Monthly Archives: June 2008

Western States Cancelled

Wow. What a huge bummer for everyone involved! But it’s the right decision to make.
Scott’s blog summed it up rather eloquently:

“what is lost? money spent on material supports and entry fee. what was gained? i trained with vision and hope this past 6 months and truly took a journey. it was the essence of what i used to blog about in the trailrunning lifestyle. i sit here writing this in the best shape i have ever been in. mentally. spiritually. physically.

emotionally? well. i already told you my heart was a little broken. this too, shall pass.

keep in mind that nobody loves this race more than the western states board, volunteers and race committee. they exhausted every feasible means to safely put this event on. in the end, they looked out for the runners they way they would look out for us on race day. they made a decision in our best interest. 34 times this race started as scheduled. races like hardrock, angeles crest and wasatch have been around for much shorter periods of time and have already had to cancel at least once. 34 years is a pretty good track record.”

Same Old, Same Old

Short version: Dropped at the Grist Mill, timed out at 330 am, 75 miles (same as last year)

Longer Version: This was a great year at Mohican! I really had a good run. I was very pleased with my performance. It’s just that I am so slow. I’ve already starting working on *one* of the issues why I am so slow-my weight. And besides, if you read on, you will see it was good I am so poky slow.

I have to also say I was very pleased with the management of the race from my perspective this year. There were technical shirts for the 100 mile runners, with both male and female shirts! Nice bib numbers, with different colors for the 100 mile and 50 mile runners. The pre-race dinner was promptly on time, as was the start of the race.

The weather, for the first part of the race, was great too, cooler temps early in the morning. My only negative for myself for the first part of the race was I had to wear my glasses. I hate to wear my glasses! I carried my contacts with me, as my eye irritation went away, but I never did put my contacts in. I didn’t want to spend the time cleaning my filthy hands enough to get the contacts in.

The first ten miles of the run is on back country roads, pretty uneventful. We hit the Rock Point Aid Station, where the trails begin, and I thought “I am home”! It was such a novelty seeing so many runners out on *my* trails. I hit the next two aid stations right on my target times. Starting the orange loop, I was really slow on the uphills. I was also trying to increase my drinking, because I hadn’t peed but once in 5 hours. Once I got to the Hickory Ridge AS, I stopped to get some extra fluids in-Gu20-yuck! As I got back to the Covered Bridge, I was doing better on my hydration, but I was still a bit down on calories.

I tend to have a bad patch around mile 60 or so, during a 100 mile race, but this one hit at mile 40 or so. I left the Covered Bridge for the short 4 mile purple loop. I was just so slow and tired. I knew I needed more calories. It took me a 1.5 hour for this section-I was very displeased. I got some food and started up the short section to the next AS, only 2.9 miles. This was really where I bonked. I was out of it mentally. I think I just really needed caffeine, or more sugar. The red section is now on the mountain bike trail, which replaced a very steep hill. But, although there are more switchbacks involved, I think there is more climbing involved.And I was oh, so slow. I didn’t even look at my watch to see my time here. Really, I felt like I was at mile 80. It seemed like one eyeball was looking ahead and the other eyeball was looking off to the side.

As I got to the edge of the next AS, I saw Wendy’s VW bug-cool! That meant her husband Rich, was still in the race. And the storm was just beginning-the wind was just whipping the dirt everywhere!

I have to give a shout out to my friend Wendy-she acted as my crew at every AS where she was-ran off to get my drop bag, refilled my water bottles, gave me pizza at Bridle Staging-thank you so much, Wendy, I really appreciated your help-both this year and last year!

As the wind screamed in, I got an energy drink from my bag and three Hammer Espresso Gels-man, I have a new drug, and these Espresso Gels are them!!! Between all the caffeine, and the thunderstorm now coming down, I felt revived!

But I still ended up at Rock Point 1.5 hour behind my “dream time”. Rats. Stil well ahead of the cut off. I started down the green section again. In the morning, the green was in great shape. But now, after the rainstorm, it was slick and muddy. So much so that I could not even walk the uphills very quickly. I was wishing for the screws back in my shoes again to gain traction!!

