28 October 2020

Reclaiming purpose in running

It's been a cool 4+ months since I last showed up on Strava.

My reasons why were very personal, and it was important for me to take a break from anyone's running expectations.

Now, with a new (to me) watch on wrist I've decided to resurface.  But (despite majority opinion to the contrary) its not Strava that defines my running.

It's not racing that defines my running.

To be honest, I can't say with 100% certainty anymore that I know what defines my running.  

But it just could be something closer to this ...


12 June 2020

The mentally unwell side of running

I'm sure that this is a post that no one wants to have to read.

It's not attractive.

It's not glamourous.

It's not particularly flattering of this sport about which so many of us are passionate.

But it's brutally real.  At least for me.

I've always said that I have a love-hate relationship with running.  In short, I've never really liked running (ever since my days as a rotundly-shaped pre-teen with no cardio to speak of), but in the last 10 years or so I've been allured by the prospect of training and racing.  That's always served as the carrot that was dangling in front of me ... or so I thought.

Somewhere along the way I began to feel really proud of getting regular exercise in, especially first thing in the morning when much of the world around me seemed to be sleeping or hitting their snooze buttons.

I also began tracking my workout data with a GPS watch, as recommended to me by my first official running coach.

Not long after that I discovered Strava, and a whole community of runners that I could follow and with whom I could share my running exploits.

It was glorious!

And in some insidious way it was disastrous.

I started to become addicted ... not to running per se, but to the appearance of running.

Don't get me wrong - I was putting in the workouts.  It's just that now other people could see it.  They could track with me how far I was going, how fast, where it was all taking place and with whom.  I began to develop a bit of reputation as a rugged and relentless all-conditions runner.  Again, it made me feel pretty good about myself.

But somewhere along the way my striving to achieve hopes and dreams became a quest to continue to meet expectations.

It's not like the people around me voiced it in that way.  I'm not sure that any ever said (or even would have said) that they 'expected' me to keep running, or keeping hitting certain race times, or to maintain a certainly monthly mileage.  I think that the people around me are too thoughtful and polite to do that.

It was all happening in my own head.  I felt, and still feel the weight of other people expecting me to keep running and keep performing at certain levels (even my non-runner acquaintances who think of me as 'a runner').  When I look around and observe others running and completing their workouts and races somehow I feel challenged by what they're doing.  Not in a good way, mind you ... in a 'why can't I go as hard/fast/far/consistently as them' kind of way.

Instead of running as a means of getting healthier and stronger, it has become a means of staving off guilt and shame.

It's bad enough that I already have body-image problems, but to stack on top of that self-flagellation as it relates to my running habits/accomplishments meant that things were definitely going off of the rails.

Where this has all led me is to do a few things at this point in time:
  1. I've made all of my Strava workout entries 'private' so that it's basically for my own tracking purposes only.  I recognize that that may be unfair to some or all of my connections on Strava who may be looking to my workouts (as some have said) as motivation to get their own workouts in.  Honestly I feel like I've gotta 'secure my own oxygen mask first' before I can be of any kind of help to anyone else.
  2. I've given up stepping on the scale daily.  It's become all too depressing, even though I realize that any right-thinking human being would probably shout me down for being insane for thinking that I'm overweight.  But that's the point, isn't it ...?   There's a certain insanity at work here.  It's not unlike a conversation that I had not so long ago with a good friend of mine as he revealed that he was struggling with orthorexia (as strange as it sounds, that's defined as an unhealthy obsession with eating healthy) ... sometimes you just can't see the forest for the trees.
  3. I'm stopping running.  This is long overdue - even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown I've kept up training and running at least six times a week for the past several months.  Even as I type this I'm thinking that the amount of running that I've done pales in comparison to others who I've been tracking on Strava and well-meaning Facebook groups.  But my body is starting to provide some negative feedback, and while I'm sorely tempted to ignore it all I would probably do that at my own peril.  So it's time to switch the machine off.
This post isn't particularly cathartic or opinionated (I hope) - it just is.  

