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.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Waldo or Death

Yep, gonna do it. Have too. Scared big time. But looking forward to the challenge. Waldo 100k here I come.

This is from the home page:

The Where's Waldo 100K Ultramarathon is a challenging 100K loop-type course starting at Willamette Pass Ski Area (70 miles east of Eugene, Oregon) at elevation 5120', climbing up several mountains including Fuji, The Twins, and Maiden Peak before returning to the ski area. The route is 97% single-track trails with some fairly remote sections and has many incredible views of pristine Waldo Lake. It is not a beginner-level ultra and participation in the race should not be taken lightly.

Notice the bold on the last sentence. Yikes!

On top of Fuji Mt. last year (DNF)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Haulin' Aspen 09

This is such a great race in so many ways. As I have matured as a trail runner I enjoy this more each year. I have now run the marathon and half marathon twice each. At first I thought this was too hard of a course. Now I find it a fun and challenging.

Gail and Eric freezing at the start.

Gail, Eric and I drove over to Bend the night before. Due to the lack of parking you have to take a shuttle from a few miles away to the start. So it would have been a pain to drive over that morning We got to the shuttle lot at around 6 am and then got over to the start line around 6:15 for the 7 am start. It was a typical cool central Oregon morning with the sun not quite in sight yet. This was our buddy Eric's first race a new Marathon Maniac so the 3 of us dressed in "colors" of the club for the day. Most the time I don't wear my Maniac outfit on trail races but this day was to celebrate Eric's great accomplishment.

As we waited for the start we realized there were no blue little houses. Oops...the guy forgot to deliver them. Soon he arrived and all the nervous bladder runners were relieved. Gail and I were down the hill doing some minor things when we heard the starter counting down. Another Oops...we were late. So up the hill we ran and crossed the start line a little behind schedule. "Hey its a long race, we will make it up." I guess that is a sign this is becoming a habit when you don't even care if you are ready to go when the gun goes off.

My view from the start of every race. LAST!

The race starts up Shevlin Park road for about a mile. It is the only pavement we will run on this day. Of course I am last. To this day I am still amazed how slow I am at the start and how fast everyone else is. The race starts at about 3300 feet so my sea level lungs are puffing a bit too. Gail and I run together for a bit chatting away, she forgot her gloves so I give her mine (What a husband ya know.) We then catch up to Hitch (Eric) and the 3 of us talk. I stop and take pictures of us. (My new thing is to carry my camera). We turn back towards the start line and enter the trail. Lots of dust and the ground is very dry. I cough a bit but press on as I start to warm up. Around mile 1.5 or so I start to leave Eric and Gail and begin to pass a few folks. We get back to the start line, cross the creek and start a nice little climb up a ridge line and join an old fire/jeep trail. I run everything. My goal in this race was to run up every hill, no matter how steep it is. I need the hill training for the Waldo 100k so I will push the hills, cruise the flats and downhills.

We come to AS 2 and hop onto a very rocky road. A bit of down hill then the climb starts. This is about mile 3.5 or so and from now on its up till mile 14. Nothing downhill. I used to walk most all this section with sporadic bits of running. But today is training. I run it all. It actually feels good to run it. I go slow but I do run. A few miles up the road I run into Sean Meisner, the stud who just won the Canadian Death Race or whatever its called. I gouge him about not being out here but he says "I have Waldo in two weeks" Well "So do I!" I say back. Problem is he will run the race, I will probably walk over a third of it. OK I give him a break after a quick handshake.

I am carrying two bottles again for training. Plus I don't have to stop at too many aid stations. I made one boo-boo today. I some how lost half my Gels so I only have 5 gels for the day. So I must ration them a bit. I also drink the Gatorade they have at the AS's so that I get some more calories there.

Around mile 11 is when the battle of this race starts. We hit some hills that go up...and I mean up. Probably 80% of the runners walk this section. I look up and can't imagine I can run this entire thing. I just put my head down, take baby steps and continue to run. The up just keeps going and going. Just when you thinks its over you go around another corner and up again. We are treated to great views of Mt. Bachelor and back towards Bend on this cool and sunny morning. I pass probably 20 to 30 runners in this section.

The Big climb on the course. Goes on forever.

Finally the road begins to level and I see the AS ahead. This is the mile 14.2 AS that drops you back on the trail. I look at my GPS watch and we are at 5,750 feet. So about a 2,500 foot climb. Sure seems higher than that. I refill my bottles and head down the hill. Basically from here on out its all single track with mostly switchbacks and 98% downhill. Time to have some fun!!! The first part is pretty steep so I let my legs fly but don't push. I do not want an injury here. It is so pretty in the mostly Pine forest. One runner just flies by me. He is having way too much fun. He and I end up passing back and forth till the last few miles. He is the only runner to pass me this day and I end up ahead of him by 10 minutes or so at the finish.

