Friday, June 12, 2009

Rollin Rollin Rollin

My San Diego 100-Mile 2009 Race Report. Oh it's long, long like a 100-miler. I don't do short race reports. However there are other things to do besides reading a whole bunch of text, there are pictures and photos. Take in as much or as little as you want. Enjoy.

01. The Quick Report
02. The Short Report at
03. Videos Courtesy of Jessica Fewless
04. Pictures by Jessica Fewless
05. Pictures of the Course by Chris Marolf
06. Official Results
07. Splits
08. Race Director Scott Mill's Report

Olga's splits. I had these taped to my water bottles and Jessica had a copy so she knew when to expect me at the aid stations. The cooler than normal weather allowed me to stay ahead of them. Had it been the usual warm weather of the race I would have been closer to her predicted time.

So Close
Missing going under the 20-hour mark a mere 25 seconds grated on me for a couple of days. It was tough to let go even with the 6th place finish because it was a goal I had been aiming at for most of the day. My constant progress against the projected splits kept me motivated and moving well. Jess said she had never seen me so focused, I think I scared her a little bit. I smiled a lot less, all business. Who needs a pacer with that kind of focus for company? Me, me, me, for the last 7.6 miles. The distance between the last aid station of Sweetwater and the finish. The goal slipped into my hands at Sweetwater, gaining 1:05 against Olga's predicted finish time. All I had to do was cover the remaining distance in an hour and 50 minutes. I choked. In the dark, with single digit miles left, the wheels started wobbling and I wobbled my way to the time you guys already know of 20:00:25. Another lesson learned for next time - a good hundred is running the race hard all 100 miles not 92.4:) Oh I'm fine now. I am satisfied with my race now that I can see the big picture again. So many things went right and the support I got heading into, during and after the race was phenomenal, just phenomenal. The time I ultimately finished in was more than I hoped for.

A Great Race
The course is basically made up of two loops, a 19-mile and 31-mile loop that you run twice to make 100. I liked it! I knew what to expect the second time around. It was also more beautiful than I had imagined. Even the remains of burnt trees from a fire years ago looked majestic and serene. We were constantly surrounded by hills and mountains, this course could have been more hilly if they wanted it. In fact the old course had more elevation gain. The current elevation gain of 12,300 ft. made it the less hilliest of the eight 100-milers I have finished but it feel a lot harder. Some of the 40 or so people who dropped can probably back me up on this one. Scott Mills did an amazing job, so did his cadre of dedicated volunteers. Emergency personnel were also on hand to lend their assistance. Special thanks to the volunteer at mile 75.3, Paso Picacho aid station. I came in bonking and out of it. I went straight to Jess for food, drink and extra clothing. The sun had already set and my body temp had also dropped from the lack of calories. As I was shoving food into my mouth, drinking and changing, this volunteer came over and threw a heavy blanket on me. When I had difficulty putting on my long sleeve shirt, doesn't slip on well when you put it on over a wet and dirty shirt, over a wet and dirty body, he helped me. Another volunteer came over and took my number. The volunteer with the blanket then walked with me past the aid station, gave me last minute directions and waited until the very last minute in taking the blanket off. That volunteer went the extra mile for me. At the finish Race Director Scott Mills treated me like I was the first place finisher amidst loud clapping and cheering. They sure know how to make a person feel like a rockstar. When we came back at 8AM Sunday morning he was still going strong along with the volunteers, crew and spectators. Two thumbs up for this event. What a great event!

Ohmygooosh 100 Miles! No way! Really? Goofing around at the start, eh it was a way to keep warm. Photos courtesy of Jessica Fewless.

The First 19 Miles of Loop 1
It was cold at the start and it would be unseasonably cool for the entire race. I came prepared for the heat but I am at home in cool conditions. Notice I didn't say cold. I had a feeling the day was going to go faster than originally planned. I had a heart rate number in my head, a low number which I aimed at for the first half. It was tough, I've never started so slow for a race. Days before I consulted with my track coaches, coach Duane and Dorette, and they helped me with my target pace. Despite feeling like I was moving too slow I was hitting the aid stations faster than the splits suggested so I was happy about that. After only 13 miles however I started to feel "off". I felt sluggish and off my grove. Something inside went off track somewhere.

