Wednesday, November 21, 2012

No Training, No Shirt , No Shoes, No Pacer, No Crew, No Problems. How to Make Friends with the Chimera

Conquer the Chimera?
I don't want hurt nobody (especially myself).  I think the beast is misunderstood. He just want's to fill his belly, be loved and maybe have a beer or two.

The Chimera 100 miler is one of the toughest  races in California
 I had no desire to run it  in fact a few days earlier I was even poking fun at my friend Vanessa who was about to undertake the daunting task.  My plan for the weekend was to drink some Ale and watch UCLA stomp on USC.
thinks don't always go as planned? 
(Other than UCLA stomping on USC)

It all started with this innocent status update on Facebook 

I really want to run a race this weekend (any length) But I'm poor. Anybody want to trade a race entry for some ale or have a suggestion for an event for me to participate in?
 *8:55 A.M. Thursday Nov 15th*

Deborah Acosta Chimera 100 miler.... :-) Dean is no longer running it, he jacked his ankle up on Friday night... :-P
November 15 at 9:01am

Patrick Sweeney Sorry to hear about Dean :( against better judgement I would give Chimera a go is the cogs fell into place.
November 15 at 9:06am
(it's totally not gonna happen.)

Deborah Acosta I think he's pretty bummed about it but contact him, I can send you his email address but I am sure you may have it already.  November 15 at 9:08am

Patrick Sweeney I don't know if Steve Harvey would be keen on this? I'm not going to pursue it but If all of sudden I get a P.M. Steve saying this seems like a great Idea. Then I'm the perfect idiot for the job.    November 15 at 9:12am

My Email to Dean,   Nov 15, 2012, at 9:43 AM
Hey Dean,
About an hour ago I was trolling around facebook and posted that I wanted to run a race this weekend. Well I got message from Debra Acosta saying that you are dropping from Chimera do to injury.  If Steve Harvey ( I don't expect him to do so) will let you transfer your bib to me do you want to let me run in your place? I know it's not the brightest of ideas but I'm up for adventure.  Sadly I can not pay you for the bib but I could get you some beers and hopefully repay you with an entry to some other event down the line or maybe get you some Luna Sandals.  Anyway I don't think this is all gonna pan out this late in game but it would be cool if it does. 

 Best of luck on your Recovery.
Patrick Sweeney

Dean's Response: Thu, 15 Nov 2012 10:56:30 
Cool man I sent this to steve Harvey and its cool with me.  I'd love some Luna sandals and beer. Better 
than running 100 miles 

(Dean's a wise man)

Patrick Sweeney Cogs are in motion. Deans cool with it. now time to see what Steve has to say?

(At this point I was starting to think this might actually happen? the probability seemed about 50/50 and I was starting to question what did I get myself into?)

My email   to the Race Director Thu, 15 Nov 2012 13:32
Hey Steve,

Just seeing if it is possible for me to use Dean's number to run this weekend?  I haven't ran any of your races since Old Goats a few years ago where I fractured some ribs but still finished 5th I think?  Anyway I'm stupid enough to really want to run Chimera on a whim.  If it is at all possible I would really appreciate it and if it's not I understand.  Either way thanks for reading this and I hope the event is a big success.
Patrick Sweeney

Race director's have a busy schedule the week of the race so I didn't expect a response right away.  I went for nice long run on the beach in the afternoon to clear my thoughts followed by a  trip to the sauna and dinner at a local Vegan joint with my sponsors  from ZZYXXZ.  When I returned home around 8 p.m. I still had received no response.   I went to bed around 10 p.m. thinking I was most likely not running in the event.
I awoke the next morning to find a message from the race director telling me he had gotten soft in the head and that if filled out an entry form and got it to him later that day I would be in the race.
(I wasn't sure whether to be happy or sad)
I'd be running 100 miles in just over 20 hours!  I did not taper in fact I had been recovering from injury that prevented me from even starting the Endurance Challenge  100 miler  a month prior and I had only been running for the past 2 and 1/2 weeks. On the plus side there was no time to stress out or for my body/brain to come up with lame excuses not to run.

That same Vanessa whom I was making fun of earlier signed up for Javelina the day prior to the event and did great.  It was now my goal to follow in her footsteps. "figuratively" because at chimera she would be following in mine.

With a ball of yarn and some Stone Ale I made a new friend.

Instead of attacking the beast I would embrace it, make friends with Chimera course.  I wasn't out there to beat anybody especially myself.

Vanessa and her boyfriend Shacky were stoked that I entered the race.  Recently they had liquidated their possessions and moved in an R.V. (The Summit Seeker) they were camping at the starting line and offered me a bed.  It was only about 90 miles from my home so I packed my Beer (I mean gear) and was on the road driving to go check in the  4 hours after I learned I'd be running.

So far so good
At check in I ran into a couple sexy Ultra Runners 
Trace B and Ashley  
(Ashley was running in the race and would go to buckle, SWEET)

I had packed some Stone ale and decided to show a little gratitude to the race director with a couple Arrogant Bastards. 
He then began to dance around as if he were Winona Ryder during the credits of Beetlejuice.

