Wednesday, October 13, 2010

9 great years as a married couple!

Nothing much to do about running or racing in this post.....but just had to post that 9 years ago today at approx 10am Deb and I were wed on top of Mount Monadnock in Jaffrey, NH.
These have been my most wonderful years with the best mom, grammy, daughter, sister, wife and my best friend. Yeah she has many roles and fills them very well.
On that day we had Sue Johnston as Deb's matron of honor and Bert Meyer as my best man. Many, many friends joined us on the mountain, as well as Deb's son Josh.

Today we spend our 9th anniversary apart, as Deb is in New Mexico caring for our home and new Pup, Gibbs. As well as our two cats, Harley and Murphy and a new addition....a canary that remains unnamed as of yet, but I'm thinking Monadnock (or Alfred) might be a good name ;-) I miss her a lot....I'm still in New Hampshire, thinking I might go visit the mountain this weekend. It's as close to Deb as I can get without being with her.

That's about it....enjoy the following photos I snagged from a Monadnock blog.

Here we are getting hitched on top of Mount Monadnock
Notice Bert Meyer to the left and Craig Wilson to the right, we called the Justice of the Peace, Alfred because he reminded us of Alfred the butler in Batman. Alfred hiked up in his NH Forest Ranger uniform and at the top changed into a suit. Deb and I did the same, but notice our shoes ;-)


It's official! I'm now married to the love of my life!



With "Just" on Deb's back and "Married" on my back we began our run down the White Dot trail.
These photos were all taken for an article that was in the Keene Sentinel and written by Garry Harrington, yes that Garry Harrington! We've been friends ever since!

That's all, back to your regularly scheduled program...
Steve and Deb

Addition (Saturday, Oct 16th): I hiked up the mountain as we try to do annually to revisit the sight of our wedding. Deb's in NM so couldn't join me this year, so I went for both of us. In 2001 the weather was 70's, balmy and sunny....today at almost the same time (one hour later, 11am) I was standing on the summit, or trying to stand in 70 mph winds, ankle deep snow and freezing temps. The wind was trying to blow me off the flat rock spot we stood on during our ceremony 9 years ago, but I held firm and whispered "I do" once again... New England weather, you just never know what you're going to get!

Friday, October 1, 2010

2010 Bear 100


Let's see, how to begin this.....

Way back before Hardrock I entered Deb and I in the Bear to get in before the entry fee increased and forgot about it. Then at Hardrock I decided to give up my spot for Deb, which left me fit and wanting a 100....the Bear!
So I returned to New Hampshire, while Deb returned New Mexico. The training this Summer in the White Mountains in New Hampshire was great, while Deb was busy with moving into our new house and tending to the granddaughters, so her training wasn't as robust as mine was...but that didn't matter, she was as strong, if not stronger than I was, as was evident at the Ring three weeks before the Bear.


At the Ring we decided to use it as a test run for the Bear, by running by my low aerobic heart rate of 135 or lower, which for me is around 65% of my max. It worked great, we ran together all day and moved up through the field to finish tied for 4th. (Some runners in front of us took a minor wrong turn and were dq'd and we were told we were 1st, but we really finished 4th).

 Cory, David, Deb, Steve and Paul at the Ring Finish

So at the Bear we decided to do the same thing....no racing, have fun and follow the low heart rate. Again it worked great and we went from running (walking) in last place at one point which was around 170th to finishing in 78th overall.

On to the run....at 6AM we gathered at Hyrum Park in Logan, Utah for the 100 miles of trails through the northern Wasatch mountains. It was chilly, but not as bad as they were talking about, so I went with my short sleeve Wasatch Speedgoat shirt and my long sleeve WSMRT shirt over that, with a light windbreaker tied around my waist. We got going right at 6 and I began by videoing the start....this was all about having fun today and getting a finish!

 Runner's gathering at the start close to 6am

After about a half mile or so of local roads, we started on the trail and the climb up the first hill. At this point I can't say much about the course or the race because nothing much happened. At one point one of us stopped for a pit stop and we were in last place...no lights behind us. But I had confidence in the fact that we would move up through the field as the run went on, if we could keep fueling and drinking, we certainly wouldn't be going out too fast!

 Deb climbing up that first climb

The day rolled on and we made sure to stay under the 135 heart rate and at some places it felt like we were at a standstill going up some of the climbs, but we stuck with it. Even the long downhill into Leatham Hollow, we held back our downhill run to maintain the HR. I think in future races, we'll try to bump it up to 140 just to see....I do really thing at many places we could have gone a lot quicker without going "too" hard. This is a lesson we are learning and we have to try different things.

The plunge into Leatham Hollow

The interesting thing about the heart rate....it only works for about half way or until dark. Usually by then I can't seem to keep the heart rate high enough no matter how hard we try, whether this is physiological in the heart or what, my theory is that once the legs begin to tire you can't move fast enough to get the HR up to where you want it to be. So at Tony Grove I took it off...many things happened at Tony Grove, but I'll get to that in a moment.

