Will I Outlive my Parents?

I do not really enjoy running; I never have.  Sure, there are aspects of running that I enjoy such as the beauty of nature, the solitude and the camaraderie.  But the act of running itself, not all that much. Running has, for the most part, been a means to an end, outliving my parents.

My parents died very young.  My mother died in 1986 at the age of 41.  She appeared to be very healthy, always well, exercised and was not overweight.  She died of some yet unknown heart ailment while taking a shower.

Whereas, my father was diagnosed with atherosclerosis, hardening of the arteries, when I was very young.  I recall a time when my father and I were supposed to play catch one sunny summer afternoon and he began to cry.  He said, and I will never forget these words, ‘it is every father’s dream to play baseball with their first born son and I will never be able to do that with you…’  These were very hard words for a 10 year old to fully comprehend.  Over the years, I would watch my father continue to decline and go through bottles of nitroglycerin pills, nitroglycerin pills are used to dilate the arteries and help offset or stay a heart attack and/or angina pain.  My father used to walk a 1/2 mile before needing to stop and rest and maybe take a nitroglycerin pill, to towards the end, having to stop and rest and take multiple nitroglycerin pills only after walking 20 or 30 feet.

My father died of a massive heart attack outside the back of the house while using a hoe to remove weeds in 1989.  My father was 47 years old.

This year I will turn 50; I will outlive my parents. But by how many years? That thought is never far from my mind.

As a result of the unexpected death of my mother and watching the mental and physical decline experienced by my father, I started to run.  It was this continuous observation of my Father’s pain and increased understanding of heart health that led me to begin running my freshman year of college, 1983, at University of Kentucky.  That first semester I discovered a group of guys who liked to run.  We would get up at 5 am run 4 or 5 miles, shower and hit the breakfast lines!  It is funny, looking back at how much you can eat at that age, not to mention how much alcohol you can drink, but I digress.  This was a ritual that I continued, more or less, through my years attending graduate school at  Louisiana State University and beyond.

Skipping ahead a few years, I continued this routine of pounding the pavement, not getting up at 5 am mind you, but running 4 – 10 miles a days three to five days a week for about 25 years.  I would run the occasional 5K or half marathon, but nothing more.  For me, running was a way to help prevent the early onset of heart trouble and not something that I necessarily enjoyed.  From the beginning, I never appreciated road running and/or racing.  I found road running to be, well, boring.  As an aside, I could never quite square that I was running to improve and/or maintain my health well at the same time inhaling carcinogenic car exhaust?!?!.

Fast forward to 2004.  I am now 39 years old and have been taking statins, drugs used to control cholesterol levels, for nearly 6 years.  Although, my cholesterol was always within the ‘normal’ range my cardiologist felt that because of my family history that I should take all necessary steps to reduce plaque build-up in my arteries.  It was this year that my cardiologist suggested that I undergo a relatively new, non-invasive, technology, Electron Bean Tomography (EBT).  EBT, also known as Ultra Fast CT Scan, was being used to quantify the amount of hardened plaque, calcium, in a persons arteries surrounding the heart.  Although, I was scared, I agreed to the procedure.  Within a week, I was presented with a wonderful surprise…..a calcium of ZERO and a diagnosis of ‘No identifiable atherosclerotic plaque. Very low cardiovascular disease risk.’  Happy days!

Since the EBT scan in 2004, I have undergone two Dynamic Stress Tests.  This, like the EBT is also a non-invasive procedure which is used to measure how well your heart muscle is working to pump blood to your body. It is mainly used to detect a decrease in blood flow to the heart from narrowing in the coronary arteries.  This procedure involves the patient walking then running on a treadmill that can reach a 40% incline!  Let me tell you, that is a ‘tough row to hoe’!  The tests performed in 2008 and 2012 concluded with a finding of ‘Adequate stress echocardiogram by the heart rate criteria.  High workload achieved.  Normal blood pressure response to exercise.  No ischemic ECG changes. Exercise was stopped due to target heart rate reached. No echocardiographic evidence of ischemia.’  Yay!  Happy times!

