Friday, September 4, 2015

Terrariums and Fossils

It is difficult to pinpoint when my love of the mountains and being outdoors began but I was reminded of one time in particular on a recent run with my friend Christie.  As with many long runs in the mountains conversation end up all over the place at some point she was talking about a terrarium which brought me back to when I was a kid.

For those of you not lucky enough to be an 80's kid they were essentially a glass box that you put plants, dirt and rocks in.  We had two hexagon versions (similar to the picture) that were at both ends of the couch in the front room and were used like side tables with a lamp on them.  Each week one of the chores in the house was to dust them and carefully remove the top for watering.  I don't recall when they were finally removed but in the bottom of one of them was a very special piece of shale.

In the summer of 1982 our family went to Great Basin National Park in eastern Nevada.  We were there for the annual Anderson family reunion.  While we were there we had fun camping and exploring Lehman Caves.  One day during our stay my mom decided she had had enough of staying in camp and watching kids.  She told my dad she was going out for a hike and on her way out I asked if I could come.  I don't recall the exact conversation but as a parent of 4 children myself I imagine it went something like this....

I am not sure you understand what 'Mom' time is, Ryan.  It is where Mom's leave and spend time alone to relax and get away from kids.  

I was relentless and wanted to go though.  She ended up telling me I could come but she wasn't going to put up with any complaining or whining.  Check, let's go!

I don't recall what we talked about or what the trail was really like but I do remember how much fun I had spending time with my mom.  Since it was just the two of us it made me feel special that I got to go and I wasn't going to ruin it by being a whiner.  I was 8 and don't recall that I was a big whiner anyway but she would the definitive source on facts like that.  While we were out we found this piece of shale that had a small plant fossilized in it.  It was quite a find and we had fun showing it to everyone when we got back.  This piece of shale was placed in the terrarium in our house when we returned it was a weekly reminder for me of the fun time we had for years.

Me and Dad
During our trip, there was a group of us that climbed Wheeler Peak which is near the campground where we stayed.  There were two kids that made it to the top that day.  I was 8 and my cousin Pam was 9.  It was a gorgeous hike and the view from the top was amazing.  It was the end of July and there was still snow all around.  While I was looking up information on Great Basin National Park and Wheeler Peak I realized that it is the highest point in the surrounding 180,000 square miles at 13,063 feet. Not bad for an 8 year old!

When I topped out at 11,000 feet at Speedgoat in 2012 I thought that was the highest I had ever been in the mountains.  Going into the race I wasn't sure how my body would react.  I felt great afterwards and came to the conclusion that some people are ok with high altitude and some aren't for whatever reason.  I have lived in Boise most of my life at about 2,700 feet so 13,000 was a big jump that day.

Top of the world that day

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Pocatello 2 - Ryan 0 Chasing the Cutoffs at the Scout Mtn Ultra Trail 100k

Sunrise on the first climb up Corral Creek
Fun times in the mountains outside of Pocatello, Idaho on Saturday.  I had been sick all week and wasn't sure what to expect.  I thought I was doing a good job of pacing and keeping my effort level under control in the first third while I cruised along with my friend Lyndon who was doing his very first ultra.  When I got to the mile 26 aid station I figured I was about middle of the pack.  I sat down to organize my pack and heard one of the volunteers say there were only 8 more runners after me.

Ridge running before dropping into Gibson Jack
My comfortable pace had me nearly at the end and then to make matters worse on the next big climb I just had zero gas. I was fueling and hydrating fine but the effects of getting over a cold left me feeling really blah.  I didn't put it together at the time but I had also kicked a few rocks and roots on the way down to the City Creek aid station that must have pulled a muscle in my stomach when I tried to keep myself from hitting the ground.  Whatever happened, the result was pain in my abdomen that made downhill running almost non-existent.  

The Wall, The Gut, or The Barkley section in City Creek
I essentially walked all of the easy sweet downhill from Kinport Peak to the Midnight Creek aid station and from there to the West Fork aid station. I was really frustrated because this is where you need to be making good time.  People were passing me so I knew I was getting closer and closer to last place with 25+ miles to go that includes a 10 mile uphill stretch.  I resigned myself to the fact that I would surely get cut at the West Fork aid station since I was moving so slow and because I didn't have a headlamp at the right aid station.  The races rules said anyone leaving Scout Mountain aid station (mile 46) after 5pm had to have a headlamp.  Before the race I put my headlamp in my Big Fir aid station (mile 56) drop bag.  Miraculously I got to West Fork aid station (mile 41) at 4:50 just ten minutes before the cutoff.

