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.


Anonymous said...


You did the right thing dropping at Bobby Lakes Jct.

Course Mashalls

Don and Marline Ptacnik

Backofpack said...

No, no Bret! That fire under your butt is just chafing. Get some butt paste! Just kidding. I'm sure you'll get it some day, just as I am certain you made the right decision. It's too easy to second guess or to armchair quarterback. You knew when you were out there that you were done. The "sighting" of Gail really tells the story. That said, I have no doubt you'll finish it and when you do - that will be a fine, fine moment!

Sarah said...

You'll get it done next year, Bret!

Tri.Bull.Butter. said...

Sorry to hear about the DNF, but congrats on getting that far. I totally know how you felt out there. That was the hardest race I've EVER experienced. DNF'ing crossed my mind plenty of times!!! See ya next year..

olga said...

Oh, man. I really hoped this year is your year for Waldo. And that was an awesome story about Gail! Next time you may try and listen to her:) Anyhow, I found a website that tracks the food log very easily. Lets get under 200 together! I need that too. And, oh, yeah, train:) See you in few weeks!

Bret said...

You mean I need to train to run Ultra's in the mountains??? I thought I could just will my fat body to do it!! Yep 210 lbs by Mckenzie river (sept 12th) then 205 by Portland Marathon. Its damn hard to stay away from the daily cookie.