Saturday, August 2, 2014

Just want to say Thanks

On August 1, 2014, Mike Rosling and William Swint, a couple of experienced and well regarded ultra runners accompanied me on a circumnavigation of Mount Hood.  Without their help I wouldn't have started, and likely wouldn't have made it all the way around.

The main purpose of this blog entry, as it will be missing many details, is to say thanks for helping me make it around this magnificent mountain of Oregon.  Together you selflessly assisted me in traversing the challenging topography, guided me on the trail, and were always encouraging me to keep going.

You've made this one of the most memorable run / hike adventures I've ever done.

I do apologize for my slow time (18 hours 34 minutes).  I know you both could have gone a lot faster, but you took the time to wait for me and made this experience possible.

Here's what we did...
18 hours and 45 minutes to traverse approximately 43 miles and cover about 10K-12K feet of elevation gain.

William during a water and food break
Mike and William sterilizing the water

The route in general, missing a few minor detours...

Where we needed to go
Mike, on his way down to Eliot Creek
...and the ascent route up the other side

Beautiful Scenary - The backside of Mount Hood
Always working together
William and Mike heading across some "open" trail


Ramona Falls
Early in the run, awesome views all day long

I was exhausted, nauseous, and very slow at the end- but ultimately a memorable and satisfying challenge.

Thanks again to both of you...  I couldn't have asked for nicer or more capable people to share this with.

P.S.  Mike, yes, this was the toughest run I've ever done... Although the last 10 miles for me was more of a slow trudge

Thursday, January 9, 2014

2013 - You run some and you lose some (running miles that is) ...that's life as an injured runner

2013 you are done, completed and in the history books of  Gimpy's blogs.

Gimpy's new running mantra

As I reflect on last years running experiences and preparing for 2014 they leave me feeling at once frustrated and hopeful.  Of course, I was frustrated by a laundry list of injuries that challenged my training schedule and impacted some of my goals that went unaccomplished. Going into 2014 they sit at the back of my mind quietly cautioning me to try and avoid  a repeat of some of my training errors.

But I did realize some bright spots for the year that brought satisfaction, bring forth smiles, and foster anticipation for better running days ahead.

So in brief here is the year 2013 running minutes:

Rosary Lakes - Waldo 100K
Silver Falls Trail Marathon

Late 2012 and early 2013 injuries caused me to miss the Capital mile, the Hangover run, the much acclaimed and undervalued Beer mile, and Hagg Lake 50K mud run in February.  These would normally be my season starters to kick the cobwebs free and get into trail shape.  But they were put on hold due to multiple injuries that lasted through the first half of 2013.

I attribute these injuries to too many mile repeats early in the season, that resulted in a pulled left hamstring muscle (snap).  But, never say that Gimpy isn't stubborn regarding certain things.  It was my stubborn commitment to continue training through the pain without repair that resulted in additional issues that would persist for too many months.

The hamstring issues progressed as left Achilles pain followed by right Achilles pain followed by left Achilles pain (Rinse and repeat).  If I could re-invent a single body part, I think it would be the Achilles tendon.  Well maybe there are a few others, but for 2013 this would be the part that fails to receive Gimpy's running body part of the year.  Once they break or tear or gets overly stressed, they needs lots of rest and relaxation, if you do not they will complain bitterly every chance they get.

While I missed many running opportunities, I did run the Cascade Half Marathon in Aumsville and one of the highlights of early 2013 was a P.B. at the Roaring River Half Marathon - 1:47:54.  I think William Swint, Mr Pain Train himself will be credited with this assist.  He was kind enough to warm up with me and reminded me that warming up is a good thing, but he also cautioned that too much warming can result in barely making it to the start line before the start of the race.  Thanks William for your kindness.

Opting out of the Hagg Lake 50K was a strategy that may or may not have helped with my preparation for Gimpy's return to Marathon running.  Ultimately, I took a nice trip with my wife and daughter to Napa Valley and completed it in 4:17.  Not particularly fast, but improvement in time over previous marathons in 2008 and 2010.  However, as you can see below, I wasn't feeling it immediately after the race.  Maybe I needed a hot dog, cotton candy, or something equally fluffy and pretty.  I'm not sure at this point.

Note: Some of the following images may be distressing, if you have an overwhelming urge to faint, just look away from screen.  I can assure you I only look exhausted.

Unexpectedly Exhausted - Napa Valley
Expectedly Exhausted - Mt Hood 50

Moving forward through the year, my running times at Peterson Ridge 40 miler in April and McDonald Forest 50K in May were also slower than expected, but finally in June things started to click for me.  I felt better physically and relatively pain free during the Run for the Hills 30K, I ran a sub-11 hr Western States qualifier at Mt Hood 50M (Yeah!!!), although I don't look much different after this run than after Napa in March. 
Maybe I should have requested an IV, hhhhhmmm, maybe next year.  My favorite running coach and mentor, Mike "Speedy" Rosling says it is quite the pick me up.  I'm not a big fan of needles so I'll have to take his word for it.
The SOB 50K South of Ashland was beautiful and well worth the drive, although the heat and fire looked ominous while I was driving down.
I happily made it into the Waldo 100K, which would become the longest run of my life and with Mike Rosling pacing me, I was able to finish in a 17hr 24 minutes and I got my hat.  Since I'd dropped the previous year, it was one of my biggest running accomplishments.  I did rip one of my other hats while swatting at bees.  Why can't they just be happy creatures?  Fortunately no stings.  And I will painfully and always remember that long and seemingly infinite trudge up Maiden Peak. 
These kind of memories help hold the brain cells together.
After Waldo, I started tapering the miles in September in preparation for the Mountain Lakes 100, but decided on a last minute whim to try and get into the McKenzie 50K and pace it like a 100 miler.  Surprisingly, I finished McKenzie with an improved time from 2012 and felt ready for,

wait for it...

