Monday, July 23, 2007

Tahoe Rim Trail 100M

Fifty long miles and then again,
Struggling with sleep and intense pain.
This is the story of a run:
A Taste of Hell, Glimpse of Heaven!
Many months for it we did train.

Labored breathing, lungs under strain,
The distance preying on the brain.
From Sun to Night and again Sun:
Fifty long miles.

We are tough, we cannot complain
If this goal we are to attain!
Determined, incessant action,
Living from station to station.
Doing them twice, that was the game.
Fifty long miles.

Date: Jul 21-22, 2007
Race: Tahoe Rim Trail 100M
Location: Spooner Lake State Park, Carson City, NV
Time: 34:11:30
Photos of this race:

What a tough, tough race this one was. The lowest point in this course was 6800' and the highest was 9214'. Anil and I took almost all of the allotted time of 35 hours.

Thursday, July 19
Anil, Rashmi and I left the South Bay around 2 p.m. Rashmi drove and we had a great time listening to music or just talking. We stopped for some food in Placerville. Pizza and beer!!

We reached the race hotel (Plaza Hotel) after 7 p.m. The 2 adjacent suites were great. Each suite had a living room with a pullout bed and a bedroom with a King bed.

Anil and I went to a few places to pick up fruits and other last minute things. We then decided to finish the drop bags since we had to turn them in before 2 p.m. the next day. Anil even helped bandage up my big toes in order to prevent blisters from forming on the underside. The skin there had become kind of sensitive the past few weeks.

We hit the sack early though I spent the next hour or so watching TV.

Friday, July 20
We woke up after 8 a.m. and first went to eat breakfast in the hotel. We met up with Alan Geraldi who, like Anil, was attempting his first 100-miler. We went over to his room to help him with his drop bags.

After I showered, Anil and I made a quick trip to Lowe's for a few lithium batteries and strips of Velcro to attach our gaiters with.

Rashmi, Anil and I ate in a Subway before heading to the grounds of the Capitol where the weighing in and the 2:15 p.m. race briefing were to be held.

The first thing we did was to get weighed and get our bib numbers. We deposited the drop bags and then waited for the briefing to start.

(Race central)

(Alan Geraldi weighing in)

(Clowning around during my weighing in)

The race briefing by RDs David Cotter and Kevin Bigley was preceded by short speeches by people from various groups affiliated to Carson City, RRCA etc.

(Attentive audience)

(Pete Lubbers & Scott Dunlap)

David and Kevin briefed us so thoroughly that there were no questions at the end. At least not in public!

Pete, Anil, Alan and I had signed up for the pasta dinner. We went back to the hotel to rest for a bit before heading out to the dinner around 5 p.m.

(The pasta dinner)

Finally it was time to go back and contemplate on the nature of the Universe before the 5 a.m. start! I contemplated until 11 p.m. before closing my eyes for a few hours of shuteye.

Saturday, July 21
The alarm went off at 2:15 a.m. I could not bear to get up right away so stole another 15 minutes of much needed sleep. I finally swung my legs off the bed for the start of a long day, a long night and an even longer day after the night!

After a quick shower and a breakfast of a bottle of Ensure and a large bagel, Anil and I were ready to have Rashmi drop us to the Start. Alan rode with us. It was not very cold. That was good news. Maybe the night would not be cold either.

We found Chihping and Pete in the start area. Anil and I got our bibs and pinned them on. I also had a cup of much needed coffee while waiting for the race to start. I was carrying 2 hand bottles filled with Heed+Perpetuem+Salt Stick. Around my waist was a bag containing my phone, my camera, a few gels, some salt tablets and a cutoff chart.

(From L: Anil, Chihping, Pete, Geraldi and I)

All that stuff caused a backache that persisted for almost the entire race. I will have to find another way to carry the camera during next month's Lean Horse 100M in South Dakota.

5 a.m. and we were off! The first few miles were a climb and Anil and I were determined to walk all the way to the top. The both of us stopped almost every 15-20 minutes to pee. The climb soon turned into a descent all the down to lake level - small Lake Marlette with its giant cousin just over the mountains on its west shore.

