Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Javelina Jundred, Fountain Hills, AZ - Halloween 09'

photo credits: Diana Triester


Lap 1. Halloween morning, 2009: Mile 0, 6:00 am - Mile 15.5, 8:51 am

RFM > relentless forward motion. Respect the sun. If the bone ain't showing keep on going.

Phrases like these keep my mind churning. I have a big smile on my face thinking how ridiculous is it that I'm out in the middle of the desert running 100 miles.

It's dawn. It's dark. As the moon sets and the sun ascends the horizon, the surrounding landscape turns blue and the sky becomes red. Ominous.

I set in with a very manageable pace. I'm going to run as effortless as possible and try to just keep steady all day and through the night. My goal is to finish, and maybe between 24-27 hours.

I feel good. For calories/nutrition I decide to go with liquids and gels for as long as possible, as they work quicker and are less difficult to digest than solid foods. I take endurolytes/salt pills every hour to start, with the plan to go every 30 minutes later as the heat increases.
Lap #2: Mile 15.5, 8:51 am -Mile 31, 12:29 pm

I'm doing the same route but in reverse. It's refreshing to know exactly what's in front of you. This will be the rhythm throughout the day.

It feels like you have a bit more of an ascent, still very gradual, but more than the original direction.

It's getting hotter. No shade to be found. I'm concentrating to stay on course, pursing and checking off aids stations - Javelina Jeadquarters, Coyote Camp, and Jackass Junction.

I make back to Coyote Camp, now at mile 25. I'm already showing signs of heat exhaustion. Brian Krogmann, a training partner with the SoCal Coyotes, tells me to quit screwing around with my electrolytes, and to up them to at least every 30 minutes. Also advising me to take the bandanna from my wrist and fill it full of ice for my neck. I do it all and instantly start to feel some relief. But the heat has definitely done some work.

Lap #3: Mile 31, 12:29 pm - Mile 46.5, 4:47 pm

I make it back to Javelina Jeadquarters. My coach, Jimmy Dean Freeman now has a native american headdress on with war paint on his chest. He's screaming my name along with all of our club's support crew. Now this is a real welcome. They're offering any and all help. More sunscreen, a taste of coconut water, a bathroom break, some ginger and a pb & honey in hand and I'm off. Jimmy reiterates the electrolyte testament, adding that I need to take at least 2 at a time every 20 minutes for at least the next hour to finally get back on track.

3 miles later, I'm attempting to take another few pills and one gets stuck in my throat. BARF. About a bottles worth of water and an assortment of food, including some spicy ginger decides to come flowing back out my nose and mouth. A runner dressed up as a hippie strolls by, acknowledges the scene, I apologize and we discuss how this is part of the deal.


This loop is hard. I've gotten sick and it's still hot. I've been on my feet for over 10 hours in the sun and it's getting me down. Then I think, 'hey it's the 3rd lap, if I can pull it together for 1 more that will be at least 62 miles the 100k mark'.... I can't think of the rest of the miles now. Just one loop at a time to keep things manageable.

Lap #4: 4:47 pm, Mile 46.5 - Mile 62, 9:18 pm

Caitlin hands me a bag full of night running gear. Sunset will come at 6pm sharp. Lights out. Then it will get cold. I put on my tights, a new shirt, lube everything back up, get my leg's biofreezed, and refill my necessities. As I'm about to go, I notice my friend Erin. She's coming with me! It was a big sign of hope. Only hours earlier, I had my first thoughts of quitting. The heat had gotten to me, but I progressed. Now I would have company on the trail and into the darkness, what could be a very lonely time in the race.

I had drank a coke when I saw Caitlin at Javelina Jeadquarters moments earlier. It gives me wings. That combined with Top Ramen seem to be my recipe every 5 miles from here on, along with my gels and water. We run for 3 minutes, walk for 1, walk the uphills and run any downhills. Talking about growing up, Los Angeles, running, not running, anything. A lot sooner than I thought... we were rounding it off and I say 'this will make 100K, the longest I've ever run!!' and 'if I can make it to 100K i can finish this...'.

