Saturday, August 19, 2017

Race Report: Aid Station Perogies Can Only Get You So Far

(After being stateside every second weekend for the last six weekends, I regret to inform you that this one's not as sermon-y as my other reports.  Sorry.  I'm just phoning it in for this one.

Besides, I'm sure a few of you want to read something more digestible than my last one.)

It's amazing to see how three years of miles changes you.  

This time three years ago, I went Trailstoke (48k), Canadian Death Race (125k) and Iron Legs (89k) over the span of six weeks without dying, and thought I was hot shit.   

This year, I went Angel Creek (80k), World Championship Pack Burro Race (47k) and Eastern States (165k) in the same timespan, and flew home from Rocksylvania feeling rather....indifferent.  Even though the latter would be the culmination of the Pennsylvania Triple Crown, I felt as though I should have been more excited but admittedly I was burnt out from either the nomad life or this crash training regime for Mogollon or both.  

I had to do Eastern States.  It would be the culmination of my bid to complete the annual PA Triple Crown that started with the Hyner 50k back in April, plus I had yet to complete a WSER qualifier for next year's race.  But it honestly felt like a chore, after traveling so much and fucking with my body clock/daily routines in the last month.  Plus not having touched the distance since my March misadventure was not so much a confidence booster.

I don't know the reasons for this race starting in 2014, but given it's name, someone had to be trolling WSER.  With slightly more D+ (~just under 5800m) but no net loss from its loop format and 3 bonus miles, I appreciated that this race was likely developed to epitomize the 'B' in 'beast coast'.  It was in a fairly remote area of rural Pennsylvania, known as the Pennsylvania Wilds, so I also appreciated the fact I would be suffering in a very beautiful place.  My mind was also placed at ease by the fact that my friend Larry, who had suggested I take on this challenge, had injured his ankle and was unable to pace my other friend Fanny at Fat Dog, and would be able to crew me at ~20mi intervals throughout the course.  

My goals would be set up similarly to Angeles Crest because I believed that the course was similar in calibre of difficulty:

  1. 28:xx.   I finished Angeles Crest in 26 and change, but I didn't know how I'd do in the humidity and mud.  I figured +2h was a sufficient enough handicap to also account for the zero net elevation change.
  2. 2x:xx.  
  3. Finish within the 36h limit.
  4. Don’t get bit by a rattlesnake.
  5. Don't die.  
  6. Don’t get vomit on my shoes.
  • Instead of flying into Harrisburg like I did for the first two legs of the triple, I took a slightly bigger plane and landed Thursday afternoon in State College, arriving at my hotel in Slate Run well in the dark of the night after my usual shopping/carb loading rituals.  I noticed that according to AT&T, we were sufficiently in the middle of bumfuck nowhere and I was effectively disconnected from the world  as a storm the preceding Friday knocked out phone and the interwebs for the village.  
  • I woke up in the morning to the horrific sight of race course markings no further than 15m away from my hotel room window.  Apparently, after having not learned anything from Angeles Crest last year and not yet having read the participant guide/course information/trail description, I had booked my hotel room literally at the mi64 aid station venue.  GODDAMMIT LEO.
    • You'd think that this would actually be an advantage, having literally all my shit plus a shower right there at mi61, but all of that would be offset by the fact that I would have to fight the temptation of being so close to a warm comfy bed.  #runnerproblems
  • Being a child of the 90s I was thus obligated to drive 30mins north to the Wellesboro Dunkin' Donuts to milk their Wi-Fi and generally be in the company of cell service reception, but in doing so I was able to view the 'Grand Canyon of PA' (Pine Creek Gorge) we'd be circumnavigating.  
    • You'd think that after having lost my phone in a river the Sunday prior to this race and being condemned to a flip phone until Tuesday, I'd be able to disconnect from the world a little more easily.  #millenialproblems
  • After that I headed back to my hotel and walked the course in reverse as I knew there'd be a chance I'd approach in the dark (5am start + the 15ish h I spent at Worlds End; sunset was around 2000h) so I wanted to get a feel of the lay of the land and figure out when to time my actual running.  The approach was smooth but ungroomed downhill single track followed by another mile of downhill smooth gravel; a particularly apt ingress to the proverbial barn.  
    • of particular note was that the road paralleled Pine Creek, and there were plenty of walk-in fishing spots to dive in for a quick shower. 
  • I then drove down to the Waterville Tavern for lunch but really to milk their Wi-fi too, prior to dropping in at the race start to help out with setup and package pickup.  I met up with Larry here, along with Martin from Toronto, who was finishing up his triple too despite a Worlds End DNF, and a few other friends I had met at TARC 100 last year--it was good to see that I'd be in good company throughout this journey.  
Me, Larry and Martin on the day before.  (thanks Larry/Tara!)

