Wednesday, July 13, 2011

2011 Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run - How to do it when not selected from Event Lottery.

I was ultra-lucky to be able to participate in Western States 100... as a running club member, volunteer, a fan, and as a pacer for the last 40 miles.
Quicksilver Ultra Racing Team and Club Member, Dan Decker, and I with his sub 24-hour buckle.

I am heading up to TRT 100 in the morning, so I better get this done tonight.

I started this blog the night of the finish of WS100, I was unable to complete it. I was also quite delirious. I then delayed for the fact that I needed a few permissions. And to lay down more excuses, I am just too busy with work in the summer. Sorry for the delay, but even sorrier for its length. I hope it inspires someone to be part of WS100 without racing it.

I hope to be this lucky every year. But, you say to yourself, "how can he call that luck, he didn't get in the race?" Right you are, but for "all the above to happen" you need a little luck. More importantly, you are still participating and besides, it's fun. It defines what it means to be part of the "ultra community".

Not trying to promote drinking to my young readers (my clients < 18 or to anyone else for that matter), where else can you have a beer while camping at an aid station, volunteering at an aid Station the following day, while waiting for your runner to come in to Bath Road / Forest Hill, and enjoy two beers and a shot while pacing a runner to his first ever finish of Western States?

So, before I get into the details of this great weekend, let me start with the numbers. Beers not counted.

389 - number of runners to start WS100
388 - miles put on my car round trip from San Jose
310 - finished the WS100 under 30 hours for the Bronze Buckle
125 - completed the WS100 under 24 hours for the Silver Buckle
84 - high temperature in "the canyons"
80's - the theme of Quicksilver Running Club's (my proud club) Aid Station
68 - the age of oldest finisher
66 - number of Tony Carino who I paced
42- songs I tried to sing from the 80's while MCing as "Slash"
41 - songs I tried to dance to while trying to sing (one not danced to was theme song from Top Gun)
40 - volunteers at Duncan Canyon Aid Station (mile 23.8) and Miles paced
36 - the number of times WS100 has be run since 1974
32 - age of women's winner "Ellie Greenwood"
27 - hours it took Tony to finish (27:25)
26 - number of years Quicksilver Running Club has staffed an aid station at WS100
25 - age of runner Tony Carino
23 - age of men's winner "Killian Jornet"
22 - age of youngest finisher
8 - number of times I gave out my phone number 867-5309 at DC aid station
5 - seconds between the epic finish between Kami Semick and Nikki Kimball
4 - total hours I slept Fri and Sat nights combined
3 - number of Dube family members Tony and I ran with
2 - beers at Brown's Bar Aid Station
1 - the number of mountain lions Tony and I saw just before ALT Aid Station with the Dube's
1 - only one Gordy Ainsleigh

There is also only "ONE" lottery that I will play ever year until I can't run anymore. Every first Saturday of December, The Western States Lottery occurs. And just like the previous two years, I wasn't lucky to be selected. The only other options available to be part of WS100 were to place top-two in a Montrail Cup race  (or other qualifier), spectate, pace a runner, or join your running club and friends at Duncan Canyon Aid Station (Mile 23.8).

Since we know I won't be winning a Montrail Cup Race anytime soon, I would gladly participate in everything else.

Highlighting the blog:
1. This means camping and karaoking to the 80's Friday night at Duncan Canyon Aid Station
2. Volunteering for 3rd year (MC'ing as Slash) at the Quicksilver Running Clubs' Duncan Canyon A/S
3. Watching all the lead runners come through Forest Hill (Mile 62)
4. Pacing 25 year old Tony Carino from New Jersey for 40 miles to the finish.
5. Seeing Mountain Lion just before Auburn Lake Trails A/S mile 85.2
6. Recapping Quicksilver Ultra Racing Team Results

1. FRIDAY: Camping, Costume contest, reindeer games, and karaoke to the 80's Friday night at Duncan Canyon Aid Station

Friend and fellow Quicksilver Running Club member, Bree Lambert, and I drove up to Duncan Canyon Aid Station on Friday night to take part in the Friday night costume contest and reindeer games. I have come to realize how lucky I am to be associated with such a great running club. It's only been three years, but I now consider them my second family. When we arrive about 6pm, 20 people have set up camp and are now BBQing. I figured we needed to get this costume thing rolling since no one was dressed yet. I ate my burrito, jump into my Slash look, put up a tent and organize my new band...

