Friday, September 27, 2013

End of a Season

It's now Autumn and for me race season is officially over. Snow has begun to settle on the upper peaks of the Wasatch, the Uintas are certainly socked in by now, and my plans for the next few months are based around helping a friend on an adventure run and cruising local trails.

The last few weeks since Wasatch have been a lot of fun. I've spent most of my days finding my way to the tops of Wasatch peaks, some repeats, but a few new ones too. I thought I'd share some photos and words from my recent adventures.

Up Tibble Fork on the way to Mt Baldy

Looking back down Tibble Fork and a beautiful sunrise

Cruising down the east ridge of Mt Baldy

Helping prepare for a race on Dugway Proving Grounds

On the course

Running Box Elder Peak

On the summit. Super windy

One of the most beautiful sunrises I've ever seen

Running back down to the trailhead

There were other runs - a trip up the Pfeifferhorn, two days cruising Corner Canyon trails, and a few other casual runs. This is how I can only hope the rest of the year will go for me. Happy trails everyone!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

My 2013 Heaven & Hell

With a bunch of good friends running this year, I was really looking forward to being out there on the course for 24+ hours taking in the experience that is the Wasatch 100.  Training had gone relatively well, but the week prior to race week I had a number of major personal life "experiences" happen that left me with MAJOR anxiety all week.  I won’t discuss what was happening, but needless to say I felt completely unprepared to deal with the mental challenge that goes along with a hundred mile race so close on the horizon.

Real quick, special thanks to Matt & Alicia Williams.  They host a big BBQ the night before the race each year and once again allowed me to crash on their couch.  It’s definitely nice being just a few minutes from the start line in the morning and not having to worry about a long commute.

Pre-race with Scott and Davy Crockett (photo by Mark Kreuzer)

The most noteworthy thing at the start line was the heat.  It was about 80 degrees at 5 am with noticeable humidity for Utah.  Having done essentially no heat training this year, I started getting a little worried.  I started out running with Scott again this year and was able to spend the first few hours with him.  It’s always nice being able to run with friends.  Just below Chinscraper he stopped for water at the spring and I forged on ahead.  I got to Francis Peak aid (mile 18.76) in relatively good shape considering how much I’d been sweating, albeit about 12 minutes slower than last year.  I quickly refueled then went back to work.

After Francis Peak I went into the zone!  I love being in that place where my headspace is on-point and the miles keep clicking by.  I hit Bountiful B (mile 23.95) and was greeted by the smiling faces of friends Kelli & Scott Stephenson who were working the aid.  They got me everything I needed and sent me back out quickly.  Back into the zone!  Hit Sessions (mile 28.23) still down about 12 minutes from the previous year, but I was feeling great and everything was clicking. 

Immediately out of the aid I almost puked.  I wish I could’ve puked since I’m sure it would’ve made me feel better, but I have an iron stomach and I’ve never thrown up on a run - training or racing - ever!  It’s a blessing and a curse I guess.  I’d made a rookie mistake at Sessions and filled one of my bottles with sports drink… a type I’d never tried before.  My stomach hated it and I was thus reduced to running to the next aid station on one bottle of water, just as the heat was rising and exposure was beginning.  I started getting dehydrated which left my stomach unhappy and would stay as such for the remainder of the race.  I blamed it on the sports drink, but it was my own damn fault.  Never try something new on race day!

Between Swallow Rocks and Big Mountain (photo by Lori Burlison)

Swallow Rocks (mile 34.91) was awesome as usual.  I spent time downing a full bottle of water before refilling.  My pace slowed a bit but I got to Big Mountain aid (mile 39.4) still only down about 20 minutes over last year, and only down 1 pound on the scale.  Yes!  I was encouraged but dreading what was ahead.  I was reduced to basically a diet of gels and GU Chomps as nothing solid was sitting well in my stomach.  I spent a few minutes with my family (Matt was there too helping me out) at Big Mountain then headed off into the hottest section of the course.  It was ugly.  I was slow.  My knee was bothering me.  Blood pressure got low.  Breathing was labored.  Then I hit Lamb’s Canyon (mile 53.13) to see my crew and meet up with my first pacer, friend Chantele.

Running into Lamb's (photo by Brenda Greenwell)

Next huge mistake was about to unfold.  I’d planned a quick sock and shoe change at Lamb’s which I thought was brilliant!  I had a few very small blisters, but this was the best my feet have ever held up to this point in this particular race.  So I messed with a good thing and went from Drymax to Injinji’s on the sock front, and switched out my Altra Lone Peak 1.5s for the original Altra Lone Peak 1.0s.  With material in between my toes now spreading my forefoot even more, both the inside and outside of my toes were rubbing my shoes, thus leading to bad blisters later on.  Idiot!

