BHS 100K

Here is some video and pictures from the 2013 Bishop Ultramarathon. I completed the 100K in 14 hours 22 minutes.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Greg's Running Adventures: The Top of New Mexico

Greg's Running Adventures: The Top of New Mexico

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Meanderings: Part 2: Metabolic Efficiency: Friend and Certainly...

Meanderings: Part 2: Metabolic Efficiency: Friend and Certainly...: This is a follow-on post to my colleague’s post from last week. If you haven’t read it, please check it out here . Having worked with Bob an...

Spring Mountain 115 - May 23, 2:00am to May 24 sometime ...

Hi. I just wanted to let you all know that my 100 mile run through the Spring Mountains is still on for next Saturday. I have fixed the table below with my approximate schedule that I had posted above which was a little confusing. Anyone is welcome to come out and run all or part of it with me or just to cheer me on a bit if you are in the neighborhood. I will have my SPOT tracker with me too so you can get a better idea of where I am throughout the day.

The first time is the elapsed time and the second is an approximate time of day give or take an hour or so the further out I get.

Approximate Time schedule / aid station mileage :
Mile 20:  water/aid: 4:00:00 elapsed time         6:00am - sat.
Mile 32:   water/aid: 6:35:00    elapsed time
     8:35am - sat.
Mile 45:  water/aid 8:47:00 -    elapsed time      10:47 am - sat.
Mile 60   water/aid 12:59:00 -    elapsed time      3:00 pm - sat
Mile 76 water/aid 17:01:00.      elapsed time.          7:01PM - sat
Mile 80 water/aid - camping supplies - 18:01 elapsed time 8:01PM - sat
Mile 90 water/aid - camping supplies - 20:44 -elapsed time.  10:44PM - sat
Mile 100 water/aid -  - 23:28 -    elapsed time.       1:28 am -sun
Mile 115 water/aid -  - 27:52 -elapsed time.          5:28 am -sun

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Spring Mountain 115 (solo run)

As a lot of you know, 2 weeks ago I DNF'd at the Zion 100 so now I am in the planning stages of what I am calling my redeption run. On Sat. May 23, I'll be starting a run in Goodspings, Nevada and wind my way around the Spring mountains for 100 plus miles until I come out the otherside down Bonanza Trail into Coal Creek. If anyone is interested in joining me for all or any part of this let me know by messaging me and I will send you more details

Approximate Time schedule / aid station mileage :
Mile 20:  water/aid: 4:00:00 - 6:00am - sat.
Mile 32:   water/aid: 6:35:00 - 8:35am - sat.
Mile 42: water/aid 8:47:00 - 10:47 am - sat.
Mile 60   water/aid 12:59:00 - 3:00 pm - sat
Mile 76 water/aid 17:01 - 7:01PM - sat
Mile 80 water/aid - camping supplies - 18:01 - 8:01PM - sat
Mile 90 water/aid - camping supplies - 20:44 - 10:44PM - sat
Mile 100 water/aid -  - 23:28 - 1:28 am -sun
Mile 115 water/aid -  - 27:52 - 5:28 am -sun

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Zion 100 starts tommorow

The Zion 100 starts tomorrow Friday, April 10 at 6 AM from Virgin Utah. It runs up and down the canyons just outside of Zion national Park on similar rugged terrain.

I'll be bib#214
 I will not pass the first checkpoint at 35 miles until at least 1:30pm tomorrow.
Then I will have my spot tracker with me too.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

2015 Zion 100

I'll be running the 2015 Zion 100 mile ultra in a little less then to weeks now; it starts Friday morning on April 10 at 6:00am.  Here is a google map flyover of the race on Youtube. Training for this race has been going real well. I've recovered from any injuries I had last year using eccentric hip flexor and groin strengthening exercises that I developed myself.  I will post them sometime soon. 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Competition: Latin from cum petere - to compete with

In the March issue of my favorite magazine of late, "Ultrarunning," Gary Cantell has an article titled "Complete" where he nicely defends our sport of ultra running  from those who say we are not competitive. Some I suppose see ultra running as not much more than a pack of long distance jogs/hikers and mistake our camaraderie for a lack of competitiveness which somehow makes us a lesser sport. After reading Gary's article I remembered that I had once heard that the word compete comes from a Latin root that gives the modern definition of the word compete an entirely different spin which nicely illustrates the spirit of ultrarunning competition.  So I wrote a letter to the editor about this and I'm hoping it gets published. Here is that letter.