My first 100 miler, Mountain Lakes 100.

Going into this run, I was super excited.  I had a great crew with my older sister Sherrie, her husband Brandt, their son Carson, as well as two pacers, my nephew Ray "that 70's guy" Davanzo and Mike "Speedy" Rosling.  To every ones surprise, the bizarreness that is Oregon weather struck and I finished my race at mile 49 as everyone was pulled from the course due to high winds, rains that left inches of water in the trail, snow, and falling trees.  I was super cold as I approached the Red Wolf Aid Station and I was glad they had heaters and space blankets to help warm up.  I haven't summarized all the things I would do differently yet, but a life after this run continues on and I don't have any regrets even though I didn't exceed my 100K distance at Waldo.  I think I'll be better prepared for next year and I will be going back, especially if I stay away from the dreaded injury goblins.

I finished up the year with some fun and memorable runs like the Condor 25K, a super nice race for a great cause in honor of Dave Bateham, the Detroit Lake fun run, a trail marathon at Silver Falls, and Shellburg Falls put on by Gary and Shandi Terlecki and the folks at Run Wild Adventures, and Mike Ripley's Hell of the Northwest 25K on some nice trails near Starker Forest, just outside of Blodgett, OR.

Although my total miles for 2013 were low relative to my goals, 1550 vs 2000, it was a quite a running year...

Highlights include decision to try out shoe testing with Nike, running a half marathon PR, completing my longest run to date of 100K, completing a Western States Qualifier at Mt Hood (even though I didn't get in via the lottery (Sadness inserted here), toed the line for an attempt at a 100 miler, and got to run some super fine trails with some super nice people.  What could be better?  Well besides being injury free and an endless supply of diet pepsi and an occasional beer.

Advertisement to become a Nike Footwear Tester - Sign me up

2013 Race Summary
Jan 2013   - Cascade Half Marathon
Feb 2013  - Roaring River Half Marathon
Mar 2013 - Napa Valley Marathon
                 - Buck Mountain 6.5M
Apr 2013  - Peterson Ridge Rumble 40M
May 2013 - McDonald Forest 50K
Jun 2013   - Run for the Hills 30K
                 - Pacific Crest Duathlon Relay (Half Marathon) - Bike = Joe Rothery
Jul 2013   - Mt Hood 50M
                 - SOB 50K
Aug 2013 - Waldo 100K
Sep 2013  - McKenzie River 50K
                 - Mountain Lakes 100M (DNF - Weather)
Oct 2013  - Condor 25K
                 - Detroit Lake 6M
                 - McDonald Forest 15K
Nov 2013 - Silver Falls Trail Marathon
                 - Hell of the Northwest 25K
                 - Mid-Valley Road Run 3.7M
Dec 2013 - Shellburg Falls 7M

So 2014, be gone frustrations and hello hope, can't wait to see what you bring...

Happy Running New Year...

Until then Let's Go Gimpy, Run...

Sunday, July 28, 2013

SOB 50K - A nice place to run an Ultra - Mt Ashland

July 27, 2013 - SOB 50K - First time to run this ultra and it was worth it

I was a little worried on the drive down to Ashland on Friday afternoon when it was reading 106-108 degrees F near Grants Pass on I-5.  Fortunately, climbing up to Mt Ashland Ski Resort the temperatures cooled off a bit and hovered in the mid-80's.  I setup camp and strolled around to get used to the higher elevation compared to the lowlands of Albany Oregon.

The views were inspiring and couldn't ask for better pre-race weather.  The clouds moving in made me think some sprinkles were in planned so I tossed the rainfly over the tent.  Ultimately, didn't need it.  A good night's sleep and at 0600am the first 50 milers came by, front row seat.
In about an hour, I'd be taking the same route less 20 miles give or take.  The 50 milers take a detour into California and back on the PCT.

 The sun was just rising before the start and the temperature cool enough with the wind chill to support a sweat shirt and sleeves.  I dropped the sweat shirt as I ran past the car on the way to the PCT trailhead about 0.4 miles from the start.

They were chip timing this race at the start and finish, a first from my experience.  Something I usually only see at road races. So we funneled through the chute and I could see with this many runners how it might help stagger the groups of runners out before the trail portion of the run.

