General running information and thoughts from a guy who has gone around the track too many times.

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I ran 331 miles in 12 days.

Not all at one time.

In May I ran 167 miles in 7 days from Vernal, Utah to Steamboat Springs, Colorado. In August I ran 164 miles in 6 days from Mahoney City, Pennsylvania to New York City, New York. All for MS Run the US Relay.

I learned a lot about myself and about running.

Want to learn what I learned?

Keep reading.

  1. Getting started. Sometimes when you first wake-up and realize you need to run long, the mind starts telling you all the reasons why you can’t. Leave it to the mind and you’ll stay in bed. I found that getting my feet moving was the key to waking the mind up to what my body could actually do. When the brain gets on board anything can happen.
  2. Real Food is good. That just seems silly to say, but it’s totally true. I have tired most name brand sports drink, gels and the what-have-yous. Running magazines are full of ads that tells us what products works best. My truth is that sports-aid-items do not work for me. I have found that real food in the form of fruits, oatmeal, raisins, nuts, whole grains, and potato chips (I realize that potato chips might not be considered a real food, but it doesn’t come out of a tube) really works for me. I also like water over sport drinks. And Coke. Nothing like a cold satisfying Coke at 10 miles. Just the right amount of sugar, caffeine and pleasure; which can keep me going for another 10 miles. Add some potato chips and I will run 30 miles. Don’t even get me started on doughnuts.
  3. After 28.5 miles. Nothing tastes better.Beer – it’s an acceptable post-run beverage. I am a man of rewards and beer is one of those rewards that can keep me moving forward. Knowing that a cold frosty bottle of brew; which has my name on it, makes those last few miles bearable. Oh, there are some nutritional benefits, but who cares. Right?
  4. Shirtless running. When the sun is out, the temperature warm and the humidity is high I prefer running without a shirt. Please do not give me all that crap about sunburn, sunscreen and skin cancer. We were born to run and we were born to be out in the sun. Period. Give it a try, you’ll find it refreshing. Anton knows. (Disclaimer – local decently laws may apply.)
  5. Wear the right shoes. The right shoes for you, that is. A good running store, like West Seattle Runner, will have you try various models to help you decide what feels good. Pick the shoes that are going to support you on your adventure. I would have been nuts to pick a lightweight, minimal shoe to run 30 miles on pavement. With broken glass and dead snakes.
  6. Brooks GlycerinHigh tech material can make you day. These new tech shirts and shorts will wick (a word a runner never said in 70’s and 80’s) moisture away from your skin. This allows you to stay cool and dry. Easy to pack, carry and dries quickly. Make sure they fit and will not rub you in all the wrong places. If they do rub, get some Body Glide.
  7. Have a great support person or team to help you. These will be people who care about you and will have your food and gear ready for when you’ll need it. They can also do your thinking for you when you aren’t thinking right. Just remember to be nice to them, especially when your Demon Side appears.
  8. Know your equipment. The morning of your adventure is not the time to try to figure out your new GPS watch. Or even a headlamp. You need to know how everything works before you even put them in your pack. Read the manual and experiment.
  9. Know where you are going. External input is nice, but comes with a percentage of error. GPS watches can be off. A nice person may not know what they hell they are talking about. Memory fails. It is your responsibility to know where you are going. Know your route and make notes if needed.
  10. Have Fun! This adventure is yours. You trained and dreamed to do this. Now, go out and have some fun. And be safe.

 

 

Shirtless Running


I have had this idea for awhile to have a running term of the week. My friend and running buddy, Stan The Wine Man, has a wine term of the day, that he posts on www.blucid.com. By reading his definitions you can really develop an understanding of wine. One thing I do know is that Stan The Wine Man knows his wine.

I know running. Been running for, well, let’s say a while. I have ran on both road and trails, plus many loops around the track. I have also ran every race distance up to 50 miles. I coached others as well. My life’s passion is running. Pure and simple.

In honor of my love and knowledge I bring to you “Running Term of the Week”. Ta-da!

This week our term will be “Running”.

My definition of running is pretty simple – its the motion produced by the rapid movement of the feet. Not to be confused with the Fox Trot or the East Coast Swing, where rapid feet movement is a requirement. In order to really run one does need feet. Most mammals and lizards qualify. Slugs do not. Birds and frogs may hop. Snakes, well they slither.

