06/29/11

Windy, Rainy Bike Ride

I decided to give the legs a day of rest from running and pulled out my $15 purple, mountain bike and decided to take it for a little ride in the rain today. I love the rain! My first run with Bertha was in the rain, I ran my first marathon in the rain and the Oregon Coast (my favorite place in the world) is practically always rainy when I’m there. Everything’s more still and at peace when it’s raining. There are less people out. The air is filled with that moist, fresh sweetness you only get to enjoy during a rain shower.

I rode through the countryside today, breathing deeply of the mint and hay fields and peddling faster when I passed the dairy farms! Phew!!!! If the smell of cow poo won’t make a girl ride faster, I don’t know what will!

It felt good to hit 13 miles on the bike. I think I’ll have to start riding it a bit more. That was fun. Now, I’m muddy, wet and ready to get back to my day-to-day activities with the kids.

Stats: 13 miles on the bike. 11.4 mph average speed. 16.4 mph max speed. 1 hour 8 min – total time. Average heart rate: 132. Max heart rate: 151. Elevation Gain: 37 (flat!) Felt: Good

06/28/11

Walk With Wayne

Wayne and I have been talking about creating a series of 5k races in our area and had been considering some places to hold them.  Tonight we took a relaxing walk on one of those paths to verify the 5k distance.  As the night drew dark around us, the weather changed. We walked quickly as a storm came up with flashes of lightening brightening up the night sky.  By the time we got home, the kids came out onto the porch and we all sat and watched the spectacular storm until it turned to rain. How refreshing!

Stats: 3.14 mile Walk. 17:47 pace. 55:52 time. Felt: Happy, very little soreness from the 50 miler.

06/28/11

Recovery Run With the Son

I’ve been itching to run again. The soreness was nearly gone last night when I went to bed and I told my husband, “Tomorrow I’m going to hit the road and see how everything feels.” When I came downstairs in my running clothes, Wayne Jr gave me that sappy -eyed puppy dog look he has and started begging to come along.  I said “Yes. But you have to try and keep my pace. No running ahead, burning yourself out, then having to walk the entire last mile.”  He promised to keep it under control.

It’s pretty hot today! It’s already 81 degrees under a bright and sunny sky. No breeze. He was melting before we’d even left the driveway.  Luckily for him, though, my “pace” today was around a 14 min/mile.  I laughed when I realized that, though I was feeling pretty good again – no real pain or soreness — my muscles are obviously still recovering from the enormous beating I gave them on Saturday.  It felt good to be moving again, even at a slow pace.  Jr did a great job staying with me for the first mile, though he was begging to know when we’d take a water break for the last several minutes.

We took a walk/water break at mile 1. After he was refreshed, we gently started jogging again. He was trying his darndest to find shade trees to hover under until I’d catch up, then he’d dart to the next one, declaring to each new spot of shade, “I love you so much!”  Slowly, but surely we made our way back home.  Jr’s used the rest of the water to pour over his head and back. He was so hot! I promised him that if he kept coming with me on my shorter runs and playing baseball in the heat, that in a couple of weeks the heat wouldn’t bother him so much. I don’t think he believes me.  😉

Stats: 2.37 miles. Pace: 14:18. Time: 33:50.  Average Heart rate: 92.  Felt: Slow, but pretty darn good considering!

06/27/11

Randy’s pictures of my 50 mile finish

Thanks to my friend, Randy for taking these fun pictures of my 50 mile finish on Saturday with my pacer and good friend, Ryan. I wanted to share them here, since I definitely believe that a picture is worth a 1000 words!  Thanks again, Randy for the photos and to Ryan for being the world’s best pacer!

06/27/11

Just a Little Grocery Trip

We needed some groceries. The Suburban is in the midst of having the power steering pump replaced in the driveway by the husbter, so I did what any Coke-loving woman would do and decided to walk.  It was a perfect opportunity to stretch out the sore legs after Saturday’s 50 miler.  Hey, did I mention I ran 50 miles, yet? Oh, I did. Good. Just checking. 😉

I wore my flip-flops and enjoyed the warm summer day (it’s supposed to hit 91 later on!) It’s about a mile and a half to the store, and I’d say I walked about a quarter of a mile inside getting the items I needed (including a 20 0z Cherry Coke and a foot long BLT from Subway that I knew would make a really fun lunch with the five kids when I got back home.)  I ended up with two bags of groceries and they were a bit heavier than I’d expected. I’d guess between the two bags, they weighed 10 lbs or so.  It got me to thinking about Saturday’s run and my heavy Nathan pack. I wonder how much that thing weighs when I have the 2 liters of water in the back, extra clothing and my snacks? I am guessing around 10 lbs. It sure was a treat to hand that off to Wayne after about 35 miles in the mountains!

Anyways…. as I was walking towards home, suddenly a silver minivan pulled up right next to me and this darling little silver haired granny said, “Oh, honey! I saw you walking with all those groceries. Can I please give you a ride?”  I told her, “Thank you so much, but I just ran 50 miles on Saturday and this is my chance to stretch out my tired legs, but I really appreciate the offer.” She clasped her heart when I said “50 miles” and said, “Dear, me, honey! That’s amazing.  Well, have a good day, then, dear.”   I couldn’t stop smiling after that.  What a sweet woman! 🙂

The kids and I just polished off that tasty foot-long BLT from Subway and the Cherry Coke. We now have sweet purple grapes, a package of scones, margarine, french bread, a loaf of sandwich bread, two boxes of cereal, tortillas, shredded cheese, English muffins and a new pair of sunglasses for Wayne Jr since his last pair broke when he caught a ball with his face in the game on Wednesday.  Don’t worry, though. No Jr’s were hurt in the incident – just the shades.

Stats: 3.25 miles. 1 hour 10 min. Felt: Sore but happy

06/26/11

I Ain’t No Quitter – 50 Mile Race Redo


 “Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it.  Action has magic, grace and power in it.”  — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I was pulled from the Big Horn 50 mile race last Saturday just after 32 miles (and more than 10 hours of running) when I missed a time cut off by a few minutes. It’s been bugging the crap out of me.  I felt fine, strong, even, when they pulled me and it troubled me that I wasn’t even allowed to try and finish the race (which had plenty of downhill in the remaining 18 miles, which is my strength.) I kept thinking, “I would have made the 15 hour final cut off if I’d been allowed to continue.”, but who can say for sure.

All week long I asked my husband, “What should I do with these feelings, now? It’s months away before the next 50 mile race near where I live. I can’t live with the big question in my heart, “Can I really do it?” for that long.

My friend, Randy announced a group run a few days ago. He was planning on having the group meet on a trail head, a few miles from Bogus Basin and then climbing up, up, up to Shaffer Butte (around 7500) and then back down. It was going to be close to 25 roundtrip.  That got the wheels turning in my head. Hmm…. What if I did it twice? 50 miles in the mountains. Maybe I could do my own little “Big Horn Repeat.”

My friends Ryan and Michelle mentioned to the group that they were going to start early,  near the top at a spot called Deer Pt (around 6884 elevation) and run down to Corrals Trail, where the elevation is about 3700.  Michelle was planning on doing around 12 miles and her husband was planning on doing the out and back for about 24-25.  I asked if they’d mind if I joined them at the earlier start (5 am) and told Ryan about my crazy plans.  Now, Ryan’s a pretty accomplished runner. After losing 135 lbs a couple years ago, he trained hard and qualified for the Boston Marathon in 2010 in his first attempt! Shortly after, he paced one of our ultra friends in his first 100 mile attempt. They made it 93 miles before being pulled for a time cut off.  Ryan ran Boston this year in 3:19 and then came home and ran “the toughest half marathon in the northwest”, Robie Creek course out and back all on his own, since he’d missed the race due to the Boston conflict. He ran my Lake Lowell Marathon shortly after that, holding the first place spot for many miles until he struggled and faded back. In late May, he ran the Pocatello 50 miler (a really challenging course, with tons of water crossings, snow and elevation gain and loss). Just last Saturday, he ran an unofficial 50 miler called The Schaffer Butte Run and crushed his time from the Pocatello by a few hours. So, it was a big surprise to me when Ryan volunteered to run the entire 50 miles with me again this week! The man’s a machine!

