Sunday, July 25, 2010

More Hanging Out at the Summer Ultras

Sir Jovie, aka the BaldRunner, came all the way from the Philippines to run the Headlands 50-mile. BR is the RD for the Bataan102 Ultra, a race commemorating the Bataan Death March where 75,000 American and Filipino POWs were forced marched to prison camps. The race is on the original death march route.

Pals from SoCal, Lori and Billy, running the 50-mile race at Headlands 50.

Seven days later and I'm still smiling at how I pulled off last weekend. It wasn't that I managed to spectate at two trail running events a couple of hundred miles apart or that I was awake for most of the weekend, it was that I managed to pull it off while playing host to my sister and her boyfriend who were visiting from Orlando, Florida. Yeah! I promised them mountains, a lake and some casinos in exchange for some spectating time at an ultra race.

The day started off with a stop at the Headlands 50-Mile and Marathon, I snuck that one in. Wanted to check on some friends who were running and was treated to a big surprise when I saw another friend who I didn't know was entered in the race. A big surprise because he actually lives in the Philippines and I've only conversed with him through email, Facebook and his blog. It was a pleasure to finally meet him in person.

After a couple of hours at Headlands it was off to the main event, Tahoe and the Tahoe Rim Trail 100-Mile/50-Mile/50k. It was a lot more fun at the start/finish than I remembered when I ran the race in 2008, more people and there was music. It was a great time hanging out with friends. It wasn't the scene for Melissa and Jake but they were good sports. TRT has only two locations that is easily accessible, the start/finish area and Diamond Peak which is at mile 30 and 80. Before heading to Diamond Peak we hit the beach for some down time. The water was cold though and I didn't bring a change of clothes. I was content to hang at the beach, walk around ankle deep water. After a quick check at Diamond Peak, only the top three had come through at this point, I took the kids to South Lake where the casinos were. Parking lots was crowded because of an outdoor concert by Rascal Flatts, they had no patience, and they forced me to drive back to Incline Village where they proceeded to badger me about being hungry on the drive back. We were just in South Lake where many of the restaurants where! Throwing them out of the car was not an option so I looked for a place to eat. Incline Village at night is kind of dead and we didn't know the area very well. We stopped at what looked like an eating establishment, they did serve that and something else. The looks we got walking towards the place gave me a clue, then the stripper pole on the stage cinched it - Melissa is 21, Jake is 20 and they both look younger than their ages. Well at least the bouncer who looked amused gave us a tip on a place that was open. We ended up at the Hyatt and their bar/restaurant had excellent food and live music.

Made it back to Diamond Peak at midnight and this time the kids opted to just sleep in the car. The place was a bit livelier this time since more crew had made it to the aid station. My friend Preston McCaskill (Ultra P) was running his first 100-Mile and I wanted to see him one last time before heading back to San Francisco. Preston and I serve on our triathlon club board and I knew all his crew and pacers. As the minutes ticked away we worried, no one has seen him since mile 50, thankfully his pacer was texting updates on their location on the trail so we knew they were on their way. No details on how he was doing overall however. I was a little worried that Jamie had time to text. Finally at 4 am, just as I was about to leave, they come in. He looked great and he told us that he felt great, tired but still going strong. The temperatures during the day got up to the mid and upper 90s and the course change added over 3000 feet of climbing. They also spent a lot of time running at 8-9000 feet. It was an already hard race before and it's tougher now. Some runners coming through looked terrible and some would not continue. Who chooses a race like this for their first hundred?! Preston!

After seeing him I took off, barring any major problem he was going to finish. The kids were surprised when they woke up and saw it was past 4 am by the time I returned to the car. I got them sushi that evening to make it up to them, I'm not so mean right. Got back to San Francisco 5 minutes before the rental car was up. Hey I can time manage like a runner in danger of cut-offs if I need to. I was tired for the rest of Sunday despite a 4 hour nap but the trip was so worth it. Writing the report made me relive the whole day all over again and I'm smiling.

At TRT. Jorge and Kevin, finishers of the 50-mile race.

Zach Landman, attending to fellow San Francisco runner, Brian Myers. I think Zach ran his 18:48 at Western States in that tie-dye shirt.

The Endurables; Ken, Yury and Sammy Sam hanging out after their 50k finish.

Ultra P's crew.

Ultra P, not looking at all regretful that he choose TRT as his first 100 miler. At the mile 50 mark at Spooner Lake.

Melissa and her boyfriend Jake.

Sand Harbor Beach.

Diamond Peak at 9 PM, aid station mile 30 and 80.

One last good luck hug with Ultra P before we both had to go.

For more TRT photos, click here.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Another Big Weekend

Basic CMYK
Logo for the new PCTR race by yours truly.

