Thursday, August 7, 2014

Photo shoot and Echo Tri

I got to participate in an Altra photo shoot in Park City wearing the new Superior 2.0 set to release later this year.  The people that make it all happen are great, lots of fun. My husband couldn't be there unfortunately due to a scout camp (he usually directs these) so a few babysitters later and I got to spend a couple days up there running 15 yard increments. Over and over. With lots of heavy make up for the camera. But with lots of fun. I'd never stayed in hotel all by myself and was looking forward to a nice relaxing evening, but by the time we finished shooting and dinner it was a quick 10 min in the hot tub and to bed to be back up at 5am for another day of hair, make up and photos. I can't share the images we shot yet but friend Arianne took this one of us getting a shot

I have been kind of missing triathlon a little and had the chance to do a sprint tri, Echo, up close to Park City so made it happen. I'm a sucker for my kids so drove back down to get them, brought them back up to Park City with me to enjoy a hotel night. We swam, wandered the hotel, enjoyed the lounge, walked for slurpees and enjoyed cable (we don't have TV at home). My friend Jen and her 15 and 5 year old daughters came up and joined us and boy was it a party room :)
We all eventually got some sleep and Jen and I left for the race. She was so great in helping set the Altra tent and shoes up and worked it while I raced. It was so lovely to have so many friendly familiar faces say hi.  Even though it's only been since last summer it's crazy how it felt like I was coming out of a long retirement that way, loved visiting with friends!

Funny moment - left the house in a hurry so just threw in what tri clothes I could find.  Put my tri shorts on at the race, the only pair I brought, only to find out the butt was completely sheer.  Like even Jen told me so.  I didn't want to have to buy a new pair right then because I am incredibly indecisive, cheap, and didn't love the one pair there.  Happened to have my tight Altra shorts in the car and hated to put them on a bike seat but threw them on over the sheer tri shorts (because who doesn't love a pad?) and was good to go.

Kept transition setup quick, simple, and easy - just like it should be.  You do not need a duffle bag or bucket next to your, or someone else's bike.  Swim cap, goggles, wetsuit.  Bike, shoes, helmet, sunglasses, nutrition/hydration on bike.  Running shoes, race belt, hat/visor, any nutrition needed.  That's it.  I've learned with ultras too that the more stuff you have around the longer it takes you with a tired brain to determine what you need.  I believe my fast transitions are due to experience and setting out only what I need.

Swim - 6th, 13:56.  Seemed like everyone went out fast!  I stayed with the leaders in my wave but there were more around me than I was used to.  It took until the first turn to loose many.  That first 1/3 was hard, anaerobic.  The rest of the swim still felt challenging but better, more fluid, familiar.  I felt so calm and mentally experienced.  I believe I came out of the water second woman of my wave.

T1 - 2nd, 1:21.  I ran right up the long ramp with a heart rate high, removed the whole wetsuit by my post swim shoes (this is a dirt, rocky transition area) since I knew it would be a long run to my bike.  Good decision.  Normally clip my shoes onto the bike but with such a rocky and possibly thorny transition area I decided to put them on there.  Got everything else on quickly and ran out, bike held up until the road.

Bike - 8th, 37:19.  It was nice!  I felt comfortable in aero, enjoyed watching the lead men come back toward me and just enjoyed the sunny nice day and non technical bike course.  Was passed by a lot of men in the first 5 minutes which didn't bother me, just made me think I had a good swim, better than I thought with the lack of training (I did like, uh, 4 pool workouts before hand).  But it was disappointing to not hear anything.  Maybe it's the now ultra runner in me, but seems nice to offer a "hello", "good job", "good morning" when you pass someone.  While I did enjoy the bike, and didn't feel particularly weak, times showed I didn't have a lot of power behind me, which I pretty much expected given the lack of time on the bike.

T2 - 6th, 1:00.  The guy next to me with too much stuff had his too much stuff all over my running gear which made racking my bike and transitioning hard, but whatever.  Simple quick transition.   Always know which way ins and outs are.

Run - 1st, 20:24.  I was excited to get here and see how many men I could catch.  I kind of thought I was lead woman since I didn't see any ahead of me at turn around, but there was another heat in back of me so I wanted to push as hard as I could.  Boy does running a 20 minute 5k hurt after so much ultra length, and consequently, slower running.  I ran almost as fast as I wanted, but it never felt easy, as it has before when I'm well trained for this.  I caught a lot of men, wishing them well in passing, but not quite the guy I was hoping for.  Was neat to see so many Altras out there!  I wore the Altra 3 Sum 1.5

I didn't go check awards after because I wanted to hang out with Jen at the tent, and I really wasn't too concerned.  I was there to have fun.  We'd find out at awards.  I was kind of surprised that they did age group awards for sprint and olympic before doing overall awards.  I've never seen that before.  There was almost no one there by the time they did overall.  They finally did ours and for the winner called up "Leslie" so I started walking up "Rockwood" or some other last name that wasn't mine.  LOL, that could have been embarrassing :)  Guess she got me by 1:40 in a wave behind me I think.  And that's ok!  I had a 2 minute faster run, 20 second slower swim, great transitions, but a considerably slower bike that cost me.  2nd place, 1:14.02.  9th overall with men and women T1 and Run.  It was fun just to be out there racing, going through the motions, and seeing so many friendly faces!  Not to mention seeing the sweet disabled (I hope that is the right word, I certainly mean no disrespect if not) kids and young adults being pulled by caring strangers so they could do a race they otherwise could not.  I would love to do that too sometime.