When I told my husband about my idea, he was very supportive and even decided to come along and run the first 12 miles with Ryan’s wife, Michelle, which I thought was awesome. I’ve been hoping to get my husband interested in trail running and this was a perfect opportunity!

We started our run, bright and early at 5 am. It was still dark out, so we all wore headlamps.  The crisp, early morning air was delicious and I enjoyed staring up at the stars and the crescent moon up in the velvety black sky as we ran hard through the mountains so early into the new day.  Deer Point starts at 6,884 ft. We ran from the top, on forest roads, until we reached a trail called Hard Guy (which we agreed, especially on the way back up, is a fitting moniker!) From Hard Guy, we ran to Corrals Trail, to the parking lot for a total of about 11.84 miles one way.

Starting the run up high reminded me a lot of Big Horn’s start, which, for this year’s snow course, also had a nice elevation loss in the early miles. I ran like a maniac last week in the first few miles, loving the downhill start, despite the mud and over-crowded singletrack. Ryan and I started our run very similarly.  My Garmin recorded our first mile as a 7:47 pace! We were flying and I felt determined and strong!

One thing I felt very strong about was leaving the Garmin on the entire time – no matter what happened (stops to use the bathroom, to adjust clothing, to chat with spouses and friends, to eat, even later on, to wait for traffic multiple times at crosswalks when we headed back into Boise (which, indeed happened probably 10 times.) I wanted to treat my run like a race and see if, even with the delays that come up, I could “make” the 15 hour time cut off Big Horn had.  I needed to know if I had what it takes to do it or not. I figured the delays we would face would mimic time in aid stations, crowded trails and check ins and outs at Big Horn last week.  I couldn’t replicate the mud – the crazy, calf-high, shoe-sucking miles of mud from Big Horn, but I did replicate multiple water crossings, crazy elevation loss and some serious climbs on single track. I was also running on legs that had put out a pretty hard effort just one week before – more than 10 hours at Big Horn giving my all.  I figured that would even things out some, too.

Ryan had jokingly told me before we started that he wanted us to get down to the Corrals Trail parking lot in about 2 hours. He later confessed, he really didn’t think he’d make that time goal – but it turned out that we came awfully close!  We passed our friends, who were on their way up from the 7 am start, about 1/2 a mile from the parking lot!  It was awesome seeing our pals and gave me a mental boost. We got down to the parking area (which also has an outhouse) and I used the facilities, while Ryan refilled our water with jugs we’d left in my car there.  He was awesome, helping me and then sending me back up the mountain, while he hid some of our extra food for later, since my husband would be taking that car home and it wouldn’t be there the next time we came down the mountain. He told me after he caught back up that we’d only spent maybe 5 minutes in the “aid station” there. Doing good!

Now, I can run downhills very well. I run flats good. But uphill, I seriously suck! I went from seeing a nice steady downhill pace to a sudden slow-as-molasses uphill crawl. Mile 17 was a 31:48! The sun was out. It was getting hot and we were slogging back UP that sweet downhill on rocky, single track trail. It was slow-going. It was about here that I started to struggle with nausea. That would become the biggest trial of the day off and on for hours. I felt like throwing up. I took a gel. I use the GU Lemon Sublime ones that have ginger and chamomile in them and thought it might ease my stomach distress. It only made it worse. I spent the better part of that climb burping and feeling awful. (I had to apologize to Ryan for all the unladylike behavior. haha.) I soon realized I’d accidentally left my salted potatoes and hand held full of soda back in my fridge at home (guess it really was like Big Horn all over again, where the aid stations had ran out of potatoes and soda when I got to them!)

We trudged along, Ryan way ahead, while I dragged along behind up, up, up the mountain. I was craving Coke.  After dealing with severe morning sickness with all five of my children, I’d learned that Coke can always settle my stomach when it’s upset. I became very focused on getting some, even though it was a pretty ridiculous wish way out there in the mountains, so far from any stores.  Poor Ryan. I’m sure I repeated my longings for soda at least a zillion times. Thankfully, though, Ryan did have some pop in his truck back at the top of Deer Point – about 23.5 miles into the run.  He ran ahead where he found a couple of our friends and asked them to grab me an orange soda from his cooler and bring it back down to where I was lagging behind, nauseated and plodding along slowly uphill.

About mile 22, I looked up and saw two smiling faces coming towards me! My friends, Sparkle (who is every bit as fun-loving as her name suggests) and Chele were jogging down to me holding the longed-for drink! I could have kissed them both!  Ryan had teased them earlier to go slowly on their descent, so as not to shake the soda too much. They had replied, “We’re graceful runners! We GLIDE, we don’t JOG!” hahaha. Well, despite their “gliding” the soda started spewing out the top when I opened it! We all got a good laugh out of that! Ohhh and did it taste heavenly! Cold, sweet, orange soda just hit the spot. I gulped down several mouthfuls before continuing on.  We just walked, while we chatted and I drank several sips along the last mile or so back to the car. With every sip, I started to come back to life.  My stomach settled, calories got into my blood stream and I started to feel good again.

Seeing friends along the way was such a motivation and source of encouragement!

Seeing friends along the way was such a motivation and source of encouragement!

It was such a treat to reach the car and see my husband, Wayne, Ryan’s wife, Michelle and several of our running friends waiting there.  Wayne even had a folding lawn chair set up and I took the opportunity to sit down and take my right shoe off and pour several pebbles and some dirt out of it. Ahhhhh. I ate a few bites of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, sipped some more soda, filled our packs with new water, posed for a couple of pictures with my friends and then we were off again – heading once more back down the mountain.

The heat was really getting to me, so I ran pretty slow the first few miles.  My stomach was still settling down and Ryan was feeling strong, so I had a hard time keeping up. I enjoyed chatting with my friend, Chele for a bit, before I sent her on her way, too, since she was feeling stronger and I didn’t want to hold her back.  It was about this point, that I remembered my mp3 player in my pack.  I took it out, along with the second Garmin and put them both on.  I had the 2nd Garmin just in case my first Garmin died on the run, so I’d be able to keep track of the miles and overall time no matter what.

Once I got that music playing, things started to change for me.  My mood lifted. My legs turned over faster. I started to feel GOOD again. The first song I heard was “Be Ok” by Ingrid Michealson. I felt it was appropriate as she sang the words, “I just wanna be ok, be ok, be ok. I just wanna be ok today.” It truly was my heart cry. I just wanted to know at the end of the day that I was “good enough.” That I could, indeed accomplish a big goal that I’d set before me.

We reached the Hard Guy trail, and that’s when things really took off for me! I love the single track through this section.  All around us were wildflowers – white,  yellow and purple! The scent of the white ones was similar to lilacs (my favorite flower!) The Boise Foothills are so beautiful this time of year! Lots of green grasses swaying in the breeze, some trees and all those lovely flowers! It was a high point for me to be running while surrounded by such beauty.  Pink’s song, “So What” came on about here and before I knew it I was running about an 8:30 pace easily, rocking out to my tunes, dancing, leaping down the hills, running like a maniac.  The Beatle’s song, “Help” came on after that. I just kept running and didn’t look back.  After ZZ Top’s “She’s Got Legs” was over, I hit pause on the mp3 and turned to say something to Ryan.  Ryan?! He wasn’t there.  I looked way up the hill and saw him in the distance. I almost laughed out loud! I guess I was feeling better. I decided to just crank the tunes again and let him catch up with me when he could.

