Race Schedule

2015 Races…TBD!

Sept 20: Xterra Trail Run Nationals 21k - Ogden, UT

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Looking Back, But Mostly Looking Ahead

This time last year, I was closing things out with 2,140.6 running miles and 403 hours.  This year, I didn't have a particular goal in mind, other than shooting for averaging 200 miles per month for as long as I could.  I somehow managed to do that for 9 months this year.  Booya.

Soooooo, the final numbers are…2,227.8 running miles and 403 hours, highest yearly mileage to date.  Same amount of time, but 82.5 miles more?  Hmmmm, definitely did not think I ran faster this year, but I suppose I did after all :)

I like to keep track of these numbers here so that I can look back and remember that I wasn't as lazy as I managed to feel.  We barely raced this year (relatively speaking), but I stayed very focused on maintaining fitness and getting out to run most days, especially once school started up.  I'll pat myself on the back for that.

Looking ahead to this coming year…I can't believe tomorrow is a new year…I am changing my running focus.

I'm laying down the gauntlet.

Rather than focusing on distance I am going to focus on speed.  With school taking up as much time as it does, and then clinical rotations beginning late spring, I'm not going to dedicate the kind of time I'd like to dedicate to training for long distance.  BUT, I can certainly handle short distance and speed work.  I'm setting my sights on the half marathon distance.  The prospect of training for a short race has me positively giddy!  I've only ever run one half marathon race, back in 2008 (right before running my first 50k), arriving at the finish line in around 2:01.  Then I PR'd the distance in 1:46 while running my PR marathon (3:39) back in 2011.

I can do better than that.  And I will.

I'm setting my sights on a 1:35 half marathon.  I have written down a list of possible races, and once I decide on one I will post it here for accountability.  That's the only way my goals become reality.  Accountability.

While discussing it with Geof during dinner last night, he threw down.  "You can run faster than that; shoot for 1:30!"  I think I originally proposed 1:40, which would, in retrospect, be a garbage and easily attainable goal (too easy).  I bargained, and we agreed on 1:35.  It's just enough outside of my comfort zone without being anxiety-inducing :)  It'll hurt just enough to let me know I'm doing something, but not so much that I hate it.

Always set goals just a teensy bit outside your capabilities; those are the goals that make you work and push you to new limits.

I love this!!  I've been feeling pretty meh about running lately and I came up with this idea during yesterday's run.  I'm a person who needs a focus, a goal.  I know this about myself.  If I let myself go too long without a focus I begin to drift and then it's really hard to get back on track.  So the powers that be threw me a lifeline and offered up this idea.  I began doing fartleks halfway through my short run yesterday, feeling the drive and excitement creeping in as my idea grew upon itself.

I love goals!

In an effort not to overwhelm myself, that is the only solid racing goal I will be setting at this point.  I figure it's good enough for now.  We have other plans that will hopefully fill the year up... :)

Ahhhhh, that feels good to write (i.e. type) down.  Now I just need to formulate a training plan…

I hope you all have a fabulous last day of 2013, and all the best to you in 2014!

Happy New Year!

Paige, out.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Genius Of It All

I actually hesitated before posting this for the first time in my five years of blogging.  That's how I know I needed to post this.

Years are funny things.  They happen no matter what you do (e.g. I've been blogging for five years??  When did that happen?!).  Time moves by you sometimes in an instant, and other times it crawls at a crippling pace.  Sometimes we can move in stride with our time and other times we feel as though we have stumbled, tumbled, fumbled and fought to just brush our fingertips against it.


This last year has been about a lot of things, but the first half was mostly about getting into my program.  And the second half was mostly about staying afloat.  When this first semester ended I could literally and figuratively take a step back and examine the new ground gained in the battle, in addition to the wreckage left behind.  Sorry, that was a little dramatic :)  In the last year I have transformed into a new version of myself.  The vigor and hard work that I put into my running the last few years has been transplanted into my education.  My running is but a whisper of its former self, but I feel that I am better for it.  This blog is but a whisper of its former self as well :)  And for that, I apologize.  It weighs on me, but I know that this is a temporary lifestyle.  One year left and then I will begin the transformation into the next phase…re-entering the working world, and being the person I've wanted so badly to be.  It's going to fly by.  


Looking back on the last year, it has been rather exciting and profoundly satisfying in an extremely appropriate way.  Appropriate because it is exactly what I was hoping for and working towards.  While we didn't get out and race as much as we would have liked, the races we did run went very well and we enjoyed each experience.  Speedgoat 50k was hands down my most favorite of the lot because I was able to parlay hard work into a satisfying outcome, and I hope to head back there again in 2014.  Antelope Island will hopefully be in the cards again, as well as BoSho trail marathon and perhaps a few other shorter races.  I'll be scaling back considerably on the expectations for racing in 2014.  Once clinical rotations begin, I will be at the whim of that schedule and won't be able to manage much outside of that.  And that is okay with me.  It's just another 12 months.  I can do anything for 12 months :)  Plus, the end-goal achievement far outweighs the small sacrifices along the way (i.e. racing, bits of sanity, a proper diet, sleeping in, a restrictive budget) and I look forward to that day next December.  However, there is a whole lot of living to be had before then.


This post is going to take a slightly different route than initially intended.  I thought it was going to be about the last year and hopes for next year.  Sometimes free-form writing just does that…has a life of its own.  It has to do with disappointment, success, and perceived failure.


I think that I probably am viewed in a slightly inaccurate light by those that don't know me well.  I have a pretty good idea how others see me and I just want to take this opportunity to let you in on a secret: I have had many a failure and many a disappointment in my life, in addition to the successes.  


I was rejected by not one but two PTA programs before landing a spot in the program of my dreams.  Those were blessings in disguise.  Good luck telling me that back then, though.  I felt crushed and like a total schmuck.  I was downright embarrassed.  Am I not good enough? what did I do wrong? what could I have done differently? whywhywhy??  If I had gotten into either of those programs I would have been just fine, life would have worked out fine.  But then I wouldn't be where I am and who I am today.  It took another year and a half before I would finally land squarely on my feet (or my bum, as it were), sitting at our desk in the second bedroom of our new home in our new city, clicking on an e-mail typed in the most beautiful font I'd ever seen: the font of acceptance.  I felt redeemed, astonishingly grateful, emotional, and completely at a loss of words.  I squealed like a child, in an unearthly pitch that I didn't know I was capable of.  I did it!  It was a difficult process, but my hard work paid off, finally.  Five years of hard work to get to that moment, opening that type-written letter.  I'm seriously considering framing the official hard-copy letter I received a day later.  It was such a hard battle, and so seriously rewarding.


I was told by my 9th grade honors English teacher, in front of the entire class, that I was a 'bad writer' (her words, not mine), that my only saving grace was that I could come up with "really killer titles", and that was it.  I was a painfully shy kid.  That could have crushed me.  And it sort of did.  That comment followed me all the way into college when I finally had an instructor who convinced me I had a knack for the written word.  It was my middle eastern politics professor…she wanted to frame a paper I had written on Bosnia.  I took that as a compliment.  But that 9th grade teacher let something out of me that I didn't know was in me.  I was on a mission to prove her wrong, and while she will never know she was wrong, I know she was wrong and I'm better for it.  If only math instructors could have done the same thing for my lacking in the numbers world ;)  


I was once a radio DJ.  Did you know that?  I was, for five years.  Two and a half in Central Illinois, and another two and a half in Eastern North Carolina.  I was navigating the choppy and unsure waters of media fairly well and had my own midday show on a hard rock station, in addition to a gazillion other job titles within the radio group of six stations.  


I had never actually hyperventilated before.


