Saturday, August 30, 2008

DNF Better Than A DNS?

That was my dilemma at the Waldo 100k. I tested my leg at the Haulin' Aspen 1/2 marathon and knew that 62 miles was not in the cards for me a week later. I was pretty depressed as Waldo was my main goal for the year. I had never run beyond 52 miles so it was a big jump for me on a tough course. As I contemplated what to do I had some logistical problems that I had to deal with also. If I decided to run I knew that after 32 miles it would be hard to quit as there is not a good spot to quit and get off the course without a major hike to a road. I studied the map and figured that mile 20.5 at Mt. Ray AS or 32 miles at Charlton Lake would be the best place to quit. I wondered if I should even start the race with the hassle of getting a room and driving all the way to Willamette Pass anyway. Decisions, decisions....

I thought about it and figured that I would need a long training run anyway as the McKenzie 50k was about a month away and I didn't want to lose my fitness in the meantime. So off Gail and I went to Waldo. We did the crazy thing of getting up at 12:30 am so we could be on the road at 1:00 am for the 0500 start. I was going to do the 3:00 am start if I was going to do the whole race but I knew that wasn't going to happen so why run 3 hours in the dark if I didn't have too? Plus starting with all the "fasties" would be fun. The drive up was easy as my crew (Gail) slept in the backseat. We arrived about 4:00 am and went into the lodge to check in. I got all my stuff together and headed out to the start. This is a USTAF race so no headphones are allowed. I brought mine along thinking I could put them on and get kicked off the course instead of quitting! (Ha!)

At 5 am sharp the RD said go and off we went. The first part of the course is about a 300 yard run then you power walk up to the top of Willamette Pass ski area. You are working hard but it actually is a good way to warm up for what was to come. It was still very dark and the road/trail was covered with a very fine dust. The headlamps we wore created a eerie look of dust and halo's. I passed a few folks and we had some nice chats. Soon I caught up to Olga and we were about the same pace so we chatted while pushed up the hill. I turned around at one point and saw a beautiful view of the moon just over Mt. Scott, it sure was a great sight to see.

We reached the top and started to trot. I stayed with Olga as we were the same pace. Soon we hit some downhills and off she went. I had to take a couple of coffee relief stops as usual but other than that I felt pretty good. The trail was nice and not to many obstacles to overcome as the light started to increase. I do know that I need a brighter headlamp. My 3 LED is not quite enough. If anyone has suggestions on make and models please let me know. I chatted with a woman from the Bay area in California who grew up in Portland. She was a coach for Ultra runners so I thought I would pick her brain a bit. We had some good talks but soon she fell back and I continued on.

We came into the mile 7 AS and someone yells "Hey Fatboy!". It can only be Sean as I look up and see him in a long red dress. Yep a dress. It is good for a laugh. I refuel and try to eat and drink more than usual to prevent a bonk like I had at PCT. Plus it is going to be hot today with forecast highs over 100 in the valley and the 90's up in the mountains. Those that finish today are going to some real tough folks! I head out on the gravel road and we hit the Fuji Mt trail. This begins the second climb on the course. We go from about 4,800 feet up to the top at around 7,100. A nice 2,300 foot climb over the next 6 miles. But the climb was not to the killer on this part of the course. It was the mosquitoes!

Up the mountain was probably 80% a walk. Not much area to run but not that steep where you you really felt out of breath. Soon I caught up to Olga again. This is where the bugs got bad. Every step you took hundreds of mosquitoes would fly up. These are the black kind that are very, very hungry. I figured with our record snow pack and cool spring many of them were just hatching out for the first time. Usually by this time most the bugs would have been gone. I had put on DEET prior to the run just in case as I had read some blogs of folks who had trained on the course a few weeks earlier and described them as "black clouds". One even left there camping trip a day early due to the massive blood sucking.

I followed Olga up the hills as we chatted and swatted bugs. I would look at her legs and see many mossie's on her. I mean many! I counted one time about 9 on one leg, 5 on another and a few on her unprotected shoulders. I was getting bit too even with DEET on. Some right through my shirt and socks. It was really driving us crazy. When we hit runnable areas the breeze would keep them off us so we kept hoping for spots to run in. Olga said " I got to pee but I don't want to stop and get eaten!" Soon we got into some sunny areas and she stopped and I went on by.