The course was amazing, lots of hills and descents and very little flat sections.  I tried to push the downs, since my hill climbing speed it turtle like.  The first aid station was manned by a pirate captain and crew which really got the spirits up.  I wasn't feeling drained by the elevation, like Flagline 50K the first year I ran it and I was hopeful to get under 7 hours.  Those first 15 miles went by fast.  There would be small groups of people pulling a train to get up the steeper hills, but then we'd spread out.  It didn't seem like 300+ runners were out here.  I passed about 10 hikers on their way to Canada and even one with a solar panel and laptop for logging his experience.

I guess I took the first 15 miles a little too aggressively and got to the turn around in 3 hours and 15 minutes.  I reveled in how good I felt and started back towards the finish line, following a slightly different road section than the out section.  The wind had been blowing and I hadn't noticed the heat much.  Once I hit the turn around it was more noticeable and on the hills I definitely noticed it.  The views continued to provide visual relief even if the sun did not.  I still had hopes of sub-7 hours until I got to the last two climbs and knew that it was going to be a challenge.  I settled into a sustainable hiking pace and tried to stay hydrated.  Maryann and a lady in pink kept me on an honest running and hiking pace, but in the end they both passed me leaving me to ponder what sources of energy remain for some people that get them to the finish line faster and with better poise than my own self efforts.

I had started to notice I'd fallen behind on my gels and had started eating bananas and coke at the aid stations, usually a sign my stomach was starting to get queasy and it would soon would rebel, if I wasn't tempered in my water consumption.  I stayed hydrated as best I could, but finished with almost two full bottles from the last aid station.  Those bananas and coke got me to the finish line in just under 7 hours and 10 minutes.  Beating the cut off was sweet, I was feeling a little overheated for about 30 minutes, but  doused my head in water, got some soda, watermelon, and taco's and was feeling much better.

I can't believe how close to my time at the Flagline 50K in 2012, also about 7 hr and 10 min.  As I was looking at the 50K records for Ian Sharman's for Flagline and SOB and they are around 3:33.

The SOB 50K is a beautiful run and gave me a peek at the efforts I'd need at Waldo in a couple weeks.  Need to dig deep for that one, if I want to finish Waldo and get under 18 hours for the hat.

I got a chance to meet some new running friends, Al and Nancy from Bend.  Matt Nahorniak finished very well and I'm impressed by many of the 50 milers who passed me like I was standing still on the way back to the ski resort.

I now have some good memories from the run in the Siskiyou's.  The sun was stained red behind the forest fire that was burning in Southern Oregon and the long drive afforded time to think how lucky we are to have such beautiful places to run. 

Many thanks to the team SOB and all the volunteers for putting on a well organized Ultra along the southern most part of Oregon running territory.

Looking forward to doing this one again.

Until then, let's Gimpy, time to run...

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Still Gimpy after all these years

Well Gimpy managed to injure his self before even getting started in 2013.

2012 ended with a pulled hamstring, left and right Achilles strains, and shooting pains in my right calf.

It's too bad to, as I had high hopes I could retire my Gimpy blog this year and move on to whatever might be next in the way of writing about my running experiences.  I have occasionally daydreamed of no longer being Gimpy, but rather to be quietly cheering  myself on as lightning or speedy or frankly any other non-injury related nom de coureur.

I made this reference up since I have no idea how to speak French.  but instead of using nom de guerre, which translates from French to English as "name of war", I find "name of racer" much more appealing.

Oh well, it's not my biggest running set back.  In 2009 I tore my right calf muscle while skiing on the bunny slope, quite embarassing, and in 2010 I rolled my left ankle pretty hard coming down "Uproute" in McDonald Forest near Corvallis Oregon which resulted in a grade 2 strain.

I believe I've found myself face first in the dirt more often on Extendo than any trail I've run, even though it's not the most difficult.  I guess since I've run it so often I just push myself harder and make sillier mistakes.  As a result of the sprain in 2010 I spent most of 2011 recovering (almost 8 months), but I finally got into 2012 with a lot more confidence.  My running friends made a positive difference, with motivation, suggestions, and just good camaraderie.  It was for Mike, William, Eric, Tonya, Gene, and Derek's help, that I am a stronger and better prepared runner.  The aches, pains, and strains are my own doing.

Regardless, if I ignore the end of year injuries, I feel 2012 was a solid running year for me.

I started training earlier in the year and I completed a good part of the Oregon Trail 50K series, running, Hagg Lake, McDonald Forest, McKenzie River, and Flagline.  Surprisingly this resulted in a first place for my age group.  I also managed to compete at Peterson Ridge 40M, the Mt Hood PCT 50, and made it through the first 45 miles of Waldo 100K.

Twilight Run 5K
Balloons lighting up after Twilight Run
On the road, I managed some faster times with my 5K runs, especially in the Twilight run that I did with my running buddy Derek Stirling, I got a PR and as a bonus got to hang out with Derek, Valerie, and Noah while they lit up the balloons.

I had a really fun time running with my sister at Buck Mountain in the snow and mud.  These are the experiences that stand out beyond the personal challenges of trail running and road races.  I was so proud of Derek and especially my sister for sharing some of there running experiences with me. 
My Sister Sharon, running Buck Mtn

Bandera Texas - Trail Run
San Antonio Alamo 13.1 Half
In spring, I made a side trip to Texas and ran the inaugural Alamo 13.1 Half in San Antonio.

