Saturday, December 7, 2013
My running posse
Anita, Allison (with a sliced thumb), and Jess
What an amazing weekend! The 1st annual Trail Quad is in the books. We had amazing weather all weekend despite forecast for heavy rain on Saturday and Sunday. There was no rain whatsoever that fell on my running buddies and me for all the runs. Perfect running weather.
The months leading up to the run had me worried. After a bunch of hot training runs and hot summer races, my body just kinda peetered out. I was having muscle cramps in all of my runs. Finally, about a couple weeks before the quad, my body was mostly recovered and I felt almost back to normal for the four days. That's good because my running partners had me going at a good clip all weekend.
Thanksgiving Day on Squak was the nicest with sunshine and temps starting in the low 30s and highs in the 40s. My kind of conditions. Jess Mullen and George Orozco met me at 5am so that I could mark the course before other runners came and to be done for Thanksgiving dinner. We missed our rendez-vous with Angel and Tim Mathis, who were about 10 minutes behind. We were able to finish the first loop in 3:25, which included running in the dark for 2 hours. It was nice not carrying the spray chalk can for the second loop. It was making a lot of noise as it became emptier from the ball that was bouncing in the can. I said goodbye to Jess, who was headed to Seattle to sweep the Wattle Waddle marathon and George who had to work later that day. I did a quick 3 minute break and headed out again. Jean-Michel Fouard started his 1st loop right before I went out for the second loop. Anita Schiltz joined me for the second loop. I was a little crampy on the really steep climbs but was able to recover with more water. We finished the second loop also in 3:25. Ran into Angel and Tim, who decided to run one loop and then head to Canada. We saw Vivian Doorn on the climb back up East Ridge Trail. She was also going to run only one loop as well. She had volunteered early in the morning at the Wattle Waddle, so could not get out until mid morning and needed to get to her Thanksgiving Dinner. So Jean-Michel and I were the only ones to finish all 28 miles Thursday, which was not enough for an official finish. We had at least 5 starters but not three finishers. This is the rule for races to count towards a Marathon Maniacs finish. In 2014, the requirement will be 15 starters and 10 finishers, which matches the rule for the Marathon World Ranking. Oh well, it was a nice day out and left me hungry for a big dinner.
Friday for Rattlesnake was overcast but dry on the trails. Ran the entire run with Jess Mullen, Allison Moore, and Anita Schiltz. Only had to mark the 6 mile out and back. We got lost in the dark getting to the John Wayne trail! The out and back on Rattlesnake was a lot of fun. Saw lots of faces out there doing the whole thing. Shawn Leonard ran 50 miles to celebrate his 50th birthday. He started around midnight I think and did the first 24 miles on the rails to trails, went home for a break, then went out and did my run. His total time was 11 hours. Nice work Shawn! He wanted to be done in time to watch the Apple Cup. Hope you were a Huskies fan Shawn. We blasted the last 4 miles down from East Peak near the end of the run and ran into a lot of hikers going up to the ledge. Not many ventured beyond that. Some even had an umbrella! We only got wet in the heavy mist at the end of the run getting changed. The sprint to the end was probably just a bit too much. Was worried that I "blew my wad" on that one.
Saturday for Tiger was dry and overcast. There was a nice breeze. Ran the first loop (17 miles) with Jess, Allison, and Anita and the second loop (11.5) with Jess and Allison. I marked all the turns with white spray chalk. The climb up Section line told me that I did blow my wad on Friday. It took us just under 5 hours to finish that first loop, which had 5500' of gain. As we were finishing the second loop, saw Jean-Michel drive up the road. He had missed a turn and ended up calling his girlfriend to pick him up at the trailhead off Hwy 18. But this one counted since 5 did start and 3 finished.
Sunday on Cougar, I ran with Jess, Allison, and Anita for the first loop (marking with flour) and Anita decided she had four solid days of running and called it good. Continued with Jess and Allison for the second loop. The weather was forecasted to be 100% chance of rain. It did not materialize. There was a sustained 15-20 mph wind with gusts over 30, which felt nice. Temps were in the 50s, so the wind helped cool us off. I was totally overdressed. It had rained the previous night and the trails were muddy on Cougar. The second loop was kind of a sprint. I started out fast and Jess and Anita were able to match and continue the pace. I was completely spent by the end. We finished the second loop in 3:11, faster than on our training run of one loop. Jean-Michel finished this one too, so another official finish.
I hope more people will come out and run next year and that we will have as good of weather. Here are the results:
Thursday 11/28/13 Squak Mountain 28 miles 7800’ gain: (8 starters, 2 finishers)
Two loops 28 miles One loop 14 miles
Jean-Michel Fouard 6:16 Angel Mathis 3:15
Van Phan 6:53 Tim Mathis 3:15
Jess Mullen 3:25
George Orozco 3:25
Anita Schiltz 3:25
Ali Livengood 3:28
Vivian Doorn 3:49
Friday 11/29/13 Rattlesnake Ridge +6 mile out and back=26.5 miles 6200’ gain: (11 starters, 11 finishers)
Jean-Michel Fouard 5:41
Ian Goepferd 5:56
Van Phan 6:13
Jess Mullen 6:13
Allison Moore 6:13
Anita Schiltz 6:13
Trevor Griffith 6:48
Kathleen Leonard 6:51
Vivian Doorn 7:09
Shawn Leonord 7:29
Chris Bellevie 8:46 (Chris was doing the road Quad races Wattle Waddle, Ghost of Seattle, and Seattle Marathon but chose this one for his Friday run)
Saturday 11/30/13 Tiger Mountain 28.5 miles 8200’ gain (Loop 1: 17 miles 5500’ gain, Loop 2: 11.5 miles, 2700’ gain): (5 starter, 3 finishers)
Both loops 28.5 miles Partial finish
Van Phan 7:58 Jean-Michel Fouard 21.5 miles 6:35
Jess Mullen 7:58 Anita Schiltz 17 miles 4:57
Allison Moore 7:58
Sunday 12/1/13 Cougar Mountain 28 miles 6000’ gain: (6 starters, 4 finishers)
Two loops 28 miles One loop 14 miles
Jean-Michel Fouard 6:44 Anita Schiltz 3:37
Van Phan 6:57 Ali Livengood 3:46
Jess Mullen 6:57
Allison Moore 6:57
Quest for the Quad Finishers 110.8 miles 28,200’ gain:
Van Phan 28hr1 min (6:53, 6:13, 7:58, 6:57)
Triple Threat Finishers
Squak, Rattlesnake, Cougar 82.3 miles 20,000’ gain:
Jean-Michel Fouard 18hr41min (6:16, 5:41, 6:44)
Rattlesnake, Tiger, Cougar 83.0 miles 20, 400’ gain:
Jess Mullen and Allison Moore 21hr8min (6:13, 7:58, 6:57)
Double Trouble Finishers:
Single Turkey Finishers:
Rattlesnake 26.5 miles 6200’ gain: Anita Schiltz 6hr13min
Jess actually did 3 ½ days (one loop Squak and full runs the rest of the weekend) which brings her total to 97.0 miles and 24, 200' plus the 10 miles of sweeping at the Waddle Wattle=107 miles.
Jean-Michel ran 103.8 miles and 24,000' if you count the miles he was on Tiger.
Anita's total for the weekend was 71.5 miles and 18,500' gain.
Thanks everyone! See you next year!
Thursday, August 1, 2013
Finishing the White River 50 mile race with George Orozco, I felt pretty good. I had no hesitation about turning around and running it in reverse. But after a short rest and getting going again with Jess Mullen and Patrick Ackley to keep me company, a searing pain in my ribs took my breath away and worried me about my ability to finish what I was setting out to do. But let's back up a little.
