Sunday, September 24, 2006

Another 50k...done!

Wow, Mt. Diablo is difficult!! That's one hard course! I overheard someone say that it is one of the most difficult 50k's in the area. I believe them! It is up, up, up to the top of Mt. Diablo (~3,890 ft) and then down back to the bottom. And then repeat!! After two loops, there is a total of 17,800 feet of elevation change. I think the hard part about it is that you just go up, non-stop. And then straight down, non-stop! Crazy!
I met some really cool people along the way (of course!) I ran into (not literally) Paula, someone I ran Mike Palmer's with. On the way up the first time, I started to talk to Ray. Come to find out, he's read my blog before. Hi Ray! I thought that was really cool. I hope we can do some long runs in the coming weekends. It can be hard to find someone willing to go run 20 miles on trails early Saturday morning. Ray kept telling me to go ahead, to not let him hold me back. Actually, I think I was using him to help keep me moving forward!
"They" said it would take about 1 hour to go up to the first aid station, about 5 miles in. I figured they were crazy, who would need an hour to get there...well I guess I needed about an hour and 20 minutes! That was a hard climb! I thought they should re-name it to Mt. Diablo Trail Climb instead of run!
The aid station was a welcomed sight. I quickly got my bottles filled, grabbed a couple of potatoes and off I went. It was 2.5 miles to the top and 2.5 miles back to the aid station.
This was also the first time in the run that it wasn't uphill. It was actually going downhill for a bit...hey wait! We are going UP to the summit, right? That's right! We had some nice steep uphill climbs before getting to the very top of the summit. What a great view!
As I climbed the last bit of stairs, I reach of the wall and shouted, "One!" And turned around. While many of the people around me had reached their halfway mark, I had only gone 1/4th of the way!
Going down was pretty easy. I slowed myself down, knowing that it was going to be a long ways down and I still had to do this all over again!
The aid station came and I took a seat while they filled my water bottle up. Someone I had met on the way up shouted my name as he went he left the station, and the guy at the station, Jim, asked me if my name was Brad Niess. I must have looked a little shocked and said yes I was. (He certainly would not have known me for my running feats or my many non-wins!) I had responded to a question I posted on a running forum. This may sound weird (especially since I really didn't know him), but knowing that someone knew who I was out there really helped. There were a few times were I wanted to quit but thought, I had to get to the aid station, I didn't want to disappoint Jim or Ray or Paula, or anyone else that gave me words of encouragement.
As I came out of the aid station, back to the start/finish line (or halfway point!) I started running with another runner (and I can't remember his name...but he'll be at DC Firetrails in two weeks!) We talked about running and cruised into the start/finish line. We also ran into a guy that was NOT carrying a water bottle and you could see that he was struggling. We both offered some of our water, which he took. I couldn't believe that there would be people out the without water bottles! It got really hot and that was one tough course!
As I started to load up on food and water, Paula showed up. She was looking great, hard to tell she just ran 25k! We started chatting and took off back up the mountain together. She's also originally from Iowa, so we talked about that, family...and then slowly I was feeling what I was hoping I wouldn't feel...I went out a little too fast and I was feeling tired! I waved to her good luck and that I would see her when she was coming down the mountain.
This is where it got hard. Going up and up and up in the hot sun with limited shade. This is where I had to fight my negative thoughts from winning. I told myself no matter how slow I go, I must always be putting one foot in front of the stopping! I got out of the single track and onto the fire road, which is level for about 100 yards and then drops really fast and then a long climb back up to the aid station. Again, on my way through, I noticed a guy "walking" with no water bottle. He asked if he could drink some of my water (when someone looks close to a walking zombie, it's hard to tell them no!) Of course I handed over my water bottle. Well, he wasn't as considerate as the last guy. He took a huge drink and half of it didn't make it in his mouth.
Oh crap. Oh crap. I still had a good 1.5 to 2 miles to go before the aid station...and a HUGE hill! I started thinking about how it should be mandatory for everyone to carry a bottle, how it was sooo stupid for these guys to come out here thinking they didn't need a bottle....and some other things that aren't very nice. I needed to do something or else I would be the one that would be in trouble. I slowed down. That was the only thing I could think of. Keep my heart rate low, linger in the shade, faster through the sun and think of how cool I was getting when I breeze came through. Luckily for me two women were coming down the big hill and asked me if everything was ok. I told them I gave my water to someone else that really needed it, but realized that I really needed water. She was VERY kind and poured some into my water bottle. I think that is what got me to the top of that hill. Thank you! Thank you!
Once I got to the aid station, I got my bottles filled once again, took a few cups of coke, potatoes, took some rocks out of my shoes and lingered...and lingered...and lingered. I really didn't want to get back up.
But, I was too close to not go all the way. I was back out to get to the top of the mountain. At one point, there was something that was in my sock that didn't come out at the aid station. It was becoming pretty bad so I stopped, took off my shoe and sock to get a little pebble out. I looked down at my toes and noticed a hunk of skin hanging off. Not giving it a second thought, I ripped off the dangling skin, put my sock and shoe back on and went on my way. Now, those that know me and how squirmish I am about that sort of stuff, I didn't even flinch. I just went along my way.
Got to the the top, slapped the wall with my hand and said two. I got a weird look from the couple that was also there.
It was pretty hot by this time and I filled my water bottle up at the drinking fountain at the top and made my way down for the second and final time. I was trying to figure out what place I was in, I had seen about 6 or 7 people as I was going up to the top. On my way down I didn't see many people...maybe only 4. I thought I must be near the end of the pack, because there were 21 pre-registered and about 5 race-day registered.
As I was nearing the aid station, I saw a guy laying in the shadow, not looking to good. I asked him if he was ok, he said yes, so I continued on my way. Enter the aid station for the last time. I really spent way to much time at this aid station. This is something that I need to get in and out of for my next run. I really didn't want to leave. But, alas I must get down off this mountain!
I took off and about 50 yards from the aid station, the guy I had been trying to catch up to was leaving everything he had just ate at the side of the trail. I asked him if he was ok, he gave me a thumbs up and then continued to get rid of whatever was left in his stomach. Boy, it was a hard day out there!
As I continued down, I started to do some math in my head to see what sort of finish time I would have. I initally thought 7 hours would be a good "easy" 50k time. My other 50k time was 5:47, so I thought an extra hour or so would make it an easy run. After hearing that someone was going to add a hour to their regular 50k time because this course was so hard made me start to rethink my goal time. 7:30:00 seemed maybe a little optimistic, but worth a shot. I cruised down the hill with almost no problem, except for this other guy who was coming up the hill and was totally white. Looked like a ghost. Rule #1...hydrate, hydrate, hydrate and always carry a water bottle!
I had a nice strong finish. Sarah (one of the race directors) asked me if I wanted anything, she grabbed me a coke and I grabbed me a seat! I had two great bowls of chilli and called it a day.
My legs are pretty sore today. (Though not as sore as after ANY of the marathons I have done!) I've been looking at the Dick Collin's Firetrails 50 mile website. Before I do anything else, I need to get me a pair of trail running shoes. I've retired yet another pair of shoes with this run!
50k number two complete and in the history books!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Still Running?