I took an extra couple of days and ran extra miles near Bandera Texas, just to see what running in the lone star state was like.  I definitely got a few cactus scratches and scrapes there,  but wouldn't mind going back in the future for both run and fun.

I ran some new runs at McKenzie and McDonald Forest and I repeated Mt Hood and Flagline for some nice PR's  and hopes of more this coming year.

Waldo 100K - Less intimidating before the start
I did experience the feelings of regret and frustration that come with my first mid-race drop.  I've been prepping towards running a 100 miler this last year and my resolve did waiver a bit when I dropped from the Waldo 100K in August 2012.

Waldo was intended to be my stepping stone on longer distances greater than 50 miles, before attempting a hundred miler.  For better or worse, I'm not sure.  This time I didn't have the mental and physical where with all to push beyond mile 45 mark and made the decision to drop after the Twins aid station.

Me looking beat after Fuji Mtn descent - Waldo 100K
I have to say the volunteers were so helpful and amazing, especially Gabi and Frank who got me everything I need to make it out of there before the cutoffs.  My son Andrew was being so supportive, but in the end I couldn't rationalize the 20+ hours it would have taken me to finish on this attempt.

I hope to take another shot at Waldo this year.  The fingers are crossed for getting in and hoping for good results now that I have a  better idea what I'm getting into.

Road trip home after Flagline 50K
Running (By the Garmin numbers)
2011 - Total miles run     ~1480 miles
2012 - Total miles run     ~1680 miles
2013 - Total miles goal    ~2000 miles

Beautiful sunset near Sisters on the way home from another long run...

So unfortunately, I've ended 2012 injured and Gimpy's working to recover from a hamstring, achilles, calf pain. . .

A future run near PCT Trailhead - Hwy 20
I still have high hopes to make a attempt for 2000 running miles in 2013. This will be quite a challenge as my current foot and leg injuries, but I need a good reason to stop vegging out in front of the TV.

That's one of many rewards that come from running the outdoors, it's a legitimate excuse to get off the butt and put in some healthy leg lift miles and to dream some dreams that might just come true some day.

SO, 2013 is another Gimpy's year...

The year to say once again, you guessed it...

Let's go Gimpy, time to run...

Monday, August 20, 2012

I Saw Waldo and Waldo Won! This Time!!!

This is what Waldo Lake looks like from Fuji Mountain on slightly cloudy morning of August 18, 2012.  It's also my only glimpse of the lake from about 7000 feet that I would get during the race.

This is a short blog about my Waldo, my first 100K race, where the geographic ups and downs mapped pretty close to the rise and fall of my mind against the body.  This is the race where my body and Waldo won, this time.

Of course, the term race for me is a bit of a misnomer unless I view it as my competition against the clock, that arbitrary time from when the race starts to when the race directors say wrap it up or in the case of Waldo the race where the body tells the brain you can't have anymore, you're done.

Yes, I'm a back of the pack average ultrarunner and the mind and body are sometimes at odds with each other.  I try to balance my modicum of capability with the challenge at hand.  I think I can safely say the Waldo 100K is a worthy challenge mentally and physically.

So it was I took the 3AM start to be safe so that I could hit all the cutoffs.  Thankfully I managed to hit all the cut offs with minutes to spare.  A little over 12 hours earlier the race director, Craig Thornley, did the countdown I was breathing easily, but I was feeling a bit odd for a early morning start.  This was the earliest I'd ever started a run of any length that started in the dark.

Fortunately, I'd done a night run with Mike Rosling a few days earlier and realized I needed fresh batteries and made sure I had a good backup lite just in case.  Running in the dark guided only by the runners ahead and a few well placed reflective tapes narrows the focus, it's where do I put my feet and why don't I see any tape.  Sometimes, I'd catch a glimpse of a head lamp in the dark or see a piece of tape laying on the ground, somewhat reassured I was heading in the right direction.

After the start we head uphill for the first two miles mostly hiking up the road and out of Willamette pass ski resort.  It feels odd to be in the top 10-15 runners and I think how odd it feels to be running ahead of so many other great runners.  Then reality strikes and I remind myself that I will soon have the pleasure of getting passed by a bunch of really fast people in about four hours or so.  But for just a little while I pretend I'm one of the front runners and it feels good.

Heading down towards the Gold Lake campground I glance at my pace and think it's a bit fast.  Sub-12 minute pace wasn't on my mental math card, but I feel like I should take advantage of the gravity assist and hope I don't trip.  A short time later I trip and fall, the first of many mind / body disconnects.  I decide to keep pressing as long as my heart rate and breathing are reasonable.  Check and check, easy breathing, HR less than 130.

At one point I see a big pile of brown stuff, side step it, and think "Bear", then I think how about we think "Horse" and the heart rate drops back into normalcy.  This is during a time when there's no runners in sight.  It's with relief I see the signs for Gold Lake campground and have to remind myself to slow down and enjoy this first stop before the climb up to Fuji.  Todd Miller wishes me good luck and it's too dark to see his face, but I thank him and the other great volunteers awake at too dark to see anything AM.

