Saturday, September 8, 2012

Wasatch Race Report

Warning, this one is pretty long and not necessarily that entertaining.  You have been warned.  If you read on and think "damn, that was boring", then it's your own fault.
Well, I figured I have the time, why not get a race report done while the events are still fresh in my mind.
So, Friday morning (this is Utah after all), I toed the line with about 300 other crazy runners to run the Wasatch 100 Mile Endurance Run.  Time limit, 36 hours, my hoped for time, 29 hours.
At exactly 5am (I hate early race starts, why can't they start at a decent time, say 8am), we got the signal to take off into the early morning darkness.  I felt good, strong, confident in my ability to get this done and score that nifty sub-30 hour buckle.
The first 3.5 miles are along the shoreline trail above Kaysville and Layton.  You could see the city lights a couple hundred feet below as we traversed along the mountainside. At about the four mile point, the trail goes straight up the mountain, climbing 4500 feet in 4.5 miles.  Yeah, tough climb, maybe the toughest one in the race.  You top out on a climb aptly called chinscraper.  It's a 30-40 foot scramble up a 45 degree slope that has you using your hands as well as your feet.  I got up here in a little over 2-1/2 hours.  About my usual time.  I felt good, things were going well. We3 then start running along the ridgeline at about 9000' for the next several miles.  The sun was coming up, temps were still cool, I was cruising along using little effort, life was good. At about mile 13 we were treated to a water stop on top of the mountain by the race director. Shortly after this I came across Aric, one of my friends and training partners.  He was already walking, and this was flat ground.  He told me he felt a pop in his hamstring and could hardly run at all.  Not good since he was planning on running a faster time than his stellar performance last year.  I wished I could have helped him in some way, but there was nothing I could do.  Shortly after this runners were treated to a four mile downhill on the radar tower road to the first aid station at 18 miles.  I got here just a few minutes behind my planned pace.  It used to be that family, crew, spectators were allowed up here.  With the Farmington Canyon road closed, just the aid station people were there.  Made for a much quieter stop.  After five minutes here I trotted on down the 4 x 4 road for the next few miles.  The next section from the this aid station to the next one at Bountiful B is one that I'm not fond of.  Some dirt road running followed by a series of short steep climbs that are really not fun at all.  Still, I did well through here and it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I got to the Bountiful B aid station (23 miles) still feeling well and only 10 minutes behind my planned pace.  After about five minutes here refueling and re-hydrating, I took off for Sessions Liftoff, the next aid station.  This next several miles is all forest service road and not too bad of running.  Nice views of Morgan County and the surrounding mountains.  I still felt good and was in a great mood, moving along well.  I got to Sessions about 10 minutes behind my target pace.  I was happy with that.  My target pace was pretty aggressive, so I figured that if I was a bit behind, not a problem.  The next section is a long, hot, hilly seven miles to Swallow Rock.  We were exposed to the noon sun by now and it warmed up quite a bit.  We did have a nice breeze, but that sun still beat down on you.  The good thing was, I was still on pace, feeling good, and just cruising along.  Swallow Rock always has popsicles and those always hit the spot.  I had a couple, grabbed a couple things to eat and took off for Big Mountain.  In between Swallow Rock and Big Mountain is where things started to go south, I just didn't realize it at the time.  My stomach started to get a bit queasy, nothing big, just a bit unsettled.  Up to this  point I had been eating and drinking plenty, at least I think I was, yeah, I was.  I popped a ginger chew thinking that would help some, and it did....for awhile, but then the feeling came back.  You know how it is, you don't feel like hurling, but you don't want to eat anything for fear that might happen.   You can't do that in a 100 mile race without bad things happening.  You have to eat and drink, otherwise you fail.  So at 39 miles in, I get into Big Mountain.  This is a major aid station and the first place family and crew are allowed to meet their runner.  Also, this si the first place you can have a pacer.  Britta, Bj, Sami, and Lori were all there to greet me.  Britta had brought a slushy.  This was perfect.  Nice warm day, nice cold drink.  Yep, hit the spot.  Trouble is, I didn't get anything else to eat and I should have.  Slushy's don't have very many calories and I'm burning through 125 calories every mile.  I spent about 10-15 minutes at Big Mountain, regrouping, chatting, eating my slushy, then took off.  As I left, I noticed that my hill climbing ability (not that I have much to begin with) was noticeably lower.  I could climb, but not at the same rate I was earlier.  I just chalked it up to being 39 miles into a run and tired.  Meanwhile, I had quit eating my 1st Endurance Liquid Shot.  Usually this gel willl get me to about 60-70 miles before I just can't stand anymore of the stuff.  Planning on this, I had stuffed a bunch of GU's in my drop bag and had some of those with me.  I did manage to choke one of these down, but that was pretty much it.  