Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Interview : Heli's sub three marathon PR and BQ

Runner Background

Name: Heli Carrillo (HC)
Age: 38
Location:Los Angeles
Occupation: Programmer Analyst for Kaiser Permanente

Race History
Running Since: 2004
Total # of Races: 38
# of 5k's:5
# of 10k's:7
# of 13.1's: 14
# of 26.2's: 12

Dirty Trail Shoes (DTS) first interview with a badass runner, friend and colleague, Heli.  Heli has been trying to BQ for sometime but with his young age and gender a 3:15 is a real tough bar to reach.  His last MQ attempt was LA Marathon back in March of this year and he came in 3:35.  However, after doing more strength training and killed his goal time of 3:10 with a 2:58:35.  Here is how he smashed his goal.
DTS: You’re training for the Azusa REVEL Canyon City Race. Is this your 1st?

HC: Yes, its my first Azusa race.

DTS: What made you decide to do it?

HC: A friend told me about it and said it was a very fast pace course due to the downhill.

DTS: Did you follow a training plan or work with a running coach or are you just winging it?

HC: I have a running club that I joined back in July who helped me with running tips for running this race.  
The tips that were helpful were tips for running a downhill race like Azusa.

1. lean forward and allow the natural force to help you run downhill.

2. Incorporate lunges and squats in my workout routing about 2 -3 times a week to help strengthen my knees for downhill running.

3. Try to get a good night rest and allow my running muscles to recover.

4. Go out and enjoy the run and try to have fun while running.

DTS: What’s your current pace?

HC: Average was 6:49 per mile.

DTS: Do you have a time goal? Most runners have 2; one that they would love to accomplish and one that they would be happy with. Or do you just wanna finish?

HC: My time goal was 3:10 since that is my Boston qualifying time for my age group.

DTS: Are you running this marathon alone?

HC: I ran the marathon with other friends but we each have our own pace.

DTS: Do you belong to a running group?

HC: Yes, I am running with USA Marathon Training on Saturday mornings.

[This one]

DTS: Marathon training requires a lot of time and dedication. Did you have to make sacrifices? How did you handle that?

HC: Yes I did spend lots of early mornings getting my training runs done.

DTS: What was the best thing about training for this marathon?

HC: I really enjoyed running in different places durring my training as per recommendations from other fellow runners.

DTS: What was the worst thing about training for this marathon?

HC: I feel that I lost a lot of sleep due to late night commitments and having to get up early.

DTS: Any crazy training or running stories?

HC: My longest training run of 21 miles took me about 3 hours to complete due to the constant water stops I did.

DTS: Have you experienced any injuries during training?

HC: I had very minimal injuries but I did get some blisters from trying out different running sock

DTS: You trained for this race during the summer. How was that versus the current cooler temps? Which is harder?

HC: It felt about the same for me since most of my runs were done in the early mornings.

DTS: Did you train solo or with friends? Which do you prefer?

HC: During the week I trained with some friends but in the weekends I ran with my running club.

DTS: What has this experience taught you about yourself?

HC: That we can do anything that we set in our minds to do.

DTS: Longest Training Run to Date?

HC:  I had a 21 mile training run that was done partly on the road and partly on a trail.

DTS: How many miles did you typically run in a week? And what was the most miles done in a single week?

HC: I averaged between 35 to 45 miles a week.

DTS: Current Training Shoe?

HC: Brooks GTS14

DTS: Is there anything you feel you need to work on?

HC: I can work on pacing myself so that I can have a strong finish.

DTS: Got any Advice/Tips about marathon training you wanna share?

HC: Running alone is great but including body weight exercises like squats, lunges and core exercises are a plus to helping one achieve their goal.

DTS: What is your fluid and fuel strategy for running a fast marathon?

HC: I began to drink fluids at the first water station but since it was a cool day I started with small amounts like a fourth cup of water if that. Every other water station I will take the GaterAid/PowerAid for the electrolytes. I had a bowl of oatmeal before the race began then I had an energy gel every 6 miles into the race. At about mile 20 I had a energy gel with 1 shot of caffeine to help with the last 6.2 miles.