My days of testing will continue as will my days of running (or as my good friend, Frank Pagliaro says, power hikinig).  I am however, happy and at peace knowing that I am doing all that I can prevent the scourge of heart disease.  However, that fear is never far from my mind is provides my motivation. Let us be thankful of our health.  Let us enjoy each day.  And most importantly appreciate our friends and family.

Why do you run?

Just What in the Hell Am I Doing??????

Enjoy the festive music above by clicking the ‘Play’ button.

Well, we are going on thee months since my successful completion of the Pine to Palm 100.  Since that time I have been taking it easy and just running fun easy miles.  However, with spring fast approaching, I need to mentally, and physically, prepare myself for the races that I will obligate myself to complete in 2015.

After Pine to Palm, I needed a break!  I took it!  I ate what I wanted!  I drank what I wanted!.  Screw training, schedules, veggies, tofu, vitamins…… To hell with it all!  During this break, I have indulged like no other time this year!  For example, my diet has been meat free.  But during this ‘mental recuperation’ phase, I have not been able to get enough meat!  I’m not sure what it was, but meat never tasted so good!

So, given my lax training, poor diet and copious drinking, I have added a few, shall we say, non-muscle pounds.  Sure, the extra weight is useful during the downhill jogs; we all remember those high school physics classes and something about potential energy changing into kinetic energy, right?!  But alas, it is a detriment to the uphill the proceeds the downhill…..

The ‘potential energy’, poor diet and consumption of great wine almost every night (thanks to FranksWine.com) must come to an end.  The end of my Henry VIII lifestyle will be timed to coincide with the Western States 100 Lottery this coming Saturday, December 6th!  Although, I am not holding my breath as WS has calculated my chances of being chosen at a little greater than 4%…. Regardless of this weekends outcome, I will begin to wean myself off of nightly wine, candy bars, and meat!  I am ready for schedules, Flora protein shakes and muddy Hoka’s!

Let us all enjoy the holidays but keep an eye towards 2015!

Pine to Palm – DUN!!!!

Press the Play Button, turn up the volume and enjoy (Queen – We Are The Champions)!

Wow!  Can you believe that it has been almost two weeks since the Pine to Palm 100.5 Mile Endurance Run was held?  More surprisingly, can you believe that I FINISHED!  It wasn’t pretty and my quads were trashed, but 30 hours and 40 minutes after Hal gave the go signal, I crossed the finish line.  The feet do not lie!

feet

In the Beginning….

But let us backtrack a few days.  It was not much of a secret…I was making excuses and planning my failure.  I made these thoughts known, not only to myself, but others as well.  I wanted no one to be surprised if I DNF’d…  I had recently recovered from a third injury, all of  which had severely hampered my training.  So much so, that I actually contemplated dropping.  However, the early booking of the airline ticket and hotels kept me committed as I already had too much skin in the game!

My Thoughts….

I could bore you with random thoughts, memories and general ramblings, but I will spare you and get to the point of this blog.

I want to thank so many people who were responsible for my completing this event but, first and foremost would be my wife, Caryn Lerman.  Caryn does not run and does not necessarily understand why I have become somewhat obsessed with such endeavors.  But nonetheless, without her support, this would not have been possible.

By the way, are you aware that you can purchase a pie shake at Shari’s, in Grant’s Pass?  Just ask my co-runner Gene Dykes who ordered one.  I could only envision Dan Aykroyd doing the Bass-o-Matic skit on Saturday Night Live!

But I digress….

Pacers and Crew: Dan Roed and Erin Fitzgerald were invaluable!  As a result of Dan’s previous running and crewing of this race, his guidance, insight and logistical support were invaluable.  Moreover, it was knowing that Dan and Erin would meet me at critical Aid Stations along the way that kept me going.  I also want to give a special shout out to Erin for agreeing to pace me from Dutchman Peak onward.  I think she envisioned ‘running’.  However, by that time, my quads were trashed resulting in almost 12 hours of hiking to the finish!  Erin, thanks for your company and continuous positive attitude!

Here is an example of the wisdom dispensed by Dan as I came into Squaw Lake:

Dan and the Crew:  What do you need? Water bottles filled?  Gels?

Me: yes.  Wow, look at those grapes, I’ll try a few.

