Thursday, August 27, 2015


Bigfoot 200+ miles by far the hardest race to date for me.  A race with constant change of scenery and surprises.  Perfect photographer paradise.  A race to remember and live with me forever.  I have seen Volcano’s before and driven around them but it was my First time running in the area’s affected by the volcanic eruptions.  It was interesting to see it close and its effect on the surrounding nature.  Someone said why do they call her St. Helen  if it caused the devastation and taken lives.  She must have been super pissed off of something.   

Leading up to the race I had doubt about my performance and was nervous going into the race.  I was super under trained for the distance.  I had set a goal for myself to finish sometimes on Sunday and only I knew it but no one else.  I have an expectation of myself to do my best in whatever I do.  I am not obsessed with winning at all and I am beyond that and passionate about it.   Winning a race is just an icing on the accomplishing of your commitment and what you set out to do.  running to me is a passion and I want to keep it alive.  Doesn't matter of placing as long as I am performing to the best of my ability that day I am a winner.  I used to preach this to the kids I coached soccer.  you can only expect higher if you put in the time, energy and the effort to raise your level higher.  until then you only compete with yourself and compare the success to your input.   You can not raise the expectation bar even if you get lucky at times.  Is a fine line to emotional roller coaster.

I am a visual person, writing is not my forte and the least favorite thing to do however I like to write  notes about my adventure.  I hope you find it interesting, you may relate yourself  to them and you might even use them for your own adventure and avoid the errors I made.   If for god forbidden you learn something from it and work for you please pass it on, don't keep it to yourself.

As we were nearing the race I wasn’t also sure if I would race.   One of my best friends (aka brother Farhad) health who had been fighting terminal cancer for 3 years was rapidly deteriorating and I wasn’t sure if the sad day would come to the race week.   I opted to DNS the race and instead do BG120 sometimes in October if that was the case.  

With that I was still training short runs and making from 20-50 miles a week.  Very little running in the last 3 weeks, mostly spend my free time with family, in sauna and swimming which hadn’t done much in 15 months.   With sauna I wanted to make sure my body could handle the heat and with swim to stress my lungs a bit for the constant elevations. 
On Late July 26 sadly my brother Farhad lost his battle with the killer cancer and left this world.   His loss has left a big hole in our lives.  No denial my world won’t be the same without him.   I see him and thinking of him all the time.  If I pass by a tennis court I want to call him to play.  He was super passionate about Tennis and in general about anything he did.   He was eager about teaching others anything he learned new.  If you needed help he would immediately reach out to you and extended a hand and as usual he wanted to make sure you were happy and smile, your conversation wouldn’t have gone without him cracking a joke there. 

 A brother who thought me to fight to the last breathe.  A man whom his gift, mission and purpose in life was to make others smile and laugh to ease their pain or day.  Never a dull moment being around him.  A down to earth person with respect to all creature until they crossed the line.  He could barely tolerate anyone crossing the line.  

With 10 days to the race I decided to race and honor him and dedicate my race to him.  If he could fight the killer disease and extended the 6 month life to 3 years it was my duty to honor his legacy to fight to the last breathe like him.  With the certainty now it was a matter of time to get my gears ready and prepare my drop bags.   As we are getting closer to the race day, RD is sending more updates about the aid stations and drop bags.  Getting more nervous about the drop bags and constantly changing the content, adding more shoes and socks to ensure foot stay dry and blister free.  


Then i am thinking: forget about packing wait until all the updates come in and then start, don’t be stressed about it.  Then few hours later while trying to mediate and breath I remember more of what if and new items come in mind that could go into the drop bags.

Couple of nights before the race I get a call from my mother.  Son how are you feeling about your race.  I don’t know I am super nervous, is the first race beyond control.  Son when you sign up for the race you trusted your ability and you knew you could do it.  We human we know our ability and when we commit we do it.  No more fussing just go and do it.  Son how well you think you will do?  my main goal is to finish, survive and come home alive.  No son I know you can do better.  Thanks Mom for the added pressure.   

For this race I had decided to bring my family along and hopefully I could benefit from their presence during the race and plus they could enjoy the Ever Green State of Washington I always do well when I see my family during the course not necessarily for the crewing but my connection to the sources that keep me alive , encourages me do better and thrive.   

So we left Vancouver around 10 AM Wednesday morning and within an hour we are at the border.   Usually due to my birth place (Iran) we are given a special attention when crossing the border.  Painfully love that attention.  

 Customs officer, what is the purpose of the trip.  Racing.  Foot, Car, bike, boat?  Foot racing, how far?
200+ miles in the mountain.  Where is the place? Randle Washington, Say that again..  Randle, hum never heard of it.  Do you really run that far? Yes good luck then.  Would you be crossing the border again? Not guaranteed.      Have a nice day sir and good luck!   Wow the whole thing didn’t last more than a couple of minutes, fastest ever I crossed the border.  He figured if he didn’t make me suffer the race would.

Off we go to Randle.  Before leaving town a friend recommended us Gas saver location which is Costco, exit 229.  Now we are trying to find the spot for gas and may be grocery shopping at Costco before heading out to Randle.  Sure the gas was really cheap and plus we did most of the shopping at the Costco, did I say that in “Bulk” before heading to Randle.
Everything was going smooth until we got closer to Seattle.  Bumper to bumper traffic jam, constantly changing the lanes and of course trying to be in the right lane.  Then we decided to just take the number 5 all the way to HWY 12.

Cut the chase short finally about 7 PM we reached the HWY 12.  A short drive about 5 minutes, the word “love” strike me in the head.  I love this place, wow.  I love the country area and really felt home.  The excitement grow bigger as we were getting closer to Randle itself.  Now I am thinking, is the big bang waiting for us at the finish or there is even bigger surprise waiting for us at the Start.   I was excited and eager to see what the rest of the race is holding/hiding from us.  

The next morning I finished all my drop bags based on the recent race update then head out for the briefing/medical check.  During the briefing we found out a couple of more creek crossing and one in between the Blue Lake and the Windy pass.  I had already brought another pair of shoes and sock so I added them to the drop bag for the Johnson Ridge.  Then I am asking from the people I know and have been traveling to the aid stations on the condition of the roads and their feedback is making me more nervous about putting my family at risks.   
I was impressed with all the familiar faces from Tahoe at the race briefing.   Yes it was our Tahoe reunion.   
Interesting to see so many people who enjoy and have the same passion as yours. 

After the briefing I went to motel for more packing.  The stuff I was relying on my family now distributed to the drop bags and I am on the way to drop them off.  Who is going to bring me salty olives, rice and pickles, and fatty smoke meat sandwiches.  Now i can only rely on the aid stations and hope for the best.

While i get back to to high school i see my buddy Kerry who had just arrived in town and hadn’t pack his drop bag yet and only has about an hour before the trucks take them to designated area .  So we go to the parking lot and he brings out 9 bags and I am like a tape recorder, rewinding all the information Candice/Richard and Garrett has given us in the briefing.  Meanwhile Koichi join us at the parking lot.   

Who would forget Koichi, he finish Tahoe 4 seconds ahead of cut off time and I had the pleasure of being part of his last 2-3 mile Journey in Tahoe.

After all the packing is done and submitted the drop, Kerry and I go to the place we stayed at Tall Timber Motel and we decided to go for Pizza for dinner.   At the restaurant Kerry asked for milk shake, they were out of it but they suggested a popular place for the locals a mile or so down the road.  So we drove up there but they were close.  No luck for us before the race.  I was interested to find out how good was the place so I went there after the race, shake was good but it was a bit sweeter than just the fructose itself so I give it 3 out of 5.  I only had one large and one small strawberry, is that too much?

Just shortly after 10 PM we hit the pillow but that night my bladder had decided to dance with me all night, a couple of bathroom breaks finally I fell asleep at 12 and woke up at 2 and couldn't sleep any more.  Motel is close to the road and was noisy with all the trucks traveling on HWY 12.  It was hot and I had no intention of turning aid conditioning on to cease all my muscles.

Just lay in the bed until 4:40.  At 5 Kerry wake up, we had a few light things we could find in the kitchen and by 5:25 we were out of the door to drive to the high school for drive down to the finish.  Bus was waiting for us, lady driver very upbeat, pleasant and polite.   Bus started to fill up quickly and at 5:50 Richard Kresser had a few word of encouragement for us and blessed the bus to head out to start. 

