Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Mountain Lakes 100 - September 27, 2014

On the Mountain Lakes 100 course. Photo by Paul Nelson Photography.
Location: Olallie Lake, OR
Course Type: Trail running
Distance: 99.6 miles

Finish Time: 28:10:24
Average Pace: 16:58 min/mile


In early 2013, I trained for and ran the Hagg Lake Mud Run 50k, my first ultramarathon (for those who don't know, an "ultra" is technically a race of any distance greater than a marathon, but typically a 50k, 50 miler, 100k, or 100 miler). After a very successful race at Hagg Lake, I lost my trail running mojo when my running group started reaching for longer distances. Over the next few months, I regained some of my direction and purpose while running road half marathons. I had found joy in running once again! Then my obsessive nature kicked in, and I started running them nearly every weekend. By the end of the Summer 2013 season, I had run 18 half marathons that year, and I had learned that the most reliable source of motivation lies within one's own self. Once I started running for me, and not for someone else or for a group, I was hooked.

The idea for my next goal came from the Marathon Maniacs. Their highest level is called "Titanium," and it can be achieved by running 52 marathons in 52 weeks (one marathon per week for one year). I quickly saw a parallel between this goal and the series of half marathons I had run that year, so at the Silver Falls Marathon on 11/2/2013, I tentatively set out to see how far I could get toward achieving Titanium status in that running club. During the first several marathons, I quickly discovered that, while very time-consuming and somewhat expensive, 52 marathons in a year was going to be entirely achievable. So I started throwing more challenges at the project too keep things interesting: Four marathons in four days (Seattle Quadzilla). Four 50k races on back-to-back weekends. Two 50k races in a single weekend. A 24-hour race (my first 50 miler). A 50 mile mountain ultramarathon. Two separate 50k races in a single day. A 100k mountain ultra...

Which brings us to Mountain Lakes 100. One hundred miles. The ultimate challenge. But here was my dilemma: that weekend was to be race number 46 out of 52 in my project. What if I injured myself? Should I risk jeopardizing all that I had worked for this year for a shot at getting a 100 mile belt buckle? But on the other hand, what better training for running 100 miles could there be than what I had already done so far this year? And what a way to wrap up the project! Julie Meehan and Karen Wang, who had both done night runs with me in 2014, had already graciously agreed to be my pacers and I signed up!

Before Race Day:

Going into the race, I knew that my biggest issues were likely to be related to the following: hip pain, GI distress, the weather, the distance, and the unknowns. I have been dealing with discomfort resulting from tightness in my hip flexors off and on all year, and though I have been seeing some success from combating it with yoga and massage, I was worried that they might flare up again on race day. Luckily, I was able to keep the hip distress to a minimum by focusing on tightening my lower ab muscles throughout the race, which stabilized my pelvis and took the strain off of my hip flexors. (Thank you, Karen Wang, for this little tip, which I've been practicing for several months now!). I will discuss the GI distress in more detail shortly. The weather was definitely a concern, since during the previous year's race, heavy rain, wind, and low temperatures forced the race directors to cancel the race out of concern for the runners, crew, and volunteers. But we were very fortunate to have near perfect weather this year! The distance was also a concern, since for the majority of my "52 in 52" project, I have restricted my weekly training volume to weekend race miles only, in an effort to minimize the risk of burnout and injury due to overuse. Many runners maintain high weekly training volume numbers on the order of 80-100+ miles per week (side note: many of those runners are also chronically injured), but I averaged about 33 miles per week, and that is all in one or two weekend races. I didn't know if it would be enough. It turns out that it was plenty. I tried to not worry too much about the unknowns, since I have adopted the mentality that the primary focuses for a trail runner should be injury prevention and solving problems before they arise.

