Jenny Capel - 1 Month After San Diego 100

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

1 month after San Diego 100

07/20/2011 by jennycapel

It’s amazing to me to think a month has already passed since San Diego 100. I have an under 24 hour belt buckle laying on my dresser as a reminder of the 20:20 spent traversing the spectacular trails of the PCT, Anza-Borrega desert, Cuyamacas, and mt. Laguna.

San Diego holds a special place in my heart, having gone to college at USD. I knew I would eventually run this race and what better time than the present. Driving out of what most people know as San Diego–the palms and ocean–we (my hubby steve, and friends Colin and Miriam) began our trek towards the high desert and Mt. Laguna. The temperature was warming. Manzanita, sage, and pines were becoming a focal point. I never knew this terrain existed so close to the city 17 years ago, but then again that’s when I thought lying on the beach with a drink in hand was a sport! We pulled into the Al Bahr Shrine, which would be the start/finish of the journey. Looking around, I felt right at home: this terrain reminded me of Reno/Tahoe! Scott Mills provided us with our pre-race briefing, emphasizing that this race is more difficult than what appears on paper. I had also heard the same from Julie Fingar, who ran the race last year. The main advice I took away was to go out conservatively because it only became more difficult. Luckily I listened.

One nice thing about this race is the 7am start. Not many races allow you to awaken with the sun already rising. I felt unusually calm. Maybe it was the comfort of the surroundings, the later start, the low-key feel of the race….whatever it was it was what I needed. I hadn’t completed a 100 in 2 years, with my last attempt at WS100 2010 ending in a DNF. I just wanted to finish without any mishaps (OK…more like ones that I could handle!). Steve and I arrived at the start about 45 minutes early. People were milling around with the nervousness penetrable. A friend from college, who I hadn’t seen in 15 years, surprised me at the start. He was a great distraction from my constant clock watching. At the start line, I recognized a few other yellow jerseys standing around. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, “Go”….the journey began. The first 30 miles were known to be fast and I heeded the advice to be conservative in this section. I let people go as I set into a pace that was comfortable, almost too comfortable. I found myself running solo between 2 groups, the lead pack and mid-pack. I enjoyed this position as I felt like I was on a training run, enjoying the scenery of meadows, wildflowers, forest animals. Next thing I knew my foot caught a rock and I ate a little dirt. I just laughed, looked down at my bloody knee and thought “what a great day”.

By the time I hit mile 23, the temp was climbing. It was supposed to get to the low to mid 70s. It doesn’t sound warm, but there had been cold weather up until then in Reno. So, yes, it felt warm! I absolutely loved the section from here, paralleling a creek. It was lush and a little shaded with LOTS of bugs thanks to the humidity. I remember thinking to myself “this must be what horses feel like in pasture”. I caught up to a fellow runner as he was dousing himself in a creek, and holding a broken branch in his hand. I thought this was strange until I asked him what he was using it for…to shoo the bugs away! Good idea, but I decided just to get some bug spray at the next AS.

At 31 miles (Pine Creek), you do a 4.7 mile loop. I had hit the desert section of the race so it was very exposed with sandy like footing. Since it was getting warmer and the ice had started being placed in the jog bra, I decided it best to take both my bottles rather than leaving 1 behind as some others were doing. Good choice! By the time I returned, both bottles had been gone for 5 minutes. Chugged some more fluids, more ice in the jog bra, and a promise from Angela Shartel that there were popsicles “up the 2 mile asphalt hill”. At least there was a “little” shade. I saw a female up ahead and realized it was Denise Bourassa. it was her 1st 100 and she was having problems with cramps. She was still moving though. I told her anything can happen in a 100, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw her later. Next thing I knew, we were getting our popsicles…it was like heaven. Wow, only a few more miles and I get to see my crew. Truth be told, I kind of liked this section. It was one of the tougher climbs in the race but it was easily walk/run. I was able to pass a few people on this section which of course is a motivator in and of itself, then getting to see my crew…even better.