Interesting to see Richard how much his beard grown since Tahoe to Bigfoot and looking forward to sweep his beard in the next race.

We chatted a bit in the bus and I am one of those people can’t sleep in the bus and the views made even impossible.   About an hour to the end of the bus trip A courage’s girl came forward, she could no longer hold it and her bladder was about to explode.  Now us in the front and bus driver hunting for the right spot and Sam Landry looking at the map trying to find the perfect spot.  Finally bus driver stop at the rest area Sam had found on the map and immediately bus was empty.  Everyone is eager to shower the dried land with their acidic rain.  Great time to stretch the legs too.

About 8:25 we reached the Marble MT camp ground where Mr. Bigfoot was waiting for us.  Everyone now trying to get some breakfast and line up for the portable potty and taking picture with the Bigfoot, group picture.   

Thanks to Kerry Ward

Adrenalin rush, excitement, nerves started to kick in.  Getting instruction from Candice how to turn on the bloody SPOT and not getting DQ for the malfunctioning device.   

Thanks to who ever took this one :)

Big Group race picture and started the countdown 9, 8, 7…..  Off we go.   

My plan was starting slow, which I did but soon behind the pack and stuck in very little leg movement I  decided conservatively pick up the pace and we see the lead folks in the distance.  My buddy Kerry is having his camera rolling and chatting with runners and we bump in to Julio from Mexico who had finished 3rd in the recent Colorado 200.    

Passed a few more runners and soon see about 5+ in the lead and the pace still not where I really like to stretch my legs.   Kerry and I before the race talked about running together for sometimes even passed the first aid station.  However about 20 minutes into the run it was obvious that it wasn’t the pace I was comfortable with and I decided to pick up the pace and was getting closer to the lead guys.  A glance from far I see Gia.  we are constantly moving in and out of the tree's to dusty, rocky trails.  Had a peek behind me and I could see Kerry, so I shouted to him that I am going with the wolf pack and will pick up the pace to catch up to the lead guys.

Thanks to Candice for reusing the Tahoe signs for this course.  Or were those really the sign and direction to Tahoe200.  I followed them all and ended in Bigfoot.

We are out of the rocky section back into the forest, single track, and dusty trail.  I in the back consuming all the dust decided to stay a bit back but then it hit me what if this trail will go on for sometimes.  I decided to catch up and move my way to the lead to prevent consuming the dust.   Dust affected my race during the Tahoe and even after the race for weeks.  

Thanks to Ross Comer for the capture
Thanks of Ross Comer for the Capture

Finally I moved to the 3rd place.  As we moved further up in the elevation, view got better and less dust.  Lead guy/girl seemed to really enjoy themselves, I don’t recall these guys ever walked on the up hills.  Soon Gia was kind enough to give me the way and I was in the 2nd spot and not far after we got to the real rocky/boulder section.   

Thanks to Howie Sten for the Capture
Reminded me of Black mountain boulder and these Rocks were mix of brown, black and some dark grayish.  I was really enjoying myself dancing from rock to rock and sometime pay full attention to the trail and at times was hard to navigate through the rocks finding the trail and stay injury free not colliding to the rocks.  I closed the gap on the lead runner.    I don't remember seeing him walk to that point not even on the big boulders.  We started introducing ourselves,  chat and of course finding our way in the massive boulder field.

A few minutes of running and chatting with Gena then I decided on taking the lead.   Trail now turn into really dusty single track and some places hard pack in the heat zone.

I had a good strides, comfortable and I was feeling home.   felt like running in Fat Dog120   I was hoping the rest of the race would be same which later I discovered not.

less trail markers now as the wooden posts were supposed to give us the clue where the trail headed.  Winding through the trail and could see the sharp needle in the distance, yes it was MT hood. 

Thanks to Jim Dees for the capture

The trail turn into downhill switchbacks with a couple of small streams, cool and refreshing water.   I wet my hat and wash my face then on to single track dusty all the way to the aid station.  Before the race I was calculating the times to and between aid stations and for the first one I said 3.5 based on 5 hrs. Candice had accommodated for the cut off time but I was surprised hitting the first photographers about 2 hours which weren’t expecting I guess.   

Then ran into Jerry.  Couple of pictures and I was in the out and back to aid stations part.  2:13 reached the aid station. I was surprised and never felt I was taxing my buddy at all, “just felt like running”.   I chat with the folks at the aid station and thank them for being there for us and also thank the folks for the fantastic Job with the flagging.   A turkey wrap, felt like a bite size sandwich, maybe I was too hungry or just tasted good.  Grabbed some gels, banana and some coke, while chugging down the coke 5 minutes later I see Gena (aka Ukrainian machine) arrived.  He went straight to his crew. 

My belly was fed and time for me to do some real work.   So I left the aid station and soon another runner from the earlier lead pack behind me I think it was Wes and Gena behind him.   Trail is now winding through the trees, small rocks and dusty at times which was leading to a little turquoise water pond, wasn’t sure where to go, quick pause, look around saw flagging to the left which meat crossing the logs over a mall creek.  Passed the logs into single track trail, my kind of hills.  Gradual steep and forever long and then some section good grade downhill were you could cruise without breaking.  Felt like running on a carpet in the covered forest, nice and cool with the breeze.

I didn’t have GPS nor a Gamin watch with me this time for couple of reasons, one not a single watch could track all the activity and maintain the battery life for the entire course.  Secondly I was hoping to run with the feel which I hardly do.  Again just remember “just felt like running”.   As we left the covered area, I felt the pinch behind my left knee, is it a bee, wasp, no clue.  Immediately tried take a look but I couldn’t see anything and had no desire to strain my neck.  I touched it and it was alright.  Your lucky day has just started.

Back into the covered and switchback area and soon reached to a junction.  The flagging were down/missing, the arrow was already turn to the direction I came from.  This can’t be right, did I miss a turn further up, I am sure I have been following all the flagging right, did I miss a loop.  Little back track assured me i have been following the flagging right but what if someone messing up with the flagging.    At this point I wasn’t sure to go up or down.  I started to walk down while pulling out my phone to check if I was on the right course or I had missed a turn.   Turned on the phone, and wait for the Galileo to load.  It Turn out my decision was good and I was heading in the right direction.    

Meanwhile I am clipping back the downed ribbon onto the branches.  Should I go back and correct that arrow I am already gone far.  I figured if I could navigate my way through they shouldn’t be far behind me and they could figure it out and plus now they should be seeing the flagging much better than mine since I fix some.

Thanks to Jim Dees for the capture

Soon I am at the Canyon, the rope down, the creek and rope up section.  Quick glance at the creek, it wasn’t too wide nor deep but had a good flow.  We were told the creek would be up to the knees but by the look of it someone must have sucked that water out.   Located the rope down, then I remembered Killian downhill running, who needs a rope.  Small hops there I was at the creek.  I looked up, seeing lots of trees. And seeing how high I had to go then think about the next drop bag location to Johnston Ridge about 18 miles if the distance is correct which very slim.   This going to be a long squishy blistery run.  How can I keep these shoes dry.  I started debating whether to cross the creek on foot or find a spot and dance through the rocks.  Not many safe place I could see to dance, I found a narrower spot and decided to try my lung jump skills.  Step 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 back.  Ready, set, here I come Mr. Karl Lewis.  I was on the other side and dry.  I soaked my hat and headed for the rope up.  

Shortly after I was at the top and in the covered area with the trail winding around the trees.  Quick sharp climbs in the covered area didn’t last long and it was starting to get really hot.  OK buddy just remember you need to control the heat, if you sweat too much, slow the pace, exertion but steady and motion forward.   Soon I came to area that mostly covered with the dust appeared to be Ashes from the eruption, soft sinking dirt switchback.  Dead air zone, no air circulation at all.   For a moment I thought I was in the sauna.  hopefully the last 3 weeks sauna visit pay off here.  Soft ashes felt like running on the beach. 

A couple of minutes into the section, came close to beautiful view on the back side of the Mt. St. Helen so I decided to take some photo’s when I saw Gena and the another runner behind him, they were closing the gap quickly.  After the dirt section we were in complete exposed area not a single tall tree to provide some shade for a very long time.   It felt like running in Sahara with the stunning views for miles and in desolation.    

Mt. St. Helen on one side with the water falls and the creeks, Spirit Lake on another side, and further mountains in the distance.  The further we go view is getting better and hotter.    

