Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Deep Thoughts by GSisler

2 down, 2 to go… It’s really weird to me that I’ve run 200 miles and I’m only halfway there. I guess the good news is that each step I take from this point on means that it’s shorter to the finish than to go back to the beginning, so, I got that going for me. OK, on to the race (editor’s note; the actual race report starts over a page down from here, so you can skip this part if you want).

I flew out to Boston on Wednesday and was able to catch up with my old friends at Goldman on Thursday and grab the keys from my old boss Charlie. He was very, very, very gracious and was willing to let Chip, me and our crew stay at his AWESOME place in Woodstock. You actually run by his home 2.5 miles into the race, which is cruel and great all at the same time. We (Chip and me) had a place to stay and since I was back in Boston, we went to the Red Sox game on Thursday night. We then headed up to NH to stay with Chip and his kids and then off to VT on Friday to check in and get ready for the race.

Check-in was eventful, but not for me. I used to be the fat cool guy at these races, but with Chip there, I had brought a fatter, cooler guy to the race. Chip was my Shibby for this race. A super nice guy who lets me make fun of him while still staying my friend, why? I have no idea, but I’m just happy that people like him exist or I’d be very lonely.

I weighed in at 170 lbs. After giving up beer and eating healthy before the WS 100, I weighed in at 171 which had pissed me off. I decided that beer and whatever I wanted to eat were back on the menu. The lesson? Beer and eating crapily (another lesson, crapily is apparently not a word) helps you lose weight. It might not be in any “healthy” journals, but I have now tested it out and I can prove it. I spend 2 months cutting back on beer and eating healthy only to weigh the same as I do when I eat like crap and drink beer. Clearly, beer and Prime Rib is a weight loss program, but back to the weigh in.

Chip crushes it. He looks at my 170lbs. and says HA! I can beat that and steps up onto the scale at a manly 184. The lady goes wow… that scale must be wrong, and makes him step on it again. (That’s not true; I just thought it would be funny if she did say that). Next up for Chip, his Blood Pressure (and this part IS TRUE). Chip has high BP to begin with and tests himself regularly, but he’s healthy according to his Dr. Chip’s problem is that he panics when he sees the blood-pressure cuff coming near his arm. Next thing I know, I hear the nurse say 180/110… uh, you OK? (That’s the truth, not making this up at all). Chip then tries to explain about his high blood pressure, and how he gets nervous, etc. but she tells him that he might want to go for a walk and then come back and take the test again. Well, that doesn’t help anything!!! Now Chip’s worried that he might not even be able to start the race because his BP is so high that in 24 hours he’s going to stroke out.

So, we take a walk. Of course I’m right there to calm his nerves because if there is one thing I’m good at, it’s calming people down and not making them feel worse about the situation. Luckily, he has me there because when he goes back to the Blood Pressure Lady, his BP is all the way down to 170/90, clearly I’m a calming influence. After a lot of talking and an agreement to be careful, they decide to let him race.

Next up is the pre-race briefing where they tell us all about the race and then I get to meet up with my pacer/crew for the weekend. Due to some unlucky court cases (Berk is NOT going to jail) and a pesky thing called school (Shawna) I was left with no crew and no pacer for the race so I signed up online. The last time I signed up online for help in a race was when Scott and I were looking for a teammate for an adventure race in Maine. We ended up with a she-male (“she” had an Adams apple, was 6’2” tall and could palm a basketball). The last words I said to her were “you’re fucking useless” before our race ended shortly after that. Needless to say I was nervous about Bob. As it turns out Bob is a God, not a mythical one, but a real one. Bob has run a ton of ultras, was very similar to me in racing style/needs and basically turned the aid stations into NASCAR pit stops. I’m 100% convinced that without Bob I would not have finished in sub 24. You have now read over a page and the race hasn’t started. My bad.

Race starts and it’s hot. It’s 4am and I’m warm and I’m only wearing my Adidas Hat, Tamalpa shirt, shorts and my Inov8 shoes. That’s not a good sign for things to come. You know how people say records are meant to be broken? Well, I set a new record. Chip and I were going to run together for the beginning of the race and see how things went and if our speeds matched up we’d run together. He and I are next to each other when the gun goes off, and I would say that we were next to each other for about a minute. The last thing I remember of Chip is Chip saying “Hi Bob” (different Bob than my pacer) and when I look for Chip next he’s gone. This made me sad as they don’t allow headphones in the VT100. Why? Because you might get run over by a horse because you can’t hear the horse, or the rider, coming up behind you. Since I have an un-natural fear of horses, I was fine with that but at the same time, I now had to talk to other runners, which I don’t like doing.

My goals for this race were slightly different than the WS – 3 weeks earlier. My most important goal was to finish and be able to run again in 5 weeks. Goal #2 was sub 24, goal #3 was sub 20 and Goal #4 was sub 19:34 (my time 6 years ago). The big difference this time, vs. 6 years ago is that this time my HR couldn’t go above 150 (last time it was 160) and also, I had just run 100 miles 3 weeks earlier.

The first 15.3 miles are great. I really, really like the VT course and it’s actually a lot prettier than I remember it from the first time. There are a TON of aid stations so hydration is super easy as there are 30 aid station (about half of them un-manned) along the way so you never have run more than 5 miles before you get more food/water. 15.3 miles into the race and I’m in 96th place overall and 4:41 into the race. My pace is faster than 5mph (11:12 pace) but I feel good and I’ve obeyed all of my rules so I’m not concerned. The legs are a bit sore/heavy, but nothing out of the ordinary as all the normal trouble spot are talking to me, but not screaming. I like talking, I don’t like screaming.

