Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Tick is Clocking

I know normal people would say, "The clock is ticking." But normal people wouldn't find a tick burrowing into their leg because they spent all night running in the woods as a birhtday present given to one's self. Here's the convoluted recap.

Sunday night.. the birthday week continues...
Who would go out and run 48 miles in the woods starting at 10 pm on the Sunday before Labor Day. .... No one.... except those of us that did.

I had to go, it was my birthday and somewhere along the way it became mandatory for me to run a mile for every year on the 3rd Rock from the Sun.... So, I had to go but Allen and Jessica, you two are crazy!! Let's see you, guys are young, you had the next day off, you are together, and you spent a couple of hours running with me. Nuts, pure nuts.

David House, shame on you, you're a newlywed. You ran all 48. Crazy, insane.

Lisa, by far the best looking of the 40+ mile crew. It was great having you out, but you are .... Shoot, you're young and single, shouldn't you have been out at a club instead of hanging out all night with us oldtimers? Whacky, inane, weird.

My man A2. I love ya, but there's something really not right with a dude that is recently engaged cutting short a naturalist day at the pool to get slathered in Bug Juice and eat PB & J's in the woods with an old guy.

Come to think of it... Dan you're not that smart either. 5 AM. 20 miles?

One question...... Don't you people have homes?

Well, that's you whacky guys, I can't think of a better way (out of options I actually had) to spend the Sunday after my 48th birthday than running 48 miles with yall!

ps, Jon, Andrea, Davo and Ilene are a little smarter, they slept in, didn't run as far and finished just as the coals got hot for the BBQ. Speaking of BBQ's there is no nap like the nap you take after running 10 PM - 9 AM, drinking 3 beers, eating too much food, hanging in the sun and then catching a ride home with your DD buddy! Now, can I tell you the nap was good, it was worth the run just to take the nap!!!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Geeks vs Nerds vs Kool Kats

Ok, let's end this controversy.

What's the best, what's the worst and what's reality?

See, my BLF stated that she was miffed because someone said she had some nerd like tendencies. Yeah right! As the taller brother in Rat Race said, "I 'ont 'ink oh!" (for those of you that haven't seen the movie 12 times, that's I don't think so) My BLF is the farthest thing from a nerd. She's got fashion savvy, she drive an SUV, She doesn't run her mouth when she should bite her lip, she's got a great sense of humor, on and on. So she's smart, that alone isn't enough to put you in Nerdville.

When I delivered this declaration to her, she just looked at me. "What, don't you believe me?" I ask knowingly.

She says, "er, well, ah, yeah, ok see, it's just that you are kind of a nerd, so you can't really judge."

What me a nerd? Let's check the criteria. Fashion Sense? Ok, I'll admit to owning a pair of Hush Puppies, and I still think digital watches are pretty neat. So, I'm going to take a hit here.

What was next? SUV? Well, no, but my Honda Fit is perfect for my lifestyle. Good gas mileage, can adjust the seats. Fit for function, not flare. Ok, I take a hit there too.

Holds tongue or spouts off? Ok, Ok, even though I'm 0-3 I'm still not a nerd, and here's why.

I also, cut my own hair! Those crooks at Fantastic Sam's want like $12 to cut my hair. Shoot my clippers paid for themselves in 3.1 months. Ha, thrifty see.

And the topper, I figured it all out on Friday night/Saturday morning as I was packing my car to meet my friends at 4:30 AM to run in the woods. As I was leaving the house at 3:30 AM my across the street neighbors were still partying on. Music blaring. People drinking on the porch. It hit me like a salami (hard!), as I used my running hat with the light built in I stared down at my combination water belt/fanny pack.... "I am not a NERD! I am a GEEK!"

Then why am I so happy? As my BLF said, "What do you care; you still get to kiss the girl?"

Call me what you wish, as long as I can kiss the girl, that's kool enough for me!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Just a Tough Darn Race


It's just a tough mnother. If you aren't from the mountains, or if you don't have Lance's lungs and supplements, your chances are slim.

My bud Chase, he trained hard. He lives in Colorado. He waxed me. He made it 75 miles and he was d-o-n-e, Done!

Poor guy, he chugged like hell to get to the turn around and he made it with an hour to spare, not easy at Leadville. he made it over Hope Pass, not once but twice. But that climb, it will just do you in, and it done him in. Not right away, delayed onset and guts got him another 20 miles down the trail.

Chase, come run Ancient Oaks with me, then we'll head to Kettle Morainne. Let's get out of that thin air and off those mountains for a while, we need a little success my bud.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Off to the Gym

Hey, you heard right.

Whadda you mean you don't believe it? Hey, hey, I used to go, back in 2002 when someone made me. And back in the 90's when someone made me.......

Ok, ok, ok, ok, but, but, I've been going for Five weeks now, and no one is really making me, I just had turned, you know a little doughy in the last 7 years.

So, believe, and get the needle and thread ready, because I'm coming back Ripped!

Don't forget your tickets, because it's gonna be a Gun Show!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Thanks Professor!

I'm a super running fan too!

I'm pretty sure I saw Star talking to a tree this morning, I think that counts!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

New Running Partner

I have a new running partner. Beautiful. Young. Long Legs. And like my coffee.... STRONG!

Yet, my BLF is not jealous, (not only because she has my heart) but because Luna is well, a picture is worth one thousand words (so why am I writing?)Three miles is nothing for this girl!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

No Body to Love

Last Summer (or was it two summers ago?) was the summer of the Panther. Several Croomers heard the Panther. We all talked about it, but I thought it was all codswallop! Aint no panther out there, there are only 60 -90 left. Then I'm running along and "Merlin's beard!" Loping along right in my path is our very own Croom Panther.

For years I've heard what a great place to dump a body Croom would be (some have even speculated that the name Bundy's Pit, came from the infamous Ted disposing of one in late 1970's). Again, codswallop I say! Croom would have to be the worst place to dump a body, Motorcycles, horses, cyclists, hikers, 4-wheel enthusiasts, and even the occasional runner use this park. No one would ever dump a corpse here!

And no one did, until Wednesday or Thursday this week. Yep, the body of one dead 46 year old man was found out there on forest road 7 on Friday.

Guys please don't start a rumor about aliens or bigfoot out there, these man eating Florida Panthers are enough!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Clean Sweep

No Chase, don't worry this story has nothing to do with the Rays recent meetings with the Red Sox of Boston. I wouldn't do that to you!

This one is for all you kids and bachelors out there. It's a good thing to sweep your kitchen floor at least once every six months! (And my kitchen, it's very small! I'm talking you have to walk outside to change your mind!)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Nice Surprise

Yesterday I got a notice from UPS, they had tried and tried to drop off a package to no avail. They didn't get the memo, I'm back at work, after only two months off too!

Well, I filled out the little form saying just drop that sucker on the porch. I didn't know what the package was, the sender wasn't listed. I'd already received the I-Pod I purchased for Alison's birthday (and I've already given it to her, even though her B-day is on the 26th, heck she deserved it :) I already received my swanky Kayak lift system (haven't installed it yet, but I've received it.) What's in the big box? I do not know, it's far bigger than Ali's I-Pod as you can clearly see! The suspense was killing me!

Now I figured anything else was a summons or a bill, so I wasn't too concerned about it being left on the porch. 1- I'm glad they left it today. 2- I'm glad it wasn't swiped by some neighborhood scavenger.

What is it? It's my really cool DFL plaque from Western States. The RD said he was going to send the poem, but shoot man, that was back in July. I'd forgotten all about the thing. And here it came today as I wore my Western States shirt to school (the students aren't at school yet, so we can go casual till Friday). The RD didn't say the poem was going to come in a huge box and that it was going to be in a $200 frame. Cool!

Here it is, I like it!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Get Lost!

Everybody can get lost. In fact, everybody SHOULD get lost! That's what I'm saying.

It was a blessing in disguise when both my running partners chose to sleep in this morning and I found myself at Croom solo this morning. I figured this was a chance to get in a run at my own pace (aka, walk whenever I felt like it without any pressure to pick it up from some pain in the neck who actually wants to get in shape!)

So I set off on the Yellow trail, it's only 12 miles instead of the usual 15. I also decided to run that trail in the reverse direction than I normally do. I don't often run this trail and every once in a while I get lost when I do. This morning about 6 miles into the trail I realized I had somehow, some where got turned around and ended retracing about 3 miles. Darn, I didn't have enough water to run the complete the course, so I decided to take a short cut.

And you guessed it, I got lost. I mean I knew basically where I was, and I knew which way to go when/if I hit one of the regular trails, so I wasn't too worried. I came upon a jeep road on which I had never run and shortly into it I was treated to the loveliest view I've ever seen out there. Hey this is nice I thought. Soon after that I happened upon a secret fort (I'm sure whoever built it thinks it's secret and hopes it stays that way.) The fort was really cool. Wind chimes, sculptures, cow bones, little hidey holes all over. It was fun.

