altitude (29) hiking (29) 14ers (24) mountaineering (19) running (18) winter (18) endurance (16) training (16) trail (15) climbing (12) Maffetone (11) camping (11) ultramarathon (10) Baz (9) Front Range (9) Sangre De Cristo Mountains (8) sickness (6) centennials (5) racing (5) Lake Jumping (4) San Juan Mountains (4) bike training (4) biking (4) mountain biking (4) pabst (4) trad (4) Elk Mountains (3) Sawatch Mountains (3) fishing (3) free solo (3) 13ers (2) great traverses (2) solo (2) Ten Mile Mountains (1) simulclimb (1)
Saturday, September 13, 2014
Run Rabbit Run 100
If you only want to read about the race and not all my ramblings, skip to "The Race" below. You have been warned. With my new job, I haven't been as readily posting about my adventurous activities this year and it has been a great year to ultra running at that. While last year with the Bear Chase Race 50k was technically my first ultra, this year was my first season. With 3 fifty mile races, two trail marathons, and a handful of other races, I have had a great tail end of my season all with races as afterthoughts. In early June, I finally folded and signed up for Pikes Peak Marathon. I wasn't going to do it this year in an effort to save $$ and try and get out of debt but I finally folded when I still realized I could get in through the Triple Crown Series. After beating my last year's Garden of the Gods 10 mile time by over two minutes on very little training and consistency, and an insanely fast time on the Summer Round-up 12K in July, with the San Juan Solstice 50 Miler thrown in-between there somewhere, I was in the final weeks for Pikes Peak. A two week beach trip with daily beach half marathons proved to be unworthy for a mountain runner as I struggled to run a Pikes Peak ascent test run even within an hour of last year's 3:26 time and equally as slow of a descent and I was worried. A couple more consistent weeks and I was throwing down some impressive times and ultimately Ran a 3:07 PR ascent and a 5:07 total round trip time. Well enough about that. The point is that although my goal was sub 5:00, I was ecstatic about my time. Two days later, I was supposed to be recovering but my body felt great and as if I hadn't raced Pikes Peak so I signed up for the Pagosa Springs, Devil Mountain 50 Mile race six days after Pikes had happened. This was close but I had a solid week that included a sprint triathlon at Schriever AFB the day prior to Pagosa and still had a rocking time at Pagosa. While these should all be separate posts, my point here is that nowhere during this time was I training for a 100 miler. I had thrown around the idea in mid august and Kendrick Callaway basically talked me out of it saying I should wait and how he DNFed on his first couple tries at centuries. I made up my mind during Pagosa, that if my recovery went well, that I would sign up for Run Rabbit Run 100 in Steamboat that was to occur in less than two weeks later. What was I thinking? No actual focused 100 mile training, no plan, just going with the flow. Well, not only did I have an awesome race at Pagosa, despite my epic bonk at mile 42 that required me to sit down on the trail for a while and recover, I raced awesomely and was proud of my fastest 50 mile time yet. Just 2 days later, I felt as if I hadn't raced Pikes Peak and sure as heck like I hadn't raced a mountain 50 miler so I did it. I signed up for Run Rabbit Run 100. The race has Hares, who are racing for a prize purse of $12K and many rules with strict time cutoffs, and tortoises who are just out for a good time with far less rules but the tortoises showed full on ultrasignup. While I was fairly confident that I could do a 100 in under 30 hours, the Run Rabbit Run has over 20K' of elevation gain and I didn't want to be stressed about cutoffs. I wanted to be focused on finishing my first 100 and the hardest thing I have tried in my life. I decided to email the race director and ask about tortoise spots. Well, ask and ye shall receive. He granted me a spot. All I had to worry about now was finishing!
