Thursday, July 02, 2009

Short Report

Apparently, I am a mid-packer as much in writing about my races as I am in running them. A week out from Western States and I've not even started on anything resembling a race report. A quick look at the results will verify that it didn't go quite to plan. However, with a finishing rate just under 60%, I believe those triple digit temperatures helped to soil more than a few plans.

In my case the numbers tell the tale. Not only was I on target, even ridiculously so, all the way to the top of Devil's Thumb, but my pre-race statement that I may need to toss my pace chart at the bottom of El Dorado Canyon turned out to be prophetic. The chart below shows my planned times along side the actual results as well as the differences between. The finishing data comes mostly from the event webcast with gaps filled in from my GPS data. The early anomaly of Miller's Defeat is due to that aid station being moved back 0.8 miles to 35.2 on race day.

From Western States Prep

Here's the brief summary of events. I felt as if I ran the first part of the race well, running my own pace, putting forth a strong but sustainable effort. I felt surprisingly strong going up The Thumb and felt bad for the number of people I saw in trouble there, especially since most were much faster runners than I am. Despite the heat, I never actually felt hot which I believe is a testament to my training. However, heading into El Dorado, definitely was warm and, while I felt fine, the temperature clearly had a cumulative effect on my pace. Even though I was only 15 minutes overtime at Michigan Bluff, I'd pretty much given up on my sub-24 effort. I knew my early times were tight and I would've needed to be well below these limits in order to make a go of it. I decided to take the pressure off myself and just enjoy the rest of the race.

At Foresthill, I was still not too far behind pace. Even if the night cooled significantly, I didn't think making up 20 minutes down to the river was feasible. After that, the course wouldn't favor my particular skills and making up additional time would be near impossible. However, rather than taking my earlier advice to just go easy and enjoy the rest of the race, I got it in my head to see how long I could keep pushing. A sub-25 seemed a good goal. That's 24-something, isn't it? After a bit too much time in the aid station, I headed down California Street looking forward to crushing some more downhill singletrack. I continued making good time down to Cal 1 though the visibility of dusk and a slight feeling of dizziness slowed me some.

My mind was set on the river's cooling waters as I continued reminding myself to focus, dusk giving way to dark. As mile 70 approached, I felt myself struggling a bit and just as I could hear Peachstone aid station approach, it hit me. Not more than a couple hundred yards out, a sudden wave of nausea stopped me in my tracks. Leaning against a tree, I began retching uncontrollably. Nothing ever came up, but each time I tried to get going, my stomach would go into spasms. It was a number of minutes before I was able to pull it together and stumble my way in. Kate Morejohn was there waiting for me having been warned by a couple of runners who passed me.

I spent close to 20 minutes sitting in that aid station being waited on by amazing volunteers while I waited on my stomach to get back in order. I was eventually on my way, but the next 10 miles would be the same story over and over. I would get myself moving for a bit, but eventually too much effort would put my stomach over the edge and I would be forced to stop and then go easy for a while. Between mile 70 and 80, I lost over an hour's time both on the trail and in aid stations. The cooling waters of the Rucky Chucky seemed to help a bit and by the top of Green Gate my stomach felt somewhat better. However, I don't think I kept my nutrition up to what it should have been and was hit with one or two final convulsive spell along the Auburn Lake Trails.

I didn't feel close to normal until around Brown's Bar by which point I just wanted those final 10 miles done. I think the section between Highway 49 and No Hands Bridge was the only part of the final leg that I actually enjoyed. With nothing left over mentally from that tough night, I just had no push in me to do anything but just walk the final climb to Robie's Point. As I was finishing (and relatively enjoying) the last big downhill, I remember thinking that the difference between 26:10 and 26:30 no longer held any meaning. There would be no sprint to the end just a nice easy jog with a big smile for finishing and for being finished.

As usual, I bit longer than originally planned. I will probably still write some more details later as inspiration comes to me. There is still plenty of post-race analysis and interesting bits to ponder. The only thing I will say is that I am very happy and proud of how I ran this race. I pushed myself like I wanted to and managed to race hard for a good solid 70 miles. In the end, I may have just run a 100 mile race at a 70 mile pace or I may have been done in by a heat that took more than I realized. Like all of these races, it was a great learning opportunity and a unique experience that will always be mine.


Burton said...

Congrats on a tough day out there Steve. You can easily makeup 30 minutes on Cal St. if you are any sort of downhill runner. You being a downhill master could have surprised yourself if your stomach hadn't revolted. Nice job getting it back together and getting to the track. Hope you had some fun.

Ric Munoz said...

Glad you got through it safely, Steve! I am in awe of your continued and ROUTINE conquering of these TOUGH 100-milers. Congratulations on a job well done. Now go get some rest!!

Danni said...

I think you did awesome!!! Finishing on what everyone says is a tough day is pretty exceptional.

Mark Tanaka (Ultrailnakaman) said...

Great time for the conditions. Congratulations!

kate said...

SO glad you finished so well, Steve!

Chihping Fu 傅治平 (超馬阿爸) said...

Thanks for sharing your report. I'm thinking we were a little similar that

1. We were good at the heat during the day, like you said, thanks to the heat training.

2. we both crashed between Peachstone and the river, but with the difference that I was very sleepy instead.

3. the cool river water helped a bit.

Now I ponder. Could it be the heat? During the day, it came to our bodies without notice simply because we had heat training. However its power was still in our bodies that the damage came suddenly after a few hours that we were just defeated. Perhaps we should train this next time - a few hours after a heat training.

Last but not in the least, congrats to your great finish with impressive time.