It's another one of those weekends where there are multiple events going on and it's a bummer because I want to be a spectator/volunteer in all of them. It is the summer after all. The new PCTR Headlands 50-Mile and Marathon is this Saturday, the Vineman Half-Ironman is Sunday and the whole weekend is the Tahoe Rim Trail 100-Mile. I'm headed up to TRT. My sister and her boyfriend are visiting from Orlando, Florida and I'm taking them along. It's a perfect opportunity for them to experience Tahoe and witness a 100-mile race. Lots of friends racing in the 100 as well as the 50-mile and 50k race. I was supposed to crew and pace my friend Preston "Ultra P" McCaskill but as it turned out there's enough folks headed up who want to crew and pace too so I gave my spot away. Worked out for the best since I had family in tow and Jaime, our friend who now holds my spot, will get to experience his first ultra - a win win situation. It's Preston's first 100-mile race and he will need everyone's help since he picked a hard one for his first. It was already a hard race before and the changes to the course this year just made it even harder! More power to him. I do plan to swing by the PCTR Headlands event prior to heading out for Tahoe. Lots of friends participating in that event too and I'd like to see how the logo turned out on the shirts and coasters.

So where have I been? Nowhere really, just been quietly attending to my training. Got my endurance back but not my speed, hopefully it makes an appearance sometime this month:) Actually I've been having some lingering fatigue issues and I'm excited because I think I may have solved it. More on that later. I want to make sure that is really the case before I start blogging about it. Otherwise everything is good. Managed 92 miles last week despite not feeling like a superstar, good thing because I will be nowhere near that this week with family in town. All good, running has to take a backseat to more important things.

Well the camera battery is charging and hopefully I'll bring back some great videos/photos to share, the usual you know. Hope you all have a great weekend.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Spectating at Western States 100-Mile

What a great trail party that Western States 100-Mile. Such a gathering of ultra-marathoners, volunteers, crew, pacers and spectators. Like last year I was just as amazed at the talent on the sidelines.

I went up Saturday morning to spectate with a couple of friends. Got to Foresthill, mile 62, a little after 1PM. This was just before the leaders came through. It was neat seeing the elite of the elites. They had such speed, grace and focus. Got to see a lot of friends and it was good to catch up with them. We ended up staying till about 6:30 or so. I waited till my buddy Jon Gunderson came through before we left for the river crossing at mile 78. Jon was having a bad race but was managing it. He was pretty determined to punch through. Stomach went south, nausea issues, some throwing up and a twisted ankle. Before I left I also got a chance to say hello to Meredith Terranova who came along shortly after Jon. She was all smiles and pounding down food and liquids. I'm sure she had her share of issues as well but didn't have time to ask.

The trip to the river was not as easy as it looked on paper. From Foresthill we had to make our way towards the finish and back track from there until we reached the point where we had to hike down to the river. What's cool is that you pass some of the other aid station points on the way. No Hands Bridge, the mile 96.8 aid station, was lit up like Christmas. The walk down to the river is a little over three miles and all of it downhill which means a long uphill on the way back. Bless the dedicated crews who were hauling chairs, coolers and whatever else for their runners. We were in the river bank for about three hours this time. Got to see a lot of friends come through again and it was fascinating to see the river volunteers work. Because the water was high this year, they used boats for the crossing - same as the year I ran it. One of the boats almost ended up downstream when it got turned around and came close to the rapids, that was a tense moment. By the time we got out there it was close to midnight. My friends and I were pretty tired and hungry. We grabbed a quick dinner at a local Denny's, one of the only places open that late, and made a quick stop at the finish line before heading home.

We got to the finish around 1:30 am. Got the scoop on who finished at what time. Heard stories from the runners and pacers. Just phenomenal for these guys to be coming in under 20.5 hours, just phenomenal. Great performances all around. The one story that really lit me up was Gary Robbin's 6th place with a 17:06. Gary had a brutal day last year. This year he ended up dropping at the Miwok 100k in the first weekend of May, was diagnosed with fatigue and exhaustion and forced to lay off for weeks afterward. According to him he ran a total of 98 miles for the entire month of May! For him to bounce back from that issue and perform like he did at WS is just great. Phenomenal.

Would have liked to have been there for the awards ceremony later that day but had much to do on Sunday. Next year I should get my chance to run the race again. Looking forward to it already. While I enjoy the occasional 100-miler without a pacer or crew this is a race where I would like to have both. It's a big event, a party and I want to bring more people into it. I already know who to ask. I hope they are available.


Crew stop by Zach Landman and his pacer Joel Lanz at Foresthill, mile 62 of the race.

At the Rucky Chucky river crossing, mile 78.

Jon Gunderson and Meredith Terranova at the river crossing.


Foresthill aid station volunteers, led by a couple of silver buckled station leaders. I love how some of these guys purposely tuck in their shirts to show off the buckle. Maybe that's me 20 years from now...if I'm lucky.

A couple of shady characters at Foresthill school. "Hey Kid you want some GU?! C'mon the first one is free". Brett and Nate ready to pace.

Anton Krupicka, leaving Foresthill aid station in first place.

Zach Landman's fiancee Geri, refilling his energy gel flask.

Walking down to the river crossing, enjoying the view.

The river crossing as seen from the far side bank. Boats are used because the river is too high to cross on foot.

Suzanna Bon. From the 24-Hour World Championships in Brive, France to Western States in California. Go Tamalpa!

Pacers spotted at the finish; Brett Rivers, Krissy Moehl and Larissa Polischuk.

When I heard Gary took 6th!

Click Here! For the photoset.