Friday, July 27, 2018

Race Report: To Be Human Again, 2018 ed.

I've always dreaded the inevitability that one day, I'll execute a race so flawlessly that my corresponding race report would sound boring and dishonest.

Thankfully that day was not during the 2018 100mi version of the Tahoe Rim Trail Endurance Runs (TRTER).  

also, because i am concurrently training to be a ninja there are no public photos of me on the course again [yet].  sorry.  (not sorry.)   (Edit 07/31: I found one!)
there may be choice gifs here and there though for the lolz.  

I picked the 100mi version of TRTER as my token hunnerd for 2018 because it was suitably far away enough from UTMB in terms of scheduling, and had around 18,000' of gain, and also because I had never raced in Nevada before.  Even that part of alpine Nevada is hot as balls this time of year and all that running in the heat wouldn't help with my UTMB prep, but it wasn't much different than the heat wave we had in Calgary as of late so I think it was a solid choice to do a preflight check.

My training since my last race was as follows:

  • ran the High Rockies Trail two weekends after RONR going from Goat Creek to Elk Pass, logging 78k in a straight shot.  barely any elevation gain and kinda disappointing with an unexpectedly high amount of pavement, but there was a fun trampoliney suspension bridge involved so i guess it was worth it.  
  • Started doing Intermittent Hypoxia Training (IHT).  Similar to sleeping in a hypoxic tent but not done while sleeping so it doesn't have a drop in sleep quality, this method involves breathing into a bong-like device that utilizes soda lime to drop your SpO2 in six 6-minute bursts for 15 days straight.  This was mostly done for my next race in Colorado, but I didn’t mind the extra boost in breathing economy. 
  • worked my usual sinister 7 aid stations for 26h straight.  i didn't start falling asleep until we had less than 5 runners left to pass through my last station, so i guess it was a successful sojourn.   
  • packed in a slow 37k up and around Buller Pass the sunday before the race with a friend who i hadn't run with nearly 4 years, doing what i do best--telling fat dog 120 war stories and giving really bad advice for her upcoming attempt.  It was much needed though, as with all my IHT bullshit I had cranked up my pace as of late and forgotten how to slow down and enjoy the scenery.

That being said - I felt like shit going into this race.  It wasn't so much a 2016-era post-Sin7 existential dread, but as my physio can attest, my right ankle is continuously jammed after even the least intensive of activity, and even after my 4 day taper of doing jack shit all, I still felt a lack of dexterity on my right compared to my left, coupled with bouts of discomfort .  On top of that, it's been feeling like the overtraining I have been trying so hard to avoid has been creeping up on me, but it may also have been driven by life stresses which i won't get into here.  

I elected to stay in Carson City for the race, flying into Sacramento on points two days before the race and then driving out east parallel the WSER route.  I woke up the next day feeling like complete shit after waking up at 2am (which is 3am MST, usually when I wake up for no reason or probably not-night-terrors-at-all back at home) and had a shit heart rate variability to go with it.  Wanting to walk it off, I drove out to Emerald Bay on the other side of Tahoe after breakfast to literally walk around Vikingsholm and around the bay before finishing my circumnavigation drive of Tahoe on my way to bib pickup/drop bag dropoff back at Carson.  It was a 10min/k 9.4k gentle saunter but somehow I managed to get a painless bruise on my left knee without noticing.  My ankle wasn't an issue walking on the soft dusty dirt of the bay but i would still get random sharp discomfort around my knee from time to time.  

Sure enough, my bib number was 88 which I totally did not read as an omen until the door prize I had won was quite literally the same poles I had broken at my last race, right down to the height.  I decided to live dangerously and christen these poles at this race, which required me to break the zip ties on the packaging with my car key and replace the pole tips with my teeth.  (Once again, sorry to my dentist.)  Because I still wasn't believing in omens just yet, I found out the winner of the other set of door prize poles, some Womens' FLZs, were won by my friend Lourdes from Calgary.  I wasn't expecting her at this race but it was nice knowing someone else on the course.  (She was kind of pissed that she got the heavier poles though because she showed up at pickup later than me).  

