Find it. Keep it. Nourish it. Believe it.
While running 100 miles seems daunting, scary, (some would say stupid crazy), and unfathomable, I was ALL IN when my name was drawn in the lottery last year. And, while I have completed one 100 miler, Wasatch Front 100 is a different kind of 100. The kind with crazy elevation (hello 25k plus) of vertical and challenging terrains with temps varying from the 30’s to the 80’s, AND at elevation up to and over 10k feet up! This race is toted as 100 miles of Heaven and Hell and I can tell you for sure — it delivered this, and more.
I went in well prepared for the endurance and felt ready, however I was still anxious and scared sh!%le$$! I read several race reports leading up to the race, poured over the course profile, and spent time trying to simulate the sufferfest that was about to go down.
I loosely set out a 34 hour finish for my AWESOME pacers, Steve and Rebekah, but they understood I just wanted that buckle. I would take anything under 36 hours, I just wanted to finish. They were ALL IN too … much more in fact, with their hearts and souls. Both of them drove hours on end from Colorado (separately) to the race. Grateful is an understatement when I think of these two.
Race morning started at 2:01 am. I like to be up and eating 3 hours pre-race. My standard is 1/2 plain bagel with peanut butter and a banana. And, always a cup of coffee. Steve and I left the hotel (Little America in Salt Lake City) to the start line around 4 am. We made it in plenty of time.
I knew the first climb was a doozy. 5000 vert in 11 miles, most of which occurred in the first 5 miles. CRAZY uphill! It was straight up the mountain in the dark. I marched along in what was a conga line on a single track trail. I was advised to GO SLOW (thank you Tommy and Kenzie), and if I didn’t think I was going slow enough, I was going too fast (a quote from Steve).
I climbed and climbed and climbed. The sun came up and it was glorious! I had the biggest smile on my face. I stopped several times to take a few pictures and continued on.
I reached mile 11 check point (Grobben’s Shed) well in front of my pace chart (by about an hour) and then reached mile 16.41 aid station (Bountiful B) still about an hour ahead of schedule. I checked my fluids and realized I had only consumed maybe 20oz of fluids (Gatorade Endurance) … oops. Luckily my pacers know I suck at drinking enough, so I sent them brief text and tattled on myself, promising to do better.
Onward to Sessions aid station, which was at mile 20.66. I left this aid station an hour ahead of projection. I was feeling good and moving steady, yet I reminded myself I still had a long way to go. Others passed me and I continued just running my own race and pace. The scenery was breathtaking and I was in serious awe every time I looked around.
I reached Swallow rocks (mile 27.21) and realized I was now over an hour ahead of my projected pace. I texted Steve and Rebekah to let them know my status as I would be picking up Steve at mile 31.66 (Big Mountain aid station).
Me coming into Big Mountain Aid Station:
Steve and I set out and I knew he had the most difficult of the pacing duties as he would get me when I would be at my lowest (at night). But, we had several hours of daylight left and him being the master of the GoPro and his phone for pictures, he was able to capture so many awesome shots! He is also a master of positivity and running in general. Brag moment: Steve is an accomplished ultra runner (hello HURT 100 x 2) and Ironman (hello Kona!). A true inspiration and the most humble person I have ever met. He and his wife Malia are like family to me and I was so grateful to have him by my side.
We made it to Alexander Ride (mile 39.49) by 4:36 pm (ahead of projection of 3:36 pm). We left 8 minutes later. I was still feeling strong and so grateful to have my friend next to me.
Lamb’s Canyon was next. This was mile 45.07. We arrived at 6:12 and left at 6:30 pm. I was projected to be there based on my 34 hour pace chart at 7:32 pm. I changed into pants and long sleeve shirt, grabbed headlamps for the evening.
