Monday, July 31, 2000

Another 110-Volt VisionKwest

Casino Bingo and I, the humble Draw Poker, had commenced and completed a "training run" this past Saturday up the Angeles Crest. "Training" and "run" are elastic concepts. It pays to be flexible. It's like hearing "Chariots of Fire" played on a whoopie cushion.

We started at Vincent Gap and took it to 3 Pts. It was 28.88888 miles of self-imposed multi-level hurt. We were there to check up and make sure all the rocks hadn't been removed or smoothed over to non-standard specs.

This was the first really hot weekend we've had. I forgot to stash a cooler with ice-cold Cokes around the halfway point. This was a point of longing and regret.

More pressing than dehydration was a yawning and serious shortage that caused considerable worry. No Trail Betties. None. None anyway, until we got to Cooper Canyon. SOMEBODY was asleep at the wheel, and heads will roll. But we had been promised that Lisa Loeb would serenade us in black-rimmed glasses and a guitar. When its hot out, Minimalism is Best.

When we arrived at Cooper Cyn, it was high noon. We had already larked over Baden Powell, then dragged our narrow Euro-Asses up Mt Williamson, and joyfully made the descent. The parabolic reflectors were on, the heating coils were working. The settings were on "Medium".

As we pulled away from the second shaded stream crossing, my TrailBetty Locator began to stir. We met up with a sizeable hiking group. They must be getting ready for the Annual REI "Take Your Girlfriend Hiking" Weekend. The 2 Tuff-Guy Leaders were kitted out with regulation Shishkabob Hiking Poles, and GPS devices were probably chirping away in their packs. They were jockeying for lead...it was too close to call. Following in their wake were veritable droves of Trail Betties, outfitted in TrailReady® JogBra tops. Not a hiking pole or GPS in sight. Stepping into the bushes, I struggled to turn down the volume on the Locator, wrestling it with both hands.

By the time they all passed, the batteries had died. Nature's Majestic Silence closed in around us. It said "DORK". We plowed on. Bargaining with Nature, I made a Vow that I would accept Ms Loeb with a ukelele. Silence.

We made Cloudburst Summit. The sun had been screened by a passing cloud. We were no longer writing our wills. Unseen strangers were.

We traversed the trail section where motorcyle trash is dense. The squirrels here have elaborate dens, decorated with reflective and glittery trash from wrecked motorcycles which had reached the unexpected end point in their terrestial trajectories. They've had their cases adjudicated immediately in the Court of Natural Law, where verdicts are immediate.

OK. Ms Loeb and a pennywhistle. I know when to moderate unreasonable demands.

Heading into Glenwood, we heard a LASD Medevac chopper hovering above Highway 2. I optimistically figured that with a chopper, the likely motorcyclist would not need a coroner. A later conversation with an NFS Ranger revealed that it would likely be a fatality, as his eyes "looked real bad, with major head & spinal trauma". Keeps NSAIDs in perspective. Gawd, I love motorcycles.

We finished as Heroes, and Legends In Our Own Minds. These were not the same minds we started with. We had been stood up again by Ms Loeb. We wouldn't be hearing "Stay", not even a capella. Nature is Tough. And we Dwelt in the Double-Wide Abode Thereof, and ordered take-out.

Until the Next [Re]counting of Coup, yours truly From the VisionKwest [Un]Divided Highway,
--Draw Poker

Tuesday, July 18, 2000

Leadville Advice/Crew & Pacers

"Stayin' Alive, Stayin' Alive..."
Hope Pass, 1997 Leadville 100.

At 12,000', Hope Pass gets all the love. However... Hagerman Pass [approximately 15/80 miles in the course] is the hidden beast in the LT100. Only 500' lower than Hope,  disguised by a pole-line utility road so it doesn't say "big-assed mountain" quite so loudly.

Brandon Sybrowsky paced me from WInfield to Fish—he at a low idle to my determined shuffling. Along the way we had some hilarious discussions on poisonous mushrooms, Mormonism, Copper Canyon in Chihuahua, and  paleoarcheology. For starters.

Around midnight, Bruce Hoff and I had come back over the top of Hagerman  on the inbound leg, when Tom Sobal, Leadville Mountain Man, camping out with his kids, dryly observed "you don't have any time to waste, you're on the buckle bubble".

He was right. I crossed the finish with 40min to spare, to get "La Plata Grande". Damn buckle's so big, I served a turkey on it at Thanksgiving. You'd have to finish the Vermont 100 ten times to get buttons and cufflinks to go with it.

