Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Orcas 100

Bullet Points
Couldn’t have ask for a better race. 100 miles, no low moments. Beautiful course! Tough on legs but easy on the body (i.e. big climbs but smooth soft trail)

13.5 16oz bottle of Roctane (250 cal ec.)
2 slices of Pizza
5-6 pieces of Bacon

We arrived at on the island from the 11:20 ferry and made our way around the island. After checking in and getting my race packet, I wanted to drive to each aid station and show Mallory where everyone was so that she didn’t have to worry about finding it for the first time on her own. After finding all the AS locations we headed back to the bunk house and then to the pre-race meeting. I was still running off of GA time, so after the meeting we went straight to bed.
I woke up and made oatmeal and had a cup of coffee. The weather wasn’t too bad that morning. It was about 45 degrees and light rain, so it was perfect for shorts and short sleeves. Soon I noticed everyone else layered up in tights, long sleeves, and rain jackets which had me wondering if they knew something I didn’t know. I was very tempted to break out my arm warmers but I stayed with my gut feeling and started in just my shirt. I was the only person who started in short sleeves and shorts.
James, the race director, gave a few words and announced the start and we were off. The race begins with a climb up Mt Constitution Rd all the way up to the Little Summit TH. I knew from driving to the AS the previous day that the road begins at a very gentle grade before turning steep, so I decided to run the road until it got steep. I ran maybe a mile or so before I began my hike for the remaining 2ish miles. I was able to talk to a lot of people around me and enjoyed the company. I started getting two different kinds of remarks from people at this point, one sounded something like “You were smart and only wore short sleeves” the other was similar to “ARENT YOU COLD?!”. I guess it goes to show that people really do operate at different temperatures. I’m glad I decided to stick with just my shirt because it felt great, although I did break a sweat sometimes.
Once we topped at Little Summit TH, we began the steep decent to Mountain Lake AS. I wanted to take the descents very easy to keep my quads from blowing out so several people would pass me on the down. We were warned that this was a gnarly downhill and the race director advised people to walk it, but honestly it wasn’t too terrible. Pretty soon, I seen Glenn posted up with his camera. I smiled for a picture as I passed and continued on to Mountain Lake AS. I arrived and refilled one bottle that I drank with a pack of Roctane I had in my drop bag and headed out.
This next section started out smooth and flat as it contoured around the lake. It then begins a climb up to Mt Pickett. The slope was runnable, but I power hiked it because I knew that I wouldn’t be running it in later loops. I quickly noticed that I was going up a lot faster than the people around me. I also took this as an opportunity to take in all the beautiful old growth forest around me as well as take in more calories. I cannot express the beauty of this course. The forest looked almost magical (or in the words of Mallory, “whimsical”) Once we reached the top, it descends to the Mt Pickett AS. It descended for what seemed like forever until we finally reached the bottom. All the people I passed on the climb caught back up and passed right as we reached the bottom. I had drunk another bottle of Roctane by the time I reached here, but since I had another full bottle and weren’t allowed drop bags here I just checked in and out without stopping.
The next section was by far the smoothest and easiest of the course. It was gentle rollers past waterfalls and creeks all the way to Cascade Lake. I saw Glenn with his camera once again as he grabbed another shot. I also finished off my second bottle during this section. I rolled into Cascade Lake AS and refilled both bottles with Roctane and headed out for the infamous Powerline.

I brought my trekking poles for just this very section and I’m glad I did. I believe using my poles from the very first loop saved me tons of time on my overall race. I caught up to and passed several people on this climb. Byron, a guy from Florida that I met, caught up to me and stayed with me the entire climb. Honestly, I was surprised at the climb. It wasn’t near as bad as I thought it would be. Yes, it was very steep but it was smooth. You didn’t have to worry about footing, you just had to put one foot in front of the other and eventually you made it to the top. Actually once I made it to the top I thought it was just a false summit but once we started to descend a lot on single track, I realized that the powerline was actually over. From reading course descriptions, I didn’t realize how far we went down before climbing back up to Mt Constitution. 

I thought it was going to be a slight drop, then climb right back up…… I was wrong. We descended a lot! All I could think was “Dang, all this down means a lot more up”. Eventually I reached the point where we started ascending again. This section was still steep but much less taxing than the powerline climb. It switched back all the way to the top. Once I reached the Mt Constitution AS, I refilled both bottles with Roctane, put my poles back in my pack, and prepared for the 5 mile descent to Camp Moran to finish the first lap.