And, I saw this amazing lady (Andrea), who I had the pleasure to meet the weekend before at the Disneyland half marathon weekend. She was doing the slam and I was (still am) OH SO INSPIRED by her:
Upper Big Water, mile 53.54. Arrived at 9:09 pm and left at 9:24 pm. Projected at 10:47 pm. And, now that I write this and my memory hazy from the ultra hangover, I might have taken the above picture with Andrea at Upper Big Water. 😉
Desolation Lake, mile 58.43. Arrived at 11:28 pm and I dillydallied by the fire trying to get warm. I was not as prepared for the cold as I thought would be. My gloves were not thick enough, I did not have enough layers, and I stole Steve’s fleece hoodie. Well, he did offer it, but unbeknownst to me at the time, he was now the one shivering.
We didn’t leave Desolation Lake until 11:51 pm. I was tired. So tired. And, it was hitting me hard. It’s a face that I do not do well without sleep. I was not cranky, but I definitely couldn’t keep a straight line. Steve later showed me a video of my sleep (drunk) walking. He was positive I was adding 5 miles onto this race.
Scott Peak (mile 62.34) could not come fast enough. We arrived at 1:30 am, so cold and tired that I fell asleep within minutes of sitting down. I didn’t realize at the time, but Steve let me sleep for 40 minutes. I was thankful for that cushion and a pacer who knew exactly what I needed. We left Scott Peak at 2:11 am. I was now about even with my projected 34 hour finish and I was good with that. I needed the nap.
Brighton, mile 67.03. Here is where I said goodbye to Steve and hello to Rebekah. I was still freezing and Steve let me keep his fleece hoodie. I ate some pancakes and they assessed my wrecked feet after I changed out my socks and shoes. Some nice man in the aid station, taped my big toe, which had the biggest blister on it. Nothing to do but continue on. There was no quitting. EVER. Rebekah and I left Brighton at 3:58 am, now behind my projection of 3:33 am. I still could make the 36 hour cut off, I knew it. I had to.
It was cold and slow going, and the elevation was starting to hit me. It was hard to breath and my legs felt like bricks. We walked for what seemed like forever, but Rebekah was a trooper walking in the cold and dark with me. We made it to Ant Knolls (mile 71.54) by 6:07 am. We made this aid station a quick pit stop and were out by 6:18 am. 34 hour pace chart had me at 5:48 am. I was thinking to myself, if I just made up a bit of time … I wonder …
Mentally, I felt strong. I wondered if I kept pushing, could I really make the 34 hour mark? With that mental note to self, I felt my inner spark unleash and I began to run more and more. Rebekah never failed. She stayed right with me through it all.
We made it to Pole Line Pass (mile 74.72) by 7:23 am and were out by 7:40 am. Projection was 6:57 am. Still behind, but I was determined to keep unleashing everything I had in me…
Now I was just 30 minutes behind schedule. I was feeling invigorated pushing myself. I don’t know why exactly as I just wanted a finish, the buckle, but I had it in my head that I had it in me to finish in 34 hours. For no particular reason other than I knew I could.
Pot Hollow, mile 84.54. Arrived at 10:43 am and left at 10:53 am. Projected time was 10:40 am. I was so close now.
Decker Canyon, mile 93.58. Arrived at 1:07 pm and left at 1:12 pm. NOW ahead of projection of 1:25 pm. I was beaming, behind my sufferfest of quads screaming, blisters, and a knee that was royally pissed at me. I didn’t care. I told my sufferfest that it could be done whining in 7 more miles.
Onto the finish at SOLDIER HOLLOW! 2:33 pm!!! Almost half an hour ahead of my projection.
Finish time: 33 hours, 33 minutes, and 45 seconds.
BEST MOMENT EVER.
When the vice president of gHP Sport reached out to me a couple of months ago, little did I know it would be a game changer. He asked me if I would like to try gHP Sport, a dietary supplement of eight amino acids. Unlike other companies who have reached out to me to try their products, Michael Cooper did not ask me for anything in return. He simply sent me information on gHP Sport and the science behind amino acids. I thought, why not? So, I said, “Sure! Send me some.” However, I did warn him that I hated taking pills of any kind and often forgot to take my vitamins.
My gHP Sport arrived about a month out from my big 100 mile race, Javelina 100. I was also doing a runstreak, where I was running every day for one year straight. I had a little over a month to go, which means I would have to run even after my 100 mile race. I was nervous for that day! I figured gHP couldn’t hurt and if it provided any advantage for muscle recovery and cell repair.