Dan:  Here, try some of the cherry tomatoes as well.

Me: ok.

Me: My socks are dirty and wet, I want to change into a clean pair.  Dan, what do you think?

Dan: Suck it up.. Keep going.. Don’t waste time… (adlibbing)

(See Dan and Erin below)

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Wisdom of the Elites

During the race, I would play certain sayings or visions over and over in my head, here are a few:

SpeedGoat Karl Meltzer: “A 100 miles is not that far….”  Really???

Rob Krar’s Beard…..

Tim Olson’s Hair…..

Kasie Enman’s feet after placing 2nd in the women’s division at the SpeedGoat 50K.. Did you see the pic of her feet following the race?  If Kasie could push through on those feet, I never had a reason to complain!  Check it out below:

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And the words that Hal penned into my copy of his book:  “Troy, making it through this book is the hard part.  Running is fun.  Happy Trails. Hal”.  Several times during the race, it would be these words that would sustain me….’Running is fun…Running is fun…’

The Real Ultra Runners.. The Non-Elites

It is this group from whom I have gleaned the most wisdom and inspiration.  Unlike the group above, these people are ‘human’ like me!

I must begin this list with an acknowledgement of Clyde Aker.  Clyde is a man on the older side.  Clyde was also responsible for marking the 100 miles of trails.   Still to this day, I’m not quite sure how it happened, but Clyde and I passed one another several times and each time I would say ‘great job marking the trail Clyde’.  Marking this trail was no small feat and one that should not go unrewarded!

No list of revered ultra runners would be complete without the name Chris Jones.  I do not know Chris well, but as well as one can know anyone via Face Book, texting and the occasional phone call.  I find Chris to be an amazing ultra runner.  A real inspiration and he carries himself as if it is all not a big deal.  Let me recap 2014 for you – HURT 100, Angeles Crest, 100, Cascade Crest 100 and Pine to Palm 100….  Chris provided two crucial pieces of advice: 1) bring poles and 2) practice power hiking.  This advice would prove crucial to my completing this race.

Nick Ferrera is one of the few local ultra runners that I know.  This year alone, Nick has completed Western States, Eastern States and is going to top off 2014 with the Grindstone!  Nick is an everyday guy with a job and a family.  Someone with whom I can relate and draw strength.

Gina Chupka is a runner relatively new to ultra running scene.  We met last year during the Pine Creek Challenge; the first 100 miler for each of us.  Since that time, Gina has embraced ultra running with a vengeance and has become someone to admire.

The many runners that I had the pleasure to meet before, during and after the race: Tim Roush, Martin Whitcomb, Sandy Purtle, Lucas Lyons, Scott Dunlap, Steve Collins, etc.  Thank you so  much for the company and inspiration.

I must also give a shout out to Pat Travis, affectionately known as P-Bot.  P-Bot certificate toting Sommelier working for FranksWine.  P-Bot is not what you would call a natural runner.  But nonetheless, he has signed up to run his first marathon in Chicago.  P-Bot’s  dedication and determination has been an inspiration.  Go P-Bot!

Lastly, this race really comes down to the superb aid station volunteers!  I have no names, but they were so helpful and attentive.  This group of people who chose to volunteer their time are the epitome of what all volunteering is all about.  Thank you for your time, pleasant attitude, and helpfulness!

Thanks to all of you mentioned and those that I’ve forgotten to mention.

Finish

Pine to Palm – The Next Challenge!

Hit the ‘Play’ button above, turn up the volume and enjoy the read!

The day is fast approaching.  That day is Saturday September 13th, the start of the legendary Pine to Palm 100 Mile Event.  I’m calling it an ‘Event’ and not a race as it is most assured that I will not be ‘racing’!