Hello Editors

Re: response to Gary Cantrell's article "Compete" 

It is true that the modern definition of competition is to "strive to gain or win something by defeating or establishing superiority over others who are trying to do the same" but if one takes a look at the Latin roots of the word compete one comes away with a very different sense of the word that aligns very nicely with the spirit of our chosen sport. The word compete comes from the Latin phrase cum petere. The Latin word cum means "to seek" and petere means "together". The meaning of the Latin phrase cum petere is to compete together which brings a completely different flavor then competing against. When we compete together we are seeking to conquer goals together, we are jointly striving to find out what is possible.  How far can we run, how quickly can we cover varying and challenging terrain, and what can we learn about ourselves and the human experience in the process. In this spirit of competing with other we still celebrate the victor for he or she is the one who has done it the best and has inspired us all. But what about those who came second, third and further on done the list? They are also important in the competition because they are the ones who in a sense pushed the victor to achieve those heights. Rather than feeling a sense of superiority the victor should feel gratitude towards those who followed and pushed him to the top.  This happens all the time in ultra events when we see finishers remain at the  line to cheer those who come in after them.  In the ultra community we celebrate all competitors even those last few finishers and the dnf's too - we admire their courage to finish or even start something of incredible difficulty and to endure unbelievable pain that most others could not even imagine is possible.  So, to those in other sports who say we are not competitive, let them. Maybe the real truth is that they cannot even imagine how competitive we are because they don't know the deeper meaning of competing with others.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Red Rock 50k - Jan. 3, Fat Ass run

The leaders 1 mile from the start heading up the Calico Hills trail.

A bunch of us got together again this year on the first Saturday of January to run the Red Rock 50 K Fat Ass. The fat ass means that it was just a bunch of people, whoever wanted to, showing up for the run and running it.  It is not technically an organized run so there was no entry fee and very little support. We were fortunate again this year to have the father of one the runners go out with a truck and some water to the White Rock loop where we were able to fill our water bottles each time we passed.

It turned out to be a great day for a run with no wind and clear blue sunny skies over the gorgeous Red Rock scenery we were about to run through and enjoy that day.  Temperatures at the 8 AM start were in the mid 30s and it warmed up to the mid 50s. There were about 20 of us who started that morning and of those about a half dozen finished the entire 50 K. I was the last one to finish the 50 K in seven hours 32 minutes.  The race started at the entry gate and headed up the Calico Hills trail until we reached the White Rock loop where we then made two loops, one clockwise and one counterclockwise; then, finally returning down the same trails. It's a very challenging demanding course because there is a total of 5600 feet of elevation gain and loss and many of the trails are very rocky and technical. 

I felt exhilarated after this run as I manage all the race elements very well and I could've kept running quite a bit more that day if I had or wanted to. Even though it was a fairly chilly day, I drank twice as much as I normally do on a run and still I felt I was  barely hydrated.  I fueled primarily on dried bananas and figs again and this time whenever my stomach felt a little bloated I slowed the pace to allow my system to absorb the nutrients and water. I had strained my psosas, groin and hip flexor muscles on my left side badly during the Zion 100 last April and they flared up again after the Javelina 100 last November.  They didn't bother me before or after this run however, indicating that the physical therapy that I've been doing  for the past two month have been effective. I'll have to post some video of the eccentric hip flexor/psosas muscle exercises that I've been doing.
Feeling ready for a great running and racing season in 2015!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Javalina Jundred Race Report - Nov. 1, 2014

