2014: Faces & Places

cork2014 is here! And if you remember your basic place values from math, you’ll see that there’s a 4 in the one’s place, which means yours truly is another decade older. I arrive to the Masters ranks this year people. My body’s feelin’ its odometer reading a bit, but overall I still feel much younger than my personal chronology. No doubt, there’s more stretching going on, more foam-rolling, beefin’ up the strength training, Yeah, hitting some yoga classes, cross-training more strategically, racing less, eating optimally (?), drinking a lot more water (vs. IPAs), minimizing the carbohydrate and sugars, sleeping more, getting massage, and uh, (gulp) even got off the coffee in December. All for what?! For the love of the game of course!

I’m not taking for granted the opportunity to improve on 2013, so I’m putting my best foot forward here, pulling out all the stops, and hoping for the best. Let the chips fall where they may! Lots to be grateful for in life, including a supportive wife, great jobs, friends, sponsors, supporters, events, and starting my fifth decade on this little ball that twirls.

itrlogoVery excited to be on the Inside Trail Racing team once again for 2014. Race Director, Tim Stahler’s tireless dedication to masterminding the best trail-running events around is crazy impressive. We’ve got a great team with a lot of fresh, fly talent, including ultra fun young guns: Luke Garten, Kimberly O’Donnell, Chris Wehan, and Steve Arntson. Check out the ITR calendar and choose among many wonderful events in beautiful places. I’ll hope to see you out there soon!

photo-7Last year this time, I wouldn’t have seriously considered running in a pair of Hokas. Then, in May I had my come-to-Jesus-moment. I got my first pair and immediately noticed I could run downhill quicker since the shoe absorbs so much shock. Later that month I picked up a 2nd place at Silver State 50-miler and loved how the shoe performed on that technical, demanding course. So, I made the decision to use them at Tahoe Rim Trail 100-miler in July and never thought about my feet for the 18 hours I was racing. If you’re going to sustain the ultra-running lifestyle, you’ve got to take care of yourself, protect yourself, insulate yourself against pulverizing nature of these long-@$$ events. One company’s doing it the best:  Hoka One One.

With the support of Hoka, I’m looking forward to being able to travel a bit more, and get out to some new races in new places here in California and Oregon, all the while being stoked to perform at my very best. I’ll now have more breathing room to take better care of myself and be able to do those things I know I should be doing, like getting that occasional massage, for example. It sounds like there’s a new team kit in the works so  lookin’ forward to flying the Hoka colors with my teammates, Karl Meltzer, Jen Benna, Dave Mackey, course-record holder at the Quad Dipsea, and just-recently signed, Sage Canaday, 2013 champ and course-record holder at Lake Sonoma 50-miler. A rising tide lifts all ships!

photo(1)I’ve always admired the staff at Heart-n-Sole Sports in Santa Rosa. These guys have been athletes their whole lives and have accomplished so much in the world of running. They also support area high school’s track and cross-country programs. When I was petitioning Hoka to sponsor me, Kenny Brown at Heart-n-Sole helped me get onboard. It wouldn’t have happened otherwise. I’m sending as many people as I can into H&S to strap on some Hokas and hit the trails more confident than ever. Now, if Hoka could just make shoes fast enough!

H&S is hosting an Ultra Clinic on January 30th from 7pm to 8:30. The panel of speakers includes USATF Masters Female Ultrarunner of the Year, Suzanna Bon, also Todd Bertolone, a seasoned ultra-endurance athlete who’s running the Western States 100 this year, along with yours truly, offering my two cents on topics including training for ultras, nutrition/hydration, and the mental game. Should be a fun evening!

clifWow, this year I’m celebrating a decade being with CLIF Bar. They’ve been helpful on all fronts of my life. As an triathlete and now as an ultrarunner, they’ve kept me fueled with CLIF bars, Shots, and Blocks as well as a stream of great swag. As a coach, they’ve helped me put quality sports nutrition products into the hands and bellies of athletes I coach. And as a teacher, Clif Bar has sponsored my school’s Spartan Stampede 3k Fun Run for about as long as I’ve been with them. CLIF is the leader in organic and nutrition foods. Plus, they make some good wines too!

three-dog-yogaEinstein said it best, “The definition of insanity is doing things the same way and expecting different results.” With that in mind I’ve pondered what things I’ll change and/or integrate into my ultrarunning training and recovery practice this year. [Re]enter—yoga.