At West Fork I asked the volunteers if I was in last place and they said I wasn't which was a relief because for the past hour I was sure they were all waiting for me and I had been planning to drop out of the race.  With 10 minutes to spare they were all pumped to get me refueled and back out on the trail which was kind of perplexing since I hadn't planned to continue.  Once I made up my mind to continue the aid station captain told me I had to stay for a few minutes.  I stood up and put my pack on and asked why?  She said I was not making sense and stumbling on my words (totally true).  I explained the reason I wasn't making sense is because I was originally going to quit and then was trying to shift gears and wrap my head around continuing!

Several miles before West Fork aid station
I asked anyone if they had a headlamp I could borrow and no one did so I was just going to go to the next aid station and ask them.  If they did...I would continue.  If not...I would be done.  It was my fault and I didn’t have time to stand there complaining.  I just didn't want to give up on myself if there was still a chance.  Just then Luke Nelson, the RD, came up and asked how I was feeling.  I said I was doing OK and needed a headlamp.  He asked the same group of people for a headlamp and someone gave him one which was funny.  I was already on the trail so he said he would go back and get it and run it up to me.  It was also funny to see him riding a single speed beach cruiser looking bike up the trail to meet me.

The six miles before West Fork I struggled to maintain an average of 24 minute miles that had an average downhill of 220 feet per mile and I knew that wouldn't cut it so I tried running uphill when I left the aid station.  There was less jarring on my stomach and I ended up running about half of the
10 mile uphill.  In the 5 miles to the Scout Mountain aid station and I cut my mile pace from 24 to 17 and went from 220 feet per mile of descent to 360 feet per mile of gain.  It made no sense but I was determined to do what I could to make sure I made it to the end.
Once I popped out of the trees and onto the exposed road up to the top of Scout Mountain I had cell coverage.  Michelle and I exchanged a number of text messages and she cheered me on which was much appreciated.  I ended up doing about 40 miles of the race solo so it was nice to have a little ‘company’ while I hiked.  (Power hiking through rocks and texting is not advised)  I had to put the phone away once I crested the top though because the downhill off of Scout Mountain is insanely steep for a short bit but then turns into the nicest switchback trail leading into Big Fir aid station.  I wasn’t lighting the trail on fire with my downhill speed but was surprised and happy with being able to uphold a respectable pace while dodging the many ankle biter rocks that seemed to always be rolling under my feet. 

Looking south from the backside of Scout Mountain
Surprisingly, I was making good enough time that I didn’t need the borrowed headlamp until right before Big Fir.  It was a PrincetonTec (POS model I believe) and it was almost bright enough to see my hand 3 feet in front of my forehead.  I was grateful that a total stranger loaned it to me and thankful the sunset gave me just enough help that I didn’t need it.  As I was rolling into the final aid station I was pretty sure I was in last place now since I left West Fork with two minutes to spare and no other runners came in while I was there.  The volunteers confirmed that I was.  They still had hot perogies and baby potatoes sautéed in butter which was amazing.  I finished them off with one of Karl Meltzer’s Red Bulls and headed out.  As I was leaving I asked Karl if this kind of performance would get me through Speedgoat 50k in a month and he assured me that I would be fine.  Sometimes it just isn’t your day.

I had two hours and thirty minutes to run just over 6 miles so barring a complete meltdown I thought I should be able to get it done.  The finish line had a midnight cutoff so I couldn't just slog in.  The sweepers were planning on leaving right behind me to clear course markings so my goal was to stay ahead of them as long as I could and once they caught me to enjoy some much appreciated company.   I don’t know how soon they left after I did but I managed to stay ahead for a few miles.  We hiked the trail up the Nordic center together chatting away which helped pass the time and quickly reached the final descent toward the finish line.  After a short single track and dirt road section we reached the highway for the final quarter mile of pavement and cruised into the finish at a fairly decent pace.  I had about 30 minutes to spare on the final cutoff I think.  I am not exactly certain of my finish time.  Luke was there to greet me as I crossed which was nice.  He presented me my finisher award and the caboose (or DFL) prize which was a cool Patagonia Houdini jacket.

Gorgeous bookend to the wonderful day
My first ultra was the Pocatello 50+ miler in 2011 and I had my worst day ever.  I have had lots of great races since then thanks to the many lessons I learned that day.  This day was worse…but I just couldn’t quit on myself.   I love setting and achieving hard race goals but the feeling at the finish is so much sweeter when I have had to overcome some sort of obstacle and push myself to the end. 

Big thanks to Luke Nelson and his crew for putting on an amazing and tough race that will not disappoint.  The trail marking was perfect even for slow guys in the dark!  All of the aid station volunteers were wonderful and helped push me on when I didn’t know if I wanted to continue.  I’ll be back and hopefully won’t have any more lessons to learn next time.

Friday, April 10, 2015

How To Get There From Here...

