Thursday, July 29, 2010

Grand Canyon, preparation, driving, Day 1 and 2

June 21:

I’m starting my drive to Flagstaff Arizona at 8:30am, and I’m extremely exhausted. I think the stuff is finally catching up to me. Here is the timeline of my previous three weeks.

May 28: After paddling the Nantahala, I get a call from National Parks Service and informed me that I have a chance to accept a small group Grand Canyon permit that launches on June 25th. After deliberating with Jade for an hour while driving toward Ocoee, we call NPS back and accept the permit and hoping we can put this trip together in unimaginable short amount of time.

May 30: Hurt my left shoulder on the Upper Ocoee. Now worried about the Chattooga race next weekend and the Grand Canyon trip less than a month away.

May 31 – June 4: Desperately calling and emailing everyone we know to find out who can go with us and really desperate to find people that know how to row rafts. By June 4th, we have a group of eight and an outfitter that can supply us with gear and organize our food for the Grand Canyon trip.

June 5: Run with the Galloway group in the morning, then Jade and I drive to Cherry Creek campground in SC for my 50K. We camp 50 yards from the startling line. The van is too hot for Enzo to sleep so we end up losing a few hours of sleep trying to cool him down.

June 6: I successfully ran the longest race of my life in 8 hours and 47 minutes. Then driving out of the mountains and finally getting cell phone signal, I get the message that my grandma has passed away on the day before, two days before my flight into Beijing. We stopped over an hour at a parking lot super sad then finally getting home at 11pm. I finish packing my trip at 12:30 am.

June 7: We get up at 4am and Jade drives me to the airport at 5am for my 7am flight. I’m lucky that nothing is delayed but I still do four hours of layover in Toronto and another four hours in Tokyo. I get to Beijing at 10pm on June 8th and my dad picks me up and we get to the apartment at 11:30pm. Finally in bed at 12:30am which is around noon at home.

June 9: My grandma’s funeral and meeting pesky family members that I haven’t seen in 25 years.

June 10 – June 16: I sleep no more than 5 hours a day, my family is a mess with a lot people not happy with each other over various issues. I manage to squeeze three runs in the mornings. The only exception to annoying families is my cousin who I grew up with, she’s due with her first baby in a month and I spent two days with her and her husband hanging out and catching up.

June 17: I catch a minor cold the day I fly out. Flight took off at 6pm and arrives at home around 11pm the same day in Raleigh.

June 19: Still haven’t figured out how to sleep more than 4 to 5 hours a day, I do a 10 mile run with the Galloway group at 7am and nearly dies.

June 20: spent all day packing and preparing for the Grand Canyon trip.

So that’s how I end up super exhausted on Monday morning, June 21, driving by myself on I-40 heading west. I stop in Hickory to meet up with Chris and get Chris and Bridget's gear and boats in the van, then another hour later I stop at Joe’s dad’s house in Asheville to pick Joe up. He sees how I look and offers to drive the next shift, and I gladly accept. A few hours later we stop in Knoxville and pick up Caleb who I have not met until now. His wife Ashley has been on a canyon trip before but it’ll be Caleb’s first time. Caleb offers to drive the next shift and I crawl in the back of the van and take a nap.

I woke up still in TN, and drive the next shift into Arkansas. Then it’s back to the bed for another long nap while Joe and Caleb continue across the middle of the country following the Beaver Express truck.

June 22:

My third shift is from western Oklahoma through the Texas panhandle. I pass the 72oz free steak place in Amarillo and was tempted to stop and let Joe have a shot at it. But he’s snoring and drooling on my pillow in the back, so I pass Amarillo and continue almost to New Mexico border. Nap time again. They wake me up just shy of AZ border and I drive the final 160 miles to Flagstaff. We already have reservations at Days inn for June 23, so we try to haggle with them for a cheap room tonight but couldn’t get them to drop the price, but are successful in getting a cheap room at Motel 6. Found a delicious Thai restaurant in downtown. Back at Motel 6, Joe and Caleb walks across the street to Wal-Mart and secure a bottle of rum and some coke. We attempt to watch the required NPS video on Joe’s laptop but one rum and coke was all I need to crash.