At AS 2 at mile 12.4 I loaded up the water bottle for the 1.3 mile push to the summit of Fuji. I asked for bug spray but the poor AS workers said they gave out all they had plus there own personal stash. They were suffering too. Most had coats and hats on but the bugs were feasting on them. You guys were awesome...thanks for putting up with such miserable conditions to help us out. Just before this AS we saw the fast folks coming down the mountain and man some of them can fly. Olga caught back up to me and got the bad news about no spray too. I told her Gail would be at Mt. Ray and to ask her for my DEET from her.

Then next push is a pretty good climb of about 800 feet in just over a mile. Olga and I stayed together and ended up taking some pictures on the way up. As I took some pictures of Olga she was dancing around screaming and giggling as the bugs were eating her up. We both had a good laugh and got going again quickly We got to the top and had a magnificent view of the Cascades and the high lakes area including Waldo. The summit was like a real mountain top, just an area about 25 yards square. Some volunteers were up there taking pictures and ensuring no one shortened the course. I spent some time just enjoying the view as I knew this would be my only summit of the 3 main mountains on the course. Olga stayed for only 30 seconds or so. She took off and yelled at me "C'mon Bret we gottta go!" The woman was on a mission as she is in most races. I let her go and stayed for a couple of more minutes. It was a such a fantastic view I wanted a good memory of it.

I headed down at a nice running pace. The trail was a bit rocky but nothing too challenging. I got back to the Fuji AS and just did some minor refueling. I took off for the nice downhill portion of the course to the Mt Ray AS at mile 20.5. I was running pretty good and gel-in every 3o minutes. I was adding in as much non-sweet foods at the aid stations as possible. Mostly potatoes, chips and pretzels. I didn't want to get the over sweet feeling that I seem to have with just gels. This downhill section was nice to run with some rollers and nice flat areas. You lose 2,100 feet over 5.6 miles. Some sections were really steep and you had to walk down them lest you bust your fanny. In this area I would still see patches of snow and even had to cross some. Amazing this late in the summer. I crossed a nice meadow of wildflowers and picked some (don't tell the Forest Service!) for Gail. I started to get a bit tired in this area as the heat was picking up a bit. I drank as much as I could handle. I usually drink every 10 minutes but would add in some extra today as I still think I don't drink enough especially on warm days.

Soon I could here voices and new I was near the Mt Ray AS. Would I drop here or continue on for 12 more miles? What should I do? My leg felt pretty good with just minor pain. But I was getting tired. What to do??? Soon I saw an AS worker up on the trail. She would radio down to the AS my bib number so they could mark me off as coming through. Then it happened. "Ouch!!! What the F!" I just got stung by a bee on the leg. "Damn that hurts!" The AS worker said they would have Benadryl at the AS. I rolled across Waldo Lake road into the AS that Gail and I had volunteered at last year. It was run by Cindy who is from Eugene and works Ski Patrol at Willamette Pass. Gail was there and it was great to see her. I took my time and reloaded my pockets with gel. Took care of the bee sting and ate some food. I chatted with Cindy and she didn't recognize me. They do a great job at Waldo aid stations. Everyone really takes care of you. I talked with Gail and decided to head on to Charlton Lake and I would quit there. We also decided that Gail could run out from that AS and meet me and run into my final AS. It would be up to her to decide how far she wanted to run. I got some more DEET and put it on. Gail said Olga had just come in and screamed at Gail "Bret says you have DEET?" So Gail rubbed it on Olga as the woman is no nonsense at an aid staions. She always says she doesn't stick around long in them.

As soon as I headed out of Mt. Ray I felt tired. I didn't feel like running at all. I really thought about turning back and quitting. I pressed on and just told myself it will get better. I barely ran the flats as the temps really started to climb. I was struggling for miles. Finally on the Bobby Lake trail I started to run some more. I knew there was only 3 or 4 runners behind me and was sure they would probably pass me at some point. I got to the PCT intersection where the course was vandalized last year and many of the front runners went the wrong way. This year they had great markings on the course and marshals at the major intersections. This part of the course climbs from about 5,400 feet to about 6,500 feet. It is not steep at all but my low energy made running much hard. I soon recalled the altitude I was at and now understood why I was so tired. The lack of O2 does make a difference even though your breathing seems normal. In this area a 30 something woman passed me. She had a good pace but I would keep her in sight at times. I ran out of water on this section a good mile or so from the AS. I had 2-18 oz bottles so I was really drinking well but the heat an altitude really drys you up fast.

