Monday, July 5, 2010
WESTERN STATES 100 MILE ENDURANCE RUN
6/26/10 Squaw Valley, CA to Auburn, CA
27:39:26 423 starters, 94 drops, 329 finishers, 77.7% finisher rate
201st overall, 28/59 females, 11/22 F30-39
To be frank, I have to say that I'm not very happy with this result. The people who finished after me or didn't finish at all would probably want to shoot me. Snobby beeeoch! But you know how it is. You set goals for yourself and when they don't happen, it's not hard to get disappointed. Of course, my first goal was to finish. I really never doubted that, but that's kind of bold considering I hadn't gotten any heat training. Maybe when I get my buckle in the mail, the world will be right again.
Ken, Mary Hanna (my pacer), Cliff (Ken's brother), and I left 5 o'dark in the morning Thursday (actually it was already a little light out). We drove all the way to Squaw Valley with bathroom and food stops. Cliff and Mary were sitting in the back each with their I-phones, which drove me nuts. But oh well, I'm old fashioned and not into gadgets. I just wanted to take them away from them like a mother would take away annoying toys.
The last stop we made was at In-N-Out burgers and Ken and Cliff had their first experience. Yum! We arrived at our condo at about 8:30pm, still a little light out. Everyone was stiff from being in the car, and Ken and I went for a little walk before retiring for the night. The condo is only a 1/4 mile walk to the check in and start of the race at the Olympic Village. The check in was from 9am-1pm Friday. I got there at 9:30 and there was a long line with a bunch of people already checked in. I guess most ultrarunners have OCD. The process was pretty involved. We were moved through like an assembly line. We got a bright yellow Mountain Hardware backpack, a fleece jacket, a tech shirt, Moeben arm sleeves, and a bunch other goodies. Next was the medical check. My blood pressure was good, but my pulse was 97. Okay, so I'm a little hummingbird. Maybe it was the altitude or nervousness as the lady who took it said. My weight was down, so I was dehydrated. I started downing the Nuun.
After check in and taking a few pictures, we went back to the condo. Mary, Cliff, and I went for an easy run. Friday was a pleasantly cool day, but we heard the hot temps were coming for the weekend, with Sunday being hotter. There was actually a paved path along the road and we ran that until it hit the main drag then turned around. We took a wrong turn back and ended up at the golf course. We started down the golf path and immediately heard, "Hey! You kids can't run there!" Yes we did ignore the sign that said golfers only. We told him that we were lost and just trying to get back to our condo, which we could see across the course. He directed us to a walking trail above the course and he was pretty nice about it. He must get runners going through all the time. It was a nice path and we ended up running a total of 4.5 miles. It felt good. We got back and toweled off before heading to the Olympic Village for lunch before the briefing. It looked like everyone else had the same idea.
The briefing was at 1:30 in the lawn area behind the village. It actually started to sprinkle and we were all looking at the skies. But it never got worse than spitting. The briefing was okay. It seemed to be geared more to those who are already have run the race. For newbies like me, I didn't learn anymore than what was already in the participant guide.
We headed back to the condo and I prepared my food-dim sum and perogies. We went out to sushi for dinner. I do well in races with sushi in me. Some ice cream for dessert and off to bed.
I slept pretty well. Got up and peed a couple to times-hydrated! Checked in-weight was back to normal. With clothes and shoes on and everything, my weight was 120. I kissed Ken goodbye, waved to Mary and Cliff and the clock counted down.
The temps were perfect at the start. We immediately started climbing out of Squaw Valley, starting at 6200' and heading up to Emigrant Pass at 8700'. And it was up and up and up for 3.5 miles. There was an aid station at 3 miles. The next aid station would be 10 more miles. I loaded up on fluids and headed up onto the snow. There was quite a bit of snow, even on this year where we were on the "snow route," which was supposed to be lower than the usual route. But I talked to Catra Corbett after the race. She's run the race before and said there was a lot more snow than usual, making the first part of the race before Robinson Flat a lot harder. I couldn't have agreed more.
I caught up with Francis Agboton, another WA runner. We slipped and slided all over the snow. Everyone was passing us. Next thing we know, Gordy Ansleigh (the first person to run the course and now 63) passes us romping down the snow. We did hit some no snow trails and were able to catch up with the others, but I was also getting better at running in the snow. There was plenty of getting our feet wet on trails that were basically a small creek. Everytime we thought we were done with snow, there was more. We got to mile 13 aid station at Talbot Creek. I saw Ed Cacciapaglia there. Super nice guy. I met him the day before and he raved about how he was DFL at Bighorn. He wanted to give me a hug at the aid station but after seeing how sweaty he was, I told him he was not allowed anywhere near me! Think Dick Decker :) We actually ended up hop-scotching throughout the race until Michigan Bluff, where I last saw him until the end.