How To Get There From Here...The Ten Lessons That Have Served Me Well

By Coleman H. Peterson

The previous exerpt is from page 12.  I found the abstract online and need to get a copy of it to read the whole thing but I love the message.  It follows the the sentiment of my blog title.  When people have asked me what was that ONE THING that finally clicked that made me successful I often say, when you want to change more than you want to stay the same you can do anything.
I wanted to change my ways for years...but not enough to do anything about it.  I think everyone has been in this situation before.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

21 Golden Rules

Some neat things to remember:

1. No one can ruin your day without YOUR permission.
2. Most people will be about as happy, as they decide to be.
3. Others can stop you temporarily, but only you can do it permanently.
4. Whatever you are willing to put up with is exactly what you will have.
5. Success stops when you do.
6. When your ship comes in.... make sure you are willing to unload it.
7. You will never "have it all together."
8. Life is a journey...not a destination. Enjoy the trip!
9. The biggest lie on the planet: "When I get what I want I will be happy."
10. The best way to escape your problem is to solve it.
11. I've learned that ultimately, 'takers' lose and 'givers' win.
12. Life's precious moments don't have value, unless they are shared.
13. If you don't start, it's certain you won't arrive.
14. We often fear the thing we want the most.
15. He or she who laughs......lasts.
16. Yesterday was the deadline for all complaints.
17. Look for opportunities...not guarantees.
18. Life is what's coming....not what was.
19. Success is getting up one more time.
20. Now is the most interesting time of all.
21. When things go wrong.....don't go with them.

~Author Unknown~

Make it a great day! Ryan

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Wasatch Lottery Run

I threw my name in the hat again for the Wasatch Front 100 lottery.  I did Wasatch in 2012 and have learned A LOT since then.  My hopes were that if I was able to get in I could correct all the things that went bad for me that day.  I was still a relative newbie when I ran it last.  It was my third hundred miler and maybe 10th ultra but I had only been doing ultras for 15 months.

Whenever I put my name in lottery drawings I go for a long run the day of the lottery.  It's fun to find out if you made it but why waste a whole morning when you could be out running.  The Western States and Hardrock lottery always falls on the Ryan Anderson Invitational Marathon so that it easy.  I didn't put in for States this year but I did for Hardrock.  Not surprisingly, my 0.whatever percent chance didn't land me a spot so I'll keep trying.

There were 4 of us from Boise who put in for the Wasatch lottery Heather Culig, Cory Harelson, Derek Call and me.  Heather, Cory, and I met up for a run Saturday morning with no real agenda other than 20+ miles and as much trail as possible.  The forecast was saying more than a half an inch of rain was supposed to fall Friday night so we didn't have high hopes that we would see much trail.  As it turned out the rain missed us and we got to do a majority of the distance on the trails.

Cory got this great shot.  The clouds look ominous but it didn't last long.
We ran into Dave and several other friends in Rocky Canyon and headed up Three Bears to Watchman.  The sunrise was amazing and well worth the early start.  The temps were in the 50s at the start so I just wore short and a short sleeve shirt which is insane for Idaho in February.

Heather went up 5 Mile with Dave and Cory and I went down Orchard.  Once we hit Rocky Canyon Cory and I decided it would be best to go up the Ridge Road and come down 5 Mile.  The lottery started about the time we hit Aldape Summit and I quickly got a text from my friend Scott in Utah who was keeping his ears open for all the Idaho guys.  Just after that Heather calls and told me I was in and she was too!  She was the 2nd name drawn, crazy.  We motored along Ridge Road and down 5 Mile and got another text that Derek was in.

Guess who's going to Wasatch? This guy!
It was fun getting the play by play while out pounding out some hills.  When we hit the bottom of 5 Mile I was running and texting (not advised...even on flat ground)...and got another one from Heather that said something about Cory.  I yelled at him to check his phone and the message was, Cory has a 59% chance at this point.  Ugh, we were hoping it was to say he was in.  We went all the way down 5 Mile and Rocky Canyon all the way to our cars with no more texts.  I figured the lottery must be over by then so I asked Cory if he didn't get in if he would like to come and pace me.  He said yes, but I could tell he was a bit bummed.

We parted ways and just a few minutes later on the drive home Heather sends another one saying Cory was the 4th from the last name drawn! Woohoo.  I replied and said dammit there goes my pacer, sarcastically.  He said, you wouldn't believe how stoked I am right now!  I said I could believe because he was stoked just to hear we all made it.

It was a fun day out running and winning the lottery!


Saturday, January 10, 2015

Dailymile 2014 Year End Report

Another year gone and lots of miles in the bank.  My spring training for the Buffalo Run 100 in March and Western States 100 in June took a lot out of me.  After States I felt generally awful, lost motivation, and somehow was able to keep running some decent miles the rest of the year.  I had my first DNF at IMTUF in September which was disappointing but had no regrets.  I ran my 4th Foothills Frenzy in October and had my slowest time.  I knew I would, the way I was feeling, so I dressed up all goofy and just had a good time.  In November I went to Javelina to support Michelle and got in some good miles with her and several friends who were there.