Jess' take on the start.

I started in the middle of the pack and stuck to a conservative pace. There's people in front of those people. Photo courtesy of Baldwyn Chieh.

The Next 31 Miles of Loop 2
I see Jessica for the first time since the start. It was still too early for me to really need anything but I'm glad she was there because she filled me up with Gatorade. Some of the aid stations served Heed, my body doesn't do well on that. Some of the aid stations served Accelerade, my body doesn't like that either. When did my body become so friggin high maintenance? It did however run fine on Gatorade, strange because it used to hate Gatorade. My body was playing games with me but if it likes Gatorade it will get Gatorade. Along with the Gator juice I ate gels. For most of the race I pretty much subsisted on gels. Later I would have small pieces of cheese and turkey sandwiches but not much. I didn't feel the need for solid food on this one and I wasn't gagging on the gels. Moreover it took too much effort to chew, breath and swallow all at the same time. I was on a mission remember, gotta keep beating Olga's splits. At the 30-mile mark was the biggest climb of the day, about 1050 ft. in 2.75 miles followed by 800 ft. of descent the next 2.84 miles. It's not gigantic but it wasn't nothing either, the ensuing downhill was not kind. It's a rocky tricky descent. At night, on my second trip up this climb, I dubbed this section the "twilight zone" which I'll explain later. Coming down I was still feeling funky and sluggish, worse I was starting to feel a bit warm and achy, like I had a fever or something. I finally popped two Tylenols and within minutes I started feeling better. By the time I got back to the start/finish at Camp Cuyamaca everything was running like clockwork and I was 30 minutes below Olga's splits.

Jess' view of the first 43-miles.

The Climb up from Big Bend
The climb up from Big Bend. An absolute pain in the behind at night with the wind and light scattering heavy fog. Photo courtesy of Chris Marolf.

50 to 69 Mile of Loop 3
Left Camp Cuyamaca at 12th place but I started to slow down. Deep down I knew it was temporary. I was only halfway through the race and I paced myself well. At the mile 55.9 aid station I hit the caffeine. It was too early, it was only 4:24 in the afternoon but the Starbucks Mocha Frappucino looked so good. I turned over the bottle and it said 180 calories so I took a gel to make it 280. From that point forward I would have the fraps regularly and I didn't have to dip in to my caffeinated gel stash, something I was happy about because those tend to make me gag after awhile. Jess would end getting more frappucinos at the supermarket. I could get used to having crew at these 100s. Slowly I rebounded and I stopped losing the time I gained on the splits and started to get ahead again. By the time I returned to Camp Cuyamaca I was 40 minutes ahead and in 8th place.

More of Jess' commentary for this section.

San Diego - Mile 20-25 026
Wow that shirt could be a few inches shorter, well the runner could be a few inches taller, hahaha. Naw, those short legs are moving faster these days and for that I am happy. I do have to stop carrying the water bottles so high up, no reason for them being up there.

Miles 70 to 100 of the Last Friggin Loop!
The hardest one of all. I entered Camp Cuyamaca in 8th but I left it at 7th. Another aid station pass, hahaha. I love those! I didn't mean to do it though. I was just trying to get through the aid station as fast as possible as I had been doing all day. I didn't even know I did it until I looked back and saw the runner with his pacer (correction "her" pacer). She wasn't any of the guys I passed so I knew she had been in front of me. This time however I would pay for rushing through that aid station. Between Camp Cuyamaca and the 75.3 aid station I ran low on calories and needed at least a gel to get me through the next 30 minutes. I didn't eat much at Camp Cuyamaca because I still had enough calories in me and I didn't want to take in too much. I have a strong stomach but no need to tempt fate. Problem was that I forgot to get a non-caffeinated gel. The only gel I had was caffeinated and I didn't want to take it because I had a lot of caffeine in me from the last frappucino. Too much caffeine makes me queasy and nauseous so I opted for the bonk. This time the only thing in my water bottles was water so no help there. I bonked badly, that late in the race a slight miscalculation on my part had big repercussions. I started slowing down and I had to focus hard to keep moving. It helped that I knew what was going on. Funny that I was more scared of the nausea from too much caffeine than bonking from lack of calories. When I got to the aid station I headed straight for Jess and the rest I already relayed earlier when I wrote about the exceptional volunteer with the heavy blanket. That was the longest stop. Jess said I didn't even look at her once. I acted like she wasn't even there. My mind was focused on the basics; food, drink, warm clothes, and getting the hell out of Dodge before runner 8 and his pacer caught me.

