Saturday, September 15, 2018

Race Report: Dave's Challenge at the Lhotse 200

The Dave’s Challenge. On Labor Day weekend of 2018. Nope, I am not going to post a play-by-play of a 72-hour race. That would be a terrible thing to do to anyone who cares enough about me or about running to read my blog. There wouldn’t be much to say, anyway. This was a small race…6 of us in the 72-hour, 3 in the 200-mile, 5 in the 100-mile, 3 in the 50-mile, and 1 in the 48-hour. That’s 18 runners total. Nope, this should be a short race report. I walked with few people, saw no interesting scenery, and encountered no interesting problems. The race was marked by its uneventfulness.

Big takeaway: It is absolutely mind-boggling what even an untrained human body can do. Dave used to tell me, “training is overrated.” I now concur. I started out the race having absolutely no idea whether I could do it or not. Well, scratch that… I started out the race knowing I had zero chance to finish it, because I had sabotaged my own race before it started, through lack of sleep and driving all night. But back in June, when I signed up for the Dave’s Challenge, I really had no idea whether I was capable of finishing it.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. If I am going to write a race report about the Dave’s Challenge, I need to tell people what it is. The Dave’s Challenge is a special sub-race within the Lhotse 200, a 72-hour race in Owasso, Oklahoma, a suburb of Tulsa. To complete Dave’s Challenge, you must run 50 miles per day for three days, for a total of… yea, 150 miles.

And who is Dave? Dave is my brother. Dave fought cancer with everything he had for four years. He tolerated pain from the cancer, and pain from the treatment, and awful side effects for far longer than should have been possible, because he refused to abandon his wife and son. Before he got cancer and while he was fighting it, Dave ran ultramarathons. Apparently he made a pretty big impact on his fellow ultrarunners, by keeping a positive attitude and putting one foot in front of the other, no matter how slow he was or how much he hurt. I’m sure there are a few runners who remember feeling sorry for themselves, because of blisters or sore knees or whatever, and then they ran into Dave and for some reason their blisters didn’t seem like such a big deal anymore.

Anyway, one of Dave’s biggest fans happens to be Wyatt Hockmeyer, race director for a fairly new race series, the Lhotse races in Owasso, Oklahoma. Prior to this Labor Day weekend, there had been three Lhotse races, and Dave had run all three of them. I did two out of the three, the two 24-hour track races in March 2017 and 2018. Here’s my 2017 race report from the track race. The report from the March 2018 is still in draft stage, where it is likely to stay. Hmm, it was my last race with Dave. It’s a little late, but maybe I should still write it up.

So, after Dave’s battle with cancer ended on June 6, 2018 (fittingly, on National Running Day), Wyatt decided to honor Dave with the Dave’s Challenge. Fifty miles a day for three days, because 50 miles was Dave’s modal distance (that means the most frequent distance, for my few non-nerd readers). I won’t say Dave’s favorite distance, because he seemed to like them all. If he’d had just a little longer before the cancer hit, or maybe even different timing of the treatments, he would have gotten that 100-mile buckle. So, of course I had to try the Dave’s Challenge. How could I not?

A couple years ago, covering 150 miles on my feet was beyond comprehension. But, thanks to Dave, I have now done 100 miles twice, both at the Snowdrop 55. (Here’s my Snowdrop 2016 race report.) Those 100-milers took me 53.5 and then 50 hours, and afterwards I was incapable of going another 50 miles, or even 10 (hmmm…maybe I could have done another 10…it didn’t seem so at the time, but after this weekend I am questioning). So to do 150 in 72 hours, I would need to step it up, both my speed and my distance. One advantage of racing in September is that it was likely to be warm, rather than cold. Between Snowdrop and the 2018 track race, I have learned that I do not cope well at all with cold weather. I’ve been so looking forward to doing a long warm-weather race. When I signed up in June, I was pretty sure I would be able to do 100 miles, but that last 50 was highly questionable. It became even more questionable when I had trouble finding the time and energy to run in July, and my fantasy training plan remained a fantasy. Then, three weeks before Lhotse, on one of my few August runs, I tripped over a pristine stretch of sidewalk in South Carolina, and bloodied both my knees. The left one had a pretty deep gash, much worse than last summer's incident , which had taken 3-4 weeks to heal. My left knee was still wrapped in Tegaderm at race time.