Once you leave the AS, you run the ridge along the cliff of Mt Constitution very briefly where you have the most spectacular view of the whole course (and of course with perfect timing, Glenn was in a perfect place to capture another picture). After the short ridge run is a very steep downhill. It switch backed all the way down until it eventually reached Cascade Lake. Here you can see the earlier aid station but instead of hitting that AS, you stay on single track and go up and down a couple times until you drop in right at Camp Moran.  I looked at my watch and it read 5:05…. Uh-Oh, that’s an hour faster than I planned on doing my first lap. Did I mess up?
Lap 1 Down, Now on to Lap 2
I ran into Camp Moran because I didn’t see Mallory right away. I figured she was out exploring because I told her not to expect me until at least 6 hours. I was in the process of walking to my drop bag when I heard her say “Hey!” I turned around and Thank God! It was her and she had my bottles ready. I got my bottles and asked her for a pair of socks. As she got them out of the crew pack I had for her, she said “You an hour early”. I nervously laughed and said “Yea but I don’t know where I could have slowed down at unless I hiked the entire road section”. I changed socks and was off again.
This time I decided to hike the entire road all the way to Little Summit. I started up the road and soon saw Max, a guy I talked to before the race this morning. I asked if everything was ok and he told me he forgot to get his headlamp. The climb up went pretty well and since I hiked the entire thing, Max caught me right around the top. We talked a lot on the way down. I told him I did the first lap an hour faster than I anticipated but couldn’t think of anywhere I could have really slowed down and he said he was an hour faster too. We rolled into Mountain Lake AS where Mallory greeted me and gave me a new bottle.
Max and I left the AS the same time and ran together around the Lake. He asked if I wanted to pass and I told him “no that this was a perfect pace”. I also told him I didn’t want to feel like I was pushing him but this was the pace I was going to run whether I was in front or behind him. He agreed that it was a good pace so we ran together until we started the climb up Mt Pickett. This time I grabbed my poles and used them on the climb. I didn’t feel like I needed them, but I knew that if I waited until I needed them that the damage would already be done. I must have been going faster than Max wanted to go, so he let me pass on the climb. I didn’t see him again for the race. Once I topped the summit of Mt Pickett, I packed my poles back up and began the descent to Mt Pickett AS.
I ran through the AS again without stopping because I still had a full bottle of Roctane. I was also making a conscious effort of spending as little amount of time as possible at aid stations during this race because I know that you can kill a race if you spend too much time there. Also the aid stations were heated and heated aid stations are just DNF traps. I left and said I would try to make it to Cascade Lake AS before I needed my headlamp. So I rolled along at a pretty good pace, relaxed but still solid. It started to get dark but I made it to Cascade without stopping to put on my headlamp.
Mallory greeted me with a kiss and new bottles. She said “You’re doing Great! I wasn’t expecting you for another 15 minutes” I asked her for a fresh pair of socks and she said “OK! Want me to put them on for you so you can get everything else ready?”…… WHAT? She wants to change my nasty socks? My feet are so disgusting; I don’t even want to change them. I told her “You don’t have to do that, my feet are nasty”. She insisted that she didn’t mind, so I gratefully let her. All I have to say is that’s love right there…. I’m a lucky man. While she changed my socks I put on my headlamp and got out my poles. Slipped my shoes back on, gave her a kiss and headed off for the powerline once again.
Post race feet
                  The Powerline wasn’t bad this time either; however it was getting muddier just as I thought it would from all the people during the day. Up, Down, and Back up to Mt Constitution.
                  Mallory was there waiting on me. We switched bottles and I asked her to grab my arm warmers out of my pack. The wind was whipping pretty hard up there at the top so I figured it might be time to join everyone else and put some sleeves on. As I put my arm warmers on, she put my poles back in my pack. And I’m off and another quick and efficient AS transition down. I don’t recall anything descent down constitution other than it being very very foggy. It took me longer than it normally would have because I had to really focus to stay on the trail and where I was putting my feet.  But before long I was down by the lake again and headed to Camp Moran.
                  I got there and asked Mallory for a fresh pair of socks. A volunteer asked me if I wanted anything hot to eat. I knew that were making fresh pizza there and I had been thinking about it the whole time since I left Constitution. I asked her for some pizza with “Lots of meat and not a lot of veggies”. She said “Ok Veggies and No Meat” and I quickly corrected her and said “No I want lots of meat without many veggies”. I guess vegetarians are taking over now…. As she got me a slice Mallory changed my socks once again. The Volunteer came back with a piece and a couple pieces of bacon. I have no idea what all was on there but I threw the bacon on top and ate it in 3 bites (the time it took Mallory to finish with my last sock). I slipped my shoes back on and was out the door.
Lap 2 Down, Now on to Lap 3
 I expected this lap to be the worse both mentally and physically just from the experience from my previous 100 milers. With that in mind, I set out with a positive attitude that no matter what low spot came that it would go away eventually. I used my poles on the climb back up to Little Summit this time. Again I didn’t feel like needed them like I said earlier once you feel like you “need” them, it’s too late. It didn’t take any time before I climbed back into the fog and this time I swear it was worse. I couldn’t see anything other than what was 10’ in front of me. If It hadn’t been for following the edge of the pavement, I wouldn’t have ever been able to find my up the mountain. All I could do was look at the side of the road and push on. I reached the top, but didn’t put my poles up. I used them to help brake on the downhill and help me stay upright on the decent. Again, this descent took longer than I wish it should have because of the fog being so thick. I also had to force myself to finish off one of my bottles. I was starting to not to want to take in fluids as regularly as I was during the daytime. I knew this would happen; it seems like something that the night does to me. Regardless I made it to the bottom where things were much clearer.
                  I exchanged bottles and a quick kiss with Mallory and was off. I should also note that I never put my poles up for the remainder of the race. When I wasn’t using them, I just kept them in my hands. These Black Diamond Carbon Distance Z poles only weigh 9oz for the pair so it wasn’t that big of a deal to keep them out. Anywho, up Pickett and down without anything interesting happening. I kept waiting for the low moment to come but it never did. I left Pickett and ran the rollers to Cascade Lake. That section was probably my favorite part of the course because it seemed so easy and I knew that it wouldn’t be long before I got to see Mallory again. I couldn’t help but think “Man I feel great! Everything is going way better than I expected”
                  I reached Cascade Lake where I had another sock change and headed off to the Power Line once again. This time it was very muddy right at the start of it. I tried dancing around the mud as much as possible to keep my new socks dry for as long as possible (I did an ok job at it at first). Up, Up, Up. Relentless forward progress. I reached the top once again. Down the single track and then it started raining very lightly (or at least I thought it was rain). I started climbing back to the summit and I was thinking “Man! these are some big rain drops. And Wow! I must be super tired because they look like they’re falling really slow….. Wait….. that’s not rain, THAT’S SNOW!!”  Ok I got kinda excited because being a Georgia guy, we don’t see much snow. 
                  I got to the Mt Constitution and asked Mallory for a fresh shirt while I got my jacket out. The snow would melt when it got on me so I wanted a fresh dry shirt before I put my rain jacket on (plus a fresh shirt just makes you feel good). I was off once again feeling really good. It started snowing hard on the descent, like real hard. I wasn’t so excited anymore because I couldn’t see very far. Sooner or later, the snow faded to rain and I made it to the bottom.
                  Rolling into Camp Moran, I was happy as could be. I made it through 3 laps without the dreaded “Why am I doing this” moment and I knew this was the last time I had to do any of this. No matter what happened now, I was going to make it. I ate another slice of Pizza and some bacon while Mallory changed my socks again. BTW I stopped and paid attention to the toppings this time. It had to be the weirdest pizza I’ve ever heard of: Pineapple, Pepperoni, Olives, Garlic, and Mushrooms. It’s like somebody got stoned/drunk and came up with pizza toppings. It may have been because I was exhausted and tired from having run 75 miles already but it was pretty damn good.
Click, Click, Click with my poles all the way to the top of Little Summit and then carefully headed back down a very muddy descent.
Mallory was at Mountain Lake AS and I decided it was time to switch over into my tights. I got in the corner and tied a jacket around my waist (to stay modest in front of people) and stripped down then put my tights on. I also switch headlamps from my Petzl Nano to my Black Diamond Icon because my Petzl was getting dim and I didn’t know how much longer it had. And I was off once again.
                  The next part up to Mt Pickett was pretty much a blurr and the only thing I can remember coming down from it was “Dang my Quads hurt! I’m sure glad this is my last lap”. I reached Mt Pickett and one of the volunteers said “How ya feeling?” I told him I was feeling good and he asked “How’s those clothes working for ya? You aren’t cold?” I laughed and told him that I was fine and actually up until 5 miles ago I was wearing shorts. I thanked them and was off again.
                  This next 5 miles was a muddy mess! I slipped and fell for the only time in the race here. It wasn’t a bad fall though, just enough to get butt muddy. I ran into Cascade Lake AS feeling happy that I had only 10 miles to go. When I got there I asked Mallory how long it took me to get to Mt Constituiton from here last time and she said she thought it was just under 2 hours. If I could do that again I could break 26 hours. I told her I was going to try to push and beat 26 hours for a finish.
                  I pushed hard up the powerline and after about 20 minutes I was able to switch off my headlamp. My calves were burning something fierce but I didn’t stop to rest. I made it to the top and began the descent of the single track which seemed like it took forever this time. I kept thinking “ok the turn to the right to begin the climb out should be right around the next corner” and it wouldn’t be. Or the next corner, or the next, or the next. Finally I reached the right turn to begin the climb and I started climbing. Up, up, up. Soon I heard Mallory’s voice say “Hey!” it kinda startled me because I wasn’t expecting to hear someone. She had come down the last switch back to grab a picture of me on my climb out. I asked her how long it had been and she said “A little over 2 hours. 2:04 to be exact” Dang! Sub 26 was slipping away. 