We were ultra-lucky that it wasn't hot at Western States this year. See wigs below.

Quicksilver Running Club "80's Glam Rockers at Duncan Canyon Aid Station"
We had 40 volunteers this year most of which are members of the Quicksilver Running Club. 26 of us camped out the night before. Dorsey Moore was Aid Station Captain for the 6th consecutive year and did another amazing job. This year our entertainment committee (Jane, Faye, and Adona) decided to do an 80's theme. Hence, the costumes. 

All are welcome to volunteer at any of the aid stations, but if you really want to have fun then... well check this out and you decide.

A little Karaoke the night before at the Aid Station. Your winners of the Soul Train Dance B-boy dance off- Andy and Dorsey. First runners to come through in 8 hours. Better get to sleep in a few hours. :-)
Michael - Jim Magill, Iron Maiden - Sean Lang, and Madonna - Adona Ramos

1,000 Mile Buckle brutha! -Jim

"This is how we do it"    "Jump up Jump up and get down"      "Put you hands up in the air.."
Captain Stubbing's Cruise Director - Jane Moore Auh
Your Camp Fire JiffyPop winner - Burger King?
2. SATURDAY:  Volunteering for 3rd year (MC'ing as Slash) at the Quicksilver Running Clubs' Duncan Canyon A/S

This is Quicksilver Running Club's 26th year hosting an Aid Station at Western States. Only our friends at Stevens Creek Striders have aided more (30 years). We wake up after having one beer or one glass of wine each. :-)
Still Hungry?

Rise and Shine Ladies - Faye and Mary Anne - Gotcha!

Now we wait for the runners to come up from French Meadows Reservoir.

With the new snow route "Course C" in play this year because of record snow dumps this year, Duncan Canyon was moved off the Ridge 1/4 mile down the hill near Mosquito Ridge Road and a 3 minute climb from French Meadows Resevoir.

With this change, No Crews were allowed at our aid station. Usually a few hundred crew and race fans will come up to aid or cheer on the runners. If crew shows up, your runner will be eliminated.
We received news that Dorsey Moore will be stepping down after this year and is handing the reigns over to 1,000 mile Buckle Western States 100 Mile finisher and Quicksilver Running Club member, Kristina Irvin. But first, he must get the aid station ready for operation. With 389 runners starting at 5am 23.8 miles away, we are expecting our first runner at 8:15.
"The runners will be coming from over there... "

All hands on Deck. Nice "Members Only" Jacket, Dorsey. Oh yah it's 80's theme. Perfect!

Don Johnson - aka Scott Laberge - waiting to be called on set. This is the film crew from JB Benna's "Journey Films"
So with that said, back to the Duncan Canyon aid station... A tradition at Duncan Canyon is to guess what time the first runner will arrive. Everyone puts in a dollar and winner takes all. The funny thing is that Dorsey gave an example, "We estimate 8:15 as the arrival time for the first runner, so if you think that is the time then pick 8:15." Well, everyone picked 8:02 to 8:37, EXCEPT the one spot 8:15. Winner at 8:14 was Mike Mahon (see IRS immediately). We were also all waiting for our ultra team runners (Dan Decker, Eric Toschi, Karen Bonnett) to arrive. They came in looking strong and we sent them on their way. Sorry no photos. I was also waiting for, Ian Sharman. I needed validation for my Slash get-up from the running costume king himself. See his blog below. I was also waiting for Tony Carino, a 25 year old from New Jersey. I was going to be pacing him from Bath Road to the finish. Imagine what he thought when he met his pacer for the first time.