My goals were as follows:

  1. 29:59 (but really 2x:xx).  this course is pretty dumb for someone of my calibre to go sub-24
  2. finish and grab that WSQ/sterling silver buckle.  i'm not here to prove anything just yet, i'm just here for a long time.
the first 50: technically this didn't go as planned, as i didn't really have a plan

The TRTER course is built like a gimpy cloverleaf—you start out at Spooner Lake, make your way up to Hobart, then Tunnel Creek, where you do a loop to Red House, and then do a loop to Diamond Peak ski resort, before returning to Hobart via Tunnel and then going to Snow Valley back to the finish, only to repeat the entire sequence one more time to make it up to 100mi.  Tunnel Creek would be the easiest spot to make a wrong turn as it was the intersection of three trails, but each exit was sequenced in a counter clockwise order which made it hard to confuse the route progression, even in a half-conscious state. 

I woke up at 215h to catch the shuttle to the start line, but I wasn’t able to get any shuteye with all the nervous runners chatting nervously and what not.  Even with ample propane heaters set up at the start line for me to curl up next to, early 50M/55K runners had joined the fray despite not starting for a couple of hours so the start line turned into a complete circus.  I didn’t fret too much about it since I was at least sitting on a chair and not standing on my feet.  

At 5am, Lourdes and I started together for all of five seconds before I upshifted to seed myself in a tolerable position prior to the single track starting.  Having been on the course before, she had warned me the course was fairly runnable, which is how I found the initial stretch on Marlette Lake to Hobart, but she had also warned me that as the area was largely founded on granite dust, riding the ass of the runner in front of you could result in some hilarious exercise-induced asthma, should they have a most excellent heel whip.  I found that to be quite true as well; there was pollen laced with the granite dust but I didn’t notice that all.  It was on this stretch in which I met a Kelly from Sacramento, and we shot the shit for a little bit when we mutually realized we would be playing hide and seek for the better part of the next day.

I blew through Hobart cleanly, save for grabbing a protein ball and proceeded uphill towards Tunnel Creek above treeline.  The initial climb revealed a smoky haze obstructing a clear view across Lake Tahoe, which was a little disappointing as that was probably the best vista for viewing the lake, but I had deliberately left my phone at the start/finish so as to avoid worrying about these things.  Once we cleared the ridge, re-entering the forest yielded a ridiculously runnable downhill, with the right frequency of rocks to break up the dust so I pushed it a little bit, but this was my first post-IHT race so I wasn’t actually sure how much I could push it without regretting it later.  Entry and exit into Tunnel Creek was clean again, with a momentary stop to grab a smore sandwich before I started descending into the Red House loop flume that was the lowest point on course.
so much damn smoke

It started with a steep descent characteristic of some of the shit I saw at Northburn Station, so I eased off a little bit which allowed the last lady I passed before Tunnel Creek to catch up to me.  She was some pigtail-sporting lady from Leavenworth, WA and she too had realized the lunacy of pushing it on such a steep slope so we hung out together for a little bit.  I was assured the slope would not last as she had run the race before, and the loop would soon become more runnable as it turned into forest road.  Alas, I deferred to her pace and I was open to listening to her race plan, such as what she put into her drop bags and where, but also because i was well off my 29:59 pace.  Somehow it became apparent that whereas this would be my last hunnerd before UTMB, it would be her last hunnerd before she would get busy with work for the summer.  Apparently her nose ring and shoulderblade tattoo didn’t give it away, but her hilarious humility took me a hilarious amount of time for me to figure out her line of work during the summer was organizing 200s.   

