Thursday, June 30, 2011

Western States The Short Version

Hanging with Kathleen by Glenn Tachiyama
Kathleen Egan and I are on our way to Mosquito Ridge. Kathleen paced me at my last hundred - Pine to Palm. It was great running with her again. A Glenn Tachiyama original.

Wow I got beat up on that run! Usually I'm able to go for an easy run by now, 4-5 days after a big race, but not this time. This is the best I've felt since Sunday, a good thing too because work was piling up. I have so much to do because I was so useless on Monday and partly useless on Tuesday. Deadlines don't care about 100 milers.

The event was another success and I got that finish. I missed the 24-hour mark and admittedly I'm still a bit disappointed by it but I'm more thankful to have finished as I did, losing a wheel the last 10 miles of the race. I couldn't have done it without my crew and pacers though; Jessica Fewless, Sarah Crosby-Helms, Steven Bin and Peter Duyan. I had a great crew.

I started the race nice and easy and for the first 55 miles I kept it conservative. There were many times when I just wanted to let loose but I kept that heart rate at the range it needed to be. My heart rate monitor was my speedometer. The climb out was tough and I felt breathless but once we summitted I felt good. The 4-mile climb was followed by 11 miles of snow however. Snow on flat ground is not a big deal, snow on the side of a mountain, up and down small hills...ummm yeah, not so good. I and the people I found myself with were slipping, sliding and falling all over the place. I worried that the early snow acrobatics we were doing would bite us in the butt later and in my case it did. After Michigan Bluff (mile 55) I had the energy to burn and from that point all the way to mile 90 I made up time, passed a lot of people and was within the 24-hour mark. However it was also at Michigan Bluff that I felt the twinges on my left posterior tibial tendon (runs along and on the inside of the achilles tendon). I could feel the twinges of pain going up my shin. By mile 90 the pain, even with acetaminophen and my lucky orange bandana wrapped around the ankle for compression, got a lot worse and I pretty much ended up walking the last 6 miles. The pain and pure exhaustion kept me out of the 24 mark. Like I mentioned I'm still a bit disappointed about that but I'm not too broken up about it.

Everything is okay except that damned tendon. There is a specific point that is swollen and tender to the touch, it also still hurts to walk. It's injured I'm sure and it will just need time to heal. Lucky for me I haven't planned anything for the summer. I can take my time healing and coming back. I'm also lucky that the injury is in an area that I can easily get to with my fingers. I can ice it and also massaged it when it's much better.

Steven Bin used my camera and took pictures all day, videos too. I have a lot of images to process but in the meantime I have pictures that friends took of me, from registration to finish. Enjoy the pictures.

By Jorge Velasco
At registration with fellow Pinoy runner, Jose San Gabriel. Photo by George Velasco.

With Carmela and Ben by Ben Gaetos
With more fellow Pinoy runners, Ben Gaetos and Carmela Layson, during the pre-race brief. Photo courtesy of Ben Gaetos.

With Sarah at the start
With Sarah Crosby-Helms at the start line the morning of the race. Photo by Steven Bin.

The climb out of Squaw Valley by Drymax Socks
Almost at the top of the climb out of Squaw Valley. Photo by Drymax Socks.

Tip Toeing on Icy Snow by Gary Wang
Cath Todd in front of our merry group. This was an icy section, notice how the snow is not giving way under my feet. Yes it does suck falling on top of it. Well first it sucks tripping or sliding on it then it's the gift that keeps on giving when you slam on top of it with your knee or whatever. Photo by Gary Wang who volunteered all day. He was on the course as a safety runner and again at the river helping people cross.

Mosquito Road by Glenn Tachiyama
Mosquito Road with Kathleen Egan. Another photo by Glenn Tachiyama.

On the Course by George Velasco
This may be Dusty Corners. Photo by George Velasco.

By Glenn Tachiyama
This may be Dusty Corners. Photo by Glenn Tachiyama.

Coming into Michigan Bluff by Amy Freund McCrea
Happy to be out of the Canyons. Heading into the Michigan Bluff aid station, mile 55. Photo by Amy Freund McCrea.

Mocha at Michigan Bluff by Jessica Fewless
Checking calories at Michigan Bluff. I like the cold coffee drinks later in the day. Photo by my crew chief Jessica Fewless.

At Michigan Bluff by Ben Gaetos
Leaving Michigan Bluff with my crew, Steven Bin (in the back), Jessica Fewless (lugging supplies) and Sarah Crosby-Helms (also carrying gear and supplies). Photo by Ben Gaetos.

With pacers at Michigan Bluff by Chris Perillo
Leaving Bath road aid station, mile 60, flanked by my two pacers, Peter Duyan (60- 80) and Sarah Crosby-Helms (80 - 100). Photo courtesy of Chris Perillo.

