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Location: San Francisco, California, United States
Interests: Road cycling and marathons...big time; there's also mountain biking, trail running, and swimming
Expertise: Finding the perfect run of varying distances and in various locations.
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Quicksilver 50 Mile
I have dodged many bullets this season but getting Miwok 100K, the monkey off of my back, was a good feeling. Are those enough metaphors already? Quicksilver 50 Mile was a week after Miwok and I had to consider a conservative approach in racing without succumbing to injuries. I even had thoughts of downgrading to the 50K prior to the start. But coming in with a complete team, I had to finish alongside my teammates.
Within the first mile, was a steep grade and also the first sign of an asthma attack flaring up. I slowed down and recovered before the singletrack section where a group was formed. We ran at a steady clip until this woman toward the middle of the group fell at least 3 times and ate the trail. But she quickly rebounded and regrouped.
Not to be misled by the beauty of this race and the view of San Jose below, Quicksilver was once a mining town that was a major factor in the booming economy and much of the development in this area. The remnants of the machinery used for mining are still within Quicksilver in Almaden Park. You may round the corner on the trail and pieces of equipment awkward left behind appear such as a prop on a Hollywood set for a western.
Even though I still had a pretty good time at Quicksilver 50, there are many disheartening things about this race. You do a couple of deja vu loops that can make you a bit crazy. And if you do decide to tackle the 50 miler, you cross the finish area cheered on by those who have finished the half marathon and 50K. Then you crest up a 4-5 mile hill. Further along the section, there’s an out-and-back section that allows you to scan how many runners are in front. Not to mention, the 50 mile has a bunch of “roller coaster” ups and downs right before the finish that were pure knee knockers.
I think Stan put the nail in the coffin when he joked that I was so close to finishing in under 10 hours. I finished in 10:00:54. Truth be told, I did have an asthma section along the out-and back section and one close to the finish. But I still had a great time and the weather cooperated. The best part was winning a new pair of Brooks Cascadias at the finish! There are just desserts for finishing.
In the Ohlone 50K, I won’t spare you the details because I have written about this event many times. It’s a great race and again in warm conditions. But there are 5 things I do want to highlight.
First, it was my teammate, Jeff Huizenga’s first ultra. Ohlone was my first ultra so I can empathize what it’s like to do your first ultra on such an epic course.
Second, there was a woman who was afraid to go down the descent after the Schliepper Rock aid station right around the 26 mile mark. I was kind enough to hold her hand down a bit, but I did not expect her to want me to walk down the ENTIRE 1-2 mile descent! I lost precious time and got passed by many people. In the end, I barely made it under 7 hours but I remain convinced that I could’ve had a PR of sub 6:30 had I not helped that woman. She did not thank me and even had the gall to say she’s done this race 4-5 times. Shouldn’t you know the course by now if it’s your 4th time?? This was my 3rd and knew the course by heart...almost. I was very upset...had I known that this would be my last ultra...last running event ever, I would have told that bitch to suck it up and finish it yourself.
Third, this was my last running event in which I could go at maximum. Because of my health condition, I cannot run as hard or long as in the past. So I’m happy to spend it with my good friends and teammates for one last time. Had I known it then that it would be my last, I would have been teary-eyed and depressed. But I’m glad I did the most I could given the circumstances. Apparently, I was sick during the run, meaning I was more out of breath and unable to run comfortably. Like all the other races this year except for the Seoul Marathon, I had been difficulty breathing and dizzy so I had to slow down tremendously in the races.
Fourth, surprisingly (or unsurprisingly enough), I am in the lead for my age division in the PAUSATF ultrarunning rankings! Link: http://www.pausatf.org/data/2010/umstandm2010.html
It won’t last long for sure because an ambitious Chikara or Sean will overtake me if they really concentrated on the series. However, wouldn’t it be something if a person who isn’t a runner anymore won the series. I hope I do win overall as a last hurrah to my running achievements and my first and last ever first place in running. But I wouldn’t want to take away the true and honest achievements of Chikara and Sean.
Finally, this is my last post in this blog. This has been mostly running related and because I am no longer running, I have decided to make this my last. I have arrhythmogenic right ventriuclar dysplasia (ARVD). However, don’t be sad because I have another blog, that captures the new chapter in my life and will discuss more about ARVD: http://jigeumjue.blogspot.com/
All the best and thank you so much for reading!
| Miwok 100K|
Well, I finished! And what an adventure it was!
I woke up a little before 3:30AM and had a Powerbar for breakfast. I got my racing outfit and shoes (all Brooks gear, YAY!) laid out and prepared my drop bag to be left at Pantoll the evening before so I wasn't too stressed out. However, I still have to work on going number 2 so that I effectively lose weight before the start, if you catch my drift.
It was a calm and quiet morning and the drive across the Golden Gate Bridge was pretty awesome; no clouds and you can actually see the GGB towers--not a common sight! According to the website, all participants had to use the one lane tunnel in Sausalito to get to race start. I arrived at the start before 4:30AM and was one of the first ones to arrive in the parking lot. I tried to close my eyes and rest a bit but it was hard not to get excited by the commotion of runners mingling and chatting amongst other ultra enthusiasts. Within our small network, we see each other at almost all the other ultra events in the Northern CA.
But Miwok 100K is not like most ultras in CA. This year, the 15th Anniversary of this marquee event, gathers one of the most competitive fields ever assembled. And although that sounds cliche, it's quite true. In the men's elite, we have Anton Krupicka from CO, one of the youngest and fastest currently in the ultra circuit racing against veterans Eric Skaden, Hal Koerner, and Rod Bien--all names synonymous with top placings in the Western States 100. Also featured is Michael Wardian, who was the record holder for the fastest marathoner while running with a jogging stroller; he also ran Marathon des Sables (ultra stage race in the desert) in mid-April and finished in 3rd place and a 2nd place finish at the Big Sur Marathon a week prior to Miwok. We'll have to see what Wardian has left after Miwok. Miwok doesn't spare anyone who is not prepared!
In the women's elite, the favorite is Kami Semick, who is going after her 4th career win. But despite her palmares, she is not without fierce competition such as Jenn Shelton, Krissy Moehl, Devon Crosby-Helms, and Darcy Africa. All champions and all recognized in 100 mile events.
But enough about them, let's get back to how I would be heading into this race. I can't speculate or assume how the elites have prepared, most likely better quality miles and better diet and better mental training and dedication to say the least. For all we know they still hide their suffering and don't forecast them to the world to share...until after the event when all is done and divulge their thoughts, feelings, and regrets about the race. It's true, the elites are well-read and quite educated and can write remarkable race reports that should be submitted publication. Well, some are...
