Thursday, May 19, 2011

Cherry Pick'n in the Santa Cruz Mountains: 2011 PCTR's Big Basin Redwoods 50K

I was ultra lucky to win my age group in an ultra for the first time.
Snapping a pre-race shot of running river and moist area. Gonna be fun!
Or, was I just Cherry Picking (to select the best or most desirable)? It's Saturday night (8pm-ish), one week after Miwok 100K. I put into motion "Operation Cherry Picking". I had no idea that the race I was going to cherry pick was the next morning. Here we go... my first Cherry Picking race.

I think where I got lucky was the fact that for some reason I got on my laptop and starting looking for upcoming races. I went to Ultrasignup and then to Pacific Coast Trail Runs for a peak, and there it was PCTR's  "Big Basin Redwoods 50K". Normally, there are so many runners in there 30's or 40's at ultra events. At this race, there were only two other male runners in my age group 40-49.
Driving in to park before the event. Notice wet ground. It's been that kinda year.
First, let's flash back to my race the week before - Miwok 100K. Of the 350 starters, only 287 finished. Actually, that's a record number for finishers at Miwok. See Miwok history. And of the 287 finishers, 83 of them were in their 30's (30%) and 119 (40%) of them were in their 40's. Check this out... 202 of the 287 finishers (70%) were in those two age groups. I was around 70th of these 119 male and female 40 somethings. I was also, 170th of 287.  See, I am not that fast.My point is this... THIS IS PRIME PICKING!
Start -Finish to a great day. So glad to have crossed that bridge.

On the PCTR website, there was only ONE  40 year old (male or female) of 34 entrants  the night before. That's 3%. It was a male and my initial thoughts were, I could get second in my age group. But, then I thought, "Maybe I could get first in my age group." Never done that before.

So, I cross reference the lone 40 something male with Ultrasignup and noticed he had only one finish and it was a 3:39 marathon. If I ever run a marathon (went from 10K to 50K), then that's about what I would run. Giddy up! I got this dude. Little did I know that there was another 40 something male registered for the event, but he wasn't close either. On race day, some 25k's moved up or some other cherry pickers showed up for some hardware to bring the total of entrants to 40. Not only did I win my age group by I finished 5th of 40 starters. It had rained the night before which made the course a bit fun but not overly wet. About 3 hours in the event, a cold front dropped in and shared some hale for about 15 mintues. Yeeeeeeee-haw!

In first place for the men with a time of 5:05 was Tamalpa Runner, Brett Rivers. Winning it for the women was Ashley Lindsey in 6:32. I came in at 6:47 with a huge smile on my face. When I got there, Sarah (Co-owner of PCTR) was making grilled cheeses and tomato-basil soup. Yum. Mike and Spencer were also great to hang out with for a while, so I thank you all. Even Adona Ramos (Quicksilver Teammate) was hanging out at the aid station after running the 25K (second place woman). Thanks for helping me with my transitions Adona "Summer" Ramos.

Speaking of Adona, something funny happened to us at the start/finish line before the race. I sort of got busted the morning of the event. I ran into one of my Quicksilver Ultra Racing Teammates, Adona Ramos. I said, " what are you doing here?" and she said, "What are you doing here?" "Busted", I said, and we both chuckled because we both wanted a high finish against what we knew to be inferior competition. Nothing against PCTR, but we race in the Pacific Association's Norcal Grand Prix of USATF. Races include, Western States 100, Miwok 100K, American River 50M, and more... which feature some of the most competitive men and women's ultra racing athletes in the world.

Selfish me, right? You're right. I am bummed that my ranking suffers because I run with the thoroughbreds and Phillies of the Ultrarunning world. I get my butt kicked out there and my ranking goes lower and lower as I enter these high profile events. LOL

I AM REALLY NOT THAT SERIOUS, I am just trying to make a point. I am competitive, but run to race in the most beautiful places in the United States with such great people. The bottom line is that it's what many of us think but don't say. Nobody wants a D+ (68%) grade next to their name. I will admit it because I don't want to train harder or more than 3 days per week, I will cherry pick to 70% and explore new events :-)

My next big race will be Tahoe Rim Trail 100M  July 16, 2011. Then I will hope to be ready two months later for Hal Koerner's 100 miler in September - Pine to Palm. So, if you are between 40-49, stay away from these races. LMFAO Somewhere between now and then, I will be running a few for 50K's prime for picking.