  • A deluge came in for two hours right before dinnertime, and it made me question my A-goal as I would now have to contend with shoe-sucking mud in some places, and waterslides the next.  I had little faith the forest would drain in time for tomorrow's event, but I had brought my s-Lab Wings 8 softgrounds and two pairs of Hoka Speedgoats so I knew I could do it if I just set my expectations appropriately.  
  • Larry and I went for dinner back at the Tavern as I had seen they had pasta on the menu, but given they were only one of two restaurants in the vicinity I didn't get my food until 2030h. 
  • It helped that there was no wi-fi at my hotel as it only took me half an hour to wake up, shower, scarf down breakfast and take the first of my nervous shits in time for the 500h start.  I dropped off my duffel bag o' crew fun with Larry, who was helping with start line weigh-in, took my next nervous shit and then got my nerves together.  
    • 163lbs.  I'm losing shape.
  • The start was gentle, a few miles of Little Pine State Park road before heading on some steady uphill on some narrow single track.  Larry had told me to hold up on the first four miles as the first climb at the Dam Run needed some gas but I deferred to gunning it with the front of the pack so I could bank some time in the cooler weather, and contend with non-baby-shit-levels of mud on the climb with it being exposed to less shoe traffic.  
    • Naturally, it took all of two miles and change for me to plant my right foot off the side of the trail and subsequently cutting my left knee open on some rocks.  Racers behind me asked if I was ok while I tried to stand back up; "probably?," I replied, just as I repeated this misstep one more time for good measure and giving myself two more cuts.  A most excellent start.  
  • The humidity from Friday's rain was readily apparent--by three miles in I was dripping moisture off my nose and my hydration pack was completely soaked.  
    • That being said, race day weather was cooler than previously, with it only  being in the 80s.  There was also a downburst last year, and it wasn't hot enough for that shit this year.  
  • The first 18 miles to AS3 at the DCNR building at the mouth of the Tiadaghton forest was effectively a primer as to why Pennsylvania is nicknamed 'Rocksylvania'.  It took no time for me to realize that you cannot assume that anywhere you plant your foot is stable--whether it was a moss-covered rock, steep uphill covered with rocks, steep downhill covered with sharper rocks, or just a root that had a part-time job as a skateboard grind rail on weekends, all at a stupid camber--this course demanded the utmost care and attention.  
    • There were also no switchbacks.  Ever.  Dam Run was one of the steepest on the course and there were racers on all fours scrambling up moss-covered stones
    • Like every other race I've ever run, I bled some speed after the first few climbs consciously as I knew I couldn't sustain the pace I used to maintain my place in the queue, but soon I was losing steam uncontrollably.  It didn't take too long for me to realize that I was actually dehydrated from drinking four beers the day before and not properly rehydrating.  Alas I bled some more places as I continuously pounded down my flasks, including drinking 1.5L between miles 11 and 18.  
      • this also meant I was basically pissing every hour to check on color.  
      • The eventual womens' triple crown winner, Deserae Clark, caught up with me at mile 14.  That made me feel better about slowing down.  
      • "don't be shy if you want to pass.  I run like a prissy little bitch on the downhills."
      • it also didn't help that I was still 2h behind on jet lag.  
    • nevertheless, bringing poles definitely helped for the downhills, because the downhills here literally dropped straight down.  having two extra legs to relieve the pressure off my actual legs probably paid dividends on the back half of the race.  
    • My friend Jason from Pittsburgh, who I met at Worlds End and was going after the Triple as well, caught me here; we struck up a lively conversation but he ended up tripping and giving himself a gusher of a bleed right above his ankle.  I gave him my sport-sized roll of duct tape and dressings from various aid stations were able to get the wound cauterized, but I felt pretty guilty about likely having a hand in causing this by distracting him,.  
  • AS3 was the first crew access point available but I knew Larry wouldn't be there. Despite me running my own race, Martin had passed me before 6mi in so it was still good to see Martin's crew still hanging at AS3 as I knew I couldn't be too far from rejoining him.  I took a few minutes here to scarf down some coke, bacon and pickle juice (breakfast of champions!) before heading off.  
  • AS4 was at mi26; it was located at the terminus of a giant 'c' back to PA-44, the road where AS3 was situated on.  This was where I'd be meeting Larry and changing out my true-size Speedgoats for my s-lab Wings 8's.  
    • unfortunately, it couldn't come soon enough as I found out I had went out way too hard and was on the verge of falling asleep and my vision was blurring.  Even with some exposure to gentle ATV trails, Jason soon passed me again, even with his bum foot, and soon I was stumbling uphill with heavy eyelids.  I jumped into every creek possible to shock myself awake and popped two ginger gravol in the meantime.
    • the humidity at this time of day was high enough to dislodge timing chips from our bibs.  mine started to come off just after AS3 so I ripped it off and tucked it in my pack, but in my sleepy state I ended up picking up eight more timing chips off the ground over the whole day per LNT rules and put them in the same pocket as my own chip.  as a result I couldn't surrender the chips (they all looked the same) until I got back to the finish line as I didn't want to leave my own in the middle of the course.  
