Saturday, April 24, 2021

Canyons 100K: April 24th, 2021

This is a race that has somewhat been on my bucket list.  Shaun and Ram were going to run it because they both had entries roll over from 2020.  I was able to sign up the first day they opened registration this year.  Many people that are training for Western States use Canyons 100K for a training run as it takes place on some of the same trails.  Due to COVID restrictions the race organizers decided to make an alternative route which was a point to point with more climbing than descending!  They decided to use this route for the race and I thought it would be better than the original which was a double out and back.  Anyway, there is more than 14,600 feet of climbing in this 100K and most of it takes place in the second half of the race!  I was unsure if I could make the cutoffs and it was a bit of a concern since I was unable to make the cutoffs at Sean O' Brien but that was a different race all together.  I was also a bit worried that the weather was going to be hot for the race since we had some early season heat that week but we lucked out and it cooled down just in time.  A cloudy 60 degree day was just what the Dr. ordered as I do not fare well in the heat.  We arrived in Auburn, CA the day before and picked up some Chipotle burritos along with some subway subs for our pre race meals.  

The week before the race California had lifted some of the restrictions on group gatherings.  The race organizers were able to do a mass start versus having us go out in waves.  I think it was the first mass start for any races in the US since the COVID shutdowns.  It was a great atmosphere on race morning as everyone was able to gather together again as a community.  It's been a long time since we were able to do that.  We got checked in for the race and pinned on our bibs.  Then we officially started, Shaun and Ram shot off the start like cannons!  The first couple miles on single track trail in a herd of people was kind of annoying because I was running through a cloud of dust.  I used my facemask not because of COVID rather to filter out some of the dust I was breathing.  After awhile the packs started to thin out and I was able to get into a groove.  The cooler weather, the scenic Auburn trails, and being in an official race again just gave me a great feeling.  I ran into Shaun after the first aid station and we talked for a little while and then got separated again.  There were a few climbs in the first half of the race but it was mostly rolling terrain along the river and on single track trails.  I was definitely in a groove as I was running most of the time and my overall pace was decent.

I started to get tired as I was doing a climb up to the half way point in the race at Foresthill when Jim Walmsley, one of the best trail runners in the world, came bombing down the hill as he was out doing a training run.  It was really cool to see him out there and he was cheering on the runners which was awesome to see.  That gave me a bit of a boost to get up to the aid station.  My drop bag was here at the half way point.  It was my only drop bag of the day so I took my time at this aid station and made sure I had everything I needed before leaving to tackle the second half of the race.  At the other aid stations I was only stopping long enough to fill my water, grab some snacks, and get out.  I don't think I spent more than 2 minutes at any aid station until Foresthill.  I thought that would improve my overall time and ensure that I would make cutoffs.  I was at the half way point a few hours under cutoff so it became evident that time would not going to be an issue.  I wanted to make sure I finished under 19 hours to get the Western States qualifier.

After leaving Foresthill I navigated to the next aid station which is Michigan Bluff.  From there we shuffled downhill for a few miles and then had a monster climb up to the next aid station Deadwood.  I started feeling the strain on that climb.  I was happy to get to Deadwood and I thought we had an eight mile loop to do from there.  I saw Ram at the aid station as he was just getting done with his loop and he was absolutely crushing it!  He was starting to get cold and wanted to get out of the aid station and start moving again to stay warm.  Before I set out on that loop an aid station volunteer told me it was only five miles and not eight!  I was definitely pumped about that and it was rolling terrain with some epic views of the canyons and surrounding areas.  I was struggling pretty bad on this loop as I was in a shuffle a little and walk a little routine.  Finally as I got back to Deadwood and was under the impression I had eight more miles to the finish.  The aid station volunteer told me I have a two mile downhill and then a nine mile climb to the finish.  I did some math with my foggy exhausted brain and realized that is eleven miles total and not eight.  Ugh, well I guess that would explain the three less miles from the previous loop.  Oh well, I thought, at least I am on my way to the finish line.