I rolled into The Twins AS and was pretty much done. They had belly dancers which did help my attitude! They had a water sprayer which sure felt good. I had lost my ice bandanna somewhere on the course so I couldn't have my nice cool water drip down my neck. They even gave me a fruit juice Popsicle! I ate some food and took my time getting back on the trail. They said it was 5 miles to the next AS and was mostly downhill.

I power walked out of The Twins as we had a 400 foot or so climb for the next 1/2 mile or so. I came around a corner and saw a woman sitting on a rock. She was the one who passed me earlier. I stopped to ask how she was doing. She said she was "tired and that this course was harder than I expected". We chatted a bit and I started to head out. I said "I am just going to walk so if you want to join me you are more than welcome." She hesitated for a bit then said "Yeah I think I will". It was great to have some company. Her name was Karalee and she was from the Sacramento area. I told her I was going to DNF at Charlton Lake and she said she was going to do the same. I think she was having dehydration issues as she only had one water bottle and said that she didn't see any reason why the RD's said you should have two water bottles. She now knew why. And this is from a woman that trains in the 100 degree heat of the Sacramento summers. We talked and walked for about another 10 minutes. Then I saw a lovely sight. Gail running towards me on the trail. Oh how it was great to see her! We stopped and I introduced my new trail buddy to her. She turned and joined up as we continued to walk. This was an interesting portion of the trail as some massive rock formations pushed right up to the edge of the trail. I love geology so this was probably more interesting to me than most folks.

The three of us chatted and the course turned downhill. I started to jog and all kept up. I was still drinking allot as I was very thirsty. At one point Karalee even asked if she could have some of my water. I said "sure" and gave her half of my remaining bottle. Poor gal was really dry. Lesson learned here for both of us for sure. I was running 90% of the time. I said I was going to walk and Karalee cheered. It was great to have all 3 of us together as it made the time pass much more quickly and also made me run more than I probably would have alone. Soon we started to see the AS signs like "Surfs Up", "Party area up ahead!" My leg had started to hurt pretty good in this area and I knew I had made the right decision to DNF. I could have gone on but it was getting close to the cutoff time and I probably would not have made the next AS.

We rolled into Charlton Lake AS to the cheers of the volunteers. They asked "what do you need" with big smiles. I said "I'm done!" The smiles disappeared from their faces as I told them that I had an injury and this was my plan. They looked disappointed but I was very sure of my decision. Karalee met her husband and they left pretty quickly. Gail and I ate and chatted. The lake was gorgeous and people were swimming in it. So I took off my shoes and went wading in the water to cool off and clean up. I was tired but not so much I couldn't have gone on. Finish? Probably not unless I would have to walk a huge amount of the course. My leg was swollen again but nowhere near the pain I had on the PCT the previous weeks back. Gail and I grabbed some great cookies and had the short walk to the car. We drove back to WP ski area and got some food and drink and hung out for a bit. We had a long drive home so we didn't stay to see the first finishers.

Well my first DNF ever. Yeah it was planned but it still stings a bit. I just looked at it as a training run but I was sad about missing my goal for the year. Everyone says there is always next year but I will also be year older and you never know what will be hurting next year too. Waldo is a tough course and those that finish get a huge amount of respect from me. I ended up completing 32 miles in 7:53. 7 minutes before the cutoff time of 1pm. I only had a couple of runners behind me at this point. Looking at the stats about a 126 runners signed up 21 did not start the race. 22 of us DNF'd. So 83 finished. The winner in 10:06 and the last runner at 19:07.

I think the portion of the course I ran was tough I still had 2 more mountains to climb and about 4,800 feet of climb left. So even if I was in good condition could I have finished? I guess we will find out next year. Thanks to Gail for crewing for me, it is such a mental boost to see a friendly face on the course. What's up next? Well its McKenzie River 50k then the Portland Marathon in early October. Kind of sad but it feels like the Ultra running in the Northwest is coming to a close for the season. Maybe we should all move to Southern California so we can do this crazy sport year around. (Wasn't this the guy who said he was done with these after the PCT???) Will I ever learn?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Haulin' My-Aspen