 Here we are at Temple Fork, still feeling great

At Temple Fork, mile 45, I ate a ton and that was a mistake. I don't have a good stomach and filling it with food is never a good thing, but I never feel this good late in a 100 and knew I had a 5 mile climb up to Tony Grove. Up to this point I ate lots of fruit and had a container of chocolate soymilk or about 130 calories, plus maybe 50 more calories from the fruit got me close to 200 in the aid station. This time EFS Liquid Shot didn't work for me, I was gagging on it so never got another one from my drop bags. I did do some Clif Shot Blocks between aid, some Endurolytes or Succeed Caps and the tummy felt great and I had a lot of energy. Deb did her usual Ensures (gag) and anything else she could put down...I wish I had her stomach!

 Free range cattle in the night on the climb up to Tony Grove

Back to Temple Fork and the climb up to Tony Grove...at Temple Fork I had my milk (130 cal's), a can of V-8 (maybe 50 calories), some fruit (50) and a large cup full of southwest vegetable soup. I was stuffed! During the climb up to Tony Grove, mile 51, I started to get lethargic as nighttime started to fall. I usually just take a No-Doz, but this time I decided to try a 5 hour energy. I drank it and it just did not taste good to me. Very acidic tasting...yuck! We kept climbing and had been passing runners all day long, but went into TG alone in the dark and checked in. Here while sitting in our chairs and having some soup, Sue Johnston comes up to us with her hubby, Chris Scott and says she was going to drop due to gagging and dry heaving earlier, but asked if she could come with us and run the 2nd half with us.. I said we'd be honored and once she was ready, off we went. We left with a friend of hers, Sandy, and immediate went off course out of the aid station. There was a split in the trail and no course marker there. We went left when we were supposed to go right and only went about a half mile and realized something wasn't right, so we all turned around and got back on the right trail. Between this and one other place we got off course, we lost about 30 minutes total, not as bad as some others...

 Sue, Steve, Sandy and Deb about to head out of Tony Grove and get lost
I made some comment about my harem or many wives here in Utah

I absolutely do not remember the next section, it was dark and we did a lot of talking and laughing...but what I do remember is that when we got into the aid station and took a seat, my stomach didn't feel great. So I went over by some horses standing in the darkness (they didn't seem to mind) and emptied my stomach...I immediately felt better, but this meant that I most likely wouldn't be able to eat much for the remainder of the race. This is just what happened to me, but we were going at such a slow pace that I knew I could move forward without bonking and putting minimal calories in my stomach, which means soup and soup only. What this does is "guarantee" that I will not be able to move quickly...

 We crossed into Idaho sometime during the night

Let's see, what's next....climbing, downhills, more climbing, more downhills, darkness and more darkness. In Beaver Lodge we had some soup and some potatoes and got out of there fast. It was cold here....some told us it was around 22 degrees. I didn't really have enough warm clothes and had to keep pushing the pace a bit to warm up and when I did this, I'd leave Sue and Deb back aways, but always waited for them. The table turned, though, as daylight came. We got to Beaver Creek, around mile 85 and had some more soup...Deb tried to gag down some Ensure, but couldn't do more than a couple of sips...yes it's late in a 100 and there's not much fueling going on.

Sue, Steve and Deb about to leave Beaver Creek
Do we look tired?
Chris Scott photo

The climb up out of Beaver Creek killed me...Sue and Deb were both leaving me in the dust, I couldn't breathe up here at around 8500"+. Deb's been living at 8000' and Sue spent a couple of weeks at snowbird for some acclimating, while I lived at around 500'. I was sucking wind and also low on fuel, so could barely move. We struggled to Ranger Dip aid and Sue waited for us there (Deb was nice to wait up for me, too). I tried to eat some saltines and was gagging on them, so I just filled my bottle with Coke like I've been doing since around mile 65. Deb was telling me I had to eat something, but there was now way....I know me and I know I can get in on fumes, I've done it at Hardrock! Sue was able to eat something and drink a Coke....and on we went after a few minutes up the really steep climb up to over 9000'. It was an awful struggle, but I knew at the top all the hard climbing was done, so grunt up we did. Somewhere along the way George caught up to us and the four of us worked our way down to Bear Lake, which we could see to our right.

 Beautiful Bear Lake to our right

Down, down we went and at one point I decided to get in the lead in an attempt to pull us in under 32 hours, but it just didn't happen. We were all tired and doing the best we could on this awful, sandy and bouldery jeep road. At one point somehow some ATV's came and Deb and I had to step aside and we lost contact with Sue....there were 6 ATV's kicking up the dust and we just couldn't go until they went by....by the time we hit the gravel road to the Lake with 2 miles to go, Sue was out of sight...so we jogged as much as we could and got to the final turn to the finish. I was about to finish the Bear for my first time in three tries and Deb was about to take over an hour off her time of last year....I guess the low HR thing worked!
We finished in 78th overall in 32:06...Sue finished with George 5 minutes before us.

