After Jill posted her 2012 year end summary I feel compelled to make my own. So here we go!
1. Iditarod 350
Let’s start the year off easy … right? Nah. The ITI is a real adventure, dangerous, remote and with more character than Anthony Hopkins on a good day. This year it was a particular beast with trail conditions that pushed me quickly past disbelief and despair right to giggling laughter. Reports are here, here and here.
2. White Mountains 100
Jill characterized the White Mountains as all the fun of the ITI without the drama, compressed into one day (on a bike at least). Only way to find out is to do both in the same year, just 3 weeks apart. And with a small snowstorm, the cool Cache Mountain divide, lots of overflow, sun, mild temperatures and soft and good trails and northern lights it pretty much is indeed as Jill said. Though the ITI drama is fun in its own way.
The Santa Barbara Endurance Race happened to happen just during a nasty nasty storm … which turned trails into mudslides and flooded roads which led to the cancellation of the race. My friend Steve and I semi-purposely got lost early on with a few more runners and put in more distance than most. Just as well.
4. Highlands Ultra 70
The main reason for me to run this race was to visit Tim Hewitt and Rick Freeman, the RDs and friends I made in the ITI. As it turns out, the race is held on a solid stretch of almost exclusive singletrack with nary a house to be seen – both surprising and exciting. The trails aren’t as bad as Massanuttens, but still technical. In an earlier ultra I had pulled a muscle in my butt which caused me some debilitating hip pain, so this race ended up to be a 60 mile limp with some of the most excrutiating pain I’ve experienced. However, I couldn’t let Tim down, unwise as it might have been … and pushed to the end. Ouch!
5. Hardrock 100
Yay! The second time in 7 entries I had gotten into Hardrock, which was meant to be a good training run for the big adventures to come. We stayed with my friend Daniel who also paced me. After 30 miles, my stomach turned and it wouldn’t come back til the finish. I rarely ever throw up unless I have some acute food poisoning or such, but here I did throw up – quite a bit, and then some even when the stomach was empty. It was a slog of slogs, the last pass feeling almost impossible. But Daniel provided good support and honed his patience, and it was a great race anyways.
The Petit Trot A Leon. Sounds cute, no? Let me just say so much: don’t trust the French. Seriously. This race had it all: rarely-used hard to find trails, exposure, days of rain, mud, sub-freezing temperatures, and a snow storm to boot. We (one races in teams of 2 or 3 persons for safety reasons) got re-routed just to find ourselves postholing cross-country over a pass. It was awesome. Little support, the course (190 miles and ~74000ft of climbing) and the adverse conditions made this one of the most formidable adventures I’ve had yet. Never mind I made a few stupid mistakes early on and lost the skin under both heels, which added some unexpected challenges to an already tough course.
My third running of the TDG started just a week after the PTL finished. Just enough time for my heels to develop a thin layer of new skin. Starting took some great ignorance of the fact that my feet were not up to the task … surprisingly the first challenge turned out to be fatigue (and probably dehydration from a very hot day), and on the third pass (out of 24 …) I had cramps like never before, almost unable to descend. After that passed, my feet predictably started to issue the most elaborate pain messages to my brain. By km 100 I was ready to call it quits, miserable and beaten. Things took an unexpected turn right before the longest downhill in the race, a measly 8000ft in one go, when I put on some Foo Fighters and cranked up the angriest song I could find in my collection, “White Limo”. Miraculously I turned from crawling to flying and had a strong race after that, moving up over 100 places. My feet still hurt like hell, of course, but my spirits were lifted. The weather turned to some very very cold temps (15F or so) and ultimately the last 30k of the race were cancelled due to an iced up pass. While it’s one of the most scenic sections, it’s not a very hard one despite a last high pass, and I know I could have done this as well. We were still considered finishers, and all but very few runners were in the same boat.
8. Frog Hollow 25h
To prove to Jill I’m not just a one-trick pony I signed up again for the Frog Hollow, this time solo. Our friend Liehann was also there, and good times were had. Jill thought it’d be neat if I rode single speed which I promptly took as an excuse to build a full suspension single speed niner (the discerning older gentleman’s single speed). Of course two weeks before the race I managed to break a rib in a near-comical slow-motion uphill crash not being able to release from Liehann’s ill-maintained pedals (yes it was, indeed, Liehann’s fault!). But miraculously the rib fused up the night before the race – maybe my unwashed sleeping bag has some strange healing powers. I didn’t push it all too hard and took a looong nap but still managed 10 laps, which was my goal. I later kicked myself because with some solid effort I could have moved up maybe 2 spots onto the podium, though who knows. Guess I’ll have to find out next year!
9. The rest
I love running 50ks because it’s good fun to hang out with friends and interesting folks and I’m too lazy to train for long distances on my own!
– Crystal Springs
– Brooks Falls
– Steep Ravine
– Diablo 60k
– Steep Ravine (again!)
– Crystal Springs (again!)
– Berkley Trail Adventure
– Horseshoe Lake
– Mt Tam
– Coyote Ridge
– Woodside Ramble
The Bay Area does have its perks … and I only ran a fraction of the races here …
All in all about 1440 miles on foot. I think I can say now with some authority that racing a lot does NOT make you any faster. But all in all it’s been a fantastic year!