Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Bear 100

The time wouldn't pass any faster, 3:37am and my alarm was set for 4:30am. I wanted to get up but I knew I would be up for much longer than usual so I maintained that I should continue to lie still for as long as possible. Finally rising, I packed up my tent and what-nots that I'd brought out with me to "camp" and headed back to the car to eat my banana and peanut butter. I got myself as prepared as I could, made my last minute phone calls and then in no time at all was at the start line for my first 100 miler. I didn't even hear a "GO" but everyone started running, it was 6:00AM in Logan , Utah. The sky was still black, the temperature was around 40 and dry. The first mile was on pavement and slowly entered the first ascent, which would bring us from Gibbons Park (the Start) to mile 10.52 at Logan Peak, the first Aid Station, just nearing the peak of our first full climb at 8800' a 4000' climb from the start. The climb did seem quite endless as the miles were surely passing the steady jog turned to a steady hike, but in the darkness prior to dawn the time was of no concern to anyone. As the sun rose and the headlamps turned off we began the decline to AS #2 at 19.66 miles, Leatham Hollow. The descent was beautiful with scenery I've only found in National Geographic prior to this trip. Sadly, by now I was well aware that mentally I wasn't in this run at all. I tried my best to drown out my thoughts with the surrounding beauty but the invasive patterns of "this was a BAD idea" continued to feed  into my psyche.

As I passed through the second AS meeting Collin and stuffing my pockets with caloric nourishment. I had my water bottle filled and I just wanted to keep moving, I was afraid of quitting on myself if I spent too much time in one place. Importantly, I arrived here at about 3hr 45min into the race, much too quickly! A short climb to AS#3 Richards Hollow, where I disposed of the wrappers from my last couple snacks and again replenished my pockets with goodies from my drop bag. And then climbing once again heading for Cowley Canyon at 29.98 miles. This section was the beginning of an ugly 40miles for me.

It had been mentioned that it would be hot, so even though I felt tcomfortable I was now concerned that I was wrong about myself and I would in fact dehydrate or overheat, my muscles felt fine, but suddenly there was growing twinge in my hip that seemed to stab me with pain on each downhill step. So now I was walking the uphills and limping the downhills, I didn't feel effecient and to add to the taxing thoughts about 8 runners plodded past me in this section as I realized that barely past 1/4 of the way I was already falling apart. I was losing my drive to continue. I'd decided I would just quit, I didn't want to be there, I wanted to go home, back to Baltimore, back to being a normal runner, maybe a marathon once in a while but otherwise just not chose to do such "stupid" things as fly to somewhere I know absolutely no one and attempt to cover 100 miles in the Rocy Mountains. Yes, there was something wrong with me... I was sure everyone was right.

Around this time I arrived to AS#4, where my crew was suppose to be, I needed mental support, they were nowhere. I fell into routine and drank water as the AS volunteers re-filled my bottle. I was scavenging for food at the table since I had no drop- bag here as I expected my crew. I was livid, and then to make matters worse a voice telling me I needed to more water, more water, that "Collin said you've never run this far before, what you do now will matter at mile 80" In my pleasant mood I scoffed at the helpfullness and nearly laughed, I honestly believed I wouldn't see mile 80, so what difference would it make. I procalimed out loud how mentally out of it was, and took some tylenol, the helpful man just suggested I kept running, and so I did.

The run to AS#5 Right-hand fork mile 36.92 was a stretch of the race that fed into my weaknesses. I was now getting warm, maybe everyone was right, I would overheat, I would fail. This section was nearly all downhill and my hip was now nearing immobile, or so it felt. A good number of runners ran past me at 3 times my pace. I was ready to give it all up by the time arrived to see Collin and Matt. I was annoyed, they weren't suppose to be there, I had my drop bag, they were an AS behind and I felt totally off track. Then Collin proclaimed he was running with me because I wasn't carrying enough water. The last thing I wanted was a pacer, but even worse, a mule, I wouldn't use his water, and I didn't. I knew having someone with me would only give me someone to complain too, but Collin wouldn't listen to me and insisted. I ate more than I could and drank another liter of water before leaving the AS. From AS #5 to AS #6 Temple Fork 45.15 I was livid. I hated having someone uninvited taking part in my run. I knew what I was doing, and I was busy trying to convince myself to quit, I didn't need someone telling me how I needed to be positive. To me, that was like saying, all you have to do is walk a tight rope across the Grand Canyon balancing a ball on your nose- Yea.... ridiculous. I had no intention of being positive, especially not with someone univitedly breathing down my back, even if the intent was out of caring and helpfullness, I was SO not myself. So, needless to say, I was a whiny, bitchy mess almost the whole way to Temple Fork. Where I gladly left Collin and took on the next section to mile 51.84 Tony Grove AS#7. 