Maybe you will see me as weaker than you thought I was.  That's cool with me.

Maybe someone can relate to where I'm at, and in that way it could be helpful.  If so, fabulous!

At the end of the day I'm not asking anyone to sympathize, over-analyze or even understand.  To some degree I'm even embarrassed to be occupying real estate in cyberspace at a time like this with this disclosure when I could and should probably instead be putting more energy into sharing anti-racist information and strategies.  #blacklivesmatter

However if you've read this far then I appreciate that you have had enough interest or care to hear me out, and I wish you the best with your own journeys and struggles.

Maybe some time I will see you around, possibly running.

19 March 2020

What a year 2020 is shaping up to be!

The first few months into the new decade have been pretty funky.

I rounded into 2020 thinking that I wanted to take another stab at a 'fast' marathon ... and for me that means trying once again to go under three hours.  I wasn't (and still am not) sure about when that might happen, as none of the usual suspects in terms of spring races really caught my attention.  Mississauga has been a hit-and-miss kind of event for me, and while I've not really raced the Toronto GoodLife Marathon for myself (having participated in it twice - once as an unofficial pacer and once as part of a relay team) the prospect of having to run out and back along Lakeshore Drive wasn't tickling my fancy.  As such I have not yet registered for a goal marathon yet.

Turns out to have been somewhat serendipitous.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown just about everyone's racing season into turmoil, for both elite and recreational athletes alike.  Races have been cancelled or rescheduled, forcing some events to congregate on a crowded timetable (September and October this year are going to be k-razy for marathon majors), and people's training schedules have either been totally trashed or put on hold for now.

Even community run clubs have suspended their group workouts in order to encourage social distancing (and wisely so).

What's a runner to do in these tumultuous times?

Today I read this article from Peter Liddle that I thought would be worth sharing if like me you want to try to figure out the best (and healthiest) way to get through this upcoming running season: 
This is also another good read, providing some specific insights into just how the most disciplined and talented of runners are managing to keep it together (and in perspective):
#staysafe #socialdistancing #keephealthy #flattenthecurve

20 November 2019

Gimme a break, gimme a break ...

It's been some kind of a year!

2019 has been my self-appointed 'year of ultra', with a focus on taking on almost exclusively (trail) ultra races and culminating in my first attempt at a 100-miler.  After a fairly strenuous endeavour such as that it only makes sense to take a significant break to allow the body to recover.

At least that's what anyone in their right mind would do.  But me?  Oh no.

I went ahead and served as one of the official pacers for The County Marathon (for the sixth year in a row), and then two weeks after that accepted an invitation from my good friend Holly to serve as her unofficial pacer at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.  So within the span of about six weeks I'd put in about 245 kilometres of racing (on top of the regular workouts that led up to both of the marathons).  I wouldn't recommend that to anyone ... but I'm probably one of my own worst students.

After working with Holly to help her attain a new personal best (and another Boston Qualifying time) I knew that I wanted to take some time off.  Somewhat arbitrarily I decided that it would be three weeks of complete inactivity, at least from a running/exercise perspective.  And boy did my body need it.

Although I went just about stir crazy after a measly three days of not running, my knee, both feet and shoulders (oddly enough) were providing ample feedback to let me know that I should have taken time off sooner.  And I don't mean a few weeks sooner, but probably something more like a few years sooner - because this three-week hiatus would turn out to be the longest time without lacing up the running shoes in about nine years.

108 months.  Or 469 weeks.  Or 14265 days.

