A Familial Death March

My son was laying on the side of the trail puking…….. The only reason at the time I attempted a 50k trail race, (not really a race) was my son wanted to do one and we had done a Marathon earlier in the year. We did a 16 week training plan ramping up to a 22 mile long run before tapering. Training went pretty good but it is never like racing. The 50k was the inaugural Lake Hodges 50k. We started at 7am, weather was fair at the start and got up to 90% humidity in the afternoon. First 3 or so miles I felt pretty good. Then around mile 7 my hamstrings started to cramp up. I was telling myself this is going to be a long day. We continued running. About around mile 9 we started the climb up Raptor Ridge, walking and trying to jog. The turnaround at mile 15 was in the San Pasqual Valley. I was dead. I was dreading to myself that we had to run another 15 miles back. I didn’t fuel the first 15 miles. I expect I may have had 16 oz of water with some Heed. Around mile 20 or so my calves were cramping along with my facial muscles. Walking was a problem. We got to the bridge and started back on the single track trail. My son had to lay down on the side of the trail next to the lake. He began to throw up everything. His heaving was so loud it scared the waterfowl off the lake. Runners were stepping over him. I’m saying to myself please get up because there is no way I can carry you. Well we finally got up and about a mile from the finish and we hear a runner coming upon on us. We said no way will he pass us. So we put our arms around each other shoulders and hop , skipped, jumped and kinda motioned to the finish beating that runner. Well we were under the cutoff of 8 hours and actually finished ahead of 4 runners. I lost 12 pounds of sweat and only had 16 oz of water for the entire 50k. To say the least it won’t be my last 50k. I like punishment…

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Better than a Bed of Nails Death March

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I decided to run the Nanny Goat 24 hour race in Riverside, California. This is a looped course around a ranch. I run this because my friend Steve is the RD, it’s a fun event with a lot of my friends coming out, and it’s basically an easy time having basically no elevation gain.

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I was nursing a knee injury and had gone to the doctor a few days prior to get some medication. The doctor gave me medicine that I had never had. In the days leading up to the race I was feeling great and even helped  prepare it for race day.

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On the day before the race people started filing in to set up camp. Spirits were high as is typical when old friends reunited. We worked getting the last minute details taken care of. Lights out early as the morning would arrive soon. Up early on Saturday morning as the last of the entrants arrived and runners prepared to begin their journey around the ranch. There was nothing but laughter and smiling faces as we stood in the corral awaiting the starting whistle. Start time came and we were off. I took the lead as I was feeling great. The legs were moving effortlessly and I was slowly extending the lead.

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By around mile 25 I was almost 3 miles ahead of second place. Then it happened. I started experiencing sharp abdominal pains. I stopped to urinate and I noticed a small amount of blood in my urine. I drank fluid hoping to eliminate the blood. I ran a couple of more miles but the pain was intensifying. I stopped again to urinate and this time there was an enormous amount of blood.

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That’s when I decided to stop and rest. I laid down and let my body get back to normal. After an hour or so I decided to get up and try to run again. By this time my lead was long gone. Now it was a matter of finishing. I started out real slow just trying to get the legs accustomed to moving again. I was moving slow but as least going forward.

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After another 10 miles or so I started feeling bad again. The blood had stopped but I was feeling drained. I could barely stand so my friends laid me down for more rest. I was losing a lot of sodium so they were giving me electrolytes to try to replenish me.

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I laid down for another hour or so trying to keep warm. By this time I was in about 75 miles or so. I got up and continued on. I thought that the worst was over and I would just get the last 25 miles done without too much of an issue. I was wrong. Around mile 90 I was shivering and barely moving forward. I laid down halfway around the loop and curled up. I remember 2 women coming up to me trying to put spoonful’s of hot oatmeal in my mouth. I eventually stood up and tried to walk slowly. A friend of mine happened to come by and saw me. She is a nurse and looked at my hands and noticed sever swelling and discoloration. I was in mild hypothermia.

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She walked me back around to the start/finish keeping my hands as warm as possible in her jacket. Once again I stopped to rest. They gave me cups of hot broth and layered warm clothes on me.  Miraculously I was off to finish the race. The last few miles was indeed a death march. But I was determined to cross the finish line in some sort of a running motion. So with about a quarter of a mile left I started into a stumbling drunk-like run and eventually made it to the finish.

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To this day a friend of mine still reminisces about that event and how he can’t believe I finished. What got me to the finish? Stubbornness. Stupidity. I have no idea. One thing I do know is I never want to feel like that again. OK,  am probably wrong about that as well.