 Deb and Steve finishing together...Woohoo!
Chris Scott photo

So what did I learn? That pacing does work, we went from last to 78th...if we had gone just a little quicker in the beginning, which we are easily capable of, we'd most likely have taken another hour or so off of our time, but the best thing was that this was the first time Deb and I were able to run the whole 100 together and finish hand in hand. That was worth our going slower if that made it happen.

The Bear has become a special race for me....I like its laid back attitude, I like the course difficulty and most of all I like the people involved. We will be back next year...

To see the rest of my photos, go here: http://picasaweb.google.com/ultrastevep/2010Bear100#

Facts...
Shoes worn...LaSportiva Skylites for 45 miles, LaSportiva Imogenes the rest of the way. Deb wore her LaSportiva Wildcats.
Packs: Nathan 2V Plus waist pack
Fuel: See above...everything and anything.

Until next time,
Steve and Deb....

Friday, September 10, 2010

Massanutten Ring...what a difference a pace makes!


This one surprised me...it surprised Deb! We went down to Virginia to run the annual MMT Ring for the 2nd time and our plan was to enjoy ourselves, follow a (my) low heart rate of sub 135, which is between 60 and 65% of my max...in other words really low, which means slow. We did that and although it was a very comfortable pace, we ended up tying for first place in 21:14, an hour off of our best that we ran back in 2003.

Back to the Ring and what it is....it is basically the complete Massanutten trail that is used for the 100 mile race, minus the road sections to some of the aid stations. Plus we get to do some trail that isn't run in the 100. The Ring is 71 miles of rocky, hilly trails. It began in 2002 by Anstr Davidson and Chris Scott, who were the first to do the complete Ring of the Massanuttens. Several years later the RD baton was handed over to Mike Bur and Quatro Hubbard. To see the whole story, go to the website for that.

 Deb is ready!

We gathered at the Signal Knob parking lot for the start at 7am and with a "go" and some accordion music, off we went into the Massanutten mountains for at least the next full day...or that was the plan. The best we had hoped would be to run under 24 hours, which is still a great time at the Ring. Of course before we could start up the trail Deb had to warm up by dancing to the accordion...this wasn't a serious event for us, after all, it was meant to be fun! We started the run in dead last after this...


video
Deb had great fun warming up for the Ring


After Deb's dance and after sending some runners off in the right direction, we started hiking up the trail. I spent most of the day glancing at my watch to keep the effort below 135, but didn't miss the views and birds up on the ridge. I really don't remember much of the day other than the great aid stations.

 Only a few miles in, our Horton shot with our friend the orange blaze

The first official aid station isn't until mile 25 at Camp Roosevelt, but we had a earlier aid station set up at Milford Gap, thanks to the 2 great guys who brought all that food and drink up on the ridge. Also this aid station was called the "top off" aid station and was just to top off your bottles or bladders. We had planned on this being an unmanned aid station and were going to take our shirts off and take a picture (Deb would wear her Nathan Hydration pack with the front pouches carefully placed) but when we got there and saw the two volunteers and about 6 runners there grazing, we decided not to. Coming into it, we had passed 7 runners and there were 6 more in the aid station that we soon went by after the stop. Here we filled our bottles and grabbed some Oreo cookies and continued up the trail. This was fun! The weather helped, also....it may have been nearing 80 degrees, but it was not humid and the sunshine all day felt great! On to Camp Roosevelt...

 One of the many great views we saw in this section

 The Shenandoah River as seen from the Massanutten Ridge
 
This stretch passed by quite event-less and as in the 100, I was looking for the Stephen's Trail off to the right down to Camp Roosevelt. When we did finally reach it, the trail in front of us was blocked by horses and their riders. I instinctively started to go right down the Stephen's, but Deb corrected me saying we stay straight towards the orange blaze. The one rule was to always follow orange, but it's easy to get confused if you know the 100 mile course heads down here. One of the riders showed me his map, showing that the MMT trail does, in fact also go to Camp Roosevelt. Some of the runners took the Stephen's trail down and were DQ'd. So on we went, passing a couple of other runners just as we reached the road into Camp Roosevelt. We felt great and couldn't believe how easy this all felt! It's all about the pace!

 Camp Roosevelt aid station, mile 25

In CR, we ate and drank heartily (well, as vegetarians we didn't eat the meat sandwiches). I ate a banana and a handful of Fig Newtons and a couple of cups of Cola and headed out within 15 minutes. Next up is Crisman Hollow Rd aid!

 No, Deb wasn't fueling with Gatorade....
...at Crisman Hollow aid station, mile 34.3

Somewhere in here we did Waterfall Mountain, which was tough. It was steep, long and it was getting hot. Behind me I had David Snipes yelling out " What's your heart rate now, Steve?" I'd yell back that it was 129 or 133. Once we reached the top, David took off, but I wanted to stay the course so we decided to just stay relaxed after the climb...