I am feeling good and ready to take on the new year.  This year's plan is to get fast this spring and then add some big mountains so I can kick ass at Speedgoat 50k again and Wasatch 100 (like I didn't last time)!

Last Year's Report

Sunday, September 21, 2014

IMTUF 100 Race Report

Sunset over Burgdorf
This past Saturday I toed the starting line the IMTUF 100 in McCall, Idaho which was my 8th 100 mile endurance run. This is the third year of the race but the first time I have signed up to run it.  I wanted to run the Western States 100 and needed a qualifier in past years so I opted for Bear and Wasatch.  As luck would have it I got into Western States and had a great day the past June.  Now I didn't have an excuse.  The first two you years I joined my friends Amy and Christine as a pacer which was a lot of fun.  Between pacing twice and hiking around McCall over the years I figured I had seen about 80 miles of the route beforehand which was comforting.

We arrived on Friday after work in time for the pre-race meeting and it was great to hear how passionate and excited both Jeremy and Brandi Humphrey were to put on this event for all us crazy people!  Michelle and I hung out briefly afterwards and visited with some of the other runners and friends before heading off to sleep in the back of the car with Zach.  Zach was home at lunch when I got there and I asked him if he wanted to go.  I was glad he came.  Before we got to bed we were treated to an amazing sunset over Burgdorf Hot Springs.

Just a few short hours later I was brought out of my sleep to a bull elk bugling back and forth across the valley at 3:30.  It was really amazing.  There was frost on the ground, which was a small surprise.  McCall was supposed to be in the high 30s but we were a bit higher altitude at the starting area.

The race started with about as much fanfare as most ultras....none!  Jeremy did a simple countdown
and then blew his elk bugle.  The first 20+ miles of the race looked easiest on paper with a relatively small gain and loss but that is also what makes them the most dangerous.  I have learned my lesson about going out too fast so I settled into a pretty conservative cruise with Drew Adams.   The sun came up somewhere before the first water drop at mile 6 and the fall colors we popping everywhere.

We cruised through the first main aid station at Willow Basket manned by Doug and Vicki Trees and said a quick hello.  A few more rolling up and downs led us into Chinook Campground 3+ miles later.  I met Michelle for the first time, got refueled and restocked and hit the trail again.  Chinook is at mile 13+ and I got there in 2:30.

After leaving you follow right along the river bank for a number of miles.  The trail if beautiful and the surrounding vegetation on the rolling hillsides are wonderful.  I got lulled into the easy flat terrain and took looked up to enjoy the view
and went down on my face hard.  I kicked a tiny tree root that racked my hips and sent my water bottles flying out of my pack.  Once the bottles were gone there wasn't any tension to hold the rest of the things in my pockets so EVERYTHING came out of my pack and scattered all over the trail.  Luckily I had decided to keep my long sleeve shirt and gloves for this section because they saved my elbows and palms as I rolled up in heap on the ground.

Drew was right behind and made sure I was OK.  I wasn't sure if I was or not but figured time would tell.  I finally got situated and continued up the trail.  Before starting the race I told myself I would allow time to take pictures and really just enjoy the day rather than try and go for a fast time.  As I struggled along the short breaks to take pictures were quite welcome.  The terrain remained
pretty easy for a return trip to Willow Basket and then up the Valley along Victor Creek.

The Victor Creek trail is barely a trail in most places but just as beautiful.  After a long stretch in the valley it turns steep quick.  When we got there Drew pulled away and I didn't see him again.  Climbing is usually my strongest aspect but I could tell it was going to be a long day as my hips kept screaming at me.  The climb was a perfect combination of rocky, technical, scenic, and fun.  In fact, this whole course is like that.  I want races to be hard but balanced with beautiful scenery and a few faster sections.  IMTUF seems to have it all in just the right proportions.

After cresting over the top I was ready to see if I could go downhill since sometimes when you get hurt on the trail it will only effect climbing but you can run down and vice versa.  No such luck.  I was stuck in a fast walk on much of the downhill with a little bit of running on the flat sections.  That was frustrating since from the time this happened to the end would be 90 miles.  I was determined to hang on as long as I could though.  Things often change over time during these silly things.  

I got close to Upper Payette Lake at mile 33 and Zach was waiting for me at the guardrail next to the highway.  I was way off my pace and he had walked up the trail to see if he could see me.  It was probably the best 5 minutes of my entire day to share that short little stretch with him coming into the aid station.  Along the way he says to me, Dad
I almost tripped on the rock about 10 times getting up here!  Wow, I said.  Let me tell you a story about the last 33 MILES.  He put a smile on my face as we came into the aid station side by side.