That didn’t take long, either. Soon, I was marching on an uphill and Ryan caught up. I grinned and said, “I guess music helps me run better, huh?” He said, “YEAH! You should always run with music if that’s what it does for you.”  Ryan stayed ahead the rest of the way to the Corrals parking lot. I relaxed and twirled on the mountain top, stuck out my arms like a bird, ran swiftly and just HAD FUN for a change! I realized that when I’m having a great time and my mind’s in a happy place, I tend to run better.  So, I went with it for as long as it lasted.  Unfortunately, I had ran out of food at about mile 28 and I’d only had water – warm, disgusting, blah, water – for many miles. I was fading again. My nausea returned with a vengeance.  I slowed way down again, just shuffling and feeling in a foul mood. I started muttering about cold Coke again. It’s all I could think about.

I ran the last 1/4 mile into Corrals at a dead man’s shuffle pace.  Ryan was patiently waiting at the gate for me.  I looked him in the eye and said, “I really need some soda, Ryan. Please, can we run down the mountain on the road to the grocery store about 3 miles down so I can buy one. I’ll buy you one too.” He said we could and my mood improved. I used the porta potty and Ryan refilled our water and pulled out our stashed snacks. My stomach felt ill just looking at the things I had available – trail mix, a half peanut butter and jelly sandwich which had been smashed and was sweating in the plastic bag in the heat.  I just stared at the unappealing food. My brain knew I needed to eat but my stomach just felt so terrible it was hard to get an appetite for anything I had.  I put the trail mix in my pocket and took a couple tiny bites of the sandwich, then put the rest of it in my Nathan pocket, too.  I stood up, leaning on my knees, trying to steel myself for another 16 miles of running.

We were heading out of the parking lot, towards Bogus Basin road, when Ryan spotted the first of our friends making their way back to the parking lot! I was worried about time since my pace had slowed way down, but seeing first one, then another and then another smiling face pop around the corner at the end of the trail really was very encouraging.  I stood as each of our friends came down to chat with us.  They asked how I was and I told them I was feeling sick and needed some cold Coke.  Mike, Ben Blessing’s dad, said, “Did you say Coke?”  I nodded. He walked over to his truck, opened it up and pulled out this huge cooler.  He lifted the lid to reveal tons of ice-cold drinks buried in ice – including one, ice cold Coke!!!!!  He held it out to me and I rushed up and gave him the biggest hug and said, “You just saved me!” I couldn’t believe it! It was like a miracle! I think the other runners had similar thoughts of him being a magic Genie when he passed out beers and water. I think Mike became everyone’s best friend right at that moment!

With ice cold Coke in my hand (a screw-top, thankfully), Ryan and I headed out to the road and started running downhill towards town. I had on my tunes, was sipping soda and was starting to feel better again.  Just a few minutes later, I saw my husband, who passed us in his car, waving and smiling!  He turned around and met up with us shortly after.  He was there to crew us the last 16 miles!  Glory hallelujah!  Wayne’s crewed for me many times, so I knew we’d be well taken care of for the final leg of our journey.

When he pulled off the road, it was such a relief to take off our Nathans and dump them into the car, knowing we’d have access to them along the way, as needed, without having to carry them anymore. YES! He’d also brought me the potatoes with salt and flask of soda I’d had in the fridge at home.  I was still too nauseous to eat, but was thankful to have them nearby if I did later on.  I kissed him and told him how much I loved him and then Ryan and I headed into town, aiming for the Boise Greenbelt to finish our last few miles.  I had roughly figured we’d earned enough elevation gain and loss in the mountains to equal Big Horn, so this was our final stretch where we just needed some flatter miles.  The Big Horn finishes up on a very flat stretch of 5 miles of road, so this was as close as I could get for that.

It was about 6 miles of running, having to stop at stop lights, then finding our legs pretty locked up so we’d creak and shuffle across the crosswalk, laughing at how ridiculous we looked, only to repeat the whole business again a couple blocks later. Ryan and I were in good spirits in this section.  Wayne kept waiting for us every mile or so with cold drinks and an encouraging word.  It was wonderful having his help!

It was very, very hot by this point.  We were really tired and I remember passing one home where the sprinklers were going. I shamelessly walked right through each and every one of them — loving the icy water yet almost immediately wanting to scream from the pain it brought from the chaffing of my inner thighs. Ouch!  I’d been feeling blisters forming on the bottom of my feet and my toes for many hours. The bottom of my feet felt like someone had hit them over and over with a hammer.  My brain was foggy. I was lethargic, tired, ready to be done. I was walking a lot. I remember looking at my Garmin and seeing that I was doing a 20 min/mile. I realized I still had about 11 miles to go and I almost started weeping thinking I’d have to keep going for 3 1/2 more hours. Ugh!

When Ryan and I finally got to the Greenbelt, I was relieved.  10 more miles. Right away I noticed a patch of soft-looking grass under a tree and flopped down and stretched out.  Ryan did the same. Man, it felt good to stretch the back out, but I didn’t want to get up.  Ryan said, “C’mon! We still have more running to do.” I groaned and got up, trying not to focus on all the footfalls I still had left before I’d reach 50 miles.  Ryan pointed out that we were “crushing” the time goal. I wanted to finish in 15 hours – the same time cut off that Big Horn has and we were well on our way to coming in under that goal.

I think it was around mile 42 or 43 that we came across the flooded sections of the Greenbelt.  We’d ran through two water crossings each time we’d done the mountain section (so, 6 times we’d submerged our feet as we forded the crossings) and here we found sections of the path covered in overflow from the Boise River, which runs parallel to the Greenbelt.  My feet were so hot and I felt terrible, so this section really picked up my spirits.  Ryan was ahead of me and at first was trying to pick and choose his steps across it, trying not to get his bright red running shoes wet again. I was ankle deep in freezing cold river water and yelled ahead, “Embrace it, Ryan! Just run through it! It feels great!” Within seconds, he was charging through, whooping and having a ball! “That’s the spirit!” I yelled.

My shoes felt pretty heavy after that, but I didn’t mind. The cold water had been refreshing.  We kept going and going and going, slowly making our way down the Greenbelt.  Ryan promised me somewhere in here that when we finished our 50 miles in Ann Morrison Park, that we’d both jump into the Boise River to celebrate!  It sounded wonderful and I kept thinking about that, as we slowly went along, doing a whole lot more painful, slow walking than running at this point – just intent on getting to the 50 mile mark.

At some point in here, a couple of faster runners passed us, giving us a look like, “What the heck is wrong with you two?”  We were shuffling like a couple of old ladies and most of these runners were probably out for their daily 3 miler.  I’m sure they were thinking, especially after glancing at Ryan’s muscled calves, “Yeah, right, buddy! Pick up the pace!” We laughed about that.   When we finally reached 45 miles, we turned around to head back the final 5 miles to the park where our spouses, Ryan’s kids and our friends, Randy and his wife, Patti were waiting to cheer us in.  Knowing that they were there for us was a real mental boost. It really did feel like a race to me.

We encountered some dude doing speedwork about here. He ran at us, hard and fast, panting and puffing, then stopped right in front of Ryan and turned around to head the other way.  Ryan looked at me and said, “That guy is taunting me!” I said, “Ok, bigshot! Go show him what you got!” I laughed as Ryan tried to pick up the pace and chase after the guy.  I was actually pretty surprised when he did, in fact, get some knee lift in there and looked fast for about three seconds.  Then he was done and shuffled back at me saying, “That’s all I had left.”  We laughed.  It was funny to feel so slow. We started making dumb jokes like, “This IS me sprinting right now” as we dragged our sorry selves across the pavement at a break-neck 17 – 25 min pace.  Old ladies walking dogs, little kids on trikes – all passed us easily here.  None of them knew what we’d been through or how long we’d been running or the mission I had before me. It was kind of funny.

Getting there...but the steps were getting slower.

Getting there…but the steps were getting slower.

