12 June 2012

San Diego 100 - Race Report

Of course, I am in the later stages of writing my guide of How to Write An Amazing Race Report, so knocking out my San Diego 100 report should be breeze. One thing I forgot to mention is that race report writing is much easier when you actually pull off a decent race - it helps you avoid the need to enhance (lie about) any short comings or weak performances. A decent race does, however, create a new concern and that is to keep the reader on your side by not sounding too proud or boastful, regardless of how much ass you kicked in the race. Anyway, let's get on with the report.
Start.  Photo Chris Price
Early with Fabrice.  Photo Brett Rivers
Right behind us, Luke Nelson, Jeff Browning, and Adam Hewey.  Photo Brett Rivers

I switched up a few things this year (beginning last fall) in my training. I also decided I wanted to stretch my self-imposed limits and not be as cautious in races. So far this year, after 12 races (6 ultras), the results have been promising. My climbing and speed have improved and, most importantly, I believe I can run faster for longer periods.  I'm basically a completely different runner than I was last year.

The nerves didn't appear until race morning. In fact, I felt so crappy the day before the race, I was already making up excuses to run slowly. For some reason, I just felt like I had the flu, achy, no energy, grumpy. Even the little 5k shake out run on Friday had me panting and loping along like I'd never run a step before. So, when I awoke at 4:26am race morning and felt great, I was relieved, to say the least.

The weather was perfect with a beautiful sunrise and we all lined up; the largest field ever for the SD100. I lined up in the front and made small talk and well wishes with other runners like Jeff Browning, Joshua Finger, Jason Perez, Larissa Polischuk, and others I don't know. While standing on the start line, I decided to change up my strategy and go out in the lead group. It turned out to be a more modest starting pace than last year when Yassine, Rod, and Dylan shot off the start and were out of sight after a mile. I popped off the line and only Fabrice Hardel was with me as we made our way to the single track. Soon, Jeff Browning and Adam Hewey swung around me and caught up to Fabrice. Luke Nelson came up behind me to round out the top 5 group we had. We entered the first aid station with Browning about 2 mins up and the rest of us four bunched together, me in 5th.

Coming into aid station 1 at 7.4 miles (61 mins into race).  Photo Brett Rivers

By the second aid station, Browning was still leading and Fabrice and I were running together in 3rd/4th and we passed Luke Nelson in the aid station. I switched up my plan and instead of changing out one hand held bottle for the other from my crew, I opted to take both with me, an on-the-fly decision that probably made the biggest difference in my race for the next 35 miles.

Coming into aid station 2 at 13.8 miles (2:00 into race)

Fabrice caught back up to me and we settled into a steady pace just under 8 min/miles. Adam Hewey seemed to be running sporadically. He'd pass us, then we'd pass him and he'd drop back, then pass us again. We were holding even pace, so I felt it was a good sign that he was wasting energy (I was wrong). Finally, Adam caught and passed us around mile 18 and began pulling away. It wasn't a commanding move but neither Fabrice or I seemed to want to hold onto him. I was fine with that silent decision since we were clipping along at a good rate already. It felt easy and in control but maybe a bit fast for a 100 miler. We went through 26.2 miles in 3:38 and hit the 50k mark at 4:31. I commented to Fabrice about our quick pace, to which he replied that he was taking it easy because it's going to be hot soon and he wanted to retain energy. He seemed content to lead us, so I basically sat on his heels from mile 14 to 35. I went from feeling confident that I could match whatever he wanted to try to feeling like I should let him go and save myself for the rest of the long day.

We hit the Pine Creek aid station at mile 31.3 where Jimmy Dean Freeman informed me that Jeff Browning was only 7-8 mins up on us in the lead and Adam Hewey only 3 mins ahead. This year I made sure to hydrate and eat for the upcoming section. I was feeling strong when Fabrice and I set out for the 5 mile lollipop loop that takes us back to Pine Creek, mile 36. During the loop, Fabrice kept commenting that he was taking it easy because of the upcoming sections and the heat and when he started walking some of the little hills I realized that he was fading a little and likely (maybe not intentionally) trying to get me to settle into his easier pace with him. I asked to come around at mile 34-35 and nudged the pace a little and ran the hills. He didn't stay with me but caught back up on a descent. Then I pushed again up the last climb back up to the aid station and that was the last I saw of him. I grabbed what I needed for the next section, the crux of the race course with over 2,400 feet of exposed climbing to the next aid station at mile 44. I put 16 minutes on Fabrice during this 8 mile section and was now in 3rd place solidly.