I don't remember much about Crisman Hollow, we didn't spend a lot of time there and I seem to remember eating a banana and some cookies, washed down with some cola, filled up my bottles with water and headed out. Next up was Moreland Gap, which was one of my favorties because of the fruit!

Moreland Gap aid station, mile 40.7

Soon we were in Moreland and caught up to Zsuzanna Carlson, who was leading the woman's race, but ended up with a tendon injury in her ankle/foot and had to stop. Here we again ate up and caught up to Paul Crickard and David Snipes and his merry band of followers. We would see a lot of these runners the rest of the run. Here I again had a banana and some cookies and Vicki Kendall, who fell on some rocks and busted up her knees, gave me some yummy bean dip with chips. What's this? I'm eating food in the Massanuttens? Usually I'm baaaarfing! In Moreland I was happy to see lots of fruit on the table, so I gorged myself on watermelon, grapes and whatever else I could find because I knew coming up was the Short Mountain section.The climbs, twisting and turning around the knobs on the ridge and the rocks of the Short Mountain section, notorious for bringing runners to their knees in the 100. We just stayed the course or heart rate and we knew that this section it would be getting dark on us, so I was planning on dropping the HR  transmitter at the next one, which is Edinburgh Gap, so on we go!

 Sunset from the Short Mountain ridge

Deb having some corn chowdah at Edinburgh Gap, mile 48.7

Reaching Edinburgh Gap at night was nice because they had some really good corn chowder there, which was a necessity because up next is the Powell ridge, another section like the Short mountain section. So here we sat for the first time all day, had two cups of soup, filled one of our bottles with cola, grabbed a 5 hour energy (that we never needed) and headed out. This section seemed to go on and on and unlike at the 100, we had no glow sticks to help guide our way. We had to keep looking for the orange blazes to be sure we were always on course. Soon we heard voices and to the left saw the aid station. Now I just wanted to get this thing done, so just grabbed my bottle, filled it with Coke and made sure to drink a whole bottle before refilling it and moving onto the next aid station...the final one, Powell's Fort! As I yelled to Deb that we had to get going, Snipes jumped up to continue with us. We somehow lost Paul, but knew he'd be back....he always seemed to pass us on each section like we were standing still. Snipes on the other hand, either got in the aid stations just ahead of or just behind us, so we always seems to be close by. It felt like a race...On to Powell's...

 Eva Pastlkova solos the late night Powell's Fort aid station, mile 62.7

On this section between Woodstock and Powell's Fort, it is an easy section. Some uphills, but mostly a nice downhill on mostly runnable trail. Brittany, one of David's followers, was losing her voice and having breathing difficulties, so David feeling responsible for her, waited and we got into Powell's ahead of him and Paul. We filled up with cola again and just kept going, saying hi to Eva before doing so. It was quite cold at the aid station, so on our way out Deb stopped to put on her long sleeve shirt, I stayed in my short sleeve even though I was cold, too. We jogged and walked the road until coming to the trail section to the left. We were commenting to each other about how many miss this and don't even realize it because you come back out on the road again up near the top. We headed up the trail and saw lights coming on us as we stopped to take some prophylactic Tylenol in prep for the Signal knob rocks that nearly killed us in 2003. While we did this, David, Paul and David's pacer, Cory caught up to us and that was how it stayed to the finish. At the top on the outlook trail, we took a short break and looked at the fantastic view of the city lights below....it was magical.  I wish I had taken a photo of this view. But without wasting much more time, we started down.

My light died not far from the top, so I stopped and got out my backup and while doing so they got a bit ahead of me...but I ran to catch them and did very quickly and made mention of that and the fact that we could possibly get in under 21 hours if we worked through the rocks a little bit. We then started discussing times, etc. and just settled in to a fast walk/jog down to the finish. I was yelling out at David that the only reason he worked so hard to stay with us was that he didn't want to get chicked by a 57 year old woman. He yelled back that if he was going to get chicked, he would want it to be Deb...so when we got to the finish line, he pushed Deb ahead of him. Little did he know that what he did was make Deb the first "official" runner to cross the line.

 Cory, David, Deb, Steve and Paul
1st place

Unfortunately for Jim Harris, Cam Baker and Keith Moore, they missed the turn onto the trail going up to Signal Knob...but they still finished the Ring, although unofficially. When we finished, Quatro told us we were tied for 4th with Deb being the first female finisher. That was better than we could have ever hoped for, considering how easy we were planning on doing this. The next morning at Portobello he got an email from Mike Bur that Jim and Cam were dq'd for missing that critical turn, then on the drive home on Monday we received a text message from Quatro that Keith Moore had also missed that turn. So we actually went from last to first! So one of my mantras when doing ultras is to always keep moving because "You just never know", worked in our favor...but we know that some fine runners did in fact finish in front of us...and behind us!