I stopped at Red House momentarily again, but only because they had strawberry lemonade available; Candice was only running with a hip belt so I left her behind.  This lasted all of a couple minutes as she and Kelly both had superior uphill skills (despite me using poles) and both of them literally left me in the dust as we started climbing up back towards Tunnel Creek.  I kept them in sight until Tunnel Creek but I had to hit up my drop bag to grab my ice bandana and some Kool n' Fit, and by the time I was iced up they had both already disappeared towards Diamond Peak.  

We had a one hour head start on the 50mi's but the front of the pack had started creeping up on us and it was now hard to tell who I was supposed to be hunting.  The 3mi up to the Bull Wheel water drop was at the top of a chairlift but I found it particularly undulating up until then.  to my surprise, Bull Wheel had more than water despite requiring its supplies to be delivered by chairlift, and as i forgot to grab some candied ginger out of my bag at Tunnel I murdered a handful of GinGins here instead.  

there was another uphill after Bull Wheel but as it was getting hot as balls (and because the ice i picked up Tunnel was supposed to last 12ish mi) I elected to take it easy on the hike and then find a sustainable downhill pace down to the Diamond Peak ski lodge.  a mile in I ran into a lady who was keeled over massaging her lower leg, and apparently she thought she had sprained her ankle.  i told her if she wanted to tap out early it would be easier to go back to Bull Wheel than to continue for another 9mi, but apparently she decided to continue on.  I found out that last part with roughly 2mi to the ski lodge, after I had slowed down considerably on a long section of the Tyrolean downhill MTB trail to protect my knees, and heard a loud "FUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKK" from behind me as she had aggravated her ankle.  that was the point when i decided to speed up a little bit as apparently someone with a [self-diagnosed] ankle sprain was able to keep up with me.  

I got to the Diamond Peak ski lodge and there was a raging party on the patio.  It was roughly 29mi in and I had a fresh pair of shoes waiting for me back at mi35 at Tunnel, so I didn't want to spend too much time there.  Unfortunately they had starting serving protein smoothies and I needed something to balance the shot of pickle brine i had back at tunnel so I stayed a little bit longer than I wanted to.  Luckily one of my friends from the Triple Crown last year, Martin, was also running the 50mi and his other half Tara was still waiting for him so she helped me with my flasks to move me along to the garden hose.  

It would only be two miles back to Bull Wheel to finish off the loop, but this would obviously involve some sort of ridiculous shortcut.  Said shortcut was literally up a ski hill wall, gaining 1700' in that distance on unpacked granite sand.  it took me an hour to cover this but after the long downhill before Diamond, I didn't mind it at all.  Once I saw the top of the chairlift I was also greeted by a view of a tall cumulonimbus cloud that looked to be either pissing rain or smoke or both on the east side of Carson City.  It looked to be a couple hours away and my rain jacket was stashed at Tunnel so I didn't fret about it too much.  

Whereas everyone around me seemed to need to stop at Bull Wheel to catch their breath, I took off after grabbing some chips and sent it on the reverse back to Tunnel as I knew I would need at least 10 minutes to flip my shoes once I got there.  It was predominantly populated with back-of-the-pack 55k/50mi runners by this point but the atmosphere was just a lively as the ski lodge.  I elected to leave my jacket at Tunnel.  

Grinding back up to Hobart, Martin finally caught up to me and he was doing quite well.  He was definitely on pace to go sub-10h but as i wasn't aiming for that, i let him go while i kept hiking up the moderately-graded switchbacks.   I took a caffeine pill at this point, and propelled by passing racers in the 55K, I started to pick up the pace a bit once we cleared the treeline.   more towering vertical clouds had appeared but I was confident I could probably make it back to Tunnel on lap 2 before any chop hit.   

I caught Martin once at Hobart, but he left once I saw there was a 5-shot shotski at the bar begging to be used and asked if he wanted in.  (I usually have a 4-shot shotski at my aid stations so I wanted a taste of my own medicine.)  I killed a few minutes while waiting for four other volunteers to do a tequila shot with me (#priorities), but in my haste I forgot the salt and lime.  (important later.)