Mid-afternoon at the end of loop 3 - 48 miles

      It was a sunny warm 90F afternoon when Amy and I arrived with all our camping gear at the start line and campsite of the Javelina Jundred.  I felt well prepared for this race having put in many training miles on trails similar to the ones out here, and I was not hampered by any injuries. There was nothing at all to foreshadow the long grueling night that I had ahead of me. The Javelina Jundred is a 100 mile trail race in McDowell Mountain Regional Park in Fountain Hills, AZ which is just to the northeast of the Phoenix metropolitan region .  Our plan was to set up our tent, stow all the camping and race gear inside and then head down to the race headquarters to pick up my number and get something to eat.  It was a bit warm, but fortunately a cooling trend was forecast for the next day when the race was to start with a high in the low 70’s which was a huge relief to all the runners who had been anticipating and preparing for a very hot and dry race.  Last February I ran some of the other regional parks in the desert hills that surround the Phoenix/Mesa/Scottsdale area with my sister Dawn and her husband Marcel.  We had a great time running the gentle slopes though the desert past all the giant saguaros which is what promoted me to sign up for this race.  Marcel was also flying in that afternoon and I was greatly looking forward to seeing him and have him pace me though the second half of the race.
      That afternoon the campsite seemed like a buzzing beehive of activity as all the runners and their crews were setting up and getting ready. As the tents popped up, the site even started to take on the appearance of a honeycombed beehive.   It was almost impossible to drive a stake into the desert floor which felt like concrete but we were able to borrow a hammer from a neighbor and get the job done.  We had a big comfortable tent that we could stand up in and had brought along a lounge chair and umbrella for my crew, Amy, to relax in and get some magazine reading done as I made my loops around the course the following day.  Each loop was 16 miles in length and we would have to complete 6 ½ of them which made 100 miles.  Hal Koerner holds the course record finishing in 13 hours 47 min. and 46 sec in 2011 . I would be nowhere near that time but maybe a 24 hour finish was possible and I could get myself one of those under 24 hour finisher buckles.   The start/finish line at 1800 ft. was at the low point of the course which made its way gently up 8 miles of sand and rock desert trails with little to no shade to 2,480 ft.  At the top of the course was an aid station with a medical tent that I would be spending part of the night in. In addition, there was one more aid station on each side of the loop.  Those three aid stations along with the main one at the start/finish line where Amy was waiting to help crew me, refilling my bottles and getting me everything I needed for each loop were plenty for the 16 mile loop. Each aid station was extremely well organized and I am very thankful to the all volunteers whose energy and enthusiasm never diminished though the following day and night and gave us all a huge boast each time we ran though.
Posing with one of the Talamahara runners who would be competing the next day.
         We got the campsite setup, number picked up, ate at Subway, picked up a few last minute supplies from the grocery store for the next day and night and were back at camp by 8 PM and ready to settle in for the night.  The night air was calm and comfortable and I was able to get some good sleep before the race 6:00am race start the next morning.  That evening I heated up some premade whole wheat noodles I had brought along and in the morning I made myself some breakfast cereal from a 7 grain mix I buy in bulk from our grocery store.  It was still dark when the starting gun set us off and I said good-bye to Amy as she cheered me on; 290 of us would finish the 100 mile challenge while 221 would not.
6:00AM - 0 miles
      The beginning of any ultra is a festive affair as everyone is pacing themselves at a relaxed, very comfortable and conservative pace that they hope they will be able to sustain until the end.  It is a good time to talk to other runners and joke around a bit.  One runner from Penticton, B.C., Canada who was running draped in a Canadian flag commented on the gloves I was wearing.  I told him that I wear those fingerless cycling gloves to protect my hands during falls that I was so susceptible too on these trails.  He replied that he seldom fell and could probably count the number of times he tripped during a run on three fingers.  Just 5 minutes later he did actually take a tumbler over a smooth patch of trail after the sun had already come up for no apparent reason.  He looked very shocked as he got up right away and continued on and we all had a good laugh over the timing of this spill.
      The first three loops sailed by uneventfully and I hoped that I hadn’t started out too fast as I was making very good time.  However, I didn’t feel that I working too hard and although I wasn’t wearing a heart rate monitor I felt that I was keeping everything in check.  I was fueling primarily with dehydrated bananas and figs and hydrating with water and EFS electrolyte.  I chose EFS because of the calcium in its ingredients which helps me prevent cramping for which I also carry Tums.  Amy didn’t expect to see me so soon on the first loop which I completed in 2 hr. 45 min.  I wasn’t wasting any time in the aid stations either enjoying  thinking about what I needed before I came in and preparing for it so I could fly in and out as fast as possible.  Amy already had 2 bottles of EFS prepared for me so I grabbed those and a couple more bags of bananas and figs dropped off my headlamp that I wouldn’t be needing until the evening and just kept rolling.  I ran right past several aid stations that day when I didn’t need anything.
     The next two loops were repeats of the first although I was gradually slowing down as is to be expected.  I finished the second loop in 3 hr. 15 min and the third in 3 hr. and 35 min.  By the end of the third loop it was 3:30 PM and I had already completed 48 miles most of it under the daytime sun with no shade except my cap and I was looking forward to nightfall.  I was still moving along smoothly, enjoying the race and wasn’t suffering any substantial aches or pains yet.  I did notice that I wasn’t consuming all of my food that I had divided out for each loop.  I was trying to take in about 300 calories per hour and I was probably doing about half of that.  I just couldn’t seem to put down anymore and although I wasn’t having and stomach distress yet, in retrospect this should have alerted me that it would have been good to slow down a bit. Slowing down would have allowed more blood to go to my digestive system and would have helped me out later in the run.
     As I made my way towards my drop bag on loop three I first saw Amy but no Marcel so I asked her where he was.  She pointed behind her to the right and I saw him coming towards me all dressed and ready to go.  I checked with a race official and he informed me that Marcel could join me at this point as it would be dark before we finished the next loop.  We took off together and Marcel told me of a very unfortunate incident that occurred.  Just minutes before I came in a dog belonging to one of the spectators had attacked and knocked down a runner.  Marcel helped to get the dog off but the runner could not continue and was taken to the hospital.  How anyone could be so ignorant to bring a dog like this to such an event is beyond us. 
