Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Gold Rush 100k - Race Week!

Monday - rest day

Tuesday - Ran an easy 5k with Lucy at ~5 pm, temps around 90.  My legs are starting to feel stronger and rested, the taper's kicking in.

Wednesday - 4 mile run with Lucy at ~5 pm, temps around 90.

Thursday - 2 mile run w/ Lucy at ~5 pm, temps around 90.

Friday - Rest day.  Race day eve!  Yikes!  My parents came to the house at around 7:30 pm.  I went to bed around 8 pm, but didn't fall asleep until around 10 pm.  My alarm was set for 2:30 am, I would wake up at 2:04 am.

Saturday -  Inaugural Gold Rush 100k

I'm not sure how my internal alarm clock knows that it's race day, but as occurs frequently with me, I woke wide away before my alarm went off.  I crawled out of bed before 2:10 AM and headed to the kitchen, where I prepared a large bowl of oatmeal with hemp seeds, mixed berries, a banana, and some walnuts.  Having slept in my running clothes, getting dressed was one less thing to do.  I double checked my drop bags, strapped on my watch.  Everything was set.  My friends Helen and K.C. met at my house and Candace (my much better half) was a SUPER STAR, waking up at 3:00 AM to drive us to the race start in Coloma, CA!  My house lies very near the midpoint of the race course, roughly a 35 minute drive from the finish line.  The start line was roughly a 60 minute drive AWAY from the finish line.  We arrived at the start shortly after 3:30 AM.  We had some waiting around to do, as the race started at 5:00 AM.

I chose to stay off of my feet and in my pre-race pj's as much as possible while waiting for the start.

Let's get this thing going.
As runners gathered at the start area, I bumped around a bit to say "Hi" and chat with friends.  Next thing you know, it was time.

5:00 AM start.

Lined up and ready to go!

The gun (or horn or whistle, or whatever it was) BOOMED (or honked or whistled, or whatever it did) at 5:00 AM and we were OFF.  The first 4 miles or so was run on the southbound lanes of Highway 49.  I quickly settled into a comfortable ~10 min/mile pace with a group of friends and enjoyed a little conversation.  The eastern skies began to glow gently, illuminating the rolling, grassy foothills around us.  Shortly into the 5th mile, we hung a left off of the Highway and onto the Magnolia Ranch Trail.  I ran through the first aid station, tossing my headlamp into the drop box provided by the race organizers.

This was my first time on this stretch of the course.  Green and golden grasses blanketed the rolling hills, old growth oak trees speckled the landscape, misty banks of fog were settled into the valleys.  It was absolutely beautiful, my running pace felt efficient and easy and while things were going well, I knew, we all knew, it was going to get hot.  I could already feel hints of it's oppression as the sun began to crest over the foothills, occasionally shining it's rays directly upon me.

I ran into the Skunk Hollow aid station at mile 14, shortly before 8:00 AM.  I was feeling great and wanted things to stay that way as long as possible.  I had a plan to "stay cool" before I got hot, rather than try to "get cool" after overheating.  I filled up my Cool Off bandanna with ice (I would do this at EVERY aid station the rest of the day) and proceeded to run onto Salmon Falls Rd. across the bridge and onto the remaining 50 miles of trail, which I was mostly familiar with.

Mile ~13
The next 10 miles or so were riddled with poison oak and contained probably the most technical portions of what is a very non-technical course (at least in terms of trail ultra marathon running).  At some points, course markers were just laid out across meadows and creek beds and for short stretches (a few hundred yards, max) there really was no discernible trail.

By the time I reached the New York Creek aid station (~mile 22, maybe 9:30 AM), it was definitely starting to heat up and the heat was beginning to take its toll on runners.  While I was filling my bandanna with ice and taking in some aid station food, a runner stumbled in, looking to be in pretty bad shape and plopped himself down on top of a bush.  One of the aid station volunteers immediately said "Whoa!  You don't want to sit there, that bush is CRAWLING with ants!", to which the runner replied "I don't care, I don't want to move anymore.".  I took that as my queue to keep moving and abruptly continued out on the trail.

Somewhere around mile 26-27, was starting to notice a bit of fatigue and some achy-ness in my legs, nothing to be concerned about, but noticeable nonetheless.  My first thought was "wow, this is pretty early to start feeling this way".  My second thought, after I looked at my watch, was "Oh, I've already run further than a marathon distance, with ~3,000 ft. of climbing".  I then decided my legs were in pretty good shape.  However, I was starting to feel mildly nauseous and was certainly concerned about that.  I was looking forward to reaching Brown's Ravine at mile 29, where I would see my family and friends for the first time.

