Category Archives: running

Walking Johnny Down the Mountain

Had planned to do something big for Black Friday. Had a good day doing Mt Raymond, and felt like drinking to celebrate. My roommate’s girlfriend had some cider we had to drink. So I did my part, a little to well. Like blackout drunk and doing dumb stuff and not remembering any of it. And puking on the living room rug. And on the rug in my room. Mushrooms and carrots. 

On Thanksgiving day, I pretty much slept till five pm. I didn’t want to get up. I could hear my roommate vacuuming the puke. Turns out, he had to get a steam cleaner. When I finally did get up, I had no desire to leave the house. So I binge watched The Office and ate a sandwich. The next morning I felt a million times better. 

Did laundry and finally worked up the courage to clean my rug. The weather was beautiful outside. I felt incredibly guilty for not taking advantage. I turned on some music to get psyched. I got dressed and got out to my car, and kind of sat there for a bit, debating whether I really wanted to go out. There was a winter storm warning that was still in effect. I didn’t want to be fooled by this weather and get up into the mountains and then get stranded or blown off. After waffling for a minute, I decided to go anyway. I could always bail if it looked bad. 

Gorgeous start of the hike. 

Got to the trailhead at 2 pm which is a very late start. It was warm and I felt overdressed. At least a dozen people passed me coming down. I saw a guy that used to work at my store. 

I saw fewer and fewer people. And then I ran into this bird. He was just chilling on the trail. I was surprised that he didn’t run away or freak out. I took out a granola bar and fed him little pieces. He was a little nervous, but he’s probably seen (and been fed by) other people before. I fed him another bit of granola and told him I’d see him later. 

Two minutes later, I see a hiker just standing on the trail. It’s a Chinese guy. He appears to be waiting for someone. I ask him if he’s okay. He was tired and had run out of water. He gave me his bottle and I filled it up halfway or so. He said his phone was at 15%, so I lent him my charger.

We started hiking and a minute later, this other Chinese runner guy comes down the hill. “Here Johnny. This is for you.” and the guy gives Johnny a bottled water. I assumed they must know each other and was confused. This guy left his friend behind?? 

Then the runner guy, Wan Ho, wants to get a picture of the three of us. He does, and then he heads down. I ask “You’re leaving him?” He says, “Yeah, I gotta get down before the storm gets here.” Right, that Winter Storm Warning…

Screenshot of Wan Ho’s Strava image. 

Turns out, Wan Ho had just met Johnny on the way up. Wan Ho was just doing his own hike and Johnny was moving too slow. So Wan Ho went to the summit and was going back down. They weren’t friends, they just happened to both be Chinese. 

Johnny and I continued upward toward the saddle. I wanted him to see it since he was so close. He seemed kind of out of it, but he told me he had just flown in from Buffalo, New York on Wednesday. He failed to earn two different degrees at school, and was too ashamed to go back home for Thanksgiving because of his super traditional parents. He had been hiking the last few days to clear his mind. He was leaving tonight at midnight. 

I had no idea what to say about this. I terrible at it but I tried to make small talk. I asked him what he had in his backpack- a laptop (??) and a book. I told him about the bird on the trail. I sort of let the conversation die. His mind was elsewhere. Add to that the elevation was taking a toll on his lungs, he’d hardly eaten anything all day, and he was slipping and sliding in his shoes. Just not a conducive environment to talking. 

I gave him my poles, but he was still sliding so I took off my microspikes and put them on his shoes. He was able to hike much better. We finally got to the saddle and took a few photos. I made him eat some of my food. 

At the Saddle.
The mountains look great in snow. 
Johnny.

I’m not sure if he thought the view was worth the struggle. We didn’t hang around too long. It was about 4pm by this point, so we didn’t have much sunlight left.

I thought going down would be quicker, but it was just as slow, if not slower, than going uphill. He was very tired and taking very small, slow cautious steps. There was a lot of slushy ice on the trail. I slipped a few times, but just small slips. 

This was actually the first time I saw the bird. 

We got to a spot and there was the bird again! He was still there just chilling! And I think he remembered me. I fed him again, at one point he ate out of my hand. I could tell he associated the sound of the wrapper with the food. I don’t know why, but this little bird made me happy. 

There was a constant, slight rain. I was getting chilled moving at such a slow pace, so I  put on my rain pants and rain jacket. It got progressively darker until it was time for a headlamp. I tried to follow Johnny and light his way with my headlamp, but that didn’t work so well. So I had him wear it. I could see surprisingly well without it.  We crept along ever so slowly. 

One other “exciting” thing was that I discovered my phone now has “Night Sight” for taking photos at night. It’s about damn time, Google!

Usually you can tell you’re getting closer by the traffic. It’s weird what a relief it is to hear traffic. It makes me feel like I’m not in the middle of nowhere, although we were still really far from the trailhead. Then the cars start getting slightly bigger as you get closer. The cars seemed tiny for sooo long. But then we got to the last switchback. Then the last staircase. We made it! I was probably more excited than Johnny was. 

Before I dropped him off at the Air BNB he was staying at, we ate some food at a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown. After being out in the dark and cold hiking for a few hours, some hot soup and hot tea were just what we both needed.

Johnny should be just about to get on a plane for Buffalo right about now. 

Dead Horse 50K

Traffic delayed us, finally left REI at about 6:30 pm. A stop at Cubby’s for some tasty sandwiches set us back another 45 min. Then somewhere in the middle of nowhere a serious accident held us up for another 40 min. We arrived at out hotel close to midnight. 

Wake up was 5:30 am, with a short 20 min drive to the start. As were approaching the turn to the start, we could see a line of headlamps high up on the canyon. The 50 milers had just begun their journey. 

All smiles at the start.

It was chilly but crisp. We got our bibs and chips and started shortly after. The first mile was a long climb that offered a great view. The sun peaked over the mountains and would gradually warm us throughout the day. 

Nate had never run more than 17 miles continuously, so he was in for a day of PR’s. Even though Nate had been putting in more miles than Lexi, I wasn’t concerned about her finishing. Lexi and I had run a Timp double which was about 30 miles, so I knew she would survive. 

The first mile was all uphill so we started out slow and I tried to get a shot of the sun rising. We would run the whole thing together which was pretty fun. Both of them are pretty relaxed and Nate can be a funny guy. One of his jokes set the stage for a joke off of sorts. 

Scenery wise, I may be a bit spoiled, but after the first few miles, it felt like we settled in some boring views. We were just out in the middle of the desert surrounded by scrub brush and a smattering of scrub trees. We could see the canyons off in the distance, but they were so far! On the plus side, the single track was soft and runnable. I would have appreciated the soft soil singletrack more if I had known how much slickrock was ahead of us. Although when we we on the slickrock, the scenery was more interesting. :/

“If you don’t care about your time, check out Gemini Bridges.” The Joke Girl and her BF. 

One thing I neglected to do was to pay attention to where the aid stations were mileage wise. Nate had said 9 miles was the furthest apart they were. Luckily, none of us had any issues with water or calories. The aid stations were well stocked. Several had Halloween candy which was sweet.

Nate had a goal to leave with more Gu’s than he came with. He also had a joke for when he acquired one, which he forgot to do at the first aid station. I had forgotten about the joke. I was eating a delicious Pierogi(!) from the aid station, and he walked up to me with Gu in hand and said, “Don’t mind if I Gu.” I gave a halfhearted chuckle. 

