Bora Bora....

Running the Coast Line in Bora Bora....

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Plain 100 Race Results....100k completed, not 100 Miles...

The Cascade Mountains

It's been quite some time since my last blog. I attempted the Plain 100 in The Cascade Mountains of Washington State.  The race was about 5 weeks after the Leadville 100 trail run.  I felt pretty good going into the race.  Arriving at 10PM the evening before to register was probably not the best way to prepare the day before such a race.

Race HQ - Night before start
Hmmm...which way?
This race I would characterize as an Ultra's "ultra" race course.  It's deceivingly difficult.   When you look at the course profile there are really no knock out punches like you have at Leadville or UTMB.  There is one major climb in the first 63 mile lollipop loop, however, it's not very steep, relatively speaking.  The layout of the course and trail surfaces are what slowly delivers continuous body blows.   You don't realize that it's happening during the first 10-20 miles.  However, when you reach the 30-40 mile stretch it dawns on you that the long descents and narrow concave trails are mercilessly punishing the legs.  By the time you reach around 50 miles you realize that this course was designed to break you down. 

Beautiful views....
Mountain Lakes...
At mile 50ish there was a long and very rocky descent.  I struggled to run as my quads were just simply shot.  I'm not sure if I had not recovered fully from Leadville or it was the trail design or probably the combination of both that left my legs unable to run the descents...even with my trekking poles.  

By mile 60 it was around midnight and I was deep in the Cascade mts, not having seen another one of the 27 runners for many many hours.  It was nearly a full moon and I thought that I was lost as by mile 60 I was suppose to have reached the end of the first lollipop loop where I had my drop bags.  The weather was perfect and the evening air temps were in the low 60's.  

Post race reboot of when garmin died
Nice trail...a minority
My Garmin watch was out of juice at mile 60 so I decided to sit down on the single track and lean up against the side of the mt with my legs outstretched across the trail.  I turned off my headlamp and moon came out from behind the clouds and lit up the sky.  Somewhere down below me I could hear the river roaring and I fell asleep.  It must've been 10 minutes before I awoke to the feeling that I wasn't alone.  My initial fear was that there was a mt lion somewhere in the darkness that had been tracking me as I walked the trails in the dark.  Big cats always feed around the cycle of a full moon.  To add to my paranoia the mountain area that I was in was nicknamed Cougar Pass, not good.   With my headlamp off and consciously not moving my head I  clicked my eyeballs to the left and right trying to survey the area without making any movements whatsoever.  To my right at about 30 paces was a very shiny black coat that I instantly recognized.   It was a black bear on the single track trail...not good.   

It's very interesting how you can go from being completely exhausted and passing out on the side of a mt trail with a heart rate of about 47BPM to 180BPM in the matter of about 2 seconds.  I slowly reached over and grabbed my trekking poles and clicked them together a fee times to let the bear know that I was there as I slowly stood up.  This big old black bear spun his big old fat ass around and scampered down the trail away from me.  Catastrophe averted!  

Now that I was fully awake I couldn't recall what direction that I was going in or had come from.  I flipped back on the headlamp and got down on all fours and crawled down the trail looking for foot prints.  I could see from the prints in the dirt trail that I had come from the direction in which the bear wasn't going. Yes, so this meant that I had to go in the same direction as the bear had gone.  At about this same time I saw a a headlamp coming through the woods so i bravely decided to wait.  It was a fellow ultra runner that was having a tough go as well.   We walked the trail for the next hour or so and then two more runners caught up with us.  They informed us that we were at mile 62 and only had about 1 mile to go before reaching and completing the first loop.   We were calculation that we would be arriving at mile 63 around 1-1:30AM. The race had begun at 6AM so we'd been going for about 21 hours by now.   I tried really hard to run the last mile which was a soft descent without much luck.  I had mentally thrown in the towel.  My plan was to get to mile 70, because from there it's mostly downhill to the finish at mile 107.  The problem was that I was physically unable to run the descents.  

Drop site the next am when I woke
up in my car after a few hours of sleep

At the drop bag site there was volunteers that were making the best damn grilled cheese sandwiches on the planet.  I sat down with 5 other runners, 2 of which had called it quits.  The volunteers urged me to rest up for 15 minutes and joking the 3 other runners that were going to head out on the second lollipop loop around 1:30AM. From my quick math I had computed that there was no way in hell that I could complete the remaining 44 miles before the cutoff.  I would easily make the next cutoff and potentially the following one but there was no way I could reach the 6PM cutoff on Sunday.  I had already badly punished my body and decided to live to fight another day.  

I chuckled at the 63 mile checkpoint knowing that the race organizers knew what this course does to ultra runners.  It's a very sneaky hard course.  By mid Sunday afternoon I was back in Seattle sitting at a restaurant overlooking the bay gulping down clam chowder and devouring oysters and salmon.  The rain had moved in and it confirmed my decision to drop.  By the second glass of wine I was pissed about dropping and getting beat by this course.  I made a vow that I'd be back next year to tackle this course.  I'll have the benefit of running the first loop and will prepare/train accordingly.  
Nice runners on the trail...he dnf'd
she finished!
Legs beat up....
I believe that there was 10 people that finished the Plain 100 this year, which is actually a high finishing rate, most likely due to the great weather for most of the race.  

Lots of good learnings from the race, most of which time has allowed me to forget until I am deep into my next 100 mile adventure....which is the Javelina 100 on 10/26 in the deserts outside of Phoenix, AZ.  

Living to fight another day.......selfie


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