Sunday, July 22, 2012

While you were sleeping...

I ran the Millcreek 50k this past weekend.  You may be thinking, "Oh, no big deal for Missy B.  She runs all the time."  But alas, this was a really big deal for me.  Several times I have backed out of this event, because the thought of running 31 miles at night was too much for me to handle.  You see, first off, I don't like moose very much whether it's day or night.  They are simply too unpredictable in their behavior.  Second, the Millcreek 50k route goes right through a lot of moose territory.  And third the event is at night.  Moose + night time running (could quite possibly) = unfriendly moose.

I talked my friend Liz into running it with me, and then at the last moment another friend, Amy (whom I ran the 22 miles from Big Mountain to Millcreek with last week) decided to run too.  As we were ascending the first 6 miles of the course, we were joined by Betsy Johnson, so we had a really great group of four badass ladies.

I didn't take a lot of photos during the race because, well to put it plainly, it was at night and it was dark.  The views of the Park City lights from the Crest Trail were really fabulous and could not be captured accurately by photography.

I really didn't think much of the animals that might be on the trail, because we were having such a great time running along.  I did spend a lot of time thinking of my stomach though, which had been doing flips and twists all day long leading up to the event.  I thought it was just nerves, but by 2am when I was halfway through the race and my stomach was still tweaking hard and starting to affect my running, I realized that maybe I had caught a stomach bug that had been going around.  Amy and her mom had it last week, and Liz was having some stomach troubles on the run as well.  There were some emergency pit-stops that were made along the way...  sorry!  But when you got to go, you got to go.

Here it is 36 hours after the event, and my stomach is still not quite right.  It's a bummer, because the rest of the event went really well.  I was pretty wide-awake the entire time, and told and listened to lots of stories with the girls.  We really had a great time.

After running the Crest Trail from Millcreek and passing Deso Lake, we put our heads down and ground up Blunder Fork to Dog Lake.  I really rallied on this and caught up to the other three, as I had hung back on the downhill from Lake Desolation for fear that I was going to fall on the water bars (my depth perception is not really very good on that section at night, I've decided).  There was an aid station set up at Dog Lake and we were joined by Amy B., Emily B., and Jeremy S.

I found myself in the lead across the Desolation trail from Dog Lake to Mill A basin, and hoped that I wasn't slowing the group down.  It's really a rough trail at that point, with lots of roots and branches and things to trip you up.  I called back to the group a few times, and was reassured that I was running a good pace, and enjoyed listening to the chatter of Amy and Jeremy behind me.

As we got to Mill A, Lizzie and I both needed a pit stop, so we slowed and let the group run past.  It was quite a change in atmosphere as things quieted down without the spirited group of runners right behind us.  Unfortunately, not having the distraction of other runners chatting, I focused in on my stomach pain as a result, and I think it's the reason why I slowed down quite a bit at this point.  I never threw up, but had a low level of nausea the entire time, and had an empty pain in my stomach that was difficult to pin down as to whether it was nausea or hunger.  Each time I ate, I got a little more nauseated, but if I didn't eat, the pain would grow as well.  It was really strange.

When we reached Baker Pass between Gobbler's Knob and Mt Raymond, Liz and Betsy had gone ahead and I hung back with Amy.  Thankfully, Amy stuck with me after my 10 minute bout of moaning due to stomach pain (sometimes it just feels better to moan out loud.  It dissipates the pain to a certain extent).  I told Amy I thought it was one of her strengths, that she doesn't let others know what is bothering her and that she might be uncomfortable.  She complimented me on my ability to be honest and verbalize my feelings.  We really do make a good running pair, the two of us!

So Lizzie and Betsy had gone ahead, and Amy and I concentrated on running a nice, moderate, comfortable pace down Bowman Fork Canyon.  We got to the turn off to Terraces and found some water jugs at the side of the trail and refilled a bit.  We didn't want to take the last of the water, because there were still some folks behind us who might need some.

The climb up Terraces trail to Elbow Fork went really easily, and seemed less steep than it usually does in the daylight hours.  We both commented on the fact that it was really warm in the canyon and on the ridge tops.  Warmer than we both would have expected.  We were both very comfortable running in shorts and short-sleeved shirts.

