Saturday, September 26, 2015

Run Rabbit Run 100 And After

It has been a crazy busy week and I will get into that later... I haven't really wanted to write about Run Rabbit Run 100 because basically I am not sure what to write about... Just the good parts, include the rough spots (there were many), or not write about it all.  I'll just start and see what develops...

Going into the race I felt solid. Better than I have for any 100 that I have ever run. I had zero doubts in my mind that I was in shape to run it and even better, make a go of racing it. On a confidence level of 1-10, I was at an 11 and that is an awesome place to be. But it wasn't false bravado or wishful thinking... one look at my training log for the past three-four months and seeing not only the focused and precise work that I accomplished, but the fact that I was able to keep it together made me realize just how strong I was.

This was also one of the most enjoyable tapers for a 100 miler that I have ever had. With all of the solid work behind me it was just fun to know the "hay was in the barn" and my last two weeks of taper runs I could just enjoy and have some damned fun for a change.  I did have one day that I really felt like crap and I guess that was the Friday which was two weeks out from the race... I just chalked that up to taper blues and knowing that I had been there before just chose to ride it out as I knew that feeling like shit was just a step on the path to feeling better.

I also went into this race super relaxed.... so relaxed the few days before that I was concerned that maybe I was TOO RELAXED. But once I got up to Steamboat and saw friends and knew it was happening the appropriate level of excitement and enthusiasm entered the mix of emotions.

I love this race and I won't go into all of the reasons why as it is for all of the same reasons that I fell in love with the race last year.  It all still holds true.

This was also my second hundred, and second time running this race without crew and pacers and I have to tell you that makes it a lot of fun for me. It's a mental game of sorts when you are getting close to an aid-station and planning out exactly what you are going to do when you stop rather than knowing what someone is just going to hand to you. Plan the stop, get what you absolutely need, don't waste anytime and get the hell out of there, and the volunteers are so awesome at this race, they make those fast stops easy to do.

So the race... Obviously it went well... but it wasn't until the return trip from Spring Creek back up to Dry Lake that I discovered, or at least got an idea of how well I was doing, so that was mile 73 or so I think. I was heading up as my buddy Paul was heading down and we passed and he told me that I was in the top ten. I thought he was delusional. I knew I was further along in the pack than last year, but top ten? What?

Anyway... the race... Mt. Werner... it sucks.  I won't go into the rain and sleet on the way up as it was really kind of neat. But damned that hill is steep and I still haven't figured out how to manage it. I also can't decide if it is a good feature to have so early in the race or not. On one hand if you are smart it DOES slow you down... on the other hand, if you are not smart, well, I can see it destroying someones race in the first hour quite easily. All I know is that it hurt going up and it felt like my calves were going to just rip apart a few times as it is steep and my bio-mechanics just don't do well climbing that fast on that kind of grade.

But I made it up and made it to Long Lake and I guess I was on time or really close to last year. To be honest it sort of felt like I was possibly slower but I was not sure. When I noticed that things were really different was in the run down Fish Creek Falls where I was alone 98% of the time on the trail without anyone around me. Last year I really slowed down through here and I bet I was passed by 20 runners at least. Not this year.

Olympian Hall, which was really one of my first splits that I was trying to make. I think I made it there in about 4:40 which was about 40 minutes faster than last year I think. Got in, got out and headed out for the next 20 mile loop which I was kind of looking forward to if for no other reason just to get it done, get back up the hard road, get back to Fish Creek Falls and back into the woods.

Last year when I ran it, I started up Fish Creek Falls trail right at dark. So one of goals was to be ahead of that this year and I was. It was also in this section that I got to see one of the coolest things ever that I have seen in a race.

I was just above the falls proper and the sun was setting on the flat horizon in the west, so directly behind me and at the same level as I was. The orange cast of light from the sun behind me colored everything in front me, bathing it all in this amazing glowing vibrant shade of orange. It was mind blowing and just so beautiful. In all of my years in the mountains even I have never seen anything quite as magical as that and if any memories linger with me from the race it will be that one singular image I am sure.