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Erica’s Delirious Death March

Last year I went off the deep end and discovered the ultra running world. Obsession took over and I was head over heels for the community, sport, and outlet. Fall 2016 I completed Noble Canyon 50k, then the Mount Laguna Marathon. A few friends joked that the logical next step was to do a 50 miler. We came across the PCT 50 miler taking place May 2017. I’d had a fascination with the Pacific Crest Trail after learning about the hikers that hiked the PCT from San Diego to the Canadian border. However, I knew I wouldn’t leave my job for half a year (and relationship, and dog), to attempt the feat. What better way to experience PCT than to run 50 miles of it in one day?!

Some of my training included running the San Diego Trail Marathon in February, Baja 30k in March which is a rugged ~19miler East of Rosarito, and Oriflamme 50k in April. I was feeling great and so excited. A week prior to race day… stress took over. Then it got worse; I was coughing, tired, and developed a full blown head cold. I RARELY get sick. My boyfriend asked if I thought it was smart to follow through with the run, but I knew there’s people in far worse shape than I was, that have done tougher things than this. Race morning I took non drowsy meds and acted like nothing was wrong! Positivity crashed quick when my self defeating talk started sooner than expected. Climbing up the PCT from Boulder Oaks, all I could think was “it’s too cold out here, what am I doing?” I felt depressed so many people were passing me around mile 13 and stressed about cut-off times, I tripped and felt sorry for myself, my breathing was terrible, and I was bummed to be sick on my long anticipated race day. 

 

My friend Tom had tentatively offered to pace me, so when I made it to Penny Pines and saw him- I told him I was in bad shape and he joined me at about mile 22. Accountability and his patience helped tremendously. We were climbing a section around mile 28, passing 2 male hikers. I stared at one confusingly and was convinced it was an ex-boyfriend of mine. I was baffled, was this real life? I almost turned around to ask if it was him, questioned delirium and didn’t want to lose more focus. I muttered to Tom, “This is a nightmare.” We made it to Todd’s Cabin where I hunched over to catch my breath, a volunteer cautiously asked if I was OK? Tom answered, “she’s fine!” I had no energy to talk. I then couldn’t stop eating quesadillas, thankfully Tom told me I had enough.

When we got to the last aid station, my mantra was that it was only 10ish miles left. I gained speed before Kitchen Creek, and passed people on the downhill. About 2 miles to the finish, I couldn’t run anymore. It was a mental block I hadn’t yet experienced ever. Tom told me, “all the people that you just passed, are now passing you!” That’d usually motivate me, but I couldn’t do it. We made an agreement that I’d find it in me to start running right before I crossed the finish line, and I did. Somehow I made it through this race, it took me on one of the craziest mental roller coasters yet. On the drive home I coughed uncontrollably, lost my voice, and was sick for several days after, but it was all worth it. If I could run 50miles while sick, I can do anything! The Death March was worth it.

My Muddy Death March

“The doctor said I can!” I repeated those words to concerned friends and family constantly in the weeks leading up to my first ultra, a 50km leg in the Kettle 100 mile relay. I had a hernia, had barely trained for months, and run once in the preceding three weeks. In short, I was ready to race.

 

In the hours before my leg, the course endured a massive rainstorm. A little before noon, the rain had stopped and it got hot. Summers in Wisconsin are hot and humid, and this day was no exception. I set out with the temperature and humidity racing each other to 80, and multiple warnings of ridiculous mud throughout much of the course. Given the circumstances, I determined that finishing would constitute a success.

The best piece of advice I got was to go out slow, then slow down. I did exactly that for the first few miles, before turning onto some absurdly muddy hilly singletrack. Fortunately, I have a skiing background, making sliding down winding hilly singletrack trails fairly routine. Climbing on the other hand… ouch. Every time my feet slipped out from under me I aggravated my hernia, and questioned why I was doing this.

Fortunately, I was soon out of the painful single-track into the hot, humid, and muddy meadows. As a bigger guy from Minnesota, I have a long history with suffering on hot and humid days. And I was entering an eight mile stretch on just such a day. Making things more pleasant, large stretches of nice soft grass trail had turned to ankle deep, energy-sucking mud. Every step of fighting through the mud and suffering in the heat ate up precious energy. Energy that I would miss later.