Lap #5: Mile 62, 9:18pm - Mile 77.5, 3:08 am

Deva is my anchor. She's my official pacer for the last 3 loops, mile 62 - 101.4. We met through the race forum, and have stayed in touch through facebook, but only met face to face for dinner after the race check-in last night. She knows the plan. Talk, talk, and more talk. Help keep me in the right direction. Make sure I'm eating, drinking, and peeing... and we're good.

Well, it started out fine. Another big swig of Coke and we busted out of the Javelina Jeadquarters on a mission. Again, the first part of either direction had a small grade slope. We walked that. But I don't really remember running much more after. Every step beyond mile 62 was into the unknown for me. When I tried to run all that Coke and Ramen would come revisit the party. Not fun.

Mile 67.5 - Coyote Camp, departing again. I feel like I'm drunk. I've been on my feet for way too long. It's time to close my eyes. I'm running, but it feels so good to just close them for a sec. I open them quick, so to not fall asleep and Dominic comes flying down a hill. I look up and we're hugging. We have a quick way-to-go, man this is some tough shit moment and we continue.

I've now convinced Deva that the best thing for me to do is to get to Coyote Camp aid station and rest. Lay down. Minutes later, I then convince Deva that sitting down is a better option, because I don't want to be stranded unable to move laying down 5 miles from Javelina Jeadquarters, with the temps now below 50.

I sit by a heater. We're getting close to make it of break it time. I walked most of this loop. I walked much of loop #3 too, now I was faced with getting back to camp, and walking the next 24 miles. Confirmed that running was no longer a possibility, I struggled with my next move. 40-50 miles of walking, wtf?!

Got to get up and go. I was wrapped in a neat silver space blanket, which I left wrapped around my shoulders for the next hour and 40 minutes. All the while, wandering back and forth, spells of dizziness on set by exhaustion and sleep deprivation. Deva keeps me reminded of the water/food/salt schedule. We've added even more caffeine to the mix now, with espresso flavored hammer gel, but it's like a roller coaster - awake and alert, tired and confused. The door is still open. There is still hope.

I round back to Javelina Jeadquarters. As we approach I even say out loud, 'I hate confrontation' thinking about how my support team won't let me stop, just as I've coached them to do... I have to lay down. I have to. I'm shaking, my knees are weak, everything has become unraveled. I'm simply NOT willing to turn back around and walk out on the trail. There's a glimpse of chance provided by my peers, to rest/recover, get back up and go. It's only been a little over 21 hours. I have 30 to finish. Even at a walking pace, I can make it. AND I have planned on the last few loops to take 5 hours and 3-4 hours. THIS IS DO ABLE and it's part of my original plan, but it doesn't make it any easier to get back up.

I sat in the chair, then in the cot, then in the tent. Hope turned to anguish, anguish turned to pain, pain turned to relief, relief prompted my choice. I don't want to do it. I don't want to go back out there. I'm not having fun. I've thrown up countless times, my feet feel like hamburger, and yet I still imagine the finish. But, here it is. I just don't want it that bad. Another race, another day. I've given it what I will, and exceeded what my saftey limit-comfort factor-meter + 10% of tollerence could put up with. I've had it with the pain game. I decided to pull the plug. In an instant, you feel so happy and so sad. What was it all for? Who am I now? This isn't the way it's suppose to go. Or is it?

Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly. - Robert F. Kennedy

21 hours 8 minutes. 77.5 miles. #232 is out.

Hey, this wasn't my vision. But a lot of time in life things don't go the we way we plan them. And life always seems more interesting when you don't always succeed. Hell, wasn't my mantra... Always bite off MORE than you can chew?

Roll call for shout outs.

Wife, best friend, hot chic, main crew chief, the reason why I get up in the morning. She made this happen. Without her support even the pursuit of this race would not be possible.

Coach, cheerleader, freak. This guy came to the race with enough energy to run it, but focused all his time to help any of us with anything. You name it.

You paced me. What, when, who? How did that happen? So glad it did. One extra bit of help to keep the race going in a positive direction. I can't thank you enough.

I still feel like I let you down. I wish I could have demonstrated the power and will to progress. You did everything and more than you had to as a pacer and friend. I only hope you enjoyed the experience as much as I did. It was epic from the start to end.

