Monday, September 29, 2008

Website Moved

Hey All...

I wanted to let you know I've decided to transition my running blog to wordpress.

My new website is:

See you there! I had a really cool 3km family fun run this weekend with my wife and 2 boys that I just wrote about.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Skyline to Sea 50km

As I sit here writing up a brief race report, I have quite a few friendly reminders of last Saturday's race: My left pec, the back of my head and the inside of my right knee all itch with the 3 day remenants of a brutal yellowjacket attack. "Luckily" I've experienced this before and I think I'm building up an immunity to the pesky critter's venom :-) Needless to say races in Big Basin in August - September have never failed to pen ultrarunners against nature's yellow stinging beasts. I'm happy to annouce that the ultrarunners are 2-0!

Before going into the drama of the run, I must say the Skyline to Sea 50km was absolutely wonderful. Although this was only my 4th 50km race I set a personal record of 5:16:46 good for 36th place out of 181 runners. This will be a marque race for years to come and rightfully attracted a number of VERY fast runners. As one runner said, "This is like a mini Western States". I was satisfied with my time and place - but recognize room for future improvement.

My morning started at 4:30AM. I was at the Greyhound Rock bus stop at 6:15AM. I shared a bus seat with Georganna Quarles, a great ultrarunner and 3 time Ironman finisher, I met during last year's 3 step run. She'll be running next year's Western States and is planning on running 2010's Badwater. And... she's 54. Wow! We arrived at Saratoga Gap and settled in - holding onto our warm clothes until the last possible moment before stuffing them into a drop bag to be transported back to finish. I spend some time talking to Mike Weston about the great run over Black Mountain into Rancho San Antonio! We crossed highway 35 to start the run at 9:00AM. I caught a glimpse of one of the 1st place winners, Lon Freeman. Wow, dude has huge quads!

We were off at a brisk pace cutting through redwood forests shrouded in morning fog. Down the steep drop offs, which also skirted highway 9, there were old cars that had flown off the road and left to rust. I settled in behind 2 guys that I knew only from message boards: Steve and Craig. And, it wasn't long before the first attack happened. Craig got hit on his right wrist just before the first aid station. He was a bit shaken but okay.

We rolled into Waterman's gap aid station that was being worked by Stan Jenson. And guess what... he recognized our CRC shirt! He said, "Coastside Running Club, that's Ron Little's group isn't it?" I said it sure is! I introduced myself and thanked him for his volunteer work then sped off.

The next stretch between Waterman's Gap and China Grade was mostly uneventful aside from another small yellowjacket attack. I got hit 2x - others about the same.

Steve, Craig, and I hit the China Grade aid station and I was the last to leave, trailing them by about 10 seconds. About 1/4 mile out is when the big attack happened. Steve and Craig began flailing and screaming which turned into wind sprints mixed with random jumping and lots of self-slapping. I however heard them then immediately stopped, ran back 5 steps and stopped. I looked forward at the trail ahead and saw Steve and Craig on the other side of a 2 foot wide BALL of yellowjackets hoovering in the center of the trail. Within the span of 5 seconds I thought, "okay what am I going to do?" Well I could run back, but why? Where am I going to go? Ummm, this is a race. So, I pulled down my sunglasses and CHARGED right through the swarm. I got stung and bit numerous times. It hurt, yes, a lot. I too began the strange sprinting bee attack dance that involved self-slapping...

As most ultrarunners do, we helped each other by slapping bees off one another for the next 1/4 mile.... while continuing to run and traverse some moderately technical single track. It was quite a challenge! Steve gave my back one last check then sprinted ahead. It was then I spotted another bee on him, in a not so friendly place. I yelled, "Steve, there's a bee in you ass crack!" He didn't hear me... then both Craig and I yelled in unison... while laughing (we really couldn't help it). This time it registered with Steve and he cleared his derriere without incident :-)

Some miles went by as we joked about the attacks. Then we heard a scream up ahead. Craig and I braced for an attack. It stopped being funny really quick! To our relief the scream up ahead wasn't an attack, but Mike Nuttall taking a hard spill. There were 2 people helping him and he was up and walking by the time we arrived. All was good and there was HUGE relief that we were not going to be attacked again!