I recovered quickly but not quick enough. Runner 8 and pacer did catch up to me. It was dark now and not only could I hear them chatting away but I could see their lights as we wound our way forward. A part of me wanted to let them pass. It seemed like they were gaining and it was only a matter of time. I didn't want to be harried, hunted, chased so closely. However a bigger part of me said "FIGHT!". So I firmed up my resolve and made like a rabbit and bounded away. If they were going to catch me it wasn't because I let them. It seemed like I wasn't losing them at first but then slowly and surely I pulled away. I met Jess just before the aid station of Big Bend at mile 80.4 and I apologized for my bonked behavior five miles back. I got what I needed and was even in more of a hurry than I was earlier in the day. I said something about people chasing me and she thought I was crazy cause she saw no one. After crossing the road I looked back to see if I could spot their lights and quickly went down, sprawled out all over the asphalt road that lead to the trail and the actual aid station of Big Bend. Lucky for me no one saw and I was gratified to see that there were no lights. At the station they tried to convince me to go back down for a jacket citing the wind and heavy fog at the mountain. Oh you mean like home, I thought to myself. I politely declined, they were concerned so I told them I was from the northern part of the state. They offered me some soup and I politely declined that as well citing the runners chasing me which by the way were still nowhere in sight. Did they get lost? They were making me look like a raving lunatic! What followed was the toughest part of the course, the "twilight zone" section I mentioned earlier.

The second time up the big hill was quite challenging. Heavy fog had rolled in and covered the mountain, limiting visibility greatly. All you had was the few feet in front of you. It isolated you. Like Gunderson said later, "it was hard to see the ribbons and it was easy to fool yourself that you are going the wrong way". Frankly I don't know how he did it with a single headlamp. The fog scattered the light of my headlamp and I was glad to have had my flashlight which cut through some of the fog. Thanks Zombie Runner! Don Lundell had rushed me a new light, mailed to our hotel the day before the race. I discovered my light wasn't working the day before I was about to leave. Anyway the cold and blowing wind didn't help things either. I heard reports of runners calling it quits on the climb and coming back down. It was a slower climb up the second time around and the trip down just as slow. Nevertheless I was hustling at a good pace, yes, yes, yes, still running away from runner 8 and his pacer. On the way down I caught the second place woman and her pacer and the first thing I said was "thank God, people!" Shortly after that I was below fog line again and out of that twilight zone. 10 miles later I would even catch a glimpse of the full moon between the clouds.

Along the way to Sweetwater, the 92.4 aid station, I caught sight of runner 5. I think he saw my lights too because he shifted to another gear and pulled away from me. Sound familiar? Not a faint glimmer from his lights was visible ever again. He was the Road Runner to my Wily E. Coyote. When I pulled into Sweetwater for the last time I was 1:05 below Olga's splits and stoked but not before falling and rolling all over the dirt first. This time I was seen, I guess it was obvious when my lights suddenly dove down and disappeared. Nice one Gassstone!

I left the station elated but feeling everything now. Physically I was ok but mentally I was close to done. A volunteer correctly assessed my situation when she said I was wobbly. I had turned around briefly to say something to Jess and the motion of swinging my head and shoulders back and forwards again was almost too much. Good thing I didn't fall again. I would have given them a fright. I had plenty of time but it was really hard to focus and stay motivated. I struggled my way to 99. The last mile I lit up once more trying to beat the clock. I was sprinting towards the finish, sprinting! See it was all in the mind. My focus had scattered like a headlamp's light in heavy fog those last few miles. The finish was bittersweet, so close. On the bright side it could have been 20:01. As it was I was exactly at 20 hours and I'm content with that, for now.