June 23:

Waking up at 5:30am, it’s already 8:30 back in Raleigh and who knows what time in China. My body is completely out of sync with every time zone in the world. I go for a run but find it hard to breathe at 7000ft elevation, so the run was cut short at 5 miles. Back at Motel 6, we head over to IHOP and treat ourselves with a huge breakfast. Then it’s time to shop for the last bit of provisions. An hour later, we have 14 cases of beer, two bottles of rum and two boxes of wine in the van.

The personal gear list provided by Professional River Outfitters (PRO) listed edible body paint. We are a bit puzzled by this item. The Wal-Mart cashier is even more puzzled when three guys ask him where this item can be purchased. Finally another Wal-Mart employee comes to the rescue and informs us there is a store in downtown called I Do I Do that carries edible body paint. We find the store just like the guy told us, and it is eye opening.

After lunch we check into Days Inn and took a long siesta. Around 7 or so after some more rum and coke, Joe and Caleb spends two hours on outfitting Joe’s Liquidlogic Session Plus kayak. For dinner we order pizza. I'm suppose to pick up Jade, Chris, Bridget and Marcos at 9pm, but their flight got delayed and I end up getting them around 10. The only person missing at this point is Sean, and he is taking a train to Flagstaff but none of us have heard from him in days, so instead of worrying, we drink more rum and coke.

June 24:

Chris volunteers to pick Sean up from the train station at 5am. I don’t wake up until 6am, which is the latest I have slept in over two weeks. I finally meet Sean in the lobby enjoying free coffee and continental breakfast. Sean had survived a derailing train and jack knifed semi to get to Flagstaff. Lesson learned here, never plan to travel the day before launch date. Rest of the group gradually meanders down and we have a group breakfast of donuts, oatmeal, toasts, coffee and oranges.

Final packing, we empty the van of all the gear and turn the Days Inn parking lot into a gear explosion.

We have a final meal at Crown Railroad Cafe across the road, then PRO shows up with a 15 passenger van and a huge gear truck already loaded with our rafts, kitchen, cooler, and all the group gear. We toss our personal gear and kayaks onboard, and off toward Lees Ferry we go. On the way we see the incredible view of the wildfire that has been consuming the mountains north of Flagstaff. Fortunately for us it’s not blocking the road, so we get a hassle free ride to Lees Ferry.

Beth from PRO warns us about the heat as she opens the van’s door at Lees Ferry, and sure enough, it’s like stepping into an oven. It is 115 degrees, and the black asphalt in the parking lot makes it even hotter.

Rigging time. It’s new stuff for most of us, so we listen and rig and try to remember everything Beth tells us. Ranger Ray shows up to perform our equipment check. When he found out we have PRO’s Painless Private package, the equipment checklist was checked off in about 20 seconds. If I ever need to rent gear for the GC, I’ll go with PRO. This thought surfaced on a daily basis in the canyon as we learned and appreciated their gear setup.

Our very first experience on the Colorado River lasts 200 yards when we pulled into the 2nd boater camp. It was tiny and with tons of bugs. Beth promised it’ll be by far the worst camp we’ll ever experience on the canyon. Trusting her words, we head out to Marble Canyon Lodge for our last pampered meal. The cool AC in the lodge is a welcome relief. Chris sustain the first injury on the trip when he bangs his right elbow with Joe’s theracane which causes a tennis ball size hematoma. Keep that darn thing away from Chris!!!

Back to the camp for our first night sleeping by the river. It’s super warm to sleep in the tent but the bugs are even worse. So I strip butt naked and hope no one dies of heart attack when catching the sight of my naked butt.

June 25:

Launch day! Beth shows up at 7am to go over how to use our group gear and finds us not even knowing where to find breakfast. We’re a sad group. Finally after breakfast, she manage to go over every piece of gear with us, the groover, dish washing, kitchen, water filter, sat phone, etc. She says goodbye and wishes us luck as we head to the 9am briefing with Ranger Ray. After the briefing, back at the camp we have to finish up rigging the rafts with our personal gear. Another two and half hours go by and we’re finally rigged and ready to launch. But it’s also past noon and we’re hungry. So lunch first, then finally at 12:45 we launch! Hallelujah!!!

The scenery is absolutely gorgeous, even though we’re only at the beginning of Marble Canyon and the rim is only 400ft above us. We pass under Navajo Bridge at mile 4.5, the last highway that we’ll see in the next 16 days. We drifted our way to Badger Creek rapid at mile 8. It’s our first big rapid on the river and everyone stopped to scout. Line turns out to be easy, down the center then angle right slightly and avoid a rock in the middle. Chris made the first run and I followed with the rafts behind me. Rest of the kayakers came through as well with Jade winging the far right line on the fly.