  • I pretty much stumbled into AS4 on the verge of taking a literal dirt nap, but Larry was there with my bag of fun which woke me back up.  I spent a few minutes reapplying chafing gel, kool 'n fit, shoe swapping, massage rolling, taking a 200mg hit of caffeine and getting some ice stuffed in my hat.  
    • I had left quickly to repass Jason when I turned around to throw Larry my shades--this was my first race where it was just stupid to wear them.  There weren't too many open exposed sunny areas, so throughout the first 26 miles I was repeating a cycle of wiping them dry, wearing them, running into a dark section with a heavy canopy, and then taking them off.  
  • Larry had told me the next 6.5mi section was fairly runnable despite a gentle uphill grade, with a few stream crossings to boot.  I took his advice and started shuffling, and this soon turned into a full-on rampage as I passed probably no less than 10 runners. The caffeine and ice helped me find my flow state, and I hit up the Happy Dutchman camp 50k in feeling like hot shit so I took in more ice in my hat and bandana.  
  • Wanting to capitalize on this energy boost and with runners ahead of me loitering, I quickly egressed and found myself starting 6 miles of manicured snowmobile trail.  I could not have timed that caffeine pill better--it was like running on someone's lawn for 10k.  Wide, rolling, gently graded--this was definitely the easiest part of the course that day.  
    • A drizzle started about 2 miles in but I thought nothing of it as the canopy was still sufficient to hold the water off, but a few cracks of thunder soon preempted a darkening of the skies.  As soon as the rain got louder I stopped to put on my jacket, and this was succeeded with an amazing downpour--I say 'amazing' as it kept my IT bands cool and kept the temperature perfect.  I traded places with a group of two a few times here before letting loose at the start of the Donut Hole trail--the rain was easing up but I didn't want to stop and take off my jacket before the mi39 aid station at Ritchie Road, so I turned on the afterburners on the single track as the heat started to come back.  
    • At the same time, I knew my A-goal would be ambitious if the mud didn't drain from last night's rain, so I told myself to be ready to accept a 29:xx.
  • After removing my jacket and refilling on ice and broth (yea, i know) I headed out to run the powerline section - this was as exposed as it got all day, so naturally once out in the open another rainstorm rolled in.  This time I passed on putting on my jacket as it was wet with my sweat anyways and kept on going because I knew it'd be fucking hilarious.  
    • I had heard stories from some racers that they took last year's monsoon that they took the rain as fuel for the soul.  
    • my shuffling spree eventually ended when i turned into Bear Pen Hollow and wet, steep downhill rocky singletrack reappeared; it was back to tip-toeing.  I had passed the 4th-place lady on the powerline but because of my slow pace she quickly took me out on this section.  fortunately the downhill and rain was short-lived as we eventually came out on the flatter gravel Hyner Run road and I was back to shuffling past the sketchy farmhouses hidden in the middle of nowhere.  
    • (Those of you that don't know me well--I have nothing against being chicked.  References in this report to overtaking x-place ladies are because in my mind, my average finish is around a 3rd-place lady equivalent.  Based on my less-than-scientific sampling of the races I run, it is a more consistent target than saying "I want to be in the top x percentile" because of other variables such as D+, forced burro running partners and climatic conditions.   Yes, I know there's probably a more politically-correct way of describing this target but they involve probably a few more syllables.)
  • At the mile 44 Hyner Run State Park aid station, I met up with Larry and I refilled on ice, chafing gel, kool 'n fit, my massage roll, and taking 1/3 of a can of Straub's Amber ale before giving the rest to the aid station staff.  He told me I was making good time on catching up to Martin but more importantly I had a substantial buffer on the cutoff--I had to clear mile 44 by 1930h and it was only three in the afternoon; reflective flags soon appeared thereafter this station, which was a good sign.  Nevertheless I spent only 10 minutes here as it preceded a hike up a rocky hollow onto the flatter Allegheny Plateau, where my shuffling was able to repass the 4th place lady and her pacer, and even as I went up and down the multiple hollows to the next aid station I was able to pass a few more runners.  But as I got closer and closer to mile 51 I could feel that the beer I drank was exacerabting the diuretic effect of the caffiene pill and soon my fluid intake was off the rails.  
  • There was an aid station three miles after the mile 51 aid station at Dry Run but I had to stop to refill everything at Dry Run as my flasks were completely dry.  Little fanfare of making it halfway through the course played in my head as I started losing my place here back to runners who I had passed earlier, but I was able to hold my own until the mile 55 station at Halfway House, where I took another hit of ice and vaseline before quickly (relatively speaking) moving out onto a 10-mile stretch with no fully stocked aid station.  
    • Because we had to cross multiple roads here with opportunities to shortcut, there were marshals taking bib numbers and offering me water, which I declined as it wasn't too far from Halfway House.