Gail has a goal of running a marathon or longer every month. She says this is only for this year, I think it's forever! So we had just done the PCT 50 miler two weeks earlier. I had signed up for the Where's Waldo 100k earlier in the year but Gail being the smart one in the family decided that 62 miles and 3 mountains might be a bit much so she decided to pass on this one. So she needed to do a marathon in August. She signed up for Haulin' Aspen in Bend (twice actually!) on August 10th. I was torn. I had Waldo the next weekend but love the toughness of the Aspen course. Should I do the full marathon as an easy training run or just do the half? What do I do? So in my state of procrastination the race sold out. Now what do I do? Well I do what Bret always does. Call the Race Director! Cindy the RD was great. I played my sad story out in an email and she said if I don't take a medal, don't ride the shuttle and don't tell anyone she would let me in. So now I had to make a quick decision. Half or full? I decided it would be stupid for me to run the marathon a week before my longest run. Plus I had really hurt my leg during the PCT and it was swollen for at least a week. So the smart move was do the half, go easy and find out how my leg would hold up.

I had to work till mid-day Saturday so we left for Bend early in the evening. As we drove into Bend I was shocked to see the population was 75,000 now! When I went to College here in 1977 it was 17,000. Back then it was just a nice little cowboy/ski town. Now it is big houses, Golf courses and allot of elite athletes. Not sure if that is good or bad, but it is different for sure. We got to the hotel and they upgraded us to a suite for free. It was a great room, too bad we went to bed within an hour.

Up the next morning at 0530 we had our usual breakfast. Off we went to Shevlin Park for the start. Last year I parked up the hill and just walked down. This year they were pretty adamant about not parking anywhere on the road. So we just parked in the lot for a few minutes while Gail and I got our race packets. I then wished her a good race and went back to the car.

The marathon started at 7 am but my half wasn't untill 8:30. So I just drove around some of the back roads and enjoyed beautiful Central Oregon. I parked at the High School and took the shuttle down to the start (Bad, bad Bret!) I got there plenty early and just hung out. I didn't know any of the half runners as most my friends were doing the full marathon. It seems to be a much younger crowd that runs half's. And I think there is more twenty-something women than any other group.

My plan was to run easy and test out my leg towards the last half of the race. Push it a bit and see if it hurts. If it did then Waldo would be out.

Off we went running the first mile or so on pavement before hooking back to the start area on some single track. I had screwed up and left my Garmin in the car so I was without mileage today. They didn't have any mile markers on this course except at the aid stations. But I didn't really care about time so it would be a nice change. After getting back to the start we cross the stream and head up a steep climb for a few hundred yards which soon eases to rollers. I am out of breath quickly as the 3000 foot elevation takes effect. The course soon follows old fire roads which makes for easy running. We come out onto a bigger gravel / rock road and hit the first aid station which I bypass as I am carrying a water bottle. It is a nice downhill section and I allow my stride to stretch out. So far my leg feels fine.

The road then turns up and we have the big climb of the race for the half folks. It goes up for probably 3 miles or so. After about 3/4's of a mile most people are walking. I vowed not to walk in this race since I am just doing the half. So I go into my hill climb mode where I just take small baby size steps and let my breathing determine my pace. I pass many runners in this area that went out a bit too fast. I feel strong and mentally positive because this is just 13 miles race.

At the half way point I refuel with gels and water and know its mostly all downhill from here. I decide to push it up as we run the switchback downhill single track. I follow a woman about 15 yards in front of me. She has a good pace and forces me to keep up. As we pass folks my leg still feels good. Numerous rocks in this are cause many runners to take a dirt nap. Many stumble and catch themselves too. So far all is good for my size 13 feet.

Soon my pacer pulls off the trail. "Darn it! Why did she do that?" So I press on alone. Now I am really going to test the leg and I push harder. Soon my leg starts to talk to me. Just a twinge, then discomfort, then it starts to hurt from the foot up the shin. It's not shin splints but the actual muscle or tendon that goes up the side of the shin. I now know Waldo will not happen this year.