Next was Poppy Trailhead aid station at 19 miles with about a mile of road before. This and Talbot creek aid station were not the usual. I had a drop bag here. I drank an Ensure. I moved on.
Next we were headed to Duncan Canyon. I couldn't remember much about this part of the race until Robinson Flat except that it was very exposed, very hot and quite a bit of climbing before getting to Robinson flat. I was getting quite tired by now and realizing it was going to take me nearly 7 hours to finish just under 30 miles. There was more snow to deal with on the way up to Robinson. The air was thin for me as well. I couldn't run the slight inclines that I normally could. I was worried that my crew had been waiting a long time. I'm glad they had each other to keep company.
I finally made it to Robinson at 6:52 and it was a zoo. Even though I could hear my name called out, I had a hard time picking out my crew. It was pretty overwhelming. I was weighed in first before my crew could help me and was at 118. Doing good on fluids. I had another Ensure and Ken put ice in a special bandana that could hold it. But I didn't end up liking it too much over the course of the day because it was thick and bulky and hard to tie around my neck. I was actually glad to rid of it by 62 miles. I tried to move through the aid station fast and gave Ken a quick kiss goodbye. This was not to be one of my better races in dealing with crew. I was not as perky as the my last CCC. I had run into more problems this race, which made me smile less.
I was irked to find that there was quite a bit of snow leaving Robinson. This added to my already longer time than desired and took me further away from the 24hr target I was dreaming about still. We did finally break out of the snow and ran down for a while on some switchbacks. It felt good to be running but I had to be careful not to push it too hard. It was still early. This downhill got us to Miller's defeat aid station at 34.4mi and 8:21. I ran into another WA runner there, Erik Swordmaker. He had ice on his quads. My quads were feeling pretty sore as well, but still worked.
More downhill running to Dusty Corners 38mi and 9:02. My weigh-ins were still good. 117 to 119. Before the race, I was dreading all the med checks, but actually found myself looking forward to my weigh-ins. It really helped me decide how much to keep hydrating. I was peeing about once an hour, which was perfect. Not too much, not too little. I didn't experience any stomach problems. Had gas from protein but no nausea. My breathing was fine, although, still I couldn't run the slight uphills, even if we had come down in altitude.
Some flat and downhill to Last Chance aid station at 43.8mi and 10:03. I had an Ensure there in my drop bag. A little boy came to help me. I asked him to dump out about a quarter and put ice in it for me. He came back looking scared. He accidentally dumped most of it out. He stuck a few pieces of ice in the bottle. I told him it was okay but inside I was thinking, "I have the big climb up Devil's thumb coming up!" I drank what little was left and took off. Just about this time, my feet were swelling and the sock combination that I started with was getting tight. I had a liner sock and a pair of Smartwool socks. My pinkie toes were jamming into my shoes. I had to start to adjust my foot plant because of the pain. I wasn't sure what I was going to do. There is a steep downhill to Deadwood canyon before the climb to Devil's thumb. My feet were hurting. I was still running down though. I heard a rattling in the bushes. I gave out a YELP! This was followed by 5-6 high knee hikes down the trail, painful on my feet but I didn't care. I slowed myself down after that adrenaline rush. Ed caught and passed me but he didn't hear any snakes when I asked him. He was out of sight soon.
I got down to Deadwood canyon and crossed the swinging bridge and sat down at the other side of the bridge (where I could see any snakes coming) and took off my liner socks. I heard the temps in the canyons got to 104. At least it was shaded. My feet felt better and the little rest helped me chug up Devil's thumb strong. I passed a lot of guys but no gals. I got to the Devil's thumb aid station at 47.8mi and 11:48 with good weight 118. I was feeling good. Got a popsicle and was on my way.
Unfortunately, my feet started hurting again on the 4 miles switchbacky down to El Dorado Canyon at 52.9mi and 13:04. Every slight misstep gave me sharp stabbing pain in one or both my pinkie toes. I knew I could not continue like this but also knew my other shoes had an even narrower toe box. I knew I was going to probably lose my pinkie nails. I had figured out a solution before I got to the the aid station.