After completing the Issaquah 100 just 3 weeks earlier, I continued my intense training runs on the Wonderland trail and trails around White River. There was not much resting. One week before White River, I did a 50K run on the Wonderland with almost 10,000 feet of elevation gain. This was followed by a very stressful week at work, poor sleep, a 12 hour work day the Friday before White River, and a restless night sleep. I started to feel the fatigue early on in the race and my legs were dead even before getting to Ranger Creek on the way out. I did sabotage my own race by surging past people on the early trails. I was disappointed there was no early start this year. I wanted to use that opportunity to run my own race and conserve my energy for the long haul. As a result, I felt boxed in and needed to either fall back or run ahead. I made the mistake of running ahead and soon found myself being passed by the same people I left behind just a short time earlier.
My muscles were twitching and I decided to really slow down after the Corral Pass aid station. I saw a whole bunch of people disappear out of view and hoped that I would eventually see them again. I didn't drink enough heading to Corral Pass and found myself dehydrated. I then overdrank to the point where I was peeing clear frequently and had to back off on the fluids and just rinse my mouth. I finally got my body back to where it needed to be on the run down Ranger Creek trail to Buck Creek, but still let people pass me because every time I tried to push it, the cramping would return. I didn't want a repeat of my race two years ago when I ran about 12:30 and had to do a lot of slow walking. I knew I was not as fit as last year's sub-10, so I just let go of any particular finishing time. It was all about listening to my body, especially since I planned on doing it all over again.
George and I hashed out the idea of running White River in reverse after the race last year on our training runs. But he had to back out a week before because his wife got a job and he needed to watch the kids on the Sunday following the race. Fortunately, I had enlisted the help of Pat Ackley and Jess Mullen. Pat has been the Buck Creek Aid Station Captain for the last 5 years and saw me come through Buck Creek. It was great seeing him. I was helped by Everett Billingslea, Marty Fagan, and Chris Fagan there also. Chris and Marty are doing a 40 day unsupported expedition from the Antarctic Coast to the South Pole at the end of the year pulling sleds. They are quite an inspiration! Jess had run 47 miles the day before on the White River course and was tired from that effort but was really looking forward to running at night with us!
I left Buck Creek in good spirits even though it took me 6 hours to get there. I knew that the second half would take at least 5 hours and again let go of the idea of trying to finish under 11 hours. I was surprised to find myself running that stretch along the river, hopping over the roots. I started to catch some of the people who passed me earlier. It was a great boost. I was able to strongly power hike up the climbs to Fawn Ridge and Sun Top, passing over a dozen people on the way. I caught up to George, who was having a flare of his plantar fasciitis. I knew he would catch me on the road down to Skookum. At Sun Top, I greeted Glenn Tachiyama in his usual spot and paused for a picture. The view of Mt. Rainier up here was spectacular. I got a cold bath from a wet sponge from one of the volunteers.
I made my way down the road. I didn't try to make up time here. I just ran a relaxed pace. I passed as many people here as passed me. At the bottom of the hill and after turning right on the flattish section to Skookum, George caught me as expected. We ran together from there until the finish. We passed at least 20 people on Skookum. He led at first but then I took over. I really like this part of the trail, dancing around the roots and rocks. George had no trouble keeping up.
Photo by Takao Suzuki
It was during this stretch that the water bottle on the left side of my pack started digging into my ribs. I was wearing the Ultimate pack and should have adjusted something so that it would stop digging in, but I figured we were almost done and as soon as I took it off and wore another pack, the pain would go away. I was wrong. I have had this problem before but not as severe and not followed by another 50 miles. During this last stretch of Skookum, I had passed nearly everyone that I was running with around Corral Pass, so I met my goal of finishing in that pack.
George and I finished holding hands to the cheers of many friends in 11:11. It was very special. George and I have run countless miles together but have never finished together. Jess and Pat were at the finish ready to go any time. My husband Ken helped me get ready for the next 50 miles. I changed my sports bra and shirt but left everything else the same. My feet did not have any hot spots, so I kept my current shoes. I sat and had my eggroll noodle dinner. I spent about 45 minutes at the finish before heading out. I was planning on wearing my Saloman pack for the rest of the run. We would be back at the cars again in 23 miles or so to reload for the last 27.
The three of us started running the course in reverse from the finish line to the cheers of the crowd. That pain in my rib did not bother me as I was walking around the finish area but as soon as I started running, it felt like someone was sticking a sharp knife into me. Even though I was smiling and waving to everyone, I was completely miserable. Scott McCoubrey stopped me and wished me well but as soon as I started running again, that pain returned.
This worried me greatly because it was a 8/10 pain. I knew it wasn't a cracked rib because I didn't fall. So I figured it was safe to continue, it was just going to hurt. I had to move my water bottle on the left side to a pocket in my pack and hold the pack away from my left ribs to continue running. Even so, every step hurt. The only time when the pain backed off was when I was hiking uphill and there was no bouncing or jostling. The rest of the time until I finished, it hurt.
Holing the pack away from my body and leaning in certain directions wasted a lot of energy and I had a hard time keeping up my calories. Still, I forced myself to eat. We saw about 50 people still finishing as we headed back out on Skookum. Running this direction was a blast-downstream. Jess and Pat were telling people how far they still had until the finish and many were grateful to hear less than a mile or less than two miles. Beyond two miles, it was still good to hear, but there was still work to be done. Most people were in good spirits. We saw Arianna, Jess' friend, who was 2 miles from the finish and happy with tears to know she was close. It's easy to lose track of how far you've traveled on that trail.
We finally saw the sweepers, with Matt Hagen being the very last of the sweepers. We were nearing the end of Skookum and it took us about 1:40 to get through it, stopping to cheer all the runners on. Next was the dreaded road up to Sun Top. If you think that road is never ending running down, just imagine how bad it can be going up. It was far steeper than I expected after that flat section. I was able to unstrap my lower strap on the hike up and give my ribs a little bit of space. It took us another 2:20 to get to Sun Top, or 4 hours from the finish. Absolutely crawling. The only thing that made it better was the amazing view of Mt. Rainier in the dusk. So majestic! I had stashed water up here earlier in the week and we reloaded. It was dark now.
The short run down from Sun Top were on very technical trails. Fortunately, it was brief and after crossing the road twice, we hit the stretch of up that was such a nice section of down hill running the other way. That was the hardest thing about going backwards. Going up when normally you are going down was torture. Even the nice down hill running where normally you are going up did not seem to make up for it.
On the down hills, I would keep my lower strap undone also. When I added water weight to my pack, it did not shift as much and I was able to run without holding the pack away from my ribs and run as relaxed as possible. The pain would persist, but at times it was manageable. I had sucked in a lot of dust during the day and it was much more apparent in my headlamp. My breathing was becoming quite labored on the steep climbs. In the dark, it was very hard to see the contours in the trail since the white dirt/sand really became washed out with the light of the headlamp shining down on it. I could have taken out my hand held, but one hand was already being used to hold the pack away from me. So I just really had to slow down.
We made it back to Buck Creek about 6 hours after we had left. Everyone reloaded and adjusted whatever needed to be adjusted. It was getting chilly now and I needed my arm warmers, gloves, and hat. I had my shell too, but they all came off immediately after we started climbing up to Ranger Creek. I had hike this trail earlier in the week on Tuesday to stash our water. It took Tracy Brown and I 1:40 to get to the top at a nice casual pace. It took us 2 hours in the dark and after 63 miles. I was able to lead this entire climb. Next thing Jess and I know, we lost Pat. He approached us sleepily and apologized that he was having trouble staying awake. He had just taken a caffeinated gel and hoped that it would soon kick in. He was able to stay with us for about a mile but then we lost him again. We decided to wait for him at the shelter up at Ranger Creek. I got our stashed water, changed my socks, and ate some food. Pat showed up looking even more sleepy. Jess and I suggested he hike back down and get some sleep. He was disappointed that he couldn't continue with us but did not want to hold us back. I told him he was totally fine and thanked him for keeping us company for 28 miles.