     With this sad news behind us the next loop went by pretty much as the first three except I had someone to talk to this time.  It was fun running with Marcel and we quickly finished the third loop in about 4 hours as day turned into night.  Things were still looking good for an under 24 hour finish; I had finished 62 miles or 100k in 12 hours and 50 minutes which was a personal record for me.  However, this was all to change before too long.
Coming in on loop 6 with Marcel
We were a little over two miles away from the aid station at the top of the course and not talking much anymore, heading uphill at a conservative run/walk pace when I called out to Marcel that I needed to stop for a bit.  I felt that I needed to throw up and I did.  I hoped that this would only be a short set back and that I would start feeling better now so we continued on.  However, four minutes later I needed to stop again and this time I also throw up a full stomach load of liquid.  Apparently my stomach wasn’t even absorbing water anymore.  Marcel indicated that if I needed to I could lay down a bit to rest which I did for about 10 minutes.  I got up and we started moving again but this pattern of stop, throw-up, lie down and rest continued all the way up the hill until we reached the aid station.  It took me a little over 2 hours to cover this section of the course and if it hadn’t been for Marcel staying with me I would have been surely pulled out.  Runners passing by asked if I was OK and Marcel explained what was happening as he waited shivering in his shorts in the cold night air.  He had not expected that we would be stopping so much didn’t dress for the cold.  I felt bad and grateful for what he was doing for me especially when I had to stop the last time.  We could see the lights of the aid station and here the noise of the music they were playing just over a hill less than 200 yards away but I couldn’t even make that without stopping one more time.
     I finally made it into the medical tent at that aid station and crawled up into a cot and pulled a blanket over myself.  The only thing I could do now was get some rest and hope that my body would recover enough to finish the race.  We were 70 miles into it with a little more than marathon to go.  I was still way under the cut-off times but things were not looking very good as I still could not eat or drink anything.  I was just lying there feeling miserable as I heard other runners speak about their stories as they moved in and out of the tent.  Most of the stories were about blisters or exhaustion like mine.  We were there almost 2 hours and we were informed that there would be another shuttle to take runners who dropped out leaving in 5 minutes and I had resigned myself to get on that one.  It just didn’t look like it was going to happen.  Then I overheard Marcel talking to a runner about my plight and he suggested that I try some Coke-cola.   He explained that I needed to first get some glucose into my stomach and brain and then the rest of my digestive system would respond.  I asked Marcel to get me some and immediately after taking it I started to feel better.  I asked for some chicken soup that they had and I was able to eat that too.   At this point I felt that I was back in this thing and I told Marcel that I was going to try to run back down to the start.  After hydrating a bit more we headed out and I felt like a brand new man with almost as much energy as I started with in the morning; I was excited now. 
     We bounded down that hill passing runner after run though the midnight hours averaging a very brisk 10 min/mi pace -  fast for me anyways at that point.  When we finally finished the fifth loop, I knew that I would be able to finish the entire run.  I was still incredulously holding on to the belief that I could finish in less than 24 hours but I obviously wasn’t thinking very clearly yet.  Luckily I had Marcel with me who cautioned me to slow down and pace myself as we still had 20 plus miles to run.  I followed Marcel’s lead as we ran/walked into the morning.
     Morning came as we made our way down the backside of the sixth loop.  This section was downhill with quite a few rocky sections and although these rocks posed no difficulty in the early parts of the race they were really starting to take the joy out of things right now.  And so began what Marcel and I would call the “Death March.”  I couldn’t easily pick my feet up over these rocks anymore and I had resorted to walking through this section rather than risking a fall.  The sun had just risen on the horizon and we were filled with hope as we could see the next aid station in the distance.  We kept plodding toward it, both of our feet seriously hurting with each footfall, but somehow that aid station did not appear to get any closer.  Have you heard the expression that “a watch pot never boils?”  This was like that except our feet were boiling and our spirits were dropping.  Marcel remarked that it actually hurt more to walk then to run.  I gave him a very strange look but decided to try it and indeed my feet did hurt less.  I kept on running risking tripping over some rocks which did not happen.  When we got to that aid station we lingered a bit and then finished the last two miles of loop 6 slowly, ever so slowly jogging or should I say hobbling along at a 13 to 15 min per mile pace. 
      Amy was there at the end of the sixth loop and she thought that we might be finished.  She had slept (or at least tried to as there was a lot of noise throughout the night coming from the start/finish area) though the night and missed all the news of our misfortune.  It was sure good to see her there again. Marcel and I rested a few minutes this time, I changed my shoes and he changed some socks before we took off for the last half loop.  The last eight miles went by about the same as the previous eight.  I tried to run as much as I could and walked when I needed to and endured the pain all the way.  Two miles from the finish I told Marcel that I didn’t think I would experience any of that finisher’s euphoria this time and would probably just limp across the line.  Then we were only one mile away and I saw a couple of runners ahead.  I told Marcel that we were going to catch those guys and I took off again.  I did pass both of them and kept on running at that point to the finish line.  I saw Amy waiting and I grabbed her hand as we crossed the line and rejoiced.
9:30 am the next morning - rounding the final bend to the finish
I finished in 27:17:27 so I didn’t break the 24 hour mark.  Yet I am still very satisfied with finishing this run and overcoming the urge to quite during that rough spell in the middle of the night.  The aid workers at the medical tent were phenomenal and very encouraging.  They didn’t want me to quite either and I could hear it in their voices.  I also need to thank Marcel one more time for pacing me through the night – it wouldn’t have happened without him and he says that we are blood brothers now by the “Death March.”  And thanks again to Amy for not only supporting me as my crew at the aid station but also supporting me and keeping an eye on me as I headed out for all those long training runs.
Celebrating the finish with Amy and Marcel