I met a new friend and Lawyer (Yes!), Michael Weinstein (multiple Marathoner) from LA. He ran his first ultra in 6:50 (Awesome because there was 6,840 ft of climbing with a slightly wet surface) and also left his lights on and needed a jump.
You may recognize Mike as the caveman from those Geico Commercials.

Seriously, this is why I run, so I can eat and drink. You know from previous blogs that I love to over-indulge is tasty treats.  I, like you, love to eat at In-N-Out Burger after ultras, but something else on my way home caught my eye...
El Pollo Loco and Foster Freeze... together! YES! So, I get two chicken burritos and one Large Reese's Blizzard Ice Cream party.
This isn't going to look good to my personal training clients. But, they all know that it's okay to enjoy yourself from time to time. Especially after running for miles and miles. This little drive thru experience inspired my first poll - which is your favorite "combo fast food" restaurant (see on side of blog).

Since the theme of this blog was Cherry Picking, I must add this how-to part.

Ultrarunners: How-to Cherry Pick Ultras.

The first thing you need to do is sit down at your computer look for races on the same day or near "the popular events". These popular events usually attract the best of the best and the best won't be in the same place at once (they're not that good) and they often won't run back to back weekends (but I have met many that run back-to-back-to-back).

The other thing you need to do is check to see if they have an entrants list. Most races do these days and include ages for your cherry picking pleasure. You older guys, shame on you for looking for 21 year female entrants to advise and assist in an active warm-up before the event.

You may also wish to search for events in rural areas that aren't hot beds for ultras. They usually have low turnouts and great campgrounds.

You also want to look for first time events. Specifically, look for ones produced by non-elite ultra runners in states not including Washington, Oregon, or California. Once you have identified a race with minimum entrants you now need to look at the entrants themselves. By searching there name on or or other meta-ultradata sites, you can see what races they have run and make an educated guess about how you will size up against the competition. Once you have done this, then register for the event and don't tell anyone, not even your dog.

If this doesn't work, then I recommend planning, promoting, and producing your own event. But, you must enter it and win it at all costs, (even cheating) to get your 100% ranking. Which leads me to...

What the Ultrasignup ranking has created is an insecurity among runners, including me. I can admit it. But can others? Rightfully so, I understand the percentage associated with their name is directly effecting races one enters and races one completes or "FINISHES". I know first had from speaking with enough people that they are worried about there ranking for fear of loss of sponsorship or image amongst other runners. I won't go as far to say that this is a huge problem, but I must remind those that finishing a race or "fun run" (as ultra running friend Chris Scott says) is more important in the eyes of your peers not your percentage.
Do as I do, go cherry picking, finish races, and you will be happier than you know. Trying new ultra's and meeting new people is what keeps me out on those trails and what should always inspire you.

See you at the finish,

Greg Lanctot

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I won the lottery and Mi-Wrocked: 2011 Miwok 100K Endurance Run

I was ultra-lucky to win an entry to the 2011 Miwok 100K lottery. If I do the math, I am 1 for 7 in lottery races.
Dave Mackey took over the lead from Mike Wolfe for good here at Pirates Cove. Photo by Gary Gellin.
 Miwok is to 100K races what Western States is too 100 milers - it's the best... PERIOD. Take into consideration the location, Marin Headlands, just over the Golden Gate Bridge. On the edge of Pacific Ocean with dreamy San Francisco views, chewy redwoods, delicious vistas, slurpee rain forests, and yummy en fuego marsh-mellow  trails is where many ultra runners from all over the US and world come to race, train, and even move their lives. For the sweetest 16 years, Miwok has given everyone that enters this tasty beauty a desert to remember.

I just wrote in my last blog about the super-ridiculous Quicksilver 50 post-race-bbq deserts, so I am gonna run with this food theme.  I love food way too much. In fact, I run ultra's so I can enjoy those tasty foods not just after races, but year round.You may have noticed I am a little bigger than the rest of you. :-)

I also recently wrote about how lucky I was to be able to run ultra's again this year after suffering a minor stroke in December.

I told you how ultra-lucky I was to be part of such an amazing ultra running team - Quicksilver.

And, in my last "foody" blog I wrote about how lucky I was to join the Quicksilver Running Club three years ago.

Well, it start's with this guy.
Jim Magill (post 2011 Miwok) with Feta-Spinach Sausage in mouth, with Guinness in hand.

This guy is no average ultra runner... this Magill dude. He is one of only 35 people ever to finish "The Last Great Race" which is completing The Ultra Grand Slam (Western States, Vermont, Leadville, Wasatch 100's) plus Angeles Crest 100 and Old Dominion 100 in the same year. That info is for you. But, more importantly to ME, this is the guy who I met at the Marin Headlands Hostel at the 2008 North Face Endurance Challenge and the one who told me about Quicksilver Running Club. Well, you know from previous blogs that the Quicksilver trailheads were only two miles from my house, so this was a big deal.

