Thursday, April 3, 2014

Limp to the starting line sprint to the finish. How a dude in sandals set a new course record at a 50km trail race

I limped to the beach
I limped in the sand

I limped through the sea 
then I limped back to land

I limped  to my house
I limped into my bed
Visions of grandeur still danced in my head.
(Shel Silverstein I am not)

I have horrible DNA My body has been falling apart for years and on days I feel 70% healthy I am stoked. On the plus side I do have a strong heart and a stubborn mind. I'm thankful for what I have and try to make the best of it.
(although it sure would be nice to be able to push off with my left leg once again?)
"You get what you get and you don't get upset"
I love saying that to whiney children
usually I am saying it to myself.

The Boston Marathon is coming up is coming up in a few weeks and I should probably do some speed work.  Less than 1/10th of 1% of my training I run at faster than a 10 min mile. Most of the time I'm just cruising on the sand between 12 and 14 min mile pace.
(I'm not very fast but sometimes I like to pretend that I am.)

When I was looking for a race to run the week before the race Director of  the
Beyond Limits Ultramarathon
Asked me if I would like to run i her event?

Would I be writing this race report If I said no?
I decided this race will be one speed workout for Boston
This would be my 5th race in 5 weeks and my 4th Ultra marathon

For some reason I thought the race was near Palm Springs.
"Weather report high of 85 low 50"
It wasn't until the night before that actually looked to see where the race actually was.
Not Palm Springs!
When I arrived at  the Pathfinder ranch at about 
(quite a beautiful place I might add)
 the temperature gauge in my car said 28 degrees?
It also turns out the elevation is 4,500' higher than where I live.
(luckily I was blissful ignorant of this until after the race)
With about twenty minutes till the race started I stripped down to my short shorts, my Luna Sandals and Thirty 48 calf sleeves.  It was cold outside and I figured I would use that too my advantage trying to lower my core body temperature so that it would take me longer to overheat.
My plan was to go out at about an 8:30 mile to let achileas loosen up and then get faster as the race progressed.
10 steps into the race that plan was no more.  My adrenaline was flowing and an 8:30 mile would have felt like I was moving backwards. Within a couple minutes I was all alone.
The course was a two mile lap that navigates through a ranch, then off onto some soft sand trails.  Not nearly as soft as the beach where I train  but still very pleasant.
It then finishes up with 1/4 mile lap a tiny man made lake.
(pretty but a little too toxic to swim in)
I had chosen to wear my Luna Venados. At 6mm thick brand new and with the sole compressed they  are about 3 mm and my favorite Luna's to run in.  I have been starting to think that wearing thicker sandals such as Mono has contributed to a degradation in my running form.  The only draw back is that  the venado has almost no grip.

Out in front with nobody to follow I had to navigate 15 or so right angle turns which were well marked.  If I am running at a high speed  in sandals and have to make a sharp turn I must decelerate quite a bit costing me a few seconds each time
15 turns 15 laps 3 second lost each turn = that's over 11 mins added over the course of 30 miles.

It doesn't really bother me in a race this long but adding those seconds in a 5 or 10km drives me bonkers.
As my body thawed out I was moving surprisingly well.  I wasn't concerned about going too fast ( I was only doing the 50km).  As long as I kept my heart rate down I was pretty sure I wasn't going to blow up.  I wasn't racing the field.  I was there to prove to myself I could still run if I wanted to.  I was gonna finish and I was going to finish fast no matter what happened.

90% of the time I have a stuffed up or runny nose because of allergies It's all I have ever known so it doesn't bother me.   I have  developed a method of breathing through  probably out of necessity to keep the snot from falling out.  I also think that raising your cheek bones (You Know Smiling) makes it easier to breath nasally

I finished my first lap in about 13 mins.  If I could maintain  a 15 min (2 mile) lap pace for the entire race I would be happy.

By the second lap I started passing people.
Most runners were there to run 100 miles or for 24 hours. It seemed like I was the only dumbass sprinting around the track.
Although the course was only two miles it had enough dvercity in terrain and scenery to be very enjoyable.  Plus it was fun to see to give and receive encouragement from all the runners I would criss cross with going every which way..

