Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Bigfoot 200 (Race Recap)

Mount St. Helens, WA
Friday, August 13 - Tuesday, August 17
Ultra Marathon - #35 (?)
Weather - HOT at the start, cold and rainy at the finish

Well, unlike either Tahoe or Moab, I can't say I really put that much thought into registering. Registration for the lottery opened for a bit in late September 2020, before Ben and I had even run Moab 240. Every day or two I would add the race to my ultrasignup cart, and then not complete registration. Apparently I *did* enter right before the lottery closed. Well, I got the email on October 2 that I had been accepted into the lottery - just over a week before we would toe the line in Moab. 

After the disaster DNF at War Hammer, I immediately bit the bullet and hired a coach. I've been able to kind of skate through on minimal training, but after that nightmare I was terrified about what was in store for me. Steph had me doing a TON more running than I normally do, but also incorporated in cross training and hiking into my workouts. I didn't want to show up at the start line without feeling like I had given it my all in training.

Thursday, August 12

Packet pick up was at the finish line, at White Pass High School. We had a four hour window to get there, and by the time we got out of Seattle, on the road and ate lunch, we arrived two hours in, around 3:00 pm. After we had spent weeks watching the weather, it was definitely still going to be as hot as had been forecasted - as the weather channel said, "oppressive heat." In addition to that, the clear air quality no longer existed - the smoky air from all the fires had migrated into the area, and the AQI the night before was in the 180's. Good lord, what have I gotten myself into this time.
Photo: @jdpetersdotcom
Ben said there was NO WAY he was going to "let" me take the bus to the start line, so we had to overshoot the start and stay southwest in the closest major city - Vancouver. 

The goal was to be in bed as early as possible since I always struggle with sleep anyway, and the night before a big race doesn't make it any easier. By the time we got back from dinner it was later than we had planned, of course, and I shut things down as quick as possible. FitBit claims I was asleep just after 11, so all things considered, not as bad as things have been in the past.

Race Day

Somehow, I had actually slept somehow decently. Just over 6 hours, which is quite a bit for me, so I was pleased with that. The goal was to be out the door by 7, and I woke up just a bit before my alarm, which ended up working out nicely so I wasn't as rushed. I took a quick shower and braided my hair, then heated up my breakfast bowl so I could take bites while getting all my junk ready. It was going to be a tight squeeze fitting all my (our?) crap in the truck, but Ben and Zach were pretty good at vehicle Tetris, and I was quite comfortable in the front seat. Mapping to the start line showed about 75 minutes, mostly because a lot of the drive was on a windy two-lane road. We didn't get lost (which is always a fear of mine), and luckily we got in a conga line of other folks headed to the same place.

Get to the start line right as there is an announcement that handing out our Spot trackers is going to be delayed because they are having trouble connecting to GPS. I used the bathroom a few times, and Ben went to grab one of the camp chairs so I could sit until we started. About 15 minutes before we were supposed to start we realize the bus of people have not arrived yet! They finally showed up a minute after we were supposed to start, so obviously we were going to be delayed. While in line for the bathroom one last time we were talking to Helgi (whom we know from other 200s) and he said that first, one of the buses had broken down, then they got stuck in a construction zone. An announcement was made that we would be starting at 9:30 am instead.

Start/Marble Mountain to Blue Lake (0-12.2 miles)
And we're off! Per the norm, I lined up towards the back. I knew the early part of the race got a bit congested, so I was not in any hurry. I had my poles out and ready to go since I was pretty sure I would be using them the entire race. We started out in the woods, and to be honest, I really wasn't sure what was heading my way. It was already feeling incredibly humid (how did I NOT KNOW it would be humid here??) and I was worried right from the start. Due to the extreme heat that was forecasted, we were being given an extra 30 minutes for the first three cutoffs, and I was really hoping that it wouldn't come down to that. I was doing what I do best, just moving as fast as I can, while trying to keep my breathing under control. The first two miles were fine, and I was pleased with my pace. Then shit started to hit the fan. I was probably about 3 miles up the trail. The wider trail had narrowed to a steep single track and I was DYING. I was struggling to breathe and I was struggling to maintain forward movement. I stopped on the side of the trail to catch my breath and commented to another gal that I couldn't believe how hard this was and that I was already contemplating just turning around and seeing if there was any way to just get picked up and forget this had ever happened. Obviously I didn't stop, but I could NOT believe how much I was already struggling - less than an hour in! I was pretty much alone in a sea of people this early section, trying to find my place among all these other hopefuls. I had thought that we would hit the "blast zone" earlier. The first time we exited the trees we finally had some "clear" views of the surrounding area. It was still VERY smoky, however.