Not allot to say about the last 12 miles but that I felt real good. That is the nice thing about doing 50 mile and 50k races this summer. Marathons actually seem like 1/2 marathons used to. Not easy but not hard for sure. I took it easy on the real rocky and technical sections, not wanting to get banged up. My goal was to beat time of two years ago at 4:53. It looked like that was going to be real easy to do today. In the real steep rocky section I ran into a fellow Maniac who had fallen. I stopped and talked with him. He said he was fine but would have to go real slow. I saw no blood so I put my hand on his shoulder and wished him well. At the bottom of this section we drop back into the valley where the park is. It is now a gradually descent on nice wide trail to the finish about 2.5 miles away. I smell the barn and pick up the pace. I pass 4 or 5 runners, some might be from the half but I don't care. I got gas and I am going to push. It is fun to go fast after 24 miles, what a change.

I cross the finish in 4:34:05, a great time for me and a PR by 20 minutes on this course. And yep I did run the entire trail. That was my goal and that is what I was happiest about. I walked around for a bit, got my cool finishers medal and the hat. (I like the hat). Then started eating. They have some of the best finisher food with nice pasta, salad, beer and other goodies. I also chat with other Maniacs and runners and just have a good social time.

At around 5:23 Gail comes running in. No blood showing and a nice smile on her face. As usual she enjoyed her self on this course even though she had fallen so bad last year. This is a tough course and its a great time for her. A few minutes later Eric crosses and he gets the big cheer. We all hang for an hour or so and eat away. The weather has warmed up nicely and the blue sky makes it a great day.

I really like this course. Each year I like it more. It's fun to run a trail race and have it only 26 miles. You don't get wiped out like you do on most trail races that are 50k or more. It is so perfect to work your butt off for the first 14 miles then have 12 miles of downhill bliss to the finish. My quads were pretty happy with me this day. Put this one on your to do list.

First Trail Marathon complete for Eric.

Hitch, Detour and Fat-Boyee.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The "New" PCT 50 mile

Due to the Over-Gov-ment's decision to add some wilderness area near Mt. Hood on the PCT we can no longer run through that area. Oh wait, yes you can run but you can't have an "organized" run. Whatever! Well it caused a drastic change in the PCT 50 this year, instead of running up Mt. Hood we could only go out 14 miles towards Hood then turn back to the start and run a 22 mile loop south on the PCT. At first I was really bummed about this then I figured it's a good thing as I get to see a new section of the PCT. And, of course it will be so much easier than running up a mountain. Wrong!!

Gail had to work this year so it was just me out there. I took the regular start at 0630. I chatted with Olga, Monika and Zirk before the race. Said hello to some other friends while I got ready. It was going to be warm today but we missed out on the super heat by a day or so.

Da hot er...cold check in girls.
Olga gathered us all up near the start and basically said if you get lost you are stupid. Then taking a saying from the Hardrock 100 start she told us to "Go on, get out of here!" and off we trotted. It was nice this year as we didn't have to go up the road and do the short loop. We just headed out down the road towards the PCT trail going north.

"Listen up!" Spoken in Russian.

As usual I was in last place at the start, trying to get the oil in my engine to warm up. I have never figured out why slow runners start out so fast in long races. Maybe its just fun to be up front? Maybe I will try it some day.

My goal for this race was just to PR and then try and break 11 hours. Last year I ran it in 11:26 so it was a pretty good push to break 11. But last year I also got sick and had really bad leg pain so I figured it was doable.

Shot while running and I didn't crash!

As we hit the trail along Timothy Lake we just chatted and enjoyed the blue sky morning. The only down side was it has been very dry and the trail is very dusty here so you are sucking in tons of dust.


I pulled in to Little Crater AS at mile 6 at around 1:06, a slow time but I did stop a couple of times in the trees. I never get tired of looking in this beautiful Spring fed lake. I just checked in at the AS but didn't grab anything as I had two water bottles and the next AS was only about 4 miles away. Back on the trail I really enjoyed this section. It has some nice easy climbs with some rocks tossed in for fun.

