On Thursday afternoon, Craig and Chloe picked me up to start driving to Idaho. I said a tearful goodbye to Bishop (Eric's 14 year old lab mix) knowing it may be the last time I would see him. Sure enough, Eric texted me that he would be put down that night.
Back to the race...
Craig, Chloe and I camped out in Wyoming on Thursday night to break the drive up a bit. Before we headed to Idaho in the morning we stopped and had breakfast at this completely adorable and delicious diner. We arrived at the finish line (and starting line of the 100k) where we would be camping, picked up our packets, met up with Craig's friend John, and ate some pasta we made using the camp stove. At the pre-race meeting we were informed by Luke Nelson, the RD, that if we were one of the amazing people last year who could pee while running, not to this year. It's gross. It gets on the bushes and then everybody else has to run through it. However- brava for being so talented! lol
Somewhere around mile 4 the trail got steep. Really steep. So steep that I actually was on all fours bear crawling up the thing for a few steps. It was here that I had a bit of a mental shift. I felt great. I was passing people. I decided then that I was going to give this race hell and if I crashed and burned at mile 25- well then so what, I would get a solid 25 miles of training in and just suffer through the rest. When I rolled into the first aid station at mile 9 I grabbed some food and high tailed it out of there to get away from the people I had been letting pace me.
On the decent into the second aid station at West Fork I again found myself behind a girl who was going a little slower than I wanted to go, but I figured it would be smart not to blow myself up on some easy downhill. I stayed behind her until she stopped at the river shortly before West Fork. Chloe and I shared a drop bag here, but once again I found myself just wanting to grab some food and get out. The music and cowbells at this aid really got my heart pumping! I'm kicking myself NOW for not getting the sunblock out of the drop bag, but at the time I didn't even think about it. Honestly, it was probably the LAYER of dirt surrounding my legs that kept them from burning!
Almost immediately after leaving the aid station the trail started going up and it. was. HOT. I saw a lot of slogging walkers up ahead and tried to walk/jog as best I could. When I passed one woman she really cheered for me and told me to "go get those boys!" She seemed genuinely happy that I was able to pick off some men at this stretch :) I was pretty happy too! The heat was really slowing us all down, but I embraced the suck. When I ran easier I had time to think about the events of the past week, but when I ran harder everything went away in my head. So I ran hard.
As I approached the Scout Mountain Aid Station I wasn't feeling all that great. Not terrible, but I had the I-may-hurl-at-any-moment feeling, indigestion, and hiccups. A volunteer grabbed my pack and filled it with ice water for me, a little girl sprayed me with some cold water, and I grabbed some food that I wasn't sure I'd be able to get down but knew I needed to try. I probably walked 70%, jogged 30% from this point on to the summit of Scout Mountain, which is too bad because it's actually a very runnable incline. I kept eating and drinking even though nothing tasted good and I'm sure that saved my race.
Right at the top of Scout Mountain was a giant snow drift that we had to climb up and then slide down. It was a liiiittle terrifying, and while the snow felt good I had some ice burn on my butt cheeks haha. At this point in the race there were a LOT of 35kers. I kept hoping to pick off 60kers, but everybody I passed had the 35k yellow bib. On the way down into Big Fir I got stuck behind a girl that very irritatingly would not let me pass. I saw her look over her shoulder at me and I took a turn wide to get around only to have her cut me off and I almost plowed into her. She must have thought I was a 35k runner too or something.
The descent from about mile 27-28 was the steepest descent I have ever done. It was quad CRUSHING and I was nervous about falling. I could feel my legs getting that dead feeling from the pounding, but I am such a nerd and just thought, "This is awesome. Such good downhill training."
When I came into the Big Fir Aid Station the best volunteer ever grabbed my pack and filled it up, handed me the coldest, most glorious cup of coke I have ever had in my life, made sure I was taking salt pills because my face was so salty and I was only drinking water, and helped me put on my disgusting, sweat soaked backpack. His encouragement and cheers as I headed back onto the course really helped me. The volunteers at this race were PROS! A seriously big thank you to all of them!
With only 6 miles to go I started realizing that finishing the race in under 8 hours was totally possible- though, I had failed to do my homework and had no idea what the elevation profile looked like for the end. Each uphill stressed me out that I wouldn't be able to do it, but the last two miles were runnable and I rolled into the finish in 7:50:xx (my watch said 7:48:44). I was in shock a little bit, and really proud of myself. This is the first ultra I've done where I wasn't last or second to last in my age group! I ended up being 6th female out of 28, 4th out of 16 in the 30-39 age group, and 17th overall out of 57.
After I finished I went to my tent to grab my flippy floppies and I hear "Hey Ellen!" and here was John approaching me. Apparently he had been so enticed by the nearby swimming pool when he was at the West Fork AS that he dropped the race and want swimming! haha! It was great to have him there and we went to watch Chloe finish the longest race to date she's done! Woot!