Oh yes! I'm still running. I've been very busy and haven't had much time to post to my Blog!

Tomorrow is a challenging 50k on Mt. Diablo. I've been doing a "wait and see" approach to make sure that my body feels like it can handle it. I think it can. If it gets to be too much, I can always finish at 25k.

I've been stewing over something for a couple of weeks now....Running across Iowa. Just in the idea stage at the moment. More to come soon!

Pictures from backpacking

This is me on a huge rock/boulder field on the way up to Banner Peak. We crossed the snow field near the top, got back onto the rock near the low point of the saddle. At this point, the rock turned into a cliff and I thought I was close enough and needed to get down.

This is me on the last day, getting ready to "make water" at Garnet Lake. Mt. Ritter is in the background.

This is of Banner Peak from our campsite. Nice way to wake up in the morning!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

12 miles...whatever...

It's funny how 12 miles doesn't seem like much of a big deal anymore. Today, since eastbound Bay Bridge was closed down this entire weekend, I decided to stay on this side of the bay to run my long run. Scheduled for a 7 mile run. Johan dropped me off at Bay Farm Island (aka Harbor Bay, if you have money...aka Alameda). Did a nice 6 mile run with my EastBay Frontrunners group and then off to brunch. Afterwards, I thought that I didn't get enough running in, so I took off from Alameda, went over the Park St. bridge, over to Jack London Square, through city center and downtown and then back past the lake and up the hill at Adam's Point. Just shy of another 6 miles. Felt good to get that running in.
The past two weeks I've only averaged 26 miles a week. After had run that much in one day (every other week for the past 5 weeks), I feel sluggish. I've noticed a huge shift in my body composition...Fatty McFatster above the waist and Mr. Runner's legs below. I've been eating the same every week, but my miles have drastically changed, depending on the week. It may be time to work in that gym time again! That will have to be after the backpacking trip!
That's right, Johan and I leave for the Eastern Sierras for a 4 day backpacking trip into the Inyo National Forest. We have pretty much everything we need (that's if UPS delivers everything on time!) A little nervous about having enough room to pack all of our food into the bear canisters (and waiting to get the bear canisters at the wilderness permit office is making me a little nervous too!) Should be a lot of fun though. I don't think we'll be covering many miles. If it were up to me, I would follow in Catra's footsteps (well, not all of them, but I would like to cover about 100-150 miles). We'll probably cover a total of 26 miles...tops. We'll be at 9k - 10,000 feet, so altitude may slow me down. I just have to keep in mind that this isn't a distance trip, it's just a time to get away and spend time with Johan.

A little AIDS Marathon fundraising update:
$1,085 of $3,800 raised.
Feeling a little (or a lot!) generous, donate! :)