Little Crater Lake

At AS 2 I refuled and was told they moved the drop bags from this AS to the next one. Oh nice to know now. So I now have only one Gel, no big deal as I grabbed food from this AS but the drop bag set up was a bit of a cluster this year. The mossie's were bad at this AS again this year but I was prepared and covered in Deet. Out I go and now we start the first good climb. I like this section too as we get to walk a bit and then get a great view of Mt Hood as we run along a steep hillside. I was feeling good with no pains. I was planning on drinking more than usual early as I knew dehydration would be a problem later. In this area we first started to see the early starters and the leaders. It was fun but got to be a pain as you had to yield all the time, this was a problem to me later in the race too and I think cause a large blister on the side of my foot. (Came from getting up on the steep uphill side of the trail) The last few miles of this section has some big downhills and it was fun to fly but I was dreading the walk back up on the return.

Hey Marc! And he beat me by a minute-thirty!

Love this view

I got into AS 3 quite a bit ahead of schedule. I carried a laminated pace chart for each AS. I tried to make best guesses that would get me in a finish time of 10:18. This was at just over 14 miles. I saw my future pacer Eric working the AS here. We chatted and I told him I felt real good and that I would see him in 5 to 5:30 time back at the start (28 miles). Off I went back across Highway 26 and on the trail heading back towards the start. Soon the climb began and it didn't seem that steep, so I was running up this section that I had just dreaded because it seemed like I would walk this section for sure. Well that wasn't the case. It was nice to be able to run this as most years this would be around mile 38 and I would be dead and walking for sure. I again had to stop and water the forest a couple of times, what is up with me today I thought.

My favorite section of the course. Dueling cameras??

I rolled into AS 4/2 and fueled up. I had made turkey and cheese sandwiches for my drop bags this year. I would half about every aid station rather than doing Gels all day. It did seem to make me feel good early on. Kind of normal if that is possible on a long race like this. Off I went towards the short distance to Little Crater.

I want to interject a few thoughts here. I sometimes get frustrated at this Ultra Running sport. There is something strange here that I feel not many sports have. I can line up at a race with a runner who probably ran in college, maybe was very very good at his distance and will run times that just amaze me. And here I am, a 49 year old fat guy who never ran in school and barely survives these races. I get sick, I hate life, I wanna die and all of this. I know the fast folks fight the same pains and I am not taking that away from them. But at times I feel like I am in an NBA game and of course I don't have the skills to be here. For us back of the packers it is just dang hard to run these courses. I think it takes all of our strength to get it done. I am not sure where this is coming from but I am fighting an inner battle right now. As you will read I had a rough finish in this race and my whole goal this year is to run and finish the Waldo 100k this month. This is a tough race that might be over my capabilities. I dream about this race, I fear this race but I want to finish it. But on the other hand do I have the skills to do this? And why do I want to beat myself up so bad, mentally, emotionally and physically? Why?

Out of Little Crater I was looking forward to running this section of the PCT along the lake. The last two years this section seems to go on for ever and ever. But this year on fresh legs it would only be mile 22 to 28 and I was going to enjoy it. And that I did. I just ran and had a blast. I was making good time but refused to look at my GPS watch until I got into the aid stations.

Eric picking me after 28 miles

I came off the PCT and ran up the pavement to complete the loop. I got in with a 5:15 time, not bad I felt for 28 miles on the trail. Eric was there and helped me refuel and get some items from my drop bag. After a few minutes off we went. Eric was to run the last 22 miles with me. He was there to get in some good trail training and to help my sorry ass as needed. We ran a bit on a trail then got on a gravel road with some good climbs for about 2.5 miles. I was walking most the hills. Then back on the PCT we had some more big climb. I started to struggle a bit here but felt OK. I was really drinking allot, about 40 ounces an hour as it started to heat up in this section. Just before the Red Wolf AS at mile 33 or so we saw the leader go by...man he was fast. At this AS we saw our friend Caroline and all her helpers dressed up as wolves. It was pretty cute.

Out of this AS and then we crossed under one of the major power lines that cross over the Cascades. I see this almost every day I fly south so it was kind of cool to final see it from the ground. This next section was huge downhill and slightly over grown in sections. I was flying down probably in a 7:15 pace or so. I was just letting my legs float. I wobbled a few times but never really came close to falling. We came upon a real steep down section that ended up at the Warm Springs river which is just a creek at this point I also saw what looked like an area of worship, kind of like an outdoor church. This is on the Indian Reservation so I don't know if it has religious implications for them or not? We crossed the little bridge and I dipped my hate in the cool water, man that felt good for the next few miles. Now the big ass climb. Up we went. The guy in front of me picked up a pacer at this point too. He chatted him up all the way on this climb which was a good 1,000 feet or so. This is were I started to die. I just had dizzy spells and stomach problems. My legs felt fine. It was a tough section. But we made it to the AS and I hear "What are you doing here?", it was Kelley who I seem to run into everywhere, she is a writter for Oregonlive.com so I think she goes to most races. Well she helped me get ice for my bandanna and to get food into me. I chugged down another Starbucks espresso and cream, my new miracle drink. We then headed out south to do a little 1/4 mile loop or so to get the mileage right. Then back to this same AS. I loaded up a boatload of crap in my shorts pockets. Peanut butter crackers, gels, sandwich, S-caps, 2nd ipod shuffle and some other stuff. I think my shorts were touching the ground at this point.