(On the climb up from the Start)

(A happy Anil. He was happy throughout)

(Marlette Lake)

(Hobart AS at 6:50 a.m.)

The trail started a gradual rolling climb all the way to the Hobart Aid Station. In the Aid Station, I quickly downed a bottle of Ensure and topped up my hand bottles. Anil and I were soon on our way. The trail wound its way up to Marlette Peak.

The views were starting to get more and more stunning. Marlette Peak tops out at 8780'. What a way to start a race and the day!

(Marlette Lake with Lake Tahoe behind it)

We quickly found ourselves in the Tunnel Creek AS. This was the most important AS in the race. We would pass through it 6 times, 3 times per loop. Anil and I had our bottle of Ensure and refilled our bottles before heading down the Red House loop. People seem to dread this loop. I personally believe that it is overrated. Similar to the climb up to Hurricane Point in the Big Sur marathon.

We saw a lot of some of the middle of the pack runners come up the slope while we were starting out.

(Pete Lubbers at the end of the Red House loop)

(The ever smiling Scott Dunlap)

We ran the downhill and then power walked our way up the slope all the way back to the Tunnel Creek AS. We had a bottle of Ensure again and did not linger long here. It was on to the long 9 mile trudge to Mt. Rose. Anil had asked for Subway sandwiches for the both of us. It would be nice to see Rashmi, Arul and Gayathri there.

We met Eric Blumenau, a friend of Nicole Whiting, just after Diamond Peak. He looked in good shape.

(Eric Blumenau on his way back to Tunnel Creek from Mt. Rose)

We made it to Mt. Rose around 12:40 p.m. i.e. 7:40 into the race. We were happy with the time. Nicole Whiting was there. She, along with Arul, Gayathri and Rashmi, helped us with whetever we needed. Thank you Nicole.

I quickly wolfed down part of the sandwich, had another bottle of Ensure and headed back out on the trail for the return trip to the Start.

We reached Tunnel Creek after the pit stop in Diamond Peak.

Norm and Helen were part of the Tunnel Creek band of volunteers and it was wonderful to see their smiling faces. Helen was amazingly helpful.

(Norm & Helen Klein in the Tunnel Creek AS)

We met so many of the 50M/100M front runners along the course. Garrett Graubins and Tim Twietmeyer to name a few in the 50M. Jasper Halekas, the eventual 100M winner, passed us, going the other way, just after the Tunnel Creek AS. He finished in 18:16. Our second 50-mile loop took us 18:11!!!

We were on our way up the climb from Tunnel Creek to Hobart when the eventual 2nd place runner, Mark Gilligan, blew by accompanied by his pacer Michael Hayden. These lads are fast!!

We stopped Wendell Doman, part of Jasper Halekas' crew, and talked with him for about 3-4 minutes.

(Wendell Doman)

Keith Blom passed us too. He was following up his sub-24 finish in Western States with another 100.

(Keith Blom)

We grabbed some water in the Diamond Creek AS and then ran at a steady clip down the descent from there. Once the trail leveled out, Anil and I ran a bit and mostly walked back to Tunnel Creek. It was more Ensure again for us.

The climb out of Tunnel Creek was long and we eventually made it into Hobart. Anil and I picked up our thin running jackets in case it was windy up by the Snow Valley AS. We started the 2.6 mile trek up to that AS. That climb went by quite fast and uneventfully. My weight, like Anil's had not fluctuated by more than 0.6 lbs. during those 40+ miles. AS was no exception. Since we did not have drop bags there, we were out quickly.

The last 7 miles down to the Start/Finish felt really long last year during our 50M. The same this year too!

We rolled into the 50M point at 8:30 p.m. (15:30 for the 50M). The entire crew was there to greet and help us - Anu, Bharti, Deepu, Aruna, Rashmi, Arul & Gayathri. Vinod Vishwanath was waiting to pace us.

Anil and I spent 30 minues eating pizza and changing into warmer clothes fro the night section.

