Amy and I arrived in Bishop around 1:00pm after about a 5 1/2 hour drive from Las Vegas. We checked into the motel, picked up my race number and did a little shopping in town. We found some nice stuff for the kitchen and had a good time walking around and enjoying this little town.
|Elevation profile captured from my Garmin|
That evening we ate with the other runners at the pre-race dinner. I have been to a couple of other pre-race dinners before and i can tell you that this one beats them all. For the main course they had an excellent selection of good carbo loading pastas both with and without meat. We sat at a table and met some other runners from Fresno, San Francisco and Mammoth lakes. It's always fun to compare notes on things you have done and one of the guys from Fresno had hiked the John Muir Trail last August just one month after I had completed it. They even had a couple of kegs of beer and a carrot cake desert for us. I had a piece of the carrot cake and Amy told me the beer was really good. I hadn't tasted the carrot cake the year before and regretted it so that was one of the things I changed for this year. Maybe it was that cake that pushed me over the top this time.
|Before the battle|
It wasn't until we got back to the hotel and I bumped into another runner that I found out that the race actually started at 6:00am and not at 6:30 like I had thought. It was a real lucky break for me running into him. Well at least I had all my stuff ready to go and really all I needed to do was set the alarm for 4:30am and get some sleep. In particular this year I had a couple of things to help me that I did not have last year. One was gaiters to go over my shoes to keep the sand and stones out. The other was salt tabs to help prevent cramping from all the salt I would lose though hours of sweating. I did sleep well that night and at 4:30am I warmed up and ate a bowl of multigrain cereal that I had prepared the day before in Las Vegas. Then it was time to get Amy up and have her drive me to the start of the race.
Amy has really been a good sport about this ultra running business of mine supporting me and encouraging me in my quest and I was really glad to have her along for this run. She would be taking it easy back at the hotel, catching up on reading and relaxing while I was killing myself which seemed to be a perfect match for us. She saw me off and video taped the start which occurred promptly at 6:00am. I told her that I hoped to be back before 9:00PM, 15 hours later. The start of the race was nice and cool, in the low 50's; then later, up in the mountains it was in the 60's all day and even when we got back down in the afternoon it didn't get much above 80F.
The first few miles are always easy. Still I made a conscious effort to run at an easy pace knowing that going out too hard would prove disastrous later on. I was averaging about 9 to 10 minute miles until the course started to consistently climb up the mountain around mile 5. At the same time, I was paying attention to my right hamstring trying to sense whether it wanted to tighten up and give me problems. It was a little stiff at the beginning, but somehow when I got warmed up it got better and after that I never thought about it again for the rest of the day - Halleluiah!
|Somewhere around mile 10.|
After mile 6 I started to alternate between running and walking. At first I would run 8:00 minutes and walk 2:00 min. I did this as much as I could and would walk more when I had too. After 3 1/2 hours I arrived at The Edison Loop aid station at mile 17 and elevation 8,000 ft - we had gained a total of 3,600 feet and actually climbed more than this because there had been some up and down. The last 1/2 mile to the aid station was a slight downhill which allowed me to run into it with great energy lifting my arms into the air to the shouts of the volunteers there. All the volunteers at all the aid stations were fantastic and we can't thank them enough. These events could not happen without their help. I didn't waste too much time at any of the aid stations though. I knew that it was going to be a long enough day already so I just grabbed water and whatever I needed at each aid station and got out of there as quickly as I could. Doing this was fun too because this was how I got to pass lots of other runners that were lingering.
|Bishop Creek Lodge Aid station - They had some delicious potato soup waiting for us at this one.|
At mile 49 we would have to make a left turn and go up the Tungsten Hills. This is arguably one of the toughest parts of the race because you have already completed over two marathons in distance when you get to this final challenge. However, I arrived at the Tungsten City enthusiastically because at this point I knew I would be one of those that completed the race unlike last year when I had to quite at this point.
|Tungsten Hills Switchbacks|
|The Last 6 miles or so. (My Garmin tracked the actual distance as 63.4 miles so we may have gotten a free bonus mile)|
|Lookout aid station - Thanks to the 2 gentlemen who drove us up water and supplies to this high point. I am sure just driving up here was a feet.|