Sunday, September 22, 2013

Xterra 10K Trail Race at Snowbasin

I ran this race last year for the first time.  I was going to do it as a lark with my Pilates instructor as she had lost a bet to me and had to do a five mile run.  Instead, I decided at the starting line to push it and race.  Well, last year I ended up placing 23rd out of 80 runners and first in my age group.  My time was 57:??  My mistake?  I went out way too fast on the parade lap around the parking lot and by the time I got to the first climb, I was shot and hung on by my fingernails for the rest of the race.
This year I played it a bit differently.  I did a little bit of a warm up run just to get things loosened up.  When the cannon went off, I didn't bolt out of the gate.  I cruised it around the parking lot.  Near the front, but running within myself.
By the time I got to the first climb, I was ready to power up it.  I managed to pick  off all sorts of runners this year going up that climb.  Love it when I can let the trail and mountain running skills shine forth.  In addition, my plan was to push hard and expend just about everything on the four miles of climbing.  I knew that the last two miles were a screaming downhill and I could recover on that.
Well, things worked to pretty much perfection.  I was in the lead group and we were spread out.  I didn't have any other runners behind me.  Much different from last year.  I kinda like running out front, it's not as crowded.
When I finally hit the high point and started downhill, we met up with the slower 5K runners.  I bombed the downhill, pushing sub 7 minute pace pretty much the entire way to the finish.  Ah, the downhill, rocky trail practice does in handy.  Lots of people were picking their way down, I was flying past them.
The results?  Well, there were 150 runners this year.  I managed to eke out 15th place, 11th, male, and 1st in my age group again.  Not only that, my time was almost seven minutes faster than last year.  50:23.  Pretty happy day for me.  The old man can still finish in the top 10% when he gets lucky and knows what he's doing.
The one thing I noticed with my Garmin was that the course showed as 5.8 miles, not 6.2.  Not sure if my Garmin was off.  I didn't track last year's race, so I couldn't compare.  Here's a link to the course.  Oh, wore my heart rate monitor just for fun too.  I was pretty much redlined the entire time.  HR averaged 156 and was over 160 for quite a bit of the time.

Useful hardware, it's a beer bottle opener too!
Nothing like running a short race to remind me of why I do ultras.  This thing was hard, way too hard.  At least it was over fairly quick.  An now, back to my regularly scheduled ultras.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Wasatch 100-How to have a good time in the heat

Wasatch 100.  Just the words perk me up.  I first moved to Utah back in 2004 from the flatlands of Illinois and within two weeks had made my first trek up to Chinscraper.  I stood at the bottom, looked up and turned around and went back down.  Just looking up that face scared me.  The thought of going up that on race day was petrifying.  Once I got back down, I thought "this is stupid, how will I ever run Wasatch if I'm too scared to go up Chinscraper".  So two weeks later I made the trek again and this time forced myself up.  Since then, I've been up that face dozens to times, to the point where I really don't even need to use my hands anymore, just walk up it.
Chinscraper is just one of the many obstacles that you need to overcome in order to complete the Wasatch 100.  Well, this past Friday I started the race for the 7th time, and for the 5th time managed to overcome the obstacles in my path and finish.  Here's the blow-by-blow.

Curtis, Ryan, Harrison and I at the start.   Photo: Lori Burlison

As I do every time I run Wasatch (or any other 100 mile race), I learned a lot.  Here's what I learned......ooops, you'll have to wait until the end to find out what I learned.
My training this year has been ok, nothing to write home about, but sufficient to at least be able to finish Wasatch (hopefully).  I've always had the goal of going under 30 hours for this race, and I thought that just maybe this year I might be able to do it.
I went into Wasatch with a few long runs, but nothing over about 32 miles.  I was hoping that would be good enough.  I did manage to recon the last section to check out the new finish.  I had a good run at El Vaquero Loco three weeks earlier, some good elevation and climbing.
Race start - 5am - temperature - 75 degrees.  Holy cow!  It's usually in the low 50's when the race starts.  This did not bode well for most of the runners.  I was perfectly happy with it.  It meant I didn't have to stand there and freeze waiting for the start.
Once we started, I kind of settled into the middle of the pack.  Since I kind of had a time goal, I did this on purpose so I wouldn't be tempted to go out too fast.  I've learned that going out too fast is not a good thing.  One consequence of ending up in the middle is that it can be hard to pass people that early in the race.  312 people going down a single track before the sun comes up means it can be a bit crowded.
So anyway, the first section to Francis Peak went pretty uneventfully.  Weather was gorgeous, I made it up Chinscraper at about the time I normally do (7:30am), chatted with some friends until the crowd thinned out a bit.  I tried something a bit different this year.  
Early morning view from 9500'. We started way down at the bottom

Normally I don't run with music, but thought running with music might help me focus a bit better.  Take away some of the outside distractions.  It actually worked.  Since I've run this race several times plus I train here, I really didn't see the need to take in the scenery during the race.  With the music on, I was able to focus my eyes ten feet in front of me and just go.
I arrived at Francis Peak (18.76 miles) about 9:28, fastest time is 9:20, goal time was 9:10.  I was already 20 minutes behind but I felt great, and figured I could make it up somewhere.  Here I tanked up on a dose of Ultragen (320 calories) and left the aid station with a rice and bean burrito (in my drop bag, another 320 calories).  Yep, 640 calories down the hatch.  Seems like a lot, but I've found that tanking up on food at the aid stations is key to a consistent race for me.  I don't eat a whole lot in between because I don't want to.
Next up was the section to Bountiful B.  Not a fan of this section.  Almost a bushwack in years past, steep climbs, just not fun.  Well, this year Ryan Lauck, along with some fellow runners have done a lot of trail work on this section.  Some of the trail was rerouted, brush cut back, a couple of switchbacks installed on the steeper portions.  In other words, it wasn't too bad.  So, I made it to Bountiful B (23.95 miles) at 10:52, fastest time was 10:42, my goal time was 10:30.  Well, I didn't really lose time, but I didn't make up any either.
The next section to Sessions Liftoff Aid (28.23 miles) is all dirt road or 4x4 trail.  Not difficult at all.  Nice views since you're mostly following a ridgeline at 8000'.  At Sessions I was still feeling really good.  Time in 11:55am, best time 11:41, goal time 11:25.  Ooh, now I'm 30 minutes down from my goal pace.  Still, I felt fine, I was happy, let's get it done.
Enjoying some ginger ale while Kelly tries to close my pack.  Photo:  Jo Agnew