Nothing exciting happens for the next 35 miles as I just kind of get into a groove and just run from station to station. It is hot, not super hot, but with the humidity, I’m sweating a TON. The heat and humidity took a lot out of people as only 55% finished the race, the second lowest finishing rate ever. I hit the first really big aid station at Camp 10 Bear (47.2 miles) in 9:31, just about at 5mph pace. Unfortunately, my knee has started to yell at me and I’ve already popped some Advil/Tylenol and the yelling has gone down to a murmur, but I have an angry knee. This is also where NASCAR Bob comes in. He has EVERYTHING I could want in the back of his car. A cooler full of ice water to douse me with, a towel, food, snacks, I start asking for random things and he has them all. Why he had a pony in the back of the car, I don’t know and why I asked for one, I also don’t know, but he had it. I left the aid station feeling alive, ready to crank and in 78th place (out of 288 starters).

That feeling lasted for about 10 minutes as the knee and the 100 miles from before really took its toll on me. Bob had said that this loop would be the key and he was right. I couldn’t keep my speed up and the 22.9 mile loop beat me up. At this point I completely forgot about any of the other goals that I had and was now focusing on how to finish and be healthy enough to run again. I could tell by the pain in the back of my knee that I could and would finish (plus, I’m a stubborn fool), but I wasn’t sure how long it was going to take post-race to recover. I have had an injury like this before; I hoped/assumed it was the same thing. My guess was that it was a strain of some sort, or tendonitis since it wasn’t a sudden pop, but a slow gradual pain. (Turns out I was right, I have a strain of my plantaris muscle and some issues with the popliteus, but I can now walk normally and almost pain free 10 days later. I should be good to go in another week). Anyway, the 22.9 miles took me just under 5 hours as my pace had slowed a full mph.

I came back into Camp 10 Bear, 70.1 miles, sleepy, sore and not fired up about the next 30 miles. Two great things happened though. 1. NASCAR Bob was there and ready to go. Having a good crew/pacer is so great in getting you out there and finishing a race. 2. A random fellow racer had a 6 pack of Red-Bull (which gives you wings and would alleviate the pressure on my knee) and some topical cream to rub on the back of my knee. The Red-Bull was a huge help, the topical cream did nothing.
Headlamps on and now in 61st place, Bob and I headed out for the next 30 miles. The 30 miles took us 7:25 minutes to finish, which reflecting back on it, I’m really, really proud of that time. To be able to run close to 4mph for that section is a tribute to my stupidity, stubbornness and Bob. My leg felt crappy, it was like having a giant claw that I couldn’t really straighten or fully bend. It was in a lot of pain whenever I would walk uphill and the only time if felt OK was when I was running flats, or downhill. I guess that’s a good thing though because it made me run more than my body wanted to. That and the second dose of Advil/Tylenol that I took helped out a lot as well. Bob, once again, was great as I just followed him along staring at his feet. I felt like I was back in an adventure race, half delirious and just following Cary/Scott/Berk/Shibby’s feet and putting one step in front of the other, over and over again.

This 30 mile section also reminded me of one of the cooler parts of ultra-marathons, the scenery. There was a HUGE lightning storm a long ways off, but the skies were clear enough that we could see for miles. Bob and I turned off the headlamps and just checked out the stars and then would see these HUGE (did I mention HUGE) lighting storms that would light up the entire sky. Super, super cool to see and luckily, I never tripped while I was walking, so that was an added bonus.

Slowly and steadily we made our way to the finish and after 22:02 and very tired, but very, very happy we finished. Finished in 39th place overall, but more importantly, and more fun, I never got passed. At each location that they take your split, they mention what place you are in, and I never hit an aid station in a worse place than the previous location. Now, this isn’t 100% accurate as people dropped so I “passed” them even though they just stopped running before me, but still kind of cool. That’s the race recap.

So, I now am done with two out of the four and trying to recover from Vermont is a lot harder than the recovery from Western States. 10 days later and the back of my knee still hurts and my toe has just gotten to the point that it’s pain free. The good news is that I have a 5 week break between these races and I should be 100% by Leadville race day. The bad news is that I have no idea how I’m going to finish Leadville and then line up for Wasatch 3 weeks later.

For those of you who care about these things, I wore the same 2 pairs of Inov8 shoes as I did at Western States. The Roclite 285 and the X-Talon 212. I ate (when not at the aid stations) Honey Stingers, Gu Chomps, and Clif Blocks. I used a lot of Nuun Tablets as well for my hydration as I don't like Heed. Stomach was great, hydration was great.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Deep Thoughts by GSisler

If no one reads a blog, does it even count as a blog?
I started the Blog because Inov8 was sponsoring us and they wanted us to write up our races and talk about the gear that we were using. Well, Inov8 doesn't sponsor us anymore, but much like a crack dealer, they got me hooked on their gear after the first use, so I'm still using it and the blog goes on. My wife asked me the other day why I even write my blog if I don't tell anyone about it and I didn't really have an answer. I guess the simple answer is that at some point down the road, I might want to remember some of the stuff that I did and at least this way, I've got it all written down.