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Posts from — October 2011

Deadman Peaks 50 miler…well, 53.

We set the alarms for 3:25am. Ouch. The race started at 6am and we were staying in Albuquerque, NM which was about 75 minutes from Cuba, NM where the Deadman Peaks 50 miler began. We had done some food shopping the night before so I pounded down a whole wheat bagel, banana, cliff bar, and an Odwalla super foods drink on the car ride up.
I was lucky to have both my mom and my brother there to accompany me at the start. They served as moral support and kept me in good spirits leading up to the start. We arrive and of course it’s pitch black outside and freezing…starting temperature was 29 degrees. The pre-race prep was a little hectic. I have never dealt with drop-bags before and I was never really certain that I had everything I was going to need. But there I am; shorts, long sleeve base layer, Fleet Feet Sports sugoi jersey, gloves, beanie, Asics Gel-Attack trail shoes, amphipod waist best, one Nathan handheld, and my headlamp.

The start was electric. We all knew what we were getting ourselves into. There was camaraderie in the silence. The gun goes off and there we go, headlamps bouncing in the night. The first 9 miles to the initial aid station were bliss. I tucked in behind some guys who looked like they knew what they were doing and I was able to just enjoy the run while running practically effortlessly. After about 6 miles the sun began to rise in the east and I was able to take in some breathtaking views of the New Mexican high desert.

I hit the first aid station with a group of about 4 guys with 3-4 guys already ahead of us and on to the second leg of the course. My mom and bro were waiting for me and I felt great…9 miles in…I felt like I hadn’t run a step. Here at the first aid station I was kind of confused as to what to do and how much time to spend there. I ate a quarter of a honey sandwich, stripped off my gloves, drank some fluids, said my goodbyes, and headed out. Error number one: I should have shed my long sleeve and my beanie, worst of all, I forgot to take off my headlamp! The next drop bag station wasn’t until mile 26 so I probably looked like a goober running with my headlamp in broad daylight.

The next section from mile 9-17 was way more technical and I thought this would be the biggest challenge on the way back (this race is an out and back course on Continental Divide Trail). On this portion I tucked in behind some guy that looked exactly like Anton Krupicka (ultra runner great)….if he was buff. He had the beard, the hair, no shirt. I let him pull me along and I mimicked his run/hike ratio. The tricky thing about this course is that it is very technical and you are guided my cairns (stone piles) and sparse flagging. It was important to always be scanning ahead to see the shortest line to the next cairn. The surface of the trail was constantly changing from sand to dirt to slick rock; definitely not the packed smooth trails I’m used to in Central Oregon.

Anton II coming in to Aid Station II

We hit the mile 17 aid station and I still feel excellent. I didn’t feel like I was pushing it too hard and I’m pretty sure you could consider my effort as very conservative. I chatted with Rod Bien a few days before the race in Bend and he encouraged me to eat something substantial early in the race so I decided that mile 17 was when I was going to throw down some food. I took some extra time to eat a banana, a whole PB and J, a granola bar, and an orange slice. This was in addition to taking a gu roughly every 30 minutes. Error number two: I forgot to start taking S caps until about 2:30 into the race. Probably not a big deal but from then on I took in two S caps on the 30, every hour. At this aid station two guys passed me but I was unfazed as I knew it was important to get some fuel in while was still feeling good.
The race sort of shifted from this point on; I entered race mode. The next section from 17 to the 21 mile aid station and from 21 to the turnaround was my kind of running. The course became more rolly and less technical. I started clicking of some 8 minute miles which felt very easy and I was passing people this whole time. I knew that this was my part of the course and I had to use it to put some time on these other guys. I pass all but one guy who was way out front and came into the turn around at 4:40 and in second place….22 minutes behind the leader.
Here is a cool video from 2011 Deadman Peaks finisher, Wesly Berg, that gives you an idea of the experience and terrain of this area of New Mexico:

