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Ran a 10k - Official Thread


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On 6/26/2017 at 1:11 AM, SFBayDuck said:

Just read through the last few days of posts here, and I don't even know what to say other than that I'm humbled. Tri had given me some updates on @BassNBrew's color commentary and analysis, but all of you guys following along with an iFriend's journey really means a lot. And as I told Tri, I had to finish this thing as there was no way I was coming back in here with anything other than a report of a successful race!

Lying in the hotel bed now with my feet elevated and no sheets covering me, since anything that touches my legs or feet makes me practically cry out in pain. All worth it, though. 

Of course full report coming later this week,  but a couple high/lowlights:

  • The high country really was brutal. Snow from mile 2-14 or so, and where there wasn't snow it was 100 yard marshes fed by all the melt, or rocky trails that were like creeks. There was just no running for someone like me. I also think the altitude, being up around 7000' for 30+ miles, got to me more than I expected. 
  • Devils Thumb climb crushed me, to the point I was sitting on the side of the trail puking. That'll slow down your pace.  Still kind of upset about that as I thought I had a good plan to attack that after doing the climb twice already this year.  Maybe 105 degrees had something to do with that. 
  • Wouldn't have been in position to close hard after the river if not for our boy @tri-man 47 keeping me moving on the Cal St section. As he said I had a low patch in here, but he stayed positive and encouraging and got me to the river crossing within striking distance of where I needed to be. Such an honor to have him there and a part of this all. 
  • My buddy Jimmy, who I paced in 2012 and I credit/blame for this whole WS100 obsession, took it from there. He told me when he started, "I'm going to be a ####, but you need to move for the next 6 1/2 hours, so that's the way it's got to be."  And he just kept me going. I likely would have ended up in that last group picked up by the sweeper sometime after mile 93 if not for him. I've never worked so hard for so long. I puked 4-5 times in the last 20 miles, a result of him pushing not only the effort but calories to try and sustain that effort. 
  • So cool to have my daughter run the track and cross the finish line with me. She wasn't that into this going in, and I don't blame her - what 13 year old wants to sit around in 100 degree heat waiting to see her smelly dad for 5 minutes?  So I just asked her to "be open to the experience", and gave her my GoPro and made her the videographer so she'd have a role. I'm under no illusions she'll be much more interested in this stuff going forward, but we did just spend 30 minutes of her telling me about people's section splits and asking questions about some of the elites and the course. I almost got teary eyed....for about the 15th time today. 

I've been up for 45 hours straight so I'm going to try and get some fitful, painful sleep. More to come....

 

On 6/27/2017 at 2:17 AM, tri-man 47 said:

Western States "Crew B" and Pacer #1 Report

What an outstanding experience!  I flew into Sacramento on Thursday and drove up into the mountains and headed to my hotel in Reno, which is quite a pit of a town.  (But I did bet on myself that night and hit all the numbers in my first craps roll and won $300.  I also played numbers 1, 9, and 4 in roulette - thinking that was Duck's number - and hit strong on a 4 just before leaving.  Duck was 193, but hey, it worked out).

We all hooked up on Friday in Squaw Valley, which is quite a stunning location, for pre-race activities.  This is when the decision was made that I'd be the first pacer.

Crew B

After watching the 5 am start, the two crews (family, and friends) headed down the road.  For our crew, our focus was to park a couple of the cars and head in one vehicle to the backside of the mountains.  From Squaw, it took about three hours to get to the first aid station, which was mile 24 of the course.  Temp was already in the mid-90s, so it was interesting to see the crews and spectators jostle to be in the shade of a few scraggly pines.  In these early stations, we were also supporting another friend of the guys, and he arrived first.  

When Duck arrived, our crew kicked into action.  Help get the shoes and socks off, use some wipes to clean off the feet, lube them back up, and help get some clean socks and new shoes on. The aid station captain was amused by our diligence, asking is we needed nail polish to add a pedicure as well.  We made sure fluids and gels were loaded up, suntan lotion reapplied, and sent him off.

Our next stop was at mile 38.  It was essentially the same routine.  It struck me that we'd all traveled quite a ways to be there, and put in a big chunk of time that day to be at the station and ready to act ...all that for a few quick minutes of support!  No matter - totally worth it.  At both stops (and subsequent ones), Duck was amazing calm and collected, if increasingly worn down.

 Crew A had covered a couple other stations.  For the latter half of the race, we had more of a mix and match approach.

Pacer #1

So I it was decided I'd pace miles 62-78.  16 miles through the dead of night.  I met Duck at an aid station along a paved road (a rare connection to civilization). Off we went!  Well, no. He was nursing a can of Coke and walking along. So what do I do? Scream at him to ditch the can and take advantage of the downward sloping road and starting running?  Allow him to walk?  Pacer decision crisis!  I let him walk.  After stopping with his crew, we were officially off at 11:24 pm for our jaunt over the next five hours.

As we chatted in the first mile, we missed an early turn.  Thankfully, a team behind us saw it right away and called us back.  Great start, pacer-man.  The big issue for me was lighting.  I'd brought a good headlamp but waited to see if I was pacing to deal with a flashlight.  I planned to pick one up Friday afternoon.  After buying crew groceries, I saw an auto parts store next door, so checked there.  They did have a flashlight, which I bought -   but I learned early in our first segment that it was woefully inadequate for nighttime trail running. I spent the first few miles being frustrated with my poor lighting, which affected my running, and embarrassed that I might not perform well and hinder Duck.  By the second segment, I gave up on the flashlight and just held the headlamp in my hand, and that worked well enough.

Heading into our miles (four segments), we knew Duck was behind schedule for a successful finish.  I was unsure how to approach this. As it worked out, I let him run in front at the pace he wanted.  As I followed, I chattered away with a variety of stories and tales and offered positive support.  (In contrast, his second pacer for the final 22 miles took the tough love approach.) I also kept a close eye on pacing, knowing we needed to make up some time.  Fortunately, Duck has a brisk walking pace.  And other than some hard miles in the  second of our four segments, he dug deep and kept a decent jog going for long segments.  We passed a number of other runners when he did so.  We finished our miles at 4:20 am.

