Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Tough Fifty and a Taper ~

Since running 51.5 miles with my friend at the Bryce 100 (he finished in 29hr 11min ~ outstanding for his first 100-mile finish!) I've been taking it easy, mentally and physically resting for the Bighorn 100 which starts in just 2 days!  The Bryce course was really tough, and I give props to anyone who finished it, no matter what their time was.  I enjoyed myself immensely for the 16 hr 34 min that I was out on the course ~ it was gorgeous, even in the middle of the night!

After crewing for my friend and a few others at the 32 mile-marker (there were lots of Salt Lake locals at the race, and I swear everyone was smiling.  If they weren't smiling, I was going to do my best to turn their frowns upside down!) we met at the 50 mile mark for my shift to begin.  I paced my friend through the night, kept him fed, asked him to drink, and told lots of stories to get his mind off the darkness and the pain (I always love a captive audience... )

Literal cliffs at Pink Cliffs aid station.
I shouted so loud at the magnificent view
that the kids manning the aid station thought
I was in real distress.
All the aid stations were remarkably well-stocked and the volunteers very attentive and helpful except (and it may have been due to the wee hours of morning and fatigue) at the aid station at mile 80 I swear, the lead volunteer was high.  He kept getting in my way as I was trying to get food and drink for my runner and a little something for myself as well.  It was so cold at that aid station and thankfully they had a roaring fire.  I was so annoyed with the one guy though, and I had to poop like a bear in the woods, that I went over and did just that at the porta-potty that they had set up.  I thought to myself, "There you go, Mr. Dirty-hands-making-burt-grilled-cheese-sandwiches.  Deal with THAT!" Haha, sweet revenge.

My buddy and I got outta there with about 10-15 minutes spent (I was so proud of him to keep moving and not waste any time at aid stations) and as we went down the dark dirt road for the last 20 miles, the temperatures just seemed to get colder.  We were counting the minutes until the sun came up in the morning, and it still didn't warm up.  We were trapped behind a shadow of the hills in front of us, blocked from the warming rays of the sun.  My friend started to shiver and I started to fall asleep.  I stumbled with my eyes closed, and realized we both needed to eat.  I got out the breakfast sandwiches I had prepared for us, and they really hit the spot.

Pink and orange morning Hoo Doos.
Before the last main aid station at mile 90, there was one more "sweet" climb through the pink and orange desert hoodoos.  We took pictures of our shadows against the rock face across the canyon.  We cruised down a rocky ridge to the aid station, and met the race director's mother, who was turning pancakes on the griddle.  We both had peanut butter on ours, and not wasting a moment, kept moving on down the road.
"It's all downhill from here... "  Well, except for the 2 mile, 800 foot climb that still loomed before us.  Another runner came to join us, and he said, "Yeah, it's easy if you're in a Cadillac Escalade.  If you're on foot and have been moving through the night for nearly 95 miles, it's not such a little hill anymore."  It was tough.

The whole course was tough!  We kept thinking we were finished, and another section of the road would peek out from around a corner.

Hoo Doo shadows (see the two little people
to the right of the pine tree's shadow?)
The last few yards ~
We crested that last hill and as we were on the downslope, my watch hit 98.5 miles.  Directional signs on the side of the road indicated that it would be more than 2 miles yet to the finish, but my buddy got a sudden burst of energy (I told him he would) and started throwing down 8 minute-miles down the hill.  He dropped me!  I soon caught up to him on another short incline, and we laughed about how he had dropped me and I had caught up again.

Around the next corner and breaking out of the woods, we saw some campers parked in a dirt lot about a half mile away.  I was certain it was the finish.  Crossing a cattle grate we nearly got run over by a tourist in his 4-wheel ATV, I swore at him, was thankful we had not been flattened, and we jogged on in to the finish line.  So proud of my buddy.  I got tears in my eyes, and another friend of mine was there taking photos.

In the finish tent ~ a moment of reflection,
and an Orange Crush ~
I only got 25 miles the week after the race, which is fine.  I'm tapering and resting up for Bighorn 100 in a couple of days.  I dropped a couple of pounds, which is also just fine and should make running at Bighorn a bit easier.  I know that anything can happen on race day and that a little luck never hurts, but I'm feeling really good and strong going into this event.  I've had some nice relaxing dog-hikes this week and a couple of massages.  I have the piece of mind that I already have two 50-mile events under my belt (Buffalo, where I dropped in the 100-mile event at 50 miles because of the cold, and pacing my buddy at Bryce for the second half).

There will be a lot of friends up in Sheridan at Bighorn, and I'm driving up with two of them.  One of my friends is coming up to pace me through the night section and try to keep me awake and fed (she has a tough job!).  I'll be running the last 30+ miles by myself, which is a big deal to me because I usually really look forward to the luxury of having a pacer to spoon-feed me my food and drink at that point because I'm quite delirious!  Haha.  I'm sure it will be a big hurdle for me to overcome and a very rewarding experience.

The dogs are going to the kennel.  I've had a couple of offers to watch Vernon, but the fluffies are just too much for any one person to handle.  All that fur!  And the constant velcro-dog on the leg, "must follow this person's every move" is a little much if you're not used to it.  I'll miss them though, all three of them.  And will be happy to pick them up and love them on Sunday when I get home.

The next set of photos is from two of my favorite spots for an evening "stretch-the-legs".  It's gotten hot in the valley ~ near 100 and still in the upper 90s at 7pm.  It's a good 20 degrees cooler in our semi-secret spot, and the dogs are loving the water.  We will certainly hit this spot several times per week throughout the summer.

Happy Trails ~

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