It hurt going down the two mile downhill which was pretty steep.  I was still doing my shuffle walk routine.  At the bottom there was a big tree which crashed into the bridge.  After crossing the bridge there was a really steep climb for about a mile or two.  I had to take a few rest breaks on that climb!  After that it was a gradual climb with some rolling sections along the rim of a canyon.  It got dark but I saw some cool views before the light completely faded.  My headlamp died with less than two miles to go.  I was having a hard time changing the batteries when some other runners came up and helped me out with some light so I could see what I was doing!  I stayed near them for the rest of the way to the finish line at China Wall Staging Area.  With a quarter mile to go I could hear people cheering and this gave me the end of race boost to run across the finish line.  I was so happy to be done and get my post race burrito!  I sat around the fire and relaxed while waiting for Shaun to come in.  It was nice just hanging out with other runners.  There were really good vibes going around as the trail and ultra community is like no other.  

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Couch To Diablo: April 3rd, 2021

On the adventure to Diablo
Felt like we were Lord of the Rings 

We (Shaun, Ram, and myself) have always joked about running from Ram's house in the east bay hills to the peak of Mt. Diablo and back.  The route is about 60 miles long and has almost 16,000 feet of climbing!  Well, since Ram is in the middle of training for Western States 100 we decided to give it a shot.  The only issue for me was this run is only three weeks after we did the Fatass MUC 50 miler.  I was feeling mostly recovered but not exactly 100%.  The plan was to start at 4:00 AM from Ram's house.  We decided it would be a good idea to drop my car off at Hap Magee park with supplies for a mobile aid station.  This would be about 17 miles into our day.  This also meant that I had to leave my apartment at 2:45 AM to meet Ram at the park around 3:30 AM.  Oooph!  That is an early morning and my alarm clock was yelling at me after only three hours of sleep at best.  I got ready and met up with Ram.  We were able to get started at 4:00 AM like we planned and we had a few hours in the dark traversing some technical trails in the East Bay regional parks.  We did a lot of climbing leading up to Las Trampas and there may or may not of been a near miss with some angry cows.

Looking to Mt. Diablo in the distance
Having fun on our journey

Shaun did sprain his ankle as we were navigating through the cow herd in the middle of our route.  The weather was not bad until we got to the top of some peaks in Las Trampas where it was cold and the wind was blowing with a vengeance.  We quickly descended down into the valley in order to escape the winds and cold.  After some more climbing in Las Trampas we navigated our way to Hap Magee and we were happy to see the mobile aid station.  I think we were all feeling a little worn down at this point as it took a lot longer than anticipated to reach this juncture.  We were able to refuel and stock up on supplies for the next leg of our journey which is climbing up to Mt. Diablo's Peak and coming back down.  We would be back at the mobile aid station around mile 43.  The sun started blazing at this point and we slowly maneuvered up the trails of Diablo.  The strain of our day, the heat, and the longer than anticipated journey had really taken a toll on Shaun and myself.  Ram was moving well but Shaun and I were toast.  We decided half way up Diablo that when we make it back to the car at mile 43 we would probably call it a day.  If not, we would be out way past dark and wouldn't finish until 11:00 or 12:00 at night.  

View from Diablo
Looking at Eagle Peak

The thought of finishing that late for just a training run seemed miserable.  I was also considering that in just three short weeks we would be running the Canyons 100K so I didn't want to be too beat up for that.  Anyway since the decision was pretty much made that we would DNF couch to Diablo we decided to add in one of the harder Diablo climbs to make up for the missed mileage.  We went up mother's trail which is very steep and such a grind.  I felt like we definitely paid our dues getting up to the Diablo summit. Then we had about 10 miles of mostly downhill to get back to the car.  The word "spent" took on a whole new meaning by the time we reached the car.  Truthfully I was really happy that we were not going to traverse the last 17 miles of technical and steep east bay trails all the way back to Ram's house.  Then we would of had to drive all the way back to Hap Magee to get my car.  So really it worked out to do the 43 miles and call it a day.  Make no mistake, this was a very difficult training run.  It is a bit mentally defeating that we didn't finish but it was a judgement call and sometimes you have to know when to fold em.  I am looking forward to running Canyons 100K in a few weeks!

