Sunday, May 25, 2014

Podium Finish and buckle #6!

The BLU Relentless 100 was definitely a challenge. The course was originally suppose to be a 5 mile trail loop but thanks to some crazy horse ladies removing the course markings, it was changed to a 2.5 mile loop that included 2 miles that were flat and partially sandy and .5 miles of steep rock climbing. At first I was really disappointed when I found out that the course was changing, but it isn’t safe to do a trail race when the are people removing the markings. I mean it would be good training for my future Barkley attempt this wasn’t the weekend to get lost.

Excited to get started
When the race started I was really excited to climb some rocks and see how much it was going to suck at night. Right before I got to the rocks I was having a blast, I got to see most of my California friends and I got to run over this really cool suspension bridge that bounces you up (lets see how long I like that dang bridge). When I started climbing the rocks it was like a dream come true, I could climb rocks as fast as I wanted without having to wait for my sister or parents.
Before I knew it I was at mile 20 and was already hating the bridge and rocks. My adrenaline rush made me go waaaayyyy too fast on the rocks, while jumping from rock to rock I messed up my knee. I was forced to walk until my friend Nicole generously gave me some tylenol. Thankfully after walking for a little bit longer my knee felt good as new. Everything went well until about mile 30 when my friend Emilio suddenly stopped running and suddenly hurled his cookies all over the place. Watching him lay down on the ground and just look awful and made me feel bad. 
As my mileage went up my hatred for the bridge and rocks did too. Since the bridge bounced you up you had put your leg down more which resulted in you having to stretch your leg more which hurts when you are sore. Since it was getting dark and the RD didn’t want me on the rocks by myself my friend Tanya started pacing me. It was nice to have Tanya around because she was upbeat, positive, and made sure I was safe while climbing the rocks. Tanya paced me for about 15 miles and then got tired and went to sleep, so Nicole’s friend Cameron paced me.
Things went well until about mile 75 when it started to get cold and I realized that my fingers were covered in cuts (from the rocks). Thankfully 3 jackets and a pair of gloves solved my problems. Cameron paced me a total of 10 miles and then Tanya came back out with me. When Tanya came back out I had good news, I was 3rd male and 4th overall! At the time I was at mile 80 and I had 1 lap on Sarkis (4th male). Sadly though I wasn’t eating enough so I thought that 2 Boosts (bad idea) and a hot dog would fix that. It turns out 2 Boosts at once is a bad idea. I quickly became nauseous.
At mile 90 Tanya decided she was done so while she was waiting I checked on Sarkis, it turns out he had passed me and was 20 +/- minutes ahead of me! Thankfully my friend and winner of the 50k Patrick Sweeney was willing to push me for the last 10 miles. Patrick was great because he was a lot faster then me so he could push me harder than I could push myself. Knowing that I was no longer 3rd male gave me an adrenaline rush, so I started doing 9-12 minute miles so I could get 3rd place back.

At about mile 92 it started to rain, the rain felt really good but it made it even harder to climb the slick rocks. While I was going up the hill I saw Sarkis going down, he was moving about half as fast as I was and didn’t look good. Now that I knew where he was I started to push harder. I really wanted 3rd place! Right after I hit mile 95 Patrick and I sprinted past him! We kept running until we couldn’t see him and then speed walked most of the lap. When I hit the last lap I was extremely excited, I only had around 35 minutes left and I had gotten 3rd male back! It was so cool to know that after that lap I could be done! Just to make sure Sarkis wouldn’t catch up Patrick pushed me to run as much as I could. When I could see the finish I took off! It was so cool to get my trophy, BLU Relentless buckle, and the jester 200 buckle!

Top 5 Relentless Finishers:
Jesse Sjoberg- 23:12:59.70
Joshua Holmes- 23:49:22.03
Michelle Patuto- 24:58:50.34
Colby Wentlandt- 25:21:25.87
Sarkis Defterderian- 25:53:56.61

Friday, February 21, 2014

A Sub-23 hour 100 at 13? I Hit the Jackpot!

