My Road to SD 100: Stop 2 Black Canyon 100k: A bump in the road

Last weekend, Sean & I headed to Arizona to run the Black Canyon 100k.  We signed up last year expecting a fast and mostly downhill course with a long time limit (which appealed to me since I know I’m on the slower side).

Unfortunately Mother Nature intervened and the week of the race, the race directors at Aravaipa Running had to make a decision to change the course to an out and back due to a forecast of over an inch of rain on race day.  They made the right decision because the original course crosses the Agua Fria river several times and the river was too high & too fast for over 500 runners to safely cross it.

So, the course went from having ~9,000+ feet of descent to being an even up and down of ~3,500.  Once you got to the turn around, you would start making your way back up to the start.

The race directors did an excellent job of communicating the change to us runners.  I saw it posted on the Facebook event page, on their website, received an email via ultrasignup and also even watched a live Facebook video where they discussed it and answered questions.

We got to Phoenix late Thursday night, we were staying with my sister, who lives about 15 minutes from the Anthem Outlet Mall, where the shuttles were originally supposed to pick us up to go to the start line.  Since the race finish was at the start line we didn’t have to take the shuttle after all so it was just a 45 minute drive to Mayer High School.

We headed to the expo on Friday afternoon, got our bibs and shirts.  We chatted with Ben & Zach Bitter at the Altra booth for a little bit, I got to try on the new Escalantes, which are so nice! I can’t wait to get a pair and then headed back to my sisters.

For Christmas, I had gotten my sister a pasta maker so she made us a yummy pre-race meal with fresh pasta and baked chicken.

While she cooked, Sean & I got our flat runner photos done and backed our drop bags.  Since it was going to be wet & rainy, we packed everything into 2.5 gallon zip lock bags to keep everything dry.

Since we only had to drive to the start line in the morning, we were able to sleep a bit longer.  I think we left the house around 5:20am and made the 45 minute drive up to the high school.

We dropped off our drop bags, hit up the bathrooms and then headed to the track where the race was starting.  It all happened so fast.

I saw Rachel, one of my fellow Orange Mud Ambassadors & we got a quick photo.  I also met Tara, @runwithtara, saw Malia, @rnrgrl808, her son ran the 60k and came in 2nd overall!! I also saw Jen, @jenlaughlin_18, who was like 2/3 races we’ve done together have been in the rain, lol.

Sean & I got a quick pre-race photo and then we were off. It was already raining when we started.  The race started off with a lap on the track and then we ran through the town before hitting the trail.

The first part of the course was the muddiest of the whole race but I was wearing my new Altra King MT’s which were created specifically for muddy conditions.  They did not disappoint.  I felt so secure and was not slipping and sliding at all. There was only one small area where the shoes had some caking but it quickly fell off.  Sorry for the blurry pic, my fingers were already wet so I had a hard time even getting the phone to work. After this, I didn’t take it out again until after I dropped.

I felt really good the first 7 miles to the aid station.  In the last 1/2 mile I started to get a little bit of a stomach pain but kept moving knowing there would be a port-a-pottie at the aid station.

I got there, grabbed a few glukos gels from my drop bag and then waited a few minutes to use the bathroom.  The next section, I started slowly because of the stomach pain, but it eventually got better.  I enjoyed this section, it was absolutely beautiful single track.  I had a few close calls where I came  close to a few hard falls so I slowed down a bit and really started watch my footing.

Unfortunately tripping multiple times caused some pulling in my hamstring so I was dealing with that as I made my way into the 3rd aid station.  This is where Sean caught up with me.  I was not a happy camper, practically in tears, and not at all excited about running in the rain for another 12 hours.

After a few minutes of chatting with Sean, refilling my pack I decided to move on.  In retrospect, after I had heard some people talking about dropping to the 60k, which they normally don’t allow but due to the weather, they made an exception, I should have just dropped down at that point.

