Saturday, October 19, 2013

A year in review, including The Bear 100

It has been a long time since I updated this blog.  I didn't really think anyone ever read it but then a few people commented that I hadn't written for a while, so here it goes.
A whole year has gone by and lots has happened!  Lots of really great things!  I started a new job, I really experimented with my nutrition hoping to cure my GI ailments, approached running in a new way and with that in mind, all the races I did this year where races that I had never done before.  Plus a whole bunch of other things, but I will write only about a few.
With the surgery behind me and my nerve pain much reduced, I was able to do much more running than just relying on cross training.  I really enjoyed cross training however getting up at 4:30 everyday to workout at 5 AM was not sustainable for me.  So it was good timing that I was going to try something else.  The running year started with a solid run at Bridle Trails 50k, a very fun night run on bridle trails.  This course is known for its mud and manure, however this year it was so cold and had been for several weeks that there was no mud, manure yes, but mud no.  SO it was much easier to run and much easier to avoid the manure.  Having never done this race before, I have no idea if it is more fun to slide around in the mud.  I was hoping to break 5:30 and wound up doing a 4:44.  That really surprised me.  However, I am quite sure that I out-ran my fitness level and the recovery did set me back a bit.  Owen told me that if I beat his best time there he would buy me dinner.  I tried hard, but did not succeed, he still had me by 10 minutes.  But he was there to greet me at the finish line and because  I was first woman, he took me to dinner anyway.  That was January.

Nothing too eventful happened in February unless you count going snowshoeing for Owen's birthday and near catastrophe struck.  I won't go into details, but it was the scariest moment for me in whole life thus far.  And all I can say is thank the heavens that he is still alive.  Here is something else positive from his birthday, the homemade cake.

Then in March I blew my hamstring but still raced the Gorge 50k on it and the entire race sucked for me because of it, enough said, let's move on.

Then came many many months of lots of running.  I upped my weekday runs to 10+ miles 3 days a week with 2 days of yoga and some kettle bell workouts.  The summer was incredible and we were able to do so many fantastic runs.  We went to Mt. Rainier, even took my parents there, the PCT, alpine lakes region, etc.  And our land lady was kind enough to build us a deck so we spend lots of time recovering on the deck and eating, BBQ-ing and all that goes with that.
Melakwa Lake loop

Thompson Lake

Bandera Mt

Always a beautiful sight

Rainier in the distance

New Deck with the parents

Mt. Rainier with the parents, their first trip!

PCT Section J run with EB

Kodak courage

~11 hours on the PCT, Epic Day!

Mr. Rainier, White River campground to Ipsut CG

Very steep sections and ~6700 ft

cool suspension bridge on the Wonderland
The sun went down fast and it was COLD
My favorite, watching the sunset with Owen at 6700 ft at Rainier, priceless

~44 miles on the Wonderland, great day, hard day

In August we were lucky enough to run Waldo 100k.  This event is top notch event.  We arrived Friday night and camped in the parking lot with many others.  We parked in the parking lot of the ski lodge and so available to us were the bathrooms, warmth inside, a little cafeteria that opened I believe just for the race.  I slept surprisingly well that night and got up very early for the 5 AM start.  We started in the dark and on a pretty major climb.  By the time the sun came up we were headed for the first big peak, Mt Fuji, and an incredible view.  This race is run almost entirely on single track and is one of the most organized, beautiful, fun and tough events I have ever had the privilege of running.  I highly recommend it. Good friend Eric Barnes was there and Jenny Appel and so the next morning, we went to breakfast at the nearest town in a greasy dinner.  A greasy omelet never tasted so good!