By now, the day was starting to warm up, but I was fine.  So, keep going.  I knew the next section to Swallow Rocks would be exposed and getting towards the heat of the day.  Still, up to this point there had been a great breeze/wind to kind of fake us out into thinking it wasn't that warm.  Actually, across some of the ridges, it was very windy.
So, into Swallow Rocks aid (34.91 miles).  Last year I was feeling pretty rough by this point, stomach issues from my caffeine overload.  This year I was feeling pretty good.  Time in 1:45pm, best time 1:32, goal time 1:30.  Wow, I actually made up some time.  I'll take it.
I knew the next section to Big Mountain (39.40 miles) would be a cruiser, mostly downhill, not difficult at all.  So on I went.  I love it when I get close to Big Mountain, you can hear the volunteers and spectators blowing horns and cheering.  There's a lot of energy here.  One of the reason I like the Big Mountain station is that overall, I'm not a big fan of the first 39 miles of the course.  I think the last half is much prettier, and certainly more difficult.  So rolling into Big Mountain is kind of a milestone every year.
At Big Mountain I was met by some friends, Lindsay and Dan.  They got me my drop bag, filled my hydration pack with ice and water.  Once again, I had a dose of Ultragen and a rice and bean burrito, and to top it off, Lindsay had an ice.cold.PBR.  Now I don't know about you, but a very cold beer 39 miles into a race on a very hot day makes me very happy.  That so hit the spot.  I left Big Mountain with a smile on my face and 800 calories in my stomach.  Time in 2:49pm, fastest time 2:30pm, goal time 2:25.  Hmm, lost just a bit of time here.
Meanwhile, there was some serious carnage going on.  People were dropping out at Big Mountain like flies.  There was already talk of this being the highest DNF rate of any Wasatch.
Enjoying a lunch of burrito and PBR while being photobombed by a nordic goddess.  Photo: Dan Frey

The next section to Alexander Ridge (47.44 miles) is probably the least liked section by any Wasatch runner.  Hot, exposed, you run it in the middle of the day.  I didn't mind it too much today.  There was a nice wind, I felt great, yeah, it was hot, but it really wasn't bothering me too much.  I made sure I was drinking plenty and just ran under control.  It was through here that I took my one spill of the day.  As I was going downhill, my foot caught a root or rock and I did a slow motion fall.  Landed on my left hand and tucked and rolled.  The trail was steep enough that I did a complete somersault.  When I came to a halt, I had to think for a moment which way to go.  Then I remembered, downhill.  Still, no damage other than a couple of small scratches.  Time into Alexander Ridge 5:10pm, fastest time 4:31, goal time 4:25pm.  Lost a bit more time but still running well under my goal finishing time.
Now I had the section into Lamb's Canyon (53.13 miles).  Down, then up the pipeline right of way, make a turn, over the saddle, down the rail trail and into Lamb's.  Not hard.  Last year I really had a bad time through here.  My stomach was churning, I couldn't eat anything, I was in shuffle/death march mode.  This year I was in much better shape.  Yeah, I was kind of tired and sore, but the good attitude was still there.  I was still having fun.  I also knew that at Lamb's I would pick up Alicia, my first pacer.  I got into Lamb's feeling pretty good.  Tired, but good.  A lot of the people just hanging out knew who I was and it was fun to hear them cheer me on.  I also saw a lot of other runners that I knew while I was there.  Britta, Nick, Missy, Jeremy were all there to greet me and wait on me hand and foot.  I tried to get through there as quickly as possible.  Drank my Ultragen, had some soup, recounted what had happened to that point, and heard about various friends' progress/dnf's.  Time in 6:44pm, fastest time 6:05pm, goal time 6:10pm.  Still down some time, but not really losing any more.
Next section was from Lamb's to Upper Big Water (61.68 miles).  I kind of like this section.  Most of it you do at a walk/power hike because it's mostly uphill, but I felt good enough to try running some of it.  Alicia and I took off up the road.  I tried running a couple of sections, but found that I was doing better walking as fast as I could.  After a mile, you turn and head up the trail.  As we were hiking up the trail, Bj, one of our friends comes bounding down.  He wasn't running it this year and was just out to see who he could see on the trail.  He turned and headed back up with us.  Meanwhile, I felt really good and my climbing skills were on.  I power hiked up that trail faster than I ever have.  I was pulling away from my pacer.  When I got to the top, I figured I had better dig out my headlamp because it would be dark by the time I got to Elbow Fork at the bottom of the trail.  As I was doing that Alicia caught back up and we headed down together.  My goal every year is to get to the top of Bear Ass Pass before dark, and hopefully before the sun goes down.  I had only accomplished that once before.  Mission accomplished this year.  When I got to the bottom of the trail at Millcreek road, I saw Lori and Bj.  Lori had to take a picture of the two of us and Bj had a beer in his hand.  I took his beer and finished it for him (there wasn't much left, probably all  backwash anyway), then headed up Millcreek road.  The grade on this road is a little less and I was able to run probably a third to half of the three miles, something I have never done in the past.  I felt great.  Alicia and I got into Upper Big Water at 9:27pm, fastest time 8:53pm, goal time 8:45pm.
We got out of Upper Big Water as fast as we could and headed up the trail over the next section to Desolation Lake.  I love running this section during the day.  One of the prettiest parts of the course.  Unfortunately, unless you're really fast, most of us will go through here at night.  My plan at Deso is to always get out of there as quickly as possible.  They always have a roaring fire, it's usually cold, and that fire can suck you in.  Get in, get out.  so we did, and headed up even higher to Scott's Pass.  Time into Deso 11:35pm, fastest time 11:08pm, goal time 11:00pm.  Hey, I made up some serious time on this section and didn't think I had.  Credit that to my pacer for keeping me on task.
We left Deso, headed up Red Lover's Ridge, passed a number of other runners, got passed by some.  Alicia and I were trotting along the ridgeline and we saw a bright green flashlight in the distance.  Well, there's only one person I know that has one of those and that's Davy Crockett.  He was up there going back and forth on the trial just waiting for the runner he was pacing to come along.  Meanwhile, helping out other runners and just hanging out having a good time.  Usually going across this ridge is pretty windy and can be very cold.  This year there was a slight breeze and I think the temp was well into the 50's.  Very pleasant indeed (at least for me).  We spent about two minutes at Scott's then headed out and down to Brighton.  Time into Scott's 1:02am, fastest time 12:35am, goal time 12:15am.  Fell off the pace a bit.
From Scott's we dropped from 10,000' down to Brighton (75.61 miles) ski area at 8900'.  This section has a few miles of pavement and I'm sorry, but it makes your feet hurt.  I tried to run as much of it as I could.  As we were making our way up the last bit of road to Molly Green's (where the aid station was) an ambulance passed us.  I heard later from the aid station captain that a 32 year old runner had a heart attack.  I have no idea if he's ok, but I assume so since I didn't hear of anyone dying on the course.  Brighton is where Alicia ended her pacing duties and I picked up Breein as my pacer to the finish.  At Brighton I always look forward to the scrambled eggs with hot sauce.  For some reason, after running 75 miles, scrambled eggs at 2am sound really good, and they were.  I had two plates and Breein and I headed out the door to Ant Knoll's aid station.
The trek to Ant Knolls (80.27 miles) involves a 1600' climb to the highest point on the course at 10,000'.  This is where I always have issues, usually with my breathing.  The first time I finished Wasatch, I had some serious exercise induced asthma from here to the finish.  This year I didn't have any breathing issues, but it was kind of slow going.  It's a tough climb, followed by a tougher descent to Ant Knolls.  The descent is very technical, rocky, and has been really chewed up over the years by motorcycles.  Really hard on quads and feet that hurt.  Anyway, when we reached Point Supreme (the high point), we stopped, turned off our headlamps and just looked at the sky and listened.  There was no breeze at all.  It was so quiet and still that you absolutely couldn't hear a thing.  I love those times, peaceful, relaxing.  Moments like this make me realize why I do this.  Anyway, we got into Ant Knolls, and as usual they had pancakes and sausage.  Awesome stuff.  Ate a pancake and a couple sausages, and got out of there.  Time into Ant Knolls 4:32 am, previous fastest time 5:52am, goal time 3:30 am.  Hmm, not good, losing some time, but I had a slow spot through here.  I knew once I got some more food in me I would speed up a bit.
Now I had the section to Pole Line Pass 83.39 miles) aid to negotiate.  This involves a short 700' climb called the grunt.  It does make you grunt.  I don't like it at all.  The reward after that is a mostly downhill run into Pole Line Pass aid station.  Keep in mind that I've never made it to Pole Line in the dark.  The sun is always up by the time I get there.  This year, the sun was anywhere near coming up.  I got in there at 5:58 am, previous fastest time 6:58 am, goal time 4:30 am.  
At this point a sub-30 hour finish was cutting it close, but I still had a chance if I really pushed to the finish.  But I knew that there were a couple of very difficult sections ahead of me, the Dive and the Plunge, plus the Seven Hills of Babylon.  All three of those sections are a nightmare after 90 miles.  Still, we pressed on.  We rounded Mill Canyon Peak in time to see the sun come up on Mt. Timpanogos.  
Mt. Timpanogos in the early morning light.