Monday, October 27, 2014

Recovery from the Zion 100 and Prepartions for the Javalina 100

Volunteering at the WS 100 last June - Rocky Chucky Crossing

Rocky Chucky Crossing at dusk

and Rocky Chucky Crossing at night.
     It didn't too long after the race was completed for the pain to start settling in.  I was amazed and envied to see some of the other finishers walking around rather normally while I was reduced to a stiff legged hobbling invalid wincing with each step.  Returning to the finish area to retrieve by drop bags was the worst. Amy had to help me across the street as I placed my hand on her shoulder to steady myself.  Those tendons in the back of my left knee that blew up with ten miles to go were seriously inflamed right now and I was dreaming of the relief I would get as soon as we could get some ice on them.  I could have used a pair of hiking poles right now to help me get around.  In fact, it sue would have been nice to have had some hiking poles in my last drop bag to help me down the hill and over those last 9 miles of the race.  Oh well, live and learn.  I will always have some hiking poles on me or staged at an aid station in the latter parts of any ultra from now on.

     On the drive home we stopped at the first store to get some ice and that did help a lot.  I think we stopped and got a big fat burger form Carl Jr. or something but I don't really remember for sure if this happened or not.  I was really out of it at this point due to the combination of exhaustion, lack of sleep and the euphoria of having just completing my first 100 miler.  I don't think any amount of pain could have wiped the silly grin that I must have had on my face.  Amy drove and I slept most of the 3 hour drive to Vegas.

   I recovered rather quickly over the next couple of days and was amazed at how quickly I was moving around again.  Within 2 days I was  bounding up and down the stairs and I started workouts the next week.  I was forced to keep the mileage low for the next 2 months, less than 20 miles/ week, while I let my left leg recover from the injury.  The tendons in the back of the knee were just the symptoms of where the real injury was.  I had strained my left groin and hip flexor badly and I was using rest, ice and massage to heal them.

   I found a terrific Physical therapist in Las Vegas that I highly recommend. Scott Pensivy has worked on numerous professional athletes, is a consultant for several pro teams and definitely the person you want to see you are having trouble recovering from a sports injury.  Scott has a competant staff and he will also give you a personal evaluation and continued attention.  Ask for PRRT, "The Primal Reflex Release Technique™ (PRRT) is a manual-therapy approach for evaluating and relieving musculoskeletal pain. PRRT is often able to accomplish in just seconds what joint mobilization and manipulation, trigger point therapy, and soft tissue and myofascial release can do over time."

Finally, by the end of June I was able to start building up my weekly mileage until eventually I got up to a hundred mile week in the middle of October in preparation for the Javalina Junderd 100 in Fountain Hills, AZ on Nov. 1.   I really enjoy the training and buildup phase as I work towards the next event.  Since the end of Zion, 6 months ago, I have run a total of approximately 1,200 miles in 228 hours. That would be an average of 200 miles per month at an average speed of a very modest 11:30 minutes per mile.  If you want to run a lot of miles, you're not going to or is it necessary to run them very fast.  Anyways, my new motto as I get older is, "I'm not going to run any faster, but maybe, just maybe I can still run a little further."
Arizona Country - down by Phoenix

Arizona trail running - how its done in the wild wild west

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Zion 100 - Race Report - April 4-5th, 2014

Climbing "The Goosebump"