The Jackpot 100 was a blast, I saw a lot of friends and got a huge PR! The course is a most flat 2.38 mile loop that features crushed gravel and concrete. My original goal was to average 15 minute miles, as you read on you will see that I did much better! The race weather was perfect, it was warmer then Colorado and there was cloud cover! I had my friend Terry crewing me and her husband Louie pacing me.

At the start with my Mom and our friend Rob
When the race started I was extremely excited, there were so many familiar faces! I wanted to go really fast but my Garmin helped me realize that I needed to slow down. As the race got started, I adjusted my strategy was to maintain 12 minute miles as long as possible and then slow down to 15-18 minute miles during the harder miles. My strategy worked well until around mile 27 when I hit a wall, I didn’t have any energy! A fellow runner (who I didn’t know) solved this by giving me a GU. I later found out that his name is Tony and that he has ran Badwater 5 times! He helped me a lot.

Photo Courtesy SweetM Images
When I was getting close to 50 miles I realized something... I was going to get a huge 50 mile PR! I also found out that Louie was ready to pace me at 50, my morale skyrocketed. I ended finishing the first 50 in around 10 hours 15 minutes that was a hour and a half PR! Between Louie starting to pace me and a PR I was feeling really good. It was great to have him with me. Louie held my flashlight, reminded me what I wanted when we came into the aid station, talked to me, and was overall positive.

When I hit the 100k mark I realized something again... I was only 12 hours 30 minutes into the race, that meant I beat my 100k PR by 2, hours, 17 minutes! Tanner, the race director’s son also decided to run a lap with me. It was nice to run with Tanner. We talked about school, his last 5k, and future races. Before I knew it I was in the dark miles... It was late at night I was tired and kind of said forget running I’m walking a lap! But when I hit the aid station I discovered an amazing combination -  pumpkin pie and cheesecake worked wonders. I stopped thinking about walking an entire lap and pushed myself to run/walk.

Something I realized at ATY was that you can run when you are tired. You can run when you think you can't. I focused on that at Jackpot and even when it hurt, I was able to run and maintain my goal pace.

I decided that I would run 100 steps and then walk 100 steps. My strategy worked well, I could do 15-16 minute miles at mile 80. When things got hard I tried to calculate how long I had left and say something like “only 6 hours until bed time!” I also did things like mix song lyrics and see what happened, playing games in my head kept me distracted from what hurt. Before I knew the sun came up and I was feeling brand new, all I could think about was that buckle and a sub-24 hour finish.

On my second to last lap I was extremely excited, the buckle was so close yet so far. The last 4 miles of a 100 is like winning the lottery but then getting in an accident and having to wait to cash in the win. When I finally go to the last part of my last loop adrenaline kicked in and I ran hard into the finish!! My final finish time was 22:29:21!! I GOT A 7 HOUR PR!!!! I was overjoyed!

Special thanks to:
    Terry and Diane for crewing me
    Louie for pacing me
    My Mom for the bringing me out
    And all of my friends and family!!! thanks for all the support!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Across The Years 2013-2014

Across The Years was a blast, I got a huge distance PR and had a great time! In the race you can sign up to run for 1, 2, 3, or 6 DAYS! The ATY course is a flat 1.05 mile loop around the White Sox/Dodgers training facility. The aid station is huge. They basically bring a kitchen to the course and put tents over it. The best part about the course is there are spots to put tents, cars, and RVs.
My Dad and I at the start

At the start I was excited, I signed up for the 3 day so it was going to be my longest race to date. Since it was a flat 1 mile loop my parents let me run by myself, so I decided to see what I could do. Unlike my Dad I didn't start off fast, I was pretty proud of myself for being able to pace myself. I later found out that my Dad had the fastest the first loop! This was the first race that I had ever listened to music, boy did I enjoy it! I just kind of cruised along listening to a mixture of classic rock and Christian music, things felt good and the miles went by fast.
Feeling great early in the race - photo from Aravaipa Running