Okay, so I get to the race, get my race bib number, get warm in my truck, get into race outfit, and talk to ultra friends at the start. However, a few factors did cause me to lose a few brain cells. I still couldn't go number 2. I went into the porto-potty and sat there for minutes that felt like hours. I wasn't nervous about the race, but I guess the crashing waves, the cold draft from one of the open vents, and the loud chatter didn't really help my case either. I decided to just forget it and use a tree should the case arise. Second, I couldn't figure out how to use these gaiters, a sheath that protects your ankles and prevents pebbles and debris from entering your shoes. I borrowed them from Noe, but I was still uncomfortable using them.
Time move swiftly and before you know it, the parking lot is full and the crowd begins to assemble itself to the race start on Rodeo Lagoon. A cruise ship arriving through the Bay and toward the GGB was a welcoming sight. I really regret not bringing my camera because as the full moon went down, daybreak immediately rose shortly before race start at 5:40AM. Such a gorgeous morning that would help ease the difficult journey that was ahead for all. A complete field of 330 (down from 374, 20 of which dropped ten days before the event, and 24 no-shows on race morning) massed the start. Clear skies, looming mountains, blue waters--if you're not awake now, are you even alive?
The start, actually I don't remember how it started; I don't remember any bells or whistles to signal the cattle call. I just saw people jogging (and perhaps from the front, giving it full gas). Recalling that I was a full 13 miles ahead from the likes of Tim Twietmeyer, and Ray Sanchez and 20 miles ahead of Karalee Morris before burning out at American River 50 Mile, it was probably best to start mid-pack to slightly back of the field. It's an odd feeling to start slow. But with discipline and patience, reaps the reward--or so I've been told. Many people prefer to start fast--and for good reason--because the starting line at the beach funnels into narrow uphill trail that snakes its way to the top. While the elites are massing its way up and over, you are at the bottom staring at the likes of hundreds literally passing you by. All you can do is listen to mindless and careless talk from others making stupid jokes like "Oh, we'll be here till sundown" or "I guess our race is over". Really, now? Keep your comments to yourself. I stared at my Garmin--5 minutes and counting and I still haven't made it up the trail yet. I wonder how much that'll affect my race in the grand scheme of things.
Once over the trail, there were a series of out-and-back sections, primarily to resolve the distance due to ongoing construction in the area. I wasn't really complaining. On this first out-and-back loop section, you are on a wide two-lane road. It was a good way to thin out the crowd that could become problematic again on the next set of trails. It was also a good thing for another reason. On this race course, it was pretty cool to see your racing idols/pros and friends no less than 3 times during the day. It was a good way to make sure and keep tabs that they are still doing well and that they haven't dropped out. Almost immediately, small packs and chase groups began to form within the first 2 miles. Notably, Anton Krupicka and Michael Wardian were in the front with another unknown guy in the mix. Many people knew the top people in this competitive field. I and many others were captivated by their speed and grace that we couldn't contain ourselves from calling out the first names of the pros we only read about in UltraRunning Magazine but rarely see face-to-face (did I mention, let alone 3 times!). Usually, once they're gone, they're gone--never to see them ever again and home by the time you finish.
Once again, the race didn't start off as seamless as it could have. Those gaiters unbuckled from my shoes and decided to ditch them into one of the pockets in my hydration pack. I didn't even know that one of them came off and was on the side of the road until a woman told me and I had to run back and pick it up before deciding to take both gaiters off and store them. Couple miles in, my shoelaces would unravel not once, but twice, forcing me to stop while in a good rhythm and pace. Remaining calm and realizing that there are still roughly 60 miles ahead, now is definitely not the time to panic.
The mantra "enjoy the day" would be the reoccurring, yet soothing theme of the day. When I would get stressed out by a number of factors, those were the words to live by. This was, after all, my first 100K on trails and my only goal other than to finish in sub-14 hours was a realistic goal. Perhaps my goal may change later in the day if they become salient but so early in the game, it's safe not to predict anything.
Going up Coastal Road within 10K of Miwok for the 2nd out-and-back section of the day, I kept thinking to myself that I'm really far back in the field. It was really hard to resist the temptation to go harder than I should. After crossing Bunker Road and passing the first 10K on the course, I decided to gradually up the pace--still at conversation pace--and quickly walk the steep sections on Rodeo Valley Trail. I passed a bunch of people and I wasn't hurting, but I did hear a lot of panting from others who may have gone out harder than expected. I like to say hi or ask people where they're from so that they don't think I'm passing them for passing's sake. I am truly interested in those who I meet on the trails because in most cases, I will see them again in a future race. And as always, saying "Good morning" and "wishing good luck" is good karma for the soul, enjoyable race, and for an optimistic day ahead.
Remembering to eat became another focal point for the day. I have bonked in many races in the past and there was no good reason for that at all. So between aid stations, I would at least take in 2 gels and 1 salt tablet. Amount of fluids fluctuate so I didn't monitor it too closely, even though I made sure I had enough in my hydration pack for two aid stations. Solid foods would not be taken in until lunch time (around mile 16 at Muir Beach). So far so good, so let's pick up the pace.
Passing the antenna station tower with the early sunrise breathless view of San Francisco, down we go to Tennessee Valley. A major cheering section for spectators (one of many aid stations where runners return the same way) at the aid station by the horse stables, it was the last piece of respite before the long, awkward climb up Coastal Trail. I was picking people off my way. I like this mentality so far. Said hi to a bunch of people before the scary descent into Pirates Cove. I slowed down a little as to not kill myself on the short technical section. I usually get cold sweats going in the other direction because it's as if you could literally run into the ocean due to the closeness to the edge of the cliff with no barriers. But running in the other direction in this race was not as heart-wrenching.
Down again toward Muir Beach, I felt a faint pounding in the chest, which means that an asthma attack could happen. Good thing, I have my inhaler with me at all times. There was a pirate on course directing runners to the aid station at the bottom. Arrgh! Once past, we made a few crossings on the road and back onto narrow singletrack on Redwood Creek Road. Running through tall grass amongst flower fields, we ran through a number of bouncy and scary swaying bridges that took the air out of your breath. Well, it did for me. I had to slow down because I felt slightly dizzy. I was unable to follow the group I was with and pulled to the side to take a puff into the inhaler. I was still walking and would be like this for a minute before getting back into a slow jog. The inhaler took a while for it to actually work. But when it did, I felt ok. But it sucks to lose your rhythm and try to recompose yourself. The important factor is to not panic or else constriction and even worse, asphyxiation of the bronchial passages occurs.
