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.