As mentioned already, this was incredibly challenging.  Part of it was my inability to train at all with hills and trails.  But it was more the mix of the physical demands, the mental stress of the night running, and pressure to keep pushing.  And for Duck, these were late miles in a long, long event.  The pacing highlighted for me the amazing accomplishment of what Duck did.  I'm in total awe!!!  So thrilling to see him finish.  Can't wait for the real race report ...

 

 

 

On 7/10/2017 at 6:52 PM, SFBayDuck said:

It's just....soooo....long!  I'm going to try and tighten it up, put in pics, etc for the actual blog post, but here it is in all it's gory glory:

Find out who you are before you regret it

'Cause life is so short there's no time to waste it

So run my baby run my baby run

- Run Baby Run, Garbage

On my last long run before Western States, I switched to the "Run You Fools!" playlist on my iPod, a collection of songs that inspire me and get me going.  I rarely listen to music while I run, I'm much more of a podcast guy, but the mood hit me.  As I was cruising down single track trail in the Indian Tree Open Space near my home in Novato, trying not to focus on the knee pain that had come out of nowhere during the Memorial Day Training runs, one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite groups came on.  The song isn't about running at all, of course, but the chorus and many of the lyrics taken out of context really hit home and seem fitting.  I had been thinking about Western States the entire run (and many of my waking hours for months), and I started to tear up thinking about what was to come in a few short weeks, my vision blurring as I moved down the trail.  Ever since my first experience with States in 2012, crewing and pacing my buddy Jim Hammond, this race has been an obsession.  A five year journey to the start line was nearing an end, and the real adventure was about to begin.

Twenty days later, I'm lying in bed in Tahoe City, trying in vain to get some sleep.  Tomorrow is the day I've thought about, dreamed about for so long.  Hearing that shotgun blast and starting to climb up to the Escarpment, and seeing the sun rise on the way up.  Running through the high country, the 30 miles of the course I'd yet to experience.  Suffering through the heat and climbing of The Canyons, but persevering.  Having some quads left to run well on Cal St, and crossing the river in the night ready to hit the last 22 miles.  Crossing No Hands Bridge and climbing Robie Point and running through the neighborhood down to and onto the track at Placer High.  Hearing Tropical John say my name as I rounded the home stretch.  As it had so many other nights, the visions are bouncing around in my head, keeping me awake.  A few hours of fitful sleep, and at 1:30 AM I give up and listen to some Ultrarunnerpodcast interviews, maybe I'll pick up some more last minute tips.  Then it's time to get up, fuel up, gear up, lube up, and drive up to Squaw.

This might be a....bit of #### show! It's gonna be awesome!

I connected with my buddy Surf who is running for the third time in four years, and when the gun goes off we begin the climb together.  The atmosphere is electric, the lights glowing above us, the crowd full of family, friends, spectators, and the ever-growing ultrarunning media surrounds us.  We stay together for the first two miles or so, and I tell him to take off whenever he is ready (he's a low 2:50 marathon guy with much faster goals than me).  We hike steadily up until we hit the first snow, and then he gives me a fist bump and takes off up the road.  The scene is amazing, everything I had imagined with the sun beginning to rise and everyone excited as we hike up and up to 8,713'.  We're on snow now, slipping and sliding a bit which is just a precursor of things to come.

Once we are up top and things level off a bit, the opportunity to start running is supposed to present itself.  But as we had been warned about in the pre-race briefing, things were just so sloppy up top.  Snow fields and snow bridges that runners ahead of me had broken through led to miles of slipping and sliding.  When not on the snow there was so much water from the rapid melting caused by a week of 90 degree days that the mud was a foot deep in places, making that sucking sound as I moved through it, threatening to remove my shoes from my feet.  When we did hit sections of trail, water ran down it like a creek.  It was just impossible to move quickly, at least for most of us mere mortals.  The impact was that whether your time goals were a course record, sub-24, or to stay ahead of the cutoffs, any buffer was just gone before we even hit the first aid station at Lyon Ridge.  I just "knew" that my training and preparation had me in position to run around 27 hours, and that cutoffs wouldn't be an issue.  And that was all gone before I hit the Red Star Ridge aid station at mile 15.8.  Seventeen runners DNF'd there, many missing the cutoff.  Seventeen people that had qualified and trained their asses off and showed up ready to go, and it was over almost before it started.  This was going to be a battle.

Mile 15.8, 4:25.  252nd out of 354

After a final 30' slide on my butt down a snow drift, the conditions finally started to improve.  But the altitude was getting to me more than I expected.  Being up around 7,000' for much of the first 30 miles just made the effort so much harder.  I just wanted to get to Duncan Canyon (mile 24.4) to see my crew for the first time, and get a fresh pair of shoes and socks.  The aid stations in the first half of the race straddle a canyon with no road through it, so you need two separate crews if your're going to have one at each possible spot.  I was honored and blessed to have my family with my girlfriend Heather, daughter Kylie, and parents Dave and Sharon serve as one crew; and my college buddies Jimmy, Rob, and Jared along with iFriend Wally that flew out from Chicago as my other crew.  This sport can be so selfish in so many ways with the long training on weekends, travel away from home for races, and dragging your significant other along to trail running film festivals and local running store events.  That is only magnified on race day with a crew and pacers when you consider my parents and two buddies all drove down from Oregon and Wally flew out from Chicago, all to help me achieve this goal.

