Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Boulder 100 Race Report - Part 3, the final part

The Night

The night time portion of the race was hands down my favorite part of the race. It was a long 12 hours or so, but really, it was thoroughly enjoyable - probably because nothing went wrong. The temperature was right, there was no wind, running with "Pacer Steph" for a couple of hours or so was a great experience, Chris, Kari and the rest of the turn-around aid station gang kept me fed and watered well, and kept my spirits high. Everything went right.

Once the sun went down, the park emptied out of local day users very quickly. Although I missed saying hi to their dogs, and watching them play, I felt a certain amount of peace (plus there was the advantage that I didn't have to worry about where I went for a pee!).

Soon after the sunset, it became apparent that unless anything went wrong, I would beat my PR for 50 miles, which was 11:48. This wasn't something I was expecting at all - and certainly nothing I was pushing for - but obviously something that delighted me. The time for 50 was 11:26. Wow. I took a 10 minute or so break at that point for a change of socks and a bite to eat.

An hour or so later after I set out from the base, I was back at the turnaround aid station - they had done a great job of decorating

The night time aidstation - picture by Chris

It was then that I met up with my pacer Steph. She was fantastic company. Unfortunately, she had a class the next morning so couldn't keep me company past midnight, but the two-and-a-bit hours we hung out together was definitely one of the highlights of the race. We chatted a lot about her stellar ultra career, and my long term ultra ambitions, my short term ultra ambition (which was basically "finish alive sometime tomorrow"). The time flew by, and it seemed way to soon, but we were back at the turnaround, a little before midnight, and I had to bid farewell to Steph. Thanks Steph, I look forward to returning the favor one day.

Jimbo (not looking at camera!) and Pacer Steph

As I left the aid station (I was now at about 100K), although I felt alone for a while, I managed to lose myself in whatever was playing in my headphones and keep moving forward.

My splits through the night were mainly very steady a little over two hours. I would usually take a two or three minute break at the end of each lap, to take the weight off of my feet and grab a bite to eat (the highlight being the grilled cheese at 3 or 4 am - Thanks Chris!). My longest break was at 7am or so when I sat for 15 minutes.

So that was the night, good running, steady pace, great company, good aid, loud music, no moon. In a way, it was a shame it couldn't have remained dark for longer!

Random Musing #3

Lesson learned here Jimbo - when you go off trail for a pee, make sure you don't walk through the type of brush that has pods/seeds/whatever those things that stick all over your shoes, socks and legs!

Daylight again

As much as I enjoyed the night, there is something something special about sunrise though! Other than the last few yards of the race, I think that was about the only thing I enjoyed about the rest of the race. Fatigue was starting to kick in. At dawn, I think I was at around 83 miles - and 17 miles to go, it really really seems a long way. I know I stopped eating at this point, and it is also probably fair to say that I slowed down the fluid intake as well. I am now of course thinking of nothing but finishing. I want it over and done with. Not to mention of course that there is a fair amount of pain by this point - yep, when I set out on lap 13, that was my low point.
It was also pretty lonely out there - I could handle that at night, but for some reason, after dawn, it bothered me. Many of the runners had dropped, some 100 milers had finished already, and the 24 hour runners either done or soon to be done, and it was a little too early for the dog walkers to be out. I had a hard time that lap (I did have a cup of coffee to start it off though which did help a bit). But, there was only one way I was going to finish this thing - and that was by actually doing it, so I just plodded on. It also started to get warm, and I was still wearing my long sleeve top. The weather had more trick - it started to get windy, a very dry wind that was probably sucking more moisture out of me than I was bringing on board.

I hit the 24 hour point, when I was at 91.xx miles - a 10 mile PR

The lap eventually ended - at the same time, the 24 hour racers were receiving their awards, so they sent me off on my last lap with a few "Go Jimbo's", which was well appreciated. I didn't take a break, just changed into a short sleeved shirt (I actually chose the race shirt - there was no way I was not going to finish now, so I didn't feel like I had violated any of my own superstions). That being said, I can now understand why people do drop so late in a race, I was now at mile 93, and I was absolutely only moving forward because of my determination to finish. If the will to finish ever went, then I really think I would would have stopped. So I just kept plodding forward, but getting slower.

The dogs and their people were back out now, so that gave me something to think about. Most of the dogs were off leash, and it did strike me how well they all got on, I saw dozens of dogs, all breeds, and 90% off leash, and none of them fighting. Just wish my two mutts were as trustworthy! This is where the little hills near to the turn around aid station were now full mountains - I walked up one sideways my quads were hurting so much.