We rolled into Big Basin and hit the park loop (the only significant climb of the course). I used it to energy up and when we crested the hill I took off like wildfire. I bolted down the Meteor trail feeling great and passing runner after runner. I hit the aid station supplied up for the 8 mile stretch between aid stations and took off keeping my same quick pace. I burned down to Berry Creek falls really pushing my quads knowing that I was going into energy depletion. My legs were hinting at being sore and my energy was dropping signaling it was time to hit 2 GUs and increase my calorie intake and pull back my pace.

Well, to my HORRIBLE surprise I flipped my waist pack around and the zipper was completely open. I reached in and EVERYTHING had fallen out. 3 GUs, 2 packs of Cliff Shots... all gone. My mind immediately sunk! I did have my 30 oz. bottle with Perpetuem but that was almost done. To attempt to pull myself out of an impending energy null I drank everything. But, it didn't help. I soon ran out of water/perpetuem. The only variable I had to control was my pace. I ran on the borderline of bonking for a good 4 miles - speeding up when I could and slowing down or walking when needed. I shared my plight with Steve who caught up to me and he graciously shared a GU. He was awesome. The bonking was a good exercise in energy-pace management but not something I'd like to repeat.

Finally the last aid station, with 3km left to go to the finish. I had 2 cups of Coke, 1 GU, and filled my bottle with water. I was off and my energy slowly picked up. I brought in a strong finish of 5:16.

I'd do it again next year... I had a wonderful time!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Ramping Back Up

The Headlands 50 miler and the 12 Hour Cool run left me a bit hobbled. My left front shin was quite sore in a very localized area. And my left hamstring was sore. After much ice and 2 weeks of rest I'm feeling much better. I was cross-training a bit - playing softball for 2 days a week in addition to 3 short runs of 2, 3, and 5 miles.

Yesterday I jumped back into my old routine of running to work. My wife dropped me off at Monte Bello Open Space Preserve and I summitted Black Mountain then dropped down into Rancho San Antonio. Because I was behind schedule I shot across the unmarked short-cut trail to the PG&E lookout, cutting the run down to 12 miles.

Overall my leg felt great. I'm very happy to be back running. I did feel that my endurance has suffered some but I'll take that scenario any day over injury.

Next up: Skyline to Sea 50k on Sept. 20th
Big Race: Dick Collins Fire Trails 50 miler Oct. 11th

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Headlands 50 - Feeling Good and Breaking 11 Hours

In an amazing conclusion to a set of back-to-back races for me, this Saturday I completed my first 50 mile race in the Marin Headlands - Headlands Hundred (the 1/2 way version). My goal going in was simply to come in within 12 hours. I would be ecstatic to complete the course in a Western States qualifying time of 11 hours. However, mentally I was completely set to finish in 12 hours - primarily because my legs HAD to be tired from last weekend's 45 mile race! Right?

Jumping forward a bit, I completely took myself by surprise finishing with a VERY strong 10 hours 37 minutes! I exceeded my "pie in the sky" dream of 11 hours by 23 minutes. I couldn't have been happier especially considering how much fun I had out on the trail. Go figure, it was fun this time. Not grueling mindless plodding, but genuine fun - a runner's high start to finish.

My wife, Jen, and I drove into Rodeo Beach at 6:15 from Hayward. Note to self: If you're privileged enough to have your wife crew at least pick up coffee in the AM! Right off the bat we met a gentleman parking next to us with a wonderful laugh whom I'd cross paths with a few times throughout the race: Ernesto Matal Sol. Great guy, guaranteed to bring a smile to your face! It wasn't long before I spotted Ron and Eric. I finished my race prep. work then said "hi" and posed for a pre-race picture. I missed Mike Weston at the start though :-( but I'd see him on the trail later.

Shortly before 7 AM Wendell assembled everyone at the start-line. He gave us the normal PCTR run-down of ribbon colors, stripped, turns to look for, etc. 57 people lined up for the 100 mile course and 117 for the 50 miler. Eric, Ron, Mike, and I all lined up for the 50 mile race of which we would all finish but overall only 86% of the field completed. The race was on and although I really wanted to chat with Eric and Ron a bit the 2 of them blasted out of the gate much faster than I had planned to go so I settled back into various groups of fellow runners - chatting here and there.

