Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Racing, Volunteering, & Crewing - The Fort Ord Experience

Blog post brought to you by Alisyn & Matt


I spent the weekend in Monterey getting ready for the Inside Trail Racing inaugural Ordnance 100k. Clearly, I did not run the event. I did however volunteer a few hours and crew UMM. This 100k will mark his first official 100k as the Miwok race course last year was cut short due to weather.


We arrived in Monterey on Thursday evening. I love Monterey and was delighted to have a day where I could be on vacation mode. Friday morning I ran on the Monterey Coastal Bike Trail, ate on the Fishermans Wharf, and watched Penny the Pup chase after the tides. It was a beautiful day even with the high winds toward mid afternoon. Umm and I were in bed by 8pm as both of us had an early morning.


No filter, no adjustments. I should point my camera at the sun more often.

Since his race started at the fresh hour of 5 AM, we arrived at the start line around 4:15 AM where UMM went through the motions of getting race ready and I volunteered. Since I was also up at the wee early hour, why not make myself useful? I suppose I could have gone back to sleep, but where is the fun in that?


There were 40 100k race participants who began the race at 5am, three of them were women! Jumping ahead for a moment - 25 of that 40 finished the race. Three of those 25 were women! Just thought I would point that out. Gotta love hardcore chicks!


I’ve been looking forward to running a 100K race for quite a while now. I signed up for this race in early December, giving myself two solid months to train. Finally, with all of the anticipation, excitement and nerves I was standing at the start line at O’ dark-thirty freezing in the wind and sizing up the competition. I came here to race! The group was small but the nervousness was the same I would feel at a large race. Also, this distance was going to be a first for me, it’s always a butterflys in the stomach feeling when you’re about to do something for the first time.


The RD explained what the course markings would be like and I paid close attention. I had studied the course map numerous times the past week and a half. Glad I did! I’ll describe what that means later… Finally, we got the “Go” and we began a long day...


Back to the start, UMM was off and running and I was huddled by a light with other volunteers trying to stay warm. I was assisting with registration and was looking forward to checking in the next set of runners who were racing the 10k, half, 35k, and 50k that also included some of my friends!


It felt good to get started and do what we all came to do. In the darkness it was really easy to miss the course flagging as there was no moon out, we were on wide fire roads and the vegetation it was hanging on was short brush. Fortunately a guy who helped design and mark the trails the day before was also racing and helped keep us on course until we got on the single track.


I tried to keep myself from going out too fast, a common problem for me. I fiddled with my Garmin now and then to see if I was disciplining myself properly on pace. I also admired the long strands of moss hanging from the oaks which were catching the light from my head lamp. Suddenly, we were at the first aid station. 5 miles in already!? That was easy. I skipped it and a volunteer hollard, “see you in 8 miles!” Another mile down is where the confusion began. We crossed a dirt road and then there was a sign saying “50K only” but it had our color flagging. I took the route anyway which climbed a good hill, made a loop and came back to the dirt road, an out and back if you will. A bit later I ran into some other runners who told me they were “back of the pack-ers.” I began to worry that I did an extra three miles for nothing. I really began to get upset. I told myself the “race” was over for me so just enjoy a 65 mile day.


When I reached the aid station I told them I did this extra loop. They said that I was supposed to and that I was the first person thus far who had done the right thing. I started jumping around like an idiot! The “race” was back on for me. They even had me check my Garmin, yep, 13 miles. I was right where I was supposed to be. Anyone who had missed the out and back they were sending out to redo that piece of course, adding an extra two miles round trip. What’s more, I was now in first place! Off I went, dreaming of winning!


First place didn’t last long. The original leader, Lon Freeman, caught me before I made it to the next aid station! That was humbling.


