Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Pigtail's FlatAss

Wow, I'm feeling like a slacker. I guess it's time to get a bit caught-up in the blogworld.

After Hellgate, I took 2 weeks completely off from running. Sascha and I were both getting that little running itch by the end. So I decided to run Pigtail's FlatAss 50k last Saturday. It's a great, fun little flatass near Seattle, out and back on a rails-to-trail, 22 miles paved, 9.74 miles dirt. I ran it last year and enjoyed myself, so thought it would be fun again - a great cruiser to get back into running.

It started out easy enough in the cold rain as Sam Thompson, Brock Gavery, Bruce Hoff, Alex Swenson, and I just kinda cruised along. By mile 9, Alex and I had unintentionally gapped everyone else while chatting about geeky stuff like running. About mile 12, Alex had to stop to pee, so I continued on and knew I would see him soon.

I made it to the 15.87 mile turn around in 1:59, turned around and started the nice oh-so-gentle downhill back, with Alex about a minute back. I kept cruising along solo, stopping at mile 22.6 to re-fill my bottle and noticed Alex was still about a minute back. Hm, this is just a flatass, but maybe I'll throw in a little tempo to see what happens. So I did for 3 miles, looked back, and Alex was still there. I slowed a little for 1 1/2 miles, then decided to run 1 hard mile. Alex was still there.

With only 3 1/2 miles to go and about a minute lead, I figured I kinda had to go for the W. So I slowed a bit for the next mile to make sure I had a kick and Alex definitely reeled me in quite a bit. I picked it up again for the last 2 1/2, ran well for 1 1/2, then started really hurting the last mile. I was weaving, even had some tunnel vision going on - a first in a race, er, flatass, for me. Anyway, I weaved my way across the finish line in 3:52:18, a full 18 seconds ahead of Alex. I was dizzy and definitely a bit nauseous. Van cleared a chair for me right as I fell into it.

Eventually I felt good enough to limp to my truck and change out of my soaked clothes, then go back to the finish to cheer on other flatassers, eat some tasty chicken soup, and collect my really cool first place handmade pig finisher's medal and piggy bank - complete with 31 cents. Very awesome!

So, I didn't meet my goal of running an easy, controlled long run. Usually I'm good at holding back in training races, but I was completely lame and let my competitiveness get the better of me. So my body responded by being super-gimped up for the next 3 days. This was especially bad since Christmas Camp started on the 24th. But today, 4 days after, I'm feeling better. Lesson learned...again.

Sisters got about 8" of snow the past 24 hours.

Coming soon - more on Christmas Camp!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

2007 in the Rear and 2008 Ahead!

Hm, it took me a bit of searching around, but I think I figured out that being tagged is kinda like tag in elementary school, which means I'm "it." And in being "it," I'm supposed to answer some questions about me. As you'll notice, I wasn't so good in always choosing only one. So...

1. Most memorable moment on the trail (3)...
-Mile 75.5 to 76 of the TRT 76 miler, I mean TRT 100 miler. On the first loop, that 1/2 mile took me maybe 5 minutes. The second time, that 1/2 mile took me 30 minutes to cover. I had severe stomach cramps for the previous 23 miles, was walking completely bent over to try to make them go away, even though it was pretty warm I was moving so slow that I was freezing, and I was puking my guts out. I would walk a few steps, sit down for a few minutes, shiver uncontrollably, struggle to get up, puke, walk a few steps, repeat. That 1/2 mile was one of the hardest 1/2 mile stretches I've ever done in a race. Read all about it here (scroll down to the July 27 post).

-Miles 68-70 of the Tahoe 72 miler (yeah, I love racing at Tahoe!). After trailing Akos Konya for the previous 63 miles, by up to 40 minutes, I finally caught him. He was struggling and I went by him hard. He surprised me and responded. The next 3 miles were an epic battle, 6:30-6:40 for each of those miles on the icy pavement. With 2 miles to go he made the move. I was red-lining and I was done. He beat me by 2 minutes. It was awesome! Full report is here (scroll down to the October 15 post).

-During boot camp with Ashley Nordell and Matt Hart, Hart took a nasty dive in a gigantic boulder field and landed right on his head. We were literally at least 3 hours from any trailhead. He ended up being okay, but man, it was scary.

2. Best new trail I discovered in 2007 (2)...
-Graves Creek to Anderson Pass in Washington's Olympic National Park with Matt Hart and Jamie Gifford. Beautiful views from the Enchanted Valley, great company, caramel Power Gels, Hart's first Baby Ruth, humidity, puking...sweet day!

-El Vaquero Loco course that Ty Draney was cool enough to show me. I never knew there were other trails this cool so close to the Tetons.