The Race Begins:

I quickly started to work on my hydration and fueling plan which was rather simple: drink approx. 20 oz. - 28 oz. of water between aid stations and consume 1 Cliff Block every 15 minutes. I would do this to Pantoll. Then I'd switch to a 20 oz. 2x bottle of Perpetuem and a 28 oz. bottle of water. Electrolyte wise I took 1 Salt Stick cap on the hour (230mg. of Sodium) and if there was any hint of cramping I'd take another right then - it never exceeded 2 per hour though. I'd also partially bite the tablets when taken, just enough to taste a little salt. Mixed in with all my caloric intake and electrolytes I'd eat potatoes, fruit, trail mix, and drink 1 cup of Coke at every aid station. And, I took GUs when feeling just a hint of a low energy or needed a boost to power up a hill. In total I took about 6 GUs.

The trip up to Pantoll was relatively uneventful - although the flats out of Muir Beach did drain my legs a bit. Honestly I was expecting the climb up to Pantoll to be much worse; it really wasn't that bad. I emerged at Pantoll with my beautiful wife, Jen, there to greet me. She had my bag out and I quickly did some very poor blister control and re-powdered my feet. The aid station was soooo chaotic at this point - the ranger was out threatening people to move cars or else and to pay their parking permits. Needless to say many were pre-occupied. I stayed a bit longer than I would have liked but Jen was wonderful throughout - even racing back to the car to get a 20 oz. water bottle.

I started the run out to Bolinas Ridge, a phenomenal view with a trail that just doesn't quit: long, narrow, and horrible footing at times. It was here that I began seeing the front-runners. My spirits were way up and I gladly bounced to the side, yielding to others and throwing out a "looking good". Off in the distance I saw my first CRC shirted runner. I exclaimed "RON LITTLE! Looking good. Nice Pace" Although Ron looked good, he casually mentioned his low energy level or something to the effect of not feeling well. I pressed forward a bit weary that Ron had a 6 mile lead on me, suddenly feeling a tad slow. Then 1 mile later another CRC shirt in the distance. I yelled out, "Eric, looking good!" Eric said he'd recognize that yellow hat anywhere - we shook hands and pressed on. Eric was 4 miles ahead of me. What a boost seeing those guys on the trail and they were hauling butt!

I finally made it to Bolinas Ridge, the mental halfway point, and got a good boost of energy. I was ecstatic to see that Jen was there after she mentioned she might not have the gas to make it. She hooked me up with ice in my bandanna another Perpetuem and water then I was off. The trip back was made so much easier with the ice on my neck. That was fabulous and a must do for all races. I caught a lot of runners on this section and can contribute that to the ice that kept my body temp down and solid fueling. A lot of runners were being sapped of energy here - it's a long exposed section and mentally difficult to tackle. I felt good, really good throughout.

I passed Mike Weston on his way out to Bolinas Ridge, cheered him on, and shook hands. He looked kind-of-spent but still strong... immediately rattling off my mileage lead over him. Great job out there Mike.

I made it back to Pantoll, finally catching up to female ultra phenom Roberta Mcgraw (she's a solid hill climber). Jen was there to greet me, prep. another ice bandanna, and swap water / Perpetuem bottles. I ate some fresh fruit and grabbed a few Paydays for the road and was off. Close by was a gentleman I nicknamed mini-Dean. I don't know his real name but he had the build of Dean K. even wearing the visor. He had been trailing me for sometime, making runs at me then fading back. It was here that I finally left him behind for good :-) with Roberta just ahead.

It was a mile out of Pantoll that things got emotional for me. At the return cut-off to the right at Old Mine road was a huge commotion: 2-3 fire trucks, and a park ranger. As I approached I asked a fireman, "Is everything okay?". His response would hang with me for more than a few miles.

"It is now. An older gentleman just had a heart attack and died."

"It happens here almost everyday. Watch out, there's another truck coming up."

I hit a mental wall at that very moment. I continued on following those silly pink ribbons while my mind flashed scenes of 2 weeks past. You see, on July 22nd something horrible happened and what I saw and heard on that hill brought it blazing back to the forefront of my mind. The founder of our small 30 man company, a good friend to all, and a wonderful mentor in engineering and life Jack Anderson died here at work of a heart attack. On August 9th, I saw him again laying in the parking lot while co-workers James, Ed, and Dean started CPR - everyone else looked on, with hope. I shed a few tears re-living the moment at mile 37. And reached out to an old-time ultrarunner that was just ahead. I chased him down, I told him of the incident on the hill above and his response was EXACTLY what I needed.