This may or may not be my only tri for the season.  Trying to be good about training for my next big race next month.  We shall see!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Summer time life post Bryce 100

I've had a nice lax time since Bryce. I wanted to take time unstructured to recover fully despite the fact that I felt great from the day after the race. Like way better than I thought I would. I attribute it to a conservative consistent pace the whole time. Faster harder efforts are harder on the body I think. I had many very sweet people, comments, and gifts given after the race. I so appreciate that!  Yes I do this crazy stuff all the time but Bryce was something special for me and I appreciated the extra acknowledgment and kindness. 

I got to go for my first post Bryce run with American record holder and Altra athlete Zach Bitter who was driving out to Western States and spent a night here. As in awe as I was of his level and accomplishments it was also neat to feel how down to earth and normal he - and most elites- are. It was only 3.5 trail miles but I felt great!

I've spent lots of time with my little crew enjoying their summer break. This was a fun bike trip with just the girls (we left brother at home with Dad) to our favorite shaved ice place. This stuff is amazing!

Went on my first longer run post Bryce again feeling great. This is a favorite 13-14 mile loop of mine at the top of Millcreek and Big Cottonwood Canyon. These guys are a blast
Living here does not stink, that's for sure. Love that trails like this are a 20 min drive

Decided last minute to do a local 5 mile road race 2 weeks post Bryce. Was fun to be able to run to the race all of 1/2 mile away as a warm up. Technically I ran there and back twice since the high school kids that we're helping with the race were surprisingly all in Altras!  They love them!  So I ran home after registering and before the race to grab a few of my husbands shoes for the most passionate high school runner to try during the race. Was so fun to watch his face light up when I handed the bag of unreleased shoes over to him for an hour :)
The hard fast pace definitely felt different than ultra lace but was fun to run with a long open stride. Wanted to run it under 35 and I finished in 33:18 with a win!  Came away with enough money to pay for the race entry so that was nice. 

Ran the loop a few more times and saw a moose on one of them finally.

My patriotic friend Zac and before a fun 4th of July eve run up Mt Timpanogus. A large group of us started at 9pm and finished the 14 mile, 4500ft run about 1:30am and hung out in the parking lot eating pot luck food. A great time. I had some weird knee pain at one point coming down but it went away. Hauled a redbull up there with me to test out. Don't know that it made me feel jumpy or way more alert and I certainly didn't get any wings, but it may have helped some. Did bother my stomach a little but that may have been just drinking all the chemically liquid.

Took my oldest daughter mountain biking. Should have done the route we did in reverse order so some of the uphills kicked her butt and it was really hot, but it was awesome to watch her do things and go over stuff and follow lines I didn't think she would, even things I didn't do.

My husband Jeremy and I had the chance to spend 30 miles and a night together backpacking in the Uinta mountains. Loved it!  People often ask if we run together and the answer is no. We've got 4 kids so one of us has to be here with them, and we just aren't the same pace. He gets stressed he's holding me back and I get impatient sometimes. But ironically we worked super well together at his Zion Traverse 50 miler earlier this year with me as his pacer and we backpack really well together. He has more wisdom than I do there, except in first aid, I usually treat those injuries :) but we just keep a good pace together that works well for both of us.
We would stop so he could fly fish every few hours and so I could devour everything in my pack. I love to eat. And sit on bridges and watch him and listen to nothing.

We also enjoyed a week in Yellowstone and Grand Teton as a family the week before Bryce. Such a wonderful trip!  It's been a good summer so far. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Bolt to Speedgoat

That's what I'm calling this week of mine.
(I am backdating this post.  It's really Sept 9 and I'm a slacker but I like to keep some order to this blog)

There is an organized fun run called Butler Bolt up Big Cottonwood Canyon from Butler Fork to Dog Lake and down to Mill D.  Only like 5 miles, but it's timed so you want to go fast (if that's what you're after).  I had been looking forward to it for a few weeks as something fun to do.  So a group of maybe 30 of us gathered and with a "ready go" headed off.  And by headed off I mean sprinted.  Ouch.  I was seeing stars and feeling dizzy by 30 seconds in.  Took it out way too hard but didn't want to get caught in a long line on the singletrack.  Resorted to powerhiking this steep first climb quickly but kept the pace quick.  Alternated running and powerhiking, quick bush stop, and powered up and hard as I could since I know in the past, downs haven't been my strongest point.
Figured when we got to the top my legs would be fried and making them support me going downhill fast would be tough, but I was pleasantly surprised.  I wanted to break through that past idea of not being a good downhiller so I just leg go and gave it everything I had.  It felt reckless but somewhat under control.  I kind of figured Aaron or the other guy behind me would catch me, but I was going to keep going all out regardless.  It was a fun hard push.  Such adrenaline.  Rounded the corner to the finish and had held on!  1st woman and 3rd with the men I believe!  Don't remember my time, 54:something?
Was fun hanging out there and watching others come down, including this sweet 10 year old girl named Lauren.  Her dad whom I didn't know came up to me after and asked if he could take a picture of Lauren of I and spoke of me like I was some kind of celebrity.  It was so nice and humbly and surprising.  I won't sandbag and say I'm just an average runner, but I don't see myself like they did.  It was a really neat moment for me after earlier in the week throwing somewhat of a tantrum for not making the cut in the photo shoot we did the week earlier.  That stuff doesn't matter, real people do.

