Sunday, July 6, 2014

Bighorn 100 - Closing the deal

Suffering is one thing; knowing how to suffer is quite another. -unknown

Been meaning to get this report out sooner but it seems every time I sit down to write something either at work or home comes up and I have to put this aside for a while.  It is not nearly the report I wanted to write due to everything just blending in together and fading over time but you get the idea. 

Well I headed out to Northern WY  with friends to give the 100 miler another shot.   I wanted to know if my only finish in 2010 at Leadville was a fluke or not, I was 1 for 4 for 100's before the start of this race.

Race Description (From the website)
The Bighorn Trail 100 Mile Run is an arduous trail run that will take place in the Little Bighorn – Tongue River areas of the Bighorn National Forest. Starting time for the event will be 11 AM, Friday June 20, 2014, with a 34 hour (average pace of 2.94 mph) time limit to finish the event. Runners must be prepared for potential extreme temperature variation and weather conditions during the event with possible temperatures exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the day in the canyons and well below freezing at night in the mountains. The course is wild and scenic traversing territory inhabited by elk, deer, moose, bears, cougars, mountain lions, and rattlesnakes with the potential for wildlife encounters with runners. Crew access points on parts of the course are limited and the runner should be prepared to carry a fanny pack and or other necessary equipment to ensure their ability to safely traverse difficult remote mountainous trails in potentially unpredictable weather conditions. The course is an out-and-back consisting of 76 miles of single track trail, 16 miles of rugged double track jeep trail, and 8 miles of gravel road with approximately 17,500 feet of climb and 18,000 feet of descent.

Profile (Reads right to left and back)

Hot during the day and cold/windy/raining in the night. The sunset and sunrise were perfect.

Race Report
Well it was a lot of fun,  especially since this is the first time that I have done a 100 where I did not puke.  What a world of difference it makes to slow down and manage my effort from the start so that I don't dig myself into a deep hole that I struggle to get out of every time.

Left Denver around 1pm Wednesday before the race on Friday with Clyde (crew master) so that this time I make sure that I have lots and lots of time just to chill out on Thursday and get the drop bags around which was a mistake that I made last time in 2009 at this race.  After a good night's sleep, Thursday was spent doing drop bags, race check in and drinking beer at Blacktooth Brewery.  No better way to get ready to run a 100 miles.

Friday morning got up and hit Perkins with Clyde for a for a filling breakfast than off to the pre-race meeting.  One thing that I really like about this race is that it starts at 11am.  It is both good due to the extra sleep it allows but also does have a down side, my nerves were eating at me all morning up until the race started.

My cool Elevation Tat with all the water stops on it was very helpful all day.

Some of the runners and their crew from the Special Idiots house we rented at the start of the race, missing is Clyde who was taking the photo.  This group had an 80% finish rate (4 out of 5) verses the 60% for the rest of the racers.  Believe a couple of them were even 100 mile virgins.

I had the following plan laid out which I though was very doable for this 100.  It is the exact same plan that I had in 2009 but this time I planned the night gear section a lot better and actually grabbed a coat.

Mile 30- 7-8 hours
Mile 48- 12-14 hours
Mile 66- 18-20 hours
Average 3mph to the finish which would be 30 hours.

Start of the race.

I was doing great the 1st part of the race staying on what I had laid out as a race plan. That 1st climb from the start up to Horse Creek was a bitch. It was basically a 4000ft climb in about 7 miles.  It just climbs and climbs and climbs. Needless to say there was a lot of power hiking up this section. Since it is all single track you kind of get stuck in a train which helps me to control my pace and not push to hard.  My whole goal the first 30 miles of the day was to just survive the day and not dig myself into a hole which I came very very close to doing due to how hot it was out there that afternoon the last 2-3 miles into Footbridge.

I came into Footbridge (mile 30) at 7:01 right on target which would be 6pm. It was hot and I was starting to crash due overheating, I hit this aid station just in time to recover and cool down thanks to Clyde's problem solving skills.

Overheating and Clyde taking care of it for me.

Feeling much better after a 27 minute pit stop to cooldown, rehydrate, and refuel.

I would not see my crew Clyde until the turn around at mile 48 so I told them I should be there around 13-14 hours (big climb heading out).  Leaving Footbridge I was allowed to pick up my first pacer Donald who was jumping at the bit to get going.   My goal was just to keep moving aka walking through out the night and that is what we did as we took off doing chatting away like a couple of little school girls.

Checking out the sunset as we head up into the meadows up high and turn around of the race.

Just shortly after this photo was taken I started to hit a really low point.  All I could do was keep my head down and follow the other runners that we caught up to trying with all my will power not to be sick.  I knew that once I started puking it would not stop for a while and I would start to crash due lack of calories getting into my system just like all the other 100s I have attempted.  By the time I came into a back country aid station called Elk Camp (a lot like Hope Pass station in Leadville 100, remote) at mile 40ish, I was in bad shape from the stomach and moving very slow.   I sat down next to the fire trying to figure out what to do.  After a few mins with my head hanging low I ask Donald to grab me a couple of cups of Coke and Ginger Ale.  After chugging down 4-5 cups and a bunch of chicken broth all of the sudden I let out a huge 10-15 second burp and all was solved.  As everyone was laughing I looked at Donald and said "Lets go!" and jumped to my feet and starting hiking out into the mud with hand fulls of bacon and trail mix. 