Oh I'd taken a week off here and there.  Just nothing that really resembled a true off-season ... you know, the kind that even professional distance runners know that they are wise to take.  If I'm going to be honest I think that the rationale behind this relentless drive to run was probably threefold in origin:
  1. An addiction to running
  2. Negative body self-image
  3. FOMO (fear of missing out) ... or maybe better yet FONBPAHCE (fear of not being perceived as hard-core enough).
As you can tell none of the three reasons above is a healthy motive to keep pressing forward.  You might also have guessed that stopping my running routine actually wound up exacerbating all of these issues - to the extent that I basically had to go radio-silent on running-related social media channels to avoid feeling worse about myself while witnessing everyone else's outings and achievements.  I also tucked the scale away underneath the bathroom counter so that it was basically inaccessible, as well as 'resigning' myself to eating guilt-free to try to undo some of the negative thoughts I had about weight loss equaling athletic prowess**.

My friend David got it right ... I totally felt like 'fat Thor'

The honest truth is that it was really difficult to take that break - more difficult than if I had continued to run regularly, although that would have almost certainly have put me on the shelf with an injury of some variety.  I had difficulty sleeping (because I wasn't nearly as tired each night), I couldn't sleep in (as my body had been long-accustomed to waking routinely just before 5 a.m.) and I felt like someone had jumbled my schedule each day because it didn't start off with a run.  Still, rest is a necessary act of discipline and I had to work at taking some rest. 

Moment by moment, day by day I stayed the course.  I made it to three weeks of inactivity.

So now what?

I decided that next year I want to take another stab at the marathon, but I'm going to finally give a go at (low) heart-rate based training.  I'd come across Floris Gierman on YouTube several years back and was astounded that he could run a sub-3 marathon while simultaneously vlogging it - and he attributed a great deal of his success to following the philosophy/methodology of Phil Maffetone and focusing in on aerobic system development.  Floris now leads up the Extramilest network (including coaching and a podcast) and has become an influencer in the online running community.  As a tinkerer I saw low heart-rate training as a way to ease back into an exercise schedule, and quite possibly a path towards finally getting my own sub-3 marathon PB.

I haven't yet picked a spring goal race, but I do have a trip to Burlington for the Chilly-Half Marathon booked again for 2020 - so that may be my first real test to see if I'm actually getting anywhere or just stuck on the dreadmill of self-sabotage.

However it goes, I'm happy to be back at it again!

- - - - - -  

** If you have also struggled with the whole 'weigh less, run faster' mentality then I might recommend at least giving a quick watch of this video from former NCAA D1 cross-country runner Emma Abrahamson ...


08 October 2019

Belt-buckle breakdown: Run Woodstock Hallucination 100 mile race report

It was such an epic journey that it's hard to know where to begin.

So in an effort to make this more readable I'm going to break this report down not in terms of chronological sequence but rather by component parts - and hopefully those of you who are only interested in certain facets can scroll through to what catches your fancy.

Here are the areas that I'm going to focus in on:
  • The course (including conditions)
  • The equipment
  • The (other) people
  • The advice
  • The runner
  • The mistakes.
The course
While I'd told many people that I was going to go to Hell (Michigan) - with the hopes of also fulfilling the "and back" part - the actual address to punch into the GPS navigator had me heading to Pinckney, a little northeast of Hell and about halfway between Ann Arbor and Lansing.  I'd made the trek the night before the race to stay with my friends Chuck & Jan in Emeryville (just outside of Windsor) so that the day-of drive to Hell Creek Ranch Campground would only require 90 min. of travel time.

As the name would indicate the property on which we'd be starting the race was a campground - and a funky-vibed one at that.

Can you dig the speed limit, sucka .....?!?!

The 100-mile race distance consists of six 16.6 mile loops (or 26.7 km), and as I was to find out upwards of 1/3 of the loop was either on crushed limestone rail-trail or rural sideroad.  Aid stations were situated approximately 4 miles apart, so we had the initial start/finish aid station (with drop bag tent), the "Grace" station (at 4 mi. and then crossed again at 12 mi.) and "Richie's Haven".  At each station there were plenty of friendly faces, loads of snacks/liquids/foods and rockin' tunage.

