Sunday, September 2, 2012

Mt Disappointment 2012 and a PR Drinking Beer.

In 2008 I ran my first Ultra Marathon at Mt Disappointment

I was 28 at the time and felt like a kid among all the other old fart Ultra runners. I arrived at the event intimidated by the competition.  At the time I had never ran more than a couple miles on a trail and carrying water? I had bought my first handheld a few days before the race.  After a few miles it felt nothing like any race I had ever ran before I having a conversation with a stranger, the goal was to finish, not to win and I was genuinely having a good time.
( Well at least until the final four miles up the kenyen devore trail but that's another story)

 Now at at the age of 33 I feel like one of those old farts.  Often when I'll tell someone my age I strange response sometimes followed by a, "really?"  (probably because and I act so mature)
C'est la vie  

Over the past 5 years I have ran over 30 Ultras had my ups and downs, busted some bones, won some races and suffered some pretty good defeats. You would think by now I would be a better trail runner but I live at the beach not in the mountain, and it's not very often that I can resist the allure of a sea breeze and hot sand between my toes.  Sure I love nature and being on trail in a remote forest but I also like girls in bikinis. :)

Two Years ago I ran the race in Vibram KSO Treks  at the time I was just starting to run in Luna Sandals and it wasn't until 10 minutes before the race that I made up my mind what to wear.  The course had been modified from prior years I wasn't sure how technical it would be.  It turns out The Vibrams were the right choice over my Original Luna Sandals the course wasn't all that technical but the extra grip deffinetly helped and I ended finishing the race in first place.

I  wanted to defend my title last year but I had two races scheduled on the same day that I was the defending champ (Life is tough sometimes)  at and I promised the other race director I would run in his event before finding out both were on the same day.

Luna OSO Prototype
(these have even better grip than my Vibrams did!
Full review coming later this month)

I have always believed in trying new things on race day.  It's way easier to run a race than to try and simulate one. Most of the time things okay alright and on occasion
 I may fail miserable, but you learn from your mistakes. The race is only 33 miles.
.  Each morning in the two weeks leading up to the event I woke up telling myself I'm gonna go drive to an awesome trail an hour away and try out my new sandals.  What happened? I ended up the beach and by the time the race rolled around I had only run a little over a mile in this pair of sandals. EW that's probably enough?

Veturing away from the Mt. D Report to another race.
(sorry no beer mile pics)
 The Wednesday night before the race I met up with the local running club for their annual Beer mile at the track. I had never met up with a running club before.  Before the beer mile the club did a timed mile to see where everybody was at.  I didn't really want to do it but would have felt like a wuss for saving my legs for the beer mile.  I ran hard not quite giving it my all but it was close and finished my mile behind about 4 dudes in a pretty slow time of 5:02 I was running barefoot and my feet felt great but my body felt slow but that wasn't the reason I was there I was there to win the Beer mile.
I'd of preferred Girls Gone Wild, but whatever.
(from the T-shirt for the beer mile)

About 15 minutes later it was time to see what I was made of I got my first beer down pretty fast but there were three people done before me. I ran hard and finished lap one in second.  Beer two gulped down in two sips and took off in the lead.  by the time finished the second lap I was passing people still on their second beer.  I finished beer three like it was nothing and felt faster than I had all day (perhaps the alcohol was now entering my blood stream) when I came in for my final beer the dude doing the timing cheered me on telling me that they had never had someone finish under 6 minutes, which seemed well within range.  About 7 seconds later I took off on my final lap and finished with a new course record and P.R. of 5:49.
It was only my second attempt at competing in one by I improved by over 30 seconds over the first one.

The day before the race was a beautiful as can be.  The perfect day for a nice long run on the beach.! Thinking I should save my legs I decided to go for a walk instead.

(Random tangent time that I will try to make relevant later)
  For reason I' have been thinking a lot about Mount Everest.  I had just read "Jon Krakauer's"  Into Thin Air re watched the the 2 seasons of the Discovery channel show Everest, watched the IMAX movie and now found myself on a four walk at sea level with my head in the clouds reading Anatoli Boukreev's book The Climb.
All of which has convinced me that I would never want to climb that stupid mountain.
Back to reality
My final bit of Cado-Loading the night before.
I wonder if anyone will notice?
The weather was forecast to be well over 100 in the canyons it's a good thing the race started at 6:30 a.m.
If I ran fast I could finish before the heat would get to me.  At 5:00 a.m. at the top of Mt. Wilson when I arrived I already wanted to take my shirt off.
In case you don't know where Mt. Wilson is I snagged this photo of the web to give you an idea
This is what it looked like on race day morning 45 mins before the race.