Lexi came back from a bathroom break and I told her she needed to go with Nate to get something from the aid station so that Nate could tell his joke. They walked up to the table, Nate grabbed a gel and loudly said, “Don’t mind if I Gu.” A girl standing nearby burst out laughing and several other volunteers laughed. The girl’s boyfriend was nearby and asked what she was laughing about. She repeated Nate’s joke and got more laughs. 

So she started telling some jokes of her own.. What do you call fake noodle? an Impasta!!!  What do you call an alligator in a vest? An investigator!!! She had about a dozen jokes. And Nate had a few too. As someone who is always harping about having jokes for races, I was disappointed that I didn’t have any jokes to offer. 

We left the aid station at the same time as the other two. I kind of hoped that they might want to run with us and keep this joke fest going. But they were moving better than we were, so they took off. I was the caboose following Lexi, and as they passed, I whispered to Lexi, “We have to beat them.” And I guess the joke girl had super hearing because she laughed and yelled, “I heard that!” I was shocked and slightly embarrassed because I was joking. Well half joking.

Later we ran into our joke friend at the aid station. Nate was hurting a bit, and attempting to roll out his butt with a 2 liter bottle. I asked her if she had anymore jokes to help lift his spirits. Before she could say anything, her boyfriend chimed in with, “Have you seen her run? That’s the joke!”

Puppy not having it. 

Also there was this puppy. We wanted to pet him, but he started growling at me, which was pretty surprising. I chalked it up to the little guy being fed up with everyone wanting to pet him. I’m sure even dogs have bad days. 

Two topics dominated the rest of the run: Nate’s sore butt and Lexi looking for a place to poop, although she wasn’t sure if she actually needed to go. Lexi was concerned about the lack of cover. And also talking about having to dig a six inch hole to bury the waste as per LNT standards. We leapfrogged with several people around us. Occasionally we would be running the same pace as them and so they could hear our conversations about Nate’s butt and Lexi’s poop dilemma. 

As we passed this one lady, who I assumed had heard our conversation, I jokingly asked her if she would massage Nate’s butt which totally shocked her from whatever she was thinking. 

Nate stretching for the 34th time.

We stopped on a dirt road for Nate to stretch. The people we had passed came by one by one. An old guy ran by Lexi and asked her, “You dig that hole yet?” We had a good laugh at that because that was totally unexpected. Just as the hilariousness subsided, another runner ran by and asked Nate, “How’s your butt?” It was too perfect. 

We got to the last aid station and found out that we were closer to finish than we expected. This lifted Nate and Lexi’s spirits. Lexi’s foot was hurting her and she had been smelling the barn since mile 20. Nate’s butt was slowing him down, but he was excited to be finished. He put on some music to get himself pumped. He was still “struggle-bussing,” but in good spirits. 

Earlier, Nate had shot a quick story for Instagram to see if he could get some good vibes from his followers. Unfortunately, service wasn’t great and his story didn’t post. Lexi filmed Nate feeling pretty crusty and coined the hashtag #PrayForNate which became an instant classic.  

Cool rock. 
Lexi excited to finish.
Nate thugging. 

There was a good bit of climbing in the last few miles, which was tough since we were so close to the finish. But then finally there was a long downhill which we could run. Near the finish, they decided to sprint the last portion in the chute. I think Nate beat her in the sprint, but Lexi was announced as having a faster time. But in the final results, they are both listed at 6:56:59. Nate’s final Gu count was four, I think. 

Sprint to the finish.
They did it! Stoked for both of them. 

BST Hills Report

 

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Run went well.

Had to change starting point because I realized with no water on the route. Started near the middle of the route. Kind of an error in planning that I didn’t return to the car at the halfway point. I was near the car at one point, but it didn’t even dawn on me to go and get my other bladder of water. There’s a lesson for route planning on longer runs: either know where there’s water on the route or plan to circle back to the car.

img_20181111_083619If it’s cold out, park your car in the sun.

You don’t need a cooler for drinks! Figured that one out on the 24 hour run.

If swapping bladders, figure out how to prevent the water from getting cold. No fun putting a chilled bladder on your back.

Bacon should not be cooked crispy because it crumbles into bacon bits.

Cornbread muffins turn into dust.

Totino’s pizza rolls were pretty good. I was concerned about the acidity causing indigestion, but I ate only two at a time and I had no issues.

The Cuban sandwich was good, but not nearly as good as it is when it’s hot.

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Those hand warmer dealies work pretty well. I wondered why the warmer placement on gloves is on the back of the hand. My theory is that once the blood is warmed there, warm blood goes into your fingers, making your fingers warm. They lasted quiet awhile and are certainly worth having.

Need to wrap the middle section of poles with some insulation. Those things get cold.

Need gloves that I don’t have to take off to use my phone. I must have removed my glove and then put it back on at least 50 times today.

Got to use my Microspikes!!  I was debating whether I should put them on. Why else did I carry them? Duh. There was a bit of snow at the start of the run. I didn’t think it was really worth putting the Spikes on, but it helped out a lot. They felt very secure, and gave excellent traction. I ran in them up Red Butte and then Mount Wire, down and back up Mount Wire. The second time down, I took them off. I wondered why they needed a bag to carry them. It’s because they get all muddy and dirty.

Lone Peaks were again great, although my toes grabbed some rocks a few times.

Tights were good for the most part, although they often felt like they were being pulled down. The drawstring is too thin. Needs something more belt like.

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Tons of mountain bikers. Several times I didn’t hear them approaching, startled me.

Saw so many dogs!! Thought next time to take a photo of every dog, Dogs of Strava.

So many trails, many of which don’t show up on the Gaia app. Very tedious stopping every so often to double check which trail to get on. Late in the run, I said the heck with it. Just run. Get somewhere and then figure out where to go next. That was freeing. Took some crazy steep slippery downhills that way. But also ran this awesome rocky ridge that went on quite a ways. That may have been the highlight section of the day.

Some GoPro footage might be neat. Or doing a video call home while on a peak.

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Weekend Warrior

Haven’t run since last week’s 23 hour effort. Not because tired or sore – could have run the following day – but combination of work and just not motivated to get out. It’s weird because I want to run, but do I really if I’m not making the effort? Maybe something is missing… I don’t know. Anyway, going to try to make up for it tomorrow. Probably dumb, cramming almost a weeks worth of mileage into a day, but I’m not a smart man.

Going to run on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. Want to do another 24 hour there. I think it would be easier on whoever joins me. It would also be easier to find the trail, no bushwhacking! While I’ve run there with Nate several times, I’m going on my own which means I have no time constraints.

Tried unsuccessfully to plan a route on the Gaia website. I could only map out a portion of a route. I’m not super familiar with the route creating process, but to me it seems like the app/web site could use some work.  I want to like it, but there are several things that seem retarded.  I could not figure out how to make it get double back on the same trail. (It’s not a straight out and back. More of a lollipop.) Route will be maybe 25-30 miles, with guesstimating 10,000 vertical, hitting three peaks.