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Fatass MUC 50 Mile Run: March 13th, 2021

Sun Rising Over The Headlands
Looking toward Mt. Tam

MUC stands for Marin Ultra Classic which is a race put on by Inside Trails every spring.  Shaun, Ram, and I were signed up for the MUC 50 in March of 2020.  Shaun swears this is the best 50 mile course in the Bay Area and he does the race every year.  We had just completed the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day 50K two weeks before the event.  After the Bad Day 50K my quads were completely destroyed.  I had no idea how I would be able to run a 50 miler just two weeks later.  Well, I never really got the chance to find out because between these two events COVID-19 starting sweeping through America and everything was getting shut down in a hurry.  They made the decision to cancel MUC 50 just a few days before the race as no large group gatherings were allowed.  I was kind of glad that fate made my decision for me however I was not feeling good about the reasons it was cancelled.  Shaun and Ram decided to run the course anyway but my quads were not allowing me to join the fun.  Fast forward a year later and unfortunately the Bay area has not been fully reopened yet so the MUC 50 was cancelled again for 2021.  This year however I agreed to run the 50 mile course with Shaun and Ram on the same weekend the race would of been held.

Shaun with the Pacific in the background
Looking through Tennessee Valley

We started at first light so we could see the sunrise coming up over the Headlands.  The course took us up the coastal trail out of Rodeo Beach and we did a loop through the Headlands.  It was nice to do this part early in the morning as the views were awesome and hardly anyone else was out.  Then we ran through Tennessee Valley and through the Pirates Cove trail to Muir Beach.  From there we made our way to Mt. Tam on the coastal trail via Heather Cutoff trail, better know as Donkey Kong because there are a ton of switchbacks on the trail and when a bunch of runners are going up at the same time it looks like they are ascending the levels in the video game Donkey Kong.  We made it to Cardiac Hill in the Mt. Tam area and then descended down to Stinson Beach via the famous Dipsea Trail.  From there we went up our hardest climb of the day which comes right in the middle of the race.  It's called Willow Camp and it was brutal!  Very steep and tough climb when the heat of the day was starting to rear it's ugly head.  Persistence was the key here and eventually we made it to the top of Willow Camp.  From there it's back to Cardiac Hill and then a loop down to Muir Woods where we come back up the steep climb of the Ben Johnson trail.

Ram power hiking up the trail
View from the top of Willow Camp!

That was our last really difficult climb even though we had a few climbs left to do.  This course can be divided by nine different climbs.  It's kind of fun to countdown that way instead of paying attention to the mileage on your watch etc..  Then we made our way out of Mt. Tam and back into Tennessee Valley for the last climb of the day up Old Spring Trail into the Headlands where we took the coastal trail back to the start.  With about two miles to go I got dared to run up a steep hill and I followed through on that.  I am not sure where I got the energy to do that but I made it.  I was going to be close to setting my 50 mile PR so Shaun and Ram told me to keep going without them.  I hustled as hard as I could back to the car and set my 50 mile PR by probably 15 or 20 minutes.  I was pretty proud of that because this was not an easy 50 mile course since it had almost 11,000 feet of climbing!  All in all it was a pretty good day.  Ram was running really well as he would get ahead of us and have to wait most of the time.  Shaun and I pushed each other along most of the day.  It was fun running this course with these guys as they always push me to do better than I think I am capable of.  I am such a relaxed runner that I often don't push myself like I should.

Pushing onwards
Enjoying the day

The course was as promised.  It incorporated all of the best trails in Marin into one 50 mile run with very minimal repeating trails.  Beautiful views the whole way kind of take the sting out of doing a 50 mile run, not completely but almost!  I will definitely sign up for the actual MUC 50 when they put it on in 2022!  Can't wait to do the race with a bunch of other Bay Area runners.


Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Farley's Furloughed Fat Ass Fifty: April 15th, 2020

 I have always thought about doing run from our apartment in Northwest San Francisco to the East Peak of Mt. Tamalpais which is about ~25 miles away by mostly trail.  Due to the COVID pandemic I was furloughed from my job around mid April to mid June.  I immediately recognized this as a great opportunity to complete this mission.  I had my route all planned out and was praying there would be water available on the course.  Since the pandemic was only about a month in and the parking lots at the parks were closed I was unsure whether the bathrooms would be open etc..  Anyway, I decided to find out and would have enough water with me to last awhile and I could always call Jess for a ride if the worse case scenario happened.  Like many of us I was definitely in a weird place mentally and needed a big effort like this to clear my head and reflect on everything going on.  The furlough allowed me to get out there during the week which was a good thing because I knew there would be a lot less foot traffic on a Wednesday.  The run ended up being very spiritual and the water was on at Mt. Tam and in the Headlands.  The last 15 miles on the way back were very tough as I was extremely tired and exhausted as it turned out to be a sunny and warm day.  Rather than break this run down I am going to copy and paste an article that I wrote for Medium about this day.  I will post pictures at the end.  