The first big boulder field was everything nightmares are made of for me. It was like wandering around the summit of a 14er, trying to navigate your way through the rocks without twisting an ankle or catching a trekking pole on a boulder. There was a decent amount of congestion in this area as people shifted places, depending on how comfortable they were with moving quicker in this area.

It was definitely getting warm and I was really looking forward to getting to the aid station. We left the exposed area and re-entered the woods. Finally saw a sign directing us to Blue Lake. I assumed we still had a while to go to get to the aid station since I was only about 11.5 miles in according to my watch, so I was pleased when it wasn't that far.

Blue Lake to Windy Ridge (12.2-30.3 miles)

THEY HAD ICE!!! After the catastrophe in Moab where the earlier aid stations didn't have ice, I was really happy to have had the opportunity to put ice in my bandana. I didn't want to stay at the aid station for too long, but I had managed to get there with a big group of people and it took a lot longer to get in/out than I would have liked. Even just filling the bladder was a hassle since I basically had to take everything back out of my back to get the bladder back in. Ugh. I grabbed some food - no watermelon though, they HAD run out of that, sad. But ice cold coke and ice and I was happy. 12 minutes at the aid station, which is about 7-8 minutes longer than I normally like to take. I had headed into the aid station with Stacy and she decided to stop and use the bathroom on the way out so I went out alone and she said she would catch up.


We had a really nice section of downhill that I was sooo happy to be running. Some runners got a little off course on this section and luckily were close enough to us that they heard when we yelled they were going the wrong way. I had my first fall of the race about this point, mile 15. I rolled my ankle pretty badly and once again, was worried that I had hurt myself so badly early in the race (like in Tahoe, at mile 8). After walking a bit it seemed to improve, thankfully. 

I had heard about the ropes on the course, but I wasn't sure when we were finally going to get to them. We were still in the woods, and I knew that the ropes were when we got further out. We finally got to the first section, which was just a rope to take down into a quarry. 
From there we had our first water crossing. I didn't take any water at this crossing, and I was fascinated by the number of people that were sitting taking off their shoes and such. I knew we had a wait when we got to the rope going out of the quarry as only one person could be on the line at a time. I hit this at 6 hours in and waited 10 minutes to climb out. I ended up being right behind Jason, who we had run with a bit at Moab 240 before he DNF'd there. 

Kinda hard to see, but he is heading up the rope section up to those trees
Jason seemingly took forever to go up the ropes, so I was very aware of how long it was taking me to climb up. I probably should have put my poles away for the climb because they definitely got in the way. After feeling so good for so long prior to this section, I was definitely a hot mess when I got to the top of this section. Once I got up I felt lightheaded and very out of breath. I couldn't believe how winded I all of a sudden felt. I sat down on a tree stump to get recombobulated. I was dismayed to have people passing me that looked so fresh, people that I had passed hours earlier. 
I caught back up with Taylor, the girl I had been talking with at mile 3 about quitting. We stuck together a bit in this section of doing the switchbacks out of the quarry and out of the forest to an exposed section. It looked pretty daunting (too bad I didn't get a picture from the bottom) - lots of sand in this section, and according to a gal in front of me who had done the 100K a month earlier, we would have four more miles of climbing out of this.
Once we were out of the sandy valley, we were on a plateau of some sort where you could seemingly see forever, but the haze made this section appear very unforgiving and long. Where were we actually going?

I could NOT wait for the sun to go down. This section was so hot and desolate. In the distance I could see what looked like mountain goats (which I knew were a possibility to see on the course) - and I was right! We saw two different groups of them, which included babies! I looked at my watch and saw we were only at about 4,000' elevation - about 9.000' less than we can usually see them in Colorado.