So yes, back in June, I thought I had a chance to complete the Dave’s Challenge, if all the variables went my way. The morning of the race, I knew it was hopeless. It had taken way longer than I thought to pack the car and to drive 9+ hours to Tulsa. After driving all night, we arrived at 4:30 a.m., only 3 hours before packet pickup for the 8:00 race. (The race started Friday morning of Labor Day weekend). I did nearly all the driving, because Crew had to teach his classes Thursday and so he had way less sleep than me. Plus, I spent the drive listening to The Silmarillion, one of the best books ever. The drive was very enjoyable until I got to the end and realized (surprise!) there was no time to sleep.

After a short (and hysterical, on my end) argument, we decided it was worth paying $63.33/hour to sleep an hour and a half in the motel room. I showed up at the race course at 8:40, forty minutes after the race started. I grabbed my timing chip and started walking, while Crew set up our canopy and other paraphernalia. Centennial Park was a beautiful venue for a race. The very first lap, I walked with a friendly local and his beautiful and well-behaved Australian Shepherd, Gracie. The path was well-marked and flat, mostly asphalt with a lot of tree roots and cracks. It was laid out in a figure 8, with the aid station and timing mats in the middle. The first loop went through a big field and then a short shaded area. The second loop was smaller than the first, around a small lake with lots of ducks and geese and no shade.

Isn't this a pretty park?

Crew walked the course with his Garmin,
 to take pictures and grab this map. 

I’m told that last year, Dave grabbed a mop and a bucket and started cleaning up the goose poop so that his friend Heather could take a nap on the pavement (she and Wyatt did 200 miles last year). I met Heather on Day 2, when she came out to the park to cheer us on.

The first few hours of Day 1 were pleasant enough. I got my wish: warm weather!! The first day’s high was 96ºF, bright sun and not a cloud in the sky. Day 2 was similar, sunny with high 95ºF; Day 3 was a little cooler, at only 91ºF with occasional clouds. On Day 1, some runners were complaining about the heat and humidity, but the weather seemed great to me. I was just so happy to be in a race without being freezing cold. The shaded areas were quite cool and pleasant, though they were few and far between.

My happy spirits lasted maybe 10 hours or so. Then I started feeling sorry for myself. I was so tired, and moving so slow, and the whole thing was hopeless. Once the sun went down, the temperature was just perfect—not too hot, not too cold. That didn’t seem to help my sluggish legs. I had made a pre-race decision to do nothing but walking on Day 1. I figured the surest way to derail my race would be to do a bunch of running in the first 50 miles. Whatever pain you cause yourself the first day, you have to tolerate it for all of Days 2 and 3. No, I wanted to get through the first 50 with no damage, and 100% walking seemed the best strategy. Unfortunately, my walk was really slow, even slower than usual. My legs felt so heavy, like I was wading through mud. After the halfway point, I pulled out my headphones and listened to my Shuffle music for a while. That helped some, but the miles still felt dreary. So, I borrowed my mom’s old iPod Nano, which she’d loaded up with books just for me. I listened to almost all of Watership Down, which turned out to be a great story. I expected it to be about a sinking submarine but was really about a bunch of rabbits.