Soon I did intersect with the orange trail hung a left and was back at my car after a beautiful, fun two-hour run. I took a day that could have been a drag, running alone and made it fun. How did I do it? By getting lost. So to all of you, GET LOST!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Vermont pix

Ok, a little late, but it's back (I finally parted with a couple of ducats and purchases a leedle netbook computer, I haven't figured it out yet, but I'll be trying!)

Ok, here's what we have:
My home in Vermont, Andy B's sign (I never wanted to see anything called the Barrett Patch, just brings up those mental images!)

Then David House's pacer (Darby or something, nice dude), Lindsey, he was Patrick's pacer.

P, Lindsay and A2 not seeing the beautiful flower as they trudge

A2 next what I can only assume is the Barrett Patch

Since June didn't see the signs on the left (and they were on the turn she missed) or the two others at that corner, sadly she never saw the sign on the right.

David looks as good as anyone at the finish ( that's saying something about the retarded nature of our sport the guy that looks the best is wrapped up on an army cot used by 4,000 sweaty dudes!) And I didn't want to leave out the trash can that Patrick puked in (oh, that's disgusting, it should read, the trash can into which Patrick puked. Yeah, that feels a lot better!)

A2 and Patrick at the finish, how sweet it is! A2 and Patrick love the horses that run the race along with the runners, here's A2 with Brownie and rider.

As promised (perhaps a little later :)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Vermont, 6th Edition

We made it back after having Made it at Vermont.

I will detail the heroic efforts of Patrick, A2 and David, later today, along with some groovy
pictures :)

But it was cool as mountain stream (for those of us that grew up in Florida, think, cool as the other side of the pillow!)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Vermont, Here we Come!

Well today I make my 6th trip to Vermont. I have run the race 4 times and this is my second trip as a pacer. I can't wait.

And my BLF takes this as a very good sign, I really wish I was running the race. I'm all kinds of antsy. I feel I could go up there and give it a great go, I really feel confident that I could finish; however, I am up there to crew and pace Patrick and Andy B, and that is what I shall do!

But, it's good to have a little eye of the tiger back! I have a creed to be a survivor!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Badwater Bad@ss!

Yall, give it up for my friend, and yours, Alisa Springman!There's all kinds of tough: There's tough like an old boot. There's tough like a Western Sizzler Steak. There's tough like Chinese Arithmetic, and then there's Springman tough!

Two Badwater Finishes in two years. Two Badwater Belt Buckles in Two years! This year under 36 hours (they give you 60! and a she beat the 48-hour Buckle requirement by more than 12, shoot my daughter can read Harry Potter 7 in less than that amount of time!), a scosch behind our boy Dean Karnazes (crewed and paced by the lovely Michelle Barton ).

Here's Dean and our friend Michelle Barton Pacing at B'Water

Alisa, my hat is OFF to you!

Alisa, Dave, and I at the Keys 100 2008, yeah, she won that race, oh, not just first woman, but won overall!

Not bad for Leigh Turbo Corbin either, 53 hours and change.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

What's Next to Next?

Fortunately, my good bud Andy Barret (aka AB, aka A2) answered the "What's next?" question for me. He answered this not once but twice!

First Next- Andy Mathews, come on down, you are going to Vermont! No, no, I'm not running, I'm not going for the DFL slam, but Andy convinced me (which was real tough, "What do you think about? And I'm like, "I don't think I do, I'm in" and in I am!) It gets to be first next because, we leave on, er, a, Friday! Yeah that's less than a week away. I'll be crewing for Andy and Patrick Bene. I'm hoping I get to pace them for a mile or 35 as well. It'll be a stone cold hoot though. We got the June Bug going up, David "in the" House, Mo's new squeeze Gentleman John, Andy, Patrick, and I'm sure a host of my ultra buds from across the US.

Second Next- I did it. I'm going to Maryland. I signed up for the nation's biggest 50-Miler, the JFK 50. Andy B struck again. "What do you think of..." "Hey Man, my app is in the mail!" And so it was.

Now gall dern it, this ought to help get me in shape for whatever is next-next-next before March's Umstead 100 (which I figure is Next-Next-Next-Next).

Thursday, July 9, 2009

So, What's Next?

Now that the two year odyssey of Western States is over, I'm asking: What's Next?

Well, the next big goal is Umstead on the last Saturday in March. I want/need to run that race in under 24 hours, I'd love to run it well under 24 hours. I've got to have a run with my good buddy Woody to clear my head. See a couple of years ago Woody was all down and out, he'd had a couple of DNF's in a row and was wondering, "Is it over?"

Well thank the good Lord, no it wasn't over for Woody, he's reeled off a string of finishes since he's last DNF at Vermont in 2007. He's flat nailed, Rocky, Umstead, Vermont, bang, bang, bang. I'm sure I've left some out, but the point is, he's been back and doing great.

I went from being 11 and 0 in 100 milers to 11-1 and now, I don't know what to call WS. Maybe I'm 11-1-1. I'd like to call it a finish, but really, I didn't complete the course in the time frame, and well, I liked what I did, but while I can count it as a personal success, I was not successful in the race. I can admit that (ouch!)
..................me already in trouble at Cougar Rock, mile 12.............................

So, now I set up for Umstead, it's far enough out that I have time to get in tip-top shape, but it's too far out to keep me interested, so I need some intermittent goals. I'm open.

Send me your thoughts.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Ta-Ta Ho

Well, Tahoe, I was there. It is lovely.
The only thing more lovely than a Tahoe, is a Tata.

Tata V Tahoe, you decide!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Buckle Down Award

To follow is and e-mail from the WSER Race Director about a nice little tid-bit I didn't know that the slowest dumb guy at Western States received (also is a copy of my heartfelt response to the race director).

This is great and all, but I would love for my next award to be for being fast, zoom, zoom!

-----Original Message-----From: wser100 To: AndyManMathews@aol.comCc: davidmthws@yahoo.comSent: Wed, Jul 1, 2009 2:36 pmSubject: WS100 finish line results
Hello Andrew,

Congratulations on the completion of your WS run. I am sorry you missed the 30-hour finish-line cutoff and were not able to earn the bronze WS buckle. I hope to see you back at WS sometime in the future. In spite of not earning the buckle, you should be very proud of your accomplishment Your mental and physical toughness is representative of the WS spirit.

This e-mail is to confirm your completion time of 30 hours and 37 minutes. Having cleared all the cutoffs, including the 10:15 cutoff at No Hands Bridge, you became an official winner of the "Never Give Up Award" and were so recognized at the awards ceremony. Had you attended the awards ceremony, you would have received the award, a framed quote from Bernard De Voto, which will be mailed to you. Those who qualify for the "Never Give Up Award" are not deemed official finishers and are not shown as such on the official finisher list because they crossed the finish line after the 30-hour cutoff. They are awarded the medallion for having completed the entire course. The results page on the Web site will be amended to reflect your status as neither "finished" nor "dropped."


Greg Soderlund, RDWestern States 100 Presented by Montrail

My Response:
Dear Greg,

In 2005 I was the last person from Florida to run WSER in less than 24 hours, hence the last to receive the coveted Silver Buckle. My friend from Tampa, Ryan Thomas achieved that distinction this year. 2005 was a special year; however, 2009 was more special!

I just can't thank you and the 1000's of volunteers enough! I have NEVER felt so much support in my life. The staff and volunteers were so supportive, giving up was never an option. Due to injury, heat, and altitude (yes, even at 8,000 this Florida boy had trouble breathing), my finish was always in doubt, but every time I pulled into an aid station, sometimes with just a minute or two to spare, the staff lifted my spirits enough that I actually believed I could finish.

It wasn't until my pace succumbed to heat exhaustion, and had to be carried out by a horse, at mile 97 that I knew I wouldn't be getting a sub 30 hour buckle. Yet, when I reached Robie Point, the long-worked, weary volunteers there filled me with soda and water and sent me down the road to a standing ovation in Auburn!

I've finished in the top-ten, I have many sub-24 hour buckles, in 2006 I was the Florida UltraRunner of the year, but YOU and the people at Western States made my race in 2009 the most memorable and special of my life!

Thank you for everything!