3. My best performance of the year was (2)...
-Yakima River Canyon Marathon. I had a well-defined and tough goal, I trained hard and specifically for it, had a plan for the race, and executed that plan almost to perfection. I was happy.

-JFK 50 miler. I had a well-defined and tough goal, I didn't run big miles, did lots of tempo and track work, rested lots, let my body heal, had a plan for the race, and executed that plan almost to perfection. I was happy.

4. I do not know how I previously survived without...
Caramel Power Gel. Holy crap, this stuff is good! Jamie Gifford introduced me to it on the Graves Creek to Anderson Pass run. It tastes just like the caramel you put on green apples. Mmmmm.

5. The person I would most like to meet on a trail in 2008...
April, she's my sister. She's really gotten into running the last few of years, and she's even run a couple road marathons now. I'm trying to bring here over to the softer side of running onto the trails. I've been trying to talk her into running the Rumble for a couple years, and have extended an invitation to her again for 2008. I would be super stoked if she accepts it.

6. The race I am most excited/scared about in 2008 is...
-Boston Marathon. I am very excited to run through the Tunnel of Screams at Wellesley College! I ran the Yakima River Canyon Marathon specifically to qualify for the first corral at Boston. My winter and early spring training are going to be specifically for Boston, where my goal is to step up and run sub-2:40.

-Western States. I'm 2 for 5 in 100s, and those 2 aren't anything great. I really believe I have a good hundred in me...I really hope it comes out at Western. One of the goals, sub-Bien.

Merry Christmas!

Tuva

My friend Kat and I did a little book swap last month. I let her read my Into the Wild. We had just seen the movie, and she wanted to read the book. In return, she lent me Tuva or Bust!, written by Ralph Leighton. This is a very good read. It is filled with adventure, humor, travel, and good geography lessons.

Like most people, before reading this book, I didn't just not know where Tuva was, I didn't even know it existed (although I'm sure Olga knows all about Tuva)! So you know, it is in Siberia, north of Mongolia. Basically, it's in the center of Asia.

I believe this is Tuva's answer to Hagg Lake's Men in Skirts competition.

The book basically revolves around the trials and tribulations of Leighton, Richard Feynman, and Glen Cowan as they try for nearly a decade to come up with every way possible to get to Kyzyl, the capital of Tuva. (The book takes place in the 1980s, when the USSR was alive and kicking hard, and this was also during the cold war. Both of these facts made travel to Kyzyl extremely difficult, and definitely added to their increasing excitement.) Why do they want to go to Kyzyl? Because it's spelled so cool - there are no normal vowels in it, so who wouldn't want to go!?

During their adventures, Leighton also thought it would be cool to loosely form the Friends of Tuva. But, as stated on the website: "Because FoT is a brainchild of Ralph Leighton, it is impossible that it could even resemble an organization. Rather, it has been a clearinghouse of information about Tuva and its "patron saint," Richard Feynman, who collected Tuvan stamps as a boy — and as an adult wondered, "Whatever happenedtoTannu Tuva?""

Check out the website, read the book, research Richard Feynman, find Tuva on a map, listen to some authentic Tuvan throat-singing music. It's pretty cool.

I would say Tuva is now on my list of places to visit, and I now definitely consider myself to be a Friends of Tuva member. Also, on your blogger profile if you list Tuva as your country, you'll soon find some funky Russian e-mails in your spam mailbox. What's not cool about that?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Sascha

So this blog is titled Sascharuns, and in my little introductory bio, I say how she's my loyal training partner and these are some of our adventures... Well, as you've probably noticed, there haven't been any posts about Sascha yet. So to Sascha, I say, this post is dedicated to you.

Since I'm currently taking my annual running sabbatical, Sascha is, too. I don't think she's enjoying it as much as I am. Usually after a couple days of not running, we're both pretty wired and ready to run. We haven't run for 8 days. I'm feeling pretty good about that, but Sascha, not so much. Almost every night when I get home from work, she's waiting at the back gate for me, doing her talk/howl, telling me it's time to run. Then she gets super excited and tears around the yard for a bit, comes inside and tears around the house for a while. Occasionally she'll stop and do her little head-thing, which means she really wants to play/run. Eventually, she figures out that nothing's happening, so she reluctantly lays down on her bed and sleeps.

Then the next morning comes and often times she'll wake me up with kisses all over my face. I try not to think that I saw her licking her butt last night, or eating deer poop when we walked around town the previous day. Anyway, I'll get up, let her outside, and of course she thinks that means we're going running. Sorry, Sasch.