The tequila amazingly numbed the cramping in my knees as I picked up the 3mi wildflower-infested climb to Snow Valley, and it was completely staffed by boy scouts at the time, which i found to be utterly hilarious since i knew there were a few of us, myself included, who were fouler than truckers who moonlight as drunken sailors.  The scout leader told me they were only expecting rain at Spooner and nowhere else, so I left after quickly grabbing a shot of pickle juice to prep me for the impending 5mi of downhill.  I started descending back towards Spooner with nary a 100miler in sight--everyone I was passing were back 50s/55s.  This made me nervous because 100s had to detour to a different aid station instead of the finish line, and because I have not been one to read instructions as of late I started fearing that I may have missed the turn.  on top of that, thunder was now sounding without precipitation and i started wondering if i needed to rob an aid station of a garbage bag for cover.  thankfully, there was a manned water drop 2mi out from the finish line that told me I was freaking out for no reason and there were 100s not far away from me, and that they were still not expecting any rain.  I didn't catch any of them but I did make my way to the aid station I was looking for, via the following exchange:

course marshal: are you running the 100miler?  this way if you are.
me: [looks at watch, sees less than 11h have passed] ooooooooooookkkkkkkkkkkkkk, if i have to.  i guess.
yes, all that was just the first 50mi.  

you may be wondering how any of that relates to the prologue--it really doesn't.  but don't worry, it all goes to shit from here.  


the second 50: you should have taken the salt and lime

if i had to pick a gif to describe the second lap....this would be it.
I literally ran to the washroom at the stone-age themed Stonehenge, which was an outhouse put ~150m UPHILL from the actual aid station.  all the acidic pickle juice i had been drinking had exacerbated my usual stomach follies I suffer after 100k, but they had arrived 20mi early.  thankfully i was still able to eat, although this would not last.  

the run back up to Hobart was now less undulating than the first lap.  it was still runnable but I could feel my knees seizing up and dropping my VOsc.  I didn't break out my poles for a sustained period of time on my first go, but now I was thoroughly hiking sections I definitely remembered running the first time around.  I caught Candice a few miles out from Stonehenge but lost my spot to at least two other pairs of racers and pacers; nevertheless I was still committed to a 29:59 and I had a ridiculous window to pull it off in.  

Despite just writing that, I tried to push it once the downhill to Marlette Lake started but that aggravated my stomach even more; I kept going anyways since I knew that there would be hiking involved at lake level.  Relief also came in the form of a lonely outhouse in the middle of nowhere I had forgotten about just over two miles from Hobart, but at this point I was consciously starving myself to let my stomach stabilize.  Eventually I made it to the Snow Valley turnoff and encouraging the back 100 milers heading to Snow Valley pulled me into Hobart at shuffle speed.

The vollies there quickly diagnosed (seriously, it was literally the first question they asked) my troubles were caused by a likely sodium deficiency after my caffeine pill was taken (i ate probably 3 potato chips since then) and that signs were pointing to an onset of low volume hyponatremia.  having watched my running mom puke and rally at the 2016 Leadville hunnerd while I paced her, I stuck with what I knew worked--broth and a fuck-ton of pretzels, while bracing for pyroclastic flows to flow out of my other end.  still committed to 29:59, I stuck around Hobart for 10mins while I murdered said pretzels and diluted my electrolyte down to 2/3 water.  at this point, I wasn't concerned with placement as i recognized there was a most excellent learning opportunity here--to figure out how to come back from the brink, which would likely come in handy at UTMB.  

(flashback time: in a hilarious twist of irony, Georgie, who I had ran with for my pretaper 37k run to Buller Pass, showed up at the trailhead having not fueled at all/eaten breakfast because of Fat Dog nerves.  under any other circumstance I would have dropped her just like that, but I had told her I didn't mind waiting if she didn't mind suffering what would probably be an excellent learning opportunity for her to figure out her Fat Dog emergency nutrition.  

life is confusing sometimes.)