Well enough blabber already. I haven't even started discussing the race and here we are. While newer at the whole ultra running thing, I am no stranger to the mountains or good long and hard pushes so I am mentally prepared to know what it takes to make it 100 miles. The fact that I am a ground pounding Devil Dog Marine, doesn't really hurt for me either. If nothing else, I know for a fact that I have the determination to finish this race. The two weeks between Pagosa and the race. My mind filled with so many questions. As I started to prepare, I learned that there is much more logistics and preparation in a 100 than even for a 50. You have to think about so many things as you plan for your crew and your drop bags as well as night time logistics. I decided to book lodging for my family and my crew to make things easy for them. While I may have camped myself, the comfort of lodging was nice for everyone and it was just over 100 yards from the start line of the race. We stayed at the Ptarmagin house and it was great. I had a 2 bedroom suite that slept 7-8 people comfortably for $550 for 3 nights. There were no granite counter tops or marble floors but the suite was very clean and adequate to support our needs. So back to actual prep. Let's discuss taper. I was all over on my taper and didn't really know what to do. It ended up that in the two weeks after Pagosa, I probably maybe ran a total of 30 miles before the race with nothing over 8 miles. I figured with a 50 miler 2 weeks prior, I didn't need anything else long and just to be recovered so much of what I did was very low heart rate. I had one night hike with some buddies a week prior but no long all night adventures as training either.
I don't feel like looking up the actuals and this is a mountain ultra so none of it was exact anyhow. Here is what I remember:
1. Start to Mt Werner (Top of Steamboat ski resort): 5.5 miles and 3,800' gain
2. Mt. Werner to Long Lake: 6. something miles with mostly loss. Total about 12 mi.
3. Long Lake to Fish Creek Falls: 6. something miles with around 2K elevaiton loss and a total of about 17 miles.
4. Fish Creek Falls to Olympian Hall: 4 Miles and 1,200' downhill on pavement to downtown steamboat Howelson ski area. Total about 22 miles.
5. Olympian Hall to Cow Creek: 8 miles with a big up and long slow down total of about 30 miles.
6. Cow Creek to Olympian hall: 12 Miles with a long slow climb and a quick steep descent back to town. Total of about 42 miles.
7. Olympian Hall to Fish Creek Falls: 4 miles back up the pavement up a 1,200' climb for a total of over 46 miles.
8. Fish Creek Falls to Long Lake: 6. something miles back up a couple thousand feet to Long lake around mile 53 total.
9. Long Lake to Summit Lake: 5.5 miles and a slight up for a total of around 58 Miles.
10. Summit Lake to Dry Lake: 8 miles of downhill road and a couple thousand feet loss for a total of around 66 miles.
11. Dry Lake to Spring Creek Ponds: 4.5 Miles downhill with about another 1k of loss. Total of about 70 Miles.
12. Spring Creek Ponds to Dry Lake: 4.5 miles back up about 1k' and total of about 75 miles.
13. Dry Lake Back to Summit Lake: 8 Miles and a couple thousand feet back up for total of about 83 Miles.
14. Summit Lake to Long lake via Wyoming Trail: 8 Miles with some small ups and downs for a total of about 91 Miles.
15. Long Lake to Mt Werner- 7ish miles upish and total of 98 Miles.
16. Mt. Werner to finish: 6 miles and 3,800' loss for a total of 103 miles.
The first thing I wanted to do was to make a crew plan. As I thought about it, they should know when to expect me and where. I had a couple of friends lined up but no pacers yet so I continued to ask around running groups and facebook friends. It is hard to find someone not only who can run farther than marathon distances with you but also be a cheer leader. I decided not to worry about it and would run with or without a pacer and put my mind to finishing no matter what. As I reviewed the maps, I looked at each section of the race and analyzed how far it was and what the elevation change was given the distance. I tried to use what I knew to say how fast I would do that section during a 50 miler and then add some time for going a further distance. My first calculation where I thought I was being very generous was just over 22 hours. Knowing my friend Brandon Worthington had won the Tortoises with a time slower than that and several successful hundreds under his belt, I thought maybe I should take a more conservative look. I decided to fall back on what I thought were my worst case times and stick with that. I ended up with a primary time goal of around 25 hours and given past results knew I was probably still a little ambitious seeing my times on other similar races to other runners who had accomplished those times. My secondary goal was 28 hours with an unwritten goal to make the sub 30 mark for a cooler belt buckle and to say I could have done Hares if I had to. Ultimately, finishing the race period was my goal since it was my first go. I had a whole plan typed out of my timing for each section and what I wanted my crew to do for me there. In order to do that, I had to think about what time I would be and when and ensure I had the right things for them. Because my crew was supposed to be driving a 70s vw bus around the mountains, I wanted to guarantee my success with or without them so I decided to use aid bags no matter what and have them get my bag from the station. This was my insurance policy that I would always have my stuff no matter what. They ended up driving a 4 runner and making every stop but the peace of mind was nice. I planned additional sunscreen on day stops, when to take my headlamp and put extra shoes on stations where I would cross multiple times at nice distances where I might need them and extra clothing up high at night time elevations where I knew it would be cold since it was September.