About 8:30 on the evening of Day 1, I took a break from the rabbit story to walk with a dear friend from college, who lives in Tulsa. I walked several laps with Michelle, and my legs felt so tired and slow I struggled to keep up with her. We had a great time catching up, and she really helped get me through a tough stretch. Mish took off about 11:30 pm (which is crazy late for her; she is not a night owl and stayed up just for me…thank you so much, Mish!) At some point, she tried to encourage me, “only 14 more laps, you’re almost done!” I was not feeling very encourageable at the time, so I just had to point out “that’s 16 miles!!” So, I went back to the rabbits to finish out my first 50. I plodded the night away, and finally finished my 44 laps at about 5:40 a.m. (The track was about 1.14 miles long, so we had to do 44 laps/day for the Dave Challenge.)

After the first 50 miles, I was babbling and crying and incoherent. I was so slow, I would only get an hour or two of sleep (after less than two hours sleep the day before), and there was simply no way I would be able to do 50 miles again on the second day. I was mean and ungrateful and said things to Crew that Dave would never have said to anyone giving up their weekend to help him in a race. But Crew seemed unfazed; he hoisted me into the car and we went to the motel. After showering off all the sweat and grime and sunscreen and bug spray, I crawled into my Cuddl Duds and slept for two hours. Crew sat up in the armchair, so that he’d be awake to make sure I woke up on time. We both agreed that it was quite hopeless, but if I were to have any chance at all, I needed to get up and start walking in the morning, and just see how far I could go.

Day 2 was a pleasant surprise. I started late, at about 10 a.m. It was amazing how that shower and 2 hours of sleep revived me. I felt a zillion times better!! I was walking faster, and I decided to try some running, only in the shade. It took only two steps to realize that running in the sun, for me, was counterproductive. So, for the daylight hours of Day 2, I ran almost all of the shaded areas (probably just 10–20% of the course). I was so thankful for the warm weather, but it was starting to affect me. On Day 1, I had gotten a weird rash on the exposed parts of my legs, and it got worse on Day 2. I had slathered myself in sunscreen; I thought enough to prevent a burn, but maybe not. Instead of being flat and red like a typical sunburn, this was a bunch of raised red blisters, some of them rather large. My calves felt hot as I walked, a very unpleasant feeling. The day started out really well, but by early evening I started to fade somewhat (though I still felt tons better than Day 1).

Another fun part about Day 2…I had more company! My mom drove in from Arkansas and stayed almost the whole weekend; she helped with the aid station but that wasn’t a full-time job, so she also became my Crew II. Mom walked several laps with me on Day 1, and several more on Day 2. Also Dave’s wife Cristina came for most of Day 2. She brought sandwiches and pickles and other goodies for the aid station. Someone mentioned that the other runners (not me) made quick work of two giant jars of pickles and pickle juice. I had no idea that pickles are a thing among ultrarunners—apparently they are loaded with electrolytes. Cristina walked several laps with me, which was great fun. She and Mom both walk fast; I had to work to keep up with them, which helped my progress.

Discovery I made this weekend: In a long race, it can be really great to walk or run with someone else for a while, even if you’re an introvert who usually prefers solo running. Especially in the early or middle parts of the race, when you’re bored and tired but not really suffering yet. This was the closest I’d ever come to having a pacer in a race, doing those laps with Mish and Cristina and Mom. My “pacers” only walked with me for a small portion of the race, maybe 15 laps total, but that made for a nice change. By the time I got to the third day, I didn’t want to walk with anyone who wasn’t also a runner in the race and who wasn’t feeling as tired and miserable as I was.

Mom and Crew did a little research on my rash (Mom quizzed other runners; Crew googled). We decided it was likely heat rash and that it might help to pour some cool water over my legs. (I made them cover my socks and shoes with a towel—the last thing I needed was to soak my socks and end up with blisters.) Come evening, I had a new lease on life. I’m not sure if it was because of the cool water on the legs, or the Ibuprofen I finally took, or the wild cherry Cliff Blocks, or the sun going down, or likely some combination. All I know is they all happened about the same time and within the hour I started to feel better. So, once the sun went down, I set my Ironman watch to do run-walk intervals. I started out with 30 seconds running. That felt a tad too long, like it might become unsustainable after a while. So I changed to 20 seconds running, 3 minutes walking. Three minutes walking seemed too long…I was ready to run sooner than that. So, I settled on 20 seconds running, 2 minutes walking. That turned out to be just right—I was able to keep it up nearly all night. And, wonder of wonders….I did not touch my headphones at all on Day 2. I did 50 miles with no music or audiobook or anything. Now that’s an accomplishment!