                  I walked into the AS tent where I asked her to switch jackets with me because I wanted to descend with a jacket that breathed instead of my rain jacket that would make me sweat. I threw my jacket on and was off for the last 5 mile decent!
                  Phew did it hurt this time. My quads were just about gone. I alternated between power hiking down and a very ugly “run”. I finally reached the road by the lake and knew I had less than a mile to go. I hiked/ran those last few rollers. Once I popped out onto the road I ran the rest of the way to the finish. My official finish time was 26:12. My altimeter watch got just shy of 26k’ of ascent and descent, but with the weather changing I’d definitely call it 26k’.

                  Orcas was an incredibly beautiful race and went extremely smoothly from a runner perspective. You would never guess this was an inaugural year. This race also could not have gone better for me personally. I call running 100 miles without a single low moment or significant blister afterwards a huge success.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Pine Mountain 46 Miler

Pine Mountain definitely has a special place in my heart. When first starting to train for ultras, it is where I began doing some technical running. It even was the influence for my dog’s name, Ellie (FD Roosevelt State Part => FDR => Eleanor is FDR’s wife => Ellie for short) I still spend many a weekend training in this hidden gem of Middle Georgia.
This year, the Pine Mountain Trail race went back to the original distance of 46 miles. After coming back from my stress fracture, I was really looking forward to my first race since Bighorn this summer. I had no time goal or intentions of racing, I simply just wanted to be out there and enjoy it. 

This race always takes place the first Sunday in December, which happened to fall on December 6th this year. Camping Saturday night in the park seems to be tradition for the group of friends I run with. So Saturday I met Todd, his wife Jami, and daughter Mallory at the campground. Todd was running the 46 miler and Mallory would be running the 19 miler. We set up camp and then just hung out for the most part until we ate pizza at Fox’s Pizza (yet another tradition for this race). The camping and company of friends rivals the race itself. I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of this weekend.
We woke up Sunday morning and made some coffee and ate a little something for breakfast before heading down to the group shelter for the start at 6:30. At the group shelter I found several other friends, including a good friend of mine Vince. I knew Vince had been training hard, so I was hoping we would be able to run together for a few miles before he darted off. 
Todd, Me, Chris, and Vince

After some good luck wishes from friends we were off! We started on the bridge above the group shelter to allow about a 200 yard stretch before we hit actually single track. I knew to make sure to be in the top 10ish when I got to the single track to keep from bottle necking. 2 guys took off ahead of everyone else and Vince, Sean, and I all fell into the line next. The first part of trail is nice, smooth and flat. This is very deceiving on what is to come for anyone who has never run the course. During that section, we dialed back a little and let several people pass who wanted to take off. The 3 of us kept a nice conversation as we ran through the dark. Once we emerged onto the PMT we took a right and headed up until we hit Chestnut trail. I really like this little loop. It drops down with some switchbacks then has a nice gradual climb all the way back up. Right here is where I learned that I was climbing a lot better than the people around me. The end of Chestnut trail pops out right by the ‘FDR State Park’ sign by the Country Store.

From there we crossed the road and jumped back onto the PMT. We would stay on this trail all the way to the TV Tower. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. We were running the ridge and were able to catch the sunrise. We were definitely blessed with a beautiful day (even though I wouldn’t have minded if it were 10 degrees cooler). Soon we hoped back on the other side of the road and stated downhill. We soon passed everyone who we let by at the beginning of the race, and now there were 4 of us. Ben had joined our party (this is the mustache guy for anyone who doesn’t know who I’m talking about). Vince, Sean, and Ben were all going downhill faster than I was so I let them pass. I haven’t been pounding downhill much since returning from injury so I didn’t want to blow my quads out on the downs. I would catch them and pass them on the up hills, and then they would pass me again on the downs. That was pretty much the trend for the first 30 miles.

I should note that around mile 7, Sean took a very nasty spill and busted his head open. He also messed up his foot pretty bad. He fell back and never passed me again. I thought for sure he was going to drop because it looked nasty, but (SPOILER) he actually maintain his position with a solid 6th place. One tough guy for sure!!

One Tough Cat

Once we got back down to the hatchery ponds, we started catching up to the 19 milers. They started 30 minutes after us but instead of turning right and going to the beginning of PMT they just made a left and hoped on there. I particularly liked being able to run and pass them. It allowed for seeing a lot more faces than I typically do during a race. It gave a great sense of comradery and everyone was having a good time. Before long I caught up to Mallory. It was such a great surprise to see friends on the trail. As I passed, I told her she was doing great and looking good. Coming up to Fox Den AS I caught up to Chris in a group of about 5 or 6 runners. I had been announcing myself prior to this anytime I passed anybody, but I wanted to sneak up on him and get a good laugh. I ran passed him, slapped him on this ass, and hollered good job as I did. As I ran out of the AS, I saw Jami and smiled for a picture as I ran by. I told her that Mallory was right behind me and gave her my arm warmers and headlamp.

The next stretch to Molly Hugger was pretty uneventful. Vince and Ben would pass me on the down hills and then I would pass them right back on the up. I typically maintained 3rd unless it was downhill. I ran into the AS and was greeted by Jami once again. I knew this was the last place I would see her until the finish because the 19milers would split off and take Sawtooth and head back towards the group shelter. I smiled for another picture as I ran by.