I left Hobart and ascended back to the vista against a flow of cheery back-of-the-packers and an amazing sunset, now that the thunderstorm had blown the smoke out I was able to see clear to the other side of the lake.  that did nothing for my performance as once the downhills started I was unable to muster any speed, having declined alcohol and pickle juice back at Hobart.  Amazingly I was able to get to Tunnel with my shades still on, but I knew I had to kill some time here visiting the outhouse and grabbing my armwarmers/spare headlamp battery and, as i hilariously told one of the volunteers why i was still sitting down after doing those--so i could chase my broth and grilled cheese with a ton of candied ginger i had brought from home.  Kelly tumbled in just after me and was complaining of the same symptoms so I had a volunteer walk over my tub of ginger to share.  It seemed to work way better for him as he was out in a jiffy.  

aid station volunteer, after i describe the nonexistence of my stomach since stonehenge:  well, at least you look good and fresh.
me:  that's because i haven't been trying hard enough to sweat.
aid station volunteer ... 
Re-descending into the Red House loop would be a world of hurt but I still told the vollies at Tunnel I would be back in a flash.  (This would turn out to be a lie.)  I could feel myself consciously fighting with myself on the downhill as it was still hot; the water was still present on this section but wetting my legs for relief only lasted for so long.  Much like the climb at Hobart, I had remembered distinctly running the uphills with Candice but now I was shuffling at a speed so ridiculous I was passed by another solo runner walking and taking half the steps i was.  I was still unfazed as I knew they had fucking lemonade instead of electrolyte at the next aid station, and things can get worse than 4mph.  

I caught everyone who passed me at Red House, and I threw out my electrolyte for some pink lemonade instead.  while waiting for some broth I hilariously noticed that despite there being a child helping out at the kitchen, the crew had gone all in with a bohemian Western Saloon motif, and literally had a large vintage photo of some naked chick prone on the floor on the backdrop of the station.  i gave them kudos for keeping it classy.  

we all left Red House at the same time with headlamps on, but much like the first time I did this, we stayed together for all of a couple minutes.  I told myself it would be ok as I was pretty much only fueling only at aid stations at this point so I needed to take it easy while my stomach could stabilize.  it probably ended up being over 2h on this 10k loop but nobody passed me on the climb back out to Tunnel.  once I got to Tunnel, it was the same story--hit the outhouse, eat some ginger, chase it down with broth and grilled cheese.  I was now pushing close to 10 mins loitering at each aid station, which in another race was unacceptable, but i was still hellbent on ensuring i would not fully bonk outside the vicinity of an aid station.  this also gave a chance for someone i met back at Mogollon, Jack from the Bay area, to catch up, and it was nice having another familiar face I could attempt to stick to, now that Kelly was miles ahead.  the staff at Tunnel were insistent that I take my jacket with me but it was still hot as balls.  (I ended up never using it.)

grinding back up to Bull Wheel now, I was only passed in the other direction by three groups of runner/pacers so I knew I wasn't doing too badly.  it was slightly hilarious because with a decently full moon behind me, I kept looking back at what I thought was eleventy bajillion people.  Bull Wheel was less lively now which meant all the potato chips for me, which was definitely required for the pending downhill MTB track.  unfortunately my 170 lumen headlamp was no match for monotonous granite dust and i was having trouble perceiving depth, which, after a few hyperextended foot plants, resulted in me running like a prissy little bitch on the downhill even after having taken a caffeine pill.  eventually i was caught by one runner and pacer from behind but this was only about a mile out from Diamond Peak, and I was able to catch Jack within a minute of him entering Diamond Peak.  We were warned to move the party indoors after 9pm because some people thought it would be a good idea to buy a house next to a fucking ski lodge, but somehow the party was still going on the deck.  