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Hopefully, this is a feasible route and not just my kid in a candy store hit all the peaks too much at once approach. There are definitely more bail out options. Pace should be quicker than last time, maybe even as quick as 15 minute miles. But I’ll plan on slower 20 minute miles. Probably looking at 10 -12 hour day. Starting early, would like to hit Mount Wire or Red Butte around sunrise. Or whenever. It’s hard getting up early.

While I would rather have a more solid route so that I can plan a bit better, there is also a little adventure in the unknown. Not sure there are any water crossings, so I may have to either cut this short or dip into town if there’s a store nearby. Ugh.

Notes from last time.

Wore new North Face winter tights. Those worked out really nice. Never really had the need to wear tights, but here it’s necessary. Kept my lower half pretty warm. Did choose to wear underwear with them for added warmth. Forgot to lube up, but luckily had no chafing issues.

Also wore new Altra Lone Peak RSM’s. Those were great as well. Bought my normal size 10, it looks way long on my foot, but my heels don’t slip at all. I had zero issues with my toes bumping into the front. These definitely fit different from the previous version. Size appearance aside, they worked out great. They kept my feet dry and warm the entire time, although there was hardly any water or mud on the trail. Zero issues.

Did not get to use Microspikes. Conditions were never bad enough to warrant their use.

Food wise, thought about packing little pizza poppers. Bought some tonight and will test those out. May cook up a cuban sandwich in the waffle maker. And maybe waffles.

 

 

Saved by Thoughtfulness

This is loooong and booooring. You’ve been warned.

Planned to run 24 hours after working a full day. Idea was to be awake at least 36 hours. Had an ambitious course that I’d never set foot on. Toned it down to Plan B which was just a simpler loop. But it turns out even that was a no go.

First thing I learned: In the Canyons, there is no cell reception unless your on a peak, and even then it can be iffy. So if you make plans where you might or will be out of communication, make sure the plans are bulletproof. Know exactly where to meet.  I’ve only run with her Madison before, so I should have asked her what kind vehicle she was driving. She parked in the next parking lot, so I moved my car next to hers.

We left promptly on schedule at sunset, 6:21. Headlamps came out shortly. We had a pretty pleasant run up Church Fork to Grandeur Peak. When we got to the top, we saw someone had left a sword there, maybe from Halloween. Madison definitely won the “Dramatically pulling the Sword from the Stone” acting award. (Even though the sword was barely in the ground.)

When we got on the unmaintained and untraveled Mill Creek Crest trail, it was really hard to see where the trail was. And the ground was covered with these short bushes that further obscured the trail. So having the full brightness of our headlamps was critical. Always start a big run with brand new batteries, especially if time matters like in a race. And always have spare batteries. In my experience, batteries start to dim to unacceptable levels after 8-10 hours. The difficulty of the terrain may dictate how soon you should change them.

We would find the trail, run for a minute and then be looking again for the trail. Repeat this for two of the slowest miles ever. This was frustrating and one of the main lessons of the night. Just because you can see the trail on map, doesn’t mean squat – and even a phone app might not help. My dumb ass thinking I could find the route AT NIGHT was wildly mistaken. I should have gone and pre-run the course, especially since I invited someone to run with me. I felt like a jackass getting us lost. Thank goodness Madison was not upset.

We discussed that sometimes it’s okay to not know where you area all the time. Sometimes it’s okay to struggle to find the way. But after awhile of constantly not seeing the trail, of having no idea where to go, I started to get worried. I started to get that feeling when you’ve been drunk or tripping too long and you just want it to stop. It was more annoyance than panic. I would have killed for some small orange flags or cairns.

We persevered nightmare level bushwhacking until we reached a small peak. There was a steep drop off in the direction we were headed. We looked around the sides for a less steep route, but found nothing. After a fruitless search, Madison suggested we bail and backtrack. I fully agreed. This was a good example of being mentally flexible and not getting fixated on an objective.  As much as I wanted to keep going since we were so close to Mount Aire, I knew she was right. And looking at a map now of where we were and where we were trying to get to, she absolutely made a smart call.

We turned around, and even backtracking was a bit of a challenge. At one point, we decided instead of going all the way back to where we split off from Church Fork, we could just drop into the canyon towards the road and eventually hit the trail. While that was true and we did eventually hit the trail, it was super sketchy. We had to slide down some steep scree fields. The whole time I kept thinking if anything happened to Madison, it was my fault. Fortunately the trail was relatively close which was a HUGE relief. We were ecstatic to be back on a trail and made our way back to the cars. I apologized for getting us lost

After Madison left, it was about an hour before Nate and Brian were scheduled to show up. I loaded my food and water, put on my down jacket and wrapped myself up in my down sleeping bag. I rested my eyes and brain a bit. Saw a few cars drive by. I turned on some music to rouse me as I got out of the car. Then two cars coming from each direction pull in on either side of me. I was like “Fuck yeah!” I don’t know why, but I thought it was so cool they both rolled up at the same time. They got situated, and we started off.

Told them Mill Creek Crest trail was a shit show and that we would have to resort to Plan C. Ascend Church Fork, down Grandeur west face, and then over to Pipeline and back. As they were getting ready, we had a bit of discussion on how to dress appropriately. It was pretty cold, there was a possibility of rain so it was important for us all to have the right clothing. I had been wearing a base layer, with a tech tee, and my windbreaker which had been working well so far. Later, I would find that I would like to have something more substantial for next time. Learning to dress for your temperament is critical in cold weather and comes with practice and experience. 

We made it to Grandeur Peak easily. We took photos with the sword. Nate (in the red) looks like he’s pooping, I think he said as much.

As we descended the West face and began making our way towards Pipeline, there were some hiccups route finding. Nate seemed a little agitated, and rightfully so. I again felt I had let my friends down by not knowing the route. As we struggled uphill, it occurred to me that I should have done this at Bonneville Shoreline Trail. That is a much easier, flatter trail. Nate had even suggested that to me, but I thought it was too flat and I wanted to be a badass. Ahh, hindsight. The value of simplicity cannot be overstated. We finally made it to Pipeline. After plodding along, it was great to actually run on a flat wide trail.

As we got closer to the cars, I was sad and anxious. I was extremely jealous that they would be going home to shower and sleep in a comfortable bed and not be cold and not have to run anymore. I would be on my own for the next 6 hours.

We were done an hour early, so I took a nap. I had planned for 20 min which turned into close to an hour. Looking at the time, it was hard to will myself to leave the relative warmth of my down cocoon, go back into the cold night, and start running again.  Memories of Julie’s “Don’t be a lil bitch!!!” stirred me into action.

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I loaded up and was ready to roll, it was 6 am. I was right on schedule, which made me happy. I headed in the opposite direction from the last loop. Since I was on my own, I wanted to do the west face of Grandeur which is considerably harder than the Church Fork route. I warmed up and turned on my music which helped me feel less alone.

For the most part, I feel like I had been on top of my hydration and nutrition. My mental state had been pretty good up to his point. No injuries or gear issues. The weather was NBD. I had done this peak plenty of times to know what I was in for. I figured two hours and I’d be at the top.

It was tougher than usual. I kept stopping and checking my heart rate, which never seemed to be that high. I was huffing and puffing. The higher I got, the more I stopped. It began to flurry and the wind kicked up. It looked worse at the peak, so I stopped and put on my rain jacket, rain pants, and another pair of gloves. That was a smart move. I kept climbing for what seemed like an eternity. The wind intensified even more, blowing the snow into my face. All I could think was how bad this sucked.