It’s good to have friends-I get to South Park Aid Station. The AS volunteers are unhappy to find I am number 65-because number 65 has had a package dropped off for her-McDonalds cheeseburger and fries!!! Thanks Nick!!! Nick was working at Landoll’s Castle AS, and has looked for me several times at AS to give me my goodies-I’m so amazed he got it to me! Talk about having something tasty to eat on the uphills on the way to the Fire Tower! I had two cheeseburgers and part of my fries, that tanked me up for the next three hours.

SO, SO Part Two

Man this is long. I’m so chatty though, I don’t know how to make it less so…

I had quite the reception waiting for me at the Fire Tower-my two pacers, Josh and Luc were there, Luc’s wife Jennifer, and Mike, who had dropped at mile 42. It was nice and refreshing to have someone to talk to out there.

Starting on the orange, I was so slow again, going up the uphills. I was with it mentally, more, having taken a caffeine pill, but just physically becoming so poky slow. Josh gave me the summation after Hickory Ridge-we were okay to get to the Grist Mill, but if we didn’t pick up the pace, we would probably time out before the Covered Bridge. So we tried to do more running-well, it’s hard to call it that. It’s more like I’m not walking, just slogging along. It was so foggy on top of the hill, I had to keep asking Josh and Luc if it was foggy or just me!

Where Josh is the Hero

We pass mile Marker two, and see a light below us. The light is focused on us, and Luc and I can’t figure out what is going on. Josh is ahead, and comes upon Runner 137, Ed, who is down. First, we thought he had fallen, and that’s why he was down. Ed is hurt. Josh takes charge and tells me and Luc to go on ahead, and he will help Ed. Luc and I finally get off the hill-it’s less than one mile-and I finally come to my senses and tell Luc to take off and run to the Grist Mill in the shortest way possbile, and I will continue to follow the course down to the Grist Mill.

Right before we found Ed, I was getting ready to tell Josh I was dropping. We were getting closer to the cut off just for the Grist Mill alone, and I knew, with the three big climbs along the river, that it would have been very hard to get to the CB before cut off. After we found Ed, I did have a bit of an adrenalin rush, but that wore off fairly quickly, and I was having just a fair amount of trouble getting off the hill. As I walked on toward the Grist Mill, alone, I realized I was just going to hit the cut off there-and I was okay with that. 25 more miles, in my very very poky state, was not going to get me to the finish line.

Jennifer, who was waiting for Luc at the Grist Mill, drove us back to the Campground where the emergency people still had not started up the hill for Ed. Ryan, the race director, was there all of a sudden, and had started up the trail for Josh and Ed. I followed Ryan, figuring they could use all the lights we had.

Josh and Ed are almost off the hill at this point!! Ryan joins Josh and helps Ed to the rest of the way off the hill. It turns out Ed is having either kidney or back problems, I’m not too sure.

I start to have my usual post race problems-I’m getting light headed just standing there. This means I am getting ready to faint, and I go to the other side of Jennifer’s van. That’s all the emergency medical people need, another runner just up and fainting for no apparent reason! I sit for a while, then throw up (also normal for me) and Ed is whisked away, and Luc and Jennifer drive me and Josh back to the race finish. It turns out, (which is what I thought) I was the last runner out on the course. If we hadn’t been so slow, we may have passed Ed while he was still running. So I think it’s somewhat of trail karma that I was so slow, and had two pacers with me so Josh and Luc could help Ed. And, after seeing a downed runner, it really was not that important for a race finish. It put things into a really good perspective.

We get into the pavilion and see Gabe sleeping on top of the picnic tables-he had a phenemonal finish, 21 hours something! Along with Regis, and many other friends with great finishes, which I think should be a post by itself. Some friends who also didn’t finish too.

I stayed around for a while, cheering runners in, making sure to get out and cheer Fred Davis in-Fred was completing the 1000 mile–10 Mohican finishes!! I left before the award ceremony, eager to head for home. I declined a 50+ Mohican medal-I already had one of those, to me it’s an “Almost Finished Medal”. Since I had selected a men’s technical Mo shirt, I passed that along to Josh, as a gift for pacing me-more trail karma, I won’t wear a shirt that I didn’t finish the race in, so Josh got a nice Mo shirt, which he can wear, since he was both a volunteer, a pacer, and a finisher from last years race!