I finally rolled into Duncan, already looking a bit beat up and well behind the 30 hour pace for the first quarter of the course and with not a lot of time on the cutoffs.  I had said to Rob the night before that regardless of what happened out there on race day, I just wanted to be ahead of the cutoffs enough that I didn't have to worry about them.  I've been there before (2014 Pine to Palm), and it's just so stressful.  Thanks to the conditions in the High Country, that was already gone and it was going to be part of my experience all day and night.  The fellas (Jim, Rob, Wally, Jared) knew I needed to get out of there, so they went to work like a Nascar pit crew, getting my shoes and socks off, cleaning my feet, lubing them up, and new socks and shoes back on.  A volunteer apparently asked if they needed some nail polish to complete the pedicure they appeared to be giving me!  But it was so awesome how efficient and ready they were to get me out of there and back on the trail.

Mile 24.4, 6:18.  246 of 344

From there it was around six miles to Robinson Flat and seeing my family for the first time.  I had hoped to be there a little after noon, but didn't arrive until 1:11 pm, less than an hour before the 2:00 cutoff.  We were still up around 7,000' and my effort level was so unexpectedly high on the climb up to the aid station, the temperature was rapidly rising (90s by then?) and my discouragement was growing.  As I finally crested the last bit of the climb and saw the tent, I tried to get myself in a positive space before I got to the crew - fake it until you make it, I guess.  I spent about 10 minutes there getting cooled off, restocking my pack, and updating them all on the challenges of the first 15 miles.  I asked about Surf, and they said he was also way behind his pace, and reported that he felt "worse than he ever had" at that point in the race - and he's struggled each year coming into Robinson.  The conditions were taking a toll on everyone.

Mile 30.3, 8:11.  254 of 328

I left Robinson knowing that from there we would finally start to lose elevation, telling myself that things were about to get a lot better for me as we finally moved down from the mountains.  After a short road climb the downhill began, and I think the mental boost kicked in before the increased atmospheric pressure boost did.  Sure enough, I had my best stretch of the race through here, including my best between aid stations split with a 13:36/mile pace from Miller's Defeat to Dusty Corners.  I cruised in there with a positive mindset again, excited to once again see the fellas for another pit crew style sock change.  The volunteers at both Dusty and Miller's were just incredible - at times I had 3-4 people at once working on me, filling pockets and arm sleeves with ice, refilling my bladder, sponging me off.  I had actually clawed my way back to being right on the 30 hour pace and over an hour ahead of the cutoffs here, and tried to prepare myself mentally to head into The Canyons.

Mile 38, 10:02.  249 of 331

The best laid plans....

I had started to feel a little soreness in my quads on the final descent into Dusty, and that began to get a little worse as I continued the descent down into Deadwood Canyon.  This was pretty discouraging as all of the downhill running I had done during training was to try and condition my quads so I could hold that off that feeling until as late as possible so I'd be able to move well down Cal St.  I was running with another guy who was moving pretty well and we were chatting a bit so I stayed with him down the road and onto the singletrack.  But when someone else caught up to us I backed off and let them go, deciding to take it easy down to Swinging Bridge - I had to try and conserve the quads as much as possible.

As I approached the bottom of the canyon I recapped in my head my plan for the climb up Devil's Thumb, one I'd come up with as a result of already having done the climb twice this year, once during The Canyons 100K and once during the Memorial Day Training run.  I'd decided the key was to get a gel in as soon as I heard the rushing water below on the descent, as that would give my stomach 15-20 minutes to process it before heading up the other side.  I was also going to lay in the creek a few hundred yards on the other side of the bridge to try and get my core temperature down, figuring that would also help ensure the calories were through my gut before the hard work of the 36 switchbacks climbing 1,800' up to the top.  Check and check, and I started up the steep stuff hoping to just grind this thing out.

What's that saying about the best laid plans of mice and men?  Even though it was late enough in the day that we weren't in direct sun, it was still really hot and a little humid.  Within a few minutes my effort level felt much higher than I'd hoped, and shortly after that my stomach started to turn.  I would stop and grab my shorts, giving myself five deep breaths to try and get everything under control before continuing up, but it wasn't really helping.  I was taking little sips of electrolyte drink trying to keep up my hydration.  But it was a spiral I couldn't pull out of, and about half way up I found myself sitting on the side of the trail puking.  I had ginger chews, pepto, tums, and a few other things with me, but with the stomach often goes the mind, and I sat there, helpless for a few minutes, emptying the calories and hydration I'd been trying to force through.  After a few minutes another runner came by and offered me a ginger chew, and I eagerly accepted.  She told me it was her last, but she had more up top at her drop bag - a great example of the spirit of this sport.  I finally got up and struggled to the top, puking a couple more times along the way.

"It's the day you got"

I finally got into the Devil's Thumb aid station and plopped into a seat.  My head was in my hands, facing the ground, trying to figure out how to continue on.  I heard a soft-spoken voice asking what I needed, and I didn't have to scan upward very far to know who it was - Dave Mackey, who I had met the day before at check in, volunteering here at one of the key spots of the course.  I asked for some broth and water, and told him I just needed a few minutes to try and pull myself together.  "Sounds good, but you don't have long - you need to get moving again soon," he said.  I had arrived about 45 minutes ahead of the cutoff, so spending too much time here with two canyons still to traverse would have been fatal.  After about 10 minutes I thanked him and the rest of the volunteers and headed off down the trail toward El Dorado Canyon.

Mile 47.8, 13:11.  261 of 314

My stomach wasn't great, but one of my favorite mantras "it never always gets worse" came into play here, and I was able to just keep moving.  Down into the canyon, up the long and often exposed climb to Michigan Bluff I trudged.  Just keep moving.  Get to your crew.  And, in what was somewhat bittersweet, I knew that I'd get a pacer starting here - something only allowed at Michigan Bluff after 8:30 PM, and going into the race that was just inconceivable - I was thinking closer to 7:00 PM at mile 55.  I shuffled down the hill into the aid station, happy to see my family, Jimmy, and Robbie again, and saw that Jim was ready to run.  I sat in a chair, frustrated at being now less than 40 minutes ahead of the cutoff.  It was time for a full on pity party as I complained about what had been going on.  I stopped talking for a minute, then yelled out, "DAMMIT!  This is NOT the day I planned for!"  Robbie, an experienced (and bad ###) triathlete instantly and calmly responded, "But it's the day you got."