Jami caught me off guard in this one
The stretch from Molly Hugger to Dowdells Knob me and Ben played leap frog a little and Vince always stayed within sight of us from behind. I ran into Dowdells Knob where I was greeted by Vikena. She helped put on Double Top which was my 1st 100 miler. She was absolutely great during that race in making sure I had everything I needed or wanted so when I saw her here I was a nice surprise. I refilled my bottles and was off again!

Dowdells Knob to Rocky Point was only about 3 miles. It was fairly uneventful and I held 3rd the whole time. Once I got into Rocky Point I refilled my bottle and was off again. Soon, Ben came up behind me and passed me. I knew when he did this that he was making his move and didn’t want to be passed again. By the time I got down to the actual creek part, Vince came up behind me. He asked me how I felt and I told him I was feeling surprisingly good. He said he had bonked a little but he was good now. He asked how far Ben was ahead and I told him he had just gotten out of sight and he could easily catch him. I also told him that if he would save enough for the big long climb between Rocky Point and Dowdells Knob that it’d be a perfect place to make up time on him. He proceeded to pass me, but pretty soon I passed him back. I never saw him again until the finish.
 After leaving the TV Tower AS we took Beaver Pond trail back to Rocky Point. This is a very short section as it’s only about 2 miles. I got to Rocky Point and still felt pretty good! This is about mile 30. As I left the AS I saw Todd only a couple hundred yards later. I asked him what position I was in just to make sure I was right in my thinking. He told me I was in 4th and 2nd and 3rd were only about 5 minutes ahead of me. When he said that I decided then that I was going to go for it and try to race. If I blew up, then that’s fine but I had to give it a shot. I picked up the pace and started pushing a little bit on the downs while still trying to maintain my uphill pace.
I made it to Dowdells Knob where I was greeted by Perry (the RD of Double Top). He told me I was looking strong and that they 3rd was only about 5 minutes up. Dang! He was pushing hard too. I left and continued to push until Molly Hugger. It started to get really hot so when I got to there I asked them to pour a little water over my head and neck to help cool off. This time we took the Sawtooth trail instead of PMT.

I was off again thinking that I could make up time on the climbs on Sawtooth but DANG! I forgot how steep some of the climbs were on this section. They weren’t long but between the hills and the heat, it got me. I even felt like a bonk coming on so I popped another Gel and pushed forward. I started to feel better but I was still burning up. When I got to Fox Den AS I found out that he had put a little time on me. I poured a little more water over my head and neck and was off for the last 6 mile stretch. The cold water sparked me up and I felt good again.

Leaving, I knew I probably couldn’t catch 3rd but I kept pushing because I wanted to at least hold my 4th place finish. I maintained a pretty good pace considering the terrain. I crossed the road at Buzzards Roost and was finally able to open up my stride up a little more since there weren’t as many rocks. Man did it feel good to open instead of having to short step through all the technical parts. Soon I came to the crossing were I turned right onto the trail we came in on this morning. It was about 2 miles of nice smooth trail. I was able to really open up more here. I could just imagine Vince coming up behind me and passing me at the last minute. Soon I could see the group shelter and finish line. I came in being greeted by cheers from close friends. I crossed the finish line in 8:09 and had secured 4th pace. Mallory was right there at the finish to cheer me on. I shook Thomas’s hand as he congratulated me and then proceeded to give Mallory a big smelly hug!

Amazing People deserve Smelly Hugs

This race has got to be one of my favorites and this weekend was no exception. I couldn’t have asked for a better race or better group of people to make memories with! I also got the coolest hand turned coffee mug for placing within the Top 5.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Other Side of the Table

Since I was unable to run Pinhoti this year, I decided to change things up a little bit. I called Todd and told him I would like to volunteer. So last weekend, me and my friend Jacob headed off to Alabama to run Porter's Gap AS (mile 68). It was raining as soon as we go into Alabama and it wouldn't stop until the next day. We arrived at Porters gap with plenty of time to spare (about 3ish) and began to set everything up. Once we had everything set up, someone arrived with everyone's drop bags so we laid them out and put them in numerical order so that runners could find them efficiently as they got in. With everything ready to go we cracked open a beer and made a bacon egg and cheese sandwich and enjoyed the calm before the storm (of runners that would be coming).

After awhile, the first runner came through and didn't need anything and ran on. The second came about 30 minutes later and just filled his bottles. 30 minutes later another came and refilled his bottles and grabbed his drop bag. "Man this is easy!" I thought. It wasn't long after that though that runners came through in a steady stream and had us running around trying to make sure everyone had what they needed. I must have made 150 grilled cheese sandwiches for everyone before the night was over. Luckily my Alabama friend Sonia was there to hang out and help while she waited to pace another friend of mine Sunny.

**Side Note: It was Sunny's 1st 100 miler and she did an awesome job. Congrats Sunny!

We finally shut the aid station down at 3:30 and packed everything up to head back into town to catch some sleep before driving back to Macon. All in all it was a blast! It was just as fun as running the race except it didn't hurt NEAR as much. It was also very humbling. As a runner I know how important it is to have someone there waiting for you on the other side of the table when you come into an aid station. Now I know how much work it takes to set up that table. I couldn't be more thankful for those who help us runners do what we love.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Fall 2015 Update

Well this Fall didn’t play out exactly as I had planned. I spent the large part of the summer trying to get some quality miles in because it was so hot that I couldn’t get the weekly mileage that I hoped for. I maintained a steady schedule of 1 week hard and then 1 week easier, while logging about 80-85 on my hard weeks and 50-60 on easier weeks. I made trips to North Georgia as often as I could to get in some good climbing.

However, somewhere during all this ‘Mr. Injury’ decided to nut check my pride. The outside of my right anklebone started to give me a little trouble. This started slowly and I didn’t think anything about it at first because little nuances happen so often and they usually work themselves out. I first thought it was a soft tissues injury. But as time went on, it got worse. At this time I was getting ready to make a trip to Tennessee to meet my friend Jacob, who was thru hiking the Appalachian Trail. The plan was to park then run/fast-pack 50ish miles to meet him on the trail followed by spending the next day or two hiking back towards the truck with him. I hadn’t seen him in almost 3 months so I was looking forward to spending some good quality time with my best friend in the woods. I had my bags packed and everything was ready to go when I went for one last run the day before I was supposed to meet him. I didn’t make it 3 miles in when it started to bother me. I had to swallow my pride and make the tough decision to pull out of my trip. I defiantly could have pushed through the pain but my fear was that I would have done serious damage in the process.

