Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Since the last post, I ran the Leona Divide 50 Miler in April, and the PCT 50 in May. Both races were uneventful and more or less just training for this race, I did improve my time on the Leona Divide by 15 minutes, from 2009, and it was the 1st time I ran the PCT 50. Anyways I enjoyed both races, and will definitely run them both again next year.
Leading up to SD100, I did minimal training, and more resting. The training I did do were long slow miles, with lots of elevation changes. The problem with that was I put on about 10 lbs, to an already overweight running weight, but I did show up on race day uninjured and ready for the long haul. My goal was to run a sub-24 hour race, and I had all the aid stations timed, for when I needed to be there.
The Friday before the race I had to work overtime, and while most contestants were resting at the start line, I was working, and driving till nearly dark. I was actually a bit sore, from crawling around on scaffold, and lifting heavy stone all day. But the workday was soon over and I made good time to East San Diego, considering Friday traffic...
I was lucky enough to share a camp spot with my friends, and slept well in the back of my truck,even though it was quite cold.
During the pre-race breakfast, I ran across a few more friends, which put the energy level on high. Soon we were all at the start line and at 7am we were off. I started way too far in the back, and found myself walking too much behind some real slow people, on the single track trail. It probably was not that big of a deal, but was aggravating, and frustrating trying to pass them.
The trail circumnavigated around Laguna lake, and wound its way through a pine tree forest, known as the Laguna Wilderness Area. The trail was soft and easy running. About 8 miles later, we were at Meadows Aid Station. Grabbing a couple of GU's, and refilling my hydration pack I was soon off for the next aid station, Red Tail Roost.
Not wasting time, I just grabbed some fruit, refilled the pack, and was soon, running on my favorite trail, the PCT. By now it was warming up, and I took advantage of the drinking fountain the trail passes. I was on a perfect sub-24, schedule, and I just kept up the same pace to Todd's Cabin, the next Aid Station, mile 18.6.
The next section to Penny Pines Aid Station, things really began to warm up and upon leaving, we were now 23.6 miles behind us. I was still on a perfect schedule, and soon we were dropping into Nobel Canyon. The trail here was steep and rocky, but was mostly in shade and along a cascading creek. I kept soaking myself and was soon cooled down and running real strong. But this was short lived, when the trail exited the canopy of oaks, and was skirting along the desert shrubs.
Upon reaching Pine Creek Aid Station, mile 31.3, I was still on schedule, but the heat was beginning to take its toll. I kept my electrolytes, and salt intake balance with huge volumns of water, but I could tell it was going to be a hard climb out of that canyon. First though we had to traverse around a mountain, some 5 miles, back to Pine Creek Aid Station, making it 36 miles even.
Knowing this was going to be a long hard climb, I filled my pack up to full capacity, and hydrated as well as I could without wasting too much time and began making the long climb back up to the PCT. We were now walking on hot blacktop and it was soon too steep too run. After 2 1/2 miles the blacktop turned to dirt road, where a lady from the previous years race, was waiting with Popsicles. Tasting good, but not enough to hit the spot, I just kept going at now a very slow pace. I had after 40 miles into the race fallen behind my need pace, and really did not care. I just wanted to get to the top to the next aid station and rehydrate. I was running low on water, and that was my only concern. The trail just seemed to go on forever, winding its way to the crest. Eventually you could see the Sunrise highway, and knowing Pioneer Mail Aid Station was on the other side, was a bit of a low point, for it was still so far away. But eventually it got closer, and I was running down to it. In this past section I passed so many wiped out people, one in particular, was sitting on a rock, looking like death. I told him to get up and if things were that hard, to just go slower, he was way ahead of the game. He did just that.
Now at mile 44.1, I just kept plugging along, but the good part was, it cooled of and after drinking nearly 5 gallons of water, I finally was urinating, things were beginning to look better. I knew though, I was not going to do a sub 24, and I think that is where the race began to be fun. From here, I paced a girl, whom was running her first 100, and doing quite well. By the time we got to Sunrise Aid Station, It was cool, windy and the sun was down.
Here, I changed shoes, socks, gathered my lights, and ate some warm food. I was soon running strong again and was glad to be past the 1/2 way point. I was now picking one person at a time pacing them until I felt strong and then pass them for the next pacer. In the dark we came to Stonewall Mine Aid Station, where I sat down and had a couple of grilled cheese sandwiches, and soda. I was now eating well, and feeling great. A cheerful mood was short lived though as we climbed the next hill, It seemed to go on forever, it was cold as well, but the hard work kept away the chills. Breathing fog to the point of loosing vision of the trail, we were soon coming down hill, gazing across the canyon at the headlamps on the next hill to be climbed.
At mile 64.2 we were at Paso Pacheco Aid Station. There wer many runners here, and I did not stay long, due to the temperature. I needed to keep moving. The neatest thing about this section is a stone that has dozens of Indian Mortars on them. I have never seen so many anywhere in my outdoor travels. Anyway the trail climbs the hill that we saw all the lights on earlier, and finally levels out in a marshy area, that is hard to keep dry. Then makes its way down to a trail that skirts the 79 highway. The only problem here is it never seems to end, but eventually, Sweet Water Aid Station comes into site, glowing, in the otherwise dark, light less valley.
Here at mile 72.3, I ate more grilled cheese, a quessodilla, and some soda, while relaxing in a chair. Not long though, I was again running along the canyon floor, crossing creeks in under now, a pair of fading flashlights. Gradually though, the trail turns to dirt road and begins climbing back up the canyon, eventually turning into a steep rocky ascent. It was during this climb I crossed a creek and slipped and got soaked.
On top of the ridge line the trail crossed a road of blinking red lights, and skirted gradually to the top of the crest and made its way back to Sunrise Aid Station. Now at mile 80.3, I changed back into my old shoes, ate some potato soup, and a cheeseburger, and a recovery drink. I popped a Caffeine pill and took off in a fast hike. I could barely see the trail now due to my headlamp batteries, but it was 4 am, and the first hint of day was just around the corner. I soon ran into a friend, perched on a rock with his pacer looking frustrated, and together we pushed on. We were soon at Pioneer Mail Aid Station, mile 87.5, where I had another grilled cheese. It was now light out, and easier to run. Things began to go a bit more quickly for we could see the end of the tunnel, so to speak.
At mile 91.5, Penny Pine Aid Station, I had a Pancake and a couple of Advil. I then left my friend with his Pacer, and began chasing down a girl with her pacer. Soon after, a couple of guys, then another girl and a pacer. I was soon at The Rat Hole Aid Station, where I ate some grapes and reloaded some water.
I was not gone long when I heard the crowd behind me cheering on the tailing runners. Soon another girl and her pacer came speeding by. At first I just let her go, but soon I found myself pacing them. Realising she was haveing a hard time I just stayed behind, regaining my strength, and waiting for the right moment. We soon came up on another girl, who was solo, and a sign saying 1 mile left. I then bursted around the leading girl and put about 100 meters between us, when I made the final turn. She was sprinting and the crowd was yelling, "catch him". I made sure I still had a sprint left, while she was sprinting, and I came in just seconds before her. I finished at 26:24 according to my watch.
It felt great to sit down, and finally stop, but in all reality, 100 miles are my favorite distance to race. It is a real test of endurance. The event is really an Adventure, and just completing is a worthy accomplishment. I can not wait for next year to attempt another sub 24 again.
I was also very impressed with the entire race, the Aid Stations, the Swag and the overall organization. This race has really developed to a class A race! Thanks everyone for helping make my day into a unforgettable time!