The section after the meadows was my low point, and the only section where I considered dropping. I was hot, hurting, and still had over a half marathon left. This is where Jason saved my race. When he came past me, I became his shadow. I walked, ran, even ate in synch with him. Why? Because I knew I was going to blow up, and needed to stop thinking about it. I hadn’t blown up yet, and I was going to take advantage of that. I decided that I was going to stay with Jason until it was no longer possible.

The moment of impossibility came later than I expected, but it still came. With my first marathon under my belt, but 5 miles still go do, my legs stopped working. I never cramped, I just lacked the strength to run anything steeper than a hallway. But with the weather cooling down and the end in sight, I gritted my teeth and put one foot in front of the other.

 

No matter how I describe this race, the facts of the day sound unpleasant. I was in pain, tired, and overheating. I finished with barely the ability to walk, a situation made worse by a night hiding from the rain in my car. Yet somehow, I loved every minute.

Death March through the Furnace

64 miles in. Hours off pace. Everything hurts. My power hike has slowed to a crawl even going downhill. Still dehydrated no matter how much I drink. Facing a tough 7.7 miles uphill. Close to 1AM. Ready to quit. But I cannot quit. Not in front of my son. No fucking way. So I refuel, give the kid a hug & my wife a kiss, put on a smile, tell my pacer “lets go” and I start marching back up the mountain…

Let me rewind. Pre-race training went well. I believed I could get a sub-25. The 2016 course was different from 2015. There was more elevation in 2016. You did not have to climb two peaks in the final 10 miles, however, there was a new steep 8 mile out and back around mile 60. Pick your poison.

The race day forecast was for record heat. At the start, it was cool but would not last. 6 miles in, it was heating up. A few miles later, my hamstrings flared up and my calves started cramping. My pace slowed down. I was walking more than running. The heat increased. It became difficult to eat. Runners started passing me. By mile 30, I was dehydrated. Although I was drinking, it was not enough.

At the mile 36 Aid Station many runners were in bad shape, barfing, sitting in chairs and laying on the ground. After that aid station was an 8 mile climb up the technical and steep Nobel Canyon. It was now 106 degrees. Within a mile, my hike slowed to a walk. Another mile, my hike slowed to a shuffle but my heart rate was way up, I was breathing hard and dizzy. I dumped my hat and neck buff in sketchy creek water to cool down. As I continued, bugs flew around my me non-stop. My pace slowed to 30 minute miles. I ran out of water two miles from the aid station. When I got there, it looked like a MASH unit. Every chair was taken. Runners were laying down on the ground. I sat a bit but knew I had to start moving or I would drop.

I continued on slowly. I could not run. I was hours off my anticipated time. Soon, night fell. Although it was still warm, it was no longer blazing hot. I picked up my first pacer and we started the long 8 mile descent to Cibbets Flat. I was hopeful I’d be able to pick up the pace but it didn’t happen. Despite cooler temperatures and drinking lots of water, I was still dehydrated. The descent was never ending. Finally, we saw the lights of the aid station. I did not know how I would make it back up the hill. The trail was steep, narrow and technical with rocks and ruts. Even if I made it, would it be before the cut off? My pace for the downhill section was 25 minutes per mile. My quads were aching from all the downhill. I was ready to drop.

My son, wife and crew were at the next aid station. I was a wreck. After 20 minutes my son came over, told me to go and he’d be at mile 91 to pace me. I didn’t know at the time, but he was sick and could not pace. He didn’t tell me because he wanted me to continue and finish the race. With that, thoughts of dropping disappeared. I stood up, hugged my son, kissed my wife, looked over to my next pacer and said “Let’s go.” We started marching up the mountain. I knew I needed to move quickly to avoid the cut off.

At around 4AM, I was so sleepy. Soon the sun rose, my spirit lifted and I made it to the next aid station 35 minutes before the cut off. About a mile later a bee stung me on my head, the only part of my body did not hurt. WTF!!  At the next aid station. I took a short break. Last year at this time I was done. This year, I had 16 miles to go.

I made it to the final aid station. I had to move at a sub-20 minute pace for 9-miles to the finish. It was hot again with no shade. After 4 miles, I ran out of water. Fortunately, an emergency water/drinks only aid station was set up at mile 96! I filled up and continued on. Finally, I saw the finish area in the distance. There was a small uphill just before the finish line that I managed to run up. I finished in 30:40:57, 1 hour 19 minutes under the cut off! Not the sub-25 I wanted, but I’ll take it!

One Sandy Freakin Death March

 

It was February 25, it started out as a cold frigid morning @ the antelope canyon 50 mile race.  I thought I was prepared with my shoes & gaitors… I found later, I was wrong. I swear, after this race- NO MORE SAND!!