With respect to the trail conditions they were very well groomed and not particularly technical - for all intents and purposes the entire course was runnable (except perhaps for the steepest and longest incline at 13 mi.) and there was only really one notable patch of mud that required circumnavigation.  Aside from that the biggest hazard (and some were big) were the piles of horse droppings that greeted you from time to time ... easily dodged in the daylight, but almost indistinguishable from the regular trail footing at night (yuck).

There were boardwalks over ponds and creeks.

There was marshland with shoulder-height grass and weeds (which I was almost certain would send me home with at least a few ticks, but thankfully none were found).

There were extended sections of downhill bombing with 'death to the right' (aka a steep drop-off, but I like Rhonda-Marie's descriptor better).

There were next-to-no bugs (mosquitoes, deerflies or otherwise).  I think that during the entire race I might have swatted at bugs perhaps four times, and was never bitten.

And as for the conditions on the day (and night), you could hardly have asked for better.  There was a steady rain that lasted for maybe 30-40 min. at around 1pm on Friday afternoon (the race start time was at 4pm), but after that there was no precipitation that affected the run.  This meant that everything underfoot was relatively secure, and even when the nighttime temperatures cooled down to about 14°C (vs. the daytime high of about 24°C) there was nothing to make it miserable or even unenjoyable ... it was all-around pleasant.  I didn't need to don any of the extra layers (e.g. long-sleeved tech top, rain jacket or running pants) that I'd brought with me so that minimized the amount of extra time that might otherwise have been required for changing into different outfits.

Now I have to say something else about the vibe of the campground - when we looped back through the start/finish area it was hard not to feel encouraged.  With so many people camping out as part of the race weekend (families, crew members, racers tackling different distances) there was never a point - even in the dead of night) when there wasn't a cascade of applause lifting your spirits.  As well during the daylight hours there was music playing (live bands on the soundstage were a feature part of the camping experience), and just tons of colour to stimulate your visual senses.  It was - dare I say it? - groovy.
 [ Photo courtesy of Run Woodstock on Facebook ]

The equipment
This is just a basic rundown of what I used during the race:
  • Shoes:  Reebok Floatride Forever Energy (although these are road shoes they did serve me well at the Sunburn Solstice Trail Run and the Limberlost Challenge - plus I was encouraged when there were a few other 100-mile runners that I spoke with pre-race who had competed in this event in previous years and chose to lace up road shoes as well)
  • Apparel:  Reebok "Race Crew" ACTIVCHILL tee; Reebok 5-in. split shorts; Falke RU Energizing compression socks; Sugoi arm sleeves; Buff original headwear (as neck-warmer/sweat absorber)
  • Pack: Ultimate Direction AK 2.0 Race Vest (with Platypus Big Zip LP 1.5L bladder, courtesy of superathlete extraordinaire Christina Blackley
  • Headlamps:  Princeton Tec Remix (125 lumens) and Black Diamond Astro (150 lumens)
  • Watch:  Epson RunSense SF-810 (which unfortunately ran out of battery partway through the fourth loop)
  • Nutrition:  REKARB energy syrups; GU gels; PC Organics banana & raspberry strained baby food pouches (this stuff was like magic!); assorted Timbits; Ironman Ruth's homemade oat-cakes and rhubarb/banana/chocolate muffins; Salt Stick salt tablets; Pep-O-Mint Lifesavers
And then there was the extra stuff that I packed but never ended up actually using/needing (but was still glad that I had with me):
  • Skechers GOTrail Ultra 3 (extra shoes)
  • Dollar-store variety 'magic gloves'
  • Reebok running performance cap
  • Reebok run essentials s/s and l/s shirt
  • Team Running Free fleece hoodie (at the advice of my friend Julius)
  • Jar of pickles
  • Trader Joe almonds  
A pretty decent haul in the race kit goody bag!
The people
This list go almost literally go on and on - prior to the race I deliberately sought the advice of a number of experienced ultrarunning friends, including Steph Hurtado, Keith Lascelles, Chad Dickinson, Steven Parke and Jim Willett.  I'd benefited so much as well from the comraderie and encouragment of my tribe the Barrie RunNinjas, and would be remiss if I didn't thank the Barrie Trail Running Club too.

