Tuesday, July 22, 2008


...second time's not a charm. DNF, mile 85, 17 hours.

I went back this year for two reasons: because WS got cancelled, and to redeem myself from some unfinished business last year.

It started great (don't they all?)! I was chilling out and running relaxed behind Ian, Nikki, Bev, and Jenn, while Jon, Erik, and Mike were a bit up the trail. Yes, I was in very good, and experienced, company.

I actually ended up running most of the 85 miles with Nikki. I don't think we were ever more than 5 minutes apart, and usually we were together. See, this was good for me. I'm going to put it out there and say that Nikki is currently the best female trail 100 mile runner in the world. So I figured I could learn a lot by sticking with her. And I did. I learned to walk way more uphills than normal, and that you don't have to pound the downs. Nikki's a great downhiller, but because she's efficient going down, not because she blasts them. These two points helped me get to 50 miles a full 15 minutes faster than last year, in hotter weather (it was 100 degrees there!), but feeling much, much fresher.

We intentionally slowed down the next 11 miles to Tunnel Creek. As we descended into the Red House loop, the weather cooled a bit and we were in more shade. Nikki and I worked really well together going through the Taste of Hell the second (the first time, too), and came out feeling strong. The sun was cooling even more now, so we ran well for the next 9 miles to Mt. Rose, taking only about 15 minutes longer to get there than in the morning.

I was greeted by Jenn, Thomas, Valerie, and other crews. It was cool to be rocking along with Nikki, feeling great, and being cheered by everyone at Mt. Rose. I left slightly ahead of Nikki, but knew she would catch up. As I left, Jenn asked if I wanted a pacer. Heck yeah! I didn't know who it was going to be, but I just told her to have them catch me. A couple miles later, I heard Jenn's giggly little voice behind me. I was really happy she decided to join me (she had earlier dropped at 50 due to altitude).

We were cruising along for a few miles just ahead of Nikki and Howard (her pacer) when they decided to pass and take the lead for a bit. No worries...Nikki and I both knew this is what we had been doing all day and it had been working well.

Right about 9 p.m., when it was getting dark, near the Diamond Peak water drop, I started to feel a bit off. So I slowed for a bit, then started walking for a while. Jenn commented that if I wanted to stay ahead of Ian, I really should be running the downs. Then came the puke, pretty much in the form of bile and acid...mmm. Okay, no big deal. I had been running great all day, so one puke at mile 81 was pretty good. I felt a little better, drank some water, took a gel and s-cap, and slowly started running again. Five minutes went by and the calories and water came back up. More water and nuun and another gel. Five minutes, same result. This continued for a couple of miles until I was so exhausted that I had to sit down. Soon, another runner came from the other way and said the a.s. was only 8 minutes away. So I dragged my butt off the rock and stumbled down to the Tunnel Creek aid station.

I told Jenn I was going to hang out there as long as I needed to get my stomach straight. I was going to finish this thing! I slowly drank soup and water. Within 30-60 seconds, it came back up. I tried again, same result. Sprite, coke, saltines, food...same result. Each time I tried something in my stomach, it was good for a minute or so, then not-so-much. There was a truck leaving with drops about an hour after I got there. I declined getting on, knowing I could still pull myself together. Well, after five hours of hanging out at the a.s., drinking, eating, puking, repeat...I looked at Jenn and we knew what the decision was. I had nothing in me and we knew there was no way I was going to make it up the two big climbs ahead. A truck was ready to leave, so Jenn helped me up, then was literally my cruch as I barely dragged my completely depleted self to the truck. I had absolutely no energy. Jenn even had to almost lift me into the truck. Yes, I was pathetic.

After a gnarly drive out on a super technical jeep road, the truck-load full of drops made it back to the start/finish area at Spooner Lake just before 4 a.m. It totally sucked to get back there in a truck. Obviously, we all had plans of running there.