Here is my article titled "Ultrarunning, Creativity, and Gratitude in the Midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic"-----

"As a trail and ultra runner, or maybe more of an ultra walker, I am tuned into the world of this niche sport. The definition of an ultra run is any distance greater than a marathon, so basically longer than 26.2 miles. In March all of the ultrarunning races within the near future were cancelled due to limits on social gathering. People who enjoy the pain of endurance running immediately came up with creative ideas for virtual ultra races and similar challenges. Live video streaming of these virtual ideas became popular along with other activities such as live music and talk shows. One particularly inspiring idea was a “Quarantine Backyard Ultra” conjured up by Personal Peak, a running company based in Canada. The Original Backyard Ultra concept was created about six years ago by a race director in Tennessee, Gary “Laz” Cantrell, and his event became so popular that other race directors started their own Backyard Ultras. The format consists of all runners doing a 4.167 mile lap every hour on the hour. You must complete the 4.167 miles before the end of the hour and can rest with any remaining time until the next lap begins. If you fail to complete the 4.167 miles before the end of the hour or don’t start the following lap at the top of the next hour then you are disqualified. The event will continue until there is only one person left in the race.

 Personal Peak threw together their idea for the virtual backyard ultra within a couple of days. It was free to enter and would be conducted over Zoom as each runner would set up a computer or iPad showing a streaming video of their home base. Some people were going to do it on a treadmill and others were going to do it outside. Either way you had to show proof of your result at the end of each 4.167 miles by taking a picture of your treadmill results or uploading GPS data to Strava, an exercise social media platform. Since everyone’s spring races were cancelled there was an overwhelming number of people that signed up for the Quarantine Backyard Ultra. There were 2,400 runners from across the globe, including many elite runners, who would be starting this quest on the Saturday morning of April 4th. Personal Peak also figured out they could live stream the event by broadcasting the Zoom feed over YouTube and Facebook live so that anyone could watch and interact with each other through the comments section. It really was a gift to be able to shift our anxiety about the pandemic towards the camaraderie of the community and humans in general. I did not find out about this event until a day before it started so there was not enough time to logistically plan for and run it; however, I gladly tuned into the live stream on and off all weekend. 

There were some interesting and creative folks out there, especially since the local lock down orders were stricter in some countries. One runner set up a small route in a closed coffee shop and did thousands of loops around the perimeter of tables and chairs. Another runner was actually doing tiny loops around his living room and measured to accurately know how many circles he had to do in order to achieve the required distance. There was a runner in Sweden, based in a tiny cabin North of the Arctic Circle, and she did laps around a frozen lake. Its mind blowing what humans come up with sometimes and it definitely held my attention throughout the weekend. Fifty hours into the event only two people were left dueling it out for the coveted trophy, a golden roll of toilet paper! Throughout the day on Monday I was taking breaks from work to check on the results. Two runners were heading into the 63rd hour with 258 miles under their feet and one of the guys did not start his treadmill at the top of the hour which was a rule violation. There was a technical glitch on his iPad and he did not hear the virtual bell sound which went off at the top of each hour. The other runner completed his 63rd lap and was declared the winner after going 262 miles! Both runners wanted to continue and could have easily gone much further but Personal Peak called the race completed because they adhered to the rule. I was fascinated by this event and how it brought people together. I felt inspired to do something on my own but I had to be careful due to the challenges of social distancing. At the time I was still working and doing something on a weekend would be tough because that’s when everyone around here seems to go outside.

I was furloughed from my job on April 11th and a plan was quickly put into place. The idea of doing a self-supported run from our apartment in San Francisco to the East Peak summit of Mt. Tamalpais, and return home, has been on my mind since moving here in 2018. It was a distant thought during normal life circumstances but always lingering in the back of my mind. In order to keep with the social distancing requirements a Wednesday seemed like the perfect day as the trails would be reasonably quiet. For the next few evenings my lap top was devoted to creating the route, incorporating my favorite trails, and making sure the total round-trip distance equaled fifty miles. All the logistics were set and on a Wednesday morning at 6:15 AM I set out on my journey.