I have experienced GI distress on a few occasions this year, likely resulting from issues with fueling, hydration, sleep deprivation, altitude, and heat. Altitude and heat weren't big concerns for me for this race, but I knew that I would need to come up with a plan to keep on top of hydration, fueling, and sleep deprivation. During the Waldo 100k, I lost 12 lbs, which is roughly 7% of my body weight. I just wasn't drinking enough. (Destroying a burger and some spicy soup after the race, then immediately throwing it all back up didn't help either...) So for this one, I wanted to be sure that I kept up on my hydration. I carry two handhelds during races, one for water and one for Gu Brew or a similar electrolyte drink. My goal for Mountain Lakes was to drink as much of them as I could before refilling them at each aid station, and I did a pretty good job of that. And I didn't end up with a significant weight loss after this race.

Before the SOB 50 mile race, I had read in an article somewhere that Anton Krupicka takes only Gu packets during a race. So, for science, I tried upping my Gu intake during SOB. My stomach hurt all day, and at mile 44, I puked for the first time ever while running. Since that day, I have continued experimenting with different foods, and I have discovered that the least amount of sugar I ingest during a race, the better. (Remember that I also carry one bottle of Gu Brew, which has a high sugar content by itself.) Potato chips, boiled potatoes with salt, pretzels, and peanut butter sandwiches are all great options for me on race day. But my new fueling secret weapon: rice balls soaked in soy sauce. I got the idea from a fantastic book called Feed Zone Portables. For the past few months, the night before each race, I have been preparing these rice balls, which I wrap in parchment paper and aluminum foil. On race day, I stuff several rice balls into one of the front pockets of my Ultimate Direction race vest. (Note that I carry handheld water bottles instead of the ones that fit in the vest pockets, since the bottles banging against my chest is fucking annoying.) I also put extra rice balls in my drop bags whenever possible. They are delicious! And they sit very well in my stomach. I think that I will experiment in the future with mixing dissolved miso paste into the rice balls, in addition to the soy sauce, for a few upcoming races, in order to add a little protein and extra substance to them.

Knowing that I would probably want to write a race report for this one, a few weeks before the race, I got the idea to bring a digital audio recorder with me to take "notes" and to pass the time. As is the case with many of my undertakings, that project got expanded a bit, and it now includes: 1) my audio journal, 2) aid station chatter, and 3) runner interviews. Back at my computer after the race, I stitched the audio clips together and made a seven part, chronological, first-hand recount of my journey. Well, the first half of it, at least. After mile 65, I switched to survival mode and stopped recording audio clips. For my next "hundo," I will probably not bother with the aid station chatter, and I will try to record more audio journal entries and runner interviews throughout the night. I created videos out of the seven audio files, and uploaded them to YouTube. The links can be found below, in a section after the race report. 

Race Morning:

During the early morning drive from Portland to the race start, Karen Wang mentioned to me that she read that Geoff Roes eats up to 800 calories in the few hours leading up to the start of a 100 mile race. Apparently, he feels that it is worth tolerating a few hours of discomfort at the beginning of a race, in order to get a leg up on the fueling battle during the race, knowing that the later into the race one gets, the harder it is to take in calories. MORE SCIENCE! Yeah, I tried it. And you know what? It worked! I ate two Pop Tarts and a monster chunk of a Dave's Killer Bread Sin Dawg for my pre-race meal, which totaled about 800 calories. It kept me going for hours and hours, with minimal GI distress. I would also like to add that, while there is a huge cult of people who fuel themselves on race day with the super delicious Trail Butter, the Sin Dawg kept me going and sat in my stomach better than any other food (including the rice balls), even at mile 55! My next fueling experiment will be with this whole Tailwind stuff that I keep hearing people talk about...

To further prepare against GI issues, I packed and used crystallized ginger and some generic Pepto pills. I didn't end up needing the ibuprofen nor the Immodium that I brought, but it felt good to have them with me, just in case.

There wasn't a lot I could do to prevent the sleep deprivation, other than banking sleep the few nights before the race (which I didn't do) and taking caffeine pills (which I did). Getting more sleep before the race is the single biggest takeaway that I have from this race.

