Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wasatch Classics

We are in the thick of one of the longest stretches of 90+ degree weather I can remember and I have been suffering.  I hate the heat and long for winter but have found solace in the mountains.  In particular, we have had a few fun days scrambling up Mount Superior's aesthetic South Ridge, poking around on Timp, and running up from the Ogden Divide to Ben Lomond Peak.

Superior is a gem in either winter or summer and Ben Lomond may now be my favorite run in the Wasatch.  I made a goofy video from footage Jason shot to try and capture our carefree evening on Superior, which is embedded below.  

Then, our longtime friend, Tyler Bushnell, came to town from Oregon and joined us for a run up the Timpanooke trail on Mount Timpanogos.  Being a new father, he had domestic responsibilities that kept us from tagging the summit but the scenery and company was great.  

Tyler on Timp

Finally, over the last few days, Jason and I have been in Eden, UT for a work retreat and spent the days running, swimming, eating, and hanging out with good people.  One morning, we went for a run up Ben Lomond.  We were thrilled to find low angle smooth dirt to the ridge that passed through a few stands of old pines, and then stunning rolling terrain to the base of the peak itself.  A strong cool breeze was reminiscent of the Oregon coast and I felt we'd been transported away from the Hell that has been the Salt Lake Valley throughout this heat wave.  

Jason and Stewie running slowly

High on the Ben Lomond shoulder

Matt Stewart admires himself on the summit of Ben Lomond
3 matching fools

The next day, a group of coworkers, nine strong wanted to go for a run.  Naturally, I wanted them to see and feel the joy of Ben Lomond.  Jason and I carried packs full of Gatorade and granola bars as some of them aren't really runners and the run is 15 miles round trip with 3500 feet of gain.  We went slowly and regrouped every 20 minutes.  Each time I would ask how everyone felt and who wanted to go farther.  The answer was always that they felt great and wanted to push on.  Eventually, we lost a couple, but we placed six on the summit and most of them ended up going farther then ever before.  

8 of my colleagues going on an impromptu run

Angus is more manly than you.  He eats small game raw. 

Shaneen, Jason, Tamara, and Saloni on another brilliant section of trail

The crew heading towards Ben Lomond

Tamara nearing the summit
Ben Lomond summit shot
Spying other peaks in the distance, I could see a network of trails along the high ridges that stretched on and on.  Although not pursuing my own agenda that day, my mind was already planning future shenanigans high above Davis County.  

Then it was on the the next method of dealing with the heat and a swim in Pineview Reservoir.  The pay beach is significantly better than the free beach and at $12 per car is a deal when 18 people can fit in a Toyota Tacoma.  

We all fit in two cars cause we are cheap bastards
With the forecast looking something like repeating 97s for the next week, I need to get out of here.  But for those that are stuck, these Wasatch classics are a good alternative to suffering heat stroke in the valley.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Salt Lake Skyline Video

Throughout our run last week, I was trying to remember to shoot video with the hope of putting together something beautiful and creative.  Every time we stopped, it was adding time to our day and I found myself pulling out the camera less and less.  Hence, the majority of the video is shot early in the day, which is OK since the early scenery is the best.  

The goal was to portray the stunning nature of our home range and give a feel for what it's like to cover rugged terrain freely and quickly (Ha, if 30 hours can be misconstrued as quickly!).  The mountains themselves are beautiful enough but it's hard to shoot video while trying to run.  The result, 30 hours on the move condensed into 12 shaky minutes, is below. 

The Salt Lake Skyline from andy dorais on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Salt Lake Syline: Our Attempt at Pioneering a New Alpine Run

A pause in the morning
I'm sitting on my couch after two days of recovering from a 30 hour effort to establish a new alpine adventure run from Draper to Ensign Peak.  The goal was to ascend Lone Peak and then summit every prominent peak on the Salt Lake skyline.  With brother Jason, we nearly nailed it.  Nearly.  