Again, I sort of take my time at this aid station. I setup my ipod, put on sunscreen, talk nice with the volunteers, ate some food, drank a bunch, and headed out just as two guys I hadn’t seen early in the race enter the station. These guys were obviously going to be my competition heading back as I knew they were moving well too. Anton II came in next but I didn’t think he was going to be rallying late for some reason. I’m pretty sure I had about a 2-3 minutes lead on third and fourth place guys as I made my out. Here the race intensified again as I shifted from just moving along in my own world to trying to add time and gap these guys.
I continued to feel good and I relished the idea that I was on my way back….every step was a step closer the finish instead of a step away on this out and back course. From here on out I was pulling over-the-shoulder looks every 5-10 minutes. I maintained my nutrition, ate as much as I could, drank as much as I could, and tried to stay in good mental spirits. The two man team behind me seemed to fade ever so slightly as the miles clicked off but I knew that when I got back to the really technical section I could be in some trouble.
I was right. I think I still lack the hardiness and strength to really fly on technical trails with steep ascents and descents. I need to learn how to better use momentum and not be afraid to push it on the climbs…my fear being that I’m going to blow up. At about mile 38 I see the two man team had dwindled to one but that that guy was moving fast and closing in on me. This is not a good feeling. I still felt good and like I was having an awesome day but this guy was just flying on this tough section of trail. He literally flies by me. I’m not sure if that was an attempt to demoralize me or if he really was just moving that well but he went by me fast!
Surprisingly though when I hit the mile 41 aid station he is still there and taking his time. I’m thinking that I am too close to the finish to dilly dally so I just pound some Gatorade, eat a little something, and end up leaving the aid station right behind this guy. I manage to stay with him for a 1-2 mile flat stretch out of that aid station but again, when we hit a super steep climb, he was gone. He was just bounding up these climbs that I wouldn’t have even considering running, even on a training run. So I definitely learned I have some room to grow in this area and if I want to be competitive I have to become better on the technical steep stuff…I hope this comes with time and miles.
I wouldn’t quite call it a death march but the last 6-7 miles were really tough for me. Luckily they were all slightly downhill but my body had definitely had enough. I didn’t blow up or bonk but I was definitely in a lot of pain…mentally and physically. What kept me going was that I knew I was having a good day out there overall and also my fear that somebody else was going to pass me. I wanted that 2nd place but when that guy passed me I REALLY wanted to maintain my third place! I was certain that some other stud was going to come charging by as I was just struggling to maintain….but no one came. After looking back every 5 seconds I later found out that was all in vain as I beat the 4th place guy by more than 45 minutes! I crest a little hill and could see the tents and people a mile or so into the distance. This was a sight for sore eyes! At that point I knew I had third place in the bag, that I was going to finish, and that I was going to be very happy with my overall performance.

Final stretch to the finish.

I cross the line with my bro and mom cheering and the volunteers were great with their cowbells and words of encouragement. Such a great day! I learned A LOT! And surprisingly I didn’t feel all that bad. I of course start to wonder if I left anything out on the course….but later that day I would realize just how much of a toll the race really took on me. I came away from the race feeling encouraged and excited about future races. I know I have a lot of room to grow training wise and hopefully with some more experience I can compete with the big boys in some of the bigger races out there. This year was a breakthrough with regards to how many miles my body could handle on a regular basis and I hope to build on that for next years’ racing season.

2 minutes after the race, with bro and 3rd place skull, not feeling so hot.

Overall, I am super happy and excited with my first 50 miler. I just really love running and this was a new experience inside the running world. I want run cool and fun races, period. I don’t care what distance, what surface, or what country they are in, as long as I can run, I’ll be out there trying new things and pushing myself to be the best runner I can be.

30 minutes after the race, with skull and sweet race t-shirt, and feeling a little better.

Thanks for reading!

October 26, 2011   4 Comments

Guest Blog Entry: Author Jackie Clark offers another reason to RUN

Running for Two
By: Jackie Clark

Pretend there’s a Grizzly Bear hunting you. Imagine one of those end-of-the-world action movie scenes with collapsing buildings and cracking highways. Think of how fast you would move if you heard that someone you love was in trouble. Then run.

Running may strengthen your heart over time. It may ward off osteoporosis. You may even get that lean dream body you’ve always wanted. But running won’t save someone else’s life.

Not officially, at least. But a life isn’t measured in years, breaths, survival rates or diagnoses. It’s measured in quality.

Running for a cause like cancer will inspire. It will convey how much you support the cancer survivor, patient or victim who you think of with every push off the pavement. You will be proclaiming your love for the cancer-stricken (and your hatred for the disease) with your entire body, your heavy breathing, your thirst. If only for a few hours, you will put your body and mind through rigorous exercise that drains your energy – a small sacrifice compared to those you are running for.

Running is an excellent bang-for-your-buck, cross-training exercise. It can be done anywhere, in just about any type of weather, and it tightens both your legs and the hard-to-tone midsection while burning calories and increasing our stamina. Runners also experience better, more restful sleep, improved memory and reactions times, and a higher level of energy.

If you’re going to run in a marathon, you don’t need to be a seasoned runner. Jog. Walk part of it. Take a break. Whatever it takes to get you to the finish line. When running for cancer, the point isn’t your form, speed or how clean your new running sneakers are. The point is to show your support for those who have looked cancer in the face and to get other people up and running at the next marathon. Plus, cancer benefit runs collect donations that go right back into cancer research. You may even encourage cancer survivors to hit the streets with you – running can be great recovery for bodies that have gone through Hell and are on the mend.

Read more from Jackie Clark

*Guest Bloggers with a cause are welcome anytime on Run Until I Die*

October 24, 2011   No Comments