Friday before the race at the ski lodge

Thanks to Long Run photos, this incredible section of the course was captured

Great photo of Owen, thanks to Long Run photo

YUM, breakfast and coffee!
We recovered from Waldo and next up was the Bear 100.  We decided to drive to Logan, Utah for this race instead of fly just to mix things up and to see some of the good old USA.  Right out of the gate, I got a speeding ticket!  Oh boy.  The drive was not too bad, including all the pit stops, it took us 14 hours from Seattle.  The Bear claims to be 36 hours of Indian Summer.  It starts in Logan, Utah and ends in Fish Haven, Idaho at Bear Lake, 100 miles later and through the Wasatch/Uinta mountains.  The average elevation is ~7000ft, which for a sea level resident is daunting.  A storm rolled in making the Indian Summer a myth to us.  We brought all of our winter gear.  I had read some race reports on years with warm temperatures that had said it had gotten really cold at night.  We were prepared.  I started off wearing tights which I have never done in a 100 miler but I am glad that I did, we encountered snow and ice nearly immediately.  I dressed correctly as although the temps dropped to the low 20's, I actually had managed to stay fairly warm.  I did wear my cross county ski pants at night and a puffy coat though.....
The Bear for me was a very tough event.  Once again, I got very sick at mile 45 and puked for ~ 20 miles.  Once I arrived at mile 61, I knew I would be in for a long one as I could not keep food down and had very little energy to think, strategize or run.  I left that aid station and continued to puke every few steps and was quite unstable on my feet.  A guy who was pacing another runner stopped and asked me some questions about my condition.  He told me it was in my best interest to go back to the last aid station and recover because we had a long climb ahead.  He said he was a doctor and that he was not just blowing smoke up my behind, but that he did know what he was talking about. I didn't listen to him, I did not want to back track.  Then about 30 minutes later, Owen caught up to me and I was still bend over puking but a little bit further along the course.  He also told me to turn around and go back to that aid station and recover. I had probably gone about 2 miles and did not want to turn around but I knew he and the the other guy were right.  I reluctantly turned around and went back.  I got to that aid station, immediately fell asleep.  I woke up, puked some more, then I eventually tried to keep down broth and a banana.  Once I could keep something down, I headed back out.  I left that aid station at 2:45 AM.  I had been there nearly 3 hours.  I went back up the climb that I had started 3 hours earlier and just kept moving.  I still felt sick and now had diarrhea but I just wanted to finish.  And without going into too many more details, I did finish.  I thought I would not make the cut off time of 36 hours but told myself, even if I didn't finish in 36 hours, I would have still done the course.  I was unable to eat the rest of the miles but I could drink water and broth.  There were 2 trail angels that I met.  One was pacing someone else and stopped to pick me out of the crazy mud and encourage me.  This was about mile 90, he was so kind, so very kind.  At the last aid station, mile 92, there was a woman there who asked me if I was alone and offered to run it in with me.  I was so grateful for her offer and took her up on it, she said she really wanted to see the last 8 miles of the course.  She was a true angel and having her company just took my mind off the insane climb to over 9000 feet that was just past the aid station and the subsequent steep downhill and the longest 8 miles of my life.  I crossed that finish line in 34 hours and 39 minutes.  The strange things is, I didn't even really feel relieved or excited.  I just felt very out of it.  I haven't even really begun to process this event, I cannot figure out how I feel about it.  I am glad to have kept going but also disappointed that this nutrition disaster keeps following me around, I seriously need to figure out what I am doing wrong that makes me so sick in these 100 milers.  Back to the drawing board. 
Owen finished in 32 1/2 hours despite his asthma problems.  We are both glad we finished.  We rested all day Sunday and drove back to Seattle on Monday.  Back to work on Tuesday...we need a vacation!
Snow and low temperatures on the first climb at the Bear

A sunny day for the finish

Some of the food from my drop bags that I never did eat after I got sick


Owen Connell said...

Good year in review babe...
The cake you made for my Bday was my highlight!
If you remember correctly , I ate the entire cake , minus the small piece you had with me in less than 48hrs! Xo.

Michael Chastain said...

I'm glad to see that you haven't abandoned the blog. Sounds like a great year of running adventures!

Olga King said...

When I saw your comment on my blog, I knew it might have meant you posted on your own! yeah! What a year, what a crazy year...Love the haircut. You are one tough cookie with the Bear! Going back, sleeping in, and still coming out - that's what I should have done at Tahoe! On that note, I am thinking (lottery willing) to come for that business to Tahoe AND Cascade Crest. But just for a slow hike:) Anyway, great photos, thanks for taking us with you through the year. How is the tummy, email me! I am hiring nutritionist, will see if that helps (and I stick to it once pay money, you know...constantly fall off the wagon).