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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Pistol Ultra Run: 100 Miles


Two weeks before the race, I didn't know I was going to run the Pistol Ultra 100 miler.  I was planning on running a 24 hour race.  Unfortunately, during that week, a lot happened and I was told that the 24 hour race may or may not occur, and so I messaged Will Jorgensen if he would allow me to participate in the race.  I even 'promised' him that I would break the course record.  He was gracious and said that as long as I gave him the heads up a week before the race, he would get me in.  After finally getting word that the 24 hour race was officially cancelled, I had 1 week to prepare for this 100 mile race.  I would be carrying a pack while running as it was a 10 mile 'looped' course.  Things were not as I planned and so I had to make the best of the situation.  Although the course was 'flat', compared to a track it was still hilly, and knowing that, I immediately began my mental training to slow down the pace slightly to that of the course.  I had one week before the race, and a lot of time to think about it.

The Course:

The Pistol Ultra Run is run on the paved greenway in Alcoa, TN.  The start and finish is located at Alcoa High School (which is on top of a hill) and it goes out on a lollipop (out and back with a loop at the other end) for a little over 9 miles, and then on the other side, the 100 milers go down and back to make the full loop exactly 10 miles.  Down the long out and back, we would go on mostly flat terrain, with a few rolling hills, and the first aid station we would come across would be a little over 2 miles away from the start, while the second would be about 4 miles from the start.  Being a greenway, it was easy to run, and there were only a few places that I would never want to run in a 100 miler.

My Gear/Food/Drink: 

5 Pairs of ASICS Road Hawk FF (first time racing in them)
Injinji socks
KT Tape (to wrap my feet to support the arches)
Nike Combat Compression Shorts
Adidas shorts
Underarmour compression shirt
Tech shirt
OrangeMud endurance pack (to carry all my foods)
SWORD (the only drink I would carry in my pack)
Coca-Cola (caffeine+sugar)
Red Bull (for the extra caffeine boost)
Ben Gay (instead of warming up, I use this guy to relax my muscles)
Peanut Butter Crackers
Pickle Juice (because hey, lets stop cramping)
My favorite Buff that I got from Sinister 7
iPod Shuffle (when the going gets tough)
Yurbuds Focus 200 Earphones

The Crew:

I had the best people around.  My sisters and their husbands.  They knew exactly what I wanted, and I left with them a notebook with the details of what they needed to do for me.  I am blessed to have a supportive, efficient team/family that would support me and get me out without wasting too much time at the 'camp'.

The Plan:

As the course was basically a 10 mile loop, I calculated that with minimal stoppage at the aide stations, I would only need 1200 mL for the big loop, and mainly eat the 2 crackers every 2 miles while stopping for drinking every mile to make sure I don't go too fast.  At the aide stations, I would only drink a cup of coca-cola or pickle juice, and then when I come back with an empty bladder, I would throw the bladder at my sisters as I did the small out and back at the back half of the course, and when I came back to 'tent city' they would have everything prepared.  I would use that time to walk, drink pickle juice and coca-cola, put the endurance pack on, and then once I reached the 10 mile mark, I'd go off again and repeat it.  After every 2 laps, I would switch shoes, and take a 20 second breather, but I would be off again.  After finishing mile 40 and mile 80, I would try to jolt myself forward by drinking Red Bull.  I would start the race close to an 8 minute per mile pace, and as the day drug on, I would slow down at a decent rate, and coast til the finish to finish before midnight (On Friday night, I guessed that I would finish at 15:30... but my PR was 17:30, so I had no idea what was possible)


Before the race, I was hit by nerves because I wasn't fully mental prepared, and I knew I had enough people out there that would support me, so I mass texted, FB statused, and IG storied for encouragement, and from there, the nervousness I had within me was forcefully expelled and I was able to listen to some crazy songs that I usually don't listen to and got myself to my bed to sleep.  Waking up at 6:00am, I gave myself 1 hour to prepare and leave at 7:00am to get to the race at about 7:30am.  I got everything ready, and ate a small breakfast and listened to some crazy loud songs and got there and set up my table with my friend Chris.

Lap 1-2:  Nervous, but Easy

Before the countdown began, I meandered to the front, all lathered up in a minty smell, I stood beside James Barnard and Ron Wireman, two super speedy local runner friends of mine.  When the countdown started and the race started, I cruised forward at my pace, because, after all, this was MY race and I was only running against myself.  5 minutes before us, the 50k runners were set loose, so I decided it would be nice to catch them bit by bit, and that I did.  Forcing myself to walk at the first mile was nice because it was me displaying to everyone that I was doing my own race (and it was also an announcement to myself).  As I went out and greeted and encouraged everyone out and back, I felt pretty good.  I wasn't sure if I was ready, but the only way I know how to find out is to run ahead and try.  Ron eventually caught up with me on the return trip, and as my running pace was faster, I would end up going ahead of him until my walk point, at which he would catch up and pass me (he was running the 100k) and so we chatted a good bit on the way.  I saw a lot of other friends at the race and it was a fun mad gathering of people and I totally enjoyed the run, and as I came back.  At this point, the weather was on point, a little cloudy and a little sunny and the temperature was just perfect.  I finished the first two laps at about 80-85 minutes per lap, a pace I was confident in.

Lap 3-5:  Going Strong

At this point, it had started to get hot, so I took off my t-shirt and as I ran on, I began noticing how hot it was getting.  I eventually took off my underarmour shirt and just ran with my pack (I received a wonderful pack-tan, courtesy of OrangeMud).  I had slowed down slightly because of my plan, but I was still going at a fairly decent clip, as I was feeling strong... but it was getting really hot.  I had experienced heat exhaustion in prior races and I started taking notes on what I needed to watch out for... but I felt pretty good.  I kept on at a decent clip, finishing the loops in 85-90 min.  I was still gliding smoothly and still had enough energy, but with the heat, I did my best to drink enough... and on my 5th lap, I noticed a huge problem.  I had stopped sweating.  This was not good.  My body temperature was going to go high and I would have nothing to help me.  Just because I felt good didn't mean that things were going in a good direction.  I finished my 50th mile at 7:00:00 (8:24 min/mile pace) and knew that this would not continue, so I had to make sure to keep the next half safe.

Lap 6-7:  Can I Recover from this?

It was during my 6th lap that I started feeling my body slowly break down, and though my body was running at cruise control, my heart beat was getting a little bit out of whack, and my energy started depleting.  As it was 3:00pm when I started this portion of the race, it was still hot.  I'm not sure when the hottest part of the day was (which was at 74 degrees), but I knew that I was suffering from the temperature.  As I wasn't drinking enough, my body wasn't functioning as efficiently as I could.  I knew I was still going at a fairly decent pace, ready for a course record, but if I didn't take care of myself, I would end up on the side of the road out... and so after my 6th lap, I stopped a little because I knew I was screwed.  Normally, I'd have this feeling at about 70 miles into a 100 mile race, but today was different.  60 miles in, I was slightly overheated, didn't have enough water or food in me, and my stomach wasn't in the best of shape.  My 7th lap was going to be a hard one, but I went on. Instead of worrying too much about the other laps I would have to run after this, I needed to make sure I ran this lap as best as I could, knowing that slowing down will cost me.  I continued on at a slower pace (being close to 6:00pm at this time) and I looked around and thought, everyone else is suffering as much as I am, so I don't have time to feel sorry for myself.  Let's run to the nearest person and encourage them and push forward and continue to fake it til I make it.  I'm pretty sure it was at this lap that I stopped at Woody's Aid station and ate popsicles and put ice in my buff and water on my head... and wow, that made a difference.  I didn't feel any more dead than when I started the race... just about the same amount of dead.   I kept at it, and before I knew it, somehow found my way back to the starting line to get ready for my 8th lap.

Lap 8-10:  The Real Story (this one's a long one....)