Out of this AS its a nice downhill section. I needed that and just let my legs go. I was probably doing 7 to 7:30's at this point. I wasn't pushing but was just gliding. At one point Eric wasn't behind me. I thought about stopping but figured maybe he needed to water the trees. (I found out later the heat had gotten to him and he was losing his lunch) I passed quite a few folks and soon came down to the Warm Springs river again. I so wanted to get totally wet here. But I decided to just wash off. Boy it felt good, the cool water on my head and legs. I took a few minutes to just get some energy back as I knew the next climb would kill.

Up out of the valley we went. At first its not bad, slight climbs through thin new Pine trees. But it was getting warm for sure as it was now mid afternoon. A few runners I had passed now passed me back. I had some nice chats with familiar friends, even some new ones from Kansas. (They said they have hills were they live!) Then came the big grind. The last 1200 foot climb or so to the final AS. I died here. I got sick, I dry heaved and I couldn't slow my breathing down. I got worried as I felt like I was hyperventilating, I just couldn't slow down my breath! My pace went to a crawl here. The hill never stopped. Our Kansas friends began to suffer too. I so wanted to DNF at the next AS. I don't like this! I am not enjoying myself. What do I have to prove in doing this. I feel like crap! But I kept walking, only stopping to wretch a few times.

By the time we got to the last AS at mile 45.5 I was done. I told Eric I am going to sit down and to get me up in 10 minutes. I needed to think if I was going to quit or not. I needed help to get my bandanna off. I had them fill it with ice and then I put it on my face to cool down. Tears started to flow, I was so spent in so many ways. I just kept the ice on my face. Then I put it on my legs and my arms, it felt so good. I asked for some 7-Up with ice and it actually tasted pretty good. I just kept rubbing the ice over me. More and more runners came and went. I just sat on my log thinking. I knew the next 4.5 miles were mostly all downhill. If it would have been a climb I think I would have quit.

I got up and said "I'm going now. Thank you everyone" and I walked out. I was still a mess. I would walk then shuffle for 30 seconds or so. This went on for awhile. Then maybe I ran a bit more. I started to feel better. We got some nice downhill and I actually ran. I was feeling good. But most the flats I would still walk and run. This whole time my legs felt great. I had no pains...no back pain, no leg pain, one little blister. It was just my gut.

We passed folks again then they passed back on the flats. Finally we dumped (thats for you Gail:) ) back on the gravel road. This seemed so steep up and now it looked pretty flat. I mostly walked this section and just chatted with Eric. Lots of folks passed as they could feel the finish was close. We finally dropped into the trail again for a few hundred yards before popping out onto the road near the finish. Olga was there, she yelled "Can't you run any faster?" So I turned around and ran backwards...which I think was faster. As I came by her she started running. She ran the last 100 yards up the road beside me. I told her I might cry at the finish. She said " I like men that cry" That made me laugh. We crossed the finish and I got the same hug from her that every finisher got that day. This was to be her next to last day in town as she was moving to Texas to be with her husband to be. I whispered "We are going to miss you". Olga has been a good friend and mentor. I knew nothing about running a distance beyond 50k. She taught Rick, Gail and I quite a few things about the sport that really helped me get to this point in my distance running. Thank you Olga and best wishes!

I soon felt pretty bad after the finish. I chugged another Starbucks but I think I had too much caffeines this day. So I gathered up my drop bags and headed to the car. I wish I could have stayed and eaten and had a few drinks but I just wasn't feeling up to it. I thanked Eric again for being a great pacer. He was da man that kept me going for sure today. Thank you sir!

For many days after this race I knew I wouldn't run Waldo, now two weeks later I am still not sure. Maybe I will attempt Waldo then retire from anything more than a 50k. I don't know why I need to keep doing harder and longer races. But anyway I want to thank Monika, Olga and Mike for putting on a great race. I loved the first 35 miles!

I finished in 10:49, a new PR for PCT. 25 minutes or so faster than last year. I met my goal of sub 11 hours. My pace chart was 10:18 but that was a dream time. So I guess I am happy for that time. To me this race is not about time but about finishing alive. This is my third year and the third battle. I won every time but walked away beaten up pretty good. Will I do it next year? Yeah probably, not sure why tho?

Eric looks great after, I look pretty white!