And whatever happened at the Bighorn 100?
I will tell you. As succinctly as I possibly can...
Let's start with Bighorn:
I made the drive over to Sheridan, WY in the Plastic Porsche with Mike and Melissa (Mike's pacer) and we spent Thursday afternoon picking up race packets, prepping, then dropping off our drop bags, having an all-you-can-eat pre-race pizza and pasta dinner, then rolling over to our campsite ten miles away near the race start in Dayton, WY.
Friday morning, we got up, got ready, and liesurely began preparing for our journey that was scheduled to begin promptly at 11am. Trevor drove out from Portland to run the race with Mike and I and the 117 other wonderful wildpeople out there with us.
In short, the race went ok. Not what I had hoped. For some reason, after having two months of runners high, I felt slightly off and a little lethargic out there. Maybe I simply wasn't able to maintain my two month "peak" all the way through to this race. Whatever the reason, I just kept going anyway, never having a really bad spot necessarily, but just plugging away at those miles. Especially through the night and into the early parts of the morning. My body began rejecting any fluids I drank (though the normal evacuation process, no puking) and my legs felt heavy and I couldn't run without my heart rate and breathing skyrocketing. But, you know, this wasn't necessarily "bad". It was just slow. Slower than I thought I was capable of anyway.
I hit 50 miles in about 12 hours. The next 16 miles took me from 11pm to 4am at which point I stopped at the Footbridge Aid Station, sat down in a chair and was tended to by the most awesome group of volunteers I have ever experienced. These guys were the absolute best. They brought me cup after cup of hot soup. A bowl of boiled and cubed potatoes. Watermelon. Some chips. And when I began to feel cold a few minutes after sitting there, they pulled a huge sleeping bag out. One guy gave me the jacket off his back. I was feeling kinda drowsy by then so I slid off the chair onto the ground and propped my back up against a rock. Another guy brought over another sleeping bag to cushion my back. Is this racing?!?! Seriously?!?! Should I really be sleeping here like this in the middle of a race gatting waited upon and tended to my every need?!?! Well, whatever, it happened and I gotta give a bunch of kudos to that crew at the Footbridge. You guys were awesome! (Maybe I like "luxury" too much)
I spent 15 minutes eating, 30 minutes dozing, and was back up and moving up the 2,000+ ft climb out of the canyon at 4:45am. It was getting light. I was still feeling sluggish and continued to feel that way until about 9:30am when I reached the Cow Camp Aid Station at mile 76.5. And that meant one thing. Bacon!
These guys know how to do breakfast for ultrarunners. Lots and lots of delicious, salty, crispy, greasy, dripping bacon. Pulled off a plate and handed to me directly in the dirt-covered hands of one of the aid station volunteers. It was perfect. All these volunteers were simply amazing. I love this race just because of that. THE best aid station crews you'll ever find. I ate eight strips of bacon, two cups of oatmeal a couple orange slices and a couple pieces of watermelon and I was off again. In an hour and a half, I was up at Dry Fork with 17.5 miles to go. It was 11:25 when I left that aid station. So much for running a sub-24, but all of a sudden I was off and running again. And I'm talkin full on running. Not the ultra-shuffle, but the legitimate ultra-run! My guess is the bacon must have kicked in. I ran the final 17.5 miles to the finish in 2hrs, 24 min, an average pace of approximately 8:14, and my fastest segment of the entire race. Go figure. I had to go 83 miles before finally feeling good! (does 83 miles count as a warm up?) I needed a finishing goal to help make me feel like I had a good race so I began maintaining my running pace and, with the goal of finishing in under 27 hours, I was able to catch back up to a couple guys who had passed me hours and hours and hours before (including one within a mile of the finish) and that helped make my finishing kick worth it. (Although I'm convinced that if the race had been 125 miles, I would have placed even higher)
I finished in 26 hrs, 49 min in 15th place overall. And Trevor and Mike finshed as well after battling their own difficulties out there. Our group had a 100% finishing rate! And judging by how we were walking the next morning, I'd say we were even more succesful. Feet were in relatively good condition. So were joints and muscles. A bit sore, yes, but we were all moving around pretty dang well considering the 100 miles we put in the day before!
I took the next week off following the race, and for whatever reason was recovered enough to want to head out into the mountains for a long run the following Saturday, so I shot off a text to my local running homies to see who was interested and sure enough, got a "yes" response from Melissa. She's always up for adventure. And oh what an adventure it was. 7 hours on foot. 23 miles covered. Two, huge 3,000ft climbs. Sweet glissading down vast snowfields. Route-finding through an avalanche debris-filled, overgrown, unmaintained canyon that I don't think has seen human footprints in over ten years. Beautiful alpine lakes. Waterfalls. Views all the way to the Tetons and beyond from the high point at 9,500 ft.
And not a single picture because I forgot my camera. @&$%^#*&$#^@!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So then the next day, I went out on a two hour mountain bike ride with a couple friends to recover. We rode the Mill Creek Trail from Teton Canyon up to Grand Targhee and then turned around to enjoy all that the blissful descent had to offer. Ahhhhhhhhh, wheels are gooooooooood!
The next weekend (of the 4th of July) I went out with a couple other running buds on another good 20+ mile loop in the Teton Pass area: Start at Mike Harris TH, climb up to Mount Oliver, down to Mail Cabin TH, cross the highway, go up Coal Creek, over Mesquite Pass into Moose Creek Meadows, and down Moose Creek back to Mike Harris across the highway.