DTS: You ran a 3:34:31 at the LA Marathon in March of this year. How did you go from a 3:34 to sub3? Are you going to bottle and sell your secret?

HC: I feel that I trained a little harder and included the body weight exercises that I mentioned above. It also helped that Azusa Revel race was a fast pace downhill race which gives the advantage of getting a better time. Oh, and I also lost 5 pounds between LA marathon and Azusa Revel which allowed me to run a lighter and faster.

DTS: Congratulations on your BQ and PR run!


Monday, November 17, 2014

Race Report : ITR Mt Tam Half Marathon, Nov 15, 2014

Before you remind me...I know I said I would never run Dipsea again and this year I sorta did.  However, Inside Trail Racing's 'Mt Tam' race isn't the entire Dipsea down to Mill Valley just the Stinson Beach side.  So, I only half lied!

This particular half marathon is by far the most scenic, most lush, challenging and fun I've run to-date. Period.  I had so much fun on this run that I think I'll just run this next year instead of Dipsea/Double Dipsea for the following reasons:
  • Registration was $45 for the Half Marathon
  • Half, 30k, 50k to choose from
  • Weather was cloudy with temperature range from 45-65; low 50's on course
  • Course limited to just 400 (as opposed to the 2000 that get crammed on Dipsea).
  • Lush course across babbling brooks, redwood trees, lichen/moss and Ferns
  • Challenging workout over rocks, exposed roots, steps and one vertical ladder.
  • Lots of volunteers at well stocked AS 
  • Fast finish
 I took several shots before the 30/50K went out at 8:30AM but didn't realize my iphone was down to 1% battery and didn't have enough time to charge; so, no on-course pictures!! Ugh!

Matt going out on his 50k adventure

 The half marathon has more than 3000 ft over vertical and runs the Stinson side of Dipsea and Muir woods.  You go out on yellow ribbons, left on orange loop, then back on Yellow return.  I never thought I was lost and there were even stripped ribbons for important and/or sharp turns.  And Tim marked the wrong paths in blue ribbons.  I remember one AS that you hit twice.  For those of us that used hyropacks that was more than fine.  If you ran with a handheld that might have been a bit tight.

Elevation Gain: 3,458 ft
Elevation Loss: 3,441 ft
Min Elevation: 26 ft
Max Elevation: 1,493 ft

 I wish I could have taken some pictures or had better command of English to describe the beautiful canopied single track we had the pleasure of running through.  The brooks were actually babbling and the smell a mixture of salted air and forest.  The floor was covered with needles, etc but those running in minimalist shoes were having a tough time with all of the small stones.  The air was crisp and cool with a slight breeze.  I couldn't image better running conditions.

After you crest a tiny hill at 11 miles you run down towards the finish - a fine feeling.  After passing the finish line the finishers table/beer was right there.  Parking was a bit off but a nice cool down to change clothes, walk along the beach then back to the finish area to welcome others back.

This was the best half marathon I've ever run and plan to be back next year.


Monday, November 10, 2014

Race Report : Berkeley Half Marathon : 2nd year New Course!

Last years (2013) Berkeley Half Marathon (HM) course was a point to point race where you either had to wait for a bus ride back or just walk it.  There were many complaints including:
  • the long wait for bus line back
  • how the half and 5K runners/walkers weaved between each other
  • residential area switch-backs for no reason
  • course didn't take in enough Berkeley high-lights: no Bears, no college spirit, no blue and gold!
  • the big hill which proceeded the finish

I though the race was fine and really enjoyed the beer garden at the finish - then again I normally do.
To the Race Director (RD) credit they listened and we had an even better course this year.