I still had 3 laps, and my body was recovering from the heat beat down, but I had minimized the break down, and so I was not doing 'badly' but I was at hour 10 and change, and I needed to finish the next three laps in 5:30 to get to my goal.  That was about a ten minute mile to the finish, and so I figured I could just run this one at a 9 min mile and the next at a 10 min mile, and the final at a 11 minute mile and so I went off.  I continued onward and thought I was going at a decent clip.  However, when I made it back, I was even more exhausted, and I held onto a 10 minute pace, and I didn't know if I could go any faster.  I believe it was around this time when there was lightning and rain and a little hail, but that didn't bother me.  I welcomed it as I had put on another underarmour shirt.  At this point, my willpower started dying and I hoped that the rain could somewhat revive me.  I had 20 miles to go and the 10 minutes per mile pace was already killing me.  The pace to go at that speed was too much, and so when Mary Cates came up to me and asked how I was doing, I told her that I didn't think I could make it... hope was draining out of me.  She looked straight at me and told me to go on.  She told me that nothing was decided, and so I hobbled onward... and as I kept on going, that hobble turned into a run, and I continued pushing at that pace.  I came here to chase after a record.  Not to give up 20 miles before the finish without even trying.  But slowly, that momentum too died down, and so did my pace.... but all of a sudden, a multitude of faces poured into my head.  It was the faces of those I coached, the faces of those that knew I was out here, the faces of those who sent me texts of encouragement, the faces of those who supported me during the race, the faces of those running with me, the faces of those who knew my story.  I wasn't there for my own personal glory.  I was there to show them all something, that one can persevere through hardships and conquer it.  That despite the hard times, you can look at pain and suffering straight in their faces and give them the middle finger as you scream and press forward.  I chose this and I was going all the way to the end to finish what I came to do... and so that spark became a light.  Each step I took forward, I became a little more exhausted, I felt like I was slowly getting choked, and wires gripped my muscles.  I continued forward determined that I would go at that pace or die trying.  On the way back, I had caught up to one of the 50 mile runners who was going at a decent clip, and so my focus was only on him.  I followed him like a possessed man, knowing that this was the only way I could get back to the end in time, and as I caught him and made small talk with him, he told me something that instantly made my life better.  He said he was going to support me and help me get to the end and get that course record.  We ran on.  We met another guy on the way, and he also joined in on the mission.  I was going at their pace, and despite my weariness and negative attitude, I pushed that aside because now I had people that were willing to put up with me and help.  We went on to finish the 9th lap, and I threw off my OrangeMud pack to run without being held down for the last 10 miles, and drank a lot of liquids, knowing that this last push would be it.  I had 1:40:00 left and 10 miles to go.  We three went at it.  Mark Rollins (the first dude) talked about how he ran earlier that day and today would be his second race, and was visibly excited about the mission, and kept the group lively.  Doug Slater (who ended up winning the 50 mile race) let me mutter, "this freaking sucks" and 'yell' helped with the pace, but even with all that support, I felt like giving up... but they didn't let me.  I couldn't let them waste their time on me, and with their race and everyone else in mind, I had to push through.  I was running for more than myself.  I was running for everyone that supported me and everyone who could be encouraged by this story.  At the turnaround point, Mark could not keep up and told us to go ahead without him, and so Doug and I pursued my goal and kept on going and going.  Throughout the last 15 miles, I didn't really stop except for the 'huge' incline and aide stations so this was really taxing, and as the noose around my neck felt tighter, I was closer to the finish line.  I continued pushing at that pace and with 2.5 miles to go, I knew this was going to be okay.  I was going to make it.  I maintained that pace and continued towards the goal.  Once I reached the top of the hill, it was the small out and back, and so I went down, and on the way up, I felt my quads start to seize up, so I told Doug to go ahead, I would walk up and then run the last bit once I reached the top... and I did.  I came up the hill, started running, and then at the finish line, I crossed the mat at 15:24:56.3 a new personal record, a new course record, and so very glad to be finished.


First of all, without the support of my crew (Maika, Mary, Nathan, Tim), I would not have been able to make it through.  They are THE BEST crew in the world.  Will Jorgensen and Mary Cates totally rocked as they made the race so epic.  Jeff Woody and his crew, as well as ALL my Haw Ridge friends made my run easier as they all supported.  Also, thanks to the Pistol Pic Peeps (Misty, Samantha, Kenneth, Ethan) because they were taking thousands and thousands of pictures of all the runners.  I have so many other friends and family that I would love to thank because each one of them supported me during the last 3 laps.  OrangeMud has been awesome in allowing me to use their pack, and rep them as well as SWORD with their drinks (Berry is best) because I made it through even though I wasn't making the smartest decisions.  I still have so much to learn, but with the support of so many, this time, I challenged, I fought, I persevered, and I was able to succeed.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Holston River Endurance Challenge (12H)

This race report is unlike any other report I've done, as it comes with a story in the beginning.  If you don't have the time and would like to go to the meat, skip the introduction section and scroll down to the section marked "First 6 Hours".... meanwhile, for the others, let me tell you a series of most unfortunate circumstances.

The Story

A few weeks back, it all started on a Tuesday, when my grandmother called, asking if I could possibly come the next week to take care of my grandfather as he would get out of a nursing home and get back to the house.  Due to his broken hip, he wasn't able to do much, and they needed the help.  I readily agreed and started making plans... because Wednesday, I would be removing 4 wisdom teeth.  That all went well but that also meant I would not be able to run for a week!  I hoped recovery would go well (and surprisingly, I was better off than 99% of the population) and only did small things like yard work and walking 6-7 miles a day to keep up some sort of exercise.  However, during the yardwork, I made some contact with poison ivy and so it became rather uncomfortable.  

Having dealt with it before, I just went on my daily grind, and made plans, as Sunday through Friday, I would be in southern Georgia, while Saturday, I would be running a 12 hour race (a great way to get back to exercise, right?) and then continue on with my journey... but there were a few more extra bumps to be made prior to the race.  First, due to me getting severe back pains from sleeping on an extremely soft bed, I slept on the ground... where I believe there may have been dust mites or something.  The next days, I was covered in bites!  After then, I slept on a blanket on the floor and my back was good and I wasn't getting bitten anymore.  I was able to do 3 runs (Tuesday-Thursday) and enjoyed helping my grandparents as they adjusted to what he could and could not do... but Friday came and it was time to go~

Driving 7 hours to Bristol was going to be tough, but it needed to be done, but to my horror, when I opened my car door on Friday, I discovered a few hundred fire ants crawling around (I think...) and was 'excited' to have passengers along with me.  I got bitten and stung a few times but since it wasn't THAT bad, I figured they weren't really fire ants, but I continued on my 7 hour journey.  Unfortunately, as it would have it, my car decided to act up.  The speedomoter and odometer stopped working, and after 4 hours, the transmission had had enough, started revving, and in the end, stopped.  I was on the interstate and there was no-one I knew close by.... and so I figured out that as my car had 2 seconds of gears every time I turned it on, I slowly drove down the road for close to an hour (without A/C) until I finally made it to the gas station.  There, I did my best, but being a Friday and past business hours, it was futile.  I was stranded.  Fortunately, my other sister who was driving to Bristol was able to take a 3 hour detour, and picked me up, and we arrived at my sister's house at 1 am, in time to sleep, get up, get ready and race at 8 am.

The Course/Race:

1.5 miles of gravel and dirt with a few little uphills.  Most of the course would be out in the sun and should the day be sunny, it would be brutal.  It wasn't hard, but it wasn't easy.  Quite a bit of turnarounds and so one would have to drop speed and then pick it up, in order to maximize efficiency.  The Timing was done by Run Corps and they always do well with exceptional coverage to insure that runners get everything done!  The aid station is also done well, and overall, the RD Netta is fantastic and prioritizes runners, giving us the best support we can receive... a race to help runners succeed.

Gear and Nutrition:

3 pairs of Asics Gel Lyte 33 3 (running out of miles on these guys...)
Injinji socks with a generic sock covering it
Nike Combat Compression Shorts
Adidas shorts
KT Tape
Ben Gay
Peanut Butter Sandwiches (thanks Mary and Tim)

and that was all because I was going minimal at this race.  Training races are tough!