I led us up a mile to the next trail junction and then Jess took over. She was moving well and I was trying to keep up with her but finally asked her to take it down a notch because I would not be able to keep up that pace. The wind was blowing up there and I got cold. I got behind on my calories again and was struggling to move faster. Jess noticed this but was very patient with me. My stomach was growling ferociously and any calories that I ate rapidly dissapated, forcing me to eat rather constantly, and you all know how annoying that is. My rib pain continued to drain my energy.
On our way back from Corral Pass, it was starting to get light and we had the most incredible sunrise view of Mt. Rainer. Although we didn't see the sun, it's reflection on the mountain was magical. Jess suggested I take the lead since I moved faster when I was ahead. She was right. We made good time from Ranger Creek to the stairs in the Palisades I thought. From there, she led until we hit Hwy 410. Again, she was hopping along and I did the best I could to stay with her. The roots and rocks were crazy, so much harder on tired legs and mind. At least it was light again and we were able to pick up the pace.
So, now only 2 more miles along the river and down the airstrip. A couple runners who had spent the night and were packing up to go home clapped for us as we ran by on the airstrip. Otherwise, everyone else had gone. We ran to the sanicans as the finish and did a high five. After a quick clean up of our dusty feet, face, and legs and getting some clean clothes on, Jess and I tried to take a quick nap in our cars. No use. Feet were aching too much after removing the shoes. So we drove to Wapiti Woolies and had some coffee, Jess a hot mocha, me a mocha shake. Again we tried to sleep in the parking lot there, but I tapped on Jess' window and told her I wanted to get into cell phone range so that I could call Ken and let him know we were fine.
She followed behind me on the 20 minute drive towards Enumclaw and could see that I was struggling to stay awake. I didn't fall asleep but was weaving a little. At the first light that we got to, I pulled over and told her that I was going to call Ken and close my eyes for 5 minutes before driving the remainder of the 30 minutes left to my house. I told her I would be fine and she should head home. She was wide awake. I was glad, since she had farther to go.
I got home, showered, ate, and took a quick nap. We ate dinner at Cliff and Mary's house (Ken's brother) and listened to their WR experience. Cliff PR'd in 9:05 and Mary finished her first 50 mile in 11:25. Both took 3rd in their age groups and got a framed Glenn Tachiyama picture of them running on the course.
I looked at my left ribs in the mirror that night. There was no bruising but when I lifted my arms, you could see my ribs on the right but not on the left. There was a lot of swelling over the ribs. Over the next few days, the swelling and pain improved but there was some creaking in that area. I think I developed a bursitis from the rubbing of the water bottle. The best I can relate it to is a creaking Achilles tendonitis or when I tie my shoes too tight and get a swollen anterior tibialis tendon sheath that causes creaking. I am forced to rest anyway with a call weekend coming up and all my aches and pains should subside. My IT band at the hip was really bothering me after Issy Alps 100 but with icing and stretching did not bother me at WR thank goodness. I am on the mend! I need to look into purchasing Saloman soft bottles, but heard they are on backorder.
So if you are considering doing a double WR next year, it's pretty tough. I think things could have gone better if my rib didn't hurt as much. The second 50 just takes a lot longer because of fatigue and difficulty on the technical trails at night. (My first 50 was 11:11 and the second 50 was 15:30 with separate additional time for breaks.) The weather was perfect and I'm glad I did it. I won't be doing the double next year because it will be my 10th White River and I want to be there for the post race festivities!
Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Relieved to be done
Damn. That was hard. We all knew it would be. But it had to be done, right? We need goals in life. Something to push us beyond our comfort zone. And let me tell you, that last 34 miles were uncomfortable alright.
A little history. Last year was the inaugural Issaquah Alps 100K starting at Mt Si Trailhead and finishing at Cougar Mountain. It took us 18 hours. I can't remember how much elevation gain there was, but it was a lot. 18,000? After that effort, it was only appropriate to up the ante and make it even harder.
George Orozco, our route creating brainchild, put together a 100 mile point to point run that initially included other peaks such as Granite Mountain and Bandera. He toned it down but still included two very tough early peaks, Mailbox and Teneriffe. The first attempt at this Issaquah Alps 100 Mile endurance run was supposed to happen on May 2. It also included a 100K, which all but 3 runners participated in. Me, Deby Kumasaka, and George planned to stick together for the whole thing. But there was a glitch. A couple days before the event, it rained cats and dogs at sea level while dumping several feet of snow in the mountains. The weather on event day was beautiful and a little warm. At 2000ft, we hit snow on Mailbox. Long story short, the snow sapped everyone's energy and everyone stopped at 50K at Little Si Trailhead. John Barrickman was prepared to continue, but by the time he arrived at the Little Si trailhead, everything was coming apart. Deby, me, and George tried to salvage as much as we could by being shuttled to Tiger and running the last 50K+ miles of the run but stopped after 13 miles, for 42 total. The next day, Deby messaged me and was having DNFer's remorse. We agreed to try the 100 again over the July 4th weekend, since we both already had requested the time off work.
Fast forward to July 4. The week leading up to this day had record temps in the 90s and freaked us out. Deby just returned from crewing the second hottest Western States on record 4 days earlier. She no doubt was dehydrated and tired from that effort, where she crewed and then paced Jonathon Shark for 40 miles of the race. We both had a stressful work day before our start. Still, spirits were high and we had good friends who were going to help us throughout.
George picked Deby and I up at the High Point trailhead at Tiger at 5:45am. Deby's son Myc woke up early to drop her off and would return later that night to crew us. Stacy Nievweija joined us for the first climb up Mailbox peak along with George. The weather was perfect, not too warm yet. There was cloud cover, so the sun was not beating down on us.
Before the start at 6:20am Thursday July 4, 2013
George, Stacey, Deby, and me
A few weeks before this run, George and I had run the first 50K with Jaime Clark. Actually, it turned out to be 33 miles, which is exactly what I got again during the event. It took us 13.5 hours then and we were all starving well before we finished. We realized that all of us needed more solid foods to recover from the hard effort of the climbs. I diligently prepared a bunch of solid food that I felt would be somewhat appetizing and tried to eat something solid every 2 hours. This worked very well for me and I never got too low on sugar or felt nauseated. Even if I didn't want to eat real food, I would just force it down and took care of that empty feeling in my stomach before it got too bad. I was able to hold off on needing gels for the most part until later in the run.
Me almost to the top of Mailbox with wildflowers all around
I estimated that it would take us about 1:45 to 1:50 to reach the peak, and I was dead on. We were above the clouds and could see Mt. Rainier in the distance. We took a summit picture and planned on doing that every time we hit a summit counting them with our fingers.
One peak down with Deby and Stacey
I had some leftover Dim Sum and half a sandwich before we descended. It was warming up and the humidity was moderate. We ran into Jonathon and Linh Shark on the way down. Jonathon looked like he was already recovered from Western. They wanted to keep going and get the views at the top, so we bid them farewell. There were a ton of people going up as we were heading down. The parking lot was packed when we got back.
At the bottom of Mailbox, Jess Mullen and Anita Schlitz were waiting for us. Jess was planning on running 100K with us from that point on and Anita 20+ miles. That was about a 10 minute stop as we waited for George and Stacey to arrive.
