Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Cascade Crest 100

I’ve opted not to provide a blow-by-blow race report, but I’ll share a couple of thoughts and some photos that you may find of interest.
Me and Wes (who paced miles 47-68 and 96-finish) on race morning (Saturday, August 27). Wes ran/walked with me from about midnight to about 6 am. My second pacer Geoff (miles 68-finish) is shown on following pictures.

My training may have been somewhat unconventional for a 100-mile race. Basically, I alternated easy and hard weeks, and the easy weeks were really easy (often 10-20 miles, sometimes less depending on what was going on with life otherwise). I primarily needed the easy weeks to allow for reasonable time for family and work. But I think the frequent easy weeks were helpful for several other reasons. They allowed adequate physical recovery: I certainly did not overtrain, and I did not have significant injury issues during the buildup. Also, I was psychologically ready to tackle the hard/long week when it rolled around. This kept things from getting old and helped preserve general enthusiasm. I basically started training for the race in October/November, increased the hard week mileage no more than about 5% every 2 weeks, and slowly built up to a peak of 75 miles in one week. In the 8 weeks leading up to my peak mileage, my weekly mileages were 24, 62, 6, 64, 12, 70, 3, 75 (then started a taper: 51, 30, 23, 5). This training plan is probably not good for optimal performance, but it was certainly enough to get me to the finish uninjured and feeling well.
The scenery at Cascade Crest was unbelievable. The above two photos are at Thorp Mountain, approximately mile 84. (Note Mount Rainier in background.) My friend Geoff was my pacer from mile 68 to finish. He got me through two tough sections, the “Trail from Hell” (~68-73) and the “Cardiac Needles” (~80-88). The two photos above were taken by Glenn Tachiyama, the official race photographer (photos purchased from him).

I took the advice of Sophie et al to heart by making completion my only specific goal. So a really conservative pace was the name of the game from the start. I had no idea what to expect after mile 50 or 60, so I wanted to preserve my legs as much as I could over the first 50 miles. I started the race toward the back and stayed there. I attached myself to a grizzled veteran (attempting his 6th Cascade Crest) for 20+ miles; this was really helpful as it kept me from unwittingly pushing the pace early on. I did lots of walking from the beginning. If it looked remotely like an uphill that took more than 5 seconds to crest, I walked it. I only ran if it was flat or downhill, but I sometimes walked some during these sections as well. I slowed myself down a number of times. I only pushed a bit a couple of times in the last 40 miles when I thought I might possibly be putting myself close to cutoffs. Overall, I finished tired but feeing pretty well—better than I felt at the end of my two 50 milers and my hard-effort marathons.

Photo taken by my brother at about mile 47 (left).
Beautiful, but I found running/walking throughout 
the night (about 9.5 hours total) to be mentally challenging.
I had two notable bad patches, although they were relatively mild as far as bad patches go. One started at about mile 37—shortly after dusk—when I turned my right ankle pretty bad (something’s not right with my right ankle). I then decided that, as long as it was dark, I would walk the single track to avoid another turn of the right ankle (which I worried could jeopardize a finish). So I was walking much of the next 3-4 hours alone in the dark, and this was tough for morale. I also started to develop stomach cramps at about mile 45, and this persisted until about mile 60. Not sure what this was about, because I wasn’t pushing the pace at all. My second tough patch was through the “Cardiac Needles,” an 8-mile segment (miles 80-88) marked by 5 relatively short but significant climbs/descents. This was the most physically demanding section for me.
The crew at the finish: Geoff, me, Wes, and my brother Steve. Final time was 31:20 (40 minutes under cutoff).


Gary Knipling and Wes joking around at finish. Many thanks to Gary for being so encouraging.
Overall, the trip was one of the most remarkable experiences of my life. Completing a 100 mile race in a beautiful area was a big part of it. But perhaps the best thing about the trip overall was being with the guys (Steve, Wes, Geoff). We made the race an occasion for a “boys night out” of sorts.
Me and brother/crew member Steve on the Pacific Crest Trail (Thurs, August 25)
Me and buddy/pacer/crew member Wes on Pacific Crest Trail (Thurs, August 25)


VHTRC had a big showing at Cascade Crest 2011 (2 additional VHTRC runners were present but aren’t shown in this picture).

At some point (it will take some time), I’m hoping to put together a lot more of the photos (and videos) we got while out there.