Rapid movement of one’s feet is purely speculative and personal. Some people, like my old, dear friend Steve. Steve considered himself a runner even though he was slow, by his own omission, as sin. He, in my mind, was more of a plodder. After running with Steve a few times I realized that speed had no bearing on the question if someone is really a runner or not. Like I said it’s personal. Steve considered himself a runner. I was always honored to run with him. Slow speeds and all. Steve is now dead. Lost the battle with prostate cancer.Long may you run, Steve. Long may you run.

It’s like the old saying “as you think you shall become” or as the Bible says, “ For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” If you (man or woman) think you are a runner and are spending time every day running, then you are a runner. No mater how fast or how slow. One foot in front of the of the other in rapid motion is running. Pure and simple.

Large creatures lurk in strange places. One needs to be prepared.

People tell me that they could never be a runner. I tell them if they had something very big chasing them they would become a runner pretty quick. They agree. Granted, they would still be lunch or dinner depending on the time of day they were being chased. They would at least be giving running the good ole college try. For a block or two.

Next week we will explore the difference between running and jogging.


Wow! After a thousand plus miles of running and countless number of calories eaten and burned I am nearing my time to run for the MS Run the US Relay. In 10 days I will start running from Vernal, Utah to Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Some 170 miles. Give or take. May it be the take. I have 7 days to run all this which is very close to running a marathon (26.2 miles) per day for those 7 days. All my training and preparation is coming down to the wire. This is when I put everything on the line and experience what I think will be an epic experience. At least I hope it is an epic experience and not something I put on my “Seemed Like A Good Idea” list. It’s a long list too.

This training journey of mine has been very positive for me. My running has been nothing but pure joy. No aches or pains to speak of. Oh, I had some adjustments to make, but for the most part, everything is going smoothly. Training for the Relay has also given me the opportunity to spend quality time with my running friends. Thank you Susan, Stan, Brendan, Paul, Randy and Brian for your help and support. Shelly, my wife, redesigned our eating to ensure that I had the energy needed to log weekly miles of over 60, 70 and 80 miles per week. Thank you Shelly. Besides eating good food to fuel to my body, I have also dropped over 45 pounds. Thank you J.J. Virgin and a whole lot of running. This whole experience has left me feeling great, much like I did when I was in my 20′s.

With 10 days to go my thoughts move from running to packing to, well, so many things that I need to do. Lists to make. All things to keep me moving forward.

As far as my running for this week is concerned I have 2 goals. (1) to run, but to run with the intention of recovery and relaxation. (2) Not to injure or hurt myself. Just last week while running trails with friends I let myself go and started pushing my pace. Flying over roots, rocks and stumps. Then I realized that I couldn’t afford to trip and hurt myself. I have been cautiously running since.

10 days to go and tomorrow will be 9. Time moves forward and so must I. Stay tuned.

Clark

PS Thursday night is Wine Tasting for MS at 5.

PSS to donate to the cause of finding a cure for MS, visit here.


First of all, I would like to thank all of you who have given to the cause of MS research and education a very BIG THANK YOU for your donations. I do appreciate it.

What a week this has been in the world of running and life here in our country. The bombs at the Boston Marathon were so shocking to me. I was shocked to tears. My heart goes out to all those and their families who have been directly affected by such violence. To add to that, West, Texas is dealing with their own sadness and disbief from the explosion that rocked their town. My heart goes out to them as well.
Here on San Juan Island live has been quiet. Seems all I do is to run, go to work and run some more. Shelly is most wonderful in her support and ensuring that I am getting my nutritional needs met.
The past two weeks I have logged over 80 per week. 87 last with week, which was done with help of a 35 mile run last Sunday. My training partner, Susan, and I logged the distance in 7 hours. Thank you Susan for your help and support on these extra long distances. Today Susan, Brendan and I ran a good solid 20 miles what gave me 81 weekly miles. Nice to have some sunshine in the process. Nice to have nice running buddies as well.
Yesterday I had a brief panic attack as I was counting the weeks until I start my Relay segment. Basically I have 4.5 weeks until I start my 163 miles journey in Vernal, Utah. Wow, that’s not all that far off. This coming week my mileage will move up over 100. I plan on running 100 plus miles every week until I reach Vernal. I am very happy with how my training has gone thus far. The next 4 weeks of running should be the icing on the cake, so to speak.
Next Sunday, April 28, Susan and I will be running the Mt. Si 50 Miler. This will be good training as well. Any time running is going to be very beneficial for me.
Want to look at a map that explains my route from Vernal, Utah to Steamboat Springs, Colorado, take a peak here.
Well, that’s about it. Stay tuned to more fun and games.
Clark
ps If you are wondering what in the world I am doing, please see below.

