BHS 100K

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

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Bishop Ultramarathon, May 19, 2012

First look at the mountain
         Tough, that's the first word that comes to mind when I think of the Bishop Ultramarathons. The difficulty of the course didn’t leave much room for errors which definitely added to the challenge. There was very little level running as we were either climbing or descending the mountain all day long, the majority of it over 7000ft. There were plenty of aid stations out there that were both well stocked with provisions and well staffed with friendly helpful volunteers. However, I did not have one of my better runs. For me, the entire race was a grueling affair and the best I can say is that I endured it and did my best to enjoy it.  The views of the High Sierra mountain country were superb and that did help to alleviate some of the suffering.

        The run started at 6:00 am and we were camped out the night before in the adjacent campground.  I slept very well and woke up at 4:00 am to eat something before the race and get prepared.  I ate some oatmeal with honey, a bagel with cream cheese and some coffee.  I never did drink the coffee (was this the start of the day’s problems?)  I had all my race stuff ready from the night before so I was feeling very relaxed getting ready for the race.  I didn’t realize how late it was getting until I drove my drop bags to the starting area.  I suddenly realized we only had 15 minutes till the gun went off and I still had to drive back to camp to get my friend An who was running the 50K, use the restroom and get back to the starting line – ahg, there goes the relaxed morning  I was just coming out of the restroom when I heard the countdown for the start. 10 – 9 – 8… and Marie, the race director announced go just as I made it to the back of the pack.  I have never cut it that close before.  
And we're off
Good times!

        The race has now started and we are running out of the Mill Pond Recreation Area and running past the campground.  In the rush to start I had forgotten the water bottle I had meant to carry from the start.  Thinking back, I wish I had swung by our camp site and picked it up.  I didn’t panic though because it was still a cool 45ºF out and there were aid stations every 3 to 4 miles.  I had hydrated well the night before but didn’t drink any water the morning of the race – mistake #2.  We had lots of company at the beginning of the race and I cruised into the first and second aid station tanking up on water each time.  I was expecting a third aid station at mile 9 but that one didn’t appear.  I didn’t get any more water until the Buttermilk aid station at mile 11.5.  Now normally that wouldn’t be too far but this was all uphill running, the temperatures had already started to climb and because of the slow pace I was already two hours into this race.  I didn’t know it yet, but I was starting to get dehydrated – mistake #3.  I grabbed my hiking poles that were waiting for me aid this aid station and took off up the hill.
Sometimes we walk
But we don't look back

            I finally realized I was slightly dehydrated and overheating when I got to the Edison Loop aid station, mile 17.5 and elevation 8100 ft.  We had already climbed 3,700 ft. since the start, I was 3 hours and 45 minutes into the race, the temperatures had to be in the 80’s already and it felt so good when I dosed myself with the oversized sponge from the pail of icy cold water.  Luckily they had a bottle of sun tan lotion there for I had forgotten to put that on too – mistake #4. I had a drop bag with a 24oz bottle with an electrolyte tab in it and a lighter pair of shoes, New Balance 110 trail shoes, that I wanted to use to climb the rest of the mountain if my feet were feeling fine.  I put on the shoes, downed the bottle of liquid, refilled it, smear myself with suntan lotion and took off again.
Finally a somewhat level spot (just past McGee Creek)

And back up  towards Edison Loop
Keeping it bright
            I had another reason for wanting to change shoes too.  I was getting sand in my shoes all day long already.  It was getting so uncomfortable and I didn’t want blisters so I had already stopped a couple times to empty them out.  Back in Las Vegas, our rails are rocky but don’t nearly have as much sand on them.  Many runners were wearing gaiters and I wish I had a pair on too- mistake #5. Live and learn.  Unfortunately, the sand in the shoe problem never did get any better.

         After Edison Loop came Overlook, the high point of the course at 9,400 ft.  It was only 3 miles away, but due to the incline and elevation most of us were walking the majoring of this and it took close to an hour to get up there.  I did my best, pacing myself and hoping for my second wind to kick in on the downhill.  I was elated to finally arrive at the top and yes, the view was spectacular.
View From Overlook

        I was able to run again going downhill, but all the water was just sitting in my stomach now.  In addition, I could hardly eat anything.  I was forcing myself to choke down the Odawalla bars and dates I had brought along but nothing tasted good this day.  The aid station had all kinds of fruits, boiled potatoes, pretzels and such, but I could hardly look at any of it.  I heard of other runners getting queasy during a runs and I was not enjoying my first severe experience.  Reflecting back I wish I had tasted the pretzels.  I might have been running low on sodium as I was losing a lot though sweat even though I couldn’t really see it because of the dry condition and altitude. Mistake #6 – not monitoring my salt intake.  I learned latter that if the pretzels had tasted good that would have been an indication that I needed more salt and I should have taken a salt pill which they also had out there for me – duh!
The Leonardo Da Vinci view