Many things went well for me for this race, and I will write about that in a separate post. Most importantly, it’s so good to have FRIENDS out there! Nick, Wendy, Josh, Luc, Jennifer, Bryan, Mark, Rob, Mikey, Kathy, even Walt who wanted me to run the purple loop twice!!

It was a well managed race this year also, thank you, Ryan, and all the wonderful volunteers who gave up their weekend to cater to us runners!

Too antsy to sit!

So I am out of here in a few minutes. I’ll take a leisurely drive to Loudonville, fill up on some food in town, go out to Mohican Wilderness, get my tent set up, chill out for awhile.
I’ll see you on the flip side. I may be able to get a Twitter update on Sunday post race.

Happy trails!!

My run across the Sods

My volunteer report from Highlands Sky, a 40 Mile Trail Race in wild, wonderful West Virginia.

Highlands Sky is a great race in the Mongohela Forest and Dolly Sods Wilderness area.
I arrived at Canaan Valley Resort, got my tent set up, even figured out the “extra” poles this time,and went over to the lodge to help out. We got the T-Shirts and drop bags organized, them moved outside to unpack all the aid station supplies, and then repack each individual AS container-eight containers in all. A good experience for me, as I am captaining an AS at Burning River in August.
After a great pasta feed, with free beer from the Mountain State Brewery Company (and when you’re not running in the race you can drink more beer!) I retired back to my tent for an early wake up call. Not as early as the runners though; they were bused to the race start for a 6am race start!
I worked Aid Station Six with Tom and Dan Todd and Ted. They told me this was the most scenic AS on the course. As we drove up (and up) as AS # 6 is at around 4000 feet, Tom gave me the Dolly Sods scenic tour, and explained the difference in the botany as we got higher in the elevation. I also got to experience the “Road Across the Sky” in the best way possible-in an air-conditioned vehicle. This section of the race is dreaded by the runners. As we drove down in, I could see why. As you top a hill, you can see the road, for at least 1 mile in the distance. As you top that hill, you see the road, extending straight off in the distance. Again. I believe you get the same experience three times in a row before you get to AS # 6 and turn back off onto trail again.

Hitting the Dolly Sods area, as we passed the campground, it was a very cool experience. The terrain was nothing like I have experienced. It does, as, I have read, look like Canada. Or, I actually thought, what the Scottish moors would look like!
It was much more windy up there, a forceful wind blew on us all day. It was tricky setting up the AS, because every item had to be weighed down so it wouldn’t blow away. It didn’t take too long, and then we were impatiently waiting on our lead runner. We kept watching the hill-when would our front runner top the hill?? And who was it?
Finally! The first runner comes into view. We were expecting it to be Joel Wolpert, and it was!! He arrives looking very good at our AS, but # 2, has crested the hill and is not far behind. In fact, he came in 2 or 3 minutes right after Joel, and set off pretty fast after him. We could see a little ways across the “moors” and thought this was going to be a tight race between Joel and Zach Irelan, the # 2 runner.

I was being the scribe, getting numbers and times as each runner entered the AS. Sometimes a runner would come in single, at other times 3 or 4 would arrive, then a few more, so it would get kind of busy, then drop off again. Runners were for the most part tired and hot as they reached AS # 6. In fact, I heard many people complaining that they couldn’t eat-a pretty common occurrence when you are too hot. But I also noticed many water bottles entering the AS half or almost full. You do have to push that water more, runners, even if you don’t feel like drinking!

We get down to the near cut off. Our AS is the “last” cutoff. Once you make it here, there are no cutoffs-but you still only have 12 hours to finish the race. Dan Todd had the Captain’s job of establishing the last runners through. 3 runners came over the hill, and he checked the watch and said that was it. The last 3 or 4 runners after those runners came over the hill at a considerable interval and were timed out at our AS. I know what that feels like!
Gene and I started to get ready for our next volunteer job, running sweep after the last runners. The sweep’s job is to make sure there are no runners left out on the course, and to pick up trail markings and trash along the way. I believe we picked up much more “other people” trash than we did HS runners. There was very little trash from runners out there, so great job everyone!