This section did, surprisingly, have a handful of water crossings. The first one was a little silty, but I still filled up my extra bottle since it had the filter in the cap it was super to easy to use. Finally we arrived at what we could only assume was the oasis, because amidst all the rockiness and sand, there was some green and even some cute purple flowers - not to mention a small waterfall! I dumped out my old water and refilled with what tasted like cool mountain spring water! Truly a miracle after wandering around thirsty for so long :)

I was still running/hiking with Taylor at this point. We arrived at a junction up to the road, and we were told that when we got to the top of the road it was a mile to the aid station. Compared to the climbing we had been doing, the non-technical road was such a blessing and we moved quickly. Since the few miles of road was an out and back we got to see some of the faster people, and it was pretty neat to recognize so many people and cheer them on by name. The 200 mile community is pretty darn small, and even after only doing a few of these, I still knew about 15-20% of the field, most of whom I saw in this section. I was happy that it was just now starting to get dark and I wouldn't have to pull out my regular headlamp, I'd able to get my Kogalla for when it actually got dark.

Windy Ridge to Johnston Ridge (30.3-39.9 miles)

I told Taylor that I was going to meet up with my crew to get my stuff but that she was welcome to come over and grab anything she may need since she was doing this solo. 
Ben just loves to get pictures of me eating, haha
I was able to sit and get a decent amount of food. I still wanted to be in/out pretty quickly, so I grabbed my Kogalla, and headed out, just a few seconds behind Taylor.


I caught Taylor pretty quickly and we hiked the mile-ish out of the aid station, stopping briefly to say hi to Gene, who I was surprised to find so far back. (If you don't know who Gene Dykes is, take a second to google him, he is a complete stud). I am so glad I met up with Taylor. She was so interesting and fun to talk with, plus she liked talking about running and races and seemed genuinely interested in the races that I've done, which made time go by pretty quick. We ran a lot of the downhill section until we met up with the junction that we had been at earlier. I don't remember much of this section. It wasn't very technical, although I did roll my ankle a section time on some of the double track.

Johnston Ridge to Coldwater Lake (39.9-46.5 miles)

I had told the crew to skip this aid station. The distance between Windy Ridge and Coldwater really wasn't that substantial, and according to Candice, it was basically impossible to hit both Windy and Johnston. We didn't spend a lot of time at the Johnston aid station, just got some food and topped off fluids, using the bathroom on the way out. I also don't remember much of this section, so it must not have been very technical either.

Coldwater Lake to Norway Pass (46.5-65.2 miles)

Finally I could pick up a pacer! (It's funny that I say "finally," since this is the earliest mileage of any 200 where you can pick up a pacer. In Tahoe we were over 60 miles in, and Moab was over 70 before you could have one). Either way, heading into the first of a few VERY technical and steep sections, I was glad that Ben would be joining us. I hadn't planned on arriving at the aid station as early as we did, but my main goal of the race was to at least make it through ONE night without having to nap, so I wanted to get out pretty quickly.

We grabbed Taylor on our way out of the aid station, using the bathroom one last time. (I'm pretty sure this was the last real bathroom I'd use until after the race was over...) I was desperately hoping for some pavement or something less technical on the way out. We did actually have a few miles that weren't too bad, climbing-wise.
I was starting to get tired and wanted to nap. The initial plan was to try while it was still dark, but I wasn't quite ready, so we trudged along. I don't know what my deal was, but I was in a super bad mood in this section. Sleep deprivation? Being overwhelmed in general? Ben kept trying to get pictures and I just wasn't having it, haha.
We kept trudging along, and thankfully Ben continued to take pictures along this section, since apparently I remember very little about it.



The climbs definitely were relentless and seemed to go on and on... every time we would turn a corner there would be another hill to climb. I think I was irritated that Ben never used his poles and I thought I would die without them.

The smoke was still pretty bad, so a lot of the views were somewhat eerie - would have been amazing to see on a bright, clear day.








Finally we found a nice clearing and opted to take 10 minutes to try and nap. I didn't fall asleep (what a surprise), but it was nice to lie down and take my eyes off the trail for a few minutes. I think this is the longest I have gone without closing my eyes in at least 5 years!

It was SO HOT and Taylor and I were both struggling. I knew we had a long ways to go and was already rationing water, wondering if there was any chance that we would find any along the way on this section. Luckily we found a small "waterfall" (really more of a drip) that we were all able to refill our bottles with. What a relief!

One of my favorite on course pictures!


We finally were approaching the highest point of the course - Mt. Margaret. We would have to make a quick detour to climb up to the summit - at least it wasn't very long, maybe a half mile round trip. It sure was steep though!

There were a lot of flies at the top and they sort of followed us after summiting (honestly, for the whole next segment too, the flies were just horrendous - and biting!) We started seeing signage for Norway Pass, and it was hard to believe how many miles we still had to get there.