Now 80mi in, I had to cash out my other drop bag and I switched out my dumb headlamp for a 9000000000000 billion lumen headlamp powered by vape batteries gifted to me by the Run Bum, as well as for my half-size-bigger Speedgoats as I could feel some foot swelling starting to come into play.  same sequence as before--flushing toilet, broth, grilled cheese, a fuck ton of chips, peek into the medical section and declare that i didn't belong in there.  i also switched back to diluted electrolyte at this point as my appetite for sweet drinks was completely gone.  a vollie gave me a whole hamburger in tin foil to be devoured at Bull Wheel, but I didn't have any pockets (I was using my Ultimate Direction TO pack) so I comically tucked it in between my sternum straps like a deranged kangaroo, much to the delight of all the aid station staff.  

I left with Jack and his pacer William again, but after having not taken any pickle juice since Snow Valley on the first lap, I was now cramping hard and lost them in less than a mile.  I tried to run some of the initial flatter bits of the hill but that led to a fart that was a little too close to comfort.  there were no lights behind me and the sand on the ski hill was perfect for executing a cut and cover, but with my weakened knees and the dumb grade on quicksand, I thought twice about that so I kept hoofing it up to Bull Wheel.  I dropped off my uneaten hamburger with the crew there telling them "compliments of the chef downstairs" before taking down a whole small can of Pringles and continuing against a ridiculous flow of midpackers coming out of Tunnel.  their encouragement made me shuffle the 3mi harder back to the outhouse.  

I hit the outhouse at Tunnel right away but was feeling nauseous even after that.  I told the staff my conditions and how I hadn't eaten in five miles so they fixed me up with some broth and grilled cheese and Tums.  (i was starting to suspect the sugar in the candied ginger was not helping.)  the broth was too hot so i tried to take two tums dry, which led to me almost choking on them and inducing a gag reflex.  I managed to keep it all down but I was now a little shaken so I asked for two more cups of broth to keep it all down as it would be a long hike back to Hobart, and there would be plenty of time for things to settle for my last half marathon.  Jack and William were long gone by now, but I saw Kelly was only minutes ahead of me.  

thanking the staff for the last time, I left Tunnel fully intending to not pass anyone but I somehow caught up to a runner just standing next to a trailhead sign.  David from LA told me his Petzl low battery warning had come up and asked if he could come along with the giant sun on my head just in case his light failed.  I told him he could but he should prepare to be disappointed by my dumb pace, which he didn't mind.  he kept me talking which took my mind off the pain and for the first time on that lap--my stomach shut the fuck up.  

we caught up to kelly, who was lying on a rock stargazing and I told him to get off his ass and join the pain train.  he eventually obliged and caught up to us, but then I made him lead, much to his chagrin.  soon David was way up front with Kelly but eventually he was relieved by a few runners coming up from behind me, just as David's light failed.  I was back to running all by my lonesome shortly after that and I shut off my headlamp once we got back to the vista over Lake Tahoe, where I was greeted by an amazing red sun from the other side caused by the return of a giant smoke cloud from Ferguson.  feeling so much better, I managed to finally eat a whole Munk Pack of oatmeal before I shuffled into Hobart.  

In a total rookie move, the aid station had put away their shotski because they actually ran out of liquor.  Kelly, David, Jack and William were all there; David was itching to go back out now that he wasn't constrained by darkness but Kelly was waiting on some pancakes so I grabbed some broth and grilled cheese and followed David out to Snow Valley.  Last hill.  

Of course I lost David nearly immediately, then Kelly came roaring through freshly powered by pancakes, and then Jack and William came up as well fresh after some prolonged rest.  I could feel a bonk coming up now so I had to pull over in the wild flowers to scarf down another pack of Oatmeal, where I yielded to another runner and his pacer.  Thankfully that was it and I made it into Snow Valley with the last two still in sight.  All the kids were gone now so I let my mouth loose but after a while I saw I had company on my tail I left after my token broth and chips.  