In 2010 my wife worked part-time at Three Dog Yoga and I soon found myself on a yoga mat for the very first time. That was my second season as an ultrarunner. I made a lot of connections between the yoga practice and the mentally demanding nature of ultrarunning events, especially the final third of an ultra. For both yoga and ultrarunning, you need focus and a strong sense of being able to simply be comfortable with discomfort. You need to relax and breathe. You need to have a strong body. Your mind needs to be clear. You need balance. When these things are in check, you are free to flow >>> down the trail…

For 2014, I’m bringing yoga back into my training by incorporating three power classes into my recovery weeks, which are going to come more often this season. Training is a case of stress and rest, and repeat. It’s during that break from running that yoga serves to strengthen both body and mind, while stretching both in the process. Granted, this will be an exploration and I’ll be documenting my findings with a quarterly post. I know my body will reap the results of the practice, but I’m most curious about how I’ll be able to bring this yoga practice into the competitive arena, staying in the flow, and closing strong over the final miles of a 50k, 50mi, 100k, and 100mi.

nuyaIt was fun seeing Nuya out at Destination Race’s Healdsburg Half-Marathon in October. I ran it with Amanda. That event’s a blast since Subaru owners get the VIP treatment; Subaru being one of the main sponsors. Nuya had a cool booth set up and head honcho for Nuya, Ted Neal, was out there getting packets—and swag—into people’s hands. I ran back to the Subaru VIP brunch with some “perfectly natural hydration” samples on tables to accompany what was quite a nice post-race spread! So this is what Lexus owners must experience everywhere they go; first-class service.

Coconut water’s exploded on the scene as the great re-hydrator. I’ve consumed liter upon liter, especially during warmer weather. So now after long stuff I can just rip open a packet of Nuya, mix it up in water bottle, and I have a tasty, post-race beverage. Hydrate!!

stravarunThe workout didn’t happen unless it’s on Strava, right? As a math and science teacher, I sometimes share Strava stuff with my students. I’ll share graphs and charts on everything from heart-rate data to elevation profiles. There’s so much in there to connnect with what we’re studying throughout the year. Strava’s innovative and keeps making the user experience even more fun.

In 2013, Strava tallied for me some 2700mi o’ running with 450k’ of elevation gain. I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing but I think, in general, I maintained a good balance with it and didn’t overdo it (too much) on any occasion. It’s easy for me to obsess about hitting higher mileage goals for sure, especially during those d*mn monthly Challenges where you’re “competing” against everyone else from around the world to see who can rack up the most volume over four weeks.

Like I tell my students, Strava’s like Facebook for athletes (and spares our Facebook friends from always having to see our latest long run stats). I enjoy maintaining connections with my fellow outdoorsman. It’s cool following some of the best in the sport as well as your buddies (who may or not be among the best in the sport!). Through Strava, it’s great getting another perspective on athletes I coach too. It’s great to be able to interact with former students who are now getting into running and/or cycling. There’s even a few parents of kids who I’m currently teaching on Strava. It’s like some kind of… social network!

Blog Post Transition: I’m now going to jabber on about my key events for 2014

intermisionsnagitdownarrow

racing

Sadly, Silver State 50/50’s not on the list.

It might be January now, with short days and cold temps, but soon enough it’ll be time to pin on that glorious race number and get after it on the trails. Here’s a handful of ultrarunning events I’m most looking forward to.

mucI missed this one last June because I had my head in the sand in preparation for Tahoe Rim Trail 100. Fortunately for me Marin Ultra Challenge will be held in March this year! This one’s right up my alley too, with 11,000′ of elevation gain in the Marin Headlands and Mt. Tam. What’s not to like?! Epic views of the Golden Gate Bridge, great running along Coastal Trail, Miwok, Dipsea Trail, Willow Camp, Pirate’s Cove, Muir Beach, Cardiac Hill, Stinson Beach, Muir Woods, and Middle Green Gulch. I’ll probably get a 50k in before I toe the line at MUC, just to get some iron back in the legs.

annadelSuper excited to have the opportunity to run the Annadel Half-Marathon this year. For one reason or another, I haven’t been able to run since 2010 where I took 2nd in a time of 1:28. Inspired and intrigued to try throwing in some shorter, faster stuff this year (when it fits) to try and bolster some speed in the longer stuff. Annadel’s only seven days out from Annadel so it could either help or hinder. So, in anticipation of this back-to-backer, I’m doing a lot more speed work in my training, cutting the volume some, doing more strength work, so I can have my d*mn cake (and eat it too!). Also great that Annadel doesn’t fall on the same weekend as Lake Sonoma, which was the case last year. Always nice to race local and this one, like Lake Sonoma, has a special place in my cardiac muscle.