I hit the steep rocky and technical area of the course. I am passing numerous runners as I am a bit pissed off and really let it fly down this area (Stupid!). Nearly at the bottom I roll my frickin' ankle on something. I loose my balance at high speed and let out at least 5 four letter words as I fly off the trail as it does a 180 degree turn. I can't slow down due to the steepness of the trail. Luckily there is some open area and I fly into it and grab some tree branches to stop me. "Damn it hurts! How bad is it?" I was so lucky as this area is ugly. I could have done major body damage is I would have done a face plant. Well I stop for maybe 15 seconds then walk a bit. I am now at the bottom of the hill and it is pretty much easy trail the next 1.5 miles or so to the finish. I start to trot and it hurts but I will finish. It gets better and I pick it up a bit. (No it wasn't the ankle I broke two years ago on the trail) I have a few pass me as I have slowed down but now the last mile I pass a few back. I feel pretty good except for the leg pain.

I cross the finish and say no to the medal offer. (Got enough half medals and had to keep my promise to the RD.) I then went to the aid tent and got a bag of ice for my leg and ankle. Soon I went to the chow line. They have the best food by far of any race I have ever done. They cater pasta from a local restaurant and off many other goodies. RD's, take notice. Runners like nice finish food! Plus they had two kegs of beer! Whooo-hooo!

Over the next few hours I just hung out waiting for Gail to finish. I soaked my legs in the cold stream, ate more food and talked to some great folks. Soon I saw Marc Brewer cross the finish line. He had just completed a weekend marathon double. Two of the hardest ones for sure. Crater lake yesterday and now Aspen. He said he felt good except for some chaffing around some body parts. I had to laugh at his description! He looked good but was tired as would be expected.

It was fun to cheer all the finishers. I know when I finish it is great to hear the crowd. As the amount of folks at the finish area greatly shrank I often was the lone voice cheering on the runners. Each one of them is a star. Anyone that runs 13 to 26 miles is awesome! Sometimes we forget that.

Here comes Gail! She looks fresh as usual. This is a kick ass course and she is smiling. She gets her medal and we head off to the food area. She eats and we chat about the race. "That 7 mile climb was killer" she says. Oh how I remember it from last year. The good thing is that she didn't eat any dirt this year. Two years ago she really got banged up and still has scars on her knee to prove it. Good for her to come back her and do it again. I tell her about my leg and that Waldo will be a no go this year. We talk with Leslie of Maniac fame ( 50 marathons last year!!!) and she and Gail discuss how she took a wrong turn somewhere on the course.(Gail and her ran together for a bit) So as she got to the finish line she didn't go across the line as she felt it wouldn't be right. She had run the Crater Lake Marathon the day before too. Pretty honorable of her to do that. We grab the shuttle back to our car and head for the 3 hour drive home.

Gail finished in 5:44 and was happy with her time on this tough course. I finished the half in 2:09 and was 151st out of 336 runners.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

PCT 50 and The Death March

Gail and I got up at 0' dark-thirty (0300 am) to drive up to the start of the Pacific Crest Trail 50 mile run. Gail had worked the day before so she got to sleep in the back of the car while I drove to the 0530 early start. As we pulled into park (right across from the start line) Sarah and her non-runner husband Marc pulled in right behind us. I went up to the sign in area to check in and get our bibs. Co-RD's Olga and Monika were smiling and taking pictures as I picked up our packets. I went back to the car and handed everything to Gail as she was in a rush to take the early start. I was going to be brave (or stupid) and take the regular start at 0630. Sarah and I chatted and I discovered that Marc was talked into doing the race around the campfire the previous night. (Sarah as a long term injury and had previously signed up for the race). Marc brought no runner items as he didn't want to be tempted to run the race. (So much for that idea!) About that time Gail says "I have no insoles for my trail shoes!" She had left them in her road shoes. The trooper she is, she still was planning on running without insoles!! Then I went and asked Sarah what size her shoes were and amazingly enough they were pretty close to Gail's shoe size. So I asked if we could try them. She said "Of course". They ended up fitting in Gail's shoes perfectly. While all this was going on I talked to Marc and he was wearing one of the course officials running shoes which he borrowed (he brought none to avoid temptation) and they were pretty darn small he said. I mentioned that I had a spare pair of trail shoes with me. And guess what? They fit! What a great trade. Gail gets Sarah's insoles and Marc runs in my back up shoes.

So we head up to the start line a few minutes before the gun. We chat with folks and then off they go. As I look at Gail she seems different. What is it? She has no water bottle! "Gail! Where is your water bottle?" "Oh crap she says" and then looks back and finds where she had set down her bottle while she used the pre-race facilities. So she grabs and off she goes. Gail is planning to only run to Timberline Lodge, which is the half way point of this 50 miler. But she says she will just run as long as it feels good.

