Tuesday, September 13, 2016
Bigfoot 200 August 12-15 82:25:00
Cascade Crest August 27-28 32:16:50
Pine to Palm September 10-11 31:57:41
Trifecta! This is the word used by Seven Hills Running Shop owner Phil Kochik to describe my 3 runs in less than a month. I didn't know the real definition of this word, so I Googled it. It didn't quite fit my accomplishment:
A bet in which the person betting forecasts the first 3 finishers in a race in the correct order or a run of three wins or grand events.
But according to Wikipedia, it is a perfect group of three. For men, it listed beer, football, and blow job. For women, it listed wine, sex and chocolate. For me this year, it was BF, CCC, and P2P.
I already wrote a long blog for Bigfoot, so I won't revisit that. I didn't write about CCC except to post on Face book that it felt like shit. Although the weather was perfect, I was overheating from the get go and even the early miles felt like I was picking up from mile 180 of Bigfoot. It had only been 12 days from my Bigfoot finish. Plus 5 days after Bigfoot, I went on a hike/run up Mt Teneriffe for a photo shoot (10 mile loop with almost 4000 ft elevation gain in less than 4 miles). So at CCC, I scaled it back a lot until it became dark and cooler. I had a strong surge during the night, but then completely fell apart after the No Name aid station. Two years ago, I DNF'd at Thorp Mountain about 84-85 miles from dehydration, had to hike out with assistance, and it took a month for my muscle cramps to go away. I was starting to have cramps again in the same exact spot this year (the first Needles climb) but this time from over hydration (I was peeing clear frequently). I backed off on the fluids, took more salt, and basically crawled to Thorp. I at least made it there and got up and down Thorp compared to 2 years ago when I was not able to summit Thorp. My muscles were twitching the entire time but then something incredible happened. After I came down from Thorp and made my way to French Cabin and through the next 3 Needles, I got my legs back! I made it to the finish before the 34 hour cut off for my 9th Cascade finish. This year, they added 3 miles early in the race which included an optional short out and back to Blowout Mountain. A lot of people bypassed it because there was not going to be any views, but we were told at the briefing that there would be a surprise at the turn around if we went up there. I'm so glad I went because I loved getting this token! I wanted to grab 8 more for my previous finishes.
While I was going through my rough spot, I told myself as well as people who were passing me on the trail that I was not going to run P2P, scheduled to be 2 weeks away. If I was having trouble just finishing CCC, how could I expect to finish P2P? I agree with Glenn Tachiyama as he was taking my picture on Thorp when I was ready to pull my hair out that I race too much. But that's my niche and my passion. Others are fast, others may have more endurance, but my strength seems to be finishing a brutal schedule of races. Of course, what you say on the trail does not stay on the trail. 100% of the time I say something like that, I will reverse my decision. It takes about 3 days to change my mind.
PINE TO PALM
The meat of this blog is about P2P. I ran it in the inaugural year in 2010, notorious for the cold and wet weather. At that time, I wasn't thrilled with all the dirt road, but welcomed it this year. It allowed me to concentrate less on footing and I could make up time on these sections. There was enough trail to keep things interesting. Plus, I wanted to actually experience the views. With 2 weeks from CCC, it was little more time for me to recover. But as the forecast continued to get hotter and hotter, I knew it would be a struggle to make the cut offs since heat it my worse enemy.
Drove to Portland, OR and left my car at Annie Crispino-Taylor's house and then got a ride to the race with TJ Ford and her husband Tom. This would be her second 100 miler. Her first one was Rocky Raccoon. We stopped in Coburg, OR and had a really nice lunch. This city is a historic district known for it's antiques. We ate at the Coburg Pizza Company/Nana's Caffe. Highly recommend it!
We arrived in Willams, OR for race check in at Pacifica Garden. It's large grounds are for horses, wedding venue, camping, etc. Got our bibs, a nice long sleeve hooded North Face tech shirt, our medical band, left our drop bags. We drove to the start location 6 miles away, drove the road up to where the single track began 2 miles from the start, and headed back for the race briefing.
I got to meet a lot of new people since I was far from home. Everyone was so nice. And nervous. There were a lot of first time 100 milers. Also many who had tried P2P before, DNF'd, and returned to give it another go.
As soon as the briefing ended, we drove to downtown Grants Pass, OR for dinner at an Italian restaurant with Annie and TJ's other pacer Jaymi Robinson Yazzolino. Then back to Annie's sister's house in Grants Pass for the night.
