Friday, September 21, 2012

Burning River 100

After Vermont Liz and I drove to the town of Old Saybrook on the CT coast, staying there until Thursday morning.  We had a great time with some great meals, great conversation and we got to watch Avatar on a big screen in 3D.  Pretty cool.  We did all but about 40 miles of the drive on Thursday, got a room, and then drove to the packet pick up on Friday.  Remember that we were in a rental car after flying from Denver to Ohio the previous week.  There was no scheduled pre-race briefing so we just picked up our packets, and hung out there at the Cuyahoga Falls Natatorium where there was wifi and lots of tall skinny people wearing running shoes.

An odd thing about this race, especially given that it was the national 100 mile championship race, was that there was not only no pre race briefing but also no post race awards ceremony!  Awards were given as people finished the race.  The finisher jacket was very nice and there was good food at the finish and it was all very well coordinated but it just seemed odd to me to have no award ceremony at a national championship race.

This race is a point to point race with buses providing a shuttle to the start VERY early in the morning. Liz and I like to maximize our sleep so found a runner we had met earlier in the year, Scott Garrett, and his crew who were gracious enough to shuttle our rental car back from the start to the finish area.  That was a huge help to us.  We looked for a spot to camp near the start but ended up getting a very nice room at a reasonable rate just a few miles away.

I don't have too much to say about the race itself but it was very well marked and easy to follow.  The course runs through a pretty well populated area but most of the time you didn't feel close to civilization at all.  It was mostly singletrack trail through the woods and very pretty.  I did have one revelation during this race that I wished that I had discovered sooner.  I mentioned in previous reports that I had been having some serious neuropathic pain in my big toes.  Well, it came on with a vengeance during this run.  It was so bad that I just had to stop and get off my feet.  I did this at about 15-20 miles, sitting on a bench or log next to the trail.  I sat for about 3 minutes and the pain subsided pretty much completely even that quickly.  It was kind of odd that something that hurt so much could subside so completely and so quickly.  But it did.  And what was even more surprising was that once I started running again the pain was completely gone!

I found that I was able to run for another 5-8 miles until the pain began to build again and when it got bad enough I would start looking for a place to sit again.  Sitting again for 3 minutes and I was good to go again for several more miles.  This process continued until about 35 miles or so and after that I had no more problems with the toe pain though I think I did have some short periods where I could feel the pain but it was not disabling.  It kind of sucked to have to completely stop several times but it was well worth it to avoid trying to run through that pain.  After this race I would be flying back to GA and while there I planned to get a prescription for Neurontin which would hopefully take care of this problem.

The night passed and the sun came up.  The temps had been warm during the day and that night but not too bad.  Once again we had been lucky, catching a window of cooler temps in an area that had been broiling just days before.  I finished in 26:38 and Liz came in at 27:42.  There were a bunch of people and some nice breakfast foods at the finish.  The aid stations were great with decent selections of food and lots of energetic folks manning the stations.  Thank you all!  The buckle holds the title of the largest buckle yet this year beating out the Graveyard buckle by a pretty wide margin.

We were both flying out of the Akron-Canton airport early Monday morning, Liz to Denver and me to Atlanta, so rather than spend money on a room we decided to camp out at the airport.  We searched around and found a deserted carpeted spot and spread out our sleeping pads and bags.  A security guard came by before we went to sleep and we explained our situation.  She said it would be fine for us to sleep there.  We set an alarm and got a surprising good night's sleep considering it was not too dark and at an airport.

Next up - Leadville after 2 weekends off.

Race count:  Liz (21)  Scott (15)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Fall schedule (updated 8 Nov)

There have been some changes in Liz and my own schedules but the following schedule should be pretty stable.  I've registered for all of my races and Liz most of hers.  We've diverged a bit but are doing many of the same also.

Date            Scott                              Liz

9-15        Off                                   Mark Twain

9-22        Georgia Jewel                 Georgia Jewel

9-29        Off                                   Off

10-6        Arkansas Traveler           Arkansas Traveler

10-13      Heartland                         Heartland

10-20      (Sis getting married)         Pony Express

10-27      Javelina                            Javelina

11-3        Coyote Springs                Coyote Springs

11-10      Wild Sebastian                 Wild Sebastian

11-17      Off                                    Off

11-24      Winter 100 (in Britain)      Shazam

21-1        Cajun Coyote                   Ancient Oaks

12-8        Off                                    Off

12-15      Bartram                             Bartram

12-22      Off                                    Off

12-29      Houston                            Houston

(11-8-12 Updates in Red)

Vermont 100

Logistics:  Vermont came the weekend following Hardrock with Burning River coming the week following Vermont.  Our plan was to drive from Silverton to Denver parking the RV at the airport, fly to Ohio, drive to Vermont and run the race, drive back to Ohio, run that race and then fly back.  Liz would return directly to CO to acclimate for Leadville and I would return to GA for some work, returning to CO on Wednesday before Leadville.  I was a bit worried about Vermont because we would be traveling almost the entire week.  The travel went okay but didn't leave much of that full on downtime that would have been preferred.

