Saturday, April 30, 2011

Country Music Marathon

Clear blue skies in Nashville!

I came to Nashville very concerned about Mother Nature's violent mood swings. A few days before the Country Music Marathon, thunderstorms, severe winds and tornadoes slammed the South, killing dozens of people in four states, with Tennessee being one of them. Last year in Nashville, we had to run from a tornado. That event almost got canceled due to extreme weather.  I remember shortly after crossing the finish line, I had to quickly move into shelter in place mode due to the storm.  This year, I was fully prepared to dodge anything Mother Nature threw out at me.  To my surprise, no rain, no gusty winds, no funnels!  In fact, it was hot!  Mother Nature must be going through "the change." That could only explain the extreme and unpredictable mood swings, and the hot flashes that we all had to endure in Nashville.

The Country Music Marathon marked the first marathon in my third attempt at the double header.  Earlier this month I ran two back to back Charlie Alewine marathons followed by the grueling Labor of Love ultra marathon double.  For this weekend, I chose Nashville and The Flying Pigs Marathon in Cincinnati.  Initially, I had wanted to run the Kentucky Derby Marathon/Flying Pigs double, but because the Competitor Group announced the new Rock Idol medal for completion of 10 Rock 'N' Roll events, I had to jump on the bandwagon. The Derby would have been much more convenient for me, but because I am such a bling whore, I'll do what it takes to get that extra medal!

  • Fly into Louisville, KY, on Thursday.  
  • Drive 50 miles to Madison, IN, to spend the night with my old college buddy's parents. 
  • Wake up Friday morning and drive 225 miles to Nashville, TN.
  • Attend expo and meet up with Marathon Maniacs and Half Fanatics.
  • Run The Country Music Marathon on Saturday.
  • Cross the finish line then jump into the rental car and drive 275 miles to Cincinnati.  
  • Run The Flying Pigs Sunday morning.
  • Cross the finish line then jump in rental car and drive back to Madison, IN.
  • Fly out of Louisville, KY, on Monday.
'Tis the life of the Titanium-bound Marathon Maniac!

I finally got to meet Ryan Hall at an expo!
I tried to stick around to meet Kara Goucher but I had to get back to the hotel to meet my peeps for dinner.
Finally!  I get to meet Aaron Braunstein!  Along with Mr. Braunstein was my Boston Dudette, Stephanie Arango, and her awesome Mama, Mary Signorelli.
Endorphin Dude with Lyle Lyle Crocodile. We look like siamese twins in this photo, fused at the shoulder.
It was like one big slumber party with my room mates, Jennifer Walker and Kassi Vasquez.

A few of us met up at a hole in the wall Italian eatery down town for our carbo load dinner.  For most Marathon Maniacs, this is a double header weekend, so everyone was running from one expo to the next across state lines.  Because of this, not everyone was able to show up on time for dinner.  The restaurant host threatened to take our table away because we were all just sitting there drinking water.  He was actually quite rude to us, but I suppose I could understand his situation.  It was the night before a marathon at a pasta joint, and there was a line of people waiting to get a table.  I was just disappointed that he was so terse to us.  Fortunately, the rest of our party arrived and we were able to feast. The meal was less than adequate, so it's safe to say that if I ever return to Nashville, I will be avoiding this place.  The combination of poor customer service and bad food makes this a no brainer.  At least I was in good company, otherwise the dinner would have been a total bust.

We got back to our hotel at about 8pm and turned out the lights by nine.  I did not have a good sleep, as my back was killing me.  A few days ago, I started to develop a slight pinch above my right glute.  I talked to my Nashville room mate Jennifer, who is a physical therapist by vocation, and she noted that what I had was most likely my sciatic nerve being pinched.  She showed me some stretches, which I jumped right into.  I didn't sleep well that night, but I knew I could count on adrenaline the next morning.  That hormone has saved my butt many different times!  When the morning alarm went off, I got up, threw on the Endorphin suit, and ventured off to the start line with my running peeps.

