LooseCrew-JeffO: Jemez Mountain 50M


Ramblings of an adventurous guy living in Denver and playing in the mountains.
For my trail adventures, visit my Trail Bum blog

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Jemez Mountain 50M


I wasn't going to, but I took Friday off to drive down. I'm very glad I did. The spaghetti dinner was worth it. Okay, not stellar food, but worth it for a few reasons - it helped me to change gears from working/regular life to trail running, I got to touch base with several of my friends and see what talents were there, and I got some idea what I was in for.

I'm way too busy trying to fit in mileage. Time spent reading magazines, going to websites, is time subtracted from training. I don't know the names of many of the people I saw. I only know that they look like ultra stars, and I've seen then at many events. I will have to scope out the names on the results.
Kyle Skaggs won in 8:08 (new JMT50 record?). The first time I saw him, he was pacing Tony Krupicka over Hope Pass.
I met Ryan Cooper again. Very nice guy. We met at the Boulder 100 last year. For awhile, Jamie Donaldson, Ryan, and I ran together.
And I finally met Olga V! She was almost swarmed (like bugs around a porch light).
Shanna Armstrong kept us laughing. I met Vince, a doctor from Texas, Arron, and Jerry.
Jerry knew John Marini, the man who died at the Collegiate Peaks run. He ran with him a couple of times a year, and he said John organized a Rim-To-Rim-To-Rim run one year for about 20 people. John was a very nice guy who kept involved. I probably never ran into him because John only did one 50K, not sure how many marathons, but mostly half and shorter.
I digress...
I looked at the Google Earth KML file, so I had some idea what the course was like in macro, but not in detail. I had no idea they'd changed the course, either. This is how I set my goals: look at last year's times. I tend to fall in the 20% to 30% from the lead. That had me finishing in 11:10, with a dream of sub-11 to push for. But I wasn't sure because I knew a lot of the runners I've run even with who finished in about 12 last year. So that spread it out to a wild 11-12 hours. I just set it in my mind: push a tiny bit harder than Collegiate Peaks, and I definitely don't want to be out there for nearly 12 hours! Get it over with!

What I didn't know until Paul G told me at the finish, is that they changed the course! Last year's stats were meaningless!
I'm kind of glad I didn't know what I was in for. The course was so sadistically radical that you have to see it to believe it... And I brought my camera so you can see most of the fun. I forgot to take two very important photos. Both were two of the absurd vertical drops. You drop so steeply, it is quite possible to cartwheel if you fell. I think it possible that MOST of the runners gave a bit of blood on the first descent, and blew out whatever may have been left of their quads on the second. One runner got significantly injured, but I don't know who, where, or how. Let's just say this trail wasn't for the faint of heart.
We started in the dark at 5am. I was told that 153 50-milers started. I guarantee not nearly that many finished! And I also guarantee that it's no shame to DNF this race because the danger of injury and the toughness combine to give you all sorts of "sound logical reasons" to stop while you're still in one piece. But of course, I'm not logical or reasonable, so I LOVE sadistic courses!

We dropped down into a canyon and then climbed Guaje Ridge, which was devastated by fire a few years ago.

Looking down Guaje Ridge towards Los Alamos.

Climb the ladder - that's right, the ladder is part of the course.

Betsy Kalmeyer heading up Caballo Peak. I can't emphasize enough just how many downed trees we had to climb over. There were a few spots where there were clumps of four or more trees clustered in one fall. They did absolutely outstanding work clearing the course with chainsaws, but here were just too many. And it added more character to the course, so I loved it.

Betsy at the turn-around at the Caballo summit.
You gotta love volunteers. They sit and stand for hours - HOURS - in all kinds of weather. But look at this photo. He was calling out, "Turn around at the small tree!" There are three trees in this photo. Which one is the "small" tree? If you guessed the little one on the right, well, that's not the one he meant. He meant medium-sized tree on the left. Not a big deal, but confusing.
I lost count, but figured I was approximately 31st place at the top of Caballo.
Downhill! I love my downhill billy-goat legs! Yeehah! What a wild ride down! I may not climb well, but I fly downhill with the best of them.

Heading up the ridge towards the Pipeline aid station.
Here's where i missed a photo of the drop-off down from Pipeline. Pipeline is hte most significant aid station. I filled a tiny stuff-sack with food. I had an orange wedge. On the way down, I wiped-out and the bag was in my hand. The worst casualty was the orange got turned into orange-juice, inside and outside the bag. I had joked in the aid station, "All these cookies are organic, right?" Well, during the fall, dirt and granules of rock got inside. So the cookies ended up being organic after all! Incldibg trukey wrap, PBJ, and orange-flavored, soggy pretzels.

In the Caldera. Very muddy road, but some of the easiest running on the course for many miles.