That's always a gorgeous sight.  As we were moving along, I was giving Breein, my pacer, a running (pun intended) commentary of the course, as she had never been on it before.  Before long, we were at the top of the Dive.  For those unfamiliar, this is a 700' plunge down an avalanche chute in about a half mile.  The trail is v-shaped, extremely rocky (think loose rocks from golf ball to bowling ball sized) and on fresh legs it's hard to negotiate, let alone after 90 miles.  Somehow I made it down without killing myself.  After a short little section of "normal" trail, we hit the top of the Plunge.  Once again, about 700' of descent in about a half mile, but this one isn't quite as bad.  Made it down that one ok.  Now we had the Seven Hills of Babylon to go through.  This is a section of the trail that crosses several drainages, so think short ups and downs.  The ups can be steep as well.  Once past that, it was a nice cruise down Pot Bottom canyon to the aid station.  Thank goodness that eight mile stretch was done.  Time into Pot Bottom, 9:24am, previous best time, 10:47am, goal time 8:00am.  Getting in there at almost 9:30 meant that I had to run the remaining ~7 miles in 90 minutes.  Not hard on fresh legs, especially since it was mostly downhill and dirt road.  We got in and out of Pot Bottom as fast as we could and I took off down the road.  I felt like I was really running fast, but in reality probably wasn't breaking 9 minute miles.  We ran solid to the final climb, a short 400' ascent to the last aid station.  I didn't bother stopping there at all, I yelled "27 in and out" and kept going.  Since I'm an Engineer, I'm always doing math in my head.  My math was telling me that the sub-30 hour time was slipping away, but I wasn't going down without a fight.  We kept up the running as hard as I could.  Every once in awhile, I would have to walk for about 15-30 seconds just to catch my breath, then back at it.  In the distance we could see the finish line.  So close yet still so far away and the clock was ticking.  We hit that last section of pavement, 1.2 miles to the finish, all flat except the final couple hundred yards.  I was really pushing now.  Just before we turned off the road and on to the grass, I looked at my watch, the time was 11:00am exactly.  I knew that according to my watch, we had started at 4:58am, so the sub-30 was gone.  When I saw that, I told my pacer, that's it, let's walk.  So we cruised it across the grass and across the finish line.


No sub-30 hour this year.  My final time was 30:06.  My place was 72nd out of 312 starters.  10th in my age group out of 40.  Not too bad for Brody and Savannah's grandpa.  I'll take it.  I'm very happy with my time, it's 2:15 faster than I have ever run Wasatch.

Many thanks to my wonderful wife Karen for putting up with my silly hobby.  I called her when I was still about three miles out and she was panicking about getting to the finish line in time.  She made it and greeted me with my usual kiss and beer.

Many thanks to Alicia and Breein, my wonderful pacers.  I couldn't ask for better help during the race.  Thanks ladies.  I owe you both big time. 

Many thanks also to my ad hoc crew.  Lindsay and Dan at Big Mountain, Britta, Nick, Jeremy, Missy at Lamb's.  You guys rock.

Last of all, I had a blast this year.  I have to say I probably enjoyed this Wasatch more than the others.
I gots me some dirty legs

Things I learned this year running Wasatch:
1.  Attitude is key.  Without the right attitude, you aren't going to have a chance of finishing (duh, pretty obvious if you ask me).
2.  Having a beer at some point during the race makes you happy and helps your attitude.  See above.
3.  I have some awesome friends.
4.  Heat doesn't bother me nearly as much as it bothers most runners.  Heat training is key for a race like this.  The heat on Saturday morning descending into the finish at Soldier Hollow bothered me more than the previous day running through the mountains.
5.  Consistent fueling and drinking results in a consistent race.  I never bonked, never had a down period.  There was one time when I was a bit slower, but once I got fueled up again, I was good to go.
6.  You can push beyond what you think you are capable of.  You can ignore pain to a large part.
8.  Frightened Rabbit puts out some pretty good running music.  Wish I had more of their stuff.
9.  There really does come a point where the pain really doesn't get any worse, you just get more tired.  Don't confuse the two.
10. Get in and out of the damn aid stations faster.  I added up my aid station time this year.  It was 112 minutes.  Way, way, way too much.  There was my six minutes of lost time.  I didn't need to run faster, I needed to get off my butt.  There's no reason why I can't cut at least 60 minutes off that time.
11. Take care of blisters early.  I usually don't have a problem with blisters, but this year I felt a hot spot on my achilles at mile four.  I put a bandaid on it right away and it never bothered me until after the race and I took my socks off.  then I got kinda grossed out.
Yeah, it kinda hurts