So after Butler Bolt I was talking to local cool guy and friend Mike Place.  I asked about Speedgoat 50k and if he thought it would be good prep or a good idea what Hardrock might be like, since I've been pondering doing Hardrock after being inspired by friend Mick's amazing performance there.  Mike said it wouldn't really, but that it's a great race worth doing despite how hard it is.  I felt fine from Bryce and it was plenty early before Run Rabbit.  I was originally on the wait list and had a spot but turned it down when a friend of mine who was due to have a baby on the day of Speedgoat asked me to be her doula (childbirth support person/coach).  Well she had her baby a week early and since then my thoughts had been on doing Speedgoat.  It came down to it being a hard enough race that I wouldn't want to do it too close to any other big race and I don't know what next year will hold, so while I have the chance, I'm going to take it.  I signed up 3 days before the race.

So everything was exciting now and I didn't have time to be nervous, but that also means I didn't have time to really prepare for that course.  I'd seen friends posts about being up on the mountain running on some of the course.  I had never been on any of it.  But I was in good shape, healthy, and like to powerhike so what the heck.  The womens field was STACKED.  Easily the most talented and deepest field I've raced.  I was ranked 14th going in I think and my goal was top 10.  I wouldn't be horribly upset if that didn't happen, but I like to have a goal.
So race morning came and man it was exciting!  So much electricity and smiling and people saying hi.  My husband was rushing me a little like he did before Bryce but I was fine, just having a good time and excited.  Looking back now, some warm up would have been good.
Karl sent us off and straight up a road.  I don't want to keep restating it, but this course has a ton of big ups and downs, everywhere.  It's 8 miles to the top of Hidden Peak where the first aid station is, but it would probably take you 2 or 3 tops to get there directly.  We would go up and in the right direction and you'd think "ok, we'll head there now" and then plunge back down or in the wrong direction.  Like 5 times, in the first 8 miles.  I think the first 8 may be the hardest chunk honestly.
Up, down, all around goes the Speedgoat 50k. The top 2 pictures from Renee show a consecutive section of the course, up to Hidden Peak then straight back down the other side. The bottom pic is much of the middle of the course. Go down, around most of that little mountain and back up. Then down. Then way up.
Was nice to run with friend Ashley for a bit and whine about how everyone went out so darn fast.  I have come to love a conservative first half...a lot.  Well this is only a 50k and I wanted top 10, no room for super conservative I guess, but I was hoping to not have to push as hard as I did those first 8 miles.  After that we were all spread out enough and things quieted down for me.  Ashley had left the first aid station 5 minutes before me which bummed me out I couldn't keep up with her, but I had hoped I'd catch back up later.

Down to Larry's Hole AS (under number 5 of the 2nd picture up) to be greeted by good WMW friends and then down Mary Ellen Gulch.  I had been worried about this section from what I heard but it wasn't that bad.  Plenty of big rocks to slow you down, but not as steep or loose as I had worried (there was a steep loose stressful short section a little earlier though).  Looking back I think I could have covered it faster had I simply just hopped over the rocks lighter and faster.  Oh well.  Long hot section into half way at Pacific Mine where I could see most of the women in front of me including Ashley who probably had 7 minutes on me now.  Friend Kelly Agnew was there and took good care of me.  Filled my pack with ice and grabbed a few salted potatoes and water melon, had a freezing cold gallon of water dumped on me that was startling but lovely and hurried out of there.
THANK YOU always to race volunteers and directors!!  Looks at all the goodness - food, water to be dumped on you, shade, friendly smiles and all the attention you could need.  Thank you!
Now I wanted to turn it up a little bit, but the plan was not to attack till Larry's Hole the second time.  I powerhiked strong and made good progress passing several woman, one whom had been looking back every minute it seemed.  Ashley was closer now, 3 minutes up at Larry's Hole but I moved through that AS fast.  Caught up to her quickly, her quads were suffing.  I wished her well (and figured I'd see her again) and took off.  By took off I meant power hiked my butt off, not ran.
We came to the infamous bottom of Baldy straight up the mountain side climb.  There is no trail, because one could not exist here.  It's simply straight up the face of a mountain.  Ouch.  It was super hard even though I expected that.
Wanted to show a little of how this beastly Speedgoat course works. See that peak at the top of the top pic? That's Baldy. We ran down from that. To get to it though, you just take a straight shot up the face of the mountain, sans trail, as you see in the photo above. Killer climb. Starts way down by the dirt road. The steep part anyway....
Saw my husband at the top, went through another super friendly tunnel aid station and LOVED the
cold cool tunnel through the mountain.  It's probably only 1/4 mile at most, but man, I'd run the whole darn race in there.  Rough downhill leading up to the trail to just go straight back up.  That uphill after the tunnel to Hidden is tough.  Longer than I thought, hot and exposed and just long.  But I was looking forward to getting to the top since it meant all downhill from there.  Only 6 miles.
My husband said I was in 10th now as Ashley Arnold was sitting there at the aid station.  Great!  I'd made good progress in the back half of the race.  Friend Zac who was working as a volunteer at the race was at the top and ran down with me.  Didn't expect that, it was nice.  For a few miles till I got a little grumpy.  It was certainly not all downhill, there were 3 steep uphills.  I'm not going to complain, Karl is known for throwing in extra fun every year.  Comes with the territory.  But they were hard, and so were several of the downhills that were very steep and now my legs tired not wanting to support me anymore.  I was passed by 2 girls I had previously passed in those steep miles.  Dang it.  We finally came out the the dirt road and I kept asking how close.  This is the only point I wished I was wearing GPS (I don't anymore, I look down too much and see 0.2 has passed).  Wouldn't have helped however since the course turned out to be 2 miles long.  I kind of gave in and "just finished" the last hour of the race.  I wish I'd bucked up and pushed a little harder and I may have made my goal of top 10.  But honestly, 12th in a field like this with no real proper preparation for this race is great, and I'm cool with it.