However along the way in the race there were definitely a few folks who played a big part in the overall experience:
  • Marilyn - we first met in the line for race kit pick-up.  I immediately took notice of her slight and diminutive frame which I interpreted to be 'fit and fast' - and sure enough as she engaged me in pleasant small talk while we waited together in line she told me that while being a first-timer at the Hallucination 100 like me (she was from the greater Boston area) she was "6 for 10" in 100 milers.  I would later pick her brain while setting up gear in the start/finish area drop-bag tent, covering everything from pacing to how much extra gear to bring on any given loop.  We started pretty much together but after about 3k I (foolishly?) sped ahead and didn't see her again until my 5th lap when I was really struggling with GI issues and she passed me looking strong.  I would only see her again after regaining some strength and obliviously saying "trying to pass on your left" at about mile 99.  My finishing time was only about two minutes ahead of hers, and when she crossed I wanted to be there to greet her and offer up my thanks.  She embraced me with the hugest bear-hug possible and tearfully congratulated me on my big accomplishment. 
  • David - we had our stuff situated beside each other in the start/finish drop-bag tent, and got to chatting while waiting for the pre-race meeting.  David was a local runner and had finished a few hundos, including the Hallucination 100 several years back.  I immediately noticed his stars-and-stripes running shorts, and we connected not just on the fashion front but also as he is a dad to a few young-adult children.  I loved going through David's fueling plan with him, which included some niacin tablets which I learned can warm you up when feeling cold during a long race.  While a seasoned ultra-athlete, I saw David hurting during his third lap and he told me that his hamstrings were simply not having it that day ... and as such he had to drop out after about 45 miles.
  • Doug - I connected with Doug as we started from the campground on the second loop.  From the campground the course narrows to single track, so I got to chatting with him and another younger runner (Jacob) and we ran together for the next 4km or so.  We were exchanging stories about how we got into running, and I found out that among other things Doug's nickname was "Goat" (apparently short for "Rancid Goat"!) and that he's been quite involved in charity races and helping execute races of various distances which are promoted as friendly to first-time racers.  A super-friendly guy, Doug and I would end up playing 'leap-frog' for pretty much the remainder of the race - he and his pacer (unlike me, Doug had a full crew there to help him with logistics, refueling and pacing) would often pass me out on the course but we'd see each other at the aid stations because Doug (who was nursing a bad hamstring issue himself) would spend more time resting while I tried to grab some food and keep moving.  Doug was 110% pure grit, and it was so inspiring and uplifting to my spirits to keep crossing paths with him all throughout the day and night and day again. 
  • The border patrol/customs agents - obviously an unusual addition to a race report, but I found that both entering the USA and re-entering Canada the border guards were absolutely fascinated by the fact that my reason for travel was to run an ultramarathon, much less a 100 miler.  As soon as they caught wind that that was the focus of my trip they completely abandoned the normal array of questions (e.g. where do you live, are you bringing anything into the country, how long is your stay, etc.) and just peppered me with questions about the logistics of the race, what kind of training was required and what kind of plan I had in place to stay awake and moving.  I almost felt like I had to cut them off just so that I wouldn't tick off the other cars in line behind me.  
The advice
When I peruse through other people's race reports I admin to sometimes not reading through the entire narrative - not because its uninteresting, but because my sole purpose is try to walk away with a few nuggets of information that I can implement into my next comparable venture.  As such I thought that I would highlight some of the key pieces of advice that I received which I think are worth noting for anyone attempting an ultramarathon, and perhaps in particular a hundred-miler:
  • Walk before you have to - I know that I voiced this myself after reflecting on the Sunburn Solstice Trail Run, but I've also read/heard this from multiple fronts.  At some point in an ultra you are most likely to have to walk - so incorporate them strategically instead of feeling that its a last resort.  When you choose an interval to walk you are almost certainly even going to carry that on at a more vigourous pace than if you are reduced to having to walk.
  • Stay in the moment - a video that I'd recently come across was a TED talk by a gent named Ned Phillips and out of all the stories that he told the one little bit that stuck with me was about how important it is when running to just think about running.  Sounds simple, and it is - but profoundly so:  https://youtu.be/_tc4K5Zujqw?t=629
  • Be careful of over-preparing - another video that proved immensely helpful was an interview with Anton Krupicka (won the Leadville 100 twice, and placed second in 2010 at Western States).  Besides reiterating the 'stay in the moment' approach Anton also shared some reassuring words about how ignorance leading into one's first 100-miler can be underrated.  It's not an excuse for negligence or laziness in making sure that you're well-trained and reasonably aware of what's in front of you, but that you can overthink your preparation.  I even read that you can over-pack, putting energy and $$ into bring far more stuff than you need, especially to races (like the Hallucination 100) that has fantastic aid stations that are not too too far apart.  Even the very small cooler of food/snacks that I brought was barely scratched because of how well stocked the race aid stations were.
  • Brushing your teeth can feel as good as a shower - this was a tidbit advised by both my friends Steven and Steph.  I packed a toothbrush and toothpaste and pulled them out after lap #4 (approx. 9:00 am) in the hopes that having a fresh mouth would revitalize me.  It was no instant wake-up call, but I can say that I did have something to look forward to as I was plodding toward sunrise, and it was great to feel like my breath wouldn't melt metal.
The runner
What can I say?  I spent an entire season only racing ultras in the hopes of being fit enough to complete the Hallucination 100 in the allotted time (30-hour cut-off, which would give me a Western States qualifying ballot).  In addition to plenty of time logged on my feet I also took Steven's advice of trying to put in a few run streaks to try to help bolster my mental preparation - for me this meant running every day for the month of January (no mean feat during the polar vortex-type winters here in Barrie, ON) and the month of March.   I figured that if I could get out there when I was not only tired but the conditions were certainly prohibitive that perhaps I would be ready for pushing through those proverbial 'walls' when I felt like running was the last thing that I wanted to do.