Watch the irreverent Animated LT100 mini-movie here.

Now the Advice part of the show
With a first-time crew, a lot is going to happen, and if they aren't sport-acclimated they might freak. Something about barfing runners, hypothermic if raining and just tuckered-out cranky assholes will throwthem for a loop. Homer's Odyssey provides some examples: ie advise them to stop their ears with wax to avoid the Siren song of pain and DNF.

To maximize the chances of success:

  1.  Be REAL NICE to them. They have given up plenty to be there. Buy them whatever they want. Just hand them your wallet.
  2. have all your gear readily accesible in the car and PORTABLE.
  3. drive the course with them, and show them reasonable places to park. In the first half of the race, parking will be a clusterfuck. As the field spreads out, things will lighten up. But by then everyone is brain-dead.
  4. Have a plan worked out IN ADVANCE. Work it out based on training runs that are longer than 25mi, and preferably back-to-back. Brief the crew the day before the race.
  5. Avoid the pre-race dinner madness. Have it all done by 330-4pm.

Extra text notes as follows:

Pacers & Crew are strongly advised to sleep whenever possible, eat well and take care of business. FILL THE GAS TANK[S] OF ALL APPLICABLE VEHICLES. Watch for tickets on the Winfield Road. I leave this to yr judgement.

Anything can & will change. And thanks to everybody again for helping me
make this possible.

CREWING: by Aid-Station

1] MAY QUEEN
Avoid Tabor Boat Ramp. At May Queen, they will be parking somewhere within
a mile of the meeting place. The road in from Leadville does a hook down into May Queen. It will be blocked off on the outbound leg. You will be met where the Colorado Trail meets up with the road. This is when you drop flashlights etc, take on/discard rain gear as necessary. Unless its pouring like hell at the start, I'd avoid tights. All this depends on your personal
prefs and body-temps.

2] FISH HATCHERY
The course runs off the road and does a U-loop thru the fish hatchery. Yr
crew will find parking somewhere in the loop.

3] TREELINE: park where possible.

4] TWIN LAKES
Crew parks across the street, unless the Divine Madness Dipshitz haven't taken over the parking lot. The A/S is in the aluminum pole bldg Vol FD. When it rains its panic because all the CO Yuppies are huddled not wanting to get wet. Its 'fuck the runners, here's my baby carriage'. No joke, that's what happened in '95.

5] WINFIELD
Goatfuck galore. Have yr crew meet you at the foot of the CO Trail where it drops off Hope.

6] PACERS
  1. Find one who has shitloads more experience than you.
  2. Find one you like, AND respect. This will make their suggestions/threats more palatable.
  3. Find one who's been out on the course before.
  4. They'd better have their act together: flashlites, nutrition, gear, etc.
  5. Experience, Experience, Experience.
An experienced pacer:
  • won't be all over you like a toy poodle, asking you "Howya feelin'?" because they know you are most likely dead meat on a stick.
  • will be able to listen to you and yr guts and tell that you are dehydrated, and do something about it and not get panicked.
  • can provide hours of really inspirational jive or XXX party jokes, depending on your preferences. I learned lots of things from Brandon Sybrowsky regarding edible and poisonous mushrooms, canyon travelling in Northern Mexico, and the non-availability of liver transplants in mushroom overdoses.
  • can look at your vomit and assure you its OK if you are clear, and tell you to sip instead of gulp.
  • will tell you when your quads lock up at 85 miles that its fairly natural, and that ibuprofen isn't going to make a dime's worth of difference, and they'll go numb anyhow, so may as well pick it up and keep moving.
  • will dispense hi-quality No-Doz instead of lo-grade generics. Micro sleep episodes are not unknown.
I find it better to have two if you get really lucky. If you can only cajole/con/shanghai one, then save him/her for the anchor leg.

In the event that you can't locate an experienced pacer, and you get a novice: Be Nice.

It's only a race, or a run, not some baroque test of self-worth. Either way, nobody likes to be the object of a tirade or scream-fest on the shores of Turquoise Lake at 3AM. You are the CO of Team You. Make every effort to prepare for their experience, because by yr participation, You Are In Charge.

The unforseen will happen. If for some reason you DNF, then explain to yr pacer that they are free to do what they like; they can pace a stranger, hang out, or pack it in like you. This is a contingency you may not want to exercise, but be aware of it.

Thursday, July 13, 2000

Another Tedious Training Run Posting

Greetings! VisionKwesters!!