[Mile 0.0 to 29.2] Race Start to Olallie Meadows (AS5):

When we got to the start line area, the air was very brisk. I hadn't made my usual three rest area stops on the way to the race, so the poop situation was approaching emergency status. Anyway, after bundling up in sweat clothes, then laying ruin to a pit toilet, I made my way to the race start to check in. Renee Seker and I exchanged sleepy greetings as she handed me my bib and a goodie bag full of fun swag. She then took a photo of me holding my bib for a Facebook picture album. I saw several people that I knew, but I promised my crew that I would get myself completely ready for the race before I started socializing. I did manage to sneak in a brief interview with Moe Codino, and I also recorded the race briefing by the race directors.

After leaving the start line at Olallie Lake, the first loop was approximately a marathon in length, and it consisted of a mix of jeep trails and single track trails. During this section, I spent a lot of time checking in with my body to see what parts might start causing me trouble throughout the day (and night). Surprisingly, everything felt great, and that entire loop went smoothly. And I got to meet, run with, and interview some really cool people along the way. When I got to Aid Station 2 at mile 11.4, my crew told me that I was about 15 minutes ahead of my projected time, so I slowed my pace a bit for the remainder of the loop. At AS2, I also experimented with eating a few pieces of salted avocado. Pretty fantastic! I will definitely be doing that again at future races.

I gave my crew my headlamp, refilled the pockets of my pack with rice balls, then headed on down the trail. The distance between AS2 and AS3 was 9.4 miles, which would have been a bit of a slog had it not been for the entertaining company of Kevin Lawlor, John Liebeskind, and Ben Reah. These guys were a kick. And the miles just flew by. At AS3 (mile 20.8), we got split up, since I tend to spend a little extra time at the aid stations resting my legs and stuffing my face. During the next leg, I got to meet and run with Alissa Pruess (who re-enters our story in a later section) and Karl Jensen. Karl is a VERY experienced trail runner with dozens of 100 mile races under his belt, and so when he suggested that I slow down a bit after I mentioned that I was rather far ahead of my target pace, I took his advice.

I was mistakenly expecting my crew to be at Olallie Lake (AS4) at mile 26.1. I searched around for them for several minutes before giving up and setting off down the trail again, slightly panicking that I wouldn't get more rice balls for another 29 miles. I quickly realized that I had forgotten about Olallie Meadows (AS5) only 3.1 miles away, which is where we had agreed to meet instead, since that was the last aid station with crew access before Clackamas Ranger Station (AS9). The three miles between AS4 and AS5 were on the Pacific Crest Trail, and they were some of the most pleasant miles of the entire race. Later in the race, going in the opposite direction, those same three miles also proved to be some of the worst of my career. More on that in a bit...

[Mile 29.2 to 43.9] Olallie Meadows (AS5) to Warm Springs (AS7):

I was very excited to see Julie and Karen at Olallie Meadows. Shane Kroth offered me some beer, but as I reached for it, my crew wisely said no. Instead, they tried to feed me some ginger and nori tortilla chips, which I immediately spit out. (I ended up devouring the whole damn bag the day after the race.) The Sin Dawg came to the rescue again, providing me with ample energy for the long 9.1-mile section ahead. I loaded up my pack with the rest of the Sin Dawg and several more rice balls.

There was also a realization that we forgot to coordinate a hand-off of my headlamp for later that evening. When I was putting together my "Crewing Playbook" in the weeks leading up to the race, I missed the fact that the sun would set before I reached the Clackamas Ranger Station (AS9) at 8:00 PM, so I didn't ask my crew to bring my headlamp to Olallie Meadows (the last AS with crew access before Clackamas). Julie realized my error too late, and since they were parked more than a half mile away from the aid station, I left Olallie Meadows without a headlamp. In retrospect, I should have asked for one of them to go grab it from the car, while I stretched out for another 10 minutes or so.

Just after leaving Olallie Meadows, I pulled out my audio recorder to make an audio journal entry. As I crossed a wooden boardwalk near a lake, I ran past Paul Nelson, the course photographer. He gave me shit for walking, and he told me to focus. I decided against pushing him into the lake, since his camera is probably worth as much as my car.