  • loop course that started and finished at park near parking and places to eat
  • 5k and half marathoners started at different times and finished different places
  • fewer residential switch-backs
  • several bands, golden bears and decent crowd support
  • much better course including Shattuck Ave, campus and some hills
  • no hill at finish
Like last year I bought a parking ticket online at GoPark and parked at same parking garage near the start as last year. We had roughly 5000 runners in 2013 and I was expecting more this year after the course change so I arrived ridiculously early (6:30AM).  The HM started at 8AM (actually wave 3 at 8:10AM).  I knew going in that I was not going to PR and not run faster than last years 1:54 cuz I just finished the Morgan Hill Marathon the prior week and wanted to concentrate on supporting Michelle's very first half marathon (more on that later).

Attire for this years race - no I only used two not four Hammer Gels.
 I had plenty of parking places to choose from so parked on second floor, had my pick of about 50 porta-potties, then did other chores like pick up my tech shirts cuz I elected for bib mail then my drop bag at the high school gym.  Still at 7AM there were only a handful of people milling around.  At the gym I ran into two Kaiser Permanente colleagues (Senthil and Derrek) and the incredible Sam Louie!

Fellow KP employee and three time SF Golden Gate Park HM finisher, Senthil

Fellow KP colleague, Derrek, Double Dipsea survivor and KP SF GG HM finisher

The one and only Sam Louie volunteering as his foot heals.
At 7:00AM as pictured below you wouldn't know a race was going to start in an hour it was soo quiet.  By 7:45AM we entered Wave 3 corral and it was getting crowded. 

Final shot minutes before we started out.  There were four in our party including myself, Michelle, Duo and Yan.  All three were running their first half marathon that morning and you could feel the excitement.  Michelle and Yan grew up together, actually attended the same elementary school and hadn't seen each other for ~30 years.  And, both were runners.  Both specialized more in the shorter distances and weren't sure what pace to set for a half marathon.  We eventually decided on the 2 hour pace group; although Michelle said she'd like to finish in 2:30 (Yan sub two).

We started out together and paced ahead of the 2 hr pacer at about 8:30 min/mile.  I felt pretty good after last weekend's marathon but new I couldn't/shouldn't go faster.  At about mile 4 Michelle dropped us like a bad cold and sped up.  That was also after about the last little hill.  One neat artifact of the course is that at about mile 8 you reach a two way stretch were you see the faster runners coming back at you.  When I entered this area I saw was the 1:35 group exiting.  Eventually I saw Michelle ahead of the 1:55, with Yan a couple minutes behind.  At the turn around I ran into Duo and after saying 'Hi' she sped off.

Michelle ended up passing the 1:55 group and finished with a 1:51 (Yan with 1:55, Duo with 2:04 and me with 2:07).

A race isn't a race unless there is beer to celebrate each others victory.  Pyramid Alehouse delivered and the IPA was rich, aromatic and really hit the spot.  [Admittedly the coconut water was also good at the finish line especially paired with a bagel]

From a bling point of view, the medals were nice and if you finished the San Francisco Marathon you received a 'challenge' medal.

The course was an interesting mix of areas.  Morning temperature was a cool ~50 and maybe it warmed up to ~68 by 10AM.  Was a great day for a race and the new course was much better than last years.

My Garmin 310xt reported an elevation gain of 485 ft. I remember two hills and an over pass.

Elevation Gain: 485 ft
Elevation Loss: 490 ft
Min Elevation: 0 ft
Max Elevation: 377 ft


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Race Report : Morgan Hill Marathon, Nov 2, 2014

Maybe it was because I entered into the MHM with such low expectations for the event (not my performance but will get to that later) that I really enjoyed the race.  A fellow running friend by the name of Andrea had a bad experience with the course last year for a number of reasons:
  • It was two weeks earlier and warm that day
  • There was little wind and her nose was assalted by the shikate mushroom and horse ranches smells
  • Local residents weren't too happy about runners clogging their rural roads
  • There were few vendors at the expo and not very much of a finishers table
  • Too many switch backs on the course 
  • She placed 3rd in her age group but didn't get her bottle of wine because staff said you had to be present to receive the wine and she had left before the winners were officially announced.
This year (the race companies fifth year) I think the RD et al had made a number of important changes including creating a bib mailing option for $10 where your bib was mailed to you the week of the race and you were able to pick up your tech shirt (and bag) at a special VIP tent.  Very cool.