Andy Mathews
ps, please pass on my special thanks to Tim Tweetmeyer, he'll never know how much it meant to me that he ran out and encouraged me just before No-Hands. He had to know I wasn't going to finish in under 30 hours, but he really helped me keep on trucking when it was the last thing I wanted to do.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

View from the Back

I'm sorry this is really long, but I've been writing for hours and it feels like minutes. Believe it or not, I actually left some stuff out! But I guess when you are out there for 30:36 minutes a lot can happen! One comment I inadvertantly left out came early on in the race. At this point I knew I was moving slowly, but I was quietly enjoying the company of those running a similar speed. As one gentleman was groaning about being 2nd to last a recent race, another runner said, "yeah, you know what I call the guy that is 2nd to last? A Finisher!" At that point there, that's all I wanted to be, A finisher. I don't know if that's what I am or not, but I do know one thing, I'm not a quitter. I hope you enjoy the long story of my two-day run in the beautiful Sierra Nevadas!

Dear All,

Thank you all so much for the positive energy you sent my way during one of the most epic events in my life, the 2009 Western States 100 Endurance Run.

The trip and the run were like no other.

I could not help but think back to my 2005 Western States Run as I prepared for the 2009 version. I knew comparable resuits, a 23:44 Silver Buckle Finish, were not possible, but I told myself there was value in the quest. I told myself it would be a good experience to attempt the race, not even knowing if a finish was possible. I was sure right about that!

From the very start this race was like no other for me. The race director had warned of triple digit temperatures, but Allen, Ryan and I all agreed that our Florida Heat training would get us through, yet we knew it would be a lot tougher than we had hoped.

Within minutes of 5 AM starting gun I knew it was going to be a long day and a long race. I kept going back to the words of my friend Rob "Nails" Cowan, "You've got 30 hours, just take your time." Well, I was taking my time, but the heat and the aititude were both rendering all my efforts ineffective. By mile 1 Allen had dropped me. By mile 2 people were already asking if were were on a 30 hour pace. By mile 3 people around me were already talking about the time cut-offs. These are not topics that I am used to covering in my races. Usually I am in the group wondering how far under 24 hours we were all going to go. But I recognized right off the bat that these runners had heart! These were my people! They set off on every run just trying to get the most out of it and enjoying every mile they are out there. It was different, it was scary, but it was good.

By the first major checkpoint at Red Star Ridge (mile 16) I was already in serious trouble of not making the time cutoffs, and as hot as it was, and with the aititude affecting me, I wasn't sure I wanted to continue. Three things kept me going: 1 I had on my Don't Quit Bracelet. I have worn it virtually everyday since my daughter presented it to me on Father's Day in 2005, and I have never quit, and I just couldn't let misery change that! 2- I had Frank Sierra there to pace me, that's the only reason he had come, I couldn't just quit. Also the beautiful June Leland was there to crew. These two, what great people! I am so blessed to have these friends! 3- Gordy was still behind me, so I knew that if the guy that had invented the race, that finishes in all conditions, was still behind me the situation couldn't't be as dire as I thought.

Well, I was wrong, things were that dire. As I left Red Star Ridge, everyone was talking about the cut-offs, and expressing concern that we had slipped below 30-hour pace. At the beginning of the race, aid stations are spread way out (I no longer feel guiity about only having 4 aid stations for the 15 mile Croom loop!) and after Red Star I had to go almost 8 miles to the next aid station. In that time with temperatures already pushing 100 I ran out of water. Fortunately for then and now (I'll let you know the final resuits!) the course crossed a swift running stream and I filled my bottles. "I'll worry about Beaver's Revenge later" I thought, "I need water now!" As I progressed towards the first chance to see my crew and pacer at mile 30, Robinson Flat, my feeling of doom intensified. I was hoping I wouldn't make the cut-off, everything in me said, "Quit! If you quit, you can drink a beer, hang out by the pool, you can be over this madness." But those 3 feelings, bracelet, Crew, Gordy came back to me, and I kept going.

When I got within a few hundred yards of Robinson Flat a volunteer told us we had 20 minutes to be out of the aid station. I perked up, I was ecstatic, I thought he said 2 minutes. I knew that there was no way I could pass a medical check and fill my bottles and be out in 2 minutes. Sadly, he said 20 minutes, and yes, I could linger and drop, or I could get moving. I decided right then, "NO MORE whining!" Just move, do what you can do!

First I saw the doctor for the medical check, I was down 6 pounds, and looked really bad. When he asked me how I feit, I looked him in the eye and lied my ass off! "I feel great. It's a beautiful day!" Had he asked me two minutes before I would have been honest: My heart rate is sky high, I can't get it down on the climbs, I'm dizzy and I have a pain in my chest. I couldn't't tell him that. Frank had flown all the way out to pace me, June to crew me, and I hadn't even seen them yet. I owed it to them to keep going, God, I wanted this thing over, I was miserable.

Enter a fresh Frank, he saw me right after I'd bamboozled the doctor, and I had to perk up again. "Hey buddy, good to see you! Where's the June Bug?"

"Oh, she's at the end of the aid station, Whatcha going to need?"
"Just a Boost, I've kind of got to get moving."

I was in such a hurry because now I only had about 13 minutes until the 30 mile cutoff that I didn't get half the stuff I really needed, I just had to get moving.

Flashback, In 2005 I hit that same point just under 24-hour pace. 2009 I am 30 minutes over the 30-hour pace, what is going to keep me interested? What is going to keep me going. Well, it was new territory, I'd just have to focus on the cut-offs from aid stations to aid station. I had one small goal, one big goal and one goal that I couldn't't even think about: Small goal, make it to the next aid station before they closed. Big Goal, make it to Michigan Bluff, mile 55 to see June and Frank again. I want Frank to get run at least a little of the course. Gigantic goal, Placer High, Auburn, CA, finish line. Don't think about that, that's WAY down the road.

Side note, Gordy finally passed me going in to Robinson, we chatted, he said it was a tough day, his body wasn't working, he dropped. My mind was reeling. If the guy that invents the race, the invisible Gordy Ansleigh drops, where does that leave me?

Ok, now I'm running aid station to aid station. I know that I have to have a lot more time in the bank then 12 minutes if I'm going to make it over Devil's Thumb at mile 47. Devil's Thumb eats it's dead, I had told myself before the race, "I just have to make it over the thumb." I kept my head down and stayed focused every second after Robinson Flat. I had to make it to Michigan Bluff, I had to make Frank's trip mean something. I hurt, I wanted to stop, I wanted to rest, but I didn't, I just moved. If it was runable I ran it, if it was up the mountain, I gritted my teeth, cussed a little (ok, a lot) and walked it. I did not stop until I got to the base of the thumb.

I had buiit a nice 45 minute cushion against the clock before my assent of the Thumb. If I could just get up that 1.7 mile stretch without stopping my day would go a lot smoother. I'm sorry to say it took me an hour to move those 36 switch-backs. I had to stop and rest every minute. I didn't want to stop, but my heart was beating so rapidly and my breathing was so erratic, it was a choice, it was survival. Finally, I made it up to the top, my 45 minute cushion had turned back in to 10. Even with only 10 minutes ahead of the cutoff, I had sit down for a second, have some Coke and a cup of broth. I did not linger though, I knew if I wanted to see Frank and June that I had to get up and get gone.

Leaving the Thumb I hoped I had the tenacity to make it to Michigan Bluff, 8 miles away. Yes, Devils Thumb is the steepest climb, but there is one almost twice as long before Michigan. I told myself, well, all you can do is push. Again, this was so new to me, I had to concentrate on those damn time cut-offs all day long. I could not relax, and this was grating on me badly. Happily any thought of quitting was long gone though. I wanted to see what was inside me.

I quickly feit better leaving the Devil's Thumb aid station as I descended the back side of the canyon, only to find out it was the front side of another canyon. At the bottom of the canyon was another aid station, where they informed me I was once again 30 minutes ahead of the time cut-off. I knew that would change with the assent. I was right, everyone I had passed as I was running down the canyon passed me on the way back up. I still just have no answer for climbing those hot mountains at aititude. I suppose it would help if I were in shape, but it was too late to change that now, all I could do was keep going, so that's what I did.

I got into Michigan Bluff as darkness was enveloping Eastern California (in 2005 I didn't need a flashlight until well after Forest Hill at mile 62) There was one perk with getting in to Michigan Bluff as late as I did (20-Minutes before time expired) Frank was allowed to pace me from that point on. Great I thought, He'll get to run a little, I won't have to push, and well run till they pull me from the course, which I knew couldn't't be too long.

Frank was immediately uplifting to me. We hit some canyon, Deadwood, or Duncan, and he went crazy, he was loving the down hill running, but experience had tempered my excitement because if I knew one thing about this Western States Course, "What goes down, must come up!" And I wasn't looking forward to that! Still we kept the hammer down and actually picked up some time against the clock (the clock the clock the clock, it's all I thought about the entire race! Jeez, was I ever even going to get to think about the big goal, the finish line? I hoped I could think about Placer High, but right then it was just getting to the mile 65 aid station.)