The Plan:

First, this was a training race.  I needed to do a decent job but have the energy to recover quickly after the race and so I can get back to training again.  I needed to prepare for the sun as it would be too hot, despite cool weather comparing to the prior year.  I also needed to break my own course record of 61.5 miles despite not being in the same shape.  With this, I needed to run smart and keep myself going forward with a controlled 'spiral' as I slowed down throughout the race.  If possible, I would like to win, but I needed to be smart first as I have another race in a month, so this was going to be fun.  With the break from running due to my wisdom teeth surgery, I needed to stay loose and enjoy the race as much as possible.  I would start off with 5 laps on the first hour, then continue with 4 laps an hour until I decided it was time and then go down a notch.  The main thing is to slow down as the race goes so I could take it easy.  I thought about doing 4 an hour to start it off, but with my training, my legs would go on automatic and it would be futile to control that in this race, so 5 it was.  I would take this all one hour at a time and only focus on that hour and the lap I was on.  I would forget anything else as it would not be important to me.

First 6 Hours:

Like I planned, the first hour went smoothly.  I still went a little fast, finishing the first 'hour' in about 55 minutes, so I did my best to slow down accordingly, but the second hour also came by quickly, as I continuously ran a sub 8 minute mile average (including the walking) and made a mid-race decision to wait for the third hour to walk more to slow myself down.  Adding more walking points allowed me to continue running at a fast pace, so I was able to get my third hour to 4 laps, still finishing a little early... I was pretty sure that I would end up with an extra lap somewhere... but didn't pay too much attention to it.  The sun was starting to do its job and I made sure that liquid consumption was my priority.  I ate a little bit too, as I needed to make sure to continue to add energy to my body as I used it, and the 4th hour went down.  My sister was also running her first 6 hour race and so she was running, and paying attention to how she was doing kept me relaxed, and I made every effort to cheer her on whenever I could, and enjoyed encouraging other people as they went on around and around.  At the 5th hour, I was still doing pretty well.  I had changed shoes so I could be somewhat fresh, but with the heat starting to come out, I wasn't feeling too good.  I always have a saying which is 'fake it til you make it' and it's done wonders for me in running ultras, so I was ready to start faking as the sun rose to it's most deadly position of the day... straight above me.  It was hot, but I was ready and drank, drank, drank.  The 6th hour had come, and I was still doing my 4 an hour run with a little extra, and at the end, managed to squeeze in the extra lap, finishing 40.5 miles for the first 6 hours.

Last 6 Hours:

At this point, I wished I signed up for the 6 hour race. I would have won, felt good about it, went home, and hung out with my family and played games... but of course, I decided that a 12 hour run was exactly the training I needed to get back on my feet.  Good job me! And so I continued.  This time, I was calculating what I needed in order to win without putting in too much effort....  Most everyone was quite a bit behind me, so I decided that I would think about it after 2 more hours, and then after that, start doing some math.  I needed only 21.5 miles to tie my record, and doing that was easy even if I was walking.... but I still had a good bit of energy in my legs that needed to be pulled out, so I took the two hours pretty easy, finishing my '4 an hour' at around 1:02, and then having to switch shoes, I took a nice long rest in my chair, and started doing some calculations.  I was at 52.5 miles and ahead of 2nd by about 9 miles.... I figured that I would try to get my competitive juices up talking to them, but they were too nice to be competitive against, and so I had to make a decision.  I had 4 hours, and wanted to do well, but not destroy myself.... it's wonderful how it came down to somewhere between those two points... I figured it would be possible to get to 70.5, so I would 'try' for that, and slow down as I saw fit.  I ran with Whitney for a few laps because she was fun to talk to, and chatted while running.  Her pace was so consistent, I knew that after a while, I would need to slow down, so after about 2 laps with her, I let her go, and did my own thing.  Taking it easy, walking more, I slowed down, sometimes feeling the legs ALMOST lock up, but it never quite got there.  I drank drank drank, but this time, I wasn't too hungry, and knew it would be a bad decision not to eat, but as my stomach couldn't stomach it... it was a tough choice.  I continued drinking SWORD to replenish my electrolyte balance, and it kept me from totally locking up.  I was able to slow down, and it looked like 70.5 was possible... but I wasn't feeling it.  I know I talk about doing ones best at all times, but because of another future race, I was going to have to make a decision... so I decided to drop down and do 69 miles, and if I really really didn't want to do the last lap, I would go to 67.5 miles.  I continued on, slower than before, and there was 2 hours and 10 minutes left and I only needed 6 more laps to get to 69 miles, but my legs were telling me stories of how they haven't been running for a week... and I listened.  I jogged 3 more laps, and then for the last hour and change, I walked for 2 laps.  The final lap, I decided to shake it up and run again, and after finishing it, saw that there was still 20 minutes left on the clock.  I had time... but I was done.  I still loved running, and it was a good place to go.  I was able to win the race, make a new course record (67.5 miles!), and run with some amazing people.  Whitney came in about 9 minutes later to finish 64.5 miles!  She really kept it consistent through the race!  Had it been a 24 hour race, I would have gone down!


All in all, the race was well done, I enjoyed meeting my friends and making new ones.  Next year I won't be able to return, as I will be in Leadville getting ready for the race there, but I hope that more people come to this wonderful race!  Netta did a great job in RDing the race, and Tim did an awesome job with the timing.  There are many many other names that deserve praise, but out of fear of forgetting a few, I'll refrain from trying, but I'm grateful for every individual that made this race the way it went, runners, aid station peeps, and the families/crew that came.  It was such a wonderful experience!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Silver Rush 50

Leadville, CO - July 9, 2017.  An 'out and back' course with a few extra twists and turns.  Over 50 miles, starting altitude of 10,200 ft and the highest point at a little above 12,000 ft.  Total elevation change during the race: 8,000 ft.  It had HARD written all over it.

And I was at the starting line, about to start the race with an incline that seemed like a wall....

The Story of How I got there, and then some:

The thing was, I wasn't even going to run this race until I saw an Instagram post from Orange Mud.  It said that they were giving away a free entry for the Silver Rush 50 to some lucky individual that gave a good reason for them to vote on and decide.  I told myself, "Might as well test my luck!" and wrote a post about how it would mean a lot to me because a few years back, I was going to run the Leadville 100, but my dad had a stroke, so I cancelled the race, instead, flying to Japan to be with my father, who was in a coma-like state.  Since then, he's gotten better, but there's still been something missing since that race... and they decided that I was worthy!  They messaged me asking if I was serious about running the race, and I said yes!  It fit perfectly between a 10 hour night race and a 12 hour day race and a trip to Leadville would be definitely fill up that spot that I was missing from years back.  I trained hard, and despite having a sprained ankle two weeks prior to the race, I felt ready.  I was okay when I was running around Colorado Springs, and hoping that Leadville would be similar.

GEAR (and Nutrition):

2 pairs of Asics Gel Lyte 33 3
Injinji socks with a generic sock covering it
Nike Combat Compression Shorts
Adidas shorts
Long Sleeved Underarmour Compression Shirt
fav tech t-shirt
Orange Mud Endurance Pack
SWORD Mixed Berry
KT Tape
Ben Gay
Peanut Butter Crackers
Pickle Juice
Red Bull
iPod shuffle
Yurbuds Focus 200 Earphones

The Plan:

First of all, I needed to understand that the altitude would be a factor.  I was going to be slow... but I didn't know how slow.  Worst case scenario, I put myself at finishing in 10 hours because the elevation would be too much, but meanwhile, use the first half of the race to see how I do and take it easy, and use the latter half of the race to play catch up and go hard.  Walk as many of the uphills on the way, and on the way back, make it so that I would run up the easier hills.  Fortunately, I got to talk to Anthony Kunkel who told me that on the way back, the last 10 miles would be pretty much all downhill so I should be able to totally own that area of the race, should I survive the first 40.

and now, the race report!  (disclaimer:  due to me being all woozy, pictures may not be in the correct places)