Over the next hour I just chat with our ultra running friends and watch Olga and Monika strip down to their bikini tops to get their photo's taken. (How many races to you go to and get to see the RD's in bikini's?) It is a fun time as all the "fasties" show up.

The pre-race briefing is simple. If you get lost you are stupid! The race stays on the PCT the entire time except for a little jog to the Little Crater Lake campground. "So just follow the signs and all should be well"

Monika yells "Go" and off we trot. We head up the road for a little 1/4 mile turnaround then back past the start. I run with my friend David from Eugene. We both start out slow and chat. As we come back to the start area, David dashes over to his wife for one last kiss. I then look at Olga as she sees this too. So I stop and we copy them in a comical embrace.

We hit the PCT a mile or so into the race. The sun is up so no need for flashlights on the trail. The first six miles follows the shores of Timothy Lake and is a very nice section rollers on a wide trail. David heads out and I chat with a woman for a few miles. I soon pass and find my self alone just a few runners from the back.

My fuel plan is what has been working for months. Gels every 30 minutes, two gulps of water every 10 minutes and E-caps every hour. Around mile 5 a runner comes up fast behind me. Her name is Linda I think and she is always in the top 5 women finishers. She got to the start 10 minutes late and said "Its a long race, no problem". We chat for a bit as we come to an intersection in the trail. We both stop and look around, not sure which way to go as the course is not marked. We see a sign to Little Crater and we figure this is the way to go. As she pulls away she yells back "I see other runners". Relief sets in as we know we didn't take a wrong turn.

We turn into Little Crater trail and run a quarter mile or so on planks of wood across a swampy area. Little crater is an amazing spring. Super cold water comes up from underground forming this super clear water filled crater about 150 yards wide. As I run I have to dodge runners coming out of the aid station. I hit the 10k (6.1. miles) mark at about 1:05. A nice easy pace as I don't want to push it early on.

The next section has a bit of climb, maybe 300 to 500 feet up to AS 2 at 9.3 miles. As I get closer I feel blisters starting to form on my heals already. I had gotten them again on SOB a few weeks earlier. As I pulled into the AS I asked if they had duct tape. They said "Yes" so I sat down and took off my shoes and the patches I had on my feet. I put on new patches and placed 6 inch strips of tape over them. As this was going on the mosquitoes began feasting on my legs. I had no bug spray on so they thought I was Sunday brunch! At times I probably had 20 of them on me at once. I had never be attacked like this in my life! I would swat at them then work on my feet for about 5 minutes. I knew they would win for sure. Well I was finally done and off I went.

This next section is great trail. The first part is a steady climb over rocky terrain. I would walk the steeps and run what I could. Soon the trail smooths out and we begin a steeper climb. Around mile 12 we are on the traverse the side of a large hill and catch a awesome glance of Mt Hood. Timberline lodge looks to be 30 miles away but actually is only 12 or so which is kind of demoralizing. I am running most sections at an easy pace. Around this point the top of my foot has been hurting for an hour or so. And now the pain runs up the outside of my shin on. Not sure what it is but it is getting worse. I run into AS 3 (mile 14.5) at the Highway 26 intersection and I refuel and head out.

The next section has some steeper climbs so I walk allot. Soon it is downhill and I let it fly into AS 4 at mile 19.1. The theme here is Thongs! Pretty interesting thongs hanging on trees and being worn by men and woman alike. This is the last AS before our big push up Mt. Hood.