Today, as I begin pulling together both my gear and my thoughts, I wander back and forth, between exhilaration and fear.  I say this because the thought of not only attempting, but being counted amongst those who will not only survive, but complete this challenge is exciting.  However, on the other hand, I am also fearful knowing that three injuries have not allowed me to train as hard as I would have liked.  Therefore, my goal is to FINISH and to beat the aid station cut-off times!  Just ponder this elevation chart for a moment!

p2p_100_elevation_1

The course is a remote and rugged classic point to point course traversing the Siskiyou; Mountains Range in Southern Oregon. Starting in Williams, OR the course winds it way east to Ashland, OR on a mixture of single track trail, dirt road, with less than 4 miles of pavement. The course boasts over 20,000ft of climb and 20,000 ft of loss with 3 epic climbs to 7,000ft and fantastic views of Mt Shasta and Mt McLaughlin.

As I prepare for this event, am a little saddened that my wife, Caryn Lerman, will not be there to cheer me on.  During my first 100 mile last year, it made my day to see her smiling face at the  aid stations waiting and cheering for me!  This year, I will have a great back-up crew to both support and pace me.  They will be tasked with not only to encourage, but to also nudge and harangue me to the finish.  I want to give a huge shout out to Erin Fitzgerald and my cousin, Dan Roed.  Thank you so much for volunteering your time and energy for me!  You are much appreciated.

Let me also add, that I will, till he decides to leave me behind, be running with Gene Dykes.  I met Gene a few years ago stumbling through the Susquehanna Super Hike.  Gene is an incredible runner and will work hard to pull me along.  Gene already has us planning next year’s run!

Sorry, before I forget, let me go over my gear list……

Gear Check-list:

  1. Suunto Ambit 3 Peak
  2. Garmin 910XT as a back-up
  3. Hiking Poles
  4. UD Scott Jurek Vest
  5. Three water bottles
  6. ChicaBands for cooling
  7. Two head lamps
  8. Hal Koerner’s Field Guide to Ultrarunning – get his autograph
  9. Three drop bags
  10. Three pair of Hoka’s (one pair of size 13 to wear later after my feet begin to swell)
  11. Several pair of socks, shorts, and t-shirts
  12. Hat with neck protection
  13. Light toboggan hat
  14. Light gloves
  15. Long sleeve running shirt
  16. Light wind breaker
  17. Mylar blanket
  18. Batteries
  19. External battery charger for charging watch on the run if required
  20. Sunglasses
  21. Compression Sleeves
  22. Nipple Guards
  23. Roctane salt caps
  24. Body Glide
  25. iPod with great tunes (Metallica, STP, Garbage, The Offspring, Chili Peppers, Rob Zombie, etc)
  26. iPhones, iPad and various chargers and cords
  27. and oh yeah, boarding passes!

Gear

Have I forgotten anything??????  Forgive me for digressing…. Ugh!

I am also looking forward to the camaraderie of the Ultra community.  Living here on the east coast, I am always in awe, and may I also say, envious, of the Ultra community found out west.  Here in Philadelphia, I am aware of one other ultra runner, Nick Ferrera,  an exceptional ultra runner.  However, we do not live very close to one another and therefore have never had the opportunity to train together.  Whereas, it is not uncommon for me to see Face Book postings of organized and/or impromptu group runs from those of you in the mountain west and west coast.  You are lucky and I am jealous! 

Lastly, I am somewhat giddy to finally meet a great ultra runner in his own right, Chris Jones.  Chris is an ultra runner extraordinaire!  Since May of this year, Chris has completed four 100 mile races (DRTE, Tahoe Rim, Angeles Crest, and Cascade Crest) with Pine to Palm to be his 5th.  It is my goal, at least initially, to draft Chris…  I’ll let you know how that works out!

Ok, that is it.. Time to begin packing….

You can follow this race via Ultralive.net and then click on Pine to Palm.

 

Appreciation of Others

This week I would like to send some trailrunner love to those who work tirelessly to document, photograph, tweet, blog and opine on almost every aspect of ultrarunning.  There are many sources, but I rely on the following:

  1. iRunFar
  2. TalkUltra
  3. Trailrunner Magazine
  4. UltraSportsLive.tv
  5. Ultrarunning Magazine and
  6. Trail Runnning UK

iRunFar, is the creation of Bryon Powell, a former Washington, DC, food and drug attorney who in 2009 gave up the suit, annual Christmas parties, and big bonus’ to pursue his primary love, ultrarunning.  What Bryon has been able to do, better than most, has been to mold his love of untrarunning into the ‘go to’ site for any and all ultrarunning information.  Since creating iRunFar, Bryon has been joined by Meghan Hicks, his significant other, and who is an accomplished ultrarunner and writer in her own right.  I am thankful to both Bryon and Meghan, for sharing their passion of ultrarunning with the rest of us.

iRunFar also includes guest columns, gear reviews, races reviews, and much more.