In the nine miles between the Olallie Meadows and Pinheads aid stations, I ran with and interviewed Marjorie Hendryx, Shannon Oliver, Jenna Fribley, and Sydney Olson. They were all very tolerant of my audio recording project, and we all had some pretty great conversation as we ran in a bit of a train together. Unfortunately, due to the limited range of the recorder, some parts of the audio clips ended up being pretty muffled, so I ended up cutting those parts out before creating the videos for YouTube (links below). I also felt pretty bad that I had to exclude my interview with Sydney, since I had put my recorder in the top pocket of my running vest, and the "THUMP, THUMP, THUMP" of the recorder beating against my shoulder ended up drowning out her voice. (Sorry, Sydney!) I won't be making that mistake again in the future.

I tend to bring out an aggressive power-hike for the ascents, and I usually take the descents a bit slower to conserve energy and avoid tripping and face-planting. Shannon, on the other hand, is a bit slower on the climbs, but super quick on the downhill sections. And since she was the "engine" of our little running train, I quickly discovered that my running style didn't match that of the group. Apparently, these four women ended up sticking together for quite a while after I took off ahead up the trail during one of the ascents. I'm really glad that I got the chance to run and chat with them for a bit!

Once I got to Pinheads (AS6) at mile 38.3, I sat in a chair for a bit, then got up and stretched against a wooden sign post. Both are techniques that I frequently use during races. Some runners avoid chairs at all costs, fearing that their muscles will begin seizing up, but I rarely have issues with that, and I love giving my legs a break. After running about 20 miles of a race, I also enjoy periodically stopping when I see a fence, bare tree, building, or a post to stretch against. I have a one-minute stretch routine that goes a long way toward breathing new life into my calves, quads, hamstrings, and hips.

At that point, I noticed that I was starting to get pretty tired, which wasn't a good sign for being only about 40 miles into the race. My stomach was also starting to get a bit upset. I decided to take a caffeine pill to address the fatigue and some crystallized ginger to settle my stomach. Both worked wonderfully...temporarily.

[Mile 43.9 to 54.7] Warm Springs (AS7) to Clackamas Ranger Station (AS9):

When I got to Warm Springs (AS7) at mile 43.9, I found a chair to put my tired ass in. I was there for less than a minute before I overheard one of the aid station volunteers say, "Number 49? Yeah, he is sitting right here. You want to talk to him?" He handed me the radio, and it was Julie. She said that they had tried to get my headlamp to me, but learned that if they met me somewhere along the course that wasn't a designated crew access point, I could get disqualified. She spelled it out for me that the more time I took getting to Clackamas Ranger Station, the longer I would be running in the dark after the sun sets. "Hurry!" she added. So I got out of the chair, thanked Jason Leman and the other Warm Springs volunteers, and I started running hard down the trail to beat the sunset.

I read an interesting piece of advice in an amusing book about ultramarathons called "Never Wipe Your Ass with a Squirrel" by Jason Robillard, which essentially suggested that one option to combat muscle fatigue is to try running faster. I think that the idea is to just mix things up a bit to shake yourself out of the repetitive and consistent beating that you are putting on your body. The miles that I put down between the Pinheads and Red Wolf aid stations were some of the fastest of my entire race, but they also felt the most comfortable. I don't know how much I paid for that speed later in the race, but it made me feel invigorated and alive at the time, and I needed that. I paused at Red Wolf (AS8) at mile 49.4 only long enough to eat a delicious bean and cheese quesadilla (likely a HUGE mistake) and drink some Coke.

I made it to about three miles from my crew (and headlamp) at Clackamas Ranger Station (AS9) when it got dark. Really dark. I slowed to a walk, so as to not trip and fall, and also to help me focus on the contrast between the light-colored trail and the darker surrounding underbrush. I inched my way along for about a mile before the beam of a headlamp came bouncing along behind me. It was my new friend Alissa Pruess, whom I had interviewed several miles earlier. She kindly offered to guide me the rest of the way to my crew. The going was still tough, and I tripped several times, since I couldn't see where my feet were landing, but at least I didn't have to worry any longer about making a wrong turn and getting lost in the dark. Did I mention that I love this trail running community? Thank you, Alissa!