I had had Vermont on my "to-do" list for many years.  I'd been told many times how pretty the course was and how well run the event was.  It more than fulfilled my expectations with the added bonus of having much cooler temps than in most years and much cooler than it had been in the previous weeks and months.  This has happened again and again this year where we get cooler than average temps for race weekend.  And I like cool.....

There is very nice camping at the Vermont site and everything was organized to a 'T'.  There were two huge tents at the start finish, a bunch of space for the corrals for the horses that would be racing with us during the 100 mile as well some shorter races.  There was also a huge field for tents where we set up our tent.  Here's a couple pics:

The course was georgeous and it was very cool running for short times with the horses.  My race was relatively uneventful though I did have some more of that terrible neuropathy in my toes and got very sleepy early on Sunday morning.  Oh, and it was really hard for the last 15 miles!  That's one thing I'm beginning to notice ... it's always hard at the end....

During the afternoon I ran for several hours with a lovely young lady from Portland, I believe who was on her second attempt at 100 miles.  I don't believe she finished as I didn't see her post race.  She is a neurologist who specializes in Parkinson's and I really enjoyed running and chatting away several hours with her.  I tried to give her some advice on finishing 100 mile races and after a while I asked her professional advice about the toe pain that I had been having.  She agreed with my thought that it was a neuropathy and that it was likely from the tremendous pounding that my feet had taken this year.  She recommended a drug that I give often as an RN for neuropathy called Neurontin, or gabapentin.

I was having trouble again at this race but it was coming and going better than it had a Hardrock and I was able to endure it fairly well.  I take Celebrex for pain during these races which is a 12 hour NSAID which works very well but it does absolutely nothing for this neuropathy.  My neurologist friend said that she even carried some with her on her runs for hip pain.  She said that I could use it as needed for races rather than having to be on it everyday.  I made mental plans right then to talk to my doctor when I got home to get a prescription.

The night was long and not too cold.  I ended up running a fair bit with Liz though we did our typical back and forth thing.  I needed to sleep at one point and crashed out for a good 15 minutes which revitalized me as usual.  I finished fairly strong though sub 24 hours was not in the cards so I didn't push but just ran steady.  I finished in 25:50 and Liz in 25:55.  It was fun to cheer in runners, get a primitive lake fed shower and drink a beer (thank you Patrick and friend!).  Our friend Caroline Williams was attempting this 100 for something like the 7th or 8th time and was still not in as the clock ticked down.  We saw Leonard Martin finish just before the cutoff but still no Caroline.  Finally someone yelled that she was coming but she crossed the line 3 minutes! after the cutoff.  A gutsy try and in my book a finish for sure.

The awards ceremony and bbq feed were awesome.  The marinade on that wood cooked chicken was the best I had ever had.  And I need to also mention the pre-race meal.  Oh my goodness, I have never seen such a spread.  It was hands down the best pre-race meal I've ever seen.  They definitely have this thing down to a science and someone like their food!  : )  Another great thing about this race is that it is run as a fund raiser for Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sport which provides technology and support to help kids and adults with missing limbs or other challenges to enjoy outdoor adventure, a great charity for sure.

Next up is Burning River after a few days R&R in Old Saybrook, CT at Liz's longtime, childhood friend.

Race count:  Liz (20)  Scott (14)

Liz's New York 100 race report

I did a bit of editing but here is Liz's report on her run in NY:

The Great New York exposition, a 100 mile run starting in times square and looping all around  Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx, out to Coney Island...Wow what a cool idea!  This race was organized by Phil McCarthy, a National record holding champion in the 48 hour race.

The thought of running a 100 miles completely through a city intrigued me, and sounded exciting.  There would be no aid stations with food, water and gator aide only.  Runners would carry cash to buy food along the way, there would be multiple opportunities for Dunkin donuts and local cafe stops.  One drop bag would be available for supplies, I put my blister kit,  light, a warm shirt, etc.  A pacer would be required after mile 64, I did not have one, but, Phil fixed me up the most wonderful local runner, her name was Erin.  Many Thanks go out to Erin for her navigational help; Phil gave us all detailed turn by turn directions, four pages worth. Navigation was going to be a challenge, the course would be marked, but, with turns coming sometimes every 10th of a mile, map reading  would be neccessary.