The run up to Mt. Hood is more of a 6 mile walk. I probably only run 25% of this section as we climb up from probably 4,500 feet to over 6,000 at Timberline. About half way up I run into these two hikers going the same way as me. They are all dressed in the official Africa Safari outfits of Khaki color. As I walk behind them I hear a British accent speaking about someone who is in London. I think "This is cool, they are probably here on vacation enjoying our mountains." How wrong I was to be. As I waited to pass them the fast runners had already made the turn and were coming down the mountain. The older hiker was putting up his hand (open palm) and yelling "Slow down!" They did this numerous times and would not attempt to move to the side of the trail at all. I thought this is pretty strange and rude. The runners I observed would move to the side or even off the trail as they headed down the trail. This guy just kept up with his rant on every runner. Soon I said "Excuse me, on your left" as I power walked by them. I asked how is your day? I got some response like "Not very well". OK I thought and pulled away from them. Another runner came by and I heard a yell. The back and younger guy had put out his elbow and both the runner and hiker took a bit of a hit. Soon a woman who was behind me came up behind the hikers. I heard her say "on your left" as she walked past them. Some words were exchanged and I heard her say "We are in a race" the older hiker said "I don't give a shit!" When the woman caught up to me she asked if I had heard the exchange? I said "yes". Of all the trail races I have been in, these two were the rudest hikers I have ever come across. Come to find out later this guy works in Vancouver at one of the hospitals . He wrote a letter to Monika to complain about the runners. They had a few emails exchanged and he was getting pretty intense in his comments. He also wrote the Forest Service to complain that an event like this is too big to be held on trails (150 runners over 50 miles????). I also find it interesting that he put his job title on all the emails. (Ego?) Sure hope his company allows personal emails from work. Ha! Here is link to the email exchange.
Click on the reports link at the top of the page and then scroll down to the section titled A word from Monika Gold, co-RD, on a “Hiker’s incident” . More of this was on the Oregon Ultra Runners email list with actual copies of the email. Monika was great as she dropped this as the future of the race could be impacted by this ..... oh he would probably sue me if I said what I was thinking.

I get above the Timberline and hike the sand dunes of Mt. Hood. This is a hard section due to the steepness of the climb, the sand and altitude. The view is amazing though. You are looking straight up at the summit! It is a beautiful clear day with the temps in the 60's on the mountain. I can feel my blisters acting up and know I need to fix them again soon. I see Gail for the first time. She is running with two other women and looks great. I guess she is not quitting at the 25 mile point. What a woman!!! I get a kiss and we chat a few seconds and then part. I go above the Lodge and then cross some big snowfields and finally get to run a bit to the parking lot where the turn around is set up. I grab my drop bag and some food and water. Kate is there to help. She is great and does everything for me. I mention my feet and she says "Yes change your socks" When she sees my feet she knows work has to be done. I have 2 half dollar size blisters on the side of my heals. She does it all! Takes off my shoes and socks. Cleans my feet, then puts on moleskin then layers of duct tape to keep it all in place. This takes 10 minutes or so but I know if I don't do this my day will be done soon.

After a short hike above the lodge its time to fly down the mountain. The first part is great with all the soft sand and you can really let go and it feels so soft each time your foot lands. Back on the trails it is a real pounding for this 6 mile downhill. My leg really starts to hurt. Each time my right foot lands its under allot of pain. Still not sure what it is but I am not quitting now. As I roll into AS 6 at 30.9 miles I feel the first sign of fatigue. My stomach is not feeling to great but I know I need to eat. Nothing on the AS food table looks good. I force down some Coke and few non-sweet items. I am still gel-ing every half hour and they are starting to gag me.

This next section has a big climb in it. Really the last one of the race in this direction. I power walk and the heat is starting to rise. I have filled my bandanna with ice and wrapped it around my neck for some great cooling. My foot is getting worse. It hurts more to walk than to run. What is wrong? I think its just some soft tissue that got all fired up and now I am beating to death for 8 hours. At the top of the hill I run. The downhill section into AS 7 at mile 35.5 feels pretty good. At AS 7 I can barely walk on this leg. Meghan suggests I loosen my shoelaces but it is probably too late for that. Again my stomach is not great but I can still drink. I take two more ibuprofen (that's four today) and head out.

This next section is a gradual climb but I walk most it. Only running the flattest of flats and the downhills. I begin to hate life around here. Soon it is the part I like. Nice downhill section that is pretty technical due to the amount of rocks in the trail. It makes me concentrate on my running and I ignore my gut and leg. I pull into AS 8 at mile 40.7. I am tired. I fill my bottles and chat with a runner that I have been close to. I let him head out first and I try to stay with him. It works well for a few miles but soon I am walking again. This is about a mile from AS 9, so about mile 43. My gut is done. Nothing is good. I am hot, my leg hurts and stomach doesn't like me anymore. I walk the last mile to AS 9.

Right before AS 9 I see Gail. We stop and talk. She doesn't feel good either as her stomach is upset. I take my hate off and her face stops and she says "You don't look good" and I agree. She says I will wait for you. I feel that I am done for the day so I tell her to go ahead as I don't know how long I will be at this AS. I don't want to slow her down as she is doing so good on her 25 mile run in this now 50 mile race! Did I say she is amazing. All you runners out there, get your spouse to run with you. It is the best!