Marathon Maniacs from behind!  That's Troy and Cathy.
I didn't catch this Maniac's name, so if you know her, let me know who she is!
I caught up with this Half Fanatic. Turns out, it's Louie Soriano's brother in law!
Thank you Sisters for getting me through this race!
There were a series of these signs from the Nashville chapter of the humane society.  I am raising money for the Peninsula Humane Society, so these signs really resonated with me.  The last one read, "You're almost done, but our race continues."
I'm seeing this guy pop up everywhere.  It's the Teddy Bear Man himself, Tyler Rich.
It's always tough to only hit your mile 19 and you see all those at mile 23 run right by you.  It's nice, though, when it's someone you know.  Seeing fellow Maniac Mary out there gave me that extra boost to get to the finish line.
Yay!  Finish line!  Nashville was hot and hilly, but Endorphin Dude got through it!

The Country Music Marathon was definitely a challenging race.  It's funny how I came into the marathon fearing hurricanes and tornadoes but ended up suffering from heat exhaustion instead.  It was a good thing I kept my Camelback fully stocked and I continued to hydrate myself throughout the 26.2 miles. That final 5k hurt, but at the end of the day, I made it.  Waiting for me at the finish line were some Marathon Maniac buddies of mine and Michael Kanh of If you haven't checked out this site yet, I highly recommend that you do.  Why Marthons is a platform for inspiration, devoted to digging into the real reason that you put yourself to the test and push the limits of mind and body.  Michael caught me at the peak of runner's high.  I knew right when he clicked on the record button that he would get the very absolute endorphin-filled best out me or the goofiest stuttering worst.  I'm glad it was the former that he caught on film.

Marathon #23 is now in the books.  Titanium scoreboard: 16 down, 36 to go!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Dolphin South End Easter 5k

My name is Endorphin Dude, and I got to scratch something off my bucket list this morning...

Figured it out yet?  No worries, I won't keep you in suspense.  This marathon caped crusader turned bunny wabbit got to be race director for the day!  What an awesome experience, and to be able to do this for my running club is icing on the cake.  On top of that icing is more icing, because Endorphin Dude got to be co-race directors with his running partner in crime, Ultra Woof!  And just when you thought there was no more room for any sugar, on top of that icing on that original layer of icing is more icing!  Chris Bliss was our right hand bunny!

Stike a pose.

After yesterday's 50k, the last thing I wanted was to run a 5k.  I'm glad I had this opportunity to be race director.  Ultra Woof and I brought our personal style to this Easter 5k, and it's probably safe to say that we knocked the Easter egg out of the park.  People seemed to have a lot of fun watching two marathon maniac bunnies lead the way.  We both received positive feedback and were even asked by some DSE members when we would return.  I am definitely open to that!

Getting started.
*clears throat* Ladies & Gentle Peeps!  Welcome to the DSE Easter 5k!
On your mark, get set...
Alex Munoz coming in for the finish!
And the kids race begins!
I'll let you come up with a caption for this one!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Ruth Anderson Ultra Races 50k

When I crossed the 26.2 mile mark of my Sunday Labor of Love race, I let out a sigh of relief.  I was just happy to reach that point.  However, there was no dance of joy, no release of endorphins, and no I-like-to-thank-the-Academy speeches.  That's because there was no finish line in sight. Unfortunately, that Sunday race was a 50k, so I still had another 5 miles to go.  I remember muttering a string of expletives to myself as I asked over and over again why I would choose to go beyond the marathon distance.  It's tough when you reach what should be the end of the race and you realize that you're just not quite there yet.  The final five miles of a marathon is tough, but the final five miles of a 50k, well, that's even tougher.  I vowed never again to run that distance.

Endorphin Dude crosses the finish line of the Ruth Anderson Ultra Races 50k.

Well, that vow didn't last long.  Two weeks after that Labor of Love 50k, I returned to the distance that I so dreaded.  I registered for the Ruth Anderson Ultra Races 50k at Lake Merced because I just couldn't pass up a local race.  The conditions for this race were much more favorable than Labor of Love as well: no altitude, no Antarctica winter breeze, no scary mountain. Plus, I had 11 hours to circle Lake Merced seven times.  What really sealed the deal was that this race took place 8 minutes from my apartment, so I could easily have the doggie nanny take the Epinephrine Pup out to run a few laps with me! 

I came into this race with the same mentality of my last few.  I needed to milk the clock for all it's worth.  With 11 hours, I knew I would have no problems.  I showed up at 6am to pick up my bib and goodie bag.  I was pleasantly surprised by so many familiar faces out there.