We see this huge rock formation 1000 ft high and looks like it’s blocking the river’s path at mile 11. To the right is Soap Creek and left is Soap Creek Rapid. There is a nice camp on the river right just above the rapid and we decide to make camp even though it’s early, only 4:30. We figure with our knowledge of gear, better give ourselves a lot time on the first night.

It’s a good thing we stopped early. It takes us 3 hours to prepare dinner. We split the group into four teams that rotate jobs each camp. The cooking team for this camp is Marcos and Sean. Jade and I are cleaning team, Joe and Caleb are groover team, and Chris and Bridget has the night off. The arrangement simply doesn’t work and it takes the cooking team a long time to get everything they need from the rafts to get dinner going. A quick shower in the middle didn’t help either. At end of night we decide to change the rest team’s role to helpers instead, helping in general with any kitchen duty as needs arrive.

I take my first river bath and it is quite cold. We pitched the tent for this night, it’s not hot at all, actually end up using the sleeping bags.

June 26:

Sean wakes up early and runs Soap Creek in the ducky first. I get up around 5:50 and see an amazing view looking back upstream of the river in the shade with sun rising behind the rim, so I scramble to find the camera and take a picture before the sun rises further. We eat a gourmet breakfast of bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon. Yum!

Everything is back on the raft and we launch at 9:25. First thing is Soap Creek, which is an easy run down the middle over some good size waves. Joe gets to the ducky at bottom first and takes it for a spin striding. The big rapid of the day is House Rock and the plan is to make to Shinumo Wash camp at mile 29 to camp and hike Silver Grotto. There is nothing significant until we get to House Rock rapid at mile 17 and we all get out on the river left beach to scout. It’s an easy rapid for a kayak, simply avoid the top river right hole, then angle right and avoid the two crashing wave holes on the bottom left. Chris already had two beers by this time and bangs his head on a rock during the scout. Injury #2 for him. I lead Jade, Chris, Marcos and Bridget down the kayak line. Bridget flips twice and rolls up both times. Joe decides to paddle his Session Plus and catches an eddy near top river left, tries to catch the first crashing wave hole but flushes out, then catches the bottom wave hole which promptly strips the paddle out of his hand and toss him over. Two hand rolls and he chases down his paddle in the big river left eddy at the bottom. Sean and Caleb rows the raft down exactly the way they envisioned, no issues whatsoever.

We stop for lunch at a beach immediately below House Rock on river left and Chris gets attended by Bridget over his wound. Just below we can see a small rapid. After lunch Chris and I head down first wondering if there is a good surfing wave with eddy service. Lo behold, there is a nice wave train with eddies on both side, and the first wave is the perfect long boat wave, and the third wave is the perfect short boat wave. Chris, Joe, Marcos and I stay there for about half an hour surfing and I have by far the best surf ever in the Green boat. Joe in the mean time is doing blunts and cartwheels and loops a few waves downstream of me. Sweet!

We scramble downstream to catch up to rest of the group and find three big horn sheep on the river right, totally not bothered by our presence. From mile 20, the action starts, and it seems like rapids come at us non-stop. Approaching horizon line, line up down the extremely long tongue, hit the waves square, squirts through the whirlpools and boils at bottom, and then do it over and over again. It’s definitely the best action so far, and maybe even the most tightly packed stretch of river for the trip.

It’s 6pm and we find Shinumo Wash camp already occupied by a commercial group. We tie up at the beach anyway for the hike to Silver Grotto and plan to camp at the next camp about ½ mile downstream that’s visible. The route Joe, Sean and Caleb picks starts with a 10ft climb up a cliff then down some granite slides. Six of us make the climb, but Chris and Bridget decide to not try. The next slide looks mighty iffy, and Jade Marcos and I decide to turn around. Marcos has a bit difficulty getting down the 10ft cliff but we eventually got him down ok. The commercial group trip leader is not exactly happy with us since we tied our boats up near their groover. However the damn groover is right on the beach near the top of the eddy, which doesn’t give us many other options for beaching for the hike.