One more great thing about Day 2: it made me a floppy hat convert! On Day 1, I showed up to the race in my Rush Running baseball cap. I almost always run in a baseball cap. It keeps the sun out of my eyes and also serves as a hair control device. When I got my timing chip, I also got a Dave’s Challenge hat. Dave always wore a floppy hat when he ran, so Wyatt ordered special floppy hats for all of us Dave Challenge runners. They say “Dave’s Challenge, Lhotse 50x3”. I stashed mine in the car for safekeeping, and stuck with my baseball cap for Day 1. On Day 2, I gave the floppy hat a try. Dave wouldn’t have put a special hat away in the car…if it was truly special, it was meant to be used. But still, Oklahoma was windy and I didn’t want to lose my new Dave hat in the lake. So I took a couple of safety pins and pinned the chin strap to my shirt, like a mom pins her baby’s pacifier, so it won’t get lost when it falls. The floppy hat worked way better than I expected. When the wind blew, instead of blowing the hat off my head, it would blow through the vents and lift the hat just slightly off the top of my head. It was like having an air conditioner for my scalp! Toward the end of Day 1, the wind picked up and the hat finally blew off my head a couple times, fortunately getting saved by the chin strap. I didn’t want to lose the Dave hat, so I traded it for the floppy hat I’d purchased back in July for the Dave Renfro Community Run. I did the shirt-pin trick on this one too, even though I really wasn’t concerned about losing it. If this hat flew into the lake, I could just go to REI and buy another one. I wore the REI floppy hat all of Day 3 and loved it. A baseball hat can get caught by the wind too, and sometimes I have to tighten it so much it hurts my head. Not the floppy hat! Thanks to the chin strap and the floppy brim, it stayed on in the wind without giving me a headache. At night, it was also way better than the baseball hat, because it played better with my headlamp.

At first on Day 2, I was nervous about running, especially at night. I was sure I would trip over one of the many cracks and tree roots, and bust open my knees again. My left knee was functioning well and giving me no problems, save that the sunscreen and bug spray stung when it ran down inside the Tegaderm patch. But I knew the knee wouldn’t react well to a fall. Still, I was only running 20 seconds—surely I could concentrate well enough for 20 seconds to avoid tripping. The knee was another reason I had opted not to run the first day. If I had fallen early, finishing the race would have been hopeless. But once I got 40 hours under my belt, I started to think I could suck it up and finish no matter what happened. I had two close calls where I almost tripped and went down, but both of these occurred while I was walking, not running.

At the end of Day 1, I gave myself zero chance of finishing. About halfway through Day 2, I started to believe I could finish the 150 miles. Another big takeaway from this experience is realizing that one’s body doesn’t follow a linear function, gradually disintegrating from the best possible condition at the beginning of the race to a horrible death plod at the end. That’s not how it works. If you feel horrible at some given moment, there is a pretty decent probability that you will feel better at some moment in the future, if you don’t give up. It’s weird. This is now my fifth race of over 50 miles (how unbelievable is that?). The first 50 in this race was by far worse than the first 50 of any of the other four races. The only one that comes close is that first Snowdrop, when the first 50 was so cold and miserable, and I revived somewhat on the second day. But this first 50 felt worse, and without the excuse of sucky weather. I really think the primary reason Day 1 was so awful was that I drove all night and got no sleep. Driving 8 hours, especially at night, will stiffen anybody up, so of course it affected my race.

