A 2015 WS100 Reflection: “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” –Dr. Seuss

I said it during the Trail Runner Nation podcast on tapering http://trailrunnernation.com/2015/06/whats-in-a-taper-with-aliza-lapeirre-paul-terranova/ and I’ll write it here again: the weeks and days before and after any Western States (or any “A” race) are downright bittersweet (but still more sweet than bitter). The long journey is almost over, race week goes by SO fast, race day goes by EVEN faster, and the days after are spent playing and replaying the events of the journey in your head, in your dreams, with crew and pacers, via photos, videos, interviews, liking, sharing, tagging, etc. My reluctance as of late to tap out race reports seems to stem from wanting to hold on to and savor the experience for as LONG as humanly possible. Normally I’m ready to quickly move on to the next training block and/or race, but the build-up to States for me is a 20+ week process. Writing it out somehow feels like the closing finale, and dangit I have some Girl Scout cookie eating to do!

“Driving slow on Sunday morning, and I NEVER wanna’ leave…” – Maroon 5

This reflection will merely serve to fill in the gaps and/or elaborate on what the results, post-race interview  and post-race roundup may not have captured.

-Catching your toe and hitting the dirt/rocks HARD early on the high country with fellow 40-49 AG competitor Sondre Amdahl right behind you was NO fun. Tuck and roll, baby, tuck and roll. Thankfully, Sondre helped me recollect my scattered bottles and get back moving. Was thankful to have arm sleeves on to minimize the damage, left knee took the brunt of this first fall. Had the crew proactively slap some cycling cream (DZ NUTS) on the knee (and later on quads, hammies, calves, etc.) to keep things from tightening up at Dusty Corners, Foresthill, and Green Gate. “Thorough preparation makes its own luck.” – Joe Poyer dznuts

-Ultralegend and ultraphotographer Gary Wang was seemingly EVERYWHERE on course. So cool to see him and other friends and supporters out there capturing the race in images and video. ws2015

-Catching your other toe and face-planting in the dust on the descent down to Swinging Bridge (right after the new smaller bridge) was even LESS fun. Thought one of my two bottles was going to plunge down the cliff (which would have left me with only one for the hot climb up to Devil’s Thumb) but was saved by the Diego Maradona “hand of God” If a runner falls in the woods and there is no one to see him/her, did it really happen? fun meter-Catching your other other toe and supermanning into the ground almost at the end of the descent down to El Dorado Canyon totally PEGGED my fun-meter! Gosh, I got to the aid station absolutely filthy and livid with myself for falling a third time as I’m sure the aid station volunteers there can attest. However, taking the time to get wet (and partially clean) before the climb up to the oven (aka Michigan Bluff) was well worth it! Super thankful for all the cross-training, hot yoga, and sauna sessions (i.e. training multipliers) I continue to put in year after year at Pure Austin . Other than my upper body being mildly sore 6 days after the race, any 1 of those 3 falls could EASILY have ended my day.

“This summer’s gonna’ hurt like a mother…” – Maroon 5

-High-fiving HOKA teammate Mike Morton, yeah THAT Mike Morton , coming through Michigan Bluff was a total surprise and incredibly motivating!!!! Thanks Mike for being out there!

-High-fiving HOKA teammate Jorge Maravilla, aka the happiest man in ultrarunning, coming through Foresthill is equally as motivating, thanks Jorge!!!

-Putting ice in your arm sleeves really helps. In 2013 I wore an Ultimate Direction AK Race Vest and we put loads of ice in the back pouch that worked really well too.

-Pretty sure I saw a tarantula on the side of the gravel road between Michigan Bluff and Volcano Canyon, didn’t stick around long enough to confirm and I was lucid enough that it definitely wasn’t a hallucination!

-Was ever so briefly in 10th place between Cal-3 and the River after getting around Ryan Smith and his pacer Ashley Erba, before getting absolutely steamrolled by the Australian express Andrew Tuckey at Sandy Bottom. BMort and I hung tough and kept him in sight to the river crossing, reminiscing about the 2013 battle for top-10 here with Patagonia teammate Jesse Haynes and Jeremy Humphrey .

-Yes, crossing the American River on foot by cable feels as refreshing as it looks!!! Next year, God willing, I will pull/float myself across the river like Krar did, seems like an efficient way to get across without having to navigate your feet around and over the big slick submerged rocks.

-Smart move: Made a game-time decision (coming up Bath Road) to change shoes and Team RWB socks at Green Gate this year. The past 2 years I’ve swapped out shoes/socks at Foresthill. This year worked out really well. Changed from Challenger ATRs to a lighter (and drier) pair of Cliftons (same ones I wore at Rocky Raccoon 100 this year) for the last 20 miles.

-Green Gate to Highway 49: BMort and I just kept pressing forward and staying positive, we knew that someone in front of us was going to have to crater or fold and we just needed to be in position to capitalize on it. Hal, yeah THAT Hal Koerner , gave us a heads-up at his Brown’s Bar aid station that we might be seeing Francois sitting in a chair at Highway 49. Time to move bro’! When we got there it was all business, grab bottles, Meredith walked me through and gave me a quick update (MAJOR thanks to Mike and Cindy for keeping my crew updated with the latest tracking information), and Justin and I were off. Heard cheering about 2 minutes after we left so either Francois had rallied or we had company from somebody else moving well. Bombs away! RUN HARD FOR MACKEY.  Huge props to Francois for rallying after getting sick pre-race, being in the lead and top 5 nearly all day, and then sticking it out for the finish.