Having already slowed my pace, to accommodate for the heat, I reached Brown's Ravine at about 11:20 AM, roughly 40 minutes later than my planned arrival time.  After being mostly alone on the trails for the last 6+ hours, I was overwhelmed by the number of people at the Brown's Ravine aid station.  My wife, parents, brother/sister-in-law, and a friend from work (along with his twin boys) were all there, not to mention many trail runner friends of mine who were volunteering at the aid station.  It was awesome to have so much support, but at the forefront of my thoughts was the fact that I felt nauseous and that was worrying me.  Briefly, I wondered if I would finish this race.  It was not yet noon, the heat was affecting me, I had 35 miles of exposed trail left to cover, and it was going to be in the mid 90's the entire time.  I was drinking a protein shake (~400-500 calories) that Candace brought to me and was worried I was going to vomit if I finished it, but knew that I HAD to have the calories.  I drank half of it and decided to take the other half at the Folsom Point aid station, 3.5 miles later.  While my friend Jay filled my bandanna and water bottles with ice, I spoke to my friend Mark and mentioned my nausea.  He reminded me to "get on top of that immediately, to slow down and take it easy".  His advice helped me to calm and center myself.  I focused on relaxing and slowing my breathing and headed out towards Folsom Point.

I applied ice/ice-water as frequently as possible.

Lunch with Dad, Scott, and his twins.

Runners can't help posting pictures of their feet.
I trudged onward and started to feel a little better a mile or so out of Brown's Ravine.  I noticed that my Garmin watch had accidentally paused back at Brown's Ravine, so I missed out on a little over a mile and 15-20 minutes of time.  When I reached Dike 8, I was relieved to get onto some flat ground, but was not too excited about the fact that there was to literally be no shade for the next 7 miles or so.  I arrived at Folsom Point feeling renewed, my family and friends were there again, I ran up the hill into the aid station, drank the second half of my protein shake, refilled my ice, changed shoes, and continued on.  32.5 miles down, ~34 miles to go.

Climbing up to Folsom Pt.

A fresh pair of shoes felt GREAT.

My faithful crew, minus Candace (who was behind the camera) and the twins (who were looking at bugs and rocks).

Leaving Folsom Point
It was noon and it was hot, but I was feeling rejuvenated.  The majority of the rest of the course (I'd guess 80% or more) was completely exposed to the sun.  No shade.  I looked forward to reaching the Hazel/Fish Hatchery aid station at mile 43.2, where I would be joined by my Dad (the first of my two pacers), but remained focused on just covering the distance to the next aid station, Negro Bar 5.7 miles away.  I was feeling pretty good during this stretch and passed quite a few people.  My strategy of tying a sack of ice around my neck seemed to be working, I was hot, but it was manageable.  I ran into Negro Bar shortly after 1:00 PM.

Chatting with Alex and Miguel.

Refilled with ice and water.
At this point, the course had begun to follow the single track trails that parallel the American River Trail and we headed up the Lake Natoma bluffs.  This section of the trail offers some short, steep climbs and descents, and a fair amount of shade (much welcomed).  I plodded along, walking the ups and running the flats and downs.  The trail dropped off of the bluffs as I approached the Hazel Bridge.  My ice had melted some time ago and I was feeling the heat.  The Hazel aid station was a major checkpoint for the race and had a 3:30 PM cutoff.  I arrived a bit before 2:30 PM, feeling hot and weary.  It was great to see so many friends and my pacers here.  It was good to know that I had knocked off over 43 miles.  I put ice in my bandanna, my water bottle, my shorts pockets, and under my hat.  People squeezed ice water drenched sponges over my head and neck.  I ate a gel (maybe my 3rd up to this point), some banana, and a couple of Endurolytes.  I told everyone I was fantastic and that everything was going great.  Considering I was 43+ miles into 65 mile run and it was 95 degrees, I guess that was fairly accurate.  I was hot, tired, and wanted to be at the finish.

Always great to see ya Karyn! THANKS!

My trusty crew chief/wife! :D

Thanks for the ice water Dave!

Got to see my pacer Charito for the first time today.

Eric along side a couple of eager pacers.

Heading off with Dad.
I teamed up with my Dad and continued on.  I had to tell him to slow down.  The comfortable pace we typically enjoy together was a hard effort for me now.  The heat had really become an overwhelming force at this point.  From here on, there was a pattern: I would arrive at an aid station feeling overheated and drained.  I would fill up with ice, head out, start to feel better after 5-10 minutes.  The ice would melt and I would suffer for a bit until I reached the next aid station.  It was a pattern I could live with and I was confident I would get to the finish.

One particularly torturous aspect of this course is that it follows the shores of Folsom Lake and the banks of the American River THE ENTIRE WAY!  It was a busy day on the lake and river.  Wake boarding, swimming, diving, rafting, floating, drinking, playng.  Those were the themes of all who were not running, crewing, or volunteering for the Gold Rush 100k.  I was constantly reminded that maybe I could have picked a better way to have fun.  At mile 47, I finally succumbed to the urge and wandered 50 yards or so off of the trail.  I walked straight into the American River and laid down in the water.  I relaxed, horizontally in the clear, cool water, completely submerged except for my face, for about 5 minutes.  My Dad joined me for the dip.  I wasn't the only one whose day was made better by my Dad, he found a car key along the side of the trail and a couple of miles later, he bumped into the person who lost it.  She was ecstatic!