Looking back towards Valle Grande aid station as I started the climb of Cerro Grande.
Wow, there was almost no one behind me! Look at the line catching up to me! I suck uphill, so I anticipated getting passed by multiple people. It didn't happen. I could only guess it was my billy-goat feet that held everyone off, because this was an extremely narly climb.

Look at the orange ribbons - that's the course, and it's steep! Narly!
There was intermittent snow on top. We climbed a saddle, climbed the ridge, and then it was miles of blessed downhill. No one had passed me on the uphill, and I don't recall EVER being passed downhill, so I felt great!
Unfortunately, this was the point I started getting dehydrated, slowly but surely. I guzzled but I couldn't seem to consume fluids as fast as I dried out. It definitely slowed me down.
This downhill trail was difficult, though. I stubbed my toes viciously a few times and my arms flailed like a windmill recovering. I almost wiped-out so many times!
The Pajarito Canyon aid station was so excellent! They offered me some more sun=block and I accepted. My drop-bag was offered to me. I exchanged my stinky yellow shirt for a clean one. Just as I left, another runner entered.
Then another run through burned forest and a grueling climb up a ski run...

Me on Pajarito Mountain I need to buy this photo!

The view of the Caldera from Pajarita Mountain. Beautiful!
Then it started snowing on me. Depending on where you were, it snowed, or grappeled, or rained.
Then there was the horrific straight-down the ski run to the lodge. The map shows a nice zig-zagging trail. Well, it didn't. It went straight down with plenty of mud and snow. Slipping wasn't avoidable. You just had to try to slip gracefull enough not to totally bust your ass. I dislodged a rock that rolled down the mountain keeping pace with me for about a 100 feet! That's how steep it was!
Can you say, "Trashed quads?" So what! I love running on trash quads!
This was the second photo I didn't take. Maybe I thought there was noway to see the angle from a 2-dimensional photo. I can't remember. I had visions of the time I broke my tailbone coming down Pyramid Peak. It snapped out loud like a dry stick.
The lodge iad was also so fantastic. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to shop. As my Camelbak was filled, I downed water, Dr Pepper, Mtn Dew, and water. Then I was heading back towards the Pipeline aid station.

After Pipeline aid station, we headed up Pipeline Road. It looks worst han it is, but still, I don't climb well. I looked back to see someone charging up after me. I just thought, "Yeah? Gimme some downhill and I'll teach you a lesson." But the dehydration was sapping my speed. I never got totally dehydrated, but just enough to significantly weaken me.
Mile 40.
Somewhere between 42 and 44 miles, Paul Grimm passed me. he was the guy coming up Pipeline after me. Suffering from dehydration, there wasn't a lot I could do but keep going. I couldn't go fast, but I could go, and not accept excuses. I was glad to find my legs involuntarily starting to run, even though my mind hadn't said to, even on uphills. This held off most of the other runners. I passed one guy and got passed by one other guy less than a mile from the finish.
Oh, the finish! Say, "Ow." Mommy, did my legs ever hurt! Yeah, buddy. They damn well better or I won't let myself hear the end!
I was a bit horrified until Paul told me they added 1000 feet of climbing to the course from previous years. hey, I guess I did okay.

Olga and I in front of the Posse Shack. Wow, photos don't do you justice, Olga! Very impressive.
There was excellent BBQ and water, but I ate so much on the course that I really wasn't very hungry. I could barely finish the one serving I got. I'm a BBQ-holic. So if I can't finish BBQ, I wasn't hurting for calories.


At 10:31 PM, Blogger Meghan said...

Oh wowow! That boulder field climb looks awesome. Reminds me of the Bridger Ridge Run! What a crazy, fun course. Congrats on running tough, in some wacky conditions. Lucky you spending time with the infamous Olga, as she is a doll! Thanks for sharing all of this!


At 8:06 AM, Blogger olga said...

JeffO, it was great to meet you too, and what an amazing run you had! This race had made my "A" list, I am in love!

At 8:10 PM, Anonymous Stephen Reynolds said...

Jeff, I never met you because I was 4-6 hours behind you. This is a great race despite my 12 hour plan being thrashed midway up the second peak.

And to say it once again --it cannot be said to too much -- the JMTR organizers and volunteers do an incredible job! Thanks!

At 1:09 PM, Blogger JeffO said...

Meghan - You had a pretty nice long run yourself. You're right, Olga is a doll.
Olga - You're a DOLL!! And extremely tough! If I'd had your stomach issues, I would have finished a couple hours later. You would've passed me. I think you must be faster and tougher than me, if we're given the same issues. You had an inspiring run.
Stephen - As they say,"Any finish is a finish." Way to rock on!
Yep, the volunteers were great. I told the RDs, "They were the best volunteers I've ever seen - and I've seen some great volunteers, so they had a lot of competition!"


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