We made it into Forest Hill with 30 minutes to spare, but no time to waste. June hooked us up with extra flashlights and some Boost for Frank and we off like a .... snail. I had an ebb in energy. I hadn't been able to sit down even for a second, I had lost 10 pounds and I was dead tired, but I knew I had to keep moving. ARGH!!

We hit the trail, which is usually one of the highlights of my Western States Experience, I've done the race only once, but I've also done the training camp twice, so I've done that section of the trail 3 times) when we hit the big descent all I could do was jog. Poor Frank, he wanted to let it all I go, but every step I took was torture. My quads were gone, my feet were a mass of blisters and my get up and go had got up and went!

But, we soldiered on. I was able to put that pain somewhere in the recesses of my mind and we started passing people, a finish actually seemed possible. We hit the aid station at Peachstone, mile 65 and we had 45 minutes to spare! I told Frank if we could get it up to an hour.....

Well, then something really weird happened, Frank and I lost each other. I don't know how we did it, but somehow on a trail not 2 feet wide, we got separated. We had earlier agreed, that as the runner, I would leave him behind if he got in trouble, but that as the pacer he would go to the ends of the search to ensure my safety. Well, we both did as we agreed! When he disappeared I was worried, I was sad, but I said to myself, I'm going to keep going, that's what Frank would have wanted. So on I marched. But without Frank to cheer me on (aka force me to keep running) my pace slowed and my blisters hurt and I was feeling sorry for myself.

Just before I pulled into the Rucky Chucky aid station at mile 78 a group of runners caught me and informed me that my pacer, Frank, had twisted his ankle and had gone back to the Peachstone aid station to get help. "oh, well, I'm on my own," I thought.

At the Rucky Chucky aid station my weight had come back up 5 pounds, so I was only down a net of 5, and after crossing the American River I found a bright and attentive June to refresh me. They had the world's best podiatrist at that aid station, and since my time cushion was at 45 minutes, I decided to have my blisters fixed. The twenty minutes I gave back were well worth it, I got to catch up with and talk strategy with June, and the podiatrist was a magician with my feet. When I got up from the chair, with a lot of help from June and the Doc, I feit better than I had all day! I started the two mile walk up to Green Gate with a new sprained in my step, and then it even got better; out of nowhere popped Frank! He had indeed gone all the back to the aid station before the River, but not because he was injured, he was only looking for me and was concerned that I had fallen injured. When it was apparent I hadn't gone back there, he hotfooted it to the river, and the time I spent with the foot doctor had enable him to catch back up! Together, we attacked the hill only to find out that because of my rest stop, our backs were against the clock wall one more time! We had to get moving right then. The Clock, the clock, the damn clock!

Mile 85 as we were pulling into the aid station 30 minutes ahead of the cut-off. Darn, we just can't get any time in the bank. As soon as we got to the aid station they started hustling us out. What, I thought we were fine. No, it's a long way until the next aid station, "you've got to go, the next station has a mandatory medical check" so off we went.

As we came into Auburn Lake Trails at mile 90 we head a horrible sound, the horn went off, not once but twice. Oh, no did we miss it? No, wait, two blasts means 20 minutes till it closes. Ok, 20 minutes ahead of the cut-off and 10 tough miles left, it won't be easy, but nothing has been easy all day, all night, and into the next day, we press on!!! Except, at the medical check, I back to 10 (or 11) pounds down from my stating weight. And I say to the doctor, "Cool!" and he says, "Well, actually not cool. It's hot and dangerous out there. What you need to do is sit over there for 10 minutes and drink 4 glasses of fluid before you go."

Ok, I pull in with 20 minutes to spare and you want me to give 10 right back? I say, "Doctor, listen, I've got 15 miles left and I'm only down 10 pounds, can't I just go and I'll drink when I'm done?"

"No, sit down there."

I move over the chair, pound two cups of soda, and as soon as he looked away, I slid out of the chair and checked out of the aid station, one problem, my pacer wasn't savvy to my run-in with Doctor Doright, and I have to like whisper to Frank as I'm going so I don't alert his holy doctorness ( I know he was only looking out for my safety, but I really wanted to finish this race!), "hey Frank, let's go!" To which Frank says, "Just a minute I'm grabbing something to eat." "No time my man, I'm going!"

It wasn't until we got down the trail and out of the doctor's ear shot that I filled him in on my escape. Frank and I got our story straight. "If it comes up, we'll swear we thought the doctor said two minutes, not 10!" Would I lie to finish the race? Only to me, you and God himself!

Ok, now we had one hour to get three miles to Hwy 49 at mile 93. Three miles, one hour, no problem unless..... Just as things seem to be going well, and for the first time all day a finish seems possible, somebody puts one more damn mountain in your way!

What the heck? We're going down this perfectly good jeep road, it's going right where we need it go, we can hear the aid station, and the course makes a left and goes right up the mountain! At first it looks like it's just going around something, but soon, it comes flooding back, the memory of this climb and how poorly I've done on it all three times I've done it, only, I've never tried this climb under the pressure of time. I got angry! I cussed. I romped, I stomped, I may have even cried. But, I couldn't stop! My bracelet, my effort, I couldn't't let it die with less than 10 miles to go. When we finally got to top, I looked at my watch. Only 6 minutes to get out of the aid station that we aren't even at yet. Well, I knew it was probably a lost cause, but I was going to go down fighting, from somewhere I got the strength to run and run hard down that mountain. Then, miraculously, there was Highway 49. I didn't even look for traffic, I just burst across the road with Frank in tow. They greeted me with cheers at the aid station, I was the 2nd to last person allowed to enter the aid station before it closed (I had passed the last on the that downhill going to the station) I mean they gave me the bums rush out off there. Checking in by the cut-off is not enough, you have to check out before it closes. I checked out with 3 minutes to spare! Yoikes!

Ok, June took all of our dead flashlight and hooked me up with a Starbucks cooler, but once again there was no time to chat, no time to adequately thank June for all her help and encouragement. 7 miles to go, less than two hours on the clock, it didn't look good, but I figure, well, we're still in, so were still going.

We had three miles to get to the next aid station at No-Hands Bridge and one hour until they closed at 10:15, but I figured realistically, I needed one hour from No-Hands in. I had done that climb 3 times, and never faster than an hour. So, I pushed, and I pushed. At mile 95 Frank and I got a rare treat, Race President and 5-time Champion, Tim Tweetmyer met us on the course and ran with us for 1/2 mile telling us what to expect and complementing our courage, telling us we were doing great. At this point I was in Dead Last place. The only living things behind me were the horse and riders sweeping the course. Frank and I kept stepping off the course encouraging the horses to pass, it wasn't until later they told us, they weren't allowed to pass because they were the sweeps and we were the last runners. They had to make sure we didn't die out there!

My heart sank as the 10 hour passed and we had yet to hit no-hands. Not believing in the no-win scenario, I changed the coordinates. "I'm In this race until they pull me!" I came into No-Hands at 10:10. 5 minutes ahead of the last cut-off, and 50 minutes before the last buckle could be awarded. I figured, somehow, someway, I just had to keep pushing. No, I had never done that tough climb and road finish in less than an hour, but I'd never had to either. I didn't know how long it would take me, but I knew I could make it. I'd learned one thing after 29-hours and 10 minutes on that course, I was a lot tougher than I thought I was. I had on my Don't Quit bracelet, I had the best pacer and the best crew, and I was going to hit that track running!

I figured, ok, I need to hit the street at Roby Point with 20 minutes to spare. If I can do that there is a chance I can run the 1.5 miles to Auburn in time. As I climbed I noticed Frank was no longer back there. Having lost him once I was a bit concerned. I thought about waiting, but I knew that was a cop out, I had to push on. After about 15 minutes of pushing up the hill I heard voices behind me. It was one of the equestrian sweeps. Evidently Frank had succumbed to heat exhaustion just 2.5 miles from the finish line and had to be carried out on a horse. I was truly on my own now. As the clock ticked and trail went up I did not have the legs to get me to the top with my 20 minute window. With every step that I couldn't't see the road I lost a bit of steam. When the clock ticked past 15 minutes to go, there was no longer any chance of winning that beit buckle so I sat down on the side of the trail and cried. How could I come 98 miles and fail right here? How could it happen. I'd paid for the race twice. I'd traveled out twice with friends and family, and what would I have to show for it? Nothing I thought. Then an angel appeared.

I don't know where she came from, I don't know why she was there, but she came up next to me, and gave me the news about Frank. She also said, that I was right, I would not finish the race in time for a buckle, but she said, who cares? You can still run all the way to the finish. It will still be 100 miles. "That's pretty special she said." Then up pulled a very fit young man named Mark, he commented on my Umstead shirt, he had won Umstead this year (I knew he looked familiar) and he agreed with my angel. "You know, I just came out to see who was the last person who had the courage to do what I couldn't't. I dropped at Devil's Thumb, but you are still out here. You can finish! You can beat me, you can beat Scott Jurek, and even Dean Karnazes dropped. But to do that you have finish going up this hill and run to the high school."

