Shawn Sullivan: Pine to Palm 100 – 23:03:42

Nov15_Sullivan002Question: Hi Shawn, congratulations on finishing the Pine to Palm 100 miler in less than 24 hours and getting 9th place! That is a huge accomplishment! What motivated you to enter this particular race? Is it the longest race you have completed so far?

Answer: This is the longest distance I’ve raced but this would be my third hundred miler…I was actually at this race last year crewing and pacing another runner. I knew before my runner was even halfway through the race that this was a race I wanted to do – it’s beautiful course, great vibe, and great people .

Nov15Murdoch05

Running 100 miles means you have a lot of time to think about things on the trail. Do you have a strategy for keeping your mind focused?Does your mind sometimes attempt to convince yourself that you should stop and give up? How do you deal with the psychological aspects of running so far?

Well although you’re thinking about the finish line, you should really run aid station to aid station, and breaking it in smaller chunks helps a lot. Your mind tells you not to even show up at the start line…haha, but yes it can be a battle in your head at any moment or the entire time! I have started using an iPod on these long ones – I’ll usually have an audiobook and a bunch of different music .

Nov15Murdoch07How did you survive the “three epic climbs of 7000 feet” with over 20K of elevation gain? Did you ever have to walk?

Oh yeah, you walk or power hike, although I don’t think I walked a step up until 35-40 miles in. If you’re running slow enough that you could be walking the same speed then you should be walking and keeping your heart rate down. The first climb was really good and I was fresh, my adrenaline was going (on 2 1/2 hours sleep even),  plus running at the front you kind of feel like you’re being chased. The second climb was pretty awesome as well – I was really excited to get to the top of Dutchmen Peak because I had just climbed back into third place (after losing about six spots) and I would be getting a pacer when I got to the top. The third climb was not so great.  I had quit eating about 10 miles before this climb, apparently my stomach was not OK with me eating around 25 Roctanes and a few other gels. Although the view at the top of Wagner Butte is pretty awesome it looks down on Medford I believe, and this was the toughest part of the race for me.

Nov15_Sullivan009

Do you “enjoy” these long races? How would you describe the experience and the outcome? Is it the challenge that it is seemingly impossible? Is it the special belt buckle you get at the end?

Oh definitely I love these things, there’s such a sense of community and family in trail running. The experience itself is kind of hard to put into words, how you feel from moment to moment during the race isn’t necessarily the same as when you reflect on the overall endeavor. You may have extreme lows that seem unsurpassable in the moment but slightly less significant when you look back at the big picture. And yeah the belt buckle is pretty sweet too.

Nov15_Sullivan010

What does your body experience after twenty miles……forty miles……sixty miles…..eighty miles………?? Do you find that your body goes through various stages ranging from feeling ok to feeling like your entire body is rebelling against you?

Oh man that’s so hard to answer! It’s always different, I don’t blister so that’s never an issue.  Depending on how long I’m out there the sleep monster tries to get me at some point or maybe multiple points.

And yes my body has rebelled in so many ways, and although seemingly impossible at the moment most things can be overcome, barring causing permanent damage of course.

Nov15_Sullivan007

What is your hydration and nutrition strategy? How often do you drink and eat, and what? Do you ever get sick, meaning either diarrhea or throwing up? Anything special in your drop bags at the aid stations?

Nutrition is a constant learning process for me. Up to the 50 K distance I used to just drink Cokes and eat Oreos. These days I’m trying to use just mixes and gels, they’re so convenient in so many ways. For me I try to be consistently eating and drinking, a slow steady flow into my stomach works best. I’ve gotten sick a few times, nothing too bad, but it’s just convincing yourself to eat afterwards that’s the hard part. Drop bags hmm – depending on the course layout and crew availability maybe a light rain jacket and headlamp. Individual wet wipes can be very handy…….you get pretty dirty out there.

Nov15_Sullivan004

During the race itself, do you have any stories of anything that happened? Something interesting that happened along the way?

Ha!  Yeah we were just talking about this – one of my pacers/crew who shall remain nameless (Jeff Knapp) apparently took a projectile bottlecap to the face. Apparently when you take a homebrew up a few thousand feet it might not respond well? Hopefully I can get you a picture one of the course photographers snapped.

During a standard 10K, basically everyone is out there running for themselves and it’s over pretty fast. In a long race like this, do the competitors help each other?

Nov15_Sullivan003

Yeah the community feeling in these races is awesome, you’re all out there to get it done and cross that finish line, just some faster than others. And yes, as a matter fact, I was getting dehydrated about 35 miles in due to overshooting my crew by 45 minutes and not being able to get an extra bottle for the exposed section coming up. I figured when I got to the aid station I would just drink extra and take some salt with me but that aid station hadn’t gotten any salt tabs yet so a few miles out from that aid station a fellow competitor passed me and asked “Do you need anything?” and gladly offered up some salt tabs. This is one of the many reasons I love ultra running. I don’t think any of us would leave a fellow runner in distress if we could help,  just for the sake of beating them.

Based on the results, I counted that 120 people started the race, but only 75 finished – that’s a 37% drop out rate. Almost all of them quit at 52 miles or less. Why do you think so many people drop out?

Nov15_Sullivan001

Hundred mile races are tough and this course is no joke. To start the first 10 miles is just a consistent climb followed by a 10 mile dissent and then mile 30 to 50 was pretty exposed.  That could have something to do with why most runners dropped at 52 miles.

What was your greatest high during the race? And compare that to your worst low?

Greatest high would be running up to the top of Dutchmen peak after taking several spots back and now being back on the podium …biggest low was probably climbing Wagner Butte – it’s not even that long of a climb but it just never seemed to end.

Did you do anything to reward yourself after the race?

I took a nap ….

Nov15_Sullivan005

Would you recommend this run to someone considering their first 100 Miler?

Sure – it’s a very doable course in a beautiful area, and you can’t beat a point to point race.

__________________________________________________________________________

Here is the link to the Pine to Palm 100 website: http://www.roguevalleyrunners.com/P2P100/raceinfo.html  

Here is the link to the results: http://www.ultralive.net/p2p/webcast.php

2015 Ilsanjo Classic 10 Miler, Neo-Classic 4-Miler, and Newt Scoot, March 8th, 2015
2015 Ilsanjo Classic 10 Miler, Neo-Classic 4-Miler, and Newt Scoot, March 8th, 2015

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