Coming into Foresthill by Amy Freund McCrea
Coming into Foresthill, mile 62, followed by Peter Duyan. Felt really, really good here.

Last mile by Jessica Fewless
The last friggin' mile to the school! Photo by Jessica Fewless.

At the Finish by Stan Jensen
Look at that sprinting form, a thing of beauty! Errr okay, maybe not. I like this photo because it shows Larissa Polischuk and Sarah Crosby-Helms running alongside. Photo by Stan Jensen.

Well that's it. I'll spend part of the weekend processing my own photos and videos, thank you Steven Bin. I should have those up by next week.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Crewing and Not Pacing San Diego 100

Luis Velasquez and Janet Thompson, training and racing buds.

Heather Van Ness and Marissa Walker. Heather is crewing for Marissa.

Heather Van Ness and Marissa Walker. Heather is crewing for Marissa.

Almost time to go. Rod Bien and Topher Gaylord pose for one more photo.

Scott Mills is a great race director who along with his staff and volunteers work very hard to make sure they put on a successful race. Right in line with pretty much all the ultras I've experienced. The course is challenging and beautiful. You get heat and cold and the trail is technical in some parts. For crew, pacers and volunteers the aid stations are very close together and easy to get to. As a runner it feels like you are going places, as support staff you are merely driving a few miles down the road to the next aid station and to the next and to the next. Most of the aid stations are crew accessible. There are medical personnel at the some of the aid stations. The finish at the lodge is wonderful in that there is a place to shower and shelter until it's time to go home. Most of all the volunteers are the best I've experienced and that's saying a lot considering ultra marathon volunteers are some of the best to begin with. I have two very memorable experiences at an aid station, both were at this race.

Krissy Moehl leaving the first aid station.

Our girl Larissa Polishuk, leaving the same aid station.

Brett and I with our "hammerchuk" shirst on. Hammer + the last part of Larissa's name. If you are familiar with the way she runs or trains you'll understand the "hammer" part.

I've run the race the last two years and being in Western States this year, just two weekends after San Diego, I couldn't run the race for a third time. I have friends who can run 100 milers a couple of weeks apart but that's not me. I came in the Wednesday before the race to celebrate my mom's birthday with her. She's in the city of Corona and I drove down early Saturday morning. It's about a 2.5 hour drive.

Penny Pines aid station, mile 23+ into the race.

Walter Edwards getting some help at the Penny Pines aid station.

I got there 20 minutes before the start. Lots of friends running, lots of friends spectating, crewing and pacing, it was another trail party scene. I was to crew and pace my buddy Randy Katz and he was one of three runners from our Thursday morning run group. He got food poisoning two days before, ouch, and he looked like what you might expect from someone who is about to start his first 100-mile race with a compromised gut. These things are hard enough when you're healthy, when you're not..... Everyone else looked good though. Our pal Larissa looked lean, mean and hungry. Last year she started three 100 milers and dropped on every single one. She had the ability and the strength but she was showing up injured at these races. Well this year is a totally different story, she has been running but she has also been doing Crossfit, TRX and Boot Camps. I noticed the difference in the Spring when she would bounce back from events very quickly. She was hungry for that first finish after those three dnf's and she was going to be paced by her boyfriend Brett Rivers who I would consider an elite runner and a total monster on hilly courses. We got shirts made, she had her superstar pacer and she was in the best running shape of her life.

From the start I headed right to the first aid station. We had lots of time to talk, hangout, take pictures. It was a good time early in the morning. It was quite chilly at first but it got warm not too long after. Randy struggled from the get go, he came through the first aid station feeling terrible. Our hope and his too was that his stomach would recover somewhat during the course of the run and he could salvage a finish no matter the time. He didn't get much better as the day went on however. By mile 23 it got pretty warm and they had to run the next 20 or so miles without crew access. They drop down to the valley, endure the heat then climb for 11 miles until they reach mile 44 and the next crew accessible point. This is probably the hardest section on the course. When Brett and I saw Randy he looked like he already ran three quarters of the race; haggard, tired and ready to be done. We saw him off and crossed our fingers. From there Brett and I went back to their cabin which was just right off the highway. The race was so easy to crew, so easy to get around to all the crew accessible points. We caught a few zzz's and by the time I woke up Brett was already gone and I headed out to the mile 44 aid alone. When I got to mile 44 the crew had already moved on, they've since gone on to the other aid station and would continue to progress forward on the course as I waited for Randy. I got there at about 5PM, 10 hours into the race and it would be about 8PM when I finally saw Randy. He had almost nothing to eat for the last 20 miles and was determined to drop. He came in to the aid station 20 minutes before cut-off and needed some time to change clothes, eat and drink. Despite his desire to drop I was able to coax him to leave the aid station. He left the station with 6 minutes to spare and I walked with him for a quarter mile before I let him go. I left him just as he entered my most favorite part of the course and I hoped the scenery and the cooling weather would buoy him to at least one more aid station. I told him he could at least make it 50 miles. Alas it wasn't to be, as I was enjoying a cup of chicken soup at the aid station he came walking back. His race was done at 44+ miles in 13+ hours. Well I gotta hand it to him, he did what he could with his stomach. He gave it one last legitimate shot to get back out after mile 44 and even though he couldn't make it happen he tried. Tough, tough day for him. I forgot to mention that he also got lost for three miles or so and was knocked down hitting a tree branch. He was following a runner too closely, the runner ducked the branch and he ran right into it. After getting back on his feet he threw up. Yah, terrible, awful day.

