November was all about Chimera 100, my first 100 miler and my last race of the season. I spent the first half of the month tapering and preparing, and the second half recovering from what was a difficult but overall a really enjoyable race. It turns out that 100 miles really isn’t that far! (read my full race report)
According to Greek mythology, the Chimera was a monstrous fire-breathing lion, with the head of a goat arising from its back, and a tail ending with a snake’s head. According to the website for the race of the same name, those who have run the course refer to it simply as “The Beast”.
The Chimera 100 miler takes place on a figure eight course that starts and finishes at Blue Jay Campground, in the Trabuco region of the Cleveland National Forest southeast of LA. With over 22,000′ of elevation gain, it’s rated one of the toughest trail 100 mile races in the country.
I had originally planned on running Cascade Crest in August as my first 100 miler, but after being side-lined for two months from an injury during Diez Vista 50k earlier this year, I was forced to look for an alternative in late-Fall. My buddy Dave suggested I join him for this fairly small race with what would turn out to be a big reputation, and I didn’t hesitate for long. “Chimera eh? I hear that course has got some bite!” was the reaction from another friend. “Just remember to save something for the last 30 miles.”
My goal would be simply to finish feeling strong and hopefully in under 27 hours, although that was very much an arbitrary time goal. The truth is I would have been happy with anything just under 30 hours so I could get the special nickel buckle (and well under the cut-off time of 34 hours). But the change in schedule made it difficult to wrangle a crew or a pacer, so Dave and I would be on our own.
It turns out that mine wouldn’t be a story of pain, suffering, or any of the horrible experiences common with first 100 mile races. No puking, no bonking, and not a single blister. I wish I had a better story to tell, like having to dig myself out from the darkness after an epic low point to come back to slay The Beast. The best I can do is tell you about what I think went right in my training and in my execution during what was a difficult but overall a very enjoyable and memorable race.
After a huge month of training in September, I was hoping to keep up momentum throughout October before starting my taper for Chimera 100, my goal race for the year. Maybe it was the start of the rain, or maybe I’m starting to get a little burned out from what was a very long season, but I found it increasingly hard to find the motivation to get out for any really big runs – certainly nothing that could compare to my recent adventures like running the Wonderland Trail around Mt. Rainier.
I’m not too worried though, as I think the training is in my legs. It may be that a little less volume and a little extra rest will serve me well in what will be my first 100 miler.
That’s not to say I didn’t do any training! Earlier in the month, I joined UPrise Performance Camps again in Squamish, this time for a chance to spend a weekend running with Skyrunning champion and Salomon athlete Stevie Kremer. I managed to explore the trails around Sky Pilot, as well as a few more shorter backcountry outings around Grouse, Seymour, and Lynn Valley.
I made a last-minute decision to race the inaugural CMTS Run Ridge Run 25k, and ran the Hallows Eve Marathon as a catered training run. Between that and the ‘2nd Bi-Annual Vancouver Brewery Run‘ the next day, I managed to run close to 80k in costume.
I’ve kept up with my speedwork and did my best to stay on top of my strength work, before dropping it as I began my taper towards the end of the month.
The legs are feeling good and I’m as ready as I’m ever going to be for Chimera on November 15th. Now I’ve just gotta execute…
September was another solid month of training, with my volume at an all-time high. Much like in August, I got to spend most of this time on foot in the backcountry doing the adventure-style running that I enjoy the most. I’ve also gotten pretty good at running on little to no sleep!