Sunday, December 13, 2009

"Ya Gotta Beat Santa!"

Gail needed a Marathon in December to keep her streak going. (She has run a marathon or longer the last 30 months.) So at the last minute we decided to run the Santa Barbara International Marathon, the first one in fact. Gail had never been to SB so the fact we both had the weekend off it seemed like a good fit. Gail emailed the RD and asked if we could pick up our bibs on race morning rather than attend the expo. (Did I tell you I hate expo's!) He was great and said sure. He was very prompt at answering all of Gail's last minute questions.

We flew into Burbank rather than SB due to the timing of the flights. It was an easy drive of just 90 minutes to our hotel in Goleta, a SB suburb. We got to our hotel about 8:30 Saturday night. Got some food for the next morning and took a quick 5 hour nap.

Our 4 am wake up call came early. We had to drive to the finish line, park, take a bus back to the start line. It all worked out pretty good but you have to get up so dang early to do races like this. The bus driver messed up and took a wrong exit and some anal police officer made us walk a mile to the start line in the dark. But the nice part was the race started at an elementary school and they had opened up the classrooms and bathrooms for us. It was so sweet to be in a nice warm room for over an hour rather than standing out in 40 degree weather.

That throw away jacket has lasted for years

Just wondering around at the start

The race was delayed for a half hour due to a bad accident on the local freeway. We talked with Maniac #2 Hollywood for a while as we passed the time. Soon the sun was coming up and out to the start line the pushed us. The crowd was probably 1500 to 2000. A nice size as its not too big. They had a 4 leg relay going on at the same time too so that added to a bit of excitement in the crowd. The announcer was going crazy trying to get us all "pumped up" for the race. It was good for a laugh.

The kids at the start

A just the right size marathon

Off we went. The course started with an 8 mile loop back to the start then you reran 3 of the loop miles before heading out on new ground. I ran the first few miles with Gail and threaded our way through the usual crowds at the start. I always worry I am going to get tripped in this part. There were some rollers in the first loop but overall was pretty flat. Weather was perfect as the sun came into view and temps hit the upper 40's. I wasn't sure how I was going to run this race. I had a goal of sub 4:10 but was happy just to be running in a race. I just ran comfortable with no real pushing. Most of the first 15 miles I ran around 8:45 or so.

Go Detour!

Typical course section

My legs started to ache a bit around the half way point so I took some IB tabs. I was wearing a water belt this race so I could easily carry my camera and take some pix. The last marathon my upper back really hurt as I did the handheld bottle thing. The belt was nice as it left my hands free.

Somewhere in the mid teens

The course had a few good climbs but nothing drastic. At around mile 18 we got on a nice little bike path through the trees. This was my favorite part of the course. Soon we were back on residential neighborhood streets widing our way to the finish. I was tired by mile 21 but never enough to have to walk. I had no major pains either which was nice for a change.

Great bike path

Nice city streets to run on

The slope of the big streets is a pain to run on

At mile 23 or so we had this big climb. It was steep for sure. Everyone was walking but I was determined to run the entire section. I am a Ultra runner you know...this is a dinky little hill for us! Ha! I was barely moving but I was running. Every body I passed I thought they would be thinking. "Wow look at that 50 year old guy running up this hill". That was my motivation to keep going. So I guess getting old does have some benefit!

Fat Boyee around mile 20. Probably got Ted Nugent Cranked up!

At the top of the hill we dropped back off big streets to locals. We now were up on a bluff looking at the Pacific Ocean. As we meandered back and forth I always run the tangents of the turns. I am still amazed how people just stay on one side of the street and don't think about taking the legal short cut. You know when they measure the courses they do it via the tangents. So why not run a that route?

Now we came upon a park with about a mile and a half to go. It was really nice out. Mostly blue sky and 55 degrees or so. The beach and bay were all in view. The last mile was a great cruise downhill. My legs were pretty tired and didn't have any speed left in them, so a ton of sprinters were passing me. The had a nice crowd at the finish and I do have to admit that I like that. I crossed the finish in 4:10. A tad over what I wanted but much better than the last race.

Last mile or so along the coast

The finish line food was a joke. A cup of water, a banana and a Odwalla bar. Give me a break! $135 entry fee and that's all you get? What were they thinking? They did have a nice set up on the football field. With expo like booths set up. The one that cracked me up was some guy that had this booth bragging about how he was going to run 52 marathons in 52 weeks. Like what is the big deal with that? Tons of Maniacs have done way more than that in a year.

Across the street from the finish

Well I walked around with the plan of not sitting down for over an hour after the race. Lisa B.'s comment about the fact your legs are blood pumps and if you sit your bp will drop as the pumps quit pumping. I always crash after a race so I am really trying to keep moving so I feel better. I walked over to the beach. A woman was in getting her ice bath. I almost did it myself. I walked to the cafe on the beach and got a huge coffee, my recovery drink of choice. I decided to walk back to the finish line area. I didn't think Gail would be done yet as she was quite nervous about his run. She had only run like 3 times in the last 3 weeks since our previous marathon. I figured she would finish somewhere just under 5 hours.

As I got to about 50 yards from the finish I enjoyed watching the folks run in. I like to cheer for everyone as I know what they have just accomplished. Some are happy some are just barely hanging on.