But it came to pass, and soon enough a walk break up the steep Deer Park Fire Road and later Coastal Fire Road. I overheard some guys talk about racing in Oregon and the toughness of the Where's Waldo 100K course and how much harder it is compared to Miwok. Miwok is still hard because it is not too technical and there are many sections that are runable despite the hills and people are burned out from the descents. I catch up with Stephen along these sections as insurance that my asthma doesn't flair up again and get worse. He asked me about a couple of my Asian friends my age that also do ultras, and I was amazed that he knew who they were. Then he added that it was because not too many Asians my age do ultras in the first place; it hadn't really come across my consciousness that it may be true, but he probably has a point. Anyway, I just do ultras because I love them and I'm not making any type of standpoint.
But as testament from many others who have run this last year, this year is so much better than fierce winds and rain that swamped the course. When I saw others suffering, I only had to remind them of last year and that woke them up; the legendary 2009 race, even if you didn't race it, you definitely read or heard about it before today! However, now you have others complaining of how warm it is! Well, I'm glad to not be running after-burners to suffer so early.
Coming into the Pantoll Aid Station, I grabbed a few more PB&J sandwiches, potatoes with salt, and the customary 2 gels for added insurance. I gulped a few cups of Cytomax and Coke because it looked like it would get a lot warmer under the exposed sun along the Bolinas-Fairfax Coastal Trail. I hated this section for good reason. While there are some spectacular views of the ocean, you have to pay close attention to the slanted, cambered singletrack that can nudge you off the edge. The thick underbrush also made the navigating even harder because there were some ruts that were covered, and I feared that I may make a repeat of the ankle sprain similar to the incident at Skyline 50K two years ago. I was especially cautious when I was running with a group and the guy chatting to a woman suddenly just ate the dirt. He tripped and I heard a few rocks tumble from the trail and into the woods off the cliff. A smash, then a crash. I turned back to see if he was ok. I think he was more embarrassed than anything else, but those few seconds were good reason to stop.
The worst part was that the Coastal Trail didn't seem to end. This was certainly my low point despite the constant fueling and digestion of salt tablets. I let a few people pass me. I decided to pace off Lance Fong, who was going at a good tempo and try to just make it to the next Bolinas Aid Station. We almost took a wrong turn by following a dazed runner before some guys corrected us in time and we were back on the Coastal Trail again. Before we got there, leader Anton Krupicka who amassed 6-8 minutes at this point, was running past us in the other direction; that meant he was a good 15 miles ahead of us!
Lance Fong and I along the Bolinas Ridge Trail
When we got to the Bolinas Aid Station at mile 28, I saw Scott Jurek cheering and pouring liquids for runners as a volunteer. I told him it was good to see him out here. This would now be a 7 mile out-and-back section, with the out portion mostly downhill and the return trip an uphill struggle. It was a heavily shaded section, and that really helped. Rick Gaston was running in the opposite direction and asked how I was doing. I told him, "Oh, you know..." I also saw the elites returning and it was a star-studded field that you only read about. You get to see how they suffer, jogging or walking the climbs, and the human side is revealed.
On the return trip back to Bolinas Aid Station, which was now mile 42, I felt another asthma attack brewing so I used my inhaler and slowed down a bit. Along the Bolinas Ridge, I slowed considerably and focused on how much I hated this section. I hated it so much that I ignored my hunger pangs until it became too much. Laura passed me at this point, and she was trying to save herself for the Grand Canyon trek she would be making after this race. I started to walk but couldn't figure out why I was feeling so bad. I felt great a couple miles ago. It took me a while to figure out that I was expending more calories than taking in and decided to gulp down 4 GUs at once. Energy came back slowly but surely and that would last me to the next aid station.
Nattu, in his desert cap, came by and encouraged me to run with him, and he became my "pacer" along the Bolinas Ridge to the finish. If you ever need him for pacing duties at an ultra, he's about perfect. He carried on great conversation to pass the hours and timed the walk breaks when the effort became too much, which was good because if he carried on even further, I would have to run alone again and finish in a much slower time.
When we got to Pantoll Aid Station, I fueled up as much as possible such as oranges, multiple cups of Coke and electrolytes, more gels, and even the new turkey and veggie sandwiches that were now available. I also got the salt tablets from my drop bag as this and many aid stations were out.
There were some downhills after this aid station and I began to run ahead of Nattu. Around mile 51, I somehow lost traction and took a stumble on a non-technical section. I really don't know how it happened but I got up quickly and continued to bomb the descent. I was more embarrassed than hurt and was really fortunate to not have any serious injuries that would plague me later. I just had road rash, minor cuts and bruises but good enough to finish the race.
Some people get lost on the way back because some most of the trails require retracing back your outward journey. However, there's an intersection on the trail that cuts off onto the Miwok trail. Many people blindly go straight all the way to Muir Beach. However, I saw this intersection, but stared at the trail post and pink ribbons just to make sure. I was on this trail alone for 3 miles so it was a little disconcerting even though the pink ribbons guided my run.
I crossed Hwy 1 and the aid station was managed by Victor Ballesteros, who decided not to race this one and instead race Quicksilver 50K and Silver State 50K to prepare for WS100. After this section, there's a gradual uphill and some rollers down to Tennessee Valley. Nattu caught up with me and we paced each other for much of the way and I totally appreciated the company again.
The last aid station was another uphill drag, and I was totally focused on finishing as I've wrapped most of this journey already. I didn't have to worry about using a headlamp; I wasn't sure how I would do so anything was possible. I'm just glad to run with the sun still up! Around the Battery section, you can see the finish, and I just went for it!
The downhills are my strengths to a certain degree. I get to pass a bunch of people, but I still had to restrain going full speed because I know how much it will hurt toward the final miles. At this point, I let gravity do its magic at 80% and hold back 20%. A lady was pacing this guy and she asked if my legs were hurting from the downhills. I said, "If you can see the finish, you have to go all out!" I didn't care or expect the edema to swell my legs for days, but I didn't care at this point.
Down the curves and switchbacks on the paved road, the people and finish line were in clear view. I finished a little over 13 hours, but that hardly mattered. I was more elated that I was able to complete the race with the condition that I'm in.
