Monday, April 17, 2017

Race Report Lumberjack 100 miler

The Lumberjack 100 miler is a wonderfully affordable and low-key run held in Port Gamble on the Olympic peninsula in Washington state. I had trained pretty hard for about 2 1/2 months after being reduced to cross-training due to an injury. I knew that this was a very short build up in training for a long event like this, but I finally wanted my first kick at the can at the 100 mile distance. My plan was to train hard, monitor my body for signs of falling apart and sign up last minute if it didn't. I knew that my friends Sean and Meg were going down to run the race and that our friend Dikesh and Sean's wife Nancy would be there to support them. I also knew that I would have to run eight 20 k loops to successfully complete the 100 mile race. Furthermore the course is historically very muddy and this year was supposedly muddier still. In all honesty though only about 5% of the course was bad with mud pits reaching the middle of my shin, puddles that should be called ponds or just a real slippery sloppy mess. Everything else was very manageable. I didn't know though that Meg's parents -Gary and Afona- would be at the race with their RV and would -along with Dikesh and Nancy- form an absolute rock star crew and a stellar home base for the 3 of us who ran the race. I was expecting to rely on aid stations and my drop bag alone. Coming in after each lap I was cheerfully welcomed by our support crew and subsequently helped with all my nutrition, hydration and gear needs. It was such a wonderful treat since I never had a crew before.
The RV also came in handy on the eve of the race when there was a real proper storm rolling through the "campground" (i.e. the puddle of mud forming the start / finish area). Dikesh and I stayed dry with the others inside the RV and didn't even have to bring out the tent we were planning on using that night. What a mucky mess that would have been. The course for the race has about 450 m of elevation gain for each lap for a total of about 3600 m for the 100 miler. It's a nice rolling course with a mixture of service roads and single track. An incentive of the event is the fact that you will be credited with a 50 mile or 100 k finish if you complete four or five loops of the course even if you were originally registered for the 100 miler. On the flip side this also makes it tougher mentally to embark on another loop rather than drop down in distance I suppose.
Before the race I made a real effort to wrap my head around the mental aspect of running 100 miles on a looped course which is historically not my forte. I went into detail on this in my pre-race post.

I will spare you the play by play of the race. Everything just went off without a hitch. My body held together, I was in very good spirits all day, we didn't have a drop of rain during the entire event, I had a spectacular group of people helping me out on-site and I knew that I had lots of people rooting for me from afar. How can you possibly quit or be unhappy under these kind of circumstances? Exactly. You can't.

Here's a little photographic evidence of my physical decline:

Before the start with the Vancouver delegation
Karl, Meg, Sean and me
Navigating through the mud pit after 40 k / 2 laps.
No sitting down for me ... yet.

Fine. I'll sit. Just a minute though. After 60 k / 3 laps.
Running into Meg and Sean after lap 5/8.
Showing some signs of wear after 100 k.
Fresh as a daisy. After lap 7 / at 140 k.
Walking it in with Afona inquiring about Sean's whereabouts. DONE.

Just to then be "heckled" - I mean congratulated-
by the two veteran Ultrarunners Karl and John.

3 things that worked out really well

1. Gaiters
I seriously don't know why more people aren't wearing them. They keep the debris out of your shoes that would otherwise tenderize your feet and lead to hot spots and blisters. No disadvantages aside from looking dorky, which I can live with.

2. My home brew drink mix
I drank a total of about 3 liters of the mixture during the race and it took care of my electrolyte needs and a good chunk of my caloric needs too.
Here is the recipe:
Equal parts Tart cherry juice, coconut water and water
1 squeeze of lemon plus 1-2 pinches of salt per bottle

3. Motivational notes
I had the idea to ask some of my friends and family to write some motivational or funny notes that I could read in between laps during the event. This strategy worked out really, really well and I was looking forward to reading a couple of them after each lap. If it weren't a looped course I could have put them in my pack and read them along the route. I had told everyone beforehand to send the messages to my wife and she and my daughter made them into some real nice playing card size flash cards. That way I never saw any of the messages before I ran the actual race.

Motivational notes from my daughter Lara

3 random facts

1. There were 2 spots on the course were there was a cacophony of frogs croaking all through the night. One was just after the start of the loop and the other one was in the middle were there wasn't any visible body of water.

2. The drive down from Vancouver -or Bellingham for that matter- going through Whidbey Island and taking the ferry from Coupeville to Port Townsend is seriously scenic. I will definitely go back to explore the state parks along the route more.

Deception Pass State Park on the way to the ferry

3. The 100 mile finisher belt buckle is pretty sweet. Not like I care about things like that - or maybe I do.

Hard earned bling
Happy Trails,