One early spring day, when I was told that I was losing my time slot to an unsavory duo threatening to leave if they didn't get what they wanted, and that I would be pushed to nights, I accepted the news as diplomatically as I could muster.  I'm talking the whole nine yards: smiling, good posture, head-nodding, lots of "I understand"s and "thank you"s, blah blah blah.  I'm talking Oscar-worthy performance.  I then walked calmly outside and around to the back of the building which butted up against a grove of tall evergreens and a busy road.  I steadied myself with both hands against the concrete wall, and then I unraveled.  I was hyperventilating.  I didn't know that that was what was happening at first; it was slightly terrifying.  I crouched down, hands on knees, and I sobbed between gasps of air.  Holy s***, what just happened?  I felt like a complete failure, and a complete idiot.  Thankfully, I was alone out there and was able to feel the full force of the emotions rolling in like waves rather than trying to muffle them.  Maybe 10 minutes passed and then I gathered myself, went back inside and finished recording the commercials I was voicing for production.  Two weeks later I received a phone call in the on-air booth that completely changed the course of my life, and I suddenly knew the reason for things.  Everything happens for a reason, it just takes some time for the reasons to shake out and present themselves to you. But always trust that things happen for a reason and that everything will work out.


Four weeks later, I was packing up a moving truck with my mom, preparing to make the 21-hour drive to Chicago to begin my new job at a radio station I had interned at during college.  While creating a new position in the station, the General Manager remembered me and my work during my intern days and somehow managed to find me way out in NC.  I was offered the job and the rest is history.  


Obviously, I am not in radio anymore, and that's a whole 'nother story of disappointment followed by another phoenix-rising-out-of-ashes type thing.  Like I said, things always manage to work out.  Life is definitely like a choose-your-own-adventure book.  When you get to the bottom of a page, or end of a section, you are directed to choose between two options, each sending you off in different, unexpected directions.  If you were to trace the course of my life, for example, it would in no way represent a straight line.  It would look more like a tree, with a definitive beginning (the trunk) topped by layer upon layer of branches branching into new branches into new branches into new branches, going in all directions.


There are plenty of examples I could continue on with here, but I think you get the point.  I think I put off the vibe of being charmed or 'lucky', when in reality we are all one in the same.  I've worked my butt off to get to where I'm at; few things have ever just landed in my lap.  I've put in the time and the sweat and some things have paid off.  Sometimes things didn't pay off as I had hoped, but ultimately even those 'failures' have helped to pave the way.  I am who I am because of where I have been.  I regret not a single experience I have had because every experience I have had has gotten me to where I am now.


"Sometimes good things fall apart so that better things can fall together." ~Marilyn Monroe


The PTA program I am in is the hardest thing I have ever done.  A lot of the last four months is  a blur as a result of the tunnel vision I had to have in order to do well.  I've honestly never worked so hard in my life.  I'm guessing I made it look easy judging by comments from peers, but trust me, it has been anything but.  Not everyone fared so well and as a result we will be short a few of my classmates next semester.  I do not know if they read this, but I want them to know that while it feels like crap and really, really sucks, everything happens for a reason.  Just give it a little time and the reason will become apparent.  Then pick yourself up and do the thing you know that needs to be done, whatever that may be.  


"Sometimes life is going to hit you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith." ~Steve Jobs


I know that if you truly feel you are on the path you want to be on then you will find a way to make it work.  And one day you'll look up and realize that it's been working all along.

Disappointment comes in all forms and creeps in at generally unexpected times.  The key is to not lose faith that things will work out.  Allow yourself to feel the weight of it, but then refocus and decide what needs to happen next.  It's the sucky times that allow us to fully appreciate the unbelievably awesome times.  Generally, we get out of life exactly what we put in.  Do good, do right, pick your path and eventually it will come to fruition.

Not everything works out exactly as you hoped it would, but that is the genius of it all.

We can't know exactly what to expect every time.  What fun is that?  So be open to the possibilities and be ready to run with it.  We can't possibly plan for everything, nor can we expect that everything will fall into place just as we had imagined it.  Not every trail is marked perfectly, in fact many are not marked at all.  It is in these times that you must trust your gut and take the path that feels most right.  Even if it means going off trail a bit, you will eventually find your way.

"You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life." ~Steve Jobs

So I think that that is enough reflection for a Christmas Eve day.  We had a really good run this morning and I'm hungry.  I made some wicked delish peppermint bark and I think I need to go make some of it disappear! :)


Paige, out.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Free Time, You Are Mine

Ahhhhhhhhhh (that's me exhaling deeply and happily).  I survived my first semester of PTA school (physical therapist assistant…not parent/teacher association :))!  I'm not gonna lie, it feels really good.  I remember being warned by no less than five PTAs, that graduated from the same program, that the first semester could possibly kill me.  One particular class, therapeutic modalities, would be the hardest class of my career.  That one particular instructor's exams could be the end of more than a few people.  I laughed these warnings off.  Until I was fully submerged in the hardest semester of my entire life.  And then I remembered their warnings.  PTA school ain't no joke, and it's not for the faint of heart.  Or the lazy.  I still can't believe everything we did and learned.  My brain aches.  But it's a glorious, smart ache.

So, yes, it feels so freaking good to have that semester behind me, and to have made it through so victoriously.  I just aimed to keep my head above water, not lose sight of the end-goal, and not forget how much I love running.  I gave myself permission to sleep in more and rest the body after finishing Rio Del Lago 100 the first weekend of November.  It was a little hard at first, and I felt a little guilty, but now I'm really glad I did.  I've just been running when I feel like it, and keeping it pretty short.  The inversion has settled in a tad early, so the pea soup air is an easy excuse to stay in.  BUT, I've got a little bit of a challenge going with myself…run every day of winter break.  We'll see.  I'm not totally married to it yet, but I did push myself out the door this morning in the 10 degree chill and the worst air quality I've seen so far.  But I only did a couple miles, and I had my nose and mouth covered :)  Then I did some serious netty potting when I got home.  (Yes, I boil the water first.)

Anywho, so I gave myself permission to ease back, and after reading THIS article yesterday afternoon I suddenly felt completely okay with it :)  Sometimes there are just bigger priorities than running.  These last 3-1/2 months were a true test of my ability to serial task, prioritize, manage my time down to the minute, and breathe.  Once our goal race passed, I had a month before finals, and for the first time I put others things, a lot of other things, before my running.  And it felt good.  They say not to worry about grades now, just to make sure we're passing, because it's a professional program and no longer a competition.  But I'm just not wired that way.  I'm going to work hard and do my best.  I'm also not going to lose myself over it.  So I balance.  I feel like I did a pretty good job of it most of the time…not always (Geof can attest :)), but a heck of a lot better than I ever used to balance things (which is to say, not at all).  I don't feel like I've lost myself, or forgotten what I love to do.  I feel like I've shifted focus to other important things…my husband, school, good health, sleep.  It's pretty sweet.

Mental proprioception :)

Ski season is fantastic already.  A lot of great storms up at Alta since November, and we got season passes this year…so the slopes and I are going to be very familiar with each other over the next four weeks!

Next semester is supposed to be "less insane", but I'm thinking it's just because we are so used to the insanity now that it won't seem so bad.  We'll see.  I'm not holding my breath ;)  I absolutely lovelovelove what I'm doing and feel so fortunate to be on the path that I am on.  It's pretty amazing, and I am grateful to Geof every single day for all of his support and overall greatness.  Boom!

We have a weekend of holiday happenings, and a delicious stew (and homemade bread!) that I finally had the time to create for dinner.  Oh sweet free time!