The Backstory:

A few months ago, while driving down I-15, my eyes were drawn to the mountains as they often are, and I felt sudden and real revelation.  The whole skyline was in view and I knew I had to try and cover it on foot in a push.  It was so obvious and to my knowledge, no one had connected these dots. 

Noah Howell had inspired by pioneering the Perverse Traverse, a link up of Lone Peak, the SLC Twins, and Mount Olympus.  The Skyline was the logical extension of his herculean effort.  Ensign Peak sits prominently above the SLC Capitol and is a fitting end point to this aesthetic adventure.  The main problem Jason and I contemplated over the past few months is how to piece this "run" together as the skyline is complex and changes constantly according to one's vantage point (I chose a Sugarhouse-centric view).  Some peaks were obvious like Lone, the Twins, and Olympus.  The east/west running ridges also hold some majestic mountains that are highly visible from most parts of the valley.  Big Horn, North and South Thunder, O'Sullivan, Triangle Peak, and others soon were added to the list.  The ridge above Neff's Canyon is also complex and contains many subpeaks and we would hit them all.  Moving north, Grandeur Peak, Perkins Peak (between Parley's and Emigration), Mount Wire, Van Cott, Black Mountain, and finally Ensign Peak would complete the run.  

Google Earth told me to expect around 60 miles and I guessed the vertical gain would be in the 30,000 range.  Being familiar with most of the peaks and the complex ridges, Jason and I figured 30 hours on the go would be necessary.  

The Story:

Flash to last Saturday.  Jessie and I are driving up just about every major drainage in the central Wasatch to leave food and water caches in an attempt to make this adventure self supported.  Going into it, we have high ideals and plan to maintain the cleanest style we can.  

It's now Sunday at 2:10 AM and my alarm jolts me from a dreamless sleep.  I grab my things and go wait outside for Jason so as not to wake my young family.  We ride out to the Jacob's Ladder TH, eating handfuls of cereal and going over the checklist.  Shoes, socks, tights, long sleeves, wind breaker, beanie, headlamp, food/liquid, crampons, ice axe, and more are on our person or stowed in our Dynafit X4 packs.  

At the trail head, it's cold and our breath is caught between our head lamps and the half moon.  We start at a light jog, knowing that we'll have to fast hike major sections of the day but in the moment, we need to warm up.  After what seems like an effortless dream, we awake and find ourselves approaching the Cirque under the gray dawn sky. 

The hearty shrubs are laced with rime and we keep mentioning the cold that is now numbing our faces. As we gain the summit ridge, the clouds are swirling at our feet and the morning alpenglow is so sharp it's piercing.  

Rising sun over Thunder Ridge

Moving along the summit ridge

Jason in the alpenglow

Jason traversing above the Lars Line

Lone Peak Summit with Question Mark Wall and Utah Lake

Summiting Lone Peak in a little over two and a half hours without pushing, we both remark how fresh we feel.  It's good too since we can see Ensign Peak at the other end of the valley with it's monument perched above downtown.  Years ago, we hiked Lone Peak, unsure if we could avoid being benighted.  Now, the efficiency is intoxicating.  

We spend 15 minutes to film and take pictures and then start scrambling from Lone Peak's blocky summit toward Bighorn.  I had only been on this craggy peak in winter and had never traversed over it.  As I approach its impressive NW face, I'm harboring a lingering fear that it will be difficult.  Soon however, its summit is passing under my feet and I wonder why I ever had doubts.  I guess it was from previously dispelled rumors of 5.8 terrain.  The reality is more like 3rd class by the weakest line, although much harder options are available.

Off Lone and onto Bighorn
Taking an easy ramp to the summit of Bighorn
Jason cresting Bighorn with the morning clouds burning off

From the summit of South Thunder Mountain looking north
Jason negotiates a bit of complex ridge line
Looking down a bare Coalpit Headwall with the day's agenda ahead

After connecting Bighorn with South Thunder and North Thunder we find ourselves at the Coalpit Headwall contemplating our descent options.  I suggest traversing out to the top of the Y Couloir and then descending to the road.  We look down the headwall but remember Noah's tales of horror.  Ultimately, gravity pulls us down the shoulder then into the Needle.  Small ice flows are letting loose and producing a musical sound as we hop down to the Hogum Drainage.  