That snapped me out of my funk a little, and a few minutes later Jim and I turned on our headlamps and marched out of there and up the road toward Volcano Canyon.  This was the exact same spot I had picked him up back in 2012, and I was a little behind his time here, a scary thought considering how close he cut things.  He kept stressing we were going to have to run, keep moving, hike with purpose, pick it up, and a bunch of other ways of saying the same thing - move your ###, or you're not getting to Auburn in time.  My quads were feeling it even more through here, but we were able to move ok down the road, and onto the more technical single track leading to Volcano Creek.  Even though the sun was down it was still hot, probably 90ish, and I took a moment in the creek to repeat what I'd been doing whenever I'd had the opportunity over the past 17 hours dipping my hat, arm sleeves, splashing water on my face.  We started the climb back up out of there, and he would point out someone ahead of us, "there's your next target,".  Pretty sure I told him to shut up more than once, I'd catch them when I caught them, but I knew he was right in pushing me.  We hit the pavement of Bath Road, and he told me once we reached the top we were going to run the mile or so into the Foresthill Aid Station so run we did, passing 2-3 runners along the way.

Foresthill is the biggest aid station along the course, as it's really the only one in civilization.  There are cars parked all along the main frontage road through town, and the runners move through for almost a mile before making the left turn onto Cal St. and heading back onto the trail.  Well, I should say earlier in the day there would have been cars parked all along - by the time I got there just after 11:00, it was mostly deserted.  Guess that's what happens when you are 30 minutes behind 30-hour pace and only 40 minutes ahead of the cutoff.  Jimmy and I were met by Robbie and Wally, and after a quick stop in the actual aid station we headed down the road to were Heather was set up, and Wally and I got prepared to head down into the iconic Cal St. trail into the American River Canyon.  

Mile 62, 18:04.  268 of 288

Cutting it close

Wally and I had never run together before, and he had never experienced anything like this I'm sure.  I took the lead, and he did his best to keep me moving and distracted, chatting and telling stories.  Of course within a mile or so we were so distracted we missed a turn and went a hundred yards or so off course. Thankfully another runner and pacer came along and saw us and called us back, as that could have ended the effort right there about 63 miles in!  I had planned to put on my Garmin charger and wear it through the night to keep it going, but after it died on the way into Michigan Bluff I just took it off and gave it to Heather, so I was reliant on Wally to let me know how we were doing.  Being a numbers guy, he was throwing them out there!  Net net was that just to stay even and 30 minutes ahead of the cutoff at the river, we had five hours to cover the 16 miles.  It's almost embarrassing to look at that now - 18 minute miles on a largely downhill section of trail!  But my stomach had never really recovered so I was struggling to get calories down, my quads were sore, my IT band was acting up a bit.  And I was just damned tired, mentally and physically.  I think we moved pretty well down to the first aid station at Cal 1, the first 4 miles or so.  Just having the chance to share some miles with him, chatting away, got me running a bit more than I had been.  But when we left Cal 1 I hit another mental and physical low point, not helped by the fact that much of the uphill on this Cal St. occurs during this 5 miles, and we pretty much just hiked.  I wasn't doing the math well, but I'm sure Wally was getting nervous as I slowly moved along.  And for good reason, as we stumbled into Cal 2 at 2:15 AM, with just 15 minutes to go on the cutoff.  

I got some soup down and I think that combined with just straight up fear got me moving a bit more again, and I was able to run more on the way down through Cal 3 and to the river.  It's always so much longer than you think to get there, as you run just above and along the river for a good three miles before the final short climb and descent into Rucky Chucky aid station.  Wally just kept encouraging me, telling me I was moving at an ok pace when I was running, and keeping me moving forward.  

"I'm going to be mean"

I had hoped to be at the river around 1:00 AM, but it was almost 4:30 when I actually arrived.  Jim was back to pace me again, and Robbie was still awake as well helping me to get in and out of there quickly.  24 hours after check in, and these guys are still awake and out here for me.  Amazing.  I sat on the ground for a few minutes to re-lube my feet and change socks, as I'd started to feel some more hot spots during the last 16 miles of mostly downhill.  And then it was down to the river and onto the rafts that were to take us to the other side - this winter's atmospheric river has just had too much water to allow crossing on foot.  I actually was kind of happy about that as I had done that three times before as a pacer, and it was kind of nice not to have to worry about wet feet.

Mile 78, 23:26.  262 of 270 (yes, that means 99 runners were out by this point)

Jim had warned me while we were on the earlier stretch from Michigan Bluff to Foresthill that he was going to push me, and that I probably wouldn't like him very much.  He's pretty much the most affable, likable guy ever...and I knew he was right.  I was glad we had the two mile climb up the road to Green Gate to start, as I was still hiking pretty well.  But once we got through there and back on to the rolling single track heading towards ALT I knew I'd have to run as much as I could.  We passed through Green Gate still about 30 minutes up on the cutoff, and onto the trail we went.  He led the way and told me I had to keep pace with him as much I could, so I tried to just shut up and grunt through it.  This had been such a great section of trail during the Memorial Day training runs, so runnable.  I kept trying to remind myself of that as we alternated running and walking as fast as I could.  We had figured we had to do 15 minute miles to the finish to make it, and Jim set his watch to beep every mile and every 15 minutes, and would reset it regularly - that gave the audible signal of whether I was ahead or behind.  But I also started to figure out he was probably fudging the numbers here and there to try and keep me moving quicker, some things just weren't making sense.  But considering I'd been on my feet now for 25 hours, I didn't argue.  I also still knew I couldn't afford to give up any time, this was going to be close.  