Base of Mailbox heading towards Granite Creek trail
Jess and Anita's enthusiasm rubbed off on us and we had a great time chatting and catching up. Anita had just finished Bighorn and really liked the 100 mile distance. We ran up the Granite Creek trail for 2.5 miles to an unmarked connector trail that spit us out on the Middle Fork road. This section was fun with rolling and runnable trails. We crossed the Snoqualmie River and took another trail that led us to the CCC service road. I had been dreading this road part for most of the morning, but it flew by having company along. I continued eating solid foods like a hot dog, beef and bean burrito, and perogies. George was waiting for us at the Teneriffe trailhead and planned on joining us for the difficult climb up. We drank some coke, had some watermelon, and loaded up on food and water since it would be about 8 hours until our next aid. I switched from my smaller Gregory pack to my Salomon pack, which can hold more and is my pack of choice for long training runs. Deby and I packed our Steri pens in case we ran out of water. I brought along 60 oz to start. This was a 10 minute stop.
The climb up Teneriffe has no easy part, except for the 1 mile road section up to the actual trail. We took the old, less maintained trail that connected up with the main trail in a mile. This kept us close to the water and allowed us to cool down by dipping our hats or bandanas. There were a decent amount of people on the trail but they usually stop at the falls and very few hike up to the summit. Once you reach the falls, you basically just go straight up and there are about 10 false summits. There is some scrambling involved and is exposed in some spots. We did see a few hardy people. No snow in sight. After what seemed like an eternity, we reached the summit and sat down for lunch. I had Chow Mein and a burrito. We took our summit picture.
Two for me and Deby and one for Jess and Anita
I wanted a picture of Jess, me, and Deby with our Salomon packs on. We all had the same packs. It turned out great!
The descent is not the same as the trail that we came up. We took the trail that connects to the service road, about a mile away, then it's 4 miles down to the connector trail to Big Si with fairly rough footing. On our way down, we picked up two kids who looked like high school teenagers or early college aged. They were lost and we directed them down the road. Their car was at the Teneriffe trailhead. They certainly had a longer day than planned. Deby and I loaded up on more water on the way down. Good thing because Roaring creek was completely dry. Anita left us and headed down with George to the Teneriffe trailhead since her boyfriend was expecting her down by 4pm and he was cooking steaks for the 4th. We took the connector trail to Big Si and took the upper Talus loop trail instead of the lower one. The lower one would spit us out at the one mile mark on the Mt Si trail whereas the upper trail would spit us out at 1.7 miles. I knew that even though this was the shorter route, we would still end up with 33 miles at Little Si trailhead, which was 2 miles longer than what was predicted on George's planned route.
The trail was not crowded as most people had already completed their hike for the day. It was still hot and muggy. We were all very sticky. We summited our 3rd peak and took a quick picture because the mosquitos were swarming like crazy. I called Ken and let him know our ETA to Little Si trailhead, which I told him would be 6:30 to 7pm. He was bringing the pizza. I continued with the solid food, eating a hot dog and garlic bread.
Three for Deby and me and two for Jess
We took the Old Si trail down towards Little Si trail. It is a steep and at times very technical descent for 2.5 miles. We arrived at the junction to Little Si summit, which was 1.7 miles away. There was a nice creek where we soaked our bandanas before the gradual ascent to Little Si. It was steep in some spots and at this point, we were already tired and hungry. We ran into Takao Suzuki and his family. It was nice to see a familiar face. He had his small point and shoot camera, not his fancy camera.
Summit 4 (3 for Jess)
We arrived at Little Si Trailhead about one hour ahead of schedule a little after 7pm or about 12 hours. Having no snow made a huge difference. I felt so much better at this point than when we did it in May with the snow and also better than when I ran it in training with George and Jaime Clark. I had kept up on the food and water and my body was thanking me for it. Ken had brought pizza and everyone had some. I drank some Coke and a Frappucino and switched to my Ultimate pack for the short 6 mile section on the Rails to Trails Snoqualmie Valley trail. The change in pack felt good. It was incredibly light. I was starting to have chafing on my shoulders from wearing a tank top, so I also changed into a new sports bra and short sleeve shirt. This felt nice. Maylon Hanold started crewing us from this point and relieved George. Jeff Forister also joined us here to pace us to High Point at Tiger. I kissed Ken good night and told him I would call him when we got to High Point, I expected no earlier than 6am the next morning. This was a 20 minute stop.
It did not take us long to get to Rattlesnake Lake. In fact, Maylon had gone to the store to grab a few more things and had just arrived when we got there. Deby's son Myc was there also. I switched back to my Salomon pack because it was going to be about 5 hours before we saw them again and I grabbed my poles in case we had to cross the Raging River. I was still eating solid food but was adding more gels and gummi chews, which were easier to swallow. I had brushed my teeth at mile 25 and continued to do so every 25 miles. It saved my teeth in the end. I had very little sensitivity, which has been a big problem for me in the past. Just water and a toothbrush. No need to bring toothpaste. We all packed our headlamps and started the hike up to the ledge. We were off after another 10 minute stop.
People were coming down as it got dark and asked if we were heading up to enjoy the fireworks. Well, kind of. We were just really passing through. I enjoyed hiking up at dusk and tried to keep my light off until I really needed it. I was able to hold off the longest. Jeff was leading and was setting a mean pace. Deby looked like she was having no trouble following him and Jess was having no problems keeping up. I was able to keep up but actually tried to keep my distance. I felt we were going a little fast and eventually asked Jeff to tone it down. I didn't think we would be able to hold that pace for very long.
We arrived at the ridge and looked down on the valley. Multiple fireworks shows were going on and we could see them all. They seemed so small from above. It was pretty cool. We hiked and ran along the ridge catching glimpses but mostly just hearing the pop-pop of the explosions. We arrived at the first summit along the ridge 4.5 miles from the Lake and took a picture. We did not take another picture at the next summit before descending.
Five for me and Deby and one for Jeff
Four for Jess
Deby had started to feel bad with nausea. She was burping constantly. I had Tums back at the car. Jess had some Prilosec. She thought it would pass. We got a break from the climbing and started descending gradually. It seemed like it took forever but we finally arrived at the point where we were going to leave the Rattlesnake ridge and head towards Tiger. We bushwacked down to a service road and followed that until we arrived at a side trail that hooked us up to the powerline trail. After passing the power station, we had to walk over half a mile on the worse surface you can imagine-large loose rocks on the road. Our feet were getting a beating. We descended to the river and shined our light on the water. It was at the same level as when Deby and I scoped out the route 3 weeks earlier, which came up to my crotch. No one wanted to get their feet wet, so we bushwacked up the Highway 18. Jeff had found a much easier way up than the last time he and I had done it about a year ago. We ran on the road over the river for less than 1/4 mile and made it across without being passed by a car at 2am.
Just on the other side of the river was Maylon and Myc. They had a nice set up for us with lights, music, and all our gear laid out. Deby had some Tums and a cup-o-noodle. At some point she had some Perrier and asked for 7-up. I had some more Chow Mein. I had brought my heavy fleece robe to keep me warm during our stops. I drank another Frap but had to keep it at a minimum since it made me pee more. Although my feet were hurting, I didn't want to change shoes since we would be getting our feet wet soon at a creek crossing. This stop was a little longer-about 15-20 minutes.
We crossed the creek and started the steep hike up towards Tiger. This is when we started to notice some overgrowth on the trail and this would be a recurring theme for the rest of the run. I started to feel strong again. It seems like the Fraps were really helping. About one mile on the service road then back on trails. The run on NW Timber trail was relatively clear and fun. We arrived at the TMT road and ran down the short section to the parking at the Tiger Summit off Hwy 18. There again were Maylon and Myc, all set up for us. They were parked under a large light and it was nice that we could see everything without out headlamps. Another 15 minutes here.
