Tuesday, September 23, 2008

2008 Hood to Coast Relay

For the 4th year in a row, I ran the Hood to Coast Relay with Kult Kevorkian. This is one of those legacy teams that has been around for something like 20 years. Look for our team on the Hood to Coast documentary. So how did I get hooked up with them? Well, it just so happens that one of Tonya's friends from grad school, Leah Henriksen, has been on the team for a number of years. In 2005 they needed runners, so Tonya and I both ran...and in the years since then, Tonya has been nice enough to let me continue to run with the team now that we have kids.

This van probably has more HTC's under its belt than I do

I have really enjoyed running with this team...they're out to have fun...they're not overly competitive, but they are very particular about getting the numbers right and keeping track of the details...time, pace, etc. And I have to admit, it's been a big ego boost for me every year...I am known as the fast guy and the long-distance runner. Because of this I have been type cast as the guy who should run the longest legs every year. I don't mind...it's been interesting to look back over the years and see my improvement. Some of the legs have changed slightly over the years, but they're more or less the same.

2008 Kult Kevorkian T-shirts and theme: 'Cause Tramps Like Us, Baby We Were Born to Run'

One other important note about Kult Kevorkian...they are organized! This is a very good thing, but it means commitment to participate has to be made close to 10 months in advance...at the time last year, I knew HTC was the week after the Where's Waldo 100K, but I wasn't too worried...I thought if I had nothing left after Waldo it wouldn't be a big deal...like I said before, this HTC team is not super competitive. Well, I had a tough time at Waldo, so I was really curious how HTC would go...was I over tired and in need of a break...if HTC went poorly, there would be no question. I made sure to wear my Waldo shirt because I was sure I was the only one out there crazy enough to run HTC less than a week later...but I wasn't...I saw Gary Lear in his shirt and I also recently heard that Randy Benthin ran both. Surprisingly, HTC went very well...I ran it all out...I guess I had something left in the tank after all...below are my stats.

Leg 9 - According to the HTC handbook this leg is a gentle downhill run...there is no way...it is definitely a gentle uphill run. By the time I was getting ready to start (about 9:00PM), the conditions were perfect for a fast run, except for the darkness...footing was sometimes tricky...part of the Springwater Trail is gravel. When I started off, I had no idea how fast I was going. There was one guy up ahead of me that I wasn't catching very quickly...I ended up catching him within the first mile, but I could tell he was going a little too fast for me...I let him go, but shortly afterward he stopped to tie his shoe or something. He caught me again with a couple miles to go, I think...I tried to find him after I finished because I wanted to know what his 10K PR was! I was surprised with my pace considering I'd never run that fast in a 10K.
2005 - 7.30 miles, 50:30, 6:55 pace
2006 - 7.30 miles, 46:18, 6:21 pace
2007 - 6.89 miles, 44:28, 6:27 pace
2008 - 6.89 miles, 40:48, 5:55 pace

After our first set of legs, our van stopped at St. Helens High School to sleep for a few hours. I was really looking forward to getting some Burgerville burgers and a milkshake...but our team had started from Mt. Hood much later than we had in the past, so it was too late when we got to St. Helens...Burgerville was closed! I paid a couple bucks to sleep on the floor of the St. Helens High School gym.

Leg 21 - I've decided that this leg is much better at night...you can't see all the dust you're breathing (it's a gravel road). In years past, I've always run it in the dark...this year I ran a little after sunrise. After my first leg, I definitely wanted to run under 6:00 minute miles. I knew the leg had a pretty nice downhill, but early on, I was wondering where it was...finally I found it and cruised.
2005 - 5.00 miles, 34:09, 6:50 pace
2006 - 5.00 miles, 32:15, 6:27 pace
2007 - 5.00 miles, 31:08, 6:14 pace
2008 - 5.00 miles, 29:26, 5:53 pace

After Leg 21

After our second set of legs, our van stopped in a big field near the last van exchange to sleep...it was hot and noisy. Darin Swanson describes this well.

Leg 33 - This leg is long and rolling...I knew there was no way I was going to run sub 6:00 minute miles again, so I just went hard...I definitely faded toward the end...probably the last two miles. It was early afternoon, so it was warm...I was glad I took some water with me. And it's always good to be done...we made it to Seaside, found a place to park, and got to the finish in time to run across the finish line with the whole team. Then, as is tradition for our van, it was off to pizza...I was so hungry. As we sat down to eat we got to watch the finish of the Men's Olympic Marathon...cool, I had wanted to watch it.
2005 - 7.90 miles, 58:46, 7:26 pace
2006 - 7.10 miles, 50:32, 7:07 pace (Leg 32)
2007 - 7.72 miles, 51:49, 6:42 pace
2008 - 7.72 miles, 49:37, 6:25 pace

Thanks again to everyone in the Kult for another great year. And good news...Waldo and HTC do not fall on the same weekend next year! I'm in....

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Where's Waldo 100K Details

Needless to say, this race did not go too well for me. The race starts at the Willamette Pass ski lodge and basically goes straight up the ski run...so it's a walking start...I remember feeling really anxious...I wanted to run. My Garmin stopped working a few weeks before the race...I had some aid station splits in mind, but I really had no idea how fast I was going until I got to the first aid station. I followed Kelly Woodke for a while...at one point I even tried to follow him into the woods for a pit stop, but he directed me back onto the trail...pretty embarrassing...sorry, Kelly. In my defense, it was still dark and I was just following the guy in front of me.