Jim was also on me to keep trying to eat and drink, as he knew I was way behind there.  My stomach, which hadn't been happy but had kept things down since the climb up Devil's Thumb the day before (yes, the day before!!!) started to get worse as the effort level and temperature increased.  At aid stations I was strictly drinking broth and Coke, hoping that would give me enough to keep trudging forward, and Jim would encourage me to try and get down a shot block or gel between.  Somewhere around mile 84 I tried to take a salt tab, gagged, and puked again, emptying everything I had choked down for the past hour or two.  We finally got to ALT a few minutes later, and I tried to start over with more broth and Coke.  But we were back down to 20 minutes against the cutoff here, so it was chug them down as quickly as possible and get out of there.   Only three other runners made it out of there after me and before that 7:00 AM cutoff, while 11 others saw their epic efforts end here.

Mile 85.2, 25:40, 250 of 253

It was starting to warm up again at this point, and I tried one more time to get down a shot block.  As I tried to chew it my stomach let me know it was simply not welcome, and I puked again.  Jim said if I was going to puke, I couldn't stop to do it anymore but had to do it on the move!  At that point I realized I had some ginger gummy candies, and I was able to keep one of those in my mouth to dissolve, which kept me from puking any more.  Ok, maybe once more.  Who pukes on the second day of a 100?

More Nut Butter!

The other big issue I had been having was, well let's just call it chafing in the undercarriage.  Every aid station I was applying more Squirrels Nut Butter, but after 27 hours of salty sweating my compression shorts had the texture of 80-grit sand paper.  As we finally pulled into Quarry Road at mile 90.7 I saw Hal Koerner there running the aid station, and chuckled at the thought of the story of his epic UTMB bonk, complete with similar chaffing that had him using a ziploc bag to try and alleviate the issue.  I was going to ask him if he had one (I had a little sense of humor left), but didn't get the chance - Jim had told me I had 1 minute to sit, then it was out of there.  Every step was painful, but no time to worry about that.  We had one big climb left, up to Highway 49, and we knew we were going to give a couple of minutes back to the course and the cutoffs there.

And what a climb it was.  Of course it's nothing like what I had done the day before in the canyons, maybe 900' over a couple of miles, but after 91 miles it was such a struggle.  Jim kept up a power hiking pace that would have been oh so easy on a training day, yet he kept having to slow down to keep me in sight.  I knew once we finally crossed that road there'd be just one more short climb up to the meadow at Cool, and then the final climb to Robie, so I just kept focusing on that.  One foot in front of the other, you're almost there.

We crossed over the highway where the aid station used to be, and started up to Cool.  We heard someone yelling out in pain, almost crying, and came upon a runner cramping up hard on the trail.  Her pacer was cajoling her to keep moving, but her legs weren't having it.  Jim said under his breath, "you're doing better than her.  Let's go!"  She ended up crossing the finish line about 10 minutes after the cutoff, what a display of guts and determination.

"You've got this"

I've had several people tell me that the meadow in Cool is their favorite part of the course.  In almost all of those cases they were either hitting it as the sun was going down on their way to a top 10 finish, or as the sky was just starting to brighten as they headed in for a sub-24.  When I got there at 9:15 AM, it was just hot.  We saw Mike Hernandez, the volunteer who had been such a big part of Jim's 2012 Western States, and he recognized us as "the Oregon guys".  He looked at his watch and told me, "you've got this, you'll finish in about 29:50, but you have to get out of here."  Time in to the aid station, 9:15 AM.  Time out, 9:15 AM.

Mile 94.3, 28:15, 247 of 251

I'd been so stressed for so long, pushing for what my mind could convince my body to give that I don't think I really let myself dwell on the very distinct possibility of not finishing.  It was like a cloud hovering over me, or maybe considering my physical appearance more like the cloud of dirt hovering around Pig Pen from Peanuts, but I had just tried to ignore it.  I just kept telling myself there was no way I could let down my parents, Heather, Kylie, Jim, Rob, Wally, Jared, and everyone else rooting for me through all the years of training - not the least of those all of you fellas in here.   My dad had repeated to me in the days leading up to the race, "you're doing this for you, nobody else."  But that just wasn't true.  And those words from Mike just led to that cloud finally lifting. It was this huge feeling of relief - I was going to do this.  No, we were going to do this. 

Down the trail towards No Hands Bridge we went, hikers and dog walkers giving "good jobs" and "almost there's" as we came across them.  My legs were pretty much done at this point, and my "running" down the hill was probably a little comical, but I was doing what I could.   We hit the aid station there, and as the heat was picking up and I knew the rest of the trail was pretty exposed, I loaded up one more time with ice - in my arm sleeves, in the front pockets of my shirt.  I probably should have tried some down my shorts to quiet the fire going on down there.  Then it was up toward Robie Point, more hikers and people just starting their days, some aware of the race and knowing what they were seeing when they looked at this wreck of a man, others with confused looks.  I asked Jim what time it was.  "We have to keep moving," he said, and I snapped back, "WHAT TIME IS IT?!?!".  I think (I hope) that was the only time I snapped at him out there.  I got a little more water over my head with a double, walking sponge bath at Robie Point aid station as the volunteers moved with me, dousing me while I hiked up the hill.  Then it was into the neighborhoods of Auburn, people out on their lawns, on the street, cheering runners on.  Cheering me on.  I was running this thing in. I tried to acknowledge everyone, but I kept getting choked up.  Up the final climb, and then left onto the final downhill to the track.  

A few hundred yards into it we see Wally(!), who had come up so he could alert the rest of the crew of my impending arrival.  After the race, I read through the over 100 texts that my crew had exchanged during the event, especially those final dozen or so.  I've read those over and over again in the past two weeks.  I know from 2012 with Jim how that felt, waiting on the road for him to show up, time ticking down.  And then there it was, the track.  Three years in a row after lottery disappointments I had taken pictures of that entrance, of those WS100 emblazoned footprints painted on the asphalt.  After hearing my name called in the lottery this year I walked up there and looked at that entrance, even stared at it for several minutes I think, envisioning seeing it in June. It was finally my turn.