Next stop Fuji Mtn Aid station.  Heading up the mountain trail, I'm starting to get passed by quite a few runners.  I decide I need to set my own pace and let them go.  I'm looking forward to William "Pain Train" Williams words of wisdom.  Mike told me he'd be directing traffic somewhere on the trail.  Pretty soon I see someone sitting on the uphill side of the trail saying to take a left.  It's William and he says "take it easy".  I'm thinking does he mean I should be walking.  'cause that's what I think it means.  I try to translate into William's 'take it easy' and I'm remembering his birthday bash up at the North Santiam with Levi, Mike, and a few of his other running buddies, 'cause that easy was my barely able to breathe easy.

I decide he must have meant walk and adjust accordingly.  Easy took me just over three hours to cover the 12.4 miles from Willamette Pass through Gold Lake campground and up the Fuji Mtn trail.  Happy days only 3 more hills to climb and 53 miles to go.  Piece of cake.

I have to remind myself I didn't have a drop bag at this aid station, decide it's light enough to drop my headlamp, grab some watermelon, and head for the top.  It seems easier for some reason as compared to the run Mike, Samuel, and I had done a few days before in the daylight.

At the top I asked one of the Ham radio guys to snag a couple pictures of me with the lake in the background with my iPhone, (which by the way weighs too much to be lugging around for the couple pictures I got).  But, regardless I think I like the first one he took the best.  I think it shows the real me, that's me in blue, it shows me a little lite-headed, but glad I get some downhill running.

The downhill is definitely better and I see where the other runners are.  I feel like downhill is one of my "strengths", at least compared to uphill, flat, and technical stuff.  I gain on a few people and hope I feel this good on the next climb.

I hit the aid station, get some water and Gu brew, (which I now don't like anymore), mentally note how much I really appreciate the volunteers, say my heartfelt thanks and head on down the trail.

William gives me some more good advise about running easy and consistent, I love it when I see this guy running or volunteering, I can't help but be motivated.  I hope he had plenty of mosquito repellant, 'cause I could feel them attacking the backs of my arms and legs.  As part punishment, the mind decided no DEET and no sunscreen.  Of course, it was all based on science, partly cloudy, light sprinkles.  The mosquito's would be holed up somewhere staying nice and dry, right.  Hmmmm, the body would repay in kind.  There's a little rise after passing William, that's a bit of a chore, but fortunately I was distracted by some loud crashing behind me, I glanced back and saw this huge animal in the trees, fortunately not running towards me.  It was an Elk one of the few animals I saw during the whole run, aside from chipmunks and mosquitos.  That took my mind off the hill and got me onto a good downhill section.

I remember stopping at a small creek and rinsing my face and the 5AM lead runner blows by.  I think I better get moving. A little later I think I do a nice little side step to let Timothy Olson go by , he zips by and says "nice".  I watch in slow motion as he two steps across two boulders and on down the trail.  It takes me four steps and a bunch of pre-zigs and post-zags to cover the same space.  I gave some thought as to how I could reproduce that technique, patent it, and sell it for a trillion dollars.  Then I decided I better get moving and start some mental calculations, if a Gimpy man is running at an average pace of 13 minutes per miles with a two hour head start how long will it take a lanky Mike "The speedster" Rosling traveling at 8 minutes / mile to catch up with the Gimpy man.

Answer:  Not very long, my son took a pic of him around mile 20ish and the next picture was of me and he had a 6 minute lead on me.  I felt like he'd just passed me a mile before.

I'm still feeling good at this point, I like my speed and my time.  Sipping water, Gu brew, and eating at all the aid stations.  That was the plan and I'm following it.  Finishing looks good, done with the first 20, 45 to go.  There's been a light rain and I chat on the road what feels like the perfect snails pace.  That's a good sign.  This must be that 'Easy and consistent' William was talking about.

Now the fun begins, two hills down three to go.

The "Twins" aid station volunteers are awesome. There's Frank and Gabi from Corvallis, cheering me in and feel great.  I can't believe how good I feel.  Someone asks if I want some broth and I think that sounds good.  I snag some pototes dipped in salt.  I glance up and there's Bret Henry.  This is a good sign I'm running with Bret, his times from previous years were right on for where I want to run.  I snag some watermelon and think I better get on up the trail.  Water vest is full, Gu brew in the bottle and I'm off.  I've been doing my regular Gel's and think it's time for some more.

Uh-oh that doesn't feel right, before I know it I'm off the trail, one-two-three steps.  Mount Hood 45 mile repeat.  The body says whatever you did by not putting on sun screen and mosquito repellant, I'm not taking anymore of your food or drink.  The stomach rebels.  1-2-3 and Bret goes by and I'm thinking he's thinking that guys not going to make it.  I try to block out those thoughts and think reset.  If I start all over, a little Gu, a little sip.  I've got maybe two miles of feeling good before I crash.  I felt better for a couple miles at Mt Hood.  What can I do to change things up in the next two miles.  Answer: Mint Chocolate Gu.  A little, now a little sip.  Walk, go slow, you can recover there's plenty of time.