Bev, Erin, Julie, Robyn, and Peter,
You guys are why I like to run. Meeting good people makes the world a better place. Each and everyone of you showed respect, humor, and dedication to helping every runner with their needs. Pacing through the night and cheering until everyone was done. None of you are selfish.

Runners: Kate, Katie, Katelyn, Dom, Eric, Guillaume (and all the others I met on the course),
What a weird, fun, crazy, interesting, dark, sunny, hot, dry, cold, dirty day. I wouldn't have wanted to do it with anyone else. Seeing each of you out there made this one of the funnest races I've ever done.

Chiat friends,
Can we get a beer now? Thanks again for all of your time and creativity in support on my goal and cause.

MLA Parnter Schools,
If our donation can help buy a book, pay a teacher, provide a lunch for a child, anything... then everything was worth it. The patience to a run like this reminds me of school. Sometimes you can't ever see the light at the end, but you always have to try, learn and respect - yourself, others and your environment. The success and enlightenment you can achieve is only limited by your imagination.

$3000 raised for a great cause.

Two goal races, Miwok 100K and Javelina Jundred both DNF'd/did not finish or as my friend Jimmy likes to say 'did nothing fatal'. I think, 'too much for me to handle' or 'have I had it with the pain game'? I now realize trying to run 100 miles has less to do with actually running, and more to do with walking and dealing with interesting amounts of pain and challenge for the later part of the race. The training for these races has been some of the most rewarding and enjoyable time for me, but also some of the most physically and emotionally difficult stuff I've had to do. How can I hate at times, what I love so much?! This has got to be the quintessential running dilema.

Until next time,

Be the change you want to see in the world. ~mahatma gandhi

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Bulldog 50K - August 22, 2009 - Malibu, CA

What a great race. I’ll spare you the drama since there wasn’t any AT ALL. This was simply 31 miles of fun.

At 5am I met Katie DiSplinter with dounuts in hand at Peet’s in Brentwood to carpool. We got there in record time after a windy trip in her jeep. Making it to the start I saw nothing but familiar faces. Jimmy, Dom, Kate, Eric, Erin, Bev.... The whole Coyote Running crew was there in full effect. It’s so cool to have a new crew to roll with. It makes any run, race, whatever that much more entertaining.

At 6:30 we hit the dirt road and were off. A quick, casual, and somewhat humid start. The course goes from the dirt road to a single track trail where you twist and turn around a 15.5ish mile loop in the Malibu canyons. Scenic to say the least.
After a few miles of boring road, we hit the single track and began a patient ascent. Remember – THIS IS A TRAINING RUN – not a race. With Mt. Disappointment only two weeks prior, and 100s of training miles under my belt from the summer, I knew keeping my jets cool and playing it safe was the way to go. But what the hell, THIS IS A RACE and if I feel good, I’m going to keep going. The single tracks winds around and eventually you make it to the top were you encounter a very weird looking rock formation overflowing with eager trail runners like and ant hill. A fast decent and I’m close to finishing my first loop. Hey, that was easy. I feel, well fine. Really good actually. Time to keep it up for the next loop...

The next loop started again with the ascent... But, what’s that I feel? Rain? No. No, rain? A drizzle here and there is the product of the dark sky coming above. This never happens. But it is today. I take advantage of the cooler temps and cook. Up the hill and back down! I look at my watch. Hmmm. First lap in 2:30ish, 2:40? Second lap should take me closer to 3 hours. Well, it did. A NEW PR 5:25!!! Sweet.

Just want to admit how humbly appreciative to God that I’m able to run. To have the support of my family and friends. Another great adventure.

Next on the calendar – Javelina Jundred in Fountain Hills, AZ on October 31st! My first 100-miler!!! Note: Some of you know that I originally was signed up for Angeles Crest 100, but the race was cancelled due to the Station Fire in the Angeles forest.

Also, I’m fundraising for this race. BE A CHAMPION and check out firstgiving.com/peterwilliams to learn more. Much love!!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Mt. Disappointment 50K - August 8th, 2009

In preparing for Angeles Crest 100, I have spent the last 10 weeks training in the Angeles Forest, running nearly every section of the course route, and them some - sometimes not by choice, see helicopter video below.