This one explains how hot it was.  Can you say sweat? (photo by Mark Kreuzer)

The climb up Bear Bottom Pass with Chantele was terrible, the descent into Millcreek was even worse since my IT Band started flaring up.  I walked nearly all of Millcreek road (which I’ve mostly run in years past) and constantly complained to Chantele.  I constantly kept talking about dropping at Millcreek.  Negativity filled me.  I didn’t think I could run 40 more miles with the shape my knee was in.  I arrived at Upper Big Water (mile 61.68) and decided I needed to get my head straight, so I sat for a bit.  Friend Brian Beckstead happened to be there, which was concerning considering he’s faster than me.  Scott also came into the aid while I was there so it seemed like his race was coming along well on target.  Lucky for me, Brian’s pacer Heath also happened to be a PT and he worked on my knee for about 10 minutes.  Between him and the KT tape I’d later receive at Brighton, my race was saved.  Brian encouraged me to come along with him as he was determined to at least get to Brighton and re-evaluate from there.  I obliged to the whisperings of both he and Chantele and jumped out of that chair to get back out on course.

Picking up my first pacer, Chantele, at Lambs Canyon (photo by Brenda Greenwell)

To Brighton not much really happened.  Still couldn’t eat solids, still had a crappy attitude, knee still relatively hurt (although not as bad as before), but I just plugged along and listened to the positivity radiating from Chantele.  She was always encouraging, always positive, and did an awesome job for her first time pacing.  I can't say enough good things about the way she dealt with my general moodiness.  This also happened to be her longest trail run to date, so a big congrats to her as well!

Once you’re at Brighton (mile 75.61) you get a sense that you’ll finish even though the toughest 25 miles of the entire course are in front of you.  I was nearly 2 hours behind last year now, but I didn’t care.  I was just happy to now be focused on enjoying myself and throwing time goals out the window.  I was determined to press on and finish this thing.  Jeremy & Leslie Howlett were there with encouraging words and Leslie KT taped my knee for me.  I also saw good friend Jennilyn rushing in right as I was heading out.  She was super encouraging and gave me a much needed boost.  With my dad in tow the rest of the way, we left Brighton and I was in a much better mood now.

Into Brighton (photo by Brenda Greenwell)

The descent into Ant Knolls (mile 80.27) sucks but the pancakes they have there serve as excellent motivation.  Had my usual sausage wrapped in a pancake, which happened to be one of only two solid foods my stomach was able to handle all day (go figure), then headed back out.  Pole Line Pass (mile 83.39) came and went, the long stretch between Pole Line and Pot Bottom (mile 91.98), which include the Dive, the Plunge, and Irv’s Torture Chamber all went relatively smooth, so to speak.  My knee was in absolute agony through there, but I tried not to complain and knew I just had to GRIND!  The new finish from Pot Bottom to Soldier Hollow was surprisingly good.  It included several flattish sections that gave my knee some reprieve.  Then the long road around the golf course allowed me to knock out a 7-ish pace into the finish, dropping my dad in the process.  I arrived to friends and family and it was the most satisfying 100 mile finish I’ve ever had!  Hands down.  My time was 3 hours slower than last year, but the trials I was up against this year far exceeded any I’ve ever experienced at a race in my running career.

The elation of finishing (photo by Brenda Greenwell) 

I’m extremely proud of the Refuse2Quit boys.  Matt ran the second half with Craig (report here), MVH plowed through a tough day like it was nothing, and Scott battled some issues through the night but pulled out an epic finish to his race (report here).  You guys are my heroes and it gives me perspecitve hearing about everyone’s personal demons they fight through.  Makes my terrible day seem not so terrible after all.  Thanks to all the other family and friends that supported me throughout, especially Chantele for her pacing duties, my dad for crewing and pacing (always an amazing pacer), and my mom for crewing all day.  You guys are a huge part of the reason I love doing these events!  I’ll be back next year to pace my dad at this one (assuming he gets in with 3 draws) but I won’t be tackling it myself.  Time to look for something different next year.  Probably less racing and more fun-with-friends kind of stuff.  We’ll see what time holds, but for now I’m ecstatic to say I crossed the finish line this year!