I sit down at this AS and try to cool off by pouring ice water on my head. Nothing looks good at the food table but I do have a little cup of Coke to try and juice me up and settle my gut. I am getting to the point where I can't think straight. More ice for my bandanna and I get up and walk out of the AS. BTW all the aid folks were awesome. Most were runners themselves and even those that were not did a great job. Thanks to all of you!

I get back on the PCT for the final 6 mile section to the finish. I know my running is done. My gut has taken over the discomfort of my leg now. I figure I will just "Death March" it in for 6 miles to the finish. No quitting now. I was on pace to break 10:30 but not now. Not even sure if I will break last years 11:54 time. I can't run at all. I even walk the downhills. Every time I try to trot I stop after 20 yards or sot. I stop drinking as my gut feels shutdown. Actually I try and sip just a tad every few minutes as dehydration is getting worse. This trail goes on forever! It is so runnable but I can't do it! I try to visualize my easy 6 mile runs at home. Letting my self know that this will be an easy walk to the finish. As I walk I freak out as I think I see something on the side of the trail. I scream out "OH F**K!!" and jump back. Nothing is there but the adrenaline seethes through me. 5 minutes later the same thing happens but I see something else and again I scream out loud. I know realize I am in the early stage of hallucinating. Probably from mild heat exhaustion or dehydration. My gut is getting worse. I am thinking I might lose it. Soon I wretch. I have never gotten sick on the trail. I wretch again and up it comes. Just liquid. I find a log and sit and continue the event. I am shocked this is happening to me. I read others blogs and all the Ultra runners have done this. I never thought I would get like this. I sit for a few minutes, no one passes me. I am in a cold sweat. I get up and begin walking and as usual start to feel a bit better. I figure I have 2 miles to go. I try to run, but can only manage a waddle on the steepest of downhills. Two young bucks pass me. Soon they walk too. I am walking a fast clip now and catch them. I can tell they are hurting too. They soon sit down and I go on by the 20 something's in my 48 year old fat-boy outfit. It feels good.

I know this section of the trail. I am close to the road. I begin to jog a bit and then hit the main road. YEAH! I am almost done with this crap. I vow to run to the finish no matter what. I get cheers from folks by there cars and it feels good. I see Gail, she has brought me mints and a cup of water. What a partner!!! More cheers now as I turn into the parking lot. I see the finish and the noise gets louder. Gosh I love this part! I cross the finish and I am so done!

I walk over to Gail and want to leave right away. I try to socialize with friends but I feel so sick. David had a great race, beats me as usual and tells me I finished 30 minutes faster than last year. A PR! (How does he know this?) I feel good about it but don't really care. I tell David and Gail, "No Waldo! No way I am doing that race" I walk off to the car to change after a bit. Gail gets her Garden Burger and we leave for home.

I finished in 11:26 which is a 13:43 pace. Pretty good for all the stops and walking I did the last 6 miles. I was 83rd out of 114 runners, a little better than I usually do in 50 milers. Gail finished in 12:17 a great time. She of course felt fine after the finish but also had very rough time that last 6 miles. So much for her only doing 25 miles!

On the way home Gail and I stop in Sandy. I already have drank a large Starbucks bottled Mocha Frapacuino and now buy the 44 ounce Coke slurpee. It goes down good, brain freeze and all.

When we get home I weigh myself. When I left in the morning I weighed 216, now I weigh 209 and that includes the huge drinks I had. Yep, dehydration killed me today. I vow on my next race to drink even more.

Not sure what to think of this race this year. I felt good with my legs. But blisters and leg pain killed me. Then the stomach issue was the twisted knife in my day. I really like this course but am I meant to run this far? I don't know.

By the next day my foot is so swollen I can't wear shoes. Two days later I go to the doctor, nothing is broken but just severe tissue trauma he guesses. Tells me how dumb I am to do this stuff and prescribes the "Game Ready" machine. It is a pump you fill with ice water and it compress around your injury under pressure. It is very cold and is meant to reduce swelling quickly. I can hardly walk for 3 days. Finally it goes down and by 6 days later I get shoes on and can go to work. And I do this why?

Thanks to the Green Card Girls Olga and Monika for putting on a great race on a very special course. I hate the thought but I am sure I will run this one again next year. (Idiot! Ha!)