Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Orange Curtain 100K (the mind misery)

February 16, 2008: www.oc100k.com
Bib: # 6
Place: 7 (out of 32) - Overall results
Distance: 62.1miles / 100km

Elapsed Time: 11:34:49
Average Pace: 11:11 min/mile

Elapsed Time (first 50K): around 5h 7min
Average Pace (first 50K): 9:54 minutes/mile

Blisters: almost 0
Black toenails: 0 new
Sunburns: 1 (I did not use sun any block – is not it still winter after all? – and my face is bright red now except for a white headband mark on my forehead)
Running Shoes: Asics Trail-Attack II (that have 650+ miles on them)

Race Summary

All in all it was a great race. The repetitiveness of the course got on my nerves, or - I guess - on everybody’s nerves. Pounding asphalt for 11+ hours is not exactly my definition of fun either. But the overall experience with the race is positive and the chances are that I might be back next year to beat my time. I know I could do better than this!

The course is not too boring as you always have river on one side – and looking at water all the time has some nerve soothing effect. On the other side of the course you see either green loans of Liberty park of Cerritos, or stables with horses, ponies and goats (sticky but cute), or another park in Long Beach.

The course is as flat as it gets. There are just 3 bridge underpasses. If each of them has a 10ft of elevation loss and gain, than the whole course has probably about 600ft of overall elevation gain. Pretty unique for an ultramarathon, is not it? But it has some disadvantages too: you never have a valid excuse to walk for a change, and when you are running up and down, you use slightly different muscle groups. This gives your legs a chance to have some rest – except for the cases when the hills are too steep and wear you out.

I ran the last 10K from bridge to bridge trying not to think how much more of the course is still in front of me. Once I was going through an underpass, I was focusing on the next bridge and so on. After the very last underpass I got really excited from the bare notion that this darn race is about to end for me very soon. It was dark and I could not see people at the finish but I still accelerated at first from 11:30 min/mile to about 9 min/mile, and then to 7 min/mile pace. If I ever had a strong finish that was it – I squeezed out of myself all the remaining juices, at least all I was capable to dig out. I even passed another runner just 400 yards from the finish line.

Familiar Faces

The first runner I saw when I got to the start line at 6:15 in the morning was Catra Corbett. Well there was a little crowd there, but if there is Catra in it, you can barely notice anyone else, at least for the first 5 minutes. She looks exactly like her photos in her blog :)

After I finished I also met Jorge Pacheco whom I met for the first time at Mt. Disappointment too. He was also there to cheer us up.

After 8th loop (or was it after my 9th?) I spotted Eric Kosters at the North aid station. Being our North OC VP he simply had to show up and remind Kirk and me that our performance is not up the OCTR expectations and we should go faster! It helped: I drastically reduced the time of my usual watermelon pit-stops.

Lorraine Gersitz

It was very difficult not to notice Lorraine in the race. First of all, she was the only runner (on the whole planet?) running the race in her rubber Crocs Clog shoes.

Second of all she was wearing a pretty unique shirt with the RunDown logo on it, and I was the second person in a shirt like that :)

Lorraine is actually the 50K female winner who finished the race in just 4:45:44.

Eric Clifton

I saw Eric Clifton in Cerritos as well. He was running a way too fast for me to catch him up and ask why he was wearing a skirt instead of pants. The first guess that it has something to do with ancient Scottish mountain running traditions falls apart immediately as Eric’s skirt has little to do with Scottish kilts. Anyways it worked out just fine for him – he finished 50K the third in just 4:10:59.

Gregory Moore

I ran with Greg for a couple of miles and learned more about sheriffs, police, and highway patrol than I ever knew in my life. Greg is a deputy sheriff in Lakewood. As far as I got it right now he is one of those guys who patrol the area in helicopters. Greg also mentioned that there is an annual run of all police and sheriffs departments in LA and OC counties when they run all the way from one department to another to commemorate all of their colleagues that got killed in the field.

Vinnie Torres from Pasadena

I met Vinnie whom I was running with most of the way from Red Box II to West Fork aid station at Mt. Disappointment last August. Vinnie helped me a lot back then to keep running. It was cool to see another familiar face again especially as he is also running Leona Divide 50-miler in April.