We left at 9:00 p.m., 16:00 on the race clock.

The 3 of us soon settled into a good rhythm. The initial climb seemed interminably long the second time around. Anil took his first NoDoz tablet on this climb. I followed soon after. Vinod was running a 50M (the last 50M of our race) a week after running an unsupported 50M in Montana!

We reached the Hobart AS soon enough and were grateful for the bottles of Ensure waiting for us there. My new Fenix seemed to relish the batteries I was feeding it - it went through them like a hot knife through butter!! I then resorted to using only the headlamp and turining on the Fenix only when the headlamp fell a bit short.

Tunnel Creek came along soon too. I chugged down a bottle of Ensure and it tasted a bit weird. I felt like throwing up almost as soon as I left the AS and had to quell the urge. I did not know it then but that would be the last bit of nutrition (except for the mix in my hand bottles) that I would have for the next 24 miles!

Anil had struggled with sleep almost all night long. He had napped for 5 minutes in the wee hours of the night before taking a full blown 10-minute nap around 5:15 a.m. Nancy Warren, on her way back to Tunnel Creek, looked at him and remarked "He looks so cute sleeping there!".

We met Chuck Wilson soon after (5:45 a.m.) and he impressed upon us the need to pick it up and make it to the Mt. Rose AS as soon as we could. That lit a fire under our butts and we covered the next 3 miles or so in real good time. We reached the AS at 6:30 a.m.! We were out, after coffee and a quick change of clothes, at 6:48 a.m. We had built up a buffer of 1 hour.

The last 24 miles went by slowly. Anil slept for another 10 minutes in Tunnel Creek. I used that break to hit the toilet. We left Tunnel Creek at 9:55 a.m. determined to not stop anymore. The climb out of Tunnel Creek seemed much longer this time around. Hobart finally swam into view and we were out of there in less than a minute - we just refilled our bottles with the Coke we had switched to in Tunnel Creek.

The 2.6 miles up to Snow Valley Creek were long, hot, sweaty and full of large flies that seemed to have a predilection for my face and neck. My weight at that AS was down to 131 lbs. (from a starting weight of 135 lbs.) but the volunteer remarked that I would be OK once I finished and started hydrating and eating.

Those last 7 miles were some of the longest 7 miles that Anil and I have ever run. The last aid station, 1.7 miles from the Finish, never seemed to come. We reached it finally at 2:43 p.m. I promptly called Anu and told her that we would be rolling into the Finish around 3:15 p.m.

Anil, Vinod and I ran the last 100 yards and crossed the Finish line 34:11 into the race.

We were quickly whisked off to the hotel for a shower and then to the award ceremony that commenced promptly at 5:30 p.m.

Bharti, driving Anu's van, was tireless. She drove all the way back. She not only made a detour to drop off Chihping in Fremont but drove Michael Hayden all the way to his sister's place in Santa Cruz. I finally fell asleep, after eating delicious food that Raj (Anu's husband) had made for us, at 2:00 a.m.

My heartfelt thanks to our fantastic crew: Deepak, Aruna, Arul, Gayathri, Rashmi, Bharti and Anu. Anu juggled a bunch of things, including a 50 mile bike ride on Saturday, just so she and Bharti could make it to the race.

The race volunteers were absolutely fantastic! This race was made all the better because of their ever helping nature and cheerful attitudes.

Congratulations to all of you who finished. Scott, Pete, Alan, Eric, Chihping, Anil, Chuck, Tom Kaisersatt (50M), Christine (50M), Karen (50m), Marissa (50M), Norbert, Fred, Keith & Kay Blom ... The list goes on.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Pacifica 50K

Date: June 30, 2007
Race: PC Trail Runs Pacifica 50K
Location: Pacifica, CA
Time: 7:43

It was the Monday after returning from the Western States 100M Safety Patrol and Pacing when I decided that I wanted to do a 50K 5 days later. PCTR has races almost every other weekend and this one was almost in my backyard so to speak. In Pacifica - over the mountains from Hillsborough. I signed up online and Anil did the same the day after. He was looking at 31 miles after a long 62 miles in WS!

