Sunday, July 17, 2011

Cool Moon 24 Hour Run

The Plan:  Endorphin Dude drives from San Francisco to Oakland to pick up Ultra Woof.  We leave Oakland at 9pm and arrive in Sacramento by 11pm.  Sleep in a Motel 6 and head to race early in the morning.

What Actually Happened: 11pm, the Mini Cooper is packed with ultra gear, we're plugging along on I-80, and then chug chug chug chug ka-plowy!  Yes, I realize that my onomatopoeia for the tire exploding may look cartoonish in writing, but believe me, the actual incident was pretty extreme. The rear passenger tire of the Mini exploded, and the impact was so intense it ripped off a chunk of the bumper, shattered the brake lights, and mangled up the side panel. Thankfully, we were near an exit and were able to safely make to a gas station in Vacaville.  Sadly, Ultra Woof and I were halfway to Sacramento, so this minor setback not only put a dent in my car, but also in our spirits!  

Fortunately, I had just renewed my AAA roadside assistance and was able to get the Mini towed back to San Francisco, some 60 miles away.  Chris Bliss, the chiweenie's doggie nanny, rescued us by coming out, loading all our stuff into her car, and driving Ultra Woof back to her place in Oakland while I had my car towed to the other side of the bay.  My running partner in crime then crossed the bridge to pick me up in San Francisco and we headed back to Sacramento.  We finally arrived at about 5am.  Oh, did I mention that we got pulled over because the Woof-mobile's brake lights weren't working? Boy oh boy.

In any case, we made to Sacramento in one piece and were able to squeeze in a two hour nap before our 24 hour ultra race.  The math just doesn't add up: 2 hour sleep before a 24 hour race.  Oh boy!  To top it off, the 9 mile loop was a treacherous course!  To complete the loop, we had to climb steep rocky hills, hop from stone to stone Frogger style to cross a creek, and run through snake infested and horse manure filled "Lovely Bones" fields.  For those unfamiliar with the Lovely Bones reference, this was a book and film about a 14 year old girl who was murdered in the fields very much like the one we had to walk through.  Ultra Woof was quite disturbed by this.  I don't blame her, because honestly, I was a bit perturbed by this too.  Even in broad daylight, a serial killer could very well be lurking in those fields, and if anyone fell prey to him or her, their screams would not be heard.  Imagine being out there at 2am under the pale moon light. Think I'm being over dramatic, just ask Ultra Woof and she'll tell you just how unnerving it was!  In any case, the Cool Moon 24 Hour Run course is by far the toughest course I've ever set my Mizuno-clad feet on.

The start.
Dennis Mori and Ernie Nunes.  These two are every race.  Notice the rocky terrain.  This was actually the flat portion.  There was one section where the rocky hills felt like they went for miles!
Ready for a game of Frogger?  Notice the giant chop sticks in my hands.  More on that later.
I wasn't lying about the snakes!
Ah yes, the lovely bones.

My goal for the weekend was to hit 50k, the bare minimum number of mileage for Marathon Maniac qualification.  Ultra Woof wanted to hit 100.  The problem was that this course was pretty intense during the day, one can only imagine what it would be like at night.  I told my running partner in crime that I would do my best to pace her through the night.  In theory, this sounded like the perfect plan, but in practice, it was very difficult.  It took roughly four hours to complete each of the 9 mile loop, and as the day went on, it lingered longer and longer. 

The good news is that Endorphin Dude discovered the chop sticks, thanks to Ultra Woof and Dianasaur!  These two have been using sticks for some time and Woofie introduced me to them this weekend.  Endorphin Dude caught on to the stick quite quick!  This marathon caped crusader flew with those chop sticks, pulling in an 11 minute pace after mile 28 up rocky terrain at 2am! It was a very liberating feeling.  The sticks helped me make it through the night, which I desperately needed.  Night time at Cool proved to be quite interesting.

You can call me Stick Boy.
This way?
Endorphin Dude and Ultra Woof with Ultra Royalty Ed "Mad Hatter Fancy Pants" Ettinghausen.
This lake started out as puddle at the beginning of the day.
And delirium kicks in...

That final loop took us over 6 hours to complete.  Crazy things happened.  I'll be writing a book about this race one of these days, and in it I will give all the gory details.  For the purpose of brevity in this blog, I will only bullet point these strange happenings:
  • I swear, we didn't smoke any shrooms, but dude, the flora kept growing and growing!  What started as a flower turned into a tree by 4am!  I know it wasn't delirium because we witnessed this phenomenon throughout the day.  Very Alice in Wonderland.
  • The sticks pumped up my upper body, and by midnight I felt like the Incredible Pussy Cat Hulk.  I MEOWED at the moon!  This clearly is an inside joke, and I bet most of you are confused by this.  Just go with it.  I'll explain in detail in the forthcoming book.
  • Mad Hatter Fancy Pants, Mr. Badwater 135 Marathons In One Year Guinness Book Record Holder, was completely dejected by midnight.  He plopped himself in a chair at the aid station and asked Ultra Woof and I if he could walk with us the final six miles of our fourth loop.  The guy looked beat, so we figured we would all be at the same pace.  WRONG!  That jester's walk pace is our running pace!  We had to politely and diplomatically ask him to keep moving ahead!
  • There was the invasion of the sticky burs which crept into Ultra Woofs skirt when she squatted during a bio break.  Perhaps this had something to do with the "presence" that she felt earlier.  The girl was spooked.
  • There was the slip of the foot and Endorphin Dude went rolling down a hill.
  • There were noises in the night. Were there wild bores roaming the trails of the Sierra Nevada?  Or was it really just bull frogs?
Together, we toiled to get done with those 6 miles done.  Ultra Woof and I finished that fourth loop at about 5am.  When we crossed that finish line, I said, "NO MORE!"  We had been out there for 21 hours and my body just couldn't handle it any more.  Ultra Woof was ok with that.  She did not get her 100 miles, but she did manage to squeak out 37.  There's certainly no shame in that.  The two of us devoured all the food we saw in sight, packed up the Woof mobile, and headed back to the Motel 6 for a nap before heading back home.

Titanium score board: 20 down, 32 to go!

I thought the Cool Moon 24 Hour Run would be a breeze, but boy was I wrong.  Both Ultra Woof and I had to work our Camelbacks off to get to that finish line.  I'm glad I got my 36 miles in, because it's 5 more miles than what I came in to do!  Most importantly, I am injury free and healthy, and I'm back on track to hit Titanium.  The rest of the year will be very challenging, but I'm ready to take the bull by its horns!