And the walls, they came.

I think that there were at least five distinct occasions during my 100-mile run when I effectively thought that I was done.  The earliest occurrence was at around kilometre 32 when I was walking up a hill and couldn't even maintain a straight path.  Now I confess to have been battling light-headedness and vertigo for the five days leading up the Hallucination 100 - I think that it may have been a result of a sinus infection - and wasn't even sure that I would make it to the start line.  However I felt like I could give it a go with my only real fear being that if/when I fell on the trails that the world might start spinning out-of-control.  Thankfully that didn't end up happening (maybe in part due to the fact that when I did fall I went full-out Superman diving instead of my normal tuck-and-roll strategy).

Then there was the GI (gastro-intestinal) stuff.

As much as I have tried to learn from the assortment of ultras that I managed to complete this year, I still do not have a handle on how to fuel in a way that doesn't upset my stomach.  By the time that I was going around on loop #5 (about 85km in) I was finding it very difficult to get in the calories that I needed without having my stomach reject it altogether.  I was grateful that aid station #1/#3 (we passed by it twice) had plain cheese pizza, but the only way that I could get it down was to walk slowly and try to eat it in the smallest of nibble-sizes.  I couldn't handle anything sweet - so no more gels, no candy, not enough peanut butter & jam sandwiches.  And even chicken noodle soup threatened to make a reappearance after swallowing it if I tried to consume it in modestly-full spoonfuls.  This made for a recipe of near-disaster as I went into a serious calorie-deficit position and pretty much walked the entire fifth lap.

About 27km of watching people look good while I felt like a zombie. 

27km of hearing "on your left".

27km of thinking about how I was going to draft my 'DNF' race report.

Oh, and did I mention that my watch had run out of battery life during the fourth loop?

