Monday, September 19, 2016

My 7th Wasatch 100 Finish

Well, another Wasatch 100 is in the books.  This year marked my 10th trip to the starting line and my 7th finish and the first 100 that I’ve finished since the 2014 Wasatch.  Needless to say, having gone two years without a 100 finish, I was a bit nervous.
There really isn’t a lot to say about this year’s race for me, so I’ll try to keep it short.


So my training has been on a bit of the lacking side.  I just haven’t gotten into it like years past..until the first of July.  Then I figured that I had better get some miles and vert in if I wanted any chance of finishing Wasatch.  So July and August saw me put in the most miles and vertical for those two months ever.  Good thing too.

Race Time

That first climb?  Yeah, it was a doozy.  Dusty, narrow, serious conga line, complete stop at times waiting for people in front to get moving.  Still, I got to the top in about the time I expected.

The run to Bountiful B.  Not too bad.  I usually dislike that climb, but this year I felt pretty good.  Had some awesome friends running that aid station and managed to have my very own pit crew.  Debbie, Curtis, Christy Jo, you guys rock.

The trot to Sessions, felt good, mostly ran by myself and I’m always good with that.  Weather was prefect, scenery, spectacular.  Loved seeing the folks at Sessions.

Sessions to Swallow Rocks.  Always a downer time for me but I really do enjoy running the ridge once you get past that climb out of City Creek Pass.  I don’t know why, but this section is always one of my low points.  Still, I made pretty good time.  Once again, scenery was spectacular.  Swallow Rocks aid actually had Forest Service people helping out.  That was awesome.  Thanks for that.
Swallow Rocks to Big Mountain.

Swallow Rocks to Big Mountain.  I always like this section.  My mood seems to lift, it’s mostly downhill and the vibe at Big Mountain can’t help but lift your spirits.  I had no crew this year, but a wonderful aid station volunteer tended to my needs, fetched my drop bag etc.  I left there feeling pretty good and looking forward to the trek to Alexander Ridge.

Big Mountain to Alexander Ridge.  Exposed and warm like usual but there was a wind (not a breeze) blowing across the trail, so that kept things cool.  My mood was good.  As usual, the Alexander Ridge aid station looked like a field hospital with people strewn about due to the heat (field hospital was their theme this year).  I cruised on through feeling pretty good.  Still on pace I think, I had lost my pace chart somewhere on the first climb.

Alexander to Lambs Canyon.  Not a bad section.  Not as fast as two years ago, but I didn’t expect to be.  Still, it was solid effort and I was looking forward to picking up my first pacer at Lamb’s.  It was kind of weird not having the huge crowds like last year, but in reality, I liked it.  I didn’t have to fight my way out of the aid station and I think I got out of there faster than I usually do.  Part of that is I felt pretty good, and Misty hurried me along.  I had had cramping issues for the past 20 miles or so and Misty fed me some electrolyte caps.  Cramping gone within 20 minutes.  Legs were still a bit trashed, but I didn’t have to worry about calves seizing up on me at the slightest misstep.

Lamb’s Canyon to Upper Big Water.  Picked up Misty, my first pacer, at Lamb’s.  The trek was pretty good.  Felt strong making the climb up to Bear Ass Pass, cruised down into Elbow Fork and hiked/trotted the road to Upper Big Water.

Upper Big Water to Desolation Lake.  Kind of cool (like usual) at Upper Big Water.  Tanked up on food, took care of a couple of blisters forming on toes, and got out.  Like usual, the temps warmed up once we got 200 yards up the trail.  Now it was dark and during the climb to Dog Lake we encountered and couple of moose bedded down just off the trail.  Did you know they rumble?  Sounds kind of like a lion rumbling.  A bit unnerving.  Dog Lake came and went, the downhill to Blunder Fork was a bit slow as the legs were starting to get tired.  The climb up to Deso was a bit slow.  This is where I noticed that my climbing on steeper sections was going to be an issue.  Breathing was tough.  I would go a couple hundred yards and have to stop to catch my breath.  Unlike the first time this happened to me, I knew what was going on.  The huge amounts of dust on the trail was getting into my lungs.  I could do reasonably well as long as the trail was flat or downhill, but uphills were becoming a slow go.  With dusty lungs cropping up, I knew that a sub 30 hour time was out the window.  At that point just a finish became the goal.

