Pictures are worth a thousand words.
Here and here.
It was a blast. Totally. 52 miles with almost 14,000 feet of gain in one of the most beautiful setting you can ever imagine. I was blown away by how awesome those mountains around Pocatello are. Never dreamed it would be like that. Add on to it an amazingly tough training for Hardrock, seeing so many great friends and running the whole thing with Larry - and the weekend got 10 on the scale 1 to 5:)
Larry decided to run this race with me, "to see how you operate and what makes you tick for Hardrock pacing duties". I made a pace chart for 14 hrs (and Larry was completely surprised how on time we were at each aid station, without me ever being on a course before, give or take 5 minutes). We arrived to the start camp on Friday around 7:30pm, way past any pre-race gathering, to find a huge crowd camping out and hanging there. Said hello's and gave hugs, got our bibs and my new "goat skin" - and off to a near-by motel. Pocatello is a cute little town, and we liked it a lot!
Race started at 6am, good time to squeeze a little bit of sleep and not need a headlamp. I moved to the very back of the pack and walked out, having Larry panting of how come we are not running. I wasn't:) Then we turned to the road off the campground and stretched out on a 0.7M road, after which we hit the first climb - and never stopped climbing since.
So there we hung, at the very back, for practically all of the first 8.3M section. Aid station came, volunteers took great care of us - and we walked out, to see do-RD Jared, who I demanded a hug and a kiss from:)
Soon after we hit what we were warned about just before the start - "a mile that would take you an hour". It was straight up, no trail, and it was awesome! Somehow we managed to pass 6 people there, climbing in a bliss...
When we thought we crested the hill, and walked through the rumble of the huge piles of rocks, it turned out we got another straight climb to do!
A reward for all this climbing was a sweet long 5 mile downhill, and the second AS (and a first transition for relay runners) came. We dug into our drop bags, got more hugs (well, I did) from co-RD's Jared and Ryan, and off we went. Larry was a bit beat up from the downhill (Texas, ya know:)) and the heat (heat??? 85F is heat?), so I pulled away a bit and worried if he catches up. Well, I want off course a few hundred yards and this is how we were back together - thanks for turning me around! Soon enough he was back to normal and better, and the rest of the run neither one of us had a bad patch.
There was another straight up off-trail section, where we went inside a creek bed and climbed out of it by pulling on to bushes, a hill that left us high on adrenaline, and lots of creek crossings (wet feet!), snow patches and beautiful views.
A marathon done, we filled the bottles and hit another climb (why am I not surprised?) It was a "short" one, and soon it was gentle running and power walking all the way to second transition of relay, AS at mile 32.5. We ran parts of it with our friends Dusty and Becky, and my stomach went "south", not too bad at first, but soon enough really rumbling. If my usual state at the race is running "about 4 months pregnant", this day I was about to pop a baby! It didn't deter me one bit, and it wasn't slowing down us either. AS was amazing, even though it looked like neither of volunteers had anything to do with ultras prior to this experience - there were Western States style, personal help! Next on agenda - a notorious 9M climb to the top of Scout Mountain, highest point of the course, some 8600 feet looming over. Larry had pointed me to it, and I got jokingly mad - I really don't like to see where I have to go:)
Soon after mile 38 AS Larry decided we are off trail - the course is so overmarked, when he didn't see a ribbon for 5 minutes (spoiled!), he got worried. So we stood a bit, pacing back and forth, saw Dusty and Jeff coming behind, walked forward, then backwards, saw Bruce coming in, walked more forward, more backwards, then all the way back to the last intersection.
Silly, we were perfectly fine! Thus we lost some over 20 minutes and made an extra mile, but you know what, what kind of ultra is that if you don't have a little adventure? :) Now, though, we had a company for some of the climb! There was more snow here, obviously, and we kept walking up...and up...and up. Wondering how in the world will we loose all this gain in the next section. Finally, the top was there, and we sighed a relief.
And the wandering part about our going down ended with a 35% snow slope with a rope!!!
That was fun! I can't believe how cold our bumps were sliding down! After that section, it was a sweet 5M down on a single track, where I finally woke up and put a "pedal to the metal". As always, when I smell the barn, I get super-focused and all I care about is making forward progress, no matter what happens around.
Last AS came and gone, in a blur, with me stealing a personal coke from volunteer, and we ran some couple of miles of the gentle down on the road, then climbed on a dirt road another mile and half - and last downhill, pushing it, almost dropping Larry (who got his feet messed up), turn to the road - campground - yay!!!
What a day. It would have been perfect 14 hrs had we not spent some time and effort extra, but I didn't care. It was the best Hardrock training, best confidence booster I could possibly hope for. I had not a single ache, not a single blister (Drymax and wet feet rock!!!), my aircast for the ankle worked awesome (with only one minus - it dug into my heel and made a bruise and a huge bloody blister and compromised my running a bit), and I am ready to tackle Colorado camp! We each took over 100 photo shots, had an great time, and enjoyed every minute of it! As for Larry's quest on "how I operate" - he said nothing different from any of my long training runs. I move forward, hike every up, run down, powerwalk with a speed of dropping a fly, smile, take pictures, listen to music, talk, breathe - and spend a minimum time at the AS (what he needs to get used to!). Life is good. There are thousand places to visit!
Next day we went to hike in Wasatch mountains and it was majestically beautiful!
This run concluded another 80 mile week for me and was race #80 at marathon and over distance (ultra #63). I'd love to go to Shafer Butte, but more likely won't be able to get out of Portland, and thus the rest of the next 3 weeks will include Gorge runs with Gail. After that - I am off to WS100 to pace, and drive on to CO camp!