The course can be broken down into two halves.  In the first half you run along rolling rural roads from one reservoir to another.  Very peaceful and there wasn't much car or bike traffic at all.  Then, by mile 14 you enter the flats and eventually back to the small city where you zipzag residential streets.  There were chalk marks and sufficient volunteers to help navigate the route but you do a bit of meandering.  Obviously I loved the first part and second part was just OK. Total elevation gain was around 1073 ft.

In general I didn't experience any unhappy cowboys taking out their road closure frustration out on runners.  To be honest, MHM is a small race with 1700 total runners in all categories and as runners spread out naturally by their paces there just wasn't that much congestion.  However, there was some kind of cycling race that day and there were some cyclist cycling a bit too fast and one that went down hard enough that paramedics has to carry him away.

The weather was just excellent. Cool 50s in the morning with slightly warmer pocket areas higher in the mountain (60s) but with pleasant breeze.  I think the forecasted temperature range was 45-65 for the day.

The finishers table this year was pretty good with fresh strawberries, bananas, choice of vegi or chicken burritos plus the usual snack foods. Race bling included shirt, medal plus bag with pasta, recovery beans, etc.  If you choose 'VIP' mailing you got tote bag.

Saw several familar faces from RunningAddicts who paced this year including Sunny who paced the 3:55 and Randy the 3:35.  Below I ran into a fellow FOMO runner whom I have never met but ran into on the course then at finish line. Like me Sandy went out fast on the hilly first half (see did the first half in 1:45) then slowed down in second but coasted in for a comfortable 4:17.  Sandy was all smiles and was already planning her comeback race.

I completed first half in a fun 1:58 but lost my pace near mile 16.  My friend and fellow runner that day, Steve, ran the first half in 2:02 then second in 2:06 - remarkably consistent. 

I started with the 3:55 pace group with the intention of running a near 4 hour marathon and PR at the same time.  I ended up coming in with the 4:25 group for the last 100 feet.  The 4:25 pace group leader turned out to be Satpal whom I met at the Dick Collins Firetrails 50, 26 mile turn around few weeks earlier.  It was a very pleasant surprise to see Satpal and if it wasn't for his smiling face and pleasant demeanor I may have let my poor performance impact an otherwise great race day.

I would definitely run MHM again, in fact like Sandy I'm already planning my comeback race in 2015 to chase a sub-four marathon down!

PS I ran with both Garmin 410 and 310x and GPS performance was very similar.  Battery life was down to 27% for 410 and 75% for 310x.


Friday, October 24, 2014

Training : Is regular exercise / improved eating habits worth it? Review of lab results over two year time span.

I can honestly say that after two years of constant exercise and modified diet of more vegetables, fruit, less refined sugars/grains that I not only feel healthier but lab results confirm I'm incrementally healthier. Time to celebrate with a beer!

Before I get too interested in my beer, let's review where I started. 

Two years ago my youngest son and I spent the summer at Lair of the Bear camp up in Pinecrest and to make a long story short I met an older gentleman who held his own on a demanding 10 mile hike out to a pristine lake and back to camp.  I asked him at the lake what his secret to apparently boundless energy and he said back in his native San Francisco (he was retired teacher/professor) that he has always enjoyed running, eating healthy and in moderation.  I thought about that for awhile and thought my God I also want to be able to hike when I'm in my 80s.

Two years ago I weighed 168+, had elevated triglycerides and low good cholesterol from a mostly sedetary lifestyle. I pretty much thought of exercise as what you do to get from house to car to work and back. Eating healthy meant only having two donuts instead of four.  You can see from column '2012' that although my results were not too bad they certainly were not good.  I was also putting more and more weight on mostly in places I didn't want it to go.  Wearing shorts around the pool or beach was becoming more and more of a self conscience experience.  So within a week of returning from Lair I grabed my son and said we're going to run every day and get in shape.  I got a look like 'Yeah right!'.  The next morning I made it exactly one mile around the neighborhood block before I nearly passed out in a pool of sweat.  My entire body hurt : my lungs hurt, my sides hurt, my feet hurt, my knees hurt.  Everything hurt.  But, I also felt strangely accomplished and wanted more.