Natalia Norman

I was looking for Nattie at the start but she did not show up for the race. I guess I will still have a chance to meet her in person at the next race. Nattie wrote a brilliant recap about her experience with Orange Curtain 100K in 2007: “Brain decay at the orange curtain 100k”. Luckily I read it only after the race. It resonates with me a lot – I have been through the same thing too!


Kirk Fortini

Kirk started the race with some serious stomach issues, which slowed him down a lot. Nevertheless he managed to get through the race and finish 100K under cut-off’s. Kirk did not finish as fast as he would otherwise but his result is still more than remarkable – I would not have guts to last as long as he did, and despite all the obstacles still finish the race! He basically survived a race most of us would DNF from!

We were exchanging hi-five’s with Kirk when running into each other on the course, until I realized it’s not really advisable: Kirk’s powerful hi-five’s were switching off my GPS :)))

Gabor Kozinc

Gabor easily finished the 100K. What is a 62-mile race for a Badwater finisher? Gabor was very explicit about this. He ran without a stop watch, and without a water bottle: just a recreational jogger on his morning 100K jog. Last 20 or 30 miles Gabor was running with a 2-feet-long tree branch in hand – to spank rookies that do not run fast enough according to him.

Carmela Layson

I ran with Carmella for a while as well. I never had a chance to meet her in person before but she still recognized me somehow. Carmela kept up a pretty consistent pace and finished 100K in style in 12:47:01.

Gary Hilliard

It was great to see that Gary showed up to run 50K on Saturday. An ultra-marathon just 6 months after that horrible accident! Some of his buddies came over just to walk with him a part of the distance. Jay warned them however that Gary is pretty fast and can kick their butt. I guess this is exactly what happened afterwards. At first Gary was power walking, but after a couple of laps he started to run and finished 50K in 7:30:46. His ultimate recovery goal was to do Badwater again this year as a big flip off both to his accident and reckless deer that caused it and ran away. I will not be too much surprised if Gary manages to do it in 2008 against all odds!

Leigh Corbin & George Velasco

Leigh and George were training for some gruesome waterless ultra-marathon in Africa. That’s why they ran this race with huge backpacks on their backs. George mentioned those backpacks are “not too heavy”: his was about 15lbs, and Leigh’s one was around 12lbs. They looked a way bigger and heavier to me though. In any case even if 15lbs does not sound like something heavy, just imagine how it should be feeling running with this damn thing for over 30 miles!

Barefoot Ted McDonald

I ran into Barefoot Ted for the first time at the Clear Creek aid station of the Mt. Disappointment race last August. When I realized he is running the whole 50K race really bare-feet I was shocked and speechless. This time Ted was about to try his bare feet on asphalt for the entire 100K distance without any sandals or his Five-Finger soles.

Ted ran away in the head of the pack and passed the 50K mark well under 5 hours. To my surprise I caught him up somewhere in the middle of loop 7 (mile 39) and we ran next 2.5 loops (16 miles or almost 3 hours) side by side.

Ted turned out to be the opposite to what I expected to find. Besides the fact, he is a great athlete he turned out to be an extremely intelligent and educated person. I like his “life-flow” philosophy, which resonated with my own views. After we talked about different things for about an hour I could not help suggesting Ted should write a book.

Three hours of running on a pretty non-entertaining course you just ran through for 15 times in a row is a lot of time. We have discussed a lot of stuff from his strange bare-foot running thing, to life philosophy in general, to the information technology advances, to renewable energy sources and energy crisis, to thermonuclear fusion… We covered both hot fusion reactors with magnetic confinement, Tokamak-type, and cold laser-driven fusion. The funny thing is that I am not kidding about it :)

The standard dialog:
- Hey, Ted, where a heck did you loose your shoes?
- Hey, I use super-advanced nano-technology stuff, while you wear a product of mass-marketing brain-washing that was produced in China and tested for only 15-20 years overall.

Ted finds bare-feet running more natural, but still admits he would be able to run a way faster if he wore regular running shoes on top of his natural nano-technology-based ones. Still Ted does not seem to care too much about outrunning everyone else in the field.


Miles 0-21: I started with pretty conservative slow music to make sure I do not take off too fast: Stan Rogers and some Bluegrass staff.