I researched and self diagnosed myself that it was my extensor digitorum longus. I made a Dr. appointment to confirm what I thought and get an opinion of what would happen if I were to race Georgia Jewell 100 miler with it (GJ100 was in 3 weeks). After a visit with the doc, he said that he thought it was a stress fracture in my right fibula but the x-ray didn’t show it. (Stress fractures can take up to 5 weeks to show in an X-Ray) He suggested I take 4 weeks off for safe measures. This posed a serious problem. There’s no way I could sit out the race if I took 2 weeks off and then it felt fine. I expressed my concern and he said that an MRI would tell for certain. So we scheduled an appointment for one and low and behold….. stress fracture. I did catch it pretty early but he still suggested I take 6 weeks off to let it completely heal. He told me I could do anything besides running or jumping. This meant I could hit

Well that knocked me out of both the Jewell and Pinhoti. (I would be able to run by Pinhoti again, but I wouldn’t be in 100-mile shape) This past 5 weeks feels like I have been wearing a straight jacket. It has been all I could do to stay sane. It hasn’t  been a complete waste of 6 weeks though. I was able to go pick Jacob up as he finished his nearly 2200-mile hike and hike the last 9 miles with him. I also will be running an aid station during the Pinhoti instead of running. It will be nice to be on the other side and help encourage people during the tough times just as they have done for me in past races.

I have refocused my energy to mountain biking. I have signed up for a couple long distance long distance mountain bike races, Pisgah Double Dare and Cross Florida Individual Time Trail. Double Dare is a two-day mountain bike adventure race in the Pisgah National Forrest and CFITT is a race across the width of Florida (approximately 270 miles). This weekend is Double Dare, and while I wont be as competitive as I would have in a 100-mile race I am looking forward to a great time on the bike spent in the beautiful mountains of Pisgah.

Ill also get to start running this weekend and couldn’t be more happy about that. If nothing else, this time off has taught me a little more patience and allowed me to crave the run in the mountains on a deeper level. I’m planning on doing a 100 miler in the spring since I couldn’t make these two. I’ll be entering the lottery for Western States and the coveted Hardrock 100. If I don’t get drawn for either of those then I’ve got my eyes set on Massanutten 100.

Check back for reports on how Double Dare and CFITT goes!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Big Horn 100 - June 19th-20th 2015

This race started at 11:00 local time. The night before, I tried to stay up a little later than I normally would becuase I wasnt adjusted to the time change and if I went to bed when I wanted to (at 7:30) I would wake up super early (around 4:00) like I had the previous two days. I figured If i could stay up alittle later, I would sleep a little longer and that way I could sleep as long as possible before I woke up to get ready to race. I wound up waking up at 6:00 and got dressed and triple checked that I had everything I needed and that Abbie had everything that she may need also.

Me and Abbie stopped by McDonalds to get a quick breakfast, even though it had plenty of grease I knew I would have time for the food to digest before we started and it wouldnt bother my stomach. On a side note, If you ever travel out west, add chicken biscuits to the list of foods they dont serve out there. Abbie tried to order one and they looked at her like she was crazy. After McDonalds, I stopped by JavaMoon to get a Shot in the Dark and we headed to Dayton.

The race meeting was scheduled for 9:00, so ofcourse I got there at 8:15 (For those who dont know me, I hate being late and always try to get somewhere early when possible).  I killed time by walking down to the river by the finish and skipping rocks. It was suprising how calm I was about this race. I guess I knew I was just out there to have fun, well to have as much fun as running 100 miles would allow. I knew the course profile and knew about how long it should take me to get from one point to the next, but didn't have a time goal. Not knowing how the altitude would affect me, I was ok if it took me longer than expected. The race meeting started promply at 9:00. "Thank You"s were given and the course was desribed. After the meeting we were supposed to head to the starting line (about 4 miles up the road at Tounge River). Buses were available for shuttling, but we were asked to take other runners with us if we had a vehicle and room in our car. We went to our car and made a lap around the parking lot and found two runners to ride to the start with us. They were a nice couple from New Jersey, but I cant remember their names for the life of me (I'm terrible with names).

Me and Abbie at the Little Bighorn River before the Race Briefing

Arriving at the start, we had an hour until the race began. Me and Abbie congregated down along a small foot bridge along with many other people. We made small talk with people. I would later be surprised by some of the people who we spoke to recognized me along the course and called out my name and cheered me on. Its amazing how much something little like that can mean to you. I traveled all the way across the country and didn't know a soul other than my sister there. So to hear someone you call out your name and cheer you on hits a humble piece of the heart. This type of comradery is one thing that makes ultrarunning so amazing.
View from the footbridge at the Start

Soon we all gathered at the starting line, and after the national anthem was and a prayer was said for our safety we were off. I quickly wished that I had started farther up towards the start. To get past people who were moving to slow for me, I got all the way to the side of the dirt road. Running what I consider a slow pace, I passed a lot of people. The field spread out pretty quickly because there was about 1.5 miles of dirt road before we hit the trail. 
Iconic Landmark for this Race

I almost instany found someone I knew. It was Tom, the guy from California I met earlier in the week at WalMart. I was wondering if I would see him out here. The beginning of the race is in a canyon and the tempatures are naturally hotter. I also noticed that it was humid that day because within a couple miles my shirt was soaked through with sweat. Now when I say "hot" and "humid", Im refering to Wyoming standards. Compared to the Georgia weather that Im used to, it was a nice spring day!

After the beginnig road section, it was some single track with small runnable climbs that started taking you out of the canyon. During these couple of miles, I only passed a couple of people. The road section, had pretty much settled everyone into there place. After these couple of miles we reached Lower Sheep Ais Station.