Mt. Disappointment 50K landed on the perfect date to use as training run. Although it doesn't follow the Angeles Crest course, it does share much of the same area and terrain, from open fire road to single track trail. It would also give me a chance to practice my race routine in similar conditions.

With all this in mind, I signed up for the 50K (vs. the 50 miler) and road up with friend and training partner Erik Skelly to enjoy yet another fun day in the woods. I was really looking forward to this, as it would be a supported run with aid stations vs. having to pack everything in.

It was around 7am and quite chilly when the race started. Due to an abrupt course change we went down a road not the trail for the first 5 miles, which in turn helped everyone's time out a ton. My split at 5 miles was right around 40 minutes. Pretty unheard of when it comes to running an ultra (well at least for me!).

Next, we ran on some single track and then a fire road going up to our first climb. A mountain race like this proves to be that much more challenging when you have long ascents, altitude, and of course heat. Alas, I get into a groove and go right along. Around 10 miles or so in, I bump into another new friend, Diana Treister. After leap frogging each other for what seemed like 10-15 miles, I though damn this girl is really cooking. Now Diana was running the 50 miler, not the 50K. Despite this she was cruising right along at a quick pace, and would later become the first female finisher for the 50 miler (congrats Diana!!!).

I'd say around mile 25ish I was gaining some speed along a flat section when I noticed ribbons/trail markings going in two
separate directions. A runner behind me followed as I decided to follow the pink ribbon - the wrong way. Seconds later another runner was howling at us to turnaround and in doing so I was back on track with little time lost. This is where I ran into Dennis, an accomplished ultra runner, who just successfully completed Badwater no less than 3 weeks earlier. We exchanged stories of running adventures and the miles flew by. In what seemed like minutes later we hit the 26 mile mark - Westfork, where the the 50 milers go left and the 50kers go right 4.5 miles uphill to the top of Mt. Wilson, the finish. Dennis says we should shoot for 6 hours. It's 5:05 or 5:10, thinking it's possible I say, 'yes'. We chug up uphill attempting a slow run and the mountain keeps pushing us down. I breakaway about 20 minutes later, put both headphones on get in a solid pace. Judging by my heart rate I run 100 ft, walk 20ft... run 1 minute, walk 10 seconds... back and forth alternating, while maintaining some running uphill. 30 miles in with one to go I crest the last switchback and I see some spectators hanging out. The finish is close. After getting to the top I round the corner of the parking lot and up to the main building. Done! 6:22

Onwards to Bulldog 50K two weeks later... But before, check out some videos and pictures from the last few months of training. Classic stuff, no doubt.

Peter Williams
Running 100 miles in a day for a great cause.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Miwok 100k - May 2nd, 2009

It's 3:45am. I get picked up from my motel. Time to start a long, fun day in the Marin headlands, just north of San Francisco. Although it had rained the day before, the morning was cool but clear-ish. A festive energy filled the air.

At 5:40am we're off. Running the first 100 yards on the beach at Rodeo Lagoon is a perfect way to start the journey.

Same as always, I lock. I load. Rinse and repeat. A marathon or so goes by and.......

Mile 28.4 - With tears in my eyes, I leave Caitlin at the Bolinas Ridge aid station. Obviously shaken, both in my head and body - shivering from the days endless rain and gusty winds. Soaked from head to toe, I pull forward.

Mile 35.6 - Randall Trail (turnaround): I've made it past the 1/2 way point. Now I just have to get back up the hill. Staring at a 1200 ft incline after 5000 ft of climbing over 35 miles is fun. I mean daunting. Whatever. I move.

flashback... nearly an hour earlier I run into Jimmy (coach, extreme eater, fellow-nut case) we take a moment to address the madness of the day, each of us fighting our own battles, and we're gone. I'm glad to see a friend doing so well.

