i am having a hard time deciding where in the timeline to start this story. i feel like it should be begin long before the starting line in kaysville. maybe i haven't run enough of these to be able to break them down into a single movement between point a and point b, but nonetheless, it feels wrong to simply begin with the starting line words "get out of here..."
wasatch has been on my mind for a couple of years. i was in the race in 2011, but my year fell apart last summer and i wasn't in a good place to be able to train and manage my life, which was far more important at the time. the emotional connection between the spirit and the physical has been well documented by me on this blog and i wasn't in any shape to be able to "train" for an event that is as physically and emotionally demanding at wasatch and it wasn't the priority.
i am fairly certain that when the applications to run went live this year, i was one of the first one to print it out, send in my check and wait the two plus months for the lottery to take place. it was part of my rebuilding process. i spent several hours running this winter shrouded in motivation with thoughts of tackling 100 miles on this trail. i had several reasons for seeking out this race. i wanted to get out of my comfort zone of running. i'm not talking distance, but style of event. wasatch is very different from western states, my muse for most of the last 7 years. i wanted tough. i wanted moderate altitude. i wanted the style of the race to force me to rethink and challenge myself in training in ways i hadn't done before. i needed for the event to be associated with personal growth, in some ways. i wanted it to be a classic event. indeed, this year was the 33rd running. i also wanted it to be in a location where i was outside my "cocoon of comfort". i didn't want to know the racers or volunteers at the aid station, very little about the course and it needed to be a location where i hadn't raced before.
|south sister summit with great group of friends|
i didn't have a split card, but had an idea of two benchmark times i wanted to hit along the way at miles 53 and 75, otherwise, my goals were keep my stomach working all day. not lose weight. keep my core temperature managed and have legs to run strong the last 25 miles of the race from brighton to the finish. most of all, run with joy and enjoy the process of running 100 miles in the mountains.
|view of francis peak from howard and kathy's|
|dave and i at the starting line in kaysville|
"have fun out there. be nice to each other..."
-john grobben, race director
countdown from 10 and we were off in a stampede of headlamps and too many slow guys standing up front. after 200 yards of elbows and collisions, i settled in. the trail follows roughly 5 miles on the bonneville shoreline trail and is very smooth running.
|headlamp start art. photo by lori burlison|
first water only aid station at grobbens corner and the RD was there, himself, to fill my bottles. i was told i was in 38th place here and it didn't seem to matter. i was sticking to my plan. a group of 8-10 guys panicked and took off on the single track. i got to the dirt road descent down to Francis Peak and while i was running 7:15's very relaxed down the hill, this group put 4 minutes on me in 3 miles. at francis peak i had a drop bag. i refueled, swapped my headlamp for taproom cap and swapped out empty flasks for full ones. the blister had popped but wasn't painful, so i kept moving. physically, i felt like i hadn't done any running and was very controlled. i passed a few folks leaving the aid station and noted it was starting to get warm. i started passing runners almost immediately. a few short conversations revealed some lofty goals on their part so i took stock to check in and make sure i wasn't moving too soon. i then remembered that usually only 8-12 people break 24 hours here each year, so i took kept moving along. i came to an intersection to see mike leroux popping out of the woods and we both started the climb up the ridge line. i asked after 5 or so minutes whether he saw ribbons and right as he answered, 3 runners came back towards us from uphill. we were off course. running together back down we connected with jay smithberger, also a grand slammer, right at the correct intersection and ran as a group of 7-8 on the climb up to bountiful b aid station. tension broken, we chatted our way up this climb introducing ourselves and dealing with the trail that looked like it hadn't been used since last years wasatch. we arrived en masse at bountiful b where friends mark and sierra postle were volunteering. i took time to refuel, eat and douse with water. i got a few photos with mark and then hiked out chewing potato's and salt with jay and mike. we would share the next 4 miles together before i got away for good on the climb out of sessions aid station. my legs were full of run and i started moving in this section. the course is open and exposed, mostly ridge running with stunning views. you can see runners for miles in front and behind you. it is nice to be engaged and know your making progress. i caught up to three guys as we were going into swallow rocks and i recognized one of them as sean andrish from virginia. refuel and right out. i doused again heavily here and ran into paul again just out of this aid station. he was jamming to music so we just exchanged smiles and i moved along. i knew i would be seeing siiri at big mountain so i really checked in and throttled back. descending down, you can see and hear the aid station for almost a mile before you arrive. i calmly dropped in and noted the pain in my big toe on my right foot. feels like another blister. okay. manage the downs. crossing the road to the scale and aid station, siiri was there to greet me. i hopped on the scale to find myself only down a pound from starting weight! Yes. stoked. changed flasks, refueled, coconut water, ice in my cap and my secret weapon for the hottest section of the course coming up, my ice bandana. i hiked out with a potato in one hand and a popsicle in the other. i walked the climb out making sure i got everything in and washed down with plenty of fluids for digestion and started running.