Sign ups were at some hole in the wall biker bar and the vegan options were lacking so cruised across the street to some weird truck stop, that actually made me a pretty good custom avocado sandwich. (although it did cost $9)  While waiting for it to be prepared I noticed this sweet set of Walkie Talkies for only $15.  too bad I had just spent last $9.  
(maybe they will be on sale next year?)
Driving into the campground the skies were beautiful.  The weather forecast had called for rain but as of 3:30 p.m. Friday the weather looked pretty good.
There was still an hour or so day light to kill so might as well sit around and drink some fine ale.
 As Luck would have it we ended camping in the same spot as Karl Meltzer who was gunning for his 35th career 100 mile win.  I had never met the dude before.  He was a pretty mellow guy but it seems his years of wearing  Hoka's has made the nerve ending on his feet less receptive so that he doesn't realize where he's stepping anymore.   Good thing for Shacky was too star struck to feel any pain. :)
 I kindly volunteered for this picture so that Karl could add it too his scrap book.
(but kept my distance to keep my feet safe just in case)
 Great too meet you Karl and good luck tomorrow.
(he would end up finishing second)
Race Day
Karl wasn't the only big dog in the race.  the field was pretty stacked including my friend's  Jorge Pacheco (Ultra runner extraordinaire) and Fabrice Hardel (who would go to break his course record from last year)
Good Luck Vanessa.
(she would go on to buckle)
Game Plan:
I hardly ever run trails. I'm not a great 100 mile runner, I'm not even a good one but that doesn't mean I'm not capable of becoming one? 
With over 21,000 of vertical climb I had no business trying to race the other runners or the clock.  Instead  I was there to mosey along, listen to my body, take what the course gave me and hopefully finish the race in one piece.
Let's get it on
 Why am I wearing a shirt?
The first 10 miles  of the course is pretty much straight down the mountain on single track trails. I decided to take it about a minute a mile slower than I normally would trying not to go faster than an 8 min mile. After all I wasn't there to race and this would be a good strategy to save my quads.  
As for the shirt bad idea, it  took it off shortly after this pic was taken, it was really humid out it wasadding extra weight as it soaked up the moist air.
 the next 10 miles were pretty much back up the same trail.  I was starting to move a little better as my legs warmed up (my beach training has made more climber than skier) along this stretch at one point 12 out of 16 people I passed that were going the other way, were friends of mine. I got lots of smiles and felt very loved.  

Near the top of the climb I passed a section of the course where 3 years prior my shoe got caught on an embedded rock during the Old Goats 50 miler and fractured my ribs.  This time I was running in Luna Sandal's.  I have no desire to strap phone books to my feet (hoka's) and  roll over the the rocks like a tank.  I flow like water through nooks and crannies, aware of every step ,connected with the Earth as I run.

  By the time I made it back to the starting line I was in 5th place? Huh? I wasn't doing anything special.  However the lead pack of 4 was already over 20 mins in front of me.  This was kind of relief since if they were closer my Ego may pressured me to faster than I should.
 As the day progressed my body felt pretty good. an occasional ache or pain would come and go and the course really didn't seem that tough.  
 I wasn't carrying a light and my drop bag was mile 52 this meant I would have to get their in under 10 hours and 30 mins  to be safe.  I made with with over an hour to spare. I picked up a shirt (that would remain tied to my waste the rest of the race) joked around with some friends working the aid station, had a swig of Stone Ale,  and   a couple of warm cups of the best tomato and rice soup I ever had.
 (Thank you so much for having warm vegan options  small details like this are the reasons why I may or may not come back to run a particular race again)
 It wasn't until after mile 60 that I needed to turn the head lamp it.
Once it dark the clouds rolled in pretty thick and you could only see a few steps in front of where you going. This limited my speed a bit but it was better to be safe than sorry.  
Around mile 80 something. I rolled into an aid station and they had Avocado's (I think thanks to Shacky).  Life was really good at that point. I had made an effort to pig out at every aid station with a goal of gaining weight by the time I reached the finish.

Throughout the night rain tickled down from the sky.  The trails were still holding up pretty good and my Luna  Sandals had more than adequate grip.  The air was crisp and running without a shirt really made me feel alive.
With about 8 miles to go mostly downhill my quads were pretty shot.  I had running half assed all day and other than being a little sore I still had some juice in the tank (that's a stupid saying from now on I shall say "Beer in the Belly" instead)  With beer in the belly still to burn off I decided to start pushing myself to run hard in hopes of breaking 22 hours.
Side note:
During the pre-race briefing Steve Harvey (Race Director) said when designing the course he thought nobody could break 22 hours.

I pretty much charged it the last 90 minutes blowing through the final 2 aid stations without stopping and finished the race in 8th place with a time of  21:28:51.

No Training, No Shirt , No Shoes, No pacer, No crew, 
No problems.
I was really surprised at how well things went.  I kept a good attitude the whole time and although It would be silly to say the race was easy, it really wasn't that hard.  
Standing in the rain well before dawn about to go pass out in my car for a few hours so that I could drive home.

Thank you to everyone for the support!!
I was overwhelmed by the amount people who first off encouraged me to run in the race especially Debra, Dean, Shacky, and Vanessa,
.  Thank you to the runners both friends I had and friends I made along the way.
Thank you to all the race volunteers.  Every aid Station felt like a get together with old friends 
Thank you to Steve Harvey for putting together a top notch event and for sharing his trails with me.
Thank you to The Stone Brewing Company for putting beer in my belly to burn.
Thank you to  Luna Sandals for making running 100 miles seem easy and fun.

Chimera is great a event that I would recommend to anyone stupid enough to attempt it!
Life is good!


  1. Congratulations on fantastic finish! Great race report.

  2. Pat, your blogs always make me laugh, your a ripper character as is most of us Luna boys and girls! LOVE it that you just 'went and ran a 100'! Flippin awesome! Keep up the Stella work mate. Mat

  3. Pat, was nice to meet you and run with you during the race. Keep rockin' it brother!

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. What you're saying is completely true. I know that everybody must say the same thing, but I just think that you put it in a way that everyone can understand. I'm sure you'll reach so many people with what you've got to say.

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