I got to the mid way aid station, and thanked Ashley and Jeremy for their great support, turned around and headed out on the last leg.

I could smell the finish by now, and the plodding would continue. I did enjoy the look on one lady's face - she asked me what was going on, "hundred mile race, and I am on 97", the look was priceless - a combination of disbelief and awe I think.

The view towards the finish with 1.25 miles to go

The finish was getting closer, and the one thing that I was disappointed about was the fact that I didn't 'enjoy' the last mile, I expected to be on some sort of a high - but you know, it was just like the previous few miles - just another painful obstacle of 5280' between me and the finish.

As I went out on the parking lot loop, I gave my camera to the guys at the main aid station so they could get a couple of finish line shots. I am now finally starting to feel a little overwhelmed with it all, and amazed at the accomplisment, and realizing just how far a hundred freakin' miles is!

It's long way. A very long way - and I did it.

Boulder report part 1
Boulder report part 2
Boulder report part 3

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Boulder 100 Race Report - Part 2

Random Musing #1

Some people are just born a-holes. It is one thing to jump in front of me at the check in line, it's another to to blank me - not even smile or acknowledge the wave and greeting I gave you every single time we passed. You could at least nod your head. Maybe your DNF was karma coming back to haunt you.

The plan

I acknowledge that I am a geek for this kind of stuff, but one of the most useful things I had was a 3 x 5 index card with my predicted splits for a 28 hour finish - I also noted on this card the "actual" splits for a 29 hour finisher. The theory being that if I found myself getting behind those splits, then I would know that I needed to step it up a bit. Conversely, if I found myself ahead of the 28 hour splits, I could ease up, and maybe take a break or two

Compare the calculated "actual time" column to my splits on the day below.


10:35 AM
12:09 PM
1:39 PM
3:14 PM
4:59 PM
6:48 PM
8:26 PM
10:40 PM
12:45 AM
2:46 AM
4:49 AM
7:14 AM
9:22 AM
11:24 AM

Like I said - I am a geek for this kind of stuff - but it was always very useful to know how I was doing at any time - I referred to the card often. I will most certainly do something similar for future runs


Fruit and a boost shake for breakfast, plus of course coffee. During the run, most of my calories came from Clip during the day, and Amino at night. That was supplemented with the Jimbo turkey slider burrito from my own supplies, and peanut M&M's and trail mix - which suprisingly, I didn't eat much of - to date, this has been a taple of every ultra I have ran.

From the aid station, the main meal I had was a chicken pasta dish, which was heaven sent by the time I ate it. In addition to that, my friend Chris who was manning the turnaround aid station through the night, cooked for me a special treat of a grilled cheese sandwich, which was delicious.

The only time my stomach rebelled was after I ate half a banana - no puking, but I did feel nauseous for 15 minutes or so. One thing that went down well was orange slices, in fact, towards the end, they were probably my only source of calories.

The one are that I let myself down, was late in the race, once the sun had returned, I am now certain that I didn't eat enough. All I can remember eating was some orange slices, some Clip, and 1 gel. I probably had no more than 500 calories. That will explain the lack of energy for my last lap. It didn't cross my mind at the time, I put my lethargy down to having just completed 93 miles or so. I'm not sure why I didn't eat really, it's not like my stomach was rebelling - I just didn't feel like eating, I wasn't hungry at all. In this instance, I shouldn't have listened to my body!

Random Musing #2

The "no shit Sherlock" award goes to this educational picture that was at about the 2.25 mile point.

"Prairie Dogs are part of the Prairie" - you don't say!

The Pain

Sometime around the 25 26 mile mark, something went wrong with my left achilles, basically, every time I power walked, an excruciating pain shot up from my achilles tendon and through my calf. The strange thing was, it didn't hurt when I jogged. So, I had two options - limp slowly, or jog. When I got to the main base, I changed into my road shoes to see if that made a difference - it didn't, if anything, it made it worse, so I changed back after I had done the parking lot loop. So I took two tylenol, and hoped to tough it out. I have to admit to being worried that this would end it for me. At about mile 35, the pain went away, almost as suddenly as it appeared - the Tylenol? - No idea, may have been, the pain went probably two hours after I took the pills.

It was good to be able to walk strongly again.

......there's more to come.......
Boulder report part 1
Boulder report part 2
Boulder report part 3

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Boulder 100 - Race report, part one

I am writing this report at several thousand feet, having just took off from Denver. This is a good opportunity to bring up my first ‘top tip’ – “Don’t travel within a day of a 100 mile foot race”. It hurts.