I'm not down yet, let's take it slow.  I get the Gu down and more water.  Now I just want to get to the next aid station.  It will be tough but just keep moving.  I can't believe I'm sweating just writing about this.  Charlton Aid comes and I snag some ginger cookies and shot blocks from my drop bag.  Decide I better switch to Coke, sugar-caffeine, that's got to be better than just water.  I read somewhere about a runner who was always throwing up during ultras and they switched to drinking defizzed soda, got switch things up.  Slow and steady, slow and steady.  Heading out of Charlton Aid I think this is the most beautiful lake I've ever seen.  I could camp here, I should camp here, I should find a place right now and camp here.  That's got to be the body talking.

The body wanted this, the mind said haha sucker you had your chance and it's not working.  Say goodbye to Charlton lake, three of five hills are done, two to go.  I said good-bye and head up to "Road 4290" aid station.  That's the last bag drop, what's there that might help.  I still haven't eaten the shot blocks or the cookies, I don't think I have anything else in the bags that will help.

I'm walking, but at a good pace.  I can still make it, if I can just get some food in.  Nothing, make it to Road 4290 on Coke, but it's starting to taste too sweet.  What to do?  Have a seat, and I do.  I empty the trail debris from my shoes, adjust my socks, and think maybe Sprite and ice.  I hear an aid station volunteer is to help, but encourage us to keep moving, I know it's not directed at me, but I still think yes, I better get moving.  Thankfully, the guy that won the "show me your Waldo" just shows up and does a haiku for the volunteers, I'm envious.  He hands out candy and is gone, I douse my head with ice water and head on down the trail.  Oblivious to the next climbs demands.

This is where I get the bright idea to turn on some music, Andrew, (my son), loaned my his small ipod full of music.  It put one earpiece in and turn it on.  It helps shift my focus from how tired I am to the music, I tried to concentrate on the words, the beat, the temp, and get my feet moving in sync.  Sometimes I get it and then occasionally I'm reminded how tired I'm getting.  Another sip, one sip at a time.  The "Twins" trail is a grind, the toughest so far.  I feel like I'm crawling, I could be laying down and moving faster it seems.

I still have enough will power to keep plugging along, I force myself to look around, keep seeing the meadows, the trees, the water, other runners/hikers.  I see I couple of guys and I'm gaining on them.  It turns out they are sitting down.  A little while later they pass me and then they are sitting down again.  This wasn't good, cause now the body is saying see that they get to sit down, that's what you should do.  How about that tree, nope it's got a limb sticking out of it, not comfortable.  OK how about that one?  Nope it is rotting and might collapse.  Sip some Sprite, uh-oh don't sip, sup, or think about eating or drinking. How about you sit on that log? Yeah that looks real comfortable, how about you lay down on this log?  I can't I have my running vest on.  Mind vs body, the body is arguing for rest, the mind to get up and move it.

I finally willed myself up and made to the next tree, all my good works, sipping soda will come to not save watering the plants.  Whoo hoo! two more miles of feeling good, take that body.  I feel good enough to move and I gotta take advantage.  Well it wasn't two miles, but it got me moving.  I knew it wasn't a good sign, but I also was starting to see the top of the Twins in the distance.  This is the fourth hill, I'm gonna make it.  I'm seeing again, the sky is sure blue, and it's warm again.  I know I'm moving slow, but I get that slow and steady now.  I made it to the top and I want to ever so bad run, jog, speed walk the downs.  I can't the body is grinding to a halt.  The mile to the aid station drags on and feels more like two, but I hear some bells and hooting.  There's Gabi and Frank, David Elsbernd sprays me down with water.  You couldn't ask for a  better bunch of volunteers.  But I'm spent and I let them know it. I want to get up, but I gotta have some food or drink.  I eat four little pieces of water melon and wait.  I sip some water and wait, I chew some ice and wait.

I finally glance at my watch and I think this aid station is going to close soon, I need to get moving.  Frank Schnekenburger is encouraging to get moving and I agree.  I gotta get going.  He threatens to have Gabi come talk to me and I use it as an excuse to move.  I can't believe how much motivation I got from this group.  I wished I could bottle it, I know I would have made it to the finish.  I didn't mean it Gabi when I said I wouldn't let you give me a IV at the end of the race, I think I could have used it at The Twins, maybe I would have had a better shot at finishing.

Even so, I trotted out of the aid station, feeling better, but soon was down to a walk.  There's the road and 3/4 of a mile I needed to make a decision.  Keep going to the next aid station, hit 50 miles, and drop or call it quits.  Dropping early is always a tough decision, one I've never had to make before.  I knew some day I might need to make it and Waldo was definitely a worthy opponent to call "Uncle".  So be it, Waldo's my uncle.  I got one nice pic of me and Uncle Waldo, but unfortunately pictures of Waldo from "The Twins" and Maiden Peak will have to wait for another time.

Waldo for me was more than a geographic challenge, yes the climbs are tough, the miles seem longer, but this is a beautiful and worthy trail course.  The volunteers are amazing, the race directors top notch.  I was thankfully saved the higher temperatures and treated to some amazing life experiences and new places to revisit.  I had the joy of my son Andrew crewing for me and that was one of the most rewarding aspects of Waldo.