The Run Rabbit Run 100 allows for 5 aid/drop bags and I used all five. The first one being at Long lake where you pass 3 times at miles 11.5ish, 52.7ish, and 90ish. The second one being at Olympian Halls where you cross at about mile 22ish and then again at mile 42ish. The third one being at summit lake where you cross at miles 57 and 82ish, the fourth at Dry lake at miles 65 and 75ish, and the last one at Spring creek falls turnaround at 70ish miles. I planned one to two bottles of Hammer Perpetuem per section as long as I could stand it and had TP, gels, fruit leather, and advil at every bag. In the drop bags, I had sub baggies for each time I might come through a station so it was easy for the crew since they were labeled. I also had first aid, sunscreen, vaseline, batteries etc at the stations. I also had planned socks, gloves, and additional layers accross the board. After having a water bladder mishap at SJS this year and being tired of camelbaks, I tested a 2 bottle method at Pagosa where I had one in each hand. I didn't like not having some sort of hand free so I got one of those single bottle carriers to sit on my butt with a small pouch for additional storage. I planned this for daytime hours and to switch to the camelback at the Long Lake 53 mile aid station where it would turn to or already be night time.
The two weeks prior seemed to be agonizing while I didn't feel like I ran so much and I felt fine, the closer to the race I got, the worse I felt. A strong taper revealed tight IT band and other minor pains. Anyhow, I am a Strong believer in the Maffetone Method and went almost 100% Keto diet for a good portion of this time. I actually dropped an additional 5 lbs. I didn't have to carry on the race and hopefully got more efficient at burning fat. I left feeling a bit antsy with my family packed up mid day Thursday to head up to steamboat. Since we checked into the condo at about 4:30, we unloaded the car and the wife put the son down for a nap while I went to the pre-race briefing and to drop off aid bags. I didn't really recognize anyone at the pre race briefing except people I have seen online such as Jason Schlarb or whatever. I quietly got my race number, met a couple of new friends and listened to the briefing. It was comforting to know that smart wool was a sponsor and they were local and Altra was a sponsor because they liked that the race gives back 1/3 of the proceeds to charity and even the director doesn't get paid a dime. In the drawing, I got some smart wool compression socks and an Altra Headband multipurpose thigie that matched my new red Lone Peaks. I liked the culture and was excited for the day to come. I went back to the condo and took the fam out to dinner at an awesome burger joint in Steamboat. We had some awesome burgers and got back in time for the crew and my pacer to start arriving. I had my good friend Matt, my good friend and bro in law, Ben, my step-father John, and my Pacer Neeraj all ready to go. I gave them what I wanted and it was good to have Neeraj as he is an ultra runner himself and completed his first 100 this year at Bighorn. He also knows literally everyone from the Pros to seriously most people we encountered on the course. I bought a pony keg of Rock Mountain Brewery's Red Head for the crew to enjoy throughout the weekend. Finally, I went to bed about midnight for my 8 AM race start. I had a rare occasion of a hard time falling asleep pondering the day ahead and was frustrated because I knew I needed a good night's rest followed by restless sleep and my son waking up at 4 AM and not wanting to sleep. After getting up at 6:30ish, I made my final preps, took my obligatory 2 pre-race poops, drank some coffee and ate some bacon and was out the door. In gondola square, we waited inside the Bear with the other racers young and old. I had more coffee there and was calm but not really sure how to feel given the task ahead.We took a few photos and then it was time.
