26 April 2009

Sun and Trails

My legs are recovering well. After the pain and ache subsided from my race (there were lots of pains and aches) it started to hit me that I ran a 100k. I'm pretty excited about that. With goals of 100+ mile races in the future I've had a tendency to look at the 100k as a step toward another goal. But this week I've been able to reflect on the fact that a 100k is a big deal too.

I've gone through several personally tough months recently and it's difficult to express how grateful I am to have running. Running reminds me I'm alive.

In other big news, recent warm weather has melted the snow off the lower elevation trails! Sadie and I are very happy. Saturday, we went out for an easy run with the wonderful smells of spring.

Sadie's about the happiest thing in
this world when she's on a trail.

It doesn't get much better than
having dirt underneath my feet.

South Africa is only a few weeks away and I'm getting pretty excited about that. So excited, to be honest, that I try not to think about it.

I'll keep running in the meantime.


20 April 2009

WSU 100k Race Report


I love ultrarunning. I hate ultrarunning.

The sun was out early and long yesterday. I thought I'd keep it company. I love running through the Palouse as the sun rises over the hills. It makes me happy to be alive. The first 12 miles or so was through the rolling wheat fields. I knew I was going too fast early on and made myself walk as much as I could to slow down the excitement. But I also knew that if I was going to make up any time it would be the first half of the course. The second half had the climb out of a canyon and I would let that slow my overall pace down.

Course profile

With the brisk morning air and the long downhill into the canyon my marathon split was under 4 hrs (uh-oh...way too fast) and I hit the 50k point at about 4 hrs 45 min. I felt good though. But I kept taking walk breaks because I knew I needed to slow down. The strong headwind we were running into on the flat, 16 mile stretch along the river helped slow me down but it was also taking its toll on my energy. Nearing the end of the Snake River section something knocked me off me feet (gust of wind? asphalt gods getting their revenge after all the badmouthing I've done about them?) and I landed hard on a nasty section of gravel on the side of the road and cut up my shoulder and hand.

Mile 36 began the 2,000 ft climb out of the canyon and at this point the sun was beating down. Temps along the river must have been in the mid to upper 70's. Probably the hottest it's been since the end of last summer. Food was an issue once again. After about 30 mile I can't seem to stomach any solid food. I need to come up with a liquid calorie diet. My body needed fuel and I didn't know how to fix it. Sucking on ice-cubes was great but it wasn't giving me any calories. Fruit was okay. Anything sweet made be gag just thinking about it. Anything salty just wouldn't go down. Gels? No way.

I finally reached the top of the canyon and my overall pace was more in line with my 12 hr goal. The rest of the way was more rolling hills. At mile 46 I stopped with my crew and had a beer. That was the only thing that sounded good going down my throat. And it was.

The low moment of the day was a few miles later. I had thought the last aid station was at 48.6 miles when it was really at 46 miles. So, I thought I had already passed the 50-mile mark just after the aid station. A few miles later I say a mile-marker coming up on the road (displayed every 5 miles though some were missing) and I was so elated thinking that I was already to mile 55. But it was the mile 50 marker. I was deflated. I checked the map with my crew and I had simply misread the distance the last aid station was at.

A couple miles later was the low of the lows. I didn't want to move and I was offering my crew money rewards for driving me home. But they made me keep moving. So I did. Tiredly and pathetically. Oh, I was so tired.

With about 4 miles to go I had slowed enough were I knew I was just going to miss out on my 12 hr goal. I was a little disappointed, but most of my focus was on making my body get to the finish line.

There was this beautiful vista that made my heart nearly leap about 2 or 3 miles from the end. I crested a hill in the road and off in the distance were Pullman and WSU. I knew I was going to finish.

A couple more walk breaks. A couple more spurts of running. A couple more swigs of water. And an annoying uphill. Go straight, turn left, loop around, and then straight into the fieldhouse for the finish.


Is it too late to get someone to run this with me?

I stretch while I tie my shoes. I'm a multi-tasker.

Five starters for the solo run.

Views from the Palouse.

Views from the Palouse. Heading down the canyon.

Views from the Palouse. Heading down the canyon.

The Snake River is finally in sight.

Views from the river.

Catching up with my support vehicle.

Along the Snake River.

My knees don't feel so well.

Along the Snake River.

My hand lost a fight with the pavement. (What a wuss.)

End of the Snake River section.

I had a great crew!

I haven't smiled since this photo.

Having a conversation with my food. "If you stay down I'll
give you major props at the end of the race. You'll be the
most famous piece of food that ever lived."

"But I'm so comfortable here. Do I really have to leave?"

Up the canyon grade. At this point most of the relay teams
(relays started later than the ultras) were catching up with me
and their lines of vehicles kicked up dust like crazy.

Scenes from the road up the canyon.

Scenes from the road up the canyon.

Scenes from the road up the canyon.

Out of the canyon and back onto the farmlands.

Making my way...

Another 18 miles? No sweat.

Through Colton, WA.

The Palouse is beautiful. But I wasn't
noticing the scenery at this point.

They kept putting these little (huge!) hills in my way.

Views from the Palouse.

I'm getting so close that I can taste it.

Last aid station by a grain elevator.

Pullman in the distance. A sight for sore eyes!

Population was almost one less than what was posted.

Finally steps to the finish. Crew cheering wildly.

Crossing the finish line in the fieldhouse.

"I will never run ever again. Ever."

Wow, that was a lot of photos!

Now time to rest up and get ready for Comrades next month.

Keep running!