 I refilled my bottles, and off I went. The trail soon opened up to a large meadow that climbed up the mountain as far as you could see. All I could think was "WOW! They dont have views like this in Georgia". I pulled out my phone to snap a picture, which doesnt do it justice. The climb wasnt to teribly steep, I remember thinking that it was a runnable climb if this were a 50k, however this wasnt a 50k so I threw it down in low and ran/hiked up it. I reached the top of what I could see from the bottom antcipating that that was the top of the climb. I was mistaken. At the crest of that portion, revealed another meadow climb in equal length to the previous one. I just laughed to myself becuase each crest revealed another climb identical to the previous one. These climbs throught he meadows went on for 5 miles. As I said earlier the heat and humidity wasnt that bad for me since I am a Georgia native, however what was soul sucking was the sun. We have heat in Gerogia, but we dont have the wide open spaces that the west has. We pretty much always run in the shaded trails, but one thing they dont believe in out west is shade trees. At the begining of the race, I thought that I would have to stay on top of my water intake to insure I didnt forget to drink but I didnt have to remind myself at all. I was going through 16.9oz of water every 45 minutes pretty much the whole first day. That sun made me thirsty! 
The Meadow climb that went on for 5 miles

Also exactly at an hour I took my first gel. My plan was to take a gel every 30 minutes starting at an hour. I also reverted back to some gels that I used to use when I was road running marathons. They are Accel Gels which were the standard 100 calories, but have a 1:4 ratio of protien to carbhydrates. I dont like that they have protien in them because the stomach digest it so much slower, but they were easy to get down.

After finally reaching the top of the climb through the meadows we reached Upper Sheep Aid Station. A quick look at my altimiter told me that we really didnt have to climb much more to reach the next aid station, which was Dry Fork. This several miles consisted of just some rolling hills on some gravel roads and through meadows. Finally you could see the Dry Fork Aid Station. Running into it, I was greeted by my sister Abbie. I told her to expect me at 3 hours in and it was exactly 3 hours so it was great timing. She filled my water bottles while I found my drop bag. I stuff gels in my pocket, took out the trash, ate an oatmeal cream pie, put on some more 2Toms lube, and put more sunscreen on. Reapplying suncreen was a must because the sun was more intense at these higher altitudes. I felt like I spent more time here than I wanted to, but looking back I only spent 5 minutes there. With everything taken care of, I set out again. I knew I wouldn’t see her until the turn around so I thanked her and told her I would see her in several hours.

Running into Dry Fork with Tom

Leaving this aid station, we ran a jeep road down hill for a couple miles. Again, this section wasn’t steep but it was steady. All I could think was “This is gonna bite on the way back up”. You should start to be noticing a pattern here. Nothing is very steep, but it justs go on and on and on. These climbs were completely different than what we have here in the southeast. When we have a good climb back home it would be very steep but don’t last very long. This section was overall pretty bland, with nothing exciting happening. I spent most of the time talking with other runners as we ran.
Descending out of Dry Fork

The next aid station we came into was Cow Camp. I honestly just had to look up the name of this aid station because I could only remember it as the one with all the bacon! Haha apparently the people who run this aid station pride themselves on cooking up huge mounds of bacon. I must say….. It was Delecious! A young guy refilled my bottles, I grabbed severl pieces of bacon and ate them and walked over to where a woman had cups of coke set out. I asked for a cup, and she talked with me for a few seconds asking about my accent and where I was from while I downing my coke. I thanked her and the rest of the volunteers and off I went again.

I left feeling good about my efficient time through the aid station. I settled back into a groove knowing it was going to be 7 miles until the next aid station at Bear Camp. I probably made it about a mile  and quarter when I reached for one of my bottles and noticed that I was missing one! I couldn’t believe it! I had just had it in my hand; I even remebering the young guy handing me both bottles before I walked over to the cokes. I couldn’t imagine it popping out of my vest without me realizing it, so I must have sat it down then I grabbed a cup of coke. This is NOT good. I was drinking more water than I antcipated because I needed it. It was about 4 and a half hours in and I hadnt peed yet. I looked back and could see the aid station wayyyyy off in the distance. I decided I would push forward instead of backtracking. This was a risky choice, looking back it could have turned out bad. I sunk my head and trudge forward. I couldn’t believe I made such a stupid mistake.

A few minutes after being zoned out, I heard the guy infront of me say “Phew! Will you look at that. Aint that beautiful?” I picked my head up and what a beautiful sight it was. My moment of kicking myself had allowed me to briefly forget what I was here to do, and that was to enjoy the experience. With the beauty of the scenery flushing my self pity away, I took out my phone and snapped a picture. From then on I started chatting with the guy infront of me. His name was Lance and was a 21 year olf from Vermont. He had rode his bicycle all the way out here in 30 somehting days (I cant remember the exact number). I thought that was pretty cool to be able to have the freedom to do something like that. I knew I would never be able to do that between my schoolwork and job. I probed more to find out more, and turns out he was doing it for school. He was getting school credit for an epic adventure. WHAT?! Where was this major when I was signing up for classes?
If you get down, Just look up and realize how lucky you are
The trail started weaving in and out of some area with shade and coverage, which was a nice change. Lance said his quads were pretty tight and I winded up moving on ahead of him. Sometime earlier my stomach started to feel weird, but by now it was starting to feel bad. I thought it may have been the altitude, but that didn’t make much sence because I had already gotten up to 7600’ without any problems and I was at a lower atlitude than that right now. Either way, with altitude being on my mind I cut it back a tad and was just playing it easy. I also started having some trouble getting gels down. I was having to force myself to eat them every 30 minutes. I continued to feel worse and I thought to myself  “Just get to the turn around and see if you feel better”. The turn around was about 23 more miles, so I knew if I convince myself to push on then I would more than likely feel better by then. I pushed on, and continued to feel worse. I had to renegotiate with myself, “Just get to the next aid station”. (2 more miles… baby bites… one step at a time… that’s how you finish) I pushed forward and continued to feel worse until I got to the point where I couldn’t push another step. I sat on a boulder right next to the trail. I felt like if I took another step I would lose control of certain bodily function.

“Why do I feel like this?! Im less than 30 miles in.” I thought. I never expected this so early on. Towards the end, yea that would be more acceptable and predictable, but now?! Sitting on the boulder, a few runners passed me and asked if I was ok. I told them I was fine and I was just trying to settle my stomach. My stomach started to feel better and I was deciding whether to get up and push forward yet or not when another guy came by. “You Ok?” “Yea, Just trying to settle my stomach” “You want some Tums?” “You got some?! YEA that would be GREAT” He gave me a couple of tums and I chewed one up and moved forward. I started feeling better instantly. I never got this guys name, but he saved my race. I also will never run a longer race without having Tums on me from now on. I was quickly able to start back running and before long I ran into Bear Camp.

After reflecting on what could have caused my stomach to act up, I believe it was all the sugar from the gels hitting my stomach at once combined with the heat. For the entire rest of the race I had absolutely no trouble eating, except I just didn’t want gels. I ate everything from bacon, sausage, beef jerky, a McMuffin, a quesadilla, but not another gel the whole race.

