Saturday, October 27 - Sunday, October 28
Ultra Marathon # 32 (?!)
100 Mile (attempt) - #7
Weather - HOT. Sunny.
I very clearly remember retiring after Burning River. It's always nice to go out on a high note. But then, as things go, I started to get sucked right back in. I knew so many people that were running, and I was going to be able to save some money on travel, so why not? (Oh, so many reasons, but I've never been very logical).
Of course we booked the earliest flight in the universe. Jeramiah and Tyler picked me up at 3:45 (which means, I was up at 3:15) to get to the airport in time for our 6:10 flight to Phoenix. Security lines were long, but we still managed to have time for breakfast and basically walked right onto the plane. Fastest boarding process ever, and we landed nearly 30 minutes early. Of course that meant that we had TONS of time to kill - and what on earth do you do in Phoenix for a whole day?
Well, first we picked up the rental car, then we went to Target to get some last minute supplies. Tyler and Jeramiah had heard about some giant fountain that could be seen from the race course, so we found that.
|Ben, me & Eliot|
|Wandering around on the course with Ben|
Saturday - RACE DAY!
4 am came faaaaaast. I got dressed and lugged my gear down to the car. Had half a bagel with salt butter, we were on our way to the start by 4:35.
As if running 100 miles isn't far enough, we had to park about a half mile away. That meant lugging all my stuff since I wouldn't be going back to Lexa's after the race.
I spent the hour or so before the start wandering around and talking to people.
I lined up in the back near Jeramiah. We started right on time, although I was at least 100 people back so didn't cross right away. The course has a weird section that runs through camp - fun to hear the cheers and excitement, although I just was hoping to finish. We would turn left for loop 1 - and this was the only section where I really noticed any bottle-necking. Right off the bat I realized I was going to be fighting for a completion. I had my plan of walking all the climbs and taking it easy, but I also know how dangerous it is to NOT push a tiny bit at my pace.
Once we hit mile 2 (where there was a road crossing and two port-o-potties) the crowd thinned a bit as the trail widened. Even after just the initial few miles I was already feeling the dread of being up against cutoffs all day.
|Photo: Howie Stern|
First loop had not gone well. Goal of the second loop was to just stay cool and run what I could. I don't remember much about this loop at all, only that I was getting passed a lot by 100K runners. I remember running with a woman named Jen (who I had chatted with the day before) for a few miles. She ended up taking off shortly before we got to Rattlesnake. I believe I spent less time at the aid station than she did, because I don't remember seeing her after that.
|Photo: Howie Stern|
Cambria passed me (looking so adorable!) shortly before we got to the aid station. When I came running in Jared spotted me and asked me what I needed. I told him I was going to change shoes and he offered to help me. Little did he know what that was going to involve, haha. My "trail angel" of the day helped get my tape off, and I swapped out my Hokas for my ratty old pair of Vazee Summits. I knew it was going to be dark soon and figured if nothing else, my feet would feel better in a different pair of shoes.
And within a few hours it was dark. Almost immediately I wast struggling with being tired. I put off napping as long as I could, but I was already soooo fatigued. Other than that... uh. This may have been the loop I spent doing intervals "with" another runner. I did finally tell him that I was appreciative of him doing them because it was helping me.
Otherwise, did this loop even happen?
Only cutoff during the race was the end of loop 4. 80.5 miles had to be finished within 24 hours. I certainly didn't want to be up against THAT cutoff, as the daunting thought of trying to do a full loop in under 6 hours seemed impossible.
I remember virtually nothing until I arrived at Jackass, halfway through, nearing mile 75. I was trying to find somewhere to sit to take my catnap, but everything was chaotic and it was too loud. Right as I was getting ready to leave after having my coffee, I saw Ben come in. I wasn't sure how I had managed to get in front of him, but he wasn't having a great race. I chatted with him a bit - and was surprised to see another friend, Grace (who was pacing) in medical with her runner that was dropping. I knew I needed to get out of that aid station STAT. Right after leaving I tried to turn off my headlamp (that I had JUST changed the batteries in) and it was dead, so I was trying to walk and put new ones in. One more aid station. Ugh.
I stopped at the bench, but didn't even really get to nap because another runner was trying to stretch next to me.
I was napping in the last aid station when Lexa tapped me and woke me up - she looked fantastic and was a mere 15 miles away from finishing. I, on the other hand, was barely in it.
Jeadquarters came and my first thought was needing to get my heel looked at in medical. After I ran through timing I stopped there to have them look at it. Yep, blister looked gross, but they put some alcohol on it (that effing hurt) and some moleskin. Felt MUCH better on my way out. Here we go, 7 hours and 35ish minutes until cutoff... can I do it??
Oh my god. I have less than 8 hours to get this loop done. How on earth am I going to stay awake long enough to do this?? I realized shortly after leaving camp that I forgot to grab gum. Blech - I had the worst breath ever from all the instant coffee.
About a mile or so out I saw Ben heading down. He looked really rough and he didn't even recognize me when I first talked to him. He was not in good shape, but I told him not to quit, he still had "plenty" of time to get the last loop done.
It was still going to be a few hours before the sun was coming up. I managed to get to the aid station at Coyote Camp without falling asleep. I came in for aid and asked that coffee be ready for me while I took my 5 minute nap. Ugh. Nothing was helping me to stay awake!!!
At this point, I have 15 miles to go.
The long, long, LONG stretch (6.5 miles) to Jackass Junction were ahead of me. So tired. Sooooo soooooo tired. I barely even make it a mile out of camp before I start eyeballing the sides of the trail to find a rock to sit on. I can start to see the hint of color in the sky, but it's not enough. I need to rest. Again.