[Mile 54.7 to 71.0] Clackamas Ranger Station (AS9) to Clackamas Ranger Station (AS12):

When I arrived at the Clackamas Ranger Station, I was pretty beaten up. And I was hungry and cold. My crew put me in a chair, wrapped me in jackets and blankets, and put warm food in my hands. Eric Lubell brought me some Coke, ginger ale, and a cup of some strange mashed potato and rice-like soup thingy, which actually went down pretty great. While Julie gave me a shoulder rub, Karen worked to dig out all of my nighttime running clothes from the "Lee's Kit o' Shit" Rubbermaid and packed my running vest with all of the supplies that I would need for the 16-mile loop around Timothy Lake. It was great to see my friend Christine An there as well. She graciously came out to cheer me on and to pace Shannon Oliver for her loop around Timothy Lake. (The three of us had run much of the Mt. Hood 50 together that summer.)

After resting for a few minutes more, I got up to go use the Honey Bucket, and the cold night air chilled me to the bone. Everything inch of me froze. In a panic, I asked Julie if she would let me warm up in her car. She agreed that it was a good idea, so she ran off to get the car warmed up, while I rigidly hobbled after her. Somewhat deliriously, I stumbled down a hill toward a silver SUV parked within a line of cars. As I tried to open the passenger door, I startled the shit out of the mostly naked man changing his clothes in the front seat. Wrong car. Oops.

As my body thawed out in Julie's car, I changed into tights with shorts on top, long sleeve shirt, running jacket, gloves, and a warm beanie. To extract myself from the gloriously warm car, I chanted my customary "1-2-3-go!" Back at the aid station area, Karen handed me my headlamp and stocked running vest, we ran through a quick checklist, then Julie and I headed out down the trail.

I was excited to be back on the trail after feeling certain only minutes before that I would never be able to warm up enough to keep going. But there I was. My race was not over. And I had my first pacer! It was fun to be able to share this experience with Julie. That is, until the wheels started to fall off the bus for me...

The next 16 miles proved to be a test of my willpower. The bean and cheese quesadilla that I had eaten at Red Wolf was absolutely delicious, but it ended up giving me the worst gut-ravaging gas ever, which I couldn't manage to get rid of without laying on the ground and pushing really hard. (I'm sorry, Julie...) I also started feeling ridiculously tired, and I wanted more than anything to take a nap along the side of the trail, which I tried to do a couple times, but the gas and stomach pain prevented any rest. I regrettably ended up requesting silence from Julie, so that I could clear my mind, close my eyes into a narrow squint, and push through the remaining miles to get back to the Clackamas Ranger Station, which I did at a pretty solid 16 min/mile hike. One foot in front of the other...100% machine.

Along the way, we reached the Timothy Lake Dam (AS11) at mile 66.3 (they rounded the mileage up to 66.6 and called themselves the Damnation Aid great!), which was just a big damn party. The volunteers and their friends were making wizard staffs out of local, canned microbrews, and a few were dressed in costumes. Hilarious! I would have given anything to hang out in that warm tent, drink a beer or seven, and take a week-long nap on one of the luxurious cots that they had set up...but instead, I grabbed my vest and handhelds and stumbled back out into the cold.

Eventually, we made it back to the Clackamas Ranger Station at mile 71.0, where I was immediately directed toward a chair in the warming tent. At that point, I knew that my race was most likely over. Never in my life had I been so physically drained. My stomach hurt, I was hungry and depleted, and I was beyond exhausted. I was handed a cup of chicken broth, which I sipped as I listened to the runner next to me break down into whimpers, then tears, then sobs. Right there with you, lady...

My crew convinced me to go back to Julie's car to take a nap, then assess how I felt. The time was a little after 1:00 AM, and while the cutoff for leaving the Clackamas Ranger Station was 4:00 AM, my mind was tied to my pace chart, which said that I needed to leave by 1:55 AM to still get a sub-30-hour buckle. I didn't think there was any way to make it, despite the fact that everyone seemed convinced that I had "plenty of time." Well, shit...they were right. I didn't manage to sleep, but I did close my eyes and relax for a few minutes. The restful break, combined with the chicken broth sitting comfortably in my stomach, gave me the second wind that I needed, and when I emerged from the car at 2:00 AM, I was ready to go!