Taking picture was a great excuse to slow the effects of the heat and control the breathing.   The air was drier and hotter than my liking and occasional coughing because of my asthma.  OK buddy breath slow and managed.  Thankfully the area wasn’t dusty and packed hard so I didn’t have to breath the dust. 

Further I went the air starting to get heavier and I was still striding well and really whole heartily enjoying myself out there.  Rolling hills and sometimes you could see the trail miles ahead.  Good thing I knew where I was heading but where the heck is the aid station I need some water, can you hear me.  Keep touching my face and arm if I am sweating too much.  Good thing about the exposed area is that sometimes you could get lucky with cool breeze and also this section has some small pockets of really over grown bushes,  My little height to the bushes was like human to Titans.  And of course where do you find the trail, nowhere other than pushing the bushes away and find the path in the middle.  Sometimes I just wanted to sit down beneath the big bushes and take refuge from the heat.

I was short of water and desperate to see an aid stations.  Someone must have been listening to my prayers or should I say the desperate voice.   A few small trees and you can hear the running water in the middle of nowhere.  A small oasis in the middle of the Hell.    

Thanks to Jim Dees for the capture

Took out my water bottle, drop a pill in and started to fill in, then took my lifestraw out started drinking the water like there is no tomorrow.  For a moment I felt like a sheep being on the heat for hours and crazy thirsty that can’t separate him/her from the water.


While enjoying my water and talking to the hikers filtering their water,  Ukrainian machine just passed me.   Alright game is on.  Not too long after with fresh water in my disposal I was able to speed up a bit and caught up to Gena.   We run and chat about our lives, hubbies and interest and passion, previous adventures.  My work was caught out for me.  Half-miler and mountain climber, has the legs to sprint, and altitude was no factor for him and he had recently paced someone at Hardrock for the last 40 miles.   We were now running in the rocky, sandy, sinking dirt section and hard to see the trail direction and constantly had to look around to find the path.  Sometimes it wasn’t hard to guess the trail, if you see a hill and steep, that’s where we heading.  I have come to learn this in Fat Dog and Candice’s Tahoe 200.

Gena was leading the part, but then back to section with my favorite hills.  Gradual and runnable and he was slowing down and not sure if he was short of water but I offered him some of mine which I hadn’t touched yet,  He said he was OK.  He asked me if I wanted to lead and I graciously accepted it and knowing that we were close to aid station and which I was going to waste sometimes there I pushed a pace a bit, again “just felt like running”.  I was overly conscious of not taxing my body, I had at least another 175 miles more to go.  Not long after I see the third runner is running toward me.  Interesting, he told me that he had taken the wrong route and at the aid station they told him to go back to the last known good spot.

I was getting closer to the aid station then I see another 5 runners debating what to do in a space down seemed like a parking lot in the middle of nowhere.   They must have gone off the course too.   

Soon I see someone standing with the camera on the high point and without any planning I naturally I decided to try my kick and thankfully it was caught in the camera. 

Thanks to Ross Comer for the capture

Shortly after I am at the Windy Pass aid station. Filled up a bit of water as I knew the next aid is not far, grab some wrap, a couple of gels and coke and I was ready to head out when Gena arrived.   Cheer him on as he is approaching.  I must thank the folks at the aid station as they carried all the supplies hiking to the point.  You guys rock!

Nice gentle downhill switchback then flattish trail that run close to the lake.  The creeks were so refreshing in the heat of the day, constantly wash my face and soak up the hat and fill up my handheld and drink as much as I can.   

Once I got closer to the lake the hills started.  Trail is now super dusty and soft and sometimes loose rocks in the trees.  Run into more and more tourist, so I must be close to the Johnson Ridge I remember Candice saying the area is very popular and touristy.  Then trail wind around the ridge to of course the Johnston Ridge as the observatory was visible from afar.   

A quick glance to my left the view was absolutely stunning.  Now I could clearly see the real “Gas” where before gas and cloud about the same level and hard to differentiate.  Majestic MT St. Helen, took the camera out and a few more photos (I felt like a tourist too) then follow the ridge then I see a lady running toward me, are you with the Bigfoot.  I am not with the Bigfoot but running Bigfoot.  Soon I was hunted by Mr. Howie Stern

Thanks to Howie Stern for the capture

Followed the flagging to the aid stations.    Refill my bladder, tortilla wraps, banana, lots of water melon and lemonade, few gels and coke, avocado.  Spent about 15 minutes at the aid station and left.  Soon I realized something is wrong.  Wait a minute, wait a minute you forgot something, hum my hands are free yes I forgot my handheld.   

Ran back and I see Gena has arrived there.  Pick up the bottle and carry on through another beautiful runnable section.  Nice to extend the stride a bit.  Almost like running at the mountain top.  I see an arrow pointing to the left.  I follow, this can’t be right, this is all soft dirt and doesn’t look like a trail.  Then I am back tracking and I see another sign further ahead along the road.  Soon back into the trail.    On the left Mt. St. Helen, down is the canyon, on to the right Cold water Lake.  Trail turn into a switchback, some sharp downhill’s and some gentle and trail was getting narrow sometime just about a foot wide, next to it is straight down and no slope.  Luckily not every part of the trail were cliffs.  I have a height phobia and one main reason I picked up trail/mountain running to overcome my fear.  I don’t wet myself but definitely run scared.  Sometimes that get me quick through the scary section which isn’t bad.  

Air was still hot and this section 90% exposed, some occasional breeze and dead air zone in the lower sections.  Trail winds down to the canyon and through some small meadow but some small greened water pond.  I still haven’t figure out what mineral causes the water to turn so bright green.  one thing for sure the ponds were filled with algae.  I had seen bright green pond between windy pass and Johnston Ridge.

The trail came out to the day rest parking lot and then on to the HWY, left on the road, gentle uphill and then downhill to the aid station.    As I was getting close to the aid station, someone calling my name and there he was Mr. Willie McBride.  Hum he was signed up to the race but he decided to run an aid station instead.  Thanks Willie!

Between Blue Lake and windy pass I lost my right shoe gator and the shoe was constantly getting filled with debris.  So I decided to change the shoe from my beloved Saucony to the New Balance.  New shoes which I had broken them down in a few short run and also at BCMC and I was comfortable with them going into the race.  But I have a feeling the shoe may have some contribution to my severe IT band issue.  I started to feel my IT band on the first climb to the Blue Lake not long after starting the race because of the grades on the hill but it got better as I was running and striding.  

Had some pizza and some coke, water melon.  Thanks Willie and to Shadia Nagati, she helped me in both Johnston Ridge and Coldwater Lake aid station filling in my bladder and handheld, packing and unpacking my drop bags.  She was awesome.  When it came to changing the shoe, I remember saying it loud I wish my wife was here.  Gena arrived after about 15 minutes to the aid station and left at least 5 minutes ahead of me.  I remember his crew Roman had his stuff lined up in order on the top of the trunk and the roof of the car.   Roman is the most committed crewman I have ever came across in my life and very pleasant person.  
I Prepared my 2 headlamp, handheld, extra batteries for the night run, tested fine.   Double check my pack to ensure I had clothing for the cold night/early morning.  I remember chatting with Jim Ball before the race he mentioned the mountain here gets really cold between 3 and 6 AM.

Off I go to the next aid station.  Trail now run on the north along side of the lake.  Beautiful, soft groomed undulating trail until the bridge on the other side of the lake.  I remember saying to myself, run your own race and your comfort.  It is a long race, forget about what others do, run your own race.  In about 10 minutes into the run I started feel nausea and light headaches.  Is it may be the heatstroke.

I don’t remember over heating at all and in fact all day I was controlling my body heat.  I was getting in and out of this state for a while.  I was feeling good then I was feeling crap.   I thought maybe I was low on sugar for the light headache and dizziness so I decided to take a gel.  As soon as pulled the gel out and my eyes connected to the gel I was about to throw up.  