Well guess what? Here comes a guy dressed in this plastic like Santa outfit. He is trotting down the chute waving at all the kids. That is pretty cool but you would never see me run 26 miles in some crazy outfit. Well then guess who is about 30 yards behind Santa? Yep its Detour. She is gonna have a great time. This is so cool. I yell "Go Gail Go Gail!" She finally sees me over the roar of the crowd. We make eye contact as she passes me. I yell at the top of my lungs, "Ya gotta beat Santa! Ya gotta beat Santa!!" So guess what? She just takes off. Full blown sprint to catch Santa. I lean around to see if she does it. Dang, I can't see because of the crowds. So I make my way to the finish area. I see the big beautiful Gail smile. I ask "Did you beat Santa?" "Yeah I did" she replies. I say "are you kidding me? you beat Santa?". "Well you told me to" Gail says. "Oh man are you gonna get coal in your stocking this Christmas" I say.

Here comes Santa!

In her best Forest Gump voice Gail says
"I gotta beat Santa!"

Later she tells me how she is just blowing by Santa at the finish as he is just jogging and waiving to all the kids. This has to be one of the funniest things we have done in a race. Gail smokes Santa in a photo finish.

Gail finishes in an awesome time of 4:42, almost 20 minutes faster than the San Antonio marathon. With only a few training runs between races Detour once again states that "Training is overrated." Actually she had a ton of personal issues come up during this time. It was truly amazing that she could do this race.

Well we walk a mile or so back to our car. We have a late check out so we can shower before our drive back to Burbank. We hit the road and once again traffic is just fine. At the airport we get our seats for our flight home. Soon one our pilots informs me that his family is with him and they won't be able to get on the flight unless I ride in the jumpseat in the cockpit for the flight home. He has his wife and two young kids with him. I say "sure" and change my ticket. Now you have to understand the jumpseat in this plane is just basically a 2 x 2 flat board with some padding on it. Your back is straight up against the door. Your legs hang straight down and can only move left to right about six inches. To say the least it is a very confined space. The flight takes two hours but I know both the pilots so we have a good conversation on the flight. The First Officer just ran his first marathon in Portland in October.

Soon we are back in our own car driving home. The entire trip only took us about 27 hours. Which is perfect for both Gail and I. I get race 62 in and Gail gets number 41. We are very happy we decided to do this race. I might even do it again sometime. It wasn't great but it was one of the better ones.

On the beach after the race

Finish area

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Do I want it or not?

Yes I do! But do I deserve it? I read some other blogs about how many folks have not even qualified for it, so should they even have a chance to get in? That is the question that is floating around. What's it about? Western States 100 mile Trail Race, that's what! This Saturday December 5th is the Lottery. They say you have about an 18% chance or roughly one in five will get picked for next Junes race. I didn't get selected last year either. Used to be if you didn't get picked 3 years in a row you got in. Nope not now. This race has gotten to popular with the upswing in Ultra running in the last few years. Now all you get is a extra ticket in the hat for every year you don't get picked. That is unless you are really fast (top 10 finisher) or they like you and you are selected for some other reason. Well I'm fat, old and slow. So I guess I won't be on top of anyone's "special" list. So think good thoughts for me Saturday. "Oh God, I promise if I get selected to train as hard as I can for the six months. Really I will!!"

On another note, Gail and I just signed up for the Santa Barbara Marathon this weekend. Gail needs a December Marathon to keep her monthly streak alive. Nothing else worked for our schedules this month so we will just make this a quick trip.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

San Antonio Rock 'n' Trot Marathon

Gail and I needed Texas for another state in our 50 State quest. And yes it will take a ka-gillion years to get them all! But we figured why not go to Southern Texas in November and get some nice weather. We don't really like huge marathons but this one fit into our schedule. We decided to fly into Austin first as I could use my travel privileges to get a us a free ticket there. Plus Olga and Larry live there so we could check out the town and get to see them for a night. Austin has like 50 bars in a 6 block area downtown. So we had some dinner then numerous drinks and had a great chat with Olga and Larry at a bar that was pretending to be Russian.

The next morning we drove down to SA. We checked into our hotel which was right on the River Walk and they said "Yes Mr. Henry we have upgraded you to the Presidential Suite". I play it cool like this always happens to me. Off we go to the 23rd floor and sure enough, we open the door and there is a 8 person dinning table with a chandelier over it. Leather couch, kitchen and two balconies. This is crazy!!! I only paid $134 for this. Well the downside was the air conditioning system on the roof above us made a racket but we soon didn't notice it.

So off to the expo we go and get our bibs. Did I tell you how I hate expo's? What a scam that is. Force you into town to spend money, no day of race packet pick up...waaaa...waaaaa.waaa! :)
But we ran into the "Prez" and "Hollywood" of Maniac fame so that was fun.

We got back to our hotel and walked the river for a bit, then headed out for dinner. It was such a nice night with temps in the mid 7o's. I so enjoyed this over the wet cool NW right now.

The next morning we had to get up around 4:30. This race had 30,000 runners in it so we had to take a bus to the start line. When we got to the bus pick up spot their must have been over 5,000 folks just waiting to catch the bus! It took us over an hour of standing in line just to get on a bus. Then it was only a 10 minute ride to the start line, but...we then had to walk about a mile to the bag drop area. They have a coral type start here depending on your expected finish time. I was in coral 12 our of a total of 38. So we heard the gun go off and they would let a coral go every minute or so. Gail and then went to use the port a johns as the crowds then rushed to start. I knew we would have tons of time so we were in no hurry to join the masses. After that we eased our way into our spot and 5 minutes later we crossed the start line.

The weather was nice for the start but we would pay later on. It was probably 70 degrees and very humid (94%). The course took us back towards the city center. I was going to run with Gail for a bit today so we could just have some fun. As we meandered through the streets some spots would have a few fans and others would be sparse. We had a band every mile but by the half way point in the race most were on break when I went by. Gail and I ran the first 6 miles together which was really nice as we often don't spend more than a mile or so together. I picked up the pace and would look behind me and she was right on my heels. "That is so cool" I would think.