LS50Wasn’t it just 2010 and I was 3rd overall here, just in front of Timmy Olson? My how times change! Last year I ran over 20min faster than in ’10 and ended up down the list in 20th. Lake Sonoma 50 was a turning point in 2013 though; I learned a lot in that one. I’m happy to find, at my ripe young age, that the existential fire to improve still burns. Doing my first trip around the Warm Springs loop last weekend was simply delightful. And for some reason I have it in my head I can crack that 6:50 (6:40?!!) mark at this race. I know how to nail a marathon, a 50k, and the 100, but that 50miler, for me, is a “fun for a while” but ultimately frustrating distance. So hopefully, my tactical preparation this spring will pay off. Top-10’s the goal.

bishopA new race in a new place! I was considering doing Silver State 50 again since I love how tough that race is but Bishop High Sierra 100k popped up as another Inside Trail event, and on the same weekend as SS50. Timing is everything and I’m a stickler about race placement on the calender. Running Bishop allows sufficient time to recover from Lake Sonoma. It gives me 100k at elevation, to have in my legs for TRT100 in July, which I didn’t have last year, though SS50 is also ideal prep for TRT. And the timing’s such that I’ll have two full weeks off at the end of May, to enjoy my students, before finishing up school and jumping, full throttle, into TRT training. Perfect.

TRTAll trails lead to Tahoe Rim Trail 100 in July. This distance is the one that comes most naturally to me, as it seems appeals to all my passions as a runner. I’ve run three 100s and all three about been on these glorious trails in Tahoe. I have be strategic with the placing of my hundred so that I set myself up for success. Having the summer months off from teaching allows me to train optimally for a 100mi run, and moveover, really savor that June preparation. I don’t know what I enjoy more, the June prep or the race itself. No doubt, the preparation makes or breaks the race. Gotta respect the distance!

TRT 2013 was a pretty hot one and 2014 could easily be roasting again giving the winter we’re having. All those years racing Ironmans, with four trips to Kona, suffering on that infernal marathon, really seem to lend themselves well to my racing in the heat. Last year, I found I really liked it (except the vomiting in Red House). The beauty, the distance at elevation, the cumulative vertical gain, the high temps, and the competition, all make for a great, great day on those pristine trails. An improvement of just 3% would land me around that 17:30 mark, good enough for a new course-record. We’ll see what happens this July!

P2P_logos_color-01Since the 100miler is my fave distance, and I’ve only ever run TRT, I thought it high time to try another 100, one that also captures my imagination, in a beautiful place, and won’t pull me out of the classroom for too long. Pine to Palm is just “right up the road” in southern Oregon. I figure, last year I was able to bounce back and “race” Headlands 50k a month after TRT, sooooo, if I rest for a few weeks post TRT, listen to my body, and do a few weeks build, I should, hypothetically, be able to pull off a second hundred. I mean, look what Ian Sharman did last year. I’m not interested in any Grand Slam business, just the opportunity to take my show on the road to a different 100 in a different and beautiful place. Tim Olsen’s record looks pretty stout considering the vertical profile and I hear that the course has changed since his CR too. Anyway, we’ll see what I can do up there. Maybe I can get Hal to pace me.

quadYeah, I’ve always wanted to run one of the Dipsea events. I was signed up for the Double Dipsea in 2008 but DNS because something was hurting. But the real reason was Amanda and I were enjoying the house we’d rented in Stinson too much. It turned out to be an exceptionally warm weekend at Stinson and we were right on the beach. 80deg and sunny. I did look up at the hills a fair amount, through my beer-colored glasses that is.