Michelle got me all situated and kicked me out of the aid station after getting some food and new bottles.  The three of us walked down the little path together until the trail turns up the hill.  It was a lonely feeling going out there. I was barely running and still had 70 miles to go.  I convinced myself that I was going to walk nearly the whole next section of 20 Mile trail.  It is about 8 miles gently uphill and 2+ miles down to Lick Creek Road from Duck Lake.  I figured if I could get there feeling decent the heat of the day will have passed and I can go into the night with a small chance to recover.

I got there feeling OK but really hungry for real food.  I barely ate any real food at States but today I was dying for real food at most of the aid stations.  Duck Lake didn't have much beyond the normal Oreos and M&Ms but they did have some avocado turkey wraps cut in small pieces that hit the spot.  I languished there for a few minutes until there were more runners than there were chairs so I got up and left.

From here it is just over a mile uphill and 4.5 miles downhill.  I walked the uphill and after cresting the top told myself I would run a half mile and walk a quarter mile and repeat.  I think I managed four of these before walking in the last mile.  In the last mile Linda Robbins caught up to me and we chatted for a while.  She offered me
a Tylenol to help with the pain, which I took.  I don't normally take anything but then again I had never felt this bad ever.  We met Michelle and Zach along the way and we all walked into a cheering crowd of crew and family at Snowslide.

Michelle got me set up again and got a bunch of real food in me.  I had an ensure and 2 cups of ramen noodles which really hit the spot.  I decided I would take her poles that just happened to be in the car and they were a lifesaver.  As I was sitting there I saw Emily scream through the aid station in about 5 seconds flat.  I was determined to try and keep up with her to help get me out of my funk.  It is two miles to Snowslide Lake and maybe another half mile to the top of the pass.  The Tylenol was doing its trick and I was feeling pretty decent and I was cruising up the hillside with Steve Loebner.  He had been
struggling with his stomach for a long time and I think getting some real food helped both of us.

Emily only had a few minutes head start and I barely caught up to her just past the lake.  The look on her face when she saw me was one of my other favorite moments of the day. RYAN ANDERSON what in the world are you doing WAY back here!  I told her that I heard all the fun happens at the back of the pack and I just wanted to see for myself!  She assured me that this IS where the fun is and we climbed steadily to the pass chatting away.  At the top, Steve snapped a great picture of us with the sun going down behind us.

The sun wasn't completely gone so I decided I wanted to get after the quick downhill section while I could still see my feet since it is really rocky at the top.  Jeremy told us at the pre-race that over the winter last year there was an avalanche that laid down hundreds of trees in the drainage between Snowslide Summit and Lake Fork.  They attempted to clear the existing trail but in places there were just too many trees piled up so they cut a path straight through.  The trees laying down reminded me of Mount St. Helens where the blast just laid everything down in a neat line.

After the initial steep descent of 1,200 feet in two miles the trail becomes really nice.  From there it
drops 200-300 feet per mile with several short ups and downs.  I have run this section a number of times while on vacation in McCall so I knew what to expect.  Emily and I were making what felt like decent time and finally made it to the water drop location.  I filled up and shortly after she pulled around me while I was getting something out of my pocket.  By the time I looked up she was so far ahead I couldn't see her headlamp!  I was happy for her having a great day and almost bummed that I was holding her back for the last I don't know how many miles.

I plugged along for a bit and then Steve caught back up to me.  He wondered how much farther it was and I told him if it were light I could tell him.  I have run a 3 mile out and back from the aid station a few times and where I turn around there is a wide meadow with a thick stand of trees on the other side.  Just as I am saying this we enter the meadow so I knew it was 3 to go.  The death shuffle was slowly creeping in on me and I walked most of the gentle downhill from here.

Steve said he needed stretch his legs and took off.  I struggled with what it arguable some of the easiest trail of the course not including the road sections.  The walls were caving in on me and after 45 miles of hurting and feeling terrible I made my peace and decided it just wasn't my day.  The final 2.25 miles took me 1:21.  Michelle kept asking people when they came in if they saw me and the common response was, he was right behind me a little way back.  I was getting dizzy and my legs were numb from my feet halfway up my calves.  Some of it may have been from needing more calories and some of it was from my fall earlier in the day.  Either way I was done and had zero regrets.

I have done enough of these to know what fatigue and tiredness feels like and this wasn't that.  If it were I would have gutted it out.  I felt bad for my pacer Brady who had yet to join me and I apologized.  He was volunteering with Derek at Lake Fork and said he had a good time nonetheless.  I told him if he sees a poor soul that looks like they need help to jump in with them.  He opted to go back to town with us and we crashed out at the Super 8.

