So, It's almost 4:00pm, and I'm inspired to write some. I just poured a Wasatch Evolution into my first swag of 2017, another Red Hot 55k pint glass. I remember getting dressed that cold and rainy February morning and thinking, oh my! these shorts are tight! It's an early race, only 6 weeks after New Years! My first of the year. I got lost, I kinda panicked, I found my way back on course, I had the longest Red Hot run in the 4 I've done, my family didn't make it to the finish, they were 45 minutes late, I had no cell service, and I burst into tears of exhaustion when I saw my mini van chugging up the canyon. That was the start of my biggest year in Ultra-running. I'll only go back a little further, to charge my battery on the details. I ran a 100 in 2016, Bryce 100, and it fell apart later into day 2. I finished, but it was a death march to last place, 2 hours after the 36 hour cut-off. I was demoralized, I was tired, and I was in pain. And as every bad race has reasons...in the end, I just felt defeated. Then later in 2016 about this time, I crewed/paced my friends in 100 mile endeavors of their own. And, I was inspired to bite off more than I could quite possibly chew, I could quite possibly even choke on those bites, but a smart phone, an impulse, a credit card attached to Ultra Sign up, and let's be honest, probably a cocktail or 2...there was my 2017 of running, boom, boom, boom.
A little late to get my Bear 100 experience outta my head, but here I go. Jill and I were running the race, but we were not alone. Cheryl, Betsy, and Eve were all their to cover miles with one or both of us. Sometimes you just know you're going to have a bad day. I knew on Friday from the get go, that I was going to have a good day. I can't recall a race I've ever felt so strong and confident in the "good day". The Bear starts with a big climb in the dark, it was slow but steady and in an hour, maybe 2 we popped along some beautiful single track. The views were stunning and the weather was awesome. My music was eerily on point song after song in shuffle mode, and I kid you not, I was smiling and bubbly for the 5 hours it took me to get to the first drop bag aid station. Leatham Hollow, mile 20. I just did everything I knew I was supposed to do. I ran the dirt road like Jill told me to, where everyone else was walking, like Jill said they would be. Quickly after the road there was another climb. Boom, more giddy smiles and wide eyed bewilderment as I passed open range cows sitting in fire engine red maples and water gently running next to the fairy tale trails that I'm sure held snow white and those goofy dwarfs somewhere in it's entangled arms of beauty.
The miles ticked off with ease and I came into Mile 45 earlier than I targeted. My friends! Betsy and Cheryl were there with warm Wendy's chicken nuggets, bellissimo! Jill had just left. Pack it up pack it in and out to the road across the street and 6 miles to Tony grove. Here it got dark, but I still got into mile 51 before my target time. Cheryl was crewing Jill when I got there and Betsy took care of me. We were off and we came up on Jill who was not feeling great, about an hour or 2 later. The 3 of us, and the mad-Massachusetts-talker who somehow Betsy accidentally began pacing as well, mostly ran the 3 hours to Franklin. "Hey T-shirt, do you need a jacket?" This made me laugh and notice that everyone around me was bundled up and I had stripped down to said t-shirt and shorts. That changed when we left Franklin, even on the climb, I was starting to get a little chilled.
The miles to the lodge were dark and pleasant. Betsy and I chatted and giggled, or silently hiked for minutes at a time. I fell a little bit in the Logan river, and then met my lowest moment of The Bear. A tendon above my heel had been screaming at me for hours. Fatigue slowed me down, which made me get even colder, and then that thing that happens when you start to acknowledge all the tough stuff going on, happened. I began to get overwhelmed with the miles to go and even the few miles right in front of me. This felt like too much cold, too much pain, too much of everything. The back of my foot hurt incredibly bad on climbs. Relief came on down hill as I purposely slid my feet forward to avoid friction from the back of my shoe. She reminded me that I should have some crappy moments in a 100 when I told her I was feeling low. I ate some and we trucked on to Beaver Lodge, where we hunkered down in Eve's VW bus. Eve made me a grilled cheese and fresh pressed coffee...Sweet Jesus, I am so spoiled. Betsy was done with me, and I've got to say how happy and lucky I am to have a friend run almost 60 miles of the last 2, 100 miles I've done, which happened to only be 3 weeks apart. Thank you my friend. i owe ya- But, I have a feeling I'll repay that favor in 2018.
Eve and I began again, but not before she gave me the literal new socks off of her feet. How I didn't have socks in my bag there, I don't know. She threw on an older pair she had and off we went. I didn't realize the time, but just like that, we had arrived to my second morning of the Bear. We caught Jill at the top of the climb, mile 80 ish, and she and I were together the rest of the morning which turned into afternoon, and then the finish. Jill didn't feel well, and I have been in races feeling shitty for so long, and it sucks. The only silver lining is I was able to run with her in a 100. So Jill, Eve, and I trucked down to mile 85 together. Cheryl and Karl were there. Cheryl who paced Jill from Franklin to the lodge had a 3 hour break where she was supposed to sleep (she DID NOT sleep) and planned to pick me up for the final 15. She gotta a 2 for 1, and she led the way as Jill and I finished the Bear, in 32:33.
Right after Cheryl picked us up, the weather began to turn. The rain turned to icy snow, and the trails turned to mud. Oh Mud, had we not parted ways amicably at Bighorn?? Had we not had our fill of each other and all of our shoes? It was a slippery and rather painful, for me, stretch to the last mile and a half of road. Jill asked me if I was still having fun, and I answered "no, I just wanted to be done". The pain in my foot was unbearable, but I needed to feel it a little longer. But as all races have up's and down's, I laughed again as Cheryl and I lightly debated bacon. It's not food, she says. Why isn't it food, I say? It looks like food, it smells like food, you eat it! It's not food, it's not enough calories , she says..and this continued on down the slippery trail for long enough to remember that no one is making me do this, and the smile returned even as I winced in pain.
I let out some mix of relief and tears when Cheryl said we had a mile and a half to go. I saw my girls as we rounded the corner. Me, Jill, Olivia and Sylvia ran it to the end, and we were done.
It was my fastest 100 of the year, and besides my first 100 at Antelope Island (FLAT!!!) it was my fastest mountain 100. Here's to the big runs in 2017, geez, I guess I am a little blue it's over, but I am very much looking forward to shorter runs in the dark cold mornings, skiing with my family, and swearing off early races like Moab and the Buffalo Run, or ya know, at least until that impulse, smart phone, and cocktail combo meets again. (which is kinda
Thanks for reading that was longer that I set out to write!