Finally we could "see" the aid station in the distance. It was tough to tell where we were going with all the switchbacks, but we could see it! That gave us some motivation for sure. It was so hot out and I was tired, really looking for some cold water and a rest after this one.
How I charge on the go!

Norway Pass to Elk Pass (65.2-76.3 miles)

It was a short walk to the truck, and it was super warm, but I had hoped that I would be able to sleep. Sadly, sleep didn't happen. I did, however, have part of a cold Modelo, which was delicious and really hit the spot. When I was ready to head out, I saw that Taylor was still napping by the aid station. I asked Ben if he could see if she was ok and maybe she would be able to catch up? I had Zack as a pacer in this section, and we had a decently steep ascent out of the aid station. I really don't remember much of this section. It was hot when we headed up, but there was nothing super remarkable in this section. I apparently didn't take any pictures, and I know that towards the end I was tired and had to take a short nap. Threw in music and we did some running into the aid station.

Elk Pass to Road 9327 (76.3-91.3 miles)

Another failed nap attempt. I swear, not being able to take short naps are the bane of my existence. Why is it so hard?? Zack was on deck to pace another section. We had some climbs and did most of this in the dark. Again, I can't seem to remember too much about this section, although we did have some climbs and we got some nice views of the moon.
I definitely got tired in this section. There were areas where the were lots of loose rocks and it appeared there were drop-offs on the side of the trail. As soon as it was "safe," I stopped for a few very short trail naps by sitting and leaning against a tree. When I got up I told Zach I was going to put in my headphones and we were going to "run." It wasn't fast, but the last few miles into the aid station went by pretty quick.

Road 9327 to Spencer Butte (91.3-102.5 miles)

As soon as we got to the aid station I told Ben that I was so exhausted that I needed him to lie down with me one of the tents so I could try to sleep, since I usually sleep better if he is with me. Unfortunately, the tent was super sketchy. People coughing and farting and breathing loudly, and after maybe an hour we completely gave up on sleep. This immediately put me in a crappy mood because I was so exhausted and frustrated about not being able to sleep. 

Melina was pacing me at this section and we headed out in the dark. I don't remember much about the early miles of this either. I didn't take any pictures and according to my Garmin we had quite a bit of climbing, that I have no recollection of.

Spencer Butte to Lewis River (102.5-110.1 miles)

Spencer Butte was not a crew access station, so when we arrived at the aid station, realizing that we were "only" halfway, and I was still SO TIRED, I was a little upset, but at least it was now daylight. We had a couple paved miles on the road that actually felt pretty good, and we did a little running. When we turned onto this section of trail it  was really pretty, with big pinecones that reminded me of Tahoe.
When we turned onto the trail to go into the woods we had a very small runnable section before we started a VERY steep and long descent - dropping about 2,000' in just a couple miles. I could NOT believe how steep it was. (Side note - in Denver we have a popular hill people like to do for quick vert - Mt. Morrison. I always say how much I hate it and what kind of run would that actually be training for? Well, this, apparently). Once we got to the bottom basin along the river it was really pretty and not that technical. I did take two short trail naps in this section. Was really happy to get to the aid station after a long stretch of not seeing crew, although I was REALLY not impressed with the long walk up the fire road to the aid station. There was a table of various types of whiskey, although since I cannot stand whiskey, I opted to skip...

Lewis River to Quartz Ridge (110.10-127.3 miles)

Another failed attempt at a nap. This was a sleep station, but it was so warm out that I thought it would be too stuffy to lie down in a tent. I tried to lie down in some grass, but it wasn't shaded and the aid station was pretty loud, so I gave up. UGH....

We headed back down the road to get to the trail and saw Melina still waiting to get picked up by Zach. Bye!

The first few miles out of the aid station were really pretty and actually not too steep. All that meant to ME was that it was going to be insanely hilly later, since I knew this was supposed to be the section of the course with the most gain.









Ben just loves waterfalls, so I think he was pretty pleased to have been in this section. I glanced over, but let him take all the pictures since I waste so much time doing that normally. 






And just like that, it got STEEP.  We also began to have obstacles on the trail - little did I know what would be coming later in the race. At the time, this just seemed like fun course-finding, a fun story to tell later about a crazy trail...

Things definitely got steeper here, and I was glad that we had run into a group of about a half dozen runners, it made me feel better knowing that other people were out in this with me. 