We do go on daily walks around town, and she does enjoy those, especially walking past all of the barky-dog houses where the dogs seemingly never get to leave their yard. I just know Sascha looks at them as if to say "yeah, that's right, I'm out again, walking all over town, maybe even going running later, while you're still stuck in there. That really sucks for you, dog."

On Saturday, I was baking my first ever ham to take to the CORK Christmas Party. It was tasty and sure did smell good, too. Sascha noticed the smell and came in the kitchen to just watch as I was carving it. I am very good about not feeding people-food to Sascha, and as a result, she's not very farty. I like this. On Rumble day, after she's raced 20 miles, I do allow her a hotdog and hamburger as a treat for her effort. But that's pretty much it for the year. However, feeling weak and vulnerable because I haven't taken her running for over a week, I caved. I had a huge hunk of something from the ham that I thought Sascha would love. I mean, she devours a few pig's ears weekly, so fresh baked pig shouldn't be too big of a disruption to her digestive system. She took it, ran wildly around outside, and had her way with that hunk of ham. So Sunday we were walking around town, just an easy stroll. She puked not once, not twice, but thrice! Yeah, baby, we really are meant for each other. I obviously gave her no sympathy, but sure could smell the salty scent of ham. Mm, baby, nothing better than that! Oh yeah, that's why I don't feed her people-food.

It's getting close to Sascha's favorite time of the year - snowshoeing season! We're anxiously awaiting more snow in the central Oregon mountains so we can properly enjoy our winter wonderland.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Running Teams

As I was driving home from the always fun Central Oregon Running Klub Christmas party, I started thinking a bit about the different running clubs/teams/organizations I belong to. I am currently a proud member of 4 teams. They all are different, cool, and quirky in their own way. In no particular order:

Central Oregon Running Klub, CORK. This is my regional, official USATF klub (we spell klub with a "k" because CORC looks stupid). It's a good size group of about 120 members, with probably half fairly actively involved. There are the old-timer studs such as Roger Daniels and Lew Hollander, fast masters ladies like Jeanne Groesz, easy-going guys like Doug Williams, the friendliest people on Earth in Dan and Kathy Harshburger, rd's Curt Ringstad, Amy Clark, and Charlene Levesque, and the list goes on. We meet Saturday mornings for a weekly long run, usually on trails, followed by a great breakfast at the Westside Cafe and Bakery. We organize races both big and small, have hot chocolate runs in the winter, support local running youth with scholarships, try to meet weekly for hill repeats and track fun, and have a few parties throughout the year for fun. It's a good group of people. I have proudly been a CORKster since 2002.

Montrail. This is my ultrarunning team. Montrail was the first shoe company to really invest in ultrarunning in general, and in ultrarunners specifically. Montrail has sponsored many of the greats that we all know by a single name: Horton, Kirk, Dave, Kerby, Scott, William, Brian, Courtney, Clark, Karl, Krissy, Steph, Francesca, Darcy, Betsy, Dink, AJW, Jorge, Paul, Clifton, Luis, Hal, Ian, Monica, Annette, Bethany, Janice, Leigh, Roch, Brandon, and the list goes on and on. For many years, one of the things that set Team Montrail apart from the other teams was that we were so large - it was really cool! The team size has definitely fluctuated a lot the past few years. The 2007 season saw its highest number ever, with 80-something. Yowzers - that's a lot of people to sponsor. That was cool, too. I enjoyed traveling to different races across the country, big and small, and always seeing at least one other Montrailian out there. For 2008, marketing decisions chose to sponsor 15-20 athletes, mostly ultrarunners, with some adventure racers and mountaineers also thrown in to the mix. From a selfish, teammate point of view, I didn't much like this. From a realistic marketing perspective, it completely makes sense. I dare say that Montrail has invested more in ultrarunning than all other companies combined. Size-wise, we are now much more in line with the average size of the other teams out there. Whether or not that's a good thing will definitely be tested in the coming years. I have proudly been a Montrailian since 2002.

Sisters Little Ultra Team, SLUT. This is my ultra team in the town where I live. We are little and we are proud. Although I was the one who came up with the acronym, Fatboy eagerly accepted it and quickly joined the team. Since I was the first ultrarunner in Sisters, Fatboy says I'm Head SLUT. Cool. He's SLUT #2. We haven't had much turn-over on this team. We started with 4 - Fatboy, CB, Jon, and me. Jon moved out of Sisters a couple years ago, so had to step down from the team. We have 2 rules: you have to live in Sisters, and you have to be an ultrarunner. However, as of the Sisters Poker Run in October, we were able to induct two new SLUTs. We currently have 5 - Fatboy, CB, Natalie, Doug, and me. I have proudly been a SLUT since 2003.

