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)

1 comment:

Kendall said...

Way to battle. Great report and finish!