Monday, April 23, 2007

Mt. Si 50 mile

Despite the intimidating name, this is a very flat ultra, held on an easy (rails to trails) course and is thus very hippo-friendly. I had a fairly good day with no mishaps other than some moderate GI problems. I got to try out a few new things, including using Perpetuem (which works really well despite tasting like dishwater.) Despite the fact that I seem to have lost a lot of fitness over the past few months, I finished in 8:56 which is a scant 4 minutes off my PR - that's 5 seconds per mile.

But almost the entire story of my day was all the people, old and new friends, that I got to interact with. I'm still in a fantastic mood from all the smiles, hugs, and great conversations I had. That despite missing most of the night's sleep before the race (to drive there starting at 2:00 AM) and the night's sleep afterwards (because my bad knee was P.O.'ed and wouldn't give me peace.)

I ran most of the first 15 miles with Linda B. who I've known since running the Victoria Marathon with her before she became a Maniac and got on the marathon-a-week plan. This was her first fifty, but she has the soul of an ultrarunner and the talent as well. Soon I'll get to tell everyone that "I knew her before she became famous and faster than anybody else." We chattered away for hours about everything, particularly her recent Boston exploits. She had a fan and pacer to carry her through her last 22 miles so i felt privileged to be able to give her some company in the early going. I think our incessant bubbly chattering may have annoyed the other runners though.

Throughout the early miles we kept running across Stevie Ray, Arthur, and the Barb B / Janet combo. Barb was feeling all guilty that she'd borrowed ten bucks from me at the Yakima finish line and didn't have it on her to return. After hearing this guilt trip several times and really wanting more smiles from her instead, I decided to tell her to send the money to charity (from Stevie Ray's pink "breast cancer sucks" singlet) but by then we'd parted ways and I didn't get to pick on her.

I came into one of the middle aid stations only to run into Eric B. who jumped into the role of ultra crew catering to my every need and providing this huge emotional lift. He was there to support wife Michelle, but somehow managed to be all over the course playing guardian angel to almost all of us. I know that there are many of us who are eternally grateful and will remember how supportive and gracious he was for a long time.

Not long after I saw Michelle (and her friend Michelle) coming the other way while running the 50K. Their smiles and friendly greetings went into my "smile bank" along with all the others - I'm going to be on cloud nine for weeks! Both Michelles will now be Maniacs as this was their third outing in the last few weeks.

Near the turnaround I caught up to Diana (slug) and Stacy and rn with them for a few miles. Diana was one of the people who got me into the Maniacs, and I've never really had the chance to thank her so I took the opportunity. Of course, spending time with that pair is always like crawling into a basketful of puppies. I was sad to leave them but wasn't able to resist the usual temptation to push the pace in the last dozen miles.

The one thing in the race that made me a little uncomfortable was our interaction with the relay runners. There were teams of 5 runners who ran the race as a relay. Most of these people were accomplished athletes and many were undoubtedly better runners than I've ever been. Yet they all treated us ultrarunners as if we were gods descended from Mt. Olympus! I wasn't prepared for this and didn't know how to take it. I think of all fellow runners as part of "us" to be encouraged and appreciated so somehow being put on a pedestal without really deserving it left me wondering what to say. Does anyone have suggestions?

Unlike a lot of my races this year, this one left me feeling like I'll need a 1-2 day recovery. That means I should be able to get some training in before Miwok in two weeks. Scheduling a 50M and 100K two weeks apart now feels less daunting (more like slacking actually) but I'm still going to resist the temptation to squeeze a race in next weekend.


Backofpack said...

It was great seeing you out there! I meant to ask you - how'd you end up with the name Hippo?

I just gave the encouragement right back to the relay runners - after saying "thanks" when they gave me a boost. Mostly I gave back with a "great job" or "you're flying!" I figure we are all out there working hard. You know, for a lot of the relay runners, that may have been their first exposure to an ultra.

Anyway, good seeing you, and good luck at Miwok.

Journey to a Centum said...


I'm going to stop running and start supporting ultra runners during races. You get a lot more attention and I went home with some energy left.

You seemed on your game yesterday. You had a lot of positive energy going. It was fun to see someone having a good time with the 50 miler. 5 seconds / mile and you don't think you are in shape? NICE!

I have three things that I really enjoy in life. 1) Helping people out. 2) Social engagement. 3) Running. I got to do all three yesterday. What on earth could be better? Well besides getting to go home with Michelle (knarly toes and all).

Hopefully you will be able to get away to Eugene but that's an awefully long drive to to make just to spectate.

I wish you the best of luck at Miwok. Marty and Chris Fagan are running Miwok as well.


Addy said...

Congrats on the great job out there! Sounds like you had a wonderful time out there and got to enjoy the company of some really wonderful people, which is one of the reason why ultra races are such great events :)

And, to people who aren't at a 50 mile at a time fitness level, what you guys were out there doing is pretty awesome :) (Spoken by someone who hopes to be able to do that someday!)

Looking forward to seeing you at Miwok!


Shawn said...

Congratulations on your finish Hippo! You're one of those runners that can always be counted on for a smile.

olga said...

Woo-hoo, Hippo! very nicely done:) I'll pack smiles in AZ and send them in envelope...

GotLegs! said...

Hippo, good to see you out there on Sunday! Sounds like you were having way too much fun out there ... that was my main goal.

Is time really that important? I use it as sort of a guide ... and since I wasn't wearing a watch, I just used the final time to note where I am in my training.

One of the reasons I like running this race is to interact with the relay folks. It is fun running with the relay runners in the uphill but there were not a lot out there on the climb this time. But plenty of them screamed by me and gave me kudos on the downhill. They are a real pick-me-up! And I just muttered, "thanks!"

Have fun at Mi Wok. I'm jealous ... *tc

Barb said...

Sorry I didn't get you your ten bucks!!!!! (just joking) It was great to see you and hear your story of how you became "Hippo". Janet & I enjoyed our visit with you before you went flying ahead. Great job!

King Arthur said...

Now I know why you didn't catch me at the end. You were busy socializing instead of running. Good job Sunday.

Jon said...

It was great meeting you Hippo! This race for me was my makeup for the Maniacs Reunion at Yakima Canyon since I met more fellow Maniacs this past Sunday than my previous 4 other ultras.

Recover quick and take care!

-Jon (Maniac# 467)

Backofpack said...

Hey Hippo! Thanks for the Hydropel offer. I ordered some - ordering four tubes and having it overnighted works out to the same price per tube as ordering one and going regular shipping. Eric is anxious to try it too. It should come tomorrow (Friday). If not, I'll be calling you! You can email me at if you'd like to give me your phone number. Thanks for all the great support! I'll ask Jenny about the Garmin.

angie's pink fuzzy said...

hi hippo, nice to "meet" you! thanks for leaving a comment on my blog.

isn't the community of ultrarunning the best part?! :)

Michelle Sarabia said...

Thanks for all of your thoughts on my blog. Sorry it has taken me a bit to respond. I got a lot of energy from you at Mt Si. Hope to see you at Tacoma.