Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Making raisins

A couple of weeks ago I got the opportunity to meet and run with one of Kris's long time friends. She is an ultra runner who once lived in Portland but moved to California. While we were all running she was telling us about this great but concerning adventure she had swimming with sharks. This adventure was deliberate. When we quizzed her about why she chose such an experience she educated us on her neurosis. She gave use the the definition of FOMO. A neurosis which means, "Fear Of Missing Out". I don't really suffer from a severe case of FOMO but when it comes to running I might need to seek treatment. My mild case of FOMO is what got me into the Sierra Nevada Endurance Run. My friend Susan and her friend Kristin were heading to CA to participate in the race. Susan was doing the double marathon as her final preparation for Kansas 100M. I didn't want to miss out on a great opportunity to run a flat easy 50M! Plus, the 80 degree temperature would be the perfect test run for heat.

I signed up 3 weeks before the race and didn't read any of the course description. What I did do was take Susan's pace chart and pin it to my shorts. She gave me a quick run down of what she thought the race was and I just sat back and went along for the ride. Now often times ignorance is bliss but I might have taken that one step to far on Saturday. When we arrived in Sacramento it was hot and the weather was predicted to get hotter over the weekend. Seems they have had a cool summer but some super hot days have crept in here and there. Looks like we hit the heat jackpot! The last time I ran in anything over 85 degrees was 3 years ago when I ran WS100M. In fact, I can't remember the last time I felt 85 degrees let alone run 52.4 miles in it. Immediately upon settling in we decide to shake the legs out. We head for the American River bike path which was just down the road from Kristin's brothers place. Susan and I are chatting and sweating having a great time. When we turned around we headed back on the wrong trail. We end up in some gated community where some lady walking her standard poodle crossed the road to avoid contact. All we wanted to do was ask her where the hell we were. We decide it would be best to retrace our steps and head back to the trail head. We again take a wrong turn and end up on some 2 track trail that came to an abrupt end. Now 1.5 hours into our 35 minute jog we decide to call Kristin and have here come get us. We had 2 obstacles. First, no phone and second we needed to hike up a steep hillside into someones back yard. To make things more interesting we were on the hill side with giant wild turkeys and deer. Have I ever mentioned I don't like large bird types? In addition to the wildlife we were wading through thigh high star thistle, scratch, scratch. Finally at the top we ask some nice woman in her car to use her phone. She was incredibly sweet and helpful. Kristin and her sister in law came an retrieved us. We were at least 2 miles out of our way. What a way to start the trip!

After stewing all night about how I would handle the 98 degree revised forecast it was time to go. I had my normal elaborate plan on how to go light, drop my pack, when to carry handhelds and so on. All that pretty much went out the window after I started draining my 40 oz tanker in around 3 miles. The course was no where near the gravel road I thought it was on. We started out on single track and never left it. At about mile 10 I realized my elaborate plan was out the window and I was in for a day of survival. Even though I haven't been in this kind of exposed heat in years I have the memory of an elephant. Which at times is most annoying but this time it came in handy. I knew the only way I would survive this heat was to cool myself from the outside. Draining my 40oz tanker was simply not going to cut it. There was no way my body could process enough liquid to cool itself. First because the heat was too extreme and second because I have not even come close to training it to digest liquid that fast. The course was not easy. In fact, I found it to be moderately difficult. The footing was okay and the trail was wide enough but it twisted, turned and had rolling terrain. Folsom Lake is almost always in sight as you make your way up to Auburn Dam Overlook. However to reach Auburn Dam Overlook you need to climb the cardiac trail. On this day....that was a perfect description. It was steep and rocky and at this time of day it was cooking hot. My respiration was weakening fast. I knew this was a result of my body heating up. My goal at this point was to find any all water and dunk myself. I needed to cool my core temperature. My stomach was perfect and my body felt strong but none of that really matters if you can't breath. I knew I was getting dehydrated but I was putting in as much liquid as I could get my hands on. I was popping succeed like tick-taks! All of this was good but not enough for my Salmon trained Oregonian like state. Once we climbed Cardiac we were treated by the most beautiful canal I have seen. We ran along this lovely 3 foot deep flowing body of water for 2 miles. I took one look at that baby and didn't even consider it might be drinking water. I was fully submerged before you could say, "Last one in's a ????". It was immediate relief. Arriving at Auburn Dam Overlook (mile 22) I was in good spirits, cooled off and thinking I got this. Oh, I forgot to mention, on my way there I got to see my first blood puking. Not mine but another runner's. This was disturbing because it was really red and there was a lot of it. I hope they dropped. Once you leave mile 22 you descend