This is going to be a long hall.  That is OK bud, keeping moving forward, it is ultra, these motion, emotions don’t last long you will be in and out of it pretty quick.  It is a long race, breath and motion forward.  Not long after in the straight section of the trail I see Gena but he didn’t seem to be himself either, occasionally moving lateral.   Was it my vision/dizziness or was it him but one thing for sure I was closing on the gap.  Soon we are running together and he is telling me he is not feeling well.  I am not feeling well either.  we both soldiering forward, chatting.  Talk definitely helped a lot copping with the problem.  He was talking to me about his multi day adventure in John Muir trail and I was eager to listen.   Again I am going into the phase of feeling crap and out more often now and as we were getting close to the bridge at the other end of the lake I was starting to sweat more.  Is it my body or no air circulation?  So decided to dial back and let Gena go and deal with my crisis at that point.  I remember in the briefing hearing about the water source before the bridge and super long climbs after to the aid stations.   I had enough water and didn’t bother and soldiering on.  Shortly after the bridge, I stopped took out my headlamp, ready my handheld if I needed and with my poles I was ready to tackle the climb.  Trail is now covered with really thick over grown bush and constantly have to push them away find trail and the footings.  Steep hills and not much range of motion.  My IT band started to hurt badly. 
Motion forward, there is Gena again.  He is not shaky any more, is it my vision again.  I took the lead and continue marching forward and every time I see a runnable section I am running, extending my strides purposely to deal with the pain of my IT band.   Never ending hills but trail single track nice and fairly wide for single track.  Cool with the breeze.  That meant the night was just around the corner.  Some short runnable switchback then came to a rocky section.  Trail starting to narrow with nice grade still runnable and I am cruising through there.  Then on a ridge to another hill then around another ridge and on and on and some section really the trail less than foot wide.  The cliff started to appear and the of course the darkness.   

My goal before the race was to run as much as were comfortable for my body and slow down at night.  With the stomach issue and my IT band pain, I was super happy with the mileage I had during the day.  Turn on the headlamp to see the trail but wasn’t fully dark to see the reflective in the distance and of course constantly going around the mountains made it harder to tell where the trail headed.

Slowdown the pace to survive the trail and not fall and constantly watch the roots in the way.   Never ending around mountain trip and as soon as I see a safe spot turn off the headlamp and enjoy the view and moving objects in far distance.   I counted about 4 or 5 ridges that passed till I got to the out and back section of the Margaret Peak the highest point in the race.   

OK going up the steep hill but unbearable coming down, I was feeling the sharp pain on my left IT band as if someone was drilling a needle in my knee.   My first negative thought “Candice why would you do this, who would do this, which view, this is dark.  I remember her saying is better to do this during the day.  Hum I was ahead of the schedule.  Turn off the headlamp barely could see anything.  Decided to march on and going around the mountain continue and then into switchbacks.  Still hard to see the direction in the windy and over grown trails.   Pretty high up the mountain but absolutely in the middle of nowhere, not a single light is around, dark, the only think can see is dark branches not far away and if looked up I could  see the stars.  
Loneliness in the trail.  Go around another couple of ridges, now I see the lights, moving cars below the mountain.  Is that the aid station?  Meanwhile I had no food passed the Coldwater Lake aid stations, only source of the energy was the Succeed Amino acid powder I had mixed in my water and the Scap electrolyte.  

Thanks to Jim Dees for the capture

Trying to manage my pace as I feel the effects of the low energy.   Trying to keep the spirit up, talking to encouraging myself and occasionally cursing where the heck and at times heck turn into f**K is the aid station.   It should have been around the corner.  I know my pace this isn’t just a +5000 elevation gain nor is 18+ miles.    I know my up hills pace was at least 3 miles per hour.  This is a lot longer than I had hoped for.  You get there whenever you get there, breath and motion forward, solider on.  Switchback, switchback, whispering and starting the sing switchback/switchback in my loneliness world.  Then sharp downs, oh no I got to stand straight, this IT band is killing me.

Finally I arrive at the Norway Pass aid station, closer to aid station I hear some voices, yes there is Alicia.  And a couple of girls guiding me to the aid stations.  Is Dark, I see nothing.  Where the heck is aid station?  I am hungry, low on energy and desperately asking where is the food.  What do you need, noodle soup would be fine, ham sandwich is good, oh yes Avocado would be nice, yes I take Coke, Alicia is filling my bladder.  Meanwhile Nick starting to ask me if I want to sleep now and when I am planning to sleep.  I know I am low on energy but not desperate to sleep yet and I want to build as much miles possible on the first 24 hours.   Quick thinking about Tahoe I really didn’t feel sleeping until the later in the second day and my response to Nick is tomorrow at this time.  Both Alicia and Nick smile.  Obviously they saw something that I didn’t feel myself.  I tried to eat as much real food that my uncooperative belly could handle and I was out.    I am now thinking the first thing I am going to have at the future aid stations are ginger ale and pickles if and when available until my stomach feels alright.  Ginger ale has worked for me in the past.

A few minutes after I left the aid station I could hear the loud cheering so that must have been the Ukrainian machine.   The real food hasn’t digested and I am still low on energy but determined one foot in front of the either, the march is on.   Now I am starting to feel sleepy.  Is it my head lamp, not bright enough, so I decide to take out the handheld and brighter now but I still feel sleepy?   All of sudden I am starting to analyze my own judgment and negative thoughts starting to creep in.   I remember saying loud to myself.  Snap out of it, you heard it to the next aid station is only 10 miles.  You can handle.  But my IT band pain is not ease up and touching I feel the difference from one side to the other.  It is a bit swollen.   
Continue marching on and hoping the bloody metabolism starting to kick in so I get some fuel that I could pick up the pace.    Pain is not easing up and stubbornly trying to avoid taking any pain killer.  Side effects of the pain killer slows down my body absorbing the sodium which later in the race lead to cramping.   

Thankfully up to that point my muscles were all feeling good, never noted puffiness on my hand or my ankles and consciously taking less electrolyte than previous races.  In a short time I went from sleepiness to zombie state.  Wholly crap what is happening to me.  Just remember, motion forward.   The trail is hard to navigate now with the logs down, hop and sometimes go around the taller logs or step on them..

Didn’t see this coming I am literally walking the down hills.   I thought downhill’s meant running fast.  I felt my knee was stuck in bend position and was so desperate to be able to rotate the knee.  Worse yet to come.  I hit what it appeared to be dried branch however the branch shook and hit me on inside knee, same knee is been giving me trouble most of the day.  Over a week after the race I am still feeling the very sharp pain on the inside knee when I touch the bone.  Screaming and swearing loud.  Take a few deep breath.   The bone is hurting badly now and then I am laughing may be I needed this to balance the pain, outside and now inside.   I am tired, in pain, and desperate to get to the aid station to elevate my knee.  This section had quite a bit of logs down and I remember Richard at the briefing saying keep the spirits up.

A little more than 3 hours I am at Elk Pass the aid station.  I am sleepy.  No appetite for any food not even real food.  I am exhausted, barely keeping my eyes open and I am cold.
So I decided to have a nap.  Generator running by the tent no way in hell I could sleep I barely can sleep people talking around me.  So I decided I will lay down with the legs up to reduce the swelling and hope for the best may be it also improve my moral and mood.   I feel still calm but not happy with what is going on.  

No worries buddy, it is long race, hanging in there.  Don’t lose your passion.   You need to finish this.  What would you tell your mom, really scared?   Son I know you can I brought you to this world.  What would you tell your friend?   You promised to finish the race and honor him.    My whole world is now funneled in a narrow pathway of Fear of letting down others but more importantly myself.  

I could hear the first runner coming to the aid station, a bit later another and another.  I was determine to get better but the noise from generator was super annoying.  No point of not getting sleep and irritate myself with the unpleasant noise.  I couldn’t get the thoughts of fear out of my mind I needed to get out of there.
I got up, put on my warm clothes, spare batteries for the headlamp and handheld.  Pain is not easing up so I caved in and took one Tylenol.   My belly was feeling better but still couldn’t look at the gels or bars.  I wanted to throw up.  The man at the aid station ask if I wanted pasta with red sauce, yes please, had some broth and drank some coke.  A few slices of oranges, ginger ale.   The man at the aid stations was super kind he guided me to the trail and I was in my way.    How dare you didn’t ask the man’s name?

I am now in 4th place.   I knew the 3rd person wasn’t long ahead of me as I had seen him leave just a few minutes earlier than me. 
Start of the trail pretty much runnable but say the least favorite, the biker’s trails.   Trail seemed like driving on a gravel road with potholes.   Up and down and almost losing the footing, dip in and up.  I am desperately looking for some runnable section.  As soon as I see the runnable I am moving. 