Andrew gave me a ride into the finish line and I turned my number "230" into Craig Thornley as my first "DNF".  I shall miss you 230, Waldo, you made me say "who's your uncle" and it is you.  But I feel better slogging it out from mile 27 - 42, pushed myself more than ever before and take away some very good memories.

In particular, sitting with my son at the finish line.  Seeing Larry Stephens finish and wishing it was me, that delicious veggies soup and hamburger, and losing my glasses in the restroom and finding them at the aid station with Todd Jansen a few minutes later.

Finding Mike and his mom, letting him know he wouldn't have to wait until I finished.  Mike as always put it on the line and finished an amazing 10th, under 12 hours.  He's one inspirational guy how always runs from the heart.

Thanks Andrew, Mike, William, Frank, Gabi, Scott, Todd, David, Jared 1 and 2, and all the Waldo volunteers and RD's.  What a great experience and inspirations one and all.  Hope to see you all next year.

Oh Waldo, I did not know you, but I know you better.  I saw you once and hope to see you again next year along with those three big peaks above 7000 ft.  Mind and body working as one, Team Gimpy.

Woot! Woot! Woot!

Until then, Let's go Gimpy, Time to run!!!

Next stop, McKenzie River 50K...

This should be called the Waldo 100K (105K) as the Waldo course was modified this year due to several fires around Willamette pass and in particular near Bobby Lake.  It ultimately resulted in a few added miles and some "minor" changes to the course.  I wished I could have seen the whole thing, but had to drop around mile 45, officially "The Twins" aid station at mile 42.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Mt Hood PCT 50: Improvements noted, hopefully more to come

     July weather brings blue sky and warm sunny days, a great time to be running.  Arriving the day before the Mt Hood PCT 50, the chipmunks, crickets, and beetles were oblivious to the running that was about to happen in a little over 12 hours.  It's a great wonder that nature offers up such a nice a pallet for trail running and for me getting out on the trails provides the opportunity to see Oregon at it's finest.

This July heading up to Clackamas Historic Ranger Station I was looking forward to a good 50 mile challenge.  This would be Gimpy's third 50 mile ultra since 2011.

After scouting out a place to park for the night, I wandered down to the start finish area and thought about the last minute details for the run and aid stations.

The Clackamas Meadow was gorgeous as the sun started to set.   I snagged a couple pictures of the meadow/lake with flowers in bloom, with a good night's sleep, Gimpy's 2nd Mt Hood 50 mile run was about to begin.

The Gimpy goals for the Mt Hood PCT 50 held July 28, 2012 were:

1) Run under 11 hours
2) Qualify for Western States (WS100)
3) Run faster than 2011
4) Finish with a smile

These are not necessarily the goals of the elite or speedy runner, but simply an average runner looking for incremental improvements on tougher and tougher ultra challenges, hoping someday to complete a hundred miler.

I knew going in to the run that the first two goals were a bit aggressive given the significant amount of time improvement needed to hit the 11 hour goal as compared to 12 hours 29 min in 2011.

I knew it was going to take significant reduction in mile times of 1:00 - 1:30 minutes / mile for the first 28 miles and over 2:30 minutes / mile for the last 22 miles to hit sub-11 hours.  It was definitely a daunting task.

Starting the run at 6:30AM, the morning started cool, the trail dusty, but for me the pace quite reasonable.  I had my new Garmin 910XT and heart rate monitor hoping to get a full run recorded.  In 2011, the old Garmin 110 had failed at 6 hours in 2011, barely past the return to the 28 mile start finish line.  As it turned out the satellite signal failed at mile 14 (Frog Lake) and it didn't recover until I turned the watch off and back on at the start finish line.  Technology has it's frustrating bits.  So for better or worse, I only used the heart rate and time for the first 28 miles.

The watch was a distraction, but I knew I'd get to see the speedsters and almost everyone else a couple times for the two out and backs and I hoped I'd get some motivation to keep the pace up to meet my goals.

The pace to Timothy Lake was good for me, but a bit bunched up in places.  I kept monitoring the heart rate and keeping it under 140.  I wondered where I'd pass the lead runners and early starters on my way up to Frog Lake.  A short time later, sure enough Ian Sherman and Mike "Shave and Haircut" Rosling were tearing up the course as I passed them heading back to the start finish area.  The two went on to 1st and 2nd place looking like the whole thing was but a walk in the park.  Bret Henry, someone who'd been running about my speed passed me some time earlier, but I decided not to try and keep up with him and rely on the heart rate as a indication of the right pace for a stronger finish than 2011.  I'm glad I didn't as he went on to shave a huge chunk of time off his own times which so far have been consistently under 11 hours.

Not long after the lead runners went by, I got some new motivation, when William "Pain Train heading for the Plain 100" Swint, Levi "1st Ultra" Wilson, and John "Get it done" Asman came rumbling by clearing the trail of root and stone.  I know this had to be the case since Gimpy did not trip, fall, or otherwise crash and burn for the entire race.

I had thought I'd try to finish the first 28 miles in about 5:30 and was pleasantly surprised when I rolled in around 5:15.  I thought wow, now can I finish the last 22 without the dead mans walk repeat of 2011.  This would be tough though since I wouldn't have my sister to pace me in to the finish this year.