I made Long Lake for the second time in about 12 hours and 15 minutes give or take. It was cold so I carefully selected layers and exactly what I would or should need for the rest of the night and got out of there. I did spend a few minutes to joke with and flirt with Jenn Shelton some who helped me with my bag and that was fun for me.

This race had two modes too it... the first half where I was running but constantly checking with myself to make myself relax and to measure if I was going to hard or not, or if I needed to back off or not.... Again, I knew that I was doing well enough and around mile 28 had figured out two things... either I was having a great day or I was heading towards an epic blowup and there was no way to tell so I might as well keep going.

Now comes the second part of the race and things getting tough... My allergies kicked in when I got to Steamboat on Thursday and I took a 24 hour Claritin. I should have packed one for Friday afternoon but didn't. As a result I started to get a lot of drainage which had a huge impact.

See, starting around hour 13-14, I started puking. Nothing would set on my stomach. My fuel, gels, any solid food, anything. It would all come up. The drainage was hitting my stomach and my stomach would rebel so a lot of puking during the night.

I tried to temper it by eating bland solid food at every aid station. Mashed potatoes and ginger ale were my food of choice and it would set long enough I guess for things to absorb some but after a while it would come up. Hey... I was in in the military, so I know how to puke I guess. I never felt sick, but would start feeling it wanting to come up and then wait until there was no other choice for it to come up, let it fly, then get on my way... I managed it. I also switched to straight water which did allow me to keep my hydration right... trust me, I did keep checking it every time I peed.

So the running mode of the second half was completely different... instead of having my foot on the brakes, I kept pushing myself to put the foot on the gas. I kept telling myself if you can run this section then you better damned well run it, and obviously that is what I did.

When left Summit Lake the second time I really wanted to make the math work to finish in under 25 hours. Goal wise, I was no longer even on the CHART in regards to my expectations and I was just winging it. But I knew the math and the terrain would not allow it to happen. Why? The section between Long Lake and back to Mt. Werner has a lot of damned climbing in it on the inbound and it just ate me up. Well, no, it didn't, I had a faster split all the way in from Summit Lake to the Finish than last year but I could not make up that amount time no matter how hard I tried and I did try.

Just as I can't decide if Mt. Werner at the front end of the race is a good idea, I am pretty sure that I don't like the idea of running down the Mt. Werner Service Road for 6.5 miles to the finish at all. It just hurts and it was probably in the section that I did the most damage to myself.

I gave up two places between Long Lake and Mt. Werner, I could not hold these guys off and about halfway down the service road, I looked back and behind me were what looked like ten guys bearing down me.  No! Not the F today! I told myself and I kicked it into high gear, and by high gear I mean sub 7-minute range or as close as I could hold it the last three miles. I was not going to give up another spot and if any of these guys were going to catch me they were going to have to break something in order to do it.

25:14:44. Just call it 4.5 hours faster than last years time. In reality I was looking for a solid 3 hour difference.  In EVERY regard expectations were greatly exceeded in this race. No regrets, no what-if's... nada.

I told Melissa when I got home that I wanted to get a belt for that belt buckle and actually wear it. Those who know me know that I NEVER wear my buckles as I see it as kind of gauche really, but anyway, this one I want to wear as symbolizes so much to me, not just the race but whole entire summer of training, consistency, trade-offs, being smart when otherwise I might not, and then the execution of the damned race, even with all of the puking...

A week later and I still don't have the belt... This buckle will rest along with the others.... :)

Recovery wise this has been the strangest recovery week ever. The first day was nothing but pain. I almost could not go to sleep Sunday night. But Monday I was busy working all day and night which I think went a long way in loosening things up. I have also pounded a ton of calories this week and have been getting 9-10 hours of sleep every night so each day is better than the previous.

Tuesday I will go to the track for our last track workout as a group.... No structured running for the rest of the autumn... now it's time to rest, recover, and just reflect on what has been such as awesome summer of running.

Photo Credit: Steve Bremner


  1. Amazing run, Andy! You just keep getting faster and faster!

    1. Thanks Andy! It was a great race, that's for certain!