-FINALLY had a good climb up to Robie Point and on the pavement!!! HUGE thanks to Patagonia teammate and States legend AJW for meeting my crew and me for the celebratory run to the track. WOW, we had fun and it’s definitely satisfying to put forth an effort that he and others appreciate and does this event the justice it deserves. Finish line hug 2015

When the sweet ache of being alive,
lodged between who you are
and who you will be,
is awakened,
befriend this moment.
It will guide you.
It’s ache is what moves you.

~Mark Nepo~

-The aftermath: another well-earned post-race In-N-Out Burger feast and post-awards ceremony Pete’s Brewhouse Monster Cookie and Delta Mudslide Pie

-The after-aftermath: bookend workouts…Tuesday afternoon road my beater mountain bike (aka billy-goat) to the library to drop off/pickup books and got absolutely DUMPED on by torrential rains. Two weeks before States I hit the Austin High track on an early Sunday morning for my last hard track workout, I call it the Igloi 7k and it ABSOLUTELY came down in buckets the entire time I was out there. The gift was I had the track ALL to myself and got treated to some double rainbows. Good karma indeed. Thanks for reading, see you in Squaw 2016.

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Now THIS is 40!

Yes, it’s Meredith Hijacking the blog…

I was starting to worry about turning 40: a turned ankle/swollen painful foot at Mt. Masochist and then two weeks later strep throat and deep self doubt, fear, and really just feeling icky.

In February I completed Ultraman Florida. I thought, “cool that’s done let’s move on.” But I couldn’t quite move on. I knew the Ultraman World Championship was lingering out there over Thanksgiving weekend…9 months after Florida. I went back and forth with Julie (Julie Shelley who won the women’s race at Florida and we kept in touch). It was almost a dare to each other: “I’ll put in if you do.” And so we both did. AND, we were both accepted. From the beginning it felt so different than Florida because circumnavigating the Big Island of Hawaii seems sooo much bigger than a jaunt through Florida. I had never raced in Hawaii while Julie and Paul were Hawaii Ironman veterans. They seemed to have a feel for the island that I couldn’t fully wrap my head around.

The true training began in May, with what I knew Mike Le Roux would put the finishing punishment on starting in August. As he said it wasn’t just about swimming, biking, and running, it was about becoming strong enough for the ocean swim; having the strength and power for the winds and the climbing on the bike; and then getting to the run. With me he never worries about the run. He knows that even if it’s not on the schedule I always seem to find a way to run. He liked to remind me that this race is about being able to get through days one and two not so thrashed so that I could have a good run, meaning I would have to focus on the bike. My darn lack of cycling always bites me in the butt J

So I made some big choices if I truly wanted to be prepared to survive what the Island had to throw my way. I would seek out the hills and the wind in Austin. I would spend 10 days riding in Colorado and learn how to climb for over an hour and descend with less fear. And I would take advantage of every ounce of heated sunlight to get ready for the hardest race I would ever attempt. I can still remember the great training days: climbing Cheyenne Canyon, riding every climb around Golden, CO (don’t know if I will call the descent one of my finest…might have eaten through my brake pads and kept asking Paul if I would need spare brake pads for Hawaii), a Sunday morning fartlek run on Magnolia Road after days of punishing climbing and descending (might still be cursing Silke on these), riding Bandera to Leakey and the 5 mile climb…I kept thinking how can you possibly climb for 5 miles in TX, well you can and I did; 4x1K swim for my birthday, and my very last Hamilton Pool repeat ride. But, with those came the hard days: riding Hamilton Pool repeats into the middle of a cold front while ignoring the beginning of strep; a few days I chose the trainer vs. road for no good reason; so many runs that I just felt darn slow; and after 4 hard long days really being over my own company. Would all of this be enough? It was a question I couldn’t stop asking myself no matter how much Mike and Paul tried to have me believe.

Finally, the week was here. We arrived in Hawaii, got settled in, and made plans for our first pre-race workout. We met Gary Wang for an amazing swim to Captain Cook monument and back. It was a wonderful 2 mile swim to remember how saltwater ocean swimming is. I had a bike ride on the schedule as well, and Gary suggested riding the first climb from the water. After lunch that day Paul dropped me off at the swim exit and off, ummm up, I went. I maxed out my gears, my heart was in my throat, and all I could think was “MERCY.” All I could think is that I would be the first person to DNF 2 miles into the ride. How could I finish this ride? I wasn’t ready? OMG! I continued riding up, and finally at 7.5 miles turned back and DOWN to the house we had rented. To say I was shaken was the understatement of my life. Julie came to our house that night and I shared with her the only piece that I was feeling comfortable about…the weather looked like it would be forgiving. Sure enough she went for a ride the next morning, and cursed the heck out of me because I stirred Madame Pele and the winds with my prediction. Lovely.

That Tuesday we hitched a ride with the Canoe Club out to the last 1.5 miles of the swim. The waves and swells were screaming. Apparently there would be NO gifts from the Island for me. The swim was rough, but honestly the canoe ride out was rougher so I felt at peace with whatever the water would deliver. I met Karen and Rebecca from the Canoe Club. We set a plan of Karen paddling and Paul riding on the boat to care for me. They were wonderful. I felt so calm with them and loved their genuine excitement for me, my race, and Hawaii. They didn’t even know me and were willing to give of their days to support me and then come back and cheer for me. I was and still am speechless.

Tuesday night was the one true break from the pre-race thoughts as we had family Thanksgiving with Sarah, Todd, Julie and Alyssa. I think there were times in training that Julie and I were looking more forward to this meal than the race. And, YES, there was turkey because apparently it is NOT Thanksgiving without Turkey.

We did check-in Wednesday, and then pre-race meeting on Thursday. There was definitely more of a calm during this process than in Florida. Maybe it is because I had done it before or maybe it was the looming bigness of the race that made all of the other details seem so minor.

