Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Last weekend in June... Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run

Monday - rest day

Tuesday - rest day

Wednesday - Speed work.  Did my first ladder/pyramid workout.  Intervals of 1, 2, and 3 mins with 2 min recovery, then 4 and 5 mins with 1 min recovery, then 4, 3, 2, and 1 min w/ 1 min recoveries.  I stayed in the 6:xx - 7:xx min/mile range, with slow recovery jogs in between.  Great workout!

Thursday - rest day

Friday - Dog Day at the Park... took Lucy to her second Oakland A's game!

Heading into the Coliseum.
Lucy, staying still for a picture.

She's feeling relaxed with a 6-1 A's lead.

Saturday - Western States 100 day!  I did my best job of sleeping in, to help prepare for what was sure to be a long night.  I awoke at 9:15 am, gathered my running pack, headlamp, extra batteries, and some cliff bars and then headed to Placer High in Auburn, where I met up with Scotty of UltraRunnerPodcast.com, who gave me a ride up to Foresthill.

I spend the day relaxing, throwing back a couple of foot long Subway sandwiches, chatting with friends and watching the runners come through.  It's always awesome to see the lead men and women charging through Foresthill!

Eventual winner Timmy Olson with his pacer, Dominic Grossman, cruising through Foresthill.
Rob Krar, eventual 2nd place finisher.
Hal Koerner
Nick Clark
Dylan Bowman
Ian Sharman
Jesse Haynes
Jorge Maravilla
Nikki Kimball
Meghan Arbogast
Aliza Lapierre
Rory Bosio
Emily Harrision
My buddy Paulo Medina had a great day at his first 100!  Finished 31st overall in 20:44.
Running pal Jared Gagnon had an epic day as well!  33rd in 20:48
At around 7:30 PM, a few fellow pacers and I jogged out to the Bath Rd. aid station from Foresthill and waited for our runners.  A little after 9:00 PM, I bumped into my buddy Chris Jones who was pacing/crewing Catra Corbett.
Chris Jones & Catra Corbett... who's who???
My runner, Gus, showed up a handful of minutes later and while he looked strong, he told me that while he was at Michigan Bluff, he had just had Dr.'s patching up some really bad blisters on his feet/heels for 45 minutes.  While he did receive some temporary relief, the blistering proved to be a BIG problem (known as trench foot).

Gus's feet at Michigan Bluff, mile 55.  Photo, courtesy Wanderplace.

Gus and I set out into the night, sharing some casual conversation as we climbed up from Bath Rd. towards Foresthill Elementary School.  We spent a long night, marching, hiking, and running along the trails on the way down to the river; crossing streams climbing and descending hills, traversing the steep river canyons, hiking when we needed to and running when we could.

Sunday -
Headlamps in the night, shortly after midnight.
Either Dardanelles or Peachstone (Cal-1 or Cal-2) aid station, mile ~65-70 at 12:30 AM.
A plump toad, who I shuffled off of the trail at around mile 76.

Gus's feet were ailing big time.  He was describing feelings of electric shock and needles, every time he took a step.  Had I understood the seriousness if the issues he was facing, I would have made sure to have him checked out by medical staff at some of the aid stations.  Unfortunately, I thought what he was experiencing was in the realm of "expected discomforts" one will experience during a 100 mile race.  We arrived at Rucky Chucky Near, mile 78.1 and Gus got the thumbs up from medical staff.  We forded the American River and made the steep climb up to the Green Gate AS.  On the way to Green Gate, we ran into Gus's friend Brian, who had hiked down to the river so he could accompany us during the climb.

We headed out of Green Gate and with less than 20 miles to go, began to enjoy the sunrise, which was both a blessing and a curse.  While it was great to see the sun again after a long, dark night, we knew the oppressive heat would return shortly.  Once again, we met up with Chris and Catra as we approached the Auburn Lake Trails aid station, mile 85.
Chris and I at ~mile 83, 5:30 AM.
Chris and Catra crossing a small stream.
Gus, climbing up towards ALT, ~mile 84.
We quickly passed through Brown's bar, pushing on, only minutes ahead of the 30 hour cutoff pace.  Gus's foot pain was becoming worse and worse as we continued out onto the Quarry road and began the climb up to the Highway 49 crossing.