Woke at 4 am, got race ready, taped my heels and toes (no blisters!) and headed to the start at 4:45. We arrive to a full parking area, but Tom was allowed to park along the side of the road. Next thing I know, the countdown began, 10-9-8....go!
I started way at the back. I didn't want to get caught up in the adrenaline rush. Just like CCC, I felt my leg fatigue right away. So, I took it super easy. I planned on stopping a lot and taking pictures. Here is us getting off the paved road and hitting the single track at 2 miles.
On the elevation profile, it shows 11 miles of uphill but I was pleasantly surprised that there was a decent amount of downhill and runnable sections. I let people pass me without hesitation. I knew I needed to run my own pace. Asthma is usually an issue for me and partway up the climb, you could see and smell the smoke. The pictures below are not clouds or fog, it is smoke. I used my inhaler twice and never had an asthma attack.
Fortunately, there were clear skies above and when we topped out.
There was a water only stop at 4.5 miles at Rock Creek. Thanks to the volunteers for hauling in the water! After topping out, there was a steep descent down, a photo op with Paul Nelson, and several areas where we could cross the creek and wet our bandannas. The first full aid at 14.5 miles was at O'Brien creek, I loaded up on ice water. A nice volunteer sprayed my arms with Triglide, which helped with the chafing of my flabby muffin-top spilling out from my sports bra. I need to get me some of that stuff. I had no further problems with chafing there!
Thank you volunteers! The next section was exposed dry dirt road. I was able to run some of it. Paul cruised by us back of the packers in a truck, taking pictures before we got to the aid station. By then we all were really feeling the effects of the heat. Just when I thought I was feeling loose and good, as soon as I picked up the pace, my legs would tighten up and I would have to back off and walk. This meant that I was going back and forth with people constantly. That is until we hit the trail again as we neared Seattle Bar, where my cramping upped it's game and I lost contact with everyone in front of me and also the runners that passed me before the aid station. I crossed into California for a short while and my husband said he could see me standing on the CA-OR border on my SPOT tracker.
Somewhere on the road section before Seattle Bar, I passed Clyde the Glide Aker, who had marked the entire course. I didn't know what he looked like, but I wished I had taken the time to thank him for all his hard work. Unfortunately, he dropped at Seattle Bar. I don't know if that was his plan but it became a reality for 6 other runners. There were 142 starters, 23 DNS, 82 finishers for a 58% finisher's rate, which meant that 60 runners dropped, 7 here. I arrived at Seattle Bar at 7 hr 22 minutes, 38 minutes before the cut off and in 132nd place. I had to use the bathroom and get all my stuff needed for the next long climb, so I forgot to get my Popsicle. Annie and Jaymi helped me since TJ had just left as I arrived. I got sponged down and had ice put in my bandanna. I left after about 8 minutes, crossed the grass to the base of the climb towards Stein Butte. As soon as I was out of site, I started cramping again and almost turned around to quit. Instead I rested, got my heart rate down, regrouped, and started the very slow climb up the next 6+ miles. I had my poles and used them intermittently, mainly for the downhill. I was passed by 6 people in this section but was able to pass 3 of them back before the next aid. This was an exposed trail with little wind. I was starting to run out of water when I came upon a sign that said 2 miles to the aid station with a bunch of water bottles laying on the side of the trail, like about 30. At first, they all looked empty, but there was still water in some of them. I topped off my water bottle and headed down the trail. This short and not steep part allowed my legs to recover and I was able to run a lot of it. There was still plenty of up to get to the aid station at Stein Butte at 35 miles (we didn't actually go all the way up to the butte, just skirted around it). I took tons of picture of the beautiful Manzanita trees. I just couldn't get enough of them!
With 1 mile to go to the aid station, there were more water bottles, but smaller supply. I didn't need water then. They were hauled out by the high school cross country runners helping at the aid station. As I came in, they formed a human arch for me to run under. I was feeling good and was hooting and hollering as I came in. This was Stein Butte and 35 miles.