We had a 3.5 mile hike up the service road to the summit of East Tiger. I chatted with Jeff while Jess chatted with Deby. It was nice at this point to have an easy surface to travel on and zone out. We were able to ditch our headlamps after a mile up the road. The morning was cool and it felt great. I had been feeling hot all day the first day and also into the evening. At this point, Deby was feeling like she needed to vomit but couldn't. So she just remained nauseated. The Perrier and 7-up didn't help. I learned from other runners that this feeling was the result of low blood sugar so I suggested she just needed to eat some gels if she could. I had never had this problem myself, so I couldn't give her any advice from personal experience. She was sucking on Clif Bloks which was a good idea. She also needed to slow down and run her own pace. As I ran, I stopped to make sure she was fine and still with us. We finally made it to our next summit on East Tiger.
In this picture, you can see the fatigue in Deby's face after fighting nausea for 4 hours
We headed down the road and connected up with the East Tiger Trail. This was all new and added a mile compared to the old route. It was disheartening but at least the trail was wide and runnable. Deby also was dealing with diarrhea at this point, having stopped about 3 or 4 times already. The poor girl! The newer trail was clear but soon enough, we were back on the old trail which was overgrown. Jeff led most of the way and endured the constant spiderwebs on our way to High Point. After 25 hours and 68 miles, we arrived at the cars. My Garmin showed 27,000+ feet elevation gain, but that might have been a little over. Jess was pleased to have achieved 100K without Mailbox and was thankful that she did not have to go up and down West Tiger 3 to get her 100K. Deby had decided she needed to rest if she was to continue. She had been feeling dizzy for a long time. Maylon and I talked about it afterwards and both feel that she had not recovered from her hot Western States crewing and pacing. It seemed obvious to Ken that this was the case, but us ultrarunners tend to feel invincible. Jeff was going to run back to his house, which was 3 miles away. Tracy Brown was there to pace me the last 34 miles. (I had already decided that because of the extra mileage at this point that I would shorten the number of miles on Squak on the way over to Cougar). Tracy had brought me some McDonald's greasy and salty food at my request. I had half a ham and cheese breakfast sandwich, some hashbrowns, and an apple pie. The apple pie went down the easiest. I changed my sports bra, shirt, underwear, and shorts. I grabbed a fresh bandana and changed shoes and socks. I planned on finishing in my Hokas. I called Ken and let him know where I was. Deby was going to rest and I figured she would join me again after I came down from Tiger on my way over to Squak. Maylon was done crewing and needed to get somewhere. She was awesome. I said good bye to Jess and Jeff and headed off with Tracy.
Almost immediately I felt crappy. I wasn't sure if I stopped for too long (that took over 30 minutes) of if it was just the cumulative miles and hours. All I knew was that I was struggling. It donned on me later that it was all the above. I was having trouble staying awake, so I took one GU Tri-Berry gel with caffeine and did not have anymore problems. It was also the steep climb up Tiger. It was sapping my energy. Finally, it was the heat and humidity, which at this point in the run I was not able to control my body temperature and it was doing whatever the ambient temp was doing, which was warm and muggy. I continued to force solid foods but mixed in gels and gummi bears. Finally, we reached Tiger 3. No one was up there. This was Friday, July 5th, still a work day for most.
Can I just lay down and sleep? Summit 7
A quick jaunt over to Tiger 2 and Tiger 1.
Not too much smiling at this point. Summit 9, Tiger 1
Thankfully, the hike up 3,2, and 1 as well as down Upper Bootleg towards the Christmas tree were clear. But as soon as you passed the Christmas tree to run on the Paw Print connector trail, it was very overgrown. Nettles taller than me, salmon berry making it difficult to see the trail, and anything else trying to grab you spanned the entire distance to the Paw Print bathrooms. It took me a long time to get through this. Strange thing was that it was mowed down on the other side of the road before the TMT trail. So basically, I was running in hell followed by running in heaven. For the most part, the TMT trail was in good shape with a few overgrown areas. This is where we ran into George, who started at the High School trailhead and ran back towards us. He was nice enough to clear the spiderwebs. He also gave me his last Rice Krispy treat that Jess had made. He figured I needed it more. And I did. He ran with us for 1.5 miles before I told him to go ahead while I fixed my laces. I was disappointed that my feet were not feeling better in the Hokas. Basically, my feet had gotten very swollen and the Hokas felt too small. I knew that I needed to change back out of them.
We left the TMT and ran down the One View trail. I enjoyed this part. Then it was down the Poo Poo point trail, which starts out nice and soft but then when it starts to flatten out for a bit, it became technical and rocky and turned my feet into hamburger. I was ready to get off this mountain. We crossed over Front Street and walked down Sycamore Lane. Deby and Myc and gotten worried about us. It took longer than I had told them. I changed back into my Salomon's but a newer pair. This was a good idea, because they felt a lot better. I was dreading the grind up Squak and my body was still overheating. I thanked them profusely as we headed off. This was a 10 minute stop.
Coming up on Squak
Tracy was basically having a conversation with herself because I was not talking much. She knew I was too tired to reply and did not take it personally. We headed up the steep road to the East Ridge trail, which is 2 miles of unrelenting steepness. Fortunately, it was clear of overgrowth. I overheated again but pressed on. Next was the East Side trail, 2 miles of mostly overgrown trail that sapped my energy. It did not get much better on the run down the West Side Trail to SR 900. The trail is steep here and technical. Without being able to see much of the trail because of overgrowth, I had to just hike fast instead of run. My feet didn't hurt as much as before when I had my Hokas, but my shins were really sore from pointing my toes up to avoid catching them on anything. My left IT band at the hip was also talking to me and made it feel as if my hip was going to pop out. I knew it wouldn't, but it bothered me with each stride down. All of this was eating into my resolve and all I could think of was the steep climb up the connector trail on Cougar and the 8.3 miles before coming back to SR 900.
Deby and Myc were there with smiles and encouragement. I told them that I wanted to get back in 2.5 hours and was not far off. I wanted to finish as fast as possible so they could go home instead of spending their evening crewing me. I wet my bandana on the way up the connector trail to get my body temp down and then just moved, moved, moved. I ran most of the trails, only power hiking the really steep stuff. But at mile 90, I was pushing so hard and all I could think about was that I had 12 miles to go. I just started crying. Tracy had just come up and announced she was doing a wellness check. Oops. Not doing so well. She backed off and gave me some space. I let it out then regrouped. I needed that. We made better time down than I expected. I thought I was going to have to tip toe down to SR 900 but was able to run it.
When I got there, I told Deby that I was just going to pack everything I needed for the last 8.5 mile push instead of seeing her in 5.4 miles on Sycamore lane. I didn't want to spend time stopping again. She was like, "Are you sure?" Concerned as always. I told her I was moving better and Tracy confirmed it. We left them for the last time before the finish and hoped to see them in less than 3 hours.
Heading off for the last 8.5 miles
I was trying to relish that last steep climb up the West side trail but the overgrowth killed that vibe. I called Ken and let him know I was closing in on the finish. I couldn't talk long while climbing uphill. Tracy was leading and that helped. It was disheartening to see her walk while I tried to keep up a jogging pace, but I was making decent forward motion. Finally, we were on our way down the East Ridge trail, which seemed to take forever. We hit the road and walked/ran. My feet were very sensitive on the hard surface and I waddled even more.