I met some new people and good friends along the trail. Thanks to everyone for your support!
|Note: I highly recommend the book shown above, How Starbucks Saved My Life. It's an story of compassion from a guy who had it all until he got laid off and hit rock bottom. He worked at Starbucks and developed an mutual understanding from people he otherwise would not have in his previous life.|
I feel compelled, no, I HAVE to write about my ongoing battle with exercise-induced asthma. It's not only a record for myself about what works and what doesn't, but hopefully, this will also be of tremendous help to those who suffer from exercise-induced asthma and cannot find sufficient (and helpful) information about it. But before I delve into the heart of the matter, I'd like to recap briefly on my season.
This year has been really eventful, topped with milestones and successes, not always met with fast times. But then again, fast finishing times as of late, have not been a measure of success. I did the Houston Marathon, which was a great race in itself (and by the way, I think I owe a race report?) but I was still lacking fitness and my slow time really reflected that. When I came back home, I was afflicted with exercise-induced asthma. I won't go into further details because I have written extensively on it in previous posts. But it was a very scary incident involving bronchial constriction/asphyxiation and a call that nearly involved paramedics to arrive at the end of my run. Strangely enough, I was more concerned after that day if I could still run the Seoul Marathon less than two months after that asthma scare. The Koreans have really strict rules about their 5 hour cutoff, and with my condition, I was worried that I might not make it. But I ran it in good time--again, not a fast time--but good enough to qualify for Boston...as a woman.
I had a set plan to compete in ultras, primarily to represent the home team, Pamakid Runners. It's a great team and I strongly encourage runners in San Francisco to consider joining the team. For a mere $12 annual fee, you get tons of benefits that I can't reveal here. But trust me, it's as good as stealing if you reap the numerous rewards! I ended up doing one ultra then another, and then pretty much the entire series in the first half of the year. The pent up frustration of seeing other teams well-represented and ours, with barely enough to field a complete team, left me angry but hungry to compete 100% to test my potential and ability, now with a troublesome engine that needs constant monitoring. I entered the lottery for Miwok 100K and only half expected to get in. With over 900 wanting to run this exciting race, only 450 got accepted. So when my name was pulled out of the lottery, I was ecstatic but worried about how I was going to approach the training and spending half the day on my feet on race day. I haven't done too many ultras over 50K so I would have to remember how to mentally tackle the course and not give in to petty excuses like asthma or fatigue.
In terms of training, I really didn't have a formal plan and I was really all over the place. With marathon training, I was highly anal about committing myself to miles and consistency. But with the rather shitty weather of wind and rain and constant drop in temperature, the motivation was nil and I was still trying to figure out how to deal with my asthma. Sometimes I would be too afraid to run out, only to have that frightful incident strike me once again. The thought of a severe attack would even challenge my will to even head out the door. However, it took a bit of courage and the "wake-up" call that I had some races to complete and I can't let the team down with DNF's. If I felt like running, I did; and if I didn't feel good, I took a good sized break. It worked in my favor, I think. The asthma taught me to slow down and the days off gave me adequate time to recover from workouts. And somehow, I still had an average of 50 miles per week. It is attributed to 2 long runs usually one toward end of the week and one significantly longer run on the weekend in addition to one or two short runs < 8 miles mid-week. But other than that, I spent the other days not running, or I chose to do some light-heavy workout on the stationary bike trainer for an hour-2 hours. Long story short, I completed Jed Smith 50K, American River 50 Mile, Ruth Anderson 100K, Miwok 100K, Quicksilver 50 Mile, and Ohlone 50K. It's a handful and I really dodged many bullets by warding off potential injuries. With size 13 feet and tall stature, I'm really not built for the trails or running for that matter.
However, running ultras has really instilled self-confidence, determination, camaraderie, and perseverance in myself with the amount of support from runners, volunteers, and friends along the way. The problem is that I would have to retrain myself to enjoy running alone again--something I loved more than anything in the past. Now, running in groups has been more enjoyable and the company is appreciated, especially if something should happen. I still like running alone at times because i don't have to slow anyone down and I can gauge my effort and push it to make it feel right. Many thought I was crazy to accumulate so many miles, but with the lack of tempo runs and anerobic workouts, I had to make up in miles to stay in shape. Luckily, I found peace with trail running and appreciate where I am through those early sunrise runs and witness wildlife that most never see because they get up a few hours too late. Running has become my church.
So my first half of the season is done. What do I expect from myself in the second half? My ultra season is practically over. There was some debate about running Skyline 50K, but there's a section of that course--namely the Cinderella Trail--that has a hex on me. I've sprained my ankle, one on the left and one on the right, in separate races. So I'm officially done. I really couldn't have asked for anything more. I went through "rehab" in the form of trail running to rebuild my self-confidence and develop self-esteem while getting a good base. I have totaled enough points to be in first place in my age division in the PAUSATF series. But I am also realistic and I do realize that without any more ultras in the foray, I will definitely plummet in the standings. For now, I'm just ecstatic that through determination and hard work, it definitely pays off even with my obstacles.
After a short break, I've already started marathon training and I will add in more speedwork, which I've been desperately craving since the ultra season. I have 23 weeks to go, but I am just working on getting the mileage up and running most days. Whereas with ultra training, I've been racing a few days but with substantial mileage, I am spreading out the mileage over the week and dedicating more faster runs. With more focus and more experience in avoiding burnout and overtraining, I'm really looking forward to that marathon in November.
Since January, I have been trying different methods of dealing with it and in the end, taking command of the situation. It's still a rough road and I realize now that explaining my asthma may be a double-edged sword. It may educate others in the matter of what exercise-induced asthma really is, but I still feel that others think that I'm just a load of crap and full of excuses for being shitty.
I've tried different techniques and I'm willing to share them with you. With my condition, I am very proactive about what it is and how to manage it. Disappointingly, the research is mostly fruitless and blatantly obvious. Most of the advice either come from physicians who don't know much about it in the first place or personal accounts on blogs that document their problems because they're fat and don't exercise much to begin with. The biggest misnomer is that you breathe entirely through your nose during your run. It's impossible, especially when you're competing at your very best. To sum it up, a lot--not all--of the advice out there is shit. However, asthma can be very serious and if not treated properly it may result in death.
1) Continue to run, work hard, and NEVER give up. This means working 110% percent. I've told others now that I don't have my work cut out for me. I have to work that much harder to reap the rewards. That means if I want to qualify for Boston with a 3:10, I must be prepared to work at a 3:05 or 3:00 effort because it'll be a tough road ahead. My mantra is now "Do Your Best" instead of qualifying for Boston. If you give it your all, eventually another milestone will be around the corner. Still pissed off? Then run your temp runs and hill repeats (hills are strong triggers) even harder!