I left feeling pretty good, running down the road, But as soon as I started the 3 mile climb, my stomach was making strange noises. I didn't have nausea and never threw up but I had "bathroom issues." I got off the road quite a ways because I knew this wasn't going to be pretty and I definitely could not dig a hole for this disaster. I also could not wait until I got to a bathroom. Fortunately, I felt better once the trail descended again and hit the single track to Squaw Lakes. Still, I felt roughened up by the time I got to the lake, which was 41 miles. I had passed a guy about a mile from the aid station and asked him if he needed any help. He said no. I'm not sure if he continued on after getting to the aid station. TJ was somewhere on the 2.5 mile loop around the lake when I got there. Jaymi was there to ask if I needed anything. I just needed to use the bathroom again and hit the outhouse. I had to go again one more time and fortunately, there were 2 more outhouses on the loop for the campers. I dropped my pack and had a hand held bottle for the loop. It was nice to run with the weight off my shoulders. This was a really nice mainly flat trail. By the time I got back to the aid station, I felt better. I arrived to the lake the first time in 12 hr 18 minutes, 12 minutes before the cut off. My cushion was dwindling. After completing the loop, I made sure I had some warm clothes in case and a headlamp. With the 7 drops at Seattle Bar, there were still 135 runners in the race that left there. I arrived somehow in 124th place. I don't know if my improved placement included the people who dropped at Squaw lakes before me. I believe so because 13 more people dropped there and I certainly didn't pass 11 people.
From here on out, I did not take anymore pictures until it became light. We left on a road that mostly descended for about 3.5 miles at French Gulch where there was a water only stop. Then we started to climb the road again. This time, the climbing did not make me cramp but I thought we had only 4 miles to Hanley gap. Unfortunately, it was 5 miles and that lit a fire under my butt. I started to gain on the runners ahead of me and passed a bunch of them. I was able to run a decent amount of the down and rolling, but the trail was a little overgrown in spots and the footing was not great at times. This taxed us, but I was able to handle it better than most. We were all frantically trying to make the cut off. I passed a woman who asked how far until the aid. I told her 2-2.5 miles and she was disappointed to hear that. I then passed another woman standing off the trail and said hi and are you okay? Just about then she unleashed a massive amount of puke. I said sorry and moved along. In just about 100 more yards, a woman was laying on the side of the trail with her eyes closed. I didn't disturb her but thought it was too early to feel sleepy, so I think she was not feeling well. That was about 1 mile from the aid.
I arrived at Hanley, which was 52 miles, to what looked like total carnage. I got there at 15 hrs and 21 minutes, 9 minutes before the cut off. Again, cutting it tighter. I got my drop bag, got my night pack ready, left them at the aid station on a chair and took a bottle, shell, and hand held light up 1 mile to Squaw peak to get my flag. It was a long, rough hike up and very lonely. Three people were coming down on my way up. Finally got my flag to little fanfare and even less so when I got back down. I was planning on getting food when I got back down but they had closed and packed up the aid station. I was floored! I thought they wouldn't pack up until all the runners got back from the peak, with 2 behind me. This changed from when I did it the first year, so I was not prepared for that. Fortunately, I had packed a bunch of food in my pack that I was going to leave with. I just needed water and a kind aid station worker gave me some water from his jug in his car because I think they might have dumped out all the extra water. Needless to say, I left a little anxious but had to move on. I arrived at Hanley in 112th place, 32 more runners dropped here.
Other than a short distance with another runner, I ran the entire next section on my own. There was no one anywhere near me in front. I saw something dash ahead of me and saw rabbit ears. My only concern at that time was if a cougar was chasing it. I started clicking my poles together, talking out loud, yelling Marco! Polo! I saw a lot of insects on the dirt road and what looked like baby scorpions. I don't think I was hallucinating. If any of you other runners read this, please let me know if you saw them too. I was able to run a decent amount of this section and expected to arrive at Squaw Creek gap at about 60 miles by midnight to have 2 hours to get to Dutchman peak. Unfortunately, the aid station volunteers said that it was actually 7 miles instead of 6.5 from the last aid station. As soon as I got to the aid station, I just asked for water, no soup or grilled cheese. I had no time to spare. Another runner was sitting in a chair having soup and was not planning on leaving. I asked when the last runner left, and they said 25 minutes ago. I guess I was on my own again. But I was not scared this time, plenty of cars were coming down the road. Not as busy as earlier I expect.