Running into Bear Camp, the first thing I needed to address what my water bottle issue. Now that my stomach issue was settled, it was time to move onto the next most important issue. I asked if they had a cheap water bottle like the nestle or kroger water bottles. They told me they didn’t because they packed all they stuff in on horseback but the next aidstation was only 3 miles away and it would have my drop bag. Just stop for a second. These people, along with several other aid station, packed everything for 600 runners (between the 100 milers and the 50 milers that would start the next morning) in on horseback. Now that’s dedication! Just saying. I thanked them for their help and said I could make it there without a problem. I chugged half my refilled bottle of water, refilled it once again, grabbed a couple pieces of beef jerky and headed on out.

The next section was only 3 miles, but is what is referred to as “The Wall” during the race. This section is very steep and mimics a little closer to what Im used to climbing in the North Georgia mountains. I was dropping down The Wall (apprx 2200’ in 3 miles) but going down can be just as bad sometimes. The way down was a slow but steady trot. I hadnt planned on using my trekking poles during this race, but I gave them to Abbie to have just incase I wanted them. Im glad I did because on the descent down The Wall, I decided I would pick them up at the turn around so I could use them when I headed back up. I knew they would help out a lot when I was 67 miles in.

After finally reaching the bottom, I ran into Foot Bridge which is the second major aid station. This place was VERY systematic and had everything down to a T. They had me a chair and handed me my drop bag just as soon as I got there. I sat down to empty my pockets of trash and one volunteer took my bottle to refill. I also asked her about a cheap water bottle I could take with me. She returned with my water bottle and a nestle water bottle. HALLEJUIAH! I grabbed another oatmeal pie out of my bag and started eating it while a volunteer started asking me questions at about 100 mph. OK maybe she wasn’t talking that fast, but when you’ve been in your own little world for hours and hours, all the activity going on seemed like it was a mad house. She asked how I felt, if I saw any spots, was dizzy, and when the last time I peed was. (Just normal medical questions) Ready to get out of the hustle and bustle I got my stuff together and headed on out. The next 18 miles was a climb to the turn around.

The weather was also starting to look bad at this point. The skies were turning dark and the storms that were in that mornings forecast began to look more and more promising. Leaving the Foot Bridge Aid Station, you climb out of a canyon. A canyon with a lot of fallen rock all around it. The winds were starting to blow pretty stiff and we were told we needed to get out of that section as quickly as we could if the weather was looking bad during our race briefing that morning. They didn’t have to tell me twice, I didn’t want one of those rocks to fall on my head! I reached the next aid station in about 3 miles and was out of the way of the rocks that could fall. I didn’t spend much time at Cathedral rock, I refilled my bottles and grabbed more jerky and was off once again.

The next stretch was about 6.5 miles to aid station and to be honest I don’t remember much that happened during this period. It was just getting dark by the time I reached the Spring Marsh aid station though. I ran in without a light, but put it on when I left. I sat down here to drink a cup of chicken broth as I slipped on my arm warmers. The tempature was starting to drop and I had another 2000’ feet to climb before I reached the turn around which means it was gonna get colddd. I didn’t finish my broth so I took it with me and decided to power hike while I drank it to keep my body temperature up. Once I finished it I started running when I could and before long I reached the Elk Camp Aid Station.

I refilled and grabbed more jerky here and headed back out. I was getting tired and colder, but I only had 5.5 miles to go before the turn around. These next couple miles were known to be extremely muddy. Some people have even been known to have there shoes pulled off in the mud. I did my best to avoid as much of it as I could, but it was nearly impossible. I my shoes were completely caked in mud and I would put them in the water when I came to somewhere that has a water crossing with a hard bottom to try to wash some of it off. I didn’t care about being wet but the mud made my shoes heavy!

Soon it opened up to an open meadow and I could see one or two car tailights in the distance. I knew this must be the road crossing that was about a mile from the turn around. This gave me a little spark because I knew I was close. The turn around was as big of a milemarker as the finish was. I was dead tired, sleepy, and cold, but I knew that once I left the turn around that I would finish. I got to the road and went into another meadow and very shortly saw a sign that said “Welcome to Jaws AS” This had to be the most decieving thing ever. I counted 10 signs that said “Welcome to Jaws” each being spread a sadistic spacing from the previous one, but never the less I finally got there.

I was greeted once again by my sister Abbie. We went in a heated tent and I sat down. I told her about my stomach problems earlier, how I lost my bottle, and how freaking cold I was! Although I didn’t have to tell her how cold it was, she was wearing sweetpants, a hoodie jackey and my down jacket on top of that. I had 4 or 5 pieces of bacon and half a quesadilla. I also grabbed a fresh pair of socks but didn’t put them on. I put them in my pack because I wanted to get back through all that mud before I changed them. I just sat there. I don’t know why, I knew I wasn’t quitting but I just did not want to go back out in the cold. I finally broke through mentally and put on my helium 2 rain jacket, buff headband, and gloves and went out to embrace the cold again. I fully expected to come out of some of that clothing within a mile or so but I didn’t care; I wanted to be warm when I started.

I also took out my trekking poles on the way back too. I noticed that once the darkness had fallen and my legs became so tired, I was having a hard time not stumbling. This was due mainly to the fact of the different characteristic of the trails out there. The trails are what reminded me of cattle paths through a pasture. Theyre were worn trails that were beaten down to make a 4-5 trench in the ground. Im glad I don’t over pronate, because if I did I would have had a terrible time running in that trench. I ran beside the actual trail at all times that were possible. But on the way back I used my poles to help me keep balance while I was tired. This helped out a lot more that I thought.

The way back during the night was kind of a blurr. One thing was certain, as soon as I left I instantly felt better. There was no doubt in my mind I was going to finish now. I remember keeping my head down and making sure to maintain relentless forward progress. I made it into Elk Camp and grabbed more broth. I downed it very quickly and changed my socks for the first time. It was heaven. There is absolutley nothing that feels better than a fresh pair of socks.

After a change of socks I struck out again and made it back to Spring Marsh. Pretty boring during this time period actually. It was dark and I just kept my head down and kept moving forward. It got light not long before I made it back to Cathedral Rock. One benefit about this place during the summer is the very short nights. The darkness can really slow you down because your world is shrunk down to the 5ft circle of light emited from your headlamp, so the daybreak was a welcomed beauty. Once the sun rose I found myself going from a trot/slow run to a relatively fast paced run down hill. My feet were starting to hurt, I could feel what I call “Trench Foot”. Im not exactly sure a real name for it but its where your feet stay wet for so long they become all pruny and a crease forms on the bottom of your foot. Eventually the crease becomes a fold in the since and everytime you step you feel it pinch together. It feels like a blister, but I knew it wasn’t since I had delt with it before. I just pushed through it.