Paige, out.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Droppin' It Like It's Hot: A Rio Del Lago 100 Mile Race Report

Wha' whaaaaa'!  It is officially Friday, and I am one happy camper because that means no class today :)  This week, it also means that it's five days post-Rio Del Lago 100 and I'm chomping at the bit to get back running!  Always a sign of a great race.

So, yea, the race was a resounding success once again for the House of Dunmore.  The hugely improved Rio Del Lago 100 Mile Endurance Run gets highest marks in my book.  RD Julie Fingar, et al. took an historic race that floundered in recent years due to poor direction and organization (sorry, but it's true) and have made it into a seriously classy event.  Bravo!  The organization, the volunteers, the amenities, the course, the volunteers, the food, the volunteers, the food…everything was thought of and everything was so well done.  It was a small race, only 112 runners, but you would have thought that this was the Grand Prix of running with the way it was executed.  Aid stations never left you wanting for more, and we didn't even need to travel with Gu because the stations were completely stocked with it (Gu Roctane, too, which is high class!).  And great swag on top of everything!  Of course, the entry fee does make your heart skip a beat at first, but in retrospect it was totally worth it.  

I had such a great time with all-star crew Uncle Steve and Gretchen when I ran back in 2010 so we got the band back together!  Reunion concerts usually fall flat and leave you wishing you had spent your time a little more wisely, but this reunion trumped the original by a landslide.  Uncle Steve and Gretchen were amazing and we couldn't have had better folks out there greeting us at each aid station, ready to attend to whatever it was we needed or wanted, and with smiles and laughs.  Gretchen even gave us a few Rockette-worthy high kicks a couple of times!

The night before, we congregated at Yardhouse in Roseville to talk shop, but mostly to just catch up and enjoy amazing food and libations.  Geof's beautiful Cousin Deborah joined us, too!

"We're getting' the band back together, man!"

Okay, so to the stuff you are actually "reading" this for :)  

Race morning, all fresh and ready to go for a little run in the woods

Geof and I were eager to get a 100 mile race in before the year ended and RDL fit in perfect with everything else going on, so we made the leap and agreed to run it together.  School has been…ummmm, insane…this semester so while training started out really great (speed work, specificity, loooong runs, back-to-backs), it began to flounder a touch near the end (as in, a three-week taper) on account of my classwork drowning me, and Geof taking on a nasty head/chest cold.  My legs haven't been the same since school started on account of stress and less sleep (I'm assuming) so I didn't have really high hopes for this event, but we did set an early goal of 22:30.  After three weeks of tapering, we decided to scale back our expectations a tad, and aim for sub-24 as an 'A' goal, sub-25 as a 'B' goal, and not dying as a 'C' goal.  

Thankfully, we met a "B 2.0" goal :)

The race began with great fanfare at the start/finish at Beal's Point and we were sent off into the night across the levies spanning Folsom Lake (which was disturbingly almost totally empty).  The course changed a bit from the last time I ran so I wasn't sure what to expect, other than it being almost completely trail (which is a very good change).  As the sun began to peak up we wiggled our way around the 'shore' of the American River (also disturbingly low/non-existant in many places).  

Rule #1 in ultrarunning: Never trust the person in front of you.  We blindly followed the runner in front of us, assuming the orange arrows were guiding us along the right trail.  They were not.  We found ourselves in the middle of a riverbed (which was empty, don't worry), orange arrows having petered off.  A large group of fast dudes were making their way towards us, pissed.  Oh, crap, we went off trail.  But the arrows were pointing in that direction!  We blindly, again, began to follow the fasties as they bushwhacked across the riverbed, arguing about ways to get back up the bluff to the trail.  It didn't feel good, and after some time we decided to cut our losses and bushwhack back down to the riverbed and retrace our steps to where we went off-trail in the first place.  Thankfully, it worked out and we found where we went astray.  The arrows were apparently leftovers from a previous race.  Doh!  Oh well.  We probably lost 15-20 minutes, and some steam, but whatever.  Better then than later in the race!  And at least it was light out.  

The first couple of aid stations came and went and we just kept on moving forward.  After an hour or so we made up all the ground we had lost, having caught back up to and then passing everyone we had been running with before getting off trail, so that was reassuring.

After Dowdin's Post 1, Geof flying down the trail alongside the American River.  What a stud!

The legs and body were feeling great and I was in one of the best moods.  Geof was struggling to fully embrace the day, but he pulled us along well, and when I stepped ahead of him, he stuck right with me.  

I tell you what, even when he's not feeling all that great mentally he still runs really well.  I'm always impressed with his ability to almost separate the two and not let his mind muddy things.

Now, I'll take a moment here to talk about my head.  Since we were running together, I needed to let go of my competitive goals.  That sounds bad, but what I mean is that competition was not what I was there for.  I was there to run with my husband and just enjoy the day, no matter what it brought us.  It was hard to switch gears like that.  Geof is a super relaxed guy, so I was doing my best to follow suit and just let things be.  And I did.  I was enjoying the heck out of myself!  No pressure, no concern, just running with my husband.  Running within my training, running within myself, and running relaxed and carefree.  This did wonders for my head, and the first ~75 miles went by rather dreamily.  

Running across No Hands Bridge 1.  Love this shot.

The day was starting to warm up, but with 75 as the high, we weren't worried about heat being an issue at all.  The sun was out, not a cloud in sight, and it was shaping up to be a beautiful day (and it was!).  At Cool Fire Station, we joined the Olmstead Loop for two rounds, running counterclockwise and then clockwise.  This gave me a chance to see what was happening up in front.  And showed me where I stood in the women's field.  I was in third.  Well, that's cool and all (ha, no pun intended), but not important.  So I shelved that knowledge, put my head down, and just ran.  Olmstead wasn't as bad as I remembered it.  Though the course marking was severely confusing at first (a LOT of people were running the wrong way, running short, or too long) but we managed to make sense of it by trusting our gut and not following anyone in front of us :)  Gretchen and Jamie F. decided to do a little jog before we made it back to the aid station and they caught up to us midway through the first loop.  It was fun to chat with them and catch up some more!  I was starting to feel a little tired and warm, so we took ample walk breaks on our way back to Cool, where we restocked, stuffed ice in my running bra, and then headed back out for our second loop in the opposite direction.

Another thought.  This course is insanely runnable.  So it was really hard to walk.  We had to force ourselves into walk breaks so that we didn't overdo it too much.  Note to self: this would be an excellent race to race :)

We got passed by a gal as we were in the final mile of the second Cool loop and she was out of sight before we knew it.  Okay, now I'm in fourth :)  But, whatever, not my deal today.

One more stop at No Hands Bridge, and a quick inhaling of cheddar potato chips.  We were now over halfway done.  Wow, that went fast!

Chip stop at No Hands Bridge

I was sticking to Gu gels and Coca-Cola as fuel for the day and it was working quite well, but those potato chips were heavenly.  

We grabbed our headlamps at No Hands Bridge as the sun was starting to go down and we weren't sure how long it would be before we needed light.


American River, on the way back to Auburn Dam Overlook 2

Taking our time running back to Auburn.  Photoshoot time!

We made it back to Auburn without needing light, woohoo!  But it was definitely only a couple minutes before dark was officially happening.  We changed into warmer tops and gloves, ate more chips, cleaned out our socks (the dust was insanity!), and hit the road back towards Maidu and the channel.  It was officially nighttime, but only about 5:30 or so I believe.  Daylight Savings is a trip.  