Between the two of them, they pulled me (figuratively) up the mountain to the Robey Point aid station where I sat at 10:58. I filled up my water bottles, had some Coke and 1/2 a cracker while the aid station guys told me how great I was and how brave I was, I'll tell you I didn't feel either. As I was still in the chair at 11 am when the race officially ended, the sweeps approached me and gave me the option, I could accept a ride from them or I could get up and go right then and finish under my own power. The aid station worker took one look at the sweep and said, "He's going, and he's not taking a ride!" Well, what could I do? I got up, my angel was with me, "I'm Analisa, whe said, you should know my name as we'll be going into Auburn together!" "Analisa, let's go then!"

I'd love to tell you about how I sprinted through the streets of Auburn and made it in there just after the time cut-off, but that wouldn't be true. I walked, and I walked, and people in sitting in their yards seemed to know where I was going and that I was last and that I wasn't getting a beit buckle. They knew and they were supportive! Keep going, you are doing great! It's the accomplishment, not the buckle. And I knew they were right! I had only wanted to quit for the first 30 miles, then I had only been running for Frank and June, then for the buckle, now I was running for me, and finally, that's what I did, I started running. When I hit the track in Auburn, I could have been discourage because they were already tearing down the finish line. I could have been ashamed to be in last place, but I wasn't. I was thrilled to be finish this event, and then something happened that will probably never happen for me again. When spectators and race participants noticed me entering the track 35 minutes after the event's official end they started cheering. People got off their feet and clapped. Friends ran to the edge of the track and cheered! I didn't feel last, I feit great! I feit courageous, I feit better than the times I had finished in the top ten, I feit better than all of my Silver-Buckle finishes, I was on-top of the world! I raised my arms in appreciation for those cheering me on and I ambled towards the finish. They had to move a baracade in front of the finish line, and I had weave around a truck, but they still had the timing matt at finish, and I received a hug and finishers medal to go along with my standing ovation. I looked for my angel to thank her, but she was no where to be found.

Two days later when I look back at that finish the tears still well-up. I wish I had done better, I wish I had won another buckle, but I wouldn't trade the experience I had for anybody's! I'm just another guy, but at 11:36 AM on June 28th, I sure feit special!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

And We're Off (our Rockers!)

It's almost 5 AM PCT here in Olympic Village... Oh, yeah Scott (wow, that was 7-Time Champ Scott Jurek). Yeah, you seen Mookie? Oh, up there with Bonehead, I'll check it out, thank's champ.

Hey Mookie (that's Jen Shelton, world record holder in the 100-mile, in under 15-Hours), what I was wondering was, oh, hey Bonehead, how they hanging, no, jeez, don't show me, ok, alright, impressive, no what I was wondering was, you guys seen Karno? Oh, yeah, up there, signing autographs, ok, thanks.

Hey Karno, who's it han...., I mean how's it going? ah, huh, I just wanted to, ah, huh, ah huh, ah huh, yeah, listen I just wanted to, ah huh, ah huh, no, no autograph, no, no, listen, I just wanted to know.. ah, huh.... ah huh, ... No really WhereAreMichelleandRobThey'refriendsAndAll, ok, up by the start, thanks, Karno, and thanks for all your help with the blog.

Hey Nails, hey Mischa, looks like we're as close to first as we're gonna be all day huh? What? Am I Andy Mathews? No but I used to be!

Good luck to us and BANG there the gun.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Follow, Follow Me

Here it is:

http://webcast.ws100.com/ Event webcast, follow my runner, whatever they are calling it. Of course, you can just click on the WS Buckle (I wanted the Buckle, I wanted the Buckle) on the Right side and take the long way there, oh, it'll work.

At 8 AM EST (5AM PCT) I'll be off and running from Squaw Valley beat-feeting it towards Auburn, CA.

I am number 311, Andrew Mathews
My boy Allen Kuhn, 212
Michelle Barton (she's a Rock Star!)-103
"Nails" Cowan (oh, he's that tough!)- 107
Karno- 15
Gary Griffin- 233
Chrissy "Xy" Weiss- 187

And the rest all here on Gilligan's Isle! You have to be over 45 to understand that one. Mary Anne and the Professor got the short end of the stick on that first season on the Island.

Live long and prospect!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Visual Eyes A Shun

You've got to visualize. You've got to use visualization.

I should use visualization to spell visualization. I'm not kidding, spelling and me aren't very good company. When I was in 8th grade, no I didn't say 3rd grade, when I was in ate-th grade I got gnocked out of the spelling bee on the word..... Baker, ouch! I spelled it B-a-c-k-e-r. God love her, Mrs. Woodward tried to play it off like anyone could miss such an intricate word, but I knew right there that that was to be my last spelling bee.

Back to Visualization: As I stood on the starting line of the 2005 version of the Western States 100, an enormous calm flooded over me. I just knew that I was going to finish the race, I knew that I was going to do well, I even knew I'd run the race in less than 24 hours. The visualization was so strong it felt like I had already completed the race. Really, it felt like on another time-plain, I had already done the race.

Andrea keeps saying that I need to visualize success, and I agree that it is a powerful tool, and that it works. In Golf, when I visualize a putt going in, I always make it. In basketball, I suck at basketball, and this isn't magic..... I certainly used it on my last Western States, but I can't get a feel yet on how this one will go. I feel good enough to give it a go when I get out there on the starting line, but I can't tell you, yet how I'll finish, oh, I can see the finish line, but I can't yet see the buckle, And we all know, I WANT THE BUCKLE. OH, I WANT THE BUCKLE!!!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

It's a one-star World

See, I only booked the hotel in North Lake Tahoe because I thought Hotwire said they featured On-Star, you know that emergency service that will rush to your aid in case you've fallen and you can't get up!

Turns out Hotwire was saying that the Luxurious Tahoe Inn is a One-Star hotel, Not an On-Star Hotel.
Who knew? I hope the crew doesn't mind. Hey, it's only two nights, and they will have the Giant Poodle Monster artwork to keep them company (This panting is not only in the hallway, but in every room, at least twice in every roon!)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

No Sandbagging, I'm Going to Kick Bootie!

I'm going to Western States a week from today. And I'm going to chew bubblegum and kick butt, but guess what; I'M ALL OUT OF BUBBLEGUM!

So, what's left? That's right, I'm going to open up a can of whoop-a$$ on those mountains.
Sound like a different AndyMan than the last year? Well, I feel like a different AndyMan. Shoot-Bang, just a month ago, I hadn't even made my plane reservations, and I couldn't even commit to my favorite crew-pacer person, Ultra-Champ/Miss Pennsylvania, Alisa, that I was even doing the race. But, in one month's time since one groovy run, I've been in the groove and have put together a crack crew.-June Leland, Crew Chief, 100 mile veteran, funniest woman alive!
-Frank Sierra, Pacer with payback in mind. He rocked at Umstead and demanded to repay the favor.
-Allen Kuhn, 100-mile veteran, Ironman champ, great entertainment.

Hey, Western States, get ready, because I aint taking prisoners!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Western States Fly Over

There are a couple of really neat features you may want to check out on the Western States Blog, http://ws100.com/ (You can also get there by clicking on the belt buckle on the right had side, by the way, that is a picture of the last Silver Belt Buckle awarded to a runner from Florida. Ryan Thomas will certainly render that no longer true, and my man Allen Kuhn has an excellent shot at earning one as well.)

Back to the neat things from the WS100 website. First there is the Google Earth Flyover. You can take a complete tour of the course and see that it's no Umstead or even Vermont. Most (90 - 95%) of the course is on Single-Track mountain trail with a tad bit on jeep road or groomed trail, but not much. Here is the specific link for the flyover, you can also get there from the tab- The Course on the general site: http://ws100.com/flyover.htm
There is also the photo tour of the trail, those of us with Fisher Price and Playschool computers are better off here. Sadly, it doesn't give you the true sense of the steepness of the 36 switchbacks of Devils Thumb: http://ws100.com/phototour/01_SquawValleyToEmigrant/SquawValleyToEmigrant.htmlSo, check it out, see what I'm in for, and say a little prayer to the trail Gods, I'd like to come back in one piece! (You might also take a second to say a little prayer for Allen, as he's been known to trip over his own shoe laces; however, not even that seems to dampen his boisterous spirit! And say an entire rosary for Dr. Frank, his spills are numerous and fairly dramatic, Theresa may never forgive me if he doesn't come back from the mountains!)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Sorry Tampa, I'll need your Power

Sorry about this all you under the service of Tampa Electric Company but the deal for the computer fell through. Turns out Julie wanted money for the computer, I hoped she would take a check (that's a joke). No, she couldn't take it off of e-bay since there were already bids on it. So, even though I was buying the computer for $300, I threw in a bid of $400 to keep it safe and that worked until right before the bidding closed this bast.... consumer scooped it up for $450, so all in all I made Julie $150 more than she was counting on, hence, sadly I'm still on the Fisher Price computer.