Mile 42.8 - Bolinas Ridge (again). I'm on my way back. My pace has slowed. The coldness has grasped me. My fingers are numb, my teeth are chattering. I'm tired of eating, and my right leg has locked up. My inner zombie takes over. I blow my nose in a water logged bandanna, sniffle, and hobble in to see Caitlin, my bright eyed beautiful wife. Without making much demands, I again stare at her and say, 'I think I'm done'. 3 minutes later, I have a NEW and DRY long sleeve shirt, rain-proof jacket, and trash bag on. And I'm heading back on the trail with the words, 'I'm not making you do anything you don't want to do', ringing in my head.

50 yards away, first my hands start to shake and them my arms. I lean over and get the biggest chill of my life. I stop and look back, then look ahead realizing if I don't move, I'll only get colder. It's a downward spiral. Even with the dry clothes on, my core is still like a block of wet ice. I need to move.

Deep meditation takes over. The sound of music pulls a blanket over my consciousness. I'm dragging my feet through 6 inches of mud, sliding up and down, sideways and off the trail. Another 20 foot-long puddle, great. Why even try to go around? I walk through and feel the prickly needles of the frigid water kiss my skin.

I'm toast. Fuck this. What's going to happen next? I started at 5:40am, it's now approaching 6pm. The sun never came out today. Within two hours from the start first a drizzle then a steady shower, light, then windy, then light.... blah.

I stop at a trail marker. Where am I? Why are there four possible directions forward to go in? I make a choice, and I choose correctly. All I want to do is stop. It's starting to feel like dark is coming and the trail is on some sort of eerie repeat. Did I pass by that same bush, am I going into the woods again or over the ridge??. I can't get my warmth back. And now the feeling of eating gives me a headache. Evey 30 minutes, I've had a power bar, some gels, cliff shots. It's all tasking like a mess.

Okay. Will I regret this? - yes. Do I feel unsafe - very close. Will I make the right decision? FUCK. Why am I talking to myself??????? Get my mind out of this meat grinder please.

Pan Toll - 49.5: 3 aid stations, 12.7 miles to go. Sir. Excuse me, sir. I'm #378 and I'd like to drop from the race. The deal is done. DNF. Did Not Finish.

That was Miwok 100k. And here's how I'm going to get better and get revenge.

Water-tight drop bag (wet bags = wet stuff).
Bring real rain gear; dry fit stuff doesn't dry when it's raining for 10 hours.
Plan food / snacks better vs. it being such an after thought.
Work big time on climbing. At least 1-2 days of big hill workouts every week.

I'd like to give thanks to God for allowing me to run at the race and giving me the spirit to try my hardest no matter what comes at me, my amazing wife Caitlin for going above and beyond being my one-person crew. Jimmy Dean Freeman, for his quirkiness and overall bad ass approach to such a difficult feat, and for finishing in a little over 10 hours (right according to schedule - what a stud). Dominic and Katie for the memories of the Ragnar relay (Dom's 155-mile 40 hour solo-run) one week earlier, where we all spent a long night together appropriately described by Katie as a highly caffeinated and arguably crazy crew. And lastly to Tiffany and Reed for having me over the day after the race, to feed, drink, recover, pedicure-devirginize-me, and let me clean up all my muddy running gear.

Onwards to Angeles Crest 100 miler on Sept 18-19th. Altitude and heat, welcome back to the party. 100 miles, oh my! Time to train my mind and body. Pacer or crew volunteers, hit me up! I'll need all the support I can get. This race is going to be amazing.

Viva la vida rica. Always bite off more than you can chew. -peter

Monday, April 06, 2009

American River 50-mile Endurance Run

At 6:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 4, 2009 I went for a long run with about 500 friends going from Sacramento to Auburn, CA along the American River. 50 miles, 11 hours and 16 minutes later I finished. Here are the highlights and lessons learned.

Start to mile 25
It's dark. A horn signifies the start of a long day. I sync my watch as I cross the start, only to think about what it will feel to hit stop at the end... which won't come for a while.

The crowd of runners is both electrifying and awesome. All long distance races seem to share a similar quality at the start. Everyone is excited in one way or another. There are some who go out way to fast and crash before the end, or others who can sustain a faster pace like Maxwell King who won with a 7:28 pace / 6:04 final time... ouch, that's fast.