Someone else came through that I felt willfully obligated  to take a photo of... Rick Gaston of Tamalpa Running Club and Ultra Racing. I mean how many shots does he get of us. This dude is always so positive and great for the ultra community. Thanks for being you Rick. Nice action shot!
"Everybody put your hands in the air, and waive'em like you just don't care... Everybody say oh yeah!"
On the Women's side, I was waiting for Rory Bosio, and as always, she looked hot. I (Slash) shouted my number through the microphone... 867-5309... She's gotta be thinking why does this old creepy guy at get all happy when I get to Duncan Canyon every year :-)
Rory, I am waiting for your call.

So, now Bree and I have to get our groove on out of here and get ready to pace. I have received multiple questions "recently" about whether or not Bree and I are dating because we came up to WS together. We are just friends. In fact she has been a great friend and mentor to my ultrarunning expereinces. Bree has won both Tahoe Rim Trail and Rio Del Lago 100 Mile endurance runs among other ultras the past several years.

Last photo before heading to get out pacing numbers.
 3. SATURDAY 2pm: Watching all the lead runners come through Forest Hill (Mile 62)

Because of the fast times expected at the race this year, we decided to leave Duncan Canyon a bit early this year. It takes one hour to drive to Forest Hill from DC aid station and 20 to 30 minutes.  We need to check into our hotel rooms, shower, dress, eat and get ready to pace. We arranged for Prudence L'heureux to pick us up. Strategizing about leaving cars at the finish is always a must. However, we were running a bit late and I wasn't able to leave my car at the finish line.  So, allow plenty of time to get cleaned up and get that car to Placer High School. We went to pick up our numbers first which may have caused us to bad. I think I wanted a little more stage time in my Slash get-up.
"Pacer Central" (Forest Hill) - Here, I finally had a cigarette and signed a few autographs here.

Bree was pacing Dan Decker (Quicksilver Running Club & Ultra Racing Team).  Prudence L'Heureux back pacing Kami Semick.  
Guys, how many times have you been chick'd by these two?

Photo for Running Revolution in Campbell (Our Apparel sponsor)

The best part of waiting for your pacer is that you get to see all the lead runners come through. You get to hang out with a few thousand friends and family members cheering everyone on towards the finish. Here you can also get updates from the control center. Give them the number or name of runner and they told you where they last entered and exited and their projected time to get to the next aid station. If you had a smart phone on you that had reception, then you were able to get the same information. 

4. SATURDAY 6pm: Pacing 25 year old Tony Carino from New Jersey for 40 miles to the finish.
While I realized that I needed to get Tony's permission to talk about our 40-mile 14-hour journey to a high school football field that he knew so well.... he is a former world champion drum corps marcher.

I met Tony online. That's sounds weird, right? Actually, I saw Tony's posting on under the tab "Runner Prep/Finding a Pacer". I missed the beat here. Puh-leeease, someone hit me over the head with a mallet.- I, selfishly, was looking for a runner who would allow me to run, not walk, to the finish with them.
- I, greedily, was looking for a runner that would also be fun to hang out with.
- I, arrogantly, was looking for a runner that wouldn't drop.
- I, vainly, was looking for a runner that would allow me to get some sleep Sunday morning before the awards ceremony.

Tony's posting was short and to the point. He writes, "I am looking for someone that doesn't mind  a few that's what she said moments or someone that gets cranky after 50 miles." I thought to myself how fun will this be. I will be running with someone from the mafia or Jersey Shore. I emailed him immediately (30 days before event) with how I want world peace, how I am the greatest human being on this planet, and that Jersey Shore is my favorite show. He responded that the posting also said he only needed a pacer from from Forest Hill (mile 62) to Greengate (mile 79.8). Oops... I missed that part. I declined. I am such an ass. Fate would have its way, as his buddy got injured and couldn't pace him. Tony emailed me and I.... uh, well, yes I did say "I can and will".

I knew nothing about this guy, except he has finished two previous 100 milers - Burning River and Vermont, and he is 25 years old. Oh, and he can't eat solid foods during ultra's. eeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrt, whuh?!?!

Fast forward to Duncan Canyon Aid Station mile 23.8. Tony arrives at 9:32 am and meets me for the first time.