      "Two-three, coming through."
      'Where are you from, twenty-three?'
      "Calgary, Canada."
      'Now why would you come all the way down here for this kind of pain?'
      "Oh, I just heard it was a beautiful place to suffer in."
    • The plateau eventually bled out and soon I was running like a prissy little bitch againon the rocky downhill of Callahan Run, with numerous runners coming up from behind me.  Somehow one of these was Martin and his pacer Tara, and they were content with me leading them but I soon let them go by when I had to dust some crops arising from the volatile mix of pickle brine, beer and caffeine in my system.  
    • It was dark at the bottom of the hollow and runners were passing me with headlights turned on but I told myself I could see clearer as I finished off the climbs.  Nevertheless I had started falling asleep again with my vision wavering on said climb but needing to mantle a few tornado blowdowns soon shocked me awake as I made it to a bottled-water-only aid station at mile 60.  Martin and Tara were still there and about to leave but I elected to stay a while longer to scarf down some perogies to neutralize my stomach contents.  
    • It was amazingly still light out and I had wanted to make it back to my hotel in the light but I knew I couldn't; I held out for as long as I could and my headlight came out on the Naval Run descent.  The recon from the day before soon played in my mind as I sent in on the downhill gravel road, passing Deserae and another runner as I made it to the hotel before their bar was closed.  It was slightly after 9pm when I met with Larry; almost 6h for a cutoff-buffer.
  • Based on my previous performances I knew that given the fire I was burning I ideally had to take a tactical shit here.  After that, I quickly repeated my mile 26 ritual, switching into half-size bigger Speedgoats with thicker cotton toe-socks to fill up any extra space and taking a spare headlamp battery.  Another caffeine pill was ingested here and I knew I likely needed one at mi80 too given how quickly I was moving, but I would cross that bridge when I got there (literally).  I also ended up dropping my ice bandana here as it was cooling off, and switching out my bag of Endurolytes and energy bars out but in my haste I actually didn't take my new bag of Endurolytes and, wanted to leave while Martin was brushing his teeth, left without any electrolyte tabs.  
    • It was probably a mile into this next 6 mile section when I realized this but because we had to ascend a stupid 1400' climb up on the Black Forest Trail I decided to just tough it out to AS12 at Algerines Gate, where I'd be at the mercy of their Saltstick bottle (which I had seen other AS's carry throughout the day).  Based on my current pace of 13-17min miles I knew it was just two hours of acid buildup to deal with so I was content with it.  After than I knew I would be able to meet up with Larry at mile 80, pound down the Endurolytes from the first half of the course, and take the new bag of Endurolytes with me. 
    • The climb eventually flattened out at the top of the laurel and my fresh caffiene pill made for some more shuffling and rare overtaking, including the 2nd place lady.
  • I arrived into AS12 and went straight for the Saltstick bottle, which was.....unopened.  On one hand, I was happy they had this many left as I pounded down four pills in one go to make up for lost time, but on the other--I was starting to wonder if my current pace was unsustainable, especially if no one had even touched the bottle.  
    • It was another 6 miles to the next station so I took another five pills to go, downed some broth and left just as Martin and Tara were coming in.  Tara gave me kudos for being able to stay ahead of them, but I knew I would be paying for it somewhere down the road.  
  • The next six miles were just stupid.  The plateau lasted a little bit but soon we were thrown the steepest, longest, rockiest hollow to descend.  I had company with me who had run the race in 2016 to guide me through, but it took forever in the dark to negotiate up to the mi75 Long Branch station.  