Soon we headed out west of town and started to get into some nice rural park settings. Many folks complained that this was boring but I really enjoyed the countryside. The wind picked up to about 15 mph in spots here so I would try to run in a pack. I was just going to cruise this day, have some fun and finish another marathon. We lost the 1/2 marathoners at around mile 10 so the size got much better (9,000 marathoners and 21,000 halfs). I had a goal of finishing around 4:10 but I could tell that probably wouldn't happen today. As the headwind became a tailwind it got real warm. The temps were mid 70's but the humidity was the tough part. The aid stations were great. Tons of fluids, even one spot had wet sponges! I just had one hand held so I didn't take my camera on this one.(I put that on my belt).

At mile 21 I started to walk. I haven't had to walk in a marathon forever. But my training has been sort of lame the last month and I was paying for it now. I walked for a 1/4 mile then ran for 3/4's of mile. I just didn't have much juice. The last mile I ran the entire way in. I was being pushed by a woman I asked to join me as I noticed her walking. She would pass me later a few times and would invite me on with her. As we neared the finish you had to go through an underpass then back up. I so hate hills at the finish. I saw the line and still just trotted across. I finished in 4:21. That still put me in the top third of all runners and top quarter in my new "old" age group of over 50. This was about my third slowest marathon of the year with my fastest being my last at 3:52.

The finish area was huge, with wet wash cloths, water showers and a fair amount of food. I hung out hoping to see Gail finish. I am trying to stay on my feet for an hour after the race. I am hoping this will keep my blood pressure from crashing and making me so light headed. No Gail, so I walked to were we planned on meeting. As soon as I sat down she walked up. We hung out for a bit then walked the mile back to our room. It was so nice to have such a great temperature and not have to worry about getting cold.

We relaxed in the room for a few hours then headed out down on the Riverwalk for dinner. We had a nice Mexican dinner with tons of Margarita's! Here I sit with this beautiful woman, drinking huge margarita's, in my shorts and tshirt with the temp still 70+. Oh this is the life for me!

The next day we had a long one. Had to drive back to Austin and we left SA at 0430. Then we didn't have positive space tickets so we had to go stand by. We ended up on Southwest for the entire day. Our route home was Austin to El Paso to Los Angeles to Oakland to Portland. Long day but it all worked out.

As I look back I really don't have a desire to do another Rock 'n' Roll Marathon. They are too big, too commercial and way to hard to get around at. If it was my first marathon? Yeah maybe. But it was fun to have great weather, an awesome hotel room and to see some old friends. So whats up next? Not a clue. Gail and I are searching for a race in December but not sure which one we will do. Gail is tired of all the travel so hopefully we will find one close by. I don't care what it is, trail, road, combination or whatever. I am not a trail snob or strictly a road runner. Just point in a direction and say 'Go there!" and off I will trot.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Portland Marathon is Good to Me

I have not been into the blog posting world as you have noticed. Not sure why but I think sometimes you start writing so much here that you feel like you have to spend hours writing each new column. I hope to get back at it by putting out smaller posts but more timely.

Well this post is about the Portland Marathon. Our hometown run you might say. Gail and I like doing this because it is so easy to run then just drive 10 minutes home. As I always say it's a boring and mostly ugly course but it is home.

Saturday,Gail and I went to the expo to do the packet pickup pain in the bbbb...bottom. (Don't get me started on expo's!) But we met up with Rick and then went up to Bob Dolphins room to help him celebrate his 80th birthday. Bob would be running his 452nd marathon the next day. So it was great to speak with him and his wife Lenore.

Sunday morning was nice. Not too cold but had a cleansing rainshower a few hours before the race. One of the running stores downtown allowed us to store our drop bags and keep warm inside which was awesome. We ran into Marc and Sarah and the rest of the Slug clan, Rick, Eric Katie, Tom and Abbe. Katie's brother was also running with us.

My plan for this race was simple. Warm up for a 1/2 mile then push a bit. Last year I didn't push until about mile 4 so this year I would try a bit earlier if I was feeling OK. I didn't have big goal of a PR but thought I would just play it by ear and see how running faster than normal would do for me.

A few minutes before race time we moved into position. They started us in waves this year and I think we were in the second one. It was just getting light when the gun for us went off. Gail and I took off together as we usually do. She runs faster than I normally would in the beginning so its fun to get to run with her for a bit.

As we passed Nordstroms the Portland Drum group was out playing in the usual spot. Boy I love these folks. Nothing gets the adrenaline flowing more than hearing the 20+ drummers in a downtown setting. The crowd was pretty heavy as usual for the first few miles. It was hard to pass and not get in folks way.

Soon as we make the turn back down Natio Parkway you get a really nice downhill. Last year this is where I pushed it up but this year I was already going good so I just cruised. Crowds were fun and I had printed "FAT BOYEE" on my bib. Not allot of folks feel comfortable yelling "go fatboyee!" so I didn't hear too much.

As we headed out the ugly industrial section I really tried to go. I was running 8:15 to 8:30's. Would see some fellow Maniacs and other friends on this out/back and it made the run fun. I made mile only pit stop here for the entire day. Yes I know that's a shocker and it helped my time with only a 30 second stop rather than 3 or 4 of them.