Thursday afternoon and evening was filled with eating my pre-race dinner, legs up, and then the ridiculousness I decided to put myself through. I start examining the % grade of each and every climb I was about to face. What in the world was I thinking? Who does that? The work was done, and all of a sudden I was put myself into a self-doubt panic. My head starting saying, “this is impossible. I am not a cyclist. I can’t do this.”

And, then I woke up the next morning and this happened…

There are so many stories. Really, there are too many stories. But if you want to hear:

  • Our buddy at the Hostel passed out drunk and then having a beer at 5AM so that he could retrieve his sunglasses
  • Changing bike shorts at the side of the road at mile 30 Day 2
  • My love for Fanta
  • My crew concocting chemical concentrations of fuel
  • My apologies to the Lava
  • A bottle spike on Day 1
  • A “I didn’t come out here to walk” bottle spike during the run
  • And, the best exchange between Dan (Julie’s husband) and Paul before I finished: D “how did you get her moving so well again” P “I pissed her off”

Take me to lunch, let’s grab a drink, or let’s go on a hike and share stories!

HUGE additional thanks to: Jack and Adams for EVERYTHING on my bike, Pearl Izumi, Drymax, Bonk Breaker, and Organic Valley.

Until then, thanks for reading and sharing in my journey with me!

mer

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2 Minutes to What?

MMTR 50 bib_Oct 31, 2014“2 minutes!!!,” David Horton told us as we ran downhill past him as he mountain biked uphill from the mile 11 Dancing Creek aid station. “Two minutes to what?” I thought to myself, maybe 2 minutes downhill to the aid station, that’s not too bad. The only problem was we were way more than 2 minutes out from the aid station. Hmmmmm…I looked over to my running companions, 2-time MMTR 50 winner and defending champ Brian Rusiecki and Anthony Wind from the NYC, and conjectured about what David could possibly be talking about. Soon enough the aid station was upon us and upon departure heard someone say, “3 minutes.”   Hmmmmmm…is there someone in first place in front of us? Only time would tell. The 3 of us motored on down the trail, eventually encountering a mud-slinging Jeep Rubicon for which we wisely stepped off the trail and let by us. At the next aid station, mile 15 Parkway Gate, we got the confirmation that the couple minute splits we had received were for the first place runner, Californian Gary Gellin! Somehow he had gotten out in front of us, maybe under the cover of darkness with the 6:30am start, a sneaky move by the wiley veteran whether intentional of not!

Fortunately, this news provided us with a nice sense of mission and patient purpose to gradually reel him in. This was my 3rd time running MMTR 50 and Brian’s 4th time, so both of us have a healthy respect for the masochistic course profile, 9200’ of climbing and 7200’ of descent, the bulk of which occurs in the 2nd half of the course. Time is your ally out here so we kept the pace honest while appreciating the dissipating light drizzle, brief glimpse of a sunrise, and generally crisp fall morning in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Over the course of the next 3 aid stations, Robinson Gap at mile 17, Irish Creek at mile 20, and Reservoir at mile 22 (which might not have been set up yet when we got there), we widdled Gary’s lead to 90 seconds and every now and then caught a glimpse of his royal blue race kit and black knickers. Halfway up the steady 5-mile climb to Long Mountain (mile 27), we methodically motored past Gary who was obviously slowing after his quick start.

 

Mile 16Coming into Long Mountain, I quickly found my drop bag holding a pre-filled handheld bottle and a fresh supply of gels for the 2nd and arguably harder half of the race, which starts with another 3 miles of climbing up to Buck Mountain (mile 30). Brian, Anthony, and I paced ourselves well, yet Anthony soon was off the back. (after the race I learned that he had strained a hip flexor and ended up dropping). From then on, Brian and I ran virtually step for step for the next 20 or so miles. I enjoyed hearing about his Vermont 100 win and UTMB experience earlier this year before wrapping things up for the season here in Virginia. Brian and his wife Amy are from Amherst, Massachusetts so they normally dial the running back during the winter, whereas I’m starting to wind things back up after a post Run Rabbit Run 100 break. Two friends hitting the trails hard, running through the wind, over the wet rocks and leaves, and through the occasional snow flurries up top. Hard to ask for more. At one point Race Director Clark Zealand did chide us to stop “holding hands” and “start racing already!” We got a good chuckle out of that.

 

Far from being on autopilot, Brian remained alert at all times and kept us on trail and moving really well, him more so than me. In between Forest Valley (mile 42) and Porter’s Ridge (mile 47) I let me concentration lag just for just a couple of seconds and BAMMMM, down I went having clipped my toe on a leaf-obscured rock. UGH, that stung. Fortunately, I got upright lickety split and resumed running with Brian. Within a couple of minutes, the white course markings were nowhere to be seen and the snow flurries weren’t helping visibility any. The route we were heading FELT right, but smartly we backtracked a couple of minutes until we caught sight of the last white ribbon, looked around to see if we missed a turn off, realized we had not, and resumed down towards Porter’s Ridge. A couple of miles later, who else but David Horton again comes riding up the trail on his trusty mountain bike asking us if the course was marked properly!!! We informed him that the last mile and a half or so was void of ribbons and thanked him for confirming we were right about to the last aid station, which is where things finally start to get interesting…

I’m totally out of fuel at this point having taken my last GU gel shortly after my fall. No gels at the aid station so I opt to half fill my bottle with water. Meanwhile Brian is getting a splash of cola in his handheld, whoa good call, so I quickly take a mouthful of cola myself and give chase. We are running HARD and I’m doing my best to stay on Brian’s wheel while not taking another tumble, clearly envious of Brian’s bottle of “GO” juice!!!! Metering my effort is really my only realistic option at this point. (Flashback to this race last year: 2008 winner and MMTR veteran Eric Grossman catches me with 2.5 miles to go and I am holding on for dear life trying to preserve a 3rd place finish. Flashback to 2011 and Brian catches Eric at Salt Log Gap mile 41 before relinquishing the win to him by a mere 72 seconds!) Relax, breathe, and store whatever remaining energy you have for the last 1.5 miles: a steep smooth descent followed by a ¾ mile drag race on asphalt to the finish line. You can do this.

