Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sheriffs, Shotguns, and Goats: Robert Wehner's 2009 Hellgate Report

BAM!!  No, it wasn’t the starter’s pistol of the Hellgate 100; it was a shotgun blast from someone’s front porch.  To shut up his barking dogs.  Dogs that were barking as Brad and I walked past his shack.  The shack right next to the pen holding a big pig.  With a pack of goats free-ranging about.  The only thing missing was the sound of banjos.  I guess we weren’t in Wisconsin anymore Toto.

Brad and I were helping the RD, David Horton, with trail marking before the race, as the race doesn’t start until midnight.  David is definitely a type “A” person, and the ride out to the start was quite a trip.  David drove with one hand on the wheel, and two eyes everywhere but the road (and the speedometer).  He loved pointing out all of the features of the Blue Ridge mountains, and talking about all things running.  This led to being stopped by Virginia’s finest, and a speeding ticket.  Looks like he’ll need another line item on the race expense report.

Helping out also gave us a chance to check out some of the trail conditions we would be encountering that night.  At the start, there was the dead deer carcass; okay, don’t step over here to take a last-minute leak.  At the river crossing about 3 miles into the race, we plotted out the best route across; the water was cold, deep, and moving fast.  On the next 4-mile climb to Petite’s Gap, there were patches of ice and snow higher up; won’t need screws though like 2005.  We also checked out the last few miles of the course as well, and arrived back at Camp Bethel with plenty of time to get gear ready for the race.

I had had some GI tract issues the past 2 years at Hellgate, which slowed me down a bit, so I was itching for a better run this year.  Getting knocked out of Voyageur by bees in July had also left a chip on my shoulder.  So I ran the first third of the race fairly aggressively, staying ahead of splits from previous years.  Temps at the start were in the teens; lows during the night were expected to dip into the single digits.

With the relentless up and down of the course, and miles of rocky single track, you can expect some low points during the race.  This year was no exception, but I was able to keep moving fairly decent most of the time.  10+ hours into the race, I had a good stretch, and caught 5 runners in a short period of time.  Halfway through the second to last section, Helen Lavin popped up behind me, and we ran together for a little while.  Helen eventually pulled away, winning the women’s division.

While I had been able to stay ahead of past years’ splits, the aggressive running I did earlier in the race was starting to catch up with me.  I was not able to run the final section as fast as before, but did mange to PR by 4 minutes, finishing in 9th place in 13:29.  Finishing this race is no gimmie, so it feels good to be 6 for 6.  Brad had a phenomenal race, bettering his PR by an hour and 24 minutes, good for 23rd in 14:57.

Hopefully I’ll be motoring around in Horton’s truck again next year, and standing once again on the starting line of the Hellgate 100 at midnight.

Monday, December 14, 2009

High Desert 50K - Angela's Race Report

After a busy week of Christmas partying with my co-workers in southern California and averaging 3-4 hours of sleep a night I headed east last Saturday afternoon to the high desert with my husband Steve to run the High Desert 50K in Ridgecrest CA. A town the size of Franklin Wi – about 30,000 people and most businesses deal with tattoos or bail bonds. I am still not sure how Steve occupied himself while I ran, but I am sure the story will come out at some point.

After packet pick-up we headed out to a local pizza establishment so that I could properly carb up for the race. Steve taunted me by ordering a pitcher of the local made amber beer!! Who could have known that such evil lurked in the kind and amiable man that I was married to….however after years of abuse perhaps he was finally getting some justice.

Sunday turned out to be a perfect day to run for a couple of reasons. The first was that after taking my Tylenol PMs I actually enjoyed 10 hours of sleep Saturday night and the second was the all day rain – which is a huge rarity in CA -  took place the following day!! The weather was ideal on Sunday – starting temp of 30 degrees with a high of 50 – perfect!!!

About 230 people ran the 50K. The trail is easy running – it is the ONLY race that I am able to look around and enjoy the scenery.  A bit over 5200 elevation change. Sorry Joel – no quad burning stories here.  Surprisingly the desert is a beautiful place for a run with some great views in the mountains. After a couple of hours the wind picked up to 30mph continual gusts making the up-hills harder to deal with.  However at the end of the day the sand facial worked wonders on my face, taking off a couple of years of wear.

Not too much else to say other than I was  sad when I hit the last 3 mile down hill coming out of the mountains. Too much fun to end so fast!!! Finished up with a one mile loop around the college and I was done!!