"Well, if he was a older runner that's how I'd want to die - running the trails."

I responded, "Wow, I didn't think of it that way. Thank you." He then charged down the descending fire road and forward into the Heather Cutoff switchbacks. It was then that I snapped to and felt my left leg seemingly cramping up. I caught up on my salt and hit the water in hopes of fixing things. It waned a little but still persisted. The images soon faded but none were forgotten. I was almost done.

Muir Beach arrived and I spoke with Will Gotthart and Fred Ecks about the heart attack and asked if all the runners were okay. They knew nothing of it, meaning it's likely not a runner. Jen wasn't there; I fueled up and sped off eager to see her at Tennessee Valley. I caught up to another ultrarunner on the climb who was a 5x veteran of the 50 miler. He encouraged my goal of 11 hours and said you have it in the bag. In fact if you bomb these hills you could break 10! So I tried, but not knowing the course that wasn't going to happen. I did however pass 3-4 people who where just beat.

Tennessee Valley finally! Jen was there and it was awesome. She told me I looked great and passed a friendly reminder that I was only 4 miles away. I told her and the aid station volunteers that my left was cramping. They grilled me on my salt intake (I passed - 3 pills in the last 1.5 hours and lots of water). They told me to eat a banana. I did and it didn't help. I got a partial water bottle fill then took off.

Only 4 miles to the finish. I've got this done right? Holy crap that's not "just 4 miles!" That 4 miles contained the steepest grade hills yet! Ohhhh and then just to toast your feet and quads you'll have you run downhill on pavement! And better yet how about dropping down a few hundred feet of stairs! Ohhh yea, then some more pavement! Ouch!

Fortunately my quads were okay today. No problem. I passed 2 guys on the downhill 1/2 mile stretch into the Finish clocking in 7 min/miles. The cheering was phenomenal. Everyone was yelling go Franz. I heard Jen cheering. I saw Eric standing at the finish and Ron setting up for a finishing photo. What a terrific ending to a great race! I LOVED this one!

I'd like to especially thank Jen for her fabulous job and crewing for the first-time. She even stepped up and took care of Ron in Tennessee Valley. She's so wonderful!

Because I like Ron's Good Thing / Bad Thing summerization, I'm going to follow suit:

Good Things:
--- Pace - Excellent
--- Hydration - Good. Could have been improved on Muir Beach - Pantoll (Only had 28 oz. bottle of water for exposed biggest climb of the day). Also at last Tennessee Valley stop get a full fill of water; I only had 1/2 bottle.
--- Fueling - Excellent.
--- I had a GOOD time! I had such a fun time out there and never once felt like I was suffering!
--- I got an interesting life lesson bundled up in an ultra package.
--- It's so great running with other CRC members. That really personalizes the experience.
--- My wife, Jen. Excellent first-time crewing, hopefully with many more races to come.
--- Not running the course before. Really, this one is better left to the unknown :-)

Bad Things:
--- That leg cramping turned out to be a strained muscle. The next day I had visible bruising in the area of my left shin and left calf. This explains why the "cramping" was only in one leg and not both and not responding to electrolytes. I did take 200 mg of Motrin at mile 37 then again at mile 42. I was very hesitant to take pain killers on a run. By doing this I'm risking short-term relief for potential longer-term injury. Two days later I'm okay but am still following rest, ice, compression, and Ibuprofen. I hope all is well!
--- My shoes were a 1/2 size too large causing my feet to slide around slightly.
--- That's it. Really.


Monday, August 4, 2008

12 Hours at Cool Night Run

The much anticipated 12 Hours at Cool Night Run is complete and I couldn't be happier with my performance: I achieved my goal of 5 loops or 45 miles - the farthest I've ever run!

A group of about 80 people gathered behind the Cool Firehouse to run the Olmstead loop (9 miles with an aid station at mile 5.5). While in the parking lot we met some horse riders. After letting Eli say "hi" to the horse, they asked how far you running today? Our friend Beth said 12 hours. The rider looked confused... "you mean you're done in 12 hours?". "Yup, 7 AM." The horse rider said "may God bless you" while tracing out a cross on her chest. Such is the typical reaction to hearing about an ultra. I love it!