We’re here; exiting the rough Jeep trail Brian mutters something to the effect of, “well here we go…” My stride happily opens up and we’re moving FAST. Turnover is great and my eyes are fixated on nothing but the trail ahead. Orange spray-painted line marks 1 mile to go. 5 minutes of work, you can do this. Just like last year…I keep pressing forward until there’s no more acceleration to be had…

Pavement, yes this feels good, push off the toes and drive the elbows back, ¾ of a mile. A quick glance back and Brian is still running hard, “quit” is just not in his vocabulary despite the small gap. I know better than to lay off the throttle at this point and keep it pegged wide open. I’m out of the shaded trees now and Meredith spots me from the finish line and cheers me in like she has so many other times. After a pair of 3rd places here in 2011 and 2013 it’s sweet to finally win!!!

Thanks for reading y’all. None of this was possible without all my amazing sponsors, supporters, friends and family!!!!! -Paul

Sweet baby Jesus_Oct 31, 2014

Pre and post-race beer, Sweet Baby Jesus peanut butter chocolate porter from DuClaw Brewing in Baltimore, WOW!!!

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Planning the Work, Working the Plan – 2014 WS100!

So the race reports lately haven’t exactly been racing themselves to your respective inbox or news feed. Quite the contrary. They’ve definitely been taking a longer time than usual to find their way from my stream of consciousness and on their way to paper (i.e. ones and zeros). Maybe it’s my internal subconscious way of savoring the race experience for just a little while longer. Selfish, I know, but letting a fantastic race and race experience marinate and soak in for a couple extra days can’t hurt right?! I figure that you’ve been mostly preoccupied with World Cup soccer and Hardrock 100 coverage lately (thank you www.irunfar.com and www.drymaxsocks.com !), but both of those recently concluded this past weekend, which just leaves the Tour de France to keep you busy during the day at work and/or in the evenings catching the highlights. Did turning 40 in December make me more thoughtful, pensive, and introspective? Hard to say for sure, but it feels GREAT, heck downright CATHARTIC to finally carve out some writing time (on a delayed plane flight from Baltimore back to Austin) after getting re-assimilated into the normal routine at work, making it through the 4th of July holiday weekend, and then spending a couple of very relaxing days visiting my parents and my sister Nicole’s 3 kids in eastern Long Island. Sprained Ankle - March 26, 2014(1)

As you know from my post back in April, turning my ankle BAD at the end of March with 14 weeks until Western States caused a rippling effect of GOOD tweaks and adjustments. The rehab went GREAT, the travel plans got adjusted, races like the Rattler 100k and Lake Sonoma 50m got replaced with different races like Brazos Bend 50m and Quicksilver 100k, Western States training camp went off without a hitch, and I got FOCUSED on getting myself in the best possible shape, attitude, and position to take advantage of what ultimately turned into a very concentrated 10 week build into States.

My crew (wife Meredith, friends Bryan Morton and Justin Wendling) and I enjoyed a super clean travel day to Reno on the Wednesday before the race, stocking up at the grocery store for their “training camp” and the end of my taper before Saturday’s race. Seriously, my crew probably logged more collective miles (running and swimming) in the 3 days before the race than anybody else’s! We’ve been here before and were perfectly comfortable flying under the proverbial radar and doing our own thing. We also enjoyed watching plenty of World Cup soccer matches as well as the USATF Outdoor Track Championships going on in Sacramento.   paul VC

 

As always, race day arrives before you know it, and 20-time finisher Jim Scott and his wife Mary Jo helped my crew send me off with sage words of advice. paul and jimMy goals going into States this year following my ankle injury evolved into: show up to Foresthill ready to run GREAT on the Cal Street Loop with my first pacer, Granite Bay local and 4-time finisher Lee McKinley; have Lee deliver me to Green Gate in still phenomenal shape ready to hit the 14 mile stretch to Highway 49 HARD with pacer #2 Bryan (and make it there without needing headlamps); and have Meredith bat clean-up and get my ass to the finish line. As a newly minted 40 year old, hopefully this recipe would land me in top-3 Age Group territory competing with the likes of Mike Morton (M3), Nick Clark (M6), Jesse Haynes (M7), Karl Meltzer (M10), Wolfe, Hara, AJW, Barger, Speirs, Gaylord, Skaden, Eadie, Gellin, Hewey, Lantz, and last but certainly not least Redpath. (I think that’s all of us…my apologies if I missed any) Knowing how deep the men’s field was this year, if another top-10 finish was in the cards it would be the result of a perfectly executed day on my part and some serious mistakes and/or misfortune by the talent in front of me, only one of which was remotely within my sphere of influence. [note: Mike Morton would unfortunately not start due to injury]

paul MB

Race morning was absolutely gorgeous and the running was easy up top. My strategy for the high country was to not burn any matches with my competition and to not make any mistakes (especially ankle-related) in this more technical stretch of the “Western States Killing Machine” as Joe Uhan coined it http://www.irunfar.com/2014/06/the-western-states-killing-machine-part-one.html . Although my early pace was slightly slower than my “best case” scenario, it worried me not a bit and I went out about methodically working my way from aid station to aid station. Some of the early miles were spent with one of the women’s favorites Emily Harrison (F7) and later with men’s favorites Yassine Diboun (M9) into Red Star Ridge and fellow Hoka-wearer Karl Meltzer into Robinson Flat. Not bad company to be in right? paul 2

