LooseCrew-JeffO: HR100 Pacing Report


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

Monday, July 14, 2008

HR100 Pacing Report

Every year I mark my calendar. I'm obsessed with the LT100 and HR100. You gotta learn to walk before you can run - I have to finish the LT100 to be eligible for Hard Rock.

I drove down on Thursday evening after work. My friend and the runner I would pace, Paul G, called and talked me into driving all the way to Silverton.
There were two Paul G's - Grimm-n-Gross. The gross-er one was nice enough to offer his trailer to the grimmer one +sidekick, the Late JeffO.
I made as little noise and conversation as possible getting in. I was asleep within two minutes of climbing into my sleeping bag.
We woke at 4am.

I rode with Paul G - uh, the usual reaper - and milled through the throngs, putting effort into always yielding to runners.
The RD, Dale, was busy figuring out check-ins and wait-listed runners who were entered at the last second.
I left a military duffel with sleeping bag, towel, clothes, and water bottle in the gym.

The race started, I took photos, then I went for breakfast - buttermilk pancakes and eggs.

Then I drove to Ouray to take a nap.

Olga called, then four of us carpooled to Telluride.
Olga, it was very great to see you again. (That friend of yours, Mike, is impressive! I gotta be like him when I'm his age! He rulz!)

I went looking for lunch and beer. These are important things when visiting Telluride, I'm telling you. There was a yoga festival, but the only thing I cared about were these absolutely fantastic veggie-wraps full of rice, black beans, zucchini, carrots, peas, Cilantro, etc. Heaven. Then beer.
During this feast, Kyle Skaggs blew through the Telluride aid station. I got back and half a dozen people made sure I knew I'd missed him.

I stayed a long time, but my runner didn't show. Turns out, he got lost twice - once before each of the first aid stations. We went back to Ouray, but Kyle was so fast he was long gone up towards Engineer Pass.

The wait was fun. I watched and helped with many people I knew and others I wanted to know, and helped with people I'd just met.

Paul-the-Grimmer was late and later. He got lost again with the new, radical course change that led into Ouray. Total time spent off-course = well over an hour.
He felt good and seemed to be perfectly coherent. He spent 20 minutes shoveling food into himself.
His drop-bag was not there! This was critical. The sun had set and all his lights, jacket, gels, hydration pack, etc. was in there. He had to borrow from several sources but was outfitted okay when we finally left Ouray.

We headed up to Engineer AS in total darkness. It was a new course, so we were both searching for markers.
I had seen the sheer, narrow ledges in photographs. At night, it was just a black void with the sound of raging water emanating from the bottom. From the sound, you could tell it was a very long drop. This thrilling trail lasted off-and-on for over a mile. Finally we broke free of the gorge and found the AS. The camp fire was billowing choking smoke, but it was warm. This stop was brief.
We followed the markers on up, and up, and up. Since I was apparently the most energetic at that point, it was as if I was pacing for about 8 people. There was a pack ahead that seemed to be operating the same way.
From Engineer Pass to Grouse AS, there were no markers at all. Some jerk had removed all of them. I verified that there were a few, although not many because the course is easy there. But there were none when we went through. Paul and I knew pretty well where we needed to go. We saw one guy, who was actually a multi-time veteran, go the wrong way, but he was well over half a mile away, so we could only hope he figured it out. (He did and we saw him later.)

Paul's drop-bag was at Grouse, clearly labeled "Ouray". Better late than never, I guess.

After Grouse was the climb of Handies, then down to Sherman AS. It was over a mile of descent. Then up towards Pole Creek AS.

This is where things changed. Paul was feeling all the 13'ers and 14'ers he'd climbed the weekends before, and the 90 or so minutes of wasted time spent lost. His legs were going.
My strategy was to get him beond Sherman - we don't want to DNF on the Lake City side. Get to Pole Creek. We can't DNF there - there's no transportation! Continue to Maggie and hope for a ride. Can't get a ride? oh, well, we might as well continue to Cunningham. Well, we can't DNF at Cunningham - it's too close! Let's DO THIS!

But no matter what tricks I pulled, when we got to Pole, Paul was done. They had an extra sleeping bag, so he stayed the night and walked to Maggie AS the next morning.

On the way, my mind started freaking. It was like having aliens beam my mind/soul into a body that was hiking up a mountain trail. All of a sudden, I was there. One moment I was nowhere, the next, I was inside someone's body hiking up the trail. The memories of previous miles were injected a moment afterwards. Oh, so weird! And neither my steps nor conversation faltered. But I was freakin'! Woah! Happened again. And again. I took a caffeine pill, and it eventually put an end to it. It's the only caffeine pill I took the whole time, and it worked wonders. From now on, I'm taking a load of caffeine!

So, runnerless, and the sun getting lower, I ran on towards Maggie.

At Maggie, I refilled and ate. One AS guy didn't seem to appreciate me using resources. I responded that my runner's registration paid my way. Besides, I was helping everyone who came through. Then I picked up pacing for Marcus M. I think maybe Marcus' mind was doing to him what mine had done to me earlier.

What can I say? The stretch from Maggie to finish is worse than wicked. Dangerous, especially in the dark and not knowing the way, with a runner who is S-faced. For some reason, my mind was still sharp, but my left foot was swelling. Even with Paul G, the theme had been, so what? My legs are better than his. Don't emit a peep about any pains. Be positive and gung-ho. But those last couple of miles down into Cunningham were a BITCH! BITCH!!!! And the omen of the headlamps going vertically up the opposite side of the valley was surreal. It was like they were zigging and zagging up a wall. Thousands of feet more up and then down, and then a few too many miles through flats to the Rock. We were too late to make it, I think, but my foot was too swollen to continue.

I felt bad about it, but I bailed at Cunningham and got a ride.
Marcus tried to continue but hallucinations brought him back. He is so tough. He made it 91+ miles of HR100 terrain.
Jack, who was laid-out at Pole Creek at the end of his rope, passed us and finished.
I saw so many that were "too late", but somehow they managed to hang on, rally, and push to a finish before the 48-hour cutoff.

I need to stop here. I could expound, but this post is too long already.


At 11:25 PM, Blogger olga said...

It was great to see you again, and bummer about your foot - take care of it! Wasn't it beautiful??!!


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