on an old road down into the canyon just to climb out the back side of Robie Point. That was really neat. Once at Robie Point I reminisced about WS100M and wondered if once I descend down to No Hand Bridge (the turn around and end of the single marathon) if my hike out will be slower than when I ran WS100M? It seriously could have been. No matter what it was awesome to be running there again. At No Hands they had the finish shoot for the marathon and believe it or not it wasn't even tempting. Though I felt slow, was so darn hot and I knew it was going to be long haul I was up for the challenge. This race had now turned into an opportunity to test my heat skills. :) So far, my fueling was good, my attitude was tolerable and my body was cooperating. I made the turn and pretended I was racing for the win at WS100M. It was good time to dream the big dream and loose myself. That worked for about 2 miles then the chills started and my respiration began to get super shallow. Time to get cooled down again. Heading back to the Overlook (mile 30) I knew I needed to sit and sponge off. I arrived and did just that. Got my supplies and headed for the lovely canal. I was literally salivating at the thought of the cool dip in the lovely running water. I knew I had 2 miles of running along the top so felt it was appropriate to submerge 2 times. Once at the start and once just before we leave and begin the descent down cardiac. The only thing sticking out of the water was the 4 inch oval of my face. I stayed in for 2 solid minutes each time. It was awesome. After my swims I headed down the cardiac trail arriving at the next aid station. Again I sat and sponged off. The next section was absolute hell! It was 8 miles long. I had 45 oz of liquid and drank a good bunch before I left. I knew I would run out. I felt pretty good but once again I began to heat up. This section was torture. We ran along Folsom Lake watching water skiers, boaters and swimmers all enjoying the cool water on this wicked hot day. However, the trail we were on is just far enough above the lake to make it dangerous to attempt a swim. Most of the time there was a good 20 foot drop off down to the lake after a 5 minute bushwhack. This is where I got pissed! So far my plan of cooling myself from the outside worked well. Now there was water, water everywhere and no way for me to access it. I was getting heat exhausted. Chills and delirium were setting in. I was walking downhill and just plain having a heat tantrum! Out of water and desperately sucking on my dry hose as if I kept wishing water would appear. I was about 5 miles in when I came to and power station. Wahooooo, this baby regulates some water flow which meant there was water. I staggered down to that water source and spent a long 5 minutes fully soaking up every bit of it's coolness. It was so awesome I may never forget it! Once out I was reborn. My body would begin to process and it was the only time I would pee.....post soak. My respiration would return to normal and my system would begin to relax. I knew I had about 20 minutes of good running before my body would heat back up again. Lord knows when I could get back in so I ran hard searching for the aid station. I had been out of water long enough. Then the angels arrived. Volunteers were walking back with jugs of water knowing runners were dry. They gave me 20 oz to get another mile. I was so grateful. I drank it all before I arrived. All I had left was 11 miles to finish. I filled my tanker and headed out still taking advantage of any bit of water access. We had 5.8 miles to the next aid and I hiked down to Folsom Lake twice. My garmin said I detoured .4 miles each time. That sounds about right and it was worth every additional step. However on my last swim I lost my favorite sunglasses....uhgggg. I finally found the finish line in 11:28. The course is 52.4 miles and 6,920 feet of ascent. It's a great course. I loved the fact we were running to No Hands Bridge and back. The race staff and volunteers were great. They really took care of us out there. They were awesome and very encouraging.

I am pretty pleased with how my body and system held up. This was fairly extreme heat for me and I am thrilled I held up as well as I did. My legs were fine the next day. I really didn't get the opportunity to trash my physical self. I drank a ton of fluids the following 2 days but was still a raisin. I drank and drank. Today I am still not at my post race weight so either I had miraculous weight loss out there or I am still making up for water loss. It was a great training torture for Javelina! The moral of this story is if you suffer from FOMO you should seek help as you might find yourself in hot water!


  1. Nice work! I have a chronic FOMO problem.

  2. Congrats on sticking it out and managing the heat. This past weekend was our first not in the 90s. I'm so ready for cooler temps.

  3. Love the FOMO neurosis, it really drives us from toddler onwards. Way to get through the heat!

  4. So all you needed was a bike and you could have called this a Triathlon? The person barfing blood? Now that is scary, never heard of that unless you are bleeding inside. That heat just sounds killer. But way to hang in there. That is a great finish time for how much swimming, and off trail hikes you took.

  5. Great way to beat the heat! I was there too, but only did the marathon. Having trained on this terrain for several months, the heat will always kick your butt.

    FOMO - it's nice to know what to call this disease now as I too suffer from it.

    Great RR

  6. I loved reading your report, reminiscing about those trails :) The Rio Del Lago 100M runs along that same portion of the course, and then some, and the section out to No Hands is my favorite!! Great job rolling with it and dealing with the heat in stride. I love your idea of dunking in the water, sounds so refreshing! Good luck at JJ100!

  7. How cool (or not!) that you were able to run to No Hands, Robie Point, et al again!! Sounds like a great prep race for Javelina. And I laughed out loud when I read that the last time you had run in temps over 85 was three years ago!!?? Geez. Come east, my friend, and we will show you a HOT time :-)

  8. Awesome time for a difficult day, and way to survive the heat! I experienced that trail three weeks ago at Rio (my first and failed attempt at 100 miles). It was hot by my standards that day too, though not as bad as your day. I dunked my T-shirt in a stream a few miles before Cardiac, then draped it over my shoulders for the blessed coolness, then again in the flume and at every aid station. That and ice in the bra and hat kept me somewhat cool, but there still was no escape from the radiative heat coming off the sunbaked trail.

    Interesting that your weight is still down. Does your weight generally stay down for a few days after an ultra? I tend to spike up two days later- I think it's due to overcompensated sodium retention.

    Good luck at Javelina! I know you'll rock it.


  9. I had a great time reading your post. I enjoyed every lines.