Start to PrinterBoy

The start was as slow as a tortoise running through syrup as the first thing we had to go through was a hill.  It took me over a minute to hike up the hill, because hey, I wasn't going to waste my energy here.  There was a 50 miler to run!  After we went up, we went through the woods a bit, only to get on a paved part, and then we started going up.  During this time, I was still getting used to the whole breathing deal because it seemed a little harder than usual.  I went back and forth with running and walking, depending on the steepness of the hill, and bit by bit, I was able to find a place where I was suppose to be.  Since the first 10 miles is a slow uphill, I knew I had to stay smart.  I wanted to go faster and run more, but I needed to listen to my body, which was telling me that something was a little different.  I was a little weak, and so I began phase one of slightly hyperventilating as to maximize the oxygen intake during this uphill portion.  Through the run/walks, I saw the sunrise, big horned sheep, and my wish of running in the front vanishing.... this was time to survive.  Getting used to the thin air was part of my calculation, so I expected myself to be a tad slow... but this was beyond my expectations.  I thought to myself that I better utilize the downhill portions as best as I could... and then it finally came!  There was a U-turn at the ten mile point and it was mostly downhill, so I had to bust it all out to get to better oxygen and utilize gravity's power and explode.  I passed by many of the people that had gotten ahead of me during the uphill portion, but still needed more.  I continued on my reckless running and for about 3 miles, I caught up with a lot, gaining ground on those that were way ahead.  By the time I had gotten to the aide station, I was a little spent, but knew that if I was going to walk the uphills, I needed to feel somewhat like this.

PrinterBoy to StumpTown

Everyone at the aide station was nice and I just drank a little water and passed on through, because I didn't really need anything.  Therefore, without really stopping, I continued on, and ran down the downhill portion, catching quite a few people... but after a little bit, a climb came around.  It was time to slow walk.  For some reason though it wasn't too high, I still was winded as I climbed, but stopping would elongate that feeling, so I pressed on.  This climb was further up than the first, and eventually, I felt slightly dizzy.  It was not a fun feeling, but I needed to hurry up, because I wasn't even half way there.  My own personal rule was to never be passed when running, but not care when I was walking, and so it was a fun little game of rabbiting around, but it really hurt when I couldn't run even the slightest of inclines.  Finally, I had managed to get up to the highest point of the race, and I think it was somewhere around here there was an aide station, so they refilled my drink and I drank a little coke, but I had to hurry and go down... because, after all, all I had was downhill to the half way mark... but I still could not give it my all.... even with the downhill, but I knew that this was the only option I had of getting some air, and down I went.  I knew I was closer after a good bit of downhill running because I saw the lead runners who had already gone to the halfway point and returned to where we would share the road.  I would be going down, and they would be going up.  After a while, it was the opposite.  I would be going up (walking) and they would be going down.  It was so close to the aide station, and I had my Red Bull waiting, as well as my pack filled with SWORD.  I would need some replenishing while I switched shoes.  I finally came down to the aide station, and saw Anthony, who basically told me that I should hurry up because I wasn't going too fast.  Though I tried to explain how breathing was difficult, it mattered not to him.  I needed to go... I had held off my urges for 4 and a half hours and it was time.... time to kill people.

StumpTown back to PrinterBoy

Well, by killing people, it's just a game where passing people counts as a kill, so my goal was to be a mass murderer... in a totally non-violent Christ-like manner.  So I started off.  I saw my first kill.  He was running up a hill and I decided that for the return trip, I didn't care if I couldn't breathe, if I thought I could run while climbing, then I would go for it.  It was only a 50 miler.  Not a 100.  I could afford a mistake or miscalculation.  I passed him and counted '1' in my head, but number 2, was right in front of me.  As it was, there was quite a number of people that were taking the first uphill with a walk, and so I continued to kill as I crept up towards the highest point.  As I was only counting people, and not time, I had no recollection of where I was going, and how much time had passed, I didn't really pay attention too much to the beautiful scenery, as I was wanting to survive.  Climbing to the highest point was not so easy, as breathing became harder, but I thought to myself, it's only for a little bit, so as long as I could somewhat hold on, I could get over that and begin my descent... but alas, I was too rash in making that decision.  Part of the journey took me to this lonely single track route on the side of a steep incline.  Fortunately, we were going across, but as I made my way through, I stumbled, almost falling off multiple times.  This was a lot more dangerous than I bargained for... but I needed to get through it, and so slowing down only slightly, I made my way through the 'treacherous' area and finally came to a point of descent, which I flew through, as gravitational pull generally helped me go the right direction and I wouldn't trip too much.  It was a glorious downhill, and following that downhill, a slight uphill to the next aide station, where I would restock and make sure everything I had was maxed out, because from that point, I was going to go without stopping too much.  It was go time, and I had passed about 18 people.

PrinterBoy to Finish

The final portion of the journey first was a climb, and this time, I had no real energy left, and so I trekked the climb, letting a few overtake me, subtracting from my kill count.  It was about 3 miles of climbing followed by a 10 mile downhill sprint, and so I didn't feel like using too much energy on the uphill... but when the journey came to a crawl, I needed to change plans quickly.  This was not going as fast as I wanted, and I needed to get to the U-turn as fast as I could.  At some point in my dazed state, I decided that I would run for 100 steps, and then walk until my breathing came to control, and then do it again.  Though seemingly small, it took a lot out of my mental energy tank, and I was able to give more than what I thought was possible, even overtaking one person who walked up faster than I could.  I continued this for about a mile, and then came the turn around and down point, where I drank some dude's coke that he had ready for those in need, and I rushed down.  With each step, I was feeling better because it didn't require too much, but it was still hard as I had used up some of my energy on the climb.  The terrain was not so forgiving, but just enough so I could pull off a few 7-8 minute miles, and though we were still in the higher altitude, I was able to maintain a fast pace.  I was hoping to not walk til I got to the final aide station, but unfortunately, I felt spent at one point and walked up a hill.  Finally, about 3 miles after the turn, I made it to the aide station, gulped coke down, and asked the people manning the station how many were within 15 minutes before me, and they responded with about 5-6 people, so I knew I could do this.  I announced (more for myself) that I would overtake all of them in the last 7 or so miles, and rushed off.  The first was only an eighth of a mile in front of me, and I was going to blow past him.  Despite the harshness of the altitude, my predator-like instincts kicked in, and I reeled him in.  As I encouraged him, I began looking for my next victim (I really sound like I'm two faced right?  I promise I'm not.  I want them to succeed and do their best, but I also want to do my best too....)  There were about 4-5 people that I could catch in front of me.  However, little did I know that they were not in front of me... but waaaaaaay in front of me.  I was going at a breakneck speed hoping they'd all be evenly spaced out, only to find myself chasing down dreams.  After realizing that they weren't going to evenly space themselves out for me, I continued on my path, hoping that my quads and calves would hold.  Up til now, my legs were fine, but I began noticing a slight tremor as my quads warned me that without enough oxygen, they would start writhing in pain, and noting that, I continued hyperventilating a little faster now, and kept on going after the people in front of me, whoever they were... and finally, I caught sight of someone wearing orange.  My next victim!  That person seemed to be doing a run/walk mix and so over time, I knew that that individual was mine, and so I chased and chased.  That person had caught up with another individual, and so I thought of how fortunate I was to have a 2 for 1 deal in front of me and kept up the pace.  Just a little bit more... and then 1... 2... I was able to pass them both.  Still a little more than 3 miles from the end.  I continued and went forward, hoping for more and there wasn't for a little bit, but another appeared.  I was ecstatic!  My quads and calves were telling me to stop, but I was greedy for more, and so I continued.  I passed another, and there was about 2 miles left.  It was now starting to be tiring.  I was actually able to race and my legs were feeling it because my desire for speed had burst forth and carried me forward.  Another individual passed, and my legs started screaming, and so after a little incline appeared... I said okay, let's walk for now.  I continued breathing rapidly, so as to forcefully oxygenate myself, and then after I thought I was ready, I turned on my engine again.  There might be one more person ahead of me.... so I started slow, and gradually picked up the pace until I managed to get out of the trails and was on asphalt.  This was where I really picked up my speed, but it only lasted for a short while because sadly, the race director decided to add to my torture by adding a turn filled path all the way to the top.  It was just enough uphill that I could still run, but not enough that I couldn't feel the pain and exertion.  I had to twist and turn so many times, at one point, I just gave up and walked... but lo and behold, the final individual appeared.  He was many turns ahead, but because it was such a twisted trail, I knew that at that pace, I could catch him before the final push at the end.  I ran on in hopes that I was right, and little by little, I saw him get a little closer, and finally, I managed to catch up towards the last little bit before the 'final push'.  After catching him and picking up the pace, I finally got out of the woods, and there it was.  The final downhill plunge.  I hoped that I could make it without falling, as it was pretty steep, but judging how my legs handled themselves, I thought I could, and push, I did.  I pushed downhill and as I came off, one of my calves writhed in pain.  So as to not make a spectacle of myself on the final 100m of the race, I glided through, hoping each step wasn't the last, and finally finished my 50 miler in 9:32:44, 39th place overall.  It was one heck of a journey, and I'm happy that I came.