So that's it, probably my most enjoyable event of the year. I not only got to spend over 21 hours with Deb, but a whole weekend with some of my best friends in the world. When we were leaving Portobello on Monday morning for the drive home, Deb mentioned that these freinds are more family than our family is....that's the VHTRC, who we have been a member of for all of the 2000's after coming and running the MMT 100 and finding these great folks.

I want to thank Quatro Hubbard and Mike Bur for putting up with us all weekend and Kerry for her hospitality at Portobello. I also want to thank the many volunteers at the aid stations and the many running friends we shared the trail with that day.

So we started last and ended up first...what a great weekend. We now feel ready for the Bear 100, which is in 3 weeks!

As I always do, here is the list of what got me through this event...
Shoes: LaSportiva Imogenes
Socks: Drymax Trail Lite
Pack: Nathan 2 bottle waist pack
Fuel: Some EFS Liquid Shot, lots of Coke, several bananas, grapes, watermelon and many cookies.
Hydration: Water and Coke

To see the rest of my photos, go here:  http://picasaweb.google.com/ultrastevep/2010Ring#
To see the results, go here: http://www.vhtrc.org/results/ring10.htm

As I said, up next is the final big event of the year, the Bear 100 on Sept 24th.
Until the next post,
Steve

Monday, August 23, 2010

No, you're going the wrong way!

That's what Brian Rusiecki said to our group of three as we ran down towards Carter Hut on the Carter Moriah Trail and he was running towards us. Back to that after a few words...

This was the 2010 MMD 50K in the White Mountains in New Hampshire...a gnarly, rocky run and hike of about 33 miles with at least 13,000 feet of climb. It just so happens to be one of my favorite runs of the year and after have run it now for 6 times out of 7 years (I was in NM one year), I feel I own this race. It's just too bad I'm 58 now and can't get out of my own way.

 From about top Center is where the S/F is. Follow what looks like a ring, first on the right, that's Carter Ridge, travel along that top to bottom, then cross over the ribbon going down the center near Wildcat, climb up to the ridge on the left and go bottom to top along the ridge to Madison, back down to the S/F.

This year the race had Brian Rusieki and his girlfriend, Amy Lane running to give this event some credibility. In past years the only superstar we had run with us was Sue Johnston, but she now lives in Ca. Sue was in the area this year, but instead of running MMD, she set a new women's 48 4000 footer speed record in 4+ days. Incredible.

Here's the route I borrowed from Larisa Dannis' post on Views From The Top.
The Route: Barnes Field > Route 16 > Imp trail > North Carter trail > Carter-Moriah trail > Wildcat Ridge trail > Polecat trail > Crew-cut trail > Old Jackson Road > Tuckerman Ravine trail > Huntington Ravine trail > Nelson Crag trail > Gulfside trail > Clay Loop > Gulfside trail > Jefferson Loop > Gulfside trail > Lowe's Path > Star Lake trail > Osgood trail > Daniel Webster Scout trail > Barnes Field.

Now for the longer version... Starting at two minutes after midnight on Friday, I downed a 5 hour energy and we shot down the road at what felt like a 5K pace. As my breathing got heavier, I slowed the pace down and settled in with Larisa and between breaths we discussed ultras, fuel and that sort of thing. Soon we reached the Imp Trail and started up the long climb. Now we are on my type of terrain and I made short work of catching up to those ahead....Amy, then Howie Brienan and Rob Lanas all with Dima Fienhaus in tow. Dima's breathing got quieter as he fell back from my pace and now there was only one ahead of me, but I wasn't planning on ever catching Brian. Brian is one of the better ultrarunners on the Eastern side of the country and his light was already gone from view as he tore up the steep trail.

Now that I was clear of the runners, I stopped to remove a layer as I warmed up. So I was now in a short sleeve shirt on this 40 degree night with a sky full of stars and started cranking up the trail again as I heard Howie and Rob's voices getting closer again. I like running this ridgeline at night alone and is one of the reasons I pulled ahead...that and I wanted to show I meant business this year. My goal? Sub 13 hours...last year Jeff List and I ran together all day and I came in at 3rd in 13:20....I wanted to better that. I had been training hard all summer with weekly mileage peaking at 81 a few weeks ago.

As I ran along the boardwalk once up on the ridge, I thought of Deb and how she would thank God for our opportunity to be in such a wonderful place with such great friends. So I did that for her this year...it was absolutely glorious up there. A sky full of stars, dry rocks and cool temps. I cruised along almost effortlessly, thanks to the miles I have been putting in all summer up here in the Whites every weekend. I figured that soon I'd be coming to the Zeta Pass trail that would take me up to Mount Hight, but I came to an intersection of trails that made me think that I had somehow slipped by the trail...so I ran back knowing that Howie and Rob were not far behind me and within 5 minutes they came along and said we were still good. Next thing you know there it is, so we worked together up to and over Mount Hight after stopping to look at the setting moon and stars, but not for too long because it was cold up there!