Fast forward to May 6th, 2011... Jim and I carpool back up to the hostel for the third time... It's Miwok!

A little different this time with only about 20 runners staying at the hostel. However, there are 4 girl scout troops, one grizzly bear and one king in a place with 120 beds or so. You're now thinking girl scout cookies aren't ya? I figure my races aren't that special, so I better find something else to excite you. Enough about running up, running down, how I ate, how I pissed, how I ached, blah, blah, blah. So, there aren't any girl scout cookies, which makes me  and you a little bummed out. They should have known there were ultra runners staying here too... and we need Thin Mint Cookies!!!

Rewind real quick:

I reflect back to last year when I volunteered for Miwok to be one of Tia's Parking Czars. I came up solo and ended up not being able to sleep because of this church group from Reno playing "Dungeons and Dragons"
or other "Hogwart-like" games unitl 1 am.

We check in...

...and then off to our separate dorm rooms. Jim is in the Yosemtie room with 10 beds and I am in  "Yellow Stone" with 8 beds. In here, we got Amy Sproston and her husband (sorry forgot name, but cool dude) as well as Chris and Darla Askew from Oregon. They all drove down "in the van down by the river" (SNL - Chris Farley reference). Amy got 4th woman and the Askew's tied for 56th. This leave three beds. But first, a little information I must share, I didn't know I would have any ladies in my room this trip. I was forced to sleep with clothes on. Two of the beds are occupied by a euro-traveling couple who had to be bummed when then found out 5 of us were getting up at 3:45am (they were ;^)). The last bed (under my bunk) was, uhh, ... well we don't know. But it looks like some has been sleeping here Grandma because there are food crumbs on this blanket.

We all jump under the covers between 8 and 9. I am unable to sleep because the Girl Scouts are gaming in the great room 12 feet away, so I bust out my phone and play Texas holdem until 10pm. I try again to sleep but can't. I can't blame the girl scouts because it's always like this - I am just too anxious for the race to start. About 10:30 some loud guy picks up the pay phone 4 feet from our door and tells his bank, CHASE, that he didn't make those last four online purchases last night. He continued to argue until 11 or so until the Girl Scouts decided to go to bed and he was sure to say good night to as many as he could. That's a little creepy. At at 11:15 he is still on the phone refuting charges. I then crawl off the top bunk to go see who this cookie monster is. Sure enough, this creature is 6 foot 4, 375 pounds of ooey-gooey HFCS. I sneak into the bathroom take care of business and back to bed. Then... (you know what happens next don'tcha?), yes, it's the frigg'n Grizzly Bear and the cookie monster rolled into one and he is my bunk mate. F@$% me! So, this big hairy stinky dude collapses his massive shrek-like body on his bed. I thought for a second I may not be participating in Miwok as the bunk creaked while it shook. It get's better, since everyone else guessed what happens next, I know you know how this plays out. Dude farts, dude snores, dude can't stop tossing and turning and I call up my friend, the honey badger. (I hope you watched honey badger video before reading on.) Then, I go out to the great room and sleep on the comfy Pottery Barn couch. This was better than the bunk and 7 foot long so I could stretch my legs out. YES! At 3:45am I get up and go in to wake the rest. They are waking too, but funny thing is that Grizzly Bear is gone. huh?

You may have already seen some of my Miwok photos and remember a shot with Ian Sharman and others. He is the US record holder for the fastest 100 mile trail run. Done at Rocky Raccoon against Texas sized competition too - see finisher list.  He was also staying at the hostel. So, pardon me if I seem a little rock-star-struck. Just like many other of the "Elite runners" you are able to chat with them from time to time. Ian is just like all the others, humble as can be. Sounds better with the English accent. We all just happen to sit down to eat at the same time about 6pm in the Hostel. Sitting at the table were Bob, Jay, Ian, Jim, and myself. Jay had the best meal. He found an Italian joint in Sausalito and purchased the pesto gnocchi with garlic bread. Ian brought pasts from home, I had sweet potatoes with turkey burger in a homemade tomato saute. Jim busted out "The Hungry Man". Oh yes he did!