I set into a pace I feel like I can hold for.. well.. in my mind forever, which is exactly what I need to do. I finish my first marathon (26.2 miles) in 5 hours 10 minutes. Okay, I can run much faster, but when you have another marathon distance to run, decreasing your effort to a sustainable pace, staying hydrated, and well fed will is the key to getting through.

Miles 25-50
Beals Point aid station, mile 26.77. The course now goes from a paved bike path along the water to an interesting assortment of trails. With a dramatic end as the road winds up to the top of the Auburn Hills. I change from my road to trail shoes. My drop bag is packed full of only the essentials - socks, shoes, a shirt and shorts, sunscreen, a few cliff bars, and a RED BULL!

I quickly chug my energy drink and after running for over 5 hours, I quickly realize I'm long overdue for a bathroom break. Minutes later, and thoroughly unpleased with the bathroom supplies I'm quickly back on the run.

I'm enjoying the scene much more now. The trails seemed to duck and twist through forest along the rivers edge. Watching people boat, fish, and relax on the lake was both fantastically inviting and hellish since there wasn't anyway I could enjoy the cool water too. I was smack dab in the middle of the race over 25 miles from anything. And I loved it.

Rattlesnake Bar, miles 40.94-43. Hey, I have a PACER! After running for so long, it's amazing to have a friend with you. Kate Nelson is my pacer, she's my niece. She played soccer at UC Davis and is now training to run her first ultra, a 50K in northern california this spring. She's perfect for the job.

Miles 43-46: I'm running. Not fast, but steady. It's getting hot. I'm tired of running and getting a little nauseous. I realize it's a combo of eating way to fast when I first saw Kate and the fact that the warmer temps are making me sweat more, which can quickly lead to dehydration.

Mile 46-Finish: After some chatting with Kate about my continual need to eat, I do so despite a lack of hunger for anything. I think, wow it's getting terribly steep as we approach the beginning of large incline. I feel so much better than I did even 10 minutes ago. I think,
'Hey I feel real good. Time to run? Yes'.

I think someone yelled something at Kate about being my pacer, but Kate's philosophy of going with the flow let me 'go for it'. and a 1/2 mile later I had to walk again and that was fine.

We then climb a steep section approaching the final miles. Then I see mile 49, and need a pic.

It's time to finish this shit. I tell Kate we're running the last mile no matter what. She agrees, applauding how momentous the occasion is, and we move. Minutes later we hear something, then we see it. It's the finish! Damn, I'm so happy. In the last few hours the ground never looked so inviting to sit, lay, or sleep on. I tell Kate about my plan to sprint to the finish, and without hesitation I find the right time and go full force. I charge up a steeeeeep little hill where I thought the finish was over where I then see a little switchback fire road you had to cut around. With a quick push I round the corner passing a crew of people who I shared the last hours with and who gave there 100% support. Whoops, Hollers, it's 100 ft...... 80..... 50.... 10... and I'm done. I find the first area where I can sit, then I crumble on to the ground in a very victoriously exhausted look as I stare into space thinking about how grateful I am for everything I love, especially my wife, father and siblings, all of which I thought a lot about throughout the experience.

What I learned.

When I train, I need to eat a lot. But not a lot just at one time like normal people. I have to eat something bigger than a snack, but smaller than a full blown meal, once every 2-3 hours during the day. A huge props to my work friends for supporting my anti-hunger strike. I've given a new meaning to the 4pm snack.

Nike makes dryfit boxers that you can wear for running. They make the big miles much more manageable. I mean, who's a fan of chaffing? Um, not me.

My new year's resolution is to not go crazy when things don't go my way. I used to let the most mundane change of plans unset me. Well, after finding out that Caitlin couldn't join me (with the dogs) for the weekend due to an impending audition, I set for the road. Caitlin was smart to describe the weekend as a great personal adventure, so I took the prescribed idea and made it a reality. 850 miles of driving, 50 miles of running and 3 days later I write this. Sitting at my desk looking forward to the next race, less than 4 weeks away, Miwok 100K. Until then...