I slowly made my way up the fire road to the single track.  I was following 2 girls for a bit.  During this section, I was having a lot of pain in my right foot under the midfoot.  Literally every step was excruciating. Seriously this race was just full of rando physical issues.  It eventually went away but I was power hiking the majority of this section.

As I made my way to the aid station, I saw a photographer from Sweet M, who got this lone photo of me during the race.  I’m a little disappointed she didn’t get a full body shot but it does show how wet I was, my skirt was completely soaked.

Sean was waiting for me at the aid station and I put a few things in my drop bag, took way to long trying to get my bladder back in my pack, the bladder I was using wasn’t opening easily so every time I refilled it, I had to ask for help and we would fight with it to open.

We finally made our way to the turn-around, where I would have to sit down for a few minutes because I was feeling light-headed.  I had 2 cups of ramen and felt a little better.  We headed back up the hill and the rain just kept coming.  I was trying to move as fast as I could, but I kept feeling lightheaded and I wasn’t happy.

We got to the mile 37 aid station and I was super close to dropping but Sean convinced me to keep moving to the next aid station, which in the end was a smart decision.

This section was the last before it got dark and I was moving as fast as I could to get there. I was starting to get really cold and the rain just kept coming down.

When we got to the aid station, I told Sean he could continue on, but I was done.  I was so cold and it was just going to get worse as we got into the night, and into the windiest, most exposed sections of the course.

I walked into the aid station saying I was freezing and they directed me to the heaters to warm up.  One of the volunteers, who I would later find out was the founder of Squirrel’s Nut Butter, Stacy kept asking me if I wanted to get out of my wet clothes.  I didn’t have anything dry to put on so I said no originally.

Finally after I officially dropped, she told me that she gave me a dry Squirrel’s Nut Butter sweat shirt I could wear and pretty much made me get out of my wet clothes.  Sean asked me for my waterproof jacket to put over his other clothes because he was going to continue on.

I hung out in the aid station until they closed and I was able to get a ride to the finish line.  There was a cute little boy who asked to play some games on my phone so I let him play for a bit.

Once I got back to the High School, I got changed, even after getting into dry clothes, I couldn’t warm up.  I think I had on 3 sweatshirts.  I hung out with Ben at the Altra table chatting and interacting with runners who had questions about Altra.  I met & chatted with another ambassador, Kim while waiting for Sean.

My King MT’s were awesome on this course!

Now that I’ve had more time to think about the race, I don’t regret my decision to drop, because I know I was pre-hypothermic and continuing on could have resulted in putting myself in a bad situation.

I also know that I could have physically finished the race, while I had minor aches and pains, I was not injured but mentally I was checked out, not having fun and let that take over.

Running is hard, running ultras is harder and I think that the mental part is the hardest.  As I continue on with my journey to SD100, I think I will have to train my brain the most.

Even with a DNF I learned something important about myself and what I need to do to get to the next finish line.

 

Crewing Javelina Jundred

This past year has been a whirlwind of 100 mile races.  We started the year in Arizona at Coldwater Rumble and finished in Arizona with the Javelina Jundred.

First off, let me say that Aravaipa does an excellent job managing all the runners and crew.  There were close to 800 people running this race making it the 2nd largest ultra in the US.

We decided to do this race because our dear friend Maili @mais_runs_trails asked us to help pace her for her first 100 mile race.  Since we were going, Sean decided it would be a great finish to his year of 100s.

Javelina is definitely a party in the desert.  There were so many people there that we know so it was a lot of fun cheering on all our friends.  There were a bunch of my fellow Altra Running ambassadors running.  It was fun getting to meet them and cheering them on.

Here is Lint Hikes at the start & Stephanie after her first loop and Dana after she came in right behind Sean to finish up the 2nd loop.  She was the first female finisher!

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We saw a bunch of fellow San Diego runners and I spent the whole time hanging out with our friend Vanessa and her team.