At some point, I don't remember exactly where, I found a spot to take a trail nap. I definitely slept in those 5 minutes and woke up feeling very refreshed, only to get STUNG BY A HORNET as soon as I stood up. WTF! I got stung on my right hand right where the pointer finger attaches and it really stung and got puffy. All I could think about was when Phil had to DNF Leadville a few years earlier after complications from a wasp sting. Luckily it was only bothersome for a few hours, haha.
We were definitely wondering if this lower section had been so steep, how steep the new out/back section would be to the aid station. We turned up onto the trail and noticed there were some drop offs and it was pretty sandy, but honestly, other than not knowing how far we had to go, I didn't think this section was as bad as the lower section. We had spent some time with a younger male runner that was obsessed with asking everyone how far it was to the aid station and then be upset with how much the answers varied. Either way, we arrived at the aid station and I sat briefly in a camp chair by the fire while waiting for some food. Was happy to see the "three amigos" there, their stories were hilarious - especially Sam blowing her whistle and screaming for help because she didn't believe there was really an aid station here, haha.

Quartz Ridge to Chain of Lakes (127.3-143.5 miles)

I THINK I ACTUALLY SLEPT HERE! Of course I had asked to only sleep for a half hour (or something) so it wasn't a lot, but when Zack knocked on the window I did feel refreshed, or at least as refreshed as one can feel after 30 minutes of sleep.

The way back to the fork in the road where we would head to Chain of Lakes did not seem nearly as long and I was feeling decent and alert. Ben had a stop/drop/roll fall and I'm glad this didn't happen on one of the drop off areas!

Feeling good was pretty short lived, and I was REALLY REALLY TIRED in this section. Ben knew that I was suffering and was a pretty good sport about letting me stop for 10 minute naps. We were in a heavily wooded section with lots of sweeping ups/downs and after one nap I realized that I had forgotten to zip my pack and we had to go back to get my dry bag of electronics that had fallen out.

I definitely remember being very miserable and unhappy in this section, telling Ben that nothing about this was fun and there was no way I was ever going to do this again.
At one point I sat in the middle of the road and told Ben to call Zack to come pick me up because I didn't want to go any further. I know Ben will argue that he ended up with all the sections where I was upset, and he isn't wrong. However, he was the best person to be with me at those times because he would listen to me complain and then do his best to make me feel better, or at least to get me moving.
Something snapped in me and thanks to a non-technical downhill, I had some angry miles of running down into the aid station. It was kind of fun to run by the campground as the sun was coming up, with people milling around wanting to know what mile we were at and to cheer us on. 

Chain of Lakes to Klickitat (143.5-160.8 miles)

Sleep was imperative, and YET AGAIN, I could not sleep. I angrily got up after lying down and not sleeping just to get out and to stop wasting time since it was light out. Melina was going to be pacing the next section and we headed out at a brisk pace.
A few minutes after leaving the aid station I realized that I had left my phone in the truck!! Ugh! I still had the map on my watch and Melina had it on her phone, so we decided to not go back for it and just to get it when we got to the Klickitat aid station.  


We had a nice section of gradual downhill, then some flatter areas by all the river crossings we apparently had. I was definitely getting tired again, and told Melina that I wanted to try to nap before we hit the next water crossings as I didn't want to lie down with wet shorts. I found a great spot in the shade on some pine needles and once again, think I actually slept!
The water crossings weren't really that big a deal, they were pretty long but the water wasn't moving at a dangerous rate and the deepest one was only about thigh level on me. Some excitement when Melina dropped her phone in the river, but at least it didn't get swept away and still worked...
After the last crossing there were probably a half dozen people sitting off the trail taking off their shoes/socks, etc and messing around with their feet. It was still a billion degrees out and I was surprised people were taking the time to do that. 
Melina had let me know that after the crossings we had five solid miles of climbing, but that it wasn't anything "terrible." Well, she was kind of right. It was definitely a lot more straight climbing than I am used to, but nothing was really overly steep and I didn't have to stop to take that many breathing breaks. We were still in the trees and moving at a pretty good pace. 
When we finally got to the top, it seemed that we would be at the aid station at any minute. Then we saw the sign that we had to do the out and back to Elk Peak... This was just cruel! The climb up was steep and actually not bad, but the way down was NOT fun, and I took it really slow.