At about mile 48, Wayne met up with us again.  Ryan handed me over to Wayne for the final stretch and he ran ahead to the park to let the others know how close I was. I hugged Ryan and thanked him for helping me on my journey.  As soon as Ryan was gone, I looked at Wayne and burst into tears. I moaned, “I’m soooooo tired. My feet hurt soooo  much. I don’t like this. I never want to do it again.  I just want to lay down, honey!”  Wayne hugged me and chuckled at me.  He’s seen me like this before – usually at the end of a marathon, when I’ve given all I have on the road and am reduced to a raw, empty emotional wreck. He was smiling, too, since he knew I was going to achieve my goal by that point.  Even in my deranged state, I knew it too. I knew I was crushing my time goal – despite flopping onto the grass every half mile or so or leaning on my knees and just coming to a standstill over and over and over.

Somewhere in here, Wayne offered me that salted potato again. I finally took a few small bites. My brain new I was bonking hard and that some fuel would help, even though my stomach wanted nothing to do with anything to eat or drink.  My stomach was so bloated from all the water that I looked a few months pregnant. I was sloshing and yucky feeling. But, I made myself eat just a bit for the final part of my journey.

We had to make some circles around the block, then headed back to the Greenbelt.  Right when we hit 49 miles, we spotted our friends again. Noooo… I said to Wayne. We’re too soon! I feel bad! They were so encouraging, clapping and cheering and I had to shuffle along and say, “I’m so sorry. 1 more mile! Just 1 more mile.” and I kept going.  Ryan and Wayne switched again and it helped having my “pacer” back by my side for the final mile of my journey.  I turned on my music, blocked out everything else and slowly but surely started to find my stride again. We ran until I’d hit 1/2 mile out, then turned back towards the park and our waiting support crew.  I locked my mind into race mode once more. I’d noticed my watch showing that I was nearly the 14 hour mark and I made it my goal to finish before the watch showed 14 hours.  My goal had been 15 hours, so I was still ahead of what I’d set out to do and felt really confident that I was about to become a 50 mile runner no matter what! It was a great feeling! I cranked the pace once I hit .25 away and when I saw my husband and our friends I really laid it down and went into my final kick! My Garmin shows I hit about a 5:25 pace at the finish line! My Garmin battery died just as I hit 50 miles – in 13 hours and 57 minutes! I did it!!! I reached my goal! I proved something to myself out there! I redeemed myself from the Big Horn thwarted attempt! I hugged and kissed my husband and said, “I needed you so much out here today. Thank you for everything!” and Then I hugged Ryan and told him, “You were awesome to help me so much today! Thank you so much!”

I have no idea where this energy came from at the end, but I couldn't wait to cross the "finish line" and become a 50 miler!

I have no idea where this energy came from at the end, but I couldn’t wait to cross the “finish line” and become a 50 miler!

Ryan took off running into the Boise River and dove in with a splash! We were all laughing – especially his four kids! Then he looked at me and said, “Come on!” Wayne helped me get off the Garmins and mp3 player and I started to take off my shoes and everyone said, “Don’t even bother! Just go in!” So I did. I walked right into that water and when I reached Ryan I pumped up my fists in the air in triumph and yelled, “We did it!” It was awesome!

Stats: 50 miles, baby! Time: 13:57.  Pace: 16:45. Best pace: 5:25.  Moving Time: 12:00 (wow, I stood still throughout the day nearly two hours – those flops on the grass, those aid station stops and those stop lights really added up!) Moving pace: 14:26.  Ave HR: 132. Max Heart rate (the HIGHEST I’ve ever seen it by nearly 20 points!) was: 223. Elevation Gain: 4,977 feet. Elevation Loss: 9,180 feet.  Fastest mile all day – mile 1 – 7:47. 🙂

I did it!!! Along with the help of the world's best pacer of course. :)

I did it!!! Along with the help of the world’s best pacer of course. 🙂

 

The best finish ever - right into the ice cold Boise River in June!!

The best finish ever – right into the ice cold Boise River in June!!

 

06/23/11

Pictures and a race recap of Big Horn from a Daily Mile friend

My Daily Mile friend, Ellen, posted her blog and Big Horn race recap, complete with pictures of the 50 mile course and I am happy to share it here, as well, since it helps share the story of the day in the Big Horn mountains.  I wish I had some pictures of my own to share, but I’m so happy to see these from Ellen and hope you enjoy them, too.

http://ellenlsilva.blogspot.com/2011/06/bighorn-mountain-wild-and-scenic-trail.html

06/23/11

Jogging With Jr

I was hungry for a few miles today and when Jr saw me coming downstairs in my running gear, he begged to come along, too.  I had planned to do 7 or 8 miles, but decided to alter my plans so he could join me.  I told him we’d do about 4 and include “the hill” near our home since he really enjoys the sensation of running down the other side once we’ve worked our way up to the top.  He was so jazzed, I think he was dressed and ready to head out in five minutes flat!

It’s pretty hot today. About 80 degrees and very sunny. The poor kid. He was wilting and sweating in the first half a mile. I brought plenty of water, though and let him drink as much as he wanted and pour it over his head a few times to cool down.  It was very slow-going. Bless his heart, I think the combination of heat and a Mama who was hoping to get in some steady miles was just more than he could bear today.  I let him set the pace, which meant a lot of walking and stopping to look at things, pick up a loose golf ball, and stare at what he called a “swamp.”  I enjoyed our time together, but let him know that next time I’d probably just let him join me for 1 or 2 miles until he was more accustomed to the heat and distance.   I’m really, really glad he loves to run.

One of the cutest things he said today was, “Mom, I’m going to run 100 miles one day.” I said, “You are, huh? That’s awesome!” He said, “I really liked Emily’s belt buckle (which she’d worn to her daughter’s birthday party last night) and I’d like to have one, too, someday.” I grinned and told him, “Buddy, it’s a worthy goal and I think you can do it. It takes a lot of work, but I think you can do achieve anything you set your mind to.”

As we were getting closer to our neighborhood again, we spotted three boys with bikes ahead of us.  One was pushing his bike, one was riding slow and one was in the front looking eager to go faster.  Jr said, “Mama, wouldn’t it be fun to pass those bikers?” Ahhhh….. the competitor in him comes out! I said, “Sure, buddy! But, don’t sprint.  You don’t want to pass them and them immediately have to walk.  That’s not as cool as sneaking up slowly from behind and them passing them and staying ahead.  Let’s do it sneaky so they won’t even see us coming.” And we, did.. little by little we inched up on them nice and steady and then wished them a “Good morning” as we passed the first two.  But that third one, a boy about 10 like Jr, spotted us and stepped on it! It was hilarious! Jr and I sped up too, but he was pretty fast.  I can imagine how funny it must have looked to an onlooker – some middle aged lady and her sweaty 10 year old panting kid chasing down this little biker! hahaha.  Jr quickly realized the boy was out of our league with a pair of wheels under him and he eased up to a walk, totally grinning.   “So… how did that feel?” I asked him.  “Totally AWESOME, Mom!”   “I know buddy. I know.”  🙂

Stats: 4.31 miles. 14:41 pace. 1:03 total time. 128 Ave HR (easy peasy)  Elevation Gain: 117 ft. Best pace: 6:13 (crossing traffic likely or downhill.) 80 degrees. 10 mph winds. Felt: Happy and hot – no, not THAT kind  – the sweaty, kind. haha

06/22/11

Shaking Out the Cobwebs

This was my first run since Big Horn on Saturday. I felt a little sore afterwards, but not too bad. It was another testament to the fact that the rest of the race was still waiting in my body and hadn’t been spent yet. Kind of frustrating, honestly.

Since I got home late Sunday night, it’s been pretty busy with my two sons in baseball and getting unpacked and caught up with friends and family (and most importantly my husband and kids!) It felt good to get out and run today finally.