I was shocked when I saw my buddy Charlie!  This guy will be running Western States in a few weeks.  For those who don't know, this is the guy who got me into running.  Charlie finished his 50k while I was still plugging along at mile 12!  He finished third over all with a time of 3:45:26.  Amazing!
Fellow DSE member Noe was there.  Noe ran over 100 miles at the New Year's One Day.

Here's fellow DSE member and Marathon Maniac, Bill McCarty.  Bill continued his streak of running every day by running this 50k.  I believe he's run every day for the past three years.
And of course, there's fellow Marathon Maniac Valerie Hower.  I've been seeing a lot of Valerie lately!  That's definitely a good thing!

The race director walked us to the start line, which was about .5 miles from where race headquarters was located.  When the clock struck half past 6am, he announced, "GO!", and all of us took off.  Some runners sprinted, others ran.  I stayed behind the pack with my steady power jog.  There was no way I was going to run this one, especially with the generous time limit and a double marathon scheduled for the following week!  I needed to rest my body and take it nice and slow.  By doing so, I got to enjoy the scenery and reflect on my progress up to this point.  We're approaching the end of April, which marks a mile stone in my quest for Titantification.  I am one third of the way through and I am still on track!  Thinking like this always get me pumped up.  The first three laps went by pretty smoothly, as my mind and legs were still somewhat fresh.  I got to see more familiar faces as well as some unexpected ones on the course.

At about my mile 9, Ragnar Van Mom and Fellow DSE and Marathon Maniac Elizabeth McKay texted me and said that she needed to squeeze in a 10 miler, so she was going to head out to Lake Merced with the boys.  I got to run with these three for about a mile.
I had a mini melt down at about mile 14, but Ultra Woof came to my rescue!  Thank God my running partner in crime came out to pace me!
Chris Bliss came out to Lake Merced a little bit later with The Epinephrine Pup!  For the first time ever, Endorphin Dude got to run with his side kick at a race!

The final three laps of this 50k were actually a lot of fun because I was in good company.  Ultra Woof, Chris Bliss, The Epinephrine Pup and I plugged along for the final few miles.  The side kick, however, was carried most of the way.  It's hard to run with that Chiweenie because she stops every four minutes to sniff the grass, pee, and bark at bicyclists.  My two pacers switched off with the doggie diva carrying duties.  There were times when I got to carry her, but I had to keep that to the minimum because after 20 miles, that little rat dog felt like a German Shepard! 

Geez, you're suppose to be the side kick!  I ain't got no energy to carry you!
Sure enough, I scooped up the chiweenie and ran.  Like I said, after 20 miles, she felt more like a German Shepard!  I had to give her back to one of my pacers after half a mile or so.

When I hit mile 26.2 miles, I let out a sigh of relief.  This was the same sigh of relief that I let out at Labor of Love.  The only difference, though, is that this time it was accompanied with a smile.  Yes, my legs gave out on me and the blisters that I picked up at The Western Pacific Marathon the week before continued to nag at me, but it didn't bother me that I had one more lap to complete.  I was in good company, I had plenty of time, and my dog was loving all the attention.  I continued to plug along, and when I reached mile 30, I cheered!  I picked up the pace and ran in that final mile!

Endorphin Dude & The Epinephrine Pup flies into the finish line!

Guess what?  Not only did Endorphin Dude get to fly into the finish line with his side kick, but this marathon caped crusader scored a gargantuan two hour PR!  It was a long day out there on Lake Merced, but once again I got the job done.  Along with my pacers and my superhero side kick chiweenie, what got me through this race was the awesome support of the race director and all the volunteers.  I'd like to make a special shout out to Race Director Rajeev Patel.  Thank you for making this 50k both painless and fun for Endorphin Dude!  The aid stations were always full stocked and boy oh boy, that finish line soup was the best thing I've ever had!  I may have to return year after year just for a bowl of that piping hot curryliscious soup!

Thank you Mr. Race Director! 

I am very happy that my third ultra marathon is now in the books.  If you had told me two years ago that I would be running marathons, I would have laughed in your face.  Now I'm running ultra marathons.  What's next?  A 50 miler?  100?  We'll just have to wait and see!  Titanium Scoreboard: 15 down, 37 to go!