|view of alexander ridge from little dell parking area|
|blister draining face. photo by bryon powell|
|working the road up from lambs. photo by bryon powell|
|looking back at brighton from climb out of aid station. no. i was not there in the daylight, but bronco was.|
wow...no shit. okay. he then proceeded to run the next 100 yards down the road with me in a full marching band suit shaking a cow bell. i only hoped the next 200 plus runners coming through would get the same reception.
i cruised towards brighton. my crew. my blister kit. my food. i was ready to get the final push underway. i rolled into the aid station just behind paul and another runner and climbed on the scale. 145. starting weight! i had asked my crew to set up outside heeding the advice from the wasatch veterans, but my feet were a mess. i could see the blood soaking through my bondi's and i knew i needed a warm, dry place to get them resolved. back of the lodge was the medical room and we had it all to ourselves. mark postle and siiri cleaned, dried, drained and got me re-taped. duct tape used to cover up the moleskin, cotton tape combo to keep them intact and i switched to compression socks for warmth. added a buff, a second black diamond spot headlamp worn around my waist and my nine trails jacket. finished a full bottle of coconut water, recoverite and ate some honey stinger chomps. the stop was 18 minutes, but totally necessary. i walked out and noticed several sets of runners who i had passed since lambs canyon all there in the lodge, and checked out in 14th place with 3 runners right behind me. It was 9:50, and i knew i needed to be out by 10 pm to have a shot at breaking 24 hours. i was on time. i gently hiked the climb and let the food digest, i was quickly passed by two runners and pacers. i remained calm. i knew my legs were good but wanted to keep my stomach working. my body was feeling great except for my feet. i had good legs, albeit tired from 75 miles of running and i was moving fluid out regularly. so kidney's and hydration were good. i recaught one of the runners on sunset pass at 10,400 feet and started the descent towards ant knoll. i could see my breath in this section, so i knew it was cold. i was glad for the jacket, gloves and wool base layer. the breath mixed with the trail dust, mixed with shitty horrible footing made this descent a bit of a carnival ride. one runner freaked out and thought we lost the trail. i had run this in training and assured him we were correct, it was just that nasty. i never saw him again until the finish. shortly before ant knoll, peter lindgren and robert mueller came rolling past me! it was great to see them rejuvinated and moving well again. i knew peter was a veteran and runs this race with ninja like precision. he ended up finishing 4th. i took my time getting potato's at ant knoll and fueled for the grunt climb out of the aid station. this climb seemed longer and tougher than in training. i didn't panic, i just kept moving. topping out to great views of park city again, i jumped a grouse right off the trail and it scared the shit out of me. hello instant adrenaline and i broke into a quick run. the grade is rolling through here and i ran every step. i could no longer make out headlamps behind me or below me, so i was alone. i came into pole line pass aid station right after midnight and was told two runners were right in front of me. i got some coke, twizzlers, potato's and was told i looked great. truthfully, i was in good spirits and felt fine. i took left the station with a whoop and tried not to get too caught up in racing. i saw headlamps again quickly and could see groups of 3 or 4 making their way above me on the climb heading towards rock springs. slowly but surely, we were coming together. i caught up to robert mueller right at the rock springs aid station and we would yo yo back and forth for the next several miles. the dive and plunge were not good sections for me. it was so dusty, i couldn't see. i was slipping and sliding and busted my ass several times in this section. keep in mind, trail runners don't maintain this part of the course. OHV folks, do. having rocks and dust in the trail makes it more appealing to folks on moto's, less appealing to runners on foot. i watched headlamps dance away from me and just tried to get down it without breaking anything. i kept saying "enjoy the process...you knew this was here". it was far dustier and slick than my training run, but soon i was through it and back into running mode. heading into the section known as the seven hills of babylon i was running. the grade was classic bend, oregon and my legs responded to this familiar terrain by moving. i re-passed robert for the final time, caught up to another runner and pacer going through a low (i later learned this was brendan trimboli) and was full of run heading down the decent of irv's torture chamber. i could see two or three sets of headlamps through the woods snaking down towards teddy bear junction and heading down to pot bottom. i was thankful for my patience early in the race because now i had exactly what i wanted...legs to be able to run strong the last part of the race. i made the turn at teddy bear junction right as my headlamps started to flicker...uh oh. i knew i had 2 miles of descending, and spare batteries in my waist pack. i made the decision to try to bomb the descent and get my batteries changed at the aid station while i ate so i didn't have to stop twice in two miles. my waist light and headlamps were dying at a consistent rate, so i was flying blind on this descent. i took a deep breath and tried to visualize what i remember this section to look like from training and just trusted my balance. headlamps were worthless and barely on so i ran on feel. i could see i was catching a group of two and finally saw the lights of pot bottom with a runner leaving and runner and pacer going in right in front of me. i recognized paul terranova and his wife. they left quickly while i dug out my batteries and went about getting some night vision restored. i drank two cups of coke, ate a potato and salt again and was able to get things changed, despite cold hands, and left 4 minutes after paul. i saw two sets of lights making the descent into pot bottom right behind me, so i knew i'd have to look forward, not backwards.