I don't recall much in this section, other than that I was still feeling like absolute gold and couldn't believe my legs felt so dang fresh.  They never got any worse than they were at mile 20 so I have zero complaints on that front.  I guess we were better trained than we gave ourselves credit for :)

At Dowdin's Post 2 we fueled up on the most delicious chicken noodle soup I have ever had during a race.  I think it was laced with mojo and crack.  I wanted to drink the entire pot.  Another runner was there with his pacer.  "I saw your headlamps getting closer and closer to me, and I was like 'Ugh, they can't catch us!'  So we gotta go!"  As we exited the aid station well ahead of him, I wanted to apologize for the spanking we were about to issue him.  He put up a good fight, though.  We didn't see him until the finish, maybe 20-30 minutes after us.  Not bad for a first-timer ;)

I should explain the course a bit.  The new route heads north from Beal's Point, up to Cool, two laps of the Olmstead Loop, head back to Beal's Point, head back out to Horseshoe Bar, and then finish at Beal's Point.  So there are a couple of points where you can see those ahead of you.  I liked this…a lot.

What I didn't like was what they affectionately refer to as The Meat Grinder (between Granite Bay Horse Assembly and Horseshoe Bar).  It was a total suckfest.  No chance to get a rhythm at any point in there.  The rocks and undulations and twisty-turny single track was nothing short of anger-inducing.  I love a technical trail, but this was just stupid, compounded by the fact that it had to be run four times.  By the time we reached Beal's Point at mile 78 I had mentally withered.  I seemed to have left my good attitude at the Horse Assembly, four miles back.  Now I was letting in the demons.  With 22 miles left to go, I wasn't sure how my head was going to make it.  My body was just fine, but my mind was playing games.  Knowing we would see Steve and Gretchen every five or so miles kept me going.  They were a vision each time we rolled into an aid station.  Gatorade and chips became the only thing I wanted, but still choked down a Gu each hour, holding my breath as I swallowed so as to avoid tasting them.  In retrospect, they were fine, I was just trying to be dramatic in an effort to exhibit my distaste with life at that moment :)

While on the one hand I could not believe that we had been moving for 15, 20, 24 hours, as it felt like time had just flown, I could, on the other hand, recall every single moment.  I felt each foot strike, each minute tick by, every Gu I swallowed, every swig of water from my pack, every breeze.  It was semi-surreal.  But then again, these things always are surreal.  Who does this kind of thing?!?  

After leaving Horseshoe Bar for the last time, and passing the #4 woman for good finally (we had been back-and-forth with each other for awhile), I began to feel my mood take a turn for the better.  Less than 11 miles left.  We were going to do this.  

Honestly, I am constantly amazed at the human body's ability to do certain things.  And I never ever think it's a done deal until it's a done deal.  I always feel optimistic and sure of my ability to achieve most things I go after, but I don't let my ego get the better of me.  So as the sun began to tickle the horizon while we rolled into Horseshoe Bar for the last time, I handed my headlamp to Gretchen and opted to just use my handheld light for the remainder of the time, and I felt a sudden sense of calm.  I could smell the barn, and dang it smelled good.  We ran the entire way into Beal's Point, taking in the gorgeous sunrise, reflecting on the day, on the course, on the whole experience, stopping just once to pee in a bush.  We made our way across the four levies, the finish line in sight the whole way.  Not a soul was ahead of or behind us, and Geof remarked we could slide under 26 hours if we kept running.

So we did.  We rounded the final corner and followed the arrows to the finish line arch as our names were announced: 25h:51m:45s  Music was playing, a cool breeze was blowing, and the sun had yet to fully show its face.  It was absolute perfection.  That is one dang good finish line!  We had to get weighed and our blood pressure checked one last time (I stayed the same weight start to finish, a new first for me!).  A young girl walked up to me with an armful of swag, including a framed photo emblazoned with 3rd Place Female.  Whaaaaaat?  Third?!  I thought I was in fourth!  Someone must have fallen asleep at an aid station because we never passed another chick.

Now that was a pretty gosh darn good surprise.


We managed to cover those last ~5 miles quite a bit faster than we had run all day…droppin' it like it's hot.  The finish line is a powerful motivator, especially when pigs in a blanket are awaiting your arrival.  Yes, they had a full spread for runners and their crew.  Made to order pancakes, sausage, bacon, eggs, mimosas.  It was fantastic!!

Speaking of sausage, I had some serious sausage feet going on, which then led to this happening…in public.  Toesocks and Birkenstocks were made for each other :)

Obligatory finisher swag shot

What a friggin' great experience!  Even with the tough last 25 miles.  Every race can't be perfect, but you can do your best to hang on when the going gets a little tougher than you hoped.  The best part is knowing that we could definitely shave a few hours or more off our finish time.  My legs had a lot of life left in them, and judging by our recovery, we both had a lot left in the tank.  We were definitely better trained than we thought :)  So we'll be back to this one for sure.  It was such a well run event.  Everything had been thought of and executed expertly.  Bravo, NorCal Ultras, bravo!

A big, huge thank you to Gretchen and Steve for giving us their weekend and being such amazing crew.  THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!  

Now it's time to relax and enjoy a weekend free of long runs…we needed this last week off, for sure.  But we are ready to get back to running, and SKIING!!!

Here's a fun video recap of the day made by Ultra Sports Live.

P.S. I wore my Brooks Cascadia 8s and Injinji socks the entire day and my feet were awesome afterward.  I love those shoes :)

Paige, out.

Friday, November 8, 2013

I Have a Very Important Announcement to Make…

We are actually racing this weekend!  

How long has it been now?  Ummmmm, since late July?  

What the what?  July?!  What a lazybones!

I do have a good excuse, though.  School.  It pretty much takes up all of my free time.  But I love it.  But I also love to run 100 milers, so we decided to just go for it and sign up for one before the year closed out on us.  There is always time for the things you want to do.  Throw it out there and things will just fall into place.  Happens every time.

Yep, we are heading back to Rio Del Lago and the thriving suburbopolis of Granite Bay, CA.  Remember when I ran this back in 2010?  I plan to keep my toenails intact this time, and we (Geof and I will be running together!) are planning to run it a touch faster than what I did back in 2010.  We were originally aiming for 22:30 (to earn us both a new 100 mile PR) but we have since scaled back our expectations a touch and are aiming for closer to sub-24/25, and a really fun time.  Gotta be reasonable.  And considering my running has been less than top form since school started in August, I think that is a very reasonable goal, aaaaand especially considering it's a whole new course this year and we don't fully know what to expect.

Training has gone pretty well.  We got in a number of back-to-back long run weekends, lots of specificity of training, some speed work early on, two long runs spent running around a 1.4 mile park here in town (I'm pretty sure I won't be doing that again for some time…mind-numbing!), some really great runs, some character-building runs, SO MUCH GU, and lots of reciting origins and insertions of muscles whilst running.  Hey, gotta study when I can!

Heading toward City Creek Canyon on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail early October, the Cottonwoods in the background.  I love SLC :)

So it's weird and extremely exciting to be heading into our next long run adventure.  I can't believe it's been well over a year (2012 Bear 100) since my last 100 mile race!  This is going to be such a fun experience.  We've even gotten the band back together for our crew: Uncle Steve and my favorite blogger Gretchen will be helping out again; me = pumped!

Okay, need to finalize the packing and then catch a plane.  Enjoy the weekend!

