Shortly after being notified by my wife that she would be visiting her grandmother in Iowa at the end of September, my eyes were glued to race calendars, I know I get bored easily and am always looking for something to do (that's still fun) when ever she's away. I was surprised to see that my local options were quite limited, it came down to 2 races, the Bellingham Bay Marathon or the Hundred in the Hood, the major obstacle with both being expenses. Right away, I knew which race I was more interested in, here's how I saw it, I could pay $110 to run 26.2 miles with about 1400 other runners (including the half marathoners and 5Kers) on the streets of a city I've been to numerous times -OR- I could drop an extra $40, get to run an extra 73.8 miles (turns out it was even more than that) on the famous Pacific Crest Trail which I had yet to step foot on in any state! Again, the decision seemed simple.
After wrangling up some spare $$ (thank you record collection, I knew I kept you around for some reason), arranging a dog sitter (thank you Zale & Morrie), and working out travel arrangements (HUGE thank you Tony, Shawn, & Bob), all that was left to do was the small matter of running 100 miles!
Friday morning I headed to Shawn's house and meet with her and Tony, soon we were on the road to Government Camp, OR. After checking into the hotel (again, HUGE thank you Tony & Shawn) we headed to the race's starting line where packet pick-up was being held, there we said our hellos to a few familiar runners and after a little while headed back into town for pizza and an early retirement to the mattress.
The next morning 3:00am came as early as it sounds like it might, never the less, it was up and at 'em, we got prepared, checked out of the hotel, and drove to the race start with a good half hour or so to spare. The morning was surprisingly chilly and I ended up spending most of the spare time staying toasty in the car, with about 10 minutes 'til the start we headed up and schmoozed a bit with some familiar faces. While waiting for the start I was able to find Rob, he and I had emailed back and forth a bit prior to the race discussing the idea of shooting for a sub-24 hour finish, we had decided that we'd give it a shot but that ultimately, finishing was still the main priority.
Olga, the co-race director (who, by the way has a great race report on here blog - follow the link), said "GO!" and we were off, into the darkness. I allowed Rob to take the lead, knowing I have no abilities when it comes to even pacing, and soon we were in the woods on the PCT where we would spend the majority of the run. The early going portions, I don't think, could be considered 'technical' but in the dark they did require a bit of consideration prior to each step, but as the hours went forward the trail became smoother and soon the day light was enough to guide our way. Once the headlamp was turned off I really came alive, besides avoiding bees (who managed to sting 3 different runners who were near me, but didn't get me), I was really enjoying my time on the trail, the miles seemed to rush by and before I knew I found myself at the turn around of the first out and back section of the race (mile 14 at Frog Lake). At the aid station I grabbed a few snacks, refilled my water bottle, and was quickly out again.
Plain 100 less than 2 weeks prior, and as a result, I was just 'feeling' some portions of the race more than he was at the time. I would run ahead then walk for a while until Rob would come up fast on my heals, we kept this going for some time until, at one aid station, Warm Springs Meadows I believe (mile 38.5), I took an extended detour into the woods, working on some, umm, 'secondary business,' when I emerged back on to the trail I was unaware of whether or not I had been passed so I decided to go on as if I had been, it turns out that Rob still was behind me at this point but that wouldn't be known for hours.
When I sat down at Olallie Meadows I changed my socks and shoes, attempted to address some blister issues on the heal of my left foot, and proceeded to eat most everything in site. The volunteers at Olallie were amazing, rushing around making sure each runner had what they needed and then some, I must admit this did make the getting up and leaving all the more unappealing, never the less, I did eventually get up and was once again on my way.
From 55 to the Olallie Lake aid station at mile 58.3 I ran alone, despite the actually distance, this portion seemed long but soon enough I was once again being greeted by friendly volunteers (including a guitar strumming, beer drinking, singer who welcomed runners as we approached)!
I had been feeling good through out the race, but as I continued on to Breitenbush Lake at mile 65 time, time seemed to slow, and miles dropped off slower and slower. At one point, on my way up the hill that way clearly between myself and the aid station, I caught up with Gilles (whom, you may remember I spent the night running with at STORMY), I asked him how much further and he told me that the runner who had just past us going the opposite direction (on the "back" portion of this out and back) told him he had left the aid station 40 minutes (!) ago... I was stunned... how could it still be that much further?