Not having the Garmin in top form actually seemed to work to my advantage for awhile as I felt pretty good still going up to Red Wolf Pass aid station. I didn't start feeling the heat until I was heading up the first big hill.  The downhill sections felt fast, even though in reality they weren't as fast as I'd need.

Gimpy made a number of mistakes along the way.  I wore the vest for the first 28 miles, but for lapse of brain function or something, consistently underfilled it at the aid stations and ran out twice before getting back to the ranger station.  Otherwise, I continued to get enough Gu in every 30 minutes.

The other mistake came in the second half when I didn't get enough solid food in.  I'd switched to bottles so I could see how much fluid I had and refilled at all aid stations, but continued with just gummy bears and gels.  I felt good and was running all the downhills and most of the flats.  Heading up to the Warm Springs Meadow aid station I started feeling the heat and the distance.  They'd also moved the aid station down the road a bit further.  I was pleasantly surprised that I hadn't resorted to any Coke, which is usually a sign I'm running out of energy for the long runs.

I don't know if it was the melted gummy bears at the previous aid station or just one drink too many, but right after the final aid station at Red Wolf Pass I got about 150 meters and decided I better take one more Gu, sip some water before the finish, but almost immediately had to step off the trail and do the ole heave ho. One, two, three and hmmm, I actually feel pretty good.  The whole experience reminded me of something Mike had told me that he felt a lot better after he upchucked in a previous run.  That good feeling lasted a solid two miles.  I was rockin' 11:30's, which for me is solid at 45+ miles.  Unfortunately, I couldn't get any food or drink in me and nothing seemed good.

So Mr dead man's walk, I'd ran out of energy.  Mentally the best I could do was relentless forward progress at turtle pace, the beetles were walking faster than I was.  Two miles to go, not good for 11 hours.The eight horses going by was a nice distraction, especially the one that tried to kick me got my attention.  I learned that if you don't want a horse to kick you, you should greet it like in Harry Potter and the Hippogrif.  Bow low and say Hi.  Well that's what 48 miles makes me think about, that and the riders kept telling me to say hi.  I can't remember how many times I said Hi, I was too tired to recall.

I kept looking for the sign out of the reservation and finally the 1/2 mile sign to the ranger station.  At that point mentally I got jogging and finished in what on film looks like a walk, but I felt like I was sprinting.  Regardless 50 miles done, Boom!!!

Knocked off a solid 1 hour 8 minutes the 2011 time.  Apparently I needed to leave a little room for next years improvements.

The aid stations were well stocked and the volunteers were all smiles and very helpful.  I like the way Todd Jansen organizes the run and the post-run burger is great, even though I couldn't eat a thing for a couple hours.  Much appreciation to the Long Run Picture company for snapping pictures all day long.  Wouldn't have much to record the finish without them.  Nice work and many thanks for a great run experience.  

Mt Hood PCT 50M Ultra trail run - Gimpy's Run Numbers

Year  1st (28 miles)  2nd (22 miles)  Full (50 miles)
2011    5 hr 38 min     6 hr 51 min      12 hr 29 min
2012    5 hr 15 min     6 hr 05 min      11 hr 21 min
Diff           - 22 min          - 46 min      - 1 hr 08 min

How'd we get here.  Well 2012 running has been better, with some longer miles over the year and thanks to Mike, Eric, Tonya, and William a bunch more hills compared to last year.

These longer hillier training runs and a few more 50K+ races this year prior to Mt Hood resulted in much better preparation:
Feb 2012: Hagg Lake 50K              (6:26:12)
Apr 2012: Peterson Ridge 40M       (7:43:40)
May 2012: McDonald Forest 50K  (6:55:52)
July 2012:  Mt Hood PCT 50M      (11:20:45)

So far a solid run year.

I've still got a few more runs planned this year:
Waldo 100K (Finish goal - sub-18 hours)
McKenzie River 50K (Finish with a smile)
Flagline 50K (Better than last year)

Waldo is unlikely to result in a Western States 100M qualifying time (15 hours), not likely and the remaining 50K's go toward the Oregon Ultra Series.

The more I consider where things stand this year, I think it's better I didn't get qualify for Western States.  So much of running ultra's is mental.

I've learned a lot more about what it takes to run the longer distances and I don't think I've had enough hills and miles and mental prep needed to be successful in a race like Western States (<30 hours).

Even so, the judges have spoken and there inputs entered into the new Gimpy Run Improvement Time Scale (GRITS).  The results indicate the year to year improvement for Mt Hood PCT 50 rates 8 out of 10.

Looking forward to more good running at Waldo, McKenzie, Mt Batchelor, and seeing more Oregon trail ultra treasures.

As always, I wouldn't be running as well this year if it wasn't for some really nice people who keep encouraging me to never quit and to try new tougher trails, like William, Eric, Mike, Derek, Gene, Samuel, and now Tonya (Mike's wife).  Well and of course my alter ego Gimpy, who keeps me honest and takes the blame for all my faults and short comings.

Happy running...

Can't wait for the next big run...

Let's Go Gimpy, Time to Run!!!