Since UMM will be running Western States this year, he really wanted to run this race conservatively and not run out too fast. His goal was to finish in around 10 hours at a 9:40 minute pace. When I caught up to him at the 30 mile aid station, after my volunteer duties, he looked fresh and spry. And….Was in 2nd place!!! I was excited, but knew 30 miles was nothing for him as he still had plenty of race to go! The 1st place guy was roughly 10 minutes ahead of UMM. UMM told me that the guy got off route by 20 minutes, back tracked and still was in the lead. Very impressed, but not surprised. The lead guy appeared to be a very strong runner.


At 30 miles I was happy to see Alisyn and take my first real aid station break. I felt great and knew I was on par with my goal time. I refueled, dumped off some clothes and got back on the road. The next 20 miles were uneventful. I was just trying to put into practice all of my lessons learned the past two years with pace, strategy and nutrition. Speaking of nutrition, I tried something new this time by bringing all of my own food and electrolytes. I normally get terrible gut rot from all the normal aid station fare. I cooked up some “Denver Rice Cakes” from a recipe in my Feed Zone Portables book. I had no stomach issues all day and my energy was fairly level throughout the entire event. Success!!!


At the 42 mile aid station I connected with Ranbir who was going to pace UMM the last 20 miles. On a side note - Ranbir (Ran- Beer) has the coolest name ever for obvious reasons! UMM and Ranbir were soon off and Penny the Pup was quite upset. She wanted to go running with dad and made quite the fuss! Poor thing. She just didn’t understand why she wasn’t able to run. At least there were Garmin light reflections to distract her.


I hung out at the finish for an hour or so while UMM was still on the course, cheering on friends who were finishing their races all with victories to be had!
With Janelle who kicked ass and ran a very strong 35k.
Bill, Paulo, and Ben all placed 1st, 2nd, & 3rd overall in the 50k. Imagine they are standing on a podium!

I was looking forward to connecting up with my pacer at ~42 miles. The week leading up to the race Ranbir was urging me to save some energy for the final 20 miles. He really wanted to help me kick it up a notch in the end. After a quick photo op we got going. The last 20 miles was a repeat loop so I was already familiar. I mentally broke it up into 3 segments, one for each aid station.

Ranbir, Shannon and I. Shannon had just finished running the half in perfect form!
Heading to the 42 mile aid station.
Photo Op - Shannon, UMM, Ranbir, and Penny the Pup chasing reflections

Ranbir and UMM leaving us in the dust!
I then headed back to the 55 mile aid station to provide crew support one last time and see that UMM was still on par for his goal. And then, back to the finish, UMM finished in 10:21:11 at a 10:04 pace in 2nd place overall!!! We heard that the course was slightly over 62 miles, maybe 64? We had no idea as UMM did not wear his garmin the second half. Regardless of the distance, UMM was still very proud of his finishing time and noted that he felt strong throughout the whole race! It was truly a day of highs and I am so proud of UMMs accomplishments!


It got pretty hot out on the course. I made a mental plan to drop my vest at the final aid station and push the final 10K, big climbs and all. I knew I was in second and wanted to keep it that way. I feel like I finished nice and strong. No bonking. No “I wanna die” face. I was super stoked when I crossed the finish line! Totally happy with my time, no regrets. Many thanks to Alisyn and Ranbir for their hard work and support!
On the course - Picture courtesy of Ranbir
More on the course brought to you by Ranbir
Coming in for a strong finish!

Folsom Trail Runner hotties clean house! 
Well deserved!
Overall experience was wonderful. I think one of my best races to date physicaly and mentaly! A great day with Inside Trail Racing!


I just love participating in Inside Trail Racing events as they always do a fantastic job! Friendly folks, great support, and well organized!
UMM and I were both exhausted after the race, but we still managed to go out and celebrate with yummy food, delicious beers, and fabulous friends!




Yep! We certainly did indulge!
Finally she sleeps!

2 comments:

  1. Congratulations, Matt! And way to volunteer AND crew, Alisyn. Penny cracks me up -- she's "supervising" Matt's massage.

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  2. For some reason, I didn't comment on this. I thought I did! But very belatedly....congrats Matt on an amazing run, I am in awe! And nice work, Alisyn for crewing all day...you must all have been exhausted!!!

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