It’s hot and sunny – 80 degrees with a 10 mph wind. I felt really strong from the first step. No soreness, no blisters, nothing to show I ran 32 miles in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming on Saturday for over 10 hours.  I’ve been reshashing the race over and over in my mind, dissecting it and analyzing it.  I did so many things right going in. I was well trained, I tapered, ate well, didn’t stress and thought I would do well.  When the race started and the first couple of miles were downhill, I went for it – playing to my strength of downhill running. I tried to plow right through the mud and water crossings. I ran strong and yet kept the pace a bit conservatively knowing I had a long day ahead of me and not wanting to burn out.  I took my S caps every hour, drank water frequently and kept my posture good.  My mind was in a good place for many hours.

What did I do wrong or could have done better? The aid stations ran out of salted potatoes and soda and I didn’t have a back up plan for that.  When I hit Foot Bridge at 16.1 miles I did get a few sips of soda, but they were out of salted potatoes (the only “real” food I trained with.) I took some grapes but avoided the sandwiches they offered me since they had flies sitting on them.  Honestly.. I should have just gotten over that and taken one. It probably cost me my race, since the steepest climb in the entire race happens right out of that aid station and goes on for several miles. It’s just rugged, slippery, rocky up, up, up. The sun was out. It was hot and all I could think about was Coke and salted potatoes.  I had gels, but they were making me nauseous by that point, something that hadnt’ happened in training – though again, in training, I had potatoes to even things out in my stomach.

I should have used my arms more to move me up the mountain. I did have a vision of my friend, Jenny, barking at me, “You’ve got arms! Use em!!” in her cute little Louisiana accent, but I didn’t keep that up. I’m a horrible uphill climber. One of the slowest of my friends. I usually make it up on the downhills and flats, but in this race, more of that was waiting after that cut off than before, so I was unable to make it back up (which I honestly REALLY think I could have if I’d been allowed to go past the aid station.)  Once I got some food in me at mile 26 (Raman noodles, a few bites of PB and J and some soda) I was ready to rock and roll!!! I flew out of that aid station on a mission! I was ALIVE again! I ran as hard as I could for four miles (which included plenty of mud, a couple water crossings and some uphill), but once I got to the point I could actually SEE the aid station I was heading towards wayyyyy up the hill – about 741 feet of climb in a mile – and had just 6 minutes to make the cut off I knew it was over.   That was tough and still haunts me.  I felt fine. My stride was strong, I was perky again and just know I’d have been able to make up the time in the last 18 miles if given the chance. DARN IT!!!!

Other lessons: Don’t jump up and down and cheer for the 100 or so runners who pass you coming the other way on the trail and DON’T come to a standstill when this happens. Keep moving forward, Conserve Energy (except of course when you see your friends who deserve every bit of energy and jumping and hugging and woo-hooing you can give them!) 🙂   Don’t waste time in aid stations.  I went through 5 aid stations (Cow Camp at 5.5, Horse Camp? at 12.1 or so, and Foot Bridge at 16.1, then back through them all again on the way back: Horse Camp at 20ish, Cow Camp at 26 and then hit Dry Fork (the place our race started and the place mine ended since the cut off was 4 pm.)  It’s hard to train for all the distractions and stopping required. I zipped right through Cow Camp and Horse Camp on the way down, flashing my number, and getting out fast.  I first stopped at Foot Bridge because I was burning up and needed to get my pants off that were covering my shorts. Problem was I could not get them off without taking my shoes off. They were thickly caked in mud, so I just yanked them off, then the socks since they were so gross and changed shoes and socks there from my drop bag.  I thought it was ok, though I hadn’t planned on doing it and didn’t need it (feet were fine even though muddy and wet.)  I was watching the other runners and trying to copy what they did since I’m still so new to ultra racing.  There was a whole row of chairs there and many runners sitting in them with their shoes off soaking feet in water tubs, or changing shoes or eating.  They all looked so relaxed, I think I took a cue from them and tried to relax, too. MISTAKE! I grabbed some food and then headed out, only realizing right when the aid station captain yelled, “10 minutes to cut off” that’ I’d been there 10 minutes!! YIKES!  It can add up fast! I took maybe 2 minutes at the next aid station grabbing salted peanuts and three mini candy bars (yuck!) But, it was all they had.  My pace slowed considerably after that. I was alone and had been for some time. Not another runner in front or behind. Just me. It was hot. Very hot. Salt was caking my face. My Garmin was reminding me how bad I was at uphill climbing and I started to wonder if I had a hope in the world of making the cut offs.  It was a low point and I hiked/walked a lot.

I shouldn’t have stopped for the thirsty dog. At least not so long. The runner said the dog needed water and she didn’t have any. I had plenty, so I took drinks and spit them out like a fountain and the big dog just lapped it up. She was so thirsty, it broke my heart, so I did that maybe for 5-7 minutes until she seemed to have her fill. But….. that 5-7 minutes again could have made all the difference in the world at the Dry Fork aid station – the difference between being allowed to pass Go and Collect $200 dollars or being sent to Jail indefinitely and DNFing. DANG IT!  Live and learn. 🙂

Anyways… the run today went well. 5.41 miles. 9:42 pace under the hot sun. 165 ave heart rate.  Last .41 of a mile 8:28 pace (I always tend to speed up the longer I run – usually, which would have also been a bonus if I’d been allowed to continue on.)  Best pace today: 6:55. Felt: Strong, eager to race soon.

Money’s tight, so I can’t just sign up for something else like Mt Hood in July. Wish I could. I’ll probably have to wait until August, when my friend, Ben has a super tough 50 miler called Wild Idaho – with an elevation gain of 16,000 feet (yeah, you read that right and I’m scared), but a time limit of 28 hours (yeah, you read that part right too!) Could be my perfect combo – a super long cut off, even though the uphill is going to murder me.  I’m sure I can do that as long as I don’t injure myself.  I love the area his race takes place in. My parents had a place up there in the mountains from the time I was about 10 or so. I learned to drive on a golf cart in those mountains.  I took many long, nature walks as a kid under those piney canopies. It’s a beautiful area and I’m very at home there. I just never ran 50 miles in it before!!!!!  I guess I will soon.

06/20/11

Big Horn 50 Miler Race Report

Well, I’m home! It was a crazy adventure, but I’ve lived to tell the story, so here it goes.  A group of 8 of us from the Boise, Idaho area headed to Dayton, Wyoming for the Big Horn Wild and Scenic Trail Run this past weekend.  My friends Tony, Dennis, Jeff and Emily were signed up for the 100 miler, Emily’s husband, John was signed up for the 50k and Donna, Theresa and I were in for the 50 miler. It was a diverse and fun group. John was out for his first 50k attempt and Donna and I were in for our first 50 mile attempt. Emily was on the hunt for a 100 mile official finish (having just barely missed the final cut off at the Bear -where, she did, in fact, run the entire 100 miles but did not get the coveted belt buckle of those who finished in the time limit.) The rest of the group had a bit more ultra experience under their belts and we all went in optimistic that we’d have a good outcome at Big Horn, though we were all a bit concerned with the reported conditions of the trails after such a snowy winter and cold spring left plenty of water and mud on the course.

On Friday morning,  Emily, Dennis, Jeff and Tony lined up with the other 100 milers at the park, near the giant sculpture of the elk.  The national anthem was sang by a man with a deep, warm baritone and then they were off on their 100 mile trail adventure! We cheered and clapped for our friends and I got a few pictures.  I spent that evening curious how they were doing and was unable to sleep that night, hoping they were all having a great race under the full moon out in the mountains. I tossed and turned until 2:45am, when it was time to get up. I dressed quickly, used the bathroom and double checked my Nathan vest to make sure it was carrying 70 oz of water and all the essentials I thought I’d need out there: an extra long sleeved shirt, a pair of pants my friend Theresa had loaned me (thanks, Theresa!), plenty of trail mix, S caps and gels. I felt ready, calm and cautiously optimistic that it was going to go well.