Summit party on Elk Peak

Once we got back to the junction, we really thought it was only a half mile or so to the aid station, but it was unfortunately much longer than that. I was not happy by the time we finally got there.

Klickitat to Twin Sisters (160.8-180.2 miles)

I checked in at the aid station and headed to the car immediately. I had already scraped up my arms/legs pretty good, so I decided that since it was almost night time anyway that I would wear my REI rain pants to protect my legs, and then I also would not need to carry pants in my pack. I got some food and warned Zack that we were in for a clusterfuck of shit in the next section. I had briefly been running with a girl that said she had helped mark that section and she said it was exponentially worse than anything else we had seen so far. I guess I had missed that I still had a section or two of really tough stuff to go. So off we went, just before dark...


I was warm heading out, but I opted to leave my long sleeves on since I hadn't applied any bug spray and I knew this section was supposed to be one of the worst with mosquitos. After all the issues with the biting flies earlier I was already really annoyed any time anything came buzzing by my face. Finally I pulled out one of our pre-race impulse buys - a mosquito net to put around  my head. Funny, that for a net this thing didn't breathe at ALL and I was really only able to keep it on for a mile or two before it just drove me nuts. But just look at the high fashion:
I am really glad that I had Zack in this section. No matter how irritated I get, I can't be mad or annoyed at Zack. I don't think anyone can! Right from the start he decided that he would count how many downed trees there were covering the trail. So whether we had to climb/step over or crawl under, it was counted. And he announced each one loudly, haha. (Fun fact, there were 589 of them throughout this section of the course. FIVE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY-NINE. What).

Anyway, Zack said that early in this section there were some runnable sections, so he wanted me to dig deep and run those to try and get back some of the cushion that I had been losing over the last day or so. He was right, there were some sections where we actually were running pretty well and even passed a few people.

We caught up with the three amigos, who were with a few other runners when we got to this really cool ridgeline. I opted to put on warmer clothes since it looked like we were going to be exposed on a ridge for a bit. The girls told us to go ahead because our Kogalla lights were too bright and they didn't really want to see what was "down there." 
From here on out things were just crazy. I have no idea how Zack was able to navigate so well through these woods. To me it just looked like a giant avalanche had come through a valley knocking trees over. Zack was a wizard at finding the course markings. I'm fairly certain that I would not have been able to navigate this section alone, so I was super grateful to have him out there.
I look like a creepy leprechaun here, hahaha
At some point, we started climbing and navigating along a ridgeline. Everything runs together, so I'm not sure what mile we were at, or what was happening, but it was steep, there was a lot of overgrown bushes/weeds on the trail and it was nearly impossible to use poles at time because there simply wasn't enough room on the trail to even put them in front of you. More than once I told Zack that as soon as it was "safe," I needed a minute to sit down, rest, and think about my life choices. I did not enjoy being so close to drop offs in this area. We found a section where it seemed like I could sleep for 10 minutes, and I think I got a little sleep before some runners came by and woke me up.

We headed out with a group but they were moving at a faster pace and we quickly lost sight of their headlamps in the distance. I needed to get to an aid station to get some actual sleep SO BAD. All of a sudden it started to lightly rain. At first, it was a welcome relief from the heat that we had been suffering with for a few days. Then the trail got a little slick, and the technicality and steepness really got to me. Not to mention all the overgrowth would spray on you while walking through it. It was not fun. We had another big climb that seemingly went on forever along another ridgeline. I was SO RELIEVED when we finally saw the sign to turn to Twin Sisters aid station. Silly me, I thought it would be pretty close to get there, maybe a mile. I was wrong. It was misty/hazy and raining and I was definitely sleepwalking on a very dangerous section of trail. Instead of being the line leader Zack moved behind me as a safety measure.

I had some really bad hallucinations here, most of them revolving around thinking I saw the aid station. I would see lights and people that were NOT dressed properly for the weather in shorts and singlets - this isn't a beach vacation! 

When we finally arrived at the aid station nearly 3 (!!) miles later I was so freaked out and exhausted that I told Zach and Ben that one of them would need to pace me back out, if they thought I was even going to be able to head out. I ate some food and laid down in the tent for a bit.

Twin Sisters to Owen's Creek (180.2-196.2 miles)

Melina was nowhere to be seen when Ben woke me up from my 20 minute nap. I asked if she was aware that she wouldn't be pacing the next section and he said yes, so I took a few minutes to get my crap together before heading out. I was not super happy that my buffer was down to only 45 minutes! Zack and I seemingly understood that there was only a 20% chance of the rain continuing, so I grabbed my puffy coat since I was cold, Ben's gloves, since my thin ones were wet, and we headed out for the SECOND TO LAST SECTION!!