Image

Clark Gilbert 

Segment 6 

 Some of you might have seen on my web site (www.runhappyrunhard.com) or on the various social media networks that I have taken on a new challenge in 2013.  I have joined forces with MS Run the US to raise awareness and funds to END MS.  Read about it here ===>  http://www.msruntheus.com/clarkgilbert/

 On May 24, 2013 I will be running the first of my seventh back-to-back marathons starting in Vernal, UT and concluding in Steam Boat Springs, CO on the  May 30th.

 Crazy right?

 I know.

 It’s definitely not for everyone, however, I feel extremely fortunate that I am in excellent health (all though some might wonder about my mental health) and I am running both long and hard to prepare myself for this epic adventure while representing an incredible charity.

 Along with my pledge to run 7 marathons I have taken on the challenge of fundraising a minimum of $10,000.   (This is where I need your help).

 I am asking all of you for the following help:

  1. Make a Donation Today: http://www.msruntheus.com/clarkgilbert/ any amount can and will help because 100% of your donation goes to MS Research and Education.  Checks can be sent to P.O. Box 3198, FH, WA 98250.
  2. Share this E-mail: please send this e-mail on to as many of your friends + family as possible.  The broader net we can cast the more people we can reach and the stronger we can grow.
  3. Post on Facebook: “I just donated to, Clark Gilbert, MS Run the US 2013 Relay Runner. Learn more here ===> http://www.msruntheus.com/clarkgilbert/“.  Copy and paste the sentence before into your status update to help spread the word!
  1. Lend Me Your Network: $10,000 is a large amount of money and I am not expecting my small group of friends and family to donate all of that cash.  I am hoping that we can all look inside our hearts, find the one thing we all have in common, compassion. I appeal to all of you to share with me anyone or any company that might be interested in becoming involved with my crazy adventure and MS Run the US.

I am very excited about this new adventure and working with MS Run the US. I can’t wait to share it with all of you as I share my experiences leading up, during and after my run.  Any help you can provide to myself and MS Run the US is greatly appreciated. Check out my journey at www.runhappyrunhard.com or www.seattlepirun.com.


What a week this has been and it’s only Thursday.

Sadness still lingers in my heart over the Boston Marathon Bombing. When I first learned of the bombing I was shocked to tears. This running was the 20th anniversary of my Boston Marathon Experience. Twenty years ago that Boston Marathon had bombs on their minds as the World Trade Center had been bombed a few months earlier  on February 26. The last few blocks of the Marathon course had been boarded up to keep spectators away from the finish line.

My thoughts and good wishes go out to the victims and their families.

Wearing my 1993 Boston Marathon Shirt

Wearing my 1993 Boston Marathon Shirt

This past Sunday Susan and I ran 35 miles in preparation for the Mt. Si 50 miler which is on April 28. Leaving at 5:40 am the air was chilly, but the sky looked promising for sunshine. We ended up running 35 miles in 7:01 with a max elevation of 6,724 feet. I forgot how hilly this island is.

Monday night was Monday Night Trail Running out at American Camp. Susan, Brendan and I ran our 10 mile loop at a pretty good clip – the fastest for me this year. It was a great run in spite of my tripping and falling. I have a couple of scrapes on my knee, elbow and hand. Makes for good stories.

Tuesday was a double day workout. Lunch time I ran 6 mile in 56:56, which I am really proud of. After work I ran the Egg Lake Loop which is 12 miles. My time was 2:04. Both runs had sunshine! Felt so good having the warmth of the sun on my face and back.

The last three days I have run 63 miles, an average of 21 miles per day. This is close to what I will need to run when I am running my MSRuntheUS Relay segment, where I will need to average 23 miles a day for 7 days.

My training is paying off for me. The best thing is that I feel so good. Great even. Amazing what this 59 year old body can do.