After the first hour I had ran a little over 9 miles. I was wearing a GPS for the first time in over a year and I felt like I was staring at it every two minutes.  I figured this was a good pace and I wanted to run a three hour marathon.

I use to think I could run a sub three hour marathon any day of the week and twice on Sunday but now I actually got work for it. 
Around mile 22 I took my camera out for a loop

Time was flying by, I stayed consistent with my speed and each lap I grabbed half a cup of heed and didn't really need anything else fuel wise. After two hours I had finished 18 miles and then hit the marathon mark almost exactly at 3 hours.
I was slowing down a bit but still moving well.  A big blister had a developed right on my bad achileas. It was tough to tell which was causing me more grief but I only had a few miles left and decided to block out the pain.

Eventually I cruised in with a new Course record 3:36:23
(also a P.R. for me on a trail 50km)
I had surprised myself.  I never rally had to push that hard and I finished the race limping less than was before it had began.
It was time to find a hot rock to rest on and cheer on some friends
"Looking good as always Catra"
 Good job old man!
"Hey dude I don't know you but I like your sandals"

If you do an extra lap around the 1/4 mile lake you get s sticker.  I decided to join this chick after she finished her first 50 km
Kind of stupid but I like it!
(I'm sure the same thing has been said both about me and this blog.)

I had nowhere I had to be so I stuck around all day and all night and got to witness some pretty cool moments.
Like this happy 10 year old dude running with his race director Mama after finish his first Ultra marathon
Likewise the other Race Director Ken's 13 year old son also finished his first 50 km.
If you have ever ran a 24 hour or in a 100 mile race on the west coast you have probably seen the Jester Ed Ettinghausen cruising along with his bells jingling and always with a kind word of encouragement for his fellow runners. It seems like the dude races every weekend, an almost impossible task. How does Ed do it? He does it with the aid of his loving wife Martha who supports him at just about every race with a smile and nascar pit crew efficiency. Last weekend at the Beyond Limits Ultramarathon Martha ran her first 50km and had her husband Ed at her side as she crossed the finish line.

After numerous beers and wine I crashed out from 11 p.m. till 3:30 A.M. when I got up to go help out out at the aid station.
I couldn't wait for the sun to rise.
Eventually it did and when it did it started to rain.

That's when I joined 13 year old Colby as pacer for his last 10 miles of his 100 miler
 The rain didn't last long
And I had lot of fun running with this amazing kid.
Good Job Buddy and good job to Mom who also ran 100 miles.
Thank you to Ken and Stephanie for putting on such a top notch event!
 They have another 100 miler that they host in Las Vegas which  is only $100 if you register by April 14th.
Plus it has Showgirls
(I love that movie)
Jackpot Ultra Running Festival

What a great weekend. I love truly love the Ultra running community that I am a part of!

What's next?
I got no clue! If you need to find me look for the slow dude running at the beach.


  1. I'm encouraged by your report. I think. I run pretty slow during training and I'm pretty sure I won't be going out and running a race at 8:30 mpm!

  2. Pat, I have been following your blog for some time, very nice and amusing.

    It is interesting what you write about Monos perhaps are contributing to a degradation of your running form. I have been running myself in Lunas for some years, and I agree to your observation, they are maybe becoming a bit too "rugged" lately (mono, orso). Could be preferable to have a thin model like the Vendado with grip.

    Have you considered going fully barefoot on non-beach terrains, i.e. ditch the sandals all together?

    Regarding blisters and pain in your Achilles, can this be due to too tight straps?

    regards Monkey from Norway

    1. The achilles injury is from overuse on the beach barefoot. The straps had zero to do with it, i'm not saying them help the problem but I barely run in sandals. The blister was a fluke and definitely caused by the lace and my reluctance to take 15 seconds to fix it. Pretty much all my running is barefoot when if not racing including non beach terrains. I can run slow barefoot all day and on most terrains but to run fast/race I wear sandals so that I can be a bit more reckless and not destroy my feet.