It was five miles of downhill and then another two to the finish, but my horrible shuffle allowed  at least six runners to pass me, even with the trail turning into an unobstructed, perfectly runnable track.  one of them was some euro-sounding runner whose pacer had muled his fluid for him, but because he was sending it way faster than his pacer he was now dehydrated.  I wasn't drinking much anyways so i let him empty my water bottle before warning him not to drink all the beer at the finish.  this also meant that one of the racers behind him who would pass me was not actually in the race, so i it made me feel a little better.  next thing i knew, i managed to catch kelly who was now hiking.  he said he had a broken toe (it wasn't, it was just bruised) so I gave him one of my poles to take the weight off his foot.  I bid him a 'don't keep me waiting too long at the finish' before keeping my 8min/k streak going.  

i refilled half my water with 2mi to go at the water drop and managed to find that pacer who was now walking, before finally, finally deciding to run scared and make anyone who wanted to pass me on the homestretch to work for it.  i managed to finish seven minutes ahead of the next finisher and five minutes back of David, entering the chute at sub-6min/k to a chorus of cheers from a few who had passed me in the seven miles before.  

in hindsight ... my place was pretty stable throughout the two laps until the end.  
Despite my execution being a giant shitshow (pun intended) and that it took a couple of hours before I wasn't ashamed enough to take my phone off airplane mode to face the world-- I was still grateful that I had the opportunity to figure a few things out:
  • IANAD, but I think my issue with my stomach going to shit circa 100k is now better understood.  
    • the process is as follows--
      • i go off coffee and caffiene the entire week preceding the race 
      • i take a caffiene pill circa 8h in, when i'm usually at least 70k into something
        • (at this particular race, i had been bumping shots of coke already before that but that has fuck all)
      • the pill is 200mg, so it obviously produces a diuretic shock
      • more frequent urination occurs
      • followed by excess vasopressin release
        • (at this particular race, the tequila shot provided a little bit of relief, hence my first blitz up to Snow Valley.  probably not a sustainable form of mitigation though.)
      • followed by increased sodium adsorption in the kidney
      • which ultimately results in in lower body sodium volume.
      • hypovolemia starts presenting.
      • stomach pH goes off balance.  
      • pyroclastic flows and dangerous gases present.
    • alas there are really two things i can do about this--
      • stop my caffeine fast prior to the race, and/or stop taking caffeine pills of this size, which is doubtful due to jet lag concerns and confirmed biorhythm issues from the last time I was in Norway.
        • i never felt sleepy this entire race and i'd like to keep it that way without dipping into cocaine.  
      • consciously flip my diet to a salt/protein biased complement for a few hours as soon as the first pill is ingested.  
        • i could technically do more tequila shots too but that's playing with fire.
        • it's not hard to do at UTMB as they have way too much meat and cheese at their aid stations, but I now have to train with meat and cheese platters.  and wine too, i guess.
    • i can also take an IV, but that would not be preferred.
  • how long it takes to come back from a wrecked stomach.  
    • and also what it takes.  
    • and also what it takes to resist the resistance to eat.  (still need to work on that one.)
    • "check and adjust."
  • what it means to not give a fuck.  UTMB is infamous for the first 8k being a traffic jam (for us mortals), so I was glad I was able to find peace as the world around me was crashing down.  
    • a lot of it involves not looking at my watch and taking it one aid station at a time.
    • a lot of it involves encouraging everyone who passes you, and unflinchingly helping all those who intend to do so.  they want you to finish too.  
    • a lot of it involves stopping to look at the city lights and stars.  
    • self-deprecation helps because it is an acceptance of your fuck-ups.  squeezing a hearty laugh out of volunteers also warms my cold, cold heart.  
  • i have a jar of antacids in my aid station box i haven't touched in over three years that needs to be reopened.  
After the awards ceremony and once I figured out I was still amazingly within the top 25% of finishers, I was a little more pleased as to how this played out.  New friends, seeing old friends, no low moments of dejection, no blisters, a photo of me doing tequila shots with volunteers somewhere out there, stupid views.  Hopefully that all shows up at Cham too.