I flew into Laguardia NY, was able to use public transportation to times square, got a room just 100's of feet from the start.  It was all starting to be very fun, just being in Times Square for the first time.  The start came too early and we were off!  I started very slowly, my legs were still feeling the last run.  I can't say enough good things about this run, I had a blast!  I meet so many nice people, ran quite a few miles with a Doctor named Mark, his wife met us every 10 miles or so, with a cooler of ice and drinks.

The cut off for 50 miles was 12 hours, and the going was slow with stopping for all the lights, intersections and map reading.  Quite a few of us did bonus miles, my self , and 2 other runners took a wrong turn in a park and ran down the wrong railway bed trail, we did about 6 extra miles.  Running over the big bridges was really cool.  Going out to Coney Island at 3:30 in the am and running the length of the board walk along the beach was neat.  There were so many people out. Bands still playing, the city never sleeps.  One time we went by a fire hydrant spraying water, several of us decided to cool off.

In a neighborhood, I was low on water, there was a man out washing his car, so , I asked him for some of his hose water, he said  "oh no, we have filtered water inside, let me get you some"  New Yorkers are so kind!  It was fun going into the local shops to buy food and drink.  During the night, I never needed my light,  I always felt safe, it was a true adventure.

This has been one of my favorite runs this year.  The finish in times square was exhilarating.  Phil had a room reserved for the runners to shower post race, this was very thoughtful.  I am sure I am missing a lot of fun details, but, you'll just have to run it for yourself!  This is a must do.  My time was 24:44  

A couple of start pics:
Runners at the start in Times Square

RD Phil McCarthy giving last minute directions.

Hardrock 100

First off, apologies for being such a slacker keeping the blog current.  I have no excuses about not having time or opportunity to post.  The explanation is that what happened at Hardrock this year was a huge disappointment to me and really got me down.  I lost the motivation to post and pretty soon I was far behind which made me avoid tackling the task even more.  I hope to have things caught up here by the end of next week though.

Hardrock is far and away my favorite event.  And I say 'event' because this is so much more than just a race.  I've been attending since 2004 and all the folks that return year after year to run, volunteer, crew or whatever have really become family.  I usually am in Silverton for the two weeks prior to the race to enjoy hanging out with everyone as well as all the cool activities.  Nearly every day there is course marking going on.  Newbies are strongly encouraged to take that opportunity to learn the course and many veterans also participate.  There are any number of folks doing different training runs/hikes.  On July 4th there is an early 10k race and then a parade in which all Hardrockers are invited to march.

Silverton's main street.  Similar mountains surround the town.

Hardrockers getting ready to march in parade.
After the parade on the 4th there is a waterfight between two fire departments, a rhubarb pie bake sale, and one of the most amazing fireworks displays ever with the sound and light of the fireworks rebounding off the 13,000 ft peaks surrounding Silverton.   As the race approaches there are course briefings, a pot luck picnic, and pre-race meeting.  You can feel the excitement building in everyone as the Friday morning start approaches.  This year there was also a new running event two weeks prior to the race put on by the Coury brothers, the Silverton 6/12/24 Hour, held on a tough one mile loop next to Kendall mountain.  This is the same course as is used for the Silverton 100, a race too crazy to exist!

Dinner with friends before the race at the Avon Hotel.  Bill Duper is in first seat on left facing Mike Dobies.
Pre-race briefing in Silverton High School gym which is also the site of the start/finish.
 One inevitable bit of pre-race drama is the Thursday checkin deadline where we find out who on the waitlist gets into the race.  There are always more people in town who are on the waitlist than can get into the race.  This year the first person on the waitlist when the checkin deadline had passed and open spots had been given to waiting runners was none other than Liz!  Yikes, too much drama!  Some years there are people who are in the race that cannot or choose not to run on Friday morning and the first waitlisters are encouraged to put out drop bags and be dressed ready to go on Friday morning.  As Liz and I were preparing to head to the gym for the 5:45am Friday checkin deadline, Rebecca Clark, the registration czar knocked on the RV door telling Liz that a runner had chosen not to run and that she was in!  Cool beans.  This was Liz's attempt at her 5th finish which would greatly enhance her chance in subsequent lotteries.

We all set off at 6am with a course that was in as good a shape as I have seen with little snow, and very dry conditions.  Things were going fairly well through about 35 miles though I felt sluggish and felt I was working too hard to keep my position in the back 1/4 of the field.  Climbing up to Oscar's pass was as nice as I've ever done with nice cloud cover and no bugs at all.  This section can often be hot with biting flies.  It was definitely slow and I was feeling fatigued but things seemed to be shaking out okay. As I descended from Oscars down into Telluride, though, my race fell apart.