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Can I tell you how amazing the ultra community is?  I met Lani & Heather for the first time on race day and even though they didn’t know me, they totally brought me into their fold.  Lani made me a PB&J sandwich, dinner later in the evening and just was so amazing.  Heather gave us tips on how things were different from last year and was so positive.  I was blessed to share the weekend with such amazing people.

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Vanessa & I took a short hike early on Saturday morning, it was interesting to see how the course was laid out.  At this point they didn’t have the loop markings up so we weren’t quite sure how it worked.

We walked about a mile or so and then came back just in time to see Zach Bitter finishing up his first loop.  It was so amazing to see Zach crush the course record.  It was fun to watch him and how perfect his form was.  As a friend said, watching him is like poetry in motion and it truly was.

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Sean came in off the first loop around 3:35 saying it was HOT!  When he came through they called out a name, but it wasn’t his, so he asked me to check on that with the timing people.  Once Vanessa & I got him ready to go he headed back out for the toughest of his 5 loops.

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Maili came in about 1.25 hours later also saying it was hot, but she was looking good and feeling pretty good as well.  Her crew got her iced up and ready to go and then she was off.

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By this point it was getting pretty hot even for us and so I asked the guy in the tent next to us if I could use some of his shade (behind his tent) and he told us that they were leaving and we could hang out in their tent until they came back in a few hours.  That was so nice because one of the things about the desert is that the temperatures really do drop in the shade.

We hung out there for quite a while chatting, eating, and watching the runners come in.

Sean finished his second loop right before Dana.  He was super hot and talking about a tight hip.  But we got him some Monster and Welch’s Grape Juice which would be something he drank a lot of during this race.  After getting iced up, he headed out on his third loop.

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Again, we would have an issue with Sean’s timing chip.  This time, it didn’t register him at all.  I got them to fix it but I accidentally gave them the wrong time so his time was off.

Not long after this we were just hanging out, I didn’t see Maili’s family, and I was surprised to see her coming through!  I texted them to let her know that she was there and ran with her to the aid station, hoping to get her iced up there, but they were completely out of ice!  Now, this was something that I feel like they dropped the ball on.  With 800 participants on a very hot day in the desert, they should have ice trucks standing by.  I feel like they should never run out of ice.

But by the time we got back to base camp, her family was there and able to get her all set up.  She was feeling pretty good considering the heat, those hour long sessions in the sauna really paid off!

Since she was going out on her 3rd loop and it would be dark when she finished she was able to take a pacer with her.  I remember asking her if she had her headlamps and I believe it was during this section that I was feeding her a turkey wrap lol.

Lani, Heather & Vanessa were crewing multiple people including Joyce who was just the cutest.  She was attempting her first 100 and came in after her 2nd loop during this time.  She was having an issue with her ankle and was asking to have it taped.  Well, you might not know this but when I was in high school I was an athletic trainer and I do know how to tape ankles.  Although it had been quite a while since the last time I did.

Fortunately Lani had white athletic tape so I did my best to get her taped up so she could get back out there.  Joyce has the tiniest feet I think I’ve ever taped and my memory was a little fuzzy so I did the best I could.  Fortunately it worked and we were able to get her out there for her 3rd loop.

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After I taped her up she needed to get her shoes on and still get something to eat.  I knew we needed to get her out of there so I started feeding her pasta while she put on her shoes, lol.  She’d been there for a bit, it was starting to get dark and I knew Sean was going to be coming soon so I wanted to get her on her way!

One thing that Sean has taught me is that you don’t want to linger at the aid station any longer than necessary so after a few more minutes grabbing gear off she went!

Sean had told me that lap 3 was going to be his slowest and it wasn’t too bad, he came in around 6:15p just after dark.  We really didn’t think about it when he went out at 2pm but it was dark when he finished the loop.  Thank you to the awesome volunteer that lent him a handheld to get to the finish.