So my journey doesn't end here.  After the race, I was dead and could hardly breathe, and so it took a long time to recover.  My shoulders and legs were quite sore, but I was pretty well off when it came down to my feet.  No blisters at all!  I was glad this race was over but the thought of driving to Colorado Springs right away was a little too much.  So I rested, ate a little, and drank a good bit.  After hours upon hours of resting, I decided that instead of leaving, I would stick around and put my number in for the Leadville 100 drawing.  Didn't think much of it... but when they announced my number as one of the final lucky winners, I smiled and couldn't believe my luck.  I was coming back.  Leadville 100, August 18, 2018... I'm coming for you.

Many thanks to the RD who made this race happen, Orange Mud for giving me not only the opportunity to run this race, but also how it turned into making the Leadville 100 a reality, SWORD for giving me all that my body needed physically so that I wouldn't run out of energy and keep the right stuff in me, and finally to my new and old friends from Colorado that helped me finish!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

RUTS Oak Ridge

Planning 2017 has been quite interesting.  With the USA National Championships in September as my main goal, I needed steps to take and races to get me to where I needed to go.  This round, it was the RUTS (Run Under the Stars) Oak Ridge 10 hour run that would get me to where I needed to be.  I never was any good with night runs because I enjoy my sleep, so psychologically, this would be tough.  Second thing is that I needed to use this race as a training run and not as a A race.  With my new training phase, my max weekly mileage was at 40 miles, which meant (to me) that I had about 40-45 miles of race miles, I knew that racing any more than that would require more time off, which wouldn't get me ready for my next race, a month and a week from now.  I needed to insure that the races added the longer miles I need without sacrificing any of the quality I was adding to my current training schedule.

With that in mind, I was ready.  It called for chances of thunderstorms and at least a bit of rain so I prepared by bringing as little things as I didn't want to take care of anything that would blow away.

Weapons of choice:

SWORD waterbottle:  (as a SWORD sponsored race, I knew I was going to do well with electrolytes)
normal waterbottle:  Mainly used to cool myself down but also as an emergency drink
Table:  Keep all my stuff on
Fold-out chair:  Used for when I need to switch shoes or feel like chatting
Garbage bag with my shoes:  Because knowing it's going to be rainy, I prepared 7 pairs to run with
Shoes:  Asics Gel-Lyte 33 3, pretty sad they're discontinued because they are my favorite, helps tons
Socks:  Injinji socks and another pair to make sure I don't get blisters (and I didn't!)
KT-tape:  Helps support arches (and I ended to race w/out feet pain)
Nike Combat Compression Shorts:  that and Aquaphor keeps me from chafing in a not so fun place
Adidas shorts:  Just your average pair.  Light, and pretty awesome
Underarmour shirt:  After the rain, needed it because of the chafing and temperature
Ice-Bug Buff:  If you fold it just right, you can easily put in your iPod shuffle in it!
Peanut Butter Crackers:  The perfect mix of carbs, protein, and fat.

Since I didn't bring too much as it was a shorter race and a possible rainstorm, I had only one goal:  Get to 62 miles and get myself a decent 100k time.  Race the first 40 miles and then coast from there.  Here's how the race went down

The Course:

RUTS 10 hour race was held in A K Bissell Park, where they concocted a 1.25 mile loop that was on mostly gravel-like paths and one bridge and a good bit of turns to keep you thinking.  It was pretty darn flat, making running big miles an easy thing to do.  The aid station was a quarter mile from the finish line, and had all the goodies that any runner would need.  All they needed was a little excitement.... which the thunderstorm definitely provided.  Haha

Mile 1-30:
I originally had thought that I would be at the point of getting the first 30 miles done in 4 hours and then spend the last 6 hours getting in 40 miles, but because I needed to plan ahead, I decided I'd get the first 30 at race pace and then back off.  However, that being said, I hadn't planned on running with Steve Barber, who was part of a team.  I really am a rabbit and enjoy being up front, so when he went out ahead, I let him go, because he was doing a relay with Joy.  That being said, try as I might, I couldn't help but little by little catch up to him.  Then with a tad of brashness, I thought, "What if I lapped him before the hand-off to Joy?" and so for the first 5 hours he was going to run, I battled against myself whether or not to lap him because that was an immediate goal.  Having one's mind wander during the race can be good at times, but sometimes, it can also be detrimental.  That's why I chose to focus on lapping certain people.  I knew lapping Steve was nearly impossible if he put the hammer down, but I also knew who was in 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th.  With that, I decided that I would focus on chasing after those people one at a time so I don't get side-tracked and bonk because I overshot myself.  Another interesting thing that happened in the first 30 miles was the horrific thunderstorm.  My sister and brother-in-law surprised me by coming and visiting AND sticking through the thunderstorm while supporting me.  Wow,  I thought I was crazy for running in the typhoon winds and lightning and sideways rain, but not as crazy as those two who were sitting through it all seeing me every 1.25 miles.  As the rainwater flooded the little creek, creating a roaring river, the path I was on became enveloped in the longest puddles, and there was no way around.... so I went through.  When it's raining sideways, you don't really care about your shoes getting wet.  You just go.  Some people didn't like the bigger puddles, but I imagined that if I ran fast enough, I would be running through without giving the water enough time to get in my shoes (disclaimer:  It didn't matter) and so I went at it like a maniac.  I figured that the disco lights (aka thunder) was for me and I needed to perform, so I began to press a little harder.  The first bits of the race, I went fast because I was fresh, but as time went on, I began to slow my pace down, so with this change of pace midrace, I allowed my body to stretch out a bit more!  To some, the thunderstorm was a great hindrance (ask all the people that had their tents blow away) but to me, it was as if chains were lifted.  I finished my first marathon portion of the race in 3:27:05 and the was just at 3:59:59 for my 30 mile split.

30-41.25 miles

It was during this time that I had to make a decision.  According to Sho-math, I was good to race up to 40 miles without significant damage, 50 miles with some recovery, and 60 miles with way too much recovery that I wouldn't have enough time to train for my next race, so the question was... how much should I push it?  I decided to talk it out and see where everyone else stood, because despite me continuously telling myself this was a training race.... I still wanted the win.  The timer crew told me that I was ahead of the number two guy by about 10 miles.... but that Cathy Downes... she was 5 miles behind me... or 4 laps.  That meant that I needed to be careful.  I continued at a decent pace, but I knew that I would have to make a decision soon... my legs were slightly sore from the distance, but more than that, I was sleepy.... so Red Bull it was, and it helped me stay awake, and my sister and brother-in-law had to leave...and now I had 4 hours left.

41.25-63.75 miles

4 hours left and Cathy was 4 laps behind... techincally, I needed to do about 4 laps per mile (5mph) and if she did 5 laps per mile (6.25mph), I would still make it.... but first, recon.  After lapping me, I decided to stick with her and confess.  She said right away that she didn't care and that it's normal to want to win... and we became friends.  We started talking about running (well mainly me) and that went on and on for quite a long time.  After almost 2 hours, I decided to take an easy lap and start running with her after she caught up, and then we chatted again.  This time, being the last hour plus change, she needed 4 laps to get to her goal of 60 miles, and so I calculated the time for her and we figured out that she had a good shot at getting 61.25 miles, so we went for it.  Finishing with about 5 minutes to spare, we both had a blast and it was a great time getting to know her!