Eventually though, I did arrive, I promptly sat down and soon was talking with 'Mike,' a Californian runner who was attempting his first 100. While talking it became apparent that he was in a bit of a jam, it seems he was with out his drop bag due to some miscommunication between himself and his crew, it was getting cold out and he nothing but what clothes he was already in, I loaned him some cheapo gloves and an extra shirt to layer over what he was already wearing and soon we both headed back into the woods. Once on the trail, it seemed to me the the head lamp Mike was wearing may not be adequate, I insisted he take my hand held flash light as well in case we ended up getting separated, soon there after, that's just what happened. I, for some reason, had gotten my second wind as night fell and was now running good again, eventually I lost sight of Mike behind me but continued forward knowing needed to take advantage of any strong running I had left.
Between 65 and the next aid station at mile 71.4 crossed paths with Rob once again, obviously he was behind me but I was glad to see that he appeared to be moving well so imagine my surprise when I got to the next aid station and there he sat, wrapped up in a blanket sitting next to the fire. He told me he had decided to drop back at mile 65 and was given a ride up to this aid station, I was disappointed for him as I know he was really hoping for a finish, but I won't begin to pretend that I know how it feels to run 70 at Plain and then another 65 less than 2 weeks later, especially knowing that we had both gone out too fast.
I joined Mark Dahlby on the way out of the aid station, together we ran for quite some time. At mile 75, the second visit to Olallie Meadows camp grounds, I once again changed my socks as Mark mumbled a bit about dropping, after a little shit talking from me and some pampering from a very helpful aid station volunteer, we were back on our feet, trying to stay warm as we headed back to the 'Pinheads' aid station.
Despite the good company from Dahlby, miles 75 to 'pinheads' at 85.6 were an unquestionable low spot for me. The entire 10 or so miles, I struggled trying to regulate my temperature going back and forth between too cold and too warm, on the few occasions that I did feel comfortable drowsiness would creep in, and my sleepy feelings were only worsened when the batteries in my head lamp began to dim. Mark did his best to keep me going though I am confident that I slowed us both down considerably, at one point I even needed to use his hand held as my headlamp had dimmed just too much to be useful. When we finally got to 'Pinheads' I was a mess, i sat down to change my batteries and was soon falling asleep being cared for by the volunteers like an ER patient. I told Mark to be on his way, as he was clearly moving better than I was and I had already wasted enough of his time as he waited there for me.
When I finally did head out, I was lucky enough to quickly end up on the heals of 2 more CA runners, Danni & Chris, they first offered to let me pass, but I had just worked hard to catch up with them and when I declined, Danni asked if I wanted to stick with them for a while, I jumped at the opportunity and was thrilled to have company. Despite the fact that I had gone back out on the trail on my own accord, I was still feeling, mentally, very fuzzy, and I can say for a fact that had I not joined up with these two I would have really been stuck in my rut.
I ran with Danni & Chris up until the last 3 miles or so, at which point I decided I'd see what, if anything, I has left. Shortly after breaking off and moving ahead of them I paused and sat on a log (don't ask me why, I really can't say except that I was feeling sorry for my self) very soon after I heard Chris's voice instructing me to "go on, git!," it made me laugh and got my ass in gear one last time, from that point on moved forward with purpose, running a good chunk and walking with determination when running didn't feel like an option. Finally, I saw the turn off on to the road which I knew lead to the finish, I began to run and didn't stop 'til I crossed the line, relieved and exhausted. My official finish time was 28:56:19, almost an hour faster than my STORMY finish time.
In the end, I generally had a great time out at 'Hood,' though I must admit, I feel like I'm may need to be out there next year again, just because I do think I can run better and faster on that course. At this point recovery is going well and I'm looking forward to the Carkeek 12 hour at the end of the month, between now and then I have my first half marathon (weird, I know) and hopefully plenty of good training miles!