By the numbers
  • time: 27:45:50 
    • this is hilariously only seven seconds longer than my Mogollon time last year
  • advertised distance: 100.02mi
  • advertised D+: 18000'
  • placement: 36/206
  • DNF%: 31%

  • The vollies.  there were always at least two people to see to me outside of the water drops, and the aid station menus were the most ridiculous i have ever seen.  there is a school of thought that had my stomach cooperated at night, i would have taken even more time by needing to eat my way through.  
    • also, the silversmith for my sterling silver buckle.  
    • whoever called it with the sodium deficiency--ten points for you. 
    • there was hilariously a podiatrist on shift at Tunnel after i left.  but of course.
  • Black Diamond, for replacing my poles!  Y'all gave me 40% off my next pair for last race's troubles but this was so much better.  Stay awesome!
  • Lourdes, for being a familiar face in these parts!  And for bossing it with one working shoulder!  Congrats on your 8F/3AG finish and enjoy California, for Fat Dog will be utterly hilarious!
  • Tara--you didn't have to get up but you got me out of Diamond in a flash.  thanks again!
  • Squirrel's Nut Butter, for protecting my balls yet again.  
  • Jack, Kelly and David, for the company I didn't know I needed. Thank you for keeping my mind off my stomach.
  • Lori, for keeping me deliberate.

Stray observations:

  • Hobart was like a doppelganger of my Sinister 7 5b/6c aid station non-standard fare.  Alcohol?  check.  Shotski?  check.  glowstick bracelets? check.  
  • Dear Ford: Your EcoSport is a piece of shit.  This one time last year, there was a mix-up at Budget and they didn't have the car I reserved so they downgraded me to a Kia Rio.  And that piece of shit with no cruise control was less anemic than whatever this was.  Perfect for the retirement community though, but definitely not on I-80. 
  • Hot take: IHT is bad for you, because your ability to increase your speed and training volume will push you into OTS territory.  this could explain why I felt like shit before the race. 
  • The overall winner for TRTER this year was 47 years old.  Age is truly just a number.
  • the dust did a number on my lungs.  I was nursing a nosebleed for just over a day after the race. 
  • alternate hypothesis/exacerbation for my stomach issues: a shit [pardon the pun] AQHI from Ferguson.  didn't really notice though.
  • Serious question: if you live in the lake tahoe area, are you obligated to drive a Chevy Tahoe?  

Really bad advice for potential TRTER runners:
  • Stash your poles at Diamond Peak and pick them up once you get there.  You don't really need them anywhere else (a lot of the trail is MTB or MTB-grade trail) but the grade up to Bull Wheel is batshit insane.  
    • this is what candice did.  
    • Even better: stash two sets of poles at Diamond Peak and dump each of them each time you're back at Tunnel Creek.  
  • gaiters. 
  • go easy descending to Tunnel Creek the first time.  it's gonna be a long day. 
  • have a drop bag at hobart you can throw your headlamp in.  if you have extras throw them in all your drop bags.  
  • eye drops/safety goggles.
    • I didn't need either but there were seriously times I thought i was going to lose a contact.
  • if you are rocking something for your neck, apply some chafe cream to your neck first.  i don't know if it was the dust clouds or if i caught sand while soaking my bandana in streams, but apparently it now looks like someone did a shit job attempting to lynch me [sideways? on both sides?].  
  • David was promised sorbet at Snow Valley for Sunday by one of the child Boy Scouts.  This was not true until well into the afternoon.  he was very close to confronting them at the finish. 
  • i usually read up others' race reports prior to publishing my own to cue up any details i missed.  stomach issues are a common theme so figuring out what keeps you stable in heat and what brings you back from the dead would be quite suitable prior to the race.  the aid station menus are incredibly diverse so nothing will be too unique to execute.  
  • if you are mozarctic like me, consider a gas station poncho/arm warmers instead of a jacket.  
  • did i mention gaiters?
Up next:
  • 70th Annual World Championship Pack Burro Race
"yesterday is gone and its tale told.  today new seeds are growing."

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