Clark


Last week, which ended on Sunday March 31, was a positive week for me. Here are my stats:

Weekly Miles: 68

Time Ran: 13:57

Calories Burned while running: 14,136

Longest Run: 30 miles

I changed my training this week to a more traditional short/long method. I run a short or recovery run of six miles on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. On Tuesday and Thursday I ran longer for 12 miles. On Saturday I ran the Gorge Waterfall 50K, which was a tad short. I figured I still ran around 30 miles.

This type of training is similar to my approach to how I plan to run 163 miles in 7 days, the length of my MS Run the US Relaysegment. My plan is to run 30 miles (spilt into two runs) on the odd days and 17 miles on the even days an average of 23 daily miles over 7 days. I am hoping that the shorter days will provide me with adequate recovery.

This past week of running short/long days was a good thing. The shorter, recovery days provided relief of both body and spirit, which is really important. If my spirits aren’t up, then it’s harder to get out the door.

Highlights.

  • Finished the Gorge Waterfall 50K. My goal was to finish in the 6 to 7 hour range, but missed by 25 minutes. Still, the experience was positive. I was also able to experiment with my eating plan. I am still looking for something that will work with my stomach on these longer runs, while replenishing my energy.
  • Weight loss continues with my new way of eating, which started on March 1. Part of my reasoning to participate in the Relay was that this would force me to deal with my weight issues. So far so good. I am down 26 pounds since January 1. I feel better and have more energy. I feel like my eating is supporting my running rather than my running keeping my eating in check.
  • Every Monday night is running American Camp Trails with my running buddies, who are all younger and faster than me. For the past couple of years I have needed to walk up the steep backside trail to Mt. Finlayson. This has been frustrating for me as I use to run up with no problem. This week was my third week in a row of running up this steep trail. I am happy about that.

Running Schedule for April 1 – 7th.

Monday – 7 miles on trails

Tuesday – 14 miles

Wednesday – 7 miles

Thursday – 14 miles

Friday – 7 miles

Saturday – Rest/Recover Day

Sunday – 30 miles

Total: 79 miles.

I would like to thank all those who have given to help me reach my goal of running $10,000. It seems like a long way to go, but . . . so is 163 miles, but it can be done.

Hope you all have a great week!

Clark

Donate Today I would appreciate it as well as those suffering from the effects of MS.


Today is February 17, 2013. It’s a Sunday. The sky is partly cloudy. No rain. Yeah for that.

Yesterday I posted my intent on running a relay segment for MS Run the US, a fundraiser for multiple sclerosis research and eduction. I am very excited to participate in this relay. Honored too. Some people have passed comments along to me that tell me I am insane. Such comments remind me that I am on target. This is how I want to live me life, by doing insane things.

I have Three Stages of training to get me to Vernal, Utah, where my segment starts and finishes in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, some 164 miles away. I will have seven days to complete this journey. If I don’t, the support staff will shoot me. Well, I might beg them to shoot me, but they probably won’t.

Since the first of the year I have been building my running base. This was Stage One of my strategy. Spending as much time running in the rain to prepare me for running in a very arid part of the country. I know. That doesn’t make sense. We get what we get. During the winter months here in the San Juan Islands, we get rain. Or we got rain. Stage One was designed to get me use to spending more time out running. Rain or no rain. Stage Two, which started the first of February increases my mileage or time I spend running. This Stage two has me running twice a day and running long runs during weekends. I have run one 20 mile run already in February. Good for me.

As of today I have 95 days until I leave Vernal for Steamboat. I think people in Colorado refer to Steamboat Springs by just Steamboat. I will too.

Anyway. I have 95 days. My goal is to run 1,000 miles from today until May 23 (which is also my little sister’s birthday). This plan averages 10.5 miles per day for the next 95 days. That’s doable. I will be running many days where my mileage will be over 20 miles. I will need to get use to that much distance as my relay segment is about 24 miles per day. I have trained like this before when I ran my first 50 miler. It worked then. I am hoping it will work for me again.

If I count all the mileage I have all ready ran this year (240) and add it to the 1,000 goal miles, I will have 1240 miles by the time I start for Steamboat. On paper this all looks good. The challenge comes down to GMBOTD (getting my butt out the door). I except that challenge. I do find that the dark and wet days of our winters to be a challenge for me. Most of the routes I run don’t have street lamps. Just darkness. I have a headlamp for this darkness. I also have a nice Brooks Running rain jacket that is reflective. Reflective material is good for our dark mornings and nights.