Since that painful first mile, I've run consistently for two solid years.  I've made many newbie mistakes, learned more experienced runners and can honestly say I feel fantastic.  From recent results below (see '2014') I have some hard test results to show I actually AM healthier.  Most notable are blood pressure, resting pulse and Triglycerides.  They just drop like a rock in a good way with routine exercise.  Good Chrolresterol, HDL, also gets better.  You might think, "Well you also changed your diet maybe you've sacraficed all the good things that you loved to eat!"   Not true.  My appetite is just as large and I eat hambergers, donuts and oh lorde do I drink BEER!  I just eat/drink less than before and have a means of burning off all those calories.  Exercise!

So, get off the couch, put the donut down, dress in your power work-out cloths, slip into those running shoes, grab some friends and get out there!  Yes, it really is worth it and no you don't need give up your favorite foods just eat in moderation.

I solute my fellow Lair friend with a sip from my cold Lagunitas IPA.  You taught me much through example of what a healthy lifestyle is all about!  Thanks


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Product Review : Update : Skechers GoMeb

In a previous post I looked at the now classic GoRun (GR) 2 versus GoRun Ride 3s and I promised to review the GoMebs.  I try not to disappoint.

Model GoBionic GoMeb Speed GoRun GoRun Sonic GoRun Ride GoRun Ultra
Weight (OZ - size 9) 6.5 6.8 6.8 7.25 8.4 8.7
Heel Drop (mm) 0 4 4 6 4 4/8
Support Moderate/Hybrid Stability Neutral/Flexible Traditional

To summarize the Skechers running shoe line,  the GoMebs are more towards the minimalist side versus the GoRun Rides which are more towards a full support shoe.

I normally try to run at least 100 miles in shoes before I evaluate them to ensure I can read the wear patterns on the soles.  However, for the GoMebs I ran into Achilles issues only after 20 miles.

First the basics.  The shoes weigh in at 7.2oz, come in very similar technical outside fabric as GR2s.

Also like the GR2s, there is more than enough room in the toe-box to let your toes spread out for good stability.

The difference in the GoMebs and what left me with sore Achilles are the redesigned lowers. The designers added a 'stability plate' midfoot and actually indicate this on the Skechers web site:

   'Dupont Hytrel™ Stability plate in midfoot for a supportive and secure run'


My unofficial test is to grab each end of the shoe and give a slight twist.  I can't say that I applied exactly the same torque but its close.  The GoMebs barely twisted whereas the GR2 just melt in your hands.  I'm an underpronator so I need flexibility.  The GoMebs are just too stiff for the way I run and really twerked my Achilles.

So for me the GoMebs are not a viable replacement for GR2.  However, if you overpronate and/or looking for a stability shoe then the GoMebs would be a fine choice.

In conclusion, I've reverted for now back to hunting for GoRun2s!!


Friday, October 17, 2014

What's coming? What's on your mind?

Here are some of the posts I'm working on:
What topics are you interested in?

Friday, September 26, 2014

Product Review : Update : Skechers GoRun 2 vs 3

I was one of those that bought the Skechers GoRun (GR) 2 when it came out and loved it.  So when it came time to purchase a replacement set I was shocked to find that they have been discontinued.  Fine you say, just find the 'next' generation that replaces it.  Well, that is easier said than done because Skechers has a million different models now and it is not exactly clear which replaces the GR2!

I've read in some threads the following Skechers running shoe lineup in terms of cushioning from 'minimal' to the left and 'maximum' on the right:

Model GoBionic GoMeb Speed GoRun GoRun Sonic GoRun Ride GoRun Ultra
Weight (OZ - size 9) 6.5 6.8 6.8 7.25 8.4 8.7
Heel Drop (mm) 0 4 4 6 4 4/8

Based on my table above, the closest model in terms of weight, heel drop would be 'GoMeb Speed' and arguably 'GoRun Ride'.  I'm first going to evaluate GR-Ride because they are very inexpensive then in a latter followup the 'Mebs.  The GoBionics are 'zero drop' and the GR-Sonics are 6 mm shoes.  I'm not quiet ready to go in either of those directions but who knows?