Theresa, Donna and I walked to the buses about 3:50 am.  We found seats and sat down.  Within a couple of minutes, Donna realized she’d forgotten her coat and she ran back to the camp site to get it.  Several minutes passed and the driver shut the door, turned off the lights and started to pull forward. Luckily, Theresa and I yelled that our friend wasn’t back yet.  He stopped the bus and just a few minutes later, Donna was back wearing her coat and ready to race.  Our bus (the lead bus of four), slowly took off on a 90 minute drive up, up, up into the Big Horn mountains.  Many slept. I tried to relax and enjoy the colorful pink, purple and orange show in the sky as the sun was slowly rising while we weaved our way up the mountain.  It wasn’t long before the bus came to a sudden stop! A deer had crossed the road right in front of us!  We rounded a corner, and someone from the back yelled out, “A moose! Look!” Sure enough, a Mama moose and her baby were wandering in the meadow just off the road! Shortly after, we also spotted a doe and her tiny, spotted baby trotting along about 20 feet from the road. I could tell it was going to be an exciting day, with so many wildlife sightings already!

We arrived at Dry Fork (the 50 mile start) at an elevation of about 7500 feet about 5:30 am and saw a 100 mile runner coming up the side of the mountain towards the aid station. The whole bus started hooting and clapping! Everyone was so excited to get to see some of the 100 milers in their race (though, of course the winner of the 100,  Zachariah Miller (age 35) had already finished the course at 5:15 am (19 hours and 13 min – amazing!) We filed off the bus and it was a thrill to get to cheer on those racers (many of them looking exhausted and worn down after a long night of running and then climbing up the hardest section in the whole course, affectionately nicknamed “The Wall” which gains about 2000 feet of elevation over just about 3 miles.) It was pretty cold -maybe 40 degrees and breezy as we shivered in the cold and waited for our own start at 6 am.

They finally lined us up, the national anthem was sang, and we were off! Since the 50 milers were heading down the wall, it was pretty good running for the first mile or so. I settled into a quick, relaxed stride and felt amazing almost from the start.  I was so happy to be racing finally! You lose 451 feet of elevation in the first mile, so I was in 7th heaven running downhill, quickly warming up and feeling strong. The path was very rutted, crowded and muddy, but I picked my way down the first stretch dodging slower downhill runners and settling into a good pace.  It wasn’t long before we came to the first stream crossing.  I remembered what my friend, Dennis had said about these, “Just go straight through them. Don’t dilly dally looking for ways to keep your shoes dry. You won’t be able to anyway and you’ll waste time.” So, I just charged straight through, splashing water all around me as I went, feeling the icy chill of the mountain water soaking my feet. It felt GREAT and I knew I was in for a good time!

The first six miles were a lot of fun. If the entire race course had been as pleasant as they were (you know, early in the morning, no hot sun beating down on me yet, all downhill and only somewhat technical) I’d have been golden. But, of course, that wasn’t going to be the case. I was using my strategy of “Play to your strengths” and just running well on the downhill sections, which just happened to take place right at the start. It did occur to me that this section was going to be hell to come back up later, but I tried not to think about that.

Just about 2 miles into the race, I saw my friend, Dennis coming up the Wall! I was so excited to see one of my friends! Every single time we encountered a 100 miler coming up the singletrack, I’d pull off into the thick sagebrush and cheer “Way to go! Looking good! and I did double that for my friends, evening hugging them and wishing them well before sending them on.  Shortly after seeing Dennis, I ran into Tony, cheered for him, then a few minutes later, I saw Jeff.  Jeff said , “I feel like crap!”, I told him he looked great and headed back down the trail.  My heart was happy that I’d been able to witness my pals on their 100 mile journey. I felt pretty honored, honestly and that section was a highlight for me.

There was a lot of shoe-sucking mud, roots, tons of rocks of various sizes and the path was more challenging than any I’d ever ran before in racing or training.  I was still all smiles, though, when I caught the scent of bacon cooking.  Wow, that was a boost! I ran into the Cow Camp aid station, smiling from ear to ear and ready to eat some of that delicious food. I knew that time can get lost in aid stations, so I tried to be quick, flashing my number, getting checked “in” to the aid station, grabbing a piece of the bacon and one of the chip-thin cooked potatoes and flashing my number to check “out” before running down the hill side.  I felt pretty good. I’d taken my jacket and arm sleeves off and was wearing a singlet tank top and a light pair of running pants over my compression shorts. The sun was out and I was getting hot. I did a great job of staying hydrated, taking the S caps and peeing. Everything seemed to be on schedule.

Things got a lot rougher after the Cow Camp aid station. It’s the prettiest section of the course, but it’s also very challenging.  It really did look like the Grand Canyon with high white walls of rock just climbing high into the sky surrounded by meadows of thick seafoam green sagebrush and yellow and purple wildflowers. It was gorgeous! It just took my breath away to see on the opposite side several mountainsides thickly covered with pine forests. It was truly one of the most breathtaking views I’ve ever witnessed.  But, I tried to keep my eyes on the technical single-track trail, so that I wouldn’t fall down the mountainside, slanting steeply away from the path. It would have been a long fall down and I didn’t want to think about that.

The path weaved into thicker tree cover finally. That was a relief as it was getting so warm. There were many more creek crossings and thick sections of shoe-sucking mud throughout the course to endure. I’ve never raced in mud up to my mid-calf before but I did it for many miles in this race. I’d also never ran uphill while a stream of water was running down at me, but that, also happened in points on this stretch. Crossing the streams and creeks, which were impossible to go around, made for some very technical terrain as well. I think there were at least 20 of them (and we had to go back through them on the way back!) I really did love the water crossings, believe it or not.  The shock of the cold water on my feet was very refreshing and I’d bend down and splash some on my legs and hands as well to refresh myself at each one. My feet were wet and muddy the entire race.

It was through the canyon section, with the wildflowers all around that I finally saw the one person I wanted most to run across at this race — my friend Emily!!!!!  I squealed and yelled her name and broke into a fast run towards her!  She was all smiles, which was a very good sign considering she was probably at least 75 miles into her race! She looked strong, was feeling good and was still running! I wished her well and headed on my way.

Several miles later, I made it into Footbridge (the first cut off) at 4:10 into the race.  The cut off was 4:30, so I was feeling pleased.  I was burning up and wanted to get my pants off and leave them in my drop bag. An aid worker found my bag, and I sat down in a chair to get the pants off.  Now, in race reports about this race that I’d been reading, I’d noted that nearly everyone takes off their shoes at this point in the race and changes them out for clean, dry ones. I had shoes and socks in my bag. I had no intention of putting them on though, since I was feeling fine and figured I’d just get wet and muddy again quickly anyways. But… as I yanked on the pants it became clear that with so much mud caked on them, I would not be able to get them off quickly without taking my shoes off. It seemed like it would just be easier to yank off the shoes without touching the laces under all that mud, so I did. My socks were totally black and I took those off too. My feet were dirty, but looked great. No blisters at all! I quickly took off the muddy pants and put them, my arm sleeves and my long sleeved shirt and jacket into the drop bag.  It would occur to me very quickly after I left that it was not a smart move to leave my only jacket behind, but I was in a hurry and clearly not thinking about the fact that I’d still need to be prepared for another 11 hours of trail running. For some reason, I was thinking we had to run to Footbridge from Dry Fork twice and that I’d have an opportunity to get into that bag and get my jacket or arm sleeves later on if needed (which was incorrect.) I put on the fresh shoes and socks and they did feel great! I grabbed my Nathan which again had 70 oz of fresh, cold water and grabbed another 5 gels from my drop bag and put them into my pocket. I headed to the foot table eager for some salted potatoes, soup and soda. What I found was lots of fresh fruit, some sandwiches with a couple of flies sitting on them and plenty of chips and candy – but no salted potatoes or soup. I grabbed some fruit and a few pretzels and heard the aid station captain shout out “10 minutes until cut off” and only had time to pour a little Pepsi and sip a couple sips before I headed out of there.  I left by 4:21 into the race.