"Does anyone have a sharp knife? I need to cut holes into my shoes." One aid station volunteer had a knife, but it was not so sharp. Fortunately, another had a sharper knife and a nice doctor cut the holes. I was going to put duct tape over the holes to keep dirt out, but it pushed on my toes too much so I went without. I noticed improvement right away and thanked all the volunteers. I figured I was going to blast up that hill like I had up Devil's thumb after the last foot adjustment rest. But crazy thing, I rested too long and my asthma kicked in. Ever notice, if you have asthma, that breathing is harder after stopping? So my first few strides up the hill and I was sucking air. And my breathing never got better. I took two puffs of albuterol, which helped a little. It took me forever to get up 2.5 miles. I was passed by several people. Just as the climb up Devil's thumb, the pace was so slow that mosquitos started feasting on my arms. Even after killing almost every insect that landed on me, the blood and carnage left on my arms did not deter their buddies. I was miserable when I got to Michigan Bluff 55.7mi and 14:22, which was the next time I saw my crew. So again, I was not in a great mood. My weight was unchanged. I grabbed more food and fluids but needed to get going. I saw a bunch of people that I had been running with all day still at the aid station when I left, like Ed and Rena Lantz, who was attempting her 10th finish or 1000 miles on this day.
My feet felt much better though and on the downhills, I could run. The ups I had to power hike, limited by my breathing. There was a creek crossing after the down and then a mile hike up to the Bath Road. I caught a few runners. It was starting to get dark when I hit the road, which was a climb up to the Foresthill road to the aid station at 62mi and 16:09-over 2 hrs over the 24hr finish pace. I knew my chances were definitely gone. If my breathing had been better, I might have been able to blast through that last 38 miles since it's my kind of running. There was about half a mile of running to the aid station after the climbon Bath road, which I did in the dark but the footing was fine.
My weight again was good. I needed to use the bathroom, but there were no porta-potties at the aid station. So I had to go all the way around the back of the school to go. Very out of the way. If I run it again, I would save it for the woods or go back at Michigan Bluff. Mary joined me at this point. I ditched my heavy bandana, changed my shirt, got my hand held light, back up headlamp in my pack, more food and Gu and headed out. I kissed Ken again and said I'd see him in a few hours. I knew I would finish, but when?
We headed down to California street and hit the trails down to the river. It was steep and technical to start before it became rolling. It was much easier when I did it on the training runs for sure. I passed quite a few people on the way to Rucky Chucky. I was able to run the down and hike the ups but the ups did wind me quite a bit. I tried to continue to eat solids, but Gu went down much easier and I would have just stuck with Gu but the calories didn't last very long and my teeth were getting sensitive. I brushed them back after Michigan Bluff and again after Mary joined me. I tried to eat grilled cheese sandwiches and my perogies. I was not into my dim sum anymore. Mary got her fall out of the way early and then was fine after that. She updated me on other runners. I kinda had wished I didn't run the training runs because I kept thinking that the aid station was just around the corner, but we were far away. I kept psyching myself out. It just became demoralizing. Somehow we got from one aid station to the next. Dardenelles (Cal 1) at 65.7 and Peachstone (Cal 2) at 70.7.
We were inching towards Rucky Chucky 78mi and 20:47. Weight still 117-119. I was so hot all day and did not cool off at night. I was so uncomfortably warm and there was only an occasional breeze. I was putting ice in my bandana and was constantly wet, causing severe chafing from my sports bra on one side. In the training run, it took me 3 hours to get from Foresthill to Rucky Chucky. It took me 4.5 hours during the race. I did get cold for the raft ride over the river and was the only time I put on my shell. It was quite fun. We put on life vests and enjoyed a couple minute ride courtesy of a very buff gal.
Next was the hike up the road to Green Gate 79.8mi and 21:33 and the last time I would see Ken and Cliff before the finish. The hike up didn't take as long as I expected. It was nice to see Ken but I was focused to keep moving and we didn't stay too long to chat. My feet were hurting too. I had developed more blisters. The holes in my shoes helped but they did still hurt. My quads were tight. My lungs burned. But we were making progress. I think I passed more people than people passing me. I was getting tired of the dark and although I wanted daylight to come, I knew that it meant I was taking longer to finish.
It seemed to take forever to get to Auburn Lakes aid station 85.2mi and 23:18 and more hill than I remembered. All I remembered were roller coaster super runnable trails. Finally we got to the aid station. My weight was 116.5. She cautioned me to drink, but I had just peed and I felt fine. I didn't trust that scale. Maybe my shoes had dried out some. We saw Francis sitting there. He had been sitting for 5 minutes but said that he had basically been walking from Foresthill to there-that's 23 miles! It seemed like every aid station that we came upon since Foresthill had a bunch of runners sitting or looking spent. I knew that I just had to avoid sitting. Francis joined us out of the aid station but he was really shuffling. Surprisingly, he shuffled fast and kept up with my so-called running. He eventually passed us. We did catch up to him again and he was shuffling slower.