Not so long after I see a light in the distance and getting closer on the hills.    Soon I am running with the third person, introduced ourselves, Gavin, Hassan.  I am happy now at least I talk to another sole and plus keeping up with him motivates me to move forward.  The pill is working, I am barely feeling the pain on the ups.  Downs are still painful.  We get to know each other, talk about races, families, background, and little bit of politics.  Gavin is calm and super upbeat, I don’t remember him to complain about anything.    Like Gena he also talk to me about his John Muir adventure.  I am now excited to find out about the ordeal.  

The strength of the pill slowly fading away and my pain is worsening but still determined to march on.   I also feeling the lack of energy however surprised with my own ability to control the pace and still running well so long without an instant sugar in my system.    Is it the avocado’s I ate around 4 PM, are the wraps, sandwiches.  Is it the tank, mysterious storage I always talk about?   How empty is the tank.  
I am starting to plan ahead what I am going to eat.  Let’s hope that every aid station from now have burger.   

A  MacDonald burger I heard should give me about 600 Lb., I feel the aid‘s burger won’t be Mac and may be better meat lets say 400 Calorie.  Let’s hope they will have pickles. 
Let’s hope I could eat 2 of those, please please.   Please and a shake would be nice.  Now dividing all those calories to the hours I am going to spend between the aid stations.  Doesn’t matter the real food will burn a lot slower so have about the same every aid station?  

Snap out of it you full, live the moment, be present.    Enjoy the sunrise.   The view constantly changing as moving from one side of the mountain to another or moving from one ridge to the other.  I don’t know whether I was able to push or Gavin was kind enough to slow down.  It was the latter of both, I could feel at times he was slowing down for me as he would turn back to see where I was.   Soon we see Gena is sitting crunched down.  Gena are you OK?
Gavin is asking him if he is warm.  He respond he is OK, he has some stomach issue, resting and hoping it might go away.  He is warm.  You guys carry on.  We continue and not long after we see Gia is walking with her pacer.  We jog ahead through the switchbacks and not long after the trail turn into steeper down and Gavin disappear.  I can feel my knee more and more and decided to do my own thing and hope I find the flatter section ahead and may be pick up the pace.   I am also hungry and now dreaming of bacon, eggs.  No burger available for breakfast.  May be hash brown.  I can hear voices.  So aid station must be close.    

Flatter trail and now I am running but not seeing any aid station.  May be is the camp ground but I am not seeing anyone.  Soon I hear a louder voices, happy to be arriving at the Road 9237 aid station.    I am still ahead of my previous anticipated schedule.  I am not in the best state or mood but happy with my performance.  89 miles under 24 hours I take it any other day.

I see Gavin sitting on a chair and having his breakfast. 
I sit down.  They are offering me real food.  Chili, yes, eggs, yes, quesadillas, yes, do you have shake, yes great I have that too.  Here comes Brody.  Greeting, hey bud could you fill up my bladder with water and my handheld then he walks away.  Hear loud cheering, so this must be Gia, no it was Gena.  Wow he must gone to Hydrogen fuel.  A few minutes later Gia arrives. 
There is Brody again with pancakes with maple syrup.  Yummy yummy, I gobbled those instantly. 
Now counting what I ate like an elementary student’s finger counting the numbers and adding up the calories.   

 I am ready to go but the chair is so comfy, sit a bit longer.   Grab my pack and bottle and continue on.   Trail is flatter but I can barely move, encouraging myself you have this, you can do it, run a bit then slow down and walk and run again.  How about do a 10 minutes run, one minute walk.  First one is good, second one stop after 6 and pain on my knee is getting worse then all walk.  No, I am not taking any more pills.  Do you hear me?  Trail now turn into steep switchbacks and now walking down trying to keep my legs straight, thank goodness for the poles.  Soon after Gena pass me.    Is getting hot now and going uphill trying to soak my hat every possible creek but mostly dry.  Slow down the pace but keep it steady.  

And then I started to relate the objects to art.  That meant I am starting to hallucinate, wack my head, snap out of it, picking up the pace.     Then I come to a road and I see moving cars.  Aid station must be close, lots of flagging around.  Then I come to an open field I only see 2 cars, small and a Truck.  Couple of guys with the Axes.   Aid station or wilderness school?

Then I see further flagging to the left.  Assume this must be one of those out and back to aid station.     
Then trail is getting steeper and steeper.  Then I remember previous out and back was steep so this must be it.  Smiling that aid must be around the corner.  No the steep climb is not ending, trail is not really a trail is more like someone put a massive gauge in the land, very narrow footing and the edges not stable and I am already wobbly so I had to be careful.   Then into a downhill’s.  I swear I remember doing this trail, no you didn’t, oh yes I did.   Trail marking continue and now a little bit runnable section and I am picking up the pace.  I see a gallon of the water on the side of the trail.  What was that, I hope that wasn’t the aid station.   

Continue on I have water.  Not longer after I crossed another road to the Spencer Butte aid station.   I had a drop bag here, new shoes, change of clothes and lots bars which none were good any more for me.  Stomach is not better than before.  Familiar faces.  Rob, Casey and couple of girls had seen from the first aid station.  
What can we get you?   What do you have?  I could make you hash, eggs with spinach, yummy is like my lunch at home.  Pickles, ginger ale, coke.  Another hash.  How about rice, yes I would love that.  Waiting for the rice to be cooked.  Meanwhile changing the shoe, I was desperate to get rid of the new balance shoes.   My Saucony I love you I have been desperately thinking for while.  The fitting, the feeling was just right.  Changed my clothes.  Next I see Gia is at the aid.  She sat a bit there and she and her pacer took off.    I munch on the cooked rice, Casey's second hash then collected myself and I was out of the aid station.    

About 2 miles on the road, I am really enjoying this.  Normally I would hate a road in the trail racing but this race was the best part, only places that had the pleasure of striding.   Then back to the trail and soon I see Gia in the distance. 

You must be kidding me, really.  She left at least about 10 minutes ahead of me.  I know I was running the road but really that fast.  Then trail starting steep down.  Yuk yuk and desperate to get out of this area as soon as possible, knees is hurting more, on the outside is the IT band and on the inside is the bone.   I decided no more breaking let the gravity take me down.  I already had plenty of rest too and could afford a bit more suffering.  I was also told the section is fairly runnable. 

I took the advantage and run as much as I could.  Trail now is running along the river, some section narrow and some parts the cliff which freaks me out.  Lots and lots of switchback.   

The view is getting better and soon the trail running through the camp ground and running into lots of hikers, mountain bikers.  And sometimes cheering and encouraging words from the hikers.  Call out to hikers, to your left, to your right but give way to bikers I sure didn’t want to get hit by those guys.  

Thanks to Jim Dees for the capture

See the first waterfall and I am almost losing my footing, dude pay attention to the trail.  If you want to watch, stop.  That’s what I decided to do.  Finding my way through the windy trails and striding.  I was curious if I would see a fish in the water.  I slow down glance from the above like an eagle.  I didn’t see any so I continue on.  Water fall after water fall then trail is undulating and feeling the knee more.   

Coming to the Lewis River aid station I was in my low point.  Hungry, in a lot pain.  Thanks to the Volunteers they changed my mood.   A lady name Jennet I hope the spelling is correct, she was so kind, asking me what I wanted to do, I remember I wanted to rest.  Interesting enough the first and second runner were there resting.  Rest was a must for me.  I ate a burger, no actually drop it first.  Had some ginger ale to help with my belly and some trailmix.  Then I went to sleep.  One of those places I didn’t care I could or not I needed to rest to ease my knee pain and may be my belly would cooperate afterward.    I went to the sleep station but a family behind the tent was super loud.  Lady if you want to say something to your kids get off that lazy ass and keep your stuff private, no one else is interesting in your crap.  She sounded a voice amplified by hundreds.  I couldn’t sleep at all.  But determine to rest, close my eyes, and breath.  

Now all three guys in the tent bundled in their blankets.  Gavin left first then Gena, In the middle of that I just remember a few minutes that I don’t remember what happened and I assumed that I had some nap.  I woke up before Jennet coming to get me.  I sat on the chair again, ate another burger, some coke, trailmix courtesy of Jim (Gia’s pacer).   Jim also lends me his IT Band Brace.  Jennet asking me how I feel.  No improvement on my stomach still getting sick looking at the gels.   Then someone handed me a stick, what is this for, look up Pinata.  OK, I grabbed the stick, shook my butt a couple of times like baseball players.  I was happy to make people laugh.  I swung the stick, then I felt my heart drop.  No one is laughing any more.  The stick was long and hit the metal bar pinata was hanging off and broke into multiple pieces and flew in the direction of the people at the aid station.  OMG, what have I done.  Luckily and thankfully didn’t hit anyone.   Apologize and made sure everyone OK and leave the aid station.   