Now for the results (unsolicited from gHP):
After taking gHP Sport for just a few days, I immediately noticed I was sleeping so soundly and my digestion improved. Within a few more days, I had increased energy and my workouts felt great, whether it was before work at 4 am or 6 pm at night after work. I must be honest, as much as I hate taking pills (and these took me a couple of days to get used to), I kept with it.
Fast forward to my first 100 mile race and taking gHP Sport regularly. Not only did I complete 100 miles and earn my first buckle, I had the energy to jump across the finish line!
Now for the best part: After my 100 mile race, I was able to go up and down stairs without assistance and I was able to sleep all night without any pain relievers (ibuprofen or Tylenol). This is HUGE as I remembered how I felt after running 100k earlier this year … I could barely walk, sit, or sleep!
I was also able to run the very next day to keep my runstreak alive. Not only did I run, I felt amazing (after my 100k, I could barely run a 20 min mile. I was shuffling for sure. After my 100 miles, I ran a 12 min pace no problem!)
I’m telling you, the only thing that had changed between my 100k race (and several other ultras this year) was taking gHP Sport every day. It has simply been amazing!!
This product has some great reps too! Major League Baseball player, David Price, for one:
I contacted Michael Cooper again and told him how impressed I was and he wanted me (ME!) to represent gHP Sport. Of course I said yes! Anything to spread the word to all my friends. Within days, the team at gHP Sport created an Ad with me (again, ME! like really??) and gave me a coupon code to offer it to any of my friends or followers. If you want to order it for yourself, YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED! I say that with 100% conviction because again, I hate taking pills of any kind. And, not only are they are safe, THEY WORK! They also come with a 30 day money back guarantee!
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As I sit here contemplating on how to tell you about how it is to run 100 miles, I must make one thing clear …
I still can’t quite wrap my head around the notion that I actually DID IT! Although it was very real in the moment with so many highs and lows, when I finished – all I could think was, “Holy crap … I did it!”
So, the best I can do to explain my 29 + hours of running, is to break it down into segments. This race is perfect for that anyway because it is an alternating 15.3 loop course through the Arizona desert, with the last loop being a bit shorter at 9 miles.
My day started at 3 am on October 31st. My awesome pacers (Jen, Rebekah, and Mikey) started their day too … sorry guys! A cup of coffee, a mini bagel with peanut butter and a banana was my fuel. Dressed and out the door to the trail by 4:30 am.
Pemberton Trail is at McDowell National Park (right outside of Fountain Hills, AZ). The main hub is tent city, aka – Javelina Jeadquarters. Jeadquarters is where all the action is: a DJ, all the food, vendors, tents, and spectators. It is also the start and finish line. I rented a tent with two cots for everyone to hang out in when I was away on the trail.
Start time was 6 am and I was nervous! I was looking around for any of my running friends and couldn’t find any. Finally, Steve found me! Huge sigh of relief as he hugged me and said he would run with me for a bit. Steve and I ended up running about 9.5 miles of the first loop together and the time just whizzed by. He is truly a remarkable friend and am grateful he slowed down to my pace to run with me (he went on to run a 22 hour race overall, which is just stellar!)
I finished loop 1 feeling good and my pacers/crew were waiting for me as I came through Jeadquarters.
Jen, Rebekah, and Mikey were all on top of it as they filled my hydration pack, gave me some headphones for music, my GoPro and sunglasses (it was very sunny and starting to get really warm).
I was feeling great, listening to my music, running the opposite direction this time. The miles seems to click by and I passed the aid stations and stuck to my own hydration and nutrition. Somewhere toward the very end of loop 2 I started to really feel the heat and my head was hot. I was tired of carrying the GoPro and I hated my music. It had to go. I also left my phone behind because I didn’t want any extra weight, but I did take a small hand-held bottle of water to carry in addition to my Gatorade Endurance in my hydration pack.
