Monday, September 27, 2010

Pine to Palm 100: A keeper.

I think I've discovered how to run 100 miles: sandwich it between an insanely stressful few weeks at work, and an equally stressful work trip to Africa.  I had no time to stress about the race for weeks prior, and no time to digest it afterwards.  I was looking forward to starting the race, just to relax for 24 hours or so, before worrying about heading home and packing.  The race itself just kind of came and went.  It wasn't exceedingly painful, but I had my issues during the run.  There were highs and lows, but the valleys weren't so low and the peaks weren't so high.  It seemed relatively easy in comparison to other 100s I've done, or at least my memories of them.  Keep in mind that all previous 100s I had completed resulted in death marches of upwards of 30 miles during which I had to lift up my legs with my hands to clear rocks, etc.  

Up until a couple of weeks before, I wouldn't commit one way or the other to running.  After Where's Waldo I had decided that I was mentally and physically tired, and didn't want to do it.  But I didn't have a really strong argument for not running, I was signed up, and I eventually talked myself into it.  I'm signed up for HURT and am planning to run WS, so really wasn't sure I wanted to do 3 100s in a year.  See previous post--I simply don't think that they are good for you and long-term, don't think that my body is built to sustain multiple hundreds each year forever.  In the end, I decided to run, knowing that I would have a down training month while traveling for work in Nairobi and Addis Ababa, so rather than be frustrated by the fact that it's hard to train on the road, what better plan than to run 100 miles, and jump on the plane the following day and enjoy a month off.   

The P2P course is a challenging one, with over 20,000 feet of gain and an equal amount of loss.  It's also long, and I'd be curious to know just exactly how long, as I'd guess it's a wee bit longer than the advertised 101.5.  I knew there would be a fair amount of road, but I was still surprised by just how much road there really was.  There were long long stretches on gravel road that were really runnable.  There were also some fairly technical trail sections, namely the scramble up to Wagner at about mile 88, or so.  

September in southern Oregon is sunny, they say, and the race was advertised as having spectacular views of Mt. Shasta and the surrounding area.  Several days out the forecast was calling for 100% chance of rain, and it didn't disappoint.  It wasn't raining at the start, but started not long afterwards, and pretty much rained the rest of the day and into the night (and again, into Sunday--I was fortunate to finish before the morning downpours on Sunday).  There were a few brief periods of reprieve, but the views were socked in throughout.  Some of the views were really nice, not that you could see far, but the close-in valleys and peaks were highlighted by lots of low wispy white clouds moving through quickly (bringing in more rain clouds).

So, my memory is already foggy of the course, but some highs and lows from the day:

My stomach was off from the start, and stayed off the first 30 miles with frequent trips into the woods.  My stomach was off in the other direction starting after mile 60, when the gag reflex took over and trying to swallow much of anything resulted in losing a lot more.  I hate to puke and almost never do, so this wasn't so much fun.  The only thing that I could keep down was Ultragen, which is a recovery drink that is fairly high in calories (one hand-held water bottle full has about 380 calories).  Starting at Dutchman (mile 65) this was the only way I was getting in calories, but I could only get this from my crew, who I saw at mile 65 and 83. 

I was fairly concerned about getting lost.  While a series of topo maps had been published for the course, there was no course description to accompany them.  One of the Co-RDs, Ian, had given a quick verbal course description during the briefing the night prior--if that could have just been captured in words, it would have made me feel much more confident that I would be able to stay on course.  I knew the course would be well-marked, but there is always that fear that the course will be vandalized, and markings removed.  In the end, the course was very well marked, except for the fact that the color of those markings were not what we expected.  It had been stressed during the pre-race briefing that all of our markings would be either pink/black or green, and much of the course was marked in orange.  This caused some doubt in certain sections, but I managed to stay on course all day, with very minimal back-tracking.  

I got really cold at the aid station before Dutchman and then the climb up into Dutchman.   By this time it was starting to get dark, and the rain continued while the temps started to drop.  I flagged down a car and asked for an extra layer on this climb.  The friendly driver started to take off a long sleeve tech shirt, but I pointed at her warm purple hoody.  A sign of how cold I was in that I not only requested clothes from a stranger, but than was picky about which layer she offered me.  Thanks April--you were a life saver!  Once I got up to Dutchman I grabbed my crew and headed into a corner of the tent where I proceeded to strip naked in order to put on a warm dry base layer.  Luckily Tonya was there to shield me from the rest of humanity, as I was cold enough to not really care.  Warm layers, 3 on top and tights, complete with warm gloves and a winter hat.  I admit, I overdid it a bit, but I was really cold, and the layers could be shed as needed.  

The Positives:
My legs felt good, more or less, from the beginning and my quads never died, as they had in past 100s.  My pacer might argue to the contrary, but I felt like I was moving fairly well for the last 30.  I was running all of the downs, not so many of the ups, but the last 30 has more down than up.  My biggest fear going into this was that the last 30 miles would be a death march, as it has been in all of my previous 100s.  While I wasn't flying, I was still moving, and we ran in pretty much all of the last 10 miles or so descending into town and the finish.   All day, I felt I was climbing pretty well, and enjoying the long descents.