Not longer after in the trail a couple of youngster asking me did I have any candy, I told them what happen and we all started laughing.

Trail still along the river, air is nice and cooler.  Gentle Rolling hills and some runnable section, log obstacles in some area's then turn into uphill, which mean more pain on the IT band.  I was determine to march on with good pace, motion forward.     The steep climb and downs didn’t help, the restricted motion kept me further and further away from the leaders.   Unbelievable how many switchbacks are on this section.  Almost all the switchbacks alike and made me wonder am I moving forward or just going around the circle.  or am I hallucinating again.  Pace is slowing down even further, good march is now a dead march but determined to move one foot ahead and not stopping.   

The hopes of finishing Sunday is slowly fading away.  I am not happy with the pace.  Spirit shaken but not broken.  I keep encourage myself to not stop and the reasons why I am there in the first place. 

I am in running because I felt that was to help and remedy my asthma.   Then running turn into a passion.  The only things that I truly believed and could rely on was my passion and didn’t want to lose it.  I kept repeating this to myself over and over in the difficult times.   Then I am saying it loud to myself "if you want to hike do it faster".
Thank goodness for those burgers, this section was long and difficult.  However burgers burnt off about 3 hours.  Running almost 7 hours without food definitely surprised me and built more confidence in my ability to finish the race.  Longest I had run without food or drink was 3 hours before. 
What I have now is only water and Scaps.  I knew from that point on I could only do better.    I was getting sleepy again and cold.  At times I wanted to lay down on the trail but the fear of cold was forcing me to continue. 

As the time passed I wanted to make sure I conserve my energy and don’t push too hard.  I didn’t want to sweat either.  I was hiking and once again to dead marching. 
Finally almost after about 10 hours later I was at the Council Bluff aid station.  

 I asked if I could sleep/nap there, thankfully they had a cot that I could lay down.  Had a quesadillas, chili, water, shake and then went to nap. I was shivering even with the heater close to me.  I had my drop bag there, changed my headlamp and handheld batteries, grab some real food to go, some coke.  I was there longer than an hour.  Aid folks guide me to the trail and then there I go.   Within about 15 minutes I started feeling sleepy again, and now I didn’t care about the running just trying to find a comfy place in the tree’s to nap.  Sit on a log, lay down on a log. no comfortable at all.
Not many options out there, just sit down, lean on tree’s and minute later continue marching on.  This became my routine for a while until trail switched from a single track to a wide forestry road where I decided to run a bit but the uneven surface made it difficult, lots of potholes, and stride turn into survival.   Then trail into the very wide gravel road and on to pavement..  Darkness slowly fading, i see more light but stuck in the gravel/pavement.  Definitely at that time of the day I didn't want to be where I was.  I was hoping for a better view to see the sunrise however I was happy to pack the headlamp.  

 I thought the aid was by the road but still had a few miles more back into the trail.  I couldn’t wait for the aid station.     About 2 miles to go and I like this section, it was like road racing lots of distance markers, mile to go, ½ mile to go, and football field to go, promising signs.  Finally arrived at the Chain of Lakes aid station.   

Thanks to Howie Stern for the capture

Thanks to Jim Dees for the capture

In a few seconds I see another runner there, and another and then a couple more.   I had breakfast.  Bacon, eggs, hash, shake, coffee.   Then decided to have some sleep for 30 minutes.  It wasn’t much of really sleep but I remember having the short nap.  Until the aid person came to the tent, your time is up. 
Went back at the chair, ate a bit more, one more cup of coffee.  Pickup my pack and handheld and I was out.  

More distance sings on the other side of the trail as well.  I loved the sign, mile long, furlong, fore long, 300 football field, etc…  and then all of sudden 18 miles a bit later 26.x Kilometer…
This section had 4 creek crossing, and someone forgot to mention the biggest of them at the end.

Now I am in 4th position.  I would say half the section was runnable.   I was confident I could make some time here.  I picked up the pace and by my pace and the time spent there I felt i covered more distances than had the description indicated.  I swear someone must have made a mistake on the Kilometer and Mile that wasn’t 26.x K I would say was mile to go to the next aid station.  Lots of switchbacks, a few road crossing, through some camp ground, Sandy, soft sinking dirt.  I had blast running it until I hit the Horse camp/Klickitat trail.  Steep climbs not many switchbacks and went forever.  I heard the elevation gain of under 6000.  On the first climb felt like more than just that?   I was comparing the climb to BCMC trail in North Vancouver. 

This climb went on for more than 2 hours straight.  Once I was on the ridge, I figure  should be downhill then on to the aid station but no, go up another ridge and another ridge., 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, if I saw taller tree meant trail would ends there and if one after it end there and went until came out to rocky part.   The view worth all the pain. 

The view was amazingly stunning, pulled out the phone and took a few shot and headed back on the trail.
Exposed and windy trail.    

Soon I see Garrett cheering me on, he is almost covered in Ribbons and was flagging the course.  He is showing me where the trail is headed, which meant out and back the Elk Peak and he told that Gia should be at the top now.  So I was only a few minutes behind her.  As I was getting closer I see Gia is coming down with her pacer (Jim).  A few encouraging word for each other I was heading up.  I didn’t mind the Elk Peak, it was daylight, and the panoramic views were fantastic.   

Took a picture and back down and not long after I passed Gia on the steeper down hills.  I knew how painful those downhills were and I wanted them to be over soon. 

Then I was at the Klickitat aid station.  The aid station was so upbeat.  Richard and his mom were there, then I see Nick and did I say whole bunch of kind, selfless people too.   This wasn’t just about this aid station it was the whole race.   

Candice puts on a great show but at the core of it are the kind, generous and selfless, patient, knowledgeable volunteers that run the stations. 

They asked what I wanted, right away burger please.  Do you want so some soup, Scott brings me this soup so delicious, oh yeah we made it last night, thanks.  Then Richard mom called Sir, what you would like on it.  My response.  Please call me anything but Sir, thanks.  I was glad they had some laugh for this one and they didn’t shy to use it for further laugh.  Jim used it whenever he had the opportunity to make me laugh.  No more sir but now “a Guy”.  I drank a bit of ginger ale, ate my burger and decided to change my shoes and that’s when Nick came about examining my foot.  

 I didn’t have blisters, thanks to the multiple application of the sportsshield but I started to feel many tender sports not only at the bottom but at the back and sides of my feet.   It was a long time being in the same wet socks and the shoes from the last creek crossing, never expected to be so long.   I was joking with Richard he may have mouthful ears from the people.  Nick put some moleskin on couple of my toes on each foot.  It was tight with the socks on and I was anticipating this is going to hurt for a while.  I had another burger and was ready to head out.  Gia and her pacer had already left.   

Up to this point the only aid station I had gone in ahead and left earlier was the very first Aid station, Blue Lake, the rest I went in first and left last.  So now I am in the catch up mode.  With the rest at Klickitat I am now hoping for a runnable ground and to be able to make up sometime but it was just a wishful thinking, a little better than previous section but still not to my advantage, steep climbs, downs and now bushwhacking is also the name of the game.     

Not long in the trail I caught up to Gia and Sharon her pacer and stayed with them for a bit until I found runnable part then I went ahead.   This part were all in the trees, beautiful forest and constantly changing the direction.  Then trail went into the ridges from one peak to another.  Out in the open then back into the tree’s and sometimes straight cliff which made running uncomfortable.  had to constantly watch for the wasps, they were all over the ridges.  Extra caution for the footing to not trip over the roots or rocks to fall down.  I was feeling the low energy and slowing down and getting sleepy again. 

I got to a sign that cautioned us about the flagging and we needed to pay extra attention.   

Thanks to Rick Arikado for the capture

I am getting really sleepy and having hard time to stay alert.  Follow the flagging and at time stop and look back to make sure I am on track.  Starting the downhill and on a first curve I find a rock right at the edge of the trail, nice and flat rock.  Examine the rock is sturdy.   I am also trying to find where the trail goes, go to the left, look to the right I don’t see the trail nor any flagging around.  I am also now wanting to go back to the rock for a nap.  Downhill; should I lay up/down direction or across, what if someone would trip over.  Put my hat on top of the rock for my pillow sheet.  Lay down across with a bit of angle so they could go around me.   