I first weighed each and they were slightly heavier than the manufacturers reported weight because I wear a 10 (or 10 1/2) compared to the standard size 9.

You can see the heels are similar but in general the GR-Ride are fatter and heavier looking.

Front is also similar but you can clearly see the 'mesh' of the GR2 versus the puffy fabric used in the GR-Ride.

The puffiness of the GR-Ride is really evident from the top.  Some have reported that the toe box is smaller in the GR-Ride than in the GR2.  I've ran about 20 miles in the GR-Ride and it doesn't 'feel' too small but it physically is smaller.

The GR-Ride reminds me of a traditional 'old school' fluffy tennis shoe versus the 'minimalist' GR-2. The GR-Ride and more of a curved sole than the flatter GR2. 

Shoe bottoms are similar but very different.  The GR2 on top has more and smaller 'GoImpulse Sensors'  than the GR-Ride (bottom).  The GR-Ride is also much firmer than the super flexible, slipper like feel of the GR2.  I also felt the GR-Ride 'rocked' just past the center while the GR2 just had the smaller mid-foot bump.

Conclusion : I don't not like the GR-Ride but I couldn't get used to the Tennis shoe like feel of it.  The GR-Ride is a little too firm and the rocking motion just past mid-foot was strange.  However, never once was I uncomfortable in the GR-Ride nor did I develop any hot spots.  The GR-Ride are just too different than the more minimalist, slipper-like feel that I really like in the GR2.

I was able to score an inexpensive pair of GR2 on eBay to last me until I can find a good deal on a pair of GoMebs for the next update!


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Race Report : Inaugural Overlook 50K, September 6, 2014

Be forewarned that this race report will be rambling account of what turned out to be not merely a training run for my first 50 miler but the biggest trail challenge I've ever faced and the first I should have DNF'ed. [DNF = Did Not Finish]  

Short Summary : 31.2 miles of beautiful trail along parts of Western States and Cool covering elevation gain and loss: 7,000' gain / 9,200' loss.  Took me 9:10 hours to finish in the 98+ deg heat.

Day Before Race Day I left work early around 3PM for an uneventful two and half hour drive from Pleasanton to Auburn and managed to get to the running store to pick up my bib with 15 minutes to spare. There were a couple of people manning a single table in the back handing our bibs, talking about the pasta feed at Auburn Ale House and chatting about the race. The Auburn Running Company is nice store with all the trail porn you'd expect for running store with moto, "The Endurance Capital's running source". The store even had the latest trail shoes by Atria which you rarely get to see at other running stores. However, I wasn't there for the pasta feed but to meet up with my mentor and his family at a nice restaurant named Joe Caribe known for pulled pork tacos, enchilada and beer. We chatted about the rather hot weather, the fact that one side of the highway coming in was on fire (not a good omen) and what the weather might be in the canyon the next day.

Photo Credit : Norma Stark

View from near Auburn Running Company and highway side fire

 Dave had let his beard grow out to build up trail runner mojo and we were all absorbing toddler energy from his 22 month old before we decided to break for early bed.  


Morning of Saturday September started with 5AM wake-up call, since I knew it would be pretty easy to drive the ~3 miles to the bus pickup at 6:45AM so had lots of time to enjoy morning coffee, Powerbar and even made it to free breakfast at 5:40AM.  GPS directions didn't include correct address and had to circle a bit to find parking lot that looked it contained a bunch of excited trail runners.  There were restrooms at the bus pickup which was also the finish line which was very convenient.  One volunteer was handing out finish bags in case anyone wanted something like sweats (kid you not) at the finish and didn't want to wait for the drop bags to be delivered later in the day.  The morning was a cool 66 so the thought of sweats wasn't inconceivable yet.  This was also the 50mile/50k bus.  The 100k'ers had already left 2 hours ago.