Speedgoat is HARD!  I know, I know, everyone says that, it's no secret.  But it was true.  I won't say I'll never do it again, wouldn't be surprised if I do, but I think even a month+ later I can say that I won't be sad if I never do it again.  It's a race box I've checked.  Karl does put on an excellent organized event however so I wouldn't discourage anyone from doing it, just be mentally prepared and strong for a long hot tough day.  But one you can do.  Even after Butler Bolt :)

Telling Karl himself and Bryon from IRF just how much fun I really had :)
And my super handsome husband and support.  

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

My first 100 - Bryce 100

Thanks Renee for the beautiful photo of the course
 Well, grab a bucket of popcorn, here it is - my Bryce 100 report, and it's a long one.  But it was a long day and I want to remember details.  But I also have a story to tell, it was really interesting the different stories that played out for me during the race.
The logistics side of the race -gear, nutrition, what I used is in a separate post below.

My husband Jeremy and 8 year old son and our friend Canice drove down Friday afternoon, ate dinner at a nice hour then were fortunate to share Canice's hotel room that evening after the camping area we were going to use was full.  Worked out great.  I got my drop bags ready later than I wanted but rushed them over.  It was dark at that point and funny to think that all that was left to do was go to bed.  I slept from 10:30-3am and was up to eat.  3am really didn't seem like a wise hour to get up at, but I like my 3 hours to digest and didn't want to jinx anything.  After I ate (in the large bathroom as to not wake the guys up) I sorted through the several outfits I brought till I found the right one - a Skirt Sports Marathon Chic skirt that feels like nothing and is a super cute print, a Smartwool bra, and a new Gore tank.  Also had Injinji trail socks and Altra gaiters on.  It was funny thinking 'what should I leave out to wear tonight...oh wait, I'll be running tonight...and tomorrow morning'.  I wrote out a little bit of info on  my pacing sheet I carried, mostly just what time I'd be to aid stations, significant climbs or descents and what I needed to grab from a particular bag.  After I was all ready there was time for a 20 minute nap before we took off, that was nice.  The start was no big deal, just a gathering of people and a ready go before I ever heard anything to suggest it.  Jer was anxious to get there and worried we'd be late.  I wasn't.  I was calm and just ready to start the day.
Love this guy
So glad to have these two on my team!  They would go on to have a great day seeing Bryce and fishing and eating out and of course driving around dirt roads for hours to be able to get to the trail and take care of mom, on Father's Day weekend.
If you recall my goals from my last post, they were to complete the 100 miles, survive the night, place top 3, and go under the course record of 25:15 if possible on this, a harder course this year.  They were not set in stone except the completing the 100 miles, but were things I'd like to see happen.
The whole point of the day was to run easy so I wouldn't feel destroyed by the end miles.  Be conservative, don't care about placing until at least 70 miles, stay on top of nutrition and just enjoy what is around me.  I really wanted to not push until at least 72 miles.  It was simply my job to keep my breathing quiet and maintain a nice easy trot.  It was going to be a long day, time to be smart.