The next few sections were uneventful. It was the time of day where things start to run together and time seems to fly by, but you just can’t get to the next AS fast enough. I will tell you that the 51 mile AS, Sunrise, had been dubbed by myself and crew “the Burning Man of ultras”. This place was a conglomerate of trailers we had seen the day before just driving around. There were flags raised, tons of music and food, and people having a good time (not sure what kind, but they were happy!). The best part was I got to see this place twice. The second time would be around mile 80 and in the dark. Hmmm…when would they burn the man?!

I finally picked my pacer up at mile 59. During the day, I never wanted to know where I was in relation to Krissy Moehl. Too early to push and I just wanted to focus on staying relaxed. Well, as we were leaving I was told I was about 6 minutes behind. Wow, who would have thunk! OK, OK…focus. Just kept running the same, chatting with Miriam about my day, and focusing on hydration and nutrition. In the back of my head, the memories of WS100 were sneaking in….when would the nausea/puking come? I tried to push this out but it always lingered. I was trying to really focus on caring for myself so it wouldn’t happen again, but those thoughts were still there.

We reached an 8 mile stretch that was to be technical. I figured I had about 2 hours before it got dark so I wouldn’t need a light. I now kick myself! I started slowing down, having some difficulty running down the rocks and having fatigue begin setting in. I watched as the sun was setting thinking to myself “please let us almost be there”. I was worried. I now knew I had made a huge mistake. Always plan for the worst case scenario. I should have taken a light! Thankfully Miriam had packed a small headlamp “just in case”. It wasn’t great and I still had some trouble negotiating the terrain, but it was way better than being in pitch black. Then we saw it…a bright light coming up from behind. It was Shawna Tompkins. Ugh, but then again, yeah because the light allowed me to see better! Finally, the we came upon the AS. Steve and Colin had us in and out of there in a flash and I remember telling Miriam I need to run. We made some good time in that next section because the adrenaline had woken me up and it was a fairly runnable section. Plus, I knew we were headed back to the “ultra-style Black Rock City”. The AS was definitely quieter and again my crew was rushing us out. Steve told me they gave Shawna a ride back to the finish. I was somewhat relieved but also felt for her. I know what that DNF feels like.

I began the countdown to the finish. We reached 87 miles and now my crew was telling me start the push. Krissy was only 15 minutes ahead. I ran for the 1st 1/2 mile, then Mr. Sandman decided it was time for me to take a snooze. It was like someone had given me a sleeping pill. I couldn’t keep my eyes open. There was one point that I stopped to go pee. I was in the squat position when I heard Miriam’s voice from what seemed far away. “Are you going pee?” I had fallen asleep. Those 4 miles were the longest of the day. Espresso Gus weren’t helping. What I needed was a good cup of coffee. Steve and Colin were standing there as I trudged into the AS. Steve said” You were falling asleep, weren’t you?” That easy 4 mile stretch took me over an hour to complete! Now I was way behind Krissy, but I was in single digits. I got my cup of coffee and Steve handed me a Jolly Rancher, which I later found out a volunteer had to get from his car since there was no hard candy at the AS. Thanks!!

The last 9 miles were memorable for me because I began to reflect on the day. I ran a smart race…took it out conservatively. I ate early on…turkey and avocado is the best! I kept hydrated…a cup of water at the AS does make a difference. Kept myself as cool as possible…ice down jog bra, wet bandana. Electrolytes in balance…S!caps every 1/2 hour and EFS in the bottles. Never felt nauseated or bonky…all the above plus the addition of Vespa to my repertoire. I ran the race with the goal in mind to finish strong with no remarkable downs. I crossed the finish line with a huge smile on my face. I had accomplished my goal! I couldn’t have done it without my crew and pacer. They kept me on track. Hopefully they will be willing to do it again next year!! 


Shoes: Wildcats

Socks: Defeet trail 19
Drink: fruit punch EFS
Gels: GU and Vespa
Electolytes: S!Caps



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