Paige, out.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Whirlywind

Whew!  It has been a whirlwind of life the last month!  I sure have missed my blog, and all'a you guys and gals who bother to check in :)

So, since we left off back in August I have...driven (i.e. been the passenger in a vehicle) to Iowa, Chicago, Iowa again, and then Colorado with Geof; slept in the back of our truck in a Wal-Mart parking lot; paced good friend Brian G. up and over Hope Pass at the Leadville 100; signed up for our next 100 mile run (we're heading back to Rio Del Lago 100 in California in November!!); started school (physical therapist assistant program); lost my brain, then found it again after surviving the first week; woops, lost said brain again the next day but luckily located it once again; organized my heart out; met our lab cadavers; run a WHOLE BUNCH, even done speed work more than once (what the WHAT?!); cut off 8 inches of hair; done some jumper photos; ran into a moose on the Great Western Trail, and eaten a lot of sardines.

That's a whole lotta stuff!

Basically, my excuse for the next 18 months is going to be...school :)  Bear with me, please.  I promise it will pay off in plenty of entertainment and write-y stuff!

Meantime, we are still chipping away at the mileage, gearing up for RDL100, where we are aiming to set a new 100 mile PR for both of us.  We'll be running together and have our sights set on 22h:30m :)  There, I put it out into the universe.  Done and done.  I like when people explicitly state their goals, so I am going to practice what I preach :)

It is September 2nd, holy cannoli!  Mmmm, cannolis :)  Wasatch 100 is next weekend and I plan on being envious of all the runners toeing the line whilst observing the fun from the trail.

Happy running!

Paige, out.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Speedgoat 50k: It Did, In Fact, Get Silly

Oh, Speedgoat 50k, how you woo me.  I went into you expecting silliness, and that is exactly what I got.  However, I didn't expect to fall in love with you.  And you have such good swag!

Most people I encountered that had run this one before usually described their experiences with multiple eye rolls, sounds of exasperation, and lots of 'once is enough'.  

I should have known.

It was awesome to be able to sleep in our own bed the night before a race, and only have a short drive to the start.  We arrived at Snowbird with plenty of time to futz around with our stuff, check in, get our swag, go back to the truck, futz around some more, and make it back to the Creekside pavilion in time to catch most of the pre-race meeting, and pee.  After having us all recite a few times "I will not cut the switchbacks" and "I will not go in the streams", Karl had us line up behind the start/finish arch and then sent us off into the damp and foggy morning.  

A little background on this before I forget.  It's gnarly.  This is officially the hardest race I've run...The Bear, ha!  Pocatello, truly laughable!  Zane Grey, yea, right (even though the heat there is pretty stupid).  This isn't a race you go to to PR, unless you are just looking to get a course PR.  Yes, Sage Canaday ran it in 5:06 (blows my mind), but non-human performances aside, the average finish time looks to be in the 9 hour range.  For 32 miles.  Let that sink in.  There's a lot of different thoughts around what the actual elevation gain is, but Geof and I both came in with 11,000 ft., give or take a few feet.  So that's 11,000 feet of climb, and then another 11,000 feet of descent.  In 32 miles.  I had nothing to compare this to going in, and now looking back, I still have nothing to compare it to.  Except that it is almost exactly 1/3 of the Hardrock 100.  Sick.  The entire course is a breeding ground for rocks of all shapes and sizes, but its specialty are ones the size of melons.  Others have described them as baby skulls, but that just sounds wrong (though, an accurate description).  What goes up must come down, and vice versa.  Always.  No flat, just up or down.  No easy, only effing stupid hard, hard, and a-little-less-hard.  No ugly, only beautiful.  No "I'll never do that again", only "Where do I sign up for 2014?"

Geof and I ran separate, which is a first for us, and was also totally weird.  But, it had it's benefit: we ran our own races.  So when we felt good, we went, and when we felt not-so-good, we eased up, and didn't feel guilty about holding the other up, or dragging them along.  It was a good experience.  But I still prefer to run with my dude :)

Checking in at the start...
Photo credit: The Ultrarunning Scene

The race started out with a nice 8.6 mile warm up, climbing from 7,600 ft. to 11,000 ft. Hidden Peak.  Geof took off a bit and I hung back and chatted briefly with Curtis T. from NUTR before making my move up.  The sea of 317 runners made its way along the switchbacking jeep road the first few miles before dumping out onto the glorious single track of the Ridge Trail which dropped us back down to near our starting elevation before the long looooooooong climb up to Hidden began in earnest.  I caught Geof on the climbs, and he dropped me on any descents on this section.  We would end up being within a few hundred yards of each other like this through mile 17 or so.  Once we hit the talus slope below the American Fork Twin Peaks, I passed Geof on the climb and wouldn't see him for a bit.  It was a grind up this section and a light drizzle began to fall.  I was determined to push hard up this last bit to Hidden Peak.

This was nearing the top of the ascent towards Hidden Peak at the beginning, and the start of the final descent to the finish.  It was like running on broken china plates...the size of melons.
Photo credit: The Ultrarunning Scene

I reached the top of Hidden Peak/mile 8.6 in 2h:13m on my watch.  I have no idea how that stacks up, but I felt pretty good with my time.  LEWIS! and Ada were at the top to greet me, and fellow Wasatch Mountain Wrangler, Zac M. grabbed my UA Cup and filled it with Coke (aka The Life Giver).  I topped off my bottle and then headed out of the aid station.  In-and-out, that's how I kept all my stops throughout the day.  No milling about, no sitting.  Grab and go.  I snagged my tiny rain shell from my drop bag here, as well as the rest of my gels just in case.  The race provided EFS Liquid Shot at all the aid stations, but that stuff makes my head fuzzy and bothers my stomach so I stay away from it.  

The final pitch up to Hidden Peak reduces most everyone to a hike.  It's a glute burner :)
Photo credit: Derrick Lytle Media

Picking my way down the other side of Hidden Peak
Photo credit: The Ultrarunning Scene

You can see the Salt Lake Valley in the background :)
Photo credit: The Ultrarunning Scene

After Hidden Peak 1, you hop onto the Mineral Basin Hiking Trail, and awesome single track trail that brings you down into the heart of Mineral Basin, through a couple of streams and into Larry's Hole AS.  I ran straight through Larry's Hole 1 since it was so soon after Hidden Peak and continued on to Sinner's Pass, another steep climb.  At some point here, Geof caught me again, and we went back and forth until we hit some of the worst terrain I have seen on a downhill section and he passed me handily. I don't know how long it lasted (too long) or what it's even called (I think maybe Mary Ellen?), but I was completely slowed to a very cautious walk.  It was just enough of a downhill angle that it was very easy to get a lot of momentum going and fast, so I was doing a lot of braking.  Picture a wide jeep road, flanked by high bushes and trees, and COVERED in melon-sized boulders.  The only respite from the melon rocks were the far sides, which were at an unholy angle and severe ankle busters.  It was easier to just go straight down the middle.  A mis-step here could mean a nasty ankle sprain at best, or a concussion, loss of teeth and broken bones at worst.  My heart rate skyrocketed!  Steve Pero caught up to me and I latched onto him and followed his expert steps through this section.  We dropped back down below 8,000 feet by the time we hit the dirt road towards Pacific Mine/mi 15.5, and once we did I ran it all the way into the aid station, catching Geof as he was leaving the AS.  More Coke, a water bottle top-off, and I was out of there.  Into and out of Pacific Mine is a short out and back, so you got to see runners both ways.  After hitting the turn-off from the road, we began the very long climb back up to Mineral Basin and to Larry's Hole 2.  Eventually as we made our way up, up, up the jeep road, I could see Geof up ahead.  I gradually caught him and I could see what I suspected: he wasn't feeling too hot.  He told me this would probably be the last time we'd see each other until the finish and to go make him proud.  I was feeling a little less than completely awesome and I contemplated just hanging back with him.  I also knew I was going to pull out of it shortly, once the caffeine kicked in.  I went back and forth in my head for quite a ways, even after kissing each other goodbye and continuing on.  After finally deciding to commit myself to finishing it out on my own terms, I tuned out the remainder of the climb back to Larry's Hole 2 with my trusty iPod Shuffle.