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This loop it took Maili a bit longer and I had just headed to take a quick nap after watching Zach Bitter finish.  Not long after that her husband Devin arrived and I think I got about 40 minutes of sleep before he told me she was about there.  Come to find out, he had forgotten to give her the headlamps and they had walked 5 miles with her pacer’s iphone flash light to the aid station.

She came in, immediately headed to the tent with Devin to change her clothes, she was having some issues with chafing or so she thought.  Funny story, as we were waiting for her, her pacer told us that when they got to the aid station, she started asking people if they had a headlamp and someone, she was like named Whaa, whaa something had gotten up and started pulling something off his waist.  First she was like uh, what are you doing and then he gave her his headlamp.  Well come to find out that it was Jim Walmsley!  As soon as she showed us the picture, I was like Jim Walmsely!  How cool & how awesome!  Not only that, he had given a headlamp to Zach Bitter so Maili might have worn the same headlamp that helped Zach crush the course record as well!

Once we got her & Devin off, I was going to get a little nap but thought I better wait up for Sean so I kind of slept in my chair while waiting for him.  By this point I was exhausted and frustrated with the timing people, since yet again, Sean didn’t show up in the results (from his third loop).  I didn’t want them to think he was still on his 3rd loop since he was going for a sub 24 hour time and his watch would be dead when he finished so as soon as he came in, I was like we need to talk to them.

Poor Lani asked me to stay up to help Joyce and I honestly needed to get some sleep.  Fortunately Heather was up & waiting for her husband to get a little nap before deciding what to do about his race.

Sean came in and I immediately told him that we needed to talk to the timing people. We got him squared away, they found his 3rd loop and gave him a glow in the dark bracelet to signify he was on his last loop and then we got him ready to go. It was around 11:30p ish at that point.

So off he went and back to the tend and bed I went.  I got my gear ready so I was good to pace Maili on her last loop before getting some sleep.  No sooner than I took off my glasses, I got a text from her it was around 12:30am.  She was having a lot of trouble walking due to what we would eventually find out was a UTI.  She was planning to drop at Jackass Junction (aid station) but I told her to talk to Catra Corbett when she got there after discussing a few things because I remember hearing her talk about having some similar issues.  I encouraged her to keep pushing to the next aid station.

By the time she got to Jackass Junction she was having some serious issues with her foot and was icing it, thinking there was a possibility it could be a stress fracture.  Catra told her that she was most likely dealing with a UTI and told her to stop using Tailwind (all the sugar could have been an issue). Unfortunately that meant she wasn’t getting in enough calories.

I don’t know how long they stayed at the aid station, but around 2:30a Devon texted that they saw Sean looking good (going the other direction) and were at mile 11.

I got a little sleep before getting up to wait for Sean to come in.  I wasn’t sure what kind of time he would have, but I knew he was gunning for a sub 24h finish. I just happened to get up about 10 minutes before he came in! I saw him following a girl who previously had a parrot on her shoulder as part of her costume and raced over to the finish line to get some photos!

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Right before Sean came in Maili sent me a text saying her foot was not feeling good and was really concerned.  I encouraged her to keep going and at least finish the loop.  It’s so tough because you want to encourage your runner and push them through the low points, but in the end they know their bodies better thank anyone else and really have to make the decision for themselves and it’s not an easy thing to decide especially when you feel amazing, outside of a few minor things, and you mentally want it so bad!

In the end she decided to finish the loop and I told her to try and make it before the cut-off which would give her a bit more time to decide if she could continue.  She pushed hard and made the 4th loop 7 minutes before the 6am cut-off.

At this point, we had to seriously consider that there was a chance, if we started the 5th and final loop that we wouldn’t be able to make the 30 hour cut-off.  I was ready to go out with her but was definitely concerned that it was going to be tight.

