Wasatch 100 miler September 9, 2011…YES…better late than never I guess!!
So…if you know me, I’m a bit of a procrastinator, and would much rather be out adventuring than sitting here writing about it…it’s been a busy 8 months! But as I sat here, planning and packing my drop bags for my next 100 miler (which was 2 weeks ago), it forced me to reflect the last one, which was on September 9, 2011, almost 8 months ago and have managed to put off writing a blog on until June. OOPS!! I would potentially skip writing about it except that it really was an amazing an amazing experience and I feel that if your thinking of doing a 100 miler, putting Wasatch Front 100 on your bucket list is definitely worth the agony of all the ups and downs (both physically and mentally)…so here goes:
After an entire day of organizing drop bags at the Little American Hotel in Salt Lake City, my friends Ken, Spencer (my pacer) and I headed to the race check in to drop off our drop bags, listened to the most awesome and shortest pre-race briefing I’ve ever been to, checked out the race start to make sure we could find it at 4am and headed to a Brew Pub for dinner (yes, there are Brew Pubs in Utah) and then headed to bed for an EARLY wake up. This was my first ACTUAL 100 miler and I was pretty nervous. The elevation would take us once to almost 10, 000 feet back to 5,000 and a second time up to 10, 000 feet and I had no idea what to expect!
The start at 5am is pretty low key and we follow the trail of headlights through a single track, trail meanders around for about 5km (it was dark…that’s all I know at this point) and eventually it comes out on a bit of a ridge with a view of the lights of Salt Lake City just as the sun is starting to come up. Then we started the climb up the much anticipated…chin scraper which was at 9200ft. As I climbed up and got to the top, I felt that chin scraper was much like “heart break hill” in the Boston marathon, this massive climb that was much anticipated and feared and when I got there I thought “that wasn’t so bad I couldn’t possibly be at the top yet”. Nonetheless it was a beautiful view and we were then treated by a long downhill section that was more of a long logging road which was nice break from all the climbing. After this we were treated to a variation of trails that included some logging/dirt road lined with sage brush, but the best was the single track that was mainly along ridge lines with the most amazing views. Any time I got tired I would just remind myself to look around. Most of the trail up to this point is pretty remote, you don’t see many people aside from runners and aid station people (who were fantastic by the way). So at 40 miles, you come to the first major aid station and I do remember feeling pretty tired and looking forward to seeing Spencer, who was our only crew and getting my chocolate milk. It was a fun place to run into as I could here the cowbells ringing and people cheering and it was kind of exhilarating to see so many supporters. BUT since I was feeling good and was not super bright, I drank my chocolate milk as well as ate some beef jerky AND drank some coke (I think I was delirious or something) and as I headed off into the woods all alone again, some awesome nausea set in! So I spent the next hour and a half trying to eat small bites, go slow and settle my stomach. It was in the heat of the day and quite exposed so it was great conditions for a bout of nausea. 12 more miles and I would arrive at Lamb’s Canyon where I would have a pacer and was looking forward to some company! Although I was making friends on the trail and even got offered a job!
As I was running into Lamb’s Canyon, I was feeling pretty good, I thought things were looking pretty good, just needed to get my pacer and take it easy for the next 25 miles until we got to Brighton…or so I thought. I no sooner got those words out of my mouth to Spencer and I instantly felt nauseas again,
only this time I had an endless climb and I couldn’t eat a thing. I tried desperately to settle my stomach while I was going up this nasty grouse grind like climb and I was not doing it. Along came one of my new trail friends, Mark who offered me some TUMS, which seemed to work for short periods and then it was back with a vengeance.
AND THEN we got to the road leading to Mill Creek aid station and….I puked…and I puked some more…and then some more…til finally I felt a lot better and thought I could eat again and then I thought poor Spencer,…he thought he was just going for a little 50 mile jaunt through the woods with some idiot who thought she could run 100miles and was wondering how the hell he could get out of this! The walk up to Mill Creek Aid station was the longest, slowest and coldest 2 miles of my life. My warm clothes were in my drop bag in Mill Creek…I was going so slow I could not keep warm and I was FROZEN. We ended up spending 45 minutes at Mill Creek because I was frozen and still couldn’t eat and we had to deal with some stupid blister on my foot. Nonetheless when I realized sitting down was useless and this 100 miler wasn’t going to run (or walk) itself…I decided I should keep going. After all of this, we continue to climb higher and higher…and not only am I whiney and nauseas and complaining that I’ve never felt this awful before….I start falling asleep while walking….I would awaken mid dream when I would stub my toe on something and start to fall over. I would start to walk sideways a little and poor Spencer would have to walk on the ridge side of me to make sure I didn’t trip and fall off of a ridge….it was pretty interesting and damn near impossible to stop from falling asleep. Spencer was playing music on his iphone, and trying to keep conversation going but my body was having none of it!
So we kept moving v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y through the night until we started to make our way to Brighton aid station…just before this my headlamp went out and I had a little temper tantrum as I mistakenly dropped one of my MEC turtle lights and it smashed…you’re allowed 1 tantrum per 100 miler in my books when you feel as awful as I did!! Anyhow, another 30-45 minutes was spent at Brighton trying to get some food down, using the bathroom, trying to get headlamps to work, etc…and then I ran into my buddy Mark from earlier who has run this race 8 times and he was napping at Brighton and offered to show us the way up Katherine’s Pass…so off we went…on the way down we stopped at Ant Knolls for a little breakfast food (the few bites I could eat) and up over another steep climb we went…it was starting to get light but as soon as we went up again, and crested the hill I had some more sleep walking episodes…good times.
After this it was downhill to pole line pass where I decided there were about 20 miles left and I just had to suck it up and give it my all and get to the finish line….too bad I didn’t have this thought about 5 hours earlier….duh!! Shortly after this I looked up on the trail and what did I see but I big massive MOOSE!! Luckily he wasn’t out to have any wars with me, he was just gallivanting ahead of me on the trail having a good ol time (bet he wasn’t puking and walking all night) But anyhow, off he went and off we went and I ran my little heart out up…and down….up…and down…this race just keeps going up….and down….relentlessly!! FINALLY we got to the last aid station POT BOTTOM…a 1 mile climb followed by 6 miles of downhill…the kid at the aid station told a terrible lie though…he said I could just roll down the hill like a log and I’d make it all the way to the finish line….he neglected to tell me about the 3 or 4 random uphill sections that were in the way of this happening!! Nonetheless I ran my sorry
little butt to the finish as fast as I possibly could, passing many people who wondered why the hell I was going so fast when I was only going to finish in just under 33 hours!!
Oh well…I crossed the extremely low key, grassy, homestead finish line in 32:55…and my buddies were not there to see me cross because given the painfully slow pace I’d been keeping all night the damn computer projected I wouldn’t finish for another 40 minutes…so they finally showed up with the beer and I was already there…well into the finish line chocolate milk!! Oh well…next time!
So…if you’re considering doing a 100 miler, are looking for a challenge, beautiful scenery, a low key setting, a well organized race, and fantastic volunteers…I would highly recommend putting Wasatch 100 miler on your bucket list…followed by a short stay in Park City for a little race recovery where you can get some R and R, great coffee and of some brew pubs for beer tasting!
A big congrats to my team mates Ken Legg, who finished in around 31 hours and Chad Hyson who finished the Grand Slam with his Wasatch finish!!
And a big thank you to Kintec and Hoka for keeping my feet happy and relatively in good shape!!