And her final post.

San Diego - Mile 70 and Finish 020
With Scott Mills the race director shortly after I finished. Checkout his Miwok 100k hat. He was with us at the rain and mudfest that was this years Miwok 100k. Photo courtesy of Jessica Fewless.

Post Race
I hung out briefly to chat with Brian Krogmann and Suzanna Bon at the finish then it was off to the hotel. Clean up was relatively painless because I only had minor chafing from my heart rate monitor strap. My feet were in great shape, thanks Drymax Socks, and I didn't have any injuries or scratches. I was good, just overall general soreness. My stomach was not happy however and it wouldn't be until another 9 hours before I felt like eating anything. I think I had ingested too much caffeine or too many gels. Shortly after slipping into bed I got the chills and my legs were so sore they kept waking me up. I've never had that kind of soreness and I only used to get chills my first year running, back in 1999. I would get them every time my long runs passed 15 miles. I must have been running hard, hahaha. Not sure why I'm laughing right now. After a few hours we were back at the finish by 8AM. We met up with Chris Marolf who was carpooling with us and stayed long enough to cheer runners in and take in another nap in the car.

Sunday evening my mom couldn't stop laughing about the way I walked and Monday I got to celebrate her birthday with her along with a good number of our relatives. We had lunch at this incredible Filipino restaurant and I ate my fill. There were questions of course. The "why" and "how" and more "whys" of running a 100-mile race. One of my aunts just couldn't understand why I would want to enter a race with no prizes. Haha ah yeah.... The prize part bothered her more than the distance. Well there is a prize just not in the way she envisioned. My mom was good, she handled all the questions.

Huge Thanks
I can't say it enough. Huge Huge thanks to my friend Jessica Fewless for being my race sherpa the entire weekend! I don't know if they used this girl to call the cows home back in Wisconsin but she can yell. I could hear her yelling my name from 100 yards away. Put her together with our other friend Samantha and it's over. She committed back in February and I thought it wasn't going to happen after her really bad bike crash in April. Oh she was riding her bike with her boyfriend Jeff, flying with a tailwind at 30mph when her front tire touched his back wheel. End result: bloody head, concussion (helmet saved her noggin), collar bone broken in two places and two fractured ribs. I heard the ribs were absolutely painful during allergy season. A week out of surgery, with a titanium plate screwed in her shoulder, she reaffirmed her commitment to crew. They make em tough in Wisconsin too I guess. Speaking of which big congratulations to the Kettle Moraine 100 runners, the event is run in the same weekend. My race there last year was also something special and I said a little prayer for them when we started our event.

Last Thoughts
San Diego is my 8th 100-mile race. What's next? Oh I've got plans, time to put them down on paper and map out the rest of my year. I'd like to participate in the new 100-mile ultra in Oregon late September and I am toying with the idea of joining friends in the Headlands Hundred early August. I've never repeated a 100 that I've done but this race is local, in my training grounds and I have a coupon that will help with the entry fee. Really, I'd be a sucker NOT to do it. In two weeks I get to pay forward all the help that I received for this race. I will be crewing and pacing my friend Carrie at Western States. Same runner I was supposed to pace last year when the forest fires cancelled the event. Another night trail run without having to run all day first. I'm all over that.


  1. great report. Someday I want to be like you Rick...running hundreds and running them well. I am impressed and thankful always for you help and encouragement. You are one tough customer!!!!! Congrats on your finish...number 6 is absolutely outstanding.

  2. Slacker. We did last section in 1:35, second fastest split after Karl's:) Why do you think I out you on 1:40? WTF?
    OK, done. Good job, Rick. SD100 seems to bring focus in people. When i went there, I actually had typed a list of 10 goals I wanted to achieve. I made 6 out of them. Including CR, ha:) Glad the weather cooperated too!
    Go do Headlands. No questions about it. We'll chat the rest in less than 2 weeks, hold your breath yet.