My crew took GREAT care of me at Duncan and Dusty, and volunteer & friend Sam Jurek, and Jim and Mary Jo were friendly faces at Robinson Flat. Exiting Robinson Flat, I came upon a slow-moving Dom Grossman and offered him some aid and gentle encouragement. Things were not looking good for Dom early on yet he was still moving forward which is always a good thing. Karl bombed the downhill section after Little Bald Mountain and would be out of sight until shortly after Last Chance at mile 43. The trail was majestic and I soaked up every possible bit of it through sights, sounds, and smells, a lot of which had changed quite a bit following last year’s American Fire. I really ran a great clean stretch down to Swinging Bridge and the quick dip in the river was a nice refresh before starting the 30+ minute climb up. Downhill legs were perfect and my ankle was 100%. I smartly filled my 3rd water bottle with cold river water, not for drinking but for squirting on my head. Found my hiking legs right away and went to work despite not having anyone visibly in front of me or behind me.

Came into Devil’s Thumb thoroughly under control, greeted by Joe Uhan (thanks for the help!), refilled bottles, grabbed a pina-colada popsicle, which after one lick I knew was not going to sit well so I had to discard the frozen contents minus the stick which I stuck in the pocket of my race vest (no littering and good trail karma per RD Craig!). Upon leaving the lively Last Chance aid station, I caught back up to Karl and asked if he was ready to start running down some young guys yet? He just replied that his downhill legs were not treating him so well today, which surprised me given how eager he was to let it rip coming off of Little Bald Mtn. Back to the business at hand…

Meredith and I (and many others we’re sure of) absolutely love the descent down to El Dorado Creek having enjoyed it many times in both the race and training camps. All systems were go the whole way down and I came into the El Dorado aid station chipper and ready to get back to work on the climb up to Michigan Bluff. The report I got was surprisingly that Clarkie was next man up on the trail. Sure enough, a couple of switchbacks into it and Clarkie’s legs were having none of it today. Offered him some aid and Tylenol and/or Advil but he politely declined and I scooted on by. With experienced 100-milers like Dom, Karl, and now Clarkie fading early my strategy of not burning any matches appeared to be spot-on. No sense in deviating from it now I thought, despite being about 20 minutes behind my “best case” scenario pace. Back to the business at hand…

Before long I came into Michigan Bluff energetically telling my crew that, “Lee better be ready to RUN when I get to Foresthill!” Traded in my race vest for 2 handhelds which felt FANTASTIC to get a break from it. Upon leaving, Pam Smith’s (F1) husband Mac cheered me on from the shuttle bus, so I wasn’t certain if Pam was in front of me (and Mac was just leaving Michigan Bluff) or she was behind me (and Mac was just getting to Michigan Bluff). Either was I was super-motivated and greatly looking forward to Volcano Canyon and running the climb up Bath Rd with Justin. After running this section a few more times in training camp in May it went by much quicker than the previous 2 years. Justin was waiting as expected at Bath Rd and we made easy work of the climb (thanks for the ICY COLD towel Justin) and the run in to Foresthill aid station. My crew set to work swapping out my Hoka Bondis for Rapa Nui Trails and a fresh pair of Drymax Trail Team RWB issue V5.0 socks. They also deftly switched the timing D-Tag which I had safety pinned to a neoprene ankle strap (see photo). Lee and I set off and he brought me up to speed on the competition and how the race was playing out in front of me.

Some nice perspective upon entering the Cal St trail is the view of Squaw Valley Peak off to our left which Lee pointed out to me…how far I had come already, 62 miles in just a little over 10 ½ hours!!! Lee and I ran this section in training camp together at right about the same time of day as a “dress rehearsal” of sorts, so I’m not surprised that we found our groove immediately with me setting the pace in front of him. We made quick work of Cal-1 and  were on the hunt, exactly the position we expected to be in!! Believe that we first overtook Yoshikazu Hara and his pacer and soon thereafter Yassine and his pacer. So far so good…after Cal-2 we reeled in Gary Gellin and his pacer and fellow-Team RWBer Zach Bitter. Gary was quick to ask, “Where’s Karl?” I barely managed a shoulder shrug instead focusing on the work ahead. Later, Lee and I would chuckle that wherever Karl was he was probably now hunting Gary more so than me! In what seemed like a blink of an eye, Lee and I were at Rucky Chucky nearside and I made quick work of the obligatory weigh-in, oblivious to a laid-out Michael Aish at the aid station, before hitting the cable crossing, finally, no boat crossing this year!!! Lee and I were totally stoked to wade across and be greeted by Meredith, Justin, and Jim on the farside, where the report I heard from the aid station was 13th place (more on this later). We boogied outta’ there and Meredith set a perfect tempo for all of us, including Jim who didn’t miss a beat AT ALL, shooting some GoPro footage along the way. I guess you don’t knock out 20 of these (3 of which were top-10) and not have some damn good legs under you!!!! J Upon exiting Green Gate, I caught a glimpse of Jorge Maravilla (2014 Bandera 100k champ) in a chair and thought to myself, okay, that makes me 12th, top-10 might actually happen again. Back to the work at hand…paul thinksportpaul gg

Bryan and I set off and just like with Lee we dialed in our pace immediately. We’ve run together so many times since 2012 that it’s almost second nature. This year, we didn’t have the back and forth competition of Jesse Haynes to spur us on, but we were motivated to catch Vajin Armstrong before Auburn Lakes Trail and then David Laney (2nd at 2014 Bandera 100k) at the ALT aid station (mile 85) itself. Sorry Vajin for not being so talkative when we came by, had some serious work to do!!! Admittedly I did shush Bryan for volunteering our identity as we came by, run silent run deep. Soooooo….that should have put me into 10th place but upon exiting ALT the volunteer told me I was 13th! What, how can that be, I was 13th at the River and passed 3 people! Bryan rightly corrected me that I was really 16th at the River so we still had significant amount of work to do to reach 12th place Chris Price (Hoka), who was 16 minutes ahead of me after being 18 minutes ahead at Green Gate. Back to work we went…paul green gate

A quickie pit stop in the woods after ALT meant I forfeited some time going into Brown’s Bar, and there was nothing left to do except make it to Highway 49 with the remaining daylight, which we did right at 9pm. I knew that unless your last name is Olson or Krar, a 60 minute split for the last 6.2 miles is unheard of so a sub 17 hour finish was out the door for me. Chris was 13 minutes up and barring a complete meltdown had 12th place locked up.