Quads and calves were sore from the race so I definitely need to work them out a lot more.  Form was good throughout the race, but I need to also work on my upper back as it was sore from keeping my back straight throughout the race.  I tried to get through the race without pickle juice.... but I'll put that in my diet because I think it would have helped alleviate some of the soreness my legs got in the first 30 miles of the race.  Overall, the storm didn't really affect me, so mentally I was okay, but the post-midnight run definitely hurts me mentally, so I'll need more work on that somehow... I'll definitely have to add more miles for training.  As always, RUTS was spectacular, I'd love to race all the races, but always have other things going on, so will get in as many as I can!  Really appreciate my sister and her husband, as well as the aid station and timing crew.  They were all so encouraging.  Also appreciate all the runners.  No matter what, they were all encouraging and kept on pushing.  It was awesome to experience a thunderstorm with them and still run through it.  Finishing a strong 63.75 miles and winning was nice too... but the nicest part of the race was meeting everyone and enjoying the time I was able to spend with everyone.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Run4Water Race Report

It's been too long since my last blog post/race report but here's something worth sharing.  If you're wanting to go to the race report, just skip to the Race section of the post.  I'm a story teller and I love my stories~

The Planning:

Normally, when running a race, I have this one question:  How can I perform at my best?  However, this race was completely different.  This was the final shot to qualify for the US National team.  It was my only chance to run in the World Championships for the 24 hour race!  Looking back at my training, I understood that with my current ability and training, I would probably finish a 24 hour race with between 135-140 miles.  However, in order to qualify for the team, I calculated that I would need 153 miles, given the talent of the field and who already was in the top 6.  That was 13-18 more miles than I was physically able to do... which meant one thing.  I either just do my best and be happy with a PR, or go balls to the wall and hope I don't blow up (I'd give it a 10% likelihood of success... probably less).  My question for this race was this:  Am I willing to risk not finishing the race because I ran with a pace faster than my body could possibly handle?

Obviously, I answered yes.

I have a dream and I'm willing to do what it takes to get there.  I was willing to 'look bad' or 'fail' or just have a real bad race if I had just a glimmer of hope for success.  In order to do so, I needed to plan to succeed and hope my body followed the plan.  Studying a few professional runners and their pacing patterns and then applying my own personal variables, I calculated that I would need to run this race with 4 phases.  Phase 1:  Run the first 5 hours at a 7 miles per hour.  Phase 2:  Run the next 7 hours at 6.5 miles an hour.  Phase 3:  Run 10 hours at 6 miles an hour.  Phase 4:  Run the final 2 hours at 5.5 miles an hour.  Obviously, this would only result with 151.5 miles, but I assumed I would go a little fast and get the miles needed and get to approximately 153 miles by the end of the race.  Perfect planning!  I studied Yiannis Kouros as he made the 24 hour world record and looked at his pacing and created my own plan for success, assuming my body could handle a faster than anticipated pace.  I wasn't really worried about the first 5 hours.... I wasn't even worried about the first 10 hours, but after that, I didn't know what my body would do as with my own planning, I would be up 6 miles more than where I suspected my body was capable of doing.  However, there was no turning back.  This was not a race for running as best as I could.  It was a race to see if I could handle a USA Team qualifying standard.


Due to my shoes untimely 'death' I scrounged 12 pairs of my Asics Gel Lyte 33 3s as these shoes matched my feet well and I have never gotten blisters from them... however, with all the miles they had on them and some of them being tattered up in an early demise, It would be rough on my feet... but outside of that, here's what I got!

KT tape - taped the bottom of my feet and ankle as there would be swelling, I needed the stability and compression
Injinji toe socks - best thing ever!  Extra help to prevent blisters
your average socks - second layer of protection
Nike Combat compression shorts - the best anti-chafing compression shorts ever!
Adidas running shorts - I do like the color black for running!
Underarmour compression shirt - in case it got a little too cold and no armpit chafing
tech shirt - breathable and red, fav color!
Asics Running Gloves - because I have delicate hands... not! I do get cold hands when running
Sinister 7 Buff - keeps my head warm AND holds cold water when it's warm
ipod shuffle - because sometimes, running around in circles gets a little boring
Focus 100 earphones - helps them stay in and don't have to worry about them giving your ears too much pressure
Sword and UD waterbottles - gotta keep my drinks in something!
SWORD - the best electrolyte/energy replenishing product I've ever taken that hasn't upset my stomach
water - splash myself, or drink
Coke - because we all need caffeine
Red Bull - because some caffeine is better than others....
Peanut Butter Crackers - best small source of energy that I would need throughout the race
Ben Gay - gotta keep my muscles loose!
Vitamin B pills - get some vitamin!
Aquaphor - because raw skin isn't fun to run with
extra jacket and other warmer clothes as well as some extra shorts

The Plan:

Outside of running the 4 Phases, it was rather simple.  My lovely little sister Maika was crew captain and she made sure that I got what I needed!  Each mile, I would walk for 20-40 seconds and during that time, I was given everything I needed.  During that time, I could recover, re-calibrate, and start anew!  Every mile, I was to receive a drink (rotation between water, SWORD, and Coke).  Every other mile, I was to receive two peanut butter crackers.  Every 3 hours, I needed a shoe change pit stop.  I also needed to know how fast I was going so I could figure out if I need to speed up or slow down.  During normal eating hours, she would ask me what I may want for a meal, and basically treat me like a prince for that day.  She's really the best.  She handled all that and directed the crew to help me in whatever way I needed help and that's part of what makes the race go smoothly!

The Course:

In Lebanon, TN, around Winfree Bryant Middle School, a small 0.50849 mile loop stood.  Though it started out flat, over the course of a few hours, a few hills do seem to pop up as the slight inclines become more noticeable as your body gets attuned to the race, as well as some of those speed bumps... but nevertheless, a simple course designed for high mileage.  Average temps are just crazy great!  45-65 which is good running weather for most people (I like the 65 side better, but eh, it's cool)

The Race:

Phase 1: the first 5 hours

As I needed to go at a faster pace than originally anticipated, I just needed to hang on a little more and needed a good distraction.  Running the first 3 hours without headphones and the last 2 hours with headphones really helped me out.  I figured out I had a bigger breakfast and therefore didn't need the crackers and even had a bathroom stop the first hour without losing too much time (which meant I was going about 20-40 sec/mile faster than planned) but I slowed down and was able to get to where I needed to be by the second half of the phase.  I was a little more tired, and so I think I needed more running during my tapering phase of my training so that my legs wouldn't get too stiff from not running.  Everyone was saying I was going too fast, and though I was going slightly too fast compared to my plan, I knew that it was vital that I find a good rhythm and keep it and so I continued.  I finished a little more than 36 miles.

Phase 2: the next 7 hours

Coming down from 7 miles an hour to 6.5 miles an hour was rather nice, because in my original plan, I would've been here a lot sooner.  The relief was good and I was able to keep a decently consistent pace, but by the time it was 9 hours into the race, I had built an extra 20 minute buffer that I needed to use, so I decided to use it the last 3 hours of phase 2.  Part of me thought that this would be a good break, but another part of me was thinking that in doing so, it could possibly accelerate the downward spiral, so I was at a crossroad... or perhaps the impasse.  I chose to go down to 6 miles an hour and still meet the original plan's goals, but by the eleventh hour, I felt that exhaustion creeping in.  The change of plans and my speed had caught up.  I had no care to placing up til then (I had learned that I was first for a long time, but knew Jon Olsen was going to go at his leisurely pace and overtake me, which he did during the latter half of Phase 2) but my legs were telling me that I had pushed myself and that small glimmer of hope in making the team slowly flickered out.  I'm not much of a gambling man, but given the odds of me making the team before was 0, I knew that taking the chance was a no-brainer.  However, it seemed like at this point, my body rejected the idea and I was out of tricks.  I believe I was at about 80 miles

Phase 3/4/Finish:

Unfortunately, after the heroic tale of the first 12 hours, my body was done in and the choice was now to walk to my 100 miler or to stop.  I talked with my crew and they suggested I continue on towards that 100 mile and take that 5 hours to finish... but even then, with their encouragement, my willpower depleted as I no longer had a true goal, I slowly faded.  Of course, by fading, I meant, I had a nice 30 minutes massage which to my crew was a hilarious show of me yelping, jerking, making other unreasonable noises, but it was fun.  I knew the odds were not in my favor (thanks Hunger Games) but I knew that in not attempting that, I would be cheating myself of that opportunity and I would regret that.  At 87 miles, I decided that it was time for me to drop and thus go home to a lovely 4 hour nap before going through the next day limping and hanging out with my awesome family and friends.


