(* means like an hour of boring reading about running. I did the running, I can make it as long as I want. Let the dog have his day).
|The Bear. That's what an elevation profile should look like. The course goes from Logan, Utah to Bear Lake, Idaho.|
Not really the year I had been planning. I ran 1300 miles from January to May, then only 700 miles from June to September. You read that right- 700 miles in 4 months (40 miles/wk). I would be surprised if anyone in the 300 person Bear 100 field had run less than that. The problem was some sort of systemic crash after the scalding I got at Western States. I was wracked with dizziness and heavy legs, sore shins, headaches, back pain and low motivation. This lasted almost 2 months. I think it was over-training. Not from an absolute volume/intensity limit perspective, but in light of how my body fails to adapt in the early season- it was just too much. I stayed patient and allowed the healing and mental cleansing of time to work its magic. I knew the fall was my wheelhouse and I believed the hard work I had put in this spring would show up when I rested.
Besides actual running, I directed two races which required lots of hiking, trail work with heavy tools and chainsawing and time in the mountains. This kept me fit while the time passed. I was pretty sad to miss most of the prime mountain running season in McCall, but I listened to my body and prevented any further damage. By late August, things were feeling "right." I marked the IMTUF 100 course- logging several 20+ mile days in succession. Then, I had a decision to make: How would I choose to spend my energies? I had waited a full year for this feeling to come along again and I did not want to waste it. 100 milers only get so many bites at the apple. Only so many matches to burn.
My first thought was...I want piles of cash!!!! Run Rabbit Run had always been tempting with its 5 figure winners take, and top competition.
|The SpeedGoat with his winnings after another Run Rabbit Run windfall.|
I ended up running over 50 miles of the course over those few days in early September. I had a great time in spectacular weather. More importantly, I gained lots of course knowledge, that I feel I would not have been able to finish the race without. I went home, went hunting and did not go for a "run" for 17 days until race day came. However, the hunting time I put in was definitely the capstone of my fall fitness. It put a sharpness and efficiency in my mind and body that allowed me to toe the line ready to take it out hard.
My pre-race strategy
I'm a climber. I planned to run every step of every hill, finding a grinding rhythm on the ups to build gaps on the peleton/GOAT. After my training runs on the course, I felt that a 10 minute mile average was possible (16hrs 40 mins), but set my sights on trying to go under 17 hours, allowing for some low points during the race. This would break the course record of 17:50, set by Chris Kollar last year. I felt his run in 2012 was THE ultra running performance of the year. I was about to find out if I could measure up.
As race week approached, I stopped hunting and started resting. The week before the race, I did nothing. I had an achy tightness in my left calf, so I just rested. I got some excellent massage work done by Katrina at Personalized Healing. I break it, she fixes it. Another blow to my time goal came when I saw the forecast. Snow, rain and cold descended from Canada and made the course a quagmire of snow and mud.
|Ready or not, one minute to start.|
I floated up the first couple miles of the opening hill. You run up a fairly steep hill gaining 4000+ feet in the first 10 miles. I built an early lead of several minutes and felt fine. Towards the top was a good bit of snow and sloppy mud, with sleety rain blowing sideways at times. After the opening single track trail, you take an ATV road up to the first aid station at mile 10.4. I could not find any markers on this section at the many junctions of the ATV roads. I stopped several times to check out the options, but I guessed correctly each time and made way to 10.4 (Logan Peak) aid without any real additional distance added- just some standing around mostly. I told the aid station people about my concerns and headed along the forest roads descending toward Leatham Hollow. More junctions, no markers...my mood was sowering quickly. I recalled that you needed to go left to reach Leatham Hollow aid, so I took a left on an unmarked ATV road. I went a few minutes and instinct told me I was off route. I ran back up the hill at top speed. I guess I picked the correct way, because at the real junction, I encountered a woman marking the course- headed my way. If she had not been there at the turn, I would have kept going, because the turn is obscure. That probably would have ended my race. I expressed my concerns, thanked her for marking that turn and headed down the smooth singletrack to Leatham Hollow aid (mile 20). My mood was very low here due to concerns about the markings, and lots of fatigue and pain in my hip flexors and frozen feet. My feet were entombed in an extra pound of frozen mud and would stay that way pretty much all day. The hip flexors ached from the extra weight of lifting the feet up.