Frankly, the rest of the race was pretty uneventful. It was just a methodical effort of focusing on the balance of hydration and fueling. I felt confident that if I could avoid any major mistakes I'd hold off any attacks from behind.  I literally didn't see another runner in contention for 65 miles.

Rolling into Sunrise aid station, mile 51.  Photo Chris Price

Once in a while I'd get word that Adam Hewey was faltering and “looking bad” and find that I wasn't very far behind him, like 30 minutes, so I'd briefly entertain thoughts of trying to catch him but was content just to work on holding onto 3rd. On the flip side, I was getting word that Chris Sigel was lingering behind me anywhere from 25-40 mins, so that was keeping me honest in my pace.

Eat, drink, salt, repeat all day.  Paso Pacheco aid station, mile 64.2

I hit 70 miles in 12 hours 11 mins and rolled into Sweetwater aid station at mile 72 where I grabbed a long sleeve shirt, Hydrapak water vest and lights. Ben Hian directed me where to go for the next section and I was on my way into the fading light.

My stomach got pretty locked up and I felt very nauseous, which I concluded was from too much sugar and water. I only drank maybe 30 ounces for the last 6 hours of the race and I couldn't eat anything, not even favorites like soup, or chili. I managed to eat a small Clif bar around mile 80 but nothing afterwards. Without food, my energy faded a lot and I found myself going from having fun racing and running to just wanting to finish and sit still.

My new Garmin 310XT died at 18 hours (they lie when they say it has a 20 hour battery life), so I didn't really have anything to push me. I crossed the line in 19:01, took a quick, cold shower, and crawled in my sleeping bag for a couple hours.

I wore my La Sportiva C-Lite 2.0s every step of the race.  I changed socks at mile 72.  I used one hand held bottle for miles 1-14, two hand held bottles (one with water, the other with electrolyte) from 14-72, then my 35 ounce Hydrapak vest to the finish.  I wore my Rudy Project photochromatic sunglasses.  I'd also like to thank Udo's Oil for their support and amazing product.  I use it every day and am constantly stunned by how well I recover since I started using it 9 months ago.

I also need to highlight the run by a friend and guy I coach who ran his first 100 miler not even a year after running his first 50k.  He didn't want to try an easy flat 100, either.  He opted for San Diego.  It was pretty emotional for me to see him sprint across the finish line in 28:52.  I can't express how proud I am of D. Craig Young.  He's followed everything I tell him without question and trusted me.  But more importantly, he believed in himself.  I'm honored just to know him.

Me and Craig Young
Video of first aid station, Mile 7.4  Video by Darren Young

Video of second aid station, Mile 14  Video by Darren Young


  1. I can't comprehend how you bang these things out while making it seem so routine/easy...

    I hate you. (Good job)

  2. Worst report ever. No cliffs? Near death experiences? Hallucinations?

    I'm going to enter your next 50 miler as "Gonorrhea" and then sprint out for a lead after mile 2. At least then you'll be able to report that you caught gonorrhea at mile 3.

  3. Ha!
    I did fall off the cliff twice running the canyons at night around mile 85.

  4. Great race Tim - glad to see the results of your hard work rolling in this year!!

  5. Tim --

    Another superb performance on your part. Will you be at Pacifica this weekend?


  6. Thanks Mykl,
    I'll be working a tent up at She Rocks the Trails in Auburn this weekend.
    Hope to see you soon.

  7. I literally didn't see another runner in contention for 65 miles.
    Holy shit.

  8. Congratulations on a great effort! You make it look nearly effortless... This looks good for Hardrock. All the best in your preparations for that!

  9. Thanks Mykl,
    I'll be working a tent up at She Rocks the Trails in Auburn this weekend.
    Hope to see you soon.

  10. Heck, I didn't see another runner in contention for 99.5 miles! It was fantastic; I'll be ready to chase again soon. Nice work out there coach.

    I said it many times post-race, but it would have been less of an experience (or more of the wrong kind of experience!) without your help and advice over the past year. I questioned you often; but trusted always. It totally paid huge. Thanks.

    Mostly, thanks for hanging around for 10 hours while I took my sweet time out there. Now to conjure some lies for my less-speedy race report...

  11. Amazing run Tim! I was worried early that you were going much too fast...but what do I know?

    It was a great experience just to hang out with you, Jess, Craig and Henri. I'm beyond proud of my big brother (DCraig to others reading) for running such an amazing race. I'm inspired by all of you!