Well, prior to leaving Temple Fork, I tried to get some salt and was given Endurolytes which contain electrolytes, other than a large portion of salt which depending on depletion... anyway I need more salt than most people as I run Low to start with. So It wasn't the best way to start off, but in my mind, I was already going to fail, so what did it really matter.

I had a good stretch as this section was mostly an uphill climb, my hip intact enough and talked with a few other runners which boosted my mood.

By the time I reached Tony Grove my muscles felt awful, I was tired. But now I had decided I need to make atleast 100K (62miles) to make the trip worth my time. Collin and Matt were here too, which was also unplanned, they said they wouldn't be there and I had already planned my stop, but that was thrown to the wind. Instead I was force fed and gratefully accepted a long sleeve shirt. The following section was the most intense of the entire race from me, 9.6 miles of easily runnable beautiful single track trail running over hills and following the river.

I tried to raise my spirits, my hip was getting less intense, but now my stomach was aching, I was bloated, over-full and starting to have some mild kidney pain. I started to really break down, wimpering with frustration. Again many runners began to pass me. I was slowed to a walk. I was still moving but I felt defeated. Even if I would make it to mile 61.48 AS#8, there was no way I had 39 more miles left in me, not like this. I was running out of hope, the very last thing that was keeping me moving. The runners passing me tried to give me support. A pacer actually came back and told me they'd have a pacer for me at Franklin Basin 61.48, I was so elated I tried even harder to run... and then other runners from earlier passed me and I tried to go with them, but I just fell back and finally just let myself walk. My stomach started to return to normal, my kidneys were functioning again. The moon was now bright and the sun was sinking. I didn't want to turn my headlamp until I truly had too, I waited until I could no longer see the ground clearly. Just about the time the sun had sunken below the horizon and I suddenly felt the drive to move faster. I broke into a jog and found myself trotting along quite well. My stomach was cooperating and I was doing alright. And then it was Night.

Upon arrival to the AS#8, I announced that someone had a pacer for me, and within a minute thats when I met Rachel, who may very well have been my gaurdian angel. I grabbed whatever else I needed and Rachel and I headed off to take on the next two segments, 14.9 miles, together. Trodding along, I apologized for my pace unnecessarily and mentioned my goal of 4mph, so Rachel helped keep me on track. We talked about running, about my life, surprisingly to her, but even to me, I was hiking up these mountains and maintaining conversation (in hindsight these climbs were at less altitude than the earlier climb that certainly took my breath away and threw off mmy electrolytic balance.) Anyways, I was moving well, even running the last 2 miles into AS#9 Logan River 69.54. Rachel had never really paced before and accepted my guidance on what I needed. She had the tylenol and the tums, the salty chips all set and my drop bag. And again we continued onward to AS#10 Beaver Lodge.

Upon arrival to AS#10 75.82 miles, I was refreshed. the miles with Rachel had made this seem do-able. I was now confident in my pace and in my own intuitive senses about my body in terms of food, electrolytes, water, and core temperature. I was ready to continue on. I ate and changed into a warmer jacket and then stood in the doorway of the lodge waiting for Collin to finish tying his shoes so we can head out. Within 30 seconds we were out the door, and within another 60 min we were wandering aimlessly looking for the next marker. Once we found it, my pacer took off. I found myself chasing him for miles and miles on end. I wasn't setting this pace, which felt wrong, and felt like I was pushing too hard, especially since this next climb took me to 8500' which was enough to make me breathe heavy and lose the ability to eat. I was growing more and more frustrated but was determined to keep pace, I was now marching through my last marathon of the day I had no intention of whining or stopping.