Did I mention this was a long climb?  It felt interminable!  The music helped and got me into a really good rhythm.  The weather was holding really well, and aside from a drizzle here and there, the day remained cloudy and cool with a slight breeze.  Perfect running weather.  Eventually I made it to the top of Sinner's Pass again and rode out the steep downhill back to Larry's Hole 2/mi 21 where I filled up my UA Cup with more Coke for the walk out, and topped off my water bottle.  In-n-out.

BTW, the volunteers at this little shindig are downright awesome.

After Larry's came the nice climb back up to the cat track just above the Basin, and below Alta.  I knew Mt. Baldy was on deck, but was still curious to see how we would be climbing it.  It was a grunt back up to the cat track, and then as we rounded the bend and glanced up, we were presented with our route up Baldy...straight up.  Not even a vague suggestion of a trail, just little blue flags to follow, straight up the south face of the mountain.  I wouldn't even know where to begin with a guess as to the percent grade of the route, but I'd guess close to 80%!  Our heels never even touched the ground and hands were necessary most of the way up, it was that steep.  The best strategy was to just keep moving, don't lose momentum.  Several guys in front of me were taking a beating and stopped to catch their breath every few steps, and I would have to wiggle around them.  I made pretty darn good time up this section and felt really happy to reach the top.

One step at a time, one section at a time.

I should mention here that the one thing I was having the most difficulty with was patience.  While I handled it fine, it was definitely a mind game.  Anticipating what's next, worrying about time/pace/any of that is a waste of energy.  I found that just taking it one step at a time was the only way to do it.  Not getting caught up in passing or getting passed, other people, terrain, climbs, my watch, not of that mattered.  And music on the long uphill grinds definitely helped :)  I had a goal in mind, but I wasn't going to lose my sh*# trying to reach it.  I was staying within my training and doing my best to race smart.  If that wasn't going to be enough, then so be it.  But I had a feeling it was going to work out just fine :)

After ascending Baldy at 11,068 ft., we descended the western ridge down to the saddle between Hidden and Baldy, then continued down the jeep road to the Tunnel AS/mi 23.6.  More Coke, more water in my bottle, and then I walked the tunnel as I downed my Coke.  It was cool to be walking through a mountain.  I'd never been in the tunnel before, so it was awesome to see it finally.  Lots of old photos documenting the history of the area and digging of the tunnel.  At the other end, we followed the flags down, down, down, knowing full well there was one final butt kicker of a climb back to Hidden Peak 2 at 11,000 ft. once we reached the Ridge Trail.  I was ready for it.  I ran the entire downhill to the Ridge Trail head and then plugged the music back in for the 1.5 mile/1,500 ft. climb up the north ridge to Hidden Peak.  Once we cleared the trees, it was cool to be able to see straight down on either side of the trail, into Peruvian Gulch and Gad Valley Gulch.  You could see runners way down in Peruvian making their way to the Ridge Trail, and runners up ahead nearing the top of the Peak.  Another grind, and lots of swapping places with others.  I was feeling really good.

And then suddenly we were on top of Hidden Peak again!  Pete S. was there to help refill my bottle and get me Coke, and then I was outta there.  "Just follow the ribbons back down to Gad, unless you want to climb Twin Peaks," "I think I'll pass on that today!"

With just 5ish miles, and a 3,500 ft drop, I could smell the finish.  Two runners I was near most of the day left the station after me, but soon caught me on the nasty descent of the talus field (pictured above). Dave left us in the dust, and Sadie and I traded spots a few more times.  It was just the two of us, and then I passed her when she stopped to take some salt.  I knew it wasn't for long, though :)  Back on the jeep road, I was completely alone and wondering if I had gotten off route.  Lots of blue ribbons still, but were they from earlier, when we ascended this part at the beginning?  Hmmmm.  I slowed and spun to see if anyone was behind me; no one.  Well, this makes the most sense, and there are ribbons.  When the route hopped back onto single track trail, Sadie appeared out of nowhere and passed me by.  Phew, I'm going the right way :)  I latched onto her pace and we were just screaming down the final few miles of single track.  Holy smokes, I was riding the line between control and absolute mayhem that entire way!  I kept thinking, please don't fall, please don't fall! and somehow I managed to remain upright.  I completely unleashed and was blowing my own mind.  I kept visualizing my feet moving like I was pedaling, leaning forward into the downhill.

It was exhilarating!  Geof would have been so proud to see me running downhill like that :)

Sadie was maybe 20 feet in front of me, and we could hear the finish, and see it, as we switched back and forth on the trail, getting closer and closer, and then finally, we were there!  I eased up a touch, glanced at my watch and nearly kissed the couple walking past just out for a stroll.  I was going to make it under 8:30!  Down the last bit of jeep road, round the corner, and ahhhhhhh the finish line arch!

Done and done.  8:27:48, 24th lady in a very talented field of women.  We got a sweet little finisher's medal and a pint glass with the elevation profile on it.  I also won a pair of Ryder's Eyewear sunglasses, booya!  And, to top it all off, I beat Ultra SignUp's prediction of 8:36...that's what I was really aiming for :)

As soon as I finished, I walked to the truck to change and then walked back down to wait for Geof to come in.  Pizza and PBR helped lubricate the mild discomfort in my legs while I waited :)

Geof's final kick into the finish, just as the rain began in earnest!


Geof finished in good spirits, but he described a less than stellar day.  Just an off day, with a weird patch in the middle, but he held on and finished.  I was so proud of him, and so excited to see him running it in!  Even though it wasn't the race he was hoping for, he still kept at it when many would have pulled the plug.  That's my man!

Looking back, this was one heck of an experience for me.  I'm super pumped with how it played out, and happy with how I ran.  I ran smart, hiked strong, kept it moving, and allowed myself to enjoy each moment for what it was.  I didn't get too wrapped up in how long it was taking, or how hard any one section was.  It was what it was, and I liked it.  I loved cresting Hidden Peak and being greeted by tons (by ultra measures) of people, I loved all the wildflowers, I loved the climbs, I loved the descents, I loved the views, and I loved all the volunteers.  I did not love that one rocky jeep road heading to Pacific Mine.  That road sucks silly a$$.  But one thing out of the whole day?  No biggie :)

I will definitely be back, and now I know what to work on in order to grab a sub-8 next time ;)  I went into this race with no training runs longer than 12 miles (Pocatello 50M being the longest run, two months earlier!), but with plenty of high mountain running and strong hiking, and my legs and body held up amazingly well.  For the most part I think the lack of long runs and focus on shorter runs up high in the mountains were a big benefit.  We partook in active recovery the week following and had some of the fastest running we've had all season.  I feel great!

It was a good experiment, running our own races.  I got to see what I have in me, and I was not disappointed with the outcome.   

That was our last registered race for the year, so now we need to start looking for a couple more before the ski season begins.  School starts in just a couple of weeks, so until then just a whole bunch'a running and funning!

Paige, out.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Pre-Speedgoat 50k...It's Gonna Get Silly

Running down the east ridge of Mt. Baldy last weekend, scoping the Speedgoat course

Well I hope I feel as good as I did in this photo, tomorrow :)  This will be our very first Speedgoat 50k+ and I'm as ready as I'm going to be.  Which isn't to say that I'm ready at all, but you know what I mean ;)  It shall be a very delicious challenge and I'm ready to take it on.  The race boasts over 11,000 ft of gain in about 32-34 miles.  That's a s---ton of gain for that short of a distance.  Whatever, bring it.