Meredith rightly got the spurs into me, encouraging me to fight for every last step. We targeted a 70-minute split and planned to run it at twilight during training camp, but instead opted for an earlier 2nd run of the day. Emily Harrison and I nailed this section during training camp but that was in the late morning, not at 9pm, not with headlamps, not at night. Ugh, I diligently pressed ahead but it was not enough and lost a healthy chunk of time that Lee and Bryan had helped me work so hard to make up. Maybe I needed something to run for…although a PR was in the bag, no other time goal of any significance was worth attaining (Chris easily came in sub 17 with a 16:58), and there were no headlamps in front of me or behind me…until we hit the last climb up to Robie Pt…a lone headlamp…could only be Karl right? Never uses a pacer! He had certainly once again resurrected himself and his downhill legs from the dead I thought to myself! I don’t think Meredith saw the light but I sure did and it lit a fire under my butt to make sure we hit the pavement at Robie Pt with a comfortable enough gap to somewhat enjoy and savor the last mile with my crew and coach Steve Sisson who had come over from the USATF Outdoor Championships. When we made it there, Meredith was on me like white on rice to get moving and stop chit-chatting with my crew. Needless to say she was not happy with me despite what felt like to me was a brisk pace. Wow do I have some recalibrating to do!!! She did give me a hard-earned finish-line kiss though! paul finish linepaul pushup

Either way, we got the job done in a 30-minute PR of 17:26 and 2nd in the 40-49 AG to 10th place finisher Jesse Haynes in 16:36 who just ran a TREMENDOUS race. Jesse and his fiancée Keira and I also shared some miles together during training camp and I know how much time, effort, and dedication they put into this race. So proud of him and his team.

 

And who was the owner of that lone headlamp stalking me at mile 98? Not Karl, but none other than 19-year old Jared Hazen, who only finished 4 minutes behind me, holy crow watch out for him!!!!!

What I used & wore:

  • Hoka Bondis (start to mile 62)
  • Hoka Rapa Nui Trail (mile 62 to finish)
  • Drymax Trail v5.0 Team RWB Issue socks (nothing better)
  • Patagonia Strider Pro shorts (love the fit and pockets!)
  • Patagonia Air Flow Tank (thanks to Tik Tok Ink for the custom print job!)
  • Patagonia Duck Bill Cap
  • thinksport sunscreen
  • Bonk Breaker bars
  • Oakley Radar Path sunglasses, G30 lens
  • Ultimate Direction AK Race Vest
  • Petzl Myo XP headlamp
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GOYU

written by MeredithBy Rick Kentrrr1

I was sitting here trying to think of a better acronym for CREW: Crabby Runner Endless Waiting; Constant Running Endless Whining; Can’t Run Endless Whining…none just seemed to fit the bill of what I think CREWing is all about. So, I came up with my own: GOYU: Give Of Yourself Unconditionally. (truly what a Sherpa is)

Part of the reason Team Terranova runs so smoothly is because when it is the athlete’s turn to race the other gives of themselves unconditionally. That might mean shortened workouts, change of plans (we call those audibles at our house), extra chores, and completely 100% being there on race weekend. I am not saying this is for everyone, but this works for us.

After I finished WS in 2010, Paul decided to move from triathlon to the ultra-running world. Meredith-WS6And, because he doesn’t do anything in a small way that meant The Grand Slam + IM Hawaii in the same summer. After that he qualified for WS in 2013 at Bandera 100K. But let me back up a moment to that Bandera 100K 2013. We were enjoying an easy trail run together when I started talking about running the Bandera 50K which runs at the same time as the Bandera 100K. I hadn’t really taken “my turn” after the whole Grand Slam funness and I was starting to get the feeling that I was getting sloppy seconds on races and race weekends. That enjoyable trail run didn’t quite end the way it started, but it did end with Paul telling me that Bandera was important to him and that he really needed me there to CREW. Bandera finish 2013So, all in I went. What that means is that we are a finally tuned NASCAR Pit machine. We don’t have to talk, we are completely dialed in, and Paul has amazing success without a moment of lost momentum. But, what that also meant was that I needed to find something for me that didn’t get in the way of his Ultra pursuits. And, of course, if I were to follow in the footsteps of we don’t do anything small I decided to swim around Key West, 12.5 ocean miles around the island. But, it was more than that. It was 6 hours for Paul to sit in a kayak and fully support me 3 weeks before his goal race. Many people would be stressing about the weekend of workouts lost, the endless downside of sitting in a boat in the heat paddling for 6 hours 3 weeks before their goal race, but that’s not how it works. Paul went all in: prepping my bottles, slathering me in zinc oxide, and only hitting me with the kayak once in 12.5 miles. 2013-06-08 14.02.02The end result was that three weeks later the tables were turned and I went all in for him: prepping meals, bottles, carrying loads, washing heat training clothes (I just call heat training an excuse for him to create more laundry for me), and pacing.