As we headed up to Northwest Portland area we have a little climb. I just tried to run via my breathing rate and not push too hard. There is plenty of flat to push hard later. Through NW was fun as allot of families come out to cheer you on. But soon we get to the Highway 30 section. Most folks hate this part because its a wide 4 lane road and you can see out to the St. Johns bridge. To many it seems you will never get there. Well I like this part. It is my best part of a marathon usually. Which is between mile 12 and about 17. This is when I often get my fastest per mile times. You takes a long time to get this much fat warmed up! :) I really pushed here. Running the tangents of the corners. I need the mental stimulation just to keep from feeling the pain. Also around here I took 2 Vitamin I's to help numb the pain. I had hamstring pain the whole race from mile 2. It got better but never went away and has been bugging me off and on all season.

I love the St. John bridge climb at mile 17. It is like a change of pace. You get some good lung burn and your quads start to sing a bit. I just put my head down but stayed up right and once again ran via my breathing. At the top of the bridge you realize you have run 17 miles. There was a nice cool breeze here and had a good time going down the backside. I looped down under the bridge area and saw Darin and Trisha and shouted out a "hi!". Then we do a little hill climb for a few blocks and then its just flat for miles.

This North Portland section is when you start to see the folks that are hurting. I just kept pushing. I was actually running much harder than my fitness should have allowed. I have done zero speed training this year. It was all experience with pain now. How long can I hold out. I still felt great as we passed mile 20. Maybe just a tad bit of fatigue.

Mile 21 (Photo by Sarah D.)

Soon we hit the nice downhill section near Adidas headquarters. I love this part and I push hard. I am doing 7:20/7:30 pace here, which for me is like sub 5 for an elite. I love to feel the wind in my face. (Most the time the wind is faster than me!) I continue to pass many runners. I cruise by Widmer's Brew Pub and I start to feel a bit tired here around mile 24 or so. I might be running out of gas? I still go though. I get lots of "Go Maniac" today which is fun. (Wearing Maniac Yellow shirt) This year I bypass the free beer as I might just PR. I hit the last bridge and I still feel OK. But as I roll off the bridge onto Natio at mile 25 I soon realize that I am done. The gas tank just went to fumes. The last mile tons of folks pass me. I bet 5 people didn't pass me the last 8 miles now probably 30 pass me the last mile. My pace slows to about a 9 something. God I want to just be done. But I am pretty happy cause this Fat Boyee is gonna PR today. "Whoo Hooo!" I make the turn up towards the fat lady singing and turn off my ipod so I can hear the crowd. This is when big marathons are fun. Enjoy the moment Bret.

Mile 26 (photo from Sarah)

I turn and see the last 100 yards to the finish. For the first time in my career I see the clock with less than 4 hours on it. Yes I have finished under 4 before but never gun time. This is cool! I cross the line at 3:52, a PR for the marathon of over 4 minutes. Which was last year here too. Never thought I could run a 3:52 so I am pretty dang happy. This will be my last race as a 40 something year old. In a few weeks after the race I turn 50. I keep getting faster every year. I know my body will probably not let that happen for too many more but I sure am having fun trying.

At the finish I wait for friends and family. Gail crosses at 4:27, a great time for her. She had a good day but was bored as she ran alone all day (You see Gail is a social runner and likes company). Soon Eric crossed, then Katie and her brother and then the others. It was fun to chat with all and make some new friends too.

After a bit Gail and I got our Bob Dolphin Happy Birthday Tshirts on and went down to about mile 25.5 to run in with Bob. Soon he showed up around 6 hours and a bunch of us ran the last mile with him. It was so fun to cross the line with an 80 year old marathoner. Go Bob!

Well whats next? Portland kind of ends the heavy running season for me. I try and get a marathon or so in a month but its tough and the weather always is a battle. Gail and I are going to San Antonio to get a Texas Marathon done and hopefully enjoy some warm weather. It is a hug Rock and Roll marathon of 30,000 so I will just cruise and hopefully enjoy the day.

In closing I just want to say thanks to all the RD's for the great races this year. Eric you were a great friend to pace me twice, thank you! Gail, why you put up with my crazy running I will never know but I am so blessed to have such a great wife, friend and running buddy. I love you!

Oh and I am old now. I was as sore for the week after the marathon as I ever have been. Yep, I think I ran beyond what my body was trained for and I paid the price. But yes, it was worth every stair I struggled with for a week!

Friday, October 2, 2009

91.7 miles and 33 degrees

Gail and I were not quite ready to run a 100 miles so we decided to volunteer for Oregon's only 100 mile race, "The Hundred in da Hood". The race is similar to the PCT 50 mile in July except the runners go farther south on the PCT after coming back to the start line. Gail wanted to make sure we worked an AS that was late in the race. She wanted to learn from the runners about that last part of 100 mile trek. So Olga gave us the night shift at the Warm Springs Meadow AS at mile 91. Perfect!

So we got to the AS just before 7 pm. Our friends Sarah, Marc and their son (LG) had worked hard earlier in the day and did a fantastic job of setting up the tent, tables and the rest. They were the 40 mile AS as the runners continued south. Our AS was set up on an old dirt logging road that was about 15 miles south of the finish line and 4 miles off the main road. We were definitely in the woods! They left us their stove and pot which we thought was to be provided and that turned out to be very important later that night.

As it got dark we thought we would soon see our first runner. Our Ham Radio operator "John" was monitoring the position of the runners heading towards our AS. At 8 pm the leader came in. He stayed for a bit and ate and drank quite a bit. Soon number two rolled in just as one headed out. Two then decided "I'm OK" and went out right behind one. Ah the race is on!

The runners then started to stream in through out the night until dawn. We probably never went more than 15 minutes without seeing anyone. We boiled water, made sandwiches, refilled the cups. Just all the usual AS stuff that we all take for granted. We had one runner come in so badly hurt I had to drive him back to the finish line at 2 am leaving Gail to handle everything while I was gone. But of course she did a great job on her own.

