Thursday, August 31, 2006

Last year was my first year running ultras. I entered a couple ultras in Oregon and had alot of fun. I learned about the Oregon ultra series and after viewing my age group results and how I compared, I thought I might have a chance of finishing in the top 3. Your score is determined by how many points are earned per race, with the top 4 race scores added for your total. I planned to run 5 out of the 7 races and included all the longer races since they score higher points. I'm not a fast runner, at my first race at Hagg Lake 50K, I won an award for placing exactly mid-pak! However, after a couple of races, due to who showed up and who I beat, I found myself in first place of my age group! I remained in first place through the first five races. Where's Waldo 100K would decide the winner of our age group by my careful calculations. Mike Burke would beat me, and just by finishing, I would wrap up second in my age group for the series. Way too cool!! Unfortunately, I didn't finish Waldo, so tonight I found that I'm now in 4th place, and could drop more after McKenzie River 50K. Hell's bells!!! I anguished over my decision to drop at Waldo a thousand times, but eventually chaulked it up to the vast unknowns of ultra racing. All in all, I'm very happy with my results this year. I'm still the fastest open heart survivor ultra runner. I won't compete in the series next year, want to do some races in Washington, but I will definitely go after that Waldo hat.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

They say half the fun is getting there and that was my experience for Waldo. I was to ride down with John, then back with Chris. We met at my house to caravan down to Willamette Pass, but as soon as we hit the freeway, Chris took off like a shot and we never saw her again until she pulled in right behind us at the pass. Meanwhile, we flew down I-5 with Colorado road trip music blaring and John talking non-stop on the cell about Cascade Crest. John began eating everything in the car, (about 3,000 calories!) including part of my lunch, then he made me drive because his leg was getting stiff (who was running the ultra the next day?). People gawked at the rest stop as John stuck his leg in a garbage can to stretch his hamstring(you know the drill). But the best was his money juggling magic trick. At the gas station, I tossed him a 20, with the window open and the wind blowing, the bill danced in the air as John juggled it with his hands several times and then it disappeared! We looked in the car but the 20 was gone. John launched out the door and started looking all over the gas station and roadside. Of course there was a long line of cars behind us, so I paid another twenty and as we took off, he anguished how he would never live this down. He even offered me a $100 to keep my mouth shut! As a true magician, when we got to the Willamette pass parking lot, John opened up the back door and pulled out the 20! We camped near the start line so it was easy to get up at 2am, wander over for coffee and a bagel and get ready for the 3am start. I started in second place so I wouldn't get wiped out by trail dust, but there were a bunch of fast runners in the start, so I let about ten go and settled in a pack led by Steve Peterson from my age group. We reached the 10 mile aid station just a few minutes early, woke up some bees, I guess they stung some of the regular starters. The climb up fuji mtn was great, but my stomach started going sour on the way to the Mt Ray station at mile 22 where John was working so I slowed up and Chris showed up and we ran into the aid station together. It was great seeing John there holding my drop bag, offering assistance and advice, but I was still in a funk. Chris said she was going to slow down, so as we left the aid station, she took off like a shot and I never saw her until the finish. I continued to feel worse as I climbed to the next aid station at 28 miles where their offering of pancakes made me gag. On the way to Charlton Lk aid station at 33 miles, my legs then my breathing started to go. At the aid station, I soaked in the lake, sipping coke, but my condition didn't improve and I dropped. I was very disappointed but felt I made the right decision. A few minutes later, Steve Peterson showed up and dropped out of his first ultra after completing 100 others! After a while, I caught a ride back to the start and slept for a few hours until the 4:00 BBQ started. The only good thing about dropping early was I could actually enjoy the BBQ. Meanwhile, John drove over to the Maiden Peak aid station at mile 50 which was a steep 3 mile hike from the road. I saw at the finish radio station that Chris showed up at Maiden Peak at 5:30, she was going to finish! At 8pm, 50 yards from the line, glancing over her shoulder, Chris spied her friend Erin just behind her, and of course, took off like a shot for the finish! She did a tremendous job in a very difficult race (30% of us didn't finish). All in all it was a great experience, great course(at least the first half!) and a tremendous race organization. I would recommend this race to anyone, and have a new found respect for anyone wearing a Waldo finisher hat!

Had a good race, finished at 9:45, more than a half hour quicker than last year (no falls). However, even though I ran faster, there was a faster field this year, last year I finished 41st, 4th in age group, this year 44th, 7th in age group! Heck, the second place finisher overall was 50! Friday night, I slept out on my cot, to my horror, there was a tower of mosquitoes overhead. I used my Western States hankerchief successfully as a bug screen (thanks John) until about 10 when the skeeters went to bed. The weather was perfect in the morning, cool and overcast. I had pace intervals set for finishing at 9:30, hung with a good group for the first six miles, then ended up running alone (as usual). Stayed on pace until the final climb, can't seem to move very well in the sand and got passed by a few people. Sat in a chair at the top for a couple of minutes, enjoying the view (it was now sunny and clear) and the aid station. Just as I was leaving the aid station, Clem was coming in, I've never beaten him before so I thought I better get going, However, after the downhill, I didn't feel very good for the next ten miles. I got passed by a couple of people and figured Clem would show up soon. Fortunatly, I came to life on the downhill just before the FS Rd 58 aid station, about mile 40, chugged down a couple of cups of mountain dew and took off. At the Little Crater aid station, Clem was just arriving when I left, so I took off and ran hard all the way in to the finish, passing several runners. Boy was that different! I was very happy about finishing strong and beating my last two intervals! I ended up beating Clem by over 10 minutes, but talking afterwards, he wasn't having a good day. I think I'm still in 1st place for the series, not sure because they haven't posted SOB results yet. Next is Waldo, got some sage advice from Clem and Todd Temple, a fast guy I met last year, and I'm doing the early start, can't afford to DNF:(

Had too much fun down at Sunriver, biking and rafting, forgot about tapering. The marathon started at 7am, 50 degrees, with about 150 runners. Two laps around Sunriver on rolling, winding asphalt bike trails with squirrels, prairie dogs, a deer, and scary vacationers on bikes! The start was actually about 8 blocks from the village, we walked behind a golf cart up and around a couple of roads to a timing mat on the bike trail. I started with heavy legs, a loaded bladder, and a goal to break 3:35 to qualify for Boston. First mile 8:30 (with pee break) too slow!, second mile 7:10 too fast!, Third mile 7:40, starting to settle down. First lap was ok, on pace for 3:30, then the temp started to rise, and I started to slow. The last 6 miles were mostly around open fields, great exposure to the sun, and it was hot! I settled into survival ultra pace (9:30's) kissed my Boston goodbye and waddled into the finish at 3:47 (which happens to be the same time for my last two marathons!) Luckly, the 6 other guys in my age group didn't fare any better, and I won my age group! Now I have a trophy beer glass and a medal, however, I have to find another marathon to qualify for Boston...