Before I even looked up I had 20 miles done! To celebrate I drank a cup of Mt. Dew and Coke :). The best part about ATY is that every 4 hours you change directions so you get to see everyone. Things continued to go well until I was about 10 hours into the race and reality kicked in... Woah I still have 62 hours to go! That was a huge mistake, I was treating it like it was a 100 and in a 100 I don't really sleep. So my mind automatically assumed that I was going to stay up for another 62 hours! The mental part is so huge in these long races.
Phota credit - Aravaipa Running

At around mile 50 heaven on plastic plate came! Our friend Deb went to Cracker Barrel and brought us Sunday fried chicken!!! The chicken was delicious and it definitely made things better. The chicken worked its magic until about mile 65 when I found several blisters on my feet and things started to hurt. I have never had blisters, so I was surprised. I stopped in the medical tent to have them taped and then went to sleep for about 4 hours in our friends' RV. When I woke up I was confused and pretty tired, my dad  kind of prodded me out of the RV and I started going again! I found my Mom and we stayed together for a while.

After 24 hours were over I had 70-75ish miles and was feeling decent. It was so cool to see new faces start, it brought my morale up. I didn't really feel like running so I power walked with friends. At around mile 86 I was walking with my friend Mark Hellenthal who had done over 100 miles on an injured leg! I only had 14 miles until I hit 100 but I was hurting, a lot... I decided to take a brake at mile 87 because my heel hurt, when I took my shoe off I had spots all over my heel, so my parents decided to put my foot in the ice chest. The ice chest was bitter sweet, it made my heel numb but also hurt. The funny part was I was crying/laughing at how much it hurt and suddenly my nose started gushing blood! I am sure it was pretty funny to watch!

After getting blood and ice everywhere, I decided it was time to get going again, but before I knew it was dark again. I kind of hobbled along until mile 99 when a big group of people walked my 100th mile with me. It was nice to have so many people around me, they kept my mind off the pain. When I saw the start/finish I kind of did an excited shuffle and finally got 100 miles!! I was extremely tired and grumpy so I decided to sleep.

When I woke up I was stiff and didn't think I could get out of the RV, much less do a couple more laps, but I really wanted to. I told myself that I would at least walk my Mom's last lap. To prepare for the walk I would walk a couple of steps and just stand there. I mostly sat around all day. It was fun to watch people go by and have friends stop to chat with me. When my Mom came for her last lap I got up and walked! It was funny to look at my lap time and see that mile 101 took 20 hours!! After my Mom hit 100 she decided to keep walking so I followed her, it felt really good to be moving again. I was wearing my Dad's flip flops because my feet were still swollen.

Before I knew it I was at mile 110 my Dad had his 100 done and they were going to our friends' house to eat dinner and sleep. Mom tried to get me to leave too, but I wanted to keep going.

Since I wanted to keep going I walked with our friend Kristen who had 100+ miles as well. I walked with Kristen for about 5 miles when she decided to take a break. Since I was feeling good I laced my running shoes and started to run again!! I was doing about 15 minute miles when I caught up to my friend Ed the Jester. Ed was 3rd place in the 6 day and has over 300 miles done!! Ed kept me motivated, we kept up the pace for around 15 miles when he needed to take a break. I decided to keep going, I managed to run another 5 miles when the blisters caught up to me and I started walking again.

I walked about 3 miles when one of the best pacers ever decided to walk with me! My friend Fat Boy AKA Ryan kept me company by talking about hikes, recent races, and movies. Before I knew it I had 144 miles done and 1 hour 30 minutes left in the race, I decided to stop and lay down in the warming tent. Minus a lady hogging the heater the warming tent was nice, I went through cycles of falling asleep and waking up right before I started to fall out of my chair. After a while I decided to find my parents, I borrowed a friends phone and called them.

I was sleeping when my Mom and Dad told me the race was about over and it was time to get up.  My Dad made me stand up and we hobbled to the showers. The warm water felt so good on my aching legs. After the shower I felt like a million bucks. I fell asleep during the awards ceremony so I don't remember very much of it but I ended up with 144 miles!! That was an official 44 mile distance PR for me! ATY last year was my first PR. This year it was my first 3 day event. I hope we can come back every year. It is a great experience with a lot of fun friends and amazing runners.