"To give less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift"
Steve Prefontaine

Monday, February 16, 2009

Montana De Oro 50K - Saturday, February 15th 2009

All men should strive
to learn before they die
what they are running from,
and to, and why.
~James Thurber

My first Ultra in California the Montana De Oro 50K...What does that mean anyway? It was the first over 26.2 mile race that I've completed in California, a 50K / 31.5 miles... make that errr 34ish... Well I got lost a few times, but that's only the beginning.

Why do I do this to myself? Do I like the pain, the exhaustion, the planning? Sometimes I ask myself these things when I get to the 'let's dig deep for motivation' moments. And honestly, I feel like one of my reasons is for bragging rights. But who cares? I shouldn't be doing this for anyone other than myself.

Saturday was a difficult day my friends. Well, the weather turned out in my favor... cool (about 45 degrees at the start), sunny, BUT windy as hell (up to 60mph winds at Valencia Peak - the highest elevation point in the race... literally it was like being in a wind tunnel, doing everything you can not to fly off just to touch the hand painted sign that says I MADE IT now turn around). At 8:30 I went out with what looked to be about 75 or 100 others to go for a quick run in Montana De Oro state park, just northwest of San Luis Obispo right along the Pacific ocean. The race comprised of 2 X 15.5 miles loops with a cumulative elevation gain of 6400 ft.

Going into this, I'm thinking 'hey it's just a 31 mile training run'.... this time I have support, not like my usual weekend escapades in the Santa Monica Mtns, where I've been logging many 20+ miles weekend runs. I'm happy to find myself here, but know it's going to be tough, like my Bandera coach Robert Henyen told me 'this is not a feel good sport'. As Caitlin (with Dolly and Tosca in the car) sent me off I started to feel the nerves. 'Hell, I've done a 100K before and in Bandera nonetheless, I CAN run a 50K anywhere!'... What an ego, jeez.

I start at a gentle pace. Letting others pass, I pass, we pass each other.... then we all climb. I hit Valencia Peak for the first time (about 4.5 miles in) and let loose on the way down. Now if there is one thing I can say that enjoy it's fast, technical downhill trail. I enjoy it thoroughly. The nastier, the more twisted, the better. I scoot down and it's near mile 7. I stop at the first (and only aid station) to get some water eat some fresh orange slices and quickly after, I pull out and I'm back on the trail. Then the trail turns to sand. I think, 'oh fuck, they expect us to run on this' and I jump up the ridge of the trail and bushwhack my own route through the weeds instead. At some moment I make it to a 3-way unmarked turn. This my friends is the moment I should have turned around, but instead in the heat of the race I looked at the next person over and followed them, only to burn about 15 minutes on a 1.5 detour.

Ok, back on track. The second half of the first loop climbs you up to another ridge line with amazing views. But the wind was so harsh I kept on bracing myself, and having to put my jacket / gloves back on due to the cool chills. Once atop the first ridge you get a prospective of where you are headed.... very far away from where you started. Along the crest of the trail, from top to top, then back into the canyon where you have a nice, flat, yet boring 2.5 mile fire road run.

I get back to the aid station and grab some different socks in my drop bag. Sit down to change, get water, and eat some food. By this time, doubt sets in. Doubt or hesitance? Confusion or just exhaustion? I've run for 3.5 hours, endured the sickest winds and I'm feeling tapped out. Well, I have too much pride, so I get back on my feet and say 'see you in a few miles' to the aid station volunteers as I hear back up to Valencia peak. Now I'm getting pathetic. I'm saying to myself, you might as well just run the peak then quit, that way you're at least already getting in a 20+ mile run.