The wheels started falling off. AND FAST. The first part of loop 3 was the hardest. Uphill, with large rocks embedded in the trail and smaller rocks, which were loose. I was walking and not feeling great. It was hot and my stomach was starting to turn on me. I was stopping at all the aid stations to take in extra fluids, like coke and ginger ale, as well as water. I also took salt tabs at each aid station to make sure I was getting enough sodium. Towards the end of this loop, I was hurting. Bad. My stomach was a mess and I felt so sick. I kept trying to talk myself out of it, but my body was yelling at me and winning the fight. I saw some friends along the trail and I cried … “this is so hard.” Emily, my sweet inspirational rockstar of a friend, passed me at the final aid station for loop 3, which was her first aid station for loop 4. I told her I was dying in this heat. Emily said she knew how I was feeling .. but encouraged me to keep going and promise her I would.
Ok … I promise. (But, I still had doubts)
I finished loop 3 and knew I would change out my socks, shoes, shirt and hat. It was also getting dusk, which meant I would get a pacer. I came into Jeadquarters so low and depleted, I started crying right away. Rebekah whisked me into the tent and changed out my socks and shoes. Then my shirt and hat. I was still an emotional wreck. Trying to smile and stay positive, but wanting to crumble at the same time.
I dillydallied during this pit-stop, not knowing if I could continue. All of a sudden, Rebekah put my daughter, Kylie, on the phone with me. I started to cry again as I told her I was having a tough time and didn’t know if I could make it 100 miles. She kept saying, “yes you can, I know you can.” I told her I loved her and thanked her for calling .. it meant the world to me.
Thankfully, I had Jen with me for Loop 4. She knew I wasn’t feeling well and just stayed upbeat and positive the entire time. I was running extremely slow and then it hit … I had to puke. WHAT?! I never throw up in a race. Like EVER. I didn’t have a lot to throw up, but whatever was in me, came up. Then I had the dry heaves. I felt so bad for Jen and I was crying all over again telling her I couldn’t make it. She kept pushing me just to make it to Jackass Junction (the mid-way aid station). I continued slowly and was so nauseous. I went from extreme hot temperatures and stripping off my coat, to extreme shivers in the matter of minutes. I had no idea what the hell was going on with me. Somehow I managed to make it Jackass Junction and went straight for the medical tent.
They had me sit and take in some ramen broth. I must have been there 30-40 minutes, but in that time, I downed 4 cups of broth and a few boiled salted potatoes. I also closed my eyes for a few golden minutes. I told Jen I may have to call it after the 4th loop and be happy with a 100k buckle instead of the 100 mile buckle. I was writing my DNF in my head the 2nd half of that loop as I still felt weak and miserable. I was crying just thinking about letting everyone down, especially my crew who flew all this way to run with me. I would be quitting. I never quit, but the end seemed so far out of reach. Jen reassured me that everyone would understand and my health was more important. She encouraged me to get to Jeadquarters and see how I felt.
Coming into Jeadquarters, I saw Mikey dressed and ready to go. I thought to myself, ‘okay, one more loop.’ (*HUGE sigh … I can do hard things)
This loop can be described as sleep walking, hallucinations, with a side of grilled cheese and broth. Mikey was the excellent pacer for this loop because I literally wanted to curl up in a ball and go to sleep. It was pitch black out and our headlamps were the only source of light on the trail. I was seeing things that weren’t there and asked him if I could close my eyes and he could guide me. The answer was no. However, he did get me to Jackass Junction and fed me 1/2 grilled cheese sandwich and some ramen broth.
That put new life into me and we bolted through the second half of that loop, jamming to tunes from his iPhone.
Rebekah was dressed and ready and I couldn’t let her down. This was, after all, my last 15.3 mile loop. By now, all my pacers had worked out finish times and what it would take to get me to finish by noon on Sunday. There was a bit of anxiety that came with that and I felt the pressure to keep the pace up to make it. Was I really going to make it?
The sun started to come up on this loop and that gave me a new energy. I had less than a marathon to run and was thankful that only my knees and quads were starting to talk to me (if they could talk, imagine a pissy tone … yeah, that’s the one).
Rebekah ran ahead of me for most of the loop and kept me moving by timing my runs and walk breaks. I always tried to run a little further than what she told me to run just for my own mental game. So, if she said we were going to run for the next minute, I would try and run for the next two minutes. Anything to keep me going. It worked!
