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.


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