 miles on a bum ankle.

To Constitution and beyond!
 After the aid station we headed skyward again up a ridiculously steep section trail. The objective here was to make it from Mountain Lake to the top of constitution, another 2K plus of elevation with long sections well over a 20% grade. This painfully awesome portion slowed me to a crawl again and I ended up chatting with a fellow runner as we ascended, both discussing how unbelievably difficult the power line trail was. I started feeling pretty good, told her that I was going to try to use my energy while I had it and power hiked/ran up the remainder of the ascent to Constitution. (She would later fly by me on the descent) I ended up passing a few other people along the way, snapped what I hoped to be some pretty cool photos,  and found myself on the top of constitution at the mile 23 aid station.

The face of an Ultrarunner?

The aid station offered a large variety of food though I didn't really feel like eating. That being said I decided to muscle down a small piece of PBJ, some chips, a pretzel, some mountain dew and an orange slice and then shot down the trail like a rocket without any jet fuel. My quads were blown, the trail though not particularly exposed to switch back repeatedly and offered many opportunities to trip and roll a hundred feet or so down a nice steep hill so I took it super easy and just tried to keep a pace that I felt I could maintain over the next 8-10 miles. Eventually I came to a flat section and started running with a few fellow racers. I settled in behind a tutu girl and a tall dude that looked like he was getting ready to hibernate in his pain cave. We ended up dropping the guy who was struggling and then followed the pace set by the tutu girl who I would end up finishing with.  Lisa was super fun to run with, seemed to have words of encouragement for everybody we passed or passed us, and kept me going over the last 1.5 hours of the course despite me wanting to curl up and sleep on several of the moss covered boulders. We chatted a bit which helped pass the time, almost turned our ankles on several occasions and all around had a fantastic time running the gradual uphill and the descent back down to cascade lake. (At one point I tripped, caught myself, watched my left calf cramp and then ease up all within the space of about a half of a second. A severe cramp would've ended my day...) At this point we ran into a volunteer that said we were "almost" there. It turns out "almost" is a pretty subjective term.

The finish line...about an hour after
Reinvigorated Lisa upped the pace and we ran pretty solid until we hit a section that turned us away from camp and looped us around a few other lakes for at least 2-3 miles. This was extremely demoralizing as the "almost there" didn't quite mean the same thing as we were hoping. Our pace slowed a bit and since neither of us knew exactly how far away from the finish we were we didn't really know how much effort we could meter out. After looping around for what seemed like an eternity we came back on a familiar section of trail and were informed that we had about 600 meters to go. We pushed as hard as we could and were told we had 29 seconds to finish under 7 hours by a volunteer with about 100-150 meters to go. Lisa really pushed the pace here since I didn't really understand what the volunteer meant by 29 seconds and I hadn't really looked at the finish clock. I started to settle back behind her but she told me I needed to push the pace and finish along with her. Sprinting down the final section we both ended up coming in under the 7 hour mark with huge smiles on our faces. It was funny because afterwards she thanked me for pushing the pace, keeping her motivated and helping her over the past 8 miles and I pretty much said the same thing to her. Never underestimate the power of running with a like minded individual. For much of the middle part of the race I was running solo, which while fun can become a bit taxing when you reach a low point. A fellow runner can really help you get through the rough spots and I'm extremely grateful she was there to help me at the end of the race.

After we finished I headed inside and found my new friend Danny sitting with his family enjoying the warmth and some hot soup. We gave each a congratulatory guy hug (Hand shake with the one armed back pat) and then immediately settled into discussing the power line climb. I think this was a common topic of discussion at the after party. He ended up finishing in about six and a half hours, an excellent time for this type of run. Shortly thereafter he and his family headed back to their rental cabin for some recovery food at a recovery hot tub soak. I still had an hour or so before Brandi was coming by to pick me up so I settled in, drank some beer, listened to some live bluegrass and chatted with a few other trail work friends and fellow runners who I had chatted with a bit out on the course. Keri, a trial work friend, had finished about 45 minutes before me and had a pretty good race. Ron, the guy with the bum ankle, had iced and elevated his foot for a good two hours after hitching a ride back to the start and seemed to be in good spirits in spite of the injury.

At the finish
I then chatted a bit more with Lisa about the race. Brandi showed up with the new Nikon Camera that she had been playing with most of the day and after introductions we talked for a few more minutes before saying goodbye and heading back to the car. (I mistakenly thought she would be picking me up at 5:30 instead of 5:00. Big thanks to her for walking around the camp and finding me as my legs were pretty shot)

In conclusion...this is the first Ultra I've run that actually felt significantly more difficult than a marathon. I'm pretty sure that is a bit of an understatement...

31 Miles, 8000 feet of elevation gain, Shower, Hot Tub, Dinner at Allium...Great Day. Onward to recovery...and Longer Races.