Normally, I am pretty good at putting The Suck in perspective. I tried focusing on just the steps in front of me, but also kept looking up to see how much more I had to go. It was always A LOT.  I tried to keep in mind that even though it looked super far, I would be there soon enough. FutureSelf usually reminds me of the long view, but was now conspicuously silent. PresentSelf was in full on pity party mode.

Since I was basically crawling, I had plenty of time to think up “reasons” to quit. I was “being smart so that I could live to run another day…”  I didn’t Lexi to drive out here expecting to run and find that I could barely walk… I didn’t want to get sick and screw myself for Dead Horse on the 17th… I wasn’t having fun anymore… I was tired and cold and had had enough… None of which held much water.

Bottom line: mentally, I had given up.

I started thinking how I would explain to everyone why I gave up. What would I tell them? Did I have a legitimate enough excuse? Would I have to make something up? There would always be some silver lining to find. People would still give your credit for what you did do. It’s okay to fail. There was no real consequence to quitting.

Armed with all my “reasons” and assurances that no one would shame me for quitting, I texted Lexi that I was pulling the plug. As I hunkered down, shielding my phone from the oncoming snow, I was still completely conflicted about sending the message. After I hit the send button, I felt a mixture of 3% relief and 97% guilt and disappointment.

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Recently, I have been concerned with knowing when to call it quits. Maybe in the back of my mind, I thought this was one of those times it would be prudent. I wanted to show myself that I could be smart. But I think if you really should quit, you’ll feel it in your gut, you’ll just “know.” And on the flip side, you should also feel it in your gut when you should NOT quit. I think I knew in my gut that I shouldn’t quit, and that’s why I felt so conflicted and disappointed.

Shortly after sending the message, I reached the peak and immediately started descending. Literally, within the first few steps down, I realized my legs were fine. (Which shouldn’t have surprised me. By this point, I’d only run about 30 miles.) Was this some weird kind of fluke? I kept running, expecting to feel worse. Nope. Not a fluke. Legs are fine, it’s just your dumb, weak brain couldn’t manage to keep it together.

Excited by this new development, I got my phone to text Lexi to “put the plug back in.” She had sent a message 20 minutes ago. There might be a chance to catch her. I replied, but realized I no longer had cell reception and the message would not go through. I had needlessly bailed on my friend.

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Happy I could run, but dejected and extremely disappointed that I had let another friend down, I stewed and tried to dissect what happened. My thinking has always been that during really long races, you’ll hit a low and want to quit. It’ll suck and seem like the end of the world. But if you can wait it out just a bit and take a step back, things will probably be okay.  If I had waited till I got to the peak and gotten over the literal hump, I would have seen that I was fine, or at least less inclined to want to quit. Round and round my squirrel brain went, unable to pinpoint exactly why I gave up.

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The snow came down a bit more. I was grateful that it was snowing and not raining. After hours of solitude, I passed a hiker. Then a couple, and then several more couples. And then I saw a girl trail runner.

She smiled at me. She had two hoods on, I didn’t recognize her; it was Lexi! OMFG! She decided to come out anyway and run me in the last mile. She parked way down the road next to some other car with Texas plates, had run the other direction, got the feeling she was going the wrong way and turned around and headed this way. She’d already run four miles. She was just as excited that she actually found me. I couldn’t believe the luck!

The whole way back, I was floored that she chose to run me in the last few miles without even knowing if she could find me. Most people would have just stayed at home and called it good. Even after I realized my legs were fine, I was resigned to quit. Her thoughtfulness saved my run. And for that, I thanked her profusely.

We ran back to my car and I resupplied. I wasn’t hungry, but Lexi suggested that I should eat whether I wanted to or not, which is almost always smart advice.  We tried to cook up an instant heat up O-meal. You add water to this heating element and it cooks the food super fast. We added the water, wait almost 10 minutes…. nothing happened. Maybe the element is bad? Throw the wasted heating element in my bag. Took out the heating element from another meal, added water… again nothing!  Then all of a sudden, the first element starts steaming furiously. I grabbed the bag and pluck out the element. Then again the other element goes off. It might be the cold, but I will never buy an O-meal again. I didn’t end up eating anything, but did have two beers as were “cooking.”

We discussed where we should run. Since I hadn’t been able to reach Mount Aire, I suggested we give that a try. The route was clear and involved no bushwhacking. I felt good physically. More importantly, mentally and emotionally I was a new man.

 

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We ran down the trail and found the entrance to Mount Aire. We trucked upward in the muck and snow. I was moving as fast as a glacier. Eventually we made it to the peak. Surveying our surroundings, there was a huge peak to the east. Curious, I looked at the Gaia app. It was Mount Aire. We were on the wrong peak. (Insert eye rolling emoji.) It looked pretty formidable and was at least another 800′ of climbing. We were both pretty tired at this point and neither of us wanted to climb it, but we were so close and FutureSelf piped up that we would regret it if we didn’t.

So we started up the switchbacks.

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It again began snowing. I don’t know how she does it, but Lexi was wearing short shorts and wasn’t fazed at all by the cold. We made it to the peak and couldn’t see much. We took a quick photo and immediately headed back down to get out of the cold. We saw a sliver of blue sky on the way down. Incredibly, once we had reached the ground, the sky behind Mount Aire was all blue.

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The return run was fun. As we drew closer, I could smell the barn. We did some fartleks, and for a few of them, I ran hard. It was fun, joyful running.

I finished with 23 hours, but I still consider it a success considering I was going to quit after only 18. No need to find a silver lining here. Still cannot believe how this turned out. Super stoked to have had friends join me for this adventure. No one got hurt, we didn’t die, and we’ll probably do it again sometime.

24 HR Training Run Planning

So as part of my training for The Franklins 200, I’m going to attempt to run 24 hours after work this Saturday. Plan is Work from (essentially) 7 am – 4:30 pm, drive to the trailhead (Possibly take a short nap) and then start running and hiking. I’ve told a few of my coworkers and invited them to join me. I can’t back out now because I’ll look like a chump. Also it’ll be fun to run with some of them… if any of them decide to show up. It’s going to be tough because if I manage the whole thing, I’ll have been up around 36 – 40 hours all told. I am planing now so that I can be prepared and pull this off. Here are the things I am looking at right now. Pack is going to be full and heavy.