Nearing the drainage floor, we start traversing high skier's right in an attempt to avoid the worst of the inevitable bushwhacking.  There are no trails here and every person I questioned about a Hogum exit laughed and recommended otherwise.  Even though the sun is gaining strength and position, we put on our tights, long sleeves, and gloves to protect us from the dense vegetation. 

The battles are short and our plan is working.  We are connecting small talus slopes and patches of snow en route to what I hope is an older stand of pines where I anticipate sparse undergrowth.  Like diviners seeking water, we are guided to open space.  Through the darkness of the evergreens, the slope rolls over steeply and takes us to a secret passage.  Following game trails we emerge on the valley floor and cross a small stream on double logs. 

First steam crossing on suspicious logs
We decide to follow the Little Cottonwood River to near the standard Y Couloir crossing since we know there is a good trail on the other side.  Scanning the river for a natural bridge, we spot a freshly fallen tree that will provide passage over the swollen stream.  I tempt Jason to walk it but he defers.  Once across, he returns the taunt but I too feel sheepish and drop to move a cheval.  

Starting up Tanner's
We walk up to the Y Couloir pull out 7 hours after starting the day, shed layers, and then start walking up the road to where I've stashed food and water.  At the cache, we are quickly sated and start fast hiking the road to Tanner's which we will use to access the high peaks of the Cottonwood Ridge.  

This ascent goes smoothly and we find the dirty sections of snow enjoyable.  Nearing the upper chute, we both pull out crampons since we have them along.  Throughout the day, we had talked about tagging the summit of Dromedary since it is visible from parts of the valley but at the notch, we turn west and start climbing O'Sullivan without further discussion.  More tedious travel ensues and the hours are passing quickly.  First O'Sullivan, then Jepson's Folly, then the Twins are behind us.  We are making up time as we glissade into Broad's Fork, both with CAMP Corsa Axes (Jason's is sawed off and is a perfect running tool).  We follow tracks of our cousins, the traditional mountaineers, and are soon on the standard summer trail.  I want to run freely, but better judgement has us reining in our enthusiasm.  We are still very early in our day (12 hrs at the S curves).  

From the Summit of East Twin looking north

Arriving at the trailhead, I uncover the next food cache and we sit by the river to refuel and fill bottles.  Somehow inertia sets in and it's becoming hard to get organized.  Gels, EFS, crackers, bananas, and granola bars are strewn across the pavement.  A friend from work walks up and says hello.  In a frenzied manner, I tell him and his friends what we are trying to do.  He gets it.  He climbs at a high level and understands personal challenge.  His friends are from Portland and look confused.  I'm starting to get confused too.  Pushing creeping fatigue aside, Jason and I pull our shoes back on and start up the Mill B North Trail.  This time it is taking a few minutes to loosen up.  

We push up the trail which climbs steadily until just under the shoulder of Mount Raymond.  From there, we again turn west and begin running lightly toward Hobb's Peak and upper Neff's Canyon.  We know the Wildcat Ridge looms and hope to get across before night falls. 

High on the Mill B North trail.  Phase II of the day across the valley.
Looking west toward Triangle Peak and Mount Olympus