As we made our way along the Carter Moriah trail towards Carter Dome we came upon Craig Wilson who had started 5 hours before we did so he wouldn't be out there all night and day and night again. We stopped, said hi and continued on our way and this is where the title of this post comes in. Running towards us is a runner with a light, just zipping along and over the rocks. We stepped aside and I jokingly said "You're going the wrong way!" And he said back, "No, you're going the wrong way!" It didn't even dawn on me that it was one of ours, Howie said how weird it was to see a runner out there training while we were out there. Then Rob said that he thought that was the guy who took the lead at the beginning mile on the road. Sure enough, a few minutes later Brian comes up behind us and said "You were right!, somehow I got turned around out here!" Seems at the Wildcat ski lift building he went around it looking for the ski slope and ended up running down the way he came, thinking he was continuing on the trail he was on. Strange things happen on the trail in the middle of the night!

A few minutes later we finally reach the top of Wildcat Mountain and looked for the Catapult slope, which Jeff told us earlier in the day was a good choice to run down. Was he ever wrong! The growth on the slope was neck deep in spots....no on most of it! It was at least waist deep and everywhere were these big fat yellow spiders sitting in the middle of their webs. I took the lead avoiding the spiders and holes in the ground that were hidden beneath the growth when all of a sudden in front of me was a huge mommy moose and her two babies. Never get close to any wild animal when they have their babies with them. Momma was huge, babies were horse size! I stopped in my tracks and yelled back "MOOSE!". As we all were standing there staring at her, she began to charge towards us. She was maybe 20 feet away and getting close fast. Brian was hiding behind a huge boulder, so I jumped behind him and Howie and Rob jumped behind us. She came as close as 10 feet, the turned quickly into the woods with babies in tow. We went to the far side of the slope in case she was watching us from the edge of the woods and headed down. We took a better route down then to get away from growth and spiders and there standing smack in front of us was a huge bull Moose the size of an elephant with a rack that must have spanned 10 feet! 

 This looks similar to the guy we saw without exaggeration

He was right in the middle of the slope and we had nowhere to go but wait, so it was now moose delay #2. Howie was thinking we could maybe go into the woods and bushwhack by the huge moose and as he went in the back of the moose, that was keeping his now glowing eyes on us, I was worried he would charge...but instead he cantered off to the other side and up a hill. We looked down and the trail/ski slope was all deep weeds, so we had to go up where the moose went to get on a better trail. We did and Bullwinkle was gone, or watching from the side. He wanted nothing to do with us nor we with him. He could probably kill all four of us with one charge with that large rack. We got down finally to the bottom and ran to the one aid station. We are at about mile 15, it is 5:10 AM and it took us 1 hour and ten minutes to get down 2+ miles because of all that I mentioned above. This is a typical instance at the MMD 50K ;-)

Not much time was spent at the aid station and when I saw that Brian was ready to go, I grabbed my pack and we headed out. Howie followed right behind us as we went on the Crew Cut trail across Rte 16, which will take us to Old Jackson Road to Tuckerman Ravine trail and the climb up to Mount Washington. The Crew Cut trail was just not good at all. I was leading and could barely find the trail in the early dawn hours, there were no markers, just what seemed like a once used foot path that went up steep hills and never seemed to come back down. Soon we reached Old Jackson Road, which is an easy jog down to the intersection with the Tuckerman Ravine Trail.
As we walked up Tuckerman, the pace seemed a bit too fast for me, so I backed off to try to stay within myself and save this race of mine. Go too fast now and there's be no sub 13 hours.

 Lower Huntington Ravine

It seemed to be taking an awfully long time to reach the right turn onto the Huntington Ravine trail, but I was just here training a couple of weeks ago and I remembered it seeming long then, too and because I was beginning to feel the pace and difficulty of the race, that alone made it seem longer, also...and within minutes, I heard their voices off to the right and I knew the trail junction was close. I took a few hits of my First Endurance EFS Liquid Shot, which is all I was using for fuel today and started the climb. My shoe choice today was for this trail and this trail only. The Huntington Ravine trail is considered the most dangerous trail in the Whites. It's sheer rock-face that must be climbed like a rock climber was why I chose to wear the LaSportiva Raptors with the sticky sole...and they worked like a charm, no slipping at all. But I was beginning to have issues with my legs cramping, most likely due to the faster pace than I am used to in the first half and also just plain old fatigue from the constant climbing and jumping down off of boulders. I kept sucking on the Liquid Shot to get the electrolytes to help and it would work for awhile, but then the cramping would start again. I learned during the day how to place my legs when climbing in order to keep them from cramping and it mostly worked along with the Liquid Shot. A flask of it has not only 400 calories, but 1500 MG's of electrolytes and Amino Acids. It worked for me all day long and I would occasionally get a little nauseous and would pull out a little baggie of chia seeds I brought along, chug them, chase with water and within minutes my stomach would feel better. Chia seeds absorb 9 times their weight in whatever fluid they are in and that includes stomach acid!