I'm always amazed that I actually know people at races now - mostly because I'm not the most social guy. I knew the race director Nancy, the parking volunteer, the birthday boy Mariano, I recognized Ray Sanchez, and a load of online forumites of which I know by RunnerWorld posts but not in person. Not to mention the new friends I met.

Lap 1 (0 - 9 miles)
After our 6:45 briefing... at 7:00 we were off. I started mid pack and just took it easy walked the hills, checked my pace wasn't too fast, and worked on hydration and fueling. At the start I brought 2 water bottles because the air was so dry and at the pre-race I was abnormally thirsty. Soon I caught up to Christine Miller - someone I had ran with a lot during the High Sierra 3 Step last year. We knew each other well AND I knew she was GREAT at keeping a consistent yet swift pace over 20+ miles. We caught up on old times and shared some running stories: While pointing out the blackberry bushes along the trail she shared a story about how during a training run her and her husband ran out of water and ate blackberries for food/moisture. It's amazing the events that transpire in an ultra that make a simple blackberry bush symbolic to a VERY vivid running memory. I countered with great stories of my wife and my 2 kids.

Following a big climb (1 of 2) we reached the aid station run by the amazing Norm and Helen Klein! What awesome people! I had some Coke, potatoes, and trail mix... then we were both off. Another steep descent and the second big climb and before you knew it, it was only 1.5 miles until the Start/Finish. It was this time that the sun began to set. Christine brought out her light while I trudged on without, picking up speed heading into the aid station.

I loved the 1.5 mile run to the Start/Finish aid station. It had some rolling up and down hills, a few short quick descents, then finally a trail adjacent to highway 49 then you popped out at the Cool firehouse and ran a brief paved road the finish. A super fast section. At the completion of the first lap there was a huge cheering section (by trail running standards) that immediately put a smile on my face.

I hit the aid station for the typical trail mix, salted potatoes, and chips got a water fill of my 28 oz bottle and dropped off my 20 oz. I also picked up another 2 hour supply of Cliff Blocks all well before the 2 hour mark. I donned my headlamp and was off.

Lap 2 (9 - 18 miles)
Boy, I don't remember the specifics around this lap - this lap was hard on me. I was feeling tired and I felt my mind was attempting to trick me into stopping. I stuck to my original hydration and fueling plan... interacted with a few other runners. But, overall I just trudged along keeping an average 13min/mile pace. I fueled up at the 5.5 mile aid station (taking a good 3-4 minutes). I remember Norm commenting on how runners were eating at an incredible rate that night. He was just amazed! Again the long decent and steep ascent and in to the Start/Finish. At the Start/Finish I got caught eyeing the Jack Daniels and adjacent shot glass. The "devil on my shoulder" aid station worker said, "Go ahead, do it. You won't have been the first. Bev Anderson-Abbs is doing a shot every lap!" Although tempted I did not partake - Ahhh peer pressure!

Lap 3 (18 - 27 miles)
I left juiced with some RedBull and packing a 2 hour Perpetuem. I was cruising. In fact too fast at times - I caught myself doing sub 9 min. miles a few times (which I told myself I wouldn't do). The night began to hypnotize me. On my climbs I would turn down most of my lighting and watch the sky. WOW, was it DARK! I mean pitch black, amazing. And the stars were beautiful!

Lap 4 (27 - 36 miles)
With a fresh pair of socks and shoes I was off in comfort. Those road shoes had been killing my feet since the beginning of lap 3 and I was glad to be out of them. I also took 400mg of Motrin to settle the pain. Everything worked well. I was cruising, alone, but cruising. The night was lonely and for MUCH of the time I was alone. I got a little spooked, okay a lot sometimes. With a combo of my fatigue and solitude I was scared by my OWN shadow 3 times!!! My free hand would swing in front of my handheld light creating an ENORMOUS shadow that scared the freak'n hell outta me!?!?! It was VERY embarrassing! Other than that I was fine. I crested the hill to Norm and Helen's aid station... and this cracked me up. Norm would yell, "NUMBER, SOUP!" when you were still 50 feet from the table. This time I replied, "458 and YES!". The soup was good, really good. Shortly after I took off into the night to tackle the big hill once again. Funny thing was that with each successive lap the hill got shorter and shorter. I like that! I made it back to the Start/Finish, starred at the aid table again... snacked, reloaded my 2 hour Perpetuem then was off. By myself. No light ahead of me nor behind.