Marathon Maniacs. This is my team I turn to when, after running Quadzilla, I want to feel normal. This is pretty much an internet-based club with very strong Puget Sound ties. We have members all across the US, and even some international maniacs amongst us. It's a very fun club. We wear really cool bright yellow shirts (well, some people wear boring black or the new red, but yellow is where it all started) with the MM logo on our chests and the infamous "Maniac with cat on head" on our backs. There are 9 levels of Maniacism, starting with the single star Bronze, and going up to the 10-star Titanium (I really can count - there isn't a 9-star level). Basically, we run lots of marathons and/or ultramarathons. It's fun. It's social. It's an excuse to get together with friends to use a race as a nice long training run. It's competitive; I currently have 15 ultra finishes this year, and that puts me tied for 9th. Gilles and Pigtails are tied at 29 (and none of those numbers includes marathons). Some run 93 marathons in a single year. Others run 51 marathons in 50 states (plus DC) in 50 days. It's supportive. As a result of being a Maniac, I have made a goal to run 100 ultras by my 35th birthday. I'm currently at 84 and I have until July 31, 2008 to do it. I only get positive encouragement from Maniacs when I state this goal. It's a big club. I joined a little over 3 years ago as Maniac #92. Currently, there are 745 members (and we're growing everyday). I have proudly been a Marathon Maniac since 2004.

So those are my 4 teams. I proudly wear shirts from each team at different races, depending on the race, distance, location, etc. Occasionally at races, I wear shirts from other organizations that I support and who support me, such as Sisters High School Cross Country, FootZone, and Finger Lakes Running Company, and I'm very excited to start wearing the colors for Fleet Feet Bend soon. But those 4 teams above are my teams now. I look forward to being a member of each of those teams for many years to come.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Weekend Results

Some results from the few events that I could find from this past weekend:

Hellgate 100k:
Aaron Schwartzbard, 11:28:13, 1st o/a
Annette Bednosky, 13:26:25, 1st girl, 9th o/a

Sunmart 50m:
Jaroslaw Janicki, 6:07:45, 1st o/a
Norimi Sakurai, 6:34:57, 1st girl, 4th o/a
Akos Konya, 6:35:13, 5th o/a

Sunmart 50k:
Jim Harrington, 3:42:32, 1st o/a
Andrea Jarzombek, 3:46:11, 1st girl, 2nd o/a
Wendy Terris, 3:51:58, 2nd girl, 3rd o/a

Tallahassee Ultra Distance Classic 50m:
Jack McDermott, 6:41:23, 1st o/a
Amy Costa, 7:21:48, 1st girl, 2nd o/a

Tallahasse Ultra Distance Classic 50k:
Thierry Asselin, 3:30:25, 1st o/a
Olivia Swedberg, 4:44:39, 1st girl, 10th o/a

In other weekend ultra news, Way Too Cool 50k once again sold-out in quick fashion to the first 450 quick typers. Perhaps 6 of those typers will also be making their way to the WS100 starting line.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Gate of Hell

After a some last-minute schedule swapping at work, I was able to run the second of my 2 "must do" east coast races last weekend. So a long 13 days after getting home from my incredible JFK vacation, I was back flying the friendly sky to DC to face the Hellgate 100k.


Arriving Thursday afternoon gave me plenty of time to get a crappy massage that evening, sleep until noon on Friday, pseudo-organize my gear, and buy Yaktrax. I anxiously waited for Lucia to get home from work, then we drove to Bryon's house to carpool with him and Lindsay for the 3 1/2 hour drive to the start. It was definitely an interesting car ride. Usually, at least amongst fellow Oregonians, I consider myself to be fairly well-spoken when talking politics. However, put me in a car with 3 DCers, and I could barely get 2 words in. They definitely kept me entertained.

We got to the starting area, at Hell Gate (there really is an actual gate called this), about an hour before go-time. This gave me plenty of time to get ready, go back-and-forth between shorts and tights, and down a few more calories. I decided to go with tights and one bottle until a.s. 2 at 7.5 miles (thanks Krissy). Shortly before midnight, the 110 starters gathered around Hell Gate, where Horton said a prayer, then we were led by Annette in singing the Star Spangled Banner.

At 12:01 a.m., we were off. And off we were...it felt like the JFK start, not the start of some hellish 100k++ run into the scary woods through the night. I wasn't tempted - I started very easy, running most of the first 3 1/2 miles to a.s. 1 near Annette. Less than a mile before the a.s., the course markers were vandalized, so most of us got temporarily lost. However, Horton was running that section close behind me and shouted directions on which way to go. This was the only time all race that I got off-course.