We were surprised how upbeat most runners were. I expected to see folks just hanging on by a thread. But I only saw that a couple of times. Boy you guys and gals are tough!!!

Finally I could see the sun starting to come up. We figured we would have to stay at this AS till 9 am or so. We had some very cold runners who DNF'd at our AS. We put them in our car with the heat on. Soon they got rescued by crew members. We packed up some stuff and Gail headed back to the finish. The last runners came through around 8:30 or so. I had to tell one guy a couple of times how fast he would have to run to finish under the cutoff time. He was a bit woozy and hopefully he figured it out.

Soon Susan and Bob the Sweep team came through. They were cold so we warmed them up with tea and coffee. When they left we broke down the camp and ensured we left zero trash behind.

At the finish we talked with some of the runners and Olga. Soon I headed out for home. Gail still had to drive to Seattle that night. Later I figured I stayed up for 29 hours straight. I can not tell you the last time I did that in my life? Maybe never? It was crazy but I had a great time. Thanks Mike and Olga for a great race. I will do this again next year, either by running or the AS. But I will be back!
(Pictures up later as I am out of town without the camera)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

2009 McKenzie River 50k

This race is turning into one of my favorites. It is such a beautiful setting and pretty easy for a 50k trail run. The race starts in the upper reaches of the famous McKenzie River of the Central Oregon Cascades. Gail, Eric and I met up at the Ranger station as this course is a point to point run. Eric picked up Gail and I and we went up to the start at Carmen Reservoir. Gail and Eric were taking the early start at 0630 and I was taking the regular start at 0730. There was probably 40 or so early starters taking off just as the sun was coming up.

About 10 minutes before my start time I felt the need to water the trees. I have found most runners get in the port a potty line then when they are done they get back in line again because you have to wait so dang long. It's a combination of early morning, nerves, and coffee that creates this mess. But I am smart you know. I head for nature and the trees. Well as I get back to the start area I notice I don't have my camera anymore? It must have fell off my water belt. I frantically look for it and to no avail? Now I have like 3 minutes to get 300 yards down the road to the start! Yikes! Well as I go by the sign in table someone already turned it in. I thank they and take off running down the road. As everyone is waiting for the start the RD looks at me "like come on and get across the start line". As soon as I get behind the line he counts down "5, 4, 3, 2 ,1 go!" Off we go.

My view in most races...back of the pack.

As usual I let the most everyone go in front of me. I hate going fast for the first few miles. We jog up the gravel road and then drop onto the trail heading up river. It becomes a walk as we all jam up going up the early up hill section. We see some great waterfalls and I stop and take pictures. (It's a long race ya know!) I soon start to squeeze by a few runners "On your left" I say. Most folks are so great, they move on over and let you by. I run walk this section as we head up towards Clear Lake. This is such a pretty area but has some very technical sections with lava rock and such. I slowly pass more folks. We get close to the first AS and begin to see the fast runners coming back down this out and back section. This is the highest point on the course at about 3,000 feet. So elevation is not bad at all on this run. I get to the AS and get a quick refill of my water bottles. I am hand carrying one and then one 20 oz on my water belt. I eat some chips and a gel and am out in less than 30 seconds.

Awesome views on this course.

My goal for this race was to beat my PR from last year, of 5:55. So I planned to run most all the course as there is not much uphill, spend short times in the AS and run a nice constant pace.

Clear Lake

As I left the 5.6 mile AS the course is pretty much downhill from here. There are some minor ridge climbs but we lose about 1600 feet or so from here to the finish line 25 miles away. The trail is real nice in this area as we go around the lake and run through some camp ground areas. I feel good and talk with some friends as we move along. I do have to take about a 5 min break for some gut issues but feel much better afterwards. (You know how your cat races around the house after using the cat box??? Yeah you get the point.) We now get into the 11 mile AS near were we started. I grab my drop bag, chug a Starbucks double espresso, some chips and am gone. I really like the next section. It drops nicely and is just fun as the trail twists and turns. I again talk with Nancy, Trish and others. Quite a few folks I talked with were not having good days. Not sure why but it seemed much more than usual. Weather was perfect with clear skies and probably 55 at the start and 80 at the finish.

Blue Pool where the River comes back above ground

I get in to the 16.7 mile AS and still feel really good. My hamstrings hurt for about the first 2 hours but a couple Vitamin I and some time fixed them up nicely. My darn GPS watch was dead today so I am running old school with no pace to follow. All I have is my stopwatch on my regular watch. But it is fine to change up now and then. I can do the math pretty quickly on how I am doing. I am on pace to run a 5:45 or so. I have been tripping a bit so far but no falls. I told Gail last night that I would probably do a face plant this race, as I have fallen here both the last two years. Something about the trail and its hidden rocks and roots that grab my fee.

Nice wide section around Clear Lake.

This next section is probably some of the easiest on the trail. Not many climbs and lots of nice wide trail right along the roaring river. It is very cool at times as the cold river water really cools down the air next to it. I again run into a few runners that are normally much faster than me. They seem to be struggling a bit. I come upon two women my age that I see at many races. They are off the trail and seem to be putting themselves back together. I ask and yeah one took a pretty bad fall but is OK. I press on. As I am going a bit faster it happens. BAM! Down I go so dang fast that I can't even get my right are moved from my running position. I land face first on the trail with my right arm pinned against my right rib cage. I hit hard and feel pain right away. My right lung doesn't work to well but the left side is OK so at least I can breathe. But damn this one hurts. I just lay in the dirt for 15 seconds or so as I figure out if I am OK. I start to get up and Darrin comes along and asks if I am OK. I sort of say yes. He says he saw me go down. My ribs really hurt but I start to walk. After 30 seconds I start to run very slow. It hurts to breathe but is not too painful. After a mile I pick up the pace. What is funny is the last two years I bet I fell with in a mile of this same spot. Strange.