I know I will have my challenges. Mostly mental challenges that will keep me indoors. Physically I was born to run. I also run so slow that I couldn’t possibly hurt myself. My challenges are mostly comfort related. Soft, comfy chair and a good book will result in no running. (Must remember not to go to the library).

I can, as they say in Wyoming to “pull up your cowboy boots and get it done.” Actually, I don’t wear cowboy boots. That saying still works for me. I am from Wyoming, you know. Giddyup is another Wyoming term, but it doesn’t apply here. Yippee ki yah has already been taken. Hopefully when I reach Steamboat someone will shout that most famous of all cowboy sayings “Whooooa”. Which means to stop.

I do need your help by donating to the cause. You can do that by clicking I Would Like to Donate. Any amount is appreciated.

Stage Three hasn’t been developed as of yet. Stay tuned, this journey is going to be wild.

Clark


In a few days we will be celebrating the birth of another year.  Oh Joy!  I like New Years, I really do.  I set all these cool goals and aspirations that I want to focus on and then, after a few weeks, give up on them.  I return to my normal way of life.  For example one goal has been to get up at 5:00 am every morning and running for two hours.  Sounds good to me, until 5:00 am and then nothing sounds good except staying in bed.  Normal people do that; stay in bed that is.

I always start the year with goals of races/events I want to participate in.  How many pounds I want to lose (same pounds each and every year).  I write down how I want to be a better person by not walking slowly across the street when I know a car and driver are in a hurry.  I vow not to place any regular apples in the Organic produce section.  Oh yeah.  I can be evil.

Just last week I was in West Seattle to spend an early Christmas weekend with my son and his family.  I was about to share some great thought of mine, when I received that “don’t say it” look from my daughter-in-law.  The mother of my three grandchildren.   Apparently, last summer, I told my 4 year old grandson a story about how I was trapped in an elevator.  (I thought the story very funny).  Apparently he, until last Sunday, wouldn’t step foot in any elevator, even if his most wonderful mother was trying to handle three kids and numerous sacks of groceries.  Last Sunday we took him with us up and down an elevator to ease his mind.  Thank God we didn’t get stuck.  That would have been bad.  Really bad.

I promise to watch what I say around my grandchildren.  Like that is going to happen.

Back to the New Year.

I have some things that are on my list, like running some type of adventure event once a month.  Yes, getting up at 5:00 am to run does count.  I want to run Nookachamps in January, Orcas Island 25K in February.  March is up in the air.  April will be the Yakima River Skyline 50K – like last year’s spanking wasn’t enough.  May will be the Sun Mountain 50 miler -my goal is to finish in daylight.  Also in May I will be participating in the MS Run Across the US – more on that later.  I also want to run around Mt. St. Helen and Mt. Rainer.  Of course, there will be many Doughnut Runs.

What are you planning on running?

Whatever you do, have fun and be safe.

Have a great New Year!

Clark

ps – meet at 11:30 on New Years Eve at San Juan Fitness for a Run In The New Year Fun.  No fee.


Triple Ripple is just fun to say.  Makes the mouth feel good.  Try saying Triple Ripple, Triple Ripple, Triple Ripple really fast and a smile will surely form on your mouth.  Go ahead, try it.

The Triple Ripple isn’t a mouth exercise.  It’s short for Orcas Island Triple Ripple Trail Running Festival, a two day running experience starting on October 13th and ending on the 14th.  Kind of like Woodstock, but much, much, much smaller, less music and more running.  Childhood friends Susanna Beck and Jen Volmer, both living on Orcas Island, came up with the idea as a great way to promote fun and different running events on Orcas Island.  Beck isn’t a stranger to trail running having heaped some whoop ass on many a trail during her elite running career.  Volmer is a grace full runner herself, she just doesn’t know it.  Together they blended their creativity and talents to come up with a two day running festival that looks and sounds more like a running camp.  All centered on Orcas Island.

Continue reading


Race Director James Varner has just opened registration for two of his fall/winter events.

October 8, Mt. Spokane 50 and 25K.  This colorful event which is run on the trails of Mt. Spokane is one of Jame’s events that I have not ran.  I would like to.  My problem is I am schedule to run the Portland Marathon on the 9th.  Might make a fun back to back events with a long drive.  If I am not at Mt. Spokane this year, my heart will be.  I have talked to some who tell me that the color’s of the fall foliage; red, yellow and orange are spectacular and a great way to celebrate the changing season.