 "Oh Sh&#!, this is my pacer?"
It was great Tony could take time out to get a quick photo with Slash. His splits will show that he later got to Devil's Thumb (mile 47.8) in 9:47. That's pretty good (113th of 389 starters), right? But, on his way down to Eldorado Creek, he hit the wall and continued his physical and mental decline to and up Michigan Bluff. Seeing him fade on the digital updates, I decided to go to Bath Road at mile 60 instead of waiting for him to get to Forest Hill. His first words were, "I am not doing so well." I asked "why?", and he said, "I am not gu-ing, eating, or drinking." hmmmmmmmm... did he realize that together our number has 4-6's (pacers where the number of the runner).

When Tony shuffles in to Forest Hill, he is 8 pounds under weight at 160. His parents and friend were there. I could sense the stress from all of them. I am having the same exact feeling I got from meeting 27 year old Eric Lee's (who I paced) parents last year.
2010 post WS100 - That's me in weak child's pose. Eric working the Butterfly stretch. Eric's Mom chillaxin.

Parents are always gonna be your parents, as they will worry as much when you climb on the monkey bars for the first time or running Western States 100. And, just like last year I could tell that they were worried. His Dad more so. Both Eric and Tony lost all there momentum at Devils thumb. Since, I noticed Tony's Dad was a little more worried, I breifly spoke with Tony's Dad on the side while Tony was getting himself together and told him he is going to be okay. I reassured him that I would get him there safely. As we were chatting, the Dr showed up in the transition area and wasn't going to let him continue on unless he ate or drank and therefore got his weight up two lbs. This was the first sign that I might have my hands full. He didn't want to eat or drink anything with out fear of throwing it all up... which he has already done 5 miles earlier at Michigan Bluff. 35 minutes later, he reweighed and he had gained two pounds. We headed out to Auburn.

The rest of the journey is no different than others that have completed the Western States 100 mile endurance run. He wanted to stop, he wanted to quit, he was cranky as one can be. I asked him at the first two aid stations out of Forest Hill to try to eat and he refused. But, it was the next 2.3 miles from Peachstone to Ford's Bar that we had a heart to heart. I told him about Eric's situation last year and how the only thing he needed to focus on was getting to the next aid station, resting until he felt like he wanted to finish. I told him with the sub-24 hour finish out the window, it's no longer a race. With such a great 50 mile time (around 10 hours), he could do do 25 minute miles backwards and finish this thing under 30 hours.

He then told me that in high school he weighed as much as 295 pounds. And, just 5 years ago he weighed only 135 pounds. When he told me this, I knew getting him to eat food was going to be sketchy. So, I didn't try. I knew from my experiences with youth personal training clients of mine that you have to get them near the source (garden, store, fridge, restaurant, etc) and let them try it on their own. Finding out he has been battling eating disorders most of his life, I figured this was no different than my clients whom I have been dealing in my professional career. But, I have never seen the swing from "obese" to "underweight" in a span of 3 years like Tony did while in college. It made complete sense, but no one person was going to help him, only he could help himself. He then shared with me how he was part of the World Champion Blue Devils Drum and Bugle Corps, and they marched for 10 to 12 hours per day for one month in the California heat. I told him we were gonna march this in. No running neccesary, only walking and eating a Gel every 15 minutes. He took the lead and we marched on... in fact, he wouldn't let me take the lead. :-)

At mile 71, I am no longer a pacer. I am now a trainer and motivator and friend. What does that mean? It means that I set the boundaries, goals,  and show him what will work. Ultimately, it will be up to him to make it happen and to get himself there. For a split second, I had thought to myself how I didn't want to be "trainer guy" right now. That's what I do. It's who I am. It's what I love. It's what I need to do.