I certainly don’t imagine myself in the same category with Dave Mackey but Dave continues to pull off some amazing ultrarunning feats as a veteran Masters runner. His course-record win at Quad Dipsea was as amazing at his top-10 finish at North Face Endurance Challenge 50mi only a week later. I couldn’t believe it. His race-report on Quad shed some light on to how he pulled it off. I’ve taken notes. Looks like Mackey’s got a good thing going in Colorado with a good group of guys doing some hard hill running. Yep, that’s what it takes.

So, I’ve got the 2013 season in my legs. I’m ramping up the hill work this year. As a precursor to the possibility of doing “DD” (Dave’s Double = Quad + NFEC, I’m going to see how I bounce back from Annadel Half-Marathon, a week out from Lake Sonoma. Then, depending how things are looking after Pine-to-Palm, do something like two back-to-back weekends of 50k’s or something like that to steel the legs for DD. We’ll see, it could happen or it couldn’t; the body decides. Ultimately, I want to do Quad but not at the expense of not doing—or doing poorly at—NFEC in early December.

nfecUh yes, trying to stretch the season out for just… one… more… race. And what a fine event this is. Just as competive as Lake Sonoma 50 with all the difficulty, but unique all the same. The aim at my fifth North Face Endurance Challenge will be to integrate all that I’ve learned over 2014, race my own race, and continue to improve on my placing here. I’ve gotten a little quicker every time. I think I’ve got a good bead on how I can consistently run well under 7hrs for 50miles on these demanding courses. Yeah, we’ll see Shebest. You’re not gonna get there walkin’ those dogs around town.

 photo(3)2014 Training Log

Tahoe Rim Trail 2010 – Redemption

“I really focus on just taking care of my body and mind. As soon as I start to struggle in a race, I immediately stop focusing on what everyone else is doing. I just keep eating well and keep hydrating. I try to keep my mind focused on the fact that my race isn’t going to improve at all if I can’t take care of my own body.”  -Geoff Roes, 2010 Western States Champ, and undefeated after seven 100mi races.

My second attempt at the 100 mile distance went a whole lot better than ’09. The difference 12 months makes! After a great build this year, including the Annadel Half-Marathon, Sequoia 50k, Lake Sonoma 50miler, Miwok 100k, and some good 100mile-specific weeks in early June, I was also given the great gift of knowledge that came pouring out of the epic battle that was this year’s Western States 100, which went down at the end of June. Pouring over Geoff Roes and Anton Krupicka‘s blogs in early July, I mined some valuable nuggets of wisdom, which I applied to my race this year in Lake Tahoe. Thanks fellas, it was a great ride!

In order to be competitive and possibly win this year, I knew I’d have to break 20hours. With a field of heavy hitters in the line-up this year, I knew I’d have my work cut out for me. So, I simply committed to concentrating on my own race, those things over which I had control, in hopes that I would see my peak potential.

The Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT) 100 was my A-race for 2010. No stone was left unturned. I was as prepared as I could be. I’d arrived a week before the event to get my body acquainted with the elevation and was crazy fresh, physically and mentally. On the epic scale, TRT scores a 10, especially this year with the addition of the Diamond Peak climb from Incline Village up to the Rim trail. This adds about 4000′ to a course that already boasts 20,000’ of cumulative gain. Each time I’ve had the great pleasure of running this event I’ve been struck that, a.) how little flat running there is, and b.) that my knees don’t eventually explode from all the ups-n-downs!

with Joe Palubeski at the start.
Amanda came up on Thursday to join the fun. Without my better half by my side, I would not have had the race that I enjoyed. Our exchanges throughout the day could fill pages. Thanks sunshine!!!
“Bob, I can’t believe you dragged me outta bed this early, again!” -Michael Cook, pacer extraordinaire
Off to the start line. Finally!!!
Hmm… How does this Garmin work?
Photo of courtesy of Michael Cook.
Photo of courtesy of Michael Cook.
Photo of courtesy of Michael Cook.

I’ve told the athletes I coach time and time again that when you take care of the simple things (nutrition, hydration, pacing, etc.) then the results will take care of themselves. I was grateful that a lot these folks who have become friends over the months and years, were dishing up some of my own medicine, in the form of emails and texts, in the days leading up to TRT. This was much appreciated as it helped center me for the battle to come. “Give none of your precious energy to your competitors. Control what you can out there.”