 Starting up the steep ledge of Huntington Ravine

 The Belly of the Huntington Ravine Trail
(photo of Jeff List during last years MMD)

Looking back into Huntington Ravine

Back to the race...I finally reach the top of Huntington and head towards the Nelson Crag trail which will take me to the 6,288 foot Mount Washington. I would occasionally catch a glimpse of Howie, but not Brian, so I assumed he took off on his own to go win the race. I also occasionally would look back to see if Rob was coming, but never saw him. Up on Washington it was wild with bumper to bumper traffic on the auto Rd we had to cross because today, as it is every year during MMD, was the annual bicycle race up the auto road to the summit. I reached the summit exactly at 8:00AM and as I walked into the restaurant at the top to refill my bladder, Howie was leaving. He wished me well and off he went. I went in, filled my bladder and bought a bottle of Coke to give me a pickup for the Presidential section of the race. I sucked it down and headed out and was there for maybe only 10 minutes.



I headed up and over the official summit as it was race rules to touch the summits and headed down the Gulfside trail, following Howie who I could see in the distance. I was getting tired, my stomach didn't feel too good and my feet were getting sore from the rocks...so I stopped and downed a couple of IBU's to help ward off the discomfort. I should have changed my socks at the aid station, my feet were soaked and whenever that happens something makes them hurt on the balls of my feet. Maybe the skin gets irritated, then all the rock hopping aggravates them. Oh, well nothing I can do about it now.




The rest of the Presidentials passed without issue other than the usual struggles with the cramps, fatigue, mild nausea and sore feet, but this is an ultrarace and everyone is most likely hurting just as much this deep into the run. I am not alone. I climbed up and over Clay, then Jefferson, struggling to the rock pile that claims to be the summit, the on to Lowe's Path and Adams Summit. Going up Lowe's I stumbled and went down chest first into the rocks, almost crushing my Liquid Shot flask I was sucking on, but it luckily didn't puncture, as it is my last one that I just opened and I have about 6 miles of difficult trail to go! On the top of Adams we have to go down the Star Lake trail...it is one mile of huge boulders, a very difficult trail that I remember struggling down last year...and did again this year. Once I finally got down to the bottom I washed my sticky hands in the small lake from the fall earlier when I got some Liquid Shot on them, then just went on by the Madison Hut. Last year at this point it was much hotter and I had to stop for some lemonade, but this year I had plenty of water, felt well fueled and still had a half of a flask left.

 Star Lake at the base of Mount Madison
Larisa Dannis photo

Up the Osgood trail to the Summit of Madison I went trying to keep the cramps at bay. The Ibu's were working for the feet and the fuel was keeping me alert. Get up over this pile of rocks they call a mountain and get down to the final trail. This all happened quite quickly, I looked at my watch and it showed 11:15, I had an hour 45 minutes to do 4.5 miles. Seems easy enough right? Well, the final trail, the Daniel Webster Scout trail is nothing but huge boulders facing in different directions from one another. You have no where to place your feet and slipping off one, causing injury is a huge risk I can't take right now and also the trail was barely marked with Blue fading paint...or was it orange? I remembered from last year that once below tree line it did get better and more runnable, so I decided that no matter how bad I felt I was going to hammer as best I can down this thing to keep Rob and/or Amy from catching me and also to do my best to get under 13 hours. I refused to look at my watch for the remainder of the downhill and just ran as fast as I could without tripping. I also noticed that occasionally I would see a wet shoe-print on the rocks and I then thought that maybe I was also closing in on Howie, who had told me earlier that the downhills were bothering his knee. Now this was fun! ...and then I caught a glimpse of a light colored shirt ahead. It was Howie, I had caught up to him and as I ran even faster to close the distance he turned and saw me, picking up the pace. Man, just what I needed...after running for over 30 miles and almost 12 hours, I am in a race with a guy almost 20 years younger than I am...and only 1.5miles from the finish! It was here that I saw RD's Jon and Rick along with Kevin Z. who flashed a camera as I passed by them. As I continued to close in on Howie I said that if I caught him I wasn't planning on passing him. I could sense he then relaxed a bit and I just said that it was stupid to race each other after being back and forth all day (plus I really knew in a man to an race, he'd kick my butt). So we jogged up the final mile tar road, Howie slowing down every now and then to stay together and we got back to camp at 12:20PM, which translates to a 12:18 finish. I just took 1 hour and 16 minutes off of last year's time. Pat Wheatley who greeted us, was the official time keeper and beer keep cold person ;-)

Sitting in camp washing off a bad gash on his leg was Brian, who finished in 11:45 and we all sat waiting to see who was next and within 10 minutes, Rob came running into camp. This was his first MMD and he did fantastic. Next up was the first woman, Amy Lane in around 13 hours, followed by Dima and then Larisa, who came in at 14:33, and was hoping for a sub 15. Larisa is an up and coming and very enthusiastic young ultrarunner, we will be hearing lots from her in the future of Ultrarunning. That's about all I remember and as soon as the official results are posted, I'll add them here.