There’s no way I can put into words how frustrating this sand was to me. I have completed Los Pinos 50k twice, & that’s a different suffering. This one, Antelope Canyon- was death march suffering. I started off with gaitors, the gaitors ended up being thrown out in disgust after mile 10 ish. There were 10 aid stations, each aid station I had to sit down & literally take off my shoes & socks.

 I later found out that I had the wrong shoes for this race & the sand was entering the front of my shoes. So if I didn’t stop to take out the sand, it would just get packed into the front of my shoe, so it felt like my toes kept hitting a wall. Imagine- going thru 50 miles & literally having to stop for about 5 minutes a minimum of 10 times. (I had to stop in between aid stations towards the end) This wasn’t to eat or hydrate.. THIS WAS TO EMPTY MY SHOES & SOCKS OF FLIPPIN SAND! That is an extra hour of nonsense added to the many hours it already takes to complete these miles. Luckily one of my friends was there also running, to stick it out with me & try to keep me as positive as possible. It was about mile 32 when my legs, my feet, & my brain was about done.

These races can be total mind games & it 100% was messing with my flow by having to stop so much. I remember sitting down about mile 32 for the 100th (felt like 100th, but at this point, probably the 8th) time to empty my flippin shoes & socks. I remember sitting there putting my hands in my head, starting to cry & actually saying I don’t think I can do this, I don’t think I can finish. This is NOT fun & is it worth it?!? I just sat there for a few minutes contemplating while my friend (Alicia) was consoling me.

I decided to get up & keep going. As it got darker & back to being cold again.. I continued to truck along. Cursing & just angry along the way. I remember Alicia being very positive, but I on the other hand just kept cursing back! Probably starting around mile 35, there were maybe only 3-4 runners behind us. So, by that time it seemed like we were all alone & there were some markers that were down, so to add to all this, we made a few wrong turns. I didn’t think my feet were going to move any more, but alas- I come to the finish & finished my first 50 mile race. In the end, NO MORE F*CKING SAND!!!!

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Lost Boys 50 Death F*@!!in March

Where the fuck do I begin?  I signed up for my second Lost Boys 50 mile endurance race.  The first one was a nightmare…..keep in mind I’m writing about the second one which tells you how bad it was.

 

The night before Doc, Harv and I decide to stay at a cabin about 15-mins. from the start to save ourselves a 2-hr drive. Little did I know Harv sounds like a fucking freight train from the moment he falls asleep and that shit didn’t end. I was trying to sleep with a pillow and my index finger in my ear to minimize the noise.  Seriously dude, I could have use a decent night sleep.

I show up at the start line at 4-4:30amish for a 5am start in the middle of the desert. Who the fuck has a 5am start? STUPID

It’s so windy the porta-potties are blowing over, your mouth and eyes are full of sand and the god damn race hasn’t even started.  Needless to say I’m still running the mother fucker but now I’m shitting myself.

So the race starts and I’m feeling pretty good. I’m holding down a decent pace through the soft sand and finally reach a nice downhill hard pack section around mile 8-10. Still early in the race I’m all over the shit. I pick-up the pace to ELITE status and I’m throwing down sub8 close to 7 minute miles.  BIG FUCKING MISTAKE

Getting through the desert that wind was no joke. Definitely not comedy hour on the trail that day.

I reach the mile 20ish AS and I’m already fucked, but the fun was just getting started.  Feeling like ass at mile 20 with 30 miles to go and a 5-mile climb ahead of me. The fucking joys of running an ultra.  If I just stayed in the cozy warm cabin and jerked off a few times that morning my life would have been so much better.

Ok, here we go crushing the Oriflamme 5-mile climb. Ha fucking ha. Even though I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it up the hill, my head was down walking/running, passing a bunch of no named pussies. I’ve been up this hill so many times I had a good idea where to push and where to pray.

Finally the climb was over, but unfortunately the race wasn’t. I’m feeling worse than ever when I reach the 30-mile AS. Doc’s there to pick me up and I have Harv crewing. That’s right, I fucking roll big time when I race.

After telling a few generous AS volunteers to shut the fuck up, Harv was kind enough to introduce me to the idiots that didn’t know me. (I guess they do now)  It was at that moment when I came up with the idea of having an Amsterdam AS.  Tray or containers filled with different drugs (not cookies) and I get to choose what to take depending on my state of fucked-upness.  I sure it’s word, look it up.