Photo taken from somewhere along the Wildcat Ridge looking north.  Our destination is the point of the mountain in the upper left.
Looking south, our route visible along the skyline
Scrambling over the Wildcat ridge is easy and fun.  I'm relieved it isn't proving more tedious.  And, traversing upper Neff's to the ridge was relatively easy cross country travel through open terrain.  While relieved, I'm still cautious.  Jason and I keep repeating, "no falls" and continually remind each other to double check holds.  Falling off the ridge would ruin the day.  
Jason and the Wildcat Ridge
More alpenglow
Finally, as the last hues of pink and orange fade on the horizon, we stumble onto the summit of Mount Olympus.  However, our last piece of technical terrain lies ahead as we plan to traverse to the North Summit, descend the ridge west, and then down climb the slabs.  I am tired but morale is still high.  Jason is unable to eat and suggests that to down climb the slabs in our fatigued state in the dark is above his risk threshold.  Happily, I agree and after five packs of Juicy Oozers, we are trotting down the standard hiking trail.  To this point, we had been nearly perfect in our quest to follow our version of the skyline.  But now, concessions were being made. 
The view from Mount Olympus just after sunset
Through the rough section of trail, we are moving more easily when I spot a head lamp bobbing toward us.  I yell, "Travis!" and the big man shouts a friendly reply.  He has come up to check on us and offer some moral support.  He wants to go on a run.  We are doing our best.  

He keeps pulling away and is reminded that we are 18+ hours into our day when our foot steps fade behind him.    He distracts us with talk of climbing, movies, and his organic chemistry PhD work.  As we exit the trail, the road feels good.  It's smooth and mindless and safe.  At some point, Jason looks down and sees 9 minute pace on his watch and wonders if we are going too fast.  My watch died hours ago.  

Next up: Grandeur Peak.  The plan is to run up Millcreek to Rattlesnake, along the Pipeline to Church Fork, and then climb to the summit and descend the west side to Parley's.  Cue concession number two.  I think this will take too long.  Jason agrees and now were are heading to the western trailhead and will both ascend and descend this route.  Our next cache is up Millcreek but we will get food at the gas station.  Pseudo self supported is OK. 

The gas station is closed.  It's almost midnight.  We have no food (that we'd consider eating) and Jason has been out of water for over an hour.  In a moment of weakness, we call Nick, who arrives minutes later with 9 double cheeseburgers, 3 large fries, and 3 large drinks.  It's so good.  I eat all three by the time we hit the Grandeur trail.  

Travis is up front setting the pace.  I can't tell where we are or how steep or flat the trail is.  I hear the crunching rhythm of our foot steps and am vaguely aware of Travis' attempts at conversation up front. I'm tasting cheeseburgers.  We sit for a second at the branch point half way up and I can feel myself falling asleep.  Maybe a quick nap would be good?  Travis calls us "pussies" and we respond to the call.  

On the summit, there is no fanfare.  We turn around without taking a single picture.  On the way down, we move at a half jog on the STEEP trail.  Perhaps the city lights are improving the mood, or maybe it's just Travis and his random banter at 2 AM.  Back at the trailhead, I wade through some sage and find our 4th cache.  Gatorade, EFS, gels, V8, chips, and bananas.  I want none of it.  It's cold and we are huddled behind a retaining wall to get out of the wind and the spray of an annoying sprinkler.  Travis is antsy and wants to get moving.  He has to work in the morning and it's now 3 AM.  

More concessions ensue.  Our plan was to move on to Perkin's Peak (behind H rock) and ascend the Southwest ridge to the summit and then descend the Northwest ridge to the mouth of Emigration Canyon.  We realize as we pass our intended route that to follow through with our plan would see us finishing at some point mid to late afternoon.  Jason still has to get home and sleep so he can make it to a long and very intense night shift.  To be stubborn now would be irresponsible.  

We bid Travis adieu and run the road to Emigration where Jason has left his truck.  Damn.  Morale is now low since we deviated in a major way from the skyline.  I eat a pickle and drink some Mountain Dew.  Jason has found his appetite and picks through our stash of food and then we are off.  

The first hints of dawn appear in the eastern sky.  Fast hiking up the steep trail Jason has been resurrected.  From stopping to take breaks on Grandeur, he is now climbing Mount Wire at a pace that will see us on the summit in around 35 minutes.  I'm hanging on but it's not smart.  I reluctantly voice my concern and he lets me in front (we don't like to show weakness to the other).  I slow somewhat but try to keep the pace honest so he doesn't step on my heels. 

