Tuesday, September 13, 2016


Bigfoot 200 August 12-15 82:25:00
Cascade Crest August 27-28 32:16:50
Pine to Palm September 10-11 31:57:41

Trifecta! This is the word used by Seven Hills Running Shop owner Phil Kochik to describe my 3 runs in less than a month. I didn't know the real definition of this word, so I Googled it. It didn't quite fit my accomplishment:

A bet in which the person betting forecasts the first 3 finishers in a race in the correct order or a run of three wins or grand events.

But according to Wikipedia, it is a perfect group of three. For men, it listed beer, football, and blow job. For women, it listed wine, sex and chocolate. For me this year, it was BF, CCC, and P2P.

I already wrote a long blog for Bigfoot, so I won't revisit that. I didn't write about CCC except to post on Face book that it felt like shit. Although the weather was perfect, I was overheating from the get go and even the early miles felt like I was picking up from mile 180 of Bigfoot. It had only been 12 days from my Bigfoot finish. Plus 5 days after Bigfoot, I went on a hike/run up Mt Teneriffe for a photo shoot (10 mile loop with almost 4000 ft elevation gain in less than 4 miles). So at CCC, I scaled it back a lot until it became dark and cooler. I had a strong surge during the night, but then completely fell apart after the No Name aid station. Two years ago, I DNF'd at Thorp Mountain about 84-85 miles from dehydration, had to hike out with assistance, and it took a month for my muscle cramps to go away. I was starting to have cramps again in the same exact spot this year (the first Needles climb) but this time from over hydration (I was peeing clear frequently). I backed off on the fluids, took more salt, and basically crawled to Thorp. I at least made it there and got up and down Thorp compared to 2 years ago when I was not able to summit Thorp. My muscles were twitching the entire time but then something incredible happened. After I came down from Thorp and made my way to French Cabin and through the next 3 Needles, I got my legs back! I made it to the finish before the 34 hour cut off for my 9th Cascade finish. This year, they added 3 miles early in the race which included an optional short out and back to Blowout Mountain. A lot of people bypassed it because there was not going to be any views, but we were told at the briefing that there would be a surprise at the turn around if we went up there. I'm so glad I went because I loved getting this token! I wanted to grab 8 more for my previous finishes.

While I was going through my rough spot, I told myself as well as people who were passing me on the trail that I was not going to run P2P, scheduled to be 2 weeks away. If I was having trouble just finishing CCC, how could I expect to finish P2P? I agree with Glenn Tachiyama as he was taking my picture on Thorp when I was ready to pull my hair out that I race too much. But that's my niche and my passion. Others are fast, others may have more endurance, but my strength seems to be finishing a brutal schedule of races. Of course, what you say on the trail does not stay on the trail. 100% of the time I say something like that, I will reverse my decision. It takes about 3 days to change my mind.


The meat of this blog is about P2P. I ran it in the inaugural year in 2010, notorious for the cold and wet weather. At that time, I wasn't thrilled with all the dirt road, but welcomed it this year. It allowed me to concentrate less on footing and I could make up time on these sections. There was enough trail to keep things interesting. Plus, I wanted to actually experience the views. With 2 weeks from CCC, it was little more time for me to recover. But as the forecast continued to get hotter and hotter, I knew it would be a struggle to make the cut offs since heat it my worse enemy.

Drove to Portland, OR and left my car at Annie Crispino-Taylor's house and then got a ride to the race with TJ Ford and her husband Tom. This would be her second 100 miler. Her first one was Rocky Raccoon. We stopped in Coburg, OR and had a really nice lunch. This city is a historic district known for it's antiques. We ate at the Coburg Pizza Company/Nana's Caffe. Highly recommend it!

We arrived in Willams, OR for race check in at Pacifica Garden. It's large grounds are for horses, wedding venue, camping, etc. Got our bibs, a nice long sleeve hooded North Face tech shirt, our medical band, left our drop bags. We drove to the start location 6 miles away, drove the road up to where the single track began 2 miles from the start, and headed back for the race briefing.

I got to meet a lot of new people since I was far from home. Everyone was so nice. And nervous. There were a lot of first time 100 milers. Also many who had tried P2P before, DNF'd, and returned to give it another go.

As soon as the briefing ended, we drove to downtown Grants Pass, OR for dinner at an Italian restaurant with Annie and TJ's other pacer Jaymi Robinson Yazzolino. Then back to Annie's sister's house in Grants Pass for the night.

Woke at 4 am, got race ready, taped my heels and toes (no blisters!) and headed to the start at 4:45. We arrive to a full parking area, but Tom was allowed to park along the side of the road. Next thing I know, the countdown began, 10-9-8....go!

I started way at the back. I didn't want to get caught up in the adrenaline rush. Just like CCC, I felt my leg fatigue right away. So, I took it super easy. I planned on stopping a lot and taking pictures. Here is us getting off the paved road and hitting the single track at 2 miles.