I had about eight miles to the next aid station through the most exposed part of the course during the hottest part of the day.  Yeah, it was warm.  Believe or not, I was still moving well, even with my stomach still in an unsettled state of affairs.  By the time I got to Alexander Ridge, at 48 miles, I was really starting to not feel well and actually started entertaining thoughts of dropping.  I sat for about 20 minutes at Alexander Ridge just trying to pull myself together.  Every time I would stand up, I would get dizzy.  I knew I had to make it to Lamb's Canyon, since Karen was there helping out.  I gave her a call and let her know what was happening.  She told me to pull it together and get going.  So I did what any good husband does, and listened to my lovely wife and did what she said.  The next six miles were mostly a walk.  By now my stomach was really not happy with me.  I still didn't feel like hurling, but in the state it was in, any sort of food was flat out unappealing.  I finally made it to Lamb's Canyon aid.  This is at 53 miles and is right next to the freeway.  This is also another major aid station where you can meet your family, pick up a pacer, etc.  I got in and immediately had a crew around me, Karen, Britta, Meghan, Bj, all trying to take care of me so I could continue on.  One of the things you have to do at certain points in the race is a weigh in.  You initially weigh in during the race check in the day before.  This is your baseline weight.  Mine was 177.8 lbs.  When I weighed at Big Mountain, I was at 175 lbs.  This is normal.  That means that I'm hydrated and fueled fine.  In the 13 miles between Big Mountain and Lamb's Canyon, I went from 175 to 167.4 lbs.  I was now down 10 lbs.  Some 100 mile races will pull you if your weight loss exceeds 7%.  I was down 6% at this point.  Not good, not good at all.  Not only that, but I had filled my hydration pack to 70 oz. at Alexander Ridge, when I got to Lamb's, it still had 60 oz. in it.  Not only was I not eating, I wasn't drinking either.  I had never been in this situation before.  I've had stomach issues in races, but it was usually fleeting and in shorter races.  I still had 47 miles to go, through the night, and part of the next day.  Now I was seriously entertaining thoughts of dropping.  Because I hadn't fueled adequately, my legs were super tired and I still had the hardest parts of the course to go.  I talked it over with Karen and the crew and decided to at least get to the next aid station eight miles away.  I think I spent about 30 minutes at Lamb's trying to regroup.  I did manage to get about 400 calories down me in the form of a Starbucks Frappucino and some pumpkin pie.  That was a good thing.  I told Karen to not take off for about an hour, because if I hurled, I was coming back in.
At Lamb's I picked up my first pacer, Meghan.  This would be the third Wasatch she has paced me for.  We get along really well, have a good time running together and are comfortable in each other's presence.  All good qualities if some one going to be doing something like this with you.  My stomach issues were something totally new to her and she told me she didn't know how to deal with it except to try and keep me going.  So away we went.  Now even though my legs were shot and I had a hard time eating anything, we still made good time to Upper Big Water.  How that happened, I don't know, but it did.  All along this section, my stomach was in knots.  Several times I had to stop because I thought for sure I was going to hurl.  Never did though.  Through this section several other runners passed me.  At this point, I really didn't care.  I had pretty much made the decision to drop at Upper Big Water.  I couldn't fathom how I was going to continue on for another 38 miles in state I was in.  We got to Upper Big Water at about 10pm.  Not too bad considering the state I was in, but I knew going on was not an option.  I told the aid station captain that I was going to drop here.  Thus began the hunt for an eventual ride home.  Poor Meghan, meanwhile, had her car stashed at Brighton, another 13 miles down the trail.  She did manage to find a runner without a pacer and asked if he wanted one.  He said sure, and they took off.
So I dropped out of Wasatch.  I now have four finishes in six attempts.  Naturally I'm disappointed, but not overly so.  In the state I was in, continuing was not feasible.  Who knows if I could have pulled things together at some point and started feeling well.  Tough to say.  So I failed.  Is that a bad thing?  Not at all but it's still a failure to complete a goal.  There will be other years and other races and this one is now water under the bridge.  One of the good things that came out of this is that I was able to get to the finish line courtesy of Forrest and Breein and watch some of the fast runners come across.  This was pretty cool because a lot of them are my friends and I really enjoyed watching them rock some fast times.
So I'll probably be back next year.  Hopefully I'll get this stomach thing figured out and be as well trained as I was this year and maybe get that elusive sub-30 buckle yet.
Many thanks to my lovely wife Karen for volunteering at the Lamb's Canyon aid and for supporting me in my  somewhat foolish running endeavors.  Thanks also to all of my friends that were out there supporting me, Meghan for putting up with my crap while pacing me.  You guys all are the best.
Meanwhile, tomorrow one of my friends is doing the Ironman Wisconsin and I intend to follow her progress throughout the day.  I hope she does extremely well, go Sally!

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