Ultimately we decided to start the loop and see how things went.  We probably went about a 1/4 mile up the trail when I saw that she was wincing in pain with every step and had stopped a few times already.  I supported her no matter what her decision, but internally felt like we had to be realistic.  At that pace with stopping, there was no way we could finish in under 6 hours.  After a few more painful steps, she made the decision to drop.

It’s a tough thing to watch someone so strong and mentally prepared to have to make this decision.  But regardless of the outcome I’m so proud of her for taking on the longest race in her ultra career and I know she is going to crush it in her next race!

There is nothing like the ultra community.  It is really a family and everyone is so supportive.

TRT 50…A Taste of Heaven…A Glimpse of Hell

Seeing as it’s Throwback Thursday, and I’m so far behind on my recaps, I figured it was time to recap my experience at the Tahoe Rim Trail 50 miler.  Just an FYI – this is going to be a long post!

Spoiler alert…it was the best race ever. I had a blast!  But if you want more detail than that keep reading.

First off, a little background on how to get into the race, there is a lottery on January 1 for spots in one of the three TRT Endurance Runs, 100 miles, 50 miles & 55k.  There are some requirements for the 100 mile race but none for the 50 & 55k.  There is also a waitlist for all 3 races for those who don’t get in via the lottery or decide, like me to get on the waitlist months after the lottery.

I initially put my name on the wait list for the 55k but then after signing up for Cuyamaca 100k, I decided to add my name to the 50 mile wait list as well.  I started the wait list at 103 for the 55k and I think somewhere around 90 on the 50 mile wait list.  I think I signed up back in May? I can’t remember exactly, but I would periodically check Ultra Signup and the 50 mile wait list moved a lot faster than the 55k one.

It was a little nerve-wracking because Sean was also on the wait list for Hardrock 100 and as a lot of us know, it’s almost impossible to get into Hardrock so if he got in we would have definitely gone to Silverton.

Fortunately when I got the notification that I was in for TRT, on June 30th, it was a real long-shot for Sean to get into HR, he was still 8th on the list and no movement so I registered.

So then WOW, I needed one last weekend with decent mileage to make me feel ready and fortunately we had the 3 day weekend since it was the 4th of July, so from Friday – Monday, we ran/hiked a little over 40 miles.  The next weekend, I paced Sean the last 17 miles of the Santa Barbara 100 and I felt ready.

The week before the race, I had to be in Phoenix for work, so I tried to hydrate as much as possible, being at elevation can dehydrate me even more and it has been pretty dry there the last few times we’ve visted so I wanted to make sure I was plenty hydrated.

We flew up to Reno on Friday morning, I worked most of the day, but we had time to get our packets and then get our drop bags ready before the mandatory meeting for the 100 milers. Sean was running his 3rd straight TRT.

They do some nice swag at this race, the women got an super cool Patagonia tank in a mint color with purple details (two of my favorite colors!), a bottle opener, a cup and a photo/map of the course.

TRT Race Swag

After the meeting, we still needed to get in our shake-out run.  We just did a quick out and back in the neighborhood by our hotel.  It was sooo hot out that I had a really hard time, this seems to be a trend for me lately having horrible shake-out runs lol.

I set up my Flat Jenny to make sure I had everything I needed and then we headed to an early dinner.  We had to get up around 3am to drive over to Spooner Lake, where we would take a shuttle over to the start line so I wanted to get a decent nights sleep.

TRT 50 Flat Jenny

I think I was asleep by 7:30pm and with the exception of waking up around 10p to go to the bathroom, I slept pretty well.

We got to the parking lot around 4:15am, caught the first shuttle we saw and were at the start area within minutes.  It was a lot colder at the start than it was in Reno and I was a bit nervous because I was only wearing shorts & a tank top.  I really wished I’d brought my arm sleeves but I unfortunately hadn’t even brought them with me.

Chilly at the TRT start line

Sean started his race at 5am so I wished him luck, watched the start and then headed over to the “Ultra Lounge” to sit down and wait until it was closer to my start to get out of my warm clothes. I chatted with a few other runners and then about 20 minutes before the start, I packed my jacket and track pants in my finish line bag to get acclimated to the temps.

