Friday, December 30, 2016

Peter Fish November 20 Jamil & everybody, thanks for a memorable race! Here's my account:
Geezer Slam update: (warning: if you read to the end of this, you risk incurring permanent brain damage)
The G.S. is still proceeding, although it has deviated from its original plan, which was to be four 100Ks in 2016, the year I turned 80: Born 2 Run, Elijah Bristow 24, Kat’cina Mosa, and Javelina. Due to illness and schedule changes, I had to drop two of these and replace them with two more in early 2017, but still within the span of one year. These will be Bandera on Jan. 7 and the Pacific Rim 24 in March. In the interest of having mostly races at the actual distance, I also signed up for the Zion 100K, which comes on the day before my 81st birthday, 4/7/17, so if I make all the cutoffs I’ll be up and running early in the morning of my birthday. I finished 100K at Bristow in June, and the JJ 100K last month. My daughter posted a picture taken after that race, and I’ll just add a brief (!) account of how it went. This was my 13th encounter with the desert trails of McDowell Mountain Park. The first time, in the inaugural race, I managed only 3 laps (about 46 miles) in my first attempt at 100 miles, and told my wife over the phone afterward not to let me ever do anything like that again. The next year, emboldened by a finish at Waldo in August, I decided to give it another try, and unwisely celebrated about halfway by chugging Ensure and NA beer, thereafter spending most of the night trying to ignore a riotous abdominal rebellion, and crossed the finish line in 28:40 for my first and only 100 mile finish. Since then, I’ve done 46 miles (2x), 77 miles (twice), and run 100K six times, some official, others as DNF (due to the separation of the 100K and 100M in the last few years). This was my first time as an actual 100K entrant. Until this year, the course had changed very little from the original, the main difference coming a few years back when the date, which used to follow the full harvest moon, was fixed at the Halloween weekend. I can understand the change, because it makes the scheduling much simpler, but I miss the full moon, which shone so brightly in the desert night that many people chose to run without lights, greatly reducing the glare from oncoming traffic during the night.This year, the course had a new Jeadquarters at the equestrian staging area, encompassed by a horseshoe-shaped finish route about 1/4 mile long, carrying the finishers past cheering crowds and boosting the morale of at least one tired runner! It also featured two new trails of 4 and 6.5 miles, exploring the Lousley Hills in the eastern part of the park, resulting in a course of 5 loops of around 20 miles each, with 4 aid stations between 4 and 6.5 miles apart. Three of these loops made up the 100K course, and to me they seemed much longer than the 15.3 miles of the old course. The placing of the 4 aid stations made much more sense than it did on the old course, and I guessed that the addition of the 4th AS a few years ago may have been part of the transition to the new course. Being unfamiliar with the new course, I pretty much guessed at the time it would take for the first loop: I estimated a little under 6 hours, and it took about six and a half before I got back to JQ, with most of the slowing down coming near the end, as the heat built up. Having lost half an hour, I took another half doing all the things one does in an aid station while the clock runs relentlessly on.I took off, still in good shape, a little after 2 PM. I believe the temperature got into the mid-nineties that day, and I was staying pretty well hydrated, carrying three bottles (2 in a UD vest and 1 hand-held). My nutrition was mostly from Ensure at JQ, and flasks of Hammergel which I carried in a fanny pack. I started losing time due to the heat, mostly in aid stations where I spent about 1.5 hours on this lap, so the pace was about the same as the first, for about 8 hours altogether. Starting on the third loop, I dropped the hand-held bottle, figuring I would need to drink less after dark, and took my trekking poles for more assurance negotiating the rocky trail in the dark. So far, my energy was good and I had no stomach issues (my worst plague on longer runs). That all changed in the hour and a half it took me to get to Coyote. Shortly before reaching the aid station, I felt an alarming onset of nausea, and my gut yielded up what looked like half a gallon of water on the side of the trail. I continued into the AS and lay down on a cot for nearly an hour. Another hour would pass before I felt well enough to continue, and I learned from one of the women at the AS (whose name I didn’t catch) that the villain in my stomach may have been the electrolyte caps I had been taking, once an hour at first and then on the half hour as the heat increased. She told me that the caps tend to draw all the salt in your system into the stomach, producing the symptoms I was showing. I stopped taking them immediately, and although I had to take another break at Jackass AS, I finished with good energy and relative comfort. I left the station just before dawn, with two runners from the 100M race, Robin Phelps and Bryan McKenney, whose company I enjoyed through a splendid sunrise, at a brisk walk, as far as the Rattlesnake AS, when they went ahead and I continued on my own. I was pleased to discover that my time for the last 4 miles, 1:15, was only a minute slower than what I had budgeted for that section, even though the total time for the loop, with nearly 3 hours in aid stations, was over 11 hours. All in all, I felt very good about this race, mostly because I felt well at the finish and felt I had learned something about my nausea problem that could be of use in future races. I finished third from last, with a M80+ course record, and in good enough shape (after waiting an hour or so for the Jackass drop bags to come in) to drive the 30-odd miles to my daughter’s house in Tempe. She was wondering what had happened to me, as the temporary results listed me as dropped, but I assured her that I had finished in front of several hundred witnesses!

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