         We were not done running hills either.  There were four more climbs that went up over 8000 feet to tackle before we started heading down again. I was mentally prepared for this and I just kept slogging along.  At times I would feel bursts of energy where everything just broke loose but this would inevitably be followed by some slow going again. 
Even downhill is not easy anymore

         Finally, at the 38 mile point we were heading back down the long hill.  I was doing by best to maintain about a 12 min/mi pace at this point – really kind of slow for going downhill even if it is over trails.  There came a point where I started to entertain the possibility of opting for the shorter 50 mile race.  To run the 62 mile, 100K, race requires an additional 6 mile out and back over the Tungston Hills.  This entails running back out 3 miles uphill, 3 miles down and then doubling back 3 miles up and down again.  By mile 45 my pace had dropped to 15 min/mi and I couldn’t even keep up a steady run downhill anymore.  Then out of nowhere, I almost stepped on a baby rattlesnake.  I saw it at the last second, perfectly blended in with the grey sandy trail as my right foot came down and just missed its tail as it scurried off to my right – phew. If I hit it, I am sure it would have turned and bit me.  Well that hung it, and I decided to cut my day short.

And finally, back to the ranch, The Mill Pond Recreation are start/ finish line
         I finished the 50 miles in 11 hours and 47 minutes.  It would have probably have taken me an additional 3 hours minimum to do the 100K and I felt I had made the wise decision.  I would have ended up running alone, exhausted, in the dark, up and down difficult trails aided only by the light of a headlamp. Overall, I feel good in the facts that I prepared the best I knew how for this race, trained harder than I ever had before leading up to it, and showed courage during the race while doing my best to maintain a positive attitude.  In a way I did not accomplish all that I had set out to do, but I do not feel defeated.  After the race I was totally whipped.  I never actually threw up but felt like it a few times.  An was waiting for me at the finish line, we joked around a bit and I was glad to get back the tent and sleep a couple of hours.  When I woke up, we went to McDonald’s and that Big Mac and fries tasted pretty darn good.  I’ll see you again in 2013 Bishop, California.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Follow me via SPOT Transmitter

I will be carrying a SPOT satellite transmitter during Saturdays 100K Bishop Ultramarathon, so anyone can track my progress in real time.  Here is the link to the shared page.

D. Pauwelyn's SPOT shared page

If you click on Satellite or Terrain in the map section you can see the elevations and get an idea of what the trail is like.  Race starts at 6:00am Saturday, May 19.  Bishop Ultramarathons
My goal is to finish before dark that night, so you have plenty of time to check in and see where I am at.
Picture from the Bishop Ultramarathon trail

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Running From an Angel; 50 mile ultramarthon

Me hamming it up a bit just before crossing the finish line of my first Ultramarathon
So, you may be asking me whatever possessed me to enter a 50 mile road race in the first place.  Several years ago, I would have been asking anyone doing this the same question and I swore that I would never run further than a marathon.  Running a marathon is no small task my any means.  It is a grueling distance as anyone who has run one who has given his/her all in one will tell you and at the end, you are totally spent.  One reason it is so satisfying to finish is because you don't have to go any further.  Thank God that's over is a thought that often comes to mind.  Running a marathon is absolutely sufficient to test anyone's mettle so why run any further?  

There are a couple of reasons why  decided to move on to the ultramarathon distance.  The simple and direct reason is that I needed a new challenge.  I had tried to improve my marathon PR of 3:14:02 that I set back in 2006 Las Vegas Marathon several times but have always comes up short.  The closest I came was 3:17:09 in the 2011 St. George Marathon which is known as a fast course because of its net 2500 ft elevation loss.  If running faster wasn't working, why not try running further?  The more I thought about it, the more it started to appeal to me.  My new mantra became 50 before 50.  I wanted to run a 50 mile ultramarathon before I turned 50 years old this year.

As I started training for the event, the new longer distances began to take on a new meaning for me.  The longer distances required a different outlook.  I was not going to be able to hold the same pace anymore if I want to complete a 30, 35 or 40 mile training run and I was going to be out there for a lot longer time.  My longest training run for this event was 34 miles actually which took me 6 hours to complete.  My new mantra became "traveling by foot."  It seemed a perfectly natural transition as in addition to running longer distances I also started running more trails and into remote places.  I ran to the top of Gass peak here in the surrounding mountains of Las Vegas one day.  Everyone in Las Vegas has seen Las Vegas, but few people no its name and fewer have been to the top of it. Ultra running has become a vehicle though which I am exploring the exterior limits of my environment and  interior limits of who I am and what I can accomplish.   Running seems to imply that you are chasing or trying to get away from something.  I'm not really doing that anymore.  Although it will always be satisfying to cover any certain distance in a smaller amount of time that is not the main goal anymore.  Now I am only trying to cover great distances across this wondrous planet with my two God given feet.  I am simply traveling by foot.