We could hear the next aid station a mile before we got to it. Brown's Bar at 89.9mi and 24:43 was seen in daylight. They were very upbeat and had great potatoe soup. We each had a cup and I filled an Ensure bottle with more. Okay, 10 more miles. This included downhill then up before we got to Hwy 49 at 93.5 and 25:57. My weight was back to 118. I loaded up on fluids with no plans on stopping at No Hands bridge. A bunch of people came in around the same time, including Francis. I also saw a girl come in as I was leaving and booked it out there to keep a gap between us.
There was some more up before we ran down, down, down to No Hands. At about 95 miles, I had a nosebleed. I thought my nose was just running, but I wiped it and wiped it again before I realized it was blood. I shoved tissue up that nostril and ran with it for the next mile. I took it out before No Hands because I didn't want them to see it and hold me back. I just sniffed up what was still bleeding and swallowed it. It eventually stopped. But I must have been a pretty site for that mile.
We got to No Hands 96.8mi. I asked if there was a weigh in. They said no so I said to Mary, need anything? Let's just go. I chugged the last of my potatoe soup. The next 3.4 miles were not easy. It had a lot of up and there was only one creek crossing to keep us cool. I was getting really hot. I walked and ran as much as I could. There was one final climb up that I couldn't run. We passed more people. One of them was Amy Palmiero-Winters, who was attempting to be the first Amputee to finish the race. I passed her with a little over 2 miles to go. I was thinking and told Mary, "I don't want to be the girl who passed Amy in the end. I also don't want to be the girl after Amy." But I just wanted to be done. So I kept going. (She was passed by another girl, the one I saw coming into Hwy 49 as I was leaving.) We finally got to Robie Point and 1.3 more road miles to go at 98.9mi and 27:21. It was a long uphill before the down and still a hill after that! I got a cup of ice water and dumped it on me and took a swig. I pushed that last bit as much as I could.
Finally, I saw the turn into the high school stadium and ran as fast as I could that last 3/4 track. No one passed me, I didn't pass anyone. I thanked Mary and crossed the finish line in 27:39:26. Ken was yelling my name but I couldn't hear him. My final weight was 119, started at 120. I participated in a study and they took my blood pressure, pulse, and blood. My BP was 117/91 and pulse was 124. My sodium was 139, smack in the middle of normal. No signs of hyponatremia. I will be getting my CK or muscle enzyme result later. Curious to know what that is.
A bunch of WA runners finished within an hour of me before and after. I changed, drank, ate a little, and just basically wilted in the heat. I was so uncomfortable even in the shade as were my crew. We hung around watching others finish, including Rena Lantz for her 1000 miles and Ed. Ed gave me a big hug-he said not getting away now! The Awards ceremony was not to start until 12:30 or 1pm and when I heard that it lasted 3 hrs last year, I said we were outta there and my crew did not object. We packed up with everyone watching us leave but I didn't care. Remember, we only had one day of 75 before this so we were miserable. Everyone had something to eat but I needed more fuel. We stopped at the In-N-Out burger. It was packed! With non-runners! I got two, yes TWO burgers and fries and we hit the road.
Some other notes about the race. My back, which has been bothering me for over a year, did not hurt at all! I forgot to put sunscreen at the split of my hair on the top of my head for my pigtails and I ended up blistering there and getting a bad case of dandruff later in the week when it peeled off. I ended up passing 40 people from Foresthill (62mi), 5-6 of them were girls, and that did not include the drops. It did not appear I was passed by anyone from there from my compilation of the results.
It felt good being in an air conditioned car. Turns out it was 100 degrees at the high school and as we were driving north towards Ashland, OR, we hit temps of 110. It was much more pleasant by the time be got to Ashland in the early evening. We checked into a hotel, had mexican food and Margaritas, and then crashed. I actually slept fine.
We drove the rest of the way home Monday, stopping for breakfast in Roseburg. We got home about 5pm. Sleep was more restless for my work day the next day, where I struggled to stay awake. I recovered well enough to have a good run the following Saturday at Cougar but I have to say my quads have never taken so long to recover. The downhill at Cougar set my quad recovery back a day. As they say about Western, it's a downhill course except for the uphills! As I was running Western, I said to myself, I just need to do this once. But after two days, I was saying, "I could do that better." We all know how that is but all know too that that is not always the case. I returned to Bighorn thinking I couldn't do it any slower than the first time. It took me two more hours!
As I write this, today's temps reached 90 and tomorrow is expected to be over 95. Where was all this heat I needed for training?