Miles 21-36: I got eventually tired of Stan’s fishermen songs and switched to my Rock ’n’ Roll collection. This was quite a kick! It slowed down my mental decay. I recall I was running and dancing at the same time. Caught some weird looks at the aid station while eating my watermelon and dancing there – I guess they were wondering whether it is time to call for paramedics and if I might be of any danger for people around me.

Miles 36-40: For the first half of the race I decided not to use my secret weapon (using iMichelle’s terminology) – Iron Horse / Apocalyptica / Metallica / Anthrax. A lot of those songs can accelerate and pace me, but the problem is I would not be able to last for very long at that pace. So I wanted to leave it all to the end. I started with Iron Horse, which is softer and less brutal...

Miles 40-56: … and never actually got to the heavy artillery. Around mile 39 I caught up Barefoot Ted, and we ran for the next 16 miles together chatting.

Miles 56-62: I was tired and although I ran the whole last loop by myself, I decided to leave my MP3 player in my bag at the aid station and listen to the music of the sunset for a while…


I had 7 pills before the run (daily Centrum, Vitamin C 1000mg x2, daytime Cold Relief x2, and Imodium x2, my secret weapon against my stomach that does not always agree with energy gels and other crap we consume to stay afloat during those long races) and 8 pills after it (RECOVER-ease). 15 pills…

Billy Mack: Here's a message from your Uncle Billy kids. Don't buy drugs. Become a pop star and they give them to you for free! (Love Actually)

During the race I was mainly eating PowerBar Double Latte GEL with 2x caffeine – a packet after each 10K. This stuff really kicks even a notch more than Red Bull. First couple of times the kicks from it were so powerful – I found myself running at 7 min/mile pace – that I am wondering if this stuff is legal at all.

The race was sponsored by Accelerade, but considering the distance I preferred not to experiment with it and drank only Gatorade.

Eating Disorder

Did I mention the watermelon? I bet I ate half of their overall watermelon supply. After it got hot after mile 24 I started to waste too much time at the Northern aid station devouring the watermelon piece after piece. It was virtually impossible for me to stop. I could have gotten same amount of liquids from 1-2 Gatorade glasses but the watermelon was so irresistible. I spent over 27 minutes at the aid stations during the whole race. And at least 15 minutes of it all I was just standing at the North aid station eating the darn watermelon. I am lucky they did not have any of it at the South aid station, or otherwise I would come to the finish line another 20 minutes later. Lesson learned: I am not eating any watermelon at the races anymore!

New PR’s

Distance PR: I never ran distances beyond 40 miles prior to this race.

50K time PR: I finished 50K in 5h and 7min or so and could definitely finish it a way under 5 hours did not I have to run another 50K right after that.

Lowest bib number PR: I had a bib #6 – something that will be difficult for me to beat :)

More Photos

More photos from the race:


Greg said...

Geez, you're a freaking rocket scientist! Nice, detailed blog. I love all the updates on the runners you met, too. Nice touch. I will never do this run. I'm not enough of a masochist. Saying that, see you next year at the Orange Curtain!

Barefoot Ted said...

Howdy Dmitri

Yes, I must say running along with you sharing stories was one of the highlights of this race for me.

I will be back next year. I will do it in 10 hours and 30 minutes.

I think that this is an excellent course for those who live in places that have real winters. Come to California and enjoy a great 100k in the sunlight.

This also seems like the perfect course to prepare oneself for the Spartathlon qualification.


Jessica Deline said...

great recap and well done on the race!

olga said...

Nicely done with detailing! Now work on even splits...if you ever again have desire to run a flat loopy 100k:)

Vinnie said...

Thanks for the kind words. You are a great runner. Next time at Mt. Disappointmet take a proper beating and do the 50 miler with me.


Jeff Bott said...

What a race! I fiished the 2009 race and loved seeing the pictures that you posted, because they brought back so many memories. How did you get your Garmin to stay on for over 11 hours? I have the new 405, but it ran out of batteries about half way. Great job last year....did you run this year?

Dmitri said...

Jeff, I was using Garmin 205, which has a longer battery life than 405. It looks like either Garmin developers are not aware of ultra-running or ultra-running is so insignificant for them revenue-wise, that they do not care. Why do you need more than 5-6 hours of battery life anyways? People never run that long :) LOL :)
P.S. I did not run the race this year.