As I am trying to close my eyes I hear voices, Gia and Sharon are looking for the trail.  I wait for them to come down and now Sharon is trying to locate the trail further down, she goes on the left, no luck then she try the right not sure.  I pulled out the phone and check the course we are in the right direction and follow the trail to the right and not long after we see more flagging.

Thanks to Sharon James for the capture

My energy level is super low now.  I can’t even think of Gels.  I never had these feeling before, the word Gel is almost making me want to puke.  Talking to Gia and Sharon, Gia says you want goldfish, I am asking her are you talking about the cracker, she says yes the cracker.  Thanks Gia, I grab a few cracker, then Sharon offers me some trail mix, M&M, nuts.  Worry about the sugar, what the heck is not Gel so you should be fine.   We carry on again through the ups and downs.  I am starting to relate objects again to the Arts.  Stop and looking at the objects, big branches, small, tall trees.  Oh no I am starting the hallucination again, smile, chuckle and carry on.  After a while the little calorie starting to kick in and a bit more life in me.  Pace is slower than my knee liking and desperate for the opportunity to run. 

The moleskin on the toes making running very discomforting so I came to a point I preferred to have blister than running in discomfort. 
I let Gia and Sharon go ahead and sat on a log to rid of the moleskin.  Shoes and socks are out and I am peeling the tape off with passion or should I say desperation.  I feel light, relieved and free.  Alright, I am running again, like born again.  I catch up to the girls and let them know if I find an opening to run I am going ahead if they didn’t mind.  So they let me lead and running short lived.  Trail is filled with logs down, it is starting to get dark, trail running now clearly 100% bushwhacking and finding the trail hard.  Not many flagging to be found and I don’t blame them, where do you put the ribbons or reflective.    

Bushes are tall and thick where you can’t see the dirt or ground anymore.  Huckleberries and blueberries are everywhere.  I am now munching on the blueberries to get a bit more calorie in my system.  It is getting dark and the march is on again.  Trail back into really tight ridges and scary with over grown bush.  Caution is the name of the game.  I am still surprised how I could get out of the places with not hurting myself more and only slight scratches from the bushes.    Man where the heck is this aid station, 6 hours, steeper climbs, then in the meadow, down hills.   8 hours passed, getting tired and really sleepy.  I am not thinking of food any more but want to sleep.  Finally I see the sign 2.5 miles to the aid station.   Excited about the aid station, no I mean sleep station.   I wanted to get there as soon as possible.  Back to the sharp downhill’s, and tight ridges.  Hello left knee you are screwed again.   This 5 miles run by far the scariest 5 miles I ran in my life.  

I am frustrated with this terrain and want to scream out loud but no one would hear me.  Moments later I am starting to retract and saying to myself oh is not that bad, it could be worse.  

You see running and in particular ultra longer distance is therapeutic.  One person with multiple personality.  There is a real tangible you (patient) and then there is logical you (therapist).  You are constantly flip/switching the roles.  Like Apple auto correction sometimes need additional support or second opinion.  
I remember hearing the flagging was down every ¼ mile and out of desperation I am starting to count the flagging.  What my world is coming to.

At least getting closer to the aid station I see a light, there is Jim telling me the aid station is just around the corner and then I am greeted by one of my favorite dogs on the course. 
Animals they have a different way of brightening your day, the essence of purity, the unconditional affection, and their attention 

Thank you to Jerri for the capture
I am now at the Twin Sisters aid station, tired, exhausted and hungry, Jerri is out there catching the real moment of me, no acting here, no filter or sensor, no conscious.  Everything is natural I am almost in my zombie state.  What do you like to have, I remember at an aid station someone asked me what do you like and my response was “honestly I like to see my daughter right now but I can’t”  I wasn’t sure if it was here or not.  

Thanks to Jerri for the capture

 We have Chili, quesadillas, I take them, and I take them.  Do you have protein shake, yes I take them, coke, coffee.  Next thing I see Mac & cheese as well.   I really want to sleep now.  How long, I go for 30 minutes and see.  I want to sleep but also don’t want to get off my chair, is so comfy.   Sleep deprivation is taking its toll.  I am barely keeping my eyes open and the pain is not easing up.      

OK I am off to tent I hear loud cheering.    

Thanks to Jerri for the capture
Thanks to Jerry for the capture

This noise is not letting me sleep but don’t remember any more, next thing I know someone beside me in the tent saying your time is up.  That was more than 30 minutes but I didn’t wake up on my own.  I want to sleep more but Craig says the guy ahead of me has gone long time ago if I need to catch up.    Get up and go back to aid for more food and drink, Grab some quesadilla for to go then cheer for Gia and off to go.

 I had the scary picture of the last 2.5 miles in my head and kind of knew where I can run, where I needed to break.  Where I needed to be extra cautious.  I am only thinking and dreaming of running.  Previous day all I hopped for some running.   Next thing I see the logs are all over this place.   Hop on lows, lie and roll or sit on my butt and roll on mediums and looking for steps for the taller one or find a roundabout or walk on the log with my scary balance.  Cursing is back on again.

I must say the marking was fantastic except the part of the Pompey out and back which I believe I did it twice as I wasn’t sure I was in the right direction.  Or was it part of my hallucination.  What I remember one was on foot up/down and the next one scared chicken kind down on my butt.  Came down the Pompey out and back.  I am getting really sleepy again.  I am telling myself how fortunate I was that I didn’t feel the same while I was at the peak.  Sit at the side of the trail, next think I know I am questioning where I am.  AM I going left or right?  Decided to change the battery on my headlamp and handheld.  At least I see better, may be the bright light could help to keep me up.  I know I am sleepy but I remember some of these spots so the trail is to the right, so follow the trail on the right and more and more……….  Tree’s down.    Thanks Candice for marking the course well.  

I am sleep walking and tripping on some tree roots on the ridge.  My anger is now way past beyond the frustration point.  In raging mode I snapped at the last tree root that I tripped on. 

Carry on to the next blow downs, and more.

IT band is flaring again and worse is the inside knee sharp pains.  Finally bushwhacking ends after a while I see moving cars and I hear the creek.  So the aid station must be close.  Smiling again but the smile soon fading away as I am seeing more and more reflective.   The trail is flat and with a bit of gentle downhill, all I remember the trail looked like a mossy carpet, like playing soccer on the turf.  I can run now.  May be the aid station is about a mile away, excited and like to keep the fast pace.
Nope no sign of the trail.  Disappointed again, maybe I should lay down a bit.  Sit down and all I see around ants and spiders.  I have no phobia and I am actually good with the bugs.  Believe it or not I talk to them.  Like human sometimes they listen and most of the times don’t.  However I have a fear of them getting into my ears.  So I got up and march on.  I am now no longer moving forward but lateral too.   Walk like a super drunk person, except I am not making noise, I am moving from one side of the wide trail to another side.  Just picture the movie thriller, damn I should have had Michael Jackson song with me for those moments.

Barely keeping my eyes open.   I am starting to get really worried the more I see cliffs.   I decided to stay closer to the inside of the trail away from the cliffs so i don't fall.  

In the distance i see a reflective,  Then I see the power lines across the trail,  then i see a crane hoisting a basket for Hydro folks to fix the wires.  The hydro folks are repairing the lines, are you serious, they are working  past 2 AM?  They must be getting paid triple for the after hours.  Soon I see the basket moving away across the trail, no wires, no crane.   Then i see a creek  that i need to cross.  yes it was part of my hallucination.

Next day with family we decide to go for a short drive around the Randle neighborhood, what I ran into is the Hydro crane!

Where the heck is this aid station,  then I lay down, next thing it hit me I need to catch to the 3rd person.  I am not standing straight any more.   My feet are super tender and hurting pretty bad.  Blisters nightmare, is it ?.  My feet need break from standing and the pressure on them

Moving from left to right and moving forward in search of the aid station.    