Knowing that Paul’s goal was to do well enough at WS to return again, I knew I needed to set a goal that fit in the midst of his off time or not key training. 992876_598258643538343_1558941075_nAnd, since he didn’t seem to maximize all 30 hours at his races, and thus utilizing my full potential for long-term help (well, aside from the sadness that was Run Rabbit Run for him…note here – don’t start a 50 miler on 30 minutes of sleep after crewing) I thought I would go big and give him the opportunity to crew for me for 3 days (see his post about Ultraman Florida). For folks who thought we had the crewing and teamwork down, well that was child’s play compared to what he did at Ultraman. Everything was flawless. Sure if you ask him, now, he will talk about some of the things that went wrong, that he could have done better, that I could have done better (I don’t know if he has completely gotten over the fact that two bottles of ice were annoying me on day 3…he even documented it like Dustin Hoffman did in Rain Man: at 9:44 on Sunday yelled and didn’t want two bottles with ice) Funny now, but not even for a moment did I know that was happening while I was racing. It was completely because he was totally giving of himself to me and my race.DCIM100GOPROthe crrew

The moment I crossed the finish line at Ultraman it was and is my turn! The schedule had been planned for Paul to do races to lead up to WS. But, as with anything in life, things changed. He injured his ankle, and everything needed to be rearranged and hopefully repaired for a great execution. As a Team that meant that I went into motivation mode: getting on the bike with him, forcing him to swim with me, finding alternative training races, rearranging reservations, and taking the baby steps he needed to get back to golden. As he healed, since I was all in I was just as happy and relieved as he was. His success meant as much to me as it does to him.

Fast forward to May and his changed training race of Quicksilver 100K. This was going to be our first time in months to practice our pit crew work. I was super excited for it…until I couldn’t find the first crew aid station in the dark. I drove up and down a road for an hour. I was almost in tears. He was just with one bottle and I was going to give him his race vest with two bottles. CRAP!! I have never missed him at a crew spot, ever. More than missing giving him his pack I knew that he would be worried for where in the world I was. I was afraid he would stop and try to call me vs. continuing on. I went into problem solve mode knowing that the next place I could see him (aside from the aid station we had planned) was a 5 mile climb from the aid station. I hauled butt to the aid station, put his pack under my pack so that I wouldn’t adjust his straps from where he keeps them, and I ran up and up and up to meet him. I got to the aid station and was totally confused because they were closer than I thought they should be. Turns out they had set the aid station up in the wrong spot. Good for me because I didn’t miss him, but bad for the runners. Sure enough as Paul came through (maybe in 4th-5th place) he said he had worried where I was. I got him all set, and off he went. From there I took the other trail to haul butt down to catch him at the next spot. Fortunately, the aid stations were well stocked and he was just fine without seeing me…but I had gone crazy feeling I had totally failed my job. For the rest of the race I was totally on it, we had a great dress rehearsal for WS, and he had a great training run cruising in 2nd place.

 

As we closed into our final 7 weeks before raceday, it was and is his time to know that I am all in. Training Camp weekend you can just call me the driver and this year the bonus mileage runner (of course I don’t mind those pieces). training camp

If you don’t see me in the next few days it is because in the midst of working, I am cramming all my training in before our departure. (which will be about 21 miles swimming and some running and biking) Because when we land in Reno it is game on. Not game on for Paul (he is all good), but game on for me…food prep, crew/pacer organizing, checking/re-checking/and re-checking for good measure every instruction and direction I will make happen for him on raceday. All he has to do is go run on those most incredibly sacred trails. All he has to do is put forth the race that he is ready to run. And I will be there to do all the rest! GOYU!!

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Got Tangled

Two posts coming this week!  One to catch up and one to be on track…

My last blogpost concluded with my upcoming sherpa-duty for Meredith at Ultraman Florida, which I’m proud to report back was a TOTAL success: she was the 2nd woman finisher and 11th overall!!! All that hard work and early mornings on the bike trainer really paid off for her. Unfortunately we weren’t able to stay for the awards ceremony on Monday night (the race ended Sunday afternoon/evening), but hopefully we’ll get the opportunity to stay for the awards ceremony at another Ultraman.

run DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO

Upon returning to Texas, my training resumed full bore and firing on all cylinders, navigating a week of training called “the Gauntlet” by my coach Steve Sisson, a relatively easier week which included a course reconnaissance of the first Rogue 30k Trail Series races http://roguetrailseries.com “The Tangle” out at Flat Creek Ranch, only to be followed a week later by ANOTHER beast of a week which unfortunately was not named but should have been called “the Gauntlet II”. Seriously, it was awesome, wouldn’t have it any other way, and it was all systems “GO” going into the Tangle 30k on March 23…

 