Lap 5 (36 - 45 miles)
I was driven by this lap being my last. I didn't have a firm concept of what time it was - I calculated a few times but the number would just wonder off in my brain somewhere. It really didn't matter anyway. I caught up to a lady speed walking with 2 poles that was very nice. I exclaimed, "Good Morning!" and she mentioned hearing the birds waking up. I parted ways while saying, "before you know it the sun will be up too!" I rolled into Norm and Helen's aid station once again. They said only 37 runners were still on the course. I bid my farewell and thanked them... telling them this was my last lap. Up the hill and through the speed track to the finish. I ran in fast, because the energy was there and solid. I was pleasantly surprised! I came in at 10 hours 25 minutes or so. Nancy asked are you going again? I said no, I can't do a sub 2 hour lap. She replied you look too fresh you have to head out for at least a 1/2 lap. Go, Go, Go. I calmly said, I have Headlands in < 1 week I'm done. She was okay with that and immediately told me I'm going to dust her at Headlands.

I spent the remaining time hanging out at the Start/Finish for 1.5 hours cheering finishers until Jen and the boys came to pick me up. I met some great people and saw some interesting finishes - some looked good, others look completely spent. One memory that stuck was yo-yo man. He strolled in wearing a bright red and yellow outfit while throwing 2 yo-yos and an 8 oz. bottle of Jack Daniels tucked in the front of his shorts. Unfortunately he had an additional surprise. When he turned there was a "wardrobe malfunction" and his right butt check was making a stark appearance! Ray Sanchez had a strong finish completing 6 laps and just missing the cut-off to head out for another 1/2 lap. I met Dave Schurr, a very friendly ultrarunner that just came off a strong 40+ hour Hardrock finish and is the course captain of the Wildest Run in the West. Dave was great and shared some awesome stories and ultra secrets. I also met 2 ladies, Melissa and Jennifer, that shared great ultra puking stories among many others.

Great time! I'd do it again in a heartbeat!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Preparation for 12 Hours at Night in Cool

Yea, I'm new to this long distance running stuff and not the best strategic planner (don't hire me to invade a hostile country Mr. Bush). But I'm turning a leaf here and mapping out a plan for my first 12 hour race and my first night race. Thanks, fellow CRC member George for your all wise guidance. It's likely necessary to both keep me fresh (as much as you can be) through the night AND for next weekend's PCTR Headlands 50 miler. Ummmm, what am I thinking?!?

So here's my Overall Plan plan:

Finish 5 laps or 45 miles. Have fun and keep it slow. If I feel good and I get in before the cut-off then consider a 6
th lap BUT save some for the Headlands 50 miler! Be wise and not ignorant – yes, this is smart Franz leaving a note for competitive Franz!

Lap 1 (7:00 – 9:00 PM) 9 miles

Pace: Start with a run flats/downhill and walk uphill plan as the trail permits. If this doesn’t work transition to a 5:1 run/walk ratio (10 minute run, 2 minute walk). I have a feeling the starting option will work best and it doesn’t require me to monitor my watch! Average pace across 9 mile loop should be 13 min/mile (2 hour lap).

Food & Hydration: Two 20 oz. water bottles per loop – refill at 5.5 mile aid station. Have 28 oz. water bottle in Start/Finish drop bag to switch if hydration is insufficient. Target calorie intake is 200 – 300 calories per hour. Start with Clif Shots (1 per 15 min or 120 calories per hour) and one GU per hour (90 calories)

Lap 2 (9:00 – 11:00 PM) 18 miles

Pace: Continue with the run flats/downhill and walk uphill plan. Average pace across 9 mile loop should be 13 min/mile (2 hour lap).

Food & Hydration: Two water bottles per loop – refill at 5.5 mile aid station. Use the same fueling as lap 1.

Lap 3 (11:00 PM – 1:00 AM) 27 miles

Pace: Continue with the run flats/downhill and walk uphill plan. Average pace across 9 mile loop should be 13 min/mile (2 hour lap).