I am currently listening to the song that was playing when I crossed the finish line, “Resistance” by Muse – I have loved the band and their music for a long time, but I will never be able to listen to this song again without remembering my first 100 mile finish.

Where to start…….. the beginning I suppose. I landed in Denver on Thursday afternoon, and checked into a hotel near to the airport. As luck would have it, there was a Wal-Mart within a mile. Perfect

Last minute supplies included the ingredients for “Jimbo’s Turkey Slider Burritos”, which was to be my staple food - flour tortillas, grated cheese, sliced turkey and avocado. In hindsight, next time, I will also slap some mayo onto them, they felt a bit dry late in the day.

Friday was spent actually making the burritos, driving to Boulder to find the reservoir, and also meeting with Karl King to pick up some Clip sportsdrink, and hanging out in the pool/hot tub.

I ate minimal solids – carbo loading the day before a run has always caused problems. Other than fruit for breakfast, a Jimbo Turkey Slider Burrito for lunch, my only other source of calories was Boost protein shakes. I had no stomach issues at all during the race, and no need for any sprints to find the Port-a-Potty (or even worse, a tree, because they were pretty sparse.)

Jimbo in the hotel on race day morning

On race day, I got to the start with plenty of time to check in, get my number pinned on my shorts, etc. I set the rental car up as my own personal aid-station, I had a great parking spot, not 50’ from the start/finish line.

The start was uneventful – for the first mile or so, we could several balloons taking off into the beautiful clear blue Colorado sky.

The view from the back

After the fist mile, I was dead last, and I am proud of it! :)
Anyway, rather than do a lap by lap recount, I will do a series of random musings and thoughts…………

The Course

The course is a 7.14 mile out and back. It is kind of like a lollipop with a very long stick. The first part is a loop around the parking lot, then still on asphalt with a slight up hill we head towards the dam. From there the surface was a densely packed gravel – very easy footing, occasionally there were some small rocks packed in with the gravel (they became huge boulders as I stumbled on them from time to time during the night). Just as we would start the dam portion, we would pass one mile.

The dam was in two parts, with some 90 degree turns in between and some small (very small) inclines. The end of the second part of the dam was 2 miles.

The next mile was easy wide trail, with some small gentle rolling hills, which took us to the ‘canal crossing’, which was a narrow bridge.

The gentle hills at about 2.5 miles - looking back toward the start

Near to the canal were signs that would promise “Certain Death” – one was right next to the trail, there seemed to be a delicious irony that we would pass this sign 28 times during the 100 miles.

With each lap, the "Certain Death" seemed to get a little closer :)

After the bridge, the trail became a bit narrower, and the hills seemed a little steeper and longer. By the end of the run, they had become fully fledged foothills of the Rockies. That last half mile or so took us to the half way aid station, where we turned around and followed the trail back to the start.

The longest, steepest climb - it wasn't much, but got steeper each lap

To be continued........
Boulder report part 1
Boulder report part 2
Boulder report part 3

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Boulder 100 - quick update

Quick update - I finished the 100 miles in 26:29.

Perfect weather.

PR for 50 miles: 11:26

PR for 24 hours: 91.xx miles

I hurt. A lot.

But very happy - more to follow, including more pictures.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Hello from Colorado!

I made it safely out to Colorado - my baggage made it too, which is always a plus.

The weather looks like it will be perfect on Saturday and Sunday in Boulder. Tha's a relief, especially as this time last week I believe it was snowing. Looking like mid-60's for Saturday, going down to mid-40's on Saturday night/Sunday morning, and low 70's on Sunday. More importantly, it will be dry.

And... what d'ya know, there is a Wal-Mart just a mile or so down the road from the hotel, so I have already got all my supplies in.

So for the 100 miles, I will be feasting on such wonderful delights as:
  • Trail mix and Dark Chocolate Peanut M&M's (this has been a staple of every ultra I have done so far)
  • Avacado, turkey and cheese wrapped in a flour tortilla - I tried this at Hinson, and it was very palatable, plus provides fat, protein and carbohydrate in just one mouthful.
  • Coke and Dr Pepper - to go with the caffiene pills - the wonder drug combo. Although I bought Coke, I tend to lean a little more towards the Dr. Pepper now - it is amazingly refreshing in the middle of the night.
  • And finally some Milano cookies and potato chips.
  • Plus of course whatever delights they have at the aid stations, and of course the Clip and Amino drinks.

