Friday, August 7, 2009

Grand Slam update

Hello all,

I asked Dave Micklo to write a few words about his current attempt at the ultrarunning "Grand Slam". Here are his words to me:

"Hey Guys,

Just putting together a quick note about my summer so far. As some of you may know, I'm attempting The Grand Slam of Ultra Running this year. It consists of the four oldest 100 mile trail runs, all within 11 weeks starting with the Western States 100 in California and on to the Vermont 100. Next two will be the Leadville 100 in Colorado and ending with the Wasatch Front 100 in Utah. What got me interested in The Slam was that I noticed that there has never been a PA finisher! I've heard we had someone "from" PA, but they registered from another state perhaps. So... I'm hoping I can be the first!

So far Western States and Vermont are complete. And let me tell you, no matter how many times you do these things, they always surprise you! I was shooting to do States in under 24 hours. You're allotted 30 hrs, but I'm a decent downhill runner and it is primarily a downhill course with approximately 18,000 feet of gain and 23,000 feet of loss. Now I know 24 hrs is a very lofty goal, but hey I've trained hard right? Prior to the race I had put in 1012 miles this year and since my training started last Oct I had logged 1425.5 miles! Well, I guess the training wasn't hard enough... The high temps absolutely killed me. I knew it would be hot, but it was absolutely Africa hot! When I crossed the finish line at 10:05 am on Sunday it was 105 degrees in Auburn! Definitely putting the "burn" in Auburn! I experienced problems during this race that I've never experienced before; blisters, vomiting and the most concerning, side pains in the kidney region. These pains hit me hard coming out of Devil's Thumb and I was quite worried. I actually ask to speak to one of the medical guys. He assured me I was fine, to drink, rest a bit and keep peeing! I thought, "Wow, even the damn medical guys are lying to me!" But what could I do, my pacer, Steve Miller, and my crew (wife) Sarah wouldn't listen to a damn word I was saying. Instead they dutifully pushed me out of Michigan Bluff, down the road to my demise. But hey, it worked, I finished just a few short miles and a couple hours later. Yeah it was 46 miles and 14 hours later, but that's irrelevant right? So could I have finished in under 24 on a cooler day? Some of my friends say I could. But me... I don't know. There are some amazing runners out there! I just don't think I'm in that league yet.

Next up was Vermont just three short weeks after States. My buddy Jason DeChicchis was running it as well. Now here was a race I HAD to do in under 24 hours! You see, at Vermont if you take longer than 24 hours you only get a plaque instead of the obligatory runner's "BUCKLE". You still get 30 hours to finish, but if I was shooting for The Slam, I wanted to see 4 "BUCKLES" up on the "I LOVE ME WALL"!!! Not 3 and a plaque. So healed up and ready my plan was to make hay while there was daylight, and run like hell early, and that I did. But my big concern all throughout those beautiful, rolling country hills was that I would burn myself out too quickly and fade before those 100 trail miles rolled under my feet. However, I had a secret weapon that I yet to find out about. You see my problem was that not only were headphones not allowed at Vermont i.e. NO MUSIC, but I didn't have a pacer either and I was really worried about HOW I was going to get to the end. I was doing really good passing 50+ miles, but I was starting to really fade between 60 and 70. Then my secret weapon was revealed to me. My wife Sarah had decided to run the final 23 miles with me! What an absolute life saver! I really owe my sub 24 hour finish to her! I would have definitely gave up on it. Somewhere after mile 90 or so, I really started to crumple. My ankles were hard to bend and the muscles on the front of my shins really hurt. Again, ailments I haven't before encountered. But Sarah was ruthless and pushed me hard. I have to send out a huge apology for some of the things I said to her. She knew I was really hurting, but she also knew I had built up enough time and a sub 24 hour could happen. So 23 hours and 45 minutes later, after starting off at 4am on a rainy Vermont Saturday morning, I crossed the finish line... absolutely crushed.

So here I am, 3 weeks after Vermont and just 2 weeks prior to Leadville. What now? I know Leadville allows 30 hours to finish and has less gain and loss than both States and Vermont did. However, it's a high altitude ultra where the lowest elevation is 9,200 feet. It is a 50 mile out and back course where you simply turn around half way through and run the course in reverse. The problem with that is a mile 44 it crosses Hope Pass at 12,600 feet! Yep, you gotta do it twice! Yikes. This time my buddy Bob Fargo is going to run the course as well and my plan will be to try and stick with him for the front half. Bob not only has experience on the course he is also really fast and if I can stick with him, I can bank enough time to almost walk back! I hope I can do it.

My last race will be Wasatch, 3 weeks after Leadville. I did this race in 2007 in just under the cut-off of 36 hours! I finished in 35:32:37, just another 16 seconds per mile and I would have timed out! Yeah I did it once, but this race has 26,882 feet of gain and 26,131 feet of loss and it definitely is NOT easy. But first things first, I've got the beautiful mountains of Colorado on my thoughts and I need to get through that. Wish me luck."

Maj David W. Micklo 147th ARS

Thanks Dave, we are all pulling for the first PA "Grand Slam" finisher.

If you see Dave or Bob Fargo this week or next, wish them luck at Leadville. BTW, Bob turns 50 in a few days so don't forget to give him a little grief.

I have decided to do the Oil Creek 50 miler in October. This will be the first year for this race, offering 50k, 50 mile and 100 mile options. There are a lot of folks from the Pittsburgh area doing one of the three races.

Don't forget about the Greek Fun Run later this month, it will be a great tune-up for the fall ultras and marathons. It will be our last fun run of the year.


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