The weather actually wasn't that bad, except for the 5 miles leading up to Dutchman, and then Dutchman. There were no views, but the rain kept things nice and cool, and I really enjoy running in rain.  Despite being wet all day, my feet stayed really happy, and I didn't change shoes until mile 83.  I wore my CrossLites and they felt great all day.  I changed into dry socks and the more cushiony Montrail Streaks and they were a welcome change until lots of wetness quickly took away the joy of some dry socks.  Overall, my feet held up great, despite the wet conditions, and once the pruniness went away, there were just a few minor blisters as a result.   

I had a great crew and pacer.  Thanks Challen, Marjon and Randy for giving up your weekend to follow me around. I think my crew might have had more drama than me, as the transmission went out at Dutchman, and they were trying to deal with this, while leaving me blissfully unaware.  Because of the weather, this was a race where crew was invaluable.  Without a crew, if you didn't happen to have all of your warm weather gear at Dutchman, you were at the mercy of the weather (and the helpful volunteers who shed a few layers to help runners on their way).  

The volunteers and aid stations were excellent.  Dutchman AS rose to the task of gale force winds and blowing sleet, and the other aid stations were equally helpful.  Hal and Ian put on a top-notch first-time event.  

I hadn't really set a goal time, except sub-24 hours.  At some point, as the mileage in certain sections seemed insanely long (Wagner and environs), I knew that I was getting closer to 24 hours and further from 22, but was happy with a 22:39 finish.  Given the weather, and my stomach, it was all I could do, and I'm happy with it.  I ended up first female and sixth overall.   

The hardest part of the weekend came on Monday when I jumped on a 10-hour flight to Amsterdam, followed directly afterwards by a 8-hour leg to Nairobi.  Trekking through the Amsterdam airport from one terminal to the next felt much more like the death march I'm used to experiencing in the final miles of a 100 miler.  I felt no shame in using my 100 mile finish to my advantage.  On the first flight I went back to the back of the plane to scavenge for snacks, and commented to the stewardess that I was STARVING after just having run 100 miles.  Luckily, she was a runner, and rushed to my rescue, which included mixed nuts and a hot fudge sundae out of the first class cabin.  Thank you, dear stewardess, wherever you are.  On the second flight, I schemed my way into an exit row with endless leg room.  Despite these perks, by the time I got to Nairobi, and despite wearing compression socks, my ankles and feet were huge and jiggled when I walked.  I had nothing to do all week except sit in meetings, so I enjoyed the lack of movement, and by Friday was craving a run.  I waited until Sunday, so took a full week, but actually feel really good, and got in good (but short) runs on Sunday and Monday on the treadmill.

Now, off (I'm jumping on a flight in a couple of hours) to Ethiopia for a couple more weeks of work and relaxation (on the running front).  


SteveQ said...

A keeper for sure! 22:39 on a long course with 20000 feet of climb is very speedy. I'll have to look into Ultragen, to see if it works for me when having issues.

I'm still trying to figure out the time shifts to Nairobi and Ethipoia - I don't know how you do it!

sea legs girl said...

Awesome, Amy. Congrats! I like how I had to look to the sidebar on your blog to figure out you took first. But, you are right, the most important thing is you figured out how to run 100 miles (and 100 hard miles) like you knew you could!

Now you have me wondering what kind of work has you travelling all over the world and now to Ethiopia.

olga said...

I know you were in a hurry to get this report out while it's still relatevly fresh, so this shall do:) Because usually there should be more battle scene? I dig the description of asking clothes from a stranger. Glad your legs cooperated (better, anyway) last 30 miles. And way to stay on course that by many saying was marked less than desired! I hate getting lost, and I do it rather often...Amy, congratulations on a well run race. Rest up. Too bad it's that much road in it, otherwise I'd have said "see you out there next year":))

Trevor said...

Amy, it was a pleasure to have run with you those brief miles. Strong and fantastic was my turn to have a 30ish mile death march! Have a great time in Africa. When you get State-side, we should go for a run. Hope you are still considering HURT!

Rooster said...

Great job Amy! Sounds like you persevered through some serious obstacles, puking, the other and getting so cold. Glad your knee cap bruise thing held up and doesn't sound like it's any worse. Take care and rest up.

RunSueRun said...

Congratulations Amy!! Looks like you've figured this thing out.


Casseday said...

Way to go Amy!!

Redwine said...

Great report! ~ Glad you had major success!!

ultrarunnergirl said...

Congrats on another win Amy! The weather has certainly been a factor in a lot of your races this year. Way to triumph over everything it threw at you! said...

I have to admit that distraction can be helpful some times. Specially when one thing is quite stressful and It makes things quite hard.

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