Purposefully near the back of the group as the race started we all started to head up the ski resort. I realized being this far back was a bad decision as I began the slow walk at the back of the group. I passed people here and there with my trekking poles heading up Mt. Werner. I was trying not to overdo it my first few miles and took it easy. I started in a tank top, a head band, mtn biking gloves, and shorts for the mixed weather. The gloves and headband kept the edge of the cold off while I knew my body was getting ready to produce some major heat on the climb to come. This outfit proved to be the proper choice as we ascended up, up, and up. I brought my smart phone to take videos and to slow me down so I took videos once in a while. By the time we got to the steep section under the gondola, I was passing people left and right and had caught the lead female. I got one last kiss from the wife and son and traded the trekking poles for my second bottle before taking off not to see them again for the next few hours. For some reason, I had in my head the gondola would be at the top of the mountain so I was confused as we had only done about 2 miles and it had already been about 40ish minutes. How was I so far ahead/off on my planning? Then I realized that there was a long way to the top of Mt. Werner. I proceeded on power hiking mostly to the top and feeling great about my 14 minute mile pace. I was taking it super easy and trying to save energy for later. Like the start of every race, I was religous about taking S-Caps and food hourly. I had a gel and maybe a fruit leather in the first bit and in 1:25, I had finally made the real top of Mt. Werner right on time to my planning and was in about 30th place where I would end up finishing the race.
Quickly dropping off the back side and just in front of the lead female Tortoise I followed a local, who works at smartwool (sorry I forgot your name) towards the next aid. He was familiar with the trails so that was nice to have. After me falling back a bit to take my first Pee, we chatted for most of this section and I thought things like, I wonder if where I am now, I will be at the exact same time tomorrow morning and also loving the smoothness of the trail around the area. At 12ish miles, Long lake came rather quickly. Seeing it, I had an epiphany, it is a "long" lake. Haha. Anyhow, I quickly found my aid bag with help of the wonderful volunteers and restocked my food supply. In hindsight, this early in the race I should have not bothered with aid and just carried a couple extra food stuffs on me to save the time. I was in and out in under 5 minutes and was headed back toward fish creek falls.
There is a small out and back from the trail junction where you get to see who is ahead and behind you and at the aid the lead female tortoise and several other folks had passed me. I took my time with 10 minute miles on the upper falls area and as the trail got rocky and I passed the second female who actually quickly let me by although I was hoping she wouldn't and force me to pace for awhile. , I got excited. I took my second pee somewhere in there and jumped around all nimbly bimbly and suddenly realizing how wet and jagged the trail was and how it could be easy to crash and ruin the entire run here. I slowed where needed but eventually caught up to Rocky Venzor and realized I must be going too fast. It was his first 100 too but the fact that he got me by over 2 hours on SJS means I have no business being here. After chatting with him into Fish Creek Falls, I met my crew for the first time. The crew sat me down and I was only about 10 minutes behind my plan of about 3.5 hours and the 17 miles. I don't remember much other than they reapplied sunscreen and checked my feet. I was in and out in probably a little over 5 min. In this time, a few racers passed me.
I met my mustache twin and ran with him for a while. At this point, I think I was still in the top 20 ish people still. Although taking it super easy from what I would have ran those sections on a 50, I was worried that I was doing something wrong. I enjoyed the 9ish minute miles down towards olympian hall and just behind the lead female again. They cruised by quickly and while I don't usually run pavement, I kind of liked the road after the slipping and sliding around in fish creek falls. It was fun waiting at the stoplight in town before crossing and heading a bit more to the aid station and seeing the crew a second time. It was getting hot. They swapped my tanktop with a white shirt and I decided to keep my shoes. and socks. I grabbed a handful of gummy bears, a couple of pickes and the crew stuffed my pocket with a couple of cuties and I was off only to be back here in roughly 20 miles. Here was about a little over 21 miles and I was only about 10 minutes behind my planned time still but I think the section between Mt. Werner and Long Lake was a mile longer than advertized because my watch picked up an extra mile. Normally, I would expect some difference but this section was an extra mile on the way out as well as I discovered the next day.