Miles traveled - 100
Elevation gained-26000'+
Water drank-somewhere around three gallons
Calories burned-12,000-15,000
Calories eaten-6,000-7,000

Runner Number: 27 - James Skaggs Finished at 11:06 with an Elasped Time of 30:06

Aid StationDistanceAltitudeTime-InTime-Out
East Mountain Wilderness Park0 mi.4880 feet05:00
Francis Peak18.76 mi.7500 feet09:2809:34
Bountiful B23.95 mi.8160 feet10:5210:58
Sessions Lift Off28.23 mi.8320 feet11:5511:59
Swallow Rocks34.91 mi.8320 feet13:4513:50
Big Mountain39.4 mi.7420 feet14:4915:06
Alexander Ridge47.44 mi.6160 feet17:1017:17
Lambs Canyon53.13 mi.6100 feet18:4418:59
Millcreek61.68 mi.7660 feet21:2721:46
Desolation Lake66.93 mi.9170 feet23:3523:43
Scotts Pass70.79 mi.9910 feet01:0201:04
Brighton Lodge75.61 mi.8790 feet02:1302:32
Ant Knolls80.27 mi.9000 feet04:3204:39
Poll Line Pass83.39 mi.8925 feet05:5806:05
Pot Bottom91.98 mi.7385 feet09:2409:26
Staton Cut-off94.69 mi.7114 feet10:0210:02
Soldier Hollow100 mi.5530 feet

I love these signs that Lindsay Lauck made for Ryan.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Ragnar Trail Relay Snowbasin

So, for those of you unfamiliar with what Ragnar is.  It's a company here in Utah that puts on relays, usually road relays, but they are venturing into trail relays as well.
One of my HUMR friends (Lindsay) works for Ragnar and got them to let her enter a team at no charge.  I originally wasn't on the team.  First, I didn't get picked in the team member drawing, second, because I had a race scheduled in Oregon that weekend.  Well, I backed out of the race in Oregon, and one of the team members injured his leg running El Vaquero Loco 50K the previous weekend, so I got tapped.  I was glad.
Here's the premise of the relay.  Eight team members (or four if you're an ultra team, we weren't), three different trail routes (red, green, yellow).  Each team member runs each route once.  It adds up to almost 15 miles per team member, or about 120 miles total.  Your start time is staggered so that you get a lot of teams finishing at around the same time.  Builds up the excitement level, at least that's the theory.
This trail relay was held on the trails at Snowbasin ski resort.  Snowbasin has a messload of trails that a lot of mountain bikers, hikers, and us trail runners use during the summer.  It's a great place to go to get out of the valley heat and get some serious vert if need be.
The main staging/start/finish/camping area was on the bunny slope near the main lodges.  This is nice and grassy, unless you were camped on the hillside, then you had some nice dry weeds as your campsite, not to mention rocks, dirt, and other teams around you.  Team HUMR was lucky, thanks to Lindsay, we scored VIP camping on the other side of the lodge, quiet, flat, soft green grass.  As you can tell, we're special.
We were scheduled to start at 3:30pm on Friday, so most of the team showed up by around 1:30pm to check in, get tents and canopies setup, get camp HUMR up and functional.  Then it was time to sit around and drink some beer.

Lindsay ready to start and us cheering her on
As our 3:30pm start time approached, the entire team (less Breein, because she had to show up fashionably late, actually, it was something about working) made our way to the start area.  Since there were several teams starting at 3:30pm, there were a bunch of people standing around.  They announced each team that was starting, and we tried our best to embarrass Lindsay, since she works for Ragnar and was our first runner.  We're pretty sure that she's never going to invite us on a Ragnar team again.
So, after Lindsay took off, the rest of us headed back to camp HUMR to hang out and drink some more beer.
Lindsay finishing her first run
So that's how it went.  A runner would go out, we would hang out until it was the next person's turn to go out.
My first time out I ran the yellow loop.  This was the longest loop, so I was kind of glad to get that one out of the way early.  It's 6.3 miles, of which 2.4 is uphill, right at the beginning.  After that, it pretty much just rolls along the hillside, then towards the end it's a screaming downhill.  Pretty cool.  Since this was a short race, I decided my strategy would be to work it as hard as I could, treat it like a 5K or 10K.  My goal was to not get passed by anyone wearing the same color wrist band while I was out there and to pass as many as I could.  Goal  accomplished, for the most part.  On the yellow loop, I got passed by one person wearing yellow, but I managed to pass 5-6 during my time out there.  Even though there were 100 teams, I didn't encounter that many people on the trails.  If you figure that there were only 100 people out there at a time spread across 15 miles of trails, there was plenty of room to not see anyone for long periods.  I really was hoping to go under one hour for this loop, but it was not to be.  I managed a 1:03:48, which I thought was pretty respectable given that there was 1000'+ of climbing involved.  My only regret of this loop was that I shouldn't have had the slice of pizza before I went out.  Yeah, not good.  Still, it didn't seem to slow me down any.
Dan finishing up one of his loops
So, after the yellow loop,  I had about seven hours of downtime.  Since it was dark shortly after I finished, I opted to try and get some rest.  Set up the cot, throw out the sleeping bag, hit the hay.  thank goodness we were in the VIP area, nice and quiet.
My next run was at about 3:30am.  This time it was the green loop.  This was the shortest loop of the three at 3.5 miles.  Aric rolled in, I took the bib and headed out.  I love it when someone else heads out at the same time as I do, bolts up the hill, then promptly dies when they hit the first flat.  Meanwhile, I just slowly motor on by.  Makes me feel all warm and happy.
Since the green loop was the shortest, I decided to push as hard as I could even though it was dark.  Usually when I run at night, it's during a 100 mile race and I'm usually doing a fair amount of walking by this point.  It was a bit different to actually run hard at night.  This  time, no one passed me and I passed several.  Most of the runners I passed acted as though they were afraid to run at night, that they might fall down and get hurt.
I managed to finish the green loop in just a hair over 40 minutes.  Not too bad for some night running.
Now I had another seven or so hours of downtime.  I did manage to sleep a couple more hours then got up.
Bj cooked everyone breakfast.  Sausage, pancakes, eggs, and coffee supplied by Ragnar.  Good stuff.