At Leatham, I wined to whoever could hear me to get someone out ahead of me and mark the course. I had never been on the course from mile 11 to 61, so I was scared I would not find my way. Brandi and Matt refilled my bottle and VFuel flask and I rolled out. I saw my good friend Kelly Lance as I exited, which gave me a lift. There are a few miles of Forest Road leading up to the next big climb up Richards Canyon. My low energy continued. Lots of mud in here slowed me and made me wonder if this thing was going to do me in.
|This is probably me wining about course markings at Leatham Hollow.|
|Still wining at Cowley Canyon. That pointed finger shows that I meant business! I bet all these people are wondering why I don't just shut up and run. They were right. But where do I run?|
|Pretty low energy at Temple Fork. It was good to see Derek Call there. It was not good to see Karl coming in as I exited.|
|Here he comes. Looking a lot better than me.|
I don't think Karl even knows who I am, but I have some history with him. Last November, I blew myself up at Pinhoti 100 in Alabama, trying to get his course record (report). Then, at Bandera 100k in Texas in January, I ripped my calf muscle and watched him bounce away in the mud. At Western States, during my Cal Street meltdown, he pulled in and out of Fords Bar aid while I sat on a bag of ice, delirious. Yeah, I knew him pretty well. We hung out and drank beers together at Wasatch a few weeks ago. I like him. But I had been "goat-roped" a few too many times.
Temple Fork to Beaver Mountain Yurt (Miles 45-75)
After Temple Fork, some big things happened that changed my day. I told myself that I was going to run all the way up the 6 mile/3000+ foot hill to Tony Grove aid at mile 52. This should rebuild my lead and confidence heading into the second half of the race. I started up the hill, ready to take a stand and make the race mine. The problem was...there were cattle blocking the trail. Hundreds of them. They wanted to walk, not run. I Screamed and threw mud at them, trying desperately to get them to move. The mud here was several inches deep and it stuck to the shoes adding POUNDS of weight to the soles. The entire length of this hill was covered in this mud. After a mile or so of walking 20+ minute pace, I had enough. I ran up to the closest cow, slapped her in the rump roast and roared to get out of the way. She kicked me. Her hoof hit my forearm and glanced off, striking my bottle covering my ribs. Without my Ultimate Direction AK pack and little bottle over my ribs- that might have been it for me. The mother cow began bucking and moo-ing and started a stampede up the trail. I was still behind them another mile or so, but at least they were running some. Then, mercifully, they raced off the trail at a small meadow and let me pass. I came back to life and ran up the hill really well- given the mud and snow at the top. I descended to Tony Grove (mile 52) on a big emotional HIGH. I could not believe I did not get passed in this section. I was ready to attack the second half. From that point, I knew I would do whatever it took to win.
|They should change the name from "the Bear 100" to"the Beef 100"|
|Tony Grove and the surrounding mountains are the highlight of the race in my opinion.|
|Coming in to Franklin Basin with Leland the RD trying to stay ahead of me with the markings. I really like Leland. He puts lots of heart into this race and it shows.|
We got some quick aid and crossed the river at the Logan River Aid, then headed up Peterson Hollow. This gentle climb is really pleasant when not muddy- today, not so much. We did what we could to keep a running rhythm to the top, passed a big herd of elk and reached the pass above Beaver Mountain Resort Aid. Energy was solid, we were moving well...but we couldn't find the trail. I had the same problem here while previewing the course. The faint trail in the sage brush turns into many faint game trails and somehow you have to descend to the ski resort. We wandered the sage brush for several minutes until we found a ribbon in the woods. I think this section might have had the small reflectors, but those are not much help in the daylight. We found the trail and descended really well, then hit the road for the short climb up to the yurt at mile 75.
Finishing it off: Beaver Mountain to Bear Lake (Miles 75-100)
I grabbed a light, had some Vespa and Ensure, then headed out alone. Matt would rejoin me at mile 85 after some food and warming. Poor Matty is still feeling his IMTUF 100 finish. I guess a couple of times you have to step over a rock or a stick on the IMTUF course and there is a hill you have to climb at some point, so his legs are still sore. Whatever dude;) I'm headed for Idaho.