Chris is volunteering to row the kitchen raft to Island Camp, ½ mile downstream on the river right. We can see it but can’t tell how strong the eddyline is and Chris has only an hour of rowing experience from earlier in the day and he didn’t exactly shine. I paddle down first and decide that the eddy is long enough for him, but marginal. I wave him down, but just in time Sean comes back and takes control of the raft to make sure we don’t miss camp. Island camp is a nice beach against the cliff, without many critters. Jade and I make pork stir fry with Marcos and Sean acting as helpers. This system works and dinner takes only an hour to prepare. Jade and I again pitch the tent on top of a dune. Wind is strong and almost blows our sleeping gear away.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Chattooga River 50K

This is a horribly written race report, created through sleep deprivation flying to China on the day after the race. I would spend more time editing it, but the massive Grand Canyon trip report is looming.

As Jade drive on highway 107 toward Cherry Hill Campground where the race’s start/finish will be tomorrow, I stare at terrain on both side of the road. On one side a cliff rises away toward the sky, on the other side it drops off into oblivion. Hmm….are the trails going to be on this kind of terrain? What heck am I getting myself into?

A nice thing about a small race like this is that we setup camp about 100 yards from the race director Terri’s camp site, which happens to be the start/finish as well. We have a nice chat with Terri, and she’s truly inspiring. I wish everyone who says they’re too old to do (insert whatever) should talk to this lady. She moves with the agility of a 40’s old fit person, yet she’s closer to 70 than 60. Wow, maybe there is something to ultras. If over 250 ultras can do this to her, well, there maybe something to it after all.

We meet a few other runners. Sean is the winner from last year, for his very first ultra, at just over 5 hours. I can’t fathom running a flat road 50K in 5 hours. John flew all the way from Minnesota for this race and is a seasoned ultra runner. Thomas and his wife Holly came all the way from Texas. Ultra runners seem to be very friendly.

We get up in the darkness on Sunday and prepare for the race. Jade cooks me a yummy oatmeal breakfast with raisons, nuts and bananas, and a cup of steamy coffee. I put the final bit of supplies in my Nathan backpack and heads to the start line. Terri’s prerace briefing about the race course is a whirlwind of trail names and blaze colors and where not to go. There are some bewildered looks on some runner’s faces. Getting lost on this race is not just a possibility, it almost a certainty. About 50 or 60 runners toes the line, well, the start line is anywhere in front of site 11, ready to go.

7:07am: Jade snaps some pictures of me, all sort of nervous, at the start. Terri gives us a countdown and off we go.

The course takes us from the campground onto a connector trail. After about 0.2 miles we come to a junction, and a volunteer is yelling at us to make sure on the way back we take the turn rather than head back to the campground. From the junction we hop on Winding Stairs Trail for 3.5 miles to a turn around when the trail hit a gravel road. The 3.5 miles is completely downhill and I think we lose around 1200ft of elevation by the time we hit the turn around. At the start of Winding Stairs Trail, the front 20 to 25 runners disappear and I find myself leading a mini pack of 7 to 8 runners. I figured coming back up this section will be all up hills, so I better get in some running here while the terrain is still friendly. Thomas, whom I met last night, is right on my heels through the first 3.5 miles and he got to stare at my very colorful dirty girl gaiters the whole time. There are a few side trails leading to waterfalls but I resist the temptation to check out the view. The pack behind me was all very chatty and soon I realized I was leading a group of very experienced ultra runners who were discussing plans for Hardrock, a notoriously difficult 100 mile race in Colorado that’s more mountaineering than running. What heck am I doing running in front of these guys? This little 50K must be like a short easy training run for them.

Long before the turn around at mile 3.5, I see Sean leading the front pack sprinting up the hill. Holy cow! He wasn’t even breathing hard.

7:43am: Finally at the gravel turn around, I let the pack that I was leading take off while I take a sip of drink and start thinking about the 3.5 miles of continuous climb in front of me. What’s the best strategy for this? Never in any of my training runs had I deal with a hill longer than ½ mile.

8:15am: I’m sucking in powerful breathes into my lung, arms pumping and focusing on good posturing, heart rate rocketing, and I haven’t run a single step in the past 30 minutes. Mostly on my own during this stretch, two runners named Doug and Charles pass me running what they could while my legs refuses to run. I also see a lot of back of the pack runners coming down the hill, mostly walking. Hmmm…walking on downhill? Interesting approach to an ultra. Later on I’ll learn just how interesting the final group was. I also haven’t seen any of the rust colored blazes that Terri said mark this trail.