This past weekend Dr Casino Bingo [Andy Röth] and yrs ever truly, Draw Poker; commenced, delivered and finished a short and indolent 25-mile training run. On Saturday. Wrightwood to Islip Saddle, a clean 25.

I can hear the snickers and guffaws from some of you, but rest assured, in the best tradition of various List etiquettes, you can multiply all the mileage listed by 2.14 if it makes you feel better. I did, & I feel great.

All Great Runs commence with idiocy. If you haven't done this lately, try it. The feeling of accomplishment is enhance if your shorts are a tad tight. I left my hat and sunblock in the finish-line car. Dr Bingo left his post-run sandals at the start. I was able to buy a hat at the start in Wrightwood. It was worthy, but made my ass look too big.

We got to fumble around at the top of Acorn Drive, and managed to lose the trail. After doubling back and forth, in a rhythmic display of incompetence, an up-gully scramble was arranged which got us in touch with our inner-trail selves. From there it was a lead-pipe cinch to follow the Auras of the Great on the fabled AC100 Trail.

Whereupon we encountered Caesar Cepeda at Vincent Gap, who was effusive in his directed profanity and invective in his feelings of tenderness and devotion to the indifferent mass of Mt Baden Powell. His mastery was evident, as he had 3 prior ascents that day alone to construct his thoughts. When we left him at the near-summit junction, it was evident that his next move tended towards deconstruction.

We then abandoned a group of Boy-Scouts that were installing a large wooden sign on the ridge. It had the color and surface aspect of a large graham cracker, and would undoubtedly be treated as such by certain species of knife-carrying termites. But leaving them to their tasks, we headed down the trail that would eventually finish at the car.

The weather was cool and clear, which will be fondly remembered later this summer as the Weekend Of Living On Borrowed Time.

People ask us "What do you think about when you are out for hours on end?" We discussed many deep topics, as is customary and worthy of Over-Educated Morons. Most devolved on the nature of noted Best Unsupported Actresses in this year's crop. One idea which emerged from the VisionKwest Idea Korral was a dot.com sequel to "Being John Malkovich". The working title at this time is "Fucking Meg Ryan". We feel it has wide appeal, great venture capital potential, and should release us from our day jobs fairly shortly.

We finished as Heroes, where once we were kings. Eating peanuts and drinking cokes at Islip while brain-dead is a pleasure accorded to few, while driving back to Wrightwood is the lot of many. We did both, and then brewed up an espresso in Wrightwood, before riding the multi-laned Interstate snake down to the Casino Bingo Compound in Upland CA.

On Sunday I felt the full weight of my sinful exertions on Saturday, and contented myself with a 12-mile drag up the Ice-House Cyn on Mt Baldy to Ontario Peak. The view was totally bitchin', but there was a championship Motorcycle Sand Hockey Match live from Uzbekistan that I had money on, so we beat it down the mountain quick-fast. Besides, the interactive Britney Spears kiosks were out of order--again!

Until next time,
Mr Trail Safety

Friday, July 07, 2000

NSAIDS: Ultra-convenient Whipping Boy

A while back there were a spate of posts on the presumed dangers and evils of NSAIDS. Whooooooooo, was I scared. There were sober-faced recitations of all the really Baaaaaad things that it would do to you, followed by 2nd-hand fatuous advice from MDs regarding same.

But guess what? NSAIDS were taking the heat for incompetent training, bad "coaching" advice, and poor judgement by many ultrarunners. Several years ago, we were all treated to an account of a gal who turned her guts inside out at Across the Years, who was dehydrated, went to the hospital, was a CCU guest and all that...and NSAIDS got the rap.

I can hear the wailing now, and little hands pounding away on the keyboards. Relax, it'll get yr minds off Jeopardy questions regarding the Southern flag, [of which there are 2: the civil ensign and the battle flag, but that's one for the re-enactors out there].

I digress. Where were we...pain killing! Pain killers MASK pain. Imagine. Blocks transmissions at critical neurons. Of course it screws with kidney function. But wait a minute! You're running an ultra, and that DOESN"T screw with kidney function? Sorry, that was *you* getting in touch with Gawd out there.

So. My advice to all who choose to ignore it this:

  1. Train better. Which means work on form, distance, endurance and BALANCE
  2. Race way less often. Most ultra-idiots race so much they have no time to train. This is like woodcutters who are so busy they have no time to sharpen the axe. And nothing is more dangerous than a dull axe.
  3. In your off hours, drink lots more water, and a lot less beer.
  4. If some dip-dunk is holding out on you for fluids, deck them, drink up, and when you finish...go home. 

AND REST.