Food & Hydration: Shift to a single serving bottle of Perpetuem (230 calories) and take 1 Ensure along (250 calories).

(15 min. buffer to 1:00 AM) LUNCH

Eat as tolerated pancackes, bacon, and some coffee.

Lap 4 (1:00 AM – 3:00 AM) 36 miles

Pace: Continue with the run flats/downhill and walk uphill plan. Average pace across 9 mile loop should be 13 min/mile (2 hour lap).

Food & Hydration: Two water bottles per loop – refill at 5.5 mile aid station. Use 5.5 mile stretch to digest. Get food at next aid station. Clif Blocks and/or GU.

Lap 5 (3:00 PM – 5:00 AM) 45 miles

Pace: Continue with the run flats/downhill and walk uphill plan. Average pace across 9 mile loop should be 13 min/mile (2 hour lap).

Food & Hydration: Single serving bottle of Perpetuem (230 calories) and take 1 Ensure along (250 calories).

Lap 6 (5:00 PM – 7:00 AM) 54 miles

Pace: Continue with the run flats/downhill and walk uphill plan. Average pace across 9 mile loop should be 13 min/mile (2 hour lap).

Food & Hydration: Single serving bottle of Perpetuem (230 calories) and take 1 Ensure along (250 calories).

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sequoia 50km - Three Down

So this is a back dated post from PCTR's July 19th 50km. The Sequoia 50km is my 3rd ultra. Here it is, Enjoy:

Sequoia 50km Race Report

This was the race of questions. The entire week prior I had death flu #2 (#2 being the operative word). In fact, I still had the flu. The morning before the race I crapped twice and was threatened by my bowels for more. 15 minutes before the 50k and 30k start time I was worried but held on, for better or worse. Wendell gave his spiel. Oh and I bought another UD bottle filled it with 1 serving of Perpetuem and stashed it in my "drop bag" and the start finish - I had access to it at the completion of the 30k loop.

My strategy? Work on fueling and take it easy. For one I was sick and secondly at the start I was in depletion, so I was at a huge disadvantage. I started with 1 UD 20 oz. bottle filled with water, 10 Salt Tabs, 2 Hammer Gels, 12 Cliff Shot Blocks, and 1 bag of Perpetuem. In my drop bag at the start/finish had a 2nd 20 oz. water bottle with Perpetuem and another 12 Cliff Shot Blocks (and more Salt Tabs if needed).

The race started at 8:30 AM and I positioned myself mid-pack. The first aid station was at mile 2(?) - super quick. I topped off on water and rolled on. We entered the redwoods, gorgeous redwoods. I found myself pacing behind some 30k racers. I came across another runner stopped ahead seemingly looking for someone. As I approached he confirmed I was also in the 50k and he began running with me. It turns out he thought he went the wrong way because he hadn't seen another 50ker for a while. I assured him he was going the right way. We see-sawed back and forth finally settling down into conversation pace. His name was Jeffery Johnston from Lincoln, CA (near Sacramento). His first 100 miler was to be 2008 Western States, but he was settling for Rio Del Lago. Interestingly he's also directing parking traffic for 12 Hours at Night at Cool. At the 30k spur we parted ways and I was off still following the unknown 30kers. I was a bit afraid they were slowing me down too much on the downhill. I've come to know that braking too much will burn your quads; at the end of the race my quads and hamstrings were sore!

I made it to the 2nd aid station. I re-filled with ICE water (preparing for the hot climb), ate 1 potato wedge, 3 bananna slices, and went to the bathroom. I was off in less than 3 minutes. I was keeping to my plan of 1 Cliff shot per 15 minutes. If I was late I still took the next one on-time. My energy levels we up; I felt good. I climbed out of the 30k spur and was soon back at the trail junction which was dirt road. I was exposed at times but nothing compared to the WS dirt roads along the American river {whew that was hot}. I began passing people on this mostly gradual uphill, which in retrospect was not a good idea. My HR was up too high and I was burning too many carbs. I don't recall my water situation but I *think* I ran out. I pulled into moon gate and got water with ICE in it. ICE is soooo good. 1.5 miles down the trail was the start finish and the conclusion of the 30k loop. I darted off to the aid station in a weird state of mind. Got a water bottle fill with ICE and, didn't eat anything! I had some Coke though. Nope, I shot over to my drop bag called Jen and left a message on her voicemail. "Sweetie, I'm ahead of schedule. It's 10 mins. 'til 12 and I have 20k to go. I think I'll make that in 2 hours." I was almost right - so much for those negative splits we all dream about. In actuality it took me ~2 hours and 40 minutes. I grabbed my extra 20 oz. Perpetuem filled water bottle and was off.