I had 1 hr and 48 minutes to cover nearly 7 miles of mostly uphill dirt road. I likened this to the climb up Keechelus and No Name, which usually take me over 2 hours, but I was not ready to be timed out. I ran as much as I could and powered hiked like I never power hiked before. There was some flatter sections to run but not enough to make me feel better about getting there on time for the final cut off before the finish line cut off. Through all of this, I had to pay attention to my hydration and salt. With about 2 miles to go, I heard music coming from the aid station, so I thought I was closer than 2 miles. I finally saw a runner ahead and the cars parked about a mile away from the aid station where crew could meet their runner. I passed a guy sitting on the side of the road appearing lifeless but he said he was okay. He clearly was not going to make the cut off. I focused on getting to the top, with 1.5 miles to go to the aid, I started cramping again. I had to slow it down, losing precious time. I finally made the turn towards the aid and there was a girl who said that if I really pushed it, I could make the cut off. The next mile was steep and rough. I had 15 minutes. I pushed through the tight and twitching muscles to the edge but not enough to make me drop to the ground. People were coming down from the aid station saying good job. What I wouldn't have given to be in their shoes, carefree now until they got to the finish. TJ was coming down and we barely recognized each other in the dark. Jaymi was pacing her. Still a little less than 1/2 a mile but only 5 minutes, I pushed and pushed. I arrive at the speaker that was blaring the music and looked at my watch, I only had 10 seconds, I made the turn and saw the aid station tent and volunteers. I screamed at the top of my lungs but was drowned out by the loud speaker, "I'm here, I'm here! I made the cut off!" I waved my arms frantically to get their attention. I got there exactly at 2 am or 20 hours, 66 miles done. I was too tired to cry. I had worked so hard. I told them I would get my stuff quick and get out of there in a minute because usually one has to leave by the cut off. But they said, "Relax, calm down, get something to eat. We've been expecting you." So I did. I got a few things from my drop bag and left there in about 10 minutes. I was so thankful to be able to continue. I was ready to make a speech about why they should let me go on if I made it there 5 minutes after the cut off. But I didn't need to bother, and I was so happy about that. Now, I can relax and maybe enjoy the remainder of the race. Four people dropped here, but I think there were a decent number of people who dropped at the previous aid station. The live results did not include that aid station so I don't know. My place now was 90th here.
I was surprised that I was not cramping on the steep down that we just came up. I took my time still. There were still 34 miles to cover, and some of that would be in the heat of the day. I arrived to the parking area where runners could meet with their crew. I think I passed a few runners here since I didn't have crew or pacer. I was basically solo except for sharing Annie and Jaymi at a couple of aid stations in the first half when I was still not too far behind TJ. I was just happy to be around people again. I like to run alone, but it's comforting to know that I'm not alone for long. I passed one guy on this section, which seemed to go on and on. It started on road then became single track on the PCT and skirted Red Mountain. The trail was sloping, rocky in parts, rolling but mostly descending. There were some cold pockets where I needed my arm warmers but not a jacket. I never got really cold, even when stopping at the aid stations. I finally arrived at Siskyou gap at 73.5 miles. Some people were leaving as I arrived and there was a girl and her pacer who left 5 minutes before me. Finally, I was able to sit down at an aid station, enjoy talking to the volunteers, and eating the food. I didn't linger too long and left in less than 10 minutes. There were several people who arrived as I was leaving but they didn't stay long because I saw headlamps come after me pretty soon. I caught up to the girls ahead, passed a few more runners, some of them walking stiffly on the down, and eventually was able to turn off my light. Sunrise was very beautiful.
I arrived at Grouse Gap at 80 miles at 25 hours, now in 77th place. There were unfortunately 4 drops here. So disheartening to drop that late in a race. Things must have to be really bad to end it there. I had more grilled cheese and soup, switched back into a lighter pack, and decided to leave my poles since I didn't really use them in the last section. BIG MISTAKE! We had a little over a mile hike up the road before getting back on trail and my legs tightened up there, resorting me to a slow crawl. At that time, Barrack Blakeley (17) and Wasch Blakeley (47) passed me with a strong stride. I could only wince a smile and told them good job as I stood still for a minute. I really needed to figure out what I had to do at that time, salt or water, because my hands were puffy and either could hold true. When I had no improvement with salt, I sat down and drank. I noticed my hands were becoming less puffy, so I found I was dehydrated. I sat for about 5 minutes to let the water absorb and was able to catch Jean Michel Fouard, Chris Fricker, and his pacer. They had also passed me on this Split Rock trail, which was new this year and a nice addition.The trail went up and down for about 3 miles. A runner was heading back towards us and I thought he was turning around to quit at Grouse Gap, but apparently, he never made it to the aid station and was backtracking to make sure he was not going to be disqualified. Turns out, Hal did not make him come back entirely since he had already done extra miles. This was Zak McKeon, and he did finish last, but at least he finished! We reached the intersection for the out and back to Wagner Butte. A lot of people dropped their packs here but I needed to keep mine. We saw a bunch of people coming back towards us, some congratulating me on making the final cut off to Dutchman. I saw TJ with Annie, and she was just about done with the out and back, so she was doing really well and ended up finishing in 29:57.