I'd told myself that I was pretty much spent, and that there would be no way that after the fifth lap that I would have enough time (at my current pace) to make the cut-off.  That decision to bail was also made psychologically a bit easier given that the organizers give anyone who completes more than 100km the option to back down and receive a time for the "Happening 100k" (instead of a DNF in the 100 miler) as well as a medal for that distance.

Coming back into the campground at the end of lap 5 I sat down (and I really hadn't sat down all race long - I tried to keep moving at all times, even if it was just at a slow walk) convinced that I was done.  The senior volunteer who was tracking bib numbers as we came through the aid station asked me how long before I'd set out for the last go-round, and I told her I was pretty much finished.  Her response was "but you still have lots of time" ... and not knowing what time it was exactly I still had no designs on pressing on.  I was pretty sure that it was past 4pm, and that would leave me a total of six hours or less to complete another 27km of feeling downright nasty.

"It's 3:31 pm", she said.

Moment of truth time.

With more than six hours left I somehow convinced myself that I could give it a go and pull out at one of the aid stations if/when things got extraordinarily ugly.  So I (figuratively) girded my loins, and went to ring the bell that hung in the aid tent - it was explained to us during the pre-race meeting that on the final lap runners had to ring the bell to signal that they were only going round once more (much like you would hear at a track-and-field event).  Once I gave it a good ring I planted my right foot forward to try to muster something of a jog ...

And guess what?

I actually found myself running.  Faster than I had for the previous 5-7 hours.  Not sure if it was the bell that mentally woke me up, or the prospect of potentially being able to earn my first belt buckle - whatever it was, I managed to make my last loop my third fastest of the race:
  • Loop 1 - 3:10
  • Loop 2 - 3:53
  • Loop 3 - 5:01
  • Loop 4 - 5:10
  • Loop 5 - 6:17
  • Loop 6 - 4:23
As a last note on this section I'll say that even though I did not have any crew or pacers with me (and honestly I think that this event was well set-up to not need any additional help) I did use the setting sun as my 'unofficial' pacer for the final loop.  The last thing that I wanted to have to do is to pull out my headlamp again to run in the dark - so my cadence picked up with the lengthening shadows.  There's nothing quite like desperation to keep your feet moving.

The final tale of the tape

The mistakes
I'm sure that there are many more errors in judgment, preparation and execution but I think that I'll just note two of them here:
  1. Driving home right after finishing - yep, I waddled my way from the finishing to collect my drop-bag stuff and headed straight out of the campground to my car.  I then launched headlong into the 5+ hour drive home, which included a late-night stop at McDonald's to grab a caffeine jolt and numerous overpass bridges that seemingly became Transformers before my eyes.  Apparently the hallucinations for me were kept on hold until after the run.  Still, I managed to get home safely somehow, grabbed a shower and hit the hay in my own bed.  This all despite numerous recommendations not to extend my streak of 34 awake hours to 39 (including my wife telling me to just nab a hotel room).  Don't try this at home, kids.
  2. Giving myself very little recovery time - I took two days off of running after getting home.  I thought that my legs actually felt pretty good, and since I had already committed to pacing the County Marathon again this year I didn't want to dive into off-season mode quite yet.  And while I didn't launch into a hardcore training week, I did help my friend Jeremy move the following weekend and promptly threw my back out completely.  I was shelved for about three days with radiating lower-back pain, and after that subsided my neck seized up for another three days.  I felt like I was physically falling to pieces, but I suspect that that was just my body telling me "what - you didn't think that I just did the most strenuous workout in 49 years of life?".

So there it is - the Hallucination 100 as I best remember it.  Where we go from here is to submit my single ballot into the 2020 Western States Endurance Run lottery - and even if I don't see my name drawn (which is almost guaranteed) I may think about hitting up another belt buckle adventure.  It was an excellent time all in all, and I still believe that I could finish one in under 24 hours.

But first, some donuts and a decent off-season ...! :)

Sign me up for another rodeo, cowboy!