Once I reached Cathedral Rock, I sate down while I ate jerky and drank some coke. Several other runner had gotten in the aid station right before I did. I left the aid station, caught back up with them, and passed them during one of my faster downhill descents. I had to take advantage of my legs feeling decent while I could. The next little stretch into Foot Bridge went by without any major concerns.

I reached Foot Bridge and was welcomed by the friendly group of people once again, this time I was able to handle the hustle and bustle activity going on. The volunteers filled my bottles for me and brought me a McMuffin and a piece of sausage. I inhaled that food! I also quickly cleaned my feet off in a footwash bucket they gave me and dried them off with a towel and slapped on another fresh pair of socks. Out of there in less than 6 minutes! They seem to be taken off guard by how fast I left, but I wasn’t making any progress sitting in an aid station. It was time to GO!

The next part was goin up The Wall. I knew exactly what was coming, so I went straight at it, digging my poles into the ground and using my upper body to help me climb that mountain. After a very grueling 3 mile climb, I made it to Bear Camp. I made quick work of going in and out of there and tried to get back on the trail as quickly as I could. This next section was going to be a 7 mile stretch. Yet somehow it didn’t seem as long as it did when I was going the other way. This was probably due to the fact that I wasn’t having stomach issue sthis time.

Reaching Cow Camp, I could see the 50k’ers merging in. It was nice to see more people. I got into the aid station and asked if they had happen to seen my bottle that I lost the day before, but they hadnt. Oh well it was worth a try. I grabbed a couple oatmeal rasin cookies on my way out and I don’t know it is was because I was 77 miles into the race or what but those cookies were amazing!

The stretch from here to Dry Fork was really good. The 50k’ers were so encouraging as I passed them. They really help me keep my pace up with their praises and “good job”s. The climb up to Dry Fork is some kind of torture. You can see the aid station from well over a mile away, but you have a climb that just eats you away. I wasn’t able to run it so I power hiked to the top. Coming into Dry Fork I saw Abbie and was greeted by another man who was standing just beside the aid station. He said “Do you have a pacer? Do you want one?” I looked at him and took a second to register what he just said. Once I did I said “No I don’t have one, but your more than welcome to run it in with me if you want!” 
Climb back up to Dry Fork

Finally making it back up to Dry Fork

After I got everything I needed from the aid station we set off. The friendly stranger’s name was Chris. As we took off down the road he said “your moving really good” I laughed and told him it was only on the downhills that I was fast right now and I was hoping to make some good time in that 5 miles of open meadow. We talked and it really helped the time pass. Once we got to the meadow, I realized that it was steeper than I remembered and wasn’t able to run as much as I hoped. My quads were really starting to go and felt more and more like jello. Once we got to the bottom we made our way down into the canyon following the river out to the road that we started on. Once we hit the road I thought we only had about 4 miles to go. I was wrong…

The road was wide open to the sun and the trench foot on my feet strarted hurting pretty bad. It felt like running on nails. I walk/ran the road (mostly walking). I couldn’t find the motivation to push myself. I was ready to be done, but I had nothing to prove. It didn’t matter what time I came in there, at this point I was just finishing. It felt like we went forever looking for the Homestretch aid station. I thought it was a the place where we started, but it wasn’t. It winded up being about another mile and half down the road. Once we reached Homestretch, they asked me if I needed anything. I said “No all I need is to get to the end of this road and cross that finish line”

This aid station marked 2 miles until the finish. I wasn’t moving very fast, just a solid power walk. This was until about ¾ mile left to go. I knew that there was two other 100 mile racers ahead of me within sight, but I didn’t care. We all had played leap frog throughout the past 100 miles, passing them wouldn’t mean anything. We all had the same goal, and that was just to cross the finish line. I noticed there was a car pulled over on the side of the dirt road with a woman and a man standing beside it. The woman started cheering franticly. Turns out she was cheering on, what I assume was her son, one of the 100 milers infront of me. “Go!! 100 miles you got this! Better run, Theres another 100 miler behind you!”. The guy obviously had the same thought process as me because I heard him say something to the effect of ‘That’s fine, Im tired and I just want to finish’.

Im not sure why, but hearing this made me want be competative, his mom motivated someone she hadnt intended to. So I yelled “Fair warning, Im coming up behind to pass you.” I thought that this would encourage him to run. He didn’t though, he simply just maintained his pace. I passed him and then the other 100 miler. I knew that I was moving pretty fast, or atleast fast for just having been on my feet as long as I had. Chris looked at me and said “Man!! You have been sand bagging something serious!” I laughed and told him “No, that you just had to pass people in a way to fool them into thinking that there is no way they could catch you”. Chris looked at me and then at his watch and said “Well getting passed at and 8:15 pace will definatly do that to them” At this point everything hurt excruciatingly. My feet, my quads, my hamstrings, it all felt as if I were running on nails and were being heated by the fires of hell. I just pushed through to get to the finish. We came up on the road leading into the park and I then navigated my way through the park. People were yelling great job and telling me I was looking strong. I heard a couple people call my name as they cheered. I didn’t see who it was but I assume it was someone I had met on the trail or sometime in the past couple days. I saw Abbie behind the finish line waiting for me. I crossed the finish line with a sense of sweet relief.
Running it in with Chris behind me

My support system for the whole trip

I thanked Chris again for being company and running the last little bit with me. Before we left, I got out into the Little Bighorn River and sat down to let the ice cold water bring relief to my legs. I didn’t stick around the park, I just wanted a shower and some sleep. I asked Abbie to take me to Wendys so I could get a big Baconator and asked if she would go get me one of the homemade moon pies from the coffee shop. These little deserts had been on my mind ever since I first saw them when we arrived in Wyoming. She got me my burger and dropped me off at the hotel and went off to collect my moonpie I had been so looking forward. She called within a few minutes to drop some bad news. She couldn’t get me the moonpie, they were closed. DISSAPPOINTMENT!! I was so sad. Luckily the sadness didn’t last long because after I got out the shower I fell asleep within seconds and didn’t wake up until 12 hours later.

This was extremely beautiful race that was excucuted phenomily by the race director and all the volunteers. I would gladly go back to race again. While being one of the most beauiful places Ive been, theres something about it. Its not home, I love my trails on the East Coast mountains. They both have their unique beauty, and offer their own set of challenges to overcome.