TalkUltra is the premier ‘go to’ site for everything ultrarunning with a focus on non-US races.  TalkUltra was the brainchild of Ian Corless.  Ian, a Brit no less, has utilized his years of experience as a photographer, elite cyclist, participant in duathalons and tri-athalons (representing Great Britain at the Duathalon Worlds in Australia in 2005), and his late conversion to ultrarunning to create TalkUltra.  Ian’s coverage of the European SkyRunner and VK Series, Comrades, TransVulcania, UTMB, etc is by far the best, most informative and second to none.  And if Ian’s race coverage was not enough, you have to check out his podcast!  Not only does Ian land interviews with some of ultrarunning’s elite runners, but The Meltzer Moment with Karl Meltzer and Smiles and Miles with Emelie Forsberg are interesting, entertaining and informative!  I rely on Ian’s podcasts to make the weekly long runs zip by – I often find myself laughing out loud!

Lastly, you become aware of little known, but important ultrarunner facts; Stevie Kremer owes Ian a beer!

TrailRunner Magazine, is an all around great magazine with a focus on all things related to trail running.  TrailRunner has a specific focus on: Training, Upcoming Races, Nutrition, Gear Reviews, Destinations and Guidance for Beginners.  However, this Magazine goes beyond the dull and typical, it also includes entertaining articles such as ‘The Beards of Ultrarunning‘, ‘Running Like Beer is Meant to be Shared‘ and ‘Cows, Fog and Lady Gaga Tats.’

UltraSportsLive.tv is a newcomer and a welcome addition to the ultrarunning community.  UltraSportLive was created by the ultrarunning beer lovers at UltraRunnerPodcast.  Both sites, UltraSportsLive and UltraRunnerPodcast offer great gear reviews, podcasts, interviews, race reports, and a calendar of upcoming races.  But, as the name implies, UltraSportsLive.tv brings live video coverage to selected races!  This allows you to share in the excitement in a was that Twitter and race reviews do not.  In addition, there is another reason to visit the UltraRunnerPodcast on a weekly basis  – to view the latest editions to their ‘Black Toenail Hall of Fame‘!  We are all encouraged to participate!

UltraRunning Magazine is the premier magazine focusing wholly on ultrarunning.  UltraRunning provides some of the most extensive coverage of ultra races in the United States.  UltraRunning not only includes in depth reviews of selected races, but also finishers and other relevant articles of interest.  For example, recent articles include: ‘How to Increase Your Walking Efficiency‘, ‘Midyear Reassessments’, and ‘The Basics on Hyponatremia’ to name a few.

Lastly, but not least, is one of my favorite trail running magazines, Trail Running Magazine, ‘The UK’s No. 1 Off-Road Running Magazine’.  This Magazine, as the name implies, has a specific focus on trail and/or fell racing and covers topics similar to the sites discussed earlier but with a specific bent to the UK.  As with Ian Corless, I love the British sense of humor.

The sections that I most appreciate are:  ‘Routes’ – this section typically includes detailed trail maps, course descriptions and pictures; ‘Little Known Races’ which includes beautiful pictures as well as detailed races descriptions; and articles such as ‘Choose your nutritional weapon…The optimum intake for runners is 30 grams of carbs per hour but what does that look like?’

As you can see, as this sport continues to mature, so does the coverage.  Although, I’m not sure that can be said of all those who report on the sport!

But that is the beauty of ultrarunning; it continues to draw people who are incredibly talented, driven, and unrelenting, and yet caring, supportive, and, well like me, wannabehippieultrarunners!