I felt pretty good and enjoyed the handful of fruit, but I could tell that I was low on calories. I took a gel and an s cap, but quickly realized that I was starting to really feel the affects of the work I was doing and needed more to eat than I’d been given. I was dying for a salted potato since that’s what I always trained with this past few months and was really shocked I’d been unable to get any from the 3 aid stations I’d encountered so far into the race.  I was very concerned how I’d feel in a few hours if I didn’t get more calories into me.

Going back up the area I’d come down was so much harder.   I passed many 50 milers here and encouraged them to hurry since the cut off was close.  Within a few minutes, I felt terrible when I realized that those smiling runners I was passing would be pulled once they pulled into Footbridge after 16.1 miles into the race. I felt terrible about it especially when I saw my fun-loving pal Jennifer. She was all smiles and I was so happy to see her, but felt terrible when she asked me if she’d make the cut off since I was certain it had passed by that point by just a few minutes.

I kept moving forward and it was suddenly eerily quiet.  When so many were pulled at that aid station and there were no longer 100 milers or faster 50 milers passing me on the trail, it was a sudden and drastic change. I was also going uphill now – the thing I am worst at in all races. I munched the grapes and pretzels I’d brought and just hiked as hard as I could on my slow climb up “The Wall.”  My Garmin Connect shows 589 ft of climb at mile 17, 644 ft at mile 18, 711 at mile 19, then 371 ft for mile 20 and 283 ft for mile 21 – and we weren’t done climbing yet! It was torture! It was muddy, wet and technical and there were no longer any other runners very close to me. I spent nearly 2 hours completely alone through this section.  I thought I was the last 50 mile runner and that got me concerned. I’d say I had my lowest moments from miles 19 – 26.  I was bonking, moving at a snail’s pace, the heat and hunger and lack of any other nearby racers getting to me.  I had taken a gel but had felt nauseous from it (which was a first since they usually work well for me and have in other races.) I tried to nibble more of the trail mix I had with me, but it just didn’t satisfy that hunger for salted potatoes and soda I was having.

I pulled out my mp3 player and tried to pump myself up with music. It helped some. Shania Twain’s song “Up, Up, Up” seemed very appropriate with all the climbing and “Help” the Beatles came on just as I was slogging through yet another long stretch of thick, shoe-sucking mud.  I was getting a headache, the wind started to pick up and I suddenly realized I wish I’d kept my jacket on me.  The weather can change very quickly in the mountains.  Luckily, the wind never become too overwhelming and the heat was pretty strong, so I was fine for this stretch.

Somewhere in this section (I think around mile 20) I came into the minor aid station that I’d earlier came through at around 12.5 miles. I don’t recall the name. Horse Camp, maybe? Anyways, I’d been dreaming of salted potatoes and soda for miles and just knew I’d get my needs met here. But, I was wrong. They had ran out of those earlier so instead I was offered salted peanuts and mini candy bars. My stomach just turned looking at my options, but I knew I had to eat, so I took 3 mini candy bars and a handful of pretzels and kept going.   This was a low spot. I was very concerned I’d be unable to come back from the bonk fully without something more substantial in my system.  I just don’t handle sweet things when I’m running.  They usually upset my stomach. This proved to be the case when I tried to eat a few peanut M and M’s. My stomach felt really nauseated, but I kept moving forward.

This was the point where I had my first real wildlife sighting of the race. I came upon a lovely doe munching grass in the meadow.  She saw me and then bounded off into the tree cover, where she turned and curiously watched me from a safer distance.  I stopped and watched her too. She was lovely and seeing her cheered my heart.

I fought the nausea, the headache, and a bit of an upset stomach and my cravings for better food and drink as I went along this stretch.  I thought of the Hobbit, on his first adventure, far away from his comfortable hobbit hole, hungry and forlorn.  I started missing my family really terrible at this point and was quickly starting to think I would not be able to make the time cut off in the race since all the uphill and the lack of food was getting to me and slowing me way down. I kind of wanted to just go home and would have taken the offer if a Fairy Godmother had shown up on the path and offered me a wish.

About mile 24 I thought I was hearing a bell.  I thought I was hearing things. I’d already been “seeing” things that weren’t there for some time.  Odd things, like a little boy peeking at me over the next ridge, only to get closer and realize that it was just an unusual bit of wood in a shape somewhat like that of a child’s head. I thought I saw a boat with a sail right in the forest after that.  It turned out to be a tree with white bark.  I have heard of 100 milers having hallucinations, but never of someone only running a short distance as I was. I thought it was odd that my mind was playing tricks on me, but figured it was from being hungry and alone.  When I heard the bell and then clapping, I really thought I was imaging it.  After a bit, my “imagination” ran up and waited to be petted.  This cute lab was just standing there, her tongue hanging out, looking at me like, “Wanna run?!”  I turned around to find a very pretty girl running in what looked like a tiny, white tennis skirt. She had duct tape on both heels and was running with her feet only partially in her thin shoes.  She told me she was a bare-foot runner normally and was just waiting for a less-rocky section before she could run the way she wanted to.  I let her and the dog  (who it turned out belonged to someone at the next aid station) pass and jogged along, happy to at least have someone else on the trail with me for a change.  When we’d gone another mile or so, she stopped and asked if I had any extra water. I told her that I did and she asked if I’d share some with the dog, who was very hot and thirsty. I said, “Of course.”   After that, it was a long, slow climb up to the Cow Camp aid station.

At that point, I wasn’t sure if there was a cut off at Cow Camp or if I’d make it through.  My face was caked in sweat and salt and when I sat down in the chair and took off my Nathan vest, suddenly the sweaty salt started dripping into my eyes and I couldn’t see. It was painful, too! I made my way to the water jugs and started splashing my face with water to remove the offending salt.  An aid worker saw me and brought me a paper towel, which I appreciated very much.  I felt so much better after washing my face. I was so hungry, still, too, so the first thing I asked for after that was something to eat.  They had no more potatoes, but they did hand me a half peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a cup of raman noodle soup, some grapes and a slice of orange, along with a cup of Pepsi. I felt like a queen sitting down to a feast after being so hungry!  There was this adorable little girl, with blond curly hair there chewing on an orange slice and I leaned down and said to her, “Are you 4 years, old, honey?” She held up her hand and showed me four fingers and nodded. I told her, “I thought so. I have a 4 year old little girl at home who looks a lot like you.” She asked me if I had other kids, so I started telling her about all five of mine. She wanted to know their names and I enjoyed our little chat, although it also made me a bit homesick again.  I sat down and ate some food while they filled my Nathan up with some cold water.

Within just a few minutes, I felt awesome again! It was like I’d come back from the dead! I was still sore and tired but all of a sudden, I felt like I could run again instead of just walk or hike. (I’m sure climbing up that 2,000 up the Wall and finally reaching a flatter section helped mentally, too!) The aid station worker said with a concerned face, “Good luck on the next cut off.”  That’s when I finally looked back at my Garmin and realized I’d really have to run well from this point to the next aid station to miss the cut off!  The Cow Camp aid station had come along at around 26.2 miles or so.  I needed to make it to Dry Fork (the start spot) by 4 pm.  I knew it was over 5.5 miles there and I had about an hour to get there. I knew it would be tough, but I broke into a run and started working for it.  Very quickly, I was comfortably running 9 – 11 minute miles and thought there was hope again. I caught up to my friend, Donna who’d came into Cow Camp and immediately went out again without eating or really stopping.  I told her we had less than 50 minutes to make the final 4 + miles and asked if she wanted to join me in trying to hit the cut off.  She said no and so I headed on, determined to meet the time limit and feeling optimistic that I at least had a shot.  I caught up to another man, who’d also passed me while I ate at the aid station and asked if he would like to run with me to the next aid station. He said he just couldn’t keep up at this point and was ok with whatever happened at the aid station, so off I went.  It all went well, until, after yet another water and mud crossing, I reached the point that I could finally see the aid station wayyyyyyyy up on the hill top — 451 feet of climb up. It was a mile away and I was down to about 6 minutes before the cut off. I knew then that it was just impossible. So very close, but so far away and so high up.  Even on my best day, I can only do a 6:50 mile – on a flat surface!!!! It was just not meant to be.  Once I accepted that, I stopped and turned towards the man I’d passed a few miles back and waited for him to catch up.  He was only about 1/4 a mile or less back, so it didn’t take that long before he caught up.  I said, “We’re not going to make it. Are you ok with that?”  He smiled and said, “Of course! These things happen in tough ultras and this course was very tough this year!” I agreed. He also mentioned how the 100 milers had been given a bonus hour on the cut off due to the conditions and how it was kind of disappointing that 30 bonus minutes hadn’t been given to the 50 milers. I agreed and considering how close we were, that 30 minutes would have made all the difference in the world.