Side note…funny story, I remember last year when I just crewed for Sean, I was like why do all these people have finish line bags?  Well went you are a mid/back of the packer like me it’s going to be dark and cold when you finish so you’ll definitely want warm clothes to put on before heading to back to your car.

Near the start, I saw my friend Fern, who is crazy fast and totally killed it coming in 3rd overall in the 50, I chatted with him for a few minutes before making one last visit to the port-a-potties.

Both the 50 milers and the 55k runners started at the same time.  The 55k runners would go to the Red House Loop and then turn around, while we would do a complete loop, the 100 milers would do 2 complete loops.

I started about 2/3s of the way back, I really wasn’t sure how this was going to go.  In the back of my mind I thought about the experience I had in Utah, when I got elevation sickness and I didn’t want that to happen here so my plan was to go slow and steady the whole way.

In the materials, there was just one major cut-off that we needed to worry about.  We had to get to the Diamond Peak aid station, mile 30 by 3:45pm. And then it said we had to be done by 10:30pm, but it looks like they were a bit lax on that because I saw in the results that there were about a dozen people who finished after the 16.5 hour cut-off.

Off we went, on a fire road up to the Marlette Lake Trail, where we would start our climb.  I was in a pack of other runners and I followed along running/hiking on the uphills, just taking it nice and easy.  A few miles in, we got to this amazing downhill, Tim got this great photo of Sean there last year, where you can see the lake.

Marlette Lake Trail

All this way, there was a cold breeze and it was just overall much cooler than I was expecting.  But I think the worse part was my hands were really cold, I had gloves in my suitcase but that wasn’t going to do me much good was it?

After a serious climb, we made it to the first aid station Hobart.  They had whiskey shots and the aid station was inside a decent size tent.  Little did I know that when I returned hours later it was going to be super windy.

I knew from crewing Sean that it was best to get in and out of the aid stations as quickly as possible, so I tried to just fill my bottles, eat a few orange slices and get out fast.

Heading out of Hobart Aid StationPhoto from I-Tao Tsai

I had my trekking poles velcro’d in the middle of my Orange Mud VP2 and I asked them to take them out for me.  Of course this section we didn’t really need them, but I didn’t know that, oops.

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As I ran this section to Tunnel Creek Aid station, I realized that Sean & I had done a bunch of this section during Tahoe 200 last year.  It was nice to know I recognized a portion of the course.

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There was a nice downhill section during this part, little did I know I would have to go back up later in the race, oops. I made it to Tunnel Creek in pretty good time, saw our friend Noe, who told me that Sean had already come and gone both times.  He refilled my bottles and filled my Running Skirts neck gaiter with ice.  I moved through here pretty quickly.

And down I went towards the Red House, this is the section of the course that is considered the taste of hell because you go down to the lowest part of the course and then have to make your way back up again.  It’s about a 10k loop before making your way back to Tunnel Creek Aid.

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Fortunately for me, I had my poles so the steep downhill wasn’t so bad.  I made it down, talking to other runners, a lady who had just taken a survival first aid course, a guy who was telling me about some bears they’d seen in that section earlier in the week, really? I didn’t need to know about that, lol.

During this section there were 2 water crossings which I didn’t know about.  I used my poles to try and keep my feet dry because I didn’t even think to put another pair of socks in my drop bags so I didn’t want to destroy my feet.

I eventually started walking and chatted with another runner for a while, before we made it to the Red House, which was a really nice aid station.  They said it was about 3 miles back to Tunnel Creek.  I think it was a little less, but it’s possible my Garmin wasn’t accurate during this part of the course.

I personally didn’t think this loop was that bad, it was steep in the last mile, but other than that, it wasn’t too bad.  It was probably a lot worse in the dark since it’s pretty shaded in spots.