UltraSignUp has suggested a finish time of 8h:36m for me.  As usual, I plan to beat that by a fair amount, I'm just not sure by how much exactly :)  

I am, however, sure that it's gonna get silly.  This will be the first race that Geof and I will be running simultaneously, but separately.  I think we are going to be pleasantly surprised with ourselves, and are going to have a really fun day out there on the trails.  

In any event, I'm looking forward to being in the race environment as a runner again.  It's been too long (i.e. almost a full TWO months since Pocatello).  We haven't done any f'real long runs recently, but we have done a LOT of time-on-our-feet runs with a lot of climbing and descending.  So that should be pretty helpful come tomorrow.  

A good old fashioned backyard race...packed with a silly amount of national and international talent.  I will be but a very small fish in an extremely large pond.  I love this sport :)

Paige, out.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Hardrockin' Out: A Hardrock 100 Pacer Report


It's not often that someone else's experience gets me the way a very personal experience would.  But this year's Hardrock 100 pacing/crewing gig got me.  

We drove out to Silverton, CO early Wednesday morning and met up with our runner, Brad K. of New Jersey, and embarked on what would end up being one heck of journey.  I met Brad at the 2009 North Face Endurance Challenge 50M in Wisconsin, and we've been in touch since.  When we saw his name on the entrants list, Geof and I excitedly offered to help him out at the race.  Usually a solo runner, and having never used a crew or pacer before, he actually accepted the offer!

Brad finished the clockwise running of the 2012 Hardrock Hundred (HRH) and was lucky enough to make it through the lottery again this year for a counter-clockwise running of the HRH.  "They" say you're not a "real" Hardrocker until you've run it both directions.  

New goal: Not just a finish, but make sure Brad becomes a real Hardrocker.  And keep our perfect HRH crew/pace record intact ;)

I get a little sniffly and my eyes a little misty recalling it all.  Brad went through A LOT OF CRAP to earn his finish this year.  And, as frustrating as things were at points, and as sleep-, coffee-, food-, and shower-deprived, as trembly as my quads were from all the squatting/not wanting to actually make contact with any of the gazillion port-o-johns I inhabited (hellllloooooo, I was drinking SO MUCH WATER), as achey as I was from our very long walk...I have nothing but rosy remembrances of the whole experience.  

Isn't it funny how the mind works?  

So anyway, after two delicious meals at Stellar Bakery and Pizzeria, a couple of shakeout runs, and a lot of nervous energy from our runner, we left the Wyman Hotel behind Friday morning for a full 48 hours and made our way to the gym and the start of the 2013 Hardrock Hundred Endurance Run.  

I love seeing all the ripped legs, leathery skin, badass granny nannies and old goats, and seeing all the "celebrity" fasties milling about with the rest of us mere mortals.  I freaking LOVE this place.

Everyone huddled together behind the start line and after a singing of the National Anthem, the runners were off into the foggy morning.  Then we headed to Cunningham Gulch/Mi 9 to peep the front runners and start our crewing gig.

Brad is the one in blue...the only one in full focus.  Not sure how I pulled that off :)

Brad came into Cunningham in great spirits and excited to see us.  We did a quick pack swap and he was off.  Our next stop would be Sherman/Mi 27ish, but we had told Brad we wouldn't be there since it required a two hour haul up and over Cinnamon Pass and we weren't sure we'd have time.  Brad was insanely prepared and had drop bags at every crewed aid station just in case we were unable to make it to a station.  



Turns out we had plenty of time.  And, turns out Geof is an ultra groupie.  But so am I, I just try to hide it ;)  So, we made the extremely sllllloooooowwwwww drive up the stupidly gnarly and unsafe-at-best Jeep road over Cinnamon Pass (which was so beautiful!) and then down the other side and into Sherman Townsite.  We caught glimpses of the front folks before I opted to crash in the back of the truck.  I would be pacing beginning at the next aid station, Grouse Gulch/Mi 42, and we wouldn't have an opportunity to get back to the hotel for me to rest.  After an almost 2-hour nap, I went back to check on the shenanigans up the road and collect a few more mosquito bites (because I didn't have enough yet).  Brad rolled in eventually, still in good spirits and quite surprised to see us there, and we made quick business of getting him in and out of there.  The next section involved summiting the high point of the race, Handies Peak (at just a hair over 14,000 ft.), and then a nice long downhill into Grouse Gulch.  

Apparently, it was also to involve a lightening and hail storm, torrential downpour, a "slight" detour to the tune of about nine miles off course, an additional allotment of climbing (enough to equal another summit of Handies), running for your life, and blowing minds in the process.  Well, at least that was Brad's experience.

I mean seriously, if I went off course for nine miles in the San Juans and rolled in HOURS behind schedule, and went through the mental mind-f*** of thinking I might die by lightening, I would be a basket case, and probably would be found days later in the fetal position on the side of some stream, talking in clicks.  Not Brad.  He rolled into Grouse around 10:30 p.m. and could NOT have handled the whole situation any better.  Geof and I had been at Grouse for close to four hours, me sleeping in the truck and Geof standing out in the rain/cold the entire time, and had devised the script we would need to use for when Brad arrived.  We assumed he would be trying to pull the plug and that we'd need to set him straight.  Not so.

"That's him!  Thatshimthatshimthatshim!!!"  I shouted from the fog of our truck.  He ran into the aid station full of adrenaline and good spirit.

Ready to tackle Engineer Pass and the Bear Creek Trail

I had no idea what was in store for me, but I knew I was pacing 14.5 miles, from Grouse Gulch to Ouray, and that it involved a nice climb up to Engineer Pass, and then a nice descent of the rather...treacherous...Bear Creek Trail.  I recalled parts of the BCT from a pre-race hike with Gretchen last year.  I'm just thankful we were covering it in the dark...so that I couldn't see exactly how far one could fall if they slipped off the narrow single track trail gouged out of the side of the mountain.  

Brad was hurting.  The adrenaline rush he had from going off course, recovering, then running for his life, wore off and left him completely spent, emotionally and physically.  We walked the entire way up the Jeep road to Engineer Pass.  Stomach issues were starting to plague him, and we needed to stop every so often to let a wave pass.  We moved in silence most of the way up, only the rhythmic click-click-clicking of our trekking poles breaking the quiet.  A very dense fog settled in after a couple of hours, making it difficult to see, which was slightly alarming seeing as we were switchbacking up a mountain.  I kept to the outside and made sure Brad was safe against the mountainside.  He was swerving and quite tired.  Holding my headlamp in my hand, closer to the ground, allowed us to see better in the fog (thanks for that tidbit, Robert Andrulis!).  

But before we cleared the fog, Brad embarked on: Mission: Vomitus Muchis.  

I mean, bravo good sir, you puked like a champ!  The stomach issues were really putting a damper on things for him, so he asked me if I thought puking would help.  Of course it would.  BUT, he would have to be willing to refuel shortly after clearing his system.  He contemplated this for a little while, almost trying to bargain with me.  He wasn't in the right headspace so I was really glad to be with him through all of this.  These situations are why it is really good to have pacers/crew at these events; people who can help you make sound decisions.  After some time passed he decided he was ready.  I walked ahead, turned off my headlamp, and waited.  Way to go Brad!!  As soon as he finished emptying the entire contents of his body onto the side of the mountain, the first words out of his mouth were, "I really wish I'd given you my camera for that."  Oh, how I love this sport, and everyone in it :)  He felt better instantly.  