2) Always bring the albuterol. To be honest, the albuterol doesn't clear my asthma entirely, but it's really vital to bring it with you whether or not you choose to use it before your run/race. I always carry ID during my runs so it's equally important to bring your albuterol and not be stupid about it if you know about your condition and not know what may happen.
3) Wear your BuffWear. Link: http://www.buffwear.com/ This is still embarrassing to wear, but it's not as bad as the balaclava that I wore during the winter and had epithets thrown at me such as "Al Queda" and the weird stares from women. It's bad enough that people think you are a perv with a gay accessory around your neck. But this is the single MOST HELPFUL product that prevents an attack! It's not the breathing in the air that triggers it but the breathing out that does. I was glad to receive one from Jae Kim, president of Seoul Flyers Running Club, in March. I continue to use it for most my runs. You can't predict the triggers out there and you may have to run even when it's entirely shitty out there, but this handy gear is of substantial help!
4) Monitor Your Breathing. If you don't monitor your breathing, you're bound to get a warning and then an attack if you don't breathe correctly. There's the Butayko Method, but it's too cumbersome. It probably does work, but it shouldn't take that much effort to disrupt running. So here's what's helpful for me: Breathe in through the mouth, and out the nose. Repeat, repeat, and repeat. If you need a break in the cycle, cover your mouth with the BuffWear and restart the cycle again till your entire run is complete. It takes practice, but it seems to work for me.
5) Caffeine, olive oil, vitamins, fruits, and vegetables. Yes, I used to be really adamant about the "eat like a Mormon, don't be one" mantra. However, I sometimes use caffeine in the form of soda (useful for a change) or Green tea after a run if my lung still feel labored. Just don't be too happy go lucky about it. People with asthma also have diabetes, but that's because of an entirely different reason. I know it's repetitive, but it's worth repeating--eat healthy.
6) Be careful of drug happy doctors. My doctor doesn't know much about exercise-induced asthma, but he was very happy in lending me a sample of Symbicort, a long lasting inhaler for daily use and not to relieve asthma attacks. However, there's an incredible downside. Symbicort has steroids, which may lead to cancer and other debilitating long term effects. I saw a Secrets From the Dead episode on the East German Olympic team so it resonates strongly. Sometimes I really wonder if athletes really have asthma or if they use the asthma medication to get a high. Albuterol can cause weight loss in some people and Symbicort can make you feel good. I wouldn't be surprised if athletes claim to have asthma to dope and cheat the system. I've competed in cycling and I still follow cycling in the news and I am never surprised by some of these allegations. Face it, in my opinion, 85% of those rumors are true. I wouldn't even doubt if drugs caused Lance Armstrong to have cancer in the first place. Most of Armstrong's domestiques have been caught doping after they left Armstrong's team. Coincidence? Well, that's for another time. However, there's one form of doping that did surprise me, motorized doping! I'm entirely serious. : http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/06/news/cancellara-calls-motorized-bikes-claims-stupid-as-uci-looks-at-scanning-bikes_119452
I would love to train/race drug free and I'm even weening myself away from albuterol unless an attack is pending. I'm proud to say that Symbicort is entirely out of the picture. Use your good judgment. If you're being over prescribed for your own sake, talk to your doctor and choose what's best for you. Maybe it's the better weather, but I only get mild asthma now and not chronic attacks like in January. I can control it and exercise/run harder to keep my lungs in even better shape. If you're obese or have attacks out of the blue, then you either have to take the plethora of medication or do something about it.
No matter how embarrassing you may feel about having asthma, it's an affliction one has to control. People may laugh at you, but you're doing it for a reason--a very good reason at that--to be a better, stronger person.
BTW, I will update with entries on Houston Marathon, 3 Part series in Seoul, Miwok 100K, Quicksilver 50M, Ohlone 50K. Why do ultrarunners trouble ourselves with homework and reports?
Photo credits: Paul Mosel
On Friday morning, I decided to run the Ruth Anderson 100K. I surmised that it would be a good mental approach covering the distance before Miwok 100K, which is technically harder on steep ascents and fast descents in Marin Headlands. True, Ruth Anderson 100K is a flatter and faster course, but it's not necessarily easier on the body. The route is 1 "short" lap of 3.96 miles and 13 laps of 4.47 miles around Lake Merced. The monotony of the course wasn't so much of an issue (I do most of my marathon long runs here) than the pounding of the pavement. For much longer distances, I would rather run on trails and run slower times.
The day was relatively perfect for Lake Merced with temperature hovering in the mid-50s and almost no wind until the final couple loops in the evening. For most of the day, I ran with a blank mind. I didn't focus too much on counting down the loops or miles as I thought I would and just enjoyed the rare occasion of clear blue skies, bright sunshine, and no wind around Lake Merced. No matter how lackluster of a goal it was, I was just out there to finish. In most races, "just finishing" a race would've been a terrible and aimless goal. I took RA 100K out of my schedule after a disappointing American River 50M finish and decided that the Skyline to the Sea 50K would've been an appropriate training event leading up to Miwok 100K.
But a few days before this past wknd, I thought about getting some points for our Pamakids team. And then I realized that we didn't have a complete team and so I decided to just use my pent-up frustration and do the full distance. Only in theory, and if you do the poor math, a 50K = $1.61/mile, 50M = $1/mile, but a 100K = $.81/mile. What a deal! But it obviously doesn't work that way because you also have to think about the manpower of the meticulous timekeepers and supportive aid station volunteers. You can't really put a value on their priceless efforts!
In the 50K race, Todd Braje clocked a 3:15 finishing time. And if I'm not mistaken, that's a course record! She may have gotten good course advice from her wife, Sopagna. Sopagna graduated a year ahead of me and went to my high school, Lowell High, which is near Lake Merced. She was a track/XC star at the Lowell and UC Davis, both my alma maters. Eventually, she moved up in distance and qualified for the 2008 Olympic Trials in the Marathon distance and has been in the elite field for NYC, Boston, and Twin Cities Marathons. I'm not sure if and when she'll move up to the ultra distances, but I will say that she has a good foundation in endurance running.
