Sunday, September 29, 2013

Snow Bear 2013: 99.9 Miles of Pain and 0.1 Miles of Transcendent Bliss that made it all worth it.

A few miles back, on a steep rocky downhill, I rolled my ankle in the dim light. It felt okay later, but it gave me a scare.  At the next river crossing my hood slipped over my headlight, as I hopped from one slippery rock to the next, both of my shoes completely submerged into the icy cold Logan River.  Then around mile 60, as the temperatures dropped further below freezing, my headlamp batteries started to fade. I thought to myself. “It was going to be a long, long night.”   

I decided to run the Bear 100 race 3 weeks ago, after getting super dehydrated and full on heat exhaustion at the Wasatch 100 the weekend prior.  It’s funny how karma works, from crazy hot to unseasonably cold and snowy.  The pre-race meeting in Amalga Utah was cold and rainy. The race-start up dry canyon was also very cold.  My only game plan going into the race was to go slow, survive, enjoy the trails and breathtaking scenery, and finish.  I knew pieces of the 100 mile course fairly well from my college days at USU, and was stoked to link them all up in one jaunt from Logan to Bear Lake.  The first big climb up and out of Dry Canyon turned into an amazingly surreal, somewhat spiritual, and extremely snowy run.   I loved it.  The fiery red, yellow, and oranges, back splashed with the green pine, fresh white snow, and damp icy clouds enveloped me inside and out as the race passed the 10 mile mark. 

I kept up a good fast hike on the climbs and ran the down hills as fast as I could.  At times the weather flirted with heavy snow or rain and remained consistently cold.  I enjoyed running with and talking to other runners throughout the first half of the run and even saw the sun for maybe 4 minutes.  At mile 37, as I cruised down a rocky canyon I saw a guy in denim sitting on some boulders.  My dad, Jim, had hiked up the trail a good ways to see me.  As I hit the aid station I was greeted with a hug and kiss from Anna and Izzy.  I felt pretty good. Legs sore but moving. Body temps regulating ok. But very soon felt super tired.  Going uphill in the midafternoon I really really felt like curling up in a ball and sleeping.  I dug an energy gel with caffeine out of my pocket and downed it with some ibuprofen.  Wow. The chemicals kicked in quick and I picked up the pace and no longer felt like falling over. Before the half way point I got to see the family again at Temple Fork, Mile 45. My stomach was feeling great and I was eating solid food as much as possible.

The next section of trail, up Blind Hollow, was by far the worst section of trail and the most frustrating part of the day. Cows had totally destroyed the trail into a sloppy muddy quagmire.  Literally 2 steps forward and one step back, for miles. Luckily a buddy, Matt Van Horn, was there to help keep the cursing to a minimum.   My super light Hoka shoes were heavier than my steel toed Dr. Martins with all the mud stuck on em.   Not until Tony Grove did the trail improve enough that I could open up and run.  Again I ran into my dad up in the forest hiking up to meet me.  After eating lots of food and getting my spirits lifted by friends and family, Pete and I headed into the sunset.  I was super glad Pete and Nick had been able to come up and help me. Both are funny guys that could tell lots of stories, which for me is great for getting my mind off the pain and dreariness of the run.  The scenery above Tony Grove and into White Pine just blew me away.  My body felt good and I was staying up on water and salt. As long as I could keep the nozzle of my water hose from icing over, I would be okay on hydration.    

We pressed on through the night. Stumbled, climbed, ran, tripped, got soaked feet in the river, climbed up more hills, thought we were lost, stumbled, and finally made it to Mile 75, The Beaver Lodge.  As the “race” wore on I started spending more and more time at aid stations.  I was eating lots of solid food and it got harder to leave the warmth every time.  After spending way too much time in the lodge, Nick took over pacing and we headed off at around 2 in the morning.  The next big snowy climb took every atom of will power I had to hike up.  My steps started faltering and Nick kept asking if I was okay.  I continued pushing and struggling to keep my eyes open. After what seemed like an eternity I surprisingly awoke after walking right into an icy puddle and then saw a heavenly fire at the aid station, Mile 81.  It took awhile to regroup, warm up, and wake up. Then we hobbled off again into the cold windy night.  So glad Nick had a 4 hr energy thingy to help keep my eyes open.  On the next big snowy climb, after the Mile 85 aid station, I couldn’t take another step and laid down on the snow in a ball and told Nick to wake me up in 5 minutes.  Which he did. I shook awake and started pounding up the hill again. 