Here is a good short 2 minute video of the course from friend Cory and this a little longer one but good because it names the aid stations like I will in this post.  So if you want more detail, or to understand more what I'm talking about, check them out.  The second is by good friend Craig Lloyd, both videos are from last year.
0-10 Canice and I ran together the first 10 miles chatting away.  Lots of switchbacks and winding trail.  I may have felt a little bit of the elevation in the first 10 miles as my breathing was a little heavier than I thought it should be for the easy pace.  We met a few other runners, one from Hong Kong, and one gal, Gia, who I knew was ranked first going in, she was from Oklahoma and had run a 100 before, but in Kansas and with 1500ft elevation.  This 18,000ft of elevation all above 8000ft was going to be a challenge for her I worried.  She was nice to talk to though.  Got into Thunder right on the 24 hour schedule my friend had written me and left quickly, and unfortunately without Canice after he had to make a stop
10-18 From Thunder to Proctor I ran with Cherri.  She is such a hard worker and full of smiles and positive energy.  It was good to pick her brain and I especially benefited from her saying that I would be fine without a pacer, that I could do it without one.  You see, very unfortunately, my pacer Mark texted me Friday morning before we left saying he couldn't come because he was sick.  Talk about a panic, heart sinking moment.  I appreciated her confidence in solo running, although I esteemed her as a much better 100 miler than myself.  Rolled into Proctor just a little early and took off again quickly, alone.  I wanted to keep my momentum moving as much as possible and was still keeping an easy effort.  Somewhere in here we heard a gal come up behind us and politely ask to pass.  What I saw was possibly the most fit woman and legs I had ever seen.  This woman was 49 years old and passing us like it was nothing.  Woah!  I let her go and didn't worry about it, it was a long day.  But when asked by other men, I reported she was probably a good hour ahead.
18-27 Proctor to Blubber is a LONG section!  I had counted 3 big uphills on the elevation profile in the bathroom that morning to use as landmarks to keep my mind engaged, but I'm pretty sure there were 4 big uphills, always followed by downhills. I remember mentioning that to Gia, that we couldn't possibly just go up, we had to go right back down most of the way before heading back up again.  I lost her shortly after that point when I was moving well power hiking up a steep climb.  I moved too quickly through Proctor and didn't fill my bladder because I figured I had enough.  Big mistake.  Long section.  I was ever so grateful to fill up at the 50k turnoff water table about 15 minutes after I ran out of water.  I encountered a guy a while later at the top of our second to last climb before the aid station that seemed tired and out of water.  He asked how far the aid station was and I pointed to the pink cliffs well above us and said that should be it.  He said something about it being only .5 mile then.  He was not very happy with me when he finally got up there as I was leaving.  It was more like 1.5 miles and had lots of climbing.  Sorry buddy, I pointed to the right place, never mentioned how far it was.  I rolled into Blubber a good 25 minutes behind schedule.
The first of my drop bags.  Looking kind of serious.  Moving in an our of aid stations quickly was good for me
But it's good to have friends to help you.  They were so good
Mile 27 and life is good!
27-35 I was so happy to be to Blubber aid station.  First of all a ton of my friends were there working and it was so nice to be known and visited with and spoiled with help.  They were so great!  Second, I was now on the part of the course I paced last year.  I like knowing a course and now things would look familiar to me.  I was really pleased with the next 45 miles and how much more quickly they passed than last year.  The other nice thing about Blubber is there's only one more long stretch between aid stations before the short gaps and it isn't the hardest section.  Funny moment - right after leaving Blubber I was on a quiet trail all alone.  Heard some good rustling in the woods and called out "Hey Bear!", something I do often to make my presence known to anything around me.  The wild is not inherently dangerous, there aren't animals there whose sole purpose is to kill us.  They just want their space and to not be surprised.  So I let them know I'm around. Anyway, turns out it was just another runner (Ryan L) checking out the view, I felt a little silly.
35-40 Kanab at mile 35 is a quaint little aid station with some really neat views after it.  Was still behind schedule going into Kanab after the long extra getting to Blubber, but I wasn't stressed at all by it.  I had cycled between 1st and 4th place from the beginning of the race till now but believe I moved into 2nd around mile 20 where I would stay for about that much more.  Was not at all stressed or concerned with my place at any time yet.  I met a really nice guy who excelled at the "take it easy, don't push" attitude I was after too.  So we ran together for a good 10 miles maybe.  Great conversation.  I love to hear people's stories, whether it's running related or not.  This section of the course was interesting for me because at one point before we got to the next aid station, it was nothing like I remember.  I had myself a little worried and a lot confused that we weren't on the right path, although we kept spotting markers.  Just funny that a section I remember so distinctly looked nothing like I recall.
40-45 We came into mile 40 Straight Canyon aid station only a few minutes late and moving well and happy.  I looked around for Jeremy and our boy and thought I saw them but turns out they weren't there.  Decided here that although it was warm out and I was drinking a fair amount, and I was still comfortable in the UltraSpire Spry I was using, I'd take it off and switch to my favorite waist belt the Ultraspire Quantum.  I also carried a 8oz soft flask so I could carry a total of 18oz which I was a little concerned wouldn't be enough, but with the aid stations now only 5 miles apart it was fine.  Nice to feel my shoulders free for a little bit.  Not completely essential though.  Anyway, we left the aid station and went the 1/2 mile down the dirt road to get onto our next trail and he happened to run into his crew driving up.  I let him stop and told him he'd catch up on the climb ahead (he was a really good power hiker, better than me).  His stop must have been longer than I thought because he didn't end up catching up.  I had just dropped onto the trail from the road and I saw our van flying up the road.  I tried to wave to them to get their attention but no success.  Oh well, wasn't emotional at all about it, got everything I needed done in the aid station (that's the beauty of drop bags, everything is there waiting, not with the crew.  Crew is just there to make it go a little faster by getting that stuff out and can provide emotional support).  I knew I'd see them in another 5 miles at the turn around.  The next few miles were through a pretty meadow and then up a long switchbacky dirt road and then a final short steep climb to the top of the plateau and into some amazing views next to the Pink Cliff aid station.  I was looking forward to the long road because it was a good chance to turn on my power hiking mode for a while and apparently I made some good progress because to my surprise, at the top of the shortest steepest climb was my lead woman.  Hmmm, interesting development.