Race Day

Had a nice chat with fellow 50k/50milers on the bus and enjoyed the cool air and scenery on the way to the now familiar town of ForestHill.  Here is a picture of one of those badass trail runners, Angela, also part of the Forward Motion Race Team (FoMo for short).

The start line was right in front of the Stone's Brew coffee shop 'downtown'.  Where you dropped your drop bags in the correct pile destined for the correct AidStation (AS), did last minute changes and lined up at the starting line.

Photo Credit : Keith Blom

Now, this is a trail race so the starting line was duct tape across the parking lot and the race director (RD) took a few minutes to give advice on staying on course (follow the yellow tape!!) and welcomed everyone to the first ever Overlook 50K then counted down to 8AM and said 'GO!'.

Photo Credit : Keith Blom

Peachstone AS mile 8.7
Rucky Chucky AS mile 16

The first 16 miles were familiar to me because Dave and I had already run it as part of the WS100 Saturday training, memorial weekend.  You can read about that day and view pictures here.

Some notes though.  I was feeling so good and confident coming down the mountain that I forgot to pay attention to the markers and between mile 11 and 12 took a wrong turn and wasted about 10 minutes and had to climb back up to get back on the main course.  The fork I missed split between going left down to the river (which was really nice stretch of beach I really didn't want to leave) and a trail going up.  I knew I was in trouble when after getting to the beach heard no one, saw no one for 5 minutes then realized I had to run all the way back up the hill to figure out where I went wrong.  Arrgh!  Nothing worse than giving up your 'lead' and tiring your self out at the same time!  Old lesson reenforced. 'Keep your mind focused on the trail and watch for markers'.

Soon after finding the correct trail, I climbed a small hill and found the sign I had sat down by during the training day.  I was proud (at the time) that I wasn't light headed and felt great.

From Rucky Chuck AS (5 miles past the sign) till Poverty Bar (3 miles) it had started to heat up and by the time I reached the river crossing (8.2 miles) I was dizzy.  I was drinking 23 oz by every aid station, taking salt gels, yet my head was telling me I was too hot or electrolytes were off.

Poverty Bar (River-crossing) 19.2

By the time I actually reached the river I knew something was wrong.  I was just not feeling well, was tired, dizzy and just wanted to sit along the river forever.  I actually did a full body submersion in the water fully clothed and all then sat waist deep for at least 5 min.  Volunteers helped make sure we got across the river since some runners had their calves lockup but I felt immediately better after the cold water dip.  To my surprise, 100k #1 and #2 spent past me at the river. Nothing like having two 100K runners and a fresh cold water dip to invigorate and motivate you to go.

The next four miles along the relatively flat creek bed were actually kinda fun. However, by the time I got to Brown's Bar, I had dried off and my core temperature was raising again; because, once I got to Brown's Bar I was craving ice.

Brown's Bar 23.3

They ran out of ice at the aid stations!  Crap!  The volunteers said they radioed in for more ice and were waiting for it to arrive.  I asked very nicely for a bit of whatever they had and received half cup. Better than nothing!  This is where I should have dropped out because I was getting dizzy again, fatigued and still had 11 more miles to go and mentally I knew I had to climb back out and up to overlook.  And, it was getting hotter and hotter.

Quarry Trail / Hawver Cave

In between Browns Bar and the Highway 49 crossing, you down off the moutain and onto a fireroad.  As soon as you hit the fireroad you'll see parts of an old railway bridge and a cave on the left side of the fireroad.  The cave gate is named 'Mountain Quarries Mine Gate A' but is also known as Hawver Cave after the turn of the century dentist who found and named several prehistoric fossils from the cave.  What a runner in 98 deg heat would be interested in, however, was the arctic subterranean air billowing from the cave. I stood in front of the cave a good 5 minutes just enjoying the cold air like in front of a refrigerator.

