Sunday, June 8, 2008

Shafer Butte

My life this second is narrowed to Steve's shoes, they were brand new this morning, Asics - white with red stripes, maybe Gel Eagles, maybe something else, but now are looking dusty and old. I know he will be pleased with that, no one wants their shoes to look new. My hat is pulled down low to block the sun as my sunglasses sit on Steve and Marni's bookcase where I forgot them this morning. Having blindingly white skin, blue eyes and freckles, sunglasses are a necessity but they aren't here so I forget about them. My whole focus is staring at Steve's ankles. And I am close to his ankles because we are all bent over climbing this hill, like ants. I notice he's wearing Smartwool socks, olive green with a hole on the left inside ankle bone and I wonder if that happened in the wash or whether he painfully hits his ankles together sometimes like I do and it wore a hole in it. I guess he could have caught them on something too. I think he shaves his legs too.

We crest a break in the hill, more to come but we all stand straight for a few steps. Ben, possibly the youngest person there this morning proudly claims that we have 48 miles to go having only gone 4. I want to throttle him and it's only 6am. We are on the side loop that we are going to do on the way out only. RD Frank said, "just take trail 4 to lower side of trail 6, it's real easy". Real easy consists of a couple of unmarked turns and this heinous hill. Debbie asks Steve if this is the worst the climbing will be, which I think is a really bad question, especially 4 miles into a race. But he allays my fears by saying yes, besides getting back up Mores Mountain and Shafer Butte, this is the hardest climb. Sweet side trail.

When Steve and I ran into each other at Desert Rats in Fruita in April, he told me about this race, Shafer Butte in Boise. Laid back race put on by an old school ultrarunner, Frank Hanson whose knees were shot but could still put out some pain for others. 52 (give or take) miles, 10,000 feet climbing with minimal aid,no medical help, no course markings, no entry fee, self timed, no published results, no photos, no proof, sounded perfect to me. For a second, I thought doing a 52 miler with that much climbing less than 2 weeks before a 100 that I was minimally trained for could signal trouble. But then I remembered that I don't live and train for any one race, my eggs are spread out in so many baskets, I'm kinda a bunny slut. I'll have a good time this weekend, meet some Boise runners and do a funner run than I would here in Jackson, so I accepted his invitation to stay with him and his family. And Sweatpants would be there too.

Sweatpants is an icon, in my opinion. He ran the entire Bear 100 in grey Hanes sweatpants and held (no handhelds) two gatorade bottles that he probably bought at the Preston gas station on his way over. When he got hot, he pulled one leg (just one) of the sweatpants up. Hand helds and shorts are for ninnies, Sweatpants rocks it old school. He's also a damn good runner, eternally positive with lots of good stories and commentary for the trail. Steve and Sweatpants do a lot of races together. Simpatico in their running style, I felt like I was being let into the inner sanctum of great duos, like the Lenny and Squiggy of the running world.

So I get there Friday in time to drive over with the guys to the pre-race meeting. This meeting mostly consisted of dropping off your goods to the race director, namely beer and water. I like a race where the runners provide the water, make sense to me. Frank said about 10 times how easy the course was to follow but I later learned that the only time Steve had gotten lost during the race was when he was with Frank. I knew that I needed to stay with Steve and Sweatpants tomorrow because I have crappy orienteering skills. There was no prerace crap talk about who had done what, how fast and when. I couldn't tell last years winners from this years newbies, very low on the ego meter, another good sign for a good day. Marni, Steve's wonderful wife, made us a great prerace dinner of spaghetti and meat sauce and we went to bed.

Got up around 3:45am for the 5am start, had coffee, cereal (Apple Jacks, love people who have kids), some power bar and hit it to pick up Sweatpants. We dropped off more water and our drop bags at the start. Frank said that the drop bags to be put at the top of Bogus wouldn't be watched the whole time so if you had a "family heirloom drop bag", this would not be the time to use it. We all had the same white garbage bag and the bags were fairly communal during the day. I pretty much rifled through the bags looking for better snacks than mine.