Bj cooking breakfast and Harrison just sitting around
And the race went on.  WE just kind of hung out at camp HUMR, chatting, enjoying the nice cool morning.  Every once in awhile we'd make the trek to the starting area to cheer on the transition to another runner.
My last loop was the red loop.  Supposedly this was the most difficult due to it having the most climb.  The distance was 4.8 with just under 1200' climb.  I knew from the others that all of the climb happened in the first 2.4 miles.  The climbing actually ended at 2.15 miles, followed by a little bit of flat, then a
Corey getting set to head out
screaming downhill to the finish.  Most of the downhill was on access roads so I didn't have to pay as much attention to my footing as normally would be the case.  I was actually running some sub 7's down this section (that's fast for me).  Only two people managed to pass me while I managed to catch quite a few.  Some looked pretty zombied from all of the running.  Some were running pretty tentative due to the steep downhill.  I ran on the ragged edge of control.  Fun, fun, fun.
PBR's in hand

And with that, I was done with my running.  Three sections, all ran as hard as I could.  Fun stuff.
Corey and Harrison rounding the final turn
The HUMR team managed to finish around 2:30pm with a final time of 22:58:52.  This was good enough for 6th place in the mixed open division (out of 69 teams). and good enough for 19th place overall (out of 106 teams).  So we made a pretty respectable showing.  I think it helps that we all run trails and ultras on a regular basis.  We're all used to running technical stuff, and used to running at night.  I think a lot of the other teams came from a road background.
Anyway, I had a great time hanging with some friends, getting a bit of running in, and engaging some ribald conversation and beer drinking.
Thanks to my teammates, Corey, Harrison, Bj, Aric, Breein, Dan, and our fearless leader Lindsay.  Also thanks to Ryan, our designated volunteer.  It was a good time.

Team HUMR after the race

Taking a celebratory drink

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Crazy Cowboy 50K (El Vaquero Loco)

Hey, time for another race report, because I don't write enough race reports.
So last weekend, I went to Afton, WY (where the heck is that?) to run Ty Draney's little race.  Ty is an awesome ultrarunner, high school teacher, and track coach.  His race helps to raise some funds for his track team.  He's been doing this race for the past nine years and there's a threat that next year might be the last. He said something about doing it ten years, then evaluating whether to keep doing it or not.
The race itself is fairly small, I'm not sure what his runner limit is, but I think it's around 100 for each distance, 25K and 50K.
Warning, I didn't take any pictures during the race.  Sorry, but there's plenty of pictures out there of the fantastic scenery along the course.  Here's a course GPS at least.
I went up with several friends Friday morning so we could get a campsite for everyone else that was with us.  I think a good majority of the HUMR's (Happy Utah Mountain Runners) ended up making the trek to Afton.  We (our HUMR crew) ended up having a pretty good potluck dinner, good conversation, then bed time.  I should mention that we were camping at the start/finish, right on Cottonwood Lake (there's no cottonwood trees around, so why it's called that is a mystery to me).  Anyway, in a word, gorgeous.
I slept really lousy, and 5am came way too soon.  I was pleasantly surprised that the temperature was warmer than I thought it would be.  I'm not a big fan of cold temps, but with the warmer temps, I decided to opt for just a short sleeve t, no beanie, light gloves, and that's it (oh, shorts and shoes as well).
Ty started us right at 6am and we started up the first big climb of the day.  This four mile climb took us from the start at 7600' to just over 10,000'.  By the time we got to the top, the sun was up and the views were stunning.  We then headed down some switchbacks to the first aid station, manned by some of Ty's high school students.
After the first aid station, we had a pretty good climb again, up to the first of two beautiful alpine lakes.  At this point I was running with Curtis.  Shortly after the first aid, he pulled ahead and .  Before the next aid at one of the alpine lakes (did I mention they were stunning?) I managed to catch up to a few other friends, chat for a bit, then take off.
The second aid station was right next to the larger of the two alpine lakes we ran past and what a location for an aid station.  Stunning!  Anyway, after that aid station we had another couple of shorter, yet steep climbs before a seven mile descent to the turnaround.  Just before that long descent, we went through the third aid station.  This one had all of their supplies packed in on horseback.  It was pretty cool to see the horses out in the meadow just grazing.  A good chunk of that seven mile descent had us running along a river that was so inviting.  With the day warming up, it looked so clear and refreshing I wanted to go jump in, get a drink, etc., not to mention that we were running down this gorge with cliffs on either side of us.
When I got to the turn around, not only was the official aid station there, but there was an unofficial HUMR aid station setup by Lane and Steve, significant others of a couple of HUMR runners on the course.
After the turn, now I had to make the seven mile climb back up to 10,000'.  Thank goodness much of it was either runnable or at least a good quick power hike.
By now the day was warming up nicely and I started to drink more.  I was running with Aric and we made a couple of stops at these clear, rushing mountain streams to get a drink.  That cold clear water tasted far better than the getting-warm water in our hydration packs.  Splash some on your head, soak your feet for a couple minutes, refreshing.
The climb up was pretty uneventful and eventually we made it back to the horsey aid station.  After tha, a bit more climbing, then the first steep descent to the first, and smaller alpine lake.  Trot a bit along side that lake, then back up, then a longer steeper descent into the larger alpine lake.
I was still feeling really good and figured I should try to push it a bit just to see if I could.  Yep, I could, so I did.  I tried to run as much of the uphills as I could, and found out I could indeed run uphill at 10,000' without dying.  Who knew?
I started trying to catch people that I could see in front of me.  Sometimes I'll make a game of this as it forces me to try a bit harder rather than just mosey down the trail like I do a lot of the time.
I got to the last aid station, drank some Coke and headed out for the last serious climb of the day.  1,000' of switchbacks up the side of the mountain.  It was a grind, but I knew the reward (besides the views) was a 4.5 mile descent into the finish.  I managed to catch 3-4 runners going up this climb, then I started bombing down the final descent.  I tried to open it up going down.  My goal was to not get passed by anyone and to catch as many as I could.  Mission accomplished.
The last 100 yards or so take you through the campground and as I came off the trail and on to the road, all of the HUMR's that were already finished were there cheering everyone on.  It was pretty cool to see all of them there, beers in hand, having a good time.
So, I finished.  My time was nothing to write home about.  8:04.  I had hoped for a sub 8, but I'll take this one.
Bottom line was that I felt great the entire day.  Strong, everything under control.  Not only that, but I had a really good time out there.  There was no suffering by me this time.
This is a great race that flies under the radar.  Awesome scenery and course, fairly small field, great volunteers and race director.  Yep, I'll be back and you should go run it too.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Miscellaneous (did I spell it correctly?) thoughts on running, being out of a job, and post surgical stuff

Well, I haven't posted anything in awhile mainly because I haven't done any racing or serious adventure runs since my failure at Salt Flats.  So if you're interested, here's what's been going on in my life.  If you're not interested, go somewhere else.
Yeah, so I DNF'd at Salt Flats way back at the end of April.  I had just lost my job plus I had run the Zion 100 the week before and my head and legs just weren't into it.  It was a good decision.
So I lost my job on April 24.  I had already scheduled a inguinal hernia repair surgery for May 1 and I was concerned that I would have to cancel since my health insurance would be gone by April 30.  Smith Optics was very gracious and offered to continue and pay for my health insurance for three months.  They didn't have to do this.  Needless to say, that was pretty nice of them.