When we got to Ford's Bar (mile 73), he was fading fast. He sat down and I was thinking this is the end. But then, he asked me to get him a grilled cheese. "Yes!", I said. Instead of grabbing one of the cold squares, I requested a newly made one. It came off the grill hot, cheese melting, and he ate half of it. Then he wanted to try some cantaloupe and watermelon. WOOOOO! Now we are off to the Rucky Chucky river crossing. I told him that Disneyland's "Pirates of the Carribean" ride was only 5 miles ahead. He said "what?" We kept moving, and by this time he was gelling and excited to try more food. The boat ride ended up being his favorite part. When we crossed, he ate more food on the other side, and we powered up to Greengate. We then continued walking to Auburn Lake Trails.

5. Seeing Mountain Lion just before Auburn Lake Trails A/S mile 85.2
This is where it gets scary. Two miles from Greengate, Tony spotted a Mountain Lion in the area where Ultrarunner Barbara Schoener was killed by such a animal in 1994. I had just brought this up to him a mile earlier. When he saw it, he whispered "do you see that?" I turned my head to the right (down the 60 degreee grade) and my headlamp caught the beautiful beast perfectly to see the Mountain lion standing on all fours only 30 feet away. As I later learned from friend and ultrarunner Grant Sisler, because it was downhill from us it wasn't going to attack. Scwhooooo! Also walking with us was Mark Dube and his brother's (Erik Dube) wife, Tera Dube. We were all freaking out and turned into those competitive speed walkers. Every time I moved my head to look into the trees or hills along the trail, Tony would say, "...don't let them know we know the Mountain Lions are there." LOL

A bit of information here, Mark Dube was the person at the Quicksilver 50M/50K race this year that walked an injured runner 3 miles back to the start finish. See the July 2011 Ultrarunning Magazine issue with my race report and the story. Funning thing happened here as we walked up to Greengate with Erik before Tera took over the pacing duties. I told Mark that he was getting a free entry into the race from Quicksilver Running Club next year for what he did. He said that he was taking the year off of ultrarunning. Brother Erik said, "I guess your plans have changed."

Ever since that river crossing, mile 78, he was very coherent and able to gel, salt, and drink on his own. He focused on his watch and reminded me that he was suppose to eat a gel or salt. I was simply continuing on a long hike. We moved on and got to the finish in 27 hours 25 minutes.

For the future, there is know doubt that Tony has the training and legs to produce a sub-22 hour finish now. And with his discipline he can break 20 hours easy.  It's gonna be about overcoming nutrition and hydration... he has everything else down. Go Tony!

I will tell you this. When we got to the track at the high school, I told him he had to run to finish line. I did apologetically raise my voice. I was not going to let him walk around that track. He turned that walk into a gallop and just like last year when I came around the final turn with Eric, it brought a few tears to my eyes. This was the only time I told him he had to do something. Otherwise he did everything else he did on his own. Selfishly, it's the moments just before the finish line that your heart skips a few beats with all the emotion that has built up over the last 40 miles.

You will have read in other blogs or facebook that I often refer to one of my ultra mentors, Jim Magill. I remember that he said it is a pacers sole job to get his runner safely to the finish line at Placer High School before the 30 hour time limit is up. Congrats Tony!

6. Recapping Quicksilver Ultra Racing Team Results

We had tons of fun and I hope all the runners enjoyed their brief stay with Quicksilver Running Club and friends. 

Here are the results for Quicksilver Running Club members and Ultra Racing Team for USATF. One thing we all knew was that these three would finish no matter what. They had a little exra pressure on them as we need three finishers to count for our "Mixed Team " score for USATF. Go team!

45th    Eric Toschi 20:35
104th  Dan Decker  23:28
271st  Karen Bonnett 29:12

For the rest of the field... well we had everyone is in position. Costumes were on and Beat Box playing 80's jams. We held on tight, as this was to be the most competitive field ever assembled for an ultra. Up, down, left, right, eat, pee, finish. Killian and Ellie Win. How is that for a race recap. I will let the runners and other bloggers and websites break down the event and order of finish.

see AJW's blog  (Coached Eric Toschi... Great work Andy!)

That'll entertain you for a bit.

Thanks for making it this far. Sorry for the delay and rambling nature. Hope it gets you to WS next year regardless of whether or not you got ultra-lucky in the lottery.

See you soon,
Greg or

It all started with Gordy in 1974.