In addition to the 100miler, there is a 50k and a 50mile event as well. It starts an hour after the 100 takes off. (Photo of courtesy of Michael Cook)
The elusive winner, Thomas Crawford, ran on the front all day, in his first attempt at the 100mile distance, and without a pacer! Crawford also recently smoked the Leona Divide 50mi course record earlier this year. (Photo of courtesy of Michael Cook)
Tops off, ready to fill the bottles at the 50mi mark. (Photo of courtesy of Michael Cook)

A picture’s worth a 1000 words, right? Well, running into the half here, I was so happy to not be in the shape I was last year due to excessive dehydration. Over the first 50 miles, I’d conserved well. At 20 minute intervals, I’d take a gel and chase it with 4 gulps of water. That was my nutrition/hydration plan and it worked like a charm (thanks again Geoff Roes!). Unlike last year, where my weight continued to drop at each weigh-in, this year I hit 152 lbs from start to finish, with no more than a pound deviation. No falls and no wrong turns this year was so relievingly wonderful, since I fell twice last year and am known for getting off course on occasion.

Departing the Start/Finish for my second loop. It was good to see Amanda and Michael here.

The first 50 to 75 miles of a 100 “race” is all about pacing, and keeping up with your food and fluids. My perceived exertion over the first 30 miles was easy, for the most part. That was tough to maintain since, in addition to being really tapered, I’ve been conditioned as a marathoner and triathlete, so running 10:30 miles over the first 30mi required a fair amount of restraint. There were a lot of solid runners at TRT this year too, including Brett Rivers, who I was hoping would “help” push me to a sub-20 hour finish time. Brett has cultivated a reputation for his pacing and subsequent smoking-fast push to finish lines. We both raced Lake Sonoma and Miwok earlier this year and finished close to one another at each event. Brett beat me here at TRT last year, largely because of his exceptional pacing ability. So, this year, I knew I’d have to pace smart in order to be in the running at the end of the day.

Letting guys (and gals) go at the start, including Brett, wasn’t easy. All I thought I needed was to average 12 minute miles over 100 miles to win. Seems pretty easy, right? It’s that 24,000ft of climbing at elevation that gets in the way.  The first time up the ski slope at Diamond Peak comes at about mile 30. When I arrived at the lodge, I spied Brett starting his ascent. By the end of the 2000′ climb, I caught up with him and inquired what was going on up on the front. Brett reported that Crawford was pretty far up and Olsen and another guy weren’t that far ahead of us. The pace and perceived exertion at this point was pretty conservative. Brett told me he wanted to keep it easy through 50, get his pacer, and turn it on from there. I pushed ahead, hit the top, found the Rim Trail, and ran south, mindful that I probably hadn’t seen the last of Brett. I wanted to open a good gap between us, yet I also wanted to continue conserving. When I caught Jon Olsen and he inquired who else was close behind, I told him I’d just passed Brett awhile back. He remarked, “Yeah, we’ll see him again.”

A big goal for me this year at TRT, besides breaking 20 hours, was to be able to run through both the half and the 70mile mark feeling happy and strong. Yeah well, in order to be happy and strong at the 50 and 70-mile mark, you gotta pace yourself. So, I felt like I had struck a balance and was running conservatively to the 50 mile and opening a gap on Brett. So, as I was getting ready to depart the 50mile aid-station and spied Brett coming in, a feeling of dread immediately preceded a shot of adrenalin. Time. To. Go!

From 50, I concentrated on what I could control, namely my nutrition and hydration. I ran the approximate 6.5 miles up to the next aid station at Hobart. No Brett. Another 5 up to Tunnel Creek. No Brett. I descended in the 6.5 mile Red House loop, where, after 3 or 4 miles, I caught my first glimpse of Brett and his pacer, Joel Lanz, another exceptional ultra-runner. Slowly and methodically, they caught and passed me.

You’re never happy to see competitors coming up from behind but, what the h*ll, this is a 100mi run in God’s country and it was pretty good to see those guys out there, killing it with me, and basically just having a blast, albeit, moving along a little better than me.

This section of the course chewed me up and spit me out last year, so Brett and Joel didn’t get any fight from me. Joel looked back once to see where I was and that was that. “Maybe see you later fellas,” I thought to myself. I was concentrating on getting my skinny rear-end back up to the ridge line, to the Tunnel Creek aid station, to that point that almost ended my race last year.