Moving Beyond My First DNF

As many of you know, I received my very first DNF at the SpeedGoat 50K on July 19th.  Although, I was somewhat disappointed that I missed an aid station cutoff, I was not terribly upset.  Like most people who have failed, you want to look back, reflect and learn from that failure.  In this instance, I concluded the following:

  1. Even though I was consuming 2 bottles of water between aid stations, I was still battling dehydration which significantly slowed my pace during the 2nd half of the race;
  2. You can never do to much hill work.  The 5 – 9 mile long climbs  to the top of mountains was unrelenting;
  3. Hiking poles appeared to be of great assistance to many especially during the latter stages of the race; and
  4. It is very hard from someone training at sea level to not struggle at altitude.  As noted in my previous blog, only about 4% of those who finished were not from the arid mountainous west.

So, as I ponder my Lessons Learned and use them to prepare for the upcoming Pine to Palm 100, I have discovered that I may be more sensitive to the DNF than I originally thought.  As the days have passed, I have picked up my training and have had very good runs.  However, I have a ‘good friend’ who has been somewhat unrelenting in his teasing and ridicule.  I have requested that he refrain from the negativity; however his actions persist.  It is only now, that I am questioning myself.

Can I complete the Pine to Palm without a DNF?  I know the Pine to Palm will be hard regardless of how much training one has endured.  I also know, that without the dedication there is little chance of success.  More importantly, without a positive attitude, the chances of success are greatly diminished.

Therefore, I will continue to train.  I will remain focused.  I will reduce the negativity.  I will, take one more step….one more step…one more step….

 

SpeedGoat 50K – My First DNF!!

The SpeedGoat 50K is touted as the ‘hardest 50K in the USA’ and now I know why!  This race is the brainchild, or quite possibly, stepchild, of one Karl Meltzer.  The race is held at the Snowbird Resort located just southeast of Salt Lake City, UT.  The course begins at an elevation of approximately 7,500 feet and climbs to an elevation of just over 11,000 feet.  The race culminates with just over 11,000 feet of total elevation gain.  And if that were not enough, the morning of the race, Karl warned us to be on the watch for 5 moose that were wandering in the area of the race!

SpeedGoat Profile Image

Day Before the Race

I arrived on Thursday evening where I met Erin.  As an aside, I met Erin last year running my first 100 miler, the Pine Creek Challenge, as she was pacing Gina.  Erin and I picked up our respective rental cars and made our way to Snowbird.

After a good nights rest, I got up and met Erin and we drove back to the Salt Lake City Airport to pick up Gina.  We were all very hungry, so on our return to Snowbird, we decided to stop for breakfast.  After eliminating a few options, we finally settled on Johanna’s Kitchen.  What a great find.  Just what we needed prior to taking on SpeedGoat the next morning.

Our first task was to undertake some reconnaissance of the actual race course.  The course appeared to be well marked with blue Hoka tape and flags.  Although, the trails did not appear to be very technical, I was beginning to feel the effects of the altitude.

We hiked back down to Snowbird where we decided to take the ski-lift up to an elevation of 10,500 feet.  However, before Gina would have any part of that of that, she insisted that we ride the Mountain Coaster!  Needless to say, that was a lot of fun!

Following our conquering of the Mountain Coaster, we ended our stint on the mountain with a ride up the ski-lift.  Even though we were at an elevation of 10,500 feet, we were still about 500 feet from the top!  It was here that we took in the expanse and beauty of the mountains.

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Race Day

My alarm was set for 4:30 am; however, that wasn’t necessary as I was awake by 3:30 am!  I tried to fall back to sleep, but gave up and climbed out of bed at 4 am.  After making a weak cup of hotel coffee, I began the multitasking ritual of dressing, eating and applying Body Glide at almost the same time!  It is amazing how proficient one can become with such things…

The weather was supposed to be in the mid-50’s in the morning and climb into the mid-80’s in the afternoon.  The lack of tree cover meant that sunscreen was going to be necessary.

We decided to depart for the race start area around 5:20 am as we were told by hotel staff the it was only about a quarter of a mile away.. Wrong!  As it turned out is was at least a mile.  Fortunately, we met some race staff about halfway through our journey and were offered a ride.  We were all very thankful.

While waiting for the race to start, and in between intermittent bathroom breaks, I was able to catch glimpses of some of the elites.  It was exciting to see the likes of Sage Candady, Anna Frost, Ellie Greenwood, Hal Koerner, etc.