After some good rest and a nice breakfast we headed up to Cloochman to see people through and got
the chance to see a number of our friends run through.  We also got to hang out with Mariah and her crew at the aid station which was a ton of fun.  Brady jumped in with a lady named Linda that I ran with earlier and a guy named BJ who were together at Cloochman.  They said it was nice to have Brady there so I was glad he got to help and see some of the course.

We went from there to the finish line to cheer everyone in right up to the final cutoff.  I always love cheering people in and didn't want to feel like I was avoiding the finish line after my DNF.  The course was amazing and beautiful.  I'll definitely be back and next time I'll be ready.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Siskiyou Outback 50k

Great course, aid, volunteers! Definitely a fun race to do.

Race Start looking toward Mt Shasta on the right

Our family was spending the week at the Oregon Coast and the going to Crater Lake on the way home so I thought it might be fun to sneak this one in.  I asked Michelle if she would like to drop me off and pick me up since it was close to Ashland but she wasn't crazy about getting up that early and making the trip twice after all the driving we had been doing for our vacation.

The 50 miler was full and I didn't really have time for that so I ended up doing the 50k.  I got there early enough to watch the 50 milers take off and then mingle around in the parking lot for an hour before my start.  My right knee hurt from the first step so I just wanted to take it easy and let it loosen up. It did a bit but then when I got to the first main aid station I flipped a stick up with my foot that stuck in the ground and the other end stuck under my right kneecap as I ran forward. It hurt like crazy but there was still zero chance I was going to quit barring a real injury.  I cruised along fairly conservatively to the turnaround and then started back on a ridge top forest service road.  After circling back on the road we hit an aid station that was on the outbound rout too.

From here we left the road and I believe it was all trail from there.  The trail was on the north side of the mountain now looking toward Oregon.  It was a really nice single track with just enough trees for some shade but still open enough to see the wonderful views.  It was kind of rocky but just enough to keep you on your toes.

When I got to the last aid station about 5 miles out I decided I was going to give it everything I had after being so conservative all morning.  After the last long gentle uphill there were two official race photographers there.  As I approached I asked them if the first 50 miler had come through.  They said they were going to ask me if I WAS THE FIRST 50 MILER!  What?!?  They said I was running so strong and fast they figured it might be me (totally serious).  That was a good laugh but I was glad I was still ahead of whoever it might be at this point.  I told them there was a guy who came flying in behind me at the last aid station that was probably the one they were looking for but he was taking some time to get recovered and eat something.

About 5 minutes later a guy goes bombing past me and I figured it was the 50 mile winner.  I continued on at a steady pace and finally popped off of the PCT and onto a dirt road stretch before the finish.  There were family members there cheering which was a big boost even though I didn't know them.  This was the first race I can recall without Michelle or someone I know out on the course.  The dirt road continues for a short bit and turns into pavement as you enter the Ashland Ski Resort.  The pavement only lasted a few minutes but I can honestly say it was the most painful part of the course.
I finished in just over 6 hours and beat the first 50 miler by about 12 minutes which was a major win for me the way I was feeling most of the first half!  Just after I finished my friend Clyde 'The Glide' Akers came in and we chatted the finish.  Big thanks to a new friend I met at the race Samantha de la Vega for getting the finish line photos for me too. 

The PCT was gorgeous and the thru-hikers were nice and ripe from days and weeks of being on the trail. The finish line beer was NICE RACK SOB. (A play on all the elk in the area..made by Southern Oregon Brewing Co.)

Garmin Detail

Click below for more random pictures....

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Western States 100 2014 Race Report

On the third entry into the Western States 100 lottery my name was chosen to run the 2014 race.  I was happy to get the opportunity since there are many who didn’t get in even after 4 and 5 previous attempts.  As race day arrived I felt ready and properly recovered from many long hard weeks of training.

On the morning of the race it was in the high 30's at the start and I didn't even bring a long sleeve or gloves (It was supposed to be hot? Still, I am a jackass….moving on).  I mentioned to the volunteer handing out the bib numbers at 4:15 am that I wish I had gloves. 

He went to his bag and gave me HIS gloves.  I was surprised and not surprised all at the same time.  Ultra runners are like that, they will give you the shirt off their back or their gloves. He told me his name was Barry and that I should look for him at the finish.  This was a nice vote of confidence from a total stranger that I would make it all the way to the finish too.  (I didn’t find him there but was able to get his information through the RD and get them back.)

We took off running...for a short bit, and then settled into a nice power hike.  I started way in the back since apparently I was standing with the families and friends taking pictures!  The line didn't move and then I had to get around all of them.  Anyway, after the start I don't think I ran more than 2 minutes on the climb and passed 60 people maybe?