Post-race recovery (photo by Mark Kreuzer)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Wasatch 100 Race Report

by Craig

There is always so much to try and fit into a race report, but reading through past reports I realized I spent way too much time on the end to end details and not enough on the experience. I'll try and highlight certain portions of this race without overwhelming you, as the reader, with unimportant details.

It is impossible to talk about Wasatch without mentioning the BBQ at Matt's the night before. Now in it's third year it has gone from a group of maybe 10 to a full house and backyard of 50. It has become the 'place to be' the night before the race; allowing racers, pacers, and friends to meet new people, talk about race strategies, and share funny past stories and experiences. Thank you so much Matt and Alicia for opening your homes to us for dinner and a place to stay the night before (they live 2 miles from the starting line).

Race morning felt a lot like last year. In fact, the whole first 4 hours felt a great deal like it did last year, except that my climb up Chinscraper was a lot lonelier this year than last. With the largest field ever you'd think I would have been surrounded by other racers, but by mile 5 I basically found myself alone and already fighting demons about my ability to go sub-24. It was 80 degrees at 5am at the starting line and didn't really cool off until we were almost at the top of Chinscraper.

My goal for the first 40 miles was to avoid the slump I went through last year and I think I did extremely well overall. I ran more from Bountiful B to Sessions aid (miles 24-28), felt better from Sessions to Swallows (28-35), and basically flew from Swallows to Big Mountain (35-39). Everything felt good, I was managing fuel, hydration, and electrolytes with precision, but regardless my goal to run that first 40 faster than last year just didn't happen. I didn't want to push too hard, just stay consistent. But even with all of that I found myself on the exact same splits as last year and it started to frustrate me coming into Big Mountain. Enough so that with a couple of miles left I started pushing harder than I probably should have. And because of that pushing and the increase in temps (now reaching 90+) I was starting to have issues with overheating.

As I came into Big Mountain, in the blink of an eye, my world changed. I felt OK as I weighed in, but in the few seconds from the scale to the aid station table everything broke down. I leaned over the table and just kept repeating "I'm so hot, it's so hot, I can't handle it". Jennilyn, my pacer, immediately started soaking me in water. I bent over to one of the water bucket catch trays and started scooping water into my face and neck. At the same time Jennilyn grabbed a huge bag of ice and put it on my neck. She urged me to sit, rest, and recover, but it's against my own rules to sit in the first 50 miles. There comes a time and a place when you need to bend your own rules and this was one of those times. I should have stayed longer, should have sat down and allowed my core temperature to drop before heading out again, but I was caught up in the excitement and concern for being on last year's splits, so we took off earlier than was likely safe.

Hanging over the table at Big Mountain

The hike out of the aid station was fine. We moved easily while I ate and drank. Jennilyn forced me to eat and take my salt pills and for a time I felt pretty good. I was still very hot and not moving fast, but I was running when I could run and hiking well in between. As we crested Bald Mountain and headed down the steep rocky ridge the wind was blowing and we started to fly and were passing several other runners. In fact, over the next mile or two we passed several people, but never got passed ourselves. And then the drop over to Alexander Ridge. It was then that everything drained from my body. My energy was gone, my water was nearly gone, and my vision started to blur. Those little uphills onto the ridge drained me of everything keeping me going and I was like a slug who had salt poured on it - moving slow and freaking out at the same time. Every time Jennilyn would tell me to do something I'd immediately reply with "NO" and then mumble something inaudible. With a mile to go Jennilyn forced me to drink some of her water. There were only about four big swallows left and it was gone. Minutes later I broke down, lost it, and nearly collapsed on the side of the trail. Jennilyn consoled me and talked me through it. Minutes later a cloud came over giving us some reprieve from the sun so she made me sit and rest. We were barely more than a quarter mile from the aid station, but I could hardly move. I was actually scared of my ability to get to and then leave the aid station. After only a minute or two I got up though and hobbled into the aid station. My pacer sat me down, brought me some water, Coke, and watermelon, and then handed me a popsicle. My eyes rolled back in my head and I almost passed out. But over the next several minutes I started to drink and eat.

Over the next 30 minutes I consumed 40oz of water, 24 oz of coke, and 5 popsicles. I saw friends and other runners come and go in that time. Some stayed even longer than me. But within the full 40 minutes I was there I completely recovered. Never once, not on the trail, not when I was concerned for my safety, and not when I was scared to go back out from the aid station into the heat did I ever, EVER, consider quitting. My shot at sub-24 was gone, but I felt good again and I was happy and having fun. Jennilyn and I walked out of the aid station and started to move. We ran when we could, but never pushed. I felt like I had control of the heat again and all of my faculties back. Once onto the dirt road down to Lamb's Canyon aid, mile 53, my diaphragm cramps came back (too much Coke), but we were still able to do some good running in there. On the single track I even tried to drop her (which I knew I couldn't do, but it was fun) and we were flying. We came into the aid station looking and feeling awesome. Unfortunately, no one else there did.