By now, I’m used to toeing the line before the sun rises or just at daybreak, and I’ve learned to bring a headlamp or small handheld light and not unduly rush things right out of the gate, especially on technical terrain. No use in taking a tumble or getting off-course for no good reason right? Fortunately, a local young-gun 22-year old Moses Luevano http://blog.run.com/texas-running-company/staff-profile-moses-luevano/ took the bull by the horns early leaving “seasoned” Andrew Letherby and I to give chase at our own leisure.   Andrew and I easily made it to the first aid station about 3 miles into the 10k (aka 7-mile) loop with plenty of daylight and embarked upon the 2nd half of the loop back to the start/finish line for the first of three loops. With the course reconnaissance from the weekend before still fresh in my mind, I deftly followed Andrew down a short steep “craggly” limestone grade which quickly turns into a wooden footbridge over a dry-streambed…except before I reached the footbridge my left ankle rolled ALL the way over to the outside after the slightest of misteps on the limestone, OUCH! MOTHER F’ER! and a host of other expletives left my mouth before regaining some sense of composure as Andrew looked back at me as if to say, “C’mon let’s go we have a race to run!” I waved him on and amazingly stayed upright and making slow forward gimpy progress as I assessed the damage. The good thing was relentless forward progress could still be made without rolling it again, the bad thing was it was not nearly enough to keep up with Andrew. As a wave of nausea and light-headedness came over me, I kept moving forward in the hope that like other less serious ankle sprains and twists, this one would loosen up with some running and everything would be okay. Washed a gel down with water to get some calories in my bloodstream and my mind wrapped around making it back to the start/finish line. By now, my ankle was already swelling and pressing against the shoe upper, and proactively I took some Tylenol to start taking the edge off the pain which was multiplying with each step. Fortunately, I made it the 3 or so miles back and knew that continuing on for another 14 miles was not going to further my fitness any nor start the healing process any quicker. Huge thanks to race director Diana Ferguson’s Mom for quickly getting my ankle iced and wrapped up! Moses went on to win handily and Andrew finished 9 minutes later in 2nd place.

Later that same evening, I served as host at the inaugural “Rogue Family Dinner” http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07e8zrwhrue3980866&llr=f4aa9wbab held at Uncle Billy’s on Barton Springs Road, with all proceeds benefitting Team RWB http://teamrwb.org/ . Can’t thank Leslie at Rogue for helping put it all together and for everyone who attended to share running, & life stories, and hopefully run/walk away inspired. Special thanks to our anonymous Rogue Family Dinner “angel” for picking up the dinner tab and as a result channeled over $600 to Team RWB!

Needless to say, the last 4 weeks were spent on getting the swelling down and maintaining mobility without reinjuring the ankle. Although I was able to load it pain-free, it was awfully tender when doing anything laterally. Huge thanks to Dr. Z and his http://www.atxrehab.com/ staff Bryanna and Evan for getting me back to running as quickly as possible and my wife Meredith for encouraging me to get in the pool, on the trainer, and even hike hills at every opportunity! Very thankful that I didn’t need an x-ray, MRI, or a boot. I’ll definitely be spending the next couple months continuing to re-strengthen and mold the ankle ligaments. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the invaluable resource that Allan Besselink http://www.allanbesselink.com/ provides in his book RunSmart to help understand the phases of injury and the best approach to healing and preventing future injuries.

Sprained Ankle - March 23, 2014 Sprained Ankle - March 26, 2014(1)

Unfortunately, I had to pull out of the Austin Rattler 100k on March 30th and Lake Sonoma 50 on April 12th. Bummed for sure but there was no way I’d be toeing the line that soon. That being said, I’m now looking forward to the inaugural Brazos Bend 50 miler http://brazosbendtrailraces.com/ as my first race back and then the Quicksilver 100k http://www.quicksilver-running.com/#!qsracing/csjf 2 weeks after that before heading back out to California for Western States training camp over Memorial Day weekend!

 

Thanks for reading y’all. -Paul

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Sean O’Brien Race Report

Following the Bandera 100k in January, my recovery (1 week) and training started clicking back into place.  Had 4 tough road workouts with my Team Rogue mates, 3 massages, a steady 18-miler, and a 2 ½ hour bike ride out on Parmer Lane leading into the inaugural Sean O’Brien 50k on February 1 in sunny and gorgeous Malibu, California.  I had heard that RD Keira Henninger puts on amazing races and this one would turn out to be no different!

Meredith and I flew out on Friday morning, grabbed some groceries, checked in to the hotel, enjoyed a quick shake-out run at the race site at Malibu Creek State Park, and then a fantastic easy swim at the Westlake Athletic Club, as Meredith did a long swim, before hitting packet pickup and finally enjoying some pre-race dinner.  Leadville 100 stud Michael Aish and his wife Nicole joined us briefly for some pre-race discussion, and then it was off to bed!

My goal going into the 50k was to run the race that I SHOULD HAVE run in Bandera, where I went out way too fast and paid the price.  The cool breezy morning, steep climbs out of the chute, and out and back course made this an ideal venue to “recalibrate” my race effort.  All systems were “go” and I smartly did not get sucked into the early fast pace of both the 50k and 26m runners, both of which started at 7am.  Wore a thin pair of gloves for maybe the first 30-45 minutes and then I didn’t need them anymore.  Quickly refilled a water bottle at aid station #2 (mile 11), and then made up some spots cruising through aid station #3 where some runners had drop bags.  The turnaround at mile 15.5 was supposed to have water but didn’t;  luckily I had been nursing one of my two bottles and made it back to aid station #5 (mile 18) none the worse for wear.  Believe I was somewhere in the top-5 at this point and within striking distance of 4th and 3rd, so I buckled down on the 2 mile stretch to aid station #6 (mile 20) and ran really strong all the way to the finish, absolutely LOVING the long downhill stretches and views of the coastline that came with it.  We don’t get long descents like that in Texas!!!   My finish time of 4:25:57 was only about a 2 minute positive split so I was really happy with my effort.

Meredith smartly opted for the 26M run, after being sick, as one of her last “long” runs before Ultraman Florida in 3 weeks, so I got to see her on the trail in between aid station #5 and #6.  She was running GREAT, and finished as the 2nd place woman!  The finish line post-race spread was absolutely fantastic, with plenty of food, drink, friends, sunshine and photos to go around.  (need to find some photos and get them posted, maybe they are somewhere in the facebook cloud?)

Up next, it’s my turn to be ultra-sherpa at Ultraman Florida, can’t wait to support my wife in her epic journey like she has for me SO many times!!!   Thanks for reading y’all.

P.S. Definitely put next year’s SOB on your race calendar, especially if you need a mid-winter break from some dysfunctional weather!!! J

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