I was able to hike strong until we got to the final scramble. I had to slow it down but was able to go and retrieve the token needed to get credit for this part. Fortunately it was small and I just stuffed it in my shorts pocket with a Velcro closure. I did this scramble in the first year when it was wet and it felt like I was going to slip off the rock and die. It was nice to have dry footing today.
I thought I was going to feel good on the way down, but my legs felt shot again, so I ran/walk the next 5 miles to the final manned aid station. I cheered on the runners that were still making it to the turn around. I think everyone here made it to the finish. One of them was Krista Olson, Timothy Olson's wife and he was pacing her. I had heard that she was still nursing? If that is the case, what a trooper. I love hearing stories like this. Ultrarunners are such cool people! The 3 downhill miles just before the aid wer so steep and loose in places that I was constantly breaking with my quads and calves. Eventually, I was not able to run and walked about 2 miles of this downhill. Wished I had my damn poles!
I was wasted and hot when I got to the final aid. I had some Frito's, and they tasted amazing. Should have been a clue that I needed more salt. I had some watermelon and headed down the road. The next section was very runnable road, but I had to run/walk it since my legs were tightening up again. I went from being dehydrated to over hydrated again in a small amount of time. When will I ever learn? I was peeing clear frequently now, so I stopped drinking and just wet my mouth. I took a few salt pills, but not too much and basically walked until I could run. I was passed by 2 runners before getting to the last water only aid and knew I had 5 miles to go. The road had some small climbs. Eventually, it became downhill single/double track bike trail for about 1.5 miles before hitting pavement. I was passed by strong finishing Carolyn Hennessey with her pacer on the trail with about 3.5 miles to go. She was having a grand time now. Just about then, we passed what I assume was a father and son team-the Blakeleys. They were walking it in. The final person I passed was Chris Fricker with 2.5 miles to go. His hips were locked up and he was walking stiffly down this steep grade. I felt so bad for him, but he took it in stride (haha) with the help of his pacer. The sun was beating down on us hard now and it's always harder to handle the second day of heat, even though it was probably 15 degrees cooler than the day before.
As I was making my way down the steep hill, I saw a man in front of me at the bottom and he appeared to be directing foot traffic. Could that be the last turn to the finish? Why yes it is! I was so happy to see him and even happier to see the finish arch. I strode in under 32 hours and did a little hands to knees dance to the cheers of the people who were still hanging out. I sat long enough for Hal to hand me my buckle, a very pretty necklace, cool North Face Gym bag, a trucker hat, a finisher's sticker, and a Pine to Palm magnet. I finished in 73rd place out of 82 finishers and 142 starters. Not to shabby for 400 miles and over 90,000 ft in elevation gain in less than a month!
I want to thank Annie for letting me stay at her sister's house in Grants Pass and letting me spend the night at her house in Portland before I made the drive home Monday morning. Thanks to Jaymi for doing a lot of the driving back to Portland Sunday night and to both for crewing me when they could. Thanks for TJ and Tom for getting me to the briefing and the start. Thanks to Rogue Valley Runners for putting on a tough and scenic race, and thanks to all the volunteers who gave up their time to help us travel 100 miles. It was a treat to see our very own Kaytlyn Gerbin take the female win in 22:18 and a sub 24 for Phil in 23:32!
So is it time to rest? We'll see. I'm signed up for The Crystal Mountain Sky Marathon, which has over 9000 ft of elevation on the 17th, and Cle Elum 50K on the 24th. Maybe I'll volunteer? Then Bigfoot 120 on October 7.
My goal is one hundred 100 milers or 1000 marathon/ultras in my lifetime. As of this race, I have 49 races 100 mile or longer, and 417 marathon/ultras. No time to rest!