Starting the steep hike out of Olympian Hall, I was still behind the lead female and somehow worried that folks would pass. We speed hiked up emerald mtn and I was confused if I should run or hike. Being that I was not quite a marathon into this four marathon deal, I thought it prudent to hike and maintain a 14-15 min mile pace on the couple thousand foot climb. Shortly after leaving O-Hall, I put in the headphones and rocked it out for a while. As we neared the water only aid station that was moved down hill a mile, I decided I had enough water and didn't refill. From there, I knew there would be another mile of up and then lots 'o down. Well the water aid was 3 miles up and I was only expecting 2. And there was quite a bit more up and it began to get steep. I remained shortly behind hte lead female before a rock really started bothering me. I stopped to dump my shoe 2 times prior as I have heard not removing rocks early can ruin 100s. I finally had to stop and remove my sock where I discovered it there right on the pad of my foot. At just over a marathon in and over 5 hours, I put some moleskin on my foot there as a few racers passed in that short amount of time. My mood suddenly changed to not as happy and very tired which was strange given the low effort until this time. The next section that I expected to be relatively flat proved to be more up and down on steeps than I bargained for. This messed with my mind a bit and although the high for the day was 70, it felt 90 on the exposed ridge. The descent finally came and I actually struggled to maintain a 10 to 10:30 pace down the hill towards the crew. On the smoothest part of the trail, my right foot caught a root and I went down sliding like a MLB player into Home plate head first. Luckily the bottle took most of the brunt and I excaped with only a small cut on the hand and glad no one saw me. This really messed with my head as I ran low on water. About a half mile from the aid a few runners passed me as I struggled into Cow Creek at 30 miles. Right before the aid, I realized I had been carrying an extra full 6 oz bottle this whole time that I thought was empty for cupless aid. I chugged that and got to the crew where I drank a good amount of Coke and Gatorade along with eating a couple of pickles. As the crew prepped me, I was on the verge of tears and I didn't know why. I wasn't doubting finishing the race at this point but I just wasn't feeling good. After 10ish minutes at the aid and a few other runners getting ahead, I took off not feeling well. Neeraj gave me the best advice of the day to take my time in the heat and save it for night. I could tell the crew was a bit worried as I took a sip of beer before departing.
While the 2 mile road to the trail back up was gradually up, I traded off between an 11 min/mile jog and walking and it was honestly all I could manage. Eventually, I made the turnoff to head back up as another runner passed me. Feeling worse and worse, I realized that I had reached my max with sugar and could not intake anymore. A couple of gummy bears in my mouth made me want to gag and although it was now shady and cooler, and I could have probably ran much of this gradual up and down rolling ascent, I was feeling even worse and at mile 36 I puked just after drinking water. Uggg. That was much earlier than I expected that to happen. I decided to mandatory walk for the next mile or so to recover no matter the terrain. About a mile later, I took my first crap and continued on my ever long journey back up the hill where some miles seemed to be over 20 minutes per mile and several other runners passing me. I ran out of water about a mile and a half before the water only aid station and slowed greatly until I could get water. I had been rationing already until I ran out and did not want to dehydrate since I puked out most of what I had drank since cow creek. Now I could not eat and didn't have water. I chugged a bit at the water only before taking a full bottle for the final 3 mile descent into Olympian hall. Struggling to make 10-11 min miles on the descent I finally snapped out of it about a mile before O-Hall. Somewhere right around the water, I also decided to drop the music and go back to listening to nature around. I suddenly started feeling good again. DOn't know what happened but I was great. Maybe the water... I cruised into the aid and planned a longer stop here before departing. The crew changed my shoes over to my saucony peregrines and I was over an hour off of my plan at this point. They put my compression socks on at my request (I have to humbly admit I have always made fun of these but they felt so so good after 42 miles. Thank you Smart wool!).