One the drive back to Thomas' condo in Incline Village, as I watched the full moon shine brightly and beautifully over Lake Tahoe, I listened to messages and read texts from some awesome friends who were giving me lots of rah-rahs during the day and night. Yes, listening to those made me happy that I have so many good friends who were thinking of me, knowing I was going to rock this 100. Thank you.

I would really like to say a big thank you to Jenn. She really proved to me that she's not just a fast little punk:)! Just the fact that she volunteered to pace me after dropping from the 50 was awesome, but the compassion and maturity she showed me while my body was failing me is something I'll never forget. Jenn, you can pace me anytime, and hopefully you'll let me do the same for you.

The weekend ended with a Dark Knight viewing in Carson City with Team Ashland, then Jenn and I finally opened Tonya's sweet goodie bag, before the long drive home.

Some day I'll figure out this stomach thing.

Huge congrats to first time 100 finishers: Matt Nahorniak, Todd Temple, Scott Leonard, and Gretchen Brugman.



Trail Goat said...

You want to borrow my stomach? I'm not doing much racing these days. Regardless, tough luck this weekend. Have you thought about trying a cool weather 100? Iroquois Trails is obviously a ways away for you, but The Bear is on the chilly side and not too far away, right?

Mark Gilligan said...

Sean, I was really excited to see you doing so well at the 50 mile mark and was even more excited to see you running with Nikki on the return. However, when I threw you a cheer and only heard a low mumble, I knew you weren't happy. Sorry to hear you pull the plug so late in the race.

Darin Swanson said...

Bummer..I feel your pain on the mystery of the stomach. Thanks for sharing what you learned from Nikki.

Hart said...

sucks because you were primed to rock this one. look back and appreciate the journey.

kendrara said...

Dude, 85 miles is no joke, and a long way to go before the vomit hit. There is nothing you can do if you can't keep it down and the way you kept trying is as impressive as everything else you did - *I know*! too bad our normally iron clad grease loving stomachs give us both so much trub. Sorry, Sean - there's always tomorrow and Sascha loves you no matter what! So do we!

Anonymous said...

Hey Sean,

Your posts are always full of details and humor, thanks as always for sharing a great journey with everyone online.

I personally can't see why you'd think there was "something wrong" with your stomach. It was 100 f'ing degrees, and you were rockin' at an inhuman pace. Whether it's trying for sub 2:40 at Boston or 19 hours at TRT, somethin's gotta give if you're redlining. But that's why it's gonna be sweet when you reach those lofty goals, something most people will never approach because they don't want to risk that kind of potential pain.

So congrats on a great effort and thanks for a great report.

Trail Goat said...

Charlie wrote, "But that's why it's gonna be sweet when you reach those lofty goals, something most people will never approach because they don't want to risk that kind of potential pain."

I couldn't agree more. There's a darn good reason why I don't puke and it's probably not because I have an iron stomach. Way to push the envelope and go for it!

olga said...

Hot weather? Altitude? The combo of both? I am with Goat Powell on Bear, though it's same high (? - who knows what the new course will be) and surely colder (well, it snowed for 2 years...but during a day it's kind of "warm"). Bummer, but love how you speak of it. You're a good guy, Sean. A really really good guy. That's why you have really really good friends:) Gotta pick another one now! Isn't it what it all about?

nanv said...

What a bummer. I'm really proud of you for making it as far as you did. Take it easy and get yourself back to normal. Wait, NORMAL? See you soon.

William Swint said...

Sorry to hear about your run.Like always you have a great attitude about it,that is inspiring.

Peter Lubbers said...

Hey Sean,
Sorry to hear you had to drop.
You looked great when you passed on your first trip back from Mount Rose.
Maybe the third time's the charm...
Take care,

Gretchen said...

I was so bummed to see your name missing from the finisher's list! It's especially painful to have to drop so late after such a solid race to that point. I think you will still come back to get this one some day. You're a rock star Sean, and it was great seeing you again. For myself, I had so much fun in the first 60 miles, I'm thinking 100K might be a more appropriate distance for me. ;)