I came down the ramp and saw my friends Eric (Ultrarunnerpodcast) and Karl (Ultrarunning Magazine, and again a 24-hour finisher here), and high fived them.  And then I saw Rob, and there was Kylie waiting to run with me and finish this thing out.  I'm glad she had the GoPro going, because I honestly don't remember much after that.  I asked how she was doing, and where my parents were.  I saw another local Marin runner on the bend of the track who gave me a big "right on man!".  And I finally heard Tropical John's voice, but with the clapping and cheering and, really, the tears welling up in me, I couldn't hear what he was saying.  I think I heard, "from Novato, California, Sean Grove" at some point.  And then it was done.

Mile 100.2, 29 hours, 47 minutes, 41 seconds.  Twelve minutes and 19 seconds to spare.  244 out of 248 finishers, 369 starters.

I was in a bit of a daze for the next few minutes.  I shook hands with board member Charles Savage, who had given me some advice at check in on Friday, and a few others.  Medical asked if I needed anything.  And then I found Heather and we shared the biggest hug.  I stumbled out into the infield of the track, and finally collapsed on the ground, and was again overwhelmed with emotion for a moment.  The crew all gathered, my parents made their way over from the bleachers, and we were all together again.  These special people that had sacrificed their time to help me reach this crazy goal.  I'll be forever grateful to all of them.

After a few minutes, Heather asked if I needed anything.  I realized it was 10:56 AM, the final few minutes of the race and replied "help up, so I can go see the last finishers."  I really didn't expect that I'd personally be a part of "The Golden Hour", the greatest time and the greatest place on the planet - the Placer High track from 10:00-11:00 AM on the last Saturday in June.  But I sure wasn't going to miss witnessing the end of it myself.  

 

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5 minutes ago, SayWhat? said:

Yeah, unfortunately was planning a bit of a recovery week.  But I’ll try to get out for a couple hours for sure.  

Is this your week in northern MN??

We get there next Thursday. Hope it cools down.  :lol:

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I love the compression socks for recovery mental or physical, whatever. The oofos are not my thing but I do keep them in the car. And as proof I don’t buy everything mentioned here, no mr nipple pop ups for this guy!

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6 minutes ago, SFBayDuck said:

Thanks for linking those, @gianmarco, I haven't read those in awhile.  Pretty cool that I used to be that guy.

Here's the cleaned up blogpost with pics and videos for the "full experience":  http://sfbayduck.blogspot.com/2017/07/run-baby-run-2017-western-states-100.html

I cried like a baby reading and looking at that originally....

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44 minutes ago, Zasada said:

Good to see you, @SFBayDuck -- are you moved and settled in OR?

Still a work in progress, gb.  Six weeks in an airbnb and a couple of weeks with friends in Eugene, 9 days at my family's cabin on the Oregon Coast, and last night we got to their home in the Portland area.  We head back south tomorrow night and will be in Marin Thursday-Monday for my daughter's graduation, then it's back to Oregon for another two weeks before moving day into our house in Eugene the weekend of the 19th.  So "settled" isn't a word I'd use just yet!  But being able to find a house in this insane market was a relief, and we're looking forward to being settled soon.

Unfortunately move in is the weekend before States so no trip down there for me (unless I want to be homeless and single when I get back!).  I actually know two other people besides our boy that are running this year that had asked for pacing/crewing help, so a real bummer to not be able to make the trip.  

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Just now, El Floppo said:

I cried like a baby reading and looking at that originally....

I still do, every damned time.  Especially my daughter's "yeah dad!" in the video as I enter the track. :cry:

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5 minutes ago, SFBayDuck said:

I still do, every damned time.  Especially my daughter's "yeah dad!" in the video as I enter the track. :cry:

:cry: dammit, duck! :cry:

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8 minutes ago, El Floppo said:

I cried like a baby reading and looking at that originally....

Yeah no kidding. I still get chills reading that report. 

Not to mention that whole weekend, glued to my computer checking in what seemed like every 10 minutes. I had even made up a map for myself of the course and dotted it with Duck's pace plan so we could all check his progress.

That weekend (at least for me) was full of tension, hope, and joy by the time it was all said and done. Incredible.

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38 minutes ago, ChiefD said:

Yeah no kidding. I still get chills reading that report. 

Not to mention that whole weekend, glued to my computer checking in what seemed like every 10 minutes. I had even made up a map for myself of the course and dotted it with Duck's pace plan so we could all check his progress.

That weekend (at least for me) was full of tension, hope, and joy by the time it was all said and done. Incredible.

So, @SayWhat? - I'm gonna need your pace chart plan in the next week or so. I need to finish my tracking map by the time I leave on vacation next week.

Thank you! 

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1 hour ago, SFBayDuck said:

Thanks for linking those, @gianmarco, I haven't read those in awhile.  Pretty cool that I used to be that guy.

Here's the cleaned up blogpost with pics and videos for the "full experience":  http://sfbayduck.blogspot.com/2017/07/run-baby-run-2017-western-states-100.html

You're still "that guy". That doesn't ever go away.

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Just want to thank the weather gods for squaring up and kicking me firmly in the balls just in time for the few most important weeks of marathon training... :rant:

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, ChiefD said:

We get there next Thursday. Hope it cools down.  :lol:

Just sit in the lake with a beer, you’ll be cool enough. :thumbup:

1 hour ago, ChiefD said:

So, @SayWhat? - I'm gonna need your pace chart plan in the next week or so. I need to finish my tracking map by the time I leave on vacation next week.

Thank you! 

You know, I’m still trying to realistically gauge what my goals are.  I have a general idea, but still giving it a bit of thought.  I think they’re something like:

A Goal:  Don’t get rhabdo again.  I just don’t want to have to worry about the long term kidney impact if I get myself into that type of trouble again, and I think a rhabdo recurrence would be the end of long distance running for me.