I slowly made my way up the hill and eventually I could hear the music from the aid station. Yea!! I made it out of the taste of hell! lol

I debated about taking a 3rd bottle when I left Tunnel Creek because it was getting warmer and they recommended it for the 8 mile section between Bull Wheel & Diamond Peak, but in the end I decided against it because I wasn’t drinking a ton.

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During this section, I saw a lot of the lead 100 milers and 50 milers on their way back to Tunnel Creek. I walked a lot of this section and it was beautiful.  I eventually got to Bull Wheel, I was keeping an eye on my watch, just to make sure I wasn’t going to miss the Diamond Peak cut-off.  I had plenty of time.

At Bull Wheel, another runner happened to take my photo, which was really cool.  I refilled my bottle, big mistake, the water there tasted horrible and ate some orange slices.   I took off up the hill only to be yelled at saying I was going to wrong way, thank goodness because I was heading up to the top of Diamond Peak when I needed to go around!  Oops! And huge props to the people at the aid station for letting me know quickly.

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This section was pretty hot, there were 8 miles between aid stations and I had to go to the bathroom.  Of course in this section there wasn’t a lot of tree cover so I walked a bunch until I could find a semi private place.  I hadn’t seen another runner in what seemed like forever, until I stopped…Murphy’s law right? Haha.

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And then I was able to run the nice downhill.  By the time I got to the Tyrolean Village neighborhood near Diamond Peak, I was with a bunch of other runners.  We all made it into the aid station at around 2:20pm so I was a bit ahead of the cut-off.  I took a bit more time here, drank some broth, ate a bunch of orange slices, refilled my bottles, used a real bathroom.

When I checked out of the aid station, I asked them if there were any other aid station cut-offs.  They told me I had to make it to Tunnel Creek by 5:11p.  As I climbed Diamond Peak, I was thinking, that wasn’t a lot of time to make it about 5 miles with a 2 mile 1,700ft climb up the Crystal Ridge ski run.

You know how people ask you what you think about when you are running?  Especially when you are running that far?  Well I’ve never done this before but I spent a lot of time counting steps.  I have no idea why or what I was doing but all of a sudden at one point, I realized I was counting.

Diamond Peak Selfie

I very very slowly made my way up Diamond Peak, it just seemed like it kept going up and up and up some more.  Finally after what seemed like hours and a few photo breaks, I made it to the top and then down to Bull Wheel again.  I didn’t need much in terms of water so I grabbed a few orange slices and kept moving.

By this point, I was exhausted, I had to stop my Garmin because it was low battery and I didn’t want to have to keep pulling my phone out so I turned off the GPS to be able to see the time.  I had no idea how far I had to go which probably didn’t help.  At one point a guy ran past me going the other way and told me I only had 17.5 miles to go so that told me I had 2.5 miles to Tunnel Creek.

I finally made it there, around 5pm, I was kind of nervous because I just made it before the supposed cut-off. Noe asked me how I was doing and I said I was tired but ready to go after a quick refuel.  I grabbed my headlamp, even though it wouldn’t get dark for hours, I was going to need it eventually, and my Lululemon swiftly long sleeve since it was cold in the morning, I figured I might need it night I’d need it.

Before I left, I asked the guy at the check-out table if there were any other cut-offs, just in case and he said that there weren’t any more for 50 milers, thank goodness so I didn’t have to worry about that.  Just finishing the last 15 miles in less than 5ish hours.

I had to go back up the part that was so fun to run down at the beginning.  It sucked, I was so tired, I was walking really slow, like really slow.  Finally, I was like that’s it.  I moved off the trail, sat down for a minute, drank one of my Glukos gels and got my Trekz Titanium headphones out.

A few people asked me if I was ok, and I was, I just needed to regroup for a minute or two before continuing on.  After this, I turned on my audio book, Daniel Silva‘s, The English Spy, which I’d been listening to for a while.  I swear as soon as I turned that on, it was like a switch, I felt a 100x better and not nearly as tired as I did moments before.