The course can be pretty technical in places

At the mile 21.8 AS I still feel fine except for my ribs. I refuel with a espresso and head out. I am not taking a gel every half hour but as needed and seems to average about every 45 minutes. As I am running now I start to think we I will catch up to Gail. Last year she struggled and I caught her at mile 16, the year before it was at mile 26. At SOB this year I never did catch her. So not sure what to expect but I am happy that she is running strong this year. The next AS is really close and only about 3.5 miles away. It comes quickly and still no Gail or Eric. Good for them! I just take some minor water and move on to the finish. With just less than 6 miles to go I am at 4:50 minutes. I think I really have to move to break 5:50 and get a new PR. (For some reason I kept thinking I needed sub 5:50 rather than the actual 5:55) I press on.

The ribbons we Ultra runners all learn to love (They mark the course)

My Gel flavor of choice. Hammer Chocolate.

I am passing lots of runners now. This is a tough time for many people in a 50k. That distance from 22 miles on or so. I run all the uphills but one. Soon I think I see Gail. Yep it is here. As I get up behind her I yell "I'm stupid". This a joke as she yelled that at me last Spring when we were doing our first back to back marathons.(Saturday and Sunday). The first race had the option of doing a 32 mile loop or the marathon. I decided mid race to do the 32 miles. When I caught up to her that was the first thing she said to me "You're Stupid!" (She was right too!) We chatted for a bit and I asked were Eric was? She said she hadn't seen him in a long time, but that his goal was for me not to pass him. Well I said I have a chance to PR so I got to press on.

I didn't have all the energy I did the last few miles as last year but I was more steady this year and did less walking. At around mile 29 I thought I saw Eric up the trail. As I got closer it was him. I was quiet till I got right behind him then I said "Can I carry your water bottle?" (The last two races he has paced me he always asks me that) He bursts out "Dang it Henry!" as I am sure I burst his bubble. I talked with him for a bit then passed him by giving him a big arm hug. Craig Thornley the RD of Waldo happened to be standing along the trail with a few others in this area. He hooted to Eric to catch up to me. It was a fun time for me but I know Eric was hurting and that is never fun.

This section is mostly flat to downhill and I just tried to keep the pace up. But my ribs finally started to hurt pretty bad. I couldn't go real fast as I could not breathe that deep without some extreme pain. I saw 5:50 go by on my watch and was bummed I wasn't going to PR but I knew I should still break 6 hours which is great for me. Soon I see the steep 20 yard hill that goes up to the finish line. I push and hear the crowd. This is the fun part. I'm running strong and the roar of the crowd. Fun fun fun! I cross in 5:54. I am happy but a tad disappointed.

Five minutes later here comes Eric. He looks tired but had a great first 50k trail race. He throws his water bottle at my feet as a joke. He is not real happy but boy don't I know that feeling. Four minutes later he comes Gail. It was a PR for her and it was sure fun to have all of us finish with in 10 minutes of each other. We chat a bit and realize it is quite warm at over 80 for sure. We walk back across the highway to our cars and head to the community center for some free food. We chow down a bit of good food and talk about our day. Eric said he died around mile 20 or so. He did super good for being sick for the last 10 days. Gail was so happy I didn't pass her by the mile 26 AS. She said that was her goal and when she made to that AS the rest was gravy. So we all sort of made our goals for the day. I was to find out later that I did PR on the course by about 90 seconds. So that was nice to discover.

Mr Eric pushing to the finish line.

Gail is just minutes later and a new PR for her!

Hitch, Detour and Fat Boyee at the finish.

Gail and I got in the car for the drive back to Lake Oswego. After about 20 miles I was getting very tired, sleepy tired. Then I started to feel a bit light headed. I asked if Gail could drive and she said sure. I kept getting worse in the right seat. I slumped over and tried to nap. Not sure what brought this on as I felt fine right after the run. As we got farther north I just put my wet bandanna on my head and tried to stay cool.

Trying to stay cool on the way home

Once we got home I could barely move because my ribs hurt so bad. I debated on taking some prescription pain killers I had when I broke my ankle. Later that night I had to take some, then took another as it didn't help. Bed was hell as I could barely lay on one side. Every move I made was agony. In the middle of the night I got very light headed and had to have Gail help me put my feet above my head so I wouldn't pass out. We debated going to the emergency ward but I decided to wait. I slept sparingly through the rest of the night groaning on every move I made.

The next day I researched cracked ribs. They don't do much anymore for them except give you pain meds. I just found taking IB's took some of the pain away so I would just suck it up. Now 10 days later I still have tough time sleeping though it is getting better. Yesterday I ran with no problem but sleeping is still a problem. It is getting better so I bet I just bruised them and smashed up all the tissue around the rib cage.

Whats up next? Well Gail and I are working the AS at the Hundred in the Hood race this Saturday night. We will be at mile 40 and 90. Will I see any of you there??? Next race for us is the hometown Portland Marathon on October 5th. Boring course but fun to see all our local friends.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Waldo 2, Bret 0

A smile, Waldo and The Three Sisters from 7,140 feet.

Well I gave it my best shot and the Where's Waldo 100K won again. I DNF'd at mile 47 this year. 15 more miles farther than my planned DNF last year at mile 32. I lost all my energy on the Twins and spent almost an hour in that AS at mile 45. Ran 3 more miles and called it a day.