B Goal:  No quitting.  Unless I end up with an acute injury or definitely into what I know is rhabdo, then there’s no dropping from this race.
  
C Goal:  Sub-24.  I feel like my fitness puts this  goal within striking distance, but I believe I would need to nail many of the complexities of this race to make that happen.  I hope to do that, but am going to make every effort to not let this type of a goal force me into overexerting early in the race because that will be nothing but trouble.  I’ve historically performed better when the sun goes down, so I’m hoping if I can maintain my legs that I could possibly make up time late in the race if need be.  

D Goal: Finish.  Anything short of heading home with a belt buckle would be a massive disappointment, especially with friends coming out to hang out and crew.  This drives back to B.  No quitting.  I’ll be reading Duck’s race report about ten times before the race to drive home the fact that no matter the race conditions or my physical ailments, I’ve gotta just keep moving forward and get to the finish line.

 

Edited by SayWhat?
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9 minutes ago, SayWhat? said:

Just sit in the lake with a beer,

Well, yeah.

 

Are you on Strava? I feel like I've been missing out on watching some mighty training.

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8 minutes ago, gianmarco said:

I posted here, but I know some of you guys here have some insight too.  In particular, looking for some trekking poles for him.  As lightweight as possible and easiest configuration (folding vs. telescoping).

@SFBayDuck, @Zasada, @SayWhat?

Costco used to have <$40 carbon fibre poles, but prices have gone up.  Still, $45 is a great deal at Amazon for the same poles.  I definitely can feel the weight difference between the CF ones and aluminum.

I go with the locks (rather than folding) for easier and more varied height manipulation.  

Sure, fancier carbon fibre poles are going to be a little lighter (and perhaps stronger), but then you're in the $90 range.

So I stick with the ones above, and don't fret if I jam one in the crack of a rock when running and break it in two.  

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11 minutes ago, Zasada said:

Costco used to have <$40 carbon fibre poles, but prices have gone up.  Still, $45 is a great deal at Amazon for the same poles.  I definitely can feel the weight difference between the CF ones and aluminum.

I go with the locks (rather than folding) for easier and more varied height manipulation.  

Sure, fancier carbon fibre poles are going to be a little lighter (and perhaps stronger), but then you're in the $90 range.

So I stick with the ones above, and don't fret if I jam one in the crack of a rock when running and break it in two.  

Looks great.  Cork grip or eva grip?

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27 minutes ago, Zasada said:
41 minutes ago, gianmarco said:

I posted here, but I know some of you guys here have some insight too.  In particular, looking for some trekking poles for him.  As lightweight as possible and easiest configuration (folding vs. telescoping).

@SFBayDuck, @Zasada, @SayWhat?

Costco used to have <$40 carbon fibre poles, but prices have gone up.  Still, $45 is a great deal at Amazon for the same poles.  I definitely can feel the weight difference between the CF ones and aluminum.

I go with the locks (rather than folding) for easier and more varied height manipulation.  

Sure, fancier carbon fibre poles are going to be a little lighter (and perhaps stronger), but then you're in the $90 range.

So I stick with the ones above, and don't fret if I jam one in the crack of a rock when running and break it in two.  

I'd probably go with Z's suggestion.  I have these which are great and super light, but I chose them largely because I could stow them quickly.

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5 hours ago, Zasada said:

Yeah based on testimonials here (for the socks, and especially for the Oofos), I decided to give both a go.  I've done a week of running with the socks and the sandals come tonight.

Can't hurt, right?

Out of all the things I’ve purchased for running, the Oofos are probably the best. Can’t say enough about them. Doesn’t matter how much pain you’re in after a run, you slip into those, and you can actually walk pain-free. I think they’ve worked wonders for my lower leg/feet issues.

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5 minutes ago, SFBayDuck said:

I have these which are great and super light

Yeah I've been looking at those for a while.  Given how rough I am on poles, though, the price always scares me away. 

If I could be fairly certain to not break them, I'd invest for sure.

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4 hours ago, SFBayDuck said:

Thanks for linking those, @gianmarco, I haven't read those in awhile.  Pretty cool that I used to be that guy.

Here's the cleaned up blogpost with pics and videos for the "full experience":  http://sfbayduck.blogspot.com/2017/07/run-baby-run-2017-western-states-100.html

One of my most memorable weekends ever ...so thrilled to have been of that whole experience!

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2 hours ago, Zasada said:

Costco used to have <$40 carbon fibre poles, but prices have gone up.  Still, $45 is a great deal at Amazon for the same poles.  I definitely can feel the weight difference between the CF ones and aluminum.

I go with the locks (rather than folding) for easier and more varied height manipulation.  

Sure, fancier carbon fibre poles are going to be a little lighter (and perhaps stronger), but then you're in the $90 range.

So I stick with the ones above, and don't fret if I jam one in the crack of a rock when running and break it in two.  

Ordered. Thanks.

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8 hours ago, MAC_32 said:

Mr. Mackey is wrong. Drugs are not bad, m'kay.

Wuss :coffee:

 

For real though - hope it's not too bad.  Hoping for a speedy recovery for you :thumbup:

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Thanks - I'm writing out a tentative June workout plan right now. :thumbup: This round of codeine is wearing off and the discomfort isn't as great, so hopefully downgrading to advil by day's end. 

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20 hours ago, JShare87 said:

Out of all the things I’ve purchased for running, the Oofos are probably the best. Can’t say enough about them. Doesn’t matter how much pain you’re in after a run, you slip into those, and you can actually walk pain-free. I think they’ve worked wonders for my lower leg/feet issues.

If there's anything I've contributed to this thread, it's neurostim runs and Oofos.  And I'll defend those Oofos to the end...

Thanks for having my back, GB!