We had a great chat on the way up, though.   He was an experienced ultra racer and had lots of cool stories to share with me about races he’d done all over the U.S.  I enjoyed the chatter as we hiked the rest of that last mile uphill to the aid station workers, who looked a little sad to tell us the bad news.  We already knew, though and I was actually in good spirits. I’d given my best. I’d ran well when I could and really pulled out some great times on the downhills. I really think I could have made the cut off if I’d had some potatoes along the way to nourish me better, but what happened, happened and I learned a lot.  I made it 32.1 miles (a bit more than a 50K) with in 10:18:04 I took 24 minutes walking uphill in that last mile. It was a doozy! My best pace all day was on a downhill when I hit 5:45 at about mile 4. That was a highlight section for me and a lot of fun.  My moving time was 9:12, so I was stopped either along the path cheering for the faster runners coming at me or stopped at one of the 5 aid stations I encountered while out there.  I kept my heart rate right where I wanted to: My average was 153.  I wish I’d packed some salted potatoes of my own. I realize I wasted too much time at Footbridge changing shoes and eating and at Cow Camp refueling and chatting with the cute blond 4 year old. I shouldn’t have been so energetically cheering for 100 + runners who passed me on the single track trail. I should have conserved my energy better instead. I should also learn how to allow those faster runners to pass me, without coming to a standstill. Run through the thick sagebrush? Maybe encounter poison ivy or ticks or rattlesnakes in doing so? Hmm.. I’ll have to think about that.  I think about 250 were signed up for the 50 miler. Only 145 made it to the finish on Saturday. It was truly a tough race on a challenging course with super strict time cut offs!  The final cut off was 15 hours. There is lots of downhill in the final 18 miles and I feel pretty confident I would have made that if I’d been allowed to go past the Dry Fork aid station, but —- things are as they are and I learned quite a few lessons out there.  I got a nice 50k of training under my belt, you could say on some pretty knarly trails with some great people!  The race web site said the altered course would have a total of 4,200 of climb.  They were incorrect.  In the 31.13 miles I ran, using the Garmin Connect elevation correcter — I gained 5,796 feet!!! The entire usual course had only 6,100 or so, so this was INTENSE to say the least and didn’t even take into account all the mud and water crossings or how bottled up it got with the 100 milers sharing the course (which doesn’t normally happen when the race is taking place on the usual routes.)  I think those factors probably slowed lots of runners down, but it was a great race, nonetheless and I know the race directors were really having to work extra hard to accommodate so many runners on an altered course with very little time to work out the little details.  They did a great job, the course was very well marked, the volunteers were wonderful and I am thankful I had a chance to experience the Big Horn mountains of Wyoming! They are truly a sight to see!

Now, believe it or not, the race story doesn’t totally end there. Once I got back to camp, I showered and chatted with several of my friends.  Dennis had finished the race in 27 hours and some change – a fantastic time and about 2 hours better than he’d done the race one year earlier.  That was good enough for 25th overall and a 3rd place finish in the 50-59 age category in the 100 mile distance.  Tony did great as well! This was his second 100 and he did it in a little over 28 hours. Jeff did a great job, but was struggling at mile 83 and had to DNF.  My fast friend Theresa had been at the front of the pack of 50 mile gals and was smiling when I saw her on the course, but ended up rolling both ankles badly and DNF’d a bit beforeDry Fork (about 50k just like me.) Emily’s husband, John had done really well in the 50k, running faster than he’d expected to in the first half, only to break his foot on the way back up, so he ended up with a DNF as well since they had to pick him up and take him back to Dry Fork.  My friend, Donna, had also had a hard time with the cut offs and had been pulled at Dry Fork.  It had been a tough day for the Boise, Idaho crowd! Of the 8 of us who went, only 2 had actually completed the race! We had one more runner still out on the trail — Emily and we got word that she’d just barely made it into the last aid station and was on her way the final 5 miles into town!

I didn’t have a clean pair of running shoes left, but saw Emily’s extra pair in the cabin and after asking her husband’s permission, borrowed them and put them on.  I was honestly feeling fine since I hadn’t finished my race. I still had plenty of energy and drive left, so I headed out onto the course to find Emily and help run her in.  Emily’s younger sister, Margie had come all the way from Singapore to be with her for this race, so it was pretty cute, when Margie borrowed a bike from one of the campers and headed out onto the course to find her big sister and cheer her in.  By the time I headed out, Margie had been with Emily for awhile, which I thought was pretty sentimental and sweet. I didn’t wear the Garmin, but I think I jogged about 2.5 – 3 miles onto the dirt road before I finally caught sight of them in the distance! I broke into a grin and started running faster to reach her. When she saw my face, she grinned, too, which is a pretty amazing feat for someone who’s been running all day and all night and then all day again for nearly 100 miles. I was so impressed! I gave her a huge hug when I reached her and started to rub her shoulders and asked her what she needed.   She said, “I’m so glad you came. I was hoping you would.”  I told her, “The thing I wanted more than anything this weekend was to help you finish this race” and it was the truth.  Even though my own race didn’t go as planned, being there for my friend in her much-bigger goal was something that mattered more to me.

Emily had picked up a great group of friends at this point.  There were several 50 milers who had kind of taken to her when they’d come across her.  They were all just hanging together for the final stretch and I thought that was awesome!  You could see there was a lot of exhaustion in their faces, but they were all very determined to finish this up and come in as a group.  It was pretty sweet!

Emily told me, “Let’s count steps.”, so that’s what we did.  We’d power walk for a count of 50, then we’d pick something to run towards – like a big tree or a fence post or a farm house and then, we’d start to jog towards it as a group.  It was fun being part of this section.  I cheered for all of them, told them how great they looked (they REALLY did, too!), and even ran backwards a bit so I could make eye contact with Emily and encourage her.  It seemed to help.  She was awesome! Her form was good, despite both feet being plagued with a ton of blisters.  She was so determined and strong minded and you could just see it in her eyes that she KNEW she was going to make it this time under the cut off! We finally crossed the red bridge, crossed the street and headed down the last 1/3 of a mile or so into the park. Emily said to me, “I’m going to sprint this in and I said, “GO FOR IT!”  She took off and I ran with her until we reached the entrance to the park, where everyone was waiting near the finish line. I started clapping and whooping and yelling, “GO EMILY!!!!! YOU’RE AMAZING!” and ran into the grass so that I could get to the other side and watch her finish up!  I was in tears watching her run so strong to the finish line just glowing with pride and strength! What a woman!!! She did it!! 15:45 minutes! She made the cut off with 15 minutes to spare!!!!! Her grandparents were there, her husband, all of her friends from Idaho who’d ran earlier. We were all there to witness her achievement and it was fantastic!

It was a great weekend, a tough race, but one I will never forget! I’m glad I went!

Two volunteers drove us back down the mountain to our camp and I really appreciated that.