Waiting for the runners to come in to the Sunrise aid station and mile 80 of the race.

Sunrise aid station in the evening. Runners came through here earlier in the day at mile 51.

My first thought was to head back out and pace someone else. I called Brett to keep a lookout for someone who may need a pacer but the more I thought about it the more I realized that would be a mistake. Randy needed the company and I wanted to see Larissa finish. We drove back to the cabin so Randy could get cleaned up then we drove the 45 minutes to El Cajon for some food - no facilities inside the Mt. Laguna Recreation Area that is open past 7PM. After some fast food, only type of place we found open close to midnight, we drove back to look for Larissa.

Boy did it get cold at night. The wind was strong on the ridge at Sunrise aid station, miles 51 and 80 of the race. They had four RV's parked there helping block the wind as well as heat lamps, a fire and a couple of tents - it was still cold. I parked the car in a location where we could see runners coming off the trail and into the AS then fell asleep and so did Randy. We got up and walked to the AS just before Larissa and Brett came through. She looked great. We repeated this process until she finished - driving to an aid station, falling asleep, getting up in time to see her come through. We did manage to visit the finish area about 20 hours into the race and catch up with ome of the elites. I got to talk briefly with Krissy Moehl who was resting/sitting next to Topher Gaylord. She had good things to say about the new course, something about "tough" and "beautiful". Just before we left I was also fortunate enough to see Jenny Capel finish for second female finisher. She's another great runner and I got the pleasure of making her acquaintance at American River 50-mile earlier this year.

The sun was bright and shining by the time Larissa and Brett came through and many of the gang were assembled at the lodge enjoying the post race conversations. There were several other friends who dropped from the race like Randy but they were back out to see others finish. It was quite a celebration when Larissa finally came through and again when Walter finished as well. There may have been some watery eyes in the crowd, Devon I'm looking at you.

Oh yeah, the buckle and a happy finisher.

Walter, done, done, done.

Sunday ended with one more group session back at the cabin. Just a bunch of us sitting around the living room talking more about the race, lots of laughter and shaking of heads. The good times are always over so fast so quickly though and soon it was time for hugs and to hit the road. I was headed back to Corona and dreading the 2.5 hour commute, most was headed out to brunch. My last enduring image of San Diego was Larissa waddling up the stairs like a penguin in her new San Diego 100 gray sweatshirt and baggy blue sweat pants, cussing. It reminded me of something that Andy Black once said and actually he was also a finisher at this years race so maybe he would say the same thing about SD.

"The thing I don't like about Western States is that you show up at the starting line in the best shape of your life and a day later you are in Auburn in the worst shape of your life" - -Andy Black

Larissa started the race looking like she could be in the cover of a fitness magazine. All that running and hard work cross training really paid off. She finished looking like the Pillsbury Dough Boy (her words:) A lot of water retention. I'm not sure why actually, too much salt, not enough salt, some other factors?

Well another great San Diego 100. My third year in a row and there will probably be a fourth. As a runner or crew and pacer I really enjoy the course and the hospitality of the event and the area. I'll be back.

For the photoset click here

Tomorrow I start my 100-miler race. The Western States 100-mile!
You can track me here

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Videos from the 2011 San Diego 100-Mile

Hanging with the crew.

This time last week, I was full of coffee and hanging with the crew at the San Diego 100-Mile. So many of us went to run, crew and pace that it felt like a San Francisco Bay Area race. We were also joined by friends from the Pacific Northwest who visit often. Really it kind of felt like Miwok except of course it was a 100-mile race. I have a soft spot for PNW runners. Through the years the runners up North have had a great impact on my running which started with one of my first mentors in the sport - Olga Varlamova.