I've never had a major surgery before.  Even though this was to be an outpatient one, it's still major.  I was a major basket case before the surgery.  This was a complete unknown for me.  It was really interesting to kind of detach myself and objectively look at how I was reacting to the impending operation.  At my pre-surgical appointment the nurse took my bp and asked if I had high blood pressure.  Nope, it was white coat syndrome.  The day of surgery, the nurse took my pulse and asked if I ran, I said yes and asked what my pulse was.  She told me it was 75.  I laughed and told her my resting pulse was normally 45-50, so it was way high.  Anyway, I was a nervous wreck until they put the IV line in me, then for some reason I really relaxed.  They hadn't even given me any drugs yet.
So, in the ensuing couple of hours, I was gutted like a fish and repaired.  I now am the proud owner of a couple of serious scars.

The first couple of days post surgery were rough.  I was in some pain that I had never felt before.  Running 100 miles is painful, but not like this.  I hurt.  I found out Lortab is a wonder drug.
 I took them religiously.  But I also found out there are side effects to taking Lortab.  Those weren't pleasant.  Still, I was bound and determined to get up and get active as soon as I could.  So the next day, my lovely wife went for a walk with me.  I managed to make it to the corner (50 yards) and back.  That exhausted me.  This was a whole different world to me.  Still, by day 3 post surgery, I walked a bit over a mile and the week following surgery I walked close to 30 miles.  I started running again at two weeks (the doc said I could).  It was slow, and I was pretty cautious about it.  I could just see me falling on to some rocks and ripping everything open.  By 3 weeks, I was running more, and by 6 weeks, the doc said I could do pretty much whatever I wanted.  I'm now back up to more mileage than I was doing before I ran Zion.  The moral of the story?  I really think it helps your recovery to be in some serious shape before surgery and to get active as soon as possible.  I'm convinced that I recovered much quicker than someone who doesn't run or exercise would have.
Meanwhile, on the job hunting front.  In the first few weeks, I had a flurry of interviews.  Nothing panned out and so far I'm guessing that I've sent out about 75-100 resumes for positions.
So since I seem to have a pretty good network of friends and acquaintances here in the Salt Lake City area, if anyone you know of is looking for a Manufacturing or Quality, or Process, or Safety Engineer or something similar, let me know.  I'm actively looking.
Don't call us, we'll call you
 I don't plan on moving away, we like it here too much.
Other than the whole looking-for-a-job thing, I'm actually enjoying the time off.  I get to run when I want, I'm getting stuff done around the house (much to my wife's delight), and I actually cook dinner sometimes (also much to my wife's delight).
Honey, dinner's ready, come and get it
Summer is on and I still have some adventures planned through the fall.  I'm running Wasatch again, I'll be helping out at Speedgoat since I was smart enough to not sign up this year :-)  I'm running El Vaquero Loco 50K.  I'm signed up for The Bear and I may sign up for the Ogden Valley 50 mile.  I'm also contemplating pulling the trigger and entering the Chimera 100 down in the OC.  My wife and I are going down to the Grand Canyon the first weekend in October.  I'm planning on running either a R2R2R or something else with about 40 miles of trail, so if anyone wants to join in, feel free.
On the race directing front, All of my fall races are open for entry, the Antelope Island 50K/100K, the Mountain View Trail Half Marathon, and a new race, the Frary Peak Hill Climb.  Hit the race website for details (  I'm trying to put together a spring 12.5/25 mile race, but that may not come to fruition due to Forest Service intransigence in giving me a permit.  Still working on that one.
I'm also working on improving and building out the race website.  I'll be offering various Buffalo Run items for sale and providing links to other companies that sell outdoor gear and other stuff for us runners.  We'll see how that goes.
Meanwhile, keep up your own running.  Get out there and hit the trails.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Running on Salt

Well, this one should be short.
Have you ever pushed yourself to the limit of what you think you can do physically?
Most people have no idea what they are capable of.  They haven't pushed themselves to their limit.  Limits obviously differ for everyone.  Our limits are different at different times.  Training, mindset, perseverance, all play a role in how far we can go.  As far as running goes, for some people their limit is a 5K, they can't fathom running a 10K, let alone a marathon.  For a lot of runners, the marathon is the ultimate goal.
I used to work with an Engineer that ran in the US Olympic Marathon Trials.  He was fast, very fast.  His speed made my "speed" seem positively pedestrian, and it is.
After he found out I ran my first 100 mile race, the guy was in awe of me doing something like that.  He was floored.  His comment was "I can't imagine running one step beyond 26.2".
Well, I found out today what my limit was for today.  Last week I wrote about my experience running the Zion 100.  To recap, I had an absolute blast.  Probably the most fun I've ever had running 100 miles.  I ran within myself, didn't push, and felt great the entire time.
The week after I ran Zion, I did no running at all.  I got a massage, ate, and sat on my butt.  Recovery time.
By Wednesday, I felt good to go.  No residual soreness, the legs felt ready to have a go at another 100 mile race.  Two in two weeks, back to backs, one right after the other.  I knew of a couple others that had recently done the same thing.  They were my age, if they could do it, by golly, so could I.  I had announced to a lot of people my intention.  Maybe I shouldn't have.  Oh well.
But Thursday I had a bombshell dropped on me.  I lost my job.  Yep, unemployed.  It's not the first time this has happened, but it's still a shock to the system.  BTW, anyone looking for a good Manufacturing or Process Engineer?  I'm your guy.  Lean, Safety, Product Compliance, Quality, I can do it all.
Needless to say, Thursday night was not a good night for sleep.  Not only that, but all of the sudden, my head wasn't in the game.  I seriously thought about just bagging the race and staying home.  But all I would have done is fret and worry.  Instead, I finally got up early and headed out to Wendover, UT for the race.  I figured that a good long run would allow me to think, sort things out, maybe even come to some conclusions on what to do next with my life.
Race day was gorgeous.  Not a cloud in the sky, temps around 40 at the start warming up to the low 70's.  Perfect (for me) running weather.
I toed the line at at 7am, we (all 46 of us) took off across the salt flats.  Keep in mind, the first 13 miles of the race were on six feet of salt.  Flat as your tabletop surface, hard, interesting.  You could look around at the nearby mountains without worrying about taking a header on a rock.
I chatted with a few friends during this time, but after awhile, the field spread out and I was by myself.  Time to think.  And I did, but not too hard.  I was here to have another good time running 100 miles.  And I did......for awhile......for about six hours.
My running was easy, much easier than last year when I ran the same race.  Roughly a 10 minute pace for the first 22 miles and the third aid station.  Yeah, that's a lot of non-stop running if you're planning on completing a 100.  No climbing up hills, just flat running.
Things went great for those first 22 miles.  Indeed, they went great for the first 30 miles.  I was running easy, trying to keep my pace down.
Didn't matter, my running came to a grinding halt at about 30 miles.  I ended up walking a mile to the next aid station.  My legs hurt.  I felt like I had already run about 70 miles on them and I still had 70 miles to go.  My  toes hurt.  I bruised them at Zion, and they weren't healed.  Toenails were hitting the underside of the shoe uppers and it hurt.  I had to curl them to keep them from doing that.
Up to this point, I had been having fun.  I was well hydrated, well fed (think grilled cheese with bacon at one aid station).  My mood was good, it was a great day.
When I got to the aid station at 31 miles, I sat down to think and evaluate my options.  I was looking at a very, very remote 20 miles coming up.  If I dropped at the aid station out there, I wasn't getting back until the next day.
My legs and toes were telling me I had reached my limit for today.  That was it, there was no more.  Could I have walked?  Sure, but it wouldn't have been fun, and I do this stuff because it's fun, not because I have to.
So I made the fairly easy decision to drop.  I was still in a good mood, I still felt good except that my legs and toes were very sore and tired.  I actually enjoyed sitting in the sun while waiting for a ride back to the start.
After I got back, I drove into town and pigged out at McDonald's.  Yeah, I like to do that sometimes.  The food is always consistently mediocre, but that's fine. 
So, what's your limit?  Has it changed over the years?
Sorry there's no race pictures.  I didn't take any this year.  If you want to see what the course looks like, check out my last year's race report here.  It hasn't changed any from last year.
However, here's a picture of my two grandchildren because they're so stinkin cute.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Zion 100, jello shots, and thoughts of Boston