The section to a.s. 2 was my favorite part of the course - 4 miles with 1200' of climbing on a smooth dirt road (with the occasional icy patch thrown in for fun). I loved it! Just doing what I love doing, without really trying, I went from probably 20th at a.s. 1 to 7th at a.s. 2, covering those 4 miles in 31 minutes. Feeling warmed up at the top, I saw Lucia and Lindsay, quickly changed into my shorts, grabbed my Nathan pack from Lucia, and with a kiss I was off.

I left that a.s. with Byron Backer and Brian Kistner (I think). Following Byron's lead downward, I eagerly listened to a few words of course advice from him, one being that the leaders were going way too fast. After a mile or so, Byron let me by and I continued on my way to a.s 3 at 13.1 miles. I don't remember too much, except the final bit was another nice climb on a smooth gravel road. Arriving at the a.s., I was told that due to icy roads and closed gates, neither drop bags nor crew would be at the next a.s. In fact, I probably wouldn't see either until a.s. 7 at mile 42.5. Hm, this created an issue for me since I am definitely a gel-guy, and rarely eat solids in races. So I quickly changed my plan and ate some potatoes and other stuff that I can't remember.

As I left the a.s. station, I had to make a choice: continue with my normal fueling strategy of gels until they ran out in a couple hours; or conserve my gels, try to eat real food, and risk either real-food issues or bonking from not being able to eat the real food and not having enough gels. I chose option 2.

I really enjoyed most of the next section to a.s. 4 (shortened from mile 22 to mile 20). It was mostly a bunch of easy, rolly running. At a slightly confusing intersection, I caught up to 3 guys, Keith Knipling, Mike Schuster, and some other guy. Eventually I went by all 3 of them, arriving at a.s. 4 in 4th place, with Mike and Keith right behind me. As advertised at a.s. 3, there were no drop bags or crews here. Feeling a bit light-headed, I knew I needed calories, so I ate more potatoes and other stuff I can't remember.

Keith, Mike, and I all headed out together up another cool climb. We started out walking, I soon realized we should be running, said so, and we ran. Mike and I got slightly ahead of Keith and entered the next single track together. I think he led for a bit, then I went by. I got a bit ahead of him, started feeling a bit low on energy on a technical downhill, and took my last gel as Keith went ripping by. I seriously thought he was going on for the win then. Shortly after, I heard a party! It had to be a.s. 5, and with that much noise, I was certain crews (Lucia!) were there. That got me happy to get there quick, but first a short pit stop where Mike caught up to me. We ran down the last 1/4 mile to a.s 5 at 27.6 together. I think I got there around 5:25. I crossed a bridge with a cow carcass on it and immediately saw Lucia and Lindsay waiting to go to work. I was so happy to see them! Lindsay took care of re-filling my water, while Lucia filled my pack with handfuls of gels. I drank a bit of coke, got a kiss, and was out of there.

Feeling low on energy from my lack of calories the last couple of hours, I was disappointed to be slogging up a very runnable smooth dirt road for a couple miles. Two lights were closing in, and after getting back on single track, one eventually passed me. After the gels started kicking in, I felt better and eventually was on another uphill dirt road climb. It was light enough to turn off the lights, so I did and enjoyed the climb to a.s. 6 at 34.5. I think I got there around 6:55. The great volunteers told me I was in 6th, filled my bladder, and I was off.

As I headed out, I clearly remember thinking that the first 34.5 miles of Hellgate really weren't all that tough. Seriously. It wasn't easy, and had a few short technical sections, but nothing that stuck out in my mind as really tough. The next 2 miles further proved my point.

Then it started. I turned off a really nice, fast dirt road and onto leaves. A lot of them. Supposedly there was a trail down there, but I sure couldn't see it. Nor could I see my feet. Or ankles or shins. My knees were barely showing. The leaves were that deep. Lucky for me that my feet sure could feel all those sharp rocks under them. The "trail" was like this for a long time. I would occasionally run for 10-20 seconds when the leaves weren't quite as deep, but mostly, I hiked. It was futile to even attempt to run. The terrain wasn't at all steep, but it was very off-camber and the leaves were very deep. So I hiked for a long time, with the occasional puke thrown in for good measure. Eventually I saw a Montrail jersey closing in and knew it was Mike. That made me realize that I actual could run again, so I did. I ran the last 1/2 mile in to a.s. 7 at mile 42.5 with Mike right behind me. I think it was a little after 9:00 when I arrived there very haggered. I was happy to hear Horton announce that I was still first place Oregonian, but trumped him by saying I was probably first place east-of-the-Mississippi. He concurred. Lucia and Lindsay were there and helped me with a quick clothes drop, switch from pack to hand helds, a quick kiss from Lucia and as I started off, Horton yelled that the next stretch was a really good one. He was right.