Making it to mile 81.12 AS#11, I hardly recall, I know I had some chicken noodle soup and some more tums as my stomach was starting to feel a bit raw from the lactic acid and the decreased consumption as my hunger continued to wane. Luckily for me Collin had stopped trying to force feed me and everything had settled to rather pleasant section. After a quick battery change in my headlamp we took off to a rather chilly, but beautiful and runnable section of the course. A walk/ run was maintained but the cold and the pain made it hard for me to push for longer than a minute or so at a time, but I kept my pace and felt strong. And then climbed a short steep climb and steep descent to AS#12 mile 85.25. Matt was waiting for us there.

Again I had some soup and some egg noodles. I remember looking at all the sweets they had and wishing I craved them even a little.  I dont remember much else at this AS, so I guess we moved on pretty quickly. I know I desperately wanted to get the final long climb out of the way as it would peak higher than 8800' and I knew between the fact that it was the middle of the night, I wasn't eating quite enough, and I had alread run 85 miles, this climb was going to be hard on me. But we climbed and climbed, somewhere arounf 8300' I began to feel my chest tighening, my heart ached once in a while, my throat was sore and I was now having small coughing fits. I was certainly not acclimating within the time period of this run, not that I expected to, but it would have been nice, right?  Anyway despite my growing amounts of whining I kept moving. Around mile 90 I hit a break point. Around this time as well Collin alerted me to the fact that he had decided to bail on the last section of the race. I would be without a pacer for the final 7+ miles. I was again personally annoyed, but also understanding of his injury, although I couldnt see how all the running we werent doing could have hurt him, we literally ran 1-2 miles of the last 15 miles, but an injury is an injury and it was my race... pacer or not, of course now,  I would finish.

A staggering step brought me down and I decided to let it take me all the way down, I sat down, Collin turned around and said, "Come on, you've got this" and instead of accepting it as support, it was the final straw in that moment, I needed a moment, back to MY race... and so I responded with some rather unkind words that expressed my need to quit for minute and take in some calories... so I did that. And then I got back up and kept going.

Upon arriving at AS#13 mile 92.2 Ranger Dip, I was frozen, and anxious to head off for the final stretch. Taking in a little more broth I grabbed some Hot Hands which Matt helped me get open. And I was off. I hadnt really realized I had one more climb, but I did, less than a mile, very steep to the peak of the race 9040'. And this hill was like a line of walls with plateaus between them. Staggering 40 ft to the top and then walking a few steps, and doing it again, losing moments upon moments for 10 seond breaks just to let your heart keep up. And then finally it was over... almost completely all downhill from here.

And down it went. I ran a lot, but found my footing wasn't great and backed down to a strong controlled power walk. Despite my efforts to keep control, gravity often brought me back into a run. I fell once, then twice, then a third time in the same 2 miles of dusty gravel. Nothing to speak of, just clouds of dust. And down and down and down, it seemed it would never end, and just when you thought it might one last small uphill, which was sort of a relief... and then down some more and then around and this long dirt road that seemed utterly endless. Finally, though the dirt ended and the pavement led you to the last and final left hand turn before crossing the street and finishing at Bear Lake.

Crossing the finish line I was slightly dilirious. I was a bit confused that so many people were around and then I remember this was not just a small fat ass race, but Bear 100, a well known, well attended ONE HUNDRED mile race... in UTAH no less.... A felt accomplished, for the first time in my running career or any of my hobbies or careers. With a time of 25:06:30, placing me 5th Female and 23rd overall, I was totally satisfied. So my attitude wasnt great, and I walked a lot of runnable ground; I learned a lot about trusting myself and about who I trust myself with. I am very lucky and very very grateful to those who made this race what it was, from the RD, the AS volunteers, Sada, Rachel, Sara (6th female who's pacers saved my race), Mike and Susan, Mark and of course my crew Matt and Collin; And a WHOLE bunch of other runners out there who were an on-going inspiration to me; And many other behind the scenes people who I wouldn't now where to begin....

So despite one hell of a struggle I fininshed this race feeling stronger than ever, and although it does seem a little off, even to me, I am already excited to begin my preparations for my next 100 mile run... but for now I am taking a rest from running .... at least until Baltimore Running Festival!!