  • Food – Need enough calories in my pack for several hours. What will this include? Bacon, peanut butter, avocado… Waffles… nuts and raisins… cookies, lots of cookies… burritos, pizza… Will have more food in the car, which should be centrally parked to allow easy access from multiple directions. Bringing either a Jetboil and/or a cooktop in order to make hot food. Or even those heat up with water deals would work. Regardless, at some point, hot food is a must. Hot coffee and/ or broth would also be ideal.
  • Water – Big jug of water in the car. Will carry a water filter and back up bottle. Might stash some bottles during tomorrow’s run just in case. Cooler filled with all the usual liquids: Chocolate milk, Arizona iced tea, sparkling water, Coke and/or Mt Dew, Gatorade, coconut water, NUUN tablets would be nice. And of course, BEER.
  • Clothing – Need at least one change of clothes in the car.  Wear waterproof socks. Rain gear: carry or car? (Should carry, right? Check weather forecast.) Two pairs of gloves, two buffs. Will I need my old man hat? A hat of some sort. Sunglasses and clear glasses for the night. Keep puffy jacket in the car for when I take a break.
  • Shoes – All my current shoes are in the middle of their lifespan, I can tell that they are on the way out. I may purchase a new pair for this event. Will wear the usual two pairs of socks and gaiters. Carry a spare pair of socks in plastic bag in my pack. May need to upgrade to waterproof gaiters if possible. DEFINITELY will buy Microspikes. Not sure if I will need them for whatever route I come up with, but I will need them eventually.
  • Gear – External battery to recharge phone and Garmin. Cables for both. Waterproof pouch to contain them all. SET ALARM ON PHONE TO REMIND ME TO START CHARGING GARMIN. Headlamp and spare batteries. Spare headlamp: carry or car? (Should carry, right?) Bring waist light. Poles with spare poles in car. Cell Phone with downloaded maps. Phone battery has been draining very rapidly of late. May need more than one external battery. (Carry one and have one in the car.) Carry little first aid kit. (although honestly I don’t even know the first thing about first aid.) Emergency blanket. May bring GoPro.
  • Navigation – will be mainly by cell phone using GAIA and All Trails apps. Will have a paper map as backup. Maybe even just use that.
  • Sleep – Plan to get up early (5am) on Friday so that I will be plenty tired and get to bed sooner on Friday night. Will be waking around 5:30 on Saturday.

How do I plan to meet my friends? Where will we meet? Should I just do repeats on something so that it’s easier? Where do I park? Is it going to be okay there overnight?

Some way to make funny signs for my buddy Dustin. Bring a marker and white board?

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My last thing is figuring out a route. There are a lot of trails in the area that i’ve not been on. I want to hit several peaks, but don’t want to do anything too risky.  I want to be somewhat near the car so if I need anything I can get it, but also as an easy spot to meet my friends. Wherever I park, I need to make sure that I can leave my car there overnight.

I have the next day off: Recovery Plan.

  • First thing is usually to rehydrate and drink as many liquids as I like.
  • Get home and get showered, and in comfortable clothes.
  • Should have some quality food that I can just heat up, although that may look like just a pizza. A steak would be dope. Have both and choose depending on how tired I am. I haven’t drunk much beer in the last two weeks or so, I will have earned a few if I pull this off.
  • If I’m not immediately tired, write about how it went. What worked and what didn’t. Any aches or pains, how are my feet? Edit photos.

This will be a pretty big adventure and so I’m pretty excited. I’ve not run on the majority of the trails that I am looking at, so I don’t know what to expect. While I know I can run for 24 Hours, and be awake for 36, I don’t want to be overconfident. Route wise, maybe what that means, is to do all the fun exploration scary stuff at the beginning while I’m fresh, and do easy familiar stuff at night and/or while I’m tired. Whatever happens, you’ll hear about it soon enough.

 

 

Thoughts from Pfeifferhorn

The day before, I had no idea where I was going to run. Mentioned to my roommate that I was contemplating attempting Pfeifferhorn. He said there was no way with all the snow. I thought what does he know, he doesn’t even hike that much. While his reasoning was sound, (snow on the east side of the mountain would still be there) it made me want to do it just to prove him wrong. Dumb reason if ever there was one.

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Night before, looked at All Trails for basic info. 9 miles round trip, no big deal. Prepped my pack for a regular run. Had a biggish breakfast and drove out. Cold start. Encountered some patches of snow. Pretty soon, it was all snow. Got off course a bit, but soon found the trail. Saw footprints from a day or two ago. Followed those.

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img_20181024_112117img_20181024_112610This is about when I started to think how unprepared I was. I had no microspikes. I knew this would be an issue. But I had done Lone Peak without them and survived. I was relying on my poles, and they were doing a good enough job.

I do not own waterproof trail shoes. They would have been super helpful on this day. I have waterproof socks, but totally spaced on wearing them. I also spaced on packing a spare pair of socks, even though I had though about it the night before. That would have been nice, because by the end of the run, my feet were soaked. Luckily, my feet never got really cold, so it wasn’t too bad.

My gaiters worked okay, but allowed snow to get into my shoes several times. I need to get four point gaiters and/or consider getting the Altra Lone Peak mids. Also just taller waterproof gaiters may be necessary, especially for when I start snow shoeing.

I thought about how dumb it was to be out here on my own. If I twisted an ankle or something happened, I had nothing other than my phone. I barely had any warm clothing. I was wearing just a short sleeve technical tee and my windbreaker. I didn’t have an emergency blanket. I had no way to make fire, to signal, to whistle. At least I had jokingly mentioned to my roommate that if I didn’t show up that night, he knew where to send the search party.

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Hiking up to the ridge was a pretty steep climb in the snow. When I stopped and turned around, all I could think was if I slipped, I would have a very long, bumpy slide down.  I debated whether I should continue or not. Just make it to the ridge and then reassess, I told myself. Here I began to wonder at what point do you stop? When do you tell yourself, this is dumb, I could die, I need to turn around? I figured if that was really the case, my stomach would tell me. I made it to the ridge, and it wasn’t a big deal.

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Looking at the app on my phone, I was so close to the peak. But first there was some scrambling to be done. I wished there was someone with me, another brain to help decide if this was doable, or dumb. I sat and contemplated. Just take it slow. If it gets too sketchy, I’ll turn around.

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I stowed my poles and slowly and carefully, I made my way across the rocks, seeking out what seemed like the safest route. I tried to stay on the west side of the ridge where there was less snow. I recalled scrambling over rocks with Brian. This wasn’t so bad.

I made it across the scramble and stared up at the climb. There was a trail of footprints in the snow. It looked crazy steep. I was nervous. I sat there awhile wondering if this was the point to turn around. I tried to remind myself that going forward is great, but I would also have to return the same way. I thought again about when Brian and I did our little mini WURL. The peaks all looked crazy high and far, but eventually we would summit. I figure this was no different. Go for it.

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Step by step, I inched up the final climb. When I stopped to look back, it was a bit nerve-wracking. I was in for a lot of broken bones if I slipped. I made sure to dig my poles into the snow, making sure that one was in the snow at all times. There was a large swath of rock that I got on and instantly felt a million times safer on. There was no snow on it and I could grip really well. It became necessary to look up and see where I would go to stay on the rocks.

And then I made the side summit, and walked the 20 feet over to the true summit. I wish there was a geological marker, but I didn’t see one. Took several photos of course. Sat there and enjoyed the absolute silence. It was a gorgeous day to be on top of the world.

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As I began to descend, I realized one of the drawbacks of hiking up on the rock: I couldn’t see where exactly I had gone. There were no footprints to follow. But it wasn’t that big of deal. When I got to the scramble, I breathed a sigh of relief. I was off the crazy steep stuff. The scramble was much quicker on the return trip. Then one more downhill.

Once I got to the bottom of that hill, where earlier I had wondered if I should continue or not, I scoffed at why I was scared. I think familiarity has a lot to do with it. This is all new to me, so it seems scary. Chances are though, I will see these steep snow-covered climbs frequently living in Utah. It will cease to be scary. As I descended, it was a lot less scary.