Fat Boyee as ready as you can be at 2 am

Gail and I drove down to Oakridge the night before and got a motel for two nights. On Friday night we drove up to the Willamette Pass Ski Lodge to have dinner and listen to the Race Directors give the pre-race briefing. It was fun to see who was going to be running the next morning. After dinner we drove the 30 miles back to our motel and got to bed by 9 pm. The 1:00 am wake up call was going to come pretty quick.

After 4 hours of good sleep I got up got everything together for the race. I was only going to have one drop bag as Gail and Eric would help me out at the aid stations. Off we drove at 2 am and got to the start line at about 2:45. I gave Gail a kiss and toed up on the start line with about 30 other early starters. I took the early start this year to ensure I would make all the cutoff times. Plus I thought running for 3 hours in the dark would be kind of fun. There was no moon this night so it was dark for sure.

Craig yelled "go!" and off we went. You run this race for about 100 yards then begin the 1.5 mile walk up the ski slope. It actually is a great way to get into the race. After 30 minutes or so we drop onto some flat or downhill roads, then eventually into the single track we will be on for most of the day. I run with my friend David for a bit then slowly begin to pass some folks. I get into a nice little rhythm and have no problem seeing the trail as I am wearing two headlamps, one pointed right in front of my feet and the other further out down the trail. It gave me great vision and only had one little trip.

3:30 am on the PCT

Double headlamps worked great.

After an hour and half or so we rolled into Gold Lake AS. This is the lowest point on the course at somewhere around 4,800 feet. I refilled my water bottles, had a few chips and Gu20 drinks. Out I went and we then head up the second big climb of the day, to the top of Fuji Mt, a climb of about 2,300 feet. It is runnable in some sections but mostly you walk. I still pass a few folks but take it real easy, its gonna be a long day. Around mile 11 the sun comes up and I can turn my headlamps off. I get into the Fuji AS right on pace at mile 12. I get some more water and head up the 1.2 mile hike to the summit. I love this part of the race, the sun is coming up and you have awesome views. I get to the top and hang around for about 5 minutes, this was my plan. I will never win anything at a race like this so why not just enjoy the beauty of the mountains? As I head down the rocky trail I see David and take a picture of him. I talk to other runners on the way up. About a half mile from the Fuji AS I see Erik Scaggs heading up the trail, he is the leader and started 2 hours after me!

Sun starting to rise.

Few hundred yards from the top of Fuji Mt

At mile 13 this is still fun!

View from top of Fuji

This the view looking straight down Fuji. Yikes!

David Alavi near the summit of Fuji

Out of the Fuji AS I go and look forward to the nice down hill run from mile 13 to mile 20 and the Mt. Ray AS. I enjoy this section as it is cool and early morning in some great Forest. As I go through a Meadow I notice it has frost on it. "Wow, this early in the season." I get back into some nice downhill and soon I hear "on your left" It's Eric Skaggs the leader passing me. Here I am at mile 19 at just under 5 hours and he is just under 3 hours and is passing me. Dang that is fast. I mention to him to save me a beer at the finish.

Crossing Waldo Rd to the Mt Ray AS.

Soon I cross the Waldo Lake Road and into the Mt. Ray AS. There is a nice crowd cheering here this morning. I meet Eric and Gail here. I am right on speed at just under 5 hours at around 8 am. They refill my bottles, I chug a Starbucks double shot and eat some chips etc. I also try Club Soda for the first time and it is a nice change with the carbonation. Its great to see them. I tell them my quads are a bit tired from the descent but otherwise feel good. I kiss the wife and out I go.

Detour does an excellent job keeping me on track.

PCT heading up towards the Twins AS

This section on the Gold Lake Trail and Bobby Lake Trial is where I really slowed down last year. This year was so different. I met up with Lathe and we chatted for miles. It was a good way to pass the time on the slow climb and rolling section. We got to the PCT and turned left and headed up the slow climb to the Twins AS. I end up walking probably 40% of this section but am still on pace. I get into the Twins and they are all dressed like Rockers. Its a fun AS and I have some good snacks and continue to drink the G20. This is the first sports drink I have had on runs in a long time. I am trying to get some extra calories and not get so sick of just water. I take a picture of me and one of the women dress up. Where else can you get a picture of yourself with a woman in black leather in the middle of the woods?

The Twins AS. They saved me later on.

Black leather in the woods?

But the biker dude's kept you honest!

Out of the Twins AS its a pretty good climb for a mile or so then its mostly a nice downhill into Charlton Lake. I get passed by many runners around this time. The fast ones who took the regular start. It sure would be fun to be fast but I guess maybe I should drop 30 pounds if that is gonna happen. (Don't think so!) I still feel good in this section, maybe just a bit tired as we are at about 32 miles. I roll in Charlton and think I will take some extra time here. Get a few minutes rest and enjoy the spot. I really wanted to take my time in some of the AS's. This is a long race and I won't win anything but I do want to finish. Gail and Eric the awesome crew help me get what I need. I eat half a turkey/cheese sandwich and other items. I have only eaten maybe 5 gels today as I am going to eat more solid food. If you are going to be running for 15 hours you have to eat! And that means more than sugar water gels. Gail tells me Sean is out. I go over and his hip flexors are gone. So here he sits sucking on a beer getting a message in the woods. What a life. Ha! We chat and he tells me to get out of here. So off I trot.

This next section is all new to me as I DNF'd last year here at mile 32. I hear its pretty flat section but gets hot because of thinner tree cover. After about 10 minutes nature calls and off the trail I go. What is funny about this is that my quads were feeling pretty tired. Well the squat really helped loosen them up. This was amazing how much better my legs felt after this un planned stretch. Too funny. Well this section just kind of rolled along then dropped into an area of thin pine trees and some dirt road sections. It was kind of fun to run in as it was different.