We hit the High School trail. I ran counting to 25 then walked a bit and repeated. One more short climb up towards Brink trail then it was flat or rolling until the end. We took Ruth's Big Tree spur before running on the final trail on Swamp Trail. Down the road to the lower parking lot to the FINISH! That was where I stopped my watch. We walked the quarter mile to where Deby was parked, closer to the freeway. She stepped out, took a picture of me, and gave me a hug. "You are stubborn, Van."
40,000+ ft gain on my Garmin
My first OKT! I thanked Deby, Myc, and Tracy again and then we scattered quickly. I just put on my robe and drove 2 miles to the next exit, parked at the park and ride, and waited for Ken to pick me up. He did not want me driving home and falling asleep at the wheel. We picked up my car the next morning. Got home, ate, and finally washed off 38 hours of stink. Although my feet felt trashed, they looked the same as when I began. No blisters or black toenails. Restless sleep but that was okay. I had all weekend to recover! Thanks everyone for all your support!
Sunday, June 23, 2013
(Photo: Tonya Hoffman)
I would like to start this blog with Kathy Vaughan, the highlight of the weekend for me. She worked hard to get under the 32 hour cutoff and had doubts of finishing when she completed her 8th loop. She thought for sure she could not complete 2 more loops in the time she had left because she felt she was getting slower and slower and reported she was hurting more and more. Tears showed her frustration. But she was the only one who felt she could not finish. Everyone else who had run with her and helped her along knew she could do it. Pacers Tonya Hoffman and Angel Mathis were paricularly key, encouraging her throughout the race. Both were there when she finished. Ras was loving as usual. Her words at the end summed the experience all up for her. It went something like this: "I can't believe you runners do this 100 mile thing. It hurt the whole time!" Welcome to the 100 mile club Kathy!
Prior to the race a few months back, I had announced that I would not put on this race again and opened it up to any takers. After this year's event, it became clear that this race is too special to end, according my running partner Deby Kumasaka. So, as they say in Hollywood, the show must go on. My plan for next year is to gather a group of people who have expressed interest in taking it over, orgainize it as a joint effort, and then hand it off the following year. Vicki Griffiths will be 70 next year and Barb Macklow will be 80, and Vicki expressed to me that they want to do my race with those milestones. How can I deny them of the opportunity? So I will put it on one more time doing a better job of delegating because as you will, it is a lot of work!
As most people know, I work 50-60 hours a week as a physician assistant in orthopedic surgery. With the long days starting out with rounds at the hospital and the frequent call I have to take, it leaves me little time for much else. In fact, if I am lucky, I can run 1 or 2 days a week and not much more than 30 miles unless I'm racing. So I try to fit in time here and there to deal with the race, such as answering all the emails and special requests, dealing with permits and insurance, ordering supplies, shopping for food, getting port-a-potties, meeting with unhappy residents near the trail, etc. The list goes on and on. The only thing I delegated this year was getting volunteers, and Jess Mullen was the perfect person for that. She knows a lot of people and can do the job enthusiatically. The volunteers were spectacular this year. Thanks everyone for all your hard work.
(Photo: Jerry Gamez)
I used up three of my vacation days this year for the race. Fortunately, the Monday following is a holiday and I have Tuesdays off. This allowed for clean up post race. On Tuesday before the race, I purchased the rest of the food needed (the perishables). All other food had been purchased the previous week. I completed stuffing the goody bags with bib numbers and I finished the big white boards with all the runner's names and splits columns. I also met with the Park Ranger to try to talk to the angry neighbor but he was not home. The day before the race I boiled and cut up potatoes, picked up wth U-Haul truck and spent the rest of the day loading all the supplies. I had to also meet the port-a-potty guy to show him where the middle aid station was located. Next year, I will place 2 there since it got used a lot and kinda got gross. I also marked the 200 mile out and back turn around. Before I knew it, it was Wednesday night and time to head to bed to get as much rest as possible before what I knew would be a long weekend of managing whatever came my way.
Ken got up with me at 3:30am on Thursday morning and we headed to the race headquarters at 5am, which was also the start/finish of each loop. I was definitely worried when I had to set my windsheild wipers on steady instead of intermittent. It was raining as we tried to get all the shelters up. Fortunately, we had a lot of help from runners and crew to get things up quickly. Also, check in was quick since there were only nine 200 milers and one 100 miler (Jeff Rankin who had to work on the weekend). Gavin Woody had signed up for the 200 but had to drop down to the 150 because of work. It was great to see Tony Covarrubias again, down from Alaska to attempt the 200 miler for his 200th ultra. Tony was a fixture here in the Pacific Northwest ultrarunning scene but moved away a few years ago.
Ed Hanson came from Florida and was covered from head to toe the entire race. He never warmed up like the other runners. Ken Michal was back to repeat the 200. He looked nice and trimmed, having lost quite a bit of weight. Ras Jason Vaughan also was repeating the 200. He was fresh off his Sextuple Rim to Rim unsupported OKT (Only Known Time) and Sun Mountain 50 mile. Francesca Carmichael ran the 150 mile last year and had so much fun she decided to go for the 200. Daniel Kuhlmann comes from a big family of runners and needed to hold up his end. His sister Kim Kuhlmann won the women's 100 last year and his father Mike completed the 100 as well. Mike came back this year to attempt the 150, registering under the alias of Buster Spade so that he would not get a bunch of flack from family and friends. Rob Smith had a long list of running accomplishments including 10 finishes at Cascade Crest but did not have a 200 miler on his resume. It was only appropriate that he attempt it. He is the volunteer coordinator for CCC this year. Jennifer Griste, a veteran 100 miler, came with her San Diego posse to attempt her first 200 as well. Ray Gruenewald, also a veteran of many ultras, had seen my 200 last year and finally felt ready to take on the challenge.
The 200 milers started out in a steady rain. They first needed to complete the out and back (1.3 miles out and 1.3 back) before starting their first odd loop counterclockwise. As soon as they took off, my husband Ken and I headed to the middle aid station to set up while George Orozco continued to get the start/finish aid ready. Although there were periods when it did not rain, it was overall a pretty wet day. Early on, the runners were not bothered by it, but I'm sure it took it's toll eventually. The trail was wet and slick in places, and that requires more energy. The middle aid was not manned for the first 2 days for the 200 and 150 milers, but there was water, Gatorade, and small packages of chips, crackers, cookies, and candy. I did not want any food out in the open that little critters could eat. There was a shelter and a chair if a runner needed to stop and sit to fix their shoe or something. Everyone loved having a port-a-potty there, especially the returning runners. I returned every 12 hours to restock the food, water, and toilet paper.
I sent Ken home so he could get some work done. He is a furniture maker and works everyday. I let him off the hook this year since he helped co-race direct last year while I ran the 200. I returned to the start and hung out with George as runners came through. We were amazed at the blistering pace that TC and Ken were running and urged them to slow down. They continued this pace for another loop then settled into a more reasonable pace. Danny Kuhlmann just ran steadily, but his dad still felt he was going too fast. Everyone else seemed to feel comfortable with their pace.I fretted every time the rain picked up but the runners never complained. I did visit the angry neighbor and caught him at home. Although he was stand-offish, he thanked me for letting him know that there will be runners at night and they were specifically instructed to be quiet when it became dark.
The runners reported a lot of animal activity on the trail such as deer, dogs, and geese. Geese you say? Apparently, there was a family of geese, mom and pop with 5 little goslings. They were quite aggressive because they felt trapped and threatened. Francesca was attacked from behind after she passed them and was bitten on her shoulder blade.