Did I run a good race?  Nah.  Do I regret running as I did?  Never.  Did I learn something?  Yes!  My training quality worked but my quantity needed more improvement.  As always, I'm happy to be with my running family and meet new people and make new friends.... it was an enjoyable occasion.  Thanks to Greg Armstrong for being an amazing host/director/dude/runner/friend.  The course was amazing.  Thanks to my sister Maika for captaining the crew, and all my other crew-mates, for helping her out and helping me tremendously.  There is no way I could do any of these races as good without you guys helping and dealing with me.  Thanks to SWORD for sending me an amazing care package and allowing me to use their products.  No stomach issues means high mileage!  Can't wait to show you guys off!

So much happened that day and I am happy to be able to share the road with some of the greatest athletes in the USA.  Good news is that I have 2 years to get ready for the next world championship... but I think I'll just take 6 months of training and take a stab at the USA National Title.  This race may be the end of a phase, but I'm already on the next phase and excited to see what happens now.

Side note:  Run4Water is a non-profit organization that serves to help the water crisis going on in the world by raising support and awareness through these running events.  Pretty cool organization.  You should check them out!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

24 Hours of HOSTELity

Dahlonega, GA - January 16-17 -  A .65 mile dirt loop trail with over a 100+ feet of elevation gain per loop with the main aid station at the Hiker Hostel.  The course seemed to be specifically designed to make even the sturdiest of hearts waver.  It wasn't just the elevation gain per loop, but the fact that with rolling hills and switchbacks, it made it hard to maintain a consistent speed.  In fact, nobody had yet seen anyone finish a 100 miles on this course!!

And here I was, aiming to be the first.


4 pairs of Asics Gel Lyte 33 3
Injinji socks with a generic sock covering it
Nike Compression Shorts
Adidas shorts
Long Sleeved Underarmour Compression Shirt
2 T-shirt
2 Long sleeved shirt
2 light jacket (generic)
Heavy jacket (generic)
Asics running gloves
OR PL 400 Sensor Mitts
Petzl NAO Headlamp
Garmin Forerunner 310 XT
KT tape
Ben Gay


Each lap would be .65 miles, so I figured that the best thing at first for me to do was to hydrate and eat every 2 laps until I noticed that I was dehydrated or something.  I would switch out with water and pedialyte and keep that until night time, when I would supplement coke in the mix and then I would add Red Bull before I became exhausted.  Every hour, I would take a swig of pickle juice, and eat PB&J cracker sandwiches every 30 minutes... but like all plans, things were bound to go crazy... after all, it was a 24 hour race, and ANYTHING can happen, so I reminded the crew that these were only guidelines.


I had the fortune of running the 12 hour race last year, and was mentally prepared for the course and how I would feel after the first half, so all I needed was to make sure to run in the 'designated areas' that I preordained (all downhills and most easy uphills while walking all the steep climbs).  In order to get down the extremely steep hill, it was important that I run extremely fast so that I don't tear up my quads by running too slowly and expend too much energy stopping myself, and on the uphills, I needed to pick and choose my battles because I wanted to finish the race with absolutely nothing left to give... and what would be the point if I can't run any more downhills but had more than enough energy to continue up?  It was all about a perfect balance and being able to adjust to whatever came my way.  (side note:  every 3 hours, I changed shoes...  my feet definitely needed the relief it provided).  The most important thing, however, was my state of mind.  My theme for this year is JOY and it was necessary that I implement that in my running... which is why I told my crew to randomly ask if I was enjoying the race and having fun.  Keep my mind in check.  Joy meant that I was focusing on my purpose, and without that purpose, I would not have the strength.  I was made to run, and I enjoy every moment, both good and bad, because running fulfills me.  Not only was it important for me to have that overflowing joy, but it was important that those around me also received the fruit and so every person I met on the trail, I made it a goal to encourage them.  Share the joy~

Find a place inside where there's joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.
-Joseph Campbell


Speaking of crews, I had 3 wonderful ladies come along with me to help support me during that race, and in all honesty, I could not have finished as well as I did without each of them helping me out every single lap I went through.  As a seasoned runner, I was a little too relaxed and didn't fully prepare them with what may come and they had to deal with me at my worst and continued to support me as I fought against the inner demons that held me down in the night.  Camille, Mekinna, and Claire (all my cross country runners from Johnson University) came to support me and experience the ultra community, and made sure that I was properly taken care of, both physically and psychologically.  They made sure to encourage me and relay messages from other people who knew I was running throughout the race to keep me going.

and without further ado, the Race Report!

First 6 Hours:

Arriving 10 minutes before the race started, everything was a blur, but what I do remember was that the starting temperature was a bit too low so I kept my light jacket on as I ran the first lap.  The first lap was a good warm up, getting myself ready for the race, and by the time I finished the first lap, I threw off my light jacket and continued on, leading the pack of crazy runners!  The second lap, I came through and threw off the long sleeved shirt, leaving me with just the underarmour and t-shirt, and continued on... but this time, at a little more conservative pace, and Sean passed by and started leading the pack.  I was slightly alarmed because he looked good and seemed like a great runner, but I came back to and focused on my race.  This wasn't about beating everybody.  It was all about giving everything I had in the 24 hours I would be on the course.  After the first hour and a half to two hours, I noticed that I wasn't sweating as much, and as that's a sign of dehydration, I decided right then and there that I would drink water every lap except on every 4th lap, where I would drink pedialyte.  Proper hydration is important no matter where you are in the race.  I also threw away the notion of eating every 30 minutes and instead, ate two crackers every other lap until I felt like I had enough in my belly for the time being.  For the first six hours, I was constantly worried about the downhill because it was really steep.  Every time I went down, I felt as if I was going to slip on the mud and fall, but fortunately, I was able to make it through without falling.  As an ultra-marathon required a lot of mental strength, it was important for me to focus on each segment while recognizing I'm running a full race, so for the first 2 hours, I focused on taking it easy.  I knew when to run and when to walk, so I was confident in what I could do, and took it little by little.  After 2 hours, I felt like I understood my fitness level and what I was capable of, and decided that I would kind of go for a 50 lap average in the first 6 hours, and then go from there.  At about 4 hours, I was still second with 32 laps, but told my crew I was feeling great and was going to little by little focus on catching up with Sean.  By the end of 6 hours, I had finished about 49 laps I think, and my mind was in a good place and I was enjoying the race and ready for the turnaround.

Second 6 Hours:

Every 6 hours, the course switches directions and I knew I enjoyed this direction so much more than the way we started because I would get to run most of the course as soon as I got to the highest point of the course and so focusing on catching up with Sean, little by little, I built speed.  Without focusing on the full 24 hours and focusing on smaller goals, a load was lifted off my mind and it became a really fun game.  I would find someone on the course ahead of me and look at my watch and see how many seconds behind them I was and see how long it took me to catch up to them (At 6pm, I added coke to the drink mix and started wearing the headlamp and kept on going).    With all the switchbacks, I was able to play this 'game' and continue running around and making up ground until at some point I caught up to Sean and before I knew it, I was headed towards breaking my 12 hour course record for the 12 hour race!  Enjoying the moment I was in, I was able to relax and run well and continue at a decent pace and was WAY ahead of schedule to break a 100 miles!!  In fact, at that point, I changed my goal from running a 100 miles to getting 160 laps in, which would put me at 104 miles, which would be a pretty awesome goal, and with 80 laps in by about 10 hours into the race (considering the difficulty of the course), I knew I might be able to make it to that point.  After beating my 12 hour course record with 30 minutes left, and so I felt that I could get to 94 with no problem.... however, that all changed on my 95th lap when one of the 12 hour runners wanted to make it another lap after the cut off.  At the pace he was going, he probably wouldn't have been able to make it and I really wanted him to succeed, so I told him to follow me and pushed the pace and trucked it all the way to the end, finishing with about 15 seconds remaining.