Introduction -
So the bombing in Boston happened last Monday, a few days before I was to run the Zion 100.  I've run Boston, back in 2004.  What was that experience like?  Well, it was my second worst marathon time ever.  I knew within a couple miles that the race would not go well for me.  At that point I decided to just enjoy the day and soak up all the hype, fun, spectators, etc.  After all, I was running the Boston Marathon.  My family came along and we did a mini vacation, toured the city, ate at fancy restaurants.  One of my friends had always told me that she would come watch if I ever ran Boston.  Her and her husband flew in to do just that.  It was a fun trip.  It was a fun race, the huge noise, half a million spectators lining the route, turning that last corner and seeing the finish line.  In the exact same spot as it was last Monday.  I crossed the finish line at Boston at about the same time as the bombs went off.  I have runner friends that ran Boston last Monday.  One of them was only 200 yards away from the bomb when it went off.  He was on the phone with his wife. It's only a race, it's not life or death.  Well, last Monday it was life or death.
My training for Zion hadn't been where I wanted it.  In January I ran outside three whole times.  The rest of the time the treadmill was my friend.  Those that know me know that when it comes to running in inclement weather, I am a weather weenie.....big time.
My mileage was behind last year's. I didn't have very many long runs in.  In fact, Moab Red Hot, a couple of 20 milers, a 24 miler, and one 30 mile run were it in the long run department.  Compounding my perceived lack of training was my hernia diagnosis.  Probably brought on by lifting a couple of tons of water at the Buffalo Run.  Well, crap, there goes my training.  Except that the doctor said I could run, running would not make it worse.  But no weight lifting, no Pilates, too much strain on the abdomen.  So, I just kept running, trying to get my mileage up, trying to get in some quality running time.  Quietly panicking at the thought of running 100 miles grossly undertrained.  Oh, and I forgot to mention that I had told all my friends that I was going to attempt back to back 100's.  Zion 100 one week, Salt Flats 100 a week later.  Yep, I got called all sorts of crazy (nothing new there).  For some odd reason I thought doing back to back's would be a good thing to do.  I kinda still do think it's a good idea.  Ask me next week what I think about that.  Then, one of my pacers comes up lame.  Now I'm down to one pacer.  Not that I need a pacer, but they are kind of handy to have around.

Prerace -
Fast forward to last Thursday afternoon.  I picked up Britta and Breein, also known as Team Bean Burrito, my crew and pacer and we headed south for Zion.  Got down there, checked in, ate dinner, and hit the hay.  And like usual, I slept like crap the night before a race.  One of these days I need to learn to take drugs before I go to bed.  Britta and Breein were staying at a friend's house and had taken my car.  I was staying at the high quality Days Inn of Hurricane, UT.  They picked me up at 5am and we headed for the start at the town park in the thriving metropolis of Virgin, UT.

Mmmmm, donuts!
With my lack of mileage, I decided I had to approach the race in a totally different manner than I normally do.  Instead of going out with a goal of hitting certain times and all, my goal for the race was to finish, regardless of time.  Secondarily, I wanted to enjoy the experience.  After all, I was running near Zion National Park.  Can we say awesome scenery?  I told Britta and Breein that under no circumstances was I to be allowed to quit, unless there were severe injuries or illnesses.
My fueling strategy also was a bit different.  After my epic failure at Wasatch last year (OD'd on caffeine, coupled with a lack of hydration and calories), I thought I would try something else.  Massive calorie intake at every aid station I had a drop bag.  Real food, not using nearly as much gels.
My mental strategy was to go out and have fun, not worry about times, just enjoy the race, the people I would meet, the friends I would see.  It's just a race, it's not life or death.  With Boston on everyone's mind, I wondered what I could do.  I decided to rummage around and find my Boston bib and wear it at Zion.  Will it help anyone? No.  Will anyone in Boston know?  Probably not.  Will it help the victims?  Doubt it.  What it did do was serve as a reminder to me what running is all about, at least for me.  For me, it's fun pure and simple.  Fun with friends, fun by myself, fun when it isn't quite so fun, and that in the grand scheme of life, it's just one part.

Race time -
So, the race started at 6am.  Beforehand, Matt had asked if several runners could carry a bunch of batons, passing it on to other runners as the race progressed.  Each baton represented either someone who had died, or was severely injured in the bombings.  I carried one.