Several years ago after a very hard 48 hour effort, for the first time ever, I experienced very sharp shooting pains going through my toes.  Liz, who ran as far as I did in that race also experienced the same pains, and also for the first time.  Since then we have both had these pains after tough 100 milers but only after the race for a few days.  This year though, with all the races stacked on top of each other I started to experience the pains during races.  At first this wasn't much of a problem as it only lasted about 10-15 minutes.  Descending from Oscars though it went on and on without letup.  To be clear this is an excruciating kind of pain that is impossible to ignore.  I had tears in my eyes from the pain as I walked down.  It just would not go away.

The pain is not from damage to tissue but rather is a neuropathy which results from damage to the nerves.  It took me forever to get down to Telluride and I was emotionally devastated.  I had decided to quit and announced that at the aid station but was persuaded to sit and think about it.  Kathy Lang, an MD was there and gave me some Pennsaid gel to put on the toes.  I sat for probably 30-40 minutes and decided to continue on.  I had no more pain from the toes the rest of the race and I attributed that to the Pennsaid though I now don't think it was the cure.  More on that in the Burning River report.  (Nice teaser, eh?)  Anyway I continued up over Virginius (first time ever in the dark) and down into Ouray moving well and feeling better than anytime in the race.  I was slower than ever before but still had plenty of time.

I fueled up and left Ouray in much better spirits.  Those high spirits soon vanished though as I climbed toward Engineer.  I just had no juice, no mojo.  Even on the short downhills I could not move well.  I was crawling and even at times had to sit on the side of the trail despite moving so slow.  I reached the Engineer AS which is about halfway after the sun was up with more than 24 hours elapsed.  I would need a negative split to finish.  It was nice to see Fred Ecks here and I pretty much gave up here, sitting and enjoying the fire and aid station food.  Finally I left and started up the final pitch to the pass.  I was SO SLOW.  It was pathetic.  I crested the pass and started down the road, finding that even downhill I could not run.  I decided to quit at Grouse and cut several of the road switchbacks on the way down.

Having this, my favorite race, ruined by this 30 in 52 quest really made me resent the whole project.  I have since gotten over that and am back in the effort but the costs of doing so many 100 mile races have definitely piled up in larger and more varied ways than I expected.  The financial, emotional, and physical tolls have been high.

Having quit, I was able to shower, rest and see Liz as she came through the final AS.  The first thing she said was to the effect of the difficulty of doing something like Hardrock after such a year.  I really believe that I was the only one at that race that had any idea of what she was going through.  She is incredibly tough and determined.  My hat is off to her for getting this one done.  While at this aid station I also got to see Deb Pero come through with her brother Drew.  Steve, Deb and Drew had started together and planned to run together the whole race with Drew as Steve's pacer (60+ year olds can have a pacer the whole way) but Steve's vertigo took him out at Ouray.  They were cutting it close but had good spirits and looked strong and confident.  Deb would go on to finish as the last finisher in 47 hours and 49 minutes with 11 minutes to spare!  This gives her a finish in both directions and also the title of most senior woman to ever finish the race.  Congrats Deb.

Liz really struggled to finish, especially on the last climb but persevered and finished in 47:11 for her 5th official finish.

Liz at the finish with the rock.
The awards ceremony on Sunday morning, done by RD Dale Garland is, each and every year, the best post race awards ceremony.  Dale does just a wonderful job, calling up each finisher and usually with some little story, anectdote, or quote about each finisher.  The picture below is of Kirk (Mr Hardrock) Apt who had finished all but the first Hardrock Hundred with 18 finishes now.  The finishers award each year is print of a photo or painting submitted usually by someone in the Hardrock family of some part of the course.  This year, as Kirk came up to get his print he took the mike and did a beautiful thing which epitomizes his gentle and caring nature.  He said that he had many of these finisher prints and that this year he would like to make a gift of his print to a friend of his, the race, and ultrarunning in Colorado.  He asked that anyone who knows Bill Duper to sign the print and that he would present it to Bill late in Leadville.

Bill will be know to anyone who spends much time in Silverton for Hardrock or Leadville in the summer.  He is, I believe 78 years old, and knows everything about current and past ultrarunning in Colorado, the US and world stage.  He drives to all the races and is truly embedded in the fabric of ultrarunning, especially in Colorado.  This was a wonderful gesture that really meant a lot to Bill.  (He had left town before Sunday's ceremony but I spoke with him in Leadville later.)  

Kirk Apt asking people to sign his award print for Bill.
There is a new rule in the Hardrock rulebook that says that anyone with 5+ finishes who dnf's two years in a row will be dropped from the 5+ finishes group for lottery purposes.  This raises the stakes for me next year so if you see me next year in Silverton I will have my game face on!

Race count:  Liz (19)  Scott (13)