8:38am: I make the critical turn at the train junction and avoid visiting the campground and temptation to call it a day. Climbing a decent size hill then flying down the other side, I pop out onto Hwy 107 and Aid Station 1 at mile 7. At least I RAN into the aid station therefore appeared to be a runner. No one knew I just walked 3.5 miles. Jade and Enzo are there waiting for me. I haven’t drank much out my 2L hydration pack, but I ask a volunteer top it off with Heed, and fill an empty zip lock bag with PBJ wedges, crackers and pretzels. The next 10 miles to Aid Station 2 is going to tell me if I’ve a shot of actually finish this race. I waved goodbye to Jade and Enzo and cross the highway into the unknown.

9:00am: The first trail after AS1 is Big Bend Trail. I almost dive head first into a creek on a slippery wooden bridge. Ok, no more running across bridges. All by myself here, I come to a four way trail junction, and see a group of 3 runners including Charles running toward me from the left. They had taken the trail on the left for maybe ½ mile and realized it was the wrong way. Hopping on what we hope is the correct trail, I follow the three of them closely, and soon run into Doug. He wasn’t sure if he was on the right trail, so he was slowing and stopping to look for trail markers. We give him our assurance that we are on the right trail, we hoped. A mile later, at a three way junction, we stop again, wondering which way was the correct trail. Terri had said red colored blazes marked this trail, but we had only seen one blaze so far and it was a bit back. We decide to take the high ground and soon find the trail disappears into the thick vegetation. Backtracking, and taking the trail that dove off the ridge toward a creek, the vegetation was super thick and half the time I can’t see the damn trail and had to slow to a crawl to make sure I don’t trip on something underneath the bushes and fall.

9:25am: Hallelujah! We found the junction of Big Bend Trail and Foothills Trail. From here white blazes mark the Foothills Trail for the next 7.3 miles to AS2. We take the trail and descend into the Chattooga Gorge and immediately come up on a class IV rapid. Impressive, and the water was high enough to run. What temptation! This section has some build in steps that are very slippery and suck. The trail doesn’t exactly stay next to the river but meander up and down with some really tricky footing and small tributary crossings that wet the shoes. By now our small pack was down to Doug, Charles and I. The other two had taken off ahead earlier. We found a nice beach to cool off and I dunk my head in the river and felt the cool relief, a benefit of running next to a National Wild & Scenic River.

10am: Holy mother of god! Foothills Trail takes a detour away from the river. And what a detour it is. On a whim, it climbs to the top of the Chattooga Gorge, then back down to the river level again. No running here, none whatsoever. We must have climbed 500 to 600ft in less than a mile, then drop straight back down to the river level. My quads are shot, and I know that the hardest climbs are still yet to come.

10:30am: The trail climbs away from the river. Doug and I stay together but Charles surges past us a few times only to catch us again after getting lost. Then a blur flashes past me. Sean flies down the trail toward us, all smiles, not breathing hard, going easy. Holy cow! I think we’re close to the half way distance wise, so that means he’s only got 7 miles to go! Sean will eventually shatter the course record and finishes in 4:32, a bit faster than my road marathon PR.

10:40am: We come to another big trail junction. Don’t get lost here since the wrong turn will take your deep into the Banjo Forest. We head straight up for 2.4 miles toward AS2 and Hwy 107. Many side trails everywhere, and I’m super glad Doug has been here before and sort remembers some of the turns.

11:23am: We hear cars and we see the road! Slowly walking up and finally emerge onto the hwy, the three of us decide to once again appear to be runner so we trot into the AS2. We have done more walking than running in the past 10 miles. But who would know what? Well everyone. Jade asked me how was it, and I told her it was the toughest 10 miles hike I had ever done. We’re at mile 17, and the race course continues on Foothills Trails for another 2 miles to a turnaround at a bridge then come back to AS2. My 2L bladder is almost empty and I told Jade to fill it to half way since this segment is only 4 miles. How bad can it be? My big mouth tells Jade I’ll be back soon.

