Saturday, July 27, 2013

2013 Tahoe Rim Trail 100 Mile Endurance Run

Why I enjoy this course and ultimately returned this year for my third finish.

I had one overriding goal.  I promised myself I'd get back on the horse and finish my first 100 mile event in three years.  Little did I know, however, that this mare wasn't coming peacefully.  She was a beastly nag, one of the meanest creatures I'd ever come face to face with.  I had other, lofty goals as well, but she reared quickly and bucked those off and into the dirt along with my ego.  She made her rounds at this year's Tahoe Rim Trail Endurance Runs (100 mile, 50 mile and 50K).  Many folks weren't able to hang on to the reins as is evident in the near 50% DNF (did not finish) rate for the 100 mile event.  Above normal temperatures, a course that hovers between 7000' and 9,000', and some significant climbs would cause many to call it a day before they crossed the finish line and most others to revise their pre-race goals.  In the end, I got 'er done in 28 hours.  Though this didn't come easily.  

It would be very interesting to me if there were some way to record the mood swings we undergo during these events.  During the dark of night, as I shuffled along at a pace that would make folks at the mall laugh, I formulated many schemes for my demise.  I searched for the perfect way to end the misery.  Maybe a rock would fall on me, a mountain lion would eat me, or, perhaps, a stray lightening bolt from that distant storm would find it's way to my head.  Things I would never ponder on any other day.  In the span of a few hours I hatched the most perfect DNF plans, including descending from the Bull Wheel aid station to the Diamond Peak aid station and my truck (only two miles distant) in order to save me what would surely be a grueling 8.5 mile trek if I stayed on course.  A little further on I almost whispered to Emily (my pacer) to continue on without me, get the car, and to pick me up on the Mt. Rose Highway only a mile from where I stood at that time.  I managed to make it around to Diamond Peak, sleep a few hours, eat, drink, and get my body's systems operable again.  The final 20 miles were quite enjoyable.

Though this dismal experience seemed to last for an eternity it was but a very small speck of time in the grand scale of things.  I knew that if I dropped I'd be a sodden sack for quite a while and I'd be breaking that quintessential promise I made to myself before the race: "You just finish."

Let's just say that I couldn't have done it without the help of my very patient and loyal crew Emily Harrison, Evan Reimondo, and JB Benna.  Thanks you guys and gal!

After hearing about my experience at Tahoe, a friend of mine pointed out an apt quote by Theodore Roosevelt that sums up what we must all remember when our ego fights against our every grain (thanks Adam).

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." 

Let's now travel through time in this photo montage.  Thanks to Emily, Evan, JB, Michigan Bluff Photography, and Mountain Peak Fitness for the photos.

Moments before the 100 mile start.  At previous Tahoes I remember shivering at the start line, not an issue this year.

Sharing some quality trail time with iRunFar's Bryon Powell.

adiUltra Teammate Josh Brimhall set a blistering pace for 80 miles, even coming within 15 minutes of the 50 mile course record on his first lap.  He'd eventually succumb to quad stiffness and cramping.

Weighing in at Diamond Peak (mile 30) on the first loop.  I remember uttering over and over again, "Man, it's hot!"

Brimhall at Spooner Lake (mile 50) with his pacer Matt Koppenheffer.

Weighing in at Spooner.  Weight was never a problem, but fueling was definitely an issue.

Getting ready to head out for lap two as Emily Harrison looks on.

Heading up to Hobart aid station (mile 57) on lap two.

Moving slow enough so JB Benna could get some still shots on Marlette Peak.

Running off Marlette into Tunnel aid station.

Making my rounds in the Red House Loop.

A great oasis.  Red House aid station on lap two.  We were told that this aid station would not be there this year.  Thank goodness it saved a lot of arses, including my own!

Ascending out of the Red House Loop.

At the top of the Red House Loop as the sun sets.

The Hub: Tunnel Aid Station.  100 mile runners would see this spot at 11, 17, 35, 61, 68, and 86 miles.

Knowing that it was going to be a long, rough night I tried smiling.  Emily helped.

Naps are great way to rest the body and mind in the dire moments of a 100 mile.  I enjoyed this downtime tremendously!

Tunnel aid station at night.

A runner weighs in at Tunnel.  Though they were in costume, the medical personnel did an excellent job of creeping us out.

As the sun rose so did my spirits.

Running was an option again.

Heading around Spooner Lake to the finish with Evan Reimondo clapping all the way.

The final steps.

Buckle time with good and old friend, Grand Junction's Kevin Koch.

Your Moment of Zen

Zoroaster and Bee were the unsung crew members.  Waiting all day, night, and morning for me to finish.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

2013 Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run: "I don't think I can do this any longer!"

This photo ruins the surprise ending.

For a road marathoner, with a personal best of 2:32, the act of shuffling at 12-minute pace feels like failure.  

Under headlamp Emily Harrison, the racer, and I, the pacer, stumbled downhill into the small canyon where the Auburn Lake Trails aid station (85 miles into her 100 mile adventure) is located.  As we neared the oasis of lights and activity, after covering the last 4 miles since sunset alone and in the dark, Emily blurted out, "I don't think I can do this any longer."  I snickered, like any good pacer would do, and reassured her that in my past 6 finishes at Western I've NEVER moved this well at this point in the race.  The rest of my response, "I'm sure you think that, but we gotta stop thinking and keep moving."

She did, and finished 7th woman in 102 degree heat and against a field of top notch ladies.  She now has the luxury, after that Frankenstein-like walk wears off and her swollen, sausage feet return to normal, of deciding if she'll toe the line a year from now.

Congratulations Emily!  You killed it!  I hope you enjoyed the trip as much as I did.

On to some photos...

Some of the adiUltra boys after a run on The Flume Trail (on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe) a few days before the race.  I'd pace Emily, Brian Tinder (without his shirt) would pace 2nd place finisher Rob Krar, James Bonnett (in the yellow) would pace 5th pace finisher Dylan Bowman, and Josh Brimhall (in the black) would join early pace setter Hal Koerner.

A view of the ladies on their way up to the sky in the early morning hours.  Photo by Bob MacGillivray.

Emily Harrison covering the early miles of the race in good form. Photo by Glenn Tachiyama.

Emily is smiles at Robinson Flat (mile 30).  Photos by crew member and Emily's mom, Cheryl Harrison.

Brent Hollowell, from Nathan Sports, helps Emily ready her pack at Foresthill (mile 62).

And we're off!  I begin running with Emily at Foresthill and stick with her to the finish.

An appetite at Highway 49 (mile 93.5)!  I'd be puking by now.

The top ten men!

The top ten women!