The Race

We’re off!  Although some much faster than others!  It was now that we began the long arduous 8.4 mile climb up to Hidden Peak.  This climb wasn’t all that bad as I was able to run most of the lower altitude portions of the trail but as we reached higher elevations fast walking became part of the mix.  As I inched forward and upward, I took time to appreciate the beauty as we passed through mountains flowers in full bloom, sections of snow, scree and areas of very sharp angular rocks.  Let’s just acknowledge that hiking made up a large part of the latter stages of this climb up to Hidden Peak!  When  Hidden Peak was finally breached, a little more than 2.5 hours later, it became apparent that the mileage on the course map was there merely for entertain value!.  I say this because it was actually 9.4 miles to Hidden Peak and not the advertised 8.4!!  But the day was young and I was still in good spirits.

As I reached Hidden Peak, it was like reaching a party – the Red Bull truck was playing party music, the aid station assistance was incredible and lots of people were just milling around.  I have to give a huge shout-out to the aid station volunteers.  You didn’t have to ask for assistance.  The volunteers would run up and ask what you needed and immediately seek to fulfill your request.

The next 8 plus miles meandered down the mountain through Mineral Basin to the turn around at Pacific Mine was relatively fast.  The trails were great, fast, technical and steep.  There was only one section of trail that resulted in hiking.  There was about a 2.5 mile section that was comprised of, as Sage Candady said, human head sized rocks.  Somehow, Sage was able to run this section while most of us ‘humans’ were forced to walk long sections to avoid tripping!

Upon reaching the halfway point, Pacific Mine Aid Station, the sun was out and it was warming fast.  Again, the aid station volunteers were excellent.  They were very efficient in filling bottles, ferrying popcicles, and providing either a cold pitcher of water and/or a cool towel to your head to cool you off.  The water was COLD but most welcome!  It was also at this point that Erin and Gina caught up with me.

Now it was time to begin the final 16 miles.  Together, Gina, Erin, Marky-Mark (don’t ask) and I set-off.  It was on this climb that I started to fade.  For some reason, this 5 mile plus unrelenting climb taxed my breathing.  I felt the need to stop to catch my breath every few hundred feet or so.  It was also during this stretch that I concluded that walking poles would have been of great assistance.  Lesson learned!  This was the most unrelenting climb!  Every time I rounded  curve, it appeared as if the crest was near but only to disappear into another incline!  Ugh!

Sometime during this section, it became apparent that I, most likely, would miss the aid station cutoff by a few minutes.  Once I finally reached the top, I was able to bomb down the hill.  I thought I might just make it!  However, upon crossing the last stream about 1/3 of a mile from the aid station, the volunteers were walking towards me.  I knew that I had just missed the cutoff.

What a bummer!  My very first DNF!!!  Although I was disappointed, I was not terribly upset.  This was a hard race in which more than 30% of those starting DNF’d!  Another interesting note is that only 4% of those who finished were not from the arid mountainous western USA.  While sitting under the tent reflecting, I was jolted back to reality as the aid station volunteers began running back and forth – apparently a person, or two, had collapsed somewhere on the trail.  I was happy that I made it as far as I had.

I eventually made my way back to the hotel room.  I showered and drove back to the Finish Line to look for my friends.  It was here that I saw Erin.  Erin also DNF’d – she missed the 26 mile aid station cutoff by about 4 minutes!  Tough call!  We waited for Gina who was the only one of our group to finish.  Gina made the 12 hr finishing cutoff with 38 minutes to spare!

Lastly, I would like to give a big shout out to iRunFar’s Bryon Powell and Meghan Hicks as well as Ultralive.net for providing excellent coverage of the SpeedGoat 50K.

Lessons Learned

1. Drink more water.  Although, I was consuming 2 bottles of water between aid stations, I began to feel like I was suffering from dehydration towards the end.

2.  Hiking poles!  I have never used them, but they appear to be very helpful to many towards the end of the race.

3.  You can never do too many hill repeats!

Random pics of the elites and Anna Frost jubilant with her winnings:

 

 

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