  • It was four miles to the next station but my IT bands were just trashed from the previous hollow's descent; I soon found myself running alone again when I had to stop and execute a Morton stretch on a tree or six.  Single track marked this next section on the West Rim Trail; I knew it followed the side of Pine Creek Gorge so I was able to see the lights of Blackwell from a ways away but it would take forever to get there.  I tried to down some more pickle juice but unfortunately all it did was make me more gassy.
  • I was guided into the Blackwell station at mi80 by the sound of drums and cowbells; two ladies had offered to help me over the guard rail at the trailhead but somehow I still had enough dexterity to not need their assistance.  I strolled into Blackwell with only another racer and his pacer around, and Martin's next pacer Jacques cheering me in, but to my horror, I was unable to locate Larry.  I shifted my watch face to the time - it was 232h; Larry said he would be there at 300h - 330h based on my pace up to Slate Run.  Fuck.  
    • Alas, here I was presented with a dillemma - wait 30min for Larry and risk cramping, or make due with the aid station loadout and risk a complete gastrointestinal clusterfuck?  I elected to go for the latter as my IT bands were already misbehaving and the scars of my last hunnerd were still fresh in my mind.  The disadvantages was that I would have to forego the chafing cream, caffeine pill and massage roll; everything else I could source from aid stations, including some caffeinated Tailwind. After taking yet another dump to ensure I could take in some more pickle juice, and then applying some Neosporin and downing some more perogies and broth, I begrudgingly left.  I had spent twenty minutes not running already, but the cramping was bad enough already I couldn't take another ten.
  • It was only another five miles to Sky Top, a private hunting club, but given these circumstances these were very long miles.  My mind was eased, however, that I was now on the same side of PA-414 and Pine Creek Gorge as the finish line, and by the fact that one of the AS volunteers at mi26 had promised me pancakes up at mi85.  Nevertheless I ran all of these miles all alone in the quiet night.
    • With yesterday's rain I knew that I'd be likely subjected to fog at higher elevations, and being blinded by my headlamp.  I tried switching to wearing it on my chest/waist instead, but with all the twisting and turning and the narrow width of the single track this proved even more troublesome with issues in getting everything lit.  
    • The mi64 caffeine pill was long gone now, and the caffienated Tailwind was doing absolutely fuck all.  I was trying to keep my feet dry as well and they were indeed still dry from mi64, so to keep my IT band flare down I put two and two together and starting spitting out Tailwind on my quads.  I was so glad to be running alone while doing this.   
    • They put a "last hill to Sky Top" sign probably a mile away from the aid station.  Or that's what it felt like.   I mean, it wasn't surprising that Sky Top would be at the top of a hill...just that this hill was huge.  
    • That being said, it was just amazeballs.  The sound of a generator broke the night silence as I was treated to a set of christmas lights to guide my approach.  It'd be another few minutes before I actually heard the cowbells, not because I was slow, but because they set the lights out so far from the aid station.  
  • Blueberry pancakes with syrup.  That's what I ordered at mile 85.  
    • There were more than a half-dozen volunteers all focused on helping me here, mostly because I was the only one there.  One of them noticed that when I had sat down, I had my feet underneath my chair--he said that was an indication that I still had some steam left, as those that don't usually just fully extend their legs.  I needed that.
    • It was 8 miles to the next station so I took in another pair of perogies before I waddled out of the station.  I heard cheers and hollers a short distance away so I knew that if I couldn't claw my way out of this growing bonk, I'd be seeing some company real soon.  