So a funny thing about forecasts, is they are rarely very accurate, and if something can go wrong, it will. The rain started again maybe 10 minutes after we left the aid station. I was on a mission to get this run over with and we had a very strong climb out. Stopped briefly to take this picture - which on the way INTO the aid station, Zack and I both thought it was someone sitting on the side of the trail. Nope.
It was still incredibly eerie out, and now that it was getting light out, I couldn't believe how scary this section was, and I was even more freaked about how out of it I was on the way into the aid station. 
I got warm since I was wearing my puffy coat, so even though it was lightly drizzling I opted to drop the layer. I threw my hiking poles on the ground when I was dropping layers and putting stuff in my pack. I was NOT amused when I picked up my poles and realized that I had thrown them in someone's pile of shit!! Right off the trail!! Not happy!! I had a couple tissues in my back, but now I was going to have my hands on someone's poop until the next aid station HOURS AWAY. GRRRRR. We finally got to the turnoff to head to Owen's Creek and I stupidly thought the worst was over with.
The rain had picked up and it was COLD. I was wearing my R1, which is water repellant, and it was doing an ok job, but my hands were FREEZING. The water proof gloves that I was wearing were completely soaked. Initially I thought that maybe it would be better to not wear anything, but that was not the case, even wet gloves were better than nothing at all.  I kept thinking that we should be dropping a bit and that if we dropped enough that it would stop raining. I pulled out my emergency poncho and tossed it on, and Zack was using his emergency blanket as a skirt. We were trying to make the best of things, but man, it was so cold. (Ben told us later that they said it was 42 degrees at Twin Sisters, and I think that was without taking into account the rain).

We still had our out and back section up Pompey Peak to complete, which we believed to be the end of all our climbing. The climb up was miserable and since it had been raining, it was slick with mud and the rocks were also pretty slippery. Maybe there is a nice view, but we certainly couldn't see anything...

Due to the rain and the technical trails, we were not making up any time. If anything, some of the miles were taking even longer. Imagine my annoyance that there were STILL A TON OF DOWNED TREES IN THIS SECTION. See videos below - videos created by and used with permission by fellow finisher Haa Cheng Thai. 



I think these videos do a pretty good job depicting what we dealt with for 25-30 miles on course. Total insanity. At some point, it just got to be funny and the giant uprooted tree sent us into a tailspin of hysteria for a while we contemplated the fact it could have fallen on us and killed us at any time. All of a sudden we were dropped down a bit more and out of the forest. Before I knew it we were on what can best be described as a fire road, but completely green - on the ground and all sides. This section was mostly flat and while there were still some downed trees, it was nothing like what we had been dealing with earlier. At some point, I was walking along, sleepwalking again, and I all of a sudden was face down on the ground. I don't even think I tripped over anything, I was just down for the count. We got passed by a few people here, and more than once I pulled out my phone to make sure we were on course because I couldn't imagine that we would be in this section for so long. We started doing some run/walk here because it was starting to feel like we would never be out of here. And then all of a sudden - AID STATION!!!! THE LAST AID STATION!!

Owen's Creek to White Pass High School/Finish (196.2-209.2 miles)

I. Was. Done. I was so happy that it had stopped raining, and that I had plenty of time to finish, but I just wanted to be done with this course. Found Ben right away, and told him I was just going to eat really quick and then I wanted to be out ASAP. The volunteer offered to make me a breakfast sandwich, which I wolfed down. I dropped off my poles with Zach and Ben and I headed out. Thankfully, the last 13 miles of the course were either flat or downhill. The first 3 miles were on a fire road and we did some run/walk on that section, before turning on the road. 
Once we got to the road, just 10 miles to go. Unfortunately, this late in the game, 10 miles might have well been a marathon. I have recaps from folks saying they were able to truly run, but that wasn't the case for me. My feet were pissed. The balls of my feet felt like all the skin had been scraped off, and all I was able to manage here were some run/walk intervals, although I was moving twice as fast as the previous section, and I did manage to pass three runners.
It got warm enough to take off my R1, but I didn't see the point in trying to take my rain pants off, so I left those on.
When we finally got to the bridge, I knew that we only had a few miles to go. There was actually a family near here, and they were cheering people by name! They must have been watching the live tracker. Either way, it was neat.
Finally we got to the turn onto the road by the high school. Supposedly only a mile to go from here, but I think it was closer to 1.5 miles.