Summit of Mount Wire at sunrise
On the summit I ask for the time and Jason happily states that from the truck, we took 43 minutes.  We are now watching the sun rise for the second time and are prematurely tasting the finish.  The steep descent to Red Butte is tedious but at least we are on good trails for the duration.  We cross the road and then it's back to climbing mode as we move onto Mount Van Cott.  Again, we are both surprised at how we are able to climb quickly but yearn for the day to end.  

On the summit of Van Cott, one more concession is made and we turn down instead of along the ridge to Black Mountain.  Down is easy.  Down takes us home.  Black is one of the larger foothills and I feel shameful for passing it.  Our adherence to our route and ideals has already been compromised though and it's getting easier to keep doing so. 

Descending from Van Cott toward Dry Creek
Hiking up Dry Creek I'm now finding that I am developing an assortment of aches and pains.  My back hurts and my feet stink.  I have blisters on the dorsum of my hands from the straps of my poles.  Strange muscle groups are sore but fortunately I have yet to feel even an inkling of cramps.  

Near the high point of the shoreline, I sit down and take some ibuprofen.  It's not long now but I want to feel good at the finish.  I used to live in the Avenues and would run these trails and up Ensign Peak often.  As we proceed, the checkpoints tick by.  

We are climbing again and this time will be the last.  Like a JV runner who has saved too much throughout the race we are now pushing again.  As the monument becomes visible we are still trying to get pictures and video.  Breaking out of our shuffling gait, we are running; legitimately and fast.  Not that it matters if we finish in 30 hours and 15 minutes or 30 hours and 16 minutes but we simply want to be done and are excited by the thought of just sitting.  

We tag the monument and startle some of the tourists.  Looking over the city at the skyline we can trace our last 30 hours and I feel strangely powerful.  

Minutes later, I'm sitting at lunch with Jason and his girlfriend, Amanda, who was kind enough to pick up two rancid guys and take them to get Mongolian Beef and General Tso's.  We couldn't be happier. 

Final Thoughts: 

We had some shortcomings but the idea and a close embodiment of that has been carried out.  On this "run" I set personal records for total time moving, distance, and vertical gain on one outing and don't feel utterly shattered.  Often after long trying days, I ask my partners how much money would be required to get them to turn around and repeat everything they just did.  

Could I do that again in that moment for any sum of money?  Not a chance.  But, I'm already thinking about my next cleaner version, my perfect version.  And, I'll do that one for free. 
The last few hundred meters of the day with a large portion of the skyline visible in the distance
~65 miles
~30,000 vertical gained
30+ hours from car to monument
Self supported except 3 cheeseburgers in a moment of weakness
14 distinct summits

4 slices of pizza, 2 cookies, 3 granola bars, 2 EFS gel flasks, 4 Powergels, 4L Gatorade, 6L EFS, Mountain Dew, 1 pickle, 5 packets of Sport Beans, 10 packets of Juicy Oozers, 2 bananas,  a box of Cheez-Its, a bag of Goldfish, a bag of chips, 3 Snickers bars

Gear used: 

Dynafit React Dry Short Tights
Dynafit Pivot Summer Beanie
Dynafit X4 Dy. N. A. Pack
Dynafit Movement Powerstretch Pants
Outdoor Reasearch Helium II Jacket
Outdoor Reaseach Storm Tracker gloves
Black Diamond Z poles
CAMP Corsa Ice Axe
Katoola crampons

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Pocatello 50 Miler: My Debut

Yesterday, June 2nd, was the 4th running of the Pocatello 50 miler (actually 53.2 miles).  I had nothing better to do with a free Saturday and luckily was able to get in to the sold out event.  As I restrained from any significant running during my mini taper through the latter half of the week, I thought a lot about ultras, goals, and my motivation for such ordeals.