In the Mean time; Pre: 100miles

Between CMMM and Bear 100 a lot happened, even thought maybe not too much running....

My first 100 miler, the culminating endpoint to my First Ultra-marathoning season. Every run, every post, every thing I've given of myself for athletic purpose was spent with the intention of successfully completing my first 100 mile run within the year. And now I have.

As many of you know, I race a lot, more than most runners or ultra-runners, though I rarely "race" at maximal effort, utilizing these races as training runs. Nonetheless there are limits, temporarily of course. Limits can be met and pushed but with very little doubt in my mind I was overtrained for the last 2 to 3 months pre: Bear 100, give or take as my training varied from rest to training to race to rest and so on.  But by the beginning of September, my drive to run, to train had begun to decrease, conveniently I was also beginning my taper so I hoped it would balance out.

The first week of September I was prepped for my first triathalon in D.C, Nations TRI.... needless to say, as there was no posting about this accomplishment, it failed, or rather it never even began. Too much stress involved in a sport that I lack so much information and skill. And as it turned out I was left to figure it out alone. The frustration and the flat tire culminated in my having a very pleasant panic attack and crying to friends on the phone as drove home from the check-in to the race feeling very defeated. I'd never failed to do well, but this was even worse, I failed to even begin. And the worst part of it all, I was more upset that I wasn't upset.

So I got past this little bump in the road but continued for whatever reason to experience a great deal of stress. Being 25 and confused about your life, your career and your entire "self" is Not so profound, Im sure nearly everyone can relate, nonetheless at given moments here and there it can seem like a massive problem.  And so, I took on the beginnings of re-designing my future. Many discussions, ideas, emails all flying about my little universe.  So I wasn't coping with everything as well I'd like to.

Then it was Off to Ohio for The Air Force marathon with Frank. The trip was short and pleasant. Getting my friend to his first 4hr marathon goal was wonderful, except I honestly spent a riduculous portion of the 26.2 miles in my head thinking "oh no, my feet hurt, my knees ache, I can't possibly run 100 miles" and "Wow, this course is not that exciting to me, and I really wouldnt mind if I wasn't running right now." Perhaps needless to say, this is not my normal attitude Re: running any distance.

Now I was beginnining to freak out with only 2 weeks to go I had no more time contemplate my training. It was done, it was time to really taper, cut milage and try to relax and mentally prepare.

I celebrated my 26th birthday @ work by getting my required flu shot the day prior and after work during a very delicious dinner with friends I suddenly felt quite sick, viral... a slight fever, burning eyes, heavy fatigue, headache, slight nausea and sore throat. I thought it would pass over night like most of my "colds" do  but instead the migraine-like symptoms continued for the following 5 days. Between the race nearing and feeling awful I wasn't myself and feared everyone could tell.

Everyone I spoke to, said it was alright and to be expected before a race such as Bear 100, but my inability to cope with my anxiety was an embarrassment to me which of course only created more anxiety... Yes, I have a few things to work on. Anyway I think I worried a few people, drove a couple nuts, but for the most part I was comoforted by a great deal of love and support that I only hope I can return.

So I was clamer, I knew what, when and where I was going, just not HOW to run 100 miles, but that was TBD. So after a nice run with Back on my Feet and gift of some amazing muffins I was on my way to Salt Lake City Utah where I would meet Collin and finish my preparation for Bear 100.

Upon arrival to SLC, after some time @ the University of Utah where Collin had a class he needed to attend, we drove up to Brighton Ski area and went for short 4-5mi jog/ hike to let me see how 10,000' felt. And it felt like death. My lungs burning, my heart throbbing, my throat sore from sucking wind , but my legs still moving steadily @ just about 4mph. It was do-able... and my race only peaked at 9, 040' so nothing to worry about right? Except maybe that I could notice the struggling effort begin somewhere around 8,200'. Well, I could only do my best, and the only goal was to finish.

Thursday before the race, we attended the race meeting, check-in and I ate a bagel with peanut butter and an apple for dinner ( A LOT of peanut butter ;) ). And then we proceeded to set up camp and after final preparations for myself,  and my crew, I was in bed by 8pm.