Sunday, June 19, 2011

San Juan Solstice 50 - 2011

Wow, where do I begin. Mixed bag.
This is one of the hardest - if not the hardest - 50-mile race in the world.
This year, the water was so high, there was no way we were going to do the traditional route. The creeks and rivers are raging with the most possessed, ugly, brown, frothing water you ever saw. There was no safe way to send 200 runners across 18 (I think) stream crossings. So they created an alternate course, in the same region, avoiding all the major stream crossings.
Hearing this, lots of people who had to drive a long ways, and weren't already locked into tickets or reservations, bailed. This allowed everyone who was on the wait-list to get a spot.

One of the best things about the alternate course was that, for those of us who had already done SJS50 multiple times, this time provided new views. The morning views through the aspen and meadows with Uncompahgre and other huge mountains around was breathtaking.

The volunteers were the best! No doubt, these people are the best folks you could ever hope to staff a race with, and the terrain this race is in is so forbidding that it's a daunting task.
Because this course was thrown together at the last minute, there were a few minor glitches. There are several places where the course leaves a trail and bushwhacks up a slope, across a meadow, etc. If you didn't see the markers off-trail, up the slope, through the trees, you'd miss a turn. Most courses mark such a turn by making a line across the trail with white flour (it's biodegradable), or they take a long strip of course-marking tape and tie rocks to each end and put it across the trail. If you're looking down at the technical trail, you can't miss these types of "wrong-way" markers.

I didn't find anyone - not one single runner - who didn't get off-course at least once. I missed a marker and only went about 50 feet before having to back-track. Worst-case was a pack of 20 who went two miles off-course. Several of these people ended up calling it quits. It really sucker-punches your morale, especially when the terrain is so difficult, and you tell yourself that the alternate course, if you PR, won't actually mean anything - so why keep trying?

As for me, I just wanted a finish, a good time, and to not get another injury. My open dog-bite wasn't hurting. Band-aids were still coming off with some bit of blood and lymph, so after two weeks, it's still not totally sealed, but it wasn't hurting. The new course avoided all the deep water, and that allowed my wound to stay dry.

The weather was like at Jemez 50 - perfect.
Sorry I don't have photos, but I already took a camera on the previous two races, and I was car-pooling, so I packed light and ditched he camera.

There was a miscommunication that somehow occurred about the Divide aid station. We were all told that it would be at mile 31, but that it wasn't certain - they would go as close as they could. Apparently everyone thought that worst-case would be 1-3 miles away. They said aid stations #2 and #3 were at miles 11.5 and 22 and my GPS concurred. Then at mile 29.00, there was another aid station. They said the next aid station was at 31M. Not trusting, I went loaded with about 40oz of water. At mile 31.5 there were two non-athletic girls sitting on a rock. I assumed they were from the nearby aid station, right below the Divide rim - I was wrong. I asked some other racers if I missed the aid station. They replied that they never saw one either. So we continued up.

We found the yurt, but no sign of life. At mile 36.6, we finally found the Divide aid station. The aid station was great, the people were great, but we could have been warned that maybe it could have been that far. While only 7.1 miles, it was the 3rd brutal climb after many high-altitude miles, and it was slow. When each of us ran out of water, we could no longer eat or take salt. So not only did we get dehydrated, we dropped into glycemic deficit. So the Divide aid station had to do a lot of nursing of wrecked, staggering, mumbling runners. I must say they did a great job, in an exposed area, no tent, providing hot Ramen soup and all the other things runners' bodies crave. My hydration bladder also got stuck closed, and a guy managed to fix it without tearing it, which I thought was impossible. So I really appreciated his efforts. They got my feet back under me after about 15 minutes and I headed down.

In 2009, the descent into Slumgullion is when my lungs flooded with fluid, so I was apprehensive. But everything went okay. I ate a whole pocket full of Oreos and guzzled fluids, trying to recover from the deficits that almost caused me to collapse above treeline. When I got to Slum aid, Kristin Alvarez was there and helped me with everything I needed. Not long later, I ran out of there feeling almost human again.

...Until I hit the last Big Climb up to Vickers ranch. Beautiful area. The aspen, meadows, and views are so serene you just want to lay down and soak it all in - but you gotta keep movin'. Seemed like the climb would never end.

I finished a minute under 15 hours. A terrible finish time, but a finish. Still waiting for official results, but thinking there were epic numbers of DNF's, from demoralized drops to people missing aid station cut-off times.

I had a great time. Made some new freinds. Actually it's not the running and races that keep me coming back - it's the eclectic bunch of people I keep meeting.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Pitiful Mileage

My logs tell a dismal story of very little training. The only thing the logs don't tell is my cross-training. But even that isn't impressive, if you count the time spent on non-running work-outs.
Weekly mileage for the year...
Yes, there's a zero in there. April was constant sickness, followed by Collegiate Peaks 50. I haven't hit 80 miles all year!
I feel good, though. Not much physical stress at all.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Training for SJS50

My dog bite is healing, but it is a nastier thing than I had thought it would be. For about 15-20hrs, I was wondering if an infection was going to run-away, but I managed to massage the infection away. I had been so distracted by the open wound that I neglected to notice the little gouge next to it. That little gouge was way deeper than I had thought.
I put a couple of lose stitches into the big open wound, finally. A bit late, but it has helped. For one thing, the wound would break open a little and leak when I ran, but with the stitches, it hasn't opened up since.