I stopped several times during this short 4 mile section to No Hands Bridge.  One very nice volunteer let me sit in a chair for a minute at the freeway crossing before another told me exactly how to get to the next AS.  All I saw was a climb up the freaking side of a mountain and a suspension bridge miles away.  Turns out the 50K only has to go up a couple of switch backs, then down a slope to the bridge. I was starting to become pessimist which wasn't a good sign.  However, I got a few shouts of good luck and 'Go Forward Motion!' which helped alot. I believe the person who helped me at the crossing was 'John' from Forward Motion who had finished the Western States 100 race and was there to volunteer and run with his girlfriend who wanted a partial WS100 experience.  I think she got what she was looking for plus more.

 No Hands Bridge 27.2

Eventually I made it to No Hands Bridge but was one of the longest 4 miles of the journey thus far.  They had plenty of ice and runners where rolling in it. OK that is an exaggeration but we filled up our hand-helds, packs, had it on our necks and wrists in an attempt to cool ourselves.  AS volunteers were awesome, chatted with us then motivated us to finish the last four.  One young woman was wearing a San Francisco Marathon '2008?' finishers shirt so we chatted about that race for awhile.

Auburn Dam Overloook (Finish) 31.2

OMG.  The last four miles.  What can I say. I really should have just DNF'ed at No Hands as I had nothing left and was just shuffling along.  I chatted with Todd a gentleman who had been having calf issues the whole day and was also walking alot.  Walking in 98 deg heat up a mountain from river level to the overlook is just not fun.  You know your finish time is just going to suck, its slow progress and painful.  I stopped multiple times. Starting dry heaving and was just not in a happy place.  But, I kept going for some unknown reason.  No, I wanted to finish what I started and was stubbornly pushing onward.  Sometimes being stubborn is not a good thing.  It took me more than two (2) hours to walk/crawl the last four miles.  Shit. That was bad.  Here is the final picture by the amazing Joe McCladdle some 200 ft to the finish.  The smile just meant that there finally was an end to this 'race'.

You know how you hear about runners crying after crossing the finish or just plain collapsing?  I wanted to do both but could only manage half a heal kick then fell to a cool grassy area not far from the finish then lost most of the fluids I tried to take in. 

I wasn't around for the early finishers who where naturally tougher and weren't as impacted by the dust, heat and dehydration as us slower turtles.  However, I can tell you there were some strong commonality amongst us turtles.  In general, we were covered in dust, had gravely voices because of dust and dehydration, were laying in cool, shaded grass and were dry heaving as we tried to take down fluids.  The BBQ and beer sat unmolested by us and was mostly enjoyed by volunteers, pacers and really tough runners.  Myself, in particular, couldn't hold down water for 2 hours until a nurse/paramedic gave me some anti-nausea pills; then, it still took another hour before I could.  My friend Dave drove me to his mother 'n laws place where I sipped some super electrolytes and after another two hours finally felt normal enough for the two and a half hour drive home.

My finish time was 9:10 hours.  Yeah, 9:10 elapsed hours where 8 hours were recorded as moving.  So, that is a minimum of an hour at aid stations or sitting on a rock/log on the side of a trail.  Once I slowed down cuz of the heat around mile 16 or so I really should have just DNF'ed and not put my friends and myself through the stress of caring for a runner suffering from dehydration/exhaustion. Bad me.  My lesson learned was to acknowledge I have limits, listen and obey what your body is telling you and appreciate really good friends and volunteers who support my crazy-ass adventures I choose to undertake.

Post-race Day 

What do you do when you are 145.5 of 158 pounds the day after a race?  I pretty much worked from home, drank fluids like they're about to be outlawed (broth, grape juice, gator-aid) all day and ate light foods like oatmeal, etc.  I was 150 by days end and by second day back to race weight of 153.

I have not had caffeine nor alcohol since before race day and plan to have a really nice cold IPA this weekend as I reflect on the race and what it taught me.  I also withdrew from attempting my first 50 miler next month because I know my body is telling me I need time to heal.  However, I plan on pacing a good friend on his first 50 miler for the last 25 miles!