Monday, April 30, 2007

Zane Grey Highline 50 Miler

Executive summary: Zane Grey kicked my butt.

More detailed account: ZG, billed as "the toughest 50 miler" in the country, was all I'd expected and then some. The course traverses the 50+ mile Highline Trail, which parallels the Mongollon Rim near Payson, Arizona, about an hour northeast of Phoenix. It is an extremely rocky trail, and where it wasn't rocky, the ground was full of dried horse hoof "pock marks." However, I prefer more technical courses, so that component really was quite fun.

It was HOT. My usually strong stomach rebelled, the body seeming to query "Are you doing this to me again, you Idiot?!" Consequently, my pace slowed over the inferno-like midsection of the course--that would be roughly miles 2 to 48. Never has my system processed so much fluid over the course of 12 hours. By mile 25, ALL I was craving was ice water. My thirst seemingly could not be quenched; diligence re balancing electrolytes was in order, and toward the end of the race my stomach finally came around--woohoo! The second half of the race I consumed exactly three ClifShots and a package of ClifBloks, much less than usual.

Now, a heartfelt plug for a sponsor: my new Nathan Intensity vest was a godsend--I love it!! It is very comfortable, bounce free, and able to carry enough fluid the LOOOONG stretches between aid stations at ZG. This from a diehard hip belt user. I may just have become a hydration pack convert. :)

While I'd hoped to run under 11 hours, in the end this race became one of surviving. My time was around 12:15, good enough for second woman. Congratulations to Emily B. for her first place finish... and to everyone who ran this ultra-tough event!
My buddy Steve's photos & the results

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Worst Hard Time

No, that's not a description of a race; it's the title of the amazing book I just finished by Timothy Egan. It's a story of the great American dust bowl of the 1930s, the ecological disaster of plowing up the native prairie, and the people who lived through it all. While there is absolutely nothing in the book pertaining to running, there is a lot about human endurance, suffering, and faith. While driving through this area en route to climbing the high points of Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas last summer/autumn, I wondered in amazement how people could live in places such as Guymon, Oklahoma; Liberal, Kansas; and Lamar, Colorado, dust bowl towns all. The author does a good job of answering that question. If you think you're having a bad day/week/race, read this book and your perspective will change--I guarantee it!

Monday, April 9, 2007

Ojai Easter run

Got in a nice 12-13 miler by going up Gridley Trail, over Nordoff Peak, and down Pratt (pictured). Beautiful, runable singletrack for the most part and about 3500 feet of climbing. It still amazes me that there can be mountains this high so close to the ocean! Lots of spring flowers are blooming, and the fragrant orange blossoms permeated the valley. Mmm... It was really nice.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Dos Lunas 100 test run

My first blog post (!) will be devoted to the Dos Lunas 100m/100k scrub run which took place over April Fools weekend in the mountains above Ojai, California. Thirteen of us agreed to play guinea pig for this hopefully-next-year's inaugural event, with five starting the 100 miler, six opting for the 100k, and two more running the first 27 miles (and then providing crucial aid station support for the next 20+ hours).

This event will be different in that runners' start times are based on their estimated finish times, with the objective that all the runners finish around 6 a.m. Sunday morning. (See why we needed to do a trial run?!) Also, the race will be held on a weekend near or on full moon, hence the name "Dos Lunas." It will be a toughie, with just under 25,000 feet of elevation gain, topping out at Topa Topa Bluff at ~6,300 ft.

Only Don Lundell finished the 100 miler (in 34:15), with Bruce and myself opting for the 90 mile version (still requiring 28 hours!), and Howard putting in a solid 80-mile effort. The "math" had Don finishing his 100 miles--he started at 9 p.m. Friday night--along with the 100K'ers' only full finishers, Darcy and Bob Africa (16:15, with a 3 p.m. Saturday start). Voila -- the math was perfect! They finished at the same time! Now to see if the timing works as perfectly during the Real Deal...

A HUGE thank you to the support crew (Bill, Mike, Drew, Brian, Lisa, Otto, Karen, & Pat), as well as to all the other guinea pigs (Mark, Patty, Andy, Nattu, & Brian), but mostly to Chris, who keeps coming up with fun, unique, not your run-of-the-mill events.

Mike T. and me

Mike was instrumental in providing roving aid stations on the ridge... and he lent me his lip balm throughout the day. :-)