I also saw Sean Lang out there and knew that he would be one of the top runners for the day. I didn't know which distance he would run, but he would finish well in his/my age division. I talked to Jim Magill during mid-race and said that he was afraid that his teammates might drop out because he would otherwise have to serve as anchor for the team. Jim Magill is Sean's teammate on the Quicksilver Team; Sean was aiming for the 100K. There goes my chances for scoring first in age division. Kidding aside and to be completely honest, this may be the last time that I may be competitive (if you call it that) in the ultra distances for my age division. I have other goals I am targeting and the schedule may not be a good fit after Ohlone 50K. But if I were to lose to most people in my age division, Sean would be a fair one. Sean wrote a great post on two distinct types of motivation--harmonious passion and obsessive passion; read more about it here: http://tinyurl.com/35zp3td
To put it succinctly, I've met some great people on course--in awe of the speedsters that passed by many times, comforted by fellow plodders, and even those who just went to finish in any distance. I had pebbles in my shoe that were really annoying but decided not to switch shoes and continue; I'm considering gaiters for Miwok so I won't run into this problem. In the end, my finishing time was really unimpressive and the the remaining volunteers tried to console me into thinking that I was definitely not the last one on course. But I obviously know that's not true when someone asked who I was when I came into the aid station for the final time. That's usually a sign that you're the "closer" for the race. I've done enough aid station duties in the past to know what happens. But they were trying to be supportive and I understand.
I'm still proud to have finished RA100K. After all, I think it is easier to drop down to the 50K or 50M and I'm glad I held my ground and bit my tongue and went all the way. It wasn't an easy day, but if you learn to be persistent, determined, and a little stubborn just a little bit longer, there are small payoffs. Even finishing in last place, I still got 2nd in my age division. Little consolation, but it's still a noble effort, and it was definitely not all for naught.
A special thank you to all race volunteers who also endured and volunteered their time, effort, and generosity for the entire day. Rajeev Patel did a tremendous job as RD; I know for a fact that organizing a race on any level is a huge undertaking and is very stressful every moment leading up to and on race day.
Next year, Ruth Anderson Ultras may move from its current spot in mid-April to July or August. I personally think it's a great idea, but we'll have to see the outcome of this.
Photo credits: Stan Jansen
L-R: Jim Magill, RD Rajeev Patel, the author
|Two Nights Prior|
What was that dream of my being lost in the U.S.S.R. (yes, USSR, not Russia) and the government officials telling me to get off the bus and go to the country of Georgia all about?
Two Mornings before AR50
Have I done enough long runs before AR50?
The afternoon before AR50
-Okay, the logistics of who's driving up to the start/finish is getting crazy? Rob or Noe or me? Argh, so many emails and phone calls!
The drive up to Sacramento
-The drivers here are pretty stupid. They are going 80+ in the slow lane and nearly hit vehicles coming off the on ramp. There are others who tailgate you when the lanes to my left and right are empty. I guess people don't really care about the price of gas if they're driving SUV's and driving in excess speed. I wish people over here would follow the speed limit like the folks in Oregon. I wonder if car insurance is high here? Oh my God, do people here even have car insurance?
-The bib and chip pickup is lame. It should either be in Sacramento or Auburn. What makes it so special to have it in Fair Oaks? It's better to pick up your bib and other amenities before race day, but the 30 minute drive is so not worth it.
Late afternoon before AR50
-I eat half a tub of pasta, sleep for an hour, then eat some more, go back to sleep while Dirty Jobs is on tv, and then get up when the sun's coming down as joggers and bikers run along the American River path outside my motel window. Is this what fat people do on a daily basis? Because I'm doing it right now and I'm filled with guilt and shame.
Early evening before AR50
Rob, Noe, and I look for a place to eat (again). I packed the bare minimum and dressed in old sweats with a Planet Hollywood-San Francisco sweatshirt (stay classy). We end up at Safeway (again, stay classy).
Night before AR50
-Damn, Rob can REALLY snore! I can't sleep for more than 15 minutes at a time and I probably got a total of one hour of good rest. Rob!!! (Shakes Fist!) But I feel worse for Rob as he coughs the entire night and he's sleeping on the floor!
Morning of AR50
Rob and I get up at 2:16AM because the automated wake-up call was programmed to piss us off 15 minutes before our planned 2:30AM call. I tried to use the bathroom, but nothing comes out. When will I ever learn that pasta hardly does anything to the bowels? The drive to the finish line in order to take the shuttle to the start required us to drive 40 minutes.
Driving to the finish line
Rob and I discuss random topics such as letters of recommendations and career changes and how his wife gets pissed at him for doing ultras and that he has to promise that Western States will be the last...in a while.
At the finish line for race shuttle
I see a familiar face, Tony Overbay, at many of the races. This time he's volunteering as the person checking runners in on the AM bus list. For some reason, I always think of him as "the ice cream man" because of one of his blog posts.
The old man bus driver is friendly and gives us a jovial explanation of the emergency exits and procedures. Then he hopes that all of us have a good run before he turns off the lights to let us rest for an hour. The ride itself rocks you to sleep as the rhythmic bumps and poundings of the freeway fuses with patters of the road from the traction of the rubber tires and the metal echo of the bus. Loud at times, but the rocking of the bus tunes naturally tunes it out and you close your eyes for a quick nap.
-So this is what a hobo riding on a railroad box car feels like? I sit in the back of the bus (Westside, represent! Problem child in the back!)
As we near Sac State for the start, our bus follows the one in front and goes through a residential area. The buses can't make a three-point turn to go back in the right direction so we snake through the 'hood with four cars following us. We've got an entourage going! I recalled a news segment reporting people who rode tour buses to check out foreclosed homes; I felt like one of those people. During that 10 minute mishap of confusion and laughter, we got to the start.
Ah, so this is what I've been missing in the bigger and more popular ultras. The field is more experienced, the number of runners is larger, the anticipation and excitement is indescribable, and one can sense the nervousness and trepidation that many others are feeling before the daybreak start.
-Argh, the porta-potty line is long and don't feel like anything wants to come out! This may be a bad sign during the race. I sit inside the dark porta-potty with the chatter of those in line waiting for you to get out. I pull the door handle shut just in case someone outside decides to toggle with the handle to check if the potty is free. Nothing seems to calm me down and senseless things begin to enter my mind like the songs of The Doobie Brothers. Clearly, my bowels aren't working this morning and decide to just get out, meditate, and focus on the race.
Ten minutes before the start
Dick Beardsley is the featured guest speaker for AR50 and the organizers decided to capitalize his appearance to the max. He was at the start and at many aid station locations with a lucky lottery winner being paced by him at mile 40. He's a great guy, hope he returns again, and is not turned off by how the ultra scene is different than glitzy big-city marathons.
