Thursday, June 28, 2012

An Interview with the Yogger -- Part 1

Below is part 1 in what may be a 2 or even 3 part series of interview questions for the yogger about his Western States yog last weekend.  If anyone has any questions they wish to ask, please do so in the comments.  I have a few follow-up questions which I will present to the yogger along with any of yours for part 2.

1. How did the weather affect you during the race?  Were you prepared for it?  Did it surprise you?  When did weather stop being your enemy and start becoming your friend?  How were the temps in the canyons?

 It was uncomfortably cold until a bit beyond Robinson and my hands didn't really thaw until Dusty Corners.  It kept me from ever really feeling like I was in a comfortable groove during this stretch of the race, but I'm not sure how much it really affected the pace.  I was aware of the forecast so it wasn't that suprising, and I've certainly yogged in worse so it wasn't overwhelming, it just sucked.  After Dusty Corners the weather was amazing.  The canyons were downright balmy. 

2. Were you lonely at all on the course?  Or did you enjoy running solo?  Did you pair up with anyone?  Did you ever harbor hopes of crushing Arbogast?  Did you get any motivation from any of the people running near you?

I wasn't lonely.  Being alone allowed me to berate myself audibly without fear of frightening the normal people.  I tended to be much more conservative on the downhills than most people around me and do a lot more running up the hills, so I didn't naturally pair up with anyone.  I never thought about Arbogast.  She's out of my league.  I was motivated by a middle aged gentleman who blew by me shortly after Robinson Flat.  He was tall, probably an inch or two taller than me, bulkier upper body and calves even smaller than mine.  He was a great reminder of my utter lack of viable excuses. 

3. How did your thoughts about the silver buckle 24 hour cutoff change over the course of the day?  When did you know you earned it?

A little after Robinson Flat when I was already feeling the pounding on my legs and still had a really long way to go I thought about the silver buckle and got really emotional and choked up.  It was the first and only time I ever thought that way.  One I got to the top of Devil's Thumb I knew everything would be fine.  I just had to use gravity to get down El Dorado to get past the halfway point, I was really looking forward to seeing everyone at Michigan Bluff, and from there I knew it was just a very doable series of aid station to aid station stretches that I was very familiar with. 

4. What role did your parents play leading up to the race and on race day?  How helpful was it to have family around for this experience?

They were amazingly helpful in taking care of Maya so I could actually do the pre yog stuff that I needed to take care of.  They weren't very familiar with ultrayogging, so I enjoyed introducing them to this nutty subculture and hope they enjoyed a Tahoe vacation too.   

5. Did you think about Maya during the race?  Do you think she will beat your time one day?

I looked forward to seeing her several times, although I kept in mind that she'd have no idea what was going on and my hoping to hear her exclaim "DADDY!" was an entirely egocentric wish.  I hope Maya has several actually fun athletic experiences before ever considering ultrayogging, but on the other hand it would be great if she someday takes an interest in the event.  If she has a single iota of talent she will crush my time, but if she does get in, I'd hope to race against her, and you'd better believe that I would have every intention of outkicking her on the final straight away. 

6. You've never been properly paced before, except half of the headlands 50 by the American Hero.  How did your expert team of pacers affect your frame of mind during the race?

Dr E made a practice of leading and continually dropping me.  It was frustrating at times but I also appreciated the tactic as it kept me focused and working.  I felt bad because I was entering a mental fog that I still haven't quite come out of and I couldn't contribute much to the conversation attempts.  My split to the river wasn't very good, but was also a little better than the clock would indicate because of the long shoe/sock change post Foresthill, and Dr E did a great job of getting out of me what I was capable of. 

The American Hero is a tremendous pacer.  He took command of the nutrition, switched leading and following at just the right times, and pretty much let me continue to sink into a delirium while still moving as well as I could and not get lost. 

The Suffer Seeker had the interesting strategy of continually insisting that we had a preposterously short amount of time to the next aid station or the finish, even when it was clear that I wasn't buying any of it.  Perhaps he can expand upon that strategy. 

[Editor's note:  I'm just plain stupid, the yogger can do better math at mile 97 than I can at mile 3]

7. You were pretty quiet at the end, describe what it felt reaching Robbe point and heading to the track.

I thought it was all downhill from here?  When does the frickin' downhill start already?!  The 300m sprint we did on the track on Memorial Day weekend really planted that final entrance into the stadium into my head.  It was something I was really looking forward to all day.  It was a relief although a bit underwhelming to finally get there.  

8. In the past, altitude has affected you.  How important was it getting to squaw valley on Monday?  Did you feel the effects of 8000 feet?  How did your lungs and throat feel?

I think it helped a ton.  I noticed a big difference between how I felt running on Wednesday vs Tuesday the week before the race, and overall didn't suffer nearly as much as I usually do up there.  No lung or throat issues.   

9. For the benefit of the vast readership of Irrelevance, describe your nutrition system and how effective it was.  When did you stop eating solids?  How did your stomach feel during and after?

Pizza, pop tarts, peanut butter pretzels, potato chips, watermelon, peanut butter sweet & salty bars, tater tots, honey grahams in various proportions all mixed together in a gallon zip lock bag, a camelbak with 100oz bladder filled with whatever sports drink was available, and oodles of S Caps at every aid station.  Stopped eating solids around Cal 1.  With historically cool temps, I massively oversalted, started retaining water and had gained 10lbs at the finish, and packed on another 3-4lbs the next day.  My stomach felt fine during and after, although I wonder if I could have been stronger from Foresthill in without all the extra weight.   

10. What advice would you give any other WS rookies who are gearing up for their first attempt?

Know the course as best as possible, stuff your face early, save your quads in the canyons and have a role model who is 10x the man/woman you'll ever be (in my case, Geronimo) to inspire your efforts after Bath Rd. 

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