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The rest of the run was uneventful. My feet were plenty wet by this point. No blisters though. I slipped a few times, thankful that I saved them for flat ground. After about 6 hours I was back at my car, happy to have not died. Also, I was happy that I could tell my roommate that I summited Pfeifferhorn in the snow.

 

Corner Canyon 50K

Spent too much time browsing potential races on Ultrasignup. Definitely hooked on the rush of signing up for another race. It’s great to have a race to look forward to, but my wallet hates it. I had seen the race, but anticipated being in Moab to volunteer for the Moab 240. However since I did R2R2R and spent way too much there, I couldn’t afford the time off to volunteer for four days like I had planned. I was scheduled to work the day of the Corner Canyon race, but not until 2:30… I could do this. So I signed up.

A newish race about 7 years old. It’s a charity race raising money for people with major medical issues. I figured it must be easier so that more people can run it. Nope. It was a genuinely challenging course. There was plenty of easy flat runnable sections with crazy steep climbing sections mixed in. There were a few out and backs, but too much repetition. There were some nice views throughout the race.

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Temps were pretty dang good. The start was a bit cold, but not too cold. The start was the usual mix of excitement and mild dread about the many hours ahead. My goal for the race was to push myself harder than usual. That meant less walking and running at a faster pace. I wanted to see if I could actually finish in Ultrasignup’s predicted time of 6:51. Since I didn’t know anyone running, I could just chug along without much distraction.

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Running hard has become a foreign concept to me. My usual mentality is to run slow so that I don’t get my heart rate too high and then get tired. It was hard to break out of my comfort zone and force myself to work harder, but I did. Just not smartly.

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I ran hard straight out the gate. I felt great for the first few hours, but then unsurprisingly, began to fade around mile 23 -24. And then there were some major hills to contend with. Normally, I love crazy steep hills. But being calorie deprived made it really tough. I was plodding along step by step. I chose not to use poles, and even though it was tough, I still think it was the right choice.

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There was a “short” out and back section where we had to run to the turnaround point and mark our bib with the Sharpie there. From where I stood when the volunteer directed me, it looked to be just an extra hill. He informed me that it was past that. He told me a distance which I heard as .3 or three tenths of a mile.

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So I run up to this hill, and then down the backside. I’m following the guy in front of me and he’s going up another hill. Get up over to that one, and I can see more runners… and more hills. This is the longest .3 miles of my life!

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I tried to disassociate myself from my current struggle by pretending I was FutureSelf. Futureself had the pleasure of being finished with the struggle and looking back to tell PastSelf that it would soon be over. This is a newish strategy for me, and I imagine I’ll have to rely on it heavily during the Franklins.

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Finally I make it to the turnaround spot and grabbed the maroon Sharpie to mark my bib. I contemplated writing “Bitches I made it!” but settled for something less offensive.

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The return trip was quicker, but not by much. Everyone coming the opposite direction looked strong. Even though they were behind me, I knew I was going to get passed.

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I questioned the volunteer about the distance because it seemed further than it should have been. He said it was “three quarters of a mile.” (And that might have been each way.) I guess the “point three” that I thought I heard was wishful thinking.

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Here a couple guys I had been leapfrogging finally left me in the dust. I was really hoping I could catch them at the end, but no luck. I wonder if they thought to themselves “oh that guy’s going out too fast. I’ll catch him later.” I hate being that guy.

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At the next two aid stations, I forced myself to eat more. While standing there nibbling on whatever, I stared at the table in a daze, wondering what else I could tolerate. Two women passed me during my calorie contemplation.

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Eating perked me up energy wise and started moving better. Finally my mental game picked up, which was great because from the last aid station, it was only three more miles. PresentMe took over and pushed hard for the finish. I didn’t catch those guys, which was a little disappointing, but NBD.

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Scouting a portion of the WURL

The WURL is an awesome traverse of several peaks in the Wasatch Mountains. WURL stands for the Wasatch Ultimate Ridge Linkup.

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Brian was going to try a section on his own. He wanted to get to Catherine’s Pass, which is about 15 miles, or almost half of the WURL. When I texted him and found out he was going to do this, I wanted in. So we made some hasty last minute night before plans. The next day we cached some water at Cardiff Pass, which is about mile 10. We ran up to Superior. I figured with a 5-5:30 am start, we should get to our stash around 1 or 2 in the afternoon. We got there at sundown.

This was a scouting mission of sorts. We wanted to see what the first half of the WURL. We fell short of our goal, only covering about a third, but learned a heck of a lot in the process. And just added to the desire to do the whole course.

Route finding can be really slow. At first, we thought the trail would be obvious. But one wrong turn up a steep, sandy hill made us pay closer attention to the WURL gpx file on my Gaia app. We were able to mostly follow the trail that way after that initial wrong turn. There were a few cairns along the way in the beginning, but then there weren’t any and we just had to figure it out. We got pretty good at looking for footprints and worn in sections. It was comforting knowing that at least someone else had chosen this same path. I just hoped they knew where they were going.

Scrambling over rocks in a boulder field was fun for most of the hike, but towards the end I was over it and just wanted to hike on solid ground. Especially the sections on the ridgeline where there were steep drop offs on either side and some rock climbing was required. I was proud that I wasn’t terribly unnerved by some of the stuff we did. I was afraid that I would be less sharp as the hours went by and I would become careless or tired or over confident and make a mistake. In many sections, a slip or miscalculation could be fatal.

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The main 6000′ ft climb wasn’t too big of a deal. We just trucked along. Finding the trail was the main issue we had. When we reached the first peak, that was somewhat exciting. The views were great. We surveyed the surrounding mountains and Brian tried to identify them by sight. To my eyes, they all looked the same.

As we continued on, there was a pattern: find the next peak, cringe at how far or how daunting a climb it looked like, trudge on, and then summit. With each peak, it became anticlimactic. Only towards the end did we get excited about hitting the actual peak.

At one peak, Monte Cristo I think, we got to what we thought was the summit. It had been a challenging point to get to. We were excited that we didn’t have to climb anymore of that peak. And then we turned around and saw the true peak. Brian was like, “Well, we gotta go tag that peak.” I wasn’t having it and said I didn’t care. But then we realized we HAD to go that way. The direction we had been travelling was now a steep drop off. So we grudgingly started hiking and we were at the top in less than five minutes. I was shocked how quickly we got up. That became a lesson for me. Most of the day, the peaks seemed so far away, or crazy dauntingly vertical. But we would eventually get there, and any of the technical stuff we just took it as we were face to face with it and just methodically kept moving forward. It wasn’t fast, but it was constant. Bottom line, things looked way worse from far away, but upon closer inspection were not that bad.

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I had underestimated how slow we would be moving and so I didn’t have enough water. I had no idea that we would be crawling at one mile per hour for most of the day. I have never run out of water on a run before, so it dogged me mentally. When I realized I wasn’t going to have enough water, I tried to ration it. Fortunately, it wasn’t super hot. I was slightly dehydrated, but it wasn’t terrible. I chewed gum and that at least kept dry mouth at bay. Luckily Brian is a camel and had water to share.