The first person I saw when I arrived was 2008 Ultra runner of the year Jorge Pacheco.  This dude is one my hero's not only is he one of the favorites to win every race he enters, he is super nice guy and very humble.  (not to mention this year he was the defending champ) 
There was a good vibe in the air.  I lined up next to team a couple of famous New balance  models
 Katie Desplinter and Dominic Grossman
Gary Hiliard the race director did his best stand up comedy routine promising us it wouldn't rain.
(Record high temperatures were forecast)

Off and running down the road from Mt. Wilson.
 Jorge Dominic and Dean ran side by side about a 60 feet i front of me.   All three of them are much better trail runners than I (most people are) I would go at my own pace, hopefully the body would feel good and by running conservatively perhaps I could make up time later in the race by maintaining a good speed up the climbs.

A few days before the race I checked the website to see if the course had changed since 2010.  The map looked the same roughly beginning with a 9 mile decent.
But to my surprise after about 3 miles going downhill it veered to the left taking us on the old route through Mueller tunnel. Where I gave a good yodel as I ran through. 

I was still running about 60 ft behind the leaders as we began about half mile climb my sandal felt great but my head felt a little off (I know what your thinking "Pat your head is always a little off.") That may be true but  the altitude was getting to me "Can you suffer pulmonary edema at just off 5,000 feet?
(I had altitude sickness on the brain from the my Everest fetish I was currently going through)

Once at the top the course jumped off the fire road onto a technical single track.  Although the leaders were only a few feet in front of me after a few switchbacks they were nowhere to be seen.   While they flowed like water down a stream I moved more like molten rock. The sandals were gripping the ground better than any I had ever worn but I remained apprehensive about really testing their limits.  Going into this section It seemed like their was nobody within a few minutes behind me.  That may or may not have been true but now they were gaining ground quickly and  all of a sudden out of nowhere about 6 old farts tooted their way past me.  This put a little charge into my running and I made it to the first aid station moving a little faster.  Since I run with 2 handhelds I had plenty of water an had no need to stop 

  I took off at what I thought was a pretty awesome pace down the fire road .  In actuality I really wasn't making any or giving up any ground.  I ran with this dude Damian for a little while.  It was his first Ultra and he looked pretty strong, we had some good conversation all the way to the next aid station.
(before I left him in the dust.)

The next for miles were pretty much all up hill.  I hadn't been using gravity to my advantage, maybe I'd be better at defying it.  I was feeling good but part of me wanted to walk? "This is only a 33 mile race," I thought to myself  " I got no business being lazy and the more running I do the less heat I will be exposed to"

 I passed the 5 or so people who kicked my butt on the technical downhill stuff earlier.  Over the hill and back down the other side I was back in 4th but way behind the leaders.  Heading down on fire road, once again I thought I was running at good pace but out of nowhere this dude screams pass me. By the time we got to the bottom  he was about 5 or 6 switchbacks ahead of me.  It was 9 miles between aid stations and although it was still early in the morning the weather was heating up.  I was now rationing my water as I progressed up an exposed climb for about 4 to 5 miles.

I was feeling like crap the weather was hot I couldn't drink as much water as wanted and I had a headache.  I needed something to change. Then I remembered I packed a small mp3 player that is built into a pair of headphones in the pocket of my handheld.  Normally I don't like wearing headphones in a race but my other mp3 player with a speaker broke earlier in the month.  I was in a funk and needed a change.

The music helped am I made it to the top in one piece back in 4th place.  All that I had left now was a technical decent to the bottom and a brutal climb of about 2,000 feet over 3 miles to the finish line.

The single track going down turned out to be tougher for me than the climb.  Almost instantly I was passed some dude and then as I neared  the bottom.  This chick comes floating passed going from rock to rock like a butterfly in the wind.  I didn't really want to be "chicked" but I was totally impressed with how effortless she was making it look and that she was doing it with a smile.