What will YOU do with your wild, precious life?

Taken from
"In the 1970s, Diana Nyad set long-distance swim records that are still unbroken. Thirty years later, at 60, she attempted her longest swim yet, from Cuba to Florida. In this funny, powerful talk at TEDMED, she talks about how to prepare mentally to achieve an extreme dream, and asks: What will YOU do with your wild, precious life? (Recorded at TEDMED 2011, October 2011, in San Diego, California. Duration: 16:58)"

Gass Peak as seen from North Las Vegas

View of Las Vegas from Gass Peak

Friday, May 11, 2012

One week to Bishop

Only one week left now until the Bishop Ultramarathon.  I followed the course description the best I could and created a route on Google Earth for the 100K.  Here is a link to it:  Bishop Ultramarathon 100K Google Earth Route map.  

Tapering is going at full tilt now.  Last week I only ran 40 miles and this week I will get in less than 30 and yet I am amazed at how much muscle soreness I still have.  When I roll out my quadriceps at night with the massage stick I can still feel that they have not fully recovered from all those mountain climbs and hill repeats I have put in.  There is residual soreness where the quads attach at the knees and in my calves as well.  No soreness to speak of anywhere else though.  Well it really isn'tthat  bad and everything should be totally healed up in a week.  Here is graph of my mileage build-up for this event.

 The first week of January this year I ran that 50 mile ultra out at Lake Mead.  I'll write more about that later this week.  The mileage increase does not completely reflect the amount of extra time and effort I put into this build up because most of those miles were up and down hills and on rough trails which is of course much harder training. The graph below shows I had 5 week with over 10 hours of training, 9 weeks with between 5 and 10 hours.  In comparison, when I was training for the 50 miler in January, I only had 3 weeks of training with 5 to 10 hours.

Threes days before the race on Saturday, I am going to start camping in Mt. Charleston at around 9000 to 10,000 feet to try to acclimatize to the altitude.  I will be able to sleep up there for two nights before we drive to Bishop on Friday morning.  Friday night we are camping in Millpond Campground where the race starts Saturday morning a 6am.  Things are starting to get exciting.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Last long run and tapering

Race day, May 19th is less than two weeks away and we've completed our last long run and are tapering for the event now. Link to the race web site:  Last week my friend and I ran just under 24 miles with 3000 ft of vertical up and down Harris Springs road in 4 1/2 hours.   It was satisfying to have completed this run with gas still in the tank knowing I could have kept on for a couple more hours at least.  We ran in the afternoon after school though and it was getting dark so it was time to go home.  Here are the stats on this run.

 I ran it without hiking poles up until the last 4 miles when I grabbed them for the last out and back.  I definitely felt they helped in the latter part of this run and have decided to use them in Bishop.  I will have them waiting for me at the first drop bag location,  Buttermilk road, at mile 12.  They will be helpful to me for all the climbing and when I don't need them, they tuck neatly up in my Nathan shoulder pack where they don't bother me running.  I don't plan to have a water bladder in the pack either.  I don't see the need with all the aid stations on the course.  There is a total of 19 aid stations for the 100K - one every 2 to 4 miles which is a lot.

My friend is running the 50K, his first ultra, and wanted more work on the hills.  Yesterday we went out to the Clark County Riffle Range where there is a 1 1/2 pave uphill road with about a 6% incline.  We ran laps starting in the early morning till we had about 15 miles in.  The wind was howling straight into our faces as we climbed and at times it was impossible to hold even a 12 min. mile.   Good work though and I don't even really consider 15 miles on hills as a long run anymore.  I took the day off today, went for a 1 hour deep tissue massage on my legs and really wanted to go out running on the way home.  I am not going to as I felt a lot of residual soreness in my muscles during the massage.

I've got to make sure I watch my diet for these last two weeks while I cut back my mileage.  If I indulge in snacking on junk now, I could be throwing a lot of hard work out the window.  It's pretty easy to resist actually when you keep this frame of mind.  A funny thing happened to me on the way to the kitchen sink last week after the last long run.  I had made Pina Coladas and Amy and I were sipping on them watching a movie.  I went up for seconds but didn't feel so good when I stood up.  I felt worse and worse as I walked towards the kitchen and just barely made it to the sink and set my glass down when my legs finally buckled and I fainted for an instant.  I really need to watch my post run nutritian better.

Enjoying Pina Coladas in Samana, Dominican Republic