Geez Louise, I don't know why you do this every frickin' weekened.  Dude, I'm tired.  Can we just go to sleep now???  Oh wait, I forgot, you still have to take that stupid bubble bath with Mr. Bubble.  Geez!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Western Pacific Marathon

I can out run Ryan Hall, Meb, and Dean any day.  I am so elite that no runner can touch me! And I do it so effortlessly too, as is evidenced in this photo below.  NOBODY within a mile of me.  I rock.

I'm not lying when I say that nobody was near me.  They were actually all ahead of me!  In fact, they were far far ahead of me!  That's what happens when you have a late start. As unfortunate as it was, I got lost getting to the start line of the Western Pacific Marathon.  I took a few wrong turns and ended up in the wrong city.  Luckily I was only 15 minutes late and the race director allowed me to start. 

My running partner in crime, Ultra Woof, decided to take an even later start, so she waited an additional 15 minutes and ran with the half marathoners.  Unbeknownst to me, there was quite a fanfare due to her tardiness. As all the half marathoners lined up, a Brazen Racing staff member announced over the loud speaker, "will the person who was late for the marathon please come to the front of the line to take your start."  Can you imagine being singled out like that and having everyone stare at you as you make that trek to the front of the line to take your start all alone?  I remember a few years ago, I went to see the Blue Man Group in Las Vegas, and about 15 minutes into the show, a deafening alarm went off and the Blue Men stopped the show to embarrass a guest who showed up late.  They shined a spot light on the unsuspecting guest and serenaded them with a special aria. "You're late!  You're late!  You're laaaaaaate!"  All this, of course, was broadcasted on the big screen for all to laugh at.

I don't believe anyone laughed at Ultra Woof, but I can only imagine the confused snickering which took place.  Hey, at least Brazen didn't film and broadcast on the big screen her pushing to the front of the pack while knocking over runners with her trademark refrigerator strapped around her hips. (Yes, my running partner carries a grocery store, liquor store, and pharmacy in the form of an oversized fuel belt.)  In any case, Ultra Woof got to start before the half marathoners, and she caught up to me at my mile three.

We're looking more like Olympic figure skating pairs than marathoners. Check out this perfectly executed side by side double axels.

After having endured the most laborious ultra double of my life last weekend in Lovell Canyon, Nevada, I really needed to take this race nice and easy.  My master plan was to milk the clock and finish at a comfortable pace.  I hadn't fully recovered from Labor of Love and the double marathon the weekend before that, but I had enough gas in the tank to get through my 21st marathon.  With a 7.5 hour time limit, I believed that I could get through the race without over exerting myself too much.  That late start threw me for a loop, but I quickly deleted that virus from the hard drive of my brain and moved forward.  I plugged along the first three miles, and once Ultra Woof arrived, the race got fun.  We ran, we gorged our faces with rice crispy treats at the stations, we high fived all the volunteers.  It was funny, even though I was not in endorphin gear, everyone seemed to know that I was the marathon caped crusader.  One volunteer even asked, "Hey Endorphin Dude, where's the cape?"

What I also loved about this race was the out and back course. Throughout the 26.2 miles, I got to see familiar faces run by. 

And there's the fridge around the hips.  There are more compartments in the back.  I'm telling you, she has a grocery store, a liquor store, and a pharmacy strapped on her hips!
Here we are with fellow Marathon Maniac, Valerie Hower.  We first met Valerie at the New Year's One Day.  Valerie volunteered at the aid station at Western Pacific.
Sometimes Ultra Woof gets off balanced because of that fridge on her hips, hence her posture gets slightly off.  To the right of her is Alex Munoz, a fellow DSE member.
Not really sure what' going on here.  Looks like Ultra Woof is taking a bite out of Sharon Munoz's shoulder.  I didn't realize that my running partner is part cannibal.  I better watch my back or she'll eat it.
There's fellow Half Fanatic, David Gallegos.  Would you believe me if I told you he used to weigh over 300 pounds?  No kidding.
Here's one of my favorite runners, Alison Cooksey.  The funny thing is that we didn't meet at a running event.  We met at a mutual friend's birthday party.  Most of my runner friends I meet at a race!
And there's the Wogging Tortoise herself, Mae Lee!
I'm not going to lie, my body was exhausted.  I felt like I shuffled through this race.