Finally the turn to the school! Ben kept trying to get me to run, but I knew that I would have to run a lap around the track to finish and that I would need to conserve energy for that. Holy crap I was actually going to finish this thing!!! 


Ben got a bunch of pictures on the track and then we held hands into the finish, just like we did for both Tahoe and Moab. 
Took my post-race mugshot, then got to pick out my buckle. I was really happy that the one that I had been eyeballing online for a week was still available!


FINISHER!!!
Official Time - 104:43:43 (my "A" goal besides finishing was to go sub 105 - which is what the cutoff normally is, but was changed to 107 hours with the change to the Quartz Ridge aid station)
Garmin Time - 104:43:29
Garmin Moving Time - 65:22:31 (wow, I wasn't moving a LOT)
Garmin Distance - 213.71 miles
Elevation Gain - 40,137'
Fun facts:
High Temperature - 102.2
Low Temperature - 48.2
Average Temperature - 76.8

I wore short sleeves almost the entire race until the last 24 hours, which is when we basically had a 50 degree temperature drop.

I only got two major blisters, in the same spot I usually do - outside of my heels. I did however, look like I got locked in a closet with a feral cat, however. More scrapes and abrasions than I've ever had from running!

Gear I found essential (similar to Tahoe & Moab)
  • UltrAsprire Zygos pack
  • Katadyn BeFree bottle/filter - this was an absolute lifesaver. I will never not carry this with me again.
  • Kogalla RA - Batpak 3 for lightstrip, Batpak 1 for phone/watch charging
  • Leki Micro Vario carbon poles
  • Hoka One One Speedgoats. I wore version 4 and only alternated between two pairs all race.
  • Zensah crew socks. Wore 5 pairs total, but a few times I had to swap out for socks I had already worn. Definitely need more extras "next" time.
  • Dirty Girl Gaiters
  • Zensah high neck sports bra. Second time I've worn one of these for a 200, and again, wore one bra the whole time with ZERO chafing.
  • Gloves - not sure about the whole waterproof thing though...
  • Patagonia R1 - I wore two different ones throughout the race.
  • Mountain Hardware Ghost Whisperer 2 - packs down small, and wore a bit, but not as much as I have in other races.
  • Columbia sun hat - wore this every day until the last day. 
  • Columbia Silver Ridge Lite plaid shirts. I have worn these for every 200 race I've done and still think they are amazing - very versatile
  • INKnBURN skirts and shorts. For the first time EVER, I got chafing from skirts after a few days, I think just because of the constant humidity and sweat. I moved to wearing 6" shorts for the last parts and had no further issues. First 200 I didn't wear tights at all.
  • REI rainwall pants. These SAVED ME. I have had my pair for about 5 years and have to toss them after this race since all the downed trees shredded them, but I got my money's worth and will get a new pair.
  • Buff - I only got one really "bad" bloody nose, during the Klickitat section with Zack. Buffs help with that and other stuff.
  • Goodr sunglasses
  • Garmin Fenix 6S - Whole route loaded on my watch again, still like that I have battery percent on my screen so I know when to charge. Plus, this watch charges pretty fast.
  • Jaybird Vista headphones for a handful of sections. 
  • LMNT electrolytes. Initially I was worried it would be "too much" salt, but with how hot it was and how much I was sweating I feel like I really needed it. 
  • Beachbody Energize - I think this really helps to keep me awake, but I'm wondering if it was TOO much caffeine - I need to work on this balance, but I think it did at least get me through the first night without napping.
  • BASE performance salt, although I used very sparingly since LMNT has so much sodium already.
  • Chapstick - didn't lose a tube this race either!
  • Squirrel nut butter and Chamois Buttr
  • Gauze dental rolls - these are PERFECT for my nosebleeds! Nail clippers and tweezers, as well as face wipes that were individually packaged. My skin didn't break out nearly as bad this time.
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste.

1 comment:

  1. So proud of you! I loved the tree videos! I CANNOT believe the poop. 🤢 wtf. It is fun to kind of remember watching where you were at on the race and then reading this. I remember thinking you were going slow in the rainy section and being worried. And now it all makes sense!

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