I finished the second 50 miles at about 6 a.m., I think. I went faster the second day, but I also started later, so I still had very little wiggle room on the time (Each day began and ended at 8:00 a.m.). After Day 2, I slept about 2.5 hours in the motel, a slight improvement over the previous two “nights”. At least on Day 2 and 3 we got our money’s worth from the hotel, because Crew used our room to snooze for 3 or 4 hours each day.

On Day 3, I got back on the course about 10:30 a.m., more or less. That gave me about 21.5 hours to do the last 50 miles. Several people had mentioned that the weather forecast was for overcast and cooler, but it sure didn’t feel that way at first. Still sunny! But indeed a few degrees cooler (high of 91ºF, according to Weather Underground). The “overcast” never really materialized, although one of the occasional wisps of clouds sprinkled us with raindrops once (only for about 4 minutes, nice while it lasted!). I was SO glad it didn’t rain. Even a light drizzle would have sucked, likely making me slower and more discouraged, plus giving me blisters. With so little wiggle room before the cutoff, even a minor setback would have nixed any chance I had of finishing.

Much of Day 3 was quite pleasant. But my untrained, unfit body, especially my feet, finally started to really complain. “We’ve already carried you over 110 miles this weekend, and now you want more? What do you expect from us? When is this going to end?” Weirdly enough, I really didn’t have any physical problems. No injuries, no signs of damage, just footsore and weary. If I’d been fast enough to get 4 or 5 hours of sleep, I’m sure that would have helped a lot. The miles just dragged and dragged, especially once the sun went down. Whenever I would stop, even if only for a minute or two, my legs would stiffen up and it was oh so hard to get going again. After each stop, my first thirty yards or so were awful, stiff and ungainly and really funny looking. And then my legs would gradually loosen up and start walking correctly. Amazingly, in spite of being so tired and having such sore feet, I really was still walking correctly and relatively briskly, except for a short distance after each stop.

The afternoon of Day 3, a guy in the park asked me about the race. “Is this a 5K?” I explained about the 72 hours and how some people had done 200 miles and I was trying for 150. He said, “oh, so it’s a little longer than a 5K then.” I think he must never have seen a 5K. The few “runners” who remained were all strung out over the park, and we were all plodding along at a slow walk looking miserable. It’s been several years since I’ve done a 5K, but I sure don’t think it looked like this.

One mistake I made was not making notes about time milestones. I should have written down when I got to the 25%, 50%, and 75% marks each day, so that I would know whether I was on schedule to make the cutoff. I thought I could remember but I couldn’t. The only marker I remembered was that on Day 2, I had reached the halfway point (25 miles = 22 laps) at almost exactly 9:00 pm. In early evening of Day 3, I started walking some laps with a new friend, Glenda, who was also trying for 150 miles. She was having some major problems with her feet and ankles, among other things. We both needed some company and some encouragement, so we paired up. I tracked our lap times on my Ironman, and we mostly managed 25-minute laps, which was faster than I’d done most of the first day, but slower than when I was run-walking on Day 2. 25-minute laps made the math pretty easy…about two laps per hour, allowing for the occasional stop. I figured out that I was behind schedule to make 25 miles (22 laps) by 9:00 pm. So I needed to catch up to that for sure. I asked Crew to work out the math for me and write down how many laps needed to be complete at each clock hour. He made two copies, and taped one to the pole of our canopy and one to our cooler. It didn’t take long to figure out that stopping at the cooler to look at the schedule was a bad idea. The temptation to rest, and the stiff legs, were just too much to handle. So, I pinned the time schedule to my bib. Upside down, so I could pull my shirt up and shine my headlamp on the schedule. It worked really well. If I could get to 22 laps by 9 pm, then two laps/hour would finish it at exactly 8 a.m. I was 3 or 4 laps behind schedule, so I left Glenda and went back to my run-walk for a while. I imagined my heartbreak at missing the cutoff by 15 minutes… that put a kick into my legs, and I really didn’t have much trouble doing the needed running to catch up. When Crew went to the hotel for his nap, I was behind schedule. When he returned, he was so glad to see I had made up the lost time and was slightly ahead of where I needed to be.