As we hiked up to the turn around we were having a blast as a storm pounded us with rain and lighting.  I was just having fun playing in the mud watching Donald fall all over the place.  After the storm passed the stars out there in the middle of no where were just amazing, wish I had a photo of how bright they were.  We fast hiked the rest of the way up to the turn around aid station Jaws getting there at 13:49 into the race.  Spent about 25 mins here just eating (yes more bacon) and chatting with Clyde who made the long drive around in the middle of the night to crew me.  I was in a great mood and was ready to get to hiking the rest of the night.

Refueling at the turn around aid station Jaws.

Donald and I spent the rest of the night heading back to Footbridge as I counted how many times he fell in the mud.  Damn it was a lot.  It kind of freaked me out for I was afraid that he was going to injure his neck where he just had a rod put in just 8 months earlier.  By the time we got back to Footbridge Donald won with falling 9 times in the mud verse my 1 time.  Someone needs to put his ass into yoga or something to work on his balance.  Donald ended up covering around 36 miles with me through the night.

Coming into Footbridge Aid (about 3 miles out) as the sun was coming up.

 Donald and I came into Footbridge(mile 66) about 7:15am or 20:15 into the race.  I spent about 15 minutes here eating some more and changing my shirt to something cooler for the upcoming hot day.  I also debated if I should change shoes or not due to the 30 some miles of mud we just covered.  I elected not to because my feet were numb and I did not what to take the chance of that changing.  I wish I would have changed my shoes as you can see from the photos at the end of this post, maybe they would not have been as bad if I would have made the change.  I exchanged Donald for JT and we heading out climbing up The Wall at a good clip ready to do some head hunting.


As JT and I were getting going to asked him to remind me to eat every 30mins or so and he suggested I start taking in salt tabs at every aid station to get ready for the hot day to come.  It seemed to work well as we shot the bullshit and trash talked back and forth as we made our way to Dryfork aid station at mile 83 and yes to my surprise I was still running the flats (rare in this race) and the downhills.  The one time that I did start to whine JT looked at me and said, "My hearing aid is broken and I can no longer hear your bullshit lame excuses."  Game on.

We rolled into Dryfork Aid Station at 25:01 or at noon which totally surprised me that I was able to cover the 18 miles from Footbridge to Dryfork in about 4.5 hours.  Guess I was moving ok.  We spent about 10 mins at this aid station splitting a Fat Tire Beer and eating again before heading out to cover the last large downhill section of the race.

There are a couple of short uphills still before dropping down into the canyon towards the end.  I still had something in me as we were doing the last small climb at about mile 90.

From the top of this pass you drop down into the canyon for a few miles before hitting the road for the last 5 miles of the race.  In the canyon I was still able to keep jogging for the most parts on the downhills.

About mile 93-94.

Once JT and I got out of the canyon and hit the road was I was so happy to get off the rocky single track and on to something where I did not have to worry about my footing anymore and could just get to the end.  My mental energy was dropping quickly and I was starting to overheat.  JT did a great job of helping me manage to stay cool by scarificing his water bottles dumping them over my head as we worked our way up the road.  Halfway up the road I was walking and JT asked me to read a sign in the road which said "Runners on Road", after reading this out loud he turned to me and said, "Exactly, not Walkers on Road.".  Point taken, time to get back to jogging.  About 2 miles from the finish a couple of girls came along and handed out some popsicles which was heaven on earth for this road was never fucking ending.

The plan all along was to stop at mile 99.5 and drink a beer before crossing the finish line but once I got there I just wanted to be fucking done.  I was afraid that if I sat down for a beer I would not be able to get up to get my ass across the finish line.  So why JT pealed off to grab his beer at the bar I jogged the last half mile to the finish line and sat my ass in a chair with a Coors Light supplied by my previous boss from my last job that rolled up on me on a bike.  Thanks Grace and Don!  Finish time 29:09, way faster than I thought I could.  I was thinking it was going to be a 32 hour day.

Crossing the finish line.

Beer me!

My feet were trashed from all the water and mud. It is going to take 3-4 weeks for all the open wounds on my heels to heal up.

My Strava data (yes, I got the watch to capture everything):

The rest of the night was spent back at the house chugging beers trying to get my ass to fall asleep.  I was so pumped up about finishing it took about 5 beers and sleeping drugs to knock me out.

The next morning before the drive home we had to get pickup free food and the buckle of course.  Isn't that the whole reason we do these?  For the buckle?

Special thanks to Ashley for all her support that allows me to discover what I am able to do on these stupid runs.  I want to thank Clyde for crewing me and putting up with all the driving this course requires for the crew to do.  I want also thank Donald and JT for taking the time to drive up there and spend some slow hours on the trail pacing me and keeping me company.  I know some people are against pacers and crew but in my mind spending time out there on the trails with friends and family who are crewing and pacing is what makes 100s so special.  It was an epic day guys and thanks again.

I am going to take this month off from structured training, still going to run when the feet heal up and when I feel like it.   I am signed up for Imogene Pass run in Sept so that will be my main focus as I get back to training in July.  I am also pondering a couple of other ideas but we will see if those play out or not.

Thanks for reading!