I let Matty rest up while I climbed the slope at a good clip up to Mile 81.5 at Gibson Basin. Along the way it got dark, I crossed into Idaho and it got wicked cold. Idaho cold. The Basin was pretty much like Hoth in Star Wars- windy and hellish. I got up there without a sip of water or bite of food, so I slipped right on past the aid station with their roaring fire and party they were having. "121 in, 121 out." "Hey 121, don't you need anything?" They looked at me like the freak that I was. Like the Wampa monster on Hoth, covered in mud and ice...who consumed no food or water, just more mud and ice and Jedi's.
|That's me in Gibson Basin with my new tats.|
I picked up Matty at 85, drank an Ensure, took another for the road and an extra Vespa Junior. From here on out, I did not drink or carry any water- only Ensure and Vespa. That is one nice thing about cool weather, I never carried more than 16 oz of water all day. Still, I was a bit over-hydrated at times and had to go frequently. I saw so many people carrying these huge water packs. I find that quite dangerous in the cool weather. Hyponatremia is easier to acquire than most would think. Even slight over-hydration results in an exhausted feeling that most would just chalk up to being tired. Put the water down, eat more gels and you will feel great.
Matty and I ran all of the 3-4 mile hill up to High Top, which was snowy and slick at the top, near 9000'. I knew there was only one more hill to climb- the Ranger Dip. We launched into the descent off High Top. It was a windy ground blizzard up there. While running here a few weeks ago, I had paid special attention to the confusing turn that we had to make to get to the Ranger Dip Aid Station. This is the "Nick Pedatella" turn that cost him lots of time when hunters removed the markings in 2011. I knew we had to make a left and climb a short hill on a dirt road. When we got to where I suspected the turn was, the road was buried under snow and we saw no markers. We stopped a few minutes and looked around. A series of long orange poles with reflectors went down hill- urging us to follow them down. We saw nothing on the uphill. Was this the turn, or was it a little lower? I went down the hill a half mile or so, while Matt looked around up the hill. I heard him yelling that he had found something, so I bushwhacked my way back up there- ripping my shins apart in the frozen sagebrush. He found a small reflector, attached to one of the large orange poles, which had a much larger road reflector. No ribbons, no other confidence markings, just one tiny reflector. Good enough, we went up the hill. We had lost several minutes, but we just kept rolling without any stress or drama. This is supposed to be fun, right? I had no idea that I was still close to the course record and I had no watch, so we just focused on running well and making a good memory out there.
I pushed the pace hard and pulled away from Matty going into Ranger Dip Aid (Mile 92.5). I felt fine and was ready to take on the last hill. Matt was jumping out here, so I would be solo to the finish. No one mentioned anything about a course record, so I figured I was way off and should just focus on finishing safely. More Vespa and Ensure and I was out.
I had set a goal of 9 minutes for this stretch. I had no watch, so I have no idea if I made it. Probably not. I watched several sets of eyes on the road get closer and closer. I thought maybe a pacer team was coming for me with beer and chocolate. Nope, just some raccoons. Keep rollin'. Johnny Cash sang to me as I went..."There ain't no grave...can hold my body down."Usually at this point, I get emotional. This time, I kept it cool. I couldn't really think of anything profound to ponder. Just an Idaho "Idiot" running through the night.
|New slogan..."Petzl Nao Headlamps- when you must run so hard in the dark, that you make yourself sick." I have no affiliation with Petzl, but that Nao is a real game-changer. Expensive, but worth every penny.|
|"Pain R. Good" the Old Man would say. I got my fill out there.|
I started off my 928 with a sleepless night in the tent and a day filled with fevers, chills and limping. I got my appetite back and managed to eat about 7 meals over the course of the day. There were turkey burgers, salads, shrimp, turkey burgers, trout (Leland's Trout Farm Trout???) and burgers with turkey. Everything was great. I had the pleasure of meeting Errol "The Rocket". That guy is money. I also met the women's winner Bethany Lewis- who absolutely crushed the course record by over an hour. The finish area was warm and sunny and we lounged around all day, cheering on everyone to the finish line. Big props to the Boise crew for everyone finishing- Ryan "Constant Improvement" Anderson, Emily "2012 IMTUF CHAMP" Berriochoa (thanks for believing in me!) and Sam "the Spider" Collier. I napped a few times and soon it was 6pm and time for awards.