  • This company soon found me after descending yet another rocky hollow, and then reascending a long grassy State Game Land management road.  It was certainly runnable terrain, just not at a runnable grade this late in the game.  The former was actually bad now--I was falling asleep, one more time, from the complacency of this section.  I desperately accepted a 40-60mg caffeine pill from a fellow runner or pacer who passed me but the effects of that were very short lived.  
    • The miles ticked by slowly as my diet soon switched to solids only and the morning light poked through.  The clouds looked to be clearing up.  
    • I was fairly mad at myself now as I regretted not waiting for Larry and was well into a fairly deep bonk, but after a little bit of self-pity I told myself to carry on these deep thoughts at the finish line, and to finish this for Larry instead.   
      • I knew there was crew access at the next aid station, but I told myself not to expect Larry there--it would be a rough drive in for his Camry, and by that point I would have settled into a different regime for fueling and be close enough to the finish to just move along. 
  • At the mi93 (yea, we're only at mi 93) Barrens station I politely asked for some ice so I could "put it down my pants", which was met with a few giggles.  I had done this back at Angeles Crest but could remember that I did only now at this critical juncture.  I could smell the barn so I downed the broth quickly and got out of there, but the chafing was just stupid now.  
  • The next section was 6mi of management roads, railroad grades, and stream crossings I finally succumbed to jumping into to kickstart my immobile legs.  Unfortunately the evapotranspiration effect didn't work with us going up and down hollows and ultimately in the absence of wind.  After a long grind I finally made it to mi99 (no we're not even close to fucking done here), the Team RWB station at Hacketts Fork.  this marked the cleanest transition I made all race--I grabbed a bag of chips, a whole roll of Oreos, some Motts fruit snacks and apologized for not staying as I wanted to "get this shit over with".  
    • I hadn't been passed by anyone since Barrens but immediately after being cheered for making it past Hacketts Fork, the crew behind me cheered another runner coming in.  It would be about ten more minutes on the last climb of the day before this runner revealed herself to be the 4th-place lady I had passed after Hyner Run; her fight to 2nd place gave me a little bit of gas as I grunted my way like a gimpy bear up Schoolhouse Hollow Road.  To pass the time and to make sure my bonk wouldn't return I told myself to take an Oreo every mile, which worked out well for fueling as I was touching 20mins for each one. 
    • Larry had told me the back few miles were steep as fuck but not to use my hands - the rocky terrain made for solid rattler dens so I had to stay upright on this section.  I could hear the cheers coming off from my left, somewhere far down below, so I went a little aggro on this section and tried to bunnyhop down the hill.  Not even the gunshots deterred me (seriously, what was that?). 
    • I had been trading places with a runner wearing the same Boco headband branded from Vertical Runner in Breckenridge I had purchased two weekends before, since the climb to Barrens, but a mile from the finish I managed to claw my way back to him and stayed in front of him this time.  
    • After a 1000' descent on the last mile almost tantamount to the shit at Northburn Station, I finally broke through the trees, into the sun and onto Little Pine Creek Road, before realizing that the finish line was a couple hundred m's away by the picnic area, including a good 150-yd straight line dash to the last timing mat.  Realizing that everyone was watching now, I mustered a sprint, nary a finish-line smile, clutching the eight aid station timing chips I had picked up over the last day and a bit, all for the shits and giggles.  