And just like that, I was there. Weight: 152 lbs (vs. my 143 lbs I’d suffered the year before at this same point). No stopping this time. With my deliberate shuffle jog, I left Tunnel Creek along the glorious Tahoe Rim Trail, moving north, traversing the 3.5 miles to the Bullwheel aid station, where my pacer was waiting patiently for my arrival. Eat and drink. Eat and drink. Joel and Brett were only four minutes ahead.

The Bullwheel aid station at the top of the Diamond Peak Climb.

Twisting along the mountainside, you eventually spy the Diamond Peak mountainside and know that Bullwheel, which is at the top of that climb, is close. Michael Cook, my pacer again for this second attempt at the 100 mile distance and second attempt at this bear of an event known as TRT, was all smiles as I arrived at the Bullwheel aid station. I was excited to have my pacer and move over some fun terrain, which we had just run together the previous Sunday. This new section of the TRT is really dynamic: an 8-mile loop from Bullwheel, about 4 miles north toward Mt. Rose then hit a flume trail that runs diagonally along the mountainside, back down to the next aid station at Diamond Peak ski resort’s lodge.

The first time down this trail, earlier in the day, I’d run really conservatively, so I could spare my quads. This time was a bit different. This is a fast section and I love to run downhill fast. So, I opened my stride and bounded down the flume, in control, yet moving over ground at approaching 5-minute mile pace. Michael and I hit the pavement at Diamond Peak lodge with smiles. I was asking myself if that might have been a bit too fast but quickly dismissed it, since the next thing I saw, was Brett and Joel starting their ascent up Diamond Peak, which was total deja vu, since that was that exact sight I witnessed the first time I’d been here at mile 30, earlier in the day. Naturally, I expected to have the same result by the top of the climb:  pass Brett.

Mile 80. Fueling with a sense of urgency at the Diamond Peak aid station.
Starting our 2000′ ascent back up to the Rim Trail from the Diamond Peak aid station.

It wasn’t long after this moment that we witnessed Brett’s assault on Diamond Peak. Brett and Joel were running the early switchbacks and were completely out of sight by the time Michael and I arrived at the base of the steepest section. Still, there was about 20miles of racing left, and both Brett and I were inspired to move as quickly and efficiently to Spooner Lake as possible.

Michael snapped this pic on Diamond Peak the previous Sunday. It’s especially steep near the top!
Mile 82: Just summited Diamond Peak. Turning south toward the finish.

I think at this point, my Garmin’s battery had just crapped out, but I saw that my average pace for the race was still around 11:30/mile, which would put me into the finish a little over 19 hours! Compared to my 22:45 last year, that seemed wicked fast. We put our lights on and set to the task at hand: run to Tunnel Creek, run to Hobart, run to Snow Valley Peak, descend the 5+ miles to Spooner Summit, and to the finish!

I probably made some bad fuel choices in this last third of the race. My stomach was protesting pretty much the whole way down to the finish though I only had to make one “pit-stop” and had some strong sections, where I was able to move along quite well. I was, however, losing time to Brett. I just couldn’t sustain a strong pace without my stomach throwing a tantrum.

In order to break 20 (my ultimate goal), I had to hit at those 12min/miles or less. At some point in my delirium I asked Michael what time it was. He replied that it was 11:40 PM. I then asked him if he thought we could make it to the finish in an hour and twenty minutes. He thought we could but I could sense his unspoken words, “if you keep running.” Yeah, that was becoming an increasingly arduous task. Still, in spite of the pain and discomfort of having ran 90 miles, there you are, running at midnight with one of your best friends, lighting up some pristine trails in Lake Tahoe. I was smiling on the inside, or trying to. I was, for sure, savoring the experience. Just run you fool!

I was happy to hit Snow Valley Peak since that milestone represents the beginning of the end; the start of a long switchback-riddled descent down to Spooner Summit at mile 98.5ish. The race isn’t over ’til it’s over and my nearest competitor was Brett, with the next runner, behind Michael and I, being some 2 hours back. So, we kept pressing forward. By Snow Valley, I was running fairly well again and being a good downhill runner, I was able to move quickly, though painstakingly, down and down and down the plush trails to Spooner.