     It was about six o’clock in the evening when Amy and I pulled up to race headquarters for the Zion 100 just outside of Zion National Park and I remember how cold it felt.  The wind was cutting right through us on that early spring evening the night before the race.  I think that was when I first started having serious second thoughts on the wisdom of the adventure I was about to put myself through.  Was I ready for this?   In just 12 hours I would begin this run of 100 miles through the canyons and mesas north of Zion.  The immensity of this 100 mile race  was beginning to weigh down on my psyche as I realized that I would already be totally exhausted the next evening at his time, it would be at least as cold as out there as it was right now and I would only be finished half the race if I was lucky.  I was imagining myself wandering around in the cold pitch black night of the desert wilderness trying to find my way around the course. Now tell me, why again was I compelled to put myself in this situation in the first place? Hopefully I would only be scaring up jackrabbits and mice along the trails and no rattlers or scorpions.  That night’s frosty cold bite was causing me to shiver on the outside as the thoughts I was silently contemplating were in turn causing me to shiver to my bones on the inside.  Yep, and though it all I kept a brave face on it, laughing and joking with Amy telling her I wasn’t worried about a thing.
Race morning - all dressed up and ready to go

      The wood fried pizza that they had for us at the check in was awesome and the entire race turned out to be very well organized.  Amy and I then checked into our room that we had reserved in the park where I laid out my things for the morning and got to sleep as quickly as possible.  Amazingly I slept well that night and made it to the start line with plenty of time for once.    The race started in the dark at 6:00 am and we were already halfway up the first of 5 challenging climbs in the race before the sun started to illuminate the course.  Each of those climbs to the tops of 5 different mesas averaged between 1 and 2 miles of horrendous 15 – 30 % grades.  Lone Mountain in Las Vegas provided me with the best local training options for these climbs but it was only ½ mile in length and averaged about a 20% grade.  Although I made numerous repeats of this climb during training it turned out to be inadequate.  I did alright on the first climb keeping up with the mid-pack runners but after that I felt like my legs were already cooked for every other climb.  After about 5 miles and an hour of hard climbing we had a fun little 2 mile romp down a slight incline though a sparse forest to the first aid station that was bathed in an early morning glow.
Aid Station #1 - Smith Mesa Aid station - Mile 7 - Thank-you volunteers, all of you were awesome

       After the first aid station we had a steep decent down some gravel and a bit of paved road where I was feeling real good and averaged a nice pace – later on I would think back and wish I had slowed down at this point.  Shortly, in under 3 hours, I arrived at the second aid station and I got in and out as quickly as I could.  From there the course undulated up and down as we followed the Virgin River with its spectacular views for about 6 miles.  I continued pushing the pace and came upon the Virgin Dam aid station at mile 23 in under 5 hours.  Some quick calculations indicated that if I could maintain anything close to this pace I would finish in under a phenomenal 24 hours for my first 100 mile race.  That thought right there was telling me “slow down buddy,” but I wasn’t listening.  I continued to feel good as the course started to slowly rise again towards the 2nd and most difficult mesa climb which is “affectionately called the Goosebump.”  At this point in the race I was still running all the small inclines and only taking short walk breaks when things got a little too steep.
Poor picture quality but some easy running down to the 2nd aid station.
We started the morning climbing these walls first thing in the morning and now were on our decent.

View of the Virgin River: Photo by Ron Board -

     The climb to the top of Goosebump Mesa involved some wicked 15 to 30% grades for close to 2 miles and I took a lot of breaks heading up this one and most of the other runners were doing the same.  There were places where I took 25 steps or so and had to stop and catch my breath it was that bad for me.  I felt unprepared and dwarfed by these climbs.  I finally reached the top where there was an aid station and I had access to my first personal drop bag where I restocked on my food supplies.  The food and refueling situation was one thing that went really well for me this year.  My pre-race strategy for this event was to stop eating any meat four days prior.  Then two days prior was when I did the last of any heavy carbohydrate loading.  The day before the event I ate normal except that I got as many calories as I reasonably could from liquids.  My theory which I heard other runners had also successfully use was to limit the load that I had on my gastric system at the start of the race and for the remainder of that day.  In every other ultrarun I  had completed before this I have always suffered from an upset stomach during some point of the race but not this time making my whole experience a lot more enjoyable.  Also this time I was eating primarily bananas that I had dehydrated myself and dried figs; I was limiting the amount of gels and other foods that were available at the aid stations.