We head out of the AS and I’m not doing so well. Mostly walking with Doc harassing me to run. Right, go fuck yourself dude.

 

The next six miles to the Dirt Devil AS sucked bad. At one point, I was stuck behind a rock blocking the trail. (See pic)  We arrive at mile 36 and I’m not sure if I should stand or sit. My feet were killing me and Doc offered to tape them, but the thought of taking off my shoes and putting them back on seemed impossible. The AS crew keep asking me stupid shit, they just wouldn’t shut the fuck up. I was getting confused and irritated so I knew I needed to keep moving.

Ok, here we go. 7-mile climb to the top of Cuyamaca Peak which never seemed to end.  At one point Doc insisted I give him an elevation reading, nice work dude. I still had 1,500 feet to climb and now things went from bad to worse in my head.  As we continued to summit, now my fucking knee is killing me. The only hope I had was that a mountain lion or wild turkey attack would put me out of my misery.

We reach the summit and headed back down. Now the knee is so fucked up I’m walk/running sideways. Awesome, only 3-4 miles of the shittiest, rockiest aka technical downhill section of the course. Damn, this shit is sooooooo much fun.

Now doc is starting to ask me some crazy shit. To be honest I’m not even sure what the fuck he’s talking about. I keep saying to myself, does he really want talk about this now?

On to finish and another 50-miles of regret.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zion Cold Ass Death March

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Racing in Utah on a relay team in the Zion National Park area in the spring…it was pouring rain and I was scheduled to go out about 9pm. My teammate took an extremely long time to come in, and by the time she did..it was now 10pm.

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As Team Captain…I knew I had a responsibility to the team, and as I started to go out on my 7.5 mile leg, with about 2,000′ of gain…I really questioned my sanity.

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As I went out the first time, I connected with a girl who fell, started crying, and turned around..I actually went with her to the race tent. But, being captain…I was choosing to DQ my team…so I turned back around, and went back out on the course. I connected with another lady, and we ended up sticking together…it took us 45 minutes to go 3/4 of a mile. At one point, there were about 10-15 headlamps coming towards us. I was confused…knowing either we have gone completely the wrong way…or runners were DQing themselves…they said the trail ahead was impassable.

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Cindy (my new PTSD buddy) and I forged ahead. She already had a large tree branch to stabilize herself, and she found me one too. We made it up the impassable area…now completely committed because to turn around would be mud skiing on the trails. We got to about mile 4 and there was race officials on the course asking if anyone else was behind us…they had closed the Image result for impassable mud trailcourse 5 minutes after we went out, and were clearing the course. Although, we had the opportunity, if we could run fast enough…not to be swept due to course conditions…but, if we decided to go on…that was it…there were no other exits on the course. We decided to forge ahead…and the back portion was actually worse…because now we are going down hill in knee deep mud, and now it is starting to snow. We made a pact to stay together. We took into account our resources…our phones were charged (but with no connection), Lara Bars, ginger chews, and I had filled my hand held up (not sure why…)with hydration mix (which I almost passed off to my teammate in the transition tent). We forged on, and at mile 5…she was ahead of me, and somehow I came upon a guy in the dark. He was completely soaked, undertrained, hypothermic, and disoriented.

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I think he may have been on the ground when Cindy passed him, but he stood up after she passed him…and that is how I saw him. He had no headlamp, so I told him to stay behind me and follow me on the trail. Within a minute, I can’t hear him anymore…he had fallen again. I yelled up to Cindy to get back a little closer to me, that we need to put this guy in between us. As we completed the last 2.5 miles…he fell at least five times, could not tell us his name…and drank all the hydration in my hand held…now I know why I kept it…it was for him, not me! As we came into the finish chute, Cindy and I our hands in the air..and the crowd around the fire screamed for us!!! The man (whose name I never got…all I got was a “Brrr…” Maybe Brian?) was trailing behind us.

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As we came into the transition tent…seems I was a bit disoriented too…the race officials were telling us to stop…but the words were not registering in my brain…they actually grabbed my shoulders to stop me. I turned around to look at “Brrr” who was the oddest color I have ever seen…white, green and orange! I looked at him and said I don’t know what you need…but you need something very quickly!!! I heard they ambulanced him away to the nearest hospital!!!  

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So..that is why I went out there…to meet Cindy (who I am still friends with), and to save that man’s life!  I am convinced he would have died out there…he was hypothermic, disoriented, dehydrated, and undertrained!!!