Michael and I put together a series of pushes that, in my mind, were strong but just not fast enough to break 20 hours. At 36 years of age, this stuff has become much more about the experience and the process of racing than any heavy focus on performance goals such as places and times. I like to win and set PRs but I love to execute a perfect process-oriented race plan. Things had gone extremely well today. It was only my second attempt at the distance. I was just grateful to be alive and well, moving at a good clip toward the finish line.

One of the great things about the Tahoe Rim Trail 100 comes after you reach the Spooner Summit aid station and run the last mile and a half of the race, pretty much on flat single-track, under the cover of night, headlamp lighting the way. With about 3/4 of a mile to go you spy the lights of the finish across Spooner Lake. And when you hear the cheers from the finish line, a strong sense of pride, joy, and relief wells up in your heart. The final stretch is a victory dance that somehow seems effortless as you glide wistfully into the arms of the finish and loved ones who have waited and worried about your well-being (and location) all the live-long day.

My safety runner for the second year in a row. Thanks for running that last 50k with me Michael. It was awesome!
Final weigh in: 152 lbs. Right where I started.
Glazed and confused while blood pressure being taken at finish.

As I sat there, marveling at the simple fact that I was done running, I heard a woman speak. I heard her say “19:57.” It sounded odd. Why were those numbers meaningful to me? Wait, I ran a lot slower than that. Was there another runner here in the dark she was talking to? I looked up at her. She said, “Congratulations. 19:57. That’s great.” Still trying to comprehend how she could be so cruel and try to convince me I’d done something I knew I had failed to do, I sat incredulous for a second or two before putting the words together in the form of a question, “Did I break 20?” Naturally, my pacer, Michael certainly knew what time it was and that we had indeed pulled it off. So that was some surprising news to absorb as I sat there at 1am, basking in my efforts of the day and year.

And then, that wonderful human machine, sensing the time for running was over, began to shut down on me. My body had decided to initiate its recovery process. And then I slipped out of that blissful, immortal state of full engagement with the 2010 Tahoe Rim Trail run and into a very human, very mortal, purging process of recovering from the ordeal. There were several stops on our long drive back to Michael’s cabin in Truckee, and for various reasons. The TRT slogan is A glimpse of heaven and a taste of hell. As I fell apart, post-race, I was only grateful that most of my day spent running was a heavenly experience full of all the stuff that makes life worth living. The moments of hell were but a small price to pay for the experience of a lifetime.

I woke on the floor at 10:30 in the morning, disoriented and confused. My shoes were off but I still had my running stuff on. This is what it must feel like to be 80 years old, I thought. I crawled into the bedroom and pealed my clothes off. I crawled to the bathroom and took a shower, which washed the evidence of battle, down the drain. I crawled into bed and let out a deep sigh, my vivid recollection of rhythmic running on the Tahoe Rim Trail lulling me to sleep. That sweet singletrack…

Second place, Brett Rivers, at the awards ceremony back at Spooner Summit, late Sunday afternoon. Brett had a smoking final 20 miles and broke 19 hours. He had placed 3rd here in 2009 with a time of 20:50. Congrats Brett!

Tahoe Rim Trail 100 Complete Results [Click >>> HERE]

17 hours (about 90miles) of GARMIN Data [Click >>>, >>> HERE]

My next big event is… my wedding on October 17th! My next A-Race will be the 2011 Ironman Triathlon in Coeur d’Alene next June, where I’ll attempt to earn a slot back to Kona in October. I do have to see the doc and see if I can’t get an MRI of my right hip. It’s only been giving me problems since 2008! Funny thing is, ultra-running makes it feels better; it’s when I rest that it gives me trouble! When I get a clean bill of health, I hope to sign up for an late ultra this fall. My plan is to integrate ultra-running into my triathlon schedule, which basically means I’ll hit some ultras in the spring and fall next year. I won’t do a 100miler in 2011 though. It is, however, my great hope that I can get into Western States 2012, or someday!!! I want to close with this oft-repeated (by me) but powerfully accurate quote from that great thinker, Ralph Waldo Emerson,

“That which we persist in doing becomes easier, not that the nature of the task has changed, but our ability to do has increased.”

>>> Point Positive! <<<