With a dry shirt and an attempt to eat some food, I headed for fish creek falls with a couple hand fulls of tortilla wraps. The crew was worried I didn't eat enough but I was going to force myself to eat this in the next 4 miles. After a couple cups of Coke, I headed out totaling my stop for probably just over 10 minutes. The new shoes felt great, although my feet didn't hurt in the old ones. I passed a couple of people right out of the aid and jogged much of the road back toward the falls averaging about 12 min miles up the 1,200' climb and passing several more folks. While it had gotten cooler down at O-Hall, that climb was hot and I shouldn't have taken the dark colored shirt when I did. I ate all the food but it took me pretty much the whole way as I had to take the smallest nibbles to not feel like I was going to hurl. At Fish Creek Falls, Neeraj decided to jump in with me. My time with him was strategic as he was my only pacer and while he would have gone all the way with me while I need it, I wanted to use him when I needed him most which I figured wouldn't be until after dry creek the second time to finish the final 50k of the race. I picked up my trekking poles here and carried them for the remainder of the race. This is the last time I would see my wife and son and John until the end of the race so I kissed them goodbye.
The crew gave me more food and a headlamp and a long sleeved shirt and we were off with a steady hike. I knew the lower section of fish creek was steep and nasty and I was still recovering from not feeling better later. Neeraj and I just kept the hike at a steady pace as I wondered when the Lead Hares would pass. He said they were reported to only be 10 minutes from O-Hall when they left a while after me so I expected them very soon. A couple of racers passed me early in this section but I kept the hike steady and continued to eat. Silly me, I took my wife's child BD headlamp that wasn't bright but could have managed so Neeraj kindly traded me for his spare. We charged my watch during this section as well using a portable battery pack as the Garmin 310XT only lasts 16-18 hours. I eventually passed the racers that passed me after the aid station and made a decent jog through the upper section back to Long Lake. The company of Neeraj was nice as we have not really gotten to know each other yet so we had good stories to tell with mostly me excitedly talknig. It was completely dark by now. Just at the edge of the lake, we stopped and turned off headlamps to marvel at the beauty of the stars for a minute before taking off again. We arrived at long lake to a beautiful looking fire but I refused to sit by it and get cozy and not want to leave. As I switched over to a my Osprey pack and bladder, the aid station crew advised runners to take all clothing available with them as the next section was very very cold. I stuffed my tights and jacket in my bag and ate some food. While we were there, Rob Krar (The lead hare) came through with 2 other hares in hot pursuit. Both within less than 3 minutes in tow. I realized I had gotten to Long Lake before them so I was very happy about that despite the fact that they did the first half of the race in 4 hours less than me. Being that the solid food was now what I needed to eat, I had some ramen and coke at this aid statio before departing. What a lovely dinner.
At about 13:35 hours into the race, we departed towards summit lake with an extra runner, Dave. Dave was friend of Neeraj and I found out that my second potential pacer was staying at his house back in Boulder. I wasn't surprised as he should be tapering at that point. It was nice to talk to Dave through the next section where a couple more hares passed us but no Tortoises. Still about in 45th place, we gave a good effort towards summit lake. We did have to stop less than half a mile into this section as I realized I was colder than I wanted to be and put on my tights and jacket only to get too hot soon. I left the jacket on but unzipped to thwart the cold. We jogged the downs and flats and walked the ups and got there in no time and starting to pick off a few runners and make it to about Mile 57 point something. Here I ate more Ramen and drank more coke sticking with what worked before. I also had coffee here which was nice.