From memory, it's possible I forgot someone and all times I do not know:

1. Brian Rusiecki 11:45
2. Howie Brienan and Steve Pero 12:18
3. Rob Lanas 12:35
4. Amy Lane ??
5. Dima Feinhaus 14:28
6. Larisa Dannis 14:33
7. Patty Duffy ??
8. Laurel Cox (Valley) ??
9. Jen Erickson, Laura Dewald and Fred Kirby 22:18
10. Craig Wilson 27:00

Every year many want in, but many either don't show up or don't make it all the way through the course, it's one of the hardest runs one can attempt.

It was a great day, possibly the best weather we've ever had for MMD. I just finished my 6th and most likley last as I am moving to NM soon.

Gear list:
Shoes: LaSportiva Raptors
Socks: Drymax trail lite
Pack: Nathan HPL #020 hydration vest
Shirt: Greenlayer Wasatch Speedgoat
Fuel: First Endurance EFS Liquid Shot, 4 flasks, 1600 calories. One Coke in there.

Most of the photos here are from last year, other than Larisa's...if you would like to see the rest of last year's photos go here.

To read Larisa's report on Views from the Top go here.

I Guess that's it for this time, up next the 71 mile Massanutten Ring in Virginia on Labor Day weekend, our final long run for the Bear 100, which is on September 25th.

Until Next time,
Steve

Monday, July 26, 2010

Catching up...

Hardrock
One of my favorite photos of the 2 weeks in Silverton.
Looking out our bedroom window in the Avon Hotel
with the Christ of the Mines statue front and center 

Well  I generally don't write on these pages unless I have run a race and many of you know the story of what happened at the Hardrock 100, I gave up my spot to Deb with minutes to go before the start.

Deb didn't know yet what I had planned

It was a no brainer....I already had 2 finishes in this direction, Deb was talking like she doesn't have many Hardrock chances left in her body and she was #1 on the wait list. At around 5:30AM (race start is 6), I went over and told Rebecca Clark, who was at the registration table, that if no one withdrew by 5:45, the close of check in, that I am officially withdrawing to let Deb run. We told Blake Wood, who was getting ready to run himself and was acting race director and at just before 5:45 he said "Go get her".

 Deb gets her official wristband 
Rebecca looking on very emotionally

It was very emotional in the Silverton Gym, tears all around. Deb at first refused to take my spot, but I told her that I had officially withdrawn to let her in and if she didn't run, the spot would go to the next person on the wait list. So She reluctantly took the spot.

 It all worked out so perfectly!

Next up was Deb having a great run, but not taking in enough electrolytes, she ended up Hyponatremic and had to stop at Sherman after spending 2+ hours at Grouse Gulch aid station. She refused to drop out with 10 minutes to go, so was timed out officially. So she didn't quit!

 Deb getting herself ready for the night
This is Ouray, about mile 47



Heading up the Bear Creek trail out of Ouray

Deb heading up out of Grouse Gulch

Running down into American Basin

This was the last climb, 14K'er Handies
Deb was here going up the last pitch

The best of the story is she came out of the race this year for the first time thinking that she can finish it again!  Nice thing is we got to spend hours together on some of our favorite trails :-)

So let's hope we both get in next year!!!

To view the rest of my photos I took during the two weeks, which included course marking day by day reports and trail work, go here... http://picasaweb.google.com/ultrastevep

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Vermont

The following weekend I was to Pace Bob Dunfey again at the Vermont 100. Bob ran into some trouble early on in the heat and had to drop (along with 45% of the starters!). So while standing in Ten Bear #1 a runner overheard me say that my runner had dropped and he said "I'd LOVE a pacer!". Enter Phil Rice from Fredricksburg, Va. A big brute of a guy, weighing in at 206 pounds and chewing tobacco while running. This ought to be fun!

 Phil before the race


And it was! Phil was great and once we hooked up, passed people all night long with the original goal of a sub 24....as that slipped away we shot for a sub 25 and settled for pushing it in for a sub 26 in 25:53.
Looking at these splits you can see he moved up through the field all day long. From Ten Bear where I picked him up, he went from 123rd place to finishing in 85th, passing 38 runners during the night.



Vermont is always so much fun and is one of the races I'll miss being at when I finally do move to NM. On that note, we close on the house I showed in the last post on July 31st, Deb moves in without my help on August 4th and after having the granddaughters visit for a couple of weeks, will fly to New England to spend a week with me before we drive down to run the Massannuten Ring, a 72 mile tour of the Massannuten Mountains on most of the same trails as the 100.

Up next, MMD50K in the White Mountains! Then the Bear 100 late September.

Until then, Happy Trails out there!
Steve