Back in 2002, I first heard about the Wasatch 100.  Friends of a friend had just completed it and quotes like, "when you see the sun rise for the second time, you know you're getting close" made me think that only the deranged would enter such a race.  However, at the time, I spent significant portions of every day running circles around a rubber track.  A long run was 10 miles and anything slower than 7 minute pace was unathletic.
Photo prior to the start.  My tent is the little yellow BD one left of center.  Photo credit: Stolen from the official race website

Fast forward 10 years.  I now spend the majority of my free time in the mountains and have slowly been testing the balance of speed and endurance as applied to ski mountaineering and mountain running.  Now, it all makes sense.  Ultras (be it formal races or large personal efforts)  seem to be a fantastic way to learn to move efficiently through the mountains, cover vast terrain, and see more in a day than most Americans see of the wilderness in a lifetime.  I've started participating as preparation for selfish personal projects but the races and surrounding environment are addictive.

Prior to Pocatello, my longest run ever was the 48 mile, Trans Zion adventure run, which, with Jason and Warren, we covered at a very leisurely pace.  A couple others have pushed passed the 40 mile mark but never in a race setting.  Unfortunately, I tend to ski well into June and don't put in any real mileage until the ski gear is tossed, for the summer, in a state of disarray in the corner of my garage.  Fortunately, as anyone south of BC knows, this winter sucked, which gave me a head start with my running.  Nevertheless, I was fairly apprehensive while loading up the new Tacoma for the drive to Pocatello with Chris Cawley.  Chris is a bit ahead of me on the evolutionary curve of ultra running having turned in a solid sub 24 hr 100 miler last year.  I asked about the course, aid stations, strategy, and on and on.  But, no matter how he answered, I couldn't shake the nagging thought that my longest run of the year to date was only 16 miles.

The race websites declares the course to be just over 52 miles and with 12,800 feet of vertical gain, has been deemed by some to be one of the harder 50 milers in the country.  That said, nearly the whole course is beautiful single track through some pretty stunning terrain.  Who knew that Pocatello was so beautiful?  

On to the race...

After a pre race dinner that included both McDonald's and Ramen, I awoke feeling surprisingly fresh, particularly given recent work demands.  I donned my Dynafit kit (listed below), and then walked around trying to stay warm.  As we were called to the start line, a rainbow hung in the distance, illuminated by the rising sun.  Looking around, there were more than a few fast guys lacing up their Hokas or pulling on their Nathans.  Someone yelled, "go!" and we took off at a leisurely pace down the first half mile section of pavement before hitting the single track for a 1000 foot climb.  

I knew I should start slowly, this being my first 50, but 7:30 pace on a slight down was too easy and I tucked into 6th place as we hit the dirt.  The climb also felt easy so the order was preserved until we found ourselves rolling mostly flat or downhill toward the first aid station at mile 8.  I knew I should start slowly but I was having a fun conversation with Christian Johnson, of the MRC.  He seemed to start to tell me that I was foolish for not playing it more conservatively but laughed and said, "I'm not going to tell you what to do."   

In and out of the first aid station, I was running with a single bottle and felt amazing.  The course began to trend upward, then suddenly morphed into a Grandeur Peak style climb as we followed the flags off trail.  I knew I should start slowly and tucked behind Matt Hart of the Montrail team, who I felt would run a smart race.  Meltzer and Jay Aldous started to pull away and then Christian launched upward in pursuit.  Unable to help myself, I tagged along as the pace still felt absurdly easy.  Justin Yates of Montana was off the front but exercising some self control, the whole field let him go.  

I knew I should start slowly, but somehow found myself running in second and all alone at the top of this first serious climb.  Knowing I had a long 6 mile(?) descent to the next aid station, I kept running, trying to relax and not push the down hill pace.  As the trail/ATV road emptied into sage brush plains from the forest, I caught sight of Justin and could tell I was steadily gaining on him.  Once together, I enjoyed some conversation for maybe a mile before we reached the City Creek aid station just as the 50K race was starting.  

I laughed at the absurdity of being ahead of so many seasoned and accomplished runners and knew the "pin it to win it" mentality was only going to work for one of us.  Luke Nelson grabbed my Dynafit X4 pack that I had left as a drop bag and offered a couple sentences that would become my mantra for the next 16 miles.   Following the "Keep it contained" and "Stay within yourself" recommendation, I was content to watch first Jay, then Karl, then Justin, then Christian, then Joelle, then Erik, then Cody, then Greg run through me.  

