Monday, October 8, 2012

Angeles Crest 100

Photo by Kevin Chan

On April 28th, I ran the Leona Divide 50 miler in the small town of Lake Hughes, CA. It features 40 miles of rolling single track on the Pacific Crest Trail. A Montrail Ultra Cup race with prize money and automatic entries to the Western States 100 at stake, there were some elite runners vying for prizes. There were also lots of first time 50 mile runners and many, like me, using this as one of their longest runs before a Summer 100.
The very next day, I rode in the American Diabetes Association Tour de Cure 100k in Long Beach, CA with my brother-in-law, Jim. An ADA fundraiser, this organized ride is a rare opportunity to legally ride across the bridges in the Port of Los Angeles. It starts in Long Beach and loops around the Palos Verdes Peninsula before returning to the finish near the Queen Mary. Riding a bike for several hours the day after running 50 miles was a great cross-training brick weekend.

Photo by Cindy Goh
In June, I had an opportunity for another high volume cross training weekend when my friend Deno invited me to pace him at the San Diego 100 Mile Endurance Run. Before joining my friend for the last half of his 100 mile run, I swam at La Jolla Cove on Friday evening with Ryan, an Insulindependence friend. It was my first time swimming at this iconic beach. Then, on Saturday morning I joined the Revolution Bike Shop ride in Solana Beach with other Insulindependence friends Blair and Brennan, who are both training for Ironman Arizona. Finally, on Saturday evening, I set out for an overnight 50 mile run with Deno in the mountains of Eastern San Diego County. He ran strong and was able to finish 100 miles in 26 hours, a whole six hours faster than his time at Angeles Crest last year where I also paced him during the second half of his run. He credits the improvement to the benefits of an additional year of ultrarunning experience as it positively affects training decisions and racing performance. After SD100, just before my race in July, he sent me a copy of Scott Jurek’s “Eat and Run” which emphasizes the importance of clean nutrition to complement athletic training.
Photo by Balmore Flores

All year, though, the training was focused on preparing to run for 30 hours or more if I were to succeed in completing the Angeles Crest 100 Mile Endurance Run. Training races were key workouts, but perhaps even more critical were training runs on the course. I had some memorable days on the Angeles Crest 100 trails, especially with Coyote Running friends Kam and David.

I hosted an Anvil Training Crew Meeting a few weeks before the race. We devised a plan that called for me to average 7.5 hours per mountainous 25 miles for the first 75 miles. Having volunteered as a pacer the previous two years, I knew I could very well need the remaining 10 hours to beat the 33 hour cutoff. Indeed, I would need almost all of it to run from Chantry to the Finish in Altadena.

I picked up my first pacer, Jay, at Chilao just as dusk hit. The downhill was just too technical to run. The ensuing climb was a welcome break after a cautious descent down into the canyon. Then, from Shortcut to Chantry, an Insulindependence friend Sean took over pacing duties. There were some sections that I absolutely needed to run and he motivated me to stay on track. I benefitted from his expert nutrition and diabetes advice. Specifically, he convinced me to skip a high caffeine drink that had some dairy in it. The compromise was to sip cola. I ran that section in 7.5 hours, arriving at mile 75, Chantry Flats, in almost precisely 22.5 hours.
Chantry was the last time I would see my full crew before emerging from the trails in Altadena. My crew was awesome. Jessica, Sonya, Sekar, and Jay took care of so many details. They assured me that my only job was to run and communicate my needs. Crewing is an endurance event. By the time I reached Chantry, my crew had already been supporting me for nearly 24 hours! They would all return to the see me across the finish line.

Peter, the Founder and President of Insulindependence was my pacer for the final 25 miles. The Insulindependence mission is to inspire people with diabetes to set personal fitness goals, educate them about adaptive management strategies, and equip them to explore their individual capacities. I am raising money for this charitable organization by running the Carlsbad Half Marathon in January. Please consider making a donation to this campaign by clicking here.

Climbing the Mt. Wilson Toll Road, we encountered a runner who was sure that he had encountered a bear. There were, indeed, widespread reports of a bear on the trail. I never saw it, but it enough to spur us to tackle the climb with urgent reason to vacate the area.

Dropping into the aid station at Idlehour, I was feeling strong and confident that I could finish the remaining 10 miles. I changed into my Coyote Running shirt and charged a couple of miles. With a mile or so remaining, my whole crew joined us. It was a special moment. We ran across the finish line and I finished my first 100 mile run!
AC Award Ceremony with Race Directors Hal and Ken, Photo by Jason Healy