Dropping my pack, I felt great again! I had all kinds of energy as I ran uphill on a nice single track. I occasionally looked back to see if Mike had joined me, but I was alone. I felt good again in this 7 mile section, and my 75ish minute split proved this. When I saw Lucia, I said I wanted a coke & water bottle, which she expertly mixed and handed me in mid-stride. I didn't even have to stop. Perfect. Almost. Luckily Lucia remembered the kiss.

Apparently this next section is long. Still feeling great, I ran down the next two miles on a dirt road at a decent pace, hoping we would be staying on this road for a long time. Nope. A right turn into leaves. Again, I guess there was a trail, but couldn't see it. So I hiked again and resumed puking. After a really long time of not seeing another runner, a blue flash was quickly catching me. Chris Reed cruised by me as I gave him a rah-rah. He was feeling good and flying. Less than a mile later, I saw Bryon sitting on the side of the trail taking pictures. Unfortunately, his huge November caught up too him at Hellgate and he retired at a.s. 4. That allowed him to get some lovely shots of me. Thanks, Bryon.

I shuffled into the final a.s. at mile 56. Lindsay told me I was in 5th. Grouchily, I barked back that I was in 7th. Lucia quickly sent me on my way with a bottle of plain water, a lemon drop, and a kiss. The time was 11:47, and although beat, I felt pretty confident I could cover the last 6.5 miles in less than 73 minutes.

I ran about half way up the 3 mile hill, then the terrain got really steep and the leaves got deep, so I hiked the last half. Cresting the hill at 12:26, the SAR people gave me a nice wave as I took off for the final 3 1/2 downhill cruiser miles. After 20 minutes, I knew I was getting close. One mile to go - a sweet sign. I cruised along past some barky dogs with my bottle cocked and ready to squirt, made the turn into Camp Bethel and at 12:53:47, I became the 5th finisher of the 2007 Hellgate 100k. Apparently 2 guys in front of me had dropped earlier. Oops, sorry Lindsay; I'll never again doubt my crew.

After a hug from Horton and Lucia, I mentioned to Horton that although Hellgate was tough, it's definitely not as tough as days 1 & 4 of the Tuscarora Trail Stage Race. Although he didn't want to, I think he agreed.

So overall, yes, Hellgate is a tough race. I went into it with an "adventure-run, not race" attitude, and that's exactly what I got out of it. I absolutely believe the first 34.5 miles are much easier than the last 28. Horton disagrees. He's wrong. For runners familiar with Where's Waldo, I compare Hellgate very closely to the original Waldo. Both advertised as 100k, they're both really about 66.3 miles. They both have 11,000'+ vertical. As far as difficulty of actual terrain, while the technical parts of Hellgate are much tougher than Waldo, the easy road parts are also much easier than any part of Waldo (there were many miles of Hellgate where I was easily running 7-something pace). The overall course records are very close, and they both have an 18-hour cutoff.

Thank you to David, Mrs. Horton, all of the fabulous volunteers, my fellow adventurers, Bryon, Lindsay, and most of all, Lucia. Without all of you, my Hellgate experience wouldn't have been nearly as incredible as it was.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

FATSO

Fellow Ultrarunners,
Well, we've just heard the WS lottery results. So now it's our favorite time of year - it's time to get fat! Yeah, baby...bring on the chubb!

The inevitable rolls in your belly will start looking at you on Jan. 1 and say "hey, this is kinda cool - can we stick around?" Well, if you don't want those rolls to last all the way to swim (birthday) suit season at Where's Waldo, then have I got a series for you.

Last January, I noticed that there were 4 fatasses in Oregon in January, and conveniently, one each weekend. So, for 2008, the 4 fatass organizers decided to get ever-so-slightly organized and create: FATSO. This little acronym was actually the brain-child of MadAss Maura. Naturally, FATSO stands for FatAss Trail Series of Oregon.