The last few steps into Lamb's Canyon, finally feeling good

Lamb's Canyon was a train wreck. There were people everywhere and they all looked like hell. Grown men were sobbing while other runners were splayed out on cots. Crews, pacers, and volunteers were scrambling to lend aid and support where they could, but I can only imagine how many DNFed there. It was nuts. I stayed long enough to chat with friends and encourage other runners, then I was off with Matt. Jennilyn was still in tow as her car was parked at the bottom of Millcreek Canyon, so she'd run the next 5 miles with us. We had a bunch of fun going up to Upper Big Water and got there just as it got really dark (last year I made it all the way to Desolation Lake, 6 miles farther, in the same amount of time). We hung around for a while eating and drinking before heading out. The next 14 miles were uneventful as we cruised up to Deso, then along the Wasatch Crest to Scott Hill. Once down Puke Hill and onto pavement at Guardsman Pass road we turned off our headlamps and ran in the dark just enjoying the mountains, the stars, and the solitude. There was no one even remotely near us, neither in front nor in back. It was serene and I was at home with a good friend. Matt had graciously agreed to 'not push and just have fun' since my goal time was completely shot. And that's what we did.

Weighing in at Brighton. Only down 3 lbs since starting

The glory of Wasatch is found in the darkness and remoteness of running through the night. We hung around at aid stations longer than normal, ate a ton of their food, and then cruised along single track through the blackness. About 2 miles out from the old Rock Springs aid station (they got rid of it this year) I got really tired and actually fell asleep on my feet and again when I was emptying my shoe. With good fueling I got over it though. And like last year we plummeted down the Dive and Plunge and cruised pretty good through Irv's Torture Chamber and down into Pot Bottom. At one point we had to stop to watch a herd of elk crash through the trees. It was amazing to see how they plowed through there.

After Pot Bottom the course is new. Instead of heading north, it goes south on dirt roads. Then a short climb up and over the ridge and down ATV trails to pavement. We didn't rush this section, but ran a solid chunk of the downhills, that's for sure. Once on pavement we ran east to the stop sign, then walked south to the next stop sign. From there Matt wouldn't let me walk another step to the finish line. We ran and moved well all the way up the hill to the finish line. Even over the embankment and the final dash to the finish were with strength and power. I crossed the line in 28:15:14 to friends, runners, and OH! my mom. What a treat.

 Finishing with a thumbs up to friends

Hugging my mom after crossing the line

Normally I would be very disappointed with a time that slow, but in this Wasatch 100 I was just grateful to finish. I watched so many others quit too early in the race when they didn't give themselves enough of a chance to recover. I'm grateful to my pacers and friends who sacrificed to be there to support me. And I'm honored to have shared that amazing course on such a difficult day with so many incredible athletes.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

100 miles of Heaven and Hell. By Scott Wesemann.

The Wasatch 100 mile endurance run is one of the most challenging 100 mile races in the world. With over 26,000 feet of climbing in the rugged Wasatch Mountains, the course can be very unforgiving and if you dare toe the line you will almost certainly experience plenty of heaven and hell along the way. This would be my 5th 100 mile race and 3rd straight Wasatch. With some experience and training under my belt my goal was for a sub 30 hour finish and I was very confident going in that I would be able to do that, but Wasatch has a way of neutralizing just about everyone and their expectations.

Just like 2012 I found myself in the early morning at the start line with good friends Craig lloyd and Josh Greenwell. It was noticeably hotter than the two previous years and I knew it was going to make the day extra challenging. I felt decent at the start, but after a few miles my stomach went south and I felt a touch of nausea for several miles. Throw in early morning temps in the mid-seventies and I was finding it very difficult to find any sort of good rhythm. I ran with Josh to Cool Springs where I stopped to top off my bottle and he kept going because he was feeling pretty good. The next several miles to the Francis Peak aid (18.76) were tough. I didn't have much energy and my stomach was protesting and I came in 22 minutes slower than the previous year. I grabbed some food, applied sunscreen, filled my bottles and walked out eating a handful of grapes. I ran with Amie Blackham for about a mile and we had a good chat, but she was pushing it faster than I wanted to go and my stomach started protesting even more. I really started feeling the heat and the climb up to Bountiful B was hell, but Andrea Martinez passed me and could tell I wasn't doing well. She slowed down to talk and made sure I was eating, drinking and taking salt and paced with me for several minutes and it really helped to keep my mind off of my stomach. Even though she was feeling great and running well, she stopped to look after a friend and it really gave me some extra juice. She went on to crush the course and take second place.
At Bountiful B feeling miserable