As my face accurately depicts, this finish line chute hurt.  And yes, that is a bundle of eight timing chips in my left hand. 
    •  I squinted hard at the timing clock--despite the events of the last 23mi, I had truly thought the first number would be a '3' (I had been too focused to not even look at the time after mi80), but somehow it was still showing a '2'.  As I got closer I realized that I had somehow hit my B-goal, or my A-goal plus the 1-h handicap for shitty trail conditions I gave myself after yesterday's storm.  The finish pace was fairly similar to my Northburn Station waddle, but this time there was a circus to shepherd me in.  

Picking up a new belt buckle from the RD, David.  Check out how wrecked my bib is, and the amount of food in my belly.

  • Larry was there across the line and I promptly apologized for fucking this up for him--it turned out I missed him by only ten minutes at Blackwell, but he still supported my decision as a lot can happen to sedentary legs in ten minutes.  He quickly stuffed a beer in my hand to make me forget about lamenting, and to just focus on what I had just accomplished. 
By the numbers
  • Time: 29:18
  • Official distance: 102.9mi
  • Official elevation gain: 19288'
  • Placement: 24/204
  • DNF rate: 41%
  • Triple Crown placement (men's division): 10/30 finishers
    • Overall DNF rate: 67%
  • Snakes seen: 0
    • Caterpillars seen: 2
  • Skunks seen: 1
  • Toenails remaining, one week after: 3
Stray observations:
  • World-class; that's how I would describe this race.  There's a school of thought that 'flow state' is the moment in which you are facing a challenge just manageable with the skills you have, and that's what this race is all about.  The race gives you a course which is incredibly stupid,  but given my mi80-mi103 adventure, it also gives you everything you need to finish. 
    • The new RD this year had run all previous years of this race.  I think it definitely helped.
      • "No finisher jackets this year. If you have a problem with this please sign up for the JFK50 - " -- the one-week-out email
      • He's the Worlds End RD as well, and as such Bason Coffee and egg sandwiches are a pre-race staple at this race too.  And like Worlds End, he has the same kickass photographer and double-edged axe prize for the top man/lady. 
  • I thought the amount of racers who popped their hundred-mile-cherry on Sinister 7 was bad, but fuck.....the amount of first timers here was just stupid.  Kudos on taking the plunge, just like that.   It's tough and almost reckless to attempt to take down a Hardrock-qualifier-grade course on their first hunnerd, and yet so many did at this race.  
  • I apologize for the lack of photos in this but I was running a race.  Plus I left my phone in my car as I had lost one not even a week before the race in a fast flowing Yoho River.
  • I will likely return to help an aid station out before I run this again, even as a pacer.  That's how long it'll take for my toenails to grow back.  
  • I would definitely say that reading u/searchandrescuewoods' "I'm a Search and Rescue Officer for the US Forest Service, I have some stories to tell" series of stories (master list here) on r/nosleep did not help whatsoever for the night run section. 