It took me a long time to get to that finish line.  By mile 20, my body was beat.  The blisters on the bottom of my foot went through mitosis and before I knew it, there were blisters on top of blisters.  The final 10k was physically uncomfortable for me, but I kept chugging along.  When I finally made it to the finish line, I was greeted by all my friends.  My sister Diane, who ran the half marathon, waited for me even though she had an appointment to get to.  I saw this glow in her face, and I had a had a feeling that she was very eager to talk to me.  When I asked her how she did,  my sister exuberantly gushed, "I PR'ed!!!  By 4 minutes!!  I so want to be a Half Fanatic now!!"  The girl was clearly on runner's high, and I love it, because I am the one responsible for getting her into this running thing!  Also feeling the runner's high were Chris Bliss, fellow half fanatic David Gallegos, Wogging Tortoise, and fellow Marathon Maniac Mohan Dutt, who came out to support us even though he didn't run the race.  Endorphins ran amok at the finish line and everybody was beyond happy!  Oh, what an awesome day!

From left to right: Wogging Tortoise, Mademoiselle Escargot, Endorphin Dude, Ultra Woof, Mohan, David, and Chris Bliss.

Running marathons is not easy.  Pursuing 52 marathons in 52 weeks is even harder.  I am doing this because there is something deep inside me that wants it more than anything else.  I can't explain it.  This is what keeps me pushing when the going gets rough.  I will pull out all the stops every time and find creative ways to get to that finish line.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again and again: I am not the fastest in the pack, but I always finish, and when I do, I feel like a winner.

Titanium Scoreboard: 14 down, 38 to go!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Labor of Love Ultra Weekend - Marathon & 50k

When I decided to pursue Titanium, I knew upfront that there would be some weekends during the year where I would have to double up on the marathons.  For those who don't know, when Endorphin Dude is not running, he acts as the chief instigator for a competitive film making team called It Donned On Me. We make movies under time constraints, which for most competitions is 48 hours.  These film projects take place on weekends and there are four major competitions every year.  When planning my Titanium schedule, I had to take this into account and block off four weekends to write, shoot, edit, and produce these films with my team.  Hence, I have to double up during the year to make up for those weekends.  I never imagined that I would be doubling up two weekends in a row!

When I first saw the Labor of Love weekend on The Marathon Guide schedule, I figured this was the race for me. The Saturday marathon really didn't have a hard deadline, as there is a 50 and 100 miler going on concurrently, and the Sunday 50k allowed for nine full hours to complete the race.  Easy, right?

No amount of sugar in the candy store can coat what I am about to say: Labor of Love kicked my Endorphin butt 26.2 times and then threw me into an ice tray, filled it up with Cytomax, watched me freeze up into an Endorphsicle and then kicked me an additional 31 times.  I can unequivocally say that this was my toughest race experience to date.  Mother Nature, high altitude, one big scary mountain, and exhaustion didn't make it easy for me, but at the end of the weekend, I passed every test thrown at me.

6:55am, Saturday Morning:
I arrived at Lovell Canyon, some 30 miles outside of Las Vegas early in the morning.  Thankfully, I was feeling much better after loading up on the Sudafed and DayQuil the day before.  I woke up Friday morning with that scratchy throat and muscle ache feeling, and it didn't help that I spent that whole day traveling.  When I arrived in Sin City, my energy level had dropped so low that it worried me.  After checking into my Motel 6, I went to Walgreens and went straight to the pharmacy.  I popped in some pills and headed to the carbo load dinner with some Marathon Maniacs. Throughout dinner, I felt lethargic and unmotivated, but what kept my spirits up was being surrounded by my running buddies.  Good times.  After dinner I returned to my room and crashed.  When I woke up a few hours later I felt refreshed and ready to go!  Thank goodness for modern medicine!  It was very cold out in Lovell Canyon, and I was eager to start running so that my body would warm up.  I had forgotten my neon yellow gloves back at the room, but thankfully my buddy Desert Tortoise had an extra pair of gloves that he let me borrow.  That may have saved my life that day!

The Marathon Maniacs were out in full force!  From left to right: Yolanda "Walking Diva" Holder, Hector Aleman, Desert Tortoise, Casey Chernesky, Cadillac Steve, Jessica Wabbitz, Diane Adele, and Endorphin Dude.  Not sure where Marathon Mitch and Lan Bui were!
And so we start.  I did like the scenery, but that mountain ahead worried me, as I knew I would have to climb that thing the following day!

