Nov 17, 2012

Angeles Crest 100: Race Report

Fun action before the start!
I knew heading into this race that I needed to be fully prepared or I was going to get eaten alive.  I started this year with the notion that I could keep my torrid pace of training and racing without any ill effects.  It turns out I was completely wrong.  After the Boston disaster I was still feeling poorly and frankly just burnt out.  However, I assumed with a couple weeks off that my motivation would return and everything would go back to the way it was back in December through February.  Wrong again.  My fear for Angeles Crest was the main reason why I didn't take more time off and return whenever I felt like it.  Training in the Santa Monica mountains and in the San Gabriel mountains were two different things so after a couple months of driving out east and training on the course the race was upon us.  I never felt comfortable with my levels of fitness or mental focus during training due to the lack of consistency and more days off than I should have been taking.  With all that said, I was toeing the line July 21 ready to do what I could.
By: Larry Gassan near the top of Baden-Powell
I wanted to complete the first section which I considered the most difficult, terrain and altitude-wise, in around 5:20.  After hiking all the of ups and trying to take it easy I arrived at Islip in 5:05ish and was happy with where I was at.  My crew of Marshall, Megan, Sim, and Brian performed flawlessly and got me ready for the heat.
After needing to relieve myself (#2) on the climb up Mt. Williamson, where there happens to be relatively little room for privacy, the descent continues to Eagle's Roost.  I was toast after landing at Eagle's Roost; I had officially bonked.  Not entirely unexpected considering the way training had been going but man that's rough when entering a really hot section.  The 3 mile paved section, thanks to the closure of the PCT due to some frogs getting all angry at people treading on their turf, was crappy.  During that unpleasantness Hal, the race director, asked me to close his car door when I ran by it.  Odd request, but OK.
Toast at Cloudburst

I struggled mightily with George Gleason for company until Cloudburst where I sat down and wanted rest.  Soon after I yelled at Sim to "Never run 100 miles, ever!"  I'm pretty sure I was quite serious but I was really out of it so what do I know.  Oh yeah, and the freaking 90+ degree dry heat.  That was fun and it would accompany me a long way.  After struggling to get out of the chair I attempted to listen to some music to help with the lack in motivation.  Useless.
Making it to Three Points was miracle and I soon was in a happy place: sitting in a chair.  I actually got out of my 12 mile funk right before Three Points so as soon as I left I was jamming with The Doors and loving life again.  I need to find out what chemical in my brain allows me to want to slit my wrists one minute and then sing Kumbaya the next.  I was rolling and scaring Dan Lehnberg with my singing all the way to Mount Hilyer where I took my shortest sit down break of 2 min! I was pretty pleased with that.  I stumbled through the maze of stone to Chilao and collapsed in the chair sleepy, tired, and discouraged.  100 milers are fun!
After shoving something like potatoes in my mouth I set off with my first pacer, Sim.  Oh what disappointment he would soon experience for a guy who radiates so much positive energy.  I took advantage of that nice, newbie pacer by sitting in the middle of the trail and stating that I needed a nap.  Poor guy.  His encouragement was falling on deaf ears.  Two miserable hours later, where at one point I was shaking my fist at the sun cursing it, we made it to Shortcut Saddle where I'm sure Sim wanted to dump me.  I took my longest sitting-on-my-ass break: a high standard of 20 minutes.  I sat there gulping copious amounts of caffeine via Red Bull and watched as people passed me by the handful.  After Marshall shoved CANNED potatoes, which tasted like he pulled them out from in between someones butt cheeks, I started the smooth descent down Shortcut fireroad. Sim, bless his soul, stuck with me and I soon started to come alive.  We were clipping off miles and loving life like I just started a run!  We made it to Newcomb's Saddle in the dark (thank god no more sun) and really had such a fun time negotiating the technical trail all the way to Chantry.  It was an absolute blast and I won't ever forget those few hours with Sim.  We made it to Chantry where the thermometer read 80 degrees: it was 10pm!  And I performed, what was now a staple part of the race, the art of sitting down.  I pulled out all the excuses I could muster up to stay seated: "Wait, do you have the Body Glide from the green bag?" (there is no green bag, hehe)
"Quit your excuses!" (Dom Grossman)

Finally I got up, with my new pacer Marshall, and started the arduous climb up to Mt. Wilson toll road.  By now, in all seriousness, I started to feel a pain in my left lower shin and it only got worse.  It got to the point where I couldn't even raise or lower my foot without severe pain.  Try running on that folks.  Then my right knee, through overcompensation, started to swell up and became painful as well.  Doing anything other than rest was extremely painful and Marshall took it all in and didn't say a word about the ridiculous amounts of complaining coming from me.  After the curse-filled climb up to Sam Merrill, by yours truly, we had 10ish miles before the finish.  It was slow and painful but when we arrived on the streets of Alta Dena where Megan and the rest of the crew ran/walked with me to the finish I was satisfied.  It was nice to have completed the race even with the less than ideal preparation, relentless heat, and 50-something% finish rate.  I didn't get the 24hr finish I was hoping but I got what I deserved on that particular day.  I sat down an astounding 1hr40min through the race (compare that to Keira Henninger's 20 min TOTAL at the aid stations), my shin and knee ballooned, consumed 50+ GU gels, had two AC photos of myself published in the August/September issue of Ultrarunning Magazine (by Jamie Burtis), and I was happy as a clam to have it under my belt.  My injuries took 2 weeks to heal with heavy doses of anti-inflammatories and rest.  Poor George rolled his ankle severely and had to drop at Mt. Hilyer. The only way to repay him to for his needed company in Cooper Canyon was to extend my PT services to help the healing process of his ankle.  It was fantastic to see my training partner during many weekday excursions to the San Gabriels, Chris Price, put the hammer down and win comfortably.  He was usually taking it easy to run with me so it was great to see him perform exactly like I thought he could perform.  Anyway, I collected my buckle and now for a real rest break until after my adventure in Nepal in October/November.
By: Natalie Klintz
Chris, George, and myself before AC
by: Sim Dulai

Moments after AC captured by Larry Gassan


  1. "...the body glide from the green bag?" I wouldn't expect anything less from you Chamoun, that's hilarious.

    Looking forward to training for Hardrock with you!!!!*

    *In the very unlikely scenario that our names are drawn.

  2. Positive thoughts, Chris! I'm sending whoever selects the names good vibes in the form of chocolates, teddy bears, and anything else people loved getting bribed with.


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