Coming into the Bountiful B aid (23.95) I was hot and nauseated. Another angel Kelli S. was there and immediately came over to see what she could do to help. The only thing I wanted was some cold ice water and I downed 20 ounces quickly. I also choked down some potatoes and ginger ale and nearly puked a few times. I walked out of the aid to settle my stomach and within about a half mile things turned. I got my energy back, my stomach settled and for the first time all day I got my running mojo. I felt great and ran most of the section to Sessions aid (28.2) where I was in and out pretty quickly after drinking more ice water, filling my bottles and eating. The next 5 miles were some of the best for me all day. I ran well, passed several people and really had a great rhythm. I made sure to stay hydrated, take salt and gels and my mood was excellent. Then in a single moment my mojo crashed and burned when I caught a toe on a small rock with the Swallow aid station (34.9) in view. As I was flying toward the trail for a face plant my right calf cramped bad. I was laying right in the middle of the trail screaming with the knot in my calf and Jim Skaggs came by and asked if I was ok and stepped over me when I told him it was just a cramp. I limped into the aid and several people passed me.
Coming into Big Mountain aid

My goal now was to try and work out the cramp and get into Big Mountain aid (39.4) where I would pick up my first pacer, Becky. I could feel the pain from the cramp, but I was able to run and after a mile or two I got into a good running groove and ran it into Big Mountain where my spirits were lifted by MattW and my crew that came to my aid. I was an hour behind my time from last year, but it had been a miserable 39 miles and I was feeling reasonably good and knew I could make up the time. Matt rubbed out my leg and the crew got me ice water and food and really took care of me. Going out of Big Mountain I had only one goal: Get to Lambs Canyon aid feeling good. With the temps now soaring over 90 degrees the next stretch was going to be hell. It is the hottest section of the course, the hottest part of the day and dry, exposed and just about 8 miles to the next aid station. Becky and I had a great time. We talked, we laughed and I even sang several songs when I was feeling good, but the section to Alexander was long and it really took a toll. By time we hit the aid I had to take several minutes to cool off. I drank almost two full bottles of ice water and ate some watermelon. There were several runners there that looked terrible, including one guy that was crashed on a cot and not moving.

The next section to Lambs Canyon actually wasn't that bad. It finally started to cool off some and I ran a lot more than I did last year. As the temps dropped and my energy returned I was feeling really good about the rest of the race. We ran the last 3 miles into Lambs where I would pick up my next pacer, Zac Marion. At Lambs I had a full crew of folks there helping me out. Kelli Stephenson, Missy Berkle, Jared Thorley and others grabbed me food, drinks and helped me get my gear sorted out for the next section. They were awesome. Zac was the perfect pacer from Lambs to Brighton. We moved well up Lambs and passed several runners. I was feeling really good and my energy was coming back. Zac kept me on track with my gels, salt and made sure that I moving with purpose with every step. We powered up the long climb to Bear Pass and passed a lot of runners there as well. It was now dark and Zac and I rocked out on some 80s music to keep the energy up. We ran pretty well down to Elbow Fork in Millcreek Canyon and then made decent time up to Upper Big Water aid (61.6) where I had caught up to Josh and Brian B as both of them were having issues. It was a long stop for me. I ate, changed clothes and Zac spent some time trying to work out my cramp that had now gone up my calf to the backside of my knee. It was painful and annoying, but I could mostly ignore it.

We moved well up to the Desolation Lake aid (66.9) running and briskly hiking and I was feeling pretty good all the way there, but that is when things took a turn for the worse. I ate some mashed potatoes, soup and some other concoction of gu that Zac gave me and I nearly threw that up. As I sat in a chair at the aid I started feeling sick, so I asked Zac if we could walk it up to the ridge so my stomach could settle. It never did. I had a pretty big bonk and we walked nearly every step to the Scott's Pass (70.7) aid station. About a mile from the aid I mentally gave up. My calf/knee were hurting and I felt pretty crappy. Major doubts crept in about my ability to run the last 25 miles in this condition and I wanted to get to the aid station and throw in the towel. At Scott's I found a cot in a tent and crashed. My body was achy and I felt feverish and weak. Food did not sound good and this was the low point of the race for me. I quit. I was mentally done. After an hour and twenty minutes Zac convinced me to get moving and I fully intended on slogging to the road and catching a ride down to Brighton. I have never had a DNF in a race and I was on my way to my first. Zac had other ideas.
Puking my guts out at Brighton