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We also realized that neither of brought warmer clothes for the night time temps. We had anticipated finishing around sunset. In order for us to make it to Catherine’s Pass, we would have had to hike into the night. The thought of being cold, dehydrated and just plain tired of the rocks solidified my desire to throw in the towel once we reached our cache. It was a short run down to the car, and I felt so relieved to be done. We did pretty well considering we didn’t really know the trail and how spur of the moment our planning was. No real injuries to speak of. Brian’s knee was giving him trouble as did mine, but nothing major.

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Some notes for next time:

Gaia app with the GPX file of the WURL. Very handy. Both people should have it. Bring a battery backup for your phone.

Gloves were awesome. My hands were cold in the morning, but only for a bit. The gloves were super useful navigating all the rocks. Most of the time, you were holding or balancing on the rocks with your hands as much as your feet.

Poles were a mixed bag. I felt like I carried them more than I actually used them. And that’s coming from a guy who uses them regularly in races. I think I might not bring them next time.

Gaiters and tall socks are a must. Brian didn’t have gaiters and had a few occasions to stop and remove rocks from his shoes. But that may  have been due to the fact that his shoes had huge holes in them. Regardless, gaiters are a no brainer. as are tall hiking socks. I do not understand trail runners that wear no show socks on the trail.

Bring more water than you think you’ll need. We could have run into more trouble if it had been hotter. If I had run out sooner, it would have been hard to take in any calories without the water to wash it down. Not only would I be dehydrated, I’d be in a deficit of calories. Plan for one minute per mile.

We had a positive attitude and spirit most of the way. My attitude went south towards the end, but Brian was high as a kite. If he had wanted to, he could have continued on and made it to Catherine’s Pass.

Plan is to pick up where we left off and do another section. Hopefully sooner than later.

 

BIGFOOT 200 BROMANCE

The anticipation and suffering are over, the sleep debt is slowing being repaid, and the dust is settling on Bigfoot 200 2018. Overall, it went pretty darn well. It’s a heck of a lot to remember what happened and in what order. Probably not much technical information, more of just a long story about the goofy stuff that happened. There’s like 100% chance I have things mixed up as to where and when things actually happened.

We stayed at the Lone Fir resort, a mere 25 minutes from the start, which was nice in that we didn’t have to take the 2 hour bus ride from the finish like most folks.  The next night Erin joined us. We had front door entertainment with a nest of baby birds. The parents were clearly agitated and flew around squawking at us. We had room for seven, but the first night it was just Dustin and me.

Packing drop bags was an ordeal. We both had four drop bags that would move to another station. And we also had a bag that our crew would carry. The main question was where to put shoes since there were a few aid station that we would not have crew. Eventually we each figured out our plan. We went to bed hoping that we had chosen well.

I came up with a new food product idea called Snack Log. It consisted of some plain roasted almonds, two coconut date rolls, cola gummi bears, unwrapped Starbursts, and bite sized payday candy bars. The idea was that everything would eventually compact into one delicious log of snack food. Weird as it was, it worked well and tasted good.

We got to the start. We used the bathroom, took some photos, and ate some of the breakfast they had for us. (Protip: always bring TP with you when using a port a potty, just in case.)  I had painted my poles to look like blind person poles (mainly so someone wouldn’t take mine by mistake, but also cuz it’s funny) but not a single person noticed. Soon, the shorter distances started their races. One somewhat amusing scene was about four minutes after the races started, a woman came back to start almost in tears because she didn’t know where the group went…

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All the 200 mile runners scrambled to pose for a group photo and then started the race started at 9. It was finally time to do this thing. We trotted off into the woods, hooting and hollering. I was expecting some new lows, a lot of darkness and sleep deprivation, and maybe (hopefully?) some hallucinations.

The first portion of the race was hot and super exposed. Lots of rocks, dust, and of course, climbing. The group was still clustered together, so it was slow going. Some of the 20 miler folks started running past us. Eventually things opened up and we had more breathing room. We got out to a very open exposed area. It was hot, but nothing unmanageable. And there were a few streams along the way where we could splash some cold water on our face.

 

 

 

During this section, we encountered two dehydrated /heat stroke runners (both were running shorter distances). The first guy wasn’t too bad off. The second guy we saw was in way worse shape, having thrown up “13 times” already. We gave him some Enduralytes and some water… which he promptly and very vocally threw up. He was in no condition to run, and was a good distance from the aid station. We told him if he could make it to the hill where the out and back started, there were plenty of people and they could have a car pick him up. We stayed with him a bit, and he seemed a tiny bit better and he told us to take off. Not a mile later, there was a stream crossing which he would have had to have passed if he went the right way… Did he totally miss it?

Anyway, my takeaway from this is when it’s hot, always have extra salt pills and water. Even in just the two months I’ve been in Utah, I’ve run into several folks in the same situation. Help them out and stick around for a while. Sometimes just having someone else there is comforting.

We later met Sandra and ran with her for a few miles. She took the best photo of the trip for us. We would leapfrog with her for the rest of the race and then finally catch up to her at the very end (by sprinting) and we all three finished at the exact same time. (Actually she crossed the line first, but our results are recorded as the same time.)

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As the first night wore on, it became increasingly misty. Here we kept trading places with Adrian, the guy from Australia. We’d be stopped and then he stop and sit with us, like this for hours. We got pretty good at taking breaks.  This section went on for seemingly forever. It seemed like we’d never reach the aid station. Adrian caught up to us. He said that the photographer told him it was only 1.4 miles to the finish. We were excited to finally finish this section. But after 1.4 miles, there was no aid station in sight. After two miles, still no aid station. The dusk turned to dawn and finally after closer to 4.4 miles we heard people and saw the aid station. Funny note, this was a sleep station we planned on sleeping at. Neither of us noticed the tents (where the sleeping was supposed to happen) and thus we just slept in our chairs.

 

While it was super annoying at the time, this 1.4 business turned into a running joke. Anytime someone asked how far it was or how much further we had to go, the answer was always 1.4 miles. We made the joke often enough, I thought it would be funny when 1.4 was the actual answer.  There was a photographer at the top of Elk Peak who told us the distance to the next aid station… 1.46 miles. We laughed and were skeptical… was he the same photographer who had misinformed us earlier?

During the day, the weather threatened rain but delivered only a short shower. We were constantly putting on our rain gear, over heating, and taking it off. Dustin had it worse since he runs hot. We were constantly stopping and probably spent at least two hours just changing. I’m glad we didn’t get any downpours, especially during the night.

img_20180812_084403Mile 91 Ed joined us and began his pacing duties. Ed is great because he has a lot of stories to tell. He likes to tell the stories about the audio books he’s listening to. Surprisingly, I don’t recall many audio book stories. He did tell us about an art exhibit he saw at the Guggenheim. Apparently it was just “a bunch of dots.” As he told us about it, he started getting angry, which is weird because he is a totally chill guy. I’d heard this story before, so I wanted to mess with him and asked him, “a bunch of ducks?” He kept telling his story and we “misheard” everything as relating to ducks. And then after the joke sort of died down, I remembered that we had passed a giant downed tree that had been carved with the direction: “DUCK.” How funny it would have been if we had run into that AFTER the joke began. Definitely one of those you-had-to be-there things, but it was hilarious. This instantly became a running gag and will probably never die.

