I had just gotten off course twice in the last hour, it was noon, my heart was pounding, I was puking, it was hot, still a big climb away from the aid station. I was calculating: time to recover at aid station + who knows the conditions ahead + wanting to finish before 9pm (we started at 7am) = might as well stop now = where do I get a ride? One hour before I was chasing the guy in front of me and I was giddy at the thought of a sub-12 for a 100K!
I quit a race yesterday – after about 30 miles. It was the first time I quit a foot race. It’s not like I didn’t make a cut off or got pulled out by race personnel. I was plunging to exhaustion and was going to end up in an helicopter flying to the Santa Barbara ER (if only there would have been a spot for an helicopter to land in that dense brush and savanah of the Santa Ynez mountains). Quitting was right. I’m grateful I came back in one piece and I am satisfied with the way I handled every situation that arose. Although I can’t pinpoint what went wrong exactly I can definitely see the chain of events that led to quitting.
Last Friday I was filling the bladder in my Salomon pack and upon connecting the hose I realized it was leaking! Leaking fast! No 44 miles run over Griffith with no water in the pack (temp in the low 80s)… I found that the O-ring on the connector had gone (see picture). Luckily I also own a S-Lab 12 and I took the O-ring from there and the leak was fixed at least for the day’s run.
But I wasn’t totally happy. I usually don’t disconnect the valve during an event or long run, however I could have been somewhere without access to a second o-ring… and it’s not like we have a lot of clear streams in these parts.
The day after the run I went to the local hardware store and bought a bunch of O-rings but they proved to be too large. I tried to boil them, pass a heat gun on them to no avail. Finally I ordered a huge set of Buna-N O-Rings (how does that sound?) on Amazon and now I have a bunch of spares to have as back-up. And tons of O-rings! The full bladder has passed a 24 hour leak test. Now hopefully it won’t leak while running.
I haven’t taken the time to contact Salomon – I will do so soon to test their customer service! I have to mention that I have been extremely happy with this pack. This is why I have purchased the S-Lab 12 for the UTMB. The packs are light and the pockets are well thought of. The bladder is really easy to have filled at aid stations.
Since the first time I ran an ultra in the Marin Headlands the nature there became very special to me. Living in Los Angeles, which is a desert with a little water, the coast north of the Golden Gate in contrast is lush and moist, the vistas are terrific and the trails are well maintained.
I like to run two ultras there: the North Face Endurance Challenge (NFEC) in December and Miwok 100k in May. I didn’t report on the last NFEC last December – the weather was harsh (it rained so much – sometimes by the ocean it felt like receiving buckets of water in the face. I ran a sub 10 though and that’s a Western States 100 qualifier!). It was still a fun adventure.