If anyone knows of a deal out there were I can watch, listen, AND write, I'm all ears. In the mean time, buy stock in TECO, they're going to busy supplying the energy to run this old computer.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Western States E-Mail Updates

Now I know why Western States HAD to keep Chase's, my, and the other 400 entrants' money last year...... they built a fancy new feature in their website. You can sign up for e-mail updates of my progress (#311 Andrew Mathews) during the race.

Oh, sure, updates have been available for years via the event webcast at www.ws100.com, but this here link: http://webcast.ws100.com/emailtracksignup.php will take you to the part where you can sign up and everytime I go through a tracking station you'll get an e-mail. Why you can stay up all night (and a good part of the next day :) and see me through this thing.

Now I'm glad they kept Chase's money!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Tail of the Taper

There's a lot of taper talk.

3 Weeks before the race you should....

2 Weeks before the race you should...

..... back off the mileage....

............ nothing over 10 miles at a moderate pace....

Truth is nobody knows. Truth is nobody even knows what works for them. Sometimes one thing works, and then you can try to do everything the exact same way and it doesn't work at all. That's running, that's life.

Oh, I don't think it's smart to run 100 mile weeks the month of your race, and I don't think it's smart to do a hard race the month of your race, but there are many who even argue with that. Ultra-running buddy Michelle Barton was just interviewed on Karno's blog and she swears she runs best if she does a hard race, not the month before her goal race, but the week before her goal race! That's hardcore, and I can't imagine it would work for me...... however, I ran a 22:59 in Vermont one week after running the Grandfather Mountain Marathon, so....

All that said, my body tells me, why try it? Take the final 2 weeks before the race and relax a bit. Oh, a few training runs here and there, capped by a 15 mile Croom run next Saturday at a social pace, but mostly chill.

Maybe it's a good idea, maybe it isn't, what do I know? Shoot, my goal is to run 100 miles in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, it's a crapshoot any way. I can do it, I have done it, and I'm going to give it a helluva try, but basically I'm going up there on no more 3 months of training and only 2 quality months. Good luck to me, because if you can't train, luck is what you need!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Croom Zoom, Croom Zapped!

Good God Almighty I'm getting tired of hearing about budget cuts! Budget Cuts, Smudget Cuts, it's all we here about.

Hey man you wanna go down to the drugstore and hang out this summer?
I can't.
Why not?
Budget Cuts.

Ok, that's maybe a bad example, but here are a few that are worse examples, because they are all true.

Me worky for less the upcoming school year than the last. Why? Budget cuts. Ouch, really less? Yeah really. hey, can I work less hard? Better not, they do con you into "Just being happy you have a job."

A good buddy ultra runner: Just bumped down 6 pay grades and had to bump another dude out of a job. "Hey, we love you, you're a great employee, go back to six years ago, no matter how close you are to retirement!" That blows!

Flatwoods/Morris Bridge/Wilderness Park- As of 10/1 they will only be open 5 days a week. Gee, they are pretty crowded now............ Er, yeah, try to keep us out, no really try. I'm betting we're looking at Monday/Tuesday closure but they haven't said yet.

Croom: Cut staff and are allowing NO OVERNIGHT EVENTS. Good thing that doesn't include the Croom Zoom right? right? hey, but, we were approved before the cuts, so... So, nothing, we got the ax! No Croom Zoom in 2010, maybe next year.

My hats off to the great State of Florida. We've been moving them in, 1000 a day, since I was 12. That 1000 a day for 35 years and we couldn't save on damn dime? Makes me feel like a financial success! Hell, I've done better than the city, the state and the country and I don't have a single financial egg-head working for me!

Hey, AndyMan, want to go play kickball in the field? No man I can't, budget cuts.

Budget cuts my slash!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

All Packed and Ready to Go!

Ok, just purchasing my last few things for Western States:

From CampMor- 5 handheld flashlights @ 50% off (I wanted whole ones, but they were more:)

1 swanky pair of Angel sunglasses.
From Hotwire (and these are actually rentals): 2 hotel rooms at the fabulous Tahoe Inn in King's Beach, CA. 2 Hotel Rooms at the World Famous, Grand Sierra (no relation to Frank) Casino Hotel in Reno, NV. One Mid-size Avis Car (complete with extra insurance, I learned this from Chase!)

From Western States Store, one safari hat, one WS Travel Mug, One T-Shirt for my BLF, but don't her, it's a SUR-PRIZE!

From Julie's fabulous, though soon to be retired, MyEndurance- 1 Nathan Hydration Pack, like Andrea's, two body 1.3 oz Body Glide, and one HP 2700 LapTop.

Not that I don't appreciate this 1960's Dell computer that my good friend Natalie gave me, but TECO will only let me use it between 9 am - 10:41 AM and then again from 1:17 AM - 3:11 AM, due to power usage guidelines. I'm not saying it's a big power sucker without a soundcard, but .. oh, wait, that's exactly what I'm saying (of course one look at my I-Tunes and Star will tell you that not having a sound card is a good thing for my computer!)

Garsh, I am so looking forward to having wireless Internet and I-Tunes and Movies on the computer again.... Hey, maybe I'll even update the Blog more than twice a month..... And, and, my neighbor will be able to use her toaster, even when my computer is on, so that's a good thing right!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

8 Mile

If I'm successful at Western States, no wait, I just ran with Star, I know better than that, WHEN I'm successful at Western States I will be able to look back at an 8-Mile training stretch that made it so.

It won't be the Rocky Mountain Double, though it was at altitude. It won't be the overnight run A2, Allen and I did last Friday, though it was at much faster than my normal pace. It won't be the run in the blistering heat I did yesterday. When I am successful on June 27 - 28 it will be my 4 Lagniappe runs at Croom that takes me to Placer High School in Auburn, CA. Lagniappe, a New Orleans assures me, means, a little something extra (and Urban Dictionary confirms this, but if you check that out, do yourself a favor and only read the first two definitions!) Ok, my lagniappe runs were the "little something extra" I did after my key training runs coming down the stretch before Western States. On each of my last 4 trips to Croom, once my run was finished, I took my fat, battered body back out to the biggest hill on Croom Road and ran the one mile out and over the hill, and trudged the one mile back up and over the hill back to the car. All of these efforts were done solo, with the exception of Friday night when I sucked ultra-buddy Allen into joining me (yeah, if that hill is any indication, look for him to win Western States!).
I remembered that when I was training for States in 2005 I routinely did that hill when everyone else was already enjoying an ice-cold beverage. Well, for the last 4 years, I've been the one enjoying the beverages, not so anymore!

Like I said, WHEN I finish Western States, it's going to be the 8-Mile Lagniappe that got me there!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

My Mini Camp

Yes, I disappeared.

When I got back from Colorado/Wyoming I sat back and let life happen. I didn't know if I was coming or going, I didn't know if I was washing or hanging out.

I put blogging on the way back burner.

Quite frankly, I didn't have much to say. I did not know if I was going to Western States, and not going there would have meant an early retirement. The Rocky Mountain Double had asked more questions than it answered. Yes, I finished. Yes it's at altitude. No, my foot didn't hurt. But I was so slow. The question begged, can I finish a 100-mile mountain event in their time frame? Honestly, as Chase and I held off the only two people behind us in that race, I thought, no I probably can't finish that race. Sure, I told myself there is value in trying even if you don't believe you are going to succeed, but that couldn't make me plop down another $500 bucks for plan-fare, hotels and a car.

A couple of more miserable runs in Tampa's heat gave me no answers.

Then, after a Sunday run at Flatwoods 9 days ago, bam! I ran effortlessly. Yes, our pace was slower, but those 15 miles with no trace of pain made my decision. Farge-N-A, I'm going! I came home made plane reservations, lined up the awesome June Leland as crew, signed Dr. Frank up as a pacer, let's hope he doesn't drink too much and become High Sierra in the High Sierra's! (that was for you SuperDave!)

Well, that 15 miles turned in to 119 in miles in 8 days. On our overnight run on Friday night my buddy, Andy Barrett, told me, "I haven't see you run like that in over a year!" Andy, I haven't run like that in over a year. Don't get me wrong, many of those 119 miles of my mini-camp have been a struggle, but for the most part I feel like me again, not that whiny punk that inhabited my body since the Slam came crashing down at Leadville last year.

I am confident enough in a Western States finish that tomorrow, I'll post the process to follow me along the route!