I knew that I would feel better and less nervous once I got into travelling mode, and I really do. There is no more training to be done, just relax, sort out supplies, and then on Saturday, get from Denver to Boulder. That's it. There is nothing I can do now that can change the outcome other than to make sure I have not forgotten anything, and I will be checking and double checking all day tomorrow, and trying to get lots of sleep between now and Saturday morning.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Last evening run by the lake till the Spring

Tonight was probably my last run on a weekday evening on the technical trails around Jordan Lake until the clocks change in the spring. It was getting pretty dark by the time I had finished this evening, I took the above picture at sunset with my phone (hence the crapiness of the photo).

I'll miss the place, the pups and I ran there just about every evening after work when I was in town, I got pretty good at trail running there, and learnt a lot about running on root/rock strewn trails.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Ashley Nordell's Grand Teton report

I just stumbled across the Team Pearl Izumi-Smith blog, and Ashley Nordell's Grand Teton report.

Ashley says some very nice things about the 7 hours or so we spent running around the mountains together for her last 25 mile loop.

The thing I remember most is that last mile once we realized that a sub-23 hr run wasn't going to happen, but the win and course record were virtually certain. "Let's just enjoy it then". That last mile was great, and of course, one of the perks of my 'job' was to be the first person to offer my congratulations to Ashley.

Here's the link: http://piultrarun.com/2009/09/grand-teton-100-report-ashley-nordell/

Note: Edited May 2012 because the link changed

Friday, October 9, 2009

Countdown to Boulder

One week tomorrow, I will be going for a run - sometime around 30 hours later, I will forever be a "hundred miler". Wow.

It was only just over 6 months ago that the journey to this point started. That was when I set out for a run around Umstead State Park. That 50 mile run was life changing. Since then, there have been two 24 hour runs, a 50+K, a marathon in 90+ degree heat and countless training runs, including the 25 mile experience of pacing the women's winner (and new course record holder) at the Grand Teton Races. I also got to volunteer at the finish line of the Tahoe Rim Trail run, and became a life time member of the Mangum Track Club by running the traditional 15 mile route on NC back roads known as the "Shirt Run".

In addition, I have met many new people, and have met new friends - from the front of the pack all the way down, and each and everyone of them have inspired me in their own way. I have read countless blogs and race reports and made friends in the 'virtual' world too, some of these folks I may actually get to meet in the 'real' world one day.

What's my point? Don't know really - I suppose all of this is what has driven me to this point - to be on the verge of being a "100 miler".

So, next week. How do I feel? Well, I think I have used the analogy before - I alternate between being as excited as a 5 year old on Christmas eve, and having the dread of a condemned man the night before his date with the firing squad.

The 10 day forecast in Boulder is not as bad as it was yesterday. It at least looks like it will be dry (although they have had at least one snowfall so far out there). It will also be cold - well cold for me - about 50 degrees colder than it was here today(87F). Don't forget hats and gloves Jimbo! I will be OK in the cold (it will still be a bit of a shock to the system though), but wet and cold is not so great. Fingers crossed!

It's been one hell of a ride so far............

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The lessons from Hinson

The official results are in, I managed a total of 81.64 miles. I am very pleased with that.

There were some lessons though:

Don't drink so much. I over salted, and drank too much (Jimbo drinking too much?? Never) - so much that my hands were swollen and my fingers were so swollen that I had to take off my wedding ring. One guy did notice and commented that as long as I was ok in the head, I needn't worry too much about it. I have since learned that "possible mental confusion" is a symptom of too much salt and fluid. Would I have been there in the first place if I wasn't suffering from mental confusion? When I look back, I was drinking the best part of a bottle per lap - that's too much. What I should have done, was stop taking S-caps, and drank only to wet my mouth until I had got back to normal. I wonder if that contributed to the pity party at 22 hours 17 minutes. Something to watch out for at Boulder.

Make sure I have everything with me! I left my charging cradle for my Garmin at home. Not a big deal really, but I am so anal about pace etc., that I decided to go get it - (Jess very kindly met me half-way home with it late on Friday night) - but it still meant not getting bed as early as I had hoped, and certainly stopped me relaxing.

Don't walk around without socks on. Yep - this was really stupid. I was wearing the crocs on Friday night, and a piece of grit was rubbing the top of my big toe. Yep, I got a blister before I had even started. Could this have had something to do with affecting my form, and hence causing additional blisters later on???