There were only a few people out on bikes this early as I crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and took in the view of the San Francisco skyline as the morning was coming into existence. I had a bunch of podcasts downloaded and was going to listen as I worked my way through the run but I was so deep in thought that I did not have a desire for technological stimuli. I climbed up and down the hills of the Marin Headlands, crossed through Tennessee Valley, and eventually made my way up to the East Peak of Mt. Tamalpais. The only time I turned airplane mode off from my phone was to check in by sending my wife Jessica a picture from the top of Mt. Tam letting her know I was looking back in her direction. 

So many thoughts raced through my head throughout this run about everything going on. As I made my way back along the coastal trail to Muir Beach, I began to feel the familiar mental and physical pain from all the elevation gain and miles under my feet. Climbing out of Muir Beach was very challenging. I focused my mind to what our healthcare workers and first responders are dealing with and came to the realization that my temporary pain was insignificant. My ultra marathon would be over in a few hours but their ultra marathon has been going on for quite some time with no end in sight. The gratitude for these selfless heroes gave me a boost of energy. I work with a lot of healthcare professionals and my mother is a retired a nurse and father a retired firefighter so I have always had a deep appreciation for these folks. That appreciation has risen to a new level in the current circumstances of our world. I also thought of all the grocery store workers and so many other professions who are still going out there and doing their jobs through this wild time in our life. We have come to expect and deal with certain types of disasters but I can’t imagine a virus was on the forefront of many people’s mind. Navigating back through the Marin Headlands toward the bridge I was reduced to an extremely slow foot shuffle and a lot of walking as well. When I got to the bridge, I was excited as there was only a few remaining miles between me and a shower followed by our couch. 

While crossing the Golden Gate Bridge on my way home I reflected on my personal journey throughout the day but also started to think about positive aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic. For instance, we’ve held Zoom video hang outs with friends and family on a weekly basis and attendance has been great since everyone has time. It has been years since we have spent this much time with them and it’s conveniently done through technology. Society is usually so busy that it’s eye opening when folks are forced to take a step back from crazy schedules and maybe play a game of cards or watch a movie together. In some way there is a feel that we have gone back in time. It’s also moving how people are pitching in to help out with food banks or in anyway they can. For instance, my mother has made thousands of masks for healthcare workers from her home in Ohio. Finally, the creativity of humans is what makes us a unique species that can inspire each other. Whether it’s a virtual backyard ultra or a family making a funny video together it gives me much hope for the future. The most important lessons I have learned is that we need to stick together, maybe slow things down once in a while, and really show gratitude for the unsung heroes in our society."

Pics from the run:

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day 50K: Feb. 29th, 2020

Nice views from Dogmeat
This race in the South Bay mountains takes mental and physical toughness to a whole new level, the term sadistic comes to mind as an accurate description.  Ram convinced Shaun and myself that it was a good idea to sign up.  The entry fee for the race is $0 and it's completely self supported.  In order to reach the start line for the race you have to do a two mile hike with 1,000 feet of climbing.  To add to that challenge you have to carry all your personal "aid station" supplies with you on this hike.  We were expecting full sun exposure today with temps in the 70s so I knew that I would need some cold beverages and water for what we were about to undertake.  I froze some water and gatorade which I would put in a cooler with some food to take to the race start area.  That was a heavy cooler to carry up there but I knew it would be worth it in the grand scheme of things and it definitely proved to be!  I met Shaun and Ram in the parking area and we carried all our stuff up that hike to the start line.  There was no official race start time, in fact, everyone knew the objective of the day and would have GPS watches to track our time etc.. so you could get out there at anytime of your choosing.  Looking back on it now I think I would of preferred to get out there super early and do part of the race in the dark cooler weather.

Such an appropriate message!
So, your probably wondering what the actual course of this race consists of.  Well, there is a climb in this area called Dogmeat, it's basically a 1.5 mile trip up with 1,000 feet of elevation gain.  The race starts at the base of Dogmeat and the concept is simple: go up the climb and come back down and keep doing that pattern 10 times!  The downhill was not easy either, it is an uneven fire road which is very steep at times, your body really takes a pounding when you run down this thing.  I knew this sounded horrible before I even signed up so I have no idea why I ended up trying it.  I guess the fact that it would test me mentally and physically was appealing and peer pressure also had something to do with it.  I met Shaun and Ram at the parking area around 6:00 am.  We hiked up to the base of Dogmeat with all our stuff and got started right away.  To my surprise there were already a few people up there who had started before we did.  The first trip I did without trekking poles and after that I knew I was in for a long day.  The second trip I started using my trekking poles as I needed the help on the steep parts of the climb and they also assisted on some of the steep downhill sections.  Shaun and Ram seemed to be climbing a lot stronger than I was.  The downhills were beating up my quads very badly and all the pressure from the pounding went straight there as I was nursing a sore knee.   