I make it to the peak. But this time I almost can't get down due to the hard gusts of wind pushing me upward. I have to nearly sit and wobble down, but I make a few big steps pushing my body unnaturally forward and I make it off the highest part. As I twist around the corner, I pick up speed. About that same time I see a woman and her son hiking to the top, and take note as I rush to pass by them going down. Then BAM! I slip going AS FAST AS I CAN down hill along the edge of a VERY SCARY ridge. My left foot hugs the edge, then it gives way. My right foot struggles to get a grip against the trail, but by this time I've already hit the ground and rolled.... OVER THE EDGE. I do one more roll and grab hold to the shrubs that touch the edge. The woman and her son hurry close, she gets down to the ground and offers me a leg to grab and pull myself up with. All I can think is how stupid this is, and right when I try to move I look at my right leg and I can't move it I have a HORRIBLE charlie horse. What the fuck is a charlie horse anyway??? Ugh. I grab another shrub, then another and help myself up. I get to my feet and whelp with a nice growl of pain from my leg, and all the razor looking scrapes I've received from my fall. A fellow runner comes by to let me know how graceful it looked as I tell him,
'hey did you see me fall off the cliff?'

I make it around a corner, and start to wince with pain from my leg. Now it's time to quit. DNF = DID NOT FINISH. Is that how it's going to be? Now I have to quit? Nope. I keep on. Making it to the aid station yet again for my last 8 mile trek. Now I'm a zombie, I've lost time by getting lost, had the worst running-related fall ever, and I'm on the verge of a mental breakdown. I push past this, and try to zone out. Not think about anything. Just listen. CCR, Tribe Called Quest, Guns and Roses... Whatever was on my ipod, I went to. I didn't care anymore. I had to run far enough away to give myself no choice but to run back. I make it ALL the way out and start my way back. I'm toast, but I've decided with about 4 miles to go that even if I have a steep climb, I'm running. I've been out for over 6.5 hours and run 30 miles. FUCK IT..... I can run another 4 miles.

I make it to the finish to yell 'THANK YOU GOD' and make a few more screams for myself, only to look at one shy volunteer and say 'hey that was pretty anticlimactic', and she smiled. And so did Caitlin, Dolly and Tosca. My crew, all there with smiles to bring me warm clothes, hot soup, and relief.

7:13:48, and I told Caitlin.... I'll be done in 6 hours FOR SURE.... 5.5 if I'm having a good day.

Now, I don't mean to be coy or abrupt, but these races can be hard. Hard on your feet and head. I'm going to take this week to rest both my body and mind. I need to rediscover my motivation. Maybe it's time to bench the Miwok 100K dream for a bit, and live my own life. What am I afraid of, judgement? Hell, half of you reading this would be glad to see me pick up another fun pass time, rather than continuing down this dark path. I guess once you get a taste, you want more, but to be smart you have to know your limits and be empowered to choose your own path, despite what your ego may want.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

31st Annual Santa Monica-Venice Christmas 10K - 12/13/08

Earlier this month I enlisted the help of a runner named Jimmy Dean to help me train for my second 100K race, the Miwok 100k. Before we could nail down a training plan, he needed to see where my fitness level currently was. And to be quite honest, I've been ready to get a better assessment also.

Here I go. 7:30 am, I'm at the start with my friends Eric and Kelly. It's my first race in California. And a very festive-themed one also, the 31st Annual Santa Monica-Venice Christmas 10K. The gun goes off and so I follow. My heart begins an anxious beat, followed by another and another. I quickly start checking my Garmin like a speedometer. The only three things on my mind from start to finish are how fast I am going, how hard am I breathing, how much energy do I have left. I'm hovering at a 6:45-7:15 / mile pace. Back and forth, faster and slower. I decide that I want to negative split (my second 5k to be faster than the first), and around mile 3 I realize I'm cooking about as hot as I can, and I better just go with the flow. My second decision is to pull away around mile 5. And so I push a little harder, but all I can do is stay steady, with maybe a few quick bursts. Speaking of bursts... now I decide, and this is typical of any race I do, that in the last quarter mile I'm going to sprint for the finish. Well, I really tried, but then I felt a quick heave come from deep inside. I keep it cool, coast, then hit the engines with about 50 feet to go.


Time: 43:39... a NEW PR (personal record) by over 2:37!
Pace: 7:02/mile

#10 in my age group! But, what aways gets me is when I look at other results and realize, that if I ran a 6:50 pace... I could have contended for 5th position. Well, I know I can do it. So, I'm going to. I'm going to run another 10K at a 6:50 pace.

Onward towards January 10th. That's the day I find out if I made it into the Miwok 100K. My destiny.