As I made my way back to Hobart, it started getting windy! Seriously there were some spots that I couldn’t hear the book because it was so loud.  I made my way down to the aid station, following a few other runners and took my longest stop of the day.

After getting my bottles refilled, I sat down to have them take a look at my foot, I felt like I was getting a blister on the midfoot.  Turns out it was just a hot spot, thank goodness, so they put a little bit of something like glide on the bottom of my foot.  Then it was time to go.  They told me I was going to have a 3 mile 1,000 ft climb up to Snow Valley Peak before a 7 mile downhill to the finish.

So off I went, I thought I might see Sean before I took the turn but unfortunately I missed him.  I slowly made my way up to Snow Valley Peak, which was a 9,000 ft.  I wanted to make sure I didn’t have any additional elevation issues so I made it up slowly.

It was really pretty once we got closer to the top, with a lot of greenery.  They had a sign out saying food & lodging in 1 mile and then little signs with funny sayings as we made our way up the last mile.  I had stopped to put my jacket on, I wish I had gotten my Altra Stash Jacket at Diamond Peak, but I forgot to grab it, because then I could have put my jacket on without taking off my pack. But then I followed this girl and her pacer up to the top of the hill.

We finally made it to the aid station, I again refilled my bottle, got some more orange slices and then got out of there quick!  There were a lot of runners sitting down and I just wanted to be done!  So off I went, attempting to run, it was very rocky at the beginning of this section so I did my best.  Not that I cared what place I was in, but when I looked at the tracking afterwards, I was in 123rd place when I left this aid station.

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They told us that it was 5 miles to a water stop and 7 miles to the finish.  I just booked it as fast as I could down.  I stopped to turn on my headlamp and one girl passed me, which actually was a good thing because I could see her ahead of me for quite a while.

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After a while I caught up with 3 other runners, I chatted with them for a few minutes and then had to pass them, I was so ready to be done!  Just a few minutes later there was a guy standing on the side saying that it was a 1/2 mile to the water stop and then 1.7 miles to the finish.  Sweet!

I passed the water stop and just kept moving, at this point, you could see the aid station from across the lake, it was pretty cool.  We crossed over a few wooden bridges during this section and I just kept moving.  Eventually we would get to the other side of the lake and the it didn’t take long to get to the finish line, in fact it was a lot sooner than I was expecting.  I thought the start & finish was in the same place, but was closer to the water.

And then I was done! I had finished my first 50(.48) mile mountain race.  This was not an “easy” 50 miler, with 9,000 ft (although when I checked the website before & after the race, it said that it had over 12,200 ft of ascent & descent so I guess it was wrong). The min elevation was 6,800 and max just over 9,000.

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By the time I had finished, I had somehow managed to move up 12 spots and I finished at 111 overall, with a time of 15h46m49s, which was under written cut-off of 16h30m and I wasn’t DFL, which I totally would have taken, my main goal was to finish under the cut-off.

I actually felt pretty good after I finished, a little sore, but not bad.  They gave me my finishers cup and a finishers plaque, that’s pretty cool.  Instead of a medal they gave 55k & 50 mile runners a plaque with the logo and the race on it.

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They had a taco truck there were we could get a hot meal and hang out in the ultra lounge. I had tacos, which were good, but I couldn’t eat that much at that time.  Sean had a rice & bean burrito the next day that was really good.

I’ve run a lot of races, most of which are just training for something else, this was one of my proudest running moments, because even though I was super slow and probably walked 75% of the race, I did something that I never in a million years would have thought I’d do, I didn’t ever think about quitting, and even though I was tired, I never once gave up on achieving my goal.

I’m positive I could have run/walked/hiked certain sections faster, but I’m happy with my time, how my race went and I learned a lot about myself & 50 miles.

Thanks for reading along, I know it was a long recap, but it was a long race, lol!