When we got down to the road Zac kept trying to get me to run and move. My knee/calf hurt a lot, so I would stop after 30 seconds or so and then he would get me to do it again. I kept waiting for a car to come down, so I could get a ride and a few cars came up the canyon and I asked Zac if we should flag them down, but he ignored me. I finally just decided to get to Brighton where I would call someone to pick me up and crash. All I wanted to do was find somewhere to lay down, but when I got into Brighton Jennilyn, Zac and my other pacer Rob went to work on me. Every time I mentioned quitting they ignored me. They just sat me in a chair and started trying to get me to eat something. Nothing sounded good and mentally I had checked out at Scott's. The last 25 miles of Wasatch might be the most brutal section of any 100 mile course in the country. The climbs are numerous and nasty. The descents are rocky, loose, steep and plentiful. I had completed this section twice before and thought there was no way I could do it in the condition I was in. I had convinced myself that it wasn't possible, but my crew had other ideas. Over the next 2 hours and twenty minutes they put just about every kind of food available in front of me. The only thing that remotely sounded ok was ginger ale and saltine crackers. I nibbled on a few of those and got down some ginger ale, but eventually my stomach protested and I puked pretty hard in a garbage can, but that didn't stop my crew. I asked the aid station doctor, Mark to evaluate me because surely he would know I couldn't make it. Mark went to work on me and after about 20 minutes he sat me up. He told me I could do it. He said he was going to see me at the finish line and that my stomach could come back. All of the sudden I'm standing up and Mark looks me in the eye and says "You can do it" at that moment something clicked and I said "Let's do it". The whole place erupts in cheers and I got the biggest adrenaline rush I've had in a while. It's on.
Finally getting my mojo back the last 25 miles

With no food in my stomach and only 9:20 before the cut-off I found myself power hiking with my pacer, Rob Bladen up to Point Supreme. Last year it had taken me 10:06 to do the last 25 and the clock was ticking. I decided right there that if I was going to do this I was going all in. I was going to give it everything that I had and we did. The last 25 miles were magical. My calf/knee hurt, but I could ignore it. I was able to get down a gel and by time we hit Point Supreme I took got down another. I took two S- Caps and my appetite came back. I wanted food and I started craving pancakes and sausage that I knew they would have at the Ant Knolls aid (80.2). We moved fast and I started feeling great. At Ant Knolls I got my pancakes and sausage washed down with a Coke (the best food at Wasatch) and we were in and out in 5 minutes. We powered up the Grunt (700 ft climb) and over the next 20 miles everything clicked. We passed group after group, powered up all of the hills and ran anything flat or down. I felt better than I had the entire race and it was definitely the high point of the 100 miles.

The two previous times I had run Wasatch the last 25 miles had been horrible. My blistered feet were in constant pain as I went down all of the steep slopes, but this year my feet felt fantastic. The Altra Lone Peaks were money and kept me from getting any blisters and I actually felt great, even in the "Dive" and the "Plunge". We passed several people through Irv's Torture Chamber (multiple steep climbs in a row) and made good time into Pot Bottom aid (92). By now it was once again incredibly hot and it made the last 8 miles a lot harder, but we continued passing people all the way to the finish. At the Station Cut-off aid (94.6) I was pretty sure that we were going to make it, but I still didn't even stop. The last few miles are always hard, but I couldn't help smiling. I couldn't believe it. I was dead and had given up. I had mentally quit, but with the help of my fantastic pacers and the aid station doc I was going to get my 5th hundred mile finish. I was elated.

There is always a sweet rush of adrenaline crossing the finish line, but this time it was extra special and there to greet me were my best friends, parents and the doc, Mark that told me I could do it. This was my slowest 100 mile finish, but felt better than all the rest. Rob and I were able to finish the last 25 miles in 7:27 which is over 2.5 hours faster than last year. We left Brighton in 209th place and finished #150. I didn't get my sub 30 hour finish, but I did learn some pretty incredible things about myself and about the human body. We can do amazing things. Sometimes it takes the help of others to show us what we don't think we are capable of. To my pacers and crew and all of those that helped me along the way, thank you! Your kindness was part of the heaven that helped me get through the hell.