In hindsight, I was definitely going too fast, but I don't think that was my main problem. I got to the first aid station several minutes ahead of what I thought was a 12:00 pace...since I had plenty of time to spare, I stopped to use the Gold Lake Campground bathroom. Next up was the climb up Fuji Mountain...I definitely backed off a little here and felt pretty good up to the Fuji Mountain aid station. From there to the top seemed a little tougher...I had run this part of the course a week earlier with the Pain Train and Dennis...I definitely felt the altitude then, but I didn't really feel it as strongly during the race. Heading up to the top of Fuji, I was still a little concerned I was going too fast, but I saw plenty of people on their way down and felt better about where I was at. The view from the top was great.

Heading down Fuji Mountain to the Mt. Ray aid station, I could tell something was not quite right...the Pain Train caught me shortly after hitting the Fuji aid station for the second time. I stayed with him all the way down to Mt. Ray, but I didn't feel very good...I would describe the feeling as a lack of energy...it felt like I was running out of gas...a little early for that to happen. At Mt. Ray, the Pain Train made it out of the aid station just ahead of me and quickly disappeared from sight. Because of the way I was feeling, I got pretty down on myself and had a lot of trouble on this section...I knew it was going to be a very long day.

By the time I made it to the Twins aid station, I noticed it was getting hot. I literally stumbled into the aid station and Dennis and crew took care of me and gave me the race update. I headed off toward Charlton Lake and was a little discouraged that it took so long to finally get to that downhill section. Just before I made it to the Charlton Lake aid station I was surprised to catch up to Kurt Eisele...he wasn't doing too well either...he said he had walked the whole section from the Twins to Charlton Lake, which I think must have been where he dropped. I told him I had to start running again because my crew was waiting for me up ahead.

My Mom, Dad, and Will were waiting for me at the Charlton Lake aid station. Not only that, but the aid station was manned by the Corvallis trail running crew and families...so, as you can see from the picture above, I was pretty excited to make it here. My answer to how I was doing...I didn't feel terrible, just not very good.

Someone suggested I take a dip in the lake...it took a little time, but it felt really good. I took off for the Road 4290 aid station feeling a lot better than I did when I arrived. I don't know how long that feeling lasted, but it couldn't have been more than half way to Road 4290...this was a very hot section. I hit another wall and eventually Leif Rustvold and Robert Pool caught up to me. They encouraged me to try to run with them, but I was having a lot of trouble...I felt like I could run fairly normally for a little while, then this wave of complete exhaustion would come over me.

Eventually I made it to the aid station and my Mom, Dad, and Will were waiting for me there. The middle picture above does a good job of showing how I was feeling at this point. I never seriously considered quitting, but I was thinking, how long is it going to take me to go another 25 miles in this condition? It turns out that the answer was almost as much time as it took to go the first 37. I took some extra time at this aid station...sat in the shade, got sponged off...I knew the next section would be very long...and it was. This was another section of the course I had run before...it was nice to know where the spring was to fill up my bottles...I needed it. I finally made it back to the Twins...got another race update from Dennis, saw some carnage (several people dropped here)...it was really uplifting to hear the Pain Train was doing so well...sounded like he was going to hold on and win the Oregon Trail Series. That gave me a boost...I ran the next section pretty well, under the circumstances, until the trail started heading uphill to the Maiden Peak aid station.

I REALLY struggled going up Maiden Peak. That's all I have to say about that.

And once I made it to the top, I wasn't in a big hurry to head back down. Frank Schnekenburger caught me at the top...it was nice to see a familiar face, so I headed down behind him...and Ken Ward was right behind me, as you can see in the video above. Frank ran hard down to the last aid station and I tried to keep up...it took all I had. At the Maiden Lake aid station, he took off well before I was ready...he had a great finish. I saw some more carnage at this aid station...someone was being wheeled off on a stretcher. After leaving the aid station, I got to chat a little with Ken on this last stretch of trail...he's really a great guy...he seemed a little concerned about me. The Rosary Lakes were very nice...unfortunately, I didn't see any swimmers.

By the time I got back on the PCT, I was really wanting to be done. Thankfully, not too far down the trail, Kristin and Carlos appeared in front of me and paced me to the finish. I tried to run "hard" with them, but just couldn't keep it up all the way to the finish. They definitely helped get me there, though. If only they could have been with me for the last 25 miles!

I finished, got my hat, and laid down on a bench. The Pain Train got me some food and drink...thanks for that. It took awhile, but I eventually felt like eating and drinking again. Where's Waldo is one hell of a tough race...I guess that's why they say on the website, "It is not a beginner-level ultra and participation in the race should not be taken lightly." I feel like I had a healthy amount of respect for the race beforehand, but now I know I underestimated it to some degree. It's bothered me that I can't really pinpoint exactly what went wrong, but it only took a couple days off for me to start thinking about next year...I want another shot. I want to come back better prepared and run smarter.

While I was having my fun, Will was having a lot of fun waiting for me...he really wore my Mom and Dad out. After waiting for me at Charlton Lake and Road 4290, they went over to Waldo Lake, then back to the finish to wait for me again. Will had a lot of fun playing in the dirt and rocks...he even got himself a new girlfriend. Later in the day, the weather turned and we got some clouds and rain...and a rainbow too...from the picture, you can see Will was pretty amazed. Thanks, Mom, Dad, Kristin, and Carlos for all your help!