As I kept trudging along, up came my friend Damian who I had made earlier in the race.  I didn't want to slow him down so I kept our conversation brief and told him to take off in front of me.
(figuring I catch him on the climb)

Final Aid Station (5 miles to go)
2 years ago they offered me Rockstar. It was the first time I had ever had the beverage and it propelled me to finish strong passing 2 runners down the homestretch.  After that race I heard one runner say that he had a  beer at the final aid station "What?"  "How come all I got was some lousy energy soda?"

This year I scanned the table for some Ale but there was none. (Bummer)  "Do you guys got any beer?"
I think the dude working the aid stations face lit up.  "Why yes I have Heineken , Bass and Coors light."
(SWEET).  "One Heineken please!" (I'm not a Bass fan)

As I drank one of the best beers I had ever had in my life Hal Winton (a local legend park ranger and runner)  Harped out in a friendly banter "Celebrating a little early aren't' ya?"  After he just complemented me on my sandals.
"Every second I'm alive is worthy of a celebration!" I thought to myself but I was too distracted  with cerebral bliss,  to think of any smart ass remark.

Time to Climb.
Damian had been lagging at the aid station and we took off up the final climb together. He really wanted to finish in the top 10 but was running out of steam.  I told him if he ran 1/2 of the final 5 miles it would be highly unlikely that anybody would catch him.

I'd seem like a wussy If I didn't listen to my own advice so I took off in front of him.  I think this actually helped the dude because he could just follow my lead.
After a few miles I got the this rope crossing.  This can be a pretty sketchy part of the course during a storm but since it hasn't rained since I don't know when? The rope really isn't needed but  it's there, might as well use it, right?
I took my eyes off the ground, had a miss step and cut up my big toe.  It didn't feel like anything serious but a ridiculous amount of blood was pouring out of this tiny cut.  By chance I had a few band aids on me in my handheld pocket so I stopped to put one on during which time Damian passed by.   The band aid lasted all of about 5 minutes. My feet were too dirty and too much blood was coming out.

Oh well, only a few miles left.  It took longer than expected but I caught up and passed Damian running the final mile and half back to the top of Mount Wilson.

As I neared the finish line one of my favorite Cheesy 80's songs from the Karate Kid came on my mp3 player
I crossed the finish line smiling.
6th place 5 hours 40 minutes.  I was happy it was done and glad to be out of the heat.  The conditions were getting pretty brutal out their and only 14 of  the 100+ finishers would finish under 7 hours.  
The new OSO Luna Sandals worked out great and the new grip on the bottom is way better than anything I had ever tried.

Official Results
Hey those aren't my feet?
An early version ot the ATS sandal has this material that was really grippy on top but was prone to shrinkage although it looks like crap I know a few runners that swear by them.  Thankfully Luna sandals  can now be purchased with
Monkey Grip Technology

I randomly met this dude  while running on the soft sand of Manhattan Beach.  On that day he was carrying Luna Sandals in his hand.  I new were our paths were bound to cross again sooner or later
Way to go Steve Harris. 40th place

Posing with my favorite lesbian bear.
Did you know there is a an Arrogant Bastard trail running team?
I'm no trail runner and consider myself to be a surrogate Bastard.  I did my best to share my Ale but sadly I did not have nearly enough for all of them.
The only way to make Smokey look cool is too look stupid around him.

On a sadder note while sitting around after the race Dominic  Grossman was ran over by a train
had to be airlifted out.
I was stoked to share Stone IPA with one of the best race directors out there.  Thanks for being my friend.
I think that's the dude inside this storm trooper costume?
What do you think?
It was way too hot to wear the standard imperial guard uniform, and I promised not to tell Vader.
All in all It was a beautiful day.  I got to see a bunch and make a few new ones.
Thank you to Gary Hilliard for putting on what I consider to be the best Ultra Marathon in Southern California.  Congrats to everyone who finished in front on me and those who finished behind.


  1. Great race summary Pat! I ran it but.finished a little after you. It was insanely hot!

  2. Pat, you're the best around and nothings gonna ever bring you down!!! ; ) I hope I see you soon!