Here's the schedule:

BadAss, Jan. 5, 8 a.m. In the Badlands Recreation Area east of Bend. For info, Sean at smeissner@lycos.com or 541-549-1298 http://www.footzonebend.com/rumble/badass/

MLK, Jan. 12, usually 9 a.m. Ridgeline Trail in Eugene. For info, Stephan Willow at ultrawillow@uswest.net

SOFA (Southern Oregon FatAss), Jan. 19, 9 a.m. Grave Creek Trailhead on the Rogue River near Galice. For info, Tim Turk at ultrarunning@gmail.com or 541-264-0262

MadAss, Jan. 26, usually 9 a.m. MUT headquarters in Madras. For info, Maura and Stan at monstan@hotmail.com or 541-475-0348

Although not normal for fatasses, there will be an overall award for the FATSO. The runner with the highest total time will win something; we don't know what yet, but it will be kinda cool. So if you think you're too fat and too slow and will never win anything, this is your chance! Remember, the more FATSO events you run, the better chance you have to win!

We look forward to seeing all of your fatasses on our local trails next month. Until then, eat up!

-The FATSO Committee

Monday, December 3, 2007

Weekend results

Contrary to popular belief, the WS lottery wasn't the only running event being contested this past weekend. Here's a brief list of some friends and how they did:

-Josh Nordell, Tucson Marathon, 2:49:36, 8th o.a.
-Ashley Nordell, High Desert 50k, 4:11:21, 1st girl, 8th o.a.
-Rod Bien, TNF 50 mile, 7:57:38, 5th o.a.
-Jenn Shelton, TNF 50 mile, 8:22:19, 2nd girl, 7th o.a.
-Paul Saladino, TNF 50 mile, 8:36:53, 10th o.a.
-Meghan Arbogast, Cal. International Marathon, 2:45:43, 10th girl, 1st masters girl, 59th o.a. -
Olympic Trials Qualifier!
-Lucia Olivera, Gar Williams 1/2 Marathon, 1:48:40, p.r.!

Great running, my friends.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

JFK

The JFK 50 mile has fascinated me for quite a few years. It is the largest ultra in the U.S. with over 1,000 runners, it is a very competitive race, and it has a variety of surfaces to run on: technical Appalachian Trail; flat and fast dirt C&O Canal towpath; hilly paved roads. I finally decided to run it this year. Goals: 6:20-6:30 and top-10.

Although I was flying solo going out to MD, I met up with a great friend who I hadn't seen in years, Lucia, who was nice enough to let me stay at her house and to crew for me. After a short and crappy night of sleep, I got up at 4 a.m. (1 .am. OR time) for the 90 min. drive to Boonsboro, MD, for the start. Despite 1200 runners, being so far from home meant I didn't know too many other runners. So I ate a bit, chatted with Lucia, and did a little warm-up.

After the masses marched from the gym to downtown for the start, we were off promptly at 7 a.m. The weather was in the high-20s and clear - perfect for shorts, long sleeve, beanie, and gloves (wind-brief would have been nice, too, but I kinda forgot it!). I briefly introduced myself to teammate Greg Loomis. He told me to be prepared for a fast start. I was prepared, and knew better than to give in to peer pressure. Many flew by me the first downhill 1/2 mile. Then the road angled up for the next 2 miles to the AT. I easily went by some guys who were clearly breathing way too hard. I entered the AT and knew these next 13 miles were going to be the toughest part of the course for me. Within 5 minutes, I went down HARD. Some guy behind me picked me right up and I was on my way again, a bit slower. A few minutes later, c.r. holder and ultra-legend Eric Clifton flew by me. On his way around, he told me that this was the section he used to set himself up for his sub-6 runs there - stud!

I made it to the first big a.s. at 9 miles in 1:10ish. I have no idea where I was in the field, but felt good. A swap-on-the-fly bottle exhange with Lucia and I was on my way for 6.5 more miles of AT splendor. The next 6 miles were pretty darn technical. I was trying to imagine I was Bronco, dancing across the rocks, but I still sucked. I was passing a lot of early starters in this stretch, who all graciously gave me plenty of room to pass and usually a "rah-rah," too. Although technical, the AT is pretty wide, so passing (or getting passed!) really wasn't an issue while on it. Loomis caught up to me with a couple of AT miles to go, as did Eric again (I must have passed him at the a.s.). The 2 of them, Leo Lutz, and I made a little train on the way to the 15.5 mile a.s. As I was fantasizing about being done with these stupid rocks, BAM, I went down hard again, only 1/2 mile before the a.s. Leo picked me right up and I was gingerly on my way - bloody knees and fingers and all.

As I finally exited the AT and left my demons behind, I did another on-the-fly bottle swap with Lucia. I hit the C&O, mile 15.5, at 2:12. Although many people told me the towpath marathon was the worst part of JFK, I ignored them. My goal was to take it easy and make it through the AT relatively unscathed, which I did. Then I wanted to go to work on the C&O. I did that, too. From the moment I stepped on that path, I only passed people for the rest of the race; well, at least for the next 19 miles, then I was solo the last 16. I felt great. I passed a lot of people. The more people I passed, the better I felt. My plan was working. I saw Lucia again at 27.1. I think I was there at 3:39. Still no idea what place I was in, but just by seeing how excited Lucia was, I could tell I had moved up a lot in the last 12 miles.