Here is where it gets good. Ian brings up the fact that he when he lived in San Jose this past year. He then says he sends an email to the Quicksilver Group to inquire about joining the club. Ian mentioned the reply went something like this,  "... we are a loose knit group that doesn't have that many organized runs..." Ian would have looked good in a Quicksilver logo. Nice work Jim. We all know your famous words "loose knit club". LOL But he looks good in The North Face too where he just signed a deal.

Below, is a photo at 430 am when we are fine tuning are race-gear and uni's.

Greg "Jagger" Lanctot, Ian "King" Sharman, Jim "Hndrix" Magill

Ian, Mr. Sproston, Amy Sproston, Jim Magill, Irish Dancer?, Jay Hark

Above, you see Elvis, The King. I am going to refer to his blog. He has great stories and is running for a cause. See Ian's Blog: Sharmanian

So where did the Grizzly Bear go? I told this story to 15+ runners at the post-race celebration and all but one remembers the fat guy in the drivers seat of his weather beaten 77 Volvo. He was shoveling potato chips into his mouth. I figured, he needed a drink, a drink drink if you know what I mean. There was no alcohol aloud in the hostel so he probably needed his fix. He must have got up sometime between 130 and 330pm to drive over to the first mile of the course to watch the sunrise and enjoy his libations and chips. Wish I had my camera to catch Sasquatch in action.

There are some great photos that my friend and fellow Quicksilver runner, Jean Pommier took.
See his blog at FartherFaster.
Jean enjoying food Aid Station

This was his fourth ultra in 5 weeks (AR50, RA100K, QS50K, Miwok 100K). See PA USATF for Norcal Grand Prix Schedule.

Jean ended up taking 376 photos. Jean like to do this during "training runs".  I have to share some of his great pics:

See his entire Picasa Miwok album here.

Tia Boddington, Race Director

View at mile 2.

Dave Mackey (winner), with Hal and Dakota at mile 39 or so.
That's me up there. That's Zoro leading the way.

I had some time to do my best Sasquatch impersonation.
 Not to bore you with my turn by turn description, I want to share that I did finish in 13:25 for 62.6 miles. Or 169th place of 434 entrants of which maybe 400 started. Only 279 finished the race which featured 10,000 feet of elevation gain. All I can say is that this is one of the most beautiful places to run or do anything for that matter. Enter the lottery later this year in November or December. see Miwok website for details.

Now for the Quicksilver Ultra Racing Team report-------- Facebook link:

This was the 6th event and 9th race on the PAUSATF 2011 calendar. We (QSURT) have been doing quite well, winning practically every team event and several individual races for both men and women. This race was to be very different. We were running on Tamalpa turf. They have over 150 USATF runners to our 26. I think I counted 25 or so Tamalpa racing singlets and tops. Dave Mackey, the winner of Miwok, is Tamalpa's top runner, and one of the best in the world at this distance. With so many great efforts by his teammates on Saturday, I am quite sure they placed first in men's, women's, and mixed team scoring.

With only 8 participants and 7 finishers, I believe (at first glance) we placed second in men's and mixed team scoring.
Men's Scoring:
37th overall 10:17  Jean "Bon Jovi" Pommier
50th overall 10:43 Pierre "Townsend" Couteau
169th overall 13:25 Greg "Jagger" Lanctot
Pierre Couteau by Jean

Mixed Scoring:
11th Woman 61st overall 10:59     Clare "Lennox" Abram
178th overall 13:33                       Scott "Osbourne" Laberge
45th Woman 196th overall 13:54  Karen "Benatar" Bonnett

Clare (top), Scott, and Karen.

It's important that I recognize Scott for his sacrifice at Ruth Anderson 100K (10:07) 14 days before Miwok. He stepped up as Ultra insurance runner for our team allowing me only to run a 50k that same day and be fresh for Miwok. So thanks again for your great gift Scott.

Great pic of Pirates Cove on Coastal Trail at mile 56 by Jean Pommier.
My friends will hate me if I forgot to include honorary rocker Krissy "Hynde" Moehl in our scenery pictorial.
Nice pic Jean.

I also must thank my friend, and pacer, Ben Lazzarini. This was Ben's first time pacing and first time running north of Muir beach. I am grateful for his persistence and focus. We had fun and Ben "Nugent" Lazzarini rocked it too. Ben just got hired as the Salomon rep in Northern California. The new "crossmax" are looking sweet. Size 13 please.

Not only can Ben Pace, but he knows how to get beers too. Thanks dude!

Perfect ending... pic with Tia. Thanks to her all all the volunteers.

Lucky trail rocker,

Thank you to The Running Revolution in Campbell and Santa Cruz for the great racing tops.