  • Larry, obviously, for agreeing to keep the beer on ice for me.  I know I could have used drop bags instead but you saved me from having to try my luck with not getting bulked out by the puddlejumper that lands at State College.  Thanks again for contending with my grossness too; I know it's hard crewing while you have a running injury but all  my sweaty crap probably made it worse.  Hopefully the brews I gave you will help take the edge off!
  • Aid station volunteers.  All the stations, even the remote water-only station right before Slate Run, were by far the most professionally run stations I have encountered. It's not every race you see volunteers fighting each other to help you out.  
    • Kudos on having pickle brine at all normal aid stations.  I effectively had to throw out my pickle jar in my crew bag on Sunday because I didn't even touch it.  
    • A shoutout to the parents who brought/made their kids help.  Way to start them young!
    • A shoutout to the Blackwell volunteers at mi80 for helping me make due in the absence of my crew.  literally couldn't have done it with you!  
      • and to the Blackwell volunteer who showed up at the finish line to check if I made it through ok.   and then to give Larry a little bit of shit. 
  • To whoever gave me that caffiene pill between mi85-mi96: I don't always take drugs from strangers, but thank you for giving me that short-lived boost.   it was enough to not so much jolt me awake but breathe some consciousness back into me.
  • The RD, David, for putting on yet another awesome event.  Open breakfast bars at start lines, and open bars at finish lines are rare.  Stay awesome!
  • To all my friends who didn't make it - take solace in the fact that you play an important part in what gives ES100 its character.   Your efforts in the face of the relentless adversity seen on this day gives me fuel to train and run harder.
Tips for prospective beast coast beasts:
  • ankle neuromuscular reflexes.  if i were to describe the terrain, I would say it would be tantamount to 'dancing on a thin band of oily broken glass at a camber surrounded by dense dark woods below you'.
  • poles.  
    • you do not want to be scrambling.  every stick is a snake until proven otherwise, and under every rock is a rattler den until proven otherwise.   
  • don't even think about sitting down on a bunch of loose rocks.  
  • you may note that no reference was made to my weight after the start weigh-in--don't worry too much about it as this is only for emergency baselining.  
  • given the foliage, my watch had gained 1.5mi over the course distance before mi51, and 2.6mi over by mi80.  if you have target splits, calculate them for duration elapsed between aid station distances. 
  • humidity means
    • take all the ice you can!
    • chafing cream.  aid stations only have vaseline and neosporin at best.
  • run the triple crown, not just as a training regime but so you can lose all your toenails prior to this thing.  I think it definitely helped me to have only 3 on each foot prior to the race.  
    • that being said, if you have never been to the Wilds, the triple is a good way of getting your wayfinding skills down.  you can easily lose a trail through a rocky hollow or when they send you to follow a stream. 
    • the triple is also a good way of knowing how raggedy your shoes can be before you toe the line at ES100.  these trails will absolutely destroy your shoes.  
  • if you require a good night's sleep prior to the race - please note that there are only two restaurants in the proximity of the start line, Happy Acres Resort and Waterville Tavern.  I chose the latter and stepped in line at 1915h, ordered at 1930h, got our food at 2030h and was in bed by 2200h.   
    • TL;DR: pre-race dinners are best eaten early, elsewhere (think Jersey Shore/Avis area) or on a camp stove. 
  • patience.  accept the terrain will slow even the hardiest of runners. 
  • enjoy the stars when you can.  
Up next:
  • This is acceptable training for the long course of the Mogollon Monster, right?
  • After not volunteering since Sinister 7, I will be back rocking out at Pavan at the Lost Soul Ultra in Lethbridge from 9am Friday to close Saturday. 

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