O blessed sunrise.  Around the time the sun came up I got the first glimpse of Bear Lake. It had been a super tough night and the deep blue of the Lake and the warming sun filled my soul. I pressed on up the steepest hill of the whole 100 miles and then started running the last downhill as fast as my legs could go.  I flew past many runners who grumbled to Nick as he flagged behind trying to keep up.  The closer to the Lake I got the faster I ran. With fiery orange and yellow aspen forests all around me I kept going faster and faster.   With a mile to go and still flying down the hill I started tearing up with joy and gratitude. So glad to have a body that lets me do what I love, so glad to have great friends and family, so glad to be able to enjoy such amazing mountains and so glad to be DONE.  Nick and I crossed the Finish at 9:33 after running for 27:33 hrs.  Overall it was a very difficult run in very difficult conditions. I Loved it.

Stats: 100 Miles, 21,986 ft of vertical gain, 27.51 hrs

Food eaten:  Around 15 energy gels, 50 little goldfish crackers, 5 ginger chews, 2 bananas, 4-5 cups of broth, 3 cups of chicken noodle soup, 3 grilled cheese sandwiches, 2 brownies, 4 slices of zucchini bread, 2 egg sausage burritos, 4 slices of bacon, 2 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, 3 fruit twists, lots of coke and ginger ale, 4 potatoes, a Monster and one 4 hr energy drink, and a bowl of chili.          
Drying my running shorts hours before the race in the motel 8 after using them in the hot tub


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

More Hell than Heaven

Going into this years Wasatch100 Mile Endurance Run I felt pretty good.  My training was not quite up to where I wish it was, due partly to injuries, but overall ready to crank out the 100 miles across the mountains.  I finished last year in a little over 28 hours and felt I could at least do that well again or better if I ran smart and flew through aid stations. I spent 1 hr 40 min at aid stations last year. 


All summer I have not really stressed for this thing, that is is right up until the week of the race.   The day before, I played a little Frisbee golf and realized how dang hot it was going to be the next day.  That eve I  attended a fun pre-race-BBQ with other runners at the William's and met my pacer Aaron.  Go VHS!.  There are some real strong runners that live around here.  Cool to meet and talk to Davy Crocket a little, he is a local legend and nice guy to talk with.  My buddy Spence stayed at my house and we got up at 4:15 (=mucho sleep).  Sooo  glad I live so close to the start line.  I let Izzy and and little Anan sleep and Spence and I walked over to the main road by my house and thumbed a ride to the start line. Oh ya, and the car that stopped and gave us a ride was Nick Clark, who went on to win the race that day.


Long story short.  I DNF’d. (Did Not Finish)

 I rocked the first half and by mile 54 I was almost an hour ahead of my goal splits.  I felt good through the extreme heat all morning, other than some leg cramping, and Aaron and I rocked the hottest section.  I felt prime going into the cool Lambs Canyon with my buddy Court by my side to keep me company till Brighton.   Out of nowhere came the onset of extreme nausea and stomach cramps.  I puked everything inside of me and felt super weak.  After going up and over into Millcreek Canyon the nausea remained and the stomach cramps turned into bad diarrhea.  I trudged on and on and on all night through hellish sickness hoping it would go away. The more I walked the sicker I felt.  The more I tried to run the weaker I felt.  The more I hiked the more I hoped it would pass and I could start to recover.  I laid down many times, stumbled and screamed, and just felt sicker.  Somehow, mostly due to Court’s patience, I made it to Brighton Mile 75, with almost zero running.  The doc there got me sipping V8 and OJ.  I laid there for an hour in the lodge hoping the stomach cramps would go away, but they did not. I dropped out at 4 am.  Miles 50-75 took almost longer than miles 0-50.
After much thinking I have decided that the cause was simple, not enough water and salt.  I was drinking tons and eating SCaps, but I guess it was not enough.  I do not believe nutrition had much to do with the GI failure.  I got low blood salt which led to blood leaving the GI area resulting in Ischemic colitis.  I was taking at SCap every hour, I should have done 2 per hour.  I was not peeing enough. I should have taken more time at aid stations and drank more.  Simple. 
Izzy and I drove to the finish the next day, after crashing on Pete’s couch, it was fun seeing the last few finish. Good job to all my friends that finished.  Especially to Spence who is a beast and charged all the way to the end for a 20th place finish in 25:32 hrs.  He trained like a mad man and ran a great race.  Thanks to Aaron, Court, and Pete for pacing.  Sorry Pete I could not show you the last 25 miles.

Post Race:

My legs feel good, I really only ran 50-60 miles, so I signed up for
 the Bear 100 Miler in 3 weeks.  Yes I have an ego and hate to fail, but I also just really want to finish a 100 miler this year, I love the Mountains by Logan in the Autumn, and Izzy said
 go for it.


Getting Baked

LAMBS before the crash