8:59am.  Plugging Along.
I made the decision to take this marathon nice and easy.  I figured, why stress my body any more than I should, since I had a 50k the following day?  Besides, I really enjoyed the scenery.  The marathon ran along the paved Lovell Canyon Road for roughly 11 miles twisting and turning covering rolling and gradually uphill terrain. At mile 11, we turned around and ran 2.1 miles out and back along the same paved road, before returning to this same aid station. We then turned around again and return the 11 paved miles back to the finish line. What was great about this course was that I kept seeing the other runners at the turn around. I saw everyone at least twice! 

It was brisk out there in Lovell Canyon. Good thing I wore all black!
I met Laurie from Anchorage, Alaska, on the course. She recognized the cape and caught up to me! Laurie had been following my blog for some time now, so it was fun to meet her. We had fun walking together for a bit.
Blue skies! Who would have thought that it would later snow?
I think Marathon Mitch was already at his mile 34 when I was at 13!
There's Marathon Maniac Diane Adele. This picture has a very prom feel to it.

10:16am.  Diva & Divo.

It wouldn't be a marathon without the two biggest Divas there.  Well, one Diva and one Divo, the male Diva.  Yup, two Guinness World record holders were at Labor of Love!  I love it when I get to see the Walking Diva and Mad Hatter Fancy Pants out on the course.  Being the true Diva and Divo that they are, they struck their poses and worked that course.

106 marathons in one year by a female.  Wow.
Mad Hatter Fancy Pants runs four marathons every weekend. He ran five marathons at Labor of Love.  This Marathon Maniac is racking up the miles and will soon be officially inducted into the record books.

1:31pm.  Let It Snow!  Let It Snow!  Let It Snow!
I was plugging along and doing my thing when something wet and cold hit my face.  It was a snow flake!  I couldn't believe it.  I was out in the middle of the desert and it snowed! 

What happened to the blue sky?
Let it snow!  Let it snow!  Let it snow!
Endorphin Dude with fellow Marathon Maniac Lan Bui in the snow.
Marathon Maniac Hector and his friend.  These two look like little kids playing in the snow!
Dude! It's snowing in the desert! I'm a California Boy! I ain't used to this. I'm Endorphin Dude not Lindsay Vonn! To my Utah Marathon Maniac buddies, send me some yak trax!

You think those pictures above were photoshopped?  Here's video proof of the snow! 

3:35pm.  To The Finish Line.
I really thought it was going to snow the rest of the day, but three hours later, the sun came up.  I'm not sure what was up with Mother Nature.  I had never run in snow before, and though it was really cold, I had fun!  I was glad that the blue sky returned because it warmed me back up.  This was the final stretch of marathon.  I only had a 10k left.

And the blue sky returns!
5:14pm.  Mile 26!  Wow, it took a long time to get there.

I finally crossed the finish line a little after 5:15pm.  It was a very long day, and I was glad I took it easy.  After experiencing this course, I came to the conclusion that nine hours for the 50k was not going to be enough time.  I talked to the race director about an early start and she said I could show up any time, as long as I finish by 3pm on Sunday.  The race was scheduled for a 6am start, so I figured heading back out to Lovell Canyon by 2am would work.  Being out that early meant that I needed to go shopping for winter gear. If I was shivering at noon, imagine how cold it would be at 2am.  Do you know how hard it is to find a ski mask, gloves, and thermal undies in the desert in April?  Fortunately, I was able to locate a Sports Chalet that sold ski gear.  I picked up some new winter clothes and headed back to my Motel 6 for a power nap before having to head back out for my 50k. I managed to squeeze in four hours of sleep.

2:43am.  Sunday morning.  18 Degrees F.
It's amazing what 240 minutes of quality sleep could do for a runner.  I actually felt refreshed and ready to go!  I quickly got up, got dressed, and jumped into the rental car.  I arrived at the start line a little after 2am and took my head start.  It was interesting to see the walking zombie 100 milers finish up their race. While I started out at mile one, most of them were at their mile 85 or so.  It was tough being out there in the cold dark canyon, and even with the extra layers of clothing, I still froze.  My body tightened up as I inched along.  It was too cold to run.