I have completed eleven 100 milers and two events I've run twice; Headlands Hundred and San Diego. I don't have enough experience about 100 mile courses to be making the following statement but I'm going to say it anyway - San Diego 100-Mile is one of the best 100 milers in the country! Working on a more detailed write up and will post more pictures.

Pal Larissa Polischuk on her first 100-mile finish, paced by her boyfriend Brett Rivers. Way to go LP!

Walter Edwards, finishing, paced by pal Jason Hill, surrounded by lots of huggy friends.

A light hearted moment with Ken and Randy. I was crewing for Randy and I was supposed to pace too but the pacing part never happened. He came down with food poisoning two days before the race and on race day it was still bad enough to keep him from eating. Between miles 23 and 44, through the hardest, hottest part of the race he consumed less than 100 calories. Lack of nutrition pretty much killed his race, he could run with it but not eat with it.

Friday, June 10, 2011

More Catching Up!

Ah finally, some room to breathe. Hello blog, hello to the one person still following:)

I am in Southern, California, Corona to be exact. I've been here visiting my mom who celebrated her birthday on Wednesday and then it's off to the San Diego 100-mile early in the morning (4AM) to crew and pace my friend Randy Katz who is attempting his first 100 miler. It may be a rough day, Randy has food poisoning, yikes. I just found out earlier today, never a good time for food poisoning especially now. Let's send him some good luck shall we.

Anyway thought I'd post a short blurb and pictures on the Miwok 100k like I said I would and the Quicksilver 50-mile. If I don't do it now it ain't going to happen. I hope to get a lot of images and maybe even some great video at San Diego. Well here we go!

MIWOK 100k
Wow what a great day that turned out to be for the runners. A bit cold for us spectators and crew but great for them. Ian Sharman ran in an Elvis costume, I'm sure it was better in cooler weather. Lots of good friends were out running, crewing, volunteering and pacing. A great time. I paced my friend Bradley Fenner who was just returning from injury. I can't believe how well he did considering he wasn't able to get a lot of long runs in due to a torn calf muscle - an incredible performance. Not his best race but probably one of his memorable ones. I was pooped after a long and hard April but I wouldn't have missed it. Enjoy the pictures and you can view the entire photoset here.

With BR who came all the way from the Philippines to volunteer. Actually I was supposed to pace him but he got injured. Kudos to him for making the best of the event despite the injury.

Buddy Larissa "Hammerchuk" Polischuk, looking strong and smooth coming into Pantoll Ranger station - outbound.

Stuff we do while waiting; talking, chatting, catching up on phone calls.

The leaders, a group of four, returning from the turnaround and on their way home.

Erika Lindland leading a couple of boys on the Coastal Trail, heading back to Pantoll Ranger Station and home.

Bradley, Florencia and I on the climb out of Muir Beach, closer to home but still a long ways to go.

At the finish with one of my favorite people, Chris Perillo. Chris had a cooler full of very cold Blue Moon beer, really cold.

Ah Quicksilver, what's there to say. I started, got my butt whooped, had a great time, end of story. Haha, funny how with enough time, epic runs can be easily reduced into one sentence.

This was the weekend before Miwok, the last weekend of April. I started April with the American River 50-mile and instead of catching some recovery time I went right back into hard training and long runs all the way to the weekend of Quicksilver and ran Quicksilver with everything I had left. I didn't feel comfortable until mile 41 and only because I was chasing my buddy Randy. I started out tired, managed my race until miles 34-36 where I just plain flat out crashed, recovered then proceeded to run a really great last 9 miles. It was tough and I felt exhausted but I kept one foot in front of the other and actually ended up with a time faster than I expected. I think it was like 8:24 and change, good enough for 11th. Again enjoy the pictures and you can view the entire photoset here.

The carpool mates, Randy Katz and Jenn Patee. Thanks for the ride Jenn.

Don't let the smile fool you, I was already tired here:)

Pulling a "Tonya Harding" on 50-mile champ and new course record holder (6:01), Leor Pantilat. It was his first 50 too!

The course. Blue is the last 19 miles of the course, mostly a down and back.

My trashed Montrail Rogue Racers. I supinated and always trash the outside edges of my shoes.

Well that's everything, spelling and grammatical errors included. Gotta hit the sack for a couple of hours. I'm excited for all the San Diego runners. I've run the event the last two years and I'm not running it this year because of Western States. I'm glad to be visiting RD Scott Mills and the course again however. Crewing and Pacing is it's own ultra and you can't DNF, well you shouldn't anyway - another person is depending on you. A bit nerve wracking when I think too much about it, when I think that I have an influence on someone's race. I can help them succeed or hinder them inadvertently. Well see you guys on the other side of San Diego.