Thursday, August 26, 2010

5th Time's a Charm, Where's Waldo 100K

I went into this year’s Where’s Waldo 100K with what I hoped was some good training. This is the 5th year I’ve run this race and I’ve had some good runs there and some horrible runs there. Like any ultra event, so much depends on the day, weather, mood, etc. and less on training than shorter races (at least I think so). Don’t get me wrong, training is good and more training is more gooder.
So three weeks ago I DNF’d at the Swancrest 100. Nonetheless, 68 mountain miles has to be a good workout for a 100K. I didn’t do a whole lot of running in between Swancrest and Where’s Waldo. A little bit during the week, one 21+ mile run up past Ben Lomond a couple weeks ago and that was about it. So I came to Oregon pretty well rested.
I think this is the 9th year for Where’s Waldo and I’ve run five of them now. I don’t know if anyone else has run that many, but I’m definitely a veteran here.
Course description-99% single track, 1% dirt road, no pavement except to cross a couple roads, just awesome, sweet single track through the forest. Trail running nirvana. Two peak climbs, one to the top of Fuji Peak early in the race and the other to the top of Maiden Peak late in the race. Both provide spectacular views from the tops that make the entire run worth every minute. The elevation isn’t too bad. The peaks top out at 7500’+ with all of the race between 5000’-7000’. Easy enough for me since I train that high, but people coming from sea level do struggle a bit. Most of the trail is very runnable, just the three climbs that really force you into a walk.
So at 5am the race starts. The first mile is one of the walking climbs. Up a service road at the ski area for roughly a mile. Not a climb I really like, but oh well. I start out in my usual location, mid pack and go. I forgot my headlamp but I knew that I’d be able to leach off other runner’s lights, so no big deal. By the time we hit the trail it was light enough to see and start running. The next several miles to the Gold Lake aid are primarily downhill so the running is sweet. The crowd thins out a little and you can get a good run going.
So I hit Gold Lake at the same time I do every year, 1:22 into the race. After Gold Lake we cross a road and begin the climb up to the Fuji Peak aid. Much of this is runnable but there are some fairly steep parts as well. I get into Fuji the first time at the same time I do every year, about 2:30 in. I pretty much blew through this aid station knowing that I’d see them again in 2.5 miles after the climb up to the top of Fuji. Felt good going up Fuji and spent a minute or two enjoying the view from the top. I’d love to spend more time, but there’s a race to run, back down I go. Got back into the Fuji aid, once again, at the same time I do every year. I need to push harder early on in this race. Spent less than two minutes here and headed out for Mt. Ray. This section is primarily downhill, but there are some parts that are pretty rolling. Got into Mt. Ray, you guessed it, the same time I usually do every year. Still feeling very good.
I knew the stretch to Twins 1 was mostly uphill, but I figured I could run most of it. About a mile or so after I left Mt. Ray, I hooked up with four other runners, and with me leading the pack we pushed pretty hard into Twins. I offered to let someone else lead, but they were all good with me heading things up. I was too because it kept me pushing the pace. I got into Twins 1 a full 10 minutes faster than I ever have and I feel great. I was in and out and dropped the rest of the pack heading for the halfway point at Charlton Lake. I was kind of hoping for under 6.5 hours to the halfway and almost made it. I hit Charlton at 6:38 in the race. Once again, fastest pace ever for this section. Dang, I’m on a roll today. As long as I feel good, I’m keeping this up. So, in and out of Charlton heading for road 4290. Not my favorite section of the race, but it’s not too bad. The way I felt through this section made me think that maybe I was slowing down, but when I looked at my splits, this was also my fastest time through here. The section between 4290 and Twins 2 is my least favorite section. You’re 37 miles in, it’s 7.5 to Twins, most of it uphill, during the heat of the day. Ugh! I was still feeling really good so I set a goal of getting to Twins at a 16 minute pace. Usually I’m at about a 16:30 pace. I rocked this section. Averaged 15:20 and pulled into Twins 2 a full 10 minutes faster than I ever have. I knew the next section to Maiden Peak aid was primarily downhill and I resolved to run absolutely as much of it as I could. I was still feeling really good. A little tired, but not sore, no stomach or hydration issues. I rocked this section as well. Averaging a full minute and a half faster pace than I ever have, I pulled into Maiden Peak almost 390 minutes ahead of my fastest time.
I was kind of looking forward to the climb of Maiden Peak. 2.5 miles with 2000’ gain and it gets steeper the higher you go. Made it to the top without too much problem,then back down to the Maiden Lake aid station. Time here wasn’t my fastest, but not too far off. Left Maiden Lake after just a couple minutes feeling good and ready to rock the alst section. Short uphill section, then 7+ miles of sweet downhill, my favorite section of the course. Managed to do this section faster than any other time as well.
I crossed the finish line in 13:44, my fastest time ever on this course by 24 minutes. I felt like I could have kept going too.
So what went right? Virtually everything. I fueled the entire race with First Endurance EFS Liquidshot. This is the first time I’ve conciously gone with a liquid diet during a race. I kept the fueling steady all day by taking a shot every 30 minutes or so. The stuff works great.
Wore my La Sportiva Raptor’s again. I like these shoes. Plenty of traction, good cush, plenty of room for my toes. I ended up with one minor blister.
Just to show the Engineering geek in me, I’ve posted a spreadsheet analyzing my last four races. The 2006 course was a little different and can’t really be compared.

Yeah, not real fast times,, but great for me.

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