45-50 Even though it wasn't time to push, I was hoping I could hustle out of the Pink Cliffs aid station before she did.  Nope, she followed.  And that was totally ok because we had some good conversation for a few miles.  I didn't want to run forever with her because the tension I felt (all from me, she was very very nice) was too much competition, I didn't want to deal with that, it would make me forget to race smart.   She is from California and has been doing this for a long time. She's very talented.  She mentioned not really being bothered by the altitude but being concerned that she'd gone out too fast and that she'd need to stop and walk and get her heart rate down.  I wished her well and told her I'd see her soon I was sure.  From there it's a long downhill to a rocky rolly single track in front of some pretty neat cliffs and then into the halfway turnaround point.  I kept it under control but went maybe a titch faster than I should have, not much though.  I was excited to see my boys, what can I say :)  During the last couple miles before halfway I was wondering when I'd start seeing the lead men come back, and right after that thought, good friend Zac came around a corner and greeted me startled and with a hug telling me his legs were cramping.  I was very proud of him for being first and it was nice to see him, but I let go quickly and said "she's right behind me, I've got to go!"  :)
50.5 miles.  10:33.  Halfway, the turnaround point.  It was fun running into there in 1st, mostly because I knew Jeremy would be excited by it.  I think most of the crowd thought I was finishing the 50 mile so it was funny to hear them go a little quiet when I left the finish area for the aid station there.  I got into this aid station 2 minutes early.  Excellent!  I had been wearing the unreleased Altra Lone Peak 2.0 the first 50 miles but unfortunately it was just a tad too short and I knew how much downhill there was just in the next hour and that my feet would likely swell, so knew I would change out into the new Altra Paradigm, a very light, max cushion road shoe with great traction.  I had it 1/2 size up too. It was perfect!  We almost forgot to change my shoes and I'm so glad we remembered last minute.  Had a funny way of remembering what needed to get done at that aid station since for me sometimes it's easy to rush out too quickly.  I went from head to toe - visor off, sunglasses on, new sunscreen (I'd already put it on twice that day), ice in bra, waters filled, new gels in my belt, iPod on, new shoes.  I was hoping to get out of the aid station before the now 2nd place lady behind me got in and I almost accomplished that.  So we were probably 3-4 minutes apart at that point.  Left happy and ready to go and not at all discouraged knowing I still had 50 miles to go.
Photos courtesy of Alex Santiago
Grabbed my stuff and ran!
50.5-55 Back to Pink Cliffs. I really like this and the next stretch of trail.  It's just easy to separate into smaller chunks and passes quickly and now I could see and say hi to lots of people heading toward me.  I saw so many friends and smiles, and hard working faces.  I recall seeing Cherri and Canice and Jim for sure here.  Powerhiked up the long dirt road to the aid station quickly but not crazy.  I really enjoy power hiking if you haven't noticed and feel like I can make up time there without expending too much energy so I do my best to do so.
55-60 I was feeling great and passed by the amazing view from Pink Cliffs and one of my favorite songs from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir was on (I have a few soft, classical songs on there, most are typical iPod workout songs) and I totally cried.  It was just spiritual and such a lovely moment and experience.  I enjoyed the long switchbacky downhill dirt road after Pink Cliffs and ran it faster, but under control for sure.  Let gravity carry me.  The Paradigms felt so good!  Saw my new friend Jester Ed and was greeted so warm and excitedly by so many strangers with cheers of being first woman.  It was so sweet and I smiled for miles.  Enjoyed the meadow again and ran quickly and strongly back into Straight Canyon.
60-65 Expected to see my boys there again but they weren't there.  No worries, sweet friend Carol who I believe I called Crystal was right there grabbing and stuffing and doing anything I needed.  The boys showed up a minute later and apologized for not being there, but it was no big deal.  I was just happy to see them at all.  It was fun to put our boy to work filling my flask with soda to keep my stomach happy.  I decided to leave my tank and put on a mid weight long sleeve 1/4 zip wool top I love because it was in my drop bag and at this point it was 7:05pm or so (20 minutes early, making good time) and I figured it would cool off soon and I did not want to be cold.  I was wrong. I should have kept the tank and waited hours for another layer.  I spent the next almost 20 miles with it pulled up over my hydration pack so as to expose my stomach and try to stay cool.  My stomach was starting to be grumpy and I needed to be cool, not warm or muggy.  I left that mile 60 aid station moving great and feeling great and within a mile had passed several men and moved into 3rd place overall where I'd stay for another15 miles.  Pretty cool.  This section of trail didn't take too long but I started my feelings of loneliness as there were no more people to talk to, the sun was going down, and it was getting to be time I'd have to make noise to alert animals again, and without someone to talk to, it gets into your head and feels like work to holler out.
65-73  From pacing miles 50-73 last year I recall we had to turn our headlamps on shortly after Kanab at 65.  I remember it being totally dark at these switchbacks going up hill between Kanab and Blubber.  I wanted to make it to those switchbacks before turning my headlamp on.  The miles were still passing well, I had music on now mostly to keep my mind busy and off the active animal period of sunset, but also to give me things to holler out besides "hey bear".  So I'd sing along loudly a word, a line, a verse, whatever.  I'm sure I sounded crazy if you were to stumble upon me but it was what I needed.  I was starting to feel lonely.  My brain was starting to get bored.  Not good.  But then I got to those switchbacks I wanted and it was light enough still for no headlamp.  Gave me a big smile to make that goal.  I knew the next few landmarks before Blubber, they came, it was dark now, and I couldn't wait to see my friends.