I walked with Glenda for most of the last 25 miles. She even did some run-walk for a while. I don’t know how she did it as bad with her feet, knees and ankles hurting so much, but she did. Glenda is tough as nails. At first, we talked about our background and hobbies and other sensible things, but by the middle of the night, we disintegrated into nonsense. We babbled about favorite colors and weird shadows and all sorts of gibberish. The night before, there had been a cool shadow on the path near the lake, cast by some weeds/reeds next to the path. It looked exactly like a goose, in fact like the goose who had pecked my leg the day before. I tried and tried to find that goose shadow to show her, but I couldn’t. Someone must have trampled the goose-shadow weed, and it made me so sad. I remember saying, “wow, we only have to do this another 8 and a half hours and we’ll be done.” That was both mind-boggling and also very discouraging, so I tried not to say anything of the sort again. Glenda is an engineer and I am a math professor, and we were both reduced to counting laps on our fingers. And still making mistakes. Let’s see. We’re on Lap 37 and we need to get to 44. That’s 37…38…39… etc. We would both do the finger-counting independently and get different answers. Then we’d have to do it again. If I hadn’t had my time schedule attached to my shirt, I would have had no idea whether we were on track. Glenda was actually a couple laps ahead of me. So, when she got down to single-hand laps (5 laps, one for each finger), I tricked myself into also being in single-hand laps. Yes, Glenda and I would finish the race together, and then I would do a couple bonus laps by myself. I wasn’t the least bit worried about those bonus laps. I knew I would be fine once I was that close to the end, as long as I wasn’t in danger of missing the cutoff.

Weirdly enough, we started getting slightly faster as the night wore on. So I gradually banked some wiggle room before the 8 a.m. cutoff, which was a huge relief. Finally, we were down to Glenda’s last two laps (and mine also, not counting the bonus laps). We started saying goodbye to all the track landmarks. The trash can at the far end of the loop, the race signs, the little tiny treacherous downhill (maybe 4 feet of elevation change) with the rough asphalt, where I was always so afraid of tripping. The path around the lake with all the goose poop. We said our almost-goodbyes on the second-to-last lap. “Just think, Glenda, you only have to go over this little bridge one more time!” Then it was the last lap. “Bye little spider in the web on the bridge….we will see you next year!” “Goodbye ducks and geese, no more having to dodge you on this little path! Poop all you want, we don’t care!” Then Glenda ran across the starting mat for the last time. Or so we thought. Nope, apparently that lap was just a smidge shy of 150 miles, so she had to turn around and walk around Goose Lake again. (About a third of a lap, I think.) I knew I had plenty of time for my bonus laps, so I plopped myself in my chair, put my feet up, switched into my Dave’s Challenge hat, and waited for her to finish. Yay, she did it!! Before she collapsed, I gave her a big hug and then took off for my bonus laps. They were fun. I was almost sad to say goodbye to the park. It had started to feel like home. I did the second-to-last lap at a brisk walk. After I crossed the mat, I waved at Glenda, but she was out cold, asleep in the antigravity chair. Then on the last lap, I started running. I thought I might be able to run the whole lap, but I fizzled out pretty quick. That was just fine. I enjoyed the walk too. The sun had started to come up during the second-to-last lap, and so I ditched my headlamp for the last lap. Perfect! I got to see the sunrise. I even talked to a couple early-bird locals, out to walk with their dogs at first light. They asked me how far I’d run, and it was so cool to say “as soon as this lap is done, 150 miles!!”

