On Friday, July 27 under super sunny skies and warm temperatures, I began my 100 mile journey from Hope to Copper Landing, through Resurrection Pass. I felt excited and ready after a week away in CT. I was sure to eat and drink all week and actually being away from home gave me an opportunity to focus on what I needed to do to get my body ready. I had leisurely runs with my parent's dog, ate healthfully and drank LOTS of water in the east coast humidity. I tried to get good rest, but after a very long travel day the day before the race, I had a very early 5am start on race day. The race began at 3pm, a first for me, and I definitely felt the challenge of starting the run after a full day of to-dos.
Karen and Kent were a huge help in getting to the start line with all the logistics and gear and car drop offs. I was happy to run with Karen, a partner for the lonely trail and a friend I could feel completely comfortable with when it got tough.
This race is super low-key. I love that. Folks showed up at the campground minutes before the 3pm start. Runners milled about, chatting and laughing in the mountain sun. It was a gorgeous start to the race- we were surrounded by green mountains and blue skies.
With a " go" of a start at 3pm we charged up the hill about .5 mile and immediately turned around and headed down the hill. It was hard to stay steady, I felt like I was charging towards the trail. We had a 12 mile run to the trail head and it certainly was important to take it slow. Runners got acquainted as we tried to remember to walk a bit. The sun was high in the sky and water was a must.
It felt good to get to the trail. I switched off my hand-helds for my pack and immediately felt the weight of the self-supported 38 miles that lie ahead. The trail was cooler and more interesting and Karen and I fell into a good rhythm of chatting and walking and running and storytelling. I stayed on top of calories and water and we made our way towards the pass. We told stories of our grandmothers and families, filmed our documentary " Uncrackable," and passed the time with silly games.
Karen and I ran a lot. The trail from Hope to Cooper Landing gradually climbs to the pass with a few steeper, twisty segments. Walking the hills would mean walking most of the trip to the pass, so there was lots of running up. It was cooling down a bit, but the sun was still high in the sky when we arrived at 9pm.
The wildflowers were abundant. It was a total treat to make this trek in such perfect conditions. I had mentally prepared to be wet and cold, but I still wore my tank top and shades in the high country.
We were both happy to reach the pass, about 31 miles in. The climb would be behind us and we could look forward to some downward momentum. Karen celebrated with a backbend and I snapped a happy shot.
The trail wound through the pass where the mountain slopes ended and we ran along alpine lakes to the songs of many a sparrow. A highlight of the pass was running into Pam and Sid out for an evening walk. The trail is lonely and it was very exciting to see another human being. Without mile markers, it is difficult to get a true sense of where you are miles-wise and so at times the trail seems relentless and never-ending.
The trip down to Cooper Landing was long. The nineteen miles was full of highs and lows. It didn't get dark enough for headlamps until midnight and that was the first time I began to feel less together. I fumbled for things in my pack and my thinking was not quite sharp. The legs were beginning to feel tired of the constant motion and my stomach was beginning to rebel. We made our way through the dark, letting the bears know we were coming- " woo-hoo!" " yip, yip!" "Yee-ha!" It actually gave us something to do. We heard voices from the cabin above, " Are you running the marathon? Why are you so late?" "Because it's 100 miles" I responded. Karen began to have stomach issues, but she continued on tough as nails. We spied little glowing eyes staring at us under a tree and after thinking it was a lynx, we realized it was most likely a fox. he didn't seem at all scared of us, even after Karen let her air horn go at him. We passed on without incident. Again not knowing the distance to the 50 mile aid station was challenging, it was just one foot in front of another, FOREVER. It was great to see Dave, Eliseo and Tony as we got close and even better to see the light markers (beacons of hope) as we came upon 50 miles about 2:15am. We arrived to the cheers of David and Kent and the aid station crew and it felt good to be back in civilization. David took great care of me with soup and drink and change of clothes. It was chilly and so I bundled up, this would prove difficult to de-layer later when it was time to run. It was hard to get warm. We spent almost an hour gearing up to head out again. Karen put in her 50, but her stomach was not cooperating, and I would miss her out there. David and I hiked out about 3:10am and hike was about all I could do for about 4-5 miles. I struggled to get warm, to feel satisfied in what I had to eat and running didn't seem like an option.
At David's urging (" It's going to be a really long day if we stick to this pace.") we began to run. Before I knew it , it was beginning to get light, about 4am and the change in light really did make a difference. David led throughout this time and I really needed him to keep me moving and keep an eye out for bear. I had a pretty good bonk heading back up to the pass. I walked for a long time taking in calories, regretting I had not brought more "real food" along with me. The bars and gels were just not cutting it anymore. I thought about stopping, not for a break but for a good long sleep and found myself sitting on a soft ledge with my eyes closed. David helped me continue. Something kicked in as we reached the intersection of the Devil's Pass Trail. I ran right up the hill to see Pam. It was at this time that the fast 50 milers started to arrive. It was good to see more faces on the trail. and after we hit the pass I knew I could enjoy the down grade of the trail into Hope.
It was good to see friends along the trail- Stephanie, Stephen and Harrison broke up the monotony or the trail pounding and so did the various runners heading north. Another low point ensued and I was brought to tears with the thought of how much time I had left on the trail. I tried to stay in the moment and not get ahead of myself, but it was a great challenge. As we approached an hundred mile runner hobbling along with ankle pain, I knew it was time for a change. At about 78-80 miles i had a STRONG DESIRE to finish and I considerably picked up the pace. The " get it done" attitude kicked in and I found myself cruising and running hills. "This is why I came" kept running through my mind as I fought back tears. The opportunity to dig deep and find a gear you can't always find is what I run long for. To find that raw strength inside you is an amazing thing to experience. I knew I still has 12 miles to run on the road, but my legs kept turning over, and pretty fast at that, so I dropped David behind and let it go. I stopped thinking about the end of the trail and focused on running fast. I arrived at 88 miles to cheers and TONS of support. But mentally I wanted to get it done. It felt urgent, and I quickly changed my gear, ate and drank and boogied down the road.
I remember feeling overwhelmed with the 12 miles left to go, so again I just focused on running. After 4 miles of flat on the road I headed up for 4 miles. I ran/walked from tree to tree and felt so glad when Ed arrived to take me up the hill. he was completing the 50 and I just put my head down and did whatever he did. He helped me " get my run on" (as he said) and before I knew it I was running up the last switchback to 96 miles. The last four miles downhill were rough. The uphill was easier. The downhill pounding was almost too much for my feet. I was happy to see David at the bottom of the hill and the trail to the other side of the road. The last stretch to the finish felt long. I could hear the cheers and see the school, but every step hurt. David's proud smiling face and a high five from Eliseo sealed the deal and I was done. Oh joy! A skip across the finish line. What a great time! 100 milers are so rewarding in so many ways. You can feel like you'll never do it again. You can question the point of it all- why hurt myself, endure the pain? But when you cross that finish line and the endorphins start flooding in, you have your answer. Looking forward to a month of rest and recovery and then I'll gear up for the Chimera 100 in November. Woo-hoo!