The pacifier is hilarious
I wanted to slow down and told them to go ahead and I would just do the day at my own comfortable pace.  They pretty much denied me of that request but they did slow down for me which I was thankful for.  Shaun was nursing an injured hamstring so he was about the pace as me after a few trips up and down.  On the 5th trip up, the sun was out in full force and it became quite hot which added to the discomfort of this thing we were embarking on.  I was really happy that I had frozen some gatorade and it really hit the spot after each trip down Dogmeat.  Some a-hole was drinking the water that Shaun carried all the way up Dogmeat and didn't even ask if it was ok.  Most people in the ultra community are top notch.  I don't think this guy was an ultra runner.  In fact, I think he only did like 2 out and backs.  It put us in a bad frame of mind but we didn't have enough energy to get worked up over it.  

The last steep part of Dogmeat

This was just a brutal race from start to finish.  There was one big tree on the climb about 3/4 of the way up and it provided just a tiny bit of shade however it was a great place to take a little break each time up Dogmeat.  We started calling it the Tree of Life!  There were maybe 30 other people out there doing either the full 50K or just doing a few trips up and down and it was fun to see these people over and over.  We would just look at eachother and smile because we all knew how brutal this really was.  I think the 8th time up about broke me and I didn't really have any desire to do two more trips.  Once that was done the 9th trip was motivating because we knew only one more after that.  The last trip was very satisfying as we knew that we were almost done.  On the way back down the 10th time Ram slowed down right at the end to wait for Shaun and I ran past him to finish, not because I wanted to finish ahead of them rather I just wanted to be done with this nonsense!  I still get teased about that to this day, I just had to be first and I saved my energy burst until right at the end etc..

So glad that nonsense is over!

We did the 10 out and backs on Dogmeat...30 miles and 10,000+ feet of climbing in under 8 hours which I thought was extremely good considering how tough it was.  After crossing the finish line I was so damn grateful to be done.  All we had to do was hike two miles back to our cars while carrying a bunch of crap..haha.  This race absolutely destroyed my quads.  I was signed up for the Marin Ultra Challenge (MUC) 50 miler which was only two weeks out and I had zero idea of how I could even do that race.  Within this time COVID-19 had started spreading more rapidly in the U.S. and they decided to cancel the MUC 50 just a few days before the race so the pandemic made my decision for me.  In fact, pretty much all the races in California ended up getting cancelled after this point in time so I was happy to get two races completed in 2020 before COVID mania swept the world.  I don't know if I will ever do this race again as it seems like a good thing to do once and then never again. However, I am easily swayed by peer pressure so if any of my friends wanted to do it then I would unfortunately follow along like an idiot!   

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Sean O' Brien 100K: Feb. 8th, 2020

I signed up for this event because Shaun and Ram were doing it and I thought it would be cool to have a nice challenge to start 2020 off right.  This is one of the toughest races I have ever attempted for several reasons.  It takes place in Southern California (Malibu Creek St. Park) which is a hot and sunny climate even in early February.  There is over 13,000 feet of climbing in the 100K and very strict cutoffs.  I know my own abilities and figured that even with good training that it was going to be a toss up if I could finish this one.  We didn't get serious with training until December.  We got a few 30+ mile training runs in and then two weeks before the race we did a 40 mile training run.  It seemed as if training went pretty well and we were ready to tackle this beast.  I grew more confident in my ability to finish this race after feeling good on these longer training runs.  Although the 40 miler two weeks before may have been a little to ambitious as the recovery time from that training run was fairly limited.

The race started at 5:00 AM which meant we had to get up really early in order to arrive in time to check in and get our race packets.  All of us flew in on the day before the race.  I felt bad for Ram because his flight got delayed and he arrived really late.  I was able to get about 4 hours of sleep the night before the race which was not ideal but it could of been worse.  It was cold out at the start line and I was embracing it because I knew it was game over once the sun came out.  The run got started right on time and off into the dark hills we went.  The pace was steady at the beginning but about a mile or two in we came to the famous river crossing and there was a really long line leading up to it.  In fact we stood there for a few minutes waiting and I was getting nervous because I knew how strict the cutoffs were.  After we got through the river we were facing a fairly large climb.  Our pace was good up this climb and the views of the sunrise and surrounding areas were incredible.  I was not feeling bad in these first five or six miles but I was not really feeling great either.  I knew it was going to be a long day and I would need calories and it was probably best to get them in early before the heat came.