4:49am.  Delirium Kicks In.
I continued to waddle along like a little penquin.  My eyeballs froze up like little round ice cubes, as this was the only part of my body that was exposed to the arctic air.  When I hit mile four or so, I needed to feed myself, but it was so cold that I couldn't remove my gloves.  Thankfully, I saw a car come toward me.  I flagged that car down in hopes that the driver would let me sit in his or her seat in front of the heater.  The driver, indeed, pulled over and let me in.  She was a friend of one of the 100 miler runners and she was genuinely concerned about me.  She immediately asked if I needed medical attention, but I assured her that all I needed was to nourish myself but couldn't do so outside.  Ah, to be in a vehicle with the heat blasting was exactly what I needed!  I removed my gloves and opened up my granola bar.  Had it not been for that driver, I probably would have starved to death.  Trying to unwrap a granola bar in that arctic freeze would have resulted in a loss of digits.  I could see my fingers breaking off one by one due to extreme frost bite.

6:36am.  I See Sun.
That mini pit stop in that Honda Accord made a world of difference for me.  I managed to get that second wind.  Mind you, that wind felt more like a glacial breeze, but I'll take it.  As the hours passed, I saw a few more 100 milers come toward me, all of whom looked like the walking dead.  I also began to see some 50k-ers come from behind.  By this point, the sun had risen, and I managed to snap out of the delirium which haunted me earlier.  Endorphin Dude is a very social super hero, and being all alone in the cold dark canyon sent this marathon caped crusader into unhinged mental territories.  Seeing other runners along the way helped to ease my mind.

Mad Hatter Fancy Pants just looks deranged here. We both do. I swear, the two of us look like psychotic bank robbers!  We are the marathon version of Bonnie & Clyde.
I was plugging along when Kirsten Rasmussen caught up with me. When she said she was from Anchorage, AK, I immediately thought of Laurie, the woman I met during the marathon the day before. Turns out, Kirsten and Laurie are friends and traveled to Nevada together! Kirsten didn't recognize Endorphin Dude without his cape! The sign in between us is the direction pointing to mountain that all 50k-ers had to climb.

7:26am.  And The Climb Commences.
The toughest part of this 50k finally arrived at about 7:30am. I stopped at the aid station right before the 50k detour to gulp down a few shots of Gatorade, stretch out my legs, and take a few deep breaths.  Once my mind cleared, I embarked on that journey to the summit at roughly 6805 feet.  I kept telling myself that it's just like walking up that hill near my apartment to get to the dog park so that the Epinephrine Pup could release her endorphins in both liquid and solid form.  Unfortunately, this mountain was just a tad bit more difficult, to say the least.  Nonetheless I continued up and up and up until I reached the turn around.

By that time, I nearly lost it.  The volunteer at that aid station offered words of encouragement and a pep talk, but by then, I had no more sugar in my system to coat it and I flat out admitted that I didn't think I could do it any longer. The volunteer assured me that he would be sweeping the course and that if any time I need to retire, he would drive me back to the finish line.  I was very tempted to just hop into his truck right there and then, but then I kept thinking about those three retro-looking heart-shaped medals waiting for me at the finish line.  I came all the way to Lovell Canyon for those three pieces of bling, and I wasn't going to let a little elevation and altitude stop me!  I thanked the volunteer and continued my trek towards the finish line. The thin air at the top of summit sent my mind into a frenzy.  I had to pull out whatever I could to stay in this game, and I managed to find motivation in the oddest of places.

10:16am.  Off The Mountain.
When I reached the down hill portion of the mountain, I let out a little sigh of relief.  I let gravity take over and I power jogged down the hill.  Yes, I may have just made up a new term, "power jog."  It wasn't quite a run, but it wasn't quite a jog.  It's that motion in between.  That's what I did.  I wanted to get out of that mountain as fast as I could so that I could get back onto the main road.  I only had a little more than a half marathon left and there was no time to waste.  When I finally made it out of there, I rejoiced!

Get me out of this crazy mountain!
Seeing Marathon Maniacs on the course always helps clear my mind! Karl was looking strong, and he ran the marathon the day before too!  Karl didn't need the early start like I did.
After I got down from the mountain, there was Kansas, and I don't mean the state, though it did kind of feel like I was in some warped Wizard of Oz experience up in that mountain!