December 8, Deception Pass 50 and 25K.  I ran the 25K last year and, to be honest, didn’t really like the course.  The “lollipops” loops created periods where one needed to run, on single track, against the flow of other runners.  I also wasn’t in shape to run, so I had my butt kicked by some of the hills.  But, this is a very popular event and appears in a good spot on the running calendar.  I will probably be at this year’s race.

I always enjoy James’s attitude about race management, which is let’s go run, have fun and spend time chatting afterwards.  James’s post race parties are out of the world.

Both of these races fill up quickly.  Sign-up soon!


View of Sun Mountain area, take by Candice Burt

My first attempt  to 50 miles run is in two days at Sun Mountain.  It’s all coming down to the wire, so to speak.  I had hoped that this week would have been quiet and relaxing, but, life happens.  It’s all good.  Right.

I am taking this day off from work to attend to a mire of things to prepare for this weekend.  Camping gear to sort, running clothes and shoes to check out.  Prep my pack with GU.  My truck, Old Blue, is getting a new starter.  Oh Joy.  Maybe a nap in the afternoon and some time in reading – a day for some type of rest and relaxation.

Speaking of reading, did you catch the NPR article about endurance athletes and pain, if not, check it out from NPR.  I am going to do my own form of research on Sunday.

If you want to follow my crazy adventure this Sunday, I will be posting via Facebook and Twitter.

No mater what happens, I am gonna be having a great time.  I’ll be Running Happy and Running Hard!

Clark

ps  Here is a picture of my shoes


Taper.  I really don’t like taper weeks.  I feel like I should be running a ton of miles, but the voice of reason is to rest, avoid injuries and attend to the fine details of the plan.  Come to think of it, I need to order some GU.

Last week I was having an issue with my feet; soreness on the pad behind the big toes on both feet.  I think I have a handle on that and have run over 10 miles with mild tenderness.  Last week there was a point where I thought it best that I not run the 50 miler.  As of May 10, the 50 miler is still my goal and target.

I chatted with James Varner, Race Director of Sun Mountain, and he described the course in more detail which took away some of my stress.  (Yes, this is the same guy who said the Yakima Skyline Rim 50K was “a little rocky”.)  He explained that I need to  conserve energy by walking the hills and then run everything else.  This seems like a good idea to me, but my in my training I ran all my hills, even the steep ones.  Ok, maybe I did walk a couple of really steep hills, but not very often.

The thing about this 50 miler is:  I have never ran this type of event before.  The training approach is so outside my knowledge and experience.  I feel like a child starting first grade.  What do I do and how do I do it?  One could go on-line and find a million training programs for marathon distances and below.  Try to find a training program for a Ultra and you’ll find a picture of a tumbleweed blowing across the wasteland.  I have been training as I see best, but, truth is, I really don’t know what in the hell I am doing.  Long runs, yes.  Time on my feet, yes.  Speed running, yes.  Eating on the run, yes.  Setting a broken arm while continuing to run, still working on that one.  I only have two arms.  This 50 mile run is such a different beast; you train different and you have to think different in order to finish.

Ultramarathon Champion, Scott Jurek, has written ” Listen to and manage the body (hydrate, eat, technique, etc.), and when you think you have nothing left, dig deeper!”  I suppose you could rephrase this to “eat, drink and be merry”, but I don’t think that is the message.  Jurek’s simple statement is ultramarathoning.  It’s all about managing who we are and what we are truly capable of.  Putting one foot ahead of the other and giving the body what it needs to hydrate and nourish it’s self.

Now, let me see if I can do all that in a rapid motion.

 


Ok, maybe this title is a tad strong.  I have had a couple of days to recover from the hardest run I think I have ever undertaken in my many years of running.  I wish I could say that I kicked butt at this year’s Yakima Skyline Rim 50K, but all I can say is that I had my butt kicked.  It’s crazy too.  I mean, I went into this run feeling strong, rested and confident.  What I found was a course that climbed to the heavens but was hotter than hell.  The views were fantastic, the aid stations complete and the other runners better than nice.