I got into the FS road AS again on schedule at mile 37. I was tired so decided to sit for a bit in the shade while the crew took care of my needs. Eric was going to pace me from here on in so he was ready to get some miles in. This next section was to be another big climb, from about 5200 feet to 7200, so about 2000 feet. After 10 minutes or so we decide to hit it.

We started out and it was nice for a bit. Then we got into some easy climbs. I was walking everything that went up and running the rest. About 2 miles into the run I started getting real tired. I began to walk some of the flats. Eric and I had been chatting and now I started complaining about things. When the real climb started up the Twins I died. I was tired, I couldn't breathe enough air and my head was just off. It just starts to feel almost like a hangover. My fellow ultra runners know all of this. It got worse. I had to stop and sit on a log for a bit. Poor Eric forgot his bug spray and became lunch for the huge amount of mossies. I tried to ice my self down to see if it would help. After a few minutes up I went but it was so dang hard. I was barely moving up the hill, and this hill was steep. It was so pretty in this section but I felt so crappy that I couldn't enjoy it. Eric kept telling me its not too far to the top. Just focus on getting to the next AS. I was gonna quit. Eric said "Look at the horses" yeah right...what horses. Then there were horses. They asked how I was and did I need a ride out. I must have looked really bad as the were quite insistent that I could get a ride out. I declined and kept pushing, hoping I would get through this. Finally we reached the top of the saddle and headed down. This was some good downhill but I couldn't run. Don't think I ran more than a couple hundred yards over the next few miles. I really lost it here. No leg pain but just my head and energy level. Yes I had been eating and hydrating really well. I don't see that as the problem. Heat? Nope it was a bit warm but not hot. So who knows? Eric told me later that he got up real close to me. He thought I was going to fall off the trail as I was weaving from side to side. "How far to the Twins AS?" "Half mile" says Eric. "How far now?" "Quarter mile" he says. "How much further?" "Few hundred yards" he says. "I just want an F-ING Popsicle!!!!" I say. (They have Popsicles at the twins). Finally I see the AS. All I want to do is sit. "Can I have a Popsicle please?" and they comply. Everyone gets in my face here. I find out later I as white as one can get. I answer questions but in a broken voice. I just want my Popsicle and some time.

What the trails looked like to me at mile 43

Well numerous folks talk to me. I get to feeling better after 20 minutes or so and 3 Popsicles later along with numerous slices of Watermelon. We talk about how I will DNF here. Eric is worried I will hurt myself if we continue on. I have to trust his judgment as mine is clouded. I slow take the pins off my race number and hold it in my hand. There is always next year I think. I have never dropped in a race unplanned. The all of a sudden Curt, one of the Race Directors says "Hi Bret" and sits down. We have a long talk and he is very supportive of me pushing on. He gives me lots of options and his opinions on what I could do. This was an awesome talk that came at just the right time. I was feeling much better. I got up and ate that ugly sandwich Eric had be carrying for 8 miles. I had some chips and coke. Then I put my race bib back on. Eric and I talked. Gail was 3 miles down the trail waiting for us. We needed to get there. I would decide my fate at that point. Lets see how this running goes.

Bret starting to get some color back

So I wish all my new friends at the Twins AS farewell and Eric and trot down the hill. It should be a great run. Soon I find out my hind quarter is really chaffed. I got to put more Vaseline on it so that take a few minutes. Man that stings! I do run and run OK. But by about a mile I feel pretty tired. By a mile and a half I think I will be done at the Bobby Lake Trail. I keep asking Eric how far as my GPS watch is dead. Finally I see Gail! "There is Gail!" I say. Finally we get to see her. Eric says "Ah Bret, thats a tree." "No way thats Gail dressed in her white top and white hat." I think I would bet him anything that is her. As we get closer I find out he is right. A frickin' tree. I am losing it again.

Soon we see a course marshal and he directs us to where Gail is. Yeah she is still there. I was worried since I was over two hours late she might have left. She is ready to go. I give her the bad news about my condition. She is a good pacer. "No you look fine lets go" I say "I think we need to sit and talk" "No she says, lets drink some and get going, you are not quitting" She is doing just what she should be but I am too far gone. We sit and talk. I tell them that if I really crash from here on out it will be tough to get out to a road. The hardest climb of the course is coming up, Maiden Peak. A 2500 foot monster to almost 8,000 feet. And not many switchbacks, mostly up I hear. I can not stomach the thought of another climb. If it was flat I could probably do the last 15 miles. Many runners waddle by as we sit and talk. By this time if I go on it will be big time dark when we get done. Nope...I am done. Lets hike out from here. So we get up and wander out the Bobby Lake Trail. Its a good couple mile hike out and seems to take forever. I am a bit sad but not overly so. I think I made the best choice. I may not have the "killer instinct" that many runners I know have but I am OK with that. Someday this race will be mine but not this year.

121 runners started the race. 88 finished. That means 27% DNF'd at some point. I recognized quite a few runners who pulled out.

We get back to the car and drive to the finish line. We watch and cheer as the runners cross. I so wanted to run up that long straight to the finish line. Next year I will train so hard. I will be under 200 lbs, I will be older (50 and a new age group!) and I will be better trained for the altitude. I want this race. Normally I don't want to do another Ultra for a few weeks after I have a rough race. But by Sunday I was ready. Sign me up now...lets go do Waldo again. This lit a little fire under my butt. So Waldo, prepare to get whooped next year. I need to make the score Waldo 2 and Bret 1.