Desolation Lake to Brighton.   The climb up Red Lover’s Ridge was slow going, but I made it just fine.  As usual, the stars on Scott’s were spectacular, and as usual I made my pacer stop and looked at them for a couple of minutes.  It was a bit cool, maybe the low 40’s, on Scott’s with a bit of a breeze blowing across, but nothing too bad.  The descent into Brighton was uneventful.  Seemed to be less traffic than normal.  Picked up my second pacer at Brighton.  I also spent a bit of time regrouping for the final 32 miles.  Ate plenty of food, changed into dry clothes, and hit the trail.

Brighton to Pole Line Pass.  The climb up to Point Supreme was a bit of a grind.  Once again, being able to breathe would have helped, but I made it up that climb in about my usual amount of time.  Aric and I stopped at the top and looked at stars.  No moon makes for a brilliant sky.  The descent into Ant Knoll’s was slow and painful.  The quads were pretty well shot, plus I was getting the sleepies.  Once into Ant Knoll’s I ate some sausage and had Aric let me nap in a chair for 15 minutes max.  I felt like a new man.  The legs were no longer sore.  The climb up the grunt was just that, a grunt.  Then just cruised to Pole Line Pass. 

Looking across at Mineral Basin
Pole Line Pass to Pot Hollow.  I couldn’t believe the Pole Line Pass aid station.  Their menu was incredible.  More selection than  lot of restaurants that I’ve been to.  It was hard to decide since everything sounded good at five in the morning.  Anyway, I grabbed some food and we got out.  Now for the long trek to Pot Hollow.  The sun started to come up and there’s nothing like a spectacular sunrise while in the Wasatch backcountry to lift you up.
Mt. Timpanogos at sunrise

Pot Hollow to the finish.  I took another short nap at Pot Hollow. 
Beer and perogies at 8am?  Why yes, I think I will
Now it was a matter of just getting the damn thing done.  I knew I had at least three hours left and I really wouldn’t be able to shorten that any.  Plus it’s gravel road, not trail.  Ugh!  Just shuffled along trying to get it done.  Went through Staton aid, by now it was starting to get a bit warm.  I tried to get into a one minute run, followed by 30 seconds of walking.  I managed to do this all the way to the wall.
At the wall, we came across another runner who asked if either of us had an inhaler.  I did, and asked her why.  She said that her climbing ability had become nonexistent and she couldn’t breathe.  She seemed a bit panicked about this.  I explained that it was the dust and that I was having the very same issue and you just kept going.  I did give her a hit off my inhaler and we basically kept her with us to the finish.  It was her first 100 mile race.  It was nice to have someone else along for those last boring miles along Deer Creek.  Her family came out to run her in the last half mile or so.  That was nice to see, her kids all excited to see Mommy.  Good job Marci!  It was very nice to meet and spend some trail time with you.
So I crossed the finish line in 34:53.  My slowest Wasatch ever by 20 minutes, but I got it done for the 7th time.  For that, I’m happy.  It was so nice to just hang out after the race, chat with friends, drink beer and eat food, lots of food.


Like usual, I went on my three day eating binge.  If it looks like food and is slow enough, it’s fair game in my book.  Leg soreness went away by Wednesday.  I ended up with some minor blisters on the toes of one foot and a little bigger one on the ball.  Nothing serious and it didn’t seem to slow me down during the race.

Gear.  I wore my Altra Olympus for the entire race plus a pair of Darn Tough socks.  Love those socks and shoes.

Food.  Tried eating the Simply Fruit packs from Power Bar.  100 calories like gels, but more like pureed fruit.  Definitely a go to food in the future.  Did Tailwind in my hydration bladder for the latter part of the race.  I like the stuff, but the taste does get old after 30-40 miles and I went back to plain water.

Lessons learned.  I’m getting older.  The speed (what little I did have) is not as fast.  I should train more for these things if I want to do better.  I need caffeine at night.  I end up walking like a drunk sailor because I’m so sleepy at night.  

Next up.  The Bear 100.  Two weeks after Wasatch.  I’ve never run two 100’s that close together.  Weather looks like it could be a mess, rain/snow, so think mud.  I will finish that damn thing though.