Arriving at Goosebump

View from the top of Goosebump

      The six miles from Goosebump to Grafton Aid station was a mostly down some gentle grades and was fairly easy running.  I found myself running along with and chatting to a physical therapist from Virginia which turned out to be extremely fortuitous.   I had started getting some sharp cramps in my quads and told him that I would probably need to slow down a bit and he should go ahead.  He asked me if I ever tried Tums before during a run and I didn’t even think I had heard him right.  But, yes he was recommending Tums, the upset stomach tablets for my muscle cramps.  He had some and offered me some telling me I should take two.  I did thinking that they probably wouldn’t hurt and continued down the road not really thinking about it anymore.  Half an hour later I realized that I wasn’t getting any cramps anymore and I mentioned it to him.  He told me that it was a deficiency of calcium in my system that was causing the cramps and Tums had the fastest delivery method for getting calcium back where it was needed.  I am now a big believer and bring Tums on all my long runs.  I asked for if anyone had Tums at a couple of aid station because I had been separated from this running angel therapist but nobody had any.  They did have some packets of EFS electrolyte mix which I noticed had calcium as one of their ingredients so I scooped up a few of those which held me for the remainder of the run.  EFS is the only Electrolyte mix that I have found that has a significant amount of calcium in it and I will be taking it on my next ultra which incidentally is in two weeks from now.  I will be running the Javalina Jundred 100 in Fountain Hills, Arizona on November 1st this year. I will also have salt tabs with me but I have now discovered that the calcium is very important for me as well.

      I reached the Grafton Mesa aid station as the sun began to set. I was 12 hours and about 50 miles into the race and still moving forward at a good pace.  I felt good as I got out my head lamp for the night.  Luckily Matt and his crew did an awesome job of marking the trail with an unbelievable stream of reflective ribbons that just about anyone could follow.  Unfortuately, I am one of those that can get lost following the best of trails and I got a little disoriented coming out of the aid station as I started to run the Grafton Mesa loop.  I didn’t get too far though when less another runner coming the other way told me I had to turn around so I did.  That was my first course detour and I figure I put in about 1 extra mile.  There was a lot of up and down to contend with on Grafton Mesa and that was not an easy 6 mile loop.  After hitting the Grafton Mesa aid station for a second time I uneventfully ran about 6 miles of down and 3 miles of up though the night towards Eagles Craig aid station.  Supposedly there is a great view from up here but not at night.  I was not sore at all yet except for some minor tenderness in my feet and I was still running all the down hills and run/walking the inclines the best I could. 

      On the downhill from Eagles Craig I made a major course detour.  At some point I was supposed to make a left but I kept on going straight.  There was someone not far behind me and he followed me too, soon catching up to me and we began talking and we were more than a mile off course before we noticed there weren’t any more trail markings.  We were exhausted and not thinking right by now as we had already been running more than 16 hours and our brains were seriously glucose deprived.  It was a major buzz kill to think that we had gotten lost and we quickly went from slap happy to seriously pissed and worried.  The only thing to do was to turn back and find the course.  I quickly rethought my attitude and realized how peaceful and immense the night sky was; and, here I was in the middle of it all traipsing across this wonderful Earth being allowed to revel in it all.  So I did and about 15 minutes later I saw runners’ headlamps ahead of me and I rejoined the course.   Yipee Cayae, just over a third of the course left which...hmmmm... translates to a marathon plus a 10 miler on top of that, but who’s counting at this point? 

     I was on the way back now and this meant climbing Grafton Mesa one more time, this time form the opposite side.  It was around midnight now so I had been out on the course for 18 hours already.  I was taking quite a few long breaks up this climb even looking for outcroppings of rocks that I could sit down on.  Looking back down I could see a trail of several headlamps heading up.  Pretty soon a group of five young bucks passed me up and asked if I was OK.  I simply replied, “yep just sitting down a bit and enjoying the night sky.”  I couldn’t sit too long though because it was getting colder.  The cold never really did bother me too much but when I got to Grafton Mesa I did pull some long sleeve and tights out of my drop bag to wear along with a change into my cushy Salomon trail shoes which my feet much appreciated.  My favorite trail shoe, Pearl Izumi EM Trail N2’s, had served me well to this point but the change felt good.  Thankfully I did not have any other feet or blister problems.  I am attributing that to the Drymax Maximum Protection Trail running socks.  I highly recommended them as they have a double weave that actually keeps your feet dry and comfortable limiting blister formation and also stops dirt and debris from getting to your feet.  They actually work as they are billed too, something rather rare nowadays.  When I took my socks off after the race and looked at my feet, you couldn’t even tell I had just been running for over 30 hours.

