Monday, June 20, 2016

Bryce 100

 And all those things I didn't say,  wrecking balls inside my brain....

My Power's turned up...

I'll be strong...

And I don't really care if nobody else believes...

Cuz I still gotta a lot of fight left in me.

So many stories come from one race. And, as Betsy reminded me, that's because you're out here for so long! 

I don't know if plans work for other runners, but my races never seem to go how I envision them. Even on the rare occasion I do everything right-or as planned, the twisted fates of mine seem to twirl me into a spiral of great or worse. My "race report" might read more like a short story taking liberal advantages with poetic license, and peppered with some seriously painful blisters, math calculations, and bowel movements. 

Bryce was my third 100 mile race. I came in last, placed 102, female #19 at 38:06.  Part of me, the very small boat in a big ocean part of me, is bummed about my time. If you know me, you know that I absolutely swoon over the long distances, and you also know I am not speedy at the long distances. I have an almost romantic relationship with a good playlist and an ascending single track down a mountain, and that is the dragon I chase.
I am not very competitive by nature, which makes "racing" not only ironic, but also difficult for me.  However, I love the atmosphere, the friendships, the beauty, the aid, and the finish of races, that sometimes I view as organized and assisted runs rather than races. Given all that fluffy information about me; I still thought I'd finish Bryce in 34 hours or less. 

In the post-holing months of layers and gloves, the fantastical warmth of summer mornings dance in the back of our minds. And in the desert in June, just the opposite.  We started out Friday morning at 6:01 am. It was 36 degrees at the start line. It warmed up soon enough, and I was cruising at my very own pace for miles. Really enjoying the views. Stopping dead where I stand at the first glimpse of the Red Hoo Doo's and the vast green forests afar. Then, gulping at the fact that I would still be moving this same time tomorrow.  But, you can't think about that, or you shouldn't. The time can overwhelm me and induce impatience and can open the flood gates of negativity.   My sweet Olivia told me that she believes my mom comes into our yard and visions in the form of a butterfly. As I moved through the variable and ever changing scenery of the course, I was often visited by the flutters of my mom as a Monarch Butterfly. This made me smile and tear, jumping emotional lily pads. One moment blissful gratitude for my daughters, then a whimper that I was so far away from them. I was very emotional on Friday. I was drenched in thought, and my mind is a hard thing to turn off.

Honestly, I thought the distances between aid stations were too far the first 30 miles, and therefore, the last 30 as well. The aid and volunteers were great. But, I ran out of water every stretch of those in-between's . Perhaps that was my fault, but 60 oz of water usually gets me through 10 miles or less, so that's what I brought, and that wasn't enough.  However, I was moving really well, and noticed that I am improving on power hiking.  boom, boom, boom. I trucked along all day long, eating so much and so often. My tribe would be proud of this little former puker. By god I think I've done repaired & reformed my stomach. So- That was #1 GOOD thing about Bryce, solid tummy. 

So here I am moving well. Mile, 10, 20, 30, 40, 45, 46, 47777, 488888, 4999999. Shit, it's dark. My feet had started to bother me around mile 30. Nothing too bad. And, not to sound like too much of a self proclaimed tough cookie, but pain doesn't bother me. Frankly, endorphin's usually mask my pain so incredibly well, that I don't even know something hurts or is broken until the run is over.  But, my feet were getting trashed early on.  I failed to take a head lamp going forward to the turn-around, mile 51.65. The sun went down as I was making my way through the single track into Crawford Aid. I was tripping on nature, and wishing that brutal sun would come back for just 30 more minutes. All day, I held close to my heart the idea of calling my girls at the turn around to say goodnight, and to gain some energy from their sweet voices and well wishes. As the night grew darker, I wept that I would miss them before bed.  I was in rough shape when I got to Betsy and Nancy.

I was so happy to see them both. "where's my car?" I asked. "Why?" asked Betsy. It was like she knew I already decided I was going to lay for just a minute. And, it was like she already decided that wasn't happening.  "Can you get my phone?" Betsy handed me my phone a few minutes later...No Service.:(

My friends sat me in a chair, changed my shoes and socks for me; something I don't usually do, but I had to try something to remedy the feet. Ibuprofen wasn't doing a thing for the pain. I ate soup and fried chicken I brought from home. My crew and pacer angels filled my pack, dressed me warmly, and Nancy and I trekked outta there at 10:30pm. I felt better. I was loaded up with calories and was relieved to be on the other side of 50. After a few hours of fighting the sleepy monster, I asked Nancy if I could shut my eyes for a few minutes. She gave me 2 minutes, that felt like 2 seconds. She let me sit down on the trail again, if I promised to eat while I sat. We went into Mile 62 at 2:00am.