Third 6 Hours:

After having such a great run and making a PB for the HOSTELity's 12 hour course, I had no immediate goals and so things started to fall apart.  The headlamp I put on at about 6pm begin to go out at about 10pm because I accidentally put it on the wrong setting, and fortunately, Vikena lent me her headlamp, and I continued on... but not feeling good.  My crew told me I was walking like I was dizzy and tired and so close to 11pm, I asked for my iPhone and Mekinna walked a third of a lap with me as I got the music ready.  I was progressively feeling worse, not sure if I didn't have enough caffeine in me or not, but either way, things weren't going right, and at a little after midnight, I felt completely wiped out that I stopped and changed my clothes, hoping that it would make me feel better.  It did feel better, as the clothes I had on were sweaty and gross, but still not enough to get me out of the funk, and then after that, Vikena's headlamp also ran out in the next lap, but fortunately, Claire had her headlamp that her dad bought for her (Thanks so much!!) and it provided light for me for the rest of the race!  My crew knew that I was going through a tough time, but they kept on encouraging me and did their best to bring me out, so it was definitely the toughest part of the race.

Final 6 Hours:

At this point, my watch was running out of batteries and I needed my watch just to keep track of time so I could keep a decent pace... but with everything moved around, the watch was lost and I wasn't able to tell how fast I was going!  Mentally it was devastating, and I didn't know what to do... except to go on, because I knew that no matter how I felt, I needed to press on, so running without knowing how fast I was going, I kept trucking.  I meant to take a look at the time after every lap, but most of the time, kept on forgetting to do that, or blankly stare at the clock because I wasn't computing what it was saying.  Also, for the first time, I experienced hallucinations of my crew running around in the woods.  I knew they weren't, but man, I must have been so tired to even think that.  By then, both quads were in pain from the downhill running that I could barely keep a good pace and I did my best to push through because every lap was getting me closer to 100 miles, which was 154 laps.  Sean looked so much better towards the end of the race and encouraged me to keep on trucking and so I ran with him for a lap right at around 6am, til I had to switch shoes for the last time... it was such a relief to switch shoes again and get back out there, but my quads were getting worse and worse, and for some reason, I kept calling them Chris (who names their quads Chris?) and thinking about why I was thinking about it kept me distracted long enough to continue shuffling forward, running each lap somewhere between 10-15 minutes (compared to the sub 7's I would crank out at the beginning of the race.... haha) and though at first, I thought I may just be able to get to 100 miles before the 24 hours were up, every lap, I forced myself to focus on THAT lap and do my best and continued to surprise myself on what speed I was getting it in, and finished 100 miles in 22:10!!  It was a glorious feeling as nobody had run that far in 24 hours, so for a moment, I forgot about the pain as I received the first 100 mile buckle HOSTELity has seen and then I continued on towards my personal goal of 160 laps... 4 more miles.  Continuing to shuffle run for 3 laps, I needed 3 more laps to finish, but my legs were shot.  By then, the sun had come up and I was feeling a bit better (I didn't think so, but my crew said so, so I believe them) and so I asked if my wonderful crew would like to view the course with me and walk the last 3 together as a team.  They were more than happy to do that and so we chatted the last hour of the race, talking about how everything went and how Chris was in pain, they climbed the hill with me, understanding how hard it was for me to do that the other 150+ times, and continued talking about what we all went through in the race.
It was really a great bonding time, and even though I felt like a jerk during the race, always wanting drinks, foods, etc, they were so helpful and told me it wasn't as bad as I thought and that was when I was absolutely grateful to have these 3 come and support me during this run.  I was able to muster up all the strength I could gather, finished the 3 laps with my amazing crew, and finished 104 miles at the 24 Hours of HOSTELity.  As I crossed the finish line, I raised my hands in victory because it truly was a brutal course, and with the help of everyone there, I conquered it.


First of all, I could not have finished the race as well as I did without an amazing crew.  They kept on pushing me, despite how I felt, and I firmly believe that had they not been there, I wouldn't have been able to get 100 miles in during the race!  But because they were there, reminding me to enjoy the run, and understand that the pain I was going through was only temporary.  They continued to believe in me when I was feeling low, encouraging me in whatever way they could, dealing with 'grumpy Sho' and all with a smile on their faces.  Never for a second did they doubt I could do this, and I am positive that that energy passed on to me throughout the run.  Secondly, I couldn't have gotten through this race without the Race Directors, both Josh and Leigh Saint were very supportive and wanted me to succeed.  They made sure everything was prepared right, marking trails, food and drinks, everything was amazing!  There were also people like Philip, Vikena, and many other encouraging runners that really encouraged me throughout the race and really, everyone there was part of the puzzle piece to success.  It's great to have a family of runners supporting each other to do their best and that's what this race had.

Records are meant to be broken, and I'm sure someone out there will come down and break this record eventually, but the victory and strength I gained through this race was immeasurable.  Being the first race of 2016, it was a fantastic start, and I know I'm on the right track towards my ultimate goal.  Team USA for the 24 Hour World Championships... but hey, I'm totally going to enjoy every step of the way!

Focus on the journey, not the destination.  Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.
-Greg Anderson

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Power of Discernment

Our imagination is sometimes our greatest blessing, and yet it can also be a curse.  The ability to see the possibilities of the future allows us to change how we act today, but we have a hard time harnessing the power to do so.  At times, the immediate future has a greater impact on what we do right now that we fail to look at life in the distant future.  The present has the most impact on what happens, and the near future is becomes the present so rapidly that because of instant gratification, we 'lose' ourselves and make decisions that affect us in the long run.

In the end, we only do what we want, and our choices will impact both our immediate and distant future, yet our problem lies not in understanding what they will cause, but how important it is to us.  Is it important for us to prioritize what is significant or not, whether our current situation is more important than the future beyond today, and our ability to discern becomes valuable.

For example, should we be dehydrated and the only drink available is a bottle of Mt. Dew, it would be illogical for us to not drink that because the drink isn't healthy and will affect my future running negatively because we are in need of something to replenish our reserves right now.  At the same time, if we were given the choice to drink water or coke and we decide to choose coke, yet we claim to be training hard towards becoming a healthy individual, it may taste good, but it takes us a step back from our goal.

Or perhaps our problem is with our social life.  Helping someone may mean you take a step back from their life because in continuing to help, you do them a disservice, stunting their growth.  It may mean pain, but through that pain, growth can occur... while at a totally different moment, helping someone may mean doing everything you can for them and serving them to raise them up because that is what is needed now.

You see, without discernment, we cannot make the best decisions and will not be able to help those that need help... or help ourselves perhaps because we are imbalanced.  At times, we will be too distant focused that we forget about the things we can do now to help the situation right now.... yet at another time, we will be too focused on our here and now that we end up making the wrong decisions for the future.

What we do right now will impact our future, both near and far, but it shouldn't affect who we are.  Should we remain focused on who we are, our identity guides us to make the correct decisions.  Our knowledge and understanding of the situation should give us discernment... and when we live beyond ourselves and understand the bigger picture of life... we can truly live.

So run to finish what you've started.  If the immediate future will impact your finish, make sure you make decisions that are wise that can change that future, but also keep in mind that the distant future is also important too, so that as you continue the race of life, you can finish what you started and live life to its fullest.

“Let discernment be your trustee, and mistakes your teacher.” 
- T. F. Hodge