We started the race and it seemed like a record turnout this year, about 17. I was running with a woman named Debbie that I had spoken to the night before. This was one of her longest races and she was nervous but excited. She didn't know the course and I remembered what Frank had said, to stick with someone who does so I told her I had no idea of where I was going. I had a map and some bad directions but I was pretty sure, if left to my own devices, I was going to get lost. Steve and Sweatpants were up ahead but within sight. There were about 4-5 women in the race, all nice and unassuming, which meant fast.

So we are all kind of bunch together and Debbie asked me what my hobbies were and I thought, do people still have hobbies? I stammered for a bit and then said "I read a lot", which isn't a lie, I just didn't say that it was sometimes Star Magazine. What was I supposed to say? I love to watch tv, read ultrarunning magazine and eat more food than my stomach allows sometimes. They were going to find out I was a geek at sometime, but let's make it later. I quickly changed the subject.

Steve and I had started together around mile 4 and he was giving me lay of the land on the way up, which was pretty much a good, mellow climb up to Bogus Basin, the local ski hill. The paved road goes 16 miles up but there are trails the whole way up as well. I was so impressed with Boise trail system; the greenbelt has 125 miles of trails (Jackson, wake up!!). We were on mostly single track, some jeep trail and a few gravel roads. We wound our way to the first aid station mile 9 and Jack, the man with friendiest face you have ever seen greeted us. I was eating and drinking fine, thinking I was going a little faster than I would if i was alone but felt good. The scenery was beautiful, terraced green hills filled with balsam root and lupine in bloom. We wouldn't see him for another 35 miles so we said goodbye.

From there, we were on a dirt road that went by some summer cabins, quaint and sketchy at the same time. We also ran into Leon, the local running nerd. He's mostly a road runner, evidenced by the dink shorts and ever present breathe right strip. But he comes out for these things and has been around for a while posting some fast marathon times and loving the ultracentric races now. Ben, his mini protege, talked about these races, mile loops done over and over. Sounded like torture to me. I did enjoyed listening to the stories Steve and Leon told of old Shafer Butte races going back years. Leon had cut the extra 4/6 loop and was going to turn around once he hit snow (road runner) but he helped pass the time.

So the four of us made our way to the second aid station and drop bag site at the top of the ski hill and mile 19. It was a steady climb up but still felt good and was eating and drinking well. We did have the added benefit of a very cool Boise day. Steve was hoping for some Western States heat training and he wasn't getting it. I was bummed that I didn't have gloves because it was cold and windy when we got to the top. We changed out some things and filled up our bottles and bladders. Frank told us that they couldn't get to the turnaround because of snow so we were on our own for 14 miles until we got back here. We left the aid station and headed towards some downhill, straight downhill because the snow was blocking the road so it would be a straight shot down the bowl. We ran into Sweatpants going the other way, he and Teresa had thought they were going the wrong way and turned around. They were going the right way but Teresa was done for the day, a recent injury flaring up. She headed back down and we traded Leon for Sweatpants and headed for the turnaround.

We were now 5, Ben, Sweatpants, myself, Lynnete and Steve. We headed straight down the snow filled backside of Shafer and I got conservative real fast which means I wasn't sliding but walking and sidestepping. Steve was gone, sliding his way down, Sweatpants on his heels. They waited for us at the bottom and we had a 2 mile interpretative trail loop to do both on the out and the back. It was a nice trail, fairly good climb and beautiful views now that we were up high and on the backside of Shafer.

We went up Mores Mountain, down the back and hit the turnaround, 6 1/2 hours with most of the climbing done. We started back up and noted that we hadn't seen Lynnette at the turnaround. On the way over to Mores, we saw the leaders and a couple of other runner. I saw Trevor from Victor and we shared a quick hi. But no Lynette, Sweatpants called her name in case she went the 07 route which included an additional mile on the road because of some other shortcut. We started back up and saw Debbie and Dane who were together and looking good. On the way back up Mores, Sweatpants told us a good story about his second HURT where he took some "magic powder" recommended by a weightlifter co-worker of his. He said he came to somewhere on the second lap covered in his own vomit being slapped by someone but did manage to finish the 100k that year. It made me laugh and we shared some corn nuts.