  3. WOW some great Video and photos and write up.... Jess & Chris did an awesome job on crewing... was funny how far away u were from jess video taping u and u are like, it will work better if u rotate it -- lol

    and NO pacer -- NO Doubt u will smash under 20 hours at SD if u add a pacer next year!!

    Congrats again and see ya soon!

  4. Awesome report. Your account of the last loop got me totally fired up for racing in the dark again, running away from those headlamps! Congrats again on a killer time, and DO NOT beat yourself up over those 25 seconds. Easier said than done, I know.

    I'm not sure if you'll be ahead of me or behind me at WS, but I'm sure we'll cross paths at some point out there. I'm looking forward to it.

  5. Dave: This is a sport that rewards experience and consistency. I know there are exceptions, folks like Brian Krogmann who seem to have come out of nowhere and start doing well from the get go. I however was one of those people who worked upwards from the back of the pack. I just kept running, never stopped learning, never stopped pushing, never stopped listening to those more experienced than I am and most of all I never stopped day dreaming of stronger faster races. The exciting thing about you Dave is that you just got started. I'm excited to see the levels you will end up rising to.

    Olga: You are so tough! First you called me a slacker for having the chills after the race then for taking too long on the last section. But that's what I love about you, you crazy loon. Nothing but tuff love delivered Russian style, blunt and to the point.

    Bob: Maybe I should start thinking about having pacers again, definitely would have helped. I do like the me v.s. me battle that goes on at night. I like the challenge of self-motivating through the second half. I do want a faster time however, decisions, decisions.

    Donald: Yeah man, like the both us running away from that guy who was chasing you at Headlands Hundred. His light constantly behind us then eventually passing us at the Miwok Cut-Off trail. Then you flew past him and left him behind. That was all you Big D, being your pacer I couldn't lead the charge and could only follow your lead.

  6. Hi Rick!

    Congrats, doood! I'm sorry you missed 20 hours by mere seconds, but hopefully you've come to peace with the fact that you ran freaking well. You are having a fabulous year ++++, and I'm sure you realize that!

    Recover happy!

  7. I can't believe Olga created that for you. You are such an outstanding athlete. I just watch you get better and better and better! Congratulations. Bask in your glory.

  8. You're amazing, and crazy! : ) CONGRATULATIONS!!!

  9. Engaging report. Awesome accomplishment! Congratulations again. Keep it up.

  10. you are really a strong & fast runner. you nailed it and you were looking fresh at the finish line. you inspire me to think of joining this race next year or in the future. nice race report, pics, and videos. keep on running!

  11. Nice race report,pictures and videos. It was like watching a good movie from a great book that is a classic or a bestseller, the movie is not good enough to give the exact and complete substance of the book for its lack of all the interesting details. I guess we'll all have to settle for our fertile imagination to figure out what transpired during your classic 100 mile killer run. God must be smiling for being the only witness to this great run from mile 0 to mile 100. :)

  12. Great race! I was the runner you were running away from towards the end - I felt like I chased your lights for hours (after being passed in an aid station - something that never happens to me!). You hadn't seen the "guy" before because he was my pacer - not because he'd just caught up. I just couldn't keep up at the end - way to push through the last leg. Great race, and a nice report, too!

  13. What an awesome race Rick, and such a fun report to read! Some of those parts just got me all teary eyed. Aren't those dedicated volunteers just the greatest? I love the intensity, joy, stress, drama, passion, and love at 100 milers. The stuff of great human stories.
    Isn't it funny how we can smash a predicted goal (like Olga's splits) but then still feel disappointed over not achieving the next goal? It's hard to help. These things are tough to get over, but it's also what makes you such a driven competitor--what makes you so fast.
    Congrats again Rick, you are a total stud!

  14. What a report! What a race! Fantastic pictures!

    Rick, I have said it before, but you are amazing! Wonderful job, and my sincere congratulations on such an incredible race! I hope you are recovering well and savoring the experience!