Thanks for bearing with me, and it's damn good to be back, damn good!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Rocky Mountain Oyster Double Marathon

I liked it.
I like the buckle.
I really enjoyed running with Chase.
Oh, sure it had some low points (but at an average elevation of more than 8,000 Ft, they never got low enough for this flat-lander!): There was a three mile asphalt service road which we did 4 times. There were more than the usual number of ATV cowboys (where are you going on those four-wheeler in a cold rain?) There was the altitude, nothing for Chase who lives a mile high, but tough on someone used to full gravity!

But, still I had fun. Most of the scenery was beautiful. Except for the asphalt the surface was soft with good footing. My foot felt fine (thank you again, Dr. Feelgood!).

One thing, I'm just not in very good shape. I just haven't been running enough. I have had the weirdest, and not very effective routine, basically nothing during the week and then a long run on either Saturday or Sunday. Oh, and I've gone long. Celebrated a B'day 47 miler with Dr. Frank, then 67 with him a Umstead. Celebrated a B'day 45 with Patrick then another 10. So I can cover the distance, but not very swiftly. Chase and I were not DFL, that honor went to one of the two runners behind us, but I was about 4 hours slower than my PR for the distance, yoikes, that's an extended version of Lord of the Rings right there!

Oh, well, the River Asks, "Why hurry, we'll get there eventually." I guess I have to either get out during the week (and hope my ped holds up) or get used to meandering.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Key Thing is...

Ok, here is my friend Rob's race report from the Keys 100. A truely horrible race that starts in Key Largo, goes 98 miles on US 1 and then makes a left for two miles on concrete and finishes to no fanfare, close to a beach on Key West.

Sounds scenic, it isn't. Sounds hot, it is! My friend Amy Costa made it 87 miles before she needed an overnight stay in the hospital an 7 IV bag of fluid, yoikes!

Anyway Rob liked it, here's his report. Enjoy:

here is my Keys Race Report for your amusement. Rob

I have been excited about running the Keys 100 for some time, as this race for some reason had great appeal to me. Unlike most ultrarunners, I do not mind running on the road and enjoy running road marathons. After running so many ultras in the woods, I figured running down the scenic Keys would be a nice change of pace. And after running the Ragnar Relay with my fellow beast LT and the wonder dog Brandi three weeks before the Keys, and running the OC marathon just two weeks ago, I figured my legs were “road ready.”I flew into Tampa and stayed with my good friend Andy “Tent Boy” Matthews, who iMichelle introduced me to at Vermont last year. Andy is just a super guy, has finished 12 100s, and has a sub-24 finish at Western States on his resume. I knew I would be in good hands. Unfortunately I had contracted a rather nasty cold just after the OC marathon, and it was quite embarrassing while flying down to Florida, with all the hacking and sneezing and phlegm being exuded from my body. I was in pretty bad shape, hacking incessantly and my nose running like a river. Fortunately, my cold calmed down a little the day before the race, as I had not been getting much sleep.We headed out of Tampa midday on Friday, with our goal being to make it to Key Largo by 7:00 p.m. for the pre-race meeting/briefing. We made pretty good time and pulled into the Holiday Inn in Key Largo just a few minutes after the briefing had started. We were stunned to find the room packed to overflowing as the RD announced there were over 350 runners entered in the 100 solo, 50 solo, and 100 mile relay. Last time I checked there were only about 30 signed up for the 100 solo, but by the start of the race 77 would be toeing the line. The RD announced that the 100 solo runners would head out first, and 10 minutes later the Relay teams would start. Now this was not the most complicated of courses – basically run 98 miles on the Overseas highway, turn left and finish in Key Largo. Andy and I decided to leave early and get some grub, and found a nice pizza joint for my favorite (and Andy’s too) pre-race meal. We then headed back to our motel, was in bed and got a pretty decent night’s sleep.I’m not a big fan of getting to the race early, so I set my alarm for 5:20 and figured we would have no problem going the 6-7 miles to the 6:00 a.m. start. I showered, got dressed, and had my first problem of the day. LT had turned me on to Micropore tape for taping my toes, and I had a brand new roll ready to go. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the start of the damn tape, and spent 10 frustrating minutes screwing around. I finally gave up and used a different type of tape, which later on turned into disaster, as my toes blistered miserably during the race. Now we were behind schedule and we raced out of the motel and booked to the start. As we got near the start line, we could already see headlights heading our way – not a good sign! I jumped out at the start, and headed out to catch up with all the runners – I was only a minute or two behind. The adventure had begun!The first couple of miles were in the dark, and I was passing quite a few runners. I felt great, it was a beautiful sunrise, but I quickly realized I was in for a hot, sticky humid day. My plan with Andy was to meet every two miles, and I didn’t carry any bottles with me. This worked great, as I love the freedom of being bottle-free. Our first couple meetings were a little rough as we worked things out, but we soon established a really good rhythm – tank up on water and/or Gatorade, fill my hat with ice, and head out. The Relay teams were starting to come through, and some of them were really flying. The winning Relay team ran a sub-11 hour 100 miles! We had our cooler well stocked with water, Gatorade, chocolate milk, diet coke, beer, chips and cookies. I knew I would have to force myself to eat something solid, and knew with the heat and humidity that would be tough. I told Andy early on that I would need a turkey sandwich slathered in mayo, and unfortunately the first Subway was not until mile 50+. So I tried to drink as much chocolate milk as I could, and it seemed to be working well. I hit the first 25-mile checkpoint at 4:04, which was just a little slower than I expected – I figured it would be a lot easier to get in the miles in the morning before the heat really took effect. Most of the miles were what I would call “land” miles, and you would not really think you were in the Keys. But as we moved south we started to see more and more ocean, which of course was that beautiful Caribbean blue. I was enjoying the course, there was plenty to look at, and the course included lots of asphalt bike path early on. As the race progressed and we entered the island part of the Keys, though, there was a lot more road running involved. Although I never really felt uncomfortable, some of the runners complained about running with cars whizzing just a few feet away. I decided to change out of my road shoes at mile 30 and into my Go Lites, as my feet had swollen and felt really cramped and my toes were already blistered in the road shoes. Putting on the Go Lites was like walking on plush carpet, and my feet were greatly relieved. Andy and I also shared our first beer of the day – it was pretty funny, we had a six-pack of Corona in the cooler, but we blew though it so fast Andy had to go out and get another 12-pack! We were sharing a beer about every 4-6 miles throughout the day. As we entered Marathon and approached the 50-mile checkpoint, the heat had really turned up. There was no way I could have done this race without ice in my hat, and by the time my two-mile legs were up there was rarely any unmelted ice left in my hat. We got a nice long 11-mile stretch coming into Marathon where it was on a secluded bike path, and the miles were quickly flying by. I made a quick stop at the Marathon Fire Station, where they had a sign up that said runner check-in. I spent about a minute looking around before I realized that it was sign for the 50-mile racer check-in (which started at noon) and not the 100-mile halfway point. I continued on just a little farther and found the 50-mile checkpoint, and was very surprised and pleased to learn my time was 8:22 and I was in second place.Seven mile bridge was one of the highlights (or lowlights, depending on your take), as I would be on my own for most of this stretch. This was the only section where I had to carry a bottle, and I tanked up with as much water and Gatorade as my stomach could hold before heading out across this long and lonely stretch. It turned out to be not so bad, and the water views were pretty amazing. Andy was kind enough to park and run in and meet me about a mile from the end of the bridge. He was a portable aid station, and came stocked with ice, water, and my favored beverage of the day, chocolate milk. As far as wildlife on this run, I had a snake slither across the path right in front of me, saw a raccoon, and passed a beautiful but noisy peacock about 10 feet off the path – this was more animals than I usually see on a trail 100! Around mile 60 I passed a place selling beds and thought it might be nice to go in and check out their product for a few minutes… My hamstring was not a problem at all during the Keys, and I was sticking to my intake of two ibuprofen and two salt tabs every hour. The next 30 miles just kind of whizzed by – we were definitely into a rhythm – run 2 miles, drink, ice in hat and go! There was plenty to look at, with all the bridges we passed over, people out enjoying the day, lots of quaint shops that the Keys are famous for, and the traffic to deal with. The runners were getting lots of supporting honks from passing cars. Andy was finally able to secure the much desired turkey-mayo sub, and it went quite nicely with the beer. It was so hot and humid that I hardly even felt any effects from the alcohol – I think it probably evaporated before it entered my bloodstream. Most of the Relay teams had passed the solo runners, although there were still a few teams out there. The mile 75 checkpoint passed while it was still light, and I was all the way to mile 80 before I had to put on a headlamp.I was hoping for some relief from the heat when the sun went down, but no such luck. We were fortunate though in that most of the day there was a pretty good tailwind blowing. This may sound weird, but there were many times I wish it was a headwind just to get some heat relief. As I came into mile 90, I was starting to tire a bit, my legs were feeling the effects of all that road running, and I was entering a low. I figured it would be a good time to take a little extra chair time and try to eat something to boost my energy level. I tried to eat some sandwich but it seemed like I would have to chew forever before I could swallow, so I quickly gave that up and forced down some chocolate milk. It was time for a salt tab and a couple of ibuprofen, so I popped an ibuprofen in and tied to swallow – uh oh, big trouble. The i-tab was coated with salt from a broken salt tab, and when the salt hit my tongue my gag reflex kicked it. My mouth started watering like crazy, and before I knew it I was projectile vomiting. I guess I’m starting to get used to this because I remember thinking reflectively, “Wow, that’s a lot of vomit – very impressive!” After a couple of minutes of heaving I thought, either I’ll be in good shape from here on in or I’m in major trouble. Turned out, unfortunately, to be the latter. Major bad news.I swished out my mouth to get rid of the residue, and headed out. After walking for a few minutes to get warmed up, I tried light jogging but could only make it a little way before my stomach would complain rather vociferously. So I walked and ran when I could, my only thought being making it to Andy at the next two mile aid. When I saw Andy, I figured I would try some chocolate milk but the results were no good, and I again spewed impressively as Andy stood watch. Andy would later tell me that I threw up more during this race than he had during his entire life!Now I only have 8 miles to go, but if you’ve ever run a 100 you know that the miles are twice as long as you get closer to the finish. I had another problem in that I was starting to get tired, and figured I would need a caffeine pill at the next aid, which presented a big problem in that I had no idea how I would get it into my body. I actually had a decent stretch and Andy was kind of surprised to see me so quickly. So I sat in the chair, grabbed a glass of water and tried to swallow a No Dose – No Way! I don’t even think it got halfway into my mouth before I was spewing again. This was a particularly bad one and I ended heaving so hard I had to get on my hands and knees to avoid falling over. I finally calmed a bit and told Andy to cut it to a mile and a half, so I forced myself off the ground and staggered off into the night. By this time I had been double chicked and had dropped to 4th place – not that I really cared, all I wanted to do was to get to the finish, whatever it takes. I again walked a lot and jogged a little, and made it to Andy, where again I put on a fine show for him. This one left me feeling really woozy, and I knew that even as bad as I felt I had to just get up and go. So out I head and Andy tells me it’s only about a mile to the turn at the end of A1A, and four miles to the finish. I am reduced to just walking at this point and looking over my shoulder, hoping not to see any headlamps approaching. As the minutes stretch on I can now see the lights of Key West, and I figure the turn should be very close. But I keep going and passing lots of streets, and start wondering if I missed the turn – this has to be way past a mile. I finally hit the end of the highway and find Andy, and he admits it was really more like a mile and a half. He also told me there were 3 miles to go, which of course made me instantly begin a fresh vomiting session. I was pretty much beaten at this point, my body was a wreck, I had cold sweats, and wasn’t sure if I could even stand up. All I could think of was how in the world was I going to run three more miles? But then I thought I just ran 97 miles, and there was no way I was going to let that go to waste. So I jumped to my feet and told Andy I’d see him at the finish line. He wished me luck and drove off.After walking a bit I started to feel marginally better, and even tried alternating jogging and walking. I kept a diligent eye behind me to make sure I didn’t get surprised, and trodded on. Then a mirage appeared in front of me as I imagined Andy was on the road jogging towards me. Turns out my crew dog drove to the finish, parked and ran out to meet me and bring me in. He also brought his portable aid station, so I filled my cap with ice, was actually able to drink some chocolate milk and hold it down, and we started towards the finish. I was really touched that he did this for me, and then I thought, jeez, this is bullcrap, he was able to drive to the finish, park, and run back to meet me and we still had a mile and a half to go? So I decided to just suck it up and run and get this damn race over with. Andy started by running next to me, which for some reason I found really annoying, so I made him run behind me and watch my six for any runners coming from behind. He also said we were about a mile from the finish, which was music to my ears.As we rounded a bend, Andy says “See those red lights over there – that’s the finish.” I could almost cry at the joy, and tried to pick up my pace. This lasted about 10 feet, so I stopped and begged for some more chocolate milk, which seemed to be doing a good job settling my stomach. We were getting really close now, and I told Andy we would run the rest of the way in. As we ran and the finish didn’t appear to be getting any closer, I quickly decided one more walk break at this point would not be the worst idea I ever had. We started off again, and soon we could read the numbers on the clock and see the finish line. I told Andy, “I gotta go” and as nearly always happens at the end of these babies, I broke into nearly an all-out, effortless sprint and flew across the finish line. First they put a medal around my neck and my first thought was “Oh Shit! A hundred miles and all I get is a medal?” but then he brought out the beautiful 100-mile buckle. It’s pretty ridiculous what I’ll do to get one of these. It was 2:22 a.m., 20 hours, 22 minutes and 55 seconds after the start and a long long way from Key Largo.Andy and I headed to our hotel where I took a quick bath and we both crashed around 3:00 a.m. I woke up at 7:30 ravenously hungry and was able to convince Andy to go to IHOP for some breakfast. First we went to the finish line, though, where I collected my age group award and was treated to seeing two finishers come in. I was really surprised to find there were only 15 finishers at this point out of 77 starters. I later found out that a girl from Florida named Amy, who is a good friend of Andy’s and had run much of the day pretty close to where I was, collapsed at mile 87 and had to be pulled from the race, even though she pleaded with the paramedics to let her continue after administering an IV – you gotta love ultrarunners. Turns out she needed six IV bags to get rehydrated at the hospital!We then went back to the hotel and I went down to the pool to soak my legs, and Andy headed back to the room to watch some TV. After about an hour I went back to the room, where Andy was in lala land. I jumped in bed for a quick nap and instantly passed out. We slept to around noon and headed back to Tampa, which ended up being an 8 hour drive. I was definitely feeling better, even though I could barely walk, and we stopped for burgers and fries for lunch, and more pizza for dinner. We both were exhausted Sunday night, slept well, and I flew back to the OC on Monday.After the race, I can definitely say that my legs took significantly more beating than normal, no doubt to running 100 miles on the road. The hot and humid conditions really took a toll as well, and I was surprised to find that I still had a cold, which I am still fighting off. Was the Keys worth it? Absolutely. I was encouraged to read that many runners who have done Badwater consider the Keys to be tougher, so that may bode well for next year. Next up – San Diego!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I Was Shot, and I Liked it!