(Photo: Takao Suzuki)
Most runners had to stop for a while and figure out how to get around them. The parent geese were hissing at them. TC fell in a ditch trying to give them room as he passed by. Rob Smith was chased by a dog that was nipping at his heels that he encountered only in the first loop and then did not bother any other runner. I reported it to the park ranger but they were gone by the time he got there. As the runners passed though, we recorded their times, wrote them on the big white boards, and posted them on facebook as often was we could-not enough I'm sure for some family and friends following along. Linda Walter took over for George when he had to leave. She had done the 100 last year and was back to make it a streak. She was generous enough to volunteer on Thursday last year too.
(Photo: Takao Suzuki)
Heather Latham came to help out after Linda left. Daniel finally caught Tony after the 8th loop. Jennifer Griste had a very experienced crew helping her. Paul Schmidt was her crew and pacer. He created and directed San Diego for 7 years before handing it over to current RD Scott Mills. He also is a physical therapist, quite handy to have on your crew. He serenaded us with his guitar and had a wonderful voice. I just loved the laid back atmosphere of the race! Randy was crewing and pacing Rob and it was fun takin care of the crew just as much as the runners in those first two days. We had hot dog at 1pm, pizza at 6pm, and grilled cheese sandwiches or quesadillas at 9pm. Also chicken noodle soup or butternut squash was offered at night. We had to have coffee too. Patrick Ackley joined me at night. It was fun hanging out with him and catching up. I took a quick 40 minute nap. Bob Satko came to relieve Pat and I found he had arrived while I was asleep. Pat hung out a little longer as the three of us reminisced about our 200 mile finishes last year.
The 150 milers started arriving at 5am to get set up. I walked them out on the course about 1/3 mile and did a quick briefing, warning them about biting geese and staying quiet at night. Geri Ginsburg, a fleet footed 53 year old ultrarunner gave chase on the first 2 guys. She was able to stay close to Jonathan Symmes, who came in 2nd in the 100 last year with a time of 19 hrs but could not keep up with Gavin Woody, who moved very smoothly the entire time. Once again, the first loop was very fast for all the runners, even if it was not a full loop. They settled into their paces after the 2nd loop like the 200 milers did. There were more girls who signed up for the 150 than boys. Barefoot Jon ran in his sandals. George Orozco came out for the second morning in a row to volunteer. We had another helper too. A senoir in high school needed to perform 20 hours of community work for her semester project. Her teacher, Elizabeth Blankenship had volunteered last year and had so much fun, she suggested it to Charnae Williams. She did a great job keeping loop splits and replenishing the food. The thing that amazed her the most was how happy the runners were while RUNNING of all things!
(Photo: Takao Suzuki)
I got a call from Tony Covarrubias on his second day of running in the mid afternoon. He needed to drop and needed me to pick him up on the course. Although he was only 2 miles from the start, he had difficulty even walking and the downhills were the worst. The ligaments in his legs about the knee were very tight and he had trouble extending his knees. I felt really bad for him but he was okay with it. He knew that living up in Alaska and running on snow was not helpful for his training. I was honored that he came back to my race to attempt the 200. He could have dropped down to the 150 or 100 before the start, but that's not like him to do that. By now, Ron Frederick was volunteering. He would be back the next day to crew his wife Jackie, who went on to finish her first 100.
After I dropped him TC off, the rest of the runners on the course got completely dumped on. Tony felt good about his decision. He was not moving fast enough to create enough energy and would have gotten cold fast. I grabbed a bunch of large trash bags and headed out on the course in my car to find if anyone was between aid stations and needed some protection. I found Ken Michal and he gladly accepted a bag. He was on an even loop and 2 miles from the start. It looked like he was doing about 20+ minute miles. I also gave him my pizza (I had just picked up the pizza for the night). He was so happy when I left him!
Everyone else that I saw before reaching the middle aid station (going clockwise) was doing fine. I hung out at the middle aid long enough to get a report from Ras that Ed Hanson, the guy from Florida, had rolled his ankle bad and was moving slowly in the counterclockwise direction. He figured I could intercept him when the trail hit the road. I went back to the road where I had placed the Shshsh signs and ran towards him but went a long ways without seeing him. I wondered if he went the other way since it was closer to the road. I ran into Rob Smith who had a cell phone and he called me 10 minutes later and told me where Ed was and where I could meet him. I was sure glad he had a phone. I finally found Ed, who was moving very gingerly. His ankle, I can't remember which one, was very swollen. I had brought a pair of hiking poles to help him unload his ankle and my robe, figuring he was getting even colder moving slower. It took us 10 minutes to get to my car, which was about a quarter mile away. By now, the rain had tapered off. I gave him an ice pack once we were in the car and got him back to the start. He spent a lot of time in his car warming up and eventually left to go to his hotel room. I was sad to see his race end that way. I was glad to have Tracey Nguyen managing my aid station while I was gone. She is a veteran volunteer and has two 100 milers under her belt-Javelina and San Diego.
(Photo: Takao Suzuki)
That was the hardest rain for Friday. Then it just came and went but nothing as heavy. I had planned on getting some sleep that night but wanted to keep Ariana Davies, my middle of the night volunteer company. We warmed ourselves next to the propane heaters in between feeding the runners and keeping loop splits. Some runners continued through their fatigue. Many decided to catch up on sleep. Arianna and I fed them mostly hot food.
I was getting pretty rummy as the 100 milers started checking in. By this point, I had slept only once for 40 minutes since Thursday morning, 51 hours earlier. For the weekend, I had three volunteers for the main aid station and 2 at the middle aid station. I got the main volunteers caught up on timing and food and planned on showing the middle volunteers where to go and what to do. They were all veterans-Teresa Hanson, Zach Spud Wilson, and Lars Larson. My middle aid station volunteers were Clay Fox and Rebecca Seymour. Clay's wife Hope ended up winning the female 100, no doubt with a lot of help from him. The weather was perfect-cool and not raining. After taking care of the 200 and 150 milers one on one, I could see that things were going to become chaotic. I did my race briefing with the same warnings and sent them off. The 150 and 200 milers felt buoyed by their presence. The 100 runners had an out and back (3 miles out and 3 back) before starting their 10 full loops. People were quite bunched up I heard when they came in. I had left to show the middle aid volunteers their post. I spent much of the day buying more supplies for the aid stations since the 100 milers consumed vastly more than the 200 and 150 runners. In particular, they liked the coke. Candy and Gatorade went quickly as well. They did not consume solid food as early on as the 200 and 150. Gels disappeared quickly.
(Photo: Takao Suzuki)
The main aid was a bustling station as people from runners, pacers, crew, family, local neighbors, the fire department, and anyone just curious about what was happening stopped by. Allison Moore and husband Owen Connell handled the main aid station well while Kris Kissel manned the middle aid station alone. He kept himself busy defizzing the coke by pouring it back and forth between cups to let the carbonation come out. The Sequel's family got lost on the way but were put to work as soon as they arrived. My volunteers really saved me since I had to drive all over the place for supplies and restocking the middle aid. I had a kitchen person serving hot food like quesadillas, hot dogs, soup, pancakes, and turkey sausages.I had a timer keeping track of the three different watches for each of the distances. Bib numbers were red for the 200, blue for the 150, and yellow for the 100 runners to make them easier to spot. And I had a volunteer just replenishing food and helping the timekeeper make sure we got each runner's splits. I tried to update the boards as frequently as possible. Things were happening fast. By the afternoon, Betsy Rogers, Jane Herzog, and Ray Shaw took over. Betsy was of course in charge of the food. Tracey Brown and Leslie Miller, both longtime runners, were able to help runners at the middle aid with anything they needed.