[Mile 71.0 to 96.5] Clackamas Ranger Station (AS12) to Olallie Meadows (AS16):

My Garmin GPS watch showed "Low Battery," so before Karen (my second pacer) and I took off down the trail and into the night, I handed it to Julie. (Note: when I pulled the data from it after the race, I realized that I had forgotten to turn it off, as it had logged everywhere that Julie drove that night...a bar in Detroit, OR? Julie! Just kidding...) We opted to use Karen's Garmin for the rest of the race, knowing that we needed to add 71 miles to the current race distance and 20 hours to the current race time to figure out where we were at any point during the rest of the race.

I was feeling great! So great, in fact, that I was outrunning Karen on some of the hills. This extra energy subsided after a few miles, however, and was replaced with more stomach issues. The broth had worked very well at the previous aid station, so when we got to Red Wolf (AS13) at mile 76.3, I decided to give it another try. I made it about 50 feet out of the aid station before I suddenly had to move off the trail to throw up. I puked until I was completely empty. (I'm sorry, Karen...) Not good. My stomach was so upset that for the next 25 miles, all I could bring myself to take in were tiny sips of Gu Brew.

Shortly after my vomiting episode, Karen twisted her previously injured ankle pretty badly, while trying to keep up with my power hiking by using a combination of running and walking. And then she twisted it again. I broke my pacer... :(

She handed me her Garmin and told me to continue on, insisting that she would make it to the next aid station just fine. I didn't argue, but instead I gave her a hug, then headed off into the night. When I made it to Warm Springs (AS14) at mile 81.8, I told them about Karen, and they promised that they would take care of her. By that point, I was already fighting severe sleep deprivation and exhaustion, so I didn't dare linger in the aid stations. This was the time for gutting it out. All the way to the finish.

As I left Warm Springs, Jason Leman told me that the next section up to Pinheads was "a tough climb." Holy fuck. He was right. There were seemingly endless switchbacks cut into a relentlessly ascending trail to the top of the mountain. And half way through it, my headlamp died. There I stood in the pitch black on the face of a mountain in the middle of fucking nowhere... To be honest, it was kind of exciting! Luckily, my crew remembered to put my backup headlamp in my running vest.

I was very happy to see the friendly faces of the volunteers at Pinheads (AS15) at mile 87.4, especially Marta Fisher, whom I had recently met at the Lake of Death Relay at Hagg Lake a few months prior. I was deliriously hung up on getting some backup batteries for my backup headlamp, but Marta assured me that I wouldn't need them, since the sun would be up in less than a half hour. And she was right, of course.

The 9.1 miles to Olallie Meadows (AS16) redefined the term "slog" for me. I was a walking zombie. I so desperately wanted sleep, and just the thought of having to be awake and moving ever forward down the trail for several more hours caused me more pain than even my nausea and hunger. I passed a guy on the trail who said that he had fallen asleep while walking several times. Sleep...I wanted it. I needed it. So I laid down spread-eagle in the middle of the trail (so that the next runner behind me would have to wake me up), used my race vest as a pillow, and I slept. I slept for only about three minutes, but that was all I needed to keep going. I repeated this process one more time a few more miles down the trail.

I wasn't expecting Julie to be at Olallie Meadows, but when I saw her sitting there at the edge of the trail, my heart nearly exploded. I think she was a bit surprised to see me too, especially so soon. I muttered a few incoherent things about passing a dozen people during the night, my headlamp dying, and sleeping in the middle of the trail...but Julie simply put her hand on my shoulder and asked, "Where's Karen?"

[Mile 96.5 to 99.6] Olallie Meadows (AS16) to Race Finish:

I was back on those first three miles of the PCT from the previous day, except this time, they weren't so magical. The last 3.1 miles of the Mountain Lakes 100...would...not...fucking...end...

But then they did. And just like that, my journey of one hundred miles was done. It was my first run ever to contain two sunrises.