Of course, the day was now getting interesting. We could see the storm rolling in. The EMT’s were radio’d to get off the mountain, as a big thunderstorm was heading in. Greaaat. Our job was just beginning.
We gave the runners a good head start before we finally took off. It was very cool to be running out on the moors. It was a rocky, technical section at first. I commented that it looked like a creek bed we were running in-I’m pretty sure we were.
After the first 1/2 mile or so, the skies opened up on us. I’m sure it was pretty up there, under the skies, but we were trying to go as fast as we could, in the pouring rain. I did appreciate the beauty whenever I could take a glance around, but Gene and I both were a bit concerned about our safety. There were two lightning strikes rather close. A little too close for comfort. At one point, I thought it was going to hail on us, as it was turning very chilly.

We get to AS # 7, which is the AS where all the water, drinks, and equipment have to be trekked in! We fuel up and give our runners a little head start here also. TJ, Juli and Tony’s son, is joining as sweep. TJ is 12, and a very good runner. He made a nice addition to our team, so we could keep the forward motion going and pick up all the markers.

The rock formations were so interesting this far on top of the mountain. Some of them looked smooth, worn down by centuries of constant wind and rain hitting them. I really wished I had taken pictures,but I only got my camera out a bit, as it was still pouring rain down on us! The fog also blew in and it seemed almost dark. I didn’t realize I should have considered bringing a flashlight for a mid afternoon run!!
We got to the ski slope-which we walked up (TJ ran it) and then hit the infamous “butt slide”. This is a very, very steep downhill. It wasn’t raining on us at this time, but it didn’t matter. You could not go down this without sliding. There really was no walking down this, it was more of a controlled skid. At one point I found myself sliding completely backwards, digging my fingers into the mud, trying to self-arrest. Of course, I found this completely fun and was having a blast! BUT I could see how this would not be the most fun at mile 35 or so of your race. AND this was the slickest mud I have ever been in, I do not know what the chemical composition was.
We get to the bottom of the butt slide and are now on the motorcycle trail, but it’s the same type of mud so the footing is no better. In fact, I would put my foot down securely to have it still go out from underneath me! There was alot of flailing and arms waving trying to keep my balance. TJ was doing his best to run, and was rewarded with a spectacular fall where he almost submerged his head in a mud puddle. We told him that was a great fall, since we didn’t think he appreciated his falls yet.
I stop for a bathroom break just as we hit the gravel road. TJ and Gene have taken off, and I bring up the rear-it feels good to actually RUN after sliding and hoping for a good mile or so. I twist my ankle a bit right before the AS-how embarassing. I’m glad it didn’t hurt more. I can hop across boulders and mud, yet hurt my ankle on the flattest piece of ground around.
Tom offers me a ride back to the Lodge, and I take him up on it. The last 4 miles is just about road, and TJ and Gene can sweep this and run a bit faster than I can. I get back to the lodge, and even find hot water still in the showers-sweet!
Then there is the post race meal, with yet more free beer. Dan Lehmann and the West Virginia Trail Runners put on an excellent race. I would highly recommend this-it’s tough, but beautiful, to anyone who likes to push themselves and likes a nice tough course!!

(There are pics but my husband’s computer does not seem to like to upload photos. 🙁 )

Off to Highlands Sky

in the am…the 40 mile trail race in Dolly Sods, West Virginia. This is one of my clubs I belong to, the West Virginia Trail Runners, puts on.

I’m not running it. I’m working Aid Station #6, then running sweep into the finish, 14 miles. I’ve been wanting to see this lovely race for the last few years. Now I can help out and still run some of it!

It will be very good for me to get away. W orking 18 days of work straight-well, I will NOT do that again. I was being a good boss and letting my pharmacists have their vacations. It’s very good that I have been able to hire a new pharmacist, (who is wonderful!! BTW) because, otherwise, people would be getting vacations denied.

So I should be back, on Monday, hopefully on my own computer, with a complete Highland Sky race report.

I am planning on doing a solo podcast also, to be announced when I have web time!