This 8 mile section flew by as we had thought the reascent of this earlier on might be the crux of the race, we now realized that it wasn't that steep. We cruised about 10 min mile pace for almost all of it and made up some major time and passed several folks along the way. It seemed like no time at all on this section passed and we were into Dry Lake. For such a longer distance, I don't remember much except for being so positive and actually glad I had my poles even on this slight descent to assist me from trips and falls. I do remember about 2 miles from Dry Lake, we passed Neeraj's friend Scott who was running his 22nd 100. When I say passed, he was going the other way in the lead hare position at 14 miles ahead of us. He was doing awesome. We arrived at Dry lake expecting to find the crew for the first time in 19 miles and not able to find them started getting some more ramen, a cookie, and some coke. Surprisingly they had only hot chocolate here and not coffee before we found the crew right at the front of the line. How did we miss them? They checked me out and here I also agreed to let Neeraj take a break since I felt good and knew the next 4.5 miles were downhill. I did also take one advil here for the first time.
Dry Lake to Spring Creek Ponds Back to Dry Lake
Through here, I passed several more runners and made an average descent of about 9 min/mile which was too fast as I hopped the bridges over the river and was served a cold PBR and delicious burger by Jason Schlarb himself before jetting back out. The crew was surprised to see me here this quick. I finished my burger on the run as I ran more than I hiked back up which in hindsight was probably a mistake. I felt good here from mile 70 to 75 but it was too soon still to be playing games. I was not feeling the tiredness of the night at all and rocked the climb back up faster than planned. Still feeling good back at dry lake, I ate some bacon and some ramen that someone put potato soup in and I did not like. After drinking some coke and spending slightly too much time here with the last crew stop until the finish, We took off with about 50k to go.
Dry Lake to Summit Lake
Now with 3 marathons under my belt for the day and Neeraj back with me, we slowly tackled the long steady hill. We decided to run much except every once in a while on flatter spots to keep the running muscles good. Somewhere in here where I could barely hike the lead female Hare, Nikki Kimball came jogging up and quickly off into the night ahead of us. About half hour later, the second female hare came up and we jogged/sped hiked her into Summit Lake. She was not feeling well and was worried about getting passed by Darcy Africa who was apparently not far behind. This section was not as much of a bear as I thought it was as we cruised into the aid station at mile 83 or so and I had not been wearing a jacket ever since the first time we were in Dry lake. Entering the tent and sitting down here, I was now feeling fatigued but still not doubting that I could finish this. I ate more ramen and a breakfast burrito and had some coke and swithced shoes again to my trusty Pure Grit 2's with over 600 miles on them and still ticking. We stayed here too long and I started to lock up before we left. Upon exit, it was too cold so I put my jacket on only for the second time of the night departing mile 83ish toward the finish line.
As the twilight began, we headed up the steep exit from Summit Lake aid station to the Wyoming Trail. I was not feeling awesome suddenly. This was shameful as I felt we took the last section from Dry lake to summit lake easy to really excel through this relatively flat section and make up some good time. Unfortunately, my little speedster stunt from Dry Lake to Spring Creek Ponds and back up may have been my culprit. As it got lighter out, I struggled to even jog. Darci Africa and a couple more tortoises passed me through this area. Although it was getting light outside, we were not getting warmth from the sun and I did not get the rejuvenating feeling I so commonly hear about during this time. Although Long Lake to Summit lake was so short the other direction, I was not mentally prepared for this section and was really bogging down. I took a caffeine pill somewhere in this section and I think it really helped my dragging. It wasn't until we reached the meadow just above long lake that we finally got so me good warming sun and I was hurting, especially in both shins and pretty much not able to run at all anymore. It was going to be a walking battle to be sub 30 hours. It was here that we saw the lead of the 50 mile pack. Ten minutes later and we would have missed them. We proceeded to see the rest of the 50 milers over the next several miles. Neeraj was smart enough to get in front of me and let them congratulate him so I didn't have the muster the energy to say thanks to all of the wonderful compliments which were nice to hear. We reached Long Lake in what seemed like forever later. I think it was roughly 9 AM when we got there but cannot quite remember. A quick bite to eat and gear check and we were off for the final bit of the battle. Now at over 91 miles, I had it in the bag as long as I kept moving.