The view from the pass was amazing looking back at Lake Tahoe and then turning the other direction looking toward the west.  The air was still cool but it felt nice. The first quarter of the race ticked by without too much effort and the views were amazing.  I just focused on eating, drinking, and not crushing my legs on the downhill.  The rocks on the trail made it challenging and the tree cover was welcome although the shadows made it tricky negotiating the trail at times.

I saw Michelle, Tim, and Christine at Duncan Canyon (23) and Dusty Corners (38) then headed into the canyons for the big downhill and uphill sections.  The river crossing at Deadwood was awesome.  Normally you go over a bridge but since it is under repair we crossed in the river.  I passed a bunch of people on the climb up to Devils Thumb and Michigan Bluff.  I was pretty conservative on the downhill and just grinded the uphills.

I saw Michelle again at Michigan Bluff and was feeling great.  I breezed through Volcano Canyon and was running the uphill into Bath Road (60) for some reason.  I filled my own water and just kept moving.  There were two crew members who had hiked down to Bath Road from Foresthill and they were walking the uphill.  Again I was running for some reason...and I yelled out to them, Don’t make me pass you!!  They started running and then looked at each other like, Why are we letting this guy make us run?

I popped out on Foresthill Road and cruised into town feeling pretty awesome.  I think I was 25 or 30 minutes behind 24 hour pace at this point but I was determined to follow my plan and not panic.  I got to the aid station trying to get the crowd pumped up which was fun.  They had to weigh me in and I was so excited I about ran past the scales!

Michelle got me all set up, I changed shoes, and I was off with Christine who was going to be my pacer from here to the finish.  She and I have worked well together in the past and I had 100% confidence that she would help me reach my goal.

My #1 goal was to arrive in Foresthill feeling good.  The second part was to run efficiently from there to the river crossing at Rucky Chucky (78) so that after Green Gate (80) I could RUN to the end instead of death shuffling.  I have done that..not fun.

Around mile 70 at the Peachstone aid station I stopped to check a blister.  The dirt filtering into my shoes in the beginning caused a blister to form between my toes. I stopped and noticed it had popped and the skin was just hanging.  The AS worker talked to the doctor, who said he had a scalpel but that I would have to be the one to cut the skin off.  For liability reasons he couldn't cut me as it could be deemed 'surgery'.  SO I reached down, ripped off the loose skin in one swipe, and said now I guess I just need a band-aid. Do you have one?  And...we were off again.  (Thinking to myself)….Sorry, don't mean to be rude but I am in the middle of a race and don't have time to talk about insurance liabilities!  It was pretty funny. Christine was pretty surprised they would consider handing someone a scalpel at mile 70 after running for 16+ hours.  That could be a REAL liability.

We hit the river crossing at 78 and it is truly one of the coolest experiences ever.  The line is manned by volunteers and there were glow sticks in the river zip-tied to rocks so you could see.  The water was chest deep, cold, and felt amazing on the tired muscles.

We continued out of the water and right through the aid station on the other side.  The volunteers seemed bummed that we didn't stop but there is an aid station 100 yards before on the other side and Green Gate is a short hike from there.  I think they were more surprised that I didn't have/want dry clean clothes in a drop bag which a lot of people do.  We sloshed the water out of our shoes on the hike and quickly warmed back up on the uphill.

We saw Michelle and Tim for the last time at Green Gate and we were quickly back on the trail.  I felt like everything was going just about as good as could be expected at this point.  I got to Foresthill in good shape, ran decent down to the river, closed the gap on the 24 hour pace, and was now RUNNING, sans death shuffle.

When I got to Brown's Bar at mile 89 I finally caught up to 24 hour pace. Hal Koerner, ultra-stud and two time winner of Western States, was the AS captain and he was the first to greet me.  Dude, you are Right ON 24 hour pace! You have to go! Sweet, I think to myself while I try to graze the aid table....Seriously, you have to leave, NOW! My bottles were now filled and handed back to me while Hal had his hand in my back pushing me out.  I wish all the aid stations were like that (so did Christine!).  Late in a race it's comforting just to see other humans and you get lulled into staying for a few minutes...which add up when there are lots of aid stations.

Somewhere along in here I tripped over two GIANT half inch rocks.  As the day wears on they seem to get bigger and bigger.  Anyway, the first time I went down it mostly theatrical. Flailing of arms, saying naughty words, and nothing got hurt.  The second time there was flailing of arms, naughty words, I cracked my right knee, and pitched my water bottle over the edge of the steep trail.  I heard the bottle roll in the dry leaves and was sure it was a goner.  The trail is very steep on the downhill side but thankfully the bottle got caught in the underbrush.  Christine collected my bottle and I popped right back up.  This one must have seemed worse than the first one because she was surprised I got going so quick.  We were so close to the end I figured I would run what I could and deal with the consequences when I finished.  Truthfully, walking probably would have been worse. Staying moving didn't let it stiffen up.