I sit on a rock pretty much in the middle of the trail and set my alarm for 2 minutes. I have GOT to close my eyes. I turn off my headlamp and very shortly after a runner asks if I am waiting to watch the sunrise. No, but I am waiting for the sun to come up, maybe that will help? (Although in my mind, I remember being super tired at Burning River, even after the sun was up). So close, yet so far away.
I resign myself to not having the time to screw around if I want to have any chance of finishing.
I start walking, and even manage a short jog here and there.
I'm with a group of runners, including one who is being paced by a fellow teammate. They are all walking faster than I am. I decide that I'm really going to try to run the downhills as they happen - and I remember that thankfully, we have a downhill finish.
I manage to pass a few runners coming into Jackass Junction. I'm feeling a little better and grab some food and head right out. I have some time, but not a lot. My walk pace is slow, but if I can run even a LITTLE, I can get this done.
I start running. A lot. I start passing people. A lot of people. The people I'm running by are mostly walking. I have music in and I'm in a great mood. I'm rejoicing inside that I'm feeling so good at this point - especially after having felt SO TIRED for most of the night segment. After passing about 20 people, I start thinking - "wow, I've never really passed people at the end of an ultra. Wish I had been keeping track!"
Passing more people. Clocking some of my fastest miles of the entire race. The sun is out, and it's hot, but I'm not bothered. I'm just so happy to not be tired anymore!!
Come into the last aid station at Rattlesnake. Still feeling good. Grab a few bites of food and head out. Less than 4 miles to go, and for the first time I really am starting to realize that not only am I going to finish in time, I might even be able to PR.
My smile is huge. Around nearly ever turn I see another runner or two and think, wonder if I will be able to catch up to that one! And then minutes later I'm cruising by. Jester Ed is walking back along the course, he tells me I have about a mile back to camp.
I am going to PR the SHIT out of this race!!!!! Even bigger smile!! I take out my music and can hear the sounds of Jeadquarters. I am soooo close. I turn the corner and see the Hoka banner and a photographer. I have a few minutes to run. I'm almost there. I can't even believe it.
|Photo: Howie Stern|
I stop my watch... and realize I have not just PR'd - but ran my best time by over 50 minutes.
Garmin Time - 27:29:07
Garmin Distance - 99.35 miles
Elevation Gain - 6,309'
Miles 1-10 - 14:37, 13:53, 13:20, 13:41, 15:53, 14:14, 14:09, 14:28, 13:35, 13:12
Miles 11-20 - 15:31, 12:36, 12:34, 12:45, 13:08, 14:40, 13:37, 14:52, 14:41, 14:36
Miles 21-30 - 15:25, 15:22, 20:32, 16:29, 15:19, 16:06, 15:07, 15:06, 16:43, 15:04
Miles 31-40 - 14:29, 17:34, 14:16, 14:55, 13:44, 13:46, 14:13, 17:33, 16:26, 14:48
Miles 41-50 - 15:50, 22:16, 17:22, 17:32, 13:53, 19:18, 16:09, 15:50, 15:49, 16:37
Miles 51-60 - 16:12, 19:09, 16:07, 15:06, 15:21, 14:35, 16:13, 20:29, 15:11, 15:31
Miles 61-70 - 17:26, 19:17, 18:25, 18:14, 21:30, 18:23, 20:13, 21:37, 18:19, 33:49
Miles 71-80 - 16:54, 17:45, 20:16, 18:55, 19:20, 17:14, 27:41, 18:02, 14:58, 20:41
Miles 81-90 - 25:24, 19:36, 20:16, 20:13, 22:17, 19:15, 18:10, 17:04, 16:46, 15:08
Miles 91-99ish - 16:38, 14:31, 13:14, 12:40, 12:23, 14:16, 14:05, 12:51, 13:18, 13:02
(Do you see how awesome my last 10 or so miles were???)
Grab my buckle, realize that no one I know is at the finish, and figure I need to get a beer and find out where everyone is.
I texted Jeramiah and Tyler to figure out where they were, and saw that I had gotten a text from Ben HOURS earlier asking where I was. I assumed that meant he had dropped after all, and was heading to his tent when I saw him FLYING by - he hadn't dropped after all and had a pretty amazing finish.
|Adding this more than a year later - Ben (left) made the race guide for the 2020 event!|
Food (and beer) was amazing. We didn't really have anything to do, so we went to the airport even though our flight wasn't for HOURS. I fell asleep on that drive as well. Once we were finally able to get checked in, we headed to the gate, where we sat for HOURS. I got a salad for dinner, and we boarded on time (#stinkrow). I tried to watch Blacklist, but shockingly, fell asleep. On the drive home, I again fell asleep (sensing a trend) and was dropped off at home, with just enough time to... go to bed. Longest/shortest weekend ever.
- After the initial registration, I can honestly say that I was never really looking forward to running this - so maybe that helped keep the nerves at bay.
- What a FUN event. I knew that it was a loop course, but figured the loops were big enough that everything would seem brand new by the time I saw it again. Plus, the loops are run washing-machine style, so there was a lot of variance (to me).
- I knew a LOT of people out there, so it was a lot of fun to see people!
- The costume contest was a tad "meh," didn't really see that many, but kudos to people that actually did that! I was glad to have come to my senses and NOT done that.
- Honestly, the course IS easy - there were no massive climbs, nor is it technical. I think the sand and heat are really what gets people. And luckily for ME, I do really well in the heat!
- I won't go back, because it's far and there are lots of other races to run, but it WAS fun, and I'm glad I finally ran it - I'd been talking about it for a few years now.