3:55am – watch alarm goes off
4:00am – making coffee, eggs and toast, eating banana and slowly getting dressed…. Current temp – cold….shorts or tights, that’s the question this fine morning. I put on my shorts with warm pants over them and packed the tights just in case.
4:50am – on the road to pick up Matt and head down to the Island
6:30ish – checked in, waiver signed and we have our numbers…brrrrr…. I felt for the awesome volunteers that morning! It’s one thing to be running when it is chilly out, but to stand in place it is certainly much more difficult to keep warm.
Arriving at start, we parked and I proceeded to finish my egg sandwich, hoping that it would sit well. I made a quite trip to the bathroom before there was a line and returned to the car to stay warm. As the start time grew closer, I stripped off the warm pants, reluctantly, and made sure I had all the food in my pack that I had intended. I made the final decision to go with the shorts over the tights, and hoped it would warm up pretty quickly. I took one last trip to bathroom around 20 minutes to the start (only had one cup of coffee this morning, so race anxiety I guess). At about 10 minutes prior to race time, I mustered up the courage to leave the warm car and head over to the fire pit. It was actually quite toasty, until we were called over for the pre-race briefing. We got a quick overview of the course (none of which I was likely to remember, except for the bit about everything being well marked…..and it was!)
The rest of this adventure report will be more in mileage, because hell if I took note of the time throughout the run.
The race started with a pleasant slight downhill out of the start area along a dirt road, then took an almost 180 turn and started a mellow climb up the nearby hill. I felt great, with a good pace – not pushing too hard, but probably not as slow starting as I should have. It was wonderful to get moving and the feet warmed up quickly.
I, of course, needed to pee, but not too terrible – hoped for a bathroom at first aid station
Somewhere along this stretch, The Eagles (yes, the band…this isn’t some sort of magical play on words describing the birds) were playing behind me….Peaceful Easy Feeling, I think. Thanks Michele (Mama) Snow for the tunes. Luckily, I would get sporadic and much appreciated music breaks through the rest of the run. (On a separate note, this amazing lady – Michele - had a busted rib throughout most of the race, but still had a smile and amazing attitude every time I saw her!)
We also saw a buffalo somewhere along this stretch, just hanging out off in the distance. I thought to myself briefly, I wonder if someone road one in to the finish, would that count? Hmm…. I know, silly. Had I spotted any closer to the last stretch, I probably would have given it more serious consideration.
Elephant Head Aid station ~ 5.5 mi - First aid station (after a short climb) – I caught up with Matt here…losing layers as the temp is warming up and the sun feels nice. Happy aid station volunteers offering goods – no need just yet but appreciated them!
Somewhere around mile 11 – where I was expecting the monster climb to commence, we hit a trail section that was quite the combination of surfaces. It alternated between larger cobble (river stone-like), then what seemed like newly added gravel, and deeper gray sand. If it was a longer stretch, I probably would have cursed it, but because it kind of alternated a bit and was relatively brief, it was actually kind of nice. It seemed to work the legs differently. The scenery also didn’t suck too badly, so there was that. (For the record, if you ever have the opportunity to explore the western side of the island, jump at it. It was absolutely stunning. It seemed like we were in a different place, not Utah…for sure….and maybe not even on earth. Just spectacular.
Nine Mile Gate – this station was found at the top of the one climb I took a mental note of during my strava reviews – I knew (if I was looking at the same or similar course) that there was a helluva climb between mile 11 – 14, and it did not disappoint. I was glad to have known about it. Tried to eat a cookie (which was delicious) but could tell after the first bite it wasn’t going to sit well – didn’t finish it (but thx for the homemade cookie effort though!) – had two electrolyte capsules upon the offering of one of the volunteers – not sure if it was something I looked like I needed or just offered to everyone, but knowing that sometimes I start to cramp later in a long run, figured it wouldn’t hurt (yep, broke that cardinal rule of not trying anything new during a race….well, this time, it didn’t bite me in the ass). I can’t say for sure if they helped but I think they may have.
Onward through a flat-ish rocky section with a brief additional climb and then a nice downhill stretch. I was alone for what seemed like a while here, after Matt flew off on the downhill. (I was always happy to catch a glimpse of an arrow just to make sure I didn’t manage to wonder off track).
The last stretch was mostly flat with gradual up and down along the shoreline. For me this was probably the toughest as you could see down the shoreline for what seemed like forever…and knowing you had to travel all that way. I decided that the occasional glances to take in the gorgeous views were needed as much as burying my head down into the trail and plugging away….. letting my thoughts wander to this and that…what are the kiddos and H doing…..gosh it’s a damn nice day….what the hell am I doing….and then for long stretches, nothing at all, beyond studying the surface of the trail. I would occasionally think, man I am tired….should just walk for a bit….then (all internally, but yes, sometimes these questions are asked out loud) I would ask myself, are you hurt…I mean, yes you are sore, but are you injured….is there anything really wrong….if the answer is no, this is all in your head…just plug away. Slow down if needed, but don’t stop. It’s funny how easy it can be to talk ourselves in and out of things. I occasionally looked down at my watch to see roughly how much longer I had. I had to approximate because I knew a mile or so had been added to the race to make it longer….but I had failed to recall how long it was in the first place…….somewhere between 29 and 31ish miles I told myself. I could tell my legs were getting tired because my form was starting to lack (likely why my feet were quite sore toward the end).
North Sentry – coke, pickle, handheld water refill (thanks volunteers for topping her off for me!) I have never tried pop during a race…but coke always seem to settle my stomach during a hangover….seemed like a good idea. Again, it happened to be just that. The carbonated goodness felt good on the palate and the sugar kick may have powered me through the next three miles and on to the next and final aid station.
Lower Frary – coke, a visit with Michelle (or Mama) Snow, no water refill needed. Now, it was time to press on through the final stretch along the shoreline. I received a quick high five from a woman who was busting out a nice pace for the last stretch and just cruised right on by me. I was impressed but maintained my slow and steady.
Eventually, there was a short climb up to the road and across, and then a longer climb on a large dirt road.
Pavement, bah (whomever complained and got that added on, I definitely cursed you a few times during that final stretch). I kept reminding myself to just keep moving, look down at the ground if you need to and don’t worry about how much there still seems to be left in front of you. At this point, the course ran past the parking area and the finish line and looped back around to return to the finish in the reverse of our start. It was a welcome sight, despite the fact that we basically ran past it and looped back around to it. I am not sure if I am just a complete trail snob these days or what, but pavement just takes the wind right out of my sails, every time. I know most folks are speedy on pavement, but for me, it is the opposite.
I am sure I am forgetting something, but all in all it was an amazing day filled with beautiful trails and scenery, wonderful volunteers out there providing support, and determined fellow runners running their race and immersed in their own adventure.
Upon the finish, I was happy to be there but couldn’t help but think I could have given a little more and shaved some time. There is that ever present balance of feeling like you pushed as hard as you could without bonking or not finishing that I don’t know that I have figured out just yet.
The chili was amazing and certainly hit the spot.. I know there is history behind the medals and belt buckles but I think the finishers mug is the best.
Shoes: Altra Lone Peak 2.5
Pack: Nathan Vapor Shape
Sustenance: Tailwind (started the run with 400 calories worth in my handheld - tastes like a liquid version of a smartie), Kind Bars, a couple Hammer Gels, chips, pretzels, 2 electrolyte capsules, and 2 small cups of coke during the final two aid stations stops. I also started with 2L of water in my pack so I never had to worry about running out in between stations.
Buffalo run adventures website: http://www.buffalorunadventures.com