To make the last lap even more perfect, just as I was coming around Goose Lake for the last time, I saw Abe Nutt walking in from the parking lot. Abe was a dear friend of Dave’s, and he had finished the Dave Challenge just before midnight. I have known Abe only a short time, but it has been long enough to know that he is one of the nicest and most kind people in the whole world. Another one is Trevor, who finished his first 200-miler this weekend at Lhotse. I only got to walk with Trevor a short time, but that was enough to appreciate him. Congratulations, Trevor!

Anyway, after getting a good night’s sleep at his motel, Abe realized he’d forgotten to return his timing chip. So he came back to the course just in time to run with me during my last lap around Goose Lake. I didn’t have to do the partial lap that Glenda did, because I was doing 44 laps/day for the Dave Challenge. That worked out to about 50.377 miles/day, or about 1.1449 miles/lap for 132 laps. I know I could have done the partial lap and been considered a finisher, but it would have bugged me (occasionally I can be a tad obsessive and over-analytical).

I ran across the timing mat for the last time and just couldn’t believe it. Yea, I just finished 150 miles in 3 days. Incredible. I actually completed the Dave Challenge. Only about an hour before the cutoff, which was just fine. I’m glad I wasn’t faster. It was so nice to finish right at sunrise. It seemed fitting that the sun would rise right then, like joy finally bubbling up after a summer that felt so dark and sad.

All four of us who tried the Dave Challenge finished it. How cool is that? Wyatt, the race director and Dave’s good friend. Abe. Me. And Annabel from Australia. Annabel didn’t know Dave, but Wyatt told her his story and she wanted to do the challenge. Thank you so much, Wyatt, for thinking of the Dave Challenge. What an amazing tribute to him.

This one’s for you, Dave. I know this was nothing compared to the race you ran these last four years, but I know you are celebrating and proud of me.

The four Dave's Challenge finishers, in our Dave hats:
Me, Abe, Annabel, and Wyatt
P.S. A couple other tidbits/takeaways that surprised me in this race, that don’t seem to fit anywhere else:

1) Apparently I am incapable of writing a brisk and concise race report, even about a really boring race in which nothing eventful happened.

2) I knew I could function semi-decently on a less-than ideal amount of sleep, but it shocked me that I could go 93 hours with only 6 hours of sleep. Nope, not kidding. From 11:00 a.m. Thursday until the race ended at 8 a.m. on Monday. Really it was closer to 6 hours sleep in 96 hours, by the time we said goodbye to everyone at the course, packed the car, drove to the hotel, and maneuvered my stiff and sore body into the shower and then bed.

3) Not a single blister. No foot/skin problems other than being tired and sore. That’s good, because I’ve only finished Chapter 9 (out of 30 chapters) of my last Christmas present from Dave: his own copy of the 5th edition of Fixing Your Feet (by John Vonhoff, published by Rodale). I didn’t know Christmas 2017 would be the last one, but I guess Dave did.

Here are the official race results:

If you want to get better acquainted with Dave, here are some links you might like:

April 2016 Epic Ultras Featured Runner of the Month writeup, about Dave.

Wyatt Hockmeyer and Heather Blake’s Podcast from March 2018. Most of the podcast is an interview with Dave.
Heather and Wyatt's Episode #13

Wyatt and Heather’s Podcast from June 2018. They start talking about Dave near the end, at about the 48:40 mark.
Heather and Wyatt's Episode #22

Here are some more pictures. (Thanks, Crew!! I had no time or energy for photography.)

Some geese. A tiny fraction of the total geese.
There were usually lots of ducks too. 

The start/finish line.

Our setup. We could not be more pleased with the Eurmax canopy.
What a fantastic purchase!

The aid station and finish line. I could see our bright
blue canopy from almost the far end of the course!

Goose Lake. Trevor's huge crew tent is in the background on the left. 
Walking around Goose Lake on Day 3.

The timing mats, and a nice view of the REI floppy hat.

My roadmap to success!!

Me and Glenda, after it was done. The only way we could stand
was if she leaned on the chair and I leaned on her. 

Finishing my last lap.
I was running so fast I was just a blur!