We were getting close to the Lewis River aid station where Ed would stop pacing and Erin would start her first stint. There was a runner we had been leapfrogging with all day. He always looked kind of grumpy and so we referred to him as “grumpy guy.” We were moving along and he was up ahead. I felt good and pushed down this wide open fire road. I pass grumpy guy, and then he speeds up and passes me. I yell, “So it’s going to be like that?!” and catch up. We are cruising along, sort of racing. We start talking and the guy is actually really nice (and not grumpy). His dad is his crew, but he’s intimidated by the next section because of the water crossings. So we make a plan to leave together after getting 2 hours of rest.

Oh and then one of the other runner’s (Linda) “surprise pacer” drops her because he has a long drive home and has to work in the morning. He is headed back to the Lewis River aid station to pick up his truck. He runs with us for a bit and we chat and then we split up. Just as we sit down and start to eat and relax, dude shows up and starts telling us that his truck isn’t here and that the girl that borrowed it is probably lost and that the ham radio guys can’t call out because someone is lost and he keeps going on and on, almost as if it were our fault or there was something we could do about it. After 10 minutes of complaining, the girl who borrowed the truck pops out from a nearby tent. JFC!

We ate our first(?) hamburger of the race here and slept. It was cold and dark when we headed out. I was concerned about the water crossing because wet feet and cold temperatures sounded like the making of a miserable night. Possible hypothermia and/or trench foot from wet shoes. Our plan was to take off our socks and remove the insoles. Once we got across we put our stuff back on. It sort of worked, but walking through the water was shockingly cold, it may have been better and faster to have just left our socks on. The second water crossing was even worse because it was further.

Justin, aka grumpy guy,  hangs with us for a while. He’s done Moab and Tahoe, so this race finishes off the collection for him. He is a new dad and works with lasers or laser motors or something high-tech. Eventually he drops off, I don’t recall why. We never saw him after that. And unfortunately, we missed his finish.

Erin got us through the night and we started our third day.

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At the top of Elk Peak, who else would we see but Scott. We played leapfrog with him for what seemed like the entire race. We would be up front, taking a break, and then he’d run up on us and pass us. At one point, he was probably -rightfully- exasperated at all the back and forth and when he saw us, he exclaimed, “For fuck’s sake!” It was pretty funny.

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And funny enough, going through my photos, I took ONE photo at the race briefing. I blindly took a photo of everyone seated behind me, and who happened to be sitting right behind us??

 

 

Erin traded pacing duties with Ed at Klickitat. Somewhere along the way we stopped at a swimming hole and got in the water. It was a great little reviving break. We were able to wash off some of our funk. We saw both Sandra and Scott there.

 

I think the next major event was the bugs. Not being able to stop and rest because of the GD bugs. Mainly, they were small fly like insects and maybe a few mosquitoes. They had no fear response, so they were super easy to kill. But what they lacked in life preservation, they made up for in numbers. As soon as you killed one, there’d be another. And another. And another. You’d think that running would make it harder for them to land on you. Nope! They could land on you just as easily. Occasionally, they would bite. It was maddening. The whole section was bugs. Dustin was getting upset at this point and swiping at flowers along the trail. This was the only time I’d ever seen him upset. After we escaped the flies, I thought it would have been hilarious if some of the finisher buckles had incorporated some of the flies.

Another one of my crazy ideas during this section: log penises. There was a fallen log that looked semi phallic. I thought how funny would that be for a person to come out here and carve one of these logs into… a giant penis. After running for so long, people would be sure to think they were hallucinating. No one else seemed to think it was funny.

Getting to Twin Sisters was probably the section that seemed incredibly long and cover way more distance. From the split to the aid station was something like 2.7 miles, it seemed like an eternity before we got there. Weirdly enough, leaving, it seemed like a third of the time. For sure, one’s sense of time gets majorly warped after so many miles.

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At Twin Sisters, Ed finished his pacing duties with about 70 miles. Dustin’s dad had set up a tent for us to sleep in even though we’d only be there for an hour. Erin took over and would take us to the finish.

 

Somewhere during that night, we sat on a peak and watched the stars. There was supposed to be a meteor shower. We sat there lights off and watched. We saw a few falling stars and one intense meteor. We descended and Erin managed to trip on some undergrowth twice in ten minutes. This was kind scary because it was a steep drop off. We encouraged her to be careful and not die. She didn’t trip anymore after that.

There was a long field section where we ran for a good stretch. Poor Dustin had been dealing with foot pain for the last however many miles and yet he soldiered on. I could tell he was in pain, but he never really complained about how it hurt. So I was plenty impressed how he managed the last 30 miles.

 

Fun pit stop. Candace had told us there was a surprise waiting for us. I had totally forgotten about that. She had left two bottles of tequila on the course for us. Normally, I;d pass, but figured what the hell. Dustin and I took a shot. And then Erin joined us.

We finally reached Owens, the last aid station. It was a great feeling knowing that this was the home stretch. the only thing left was a 13 mile stretch of … road. Super easy to run, but still tortuous at this point. We ate and relaxed a bit. Dustin practically interviewed Linda’s crazy Czech pacer Sharka (sp?). and the best moment was when we saw the whiteboard that had the food menu. On it was written the phrase so often heard at trail races that is overused and almost meaningless: You’ve got this.IMG_2411

Geez Louise, is this thing over yet? The last 13 miles on road were slow going. Dustin’s foot was slowing his mobility. Our spirits seemed to be flagging, so I took out my phone and played some music to revive our spirits. At first it was The Final Countdown. Then it was music from the Super Mario Bros video games. Earlier, I had told a joke I had heard years ago from Chris Porter’s daughter: What kind of pants does Mario wear? (Or what are Mario’s pants made of?) the answer is “denim, denim, denim.” which sounds like the sound track to one of the levels. So I found a bunch of Mario soundtracks in hopes of finding the level that sounds like denim, denim, denim. And then we listened to Reggie Watts, some Louis CK, Pandora, and came back around to The Final Countdown.

img_20180814_053820And here we took the first, only, and best “ditch nap.”

 

The sun was coming up. We were about to cross the main street in Randle, this car pulls up beside us. Guy and a girl, girl rolls down window, “What  y’all running for?” “It’s a 200 mile race.” She looks at us like we’re crazy.

The last four miles are excruciating. And then we see Ed and Katherine! Our spirits buoy a bit. And then we see Sandra up ahead and decide to catch her.

 

We start jogging. This feels good, pick it up a bit, then faster and faster until we are full on “sprinting”. Sandra sees us and starts running. We turn into the parking lot and get onto the track. We catch up to Sandra and just walk with her and her pacer. We round the track to cheering and cowbells. We ask Sandra to cross first, then Dustin and I cross at the same time. We are done. 206.5 miles, 93 hours 14 minutes later we are finished.

crossingSurprisingly, this wasn’t as bad as I anticipated. My feet were in decent shape with only a few minor blisters. My muscles weren’t feeling abnormally sore. I could walk normally. We came in two hours under our projected time. We definitely could have come in a lot sooner if we had more urgency. But as this was debut 200, I though a conservative approach was wiser. In February, we will be running The Franklins 200. But this time, there will be no bromance. There will be a great sense of urgency as there is a cash prize up for grabs. The training begins… soon

 

I would like acknowledge and thank Ed, Erin, Katherine, and Donna & Craig, aka “Mom and Dad”. Their help and support made a HUGE difference. Knowing that our crew was going to be there for us and that we would have a pacer was priceless.