Saturday, June 30
I picked him up from his place around 6:45 a.m. and we quickly got onto 280N. The ride was uneventful and we were in the parking lot, just outside the San Pedro Valley Park entrance, by 8:00 a.m. We quickly got our stuff together. Anil had been smart enough to bring one of my long sleeved shirts I had forgotten in his bag during our WS run and that was a heaven sent! It was a tad chilly and I had, rather unwisely, opted to leave home dressed in a singlet. The shirt was swiftly donned and the singlet went over it. That's how I ran the entire race!

The course was unusual, even by PCTR standards. Sarah and Wendell like loops rather than out and back courses. This race had us go through the Start/Finish no less than 4 times! I'm becoming a fan of such courses. The reason is that they allow me to get to my drop bag quite often. My drop bag usually contains spare bottles filled with my sports drink of choice plus the ubiquitous bottle of Ensure.

The loops went in the following manner: 12K, 9K, 9K loop in reverse, 12K and then our choice of the 9K direction.

The 12K loop was a constant climb all the way to 1800 feet and a descent down to the start along a slightly different route the last 2 miles. The last middle 2 miles of the climb were very rocky. I deemed this good training for the TRT 100M on July 21.

The 9K loop, in my humble opinion, was a lot better. I felt it had more variation in terrain and trail than the 12K one.

Since this race had a 9K, a 21K and a 30K in addition to the 50K, the trails were crowded in the beginning. The 9K runners went off a few minutes early. The 21K, 30K and 50K runners shared the trail.

The climb up to 1800' in the 12K was crowded. The narrow trail and treacherous footing made for a slow pace. It opened out a bit during the descent and we were back to the Start for our first dip into the drop bags. Anil and I quickly replaced our bottles with fresh ones, chugged down a bottle of Ensure each and started on the 9K loop.

Again this loop was uneventful. We met up with a runner name Kimberly who had moved to San Francisco from St. Louis. She, Anil and I ran together for about a mile before she took off to finish, eventually, in 7:01.

Anil and I had decided to go easy and enjoy ourselves. Our aim was to get 6+ hours on a trail as a last really long run before TRT. Chuck Wilson was also doing the 50K as was Tom Kaisersatt.

This loop ended soon enough and we filled up our bottles with our respective powders. I was trying Heed+Perpetuem along with Salt Stick. I have found that Succeed gives me way more salt than I need and it tends to make me feel nauseous. Salt Stick is perfect for me. The Heed+Perpetuem combo was extremely tasty and this was the first race in a long time that I ran without even a sip of Coke!

Stan Jensen was helping out at the Start aid station. He is one amazing person. I love how much he gives back to the ultra community. He is there in so many races. Ruth Anderson, Quicksilver etc. Thank you Stan.

The thing that Anil and I noticed about the 2 loops was that the 12K one felt way different from the 9K one in terms of weather. The 12K one was definitely a bit cooler.

The reverse 9K loop was wonderful too. We met up with a dehydrated 30K runner about 1.5 miles from the end and quickly gave him some of our water. Further up we met a girl whose stomach was hurting. Anil promptly gave her ginger chews and that seemed to help her. Another runner further up was out of water too! I let him have a few swigs from my bottle.

The 12K loop was a bit slower than the first one. It seemed like the climb went on forever. We were both glad when the summit came into sight. Knowing that all that was left in the race was a 3.5 mile descent followed by the nice 9K loop made it easier.

We decided to do the 9K loop in reverse i.e. the direction we had taken for the 2nd 9K loop. Most of the other runners had chosen the opposite direction. I believe Anil and I were right in our opinion that our direction had less climbing than the one the others took.

The Finish finally came 7:43 into the race. This was a deceptive race. It was hilly with just under 7100' of elevation gain.

We hung around and chatted with Sarah and Wendell for 10-15 minutes before heading back to the South Bay. They are wonderful RDs and this race was perfectly managed as usual. Thank to both of them.