To my right, Diana Fitzpatrick is keeping warm. She looks at me like wondering why I'm up near the front. I also ask myself "Why am I here?". Rob thought it would be a good idea to get a good start. But the likes of Tim Twietmeyer and Jean Pommier are behind me. Not really a good sign is it? But before overthinking the situation, we're off.
Start to 5K
Mind is fresh, daybreak has broken and a sliver of the sun is showing up. Rob and I get into what seemingly feels like a comfortable clip. We aren't forcing the pace, but we also forget that this is 50 miles and not a half marathon. However, the beginning of the course reminded me of a fast half marathon course I did in the past, so I know why I was confused. It's getting humid, and I fear that it may get warmer later in the day; it's quite the opposite as the day progressed.
We were a mile out when Rob said that it felt like we were one of the last ones on the course. (We didn't look behind us obviously.) We saw hundreds of runners behind us as we looped our way back to the start where Dick Beardsley is cheering everyone on.
I decided to let Rob go and try to settle into a slower pace. Damn you, Rob!!! (Shakes fist!)
I try to settle down, but unfortunately, the first half of the course is quite fast. Moving at the same pace, I talk to this guy to pass the time (Anthony Brantley). Since he mentioned that he was overcoming a very recent injury, I decided to console him about my struggles in the past including the tibial stress fracture. But he kept mentioning his groin injury and pointing to it. So I decided to just move on.
Enter the scene, Sally. She seemed flustered that her Garmin was not getting an accurate reading and that her pace was all over the place. So she decided to pace with me. I wonder if that was a good idea, but she was friendly and not annoying so I couldn't pass that up. But the pressure is on. I later found out that this would be her first 50 miler so I was even more impressed and I didn't want her to go through my past mistakes.
Unfortunately, other people liked our pace and I started a trend and created a paceline. Well, not a perfect paceline because everyone was just drafting off of me. There were 3-4 behind me for a while. I was the leader in "follow the leader" with everyone behind me for miles. As there were many corners, I took all the tangents--switching from the left path to the right path. I can hear the footsteps following me from the pebble gravel section to the pavement to the other side of the pebble gravel path. It was fun because no one questioned whether or not I was f-ing around with them. I could take all the wrong lines and they would still be my lemmings, but I didn't 'cause that wouldn't be cool (Karma exists.). The path was closed off to bikers at this point so it was okay.
Poor timing, I feel that my bowels are finally turning and I start to sweat a bit from holding it in. I see a porta-potty but Sally darts for it. Damn. Well, women have it harder so it's forgivable. But clearly it didn't help my situation. So I continue to run and be extra vigilant for the next opportunity. I spot one right after the half marathon point and duck in.
I timed myself and I lost about 3 minutes. As I come out, a runner and spectator said I used the telephone booth and "made a quick change." I told them it was good to just lose a few pounds in a few minutes.
But I never really recovered after that and I probably lost some electrolytes during that ordeal. I take in a salt tablet for good measure.
Tim Twietmeyer passes me and I try to regain momentum.
Then Ray Sanchez goes by.
I take another salt tablet.
Jason passes me and is shocked to see that I was ahead of him the entire time. I was shocked that he wasn't ahead of me the entire time! So we're both in that "What?" moment for minute.
It's going to be a long day and I know it. Look around. Okay. See something interesting? Think about that and start running again.
I see Nimbus Overlook bridge. Great, that means it's time to count the miles down to Beals Point. At least that's manageable.
Catra was also there too and along many of the other aid stations. You can't mistake her with her piercings and tattoos and very friendly and cheerful attitude. The last time I saw her she was attempting the speed record for the entire Pacific Crest Trail. Noted on the Pacific Crest Trail Association website:
"Zigzagging its way from Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon and Washington the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) boasts the greatest elevation changes of any of America's National Scenic Trails, allowing it to pass through six out of seven of North America's ecozones including high and low desert, old-growth forest and artic-alpine country."
My pacing has been yo-yoing back and forth with this one guy since mile 5 (and it would end up this way leading up to 50K). When he passed me, he had this I hate you attitude and I was like WTF. When I passed him, I would tell him that he's doing a great job and get no reply. I wonder if I was just taunting him to piss him off when in fact, that was not true.
My quads and calves were killing me from the road surface so I had to buckle down to save myself for the trail portion in the second half.
I wasted at least 5 minutes changing road shoes and timing chips to trail shoes and changing to hydration pack from water bottle at Beals Pt. The volunteer was so chippy that he thought it would save me time if he brought my drop bag 60 meters away. His theory was that I would save time by walking and changing at the same time, but he had my shoes and hydration pack I needed for the second half of the course and I lost time instead amidst the minor confusion. In any event, it gave me some time to down Coke and salt tablets and potatoes dipped in salt.
My mouth still has the nasty aftertaste of PB&J while my stomach is trying to digest it. Stick to salted potatoes and oranges. Much of the credit to my saving grace was the salt tablets every 10K-10 miles.
About a mile in after Beals Point, I took a wrong turn on the trail. After 20-30 meters, it didn't look right so I turned around. I saw runners running perpendicular on another trail so I followed them. The dopey volunteers just looked at me instead of yelling or telling me where to go.
Craig Slagel caught up with me shortly before the 30 mile mark and he told me that we would be on track to do 50K in under 5 hours. Hmm...15 minutes to do 1.5 miles? These trail miles aren't as simple as road miles. He said he really doesn't like the section between mile 35-40. I think miles 40-45 are worse, which I'll explain later. We chugged along before I let him go on an uphill.
A half mile before you hit Granite Bay aid station at mile 31.67, you can hear the ringing of cow bells and pretty shouting out names. No, I kid you not! So that made me more excited to get there even faster! I saw Chih Fu at the aid station and somehow the volunteer asked him if he was Korean. The volunteer asked me if I wanted some warm chicken noodle soup. I replied, "Ugh". And she laughed and decided to shove me two packets of GU that proved helpful during the final 10 miles.
In times of dips and lows, if you lose your optimism and your good humor, you might as well drop out. I already lost the former, there's still time to salvage the latter. Even talking to other dispirited runners who share your pain can make it that much easier to move forward without regrettably looking back.