|Michelle Lance gets a big hug from her husband Kelly after her first 100 mile finish. Great work.|
|Best trophy I've ever seen. Smokin hot trophy wife!|
The plaque wasn't bad either. Hand made by Leland. I also got another nice plaque with my name and time on it and even a bit of foldin' money. I was a very happy boy.
|Obligatory Bear Lake shot with the gang to keep me from falling over.|
|Matty's big new cell phone. Hello? Hello? In the rush to pack up, he packed it into his tent and sleeping bag. We were all a bit tired.|
Hunting season kicks back off next week and I will be out there. I am actively looking for another race to round out the year. I will rest and rehab a few weeks, then ramp it up one more time. Throw in some more hunting and cutting 4 cords of firewood and I will be ready to go. Already snow is blanketing the mountains and the trails are becoming un-passable. This is the reality of the McCall runner's life. Blink and it's gone.
My eyes are open and I'm hungry for more. Stay tuned and thanks for reading.
My Gear and Nutrition for the Bear 100.
I would like to thank my sponsors SCOTT-Sports, VFUEL and VESPA for their continued belief in me. I know I am erratic, but if you stick with me- every once in a while you will get a good one. Someday...a MOONSHOT! Your continued support means the world to me.
Shoes: SCOTT T2 KINNABALU. Only the best goes on my feet. This sport is too nasty to skimp here.
Gel: VFUEL. I used a flask to avoid messing with gel wrappers with my gloves on. I tested a new lemon/lime prototype flavor. Good...but not as good as Peach Cobbler flavor.
Vespa: Every 2 hours I popped an Ultra Concentrate, with some Vespa Juniors towards the end. The last few hours I took no water, just Juniors as my hydration. It worked. Peter Defty at VESPA has the answers...look to the podiums of these big races for the runners smart enough to ask the right questions.
Pack: Ultimate Direction AK. Never raced with a pack before and it was great. Can I join the team now Buzz?
Knickers: Scott eRide Knickers. Lifts and shapes. Decent pockets.
Shirt: 2012 IMTUF 100 Long Sleeve race shirt. Best race shirt ever designed.
Socks: Drymax Lite-Trail Socks. I don't usually wear this heavy of a sock, but I liked the extra warmth.
Gloves: Critical gear choice today. I had light, grippy gloves on early, but my hands were not working well enough. So, I went to a pair of mountaineering mittens my Old Man bought me in 1998. They are light Gore Windstopper fleece and have a fold-back flap to expose the fingers. With these, my fingers stayed warm. If they got too hot or I needed to use them to eat, I folded it back. Thanks, Dad.
Hydration: One Amphipod 12 or 16 oz bottle. I drank maybe 8-10 oz of water an hour, sometimes none. Only to thirst, no more. Thanks Dr. Noakes.
Other Foods/Drinks: Lots of Ensure, broth, a few Cokes, 2 caffeine pills (miles 47 and 92), an energy bar or 2 when I felt empty. 4 (total) endurolytes capsules when my stomach was sloshy. I would guess 300-400 cals per hour early on- then less than 200 later.
Breakfast Pre-Race: 2 hours pre-race- 2 hard boiled eggs smashed into a little oatmeal and a whole avocado. Ensure, Coffee and Vespa Junior. Vespa Ultra Concentrate 15 minutes pre-start. 1 VFUEL Gel a minute before go time. No food for a while after the race starts to get that stuff burning.
Ipod- Key songs: Kenny Wayne Sheppard (Blue on Black), Johnny Cash (Ain't No Grave, When the Man Comes Around), Steve Earle (Copperhead Road), Chris Cornell/Audioslave/SoundGarden (Seasons, Cochise, Black Hole Sun), Neal Young (Old Man, Long May You Run), Tupac (So Many Tears, All Eyez on Me), Eminem (Rabbit Run, Lose Yourself, Until I Collapse), Redlight King (Old Man). Same old songs I have suffered with over the years.