Although feeling great, I was a little nervous to push it too hard, too soon and blow (ala-McKenzie Invite). A little before mile 30, I saw a cut-up sleeveless shirt and funky tights coming back to me quick. Obviously it was Ian, and obviously Ian was having a rough day. I slowed for about a minute to chat with him. He said he was just having a bad day. He didn't need anything, and my attempt to get him to run with me for a bit went unanswered, so onward I went. A couple miles later, on long straight stretches, I occasionally saw glimpses of the Seattle Running Co. logo. Crowther. He, too, came back fast. I caught up to him at 34, and could tell he wasn't in the fun zone. I asked if he needed anything. He just wanted to be done - he said he was going to drop at the next a.s. I asked if he was injured. He said no. In not-so-many words, I basically told him to suck-it-up and finish. Much to Greg's credit (and a little to his wife's for not being at that next a.s.), he did. He even thanked me at the finish. It's pretty easy to finish a race when everything is going well; not so much when everything sucks. Greg gets an atta-boy for sucking it up.

I saw Lucia again at 38.5. I have no idea what my time was, but someone told me I was in 8th place and I was still cruising along and feeling great. A short 3.3 miles later, I was off the C&O at mile 41.8 in 5:27. That meant I ran the towpath marathon in 3:15 - not great, but solid, and I felt good the whole time.

Only 63 minutes to go for a 6:30; I knew that was going to be hard. I charged onto the pavement and was rudely interrupted by a wall! Hal warned me about this, but I kinda forgot. After all the flat on the towpath, it was hard to get the legs to change to climbing gears. I got up, then just got in a (too) comfortable 8 min/mile groove for the remaining hilly road miles. Occasionally, I would see a white shirt way up the road. I uncharacteristically didn't really have any desire to play catch. At the last a.s. at 46, Lucia gave me a bottle with the magic potion of Coke and water. Mmmm, so good. A volunteer told me I was only 3 min. from 7th. But still with no desire to push any harder, I was content to just cruise on in.

I happily crossed the finish line in Williamsport in 6:34:08 for 8th place. A 15 min. p.r. and top-10 in the largest ultra in the country. I was happy. Probably most noteworthy was I didn't puke! I was surprised to learn that the white shirt 3 min. up the road from me was defending champ Pete Breckinridge - also having a tough day. Michael Wardian smoked to the win in 5:50 for the 2nd fastest-ever JFK time! Joining Wardian on the podium were Zachariah Miller and Matthew Lavine, all 3 of whom exercised their right to run WS08. For the ladies, Anne Lundblad won for her 2nd time in as many tries in 6:42; Annette Bednosky and Francesca Conte joined her on the podium.

It was a true pleasure, and almost surreal, to be be recognized with the other top-10 guys and receive my cool trophy in front of the very appreciative crowd. And to top off the race, the Montrail team of Eric Grossman, me, Bryon Powell, and Greg Loomis won the men's team competition!

A huge thank you goes out to Lucia for being uber-crew extraordinaire in her first time crewing. Hopefully she will be at many more of my races to come. Also, it was cool to meet my teammates Bryon, Greg, and Eric. Atta-boys all around for running fast and winning the team title!

Kinda scary...

Okay, here goes. Bien said I would never do it. Lucia encouraged me to do it. So I've done it. Yes, I have entered Blogworld.

Obviously the big talk in ultrablogworld this weekend was the WS lottery. I beat the 16% odds. I got in. Yay. Now I'm going to train my arse off for this one to, as Scott Wolfe says, "validate my selection in this year's lottery".

Although not quite yet. First I have this little fun run this weekend, ala Horton-style. Then I'll have to take a little time off to get fat! Of course, January brings FATSO (FatAss Trail Series of Oregon). A little mud at Hagg Lake in February (I won the Men in Skirts competition last Feb thanks to my Kathy Harshburger custom, so I get free entry, and I'll be going for my 5-year buckle!). February will also be when I start ramping it up again. March will hopefully find me at WTC. In April, I'm excited to watch the fast girls in Boston, then enjoy racing through the tunnel of screams at Wellesley College the next day with 25,000 friends. May and the first part of June will be focus time. Then the big dance on June 28.

To all of you who will be dancing with me on June 28 - rah, rah, rah for getting past the lottery! For those who didn't get in, I'm sorry. Obviously something is going to have to change for next year.