The beginning of the course has some steep shaded climbs. Those were hard. When I left the aid station I was low on energy still in a weird mental funk. My legs began aching and I couldn't hold a solid running pace on the flats. I started walking more than I'd like - really because I had no choice. I took the opportunity to hydrate and fuel. Soon Red lady snuck up on me stealth ninja style on an exposed uphill leading to a road crossing. We shared some hellos and spoke briefly of the gorgeous day. Then she was off. A few yards past the road crossing was the Moongate aid station, our last aid for 11km. I knew it would be a *little* tight on water. Even so I only got a partial fill on my water bottle and didn't fill my Perpetuem bottle at all. I'd say total I went out with 20-25 oz. of water. I was alone out there for a long while - in the new growth redwood forest. I was walking uphills and kind of running flats and downhills. My energy was low and the Perpetuem wasn't doing much at all. I yearned for hills just so I could walk. I felt my pace slowing and could feel the crowds of people pushing towards me - although I saw no one. My music was a minor distraction. I drank a lot, but still not enough. The French trail went on forever and then some. Then floating in like a mirage was a fellow 50ker. She zoomed in beside me and asked how I was doing. I responded, " I'm low on energy but otherwise good." She offered some food but I told her no thanks I have plenty. Then she floated on up the hill before me. She walked the hills like I but with far more grace and at least 2x the speed.

Finally I hit the Orcard trail junction then the West Ridge fire road (about 1/2 point back to Moongate aid station). I had 3.8 miles to go and had NO water AND was dehydrated. I still continued to eat but pulled back my pace some. My schedule of 1 shot block per 15 minutes had fallen apart back at the 30k mark when I forgot to grab my re-fill bag and realized I only had 1 block about 1 mile out of the aid station. Anyway, these last 3.8 miles were the hottest part of the course and I was really thirsty. I had taken a Hammer Gel back on the French trail that was definetely helping my energy levels pick up. But my legs, especially my calves, were sore from the cramping at the 30k mark. My legs were beat. Time dilates and you push ahead. One step at a time you're closer to concluding the race. I reminisced about how I felt in taking this loop the first time. "This is where I made my move on the tall guy with the weird gate that pushed his left leg out". This is where I passed Red lady. This helped distract me and before I knew it my barn soured running style was picking up pace. I could pick out land marks leading to Moongate aid station, closer and closer it came. Then finally it was there at the bottom of a nice downhill (it really does sneak up on ya). I rolled in and asked for water. Oh goodie they had ICE. I spoke briefly about running out of water to the wonderful lady as the fellow aid station worker coached someone on the phone to the zombierunner website. She reminded me, 1.5 miles to the finish... you're almost there. I pressed on ready to end my dehydrated day. I drank a few big sips of water but my stomach didn't like the sudden rush of fluid. There was grumbling but I was generally okay... just couldn't drink as much as I knew I should.

Down the hill I went. Towards the finish. What a beautiful course finish. Great, just great for a nice sprint in through a 100 yard meadow with a slight up pitch. I spotted the clearing and smelled the BBQ. I was time to bring it in. I was a good 3-4 minutes under the 6 hour mark but sprinted in regardless to the sparse clapping of the typical 50k crowd. I glanced around for Jen, Eli, and Max - maybe even Karen or Ravi but they were no where to be found. I was a bit sad, but understand. As it turned out they missed me by 10 minutes!

It was a great day and I was VERY excited to have done that well coming off Death Flu #2. My initial fueling strategy worked well. It's obvious that my hydration needs grow as the race lengthens - to a level I'm not yet familiar with. Some sure signs of dehydration for me are elevated heart rate, increase back pain, and ummmm... being thirsty. I need to bring more water with me: bigger handhelds, better fitting hydration pack, whatever the method.