If you're lucky enough to be in the mountains, you are lucky enough.
When something bad happens, you have three choices: let it define you, let it destroy you, or let it strengthen you.
The purpose of life is to discover and develop your gift. The meaning of life comes from sharing your gift with others. - David Viscott
Monday, June 23, 2014
Bryce 50M - running is overrated.
Bryce 50 and 100 mile races is located, you guessed it, right on the outskirts of Bryce NP, my favorite of UT parks, and the course goes along so many features I love that it was a highlight of my day. My other highlight was that, though I never checked the entrants list because I wasn't focused on this "race" one bit (I packed feverishly the night before and knew I am not in any shape or interest to do well or even remotely ok), I met so many friends out there, a huge Texans group, many PNW folks, and random guys and gals I ran with in the past years. Ah, the benefits of having quite a long and extensive history of ultrarunning around the country...
So, the morning started (at which I panicked the night prior because the weather forecast said 23F and 40 mph wind and I had Texas outfit - but they lied!), and the 2 miles of dirt road took us to spread out, separate "real from pretenders" (I was a pretender), warm us up (I took windbreaker off by the end of first mile) and see the beautiful sunrise...
p.s. I took 100 photos during this run, so embrace your patience.
The aid stations at this race are rather spread out far (not surprisingly, as the location was meandering through such beautiful places, cars wouldn't drive to them), and one thing for sure, I was consistently running low on water (carrying 1x20oz bottle and 1x14oz pouch) a good mile before hitting AS, and even that was considering I stretched out. But I was fueling and happy and taking photos and enjoying my day.
At mile 18+ AS I ran into Tanya and Justin E. from San Antonio, and the happiness to see familiar faces (and finally getting water) pushed me out of said AS without my drop bag - even though I was asked by a volunteer "Do you have a drop bag here?" straight in the face. A quarter mile later I reached into a pocket for a gel - and found none, and it hit me - it WAS my drop bag spot! So, I turned around (lucky for me, I was so close!) and picked it up. But as a statement how I was not consuming enough, I had 12 gels left after I was done - and those were calculated for 12 hr run (and I was almost 40 min extra on that).
The AS at 27-28 miles came pretty late for me, and while I knew 12:30 would have been my realistic time, I was secretly hoping for sub-12 (and was on "pace" until about 25M?). That AS, coming after a huge climb, in the heat of the day, sun blazing, altitude kicking everybody's butt, was a MASH unit. I refilled and left right away, though set briefly on the way out to get sand out of my shoes (lots of sandy single track on this course!). I walked out, feeling peppy as I always do after hitting the AS (the energy of people and the fact that another mile-stone is past do the magic), past another 3 or 4 guys, and entered yet another amazing stretch of views on the Hoodos.
There was a cute shirtless young guy running around, moving ahead, falling behind, and I kept wondering what in the world, he has a good clip going, why are we still stride in stride when I am walking? Beat and I did chat with him/about him, the "eye candy" for us, old and crippled and ugly "used to be runners", and that took some mind off the developing by now feet pain.
Which, of course, did come. One downside in my power-walking is my feet. I came to "run a race", which means I came in quite minimal shoes I love (and ran up to 25 miles by now, as I am testing a newly developed Merrell shoe - report to come), and walking, especially walking with sand and quite a lot of rock too, beats up the feet - coupled with dehydration, trouble didn't wait long.
By mile 30 I felt 'em both, by mile 40 I would have loved to kill somebody - and even short 100-yard shuffles on downhills were shut down for good. Thanks God Beat kept me company - kind of almost yelled at me for my piss-poor attitude (lasted about 5 minutes), then Hal Koerner came by (crewing Carly in a 100), and we stopped and talked, and hugged (and another "can't run anymore" story followed), and he made me laugh, and I finally made it to mile 40.
40 miles was a good spot. I walked out (yelling to my "eye candy" to run faster and catch up, and "why are you around me when I am walking?") strong, passed those who over-exerted themselves big times and were not running anymore, and who's walking techniques were not developed (everyone hopes in mid-pack to run the whole 50? really?), and got back onto a single track under the trees...but sadly, not for long. We entered a 5M climb to the highest peak on the course (9,500 feet), ALL on fire-road with rocks, rocks and rocks, and no views! That sucked! On top of it, my Garmin was over-shooting the distance, so when the road ended (and the first guy from a 100 miler came towards me on his trip back) - I still had a rocky field to climb some more, worrying where the AS is!
That AS (where I met my old buddy Jim Skaggs and shuffled with him some) and the 5.5 miles "downhill" back to finish were my lowest, where, as I told Hal at the finish, if someone offered me a gun, I would have taken them up on it. My feet were trashed - and the down was rockiest dirt road yet, technically the grade was that I could have kind of ran, but I simply couldn't. Have you walked on downhill? It really sucks. The 100 milers were coming back up (I thought kind of late comparing to where I was), James Kerby, Suzanna Bonn among them, and at least I had to pretend and put a smile on my face and cheer them o. Both Beat and Jim finally had enough of my down-walk and ran on, and I was left alone with my misery, and even as the road turned onto a trail, it was still rocky - though it did provide a few views.
And that concludes my story, moral of which is: unless you're seriously aiming for a top-10 (or 20?) position, please learn how to power-walk! While my time seriously sucked where my personal goals are concerned (I am not obnoxious, I am talking about personal abilities here), I was 8th female and 41st OVERALL (results) out of 131 finishers (and some 200 starters). That is NOT a good thing to be proud of. That just shows, yet again, that ultra-"running", for the most part, is experience, resolve, ability to manage one's fueling and hydration, and never stopping moving forward.
On (only!) one negative note, the "finish line" for 50 milers completely sucked. There was no real food (it was simply an AS to turn-around), it was remote - with no cell service (I did carry my cell with me so I can call Larry once done, waiting for me back at the start area), the crew were discouraged to drive and pick runners up in this very remote area (thus while Larry was at the start), and the bus was doing 1 trip every 2 hrs - and when it finally came (1.5 hrs after I was done, frozen and hungry) - it stood for 30 min to wait for more finishers (understandably, but why do I have to sit?). Anyway, it just has to be arranged a little better. The RD's gave us THE best trails per mile, indeed, thank God (otherwise I would have never enjoyed my walk), and this one thing just needs some attention (more mini-vans instead of one bus?).
Overall, I loved the race, and if it has to be my last ultra (as I mentioned, who knows what is going on with my running, it's absence, my body's refusal to cooperate, not to mention Texas summer is upon, and no way am I going to try and solve it right now, and I am kind of done seeing doctors and pretending to solve this puzzle) - this was a place to have that "last ultra" with an accord of irresistible beauty.
We spent a week vacationing in UT, visiting national park, doing hikes in the mountains, with Larry and his son Harrison, and the albums to various photos can be found HERE (everything from Bryce 50 and from there on forward).
Fully back to crazy work schedule, we will be sitting quietly in TX for the next 5 weeks, until our August 1st trip to NM for the weekend. We need a break, our house needs a lot of tending, and the jobs don't pay us just because we're cute.
Have a great time, my friends. Regardless whether you're running - or walking! :)