Flipping off the sun just angered it
After leaving the first aid station we had a bunch of rolling trails.  Another big climb and then a really nice long smooth downhill which we bombed down to the aid station at mile 23.  We had a really good pace going at this point.  It was really starting to get hot out as the sun moved overhead.  The course is completely exposed and the sun was blazing hard.  I think I ate too much food at this aid station because a sluggish feeling came over me.  We were facing a huge climb over the next 9 miles and I wanted to make sure I had enough calories.  As we started the climb my legs just gave out and all my energy was mysteriously zapped.  I could not keep up with Shaun and Ram and they were charging up the climb.  They got to mile 31 before I did and they had waited for me.  That was a long hot 9 miles with no aid stations in between.  The mile 31 aid station had run out of water!  That's not a good thing to happen in a race where the sun has been blazing on runners for a few hours and they desperately needed some water.  I was glad I had filled up my 3 liter bladder before that climb because I still had some water left.  They did have some bags of ice there so I filled up the rest of my bladder with ice.  It actually worked out pretty good for me  I was still hurting though leaving his aid station.  We shuffled to the next few aid stations and by the time we got to mile 40 I was pretty far gone and our pace had dropped off big time.  Those guys were telling me how badly people were hurting at that last aid station.  One guy decided to dropout of the race and called an Uber!  Very comical since we were in the middle of nowhere and I am surprised he had a cell signal!  We had a good laugh over that.

I was toying with the idea of dropping down to the 50 mile race, they give you that option at mile 44.  Shaun and Ram helped me get that negative thought out of my head.  I decided to give the rental car key to Shaun because I was hurting so bad that I couldn't keep up with them and I figured they would finish before me.  It was going to be dark and cold by the time we all finished so they would need to be able to get in the car to stay warm while waiting for me.  Over the next few rolling miles I fell further behind those guys as I just didn't have anything left and couldn't keep up with them.  I wanted them to go on because I didn't want to be the reason they would miss a cutoff and not finish the race.  I really gave it everything I had but did not make the cutoff at mile 44, in fact I missed it by 8 or 9 minutes.  I assumed that Shaun and Ram had made the cutoff and continued on with the 100K course.  The nice thing is they let you drop down to the 50 mile race if you fail to make the cutoff here.  So it was 6 miles to the finish, mostly downhill except for a climb out of the aid station.  I power hiked almost the whole way because I was so spent.  I was happy to cross the finish line and put this day behind me.  After I finished it became dark and the temperature dropped big time.  I then realized that Shaun had the rental car key..doH!  All I had to keep warm was a long sleeve t-shirt and thin pair of gloves.  There were no structures with heat at this park.  There was some warm soup which I would get a bowl every 45 minutes or so to try and warm up.  I basically just sat at a picnic table and shivered for a few hours.  I was really hoping Shaun and Ram were going to finish because I know that I held them up throughout the race.

I began to get worried when there was only 10 minutes to go before their cutoff and they had not come in yet.  Then 2 minutes later some headlamps came into sight and it was them!!  I was so happy they were able to finish and also excited to get the car started and get some heat turned on :)
This was an extremely challenging race for many reasons.  First, there was a ton of climbing, even with the 50 mile race I totaled over 11,000 feet of gain which is quite a bit.  Second, the sun in southern California is relentless and it's a very exposed course.  Finally, the cutoffs are very strict and hard to make.  It was extremely disappointing to not finish the 100K which I had set out to do however I have come to terms with it.  I am also please to finish the 50 mile course in about 13 hours which is pretty decent for myself.  After the race we hit up Chipotle and I ordered a bunch of food as I was starving.  The next morning I went to down to demolish the free hotel breakfast and I met another guy who ran the race.  Oddly enough he told me that he tried to call an Uber at mile 31 but he ended up cancelling it.  It was him!! I met the guy that called the Uber..haha.  He ended up continuing on and did the same thing as me, had to drop down to the 50 mile race.  

I am finishing this race report almost a year after the fact and little did I know that about a month later our lives would be turned upside down by a global pandemic.  I did get one more race in before the shit really hit the fan and I am about to complete that report as well.