 I came to the Owen's Creek aid station.  
 I can barely standing straight, everything is blurry.  What can we get you?  How far is the third person, about 2 hours ahead of you.  I need to lie down.  They guide me to a blanket on the ground.  Next thing I remember, oh you woke up.  At the finish they are anxious to know where the heck you are.  Did I lose my SPOT, would I be DQ?  Check my pack and still attached and that was a relieve.  Jim sits next to me, what can I get you.  Let’s see what you have.  Eggs, bacon, how about oatmeal.  I will have them all.  How about a pickle, yes we do, I will have some.  Change my shirt to a singlet, the main reason I had stayed into the race.  On the Saucony singlet, is the picture of my brother Farhad, I am running for cancer fighters, him, Gloria and Pat.   

Unfortunately he is not here with us anymore.  Jim asks who the person on the Singlet is, I am trying to explain but I can barely say more than one word at a time and in tears. 
Jim I am so grateful for you being there and the other places during the race. 
Jim and I at the finish
Next I am taking the stuff out of my bag trying to make it light only to what makes sense.  I heard the last 13 miles is runnable.  I am desperate to run.  Extra battery is coming out, the guy at aid asks if he could have those batteries since I wasn't going to use it.  Sure go ahead, next think comes out of my mouth.  You can have everything in my bags but not my $30 bills.  I need that in case I stop for food at the gas station or at a restaurant.  Everyone is having a laugh and I am enjoying it.  

 I look at my watch.  Almost 6:30 AM, now starting to count the hours.  9 AM is going to be 3 days, I am now determine to go under 3 days.  I am a lot slower than Tahoe but I would be very happy in finishing under 3 days.   Change my shoe to a wider road shoe and I am out.   Since about the halfway into Elk Peak after all the river crossing I don’t have blisters but the bottom of my both feet are tender and painful as if blisters had popped.  Pain is manageable but no where close to my knee pain.  However the longer I am standing on the legs I feel more tender spots.

Early in the morning, daylight, is cool and smell the refreshing air is much nicer as i am getting closer to the finish line; I decided to take my gloves and arm warmers with me.  3 miles of gravel and 10 more pavement miles to go to the finish.  Pain is getting worse by every little rock I am landing on.  Ouch Ouch.  At times I am hopping not to land on sharper rocks.   Breath buddy breath, close my eyes for a few seconds, go into the denial zone and determine to finish under 3 days.  Pain is momentary, glory forever.  I find my comfortable stride, get into the rhythm, no knee pain and only the feet tenderness which super annoying.

I am getting closer to the road the view changes to mountains, river and farm land filled in with cows and stacked hays.   A lot better than just seeing the tree’s on both sides of the trail.  I don’t have to worry about the gravel any more.  Did I say I love country, farmlands and hills, yes I do and I am really enjoy this part?  I get some attentions from the cows.  A dog is barking in the distance behind me I have no clue who is the target.  Ignore and continue on.  Then all of sudden 2 dogs starting to charge me.  They run through the fence and literally few inches from my feet.   I remember Rick Arikado had mentioned this while back on the Bigfoot200 page on Facebook and Candice mentioned it during the briefing

Candice no way on hell I could ignore these dogs.  They were hungry, blood thirsty for the dead trail runner meat.  Back off guys go home, they stall and then run back through the fence, a second later come out in the front and charging again, oh boy what you do.  I am calm again, guys back off, go home.  This process is repeating over again, is like someone rewinding the tape.  What you do when someone doesn’t listen to the warning, you switch to offense.  I started chasing the dogs and there they go.  I am running in peace again and saying hello to my cow friends.    I see a Mile sign on the left.  

 Let’s hope there are more of them ahead and may be every mile.  I take a note of time on my watch and let’s see how fast I could run the miles.  Not long after another bigger dog running through the house and starting to charge.    Stop, back off, he start grinding the teeth, I whistle and the owner yells the dog back.   Dog goes back home and I can hear the owner saying to the dog “good boy, good job”.  I am thinking son of gun, he is actually training and encouraging the dog to do that and pretend innocent.   I wonder if the dog would do it on his own.   Then I am starting to reasoning with myself again, maybe there is a cause.  How can I judge him if I had been there only a short while. 

Distracted by the dog, clock is running, I make the mile in 10:10.  I thought I was running faster than that.  Next one is 9:40.  Next one is a bit hillier back to 10:20.  Last 2 under 10 and pushing on the hills.  I am happy I come close to the bridge I am familiar with, I see the HWY 12, gas station on the other side.  People are cheering, I noticed Sharon and Gia’s mom.   

Thanks to Sharon James for the capture

Wait for the green light, then continue on straight to the back road and I am off to the finish line.  I looked at my watch.  I am way before 3 days and happy with my run from the Owen’s creek.  I am entering the high school, following the pylon, markings to the track.  I see my wife.  where is my flag, sorry is at the motel.  Richard runs to the finish and grabs the Canadian flag and hand it to me.  I had forgotten that this race had no mandatory gears but I am still hanging on to my pack not to be disqualified.  Around the track and getting closer to the finish.  Thank you to all cheering and is getting louder.  I love the finishes, I run 71:32:00 just for the moment.  Hug Candice and then my wife, thank everyone.  No long after my daughter comes around and she picks up my Bigfoot200 Buckle.     There is a reason for this buckle.  The down tree's shook my spirit but they never broke me and I am still alive and standing.

Thanks to Jerri for the Capture

Proud of my perseverance, delighted not letting anyone down including myself and above of all with all the bad luck and misfortune in my Journey I still loved every moment I spent on that course.  Yes I agree with you about the irony.  Even after finishing the race I asked Candice when is the 500 or 1000 mile race.

 Bigfoot200 by far harder than Tahoe200 and hardest physical challenge I have been through.  Who said the challenges are easy!

Candice created a big monster and I strongly recommend Bigfoot200 to anyone. 
Also any of her races.  She does care!!!
Just remember if you sign up for her race, only 2 things matter, Start and finish, those guaranteed, the rest doesn’t matter.  But one thing for sure it changes the state of your mind!

Lesson learned:
From the race many, on the principal, TRAIN, TRAIN……………. Have faith everything going be alright.  Keep the passion alive.  Eat real food for the training runs.

Learn about myself.  A few.  I surprised myself a number of times running on an empty belly beyond my expectation.   Calming myself.  Taking a picture in a long race is not a bad idea if you are not obsessed with your placing in the race.

Regrets: absolutely none:

Improvements: Yes a lot.  Minimize chit chat at the aid station.  Train and sleep deprive the body way ahead of the race.   I know for the Tahoe200 I had at least 4 full night out running.  For the Bigfoot, total of 9 hours of night running.  2, 5 and 2.  That isn’t enough.  Multi-day adventure, something I never done before in the training and that be one that I focus in preparation for the next 200+ mile race.
Managing the fluid and electrolyte was the best compare to any previous run including the shorter distances.   I may go back to Carbo-pro.   I have a feeling if I was on Carbo-pro I could have done better with the extra calorie in the liquid form since I couldn’t have any fast sugar in solid or paste form.

Thank you:   
Many people to thank.  First and for most my wife and my daughter for all their sacrifices and giving me the opportunity to enjoy my free time in places (trail and the mountains) and for their continued support and obviously the races are not cheap.  I love you girls!!!

My friends, Tuesday night folks at the North shore Lion’s Athletic Club, my trail buddies, specially Kim Magnus and Ran Katzman.   I ran most of my non-solo run with these guys and looking forward to more. 

To all the Volunteers, Candice’s crew.  Aid stations folks, and the medic’s word can’t describe my gratitude, and appreciation for everything you have done.  I hope one day the table will turn and I will be on the other side for you.

Thank you to Kerry, Gia, Gena, Wes, Gavin, Sharon, Jim, for the moment we spent on the course together.

I didn’t have any sponsors but for what is worth I like to thank Saucony for supporting me in the past.  I love their product whole heartily and promote their brand.  I truly believe in their products. 

Thanks to my brother Farhad for inspiring me and teaching me to fight and be passionate about what I do.    
 I miss you bud!

Thank you to my mother for the added pressure in this race, bringing me to this world, nurturing me and for all the lessons she has thought me.  I love you!

Thank you to Candice Burt for her vision in paving the way to my adventure dream and the passion of exploring the natures and discovering more about myself going through the challenges.  Because of her dream i know more of the same minded alike people and I now know more of kind, generous, selfless trail runners/volunteers.
Congratulation to all the finishers.   To those folks made to the start line but didn't finish congrats on your courage and I hope you will come back stronger and get that monkey off your back, i root for you!

The changes below is inevitable after running Bigfoot200+ miles.

Before the race

After the race