The next aid station was Buzzard Cove, which I've heard is the only aid station that can be reached by boat. I remembered four years ago when it downpoured on course and this aid station appeared out of nowhere! I was in such a daze that I kept thinking how in the hell did they tug all the supplies to this point? So I was amazed when I saw the effort the volunteers made with half melted ice cream in cones! Pretty awesome when you've traveled this far on foot! But I had to decline respectfully and go for the tried and true Coke and salt tablets instead. Otherwise, I would end up like this: http://tinyurl.com/m93wrm and trust me I've had some really big close calls like a few hours and miles ago.
After this point, the race gets a bit "harder". American River 50 is not the toughest trail race by any means, but there are some short, steep pitches that can hurt your morale when the mental anguish begins to finally settle. Craig said that he didn't like miles 35-40, but I didn't ask why. I just reasoned internally that he meant the course profile. In my case, this was where groups of runners passed me. And it's not like you can ignore this fact because some parts of the trail are on narrow singletrack and as common courtesy you have to let them pass by moving to the side (often a cliff laden with questionable sidebrush). This has happened to me the last time I ran AR50. It can be disparaging, but looking forward to the next aid station's surprises (food, volunteer's charisma/character, and atmosphere) can be very uplifting for the soul.
The aid station at 38.14, Horseshoe Bar, was on top of a short hill with high school kids. The aid station out of nowhere. Coke's a plenty, so why not.
A runner came by and made a remark that he "...hopes that the leaves we ran through aren't poison ivy." For 5 miles, I kept thinking that's ALL I've been doing ever since I changed into a singlet at Beals Point. Oh well, I would feel the effects in a couple days and not during the last few miles.
When I arrived at Rattlesnake Bar, it was so loud you can hear it more than a mile away (not an exaggeration!) because the trail snakes around the area high above the station before you actually arrive at that point. But the sides of the hill echo the noise of cheering and drumbeats and cowbells from below. You can't help but feel like a superstar from the volunteers managed by the Frontrunners. Brian was waiting to pace his runner beyond this point; I was caught in the moment that I almost didn't realize it. Time to keep going.
I've had annoying thoughts on course. But when I realized that going sub 8:30 and now sub 9 hours wasn't going to happen, I was thinking about a possible DNS at Miwok 100K and just focus on the "fun" runs with my fellow Pamakid teammates. Much of the team don't know who I am because I focus primarily on ultras, but I do hear a few jokes that the "short races aren't enough" for me, which isn't entirely correct. I still love races of any and all distances, but I'd rather invest more of my interest and effort toward events that are rewarding to me.
With less than 10 miles to go, the course gets even prettier with some of the flowers beginning to bloom--evidence that Spring is here. But with beauty, there is a cost. The trail doesn't get any easier, just more of the same, which is just as hard if you think about the finish and don't focus on what's in front of you. The trail is a bit "chewed" up along the rocky descents. I must have tripped a few times with a very close call, but luckily did not sprain my ankle. However, my right shoe almost got swallowed by a muddy bog near a river. Be careful where you jump, stupid!
As a runner passed, abandoning Miwok seemed more plausible. I decided to take another salt pill just to make sure I wasn't delusional. Three miles seemed to go by very slowly. So when I got to Manhattan Bar with was almost 44 miles, I checked my Garmin and it read 43.4 miles. That means that I might have a shot at a course PR or that this aid station isn't where it should be. The volunteers labeled their location as the Mardi Gra themed aid station, handing out beads to runners. I hope they didn't expect me to lift up my singlet; in any case, I didn't want to carry annoying beads to the finish.
After this last aid station before the climb, I ran for some miles where it feels like true wilderness. For miles, you may not encounter other runners but be lost in your thoughts. If you're doing well at this point, you taste the finish line and go full gas even with the climb looming ahead. If you're feeling shitty for many miles like I am, a single mile can feel like it has been tripled. So in theory, I had less than 30 miles to go. Thoughts of ditching Miwok still haven't subsided.
Before you crest the last 3 mile climb to the finish, you can hear the water rumbling from the Auburn Dam 2-3 miles away and even a mile out.
The last time I climbed this monster, the rain made it hard to gain any traction. It was also a year where I didn't switch to trail shoes and it made my run a total disaster, slipping on the trail and slowing down to a crawl when I could've navigated such steep sections with relative ease. This time, it was easier to go up even though the first section of the climb was the toughest.
The motivational quote signs and countdown signs of last three miles were supposed to lessen the pain and to change that shuffle into a jog. I know the organizers really tried, but it just made it that much tougher.
The Last Gasp aid station had volunteers run down the hill to ask you what you'd like in your hydration pack/water bottle refill before you arrive at the aid station. I grabbed a few orange slices at least 3 cups of Coke and slogged up the final hill.
Leaving this point, you have less than 2 miles up a tarmac hill which makes it easier to slog/run up. With a half mile to the finish, you can see/hear the finish line above. There's a short descent, but there's a nasty steep section with about 400 meters to go. But the pain is fleeting, and with any ultra--elation fills the body; I call it poor timing, but I'll take it.
I was so pissed at myself for finishing with almost the same finishing time as my last AR50 (9:28 and change). I think there are a few places where I could've shed some time, but I'm still happy I did AR50 again. The finish line wasn't as important as the people I've met and the trying times and negative thoughts that really tested my ability.
Well, I guess it's no surprise that I will actually do Miwok 100K. Although I'm disappointed to not represent the team locally, no Ruth Anderson Ultra this year as it may hinder progress and increase chances of injury with the level of impact mostly on roads. I still can't wait for my ultras to end after Ohlone in May so that I can focus my attention on getting faster.
Upon reflection, I'm glad I even made it to the start line and had no physical problems during the race. I should be at least thankful for that. It seems like exercise-induced asthma was really caused by the fusion of cold temperatures and cold winds drying up/closing my lungs. With that in mind, the time that I finished in isn't all that bad, considering how EIA compromised most of my long runs and was unable to train properly for a marathon--let alone an ultra. And still, my finishing time still qualifies me for Western States 100 lottery even though I doubt I can run it next year.
Miwok will be another challenge, but I will not have the fear of an asthma attack hinder my performance. However, I still carry an inhaler on all of my long runs as a reminder that I'm not exactly home free.
Another chapter closes at AR50, but it is not the end. I hope to seek my revenge in the near future by being in better shape and with better training.
I do want to thank everyone that I ran with, those who ran past me with an encouraging word, witty comment, and/or smile, volunteers, and friends at the finish. There's a reason why I keep coming back to run the extra mile.
UPDATE (4/16): I will run Ruth Anderson on Saturday and Skyline to the Sea 50K on Sunday (speedhiking)
The 3-part series during my time in Seoul will be up shortly.
Cycling updates and random shite