Over those 16 miles, the first of which were awful hot climbing, I tried to resurrect my broken condition and catch back up on fluid and eating.  I felt stupid barely jogging and going back and forth with those at the back of the 50K field.  I wasn't racing anymore and wondered how I'd be able to manage another 20+ miles as I approached the Mink Creek aid station.  

Arriving at Mink Creek, Jared Campbell and Ben Lewis offered some encouraging words and Ben and others filled my bottles as I loaded my pack with ice and grabbed a fistful of Otter Pops.  I downed a cup of Mountain Dew and was off, walking a low grade 5 mile section.  This was the initial portion of a 10 mile climb with over 4000 vertical to the summit of Scout Mountain.  I got passed again.  

I didn't care though.  I knew I'd finish and after four Otter Pops (three blue and a purple) I was eating ice and managing the heat (mid 80s and full sun).  Chad Bracklesburg had cautioned me about this section of the course.  He told me I could run it but doing so would be a detriment to my overall time as I could walk the section just a few minutes slower and save a ton of energy.  As it happened, I trusted in Chad and actually felt stronger as I arrived at the penultimate aid station. 

Luke was there again, having driven over to cheer his wife who was running the 20 mile race.  He again offered great support and walked a bit up the trail before bidding me adieu with the order to finish strong.  The walking slowly morphed into jogging and by the summit of Scout, I was alive.  With 10ish miles to go, I unexpectedly found myself feeling invincible.  Nothing hurt.  I could run the beautiful smooth switchbacks and enjoy the muffled sounds of movement along the pine needle floor.  I suppressed grandiose thoughts that I could run forever and that a 100 would be easy and settled on refocusing on getting to the Big Fir aid station and then the last 5 miles. 

I passed someone coming into Big Fir who was looking a little haggard as he immediately sat down in a chair.  Chad Bracklesburg was there to greet me and as my bottles were filled, he sprayed me with cool water from a pesticide sprayer and put a wet towel on my head.  He detailed the remainder of the course in his animated way and told me to get moving.  Down the pavement for 1.5 miles, up a grassy climb for one mile, and then a gentle downhill to the finish over the last 2.5 miles.  No problem.  

Then, right around mile 50, where I started to question my former thoughts of invincibility and desire to run farther, I felt a twinge of a cramp in my right quad.  I stopped to stretch but my hamstrings seized up.  I began to hobble and verbally tell myself to relax.  Rolling over the top of the last climb, I found the down hill mechanics to be less provoking and managed to loosen up just enough to call my motions "running".    

By the finish, I was happy and satisfied.  I'd run like a yo-yo but managed to "contain myself" enough on the last two thirds of the course to finish respectably in my first 50.  And, unlike any prior efforts at "longer" distances, I felt like I could "take another step" if needed.  Which mentally leaves open the possibility of a 100 later in the fall.  

Perhaps I have become somewhat deranged as I initially mused about ultra runners years ago.  But I don't think so.  Although there isn't a lot of adventure to these races by definition of physical risk or objective hazard, the variables are sufficient that the outcome is always in question.  And as I have written before, that is the definition of an adventure to me.  

I want to feel invincible again.  

My day...

Many thanks to the RDs for allowing me to race at late notice.  And huge thanks to all those who volunteered a precious Saturday (and into Sunday) to serve others and lift them up and send them onward.  

Gear List:

Shoes: Dynafit Feline Superlight - These guys got the job done.  I had zero blisters or hot spots and my feet felt better than expected at the end of 50 miles.  I had nimbility(made up word I coined) all day. 

Clothes: Dynafit React Dry Short Tights and Effex Shirt - I had no chaffing or hot spots and as the only guy in half tights, I crown myself the fashion king of the race.

Gear: Dynafit X4 Dy.N.A Backpack - This pack is super light, carries bottles perfectly, and with its unique bungee system, rides more smoothly than any other running pack I've used.