With a steady walking pace out of Long Lake, we began our climb back toward's Mt. Werner. I didn't remember coming down so much on the way in and the hike was grueling as it began to get hot. We stopped to remove jackets and I really wanted to just lay down. I realized I hadn't had any Advil since mile 65 at Dry Lake the first time and decided to take a couple. A few tortoises passed me through this section as we continued to walk steadily as I felt I could pretty much not run anymore. After the advil kicked in and Neeraj was slowly making me eat Clif Shot Blocks, I suddenly had a reduced enough pain level to start running and hiking much faster. We passed most of the folks that passed me as we counted what we thought would be six miles back to the top of Mt. Werner. At 6 miles, we realized we were nowhere close and continued to follow the trail to what seemed to go everywhere but to the top I remembered jetting through just over 24 hours ago. We finally arrived at the 7 mile distance that I now clocked both ways through this section with 3 other runners right on my tail. I quickly changed from my tights and long sleeves into some pink women's panties that say "no tan lines" over my compression shorts and no shirt.
We headed down the hill and quickly passed another female tortoise who passed me through the aid. The down was grueling but for a few minutes I thought I would be able to maintain that 9-10 min/mile pace to the bottom and actually get a sub 28 hour time still. After about half a mile or so of "hammering" it down, I had to walk some. We would jog about 2/10 of a mile and then go back to walking for another 1/10 all of the way down from here. Other runners would begin to catch up and I wanted to fight it so we would run more. Everything was very tired through here and my running was more like shuffling where I would basically drag my feet along because lifting them was too pounding on my shins. About one mile from the finish, I realized that a couple other runners were right on my tail. While it hardly mattered if they beat me at this point, I didn't want them to. We rocketed into the finish line with about a 9 minute mile pace for the last mile. It hurt so bad but I didn't care. I was not getting passed. I dropped all my stuff and floated up the steps to the Designated hugger where I got my hug and stopped the clock at 28:09. Mission successful and I got my mug and buckle to prove it. After a couple of pics, I immediately put my feet in the nice little river and shared beers with my friends and family.
The couple hundred yard walk back to the condo was hell on my legs and my body started freaking out at that point. I had feverish conditions. With a couple heavy blankets, I curled up shivering on the couch. Sitting down and nodding off in a long hot shower felt good but as soon as I got out, I began shivering again. It wasn't until I had some chicken noodle soup that I finally began to feel more normal. I hobbled back down to the finish line with the crew and we enjoyed Pizza, Beer, and Hot dogs as we cheered on fellow runners. I ended up staying that night with the fam and was feeling decent the next day. A week later now and my left shin still has a tight knot in it that I cannot seem to get to go away. I took my first run post race today (had a couple of walks and short bike rides earlier in the week) and it was ok. I was able to run a full 3 miles without stopping but I ran with my HRM and my normal 8:45ish pace at 155 HR was obviously not there. Cruising at about 9:50 avg per mile at the same HR, I can see I have more healing and recovery to do. This is about where I expected to be at this point as I am still euphoric about the race and my future of ultra running and the adventures to come. At this point, I am anxious to feel better and just run for a while not training for anything specific.
This section is a quick thought on what I thought I did good and what I would change next time.
First, I want to ensure a longer taper next time than a 50 miler 2 weeks prior. I think this may have been part of my demise early in the race. Second, I think I would put even less effort into the first climb up Mt. Werner as it hardly matters. Third, Compression socks are where it is at. I will always have a pair of these available at 100s in the future. 4th: You can only eat pure sugar for so long before the body rejects it. I ate solid foods early but I should be prepared for this feeling and not so ready to bonk. 5th: The 2 bottles method works very well and I was able to rock them everywhere except during the heat of the day where I did run out of water a bit early. 5th: Coke is a life saver. I can drink it even when I cannot tolerate sugar. 6th: I maybe need to think about how to speed up my aid station time. If I cut them all in half, I bet I would have finished an hour sooner.