  15. Meghan: Hey Megs, thanks, thanks. June has been good to me the past couple of years. First Kettle Moraine and now San Diego. I liked San Diego a lot, I may not enter the lottery for Western States this year and return to San Diego again. I'm already in for States in 11. You would like SD I think and within driving distance, long drive though.

    Jo Lynn: Thanks JL, yeah wasn't that nice of her. Totally unexpected, now I'll be bugging her for splits. She has done Miwok and has paced for Headlands Hundred so maybe I'll bug for splits if I do Headlands.

    Jenny: Good luck tomorrow at Escape from Alcatraz and good luck at Ironman Nice! I hope to see tomorrow at Escape to wish you the same.

    Jonnifer: Salamat Pare. It was a good time.

    Bald Runner: You can't go wrong choosing this event as your first 100 and I think your kids would enjoy the experience of crewing and pacing you. Our mutual friend and fellow SD100 finisher Ben Gaetos can attest to the fact that RD Scott Mills puts on a great event and the volunteers are phenomenal. We'll talk more.

    Bong: Well you are right, a re-tell is never the same as the actual event just like a picture is never the same as the real thing. Good points. We do what we can with the stories that we have. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I had fun during the event and I'm glad I was able to impart some of that on my race report. Thank you for all support, it is much appreciated.

    Jane: That was you?! My apologies, for mixing the runner and the pacer. Well you certainly lit a fire under me and for that I am grateful. I hear you, I kind of fell apart on the last leg myself. Tough to keep it together for so long right? Well next time. Congratulations on a great race. We did good out there.

    Gretchen: Thanks for the kind words. Yeah we are our own worse critics right? Always pushing, always driving, always critiquing something. I love it too, that distance just reveals so much in people. So much of what you said; intensity, joy, stress, drama, passion and love is in abundance at these events. The distance reveals sides of a person not always apparent in the 50ks and 50-milers. I still love your story about fainting at the 75-mile mark of TRT100 only to get up and finish the race anyway.

    Jean: I'm glad you enjoyed it. Recovery is going well, too well maybe:) I spoil myself sometimes. I have gone for a couple of short runs and the body is responding nicely.

  16. Rick, you are such an inspiration! I'm definitely having an annoyed-with-injuries moment, but what you just said in the comments section about not stopping running, listening, learning, etc, and continuing to get stronger and faster is a great reminder to learn from each situation and keep moving forward. Congratulations on a really great race-- I'm already looking forward to your next one!

  17. Victoria: Oh noes, same pesky tendonitis or other crappy, nagging stuff. I hope you are healthy soon. Thanks and I hope to see you soon, another PCTR event perhaps. I'm really leaning towards Headlands Hundred now and I'll probaby run one of the 50ks before then or volunteering.

  18. Amazing report (such great detail), and congrats again on a great, great race !

  19. Faaabulous performance, Rick!
    I'm kind of tempted to repeat HH100 myself, but I've got to get WS out of the system before I decide.

    Hope to see you there and maybe you'll go sub 20 on your home turf, who knows?

  20. Great report and fabulous performance! You are an inspiration! I'm so glad you came through without injuries too.



  21. Anonymous10:37 AM

    Awesome race Rick! You are well on your way to a sub 20 hour hundred.

  22. Great report, Rick, as per usual! Thank you (and Jessica) for all the great photos, too. It was nice chatting with you at San Diego and I wish you and Carrie well at Western States. Carrie is very fortunate indeed to have your pacing services. Good luck at Headlands, too!

  23. What a fantastic read, Rick, I gotta catch up on your blog. Way to go with an awesome run!! I love the way your blog and Jessica's blog interplay, that's a cool meta-blog thing. Also surprised to read about the chills, I had them so bad after this race, for two nights, I'd go to bed bundled up because I was feeling feverish and would wake up swimming. Bizarre! Anyways, hope to see you at another race soon!

  24. Awesome job Rick, and despite some fueling problems later, I think you ran it really smart. I'm sort of thinking that getting under 20:01 is just as good as going under. You're not cheating to say you ran it in 20 hours.