As I reached the end of loop 6, I was tearing up. Was this true … I only had 9 miles to go? As I came through Jeadquarters, I was given a glow necklace to signify I was on my last loop. I was crying tears of joy. Jen was ready and smiling to take that victory loop with me.
Victory loop. I had just over 3 hours to complete these 9 miles by cut-off time. It was go time.
AND, I went for it on this last loop. Everything hurt but I didn’t care. I could see that buckle now and I wanted it sooner than twelve o’clock. The bottoms of my feet felt raw, like they were being poked with needles from all the rocks on this course. But, they hurt whether I walked or ran … so I RAN. My pacers/crew had figured out my magic jam was broth and potatoes and had those for me at every aid station. I just didn’t think about it — I did what they said. And, I have to say, it worked.
Coming into Jeadquarters, the finish line was indescribable. All the colors of emotion flooding my mind. The cheers, claps and screams from my friends and bystanders who didn’t even know me.
I DID IT! What I once thought was impossible, was no more. 100 miles (100.9 to be exact) were all mine, and I loved sharing them with many others along this course.
The true rock stars of this 100 miler belong to my awesome crew and pacers: Rebekah Leoni, Michael Stribling, and Jennifer Sewell (pictured below left to right):
They were truly the best #Gteam and were there for me every step of the way. My buckle was earned because of them!
Huge shoutout to these awesome peeps who made my first 100 miler unforgettable: Steve and Malia Clemons, Emily Eliason, Joshua Moulthrop, Angelina Francavilla, Amy Eichelberg, Amanda Yu, Tony Nguyen, Jacette Valenzuela, Eric Compton, Greg Durbin, Shane Kaniela, Shannon Dempsey, Sara DeMuch, Leslie Platz Gray, John Schultz, Traci Porter-Cook, Missy Schield, and my sweet daughter, Kylie.
And — Last but not least, THANKS to Jamil Coury the race director of Javelina for putting on such a great race and ALL the volunteers, who truly made this race happen!! It could not have happened without those wonderful volunteers!!
(***photo credits to: Steve Clemons, Tony Nguyen, Amanda Yu, Rebekah Leoni, Michael Stribling, Jennifer Sewell, and Sara DeMuch***)
Thank you Sean Kilgus for capturing the very essence of my passion. With Javelina 100 less than 10 days away now, I’m excited to share this with you! (turn up your YouTube Settings to 4K for the highest resolution, it’s remarkable).
Shout out to:
Superfeet – The Premium Insole
Running 4 Those Who Can’t
Happy Friday! I hope you all had a great week. Mine was crazy busy with work and going into a long training weekend (my biggest ever), but first — I want to share five things this Friday!!
Can we just talk about my shoe problem? I might have a slight Brooks Running addiction. AND – these were just the shoes in my workout room. Rest assured, I am donating several of these to Girls on the Run! Do you have a favorite pair? I tend to try them all and rotate depending on my terrain, clothes (matchy-matchy), and distance.
2. That’s it.®
These bars are so yummy and only have two ingredients! All fruit, no preservatives. Oh … and no fat, non GMO, Gluten free, Kosher, Vegan, and Raw. They are the perfect on the go snack when whole fruit is not readily available.
This box is truly amazing. Sent right to my door with dry ice. We’ve already made three meals using the perfect portion sizings. AND – I like the fact that they come in portions, because as I’ve learned – I eat way more than this when we cook an entire salmon filet. Do I like fresh – heck yes! BUT – this is perfect to have on hand when you are in a hurry or need something quick and easy AND nutritious.
The package I received was the Paleo Prime Plus:
Have you tried Sizzlefish? If so, what did you think?
4. OMGOSH!!! Javelina Jundred is now only 35 days away ….
Well, technically right now (at the time of this writing) … 35 days, 23 hours and 14 minutes.
Here is a photo from last year, when I was lucky enough to pace one of my besties to his first 100 mile finish.
Have a wonderful day friends! Who’s running this weekend? Who’s racing? Who’s cheering?
Whatever you are doing, make it a good one! xo