Greg Norrander styled us out with drinks and snacks at Elbow Fork, and even filled my handheld water bottle with ice cubes and coke.  Several minutes of sipping on the coke and my stomach felt tons better.  It really is magic for my tummy!  Amy and I averaged 13 minute miles down the Pipeline trail (from mile 20 to 25) which was really quite remarkable considering the amount of climbing and the stage in the race that it was.  When we got near Church Fork, I convinced Amy that we could get up and down Grandeur Peak in the next 2 hours (our other option was to go straight down Church Fork and end the event with a marathon finish instead of a 50k).  She took the bait, and we started up the climb.

Sunrise from Grandeur Peak

Salt Lake City sleeps below.

Delirious at mile 27, Grandeur Peak

Nice views once the sun came up.
Amy needed to stop for a snack, and my stomach was barely tolerating Honey Stinger caffeinated chews at this point, so I popped a couple of chews and told her that I was going to keep climbing.  As I neared the ridge, dawn broke, and I found myself not needing my headlamp for the first time all night.  A few runners passed me on their way down to the finish (one of whom was Lizzie, who gave me a hug as she went past ~ which helped motivate me to get to the top!), and I joked with one runner that I had timed things just right to catch sunrise on the peak.

After I summited and took photos with another runner, Jeff, I turned to descend back down the mountain to the finish.  I was wondering where Amy was and if she had maybe bailed on the climb, because she had been wanting to be back at her house at 7am to meet some other folks for a run on the Wasatch 100 course that same morning (crazy, I know!) so I was thinking she had made a phone call and was going to get picked up by her boyfriend, Bryce.

Just as I rounded the corner of the false summit, there she was with my friend Dee!  She had a smile on her face, as always, and I told her she was 5 minutes from the summit and she should go "Git it!"

I made steady pace down to the Church Fork picnic grounds, and when I hit the pavement down the Church Fork road, I wasn't even thinking of my stomach anymore.  I made it to the finish as planned, 2 hours and 5 min from the point where we had debated whether we could get up and down in two hours or not.

Amy had stopped to make a call to Bryce at the top and she came in a few minutes later.  I was really glad to see that she wasn't upset with me for misjudging the amount of time it would take her to do the last 5 or 6 miles.  I had chatted with race organizer Ken Jensen while I was waiting for Amy, and it was really nice to catch up with him after not seeing him in several years.

Amy and I went to McDonald's and got sausage McMuffin with egg value meals, and my stomach felt the best it had over the preceding 24 hours.  Strange how a gut-bomb breakfast can somehow have that comforting effect!  Amy forewent her previous plan to run the first part of the Wasatch course that morning, and fell asleep on the floor of her home for several hours.  I mustered the strength to take a shower before I went to bed for the day.

An amazing day and an amazing event.  I'm not sure if I would have been so wiped out all weekend if I hadn't had the stomach issues.  It was a pretty good exercise in perseverance, that's for sure.  I have also decided that I'm not the fastest runner out there, by any means, but it's really nice to be able to run with a friend at a moderate pace and tell stories and laugh for nearly 10 hours straight.  There was one point where Amy and I both got really quiet, but every so often I would say, "Great job, Amy!"  and she would reply with, "Hey, you too, Missy!"  and it really was just one of the nicest things I think I have ever heard in my life.

Thankfully, we didn't see any moose along the trail all night.  But we did see plenty of creepy-crawlies.  There were literally thousands of millipedes along the Terraces trail and hundreds of banana slugs in Bowman Fork.  By the time we got to Pipeline, the trail was all a-glitter with the twinkling eyes of spiders hiding in the rocks.  It was surreal.  As we turned the corner above the Millcreek Inn and the Church Fork junction, a bat flew up off of the trail and hovered above our heads, with its orange eyes glowing in the light from our headlamps.

I have had a great time eating, napping, and recuperating all weekend.  Next year, the course will reverse and it will be an "uphill year" with more elevation gain, which almost seems unfathomable.  Maybe I'll wait and do it again two years from now when it returns to the downhill direction!

While you were sleeping:
On the day (night) ~ 31 miles, 9,700ft elevation gain, 9 hours 47 minutes.

1 comment:

  1. I think that is amazing! I love the picture of "delirious" Missy. I can almost feel you excited exhaustion!