We had to now climb up the snow bowl back to the top of the ski hill and we all took our own routes and time. Sweatpants had shoes with baloney slices on the bottom because he was slipping and sliding all day like Scoobie on a soapy floor. I chose to stay far right of him in case he came down so he wouldn't take me with him. He did manage to break through the snow to the water running underneath, bummer but no complaints from him. We made it back to the top, grabbed some food, got some race reports from Frank, who's in first (Craig Thornley) and who dropped.

We start to head down running and the first 4 miles goes quickly. There's a climb in the middle of this section and I am glad because my achilles is started to ache from the hand over hand climb out of the bowl, bad sign. I try not to mental discuss this with myself because it won't be a good conversation. At this time, I am with Ben only, who I have dubbed Napolean Dynamite because when I close my eyes and he talks, it's like I am in the movie. And he says the same kinda stuff as Napolean would, num chuk, things falling out of the sky that you just have to ignore. He tells me he's in the Marines, which surprises me, but Steve later explains that he's the Marine band which makes much more sense. So Ben is no help with my Achilles but some downhill, then uphill, then stretching while peeing seems to be a help and we continue on.

We are now all together and make it back to Jack and his smiling face. Cliff's dad offers to take what we don't want to carry for the last 8 1/2 miles down and we gladly give him everything but our handhelds. We were moving well before, always glad for the walking break but running all the downhills and flats but now we take off knowing we are in the homestretch. We run the last 8+ miles, walking the few hills in 90 minutes. We are on the spine of the ridge leading us out of the foothills and down to town and it is beautiful. We pass kind and polite mountain bikers and I am loving Boise running. It's the three of us now, Ben has gone ahead after phoning his parents to come pick him up at the finish. He said he would get our picture at the end which pissed the guys off. We were running (end of race) fast having found that rhythm of running with others when the conversations are done, the friendships are set and its just about finishing up.

We see the road that will take us to less than a mile. I notice houses I didn't see in the dark on the way out and lots of flowers that went unnoticed this morning. I am hurting at this point but who cares, almost done. We hit the road and Steve and Sweatpants are ahead and I am running in between them. They are blocking the wind for me and I am getting pulled along by them and I couldn't like them anymore for it. I am dying now but still running and we are all ready for it to be over. We see some people ahead and say that it's Sweatpants fan club and sure enough, they cheer for him as we make the final turn to the tree. You have to touch the tree (Ben humped it) to finish. Frank is there so he has the official time which is charitable by 3 minutes, 11:28 fastest 50 I have ever done. It was slow in comparison to prior Shafer Buttes for Steve and Sweatpants but still a great day in the mountains.

I have my regular post race recovery drink, beer and we chat with others who had finished before us (almost everyone). Marni is there to meet us with Jed, Steve's 21 month old twin. We say goodbye to everyone, hit the Boise River for an ice bath and drop Sweatpants off at home and head to Steve's. I take a shower, we eat pizza and then brownies with ice cream and go to bed at 8:30, a perfect day.

Sunday morning, wake up, have some coffee and I need to hit the road for the 6 hour drive back to Jackson. I have to pick up the canine from the kennel before 5 so I say goodbye to the Boyengers and head home. It's a beautiful day and I enjoy the drive. My legs are a bit tired and my feet ache, but not terribly so. I will now put the recovery phase into play which will include some trips to the accupuncturist and maybe a massage, lots of protein, minimal running and lots of down time. Some runners hate the taper, not me, I'm lazy by nature and it's more time for tv.


olga said...

Sounds like a blast to me! See you soon:) BTW, I had done 58M race 2 weeks before my best's all good.

robtherunner said...

Beautiful pics and congrats on the 50 miler!

Anonymous said...

hey great race report-you are funny and i was glued to your story/you will do well at Bighorn.Im jealous wish I was going.keep up the great work.georgie

Lisa Smith-Batchen said...

great running and now off to the BH 100. we will be thinking about you this weekend...
the batchens

olga said...

I heard no mention of the Morman Crickets. I ran schafer Butte in 2003 and 2004 as a prep for Hardrock and loved it and the crickets on the way down. It was very weird after running on them for 4 or 5 miles. Good report. Take care of the feet. They are a one time deal.
See ya soon

Mike the Bushwhacker