12:00pm: So far not bad, we had run continuously downhill, and downhill, and downhill to what seems like the bottom pit of the earth at the turn around bridge. In every direction the terrain goes straight up. It had taken us 30 minutes of running downhill non-stop to get here. No freaking way that was only 2 miles. More like 3. I soak myself in the tiny creek, dreading the climb back to AS2.

12:40pm: Doug makes the comment that we haven’t run a step since leaving the turn around and once again the quads feel like they’re about to fall off the legs, and heart rate is shooting through the roof. Brutal doesn’t begin to describe this section. The trail mostly crosses treacherous slopes here. One false step, and we would slide at least 300ft, because that’s as far down the slope as I can see.

12:55pm: We finally hit a flat stretch and start running, just in time to see Jade and Enzo on the trail and Jade taking pictures of us. She comments that we looked good running and I tell her that was the first minute of running since noon. Enzo was extremely cute chasing us on the trail and we all get into AS2 again.

Terri has just arrived at AS2 so we grill her on why in the world made her put that section on the course. Her answer was nowhere near satisfactory. One runner that had just came into AS2 for the first time hearing our description of the section we just finished, and decides right away he’s going to skip it. Doug and I head out AS2 first while Charles sorts out some of his gear. We are confident he’ll catch us since he’s been doing that all day. This is the big decision. To head out on the trail from AS2 means to finish, since there really isn’t any option to not finish once we’re on the last stretch. We’ve 10 miles of rough trails ahead of us and majority of it is unrunnable.

1:27pm: we cross path with the last group of runners, two college age girls and one older woman in her late forties. I did some mental calculations and realized they’re on pace for a 14 hour race and finish at past 9pm, in the dark. I hope they make it. I don’t desire to spend any time in the darkness in Banjo Forest. Later we found out these three runners have never done anything longer than 8 miles before. Hmm…they sure have bigger brass balls than I do.

2pm: Doug and I are quite alone out here, haven’t seen any other runners in awhile, and no sign of Charles either. Earlier I had dunked my head in a creek to cool off, only to bash my head on a rock underwater that I didn’t see. Perhaps I should wear helmet for trail races. Doug is a godsend, he pushed and cajoled me along the trail and gave me all sorts of good advices. Together we also managed the amazing feat of not taking a single wrong turn since mile 8. I hope our luck continues. The few flat sections next to the river offer good running. Although anyone watching us would not call what we do running.

2:15pm: The dreaded detour to the top of the Gorge begin. We finally come up on a runner named Mike. He didn’t look good, when we passed him he simply waved us on, didn’t have energy to say anything. I hope he’s ok but I’m starting to get in trouble myself. Up until now, I recover quickly after each climb. However that doesn’t seem to happen anymore. I quickly chomp down some more food and suck in Heed, hoping to boost my energy level back up. The climb to the top of the gorge is twice as bad as earlier, I’m so tired. I think we’re around mile 25 or 26, but my mind is fairly dull so who knows where we’re mileage wise.

3pm: We finally reached the junction of Big Bend Trail and Foothills Trail. A little bit of celebration is in order. We’re now 2.7 miles from Hwy 107, and from there only 0.7 mile to the finish! Dead legs, dead body, and almost empty hydration bladder. I’m running on fume here.

3:30: We celebrated a bit too early. This is the longest 2.7 miles in the world, I’m damn sure of it. Terri must have mistakenly used a metric stick to measure the distance here.

3:45: We cross Hwy 107!!! AS1 is no longer here, a rather sad sight. Both of us were hoping the cheering from the AS crowd will get us over the last hump. No luck here. One last climb looming in front of us, but thankfully it’s short.

3:54: We decide that if there are cameras at finish, we would run to the finish. Sure enough Jade is cheering and has the big SLR pointed at us. Doug reminds me to be upright and in fine running posture for the camera as we run (well, really shuffle) across the finish!

Ultra is so very different than other kind of races. Time is meaningless when you’re out in a remote wilderness. You have to survive, help each other, and finish. Only after a burger and chips and some cold drinks did I even wonder what was my finish time. 8:47! Holy moly, I was on my feet for that long! I’m proud of myself!

Overall my plan for hydration and nutrition worked out ok. I had trouble gauging how much is left in the backpack, so I was been conservative during the two 10 mile stretches. I should have drank a lot more in the 7 mile section and the 4 mile section. But no sign of cramps and dehydration, and overall energy level seemed ok, no major crashes.