Once we made it to the Pass, we ran the rest of the way into the aid station.  It was a great downhill section, and I have no idea how long it was, but probably 20 minutes.  It felt great to change it up.  A change of batteries, some Tums and Ginger for Brad, observing the comatose body under the tent, and taking off a layer (it was warmer on that side of the mountain), we hit the Bear Creek Trail.  Honestly, I don't know how people don't die during this race, or at least seriously maim themselves.  Bear Creek starts out cute and sweet, running through fields of wildflowers, through streams, across waterfalls, and then slowly begins to morph into this thin strip of beautiful hell.  In sections, it is just carved out of the side of the mountain and in the dark night all you can hear is the roaring of the very active river below you, your heart beat in your ears, and your mind screaming THIS IS SO NOT SAFE, YOUR MOM WOULD DIE IF SHE SAW THIS!  Thank goodness for trekking poles.  And thank goodness for worrying about someone else so that I didn't have time to fear for my life every time we had to scramble through sketch to continue on.  We kept our headlamps on the trail only, and tried not to think about what we were doing.  Brad caught me once turning my headlamp off-trail, glancing below.  "I saw that!  Don't look over the side!" :)  It was comforting sharing the trail with him.  He stayed in front and would navigate a dry line across streams, a safe route over boulders, and then shine his lamp for me so that I had extra light to get through the sketchy sections.  He kept asking if I was okay.  What a gentleman :)  

After 13 switchbacks (everyone else swears it is 12, but I have now thrice counted 13...) we crossed over Hwy 550 and descended the Ice Park Trail and the confusion that is the final few miles into Ouray.  

I was pooped.  Those 14.5 miles took us just shy of 7 hours to cover.  My glutes were sore.  And after a 15 minute nap for Brad, learning that runners who leave Ouray after 5:30 a.m. (it was 5:32 when we arrived) had a 1% chance of finishing under 48 hours, "You ARE the 1%, Brad!", and convincing him that going back out was the only option, Geof and Brad strode into the sunrise.  

Be the 1%, Brad, be the 1%.

Fast forward to Telluride.  

I slept for two hours in the back of the truck, grabbed a coffee and bagel up the street, then camped out at the Telluride aid station.  Around 2:30 p.m., the guys arrived.  And Brad was looking like he was going to need some more convincing.  I went about our usual motions, while he called a friend and his wife, Wendy.

At Telluride/Mi 72

A shoe change, a pack swap, a couple of pep talks later, we got him out of the chair.  The next 10 miles, from Telluride to Chapman Gulch/Mi 82, he would be on his own.  We were both spent and didn't think it would be prudent to head out with him.  I felt drunk I was so tired, and Geof was even more sleep deprived than I was.  

Be the 1%, Brad, be the 1%.

The look on his face says it all.  He could not have been happy with us at this point...but he was a trooper, "What else am I going to do?"  Exactly.

I felt a little choked up watching him walk out of the aid station.  I felt bad that we had to push so hard to get him out, but at the same time that was our job.  And he's been through this before.  He knew that he'd regret not going back out, and I was super proud of him for continuing on despite it all.

Be the 1%.

We decided that for our own sanity that that would be the last time we'd convince him to go back out.  From here on out, he would have to really want it.  There was only one more crew accessible aid station, at Chapman, and we would let him drop there if he wanted to.  We just didn't have it in us after Telluride.  

Man, I was really, really hoping he'd pull through.

At Chapman Gulch, all the mosquitos that got kicked out of the rest of the state of Colorado for illegal doping were gathered for their annual meeting.  And they were all hopped up!  It was too hot to hide out in the truck, and it was too 'squito-y to spend too much time outside.  So we were back and forth between sitting in the hot truck and standing outside with a small group of other crew/pacer-types staring at an empty road willing our runners to materialize.  The clock was getting uncomfortably close to the cut-off time (9:00 p.m.) and we weren't feeling all that optimistic.  But when Brad showed up practically skipping down the road we were on cloud 9!  I don't know what changed, and it doesn't matter; that's what is so amazing about these events.  Give it a little time and it will get better.  Geof got geared up to head back out with Brad for the final 18 miles, and I was both sad and excited to see them go.  He was going to do this, but not without a little work.  It was 8:30 when they left the aid station; a little too close for comfort.

Be the 1%.

Lube Express

Brad heading down to the Chapman AS with Grant Swamp Pass off in the distance (their next destination)

Photo: Geof Dunmore

Photo: Geof Dunmore

I now had an hour and half drive, in the dark, back to Silverton.  By the time I reached Ouray, I could barely keep my eyes open and there was some serious rain and lightening happening on Red Mountain Pass up ahead, so I pulled into the Hot Springs parking lot and slept so hard and so fast that I don't even remember falling asleep.  Around 11:30 p.m. I awoke suddenly, momentarily forgetting where I was (which was disconcerting since I don't remember ever really experiencing that sensation before).  Remembering how scary the Pass was to drive in the middle of the night, alone, last year, I wasn't looking forward to the final drive to Silverton.  But, I survived.  I didn't break 20 mph, and drove straight down the middle of the road the whole way up and over the Pass.  I'm not kidding.  Luckily, I missed all the rain, and traffic, so I was the sole vehicle on the road.  

I took the best shower of my life, straightened up the truck and the hotel room, checked my O2 saturation out of curiosity (who doesn't do that?) and slept soundly for three hours.  Bliss.

I checked the tracking website and saw that they guys had reached Putnam around 3:15 a.m., so that meant maybe another couple of hours before they arrived in Silverton.  And I was spot on.  I walked down to the gym, and stood in the dirt road, staring into outer space, "Please make it, please make it.  Please let them be safe."  I was suddenly worried, then so happy I wanted to scream happy things, then sad because it was all almost over.  And I was just the crew.  I can only imagine what Brad was feeling.  

Suddenly two headlamps rounded a corner and broke through the thick black of night.  I just knew by the rhythm that it was Geof and Brad.  I WAS SO EXCITED!!!!!!!!  I'm getting goose bumps recalling all of this.  Radical Face's "Welcome Home" was playing in my head as the music video in my mind played out before my eyes.  I think it was even in slow mo and there were definitely heavenly apparitions and flowers and puppies.  I snapped pictures with my phone as I whooped and hollered, following behind them.  

"HEDIDITHEDIDITHEDIDIT!  Oh my God, he went through so much to get here; I can't believe it, and I can totally believe it!"  And we got to be a part of it.


Yes, Brad, get comfortable with it; you ARE the 1%.  Ouray volunteer trying to bring our runner down?  Suck it!  But also thank you for being there; thank you a million times.  You rock, volunteer, except for the 1% comment :)

Holy crap.  That was a lot.  I commend you if you've stuck around this long and read to this point.  Thank you :) 

What an experience!!  And what a great reminder that life is what you make it.  You think it sucks, but seriously, shut up and get over it.  Around the next bend is the most amazing experience.  To quote what I posted on Facebook after it was all said and done (because I just can't sum it up better than how I did in the moment): Hundred mile runs (especially the rough experiences) are such a metaphor for life: s**t gets real, it gets hard, it hurts, it makes you cry and then smile in the same moment...but you never give up, because that's not an option. You don't check out when plans fall through; you reassess, regroup, put your head down, and keep moving forward. Saw a lot of life being lived out there this weekend. Congratulations Hardrockers, and well done Brad. Proud of you!  You're a real Hardrocker now, Brad!

And that's all I've got to say about that.

Oh, and I'm totally throwing my name in for 2014.  It completely terrifies me, but it's a challenge I want to take on.  It will likely take a few years for me to make it through the lottery, but I gotta try.  Brad and Gretchen have both inspired me :)

Can't wait to go back next year, even if it's just to watch from the sidelines.

Paige, out.

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