Hey, I'm not kidding, on Monday I got shot!

No, no, not this kind of shot:
Rather it was this kind of shot.Listen; I hate shots. I am using the word HATE about shots. I may not hate them as much as SuperDave does; he once just walked out of Doctor Dailey's office instead of taking the injection, mom later found him wandering Davis Island some 3 miles away, yeah, he was about 10. Still I hate shots.

Two examples: #1 after SuperDave's splitsville thing, I decided shots weren't all that mondo jovial, so I tried to be cool, but it was no use, I was putting up a fight.... it took about 6 nurses, not exactly supermodel slim ones either, to hold me down and administer the medicine.

#2 After Becky pushed me out of that tree in Land o Lakes and they loaded me in to the helicopter, the paramedic (medic that jumps out of planes, I guess) asked, "Hey bud, you look like you're in bad shape, do you want some morphine?" Now you've fallen 22.5 feet and a tree landed on you, you are in a medivac helicopter on your way for 6 hours of surgery, who wouldn't want a shot..... er, me, that's who! "No, I'm fine, no morphine for me." Paramedic, are you sure, I mean, your arm is messed up and you look white as Michael Jackson?" "Nope, I can make it. says I!" Listen you're probably in shock, you probably need the morphine." Me telling it like it is, "It's not that I don't want morphine, I just really don't like shots!" Helicopter dude, "Oh, we give it to you in an IV." Me, "Bring it on, bring it on, Sweet Jesus, bring it on!" I love IV's!

So, no you know how much I hate shots. Well, I called the doctor, "Doctor, I need the shot."

Doctor Foot, "I been waiting on your call."

Me, "yeah, thing is, I hate shots, I am using the word hate about shots."

Doctor Foot, "I understand, but really it doesn't hurt."

"Whatever, I hate not running more than I hate shots, it's worth a try."

And guess what, Doctor Foot was not lying, it didn't hurt at all. This morning was my first post shot run, and it didn't hurt, sucker was numb, I know that. I know it probably isn't a cure, but damn, it felt good to run pain free.

Thank you Doctor Foot, I had forgotten that I actually do like to run! I just hope it gets me through the Rocky Mountain Oyster Double Marathon and that the next one gets me through Western States!