The High Desert 50K is a fun race, great markings and aid stations about every 3 miles. It is one that I am sure that I will run many more times.

We found a great Mexican place in Ridgecrest  that night and then headed back to LA to attend the Ellen show and then to San Diego for a couple of days before the true highlight of the trip; meeting up with the self proclaimed best looking LPTR member – Kevin, in LA for a night of proper rehydration before our trip back home.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

NorthFace 50 mile San Francisco: A story of sex, lies and deception

 (submitted by Joel Lammers...)

I traveled to San Francisco with my wife Sandee for a mini vacation and to run the NorthFace 50K.  By the time I signed up for the run, the 50K was full so I signed up for the 50 mile.  No problem.  I was in pretty decent shape and figured I could manage a few hills. 
The run took place in the Marin Headlands which is just across the Golden Gate Bridge, just north of San Francisco. The run started at 5:00am which is normally a time when I’m snuggled in bed.  It began and finished at Fort Berry.  I heard this was a place that they water board ultra runners but when I arrived I found that wasn’t true.  

The run started out with a 5 mile fire road loop that went up 850 ft and then came down 850ft.  My quads were already feeling it.  We continued on fire roads until we hit the second aid station at about 9 miles.  It was now getting light.  We continued along for the next 10 miles making 3 climbs of 300 – 600 ft mostly on fire roads and some single track. About 15 miles we started about a 1,400 ft climb that started out relatively gradual and then progressed to about 2 miles of switch backs.  They were fun to run and you could see all the runners above and below you.  Life couldn’t get better.  Once we hit 19 miles we descended 1,400, much of it on single track technical trails.  This was killing my quads but I was still pretty fresh and moved along quite nicely.  The later part of this was along the Dipsea trail which was along a babbling brook with large redwood trees.

At about 21 miles we began a 1,800 ft climb.  This was mostly switch backs through a tropical type woods.  The ends of the switch backs had about 6 stairs to climb to get to the next level.  This went on for about 3 miles when I finally came out of the woods to open areas where we proceeded on a rolling trail to the 26 mile point and back.  About 31 miles we went in to a 1,300 foot decent that made my ears pop.  They clogged up on the plane ride so this felt good.  Unfortunately, that was about all that felt good on my body but I was still moving along quite nicely until 33 miles when we went up for a while and then took another 900 ft. decent.  At this point, my quads felt like they had Wayne Laravie daggers stuck in them but then the course leveled out for a whole 2 miles.  I felt like a new person.  I loaded up on food at the 40 mile aid station and was feeling pretty good but my legs were just trashed. We then went on about a 900 ft. climb over the next 4 miles.  Most of this was on fire roads so the footing was good but the climbing was killing me.  I hit the 44 mile aid station and loaded up on food again.  I could tell some chick was checking me out so I said “Great aid station, huh”?  and she said, “Yah”.

I left and the aid station on another 700 ft. climb.  I was mostly walking at this point. Would this ever end???   One guy even complemented me on how fast I could walk.  You know you’re desperate for motivation when hear a compliment like that and it actually make you think you are doing well.  I caught up with the gal from the aid station and found out she belonged to the St Louis Ultra Runners Group of which I also am a member. Her name was Sara and we exchanged best wishes and said we would see each other at the Chubb Trail Race in April. 

I finally made it to the 47 mile aid station. It was all down hill from here.  The problem was that my quads were killing me and it hurt to walk down hill.  I then envisioned myself downing a cold Pyramid Beer (sponsor of the run) at the finish.  I started to run, and run like the wind I did.  Running the last 2.7 miles in 22 minutes breaking the old California record by almost 2 minutes!!  When I turned the corner for the finish, the crowd began to cheer…and loud.  It was my wife and all her new friends in the beer garden yelling for me.  This didn’t surprise me because she had 2 hours to kill after finishing the ½ marathon and what better way to do that then to drink beer and think of ways to embarrass her husband at the finish.  I finished in 9:07.

After the run we spent a couple of hours meeting new people and drinking beer. They had a nice set up at the finish with food, door prizes, giveaways, etc.  We then hooked a ride back to San Fran with a couple of our new friends.

I would highly recommend this run for anyone who would be interested.  It has long climbs and descents but beautiful views and scenery.  The price was reasonable because you received a NF Tech shirt, NF Socks, NF Quick Draw water bottle and a nice party at the finish all for about $100.  You can also stay in San Fran which is only a $27 cab ride to the start.

That’s all I have to say.

PS:  The Sex, lies and deception line was just to get you to read the whole report.