   It was after midnight that some strange events started occurring that at first I could not understand but later realized were actually honest to God hallucinations.  The first two that I remember I dismissed as just little tricks that my eyes were playing on me but there was no denying the last one.  It must have been just a few hours before sunrise when I had the first one.  I was still able to run on the easier sections of the course and probably even dozing off a bit from time to time the way one can fall asleep while driving when you are overly tired.  I was making my way down some single track trail though a forested section far away from any aid station when I saw a man lying along the trail in front of me looking up with his camera in hand getting ready to take my picture.  This was really wild I thought.  What in the world was this man doing way out here all by himself on this desolate trail taking race photographs I thought to myself?  I was getting ready to step past him when his face quickly dissolved into the stump of a cut and fallen tree.  Perfectly reasonable I thought and how funny it was that I thought that tree was a man lying down with a camera.

   About one hour later I noticed a very large and unnatural shape about a quarter of a mile up the trail.  It look menacing as I continued to move closer and it appeared to be moving large mechanical arms up in the air above an enormous bluish-green body.  What kind of monsters did they have out here and how was I going to get by this 20 something foot tall beast.  I was genuinely starting to feel some fear and I slowed down a bit to figure out what course of action I was going to take.  That is when the monster dissolved back into the roadside side that he really was.  Because of the actually experience of fear I had this time it started to dawn on me that I might me having some hallucinations here.  I have heard of others runners’ stories of hallucinations before but always kind of dismissed them.  Until you had one yourself it is hard to believe.

     The sun finally rose and the day quickly began to brighten and warm up again.  I was just 2 miles from the last aid station called Guacamole (love that name) when a major disaster occurred that almost took me out of the race.  The tendons in the back of my left knee joining my hamstrings had had it and they were letting me know as they screamed out!  I had to pull up and try massaging them a bit.  After a few minutes I got going again but it wasn’t pretty anymore.  I am sure that I already looked like hell warmed over after running for more than 24 hours without any sleep but now my gait took on a twisted shuffle as I hobbled to the last aid station.  When I finally got there I took comfort in the fact that I had less than 10 miles to go now and the rest of that was mostly downhill.  I was not worried about making any type of time and would be very satisfied just to finish this first 100 miler and get my handcrafted Zion 100 belt buckle.
      Sitting there I noticed that it was already 10:30 am and it suddenly dawned on me that I could be in danger of making the 32 hour cut-off time and be disqualified as an official finisher.  After all the effort I already put into this event, all the months of training, the coordinating and the almost 30 hours of running I put into this and then end up with a dnf and no buckle – crap! I did some quick calculations.  32 hours from 6:00am the previous day meant I had to be in by 2:00PM at the latest.  I was exactly nine miles away from the finish and had 3 ½ hours to get there which seems like a lot under normal circumstances but my last mile had taken be about 25 minutes as I limped along now with a major injury.   If I could average 20 minute miles I thought to myself 9 miles would take me about 2 hours and 20 minutes and I would have about an hour of cushion just in case I needed it.  I got out of that chair as quickly as I could and pushed onward, but God it hurt.
      From that point on I did manage to average just a little bit better than a 20 minute per mile pace even managing to pick it up to 12 minutes per mile on some favorable stretches of downhill.  I realized that I had this thing in the bag at this point and did the best I could to savor the final moments.  With about 3 miles to go the course took a gravel road along the river and I noticed some white cups in the mile of the road that looked like they had been placed there by the race officials.  There wasn’t supposed to be any aid station out at this point but I imagine that they had just put out a few things for us stragglers to give us a little treat and some encouragement.  How thoughtful I thought and as I got closer I could see the cold sweat dripping off of the sides of those cups of ice cold Coke and something else wrapped in a foil that was probably a hamburger.  I didn’t know if I could stomach the hamburger but I really was looking forward to a swig of one of those drinks when everything slowly vanished into a small pile of rocks in the middle of the road.  It had all been another hallucination, but this one really made me mad since I so wanted that Coke right then.  It was after this experience that I realized just how powerful hallucination can be and when someone is experiencing one it can be impossible to tell if you are seeing reality or not; the hallucination becomes the reality. 
The Finish Line
 As I wind my way back into the streets of Virgin, UT I am thankful to all the people I see cheering me and the volunteers that supported us along the way and made it possible for us to overcome this seeming impossible endeavor and I feel extremely satisfied and happy.  And most of all thank-you Amy, the love of my life, for supporting me through this and understanding that which I know you can’t truly understand but accept as something I need to do.  Is it for the challenge, the experience, trying to find my own limits?  Is it some type of spiritual quest that I try to accomplish through an endurance event of a magnitude that strips one clean of all pretenses and leaves just the last drops of human power, energy and will?  Or is it just the sheer joy of galloping across this wondrous God created Earth that keeps me going?  I myself don’t know for sure but I am already looking forward to the time I run the Zion 100 again.

The End

The Buckle

The Stats and upcoming races