(Photo: Pat Ackley)
Tim Stroh, the course record holder for the 200 was out of town this year during the week and could not do a repeat. Instead, he decided that the 100 would be a good final run before Bighorn 100 three weeks later. Secretly, he wanted to break 17 hours, and at the age of 50, he said it would probably be his last chance to do so. The weather was very nice for his attempt. At one point about halftway through, he didn't think he could do it. His hamstring was getting really tight. But he sat for a little and it seemed to help I think. He went crazy trying to figure out the splits he needed to complete his task with an expected slowing of pace factored in. He calculated accurately and came sprinting in at 16:58. Way to go Tim! Now he owns the 200 and 100 mile course records. He was able to keep all of his loops under 1:53. This guy is talented!
Tim Stroh with perfect running form
(Photo: Takao Suzuki)
Lee French came in second in his first attempt in the 100 mile with an impressive time of 18:53. He was able to stay ahead of Hope Fox, also running her first 100. She came in 30 seconds after Lee, also in a time of 18:53. Both ran strong the entire time. Unfortunately, I did not get to see them finish. I was falling asleep in my chair and decided I needed to go home and get some sleep. I showered really quickly and laid down for about an hour. I tried to think of everything that needed to be done before I left but in my fatigue, forgot a few things. My trusty volunteers were able to handle things without me. Thank you Monica and Mike Bloom, Maylon Hanold (the cook), Deby Kumasaka and her son Mateo, and Christy Hammond, (middle aid). Monica and Mike pulled a double shift and worked for 10 hours, joined in their second shift by Matthew Abel.
I returned only to have missed seeing the insane duel on the 21st and final loop for 200 milers Ken Michal and Ras Jason Vaughan. I had to get eyewitness stories from runners on the course, the middle aid station workers, and spectators at the finish. Ken and Ras were within an hour of each other at 100 miles but neither of them was racing. Or so I thought. They were bringing up the rear until loop 14. Ras continued to pull away from Ken until the last 3 loops during which time George Orozco was pacing Ken and was able to help him run under 2:30 loops on the 19th and 20th loops. He was able to catch Ras at the end of the 20th loop and both wasted no time getting back out. What's more, they both ran in the dark so that the other runner could not tell where they were. Now, I don't know about you, but after 190+ miles and 65 1/2 hours into the race, I'm sure I would do a face plant if I tried running in the dark, even though these trails are smooth. Runners on the course said they were flying! Like 6 minute miles on the downhills! Well, I'm not sure about that but both runners were able to run under 2 hour loops (Ras 1:55 and Ken 1:57). Only Tim Stroh ran a faster last loop of 1:53. Yes, Ras outkicked Ken by two minutes and took the final podium spot but I just wanted to say that they are both amazing! Ras ran his fastest loop of his entire run and Ken only had two loops that were faster (his first two loops were 1:31 and 1:56). I'm so glad that both were able to repeat the 200, the only ones who have done this. Ras had a 2 hour PR and Ken 4 hours.
(Photo: Ken Michal)
My Sunday volunteers helped me tremendously as my energy was fading. Allen Skytta manned the middle aid in the middle of the night. Tim Harris, Merita Trohimovich, and Jess Mullen kept the main aid bustling. Merita made pancakes and turkey sausage to order Sunday morning. Stacey Nievweija and her son Keegan took the last shift at the middle aid. That must have been a boring job as there were less runners and they were probably either spread out or came all at once.
Mike Schlect came in 3rd male in the 100 with a time of 20:23. Second woman was Kelly Shelton in 22:55 and Hideko Opperman was 3rd female/1st Masters with a 23:08. Hideko was told this was her first true 100 but she did complete just over 100 miles at the Pac Rim One Day. This was also a first 100 for Amy and Bob Wismer. Jules Mann came last year to attempt his first 100 here at this race but was unsuccessful. I am so glad he was able to finish this year. He did have to go home and get some sleep but returned and had two strong final loops. Ashley West contributed to the Pigtails buckle bling in the Kuhlmann clan by completing her first 100. Her sister Kim Kuhlmann and father Mike have 100 mile buckles from last year and Daniel got his 200 this year. Daniel finished first overall (54:50) in the 200 milers this year and did very well considering the conditions. Rob Smith ran a consistent and smart 200, finishing 2nd, followed by Ras in 3rd male in 67:27. Francesca was the only female 200 mile finisher and 3rd overall in 63:01.
(Photo: Glenn Tachiyama)
In the 150 mile race, Gavin Woody broke the previous course record by 13 hours with a time of 30:36. He decided to see if he could finish 200 miles and continued on. His unofficial 200 mile time was 45:04, not far off of Tim Stroh's time last year of 43:35. Jonathan Symmes ran his first 100 here last year and came back to run 150. His goal was to be able to finish in time to go see his son run in the state meet, but he missed him by 10 minutes. Still, he had a strong 2nd place finish in the 150 in 32:44. Thomas Jackson was 3rd male with 35:59. Jeri Ginsburg was 3rd overall and first female in the 150 and ran an incredible 35:00. There was not another girl in sight. Kristin Parker was 2nd with 49:15 and Marilyn Olson 3rd in 49:45.
(Photo: Sara Woody)
Scott Volyn finished his first 100 on his second 100 mile attempt. He is making a difference with "Running to Burundi" by building houses in Burundi for widows and children of the genocide. Linda Walter PR'd this course, improving on her last year's time. John Zeier had a major 100 mile PR of over 2 hours and won a free subscription to TrailRunner Magazine for the best Pigtails. His finish of 22:04 at the 61 is incredible.
Hope Fox ran the 100 as a birthday present for herself. Tammy Unangst was also celebrating her birthday on Sunday but had to stop partway through her 8th loop because of severe pain in her feet from blisters. Sadly, I had to pick her and her pacer up on the course. She has no hills to train on in Texas and the course took its toll on her feet. Chris Bellevie finished his first 100 at his 2 year anniversary of quitting smoking. He decided to change his life and started running. Way to go Chris!
(Photo: Takao Suzuki)
Jackie Frederickson PR'd by 2 hours. James Varner had a monkey on his back. He had not completed any 100 miler that he started in over 5 years. Well, it's hard to finish them when they are runs like Hardrock. But he just wanted to get 'er done. He ran a conservative and smart race. But somewhere past halfway, he ran a loop in the wrong direction. He apologized to everyone on the course for his mistake, concerned that someone would say he was cheating. As soon as he completed the loop, he asked immediately for me and asked if he was disqualified. I told him he was fine. He still ran the same distance and the direction he ran the wrong loop is considered the harder direction anyway. He was so relieved and was able to continue on to finish sub 24 in a time of 21:55.
(Photo: Takao Suzuki)
I want to thank Jess Mullen, Betsy Rogers, and Matt Hagen for staying until the end and helping clean the race site/break everything down. Tonya Hoffman, Allen Skytta, and Trey Bailey were also there. Matt went to help Stacy Nievweija and her son Keegan break down the middle aid station. I had locked the canopy to the chain linked fence with a cable lock, but I had the key. I told Matt to just leave it and I would get it later, but he managed to break the lock with Stacey's son watching with great interest. Only Matt.
I arrived home at about 3pm on Sunday and finally went to bed. I was awake again this year for 86 hours and got about 1 1/2 hours of sleep. I had intended to wake up to eat dinner but slept through the night. I slept 15 hours and my husband said I didn't even move an inch. I needed that rest to get me through the next 2 days of post race clean up. I was more exhausted directing the entire weekend than when I ran it.
I also want to thank my brother-in-law Cliff Richards and his wife Mary (my running partner when I was running road marathons) for sweeping the course the next day. I really didn't want to get out there and ride my bike or run to pick up the trash. They said they picked up only a few gel packs but there was a ton of toilet paper on the trail. Gross! I had warned them to bring gloves. So next year, PLEASE, pack your TP out (bring a Ziploc) in addition to trash. When in doubt, pack it out!
Thanks and see you all next year! Plan on running or volunteering!