 I sat in my car this time. I ate more soup, I drank a Red Bull, I changed my shoes back, still trying to ease my burning toes, pads, and heels. Then, Betsy and I headed out into the early morning hours. We only had 4 more hours until the heat of hell rose in the east. #2 GOOD thing, Betsy and I had a lot of fun chatting, laughing, eating & moving through the night. The cool weather was intoxicating, and although my feet were on fire, I jogged the downhills at her lead. We made it to mile 75 right before 7:00am. Shortly after that, I took off my socks. The sand, the friction, the sweat was unbearable. It was the only thing left I could try. So, I ran close to 20 mile with no socks, foot to shoe. The magic of mile 75 lasted for a few hours as we trucked through the morning. The blisters on my toes grew along with the intense sunshine. Aid Stations had run out of ice and cold water, bacon, and anything remotely palatable. I ate a sandwich that was in my pack and gel's the rest of the afternoon. I was slowing down to a slow walk by mile 86 on the brutal climb out or Proctor. We were now sharing the trail with the fresh and speedy 50k racers, and the 50 mile runners, too and getting asked to move out of the way frequently. I kept running out of water, and Betsy selflessly gave me her own more than once. There was no ice or means of cooling down at aid stations, at this point. We just had to deal with our rising core temps and swelling fingers. Salt, Salt, Salt, Gel, warm water, warm gatorade.  A small run off of cold water was salvation approaching the last aid station at Thunder Mountain. EVERYONE stopped and waddled in the puddle.

I knew we would be OK even at a slow pace, to go 7.5 miles from the last aid to the finish, and still make the 36 hour mark. I needed aid. I needed food, I needed ice and cold water. I also needed 7.5 miles, and no more than that. -And, I got none of that.

Betsy ran ahead to the aid. She was going to fill a sock with ice to keep on my neck. I approached a few minutes behind an irritated pacer. No ice. No cold water, in fact there was a line for warm water. They had little food, and nothing substantial left. But, the kicker was a white board that said the distance to the finish was 9 miles. The last 30+ hours had proven longer distances between about half the aid stations, by my math I was convinced this race was closer to 105 miles. And although it was only 1.5 miles longer than the website promised, it was too much, and I began to feel defeated. My blisters were riddling me with pain, to the point I was wincing and quivering at a jog. We now had 3 hours to go 9 miles with one of the biggest climbs of the race, and I was essentially crawling. I cried for a few minutes. 

I was angry and confused. I had been making cut -offs with hours to spare since the start. Once I accepted this point in the race for what it was. I said to Betsy. We will be fine, I am working and moving as fast as I can right now, and if I work any harder I'll kill myself.  I will move as fast as I can to the finish, hopefully they will give me an official finish time.
 My lungs were audibly filled with dust. I hadn't taken a clean deep breath since last night. My feet were wet, blistered, and burning. My back was throbbing given my compensated run to find some run/walk that spared my feet, unsuccessfully.  I ran out of water again, and again, Betsy gave me her own, and my core temp was so high I truly think you could have cooked a pot roast on my head.

So, I walked and winced in pain with every step. Betsy called Nancy and let her know we were walking it in to the finish. I still wanted to finish. Nancy walked the course backwards with ice and cold water. With over 3 miles left we were both dry as a bone.  The three of us walked to the finish, and I shuffled over the timing mat to the applause of the runners around. "Congratulations!  Go see my son to get your buckle."

I actually did get an official finish time, and my third 100 mile finish and buckle. I collapsed in a chair, vibrating and drained from the last 2 days. We shuttled back to my car. I took a shower in a public wash room and drank a warm beer as the hot water washed layers of dirt off my body. 
We headed back to Salt Lake after.

I don't know numbers, but so many people dropped.  Do I wish it would have gone better?- well, duh, yes. But, I am happy that I kept going. I am happier that I had 2 really amazing women by my side, and friends and family cheering me on from a distance. Encouraging messages from my family, my sister's text quoting my motivational song, a text from my husband to stay strong and finish, no matter what. I did the best I could, I really did. And, I am happy with the accomplishment. 

~I spared you the bowel movement details, but just know they existed and were graphic.~

I value time to reflect on not only races, but moments during them. The small moments or the few miles of smiles where the feeling of self pride and joy of the moment over ride the negativity and the impatience. When you put on your music, or laugh with your friend, and enjoy the run. 

Next up, Speegoat. The MONSTER of the 50k distance.


No one can really know Everything about you, but

I cannot live with someone who can't live without me.
Nadine Gordimer