73-82 The first thing I asked for upon seeing them was a hug.  Matt W gave me a great one.  The next thing I looked and prayed for was our friend Bob.  You see Zac told me if he was feeling good he would leave Bob for me as a pacer.  I had hoped and prayed he would be there - but he wasn't.  I cursed Zac for split second (taking his own pacer?  Geez.  Kidding), then figured he was hurting and then started begging someone there to come with me.  I was scared of such a long night alone with my bored mind.  I wasn't sleepy yet, but that bored mind worried me.  I knew they were busy and 2 minutes notice isn't a ton to give someone to run 28 miles, but I really hoped someone would come.  They took good care of me filling my bladder, assembling my other headlamp, stuffing gels, they made my stop so easy.  Once I realized no one would come with me I hurried out of there.  It was such a poignant moment to me, heading down alone into the dark valley below, just beginning my night.  It was only 10:00pm.  I knew I'd be running till 6am.  It was a very lonely, scary, dark, yet determined feeling.  I knew I wanted to complete 100 miles, quitting wasn't an option at all, so I just had to keep on trucking.  I picked up a good lightweight yet poky bear stick (poles would have been nice on this section) and I tried to stay positive.  I played the "hey bear" game but with the alphabet.  "Hey aardvark, hey bison, hey chinchilla...".  I talked to myself, did math out loud about how many climbs, what time I'd get to where, anything to keep my mind engaged.  I had a few spooky moments with thinking I heard something, but it was usually just me rustling the jacket around my waist.  I made it through the first valley and down into the next, it was maybe an hour or two after I'd left the aid station and things weren't good.  I was nervous, uncomfortable, my headlamp was blinking low battery.  I wondered how long it would take for me to see any other headlamps or have someone catch up, I mean I wasn't moving quite as fast anymore.  Around midnight I had stopped to switch headlamps and heard someone behind me.  I was so relieved.  I asked if I could please stick with him.  He said yes and off we went.  I was very grateful for someone to talk to, to not have to worry about altering animals because they'd hear two of us, grateful to have someone's feet to follow instead of having to look ahead to spot reflective flagging myself.  He wasn't particularly talkative or sensitive (telling me everyone was suffering with what I was when I'd complain which i understand, but that doesn't make me feel any better or solve anything) and his pace was hard to keep up with at points, he was racing, not pacing me, but I was grateful to have someone.  We probably spent 8 miles together.
82-90 The dark is hard because you can't see what's around you.  The trail doesn't feel familiar like it does in the light.  I thought I knew where we were several times and was wrong.  It was taking so long to get into Proctor and I was frustrated.  FINALLY it was there.  I was due to be there at 1:15am and it was only 12:30.  Well that's awesome that I was ahead of schedule still!  BUT it meant there was that much more darkness and night to go.  It was ONLY 12:30am, not even 1am.  So mentally challenging for me.  Jeremy was there however, that was a very nice surprise.  I went right into his arms crying a little saying that this was not fun at all, that I didn't want to keep going through the night, that this was so hard.  Not my body, it was fine, stomach, still intact, I wasn't even super sleepy yet, but I was so overwhelmed by the night.  By the fact that it was dark and quiet and long and that I probably would get sleepy.  I so didn't want to keep going but of course I did.  I wasn't going to DNF and that, my pride, was what made it so difficult.  I knew I wouldn't quit today even if I wanted to.  Jer was sensitive, but firm.  It's all he could do.  He got a new brighter headlamp ready for me, handed me a cup of potatoes and ham and I left a little mad.  The only way to end this was again, to keep on trucking and get to the finish.
The guy and I didn't run much together anymore.  Another man had caught up to us, putting me now in 5th overall with the men, and I could tell he wanted to move faster and I wasn't as afraid or nervous anymore so I told him to go on.  I was starting to get sleepy and my stomach was starting to argue with me, not wanting gel anymore, or anything really so with 18 miles to go I resolved to walk the rest of the race.  I was going to finish the 100 miles, that was the first goal, and if it meant slowing down and walking the rest of the race I'd do it. In my mind as long as I kept moving I would stay awake and walking didn't bother my stomach.  Sometimes I was able to walk fast, sometimes with anger at this whole thing.  I was tired, stomach bothered, bored and not having a good time.  And again the dark hours in front of me felt so long. I didn't get the point of what I was doing.  I probably walked faster than I think I did during this section.  The terrain here involves winding trail that fingers in and out, up and down little canyons if you will.  There's no seeing much in front of you and that is SO hard when you're desperately looking for an aid station.  I didn't need anything from the aid station, no water, no fuel, that was all on me, I just needed the landmark, needed to know I was that much closer.  This was the last aid station before the finish.  I needed to see this aid station.  It was so hard to see the two guys headlamps in front of me still moving, to not see them stop, to not see an aid station.  It's not like I was behind what time I was supposed to get there, but it was just taking forever.  I just kept moving.
The ever present, long, dark
90 Finally I made it to Thunder.  The last aid station.  I was in at 20:50, 25 minutes ahead of 24 hour schedule for this aid station.  My stomach now was not allowing any gels in.  I knew this wasn't good.  I knew this last section would take me more than 3 hours.  I had to put something in it, especially water.  I could not get dehydrated.  I figured my stomach had had too many gels that day so I asked the aid station for a plain rolled tortilla and one with peanut butter.  Was trying to keep food basic, easy to process and yet with calories but without sugar.  Turns out I took a few bites and almost threw them up.  Nothing was going in except for the 100 calories of EFS I mixed into my 8oz flask.  I figured 100 calories with electrolytes was better than nothing over 3 hours so I'd sip on that cautiously.
I was very tired walking into that aid station and knew as it was still not even 3am (still not even meaning it was not close to sunrise, when I thought I might find hope again and wake up).  I knew a 20 minute nap could potentially really help me.  But what I didn't know was how far back the other women were.  Turns out they were about an hour back, but I had no way to know that and only assumed they were right on my tail.  I was leading the race at mile 90, was under course record time and really wanted that course record, mainly because it had been so much work already that day, I didn't want to have to start it all over to try for a different course record.  If it was still in my reach I had to keep trying for it.  My pride ruled me.  I regretted not sleeping at that aid station the second I walked away from it.
90-93 So very tired.  I would sit down once in a while on a rock or log out of sleepy exhaustion, my legs were still fine.  I'd put my head down or against a tree for a few seconds wanting to sleep but knowing that it wasn't smart there.  There were animals around.  I'd stand up and I was dizzy.  Running was completely out of the question and now I was stumbling around.  Couldn't walk straight, felt disconnected from control.  The 7 miles to go felt like an utter eternity the way I was moving.  We were on a section of trail that is very narrow and should I walk off either side of it I could slide down a long ways.  Not like I'd walk off a cliff, but dangerous none the less.  This wasn't good.
93-94 Sat down on the ground again and put my head on my knees.  This was so hard.  This was dangerous.  I couldn't lay down and sleep there because there was no where flat and safe to lie down should I move around at all.  I heard someone coming toward me and looked up when he was close.  I asked if I could hold onto his arm.  I didn't feel safe stumbling like I was and I needed help.  He and his friend asked if they should go get help and I said no.  A) as much as I wanted to quit, I wasn't going to quit at mile 93, B)I would be mortified at SAR coming for me, and C)I just needed help off this scary section so I could find a place to lay down.  I was so grateful for their care and compassion.  They slowed way down for me and really cared for me.  He gave me a caffeine pill, all of 25mg.  That put me up to probably 300mg in 3 hours between a pill, gels, soda and a 5hour energy.  I even waited to start any caffeine until 55 miles at friend Amy B's advice.  Caffeine just doesn't touch me.
94-96 This felt like a safer part of the trail and I told them I felt a little better after the pill, which was a lie, but it was a safer part of the trail and I wanted to let them go finish their race strong.  They said they'd let my husband know and I agreed that was a good idea.  So I carried on alone again still doing badly.