After a week of pitifully short 2-4 mile runs and walks, with several 10-minute VO2Max rowing machine workouts thrown in, Thursday I finally ran a good 10.2 miles at Mt. Falcon Park.

Saturday, I drove up to Summit Lake below Mt. Evans and ran to the summit and back. Man, I so very often don't plan anything, and I use dead-reckoning. I thought the summit was only 1,000ft above me and the road was probably only a few miles. I planned on getting at least 10 miles, so I figured I would do two summits runs. WRONG! The road from Summit Lake to Mt. Evans summit is just over 6 miles and the summit is over 1,400ft above the lake. With a short extra I added south of the lake, I managed a very high altitude 12.7 mile training run.

My lungs are doing great. I don't understand this. There's tons of forest-fire smoke hazing up the air, but my lungs and asthma don't care. But just a little pollen and WHAM!! Dust often bothers me, but smoke isn't so bad.
I've been feeling very bad and weak for the past couple of months. April is historically the highest mileage month of the year, but this year, I was so incessantly sick that April is the lowest mileage. That will badly impact my performance the rest of this year. But runs like I did up Evans will help a lot! I feel very good. I almost feel like the SJS50 won't be so bad.

Unfortunately, the RD says we won't get to run the normal course. Too much fast-flowing water. The race criss-crosses the same creek several times going up the first climb. That water is so high it'll sweep shorter runners off their feet. A few years ago, we did this with ropes across and a one-person-on-rope rule. This created multiple traffic jams all along up the creek. And when we got above the creek, no one could feel their legs below the knees. I mean not at all. Zip. Nada. Gotta look down to be reassured they're actually still there. I'd rather do that again than run an alternate course.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Dirty 30 2011

I don't have much time to post, but I do have photos taken during my volunteer stint at this year's Dirty 30 in golden Gate Canyon State Park.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Gunnison 2011

My son graduated High School the Tuesday before Sage Burner, and originally I thought it was the Thursday before. Anyway, to save some money and give me the option not to go, I didn't register for the race.

Instead, I ran the course starting a much-too-late 1hr 45m after the start. I brought three 20oz bottles. At about mile 11, I bummed a quart off a very generous guy in a pickup. Then at the half-way point, there was an aid station that was still being taken down, and they filled me up. Then the next aid station was gone but they left all the water jugs. Cool - most of the race and still supplied.

But it was hot and very low humidity. I was drying out faster than ever.
By mile 12, my quads started hurting - left-overs from the Jemez 50 the weekend before. Then the dehydration slowed me down. I slowed so much so quickly that my progress became pathetic. There were two opportunities to shortcut back, but I was too stubborn. I really should have taken them, but, well, I'm stupid.

A biker gave me another 8oz. That helped me get almost back. Then a guy gave me a refill of an entire 20oz bottle with over half a mile to go, plus he mixed Heed with it. So I made it actually 32 miles total for the entire day.
It was too risky-stupid but worked out. It was hippy-running - bumming nearly all my aid. I guess it puts extra meaning to "Trail Bum". I guess I needed a cardboard sign that said, "I'll be honest - I just need a drink - and a Gu."

There were over a dozen of us from Denver camping together. It was a lot of fun.

Sunday, I stopped in Leadville for a short high-altitude run. The local kennel was out running their dogs in the snow off-leash because no one was out there. I guess I changed that rather unexpectedly. There were about six dogs and two ran up to me real friendly. I love dogs, but my lifestyle, and living in a basement, doesn't leave me a lot of room for a pet. As I got closer to the owners, the whole pack rushed me wagging and licking.
Except for one. It had been an abused dog and loved it's new care-takers. In an over-protective frenzy, it dashed in and ripped a hole in my calf. The kennel owners kind of freaked. I just packed snow on it and told them not to worry about it. It's just something that happened.
The emergency room didn't want to sew it shut. My doctor two days later also said he didn't want it sewed. So I'm going to heal with a hole in the skin.
It's a 90deg cut, all the way through the skin, but miraculously not through the fascia around the muscle. In a weird way, after it was cleaned, it was kind of cool looking through a door at the calf muscle moving around inside.
It never did hurt much - not when it happened, not in the ER, and not later. I think it was the Guillain-Barre that keeps me from feeling all the pain I could feel. Oddly, the Novocaine needle hurt like a hornet sting. It's as if I can feel certain sharp pains all the way, but dull pains not as much. Wouldn't you think getting bit would be a sharp pain? But it didn't hurt when it happened. Whatever.
I'm not supposed to run, but after 32 miles Saturday, I had a little post-run swelling that usually goes away with more running. Holding still caused my legs to swell below the knee. So to keep the swelling from cutting off circulation and causing an infection, I had to walk and run some.
I worked out on my rowing ergometer Tuesday, and I went running Wed., and walked Thurs.
It is a big and ugly wound, but healing well, and not interfering much with my life.