Thursday, July 16, 2009

Badwater Babe!

I just got home from an incredibly amazing experience. I was fortunate to be part of Team D's Nutz at the Badwater 135, and help crew and pace Jamie Donaldson to her second consecutive victory there.

David, Rob, Connie, and Eric showed me the ropes fast and we had a great crew for Jamie. Despite 27 hours, 20 minutes, and 18 seconds together (second fastest women's time, only to herself from last year) with really no sleep, we didn't have a single crew "incident". Pretty cool people to meet and hang out with.

The real star obviously was Jamie. Her patience, perserverance, hard work, grit, course knowledge, extremely up-beat attitude, no whining, zero pukeage, and just all around coolness factor, made Jamie the chick at Badwater.

I am humbled to have been a part of her experience. Thank you, Jamie.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Lotsa Puking, But I Got My Bronze Buckle

Western States was once again the huge event that it always is. In 2005, I was really nervous during all of the pre-race stuff, but not this year. I really enjoyed everything I did in Squaw in the days leading up to the race. I was very relaxed, evidenced by my heart rate of 48 at the pre-race medical check on Friday morning. I knew I was fit, and I was definitely confident in my ability to perform well.

Well, I didn't perform up to my expectations. I did finish, 24:44:13, which I am very happy about. I never really considered dropping. But I just had a long day out there.

I felt great through the high country, wearing my heart rate monitor up until Dusty Corners at mile 38 to help keep my effort intact. I really enjoyed the high country miles running at different times with Stan, Lewis, Krissy, Scott, Brian M, Brian R, Simon, and others.

I went down pretty hard about a mile before Robinson Flat and that really sucked the wind out of me. But when I got to Robinson, I couldn't help but get re-energized. The crowd there was absolutely epic! I felt like a rock star - hearing my name shouted out from all directions, high fives everywhere, and definitely got a lump in my throat a few times. I left there on top of the world and was able to get a decent groove going again.

Getting to Miller's Defeat aid station at mile 34, run by the SWEAT Running Club out of Redding, CA, I thanked them for putting on a great marathon in January. To my complete surprise, one of them then complimented me for putting on a great Peterson Ridge Rumble in April. That was the nicest thing anyone said to me all day and I was stoked.

I continued on down, down, down the hill to Last Chance at mile 43. Shortly after that, on the decent down to Swinging Bridge, I started getting really hot. Uh, that's not good. The climb up the Thumb hurt, as did the next long decent down El Dorado Canyon (it hurt because of the heat, not my legs). Down at the El Dorado a.s., mile 53, I was really, really hot, and the a.s. workers could see that. They offered up the creek to cool me down and I accepted with hesitation. It felt awesome to stand in the cool creek for 10 minutes to cool my core. I left feeling like my race might just turn around.

I was wrong. About 20 minutes later, I was dry again and hurting. I eventually got to Michigan, got lots of help cooling off again from Peter, Darla, Chris, and everybody's favorite Russian, Ogla. Since I like Volcano Canyon, I left Michigan looking forward to the next 10 km. I didn't do what I hoped in there and made it to Foresthill in not very high spirits. I knew Thomas was joining me for the next 18 miles, but I was to miserable to really want to run with anybody.

Thomas did a great job getting me down to the river. By the time he was with me, I had been puking lots, and that didn't change. At Peachstone, I was able to eat 1/2 a grilled cheese sandwich, 2 cups of soup, and a cup of Coke. Good, solid calories that I wanted to keep down. So we walked out of the a.s., then slowly jogged. When I did puke again, at least it was everything I had just put down, so that was a plus. Then at Ford's Bar, we did something I wasn't planning on until13 miles later - we broke out the headlamps.

Crossing the river was nice and felt good. As the temperature was still hot, as was I, I should have fully submerged myself. However, I was too afraid of getting hypothermia on the hike up to Green Gate, so I didn't take full advantage of the river. Bad decision, as I got pretty hot again on the climb. Being hot again at the top, Bryon literally took the shirt off his back, got it wet, then draped it over my head to help cool me down. What a guy.

Darla and I then set out for the final 20, with thoughts of a sub-24 still in my mind. But it wasn't to be. As the night drew on, I kept puking and puking and puking. And just to make sure, I puked some more. Despite the heat, at ALT, I got a little chilly and got my jacket from my drop bag. The puking was draining all of my energy. I actually ended up wearing the jacket twice for short sections.

A little after Brown's Bar at mile 90, I finally let out the mother puke - I actually had to stop for this one (all of the rest I continued to walk, run, jog, whatever). A lot came out and a few minutes later, I actually felt pretty good again. So the last 9ish miles I was able to pick up my pace ever-so-slightly. It felt great to be running, er, jogging again. Going into Hwy 49 at mile 93.5, I just wanted to get out of there and finish. Crewboy Chris said that in the almost 4 hours he was there watching, I was by far the fastest in and out of that a.s.

Leaving Hwy 49 at 4 a.m., Darla was so cute and said that I could still get a sub-24. Little did she know about the climb out of the a.s., or the final climb up Robie. I told her that the top guys do it in 1:20, so don't worry about the time. We eventually made it across No Hands and up the climb to Robie. And just as I was bummed to turn on my headlamp with Thomas, I was equally bummed to turn off my headlamp with Darla on the way up to Robie. I didn't want to see the sun rise again while still out on the trail.

Anyway, we hit the pavement and soon enough the track for the final 300 meters. I finished happy and exhausted in 24:44:13 for 76th place. There were 399 starters and 238 finishers. That's a fairly hefty 40% drop rate. Ouch.

Chris and Darla saw that the temperature in Auburn on Saturday was 111, and at 8 p.m., it was still 100 at Green Gate. So estimates are that the highs in the canyons were probably in the 110-115 degree range. Hot.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to Thomas and Darla for not letting me sleep at aid stations, and to Chris for being my main crew boy. You all were a very big reason for my finish. Also, thank you to Joe for letting me crash at his house, and not on I-5, on Sunday night.

Another 100? "Definitely not" on Sunday and Monday, "probably not" on Tuesday, and "maybe" on Wednesday. Ultrarunners are kinda stupid, or at least forgetful very quickly.