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Posted (edited)
13 minutes ago, gianmarco said:

The Mrs. killed her 20 mile run today. Looks like she went out for a stroll. AHR 142 and even cruised to a sub GMP 8:20 final mile.

Wowza

Eta... When is the marathon? 

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As I was finishing my run tonight I started thinking how much I'd run in the past two weeks. 7, 7, 6, 7,0, 7, 0, 3, 9, 7, 0, 7 that's 60 miles in the last 12 days.

10 weeks ago my long run was 5 miles.  Now that's my average even when I include rest days.

9 weeks ago I did my first 7 miler. I've done 7 or more miles in 7 of the past 12 days, meaning that more often than not I run at least 7. 

These are significant changes.  I didn't have a perfect run tonight and my times have gotten worse, not better since I started increasing my daily average like this but compared to where I was two months or two years ago, I’m proud of my accomplishments and looking to build on them.

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1 hour ago, bostonfred said:

As I was finishing my run tonight I started thinking how much I'd run in the past two weeks. 7, 7, 6, 7,0, 7, 0, 3, 9, 7, 0, 7 that's 60 miles in the last 12 days.

10 weeks ago my long run was 5 miles.  Now that's my average even when I include rest days.

9 weeks ago I did my first 7 miler. I've done 7 or more miles in 7 of the past 12 days, meaning that more often than not I run at least 7. 

These are significant changes.  I didn't have a perfect run tonight and my times have gotten worse, not better since I started increasing my daily average like this but compared to where I was two months or two years ago, I’m proud of my accomplishments and looking to build on them.

It's been amazing watching, gb. I know we're all proud of you. I spent the last year building up to 30+ weeks, with a lot of muscle memory in the legs. And I'm definitely feeling it (on the edge of beat up). Dont sweat going slower- that should be part of your plan anyways. Great work, and listen to your body- don't run yourself into injury by pushing if things start feeling wrong.

Fwiw, in my old tri-days with coaches we would have cycles of 3 weeks building, and the 4th week as a recovery week. Throwing that out there...

 

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7 hours ago, El Floppo said:

It's been amazing watching, gb. I know we're all proud of you. I spent the last year building up to 30+ weeks, with a lot of muscle memory in the legs. And I'm definitely feeling it (on the edge of beat up). Dont sweat going slower- that should be part of your plan anyways. Great work, and listen to your body- don't run yourself into injury by pushing if things start feeling wrong.

Fwiw, in my old tri-days with coaches we would have cycles of 3 weeks building, and the 4th week as a recovery week. Throwing that out there...

 

Yeah I like the idea of a recovery week.  My thought was that I would hover around this mileage for a couple months and just get to the point where it's normal for me, but it's not normal yet and my legs are definitely accumulating some fatigue.

How would a rest week work?  I don't think you mean 7 days of zero miles.. do you cut down the mileage of your long runs?  Take more rest days?  

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1 hour ago, bostonfred said:

Yeah I like the idea of a recovery week.  My thought was that I would hover around this mileage for a couple months and just get to the point where it's normal for me, but it's not normal yet and my legs are definitely accumulating some fatigue.

How would a rest week work?  I don't think you mean 7 days of zero miles.. do you cut down the mileage of your long runs?  Take more rest days?  

It isn't a rest week, but I think we all treat the cutback week different. The objective is to get to the next one feeling fresher then leveling up (whether quantity or quality) and this is often when suddenly you'll find yourself travelling the same distance in less time. Generally speaking extra rest day(s) and cutting back the long run is a good place to start...probably skip anything of substance too (i.e. hill repeats). 

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8 minutes ago, MAC_32 said:

It isn't a rest week, but I think we all treat the cutback week different. The objective is to get to the next one feeling fresher then leveling up (whether quantity or quality) and this is often when suddenly you'll find yourself travelling the same distance in less time. Generally speaking extra rest day(s) and cutting back the long run is a good place to start...probably skip anything of substance too (i.e. hill repeats). 

Yeah, don't take the week off.  That's like something I would do.  Or if you're @The Iguana, then it's weeks......Right, @MAC_32?

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51 minutes ago, MAC_32 said:
2 hours ago, bostonfred said:

Yeah I like the idea of a recovery week.  My thought was that I would hover around this mileage for a couple months and just get to the point where it's normal for me, but it's not normal yet and my legs are definitely accumulating some fatigue.

How would a rest week work?  I don't think you mean 7 days of zero miles.. do you cut down the mileage of your long runs?  Take more rest days?  

Expand  

It isn't a rest week, but I think we all treat the cutback week different. The objective is to get to the next one feeling fresher then leveling up (whether quantity or quality) and this is often when suddenly you'll find yourself travelling the same distance in less time. Generally speaking extra rest day(s) and cutting back the long run is a good place to start...probably skip anything of substance too (i.e. hill repeats). 

Maybe an extra rest day, but mostly it's like a taper- slower and shorter on the runs. No big workout runs.

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Posted (edited)

Stopped my watch mid-run and then accidentally hit "save" instead of "resume," leaving me with two separate activities.  Found a pretty cool utility at gotoes.org that allows you to merge the two activities into a new, combined .GPX file that you can then manually upload to Strava.  Just in case you ever find yourself in need...

Edited by gruecd
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1 hour ago, gianmarco said:

@Juxtatarot....you ok?  No run yesterday or today.  :oldunsure:

I think he's on vacation:

On 5/10/2021 at 8:42 AM, Juxtatarot said:

I don't know exactly.  I am going to Arizona for a vacation the first week of June.  I'm sure I'll run some and we'll do some hiking (including the Grand Canyon) but I'm sure the mileage will be less.  But, yes, I was thinking about starting training officially in early July.   Unless there is a compelling reason to do otherwise I assume I'll mostly just do what I have been doing until then.  My body seems OK with 50 mile weeks.  I don't want to take off for any considerable about of time.  

I know you have a relay race this fall but have you decided on any other races?  

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