It was here that I got mad at myself for leading the race to mile ninety freaking five, and now I was going to get passed by many women and come in 20th or so.  I couldn't believe they hadn't passed me yet and knew it was just a matter of time at my effort and their experience.  It wasn't that I had to win, that I had to beat anyone.  Not at all, it was just that I had done so well all day and was so close to a win and course record.  I was so sad I was letting this happen even though I didn't really have much control over it.  I also truly mourned the fact that I would never do another mountain 100.  I couldn't.  The way I handle sleep deprivation was traumatic and dangerous.  I would never get to do Wasatch, I would stick to 100ks and under.  100k is a great distance, 100 milers aren't everything.  That would have to be my plan.  I truly mourned this being my only 100 experience.  

I begged my watch to pass faster, pleaded with the sun to try to come out.  I could finally see slight illumination behind the clouds now, not a sunrise, but something.  I looked down at my watch to see where the 30 minute repeating nutrition timer I have going off was at.  There was about 8 minutes left before it would go off again.  I figured I had no choice now but to sleep as I had no idea how much longer I'd be out (I don't use GPS so don't know exact mileage).  I was going to lay down on the dirt a few feet off the trail with my head close to my hand and sleep.  I hoped nothing would bother me, hoped I wouldn't get too cold, hoped I'd wake up to my watch and not 4 hours later, and hoped the extra light in 8 minutes would make a difference and help reset my body clock.  I laid down, felt my heart rate much too high for my effort level, worried some at that and the swelling in my left hand and was out like a light asleep.  And just like that, woke up promptly to my watch 7 minutes later.
I figured I'd been passed now but had no idea.  Looked at the winding trail ahead of me and behind me and didn't see anyone, but there were sections I couldn't see.  I was still dizzy but figured if I couldn't see anyone ahead of me I had to try my best.  I would run the downhills and walk as fast as I could on the ups and when I got to the end of the trail where there's 2 miles of dirt road to the finish Jeremy would be there in the car waiting.  I would ask him how long ago she'd passed, climb in the car and lay down for 30 minutes, then walk the 2 miles into the finish and still complete the ultimate goal of running 100 miles.
Crested one of the many hills in front of me and saw the road.  It ignited me a little.  I hurried my best to it a little surprised he wasn't there.  Ran down the road for a minute fairly fast but not too fast.  Did almost the best I could.  A car was racing up the road toward me and it was Jer and the race director.  He got out and I asked how long ago she'd passed.

He said she hadn't.  I was still in the lead.

How was that even possible?!  I took off crying and wheezing.  The wheezing was from an hour ago when my lungs tightened up, the crying was not out of joy.  It was out of fear.  I was absolutely sure she would pop out on the road and chase me down and this course record that was now so important to me because it took 24 hard hours to earn, would slip out from under me.  I looked back a dozen times.  Jeremy was running the 1.5 miles in with me trying to keep up with me.  I imagine we were running 7 minute mile pace.  My legs didn't hurt.  My head was dizzy, lungs tight and mind still so tired, but I was giving it all I possibly could.  He reminded me to look forward, not back, that he would watch.  I probably asked him to look for her another dozen times.  When we were within 1/4 mile of the finish, finally, I believed I would do it, I'd win.  I had envisioned during my first 65 miles that whatever place I finished I'd cross the finish line with my hands in the air, the biggest smile on my face, maybe tears, and I would kiss the ground.  At this moment all I could manage was to look like death with probably the ugliest face ever, to look miserable and touch the table and be done.  I regret not showing more happiness, but that last mile was probably the hardest thing I've ever done athletically.  It is what it is.  Jeremy so proud of me sat me down on a log nearby.  So good to sit and be done.  I wish I'd been more excited but instead, in an empty parking lot at 6:15am I just shared with Jeremy and race director Matt Gunn how hard my night was.  That there was nothing fun about the last 30 miles, nothing.  That was the most fresh thing in my mind.
It's really over.  That was really hard
About 30 minutes post race
But holy cow!  I ran a smart race, I was conservative, I was happy, the first 65 miles passed easily and were fun and beautiful.  I got through the night without a pacer.  I did it.  I held on to win and to hold a course record, something I have never done.  But more than a win and course record that I am so excited and happy for, I finished 100 miles, and even in the time range I wanted, 24:16.  Even though I've dwelt on the hard and the negative of that weekend so far and will need time to process it, holy cow.  I did everything I wanted to do and on my first 100.  That's pretty cool!  I did it.

Zac, Zac's pacer Bob and I with the African pottery drum we each got for winning.
Very proud of Zac for hanging on to dominantly win the mens race.  An Altra sweep!