After a long grind up to Hwy 49 (93.5) we made a quick stop kept on moving.  Just out of the AS there is a sign that reads SHORT CUT TRAIL.  I told Christine I wanted to go that way!  After a short climb we began an easy descent into No Hands Bridge (96.8).  Through here there is a spot where you are going through waist tall brown grass in a field surrounded by enormous oak trees.  I was thinking it was a few miles further and just after I was telling Christine we entered the field.  It was even beautiful at night!

No Hands Bridge is like an oasis in the desert once you can finally see it.  As you clear the trees on the downhill the bridge has been lit up with Christmas lights and rope lighting.  They had music playing and they must have been pumping out BARN smell because I could smell the barn.  My watch said I got there at 3:51 and 24 hour pace was 4:10.  I don't recall filling water there and just flew through.  I had one full handheld and a pocketful of gels.  Christine was trying to get some batteries for my headlamp since the cheap-o batteries I brought were dying fast.  I continued to walk across the bridge and remembered she brought me a spare headlamp that had good batteries.  I took the two good ones from the backup and put them in my headlamp that holds three.  Two good and one bad was 100% better and we were off. 

From here it is just over a 5k.  There is a 2.1 mile climb to Robie Point (98.9) and then 1.3 to the finish from there.  I wasn't super confident at this point and put down a gel right out of the aid station.  We started the climb to Robie Point and it just got steeper and steeper. At some point we could see the lights of the aid station way up on the hill to the left...and then the trail goes to the right! GAH! I took another gel.  I didn't want to be the guy that just missed it because I ran out of gas.  Christine was doing an awesome job of pulling me up the hill but once the time crunch was feeling too close I wanted to be in the lead and push myself as hard as I could.  I kept grinding up the hill trying not to look at the lights.  Once I could see the aid station was right ahead I looked back and was happy to see I had put a little gap on Christine.  She was taking care of my battery issues at the last aid station and hadn’t had a chance to refuel so she didn't have a sea of sugar running through her veins like I did!  Somewhere in the last push I took a third gel.

The aid station asked me how I was doing and I told them it was the best day ever, couldn't have asked for more.  I cruised through at 4:25 (15 minutes ahead of 24 hour pace) without stopping and began to powerhike the pavement.  Christine caught up to me and I realized that barring a broken leg I was going to make it.  We had been running all the minor uphills for the last 20 miles and I told her I was content to walk this last one and she agreed.

Just as we crested the final hill there was a handmade sign left on the street that said, ‘Pacers are People Too’, that made us both smile.  We trotted the final downhill toward the high school and I was hoping to see Michelle so she could run the lap around the track with me.  She was in the stadium ready to take pictures though.

The feeling entering that gate to the track is something I wish everyone could experience.  It was truly magical.  It’s just an everyday ordinary high school track but on one day a year is something much more than that.  Just after entering there is a mat that reads your bib number and then the announcer calls out your name, Ryan Anderson from Boise, Idaho is entering the track.....and then they rattle off all your accomplishments.  Before the race they had us fill out a form for the finish line announcements and one of the questions was to mention some non-running achievement.  I wrote down that I used to weigh 318 pounds and if I can do this anyone can do this.  They announced every 100 miler I have done and left the weight loss out unfortunately.

On the backstretch of the track I told Christine I was going to go nice and slow to enjoy this little victory lap.  She looks back a second later and I am stopped...walking backwards! What are you doing? I found a lucky penny, heads up, AND amazingly had the strength to bend down and pick it up.  Normally anything less than a 20 dollar bill gets shoved to the nearest non-runner with a, 'hey can you pick that up for me?'  It was a funny moment.

Christine took my stuff and I cruised to the finish with a final time of 23:42:06.  It was wonderful to see Michelle and give her a big hug and kiss to say thank you for supporting my crazy goals.  After sitting around at the finish for just a few minutes I turned into a 95 year old man that needed a hip replacement which was OK because I was done!

I was very happy with the first half and second half times.  Managing the first half properly allows me to finish strong.  Some days you don’t really know what that pace is until it is over so I must have been right where I needed to be.  The first 50 miles was about 11:20 and the last 50 was 12:20.  Although there is a lot more downhill in the second half it actually has about the same amount of uphill sections.  Near the end when I finally got back on 24 hour pace and then made up 18 minutes it wasn’t that I was speeding up, but slowing down less than the average.  I’ll take it!

I have told my weight loss story to lots of people but one of the most gratifying times I have ever had the opportunity to do so was just after Tim Twietmeyer (25 time finisher) gave me my silver buckle I shook hands with Craig Thornley who is the current race director.  He asked me what the deal was with the Don't Mess with the Fat Kid shirt.  I told him what I used to weigh and his response was...are you serious?  Holy crap! Amazing job out there today!

Garmin Detail

More random pictures...

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