Mile 91
Gus, working hard uphill towards HWY 49
We left the HWY 49 aid station 20-30 minutes in front of the cutoff pace and climbed up to the Cool Meadow, where eventually, Gus could no longer continue.  He asked me to go ahead to the No Hands Bridge aid station, try and get in touch with his family, and let them know that he needed to be picked up.  I ran ahead and bumped into Tim Twietmeyer, who was running out on the course, looking for the last runners.  I informed Tim that Gus was in bad shape and couldn't continue and he told me that he would inform the No Hands aid station folks that Gus was dropping and make sure he got a ride and any other attention he needed.  Tim also told me that I might want to help pace in a runner who was right on the 30 hour cutoff pace and was not far ahead of me on the trail.  I continued running down to No Hands and I encountered Colleen, from Utah.  She was hot, tired, and having a tough time running the downhill.  I talked to her pacer and offered to run ahead to the aid station to fill her water bottles with ice and water.  On my way, I ran Gus's friend Brian again, who was heading up the trail towards Gus.  I let Brian know about Gus's condition (which I later found to be worse than I imagined) and continued on.

I now joined up with Colleen and her pacer and decided to do what I could to help get her to the Placer High track ahead of the cutoff.  I grabbed ice and water and dowsed her with it as she ran through the No Hands Bridge aid station.  3.5 miles to go, several hundred feet of climbing up the sun-exposed river canyon, towards Auburn.  It was HOT again.  The heat was sweltering.  Colleen, her pacer, and I clicked of 10-15 min/miles up to Robie Pt.  I did my best to run ahead to the aid station to get ice and water to Colleen.  When we got to the road, I told her to drop her pack and that I would give it to her after the race.  Colleen and her pacer charged ahead on the climb out of Robie as I slowed in the heat.  I realized I hadn't taken any fluids since the HWY 49 crossing, ~7 miles ago.  I became dizzy and slightly nauseous on the climb out of Robie, my 42nd mile.  I joined up with another pacer, who was also dropped by his runner, and we trotted along to Placer High.  When we arrived, we found that Colleen and his runner had both finished.  Colleen was the last official finisher in 29:54:57.

I looked around the finisher's area for Gus, but did not find him.  I was able to talk to some of his friends and for the first time, saw pictures of his feet from Michigan Bluff (45 miles back up the trail).  I relaxed and ate and mingled with friends as I watched the post-race festivities and award ceremony.

Today, I received this update from Gus, who will make a full recovery, but is suffering :

Thanks for everything and I'm sorry I didn't bring enough to the table to cross the line.  WS can always throw curveballs and she threw me a good one.  

I ended up in the emergency room on Sunday afternoon right after the race that confirmed severe damage similar to a 3rd degree burn on both my feet with complete skin detachment of my right heel.  That's on top of all other blisters that popped up everywhere on my feet in places I didn't even know existed.  It hurts like a mother %^#@* and I can't walk without crutches and severe pain, but at the end of the day I didn't get infected (at least so far), I still have my feet attached to my body and I should be good after about 2-3 weeks to walk again with minimum pain.  I should have full recovery in about 2 months after the skin has fully grown.  In the meantime let me know if you are ready for a repeat with the exception of coming into the stadium with your runner in 2014.

Thanks again for everything and take care!
I wish I/we could have known the severity of the condition of his feet and taken more steps at prevention, or have pulled the plug on the 100 mile attempt earlier.  This will go down as a tough lesson learned.  Recover well Gus!  I cannot put into words what incredible toughness and determination you displayed on the trail!

Weekly Totals:  49.47 miles;  +4,965 ft.

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