Getting off that mountain and back on to the main road made me very happy.  Seeing my buddy Kansas at the bottom of the hill put a huge smile on my face.  I wished I had more time hang out with him, but I still had a half marathon to go and time was running out. I took a quick pic with him and along I went. Kansas managed to snap a shot of me as I dragged my feet away. You can see from my posture that I am beat up. You know that there is a grimace on my face.  I can tell you that there was very little gas left in me, but I kept going.

One foot in front of the other...

As much pain as my body endured, in my heart I knew that I could finish this race, so I continued to chug along.  The sun got hotter and my fuel pack got heavier.  Amazingly enough, my pace got faster.  The last thing I wanted was to get swept, so I power walked my way to that finish line with very minimal breaks. Step by step, little by little.  The clock kept ticking but I kept going.  I hit mile 26.2 and let out a sigh of relief.  I hit mile 27 and smiled.  Mile 28 made me cheer, mile 29 made my heart jump, and when I hit mile 30, I felt that burst of pride explode within me.  I picked up my pace and pushed my way to that finish line. The physical pain disappeared, the adrenaline pumped hard, and the endorphins kicked into high gear.

Almost there!
I see it!  I see the finish line!

3:03pm.  Mission Accomplished.

When I crossed that finish line, I nearly lost it. I fell into the arms of the race director and gushed how this was the most difficult challenge of my life.  It's true.  Never before have I completed 57.3 miles in a span of two days.  This Labor of Love ultra weekend to me is just like The Goofy Challenge, but on steroids.  I spent nearly 24 hours climbing hills, gasping for air, and teetering on the edge of redrum. I reached levels of physical and mental fatigue where I started to question why I was even out there. In spite of all this, I kept positive. At the end of the weekend, I limped away with three shiny hearts hanging around my neck. I am so proud.

Shortly after I crossed the finish line, so did Mad Hatter Fancy Pants.  Bear in mind, that he crossed that finish line five times.  That Marathon Maniac ran five marathons that weekend.  Here we are with Race Director, Joy Fourier.  Thank you once again Joyce for putting on this incredible event.

On a final note,  I would like to share an excerpt from fellow Marathon Maniac "Kansas-IronClyde" Guadalupe J. Galindo's Labor of Love race report.  The final 11 miles of this race tested my mind and body as I inched along the dirt road.  What got me to that finish line was something Kansas called "reslience."  His race report really hit me.

Throughout the weekend I saw runners dig deep, others faces the elements and pushed forward.  But the best example of resiliency I saw, was the very last thing I saw. I had missed Endorphin Dude during his marathon on Saturday, and I didn’t see him on the course on Sunday. So I drove out and picked up gear I had dumped at one of the aid stations ran by Ryan, another MM. I was eager to know how Tony was doing so I continued out on the course. I didn’t see him and I reached the last aid station. The volunteers running the station said he was on the trail and would be coming down in a few minutes. So I waited. With only a little time gone by Tony came around the corners with a smile on his face! After a quick chat and some snap shots he was on his way with 11 more miles to go, and time was not on his side. The course was brutal, the weather played a huge factor, and I can’t even imagine what his legs, back, and mind must have felt like. During an endurance event you have to have mental toughness or else you could lose it, but there he went, one foot in front of the other. Although things may slow him down, he was bound and determined not to let anything stop him. Endorphin Dude is not only powered by endorphins, but he sets the bar high when it comes to being resilient!

This isn't so much a race report, but more of a story of how the entire weekend was viewed and experienced through my eyes. I was able to witness ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

- "Kansas-IronClyde" Guadalupe J. Galindo
In this jungle called the Marathon, I am that awkward little monkey swinging from tree to tree.  I don't have the speed of a cheetah or the agility of a gazelle, but I know what I need to do to get to the other side of the jungle.  I know when I need to eat my banana, I know which branch to swing from, and I know when to stop under a tree to rest.  To say that this Labor of Love ultra weekend is challenging would be a gross understatement.  I pulled out all the stops, and at the end of the day I made it, thanks to this little thing Kansas called "resilience." This awkward little monkey is very happy.

Titanium Scoreboard: 14 down, 28 to go.