I met Kelly and Harrison at the start.  Harrison was doing the 100K, and Kelly was headed out to do the 100 mile like me.
HUMR time with Kelly, Harrison and I
I always get a bit nervous at the start of a race.  Jitters, anxiety, whatever.
Matt said go, and we took off.  The first part of the race was about two miles down the side of the highway, then turn down a gravel road.  Not exactly trail running, but that's ok.  At about three miles, we hit some sweet single track.  Right along the Virgin river.  I mean right at the edge.  I mean if you took a wrong step, you were going to fall between 20' and 50' off the cliff into the water.  It was cool.  We did this for about six miles until the first aid station.  The sun was up above the cliffs and mesas now, the day was cool, almost cold, and I felt great.  Easy, easy running.  I hoped I wasn't going out too fast.
After the first aid station, we made our way along some jeep trails to the base of Gooseberry Mesa.  Now came the first big climb of the day, 1200' in about a mile.  No big deal, we do that all the time around here.  And it really wasn't a big deal.  I enjoyed the climb even though it was steep and technical.
At the top of the climb was Goosebump aid station (19.1 miles).  We would go through this one three times through mile 58.  Here, I started my massive calorie intake plan.  I had several doses of Ultragen in my drop bag.  Each dose is 320 calories plus water.  I think I started eating rice and bean burritos here.  More on that later.  Anyway, probably 500-600 calories went down the hatch.  I had also been doing gels during the miles in between as well.  I was still throwing down a pretty good time (at least for me) and was a bit worried that I was going too fast and that I would really suffer later.  After Goosebump, we wandered the mountain bike trails on the top of the mesa.  Some of this was right along the edge, think 500'-1000' drop offs, think stunning views, think stop if you want to look around so you don't run off the edge.  Britta and Breein didn't meet me at Goosebump the first time.  They barely made it for my second time through (31 miles).  Something about getting lost, almost getting my car stuck in sand, I don't know.  I think they just took too long for breakfast.
Team Bean Burrito Crew Chief and Head Pacer hitting the PBR's
Now I had a bunch of dirt road miles to the Grafton Mesa aid station.  Most of this was slightly downhill, so I enjoyed the easy running.  Got into Grafton and did my massive calorie intake thing again.  A couple more burritos, another dose of Ultragen, grabbed some of the pureed fruit I had to take the place of gels, and out I went.  The next section was primarily downhill, but we did have a short climb up to Eagle Crag aid.  It was here I discovered the wonderful rejuvenating powers of pickle juice.  The aid station had pickles out.  That sounded good.  I ate a couple, they were good.  The thought of the juice sounded good.  I drank it.  It tasted good.  About 10 minutes later, my stomach........felt........much.......better, and it hadn't felt bad at all.  My little sausage fingers went away.  I felt fantastic, on top of the world.
I took off for Grafton Mesa.  Here we encountered our third big climb of the day.  Here is where the wheels came slightly off.  I knew at some point I would have a low spot.  The climb up to Grafton Mesa was it.  After the climb, I walked the two miles into the aid station.  I knew that it was a dire need for calories, so I hit the rice and bean burritos and Ultragen again.  Sat for a bit eating and conversing, then took off.  Within a few minutes I was again running, uphill, towards Goosebump.
I made it to Goosebump (mile 58) at dusk.  Britta had run in with me the past few miles and they both jumped into action when I sat down.  More rice and bean burritos, pickle juice, Ultragen.  They had my feet up, shoes and socks off.  This having a crew thing is awesome.

Life is great
After leaving Goosebump for the last time, I headed off the mesa and across the canyon.  Then a trek up Dalton Wash Road to the Guacamole Trail.  This is another mountain bike trail that twists and turns, takes you right to the edge of the mesa and brings you back.  I ran this at night....while tired.  Yeah, you could shine your headlamp to your left and see nothing but darkness, you knew that the cliff was right there.  A little bit dicey to say the least.  But Matt had the trail very well marked with little LED lights and I didn't have any problems.  Anyway, after nine miles of wandering around on that chunk of the course, I went back down Dalton Wash road and met Britta and Breein waiting in my car.  Britta was to begin pacing me from here to the finish.  They did manage to get a few hours of sleep while waiting for me.
Oh, the night time weather?  Cool, slight breeze.  I only got really cold when I was sitting at an aid station.  Incentive to keep moving.

Breein downing a Maverick hot dog in rememberance of my downing two hot dogs during Salt Flats last year.  Good thing she didn't spill mustard on my car seat.

At this point I think it was around 4am.  I still felt pretty good.  Tired, a bit sore, but not bad for 81 miles.
Britta and I took off for the Walsh aid station.  Interesting place to say the least.
Jello shots anyone?

Party time at Walsh

No, I'm not sick.  Just taking a few minute snooze

After leaving Walsh aid (84 miles) we headed for the last big climb, and the biggest one.  Flying Monkey trail.  This thing is dangerous.  Narrow, extremely technical, if you fall, you will get hurt, maybe pretty bad.  Now couple that with being tired and it being dark.  Still, I made it to the top with Britta pushing me (literally) and we headed for the last aid station, Smith Mesa.  Yay, less than a dozen miles left.
By now the sun was up, it was cold and very breezy.  Got to Smith Mesa and pretty much blew through it to do the out-and-back section.  Coming back through, I spent very little time.  I was smelling the barn.  I also knew that the remaining nine miles were pretty much all downhill....and I like downhill.  With Britta pushing me, I started running as much as I could and ended up running the vast majority off the last nine miles.  I managed to pass about 8-10 runners on the way as well.  Best of all?  I was still a happy camper.  Yep, my attitude was still good, I still felt good.  This was fun stuff.
Britta and I coming down the last few yards to the finish
Post race - 
So yeah, I managed to finish my 18th 100-mile race.  Not a stellar time by any means, 28:38 was the time.  Decidedly middle of the pack.  But I was happy with it.  Despite my perceived lack of training, I felt great the entire time.
Random pic of Savannah, my granddaughter because she's so stinking cute
Aftermath and analysis - 
Why did I feel so good?  Why am I barely sore two days after?  In hindsight I have to think that it's the cross training I've done.  Pilates twice a week, weight lifting twice a week.  The core strength and leg strength were there and that enabled me to be able to run as much of the distance as I did.  I also think that changing my fueling strategy had something to do with it.  My guess is that I downed significantly more calories during this race than I have in the past.  Real food, not just gels.  Lots of water.  I bet I went through 3-4 gallons of water during the race.
My time of 28:38 certainly wasn't speedy, but my splits were where they usually are.  My first half I did in about 12 hours.  The second half took my 16 hours.  I do know that once Britta started pacing, we made up some time.
Here it is Monday evening and I'm barely sore.  I was walking up and down stairs at work today with no issues whatsoever.  Karen even mentioned that she thought I looked better than I ever have after a 100.
Big thanks goes out to Breein and Britta of Team Bean Burrito for crewing and pacing.  They were great, they knew what to do and didn't let me quit.
Oh, the Team Bean Burrito?  Yeah, I had an affinity for rice and bean burritos during this race.  Well, everyone knows what the after effects are of eating bean burritos.  I kinda felt sorry for Britta, but not too much:-)