What kicked me?  Well, the first spanking was mile 2 & 3, where we climbed some 2,000+ feet, straight up.  This wasn’t one of those switch backs that winds up the side of a mountain.  This is like in the famous miner climb in the Klondike region of Alaska.

Miners climbing

See the miners braving the cold climbing this mountain?

Runners heading up the mountain

See the runners braving the heat climbing this mountain?

See how both the miners and the runners all look like ants, making their way up the trail?  See where I am going with this.  I am not going to bring up the fact that many of those miners died a most horrible death.
Once at the top, one could see all the very cool volcanoes that we have here in Washington and epic views of the Yakima River, which in this picture is way down where we started.

Do you see the river way the frack down there?

Candice Burt, co-race director, was up on top taking pictures.  I begged her to allow me to drop out right there, but she told me that I had to keep going.  She did take a picture of me, but as you can see, I wasn’t smiling.

Clark at the top of the first climb

As soon as I caught my breath and felt as though my heart wasn’t going to explode I began to run, yes, run,  across the skyline and around the rim.  The heat of the day was building, which was adding to my challenge.  About 5 miles or so I headed down some steep terrain to the valley floor and across a most ancient or nearly ancient lake bed.  Soon, I was climbing again.  I, at this time, was running with another runner from the Island, Kristi, we started up another very steep, 2,500 feet or so.  After about a million false summits, we finally crested the top and were notified by a trail volunteer that we need to go even further up to the second aid station at 10.5 miles.  Once there we met our friend Susan, who was volunteering.  She ensured that we had all the fluids and food that we needed and then kicked us back down the hill.

Kristi and Susan at 10.5 mile aid station.

Before the start of the race, I asked James Varner, Race Director and all around nice guy, which Brooks trail shoes, the Pure Grit or the Cascadia would work best.  He thought about it for a second then said “well, it’s a little rocky, so maybe the Cascadia would be the better choice.”  As I was heading down from aid station 10.5 to the main trail I thought about what James had said.  “A little rocky” would be like saying Bill Gates had “a little money”.  There were rocks of all sizes and shapes, some hiding rattlesnakes.  I wore my Cascadias, which did a good job in protecting my foot, but I did catch a rock and bruise the outside of my right foot.  I was now running/walking with a slight limp – sort of like Chester from the Gun Smoke days.  Maybe not that bad, but close.  I was also having some stomach issues as well.  Might have been the heat, might have been a hydration issue, but whatever the reason my tummy was not happy.

Kristi took off like a bunny and I began working my way to the turn around at mile 15.6 and it’s cut off of 4.5 hours (this event was an out and back).  I kept looking at my watch and soon realized that I was not going to make the cut-off time, which was totally OK with me as this race was a planned training run for the my 50 miler quest at Sun Mountain on May 20.  With this relazation, I backed off and took it easy.  I enjoyed the sun, took in the views and encouraged the other runners who were on their way back to the finish line.

Although I knew I would not be finishing this year event, I was one happy camper because I knew that I didn’t have to run back the way I just came.  All those steep climbs and descents would need to be dealt with in reverse and I was happy not to have to do that.  About a mile from the 15.6 aid station I was meet by some running buddies heading back as sweepers and by my wife, Shelly, who was volunteering at the aid station.  Together we walked to the 15.6 aid station.   When reaching  the turn around, I was met by Kristi and some other runners who didn’t make the cutoff and were waiting for rides back to the start.  An hour later we were back where we started and drinking beer.  Ah, tasty cold and refreshing beer.  James sure knows how to put on a nice post run feast.

Nice Folks at Aid Station 15.6 - The Turn Around or Head for Home

Here are some things I learned from this experience:

  • Just because I have been doing some serious training, it does not mean that I am ready for any race/event.  I was not physically prepared to tackle the Yakima Climbs.
  • Heat.  Training for heat is important, which means I would need to travel away from the Island to do so.
  • Really study the course maps with elevation.  I didn’t.  If I had I would have noticed the 1500, 2000, 2500, 3000, and 3500 numbers along side the graph.
  • I also need to figure out my tummy issues.

I would do this event again.  In fact I am already thinking about next year.  In order to run it, I would need to travel to places, like Yakima, to get the serious hills training in.

Snake Photo by Candice Burt

We were warned that snakes could be out on the course, but I didn't see any. This photo taken by Candice Burt.

Run Happy, Run Hard and stay cool.

Clark



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