leaving pot bottom, you have about a mile climb with several creek crossings on dirt/jeep road. about halfway up i saw paul and meredith's lights and a single headlamp further up the road from them. i kept nipping from my gel flask and drinking and being patient. making the turn off the road onto the first part of the 4,000 plus foot descent down to midway my legs once again responded. i passed a runner within a half mile, sitting in the trail. i urged him to get up, asked him if he needed anything, etc. he kept talking about getting lost. yep, join the club buddy. however, your almost there and sub 24 is within reach. get up. i felt like i did what i could do here and kept moving. this descent on OHV jeep road is just rude. you don't run down it as much as you slalom down it. quads, as they had been all day, were perfect and full of run. the only thing keeping me from really pressing the throttle were my blistered toes and heels, which were screaming at me for relief. the grade starts to level out and you see the lights of town as it bears to the left on a dirt road. i knew this to be leading towards the water tower and kept running strong in this section. i dropped towards the gate on the water tower and saw a pair of headlamps on the climb. i saw them turn around and look at me and start running. i ran the climb, made the right turn and knew to look for the sharp left onto the beautiful single track at wasatch mountain state park. i saw by how the headlamps were moving that they were racing me. i was thrilled. it was great to be running fast at 97 miles of a 100 miler. testament to executing a good race plan. i was drawing closer to them and finally realized it was paul and meredith. after 23 hours of sharing the trail, it was cool to be with the guy you had pretty much run the first 2 hours of the race with and finishing his grand slam. we broke out onto the pavement and enjoyed the tempo that meredith was setting for us. paul's crew came out to join us and my bladder was screaming for relief and my timer reminded me it was gel time. yes, we were close, but respect the distance and the recovery. i emptied my bladder, took my final gel and had a backseat view of the grandkonaslam celebration heading towards the finish line. straight up, it takes balls to think it up. it takes wisdom, smart and great support to see it through. i happily crossed the line at 4:17 am in 9th place to the traditional handshake from RD, john grobben and bonus hug to boot. then, it was time to celebrate with friends and crew who made up the finish line reception party. siiri, who took awesome care of me all day. sierra and chelsea, crew and pacers for my friends dave, and jeff, who had won in the 4th fastest time in wasatch history. I dried off an waited to see brendan, robert and the guy sitting on the trail all come in under 24 hours, which i was stoked about.
|finish line crew. jeff won in 19:33 photo by frau s|
|being received into the royal order of the crimson cheetah. photo by suann lundsberg|
|good buddy dave worked hard for his buckle. very proud of him.|
top: patagonia airus t (0-65), patagonia merino 1 short sleeve (65-100)
shorts: custom patagonia strider shorts
shoes: hoka one one bondi b
socks: patagonia lighweight merino run quarter socks(0-75), CEP compression socks (75-100)
gloves: patagonia merino 3 liners
hat: ajw's taproom trucker cap, confederate blue (18-75), buff headband (75-100)
headlamps: black diamond spot x 2 (thanks, rocho)
hydration: mix of nathan,ultimate direction bottles and handhelds. one with gu brew, one with h2o.
powergels in a flask, honey stinger organic energy chews, margarita clif shot bloks, hammer recoverite, amy & brians coconut water. i also ate boiled potato's and salt, twizzlers and watermelons at aid stations. i did not take an s-cap the entire race due to high sodium content of gels, blocks and potato's dipped in salt. i was able to digest all of this by balancing out my stomach potassium with amy & brians coconut water.
|best part of the weekend. friends: sierra, mark, chelsea, dave, me, howard, kathy and siiri.|