My Dad and I cruised into Rossmoor Bar at mile ~49, where Charito would join me for the rest of the trip.  There was a garden hose.  I think this was the aid station with the garden hose.  I enjoyed a minute or so of being watered.

Mom, Mary Ann, Alex, and Dad observing me being hosed off.

Charito and I, 51+ miles in.

It was so hot out and while Charito and my Dad were great pacers and provided good conversation and companionship, I was ready to be done!  I continued to focus on the next aid station and on the next mile.  I was run/walking at about a 50/50 split.  When I ran, I wasn't moving very fast, when I walked, I walked with purpose and maintained a pretty good walk pace (I think I was walking at a ~14 min/mile pace).  HOT, it was HOT, I was TIRED of it.  The race seemed even longer than this race report.

Apparently I was skipping out of the Harrington Way aid station, mile 53.

Getting a quick medical check.  "Have you been urinating?" Yes  "Are your hands swollen?"  No, my ring fits fine still.  "Looking good, go get it".

Charito and I marched on as the sun dropped lower, towards the horizon.  The hottest part of the day had passed, but the heat had taken its toll and I felt like I was on the brink of overheating all the way to the finish.  My friend Randy, who tends to have very similar ultra finish times as me, caught up to me at the mile 58 Guy West Bridge aid station.  I hadn't seen him since earlier in the race, some 9 hours ago.

Randy, sneaking out of the Guy West Bridge aid station ahead of me.

Guy West Bridge at top right.  6-7 miles to go.

Randy and Sunny, sprinting away from me. :)
After crossing Guy West Bridge, the course strays from the American River Trail for the last time.  We ran down the gravel levee roads along the southern banks of the American River, as we approached downtown.  I certainly wasn't becoming any less tired of running.  Nothing specifically hurt, but whenever I was running, I was overcome by an intense desire to not run.  I did my best to continue and enjoy the scenery, the fact that the air was cooling, and Charito's company.

Randy and Sunny had put a gap on us and I hadn't seen them in a couple of miles.  Suddenly, during a walk break, they were in view again, maybe 1/4-1/2 mile ahead.  I looked at them and said to Charito "well, might as well give it the old college try."  We were a little over two miles out from the finish.  Walk breaks were over, I ran it in the rest of the way.  Randy felt me breathing down his neck and picked up the pace.

We turned off of the levee road and into downtown Sacramento at the 28th & B St. Skate Park.  I waved and thanked everyone for their help as I ran through the last aid station and onto 28th Street.  I had been on the trail for over 14 hours.  The finish line was at 27th and L St. and as we ran down 28th, every cross street became an intermediate goal.  We ran past C, D, E.  At every intersection, volunteers were stopping traffic, congratulating me, and clapping.  F, G, H, people had come out of their homes to cheer us in.  I was overcome with joy and emotion and was on the verge of tears.  We approached L street and my Dad appeared and started running in with us.  I turned the corner onto L, ran a hundred yards or so down a crushed granite path, and made a right turn to the finish line at Sutter's Fort.  It was over, I made it and was so happy to have finished!  I came in 2-3 hours later than I had planned, but it didn't matter.  The heat took its toll on everyone and many people dropped or were cutoff at Hazel.  I think the final tally showed that out of ~250 registered entrants, ~200 started and only 81 finished.  I was lucky number 66!

So Glad to be done!  Thanks so much for pacing me, Dad and Charito!

They followed me along the course and were there for me at EVERY aid station, from Brown's Ravine to the finish!  Thanks so much!!!

Yay for Charito!

Paul: "WOW, I can't remember the last time I had SO MUCH FUN!"
Chris: "I can... YESTERDAY"

Felt so nice to just kinda chill out with a big protein shake.

The essentials.

My feet held up well.  No blisters or toenail problems.


Monsters of Massage, doing what they do best... bringing the pain!

Sunday - Happy Mother's Day!

Weekly Totals:  74.02 miles;  5,616 ft.


Tyrone said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tyrone said...

nice recap, sounded pretty tough. did you take in as much calories as your burned?

GoPaulGo said...

Thanks man, yeah it was tough for sure. Would've been much more manageable with cooler temps. Not even close on the calories. My Garmin & Strava estimate I burned just under 10,000 calories. I probably took in 1,500 - 2,000...

Cap'n Q said...

Nice report - and well done! How'd you like the course overall? Will you do it again, or move onto Miwok?

GoPaulGo said...

Thanks! Good question, I'd like to do it again, just to see how much I could improve my time with better weather. I've always wanted to do Miwok too though. I missed the lottery last year.