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So…there is my Death March!  It took us 4 hours, when it should have taken us around 1:15 – 1:30 to have completed!!!

 

Running from Rabid Dogs Death March

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Out running solo, about 8 miles in…. the weather was nice it was later in the evening.  I decided not to bring my jacket or any water since it was cool.  Running and enjoying myself until I see a pack of dogs running towards me.  I’m looking around and thinking…. “where the hell are these dogs coming from” ? Are they coming after me?? Glancing around the area, I had to figure out quickly where the hell I could hide.  I’m in a nice neighborhood, houses with huge yards on a small street.  But to get to someone’s house it seemed like it would be a good quarter of a mile run. The dogs were closing fast so I din’t have the time. I need a  solution quick if I did not want to get mauled.  Also some of the houses were gated, so how would I get in anyway?  I turned back and saw some large bushes, the dam dogs were coming my way, I had to think fast.  I jumped into the bushes

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… little did I know there was a very short iron gate behind these bushes.   I remember the jump and the next thing I know, I was flung like a rag doll onto the other side of the gate landing on the ground. It took me a couple of minutes to gain my composure after the fall.  Luckily the dogs ran right by, paying no care to my presence still barking and running…. barking at what…i had no clue.  When flew into the bushes, my hip ended up landing on the top of the gate as my body swung over and I landed on the other side on top of other larger plants and some decorative concrete bricks.  I realized I had injured myself, I slowly climbed back over and checked my injuries… well hell… a piece of skin hanging off my bloody torn knee, my hip really hurts, my foot hurt really bad, my wrist got beat up from the impact of landing and my arm/ part of my elbow was torn up.  I was a bloody dirty mess.

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Already evening and no one around, I was screwed… had to limp back 8 miles with blood running down my legs and my elbow. Every step I took hurt, I could feel the torn skin pulsing…. it was a hell of an experience as a new runner.  What the hell?? This didn’t stop me from running, years later I’m still running.  Just hoping i won’t see another pack of dogs again.

 

 

 

 

Western States Death March

The dream most ultra runners have came true for me last December when one of my two lottery tickets was selected for Western States Endurance Run 2017.

I was at the gym that morning when all the texts and calls came in..”You’re in!” I was shaking I was so excited!!!

I immediately upped my game, training harder with higher mileage weeks. I was coming close to PR’ing my training races as my training was on point!

And then it happened….second week in April, a mere 11 weeks before Western States, the dreaded metatarsal stress fracture in my left foot.

Having experience with a stress fracture a year earlier, I immediately recognized the symptoms. Crushed, but forced to continue training as best I could I took two weeks off then started hiking as much as I could. Four weeks after that, I started to run again, towing the line at PCT 50 a week after I started running.

Doing my best to build up my mileage to previous levels, I did mega miles…two weeks of 100+ miles per week.

A few weeks later there I was at Western States 2017.  All I can say is it lives up to its hype. What an awesome experience it was to spend a few days before the 100 in Squaw Valley taking it all in!!

Race morning, I felt amazing. I was well rested and ready to race. And then I started the climb. The trail was like nothing I experienced before, it was climbing to 9000 ft in slush, ice, snow, mud and gushing water.

There were five of us that stuck together. The trail markers had been crushed into the ice and not able to be seen. It was easier for us to slide down the trails on our butts, than it was to run down the slick ice.

When the snow finally cleared the trail was a mix of ankle deep mud and gushing water. With each step I took, my shoes filled with mud and rocks. I tried taking my shoes off and emptying them but it was a worthless cause.

Five and a half hours later, I made it to mile to 15.9! (For the record it has never taken me 5 hours to run 15 miles) I had missed the cut off by 25 minutes. My dreams of that beautiful buckle had been crushed. 25 of us sat there dumbfounded at what just happened, I was in company of people with numerous 100 mile finishes and Western finishes under their belt.

We had all been cut.

I was told it was highest number of cuts on record at that aid station. Yes, the trail conditions were horrible, but bottom line I just wasn’t strong enough.

Looking back my training should have included much more vert and probably less miles. But coming off a stress fracture a few weeks earlier, I felt I did the best I could.

Fast forward four months, I PR’d my second 100 miler and earned a ticket once more to put my name in the pot for Western 2018.

If by some magic my one ticket is pulled with  2.5% chance of getting in, you better believe I am going to do my best to earn that coveted buckle.

Bottom line, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. The VERY best thing about ultra running are 1. The community and 2. The ability to learn from your mistakes and do better next time.