At the finish line, several of my friends made a tunnel with their arms. Whilst choking back tears of both joy and complete exhaustion, I remember making the conscious decision to high-five them all, instead of attempting to hunch over and run through their tunnel. Trevor Hostetler handed me a custom pint glass and a belt buckle. Karen and Julie came over and gave me hugs. And so did many others. Paul Nelson took fantastic pictures. Todd Janssen made burgers, which we ate with Shannon Oliver's amazing Red Duck Ketchup.

I even busted out a growler of my Coconut Penetrator Strong Cream Ale homebrew to share with my running family.

So happy.

Of the 84 entrants that registered for the race, 64 crossed the finish line, and every one of them finished before the 30-hour "buckle cutoff." I finished in 47th place.

Thank You:

First and foremost, I would like to thank the Go Beyond race directors, Renee Seker, Todd Janssen, and Trevor Hostetler, for putting on another fantastic event! I have run several of their other races this year, including the Smith Rock Ascent 50k, Mount Hood 50, Lake of Death Relay (12 hour solo trail option), and Volcanic 50k, and every single one ranks near the top of my list of all-time favorite races. Keep up the great work, you guys!

Huge thank yous go to my amazing crew/pacers, Julie Meehan and Karen Wang. Julie has been my race support countless times this year, including several trips out-of-state. She paced me for the last 12 miles of the Waldo 100k, helping me land a huge sub-16-hour finish, which scored me a 2015 Western States 100 lottery entry. And running the entire Volcanic 50k together was a fantastic experience for both of us. Karen has also been one of my biggest supporters this year, including joining me on one of my craziest adventures yet: two 50k races in one day. We slogged through the Mary's Peak 50k near Corvallis, OR, in the morning, then drove an hour and a half to the Elijah Bristow 24 Hour Run near Eugene, OR, where we ran another 50k from 9PM to 9AM. I am so lucky to have had these amazing women pace and crew for me at Mountain Lakes 100. I hope to get the chance to return the favor for their first hundos...

And finally, thank you to all of the incredible volunteers and friends who gave up their weekend to come out and support us! You all have inspired me to make giving back to this running community one of my highest priorities for 2015 and beyond. THANK YOU!

Audio Recordings:

Here are the aforementioned YouTube links for the audio clips that I took during the race:
  • Part 1: Moe Codino, Race Briefing.
  • Part 2: Aid Station 1, Curt Mueller, Bill Elberson, Aid Station 2, Shannon Oliver, Glen Vomacka.
  • Part 3: Kevin Lawlor, John Liebeskind, Ben Reah.
  • Part 4: Aid Station 3, Alissa Pruess, Karl Jensen, Audio Journal Entries.
  • Part 5: Aid Station 5, Paul Nelson, Marjorie Hendryx, Audio Journal Entries.
  • Part 6: Shannon Oliver, Jenna Fribley, Sydney Olson, Aid Station 6, Audio Journal Entries.
  • Part 7: Julie Meehan, Audio Journal Entries.

There is about three hours worth of audio here...

Mountain Lakes 100 Pacing Chart (Modified from one created by Ken Ward.)

At the race start with my pacers/crew, Julie Meehan and Karen Wang. Photo by Renee Seker.

The race begins! Photo by Karen Wang.

Olallie Lake, OR. Photo by Julie Meehan.

Arriving at Aid Station 2. Photo by Karen Wang.

At Olallie Meadows (AS5), doing what I do best. Photo by Karen Wang.

At Olallie Meadows (AS5), getting ready to head back out. Photo by Karen Wang.

At Olallie Meadows (AS5), greatest crew ever! Photo by Karen Wang.

Refueling at mile 54.7 aid station at Clackamas Ranger Station. Photo by Christine An.

Heading in to the finish tunnel! Photo by Karen Wang.

High fives for everyone! Photo by Karen Wang.

An exhausted runner and his crew/pacers. Photo by Paul Nelson Photography.

I don't remember this picture being taken. Photo by Paul Nelson Photography.

Achievement unlocked: 100 mile buckle!