On the elevation profile, it shows 11 miles of uphill but I was pleasantly surprised that there was a decent amount of downhill and runnable sections. I let people pass me without hesitation. I knew I needed to run my own pace. Asthma is usually an issue for me and partway up the climb, you could see and smell the smoke. The pictures below are not clouds or fog, it is smoke. I used my inhaler twice and never had an asthma attack.

Fortunately, there were clear skies above and when we topped out.

There was a water only stop at 4.5 miles at Rock Creek. Thanks to the volunteers for hauling in the water! After topping out, there was a steep descent down, a photo op with Paul Nelson, and several areas where we could cross the creek and wet our bandannas. The first full aid at 14.5 miles was at O'Brien creek, I loaded up on ice water. A nice volunteer sprayed my arms with Triglide, which helped with the chafing of my flabby muffin-top spilling out from my sports bra. I need to get me some of that stuff. I had no further problems with chafing there!

Thank you volunteers! The next section was exposed dry dirt road. I was able to run some of it. Paul cruised by us back of the packers in a truck, taking pictures before we got to the aid station. By then we all were really feeling the effects of the heat. Just when I thought I was feeling loose and good, as soon as I picked up the pace, my legs would tighten up and I would have to back off and walk. This meant that I was going back and forth with people constantly. That is until we hit the trail again as we neared Seattle Bar, where my cramping upped it's game and I lost contact with everyone in front of me and also the runners that passed me before the aid station. I crossed into California for a short while and my husband said he could see me standing on the CA-OR border on my SPOT tracker.

Somewhere on the road section before Seattle Bar, I passed Clyde the Glide Aker, who had marked the entire course. I didn't know what he looked like, but I wished I had taken the time to thank him for all his hard work. Unfortunately, he dropped at Seattle Bar. I don't know if that was his plan but it became a reality for 6 other runners. There were 142 starters, 23 DNS, 82 finishers for a 58% finisher's rate, which meant that 60 runners dropped, 7 here. I arrived at Seattle Bar at 7 hr 22 minutes, 38 minutes before the cut off and in 132nd place. I had to use the bathroom and get all my stuff needed for the next long climb, so I forgot to get my Popsicle. Annie and Jaymi helped me since TJ had just left as I arrived. I got sponged down and had ice put in my bandanna. I left after about 8 minutes, crossed the grass to the base of the climb towards Stein Butte. As soon as I was out of site, I started cramping again and almost turned around to quit. Instead I rested, got my heart rate down, regrouped, and started the very slow climb up the next 6+ miles. I had my poles and used them intermittently, mainly for the downhill. I was passed by 6 people in this section but was able to pass 3 of them back before the next aid. This was an exposed trail with little wind. I was starting to run out of water when I came upon a sign that said 2 miles to the aid station with a bunch of water bottles laying on the side of the trail, like about 30. At first, they all looked empty, but there was still water in some of them. I topped off my water bottle and headed down the trail. This short and not steep part allowed my legs to recover and I was able to run a lot of it. There was still plenty of up to get to the aid station at Stein Butte at 35 miles (we didn't actually go all the way up to the butte, just skirted around it). I took tons of picture of the beautiful Manzanita trees. I just couldn't get enough of them!

With 1 mile to go to the aid station, there were more water bottles, but smaller supply. I didn't need water then. They were hauled out by the high school cross country runners helping at the aid station. As I came in, they formed a human arch for me to run under. I was feeling good and was hooting and hollering as I came in. This was Stein Butte and 35 miles.

I left feeling pretty good, running down the road, But as soon as I started the 3 mile climb, my stomach was making strange noises. I didn't have nausea and never threw up but I had "bathroom issues." I got off the road quite a ways because I knew this wasn't going to be pretty and I definitely could not dig a hole for this disaster. I also could not wait until I got to a bathroom. Fortunately, I felt better once the trail descended again and hit the single track to Squaw Lakes. Still, I felt roughened up by the time I got to the lake, which was 41 miles. I had passed a guy about a mile from the aid station and asked him if he needed any help. He said no. I'm not sure if he continued on after getting to the aid station. TJ was somewhere on the 2.5 mile loop around the lake when I got there. Jaymi was there to ask if I needed anything. I just needed to use the bathroom again and hit the outhouse. I had to go again one more time and fortunately, there were 2 more outhouses on the loop for the campers. I dropped my pack and had a hand held bottle for the loop. It was nice to run with the weight off my shoulders. This was a really nice mainly flat trail. By the time I got back to the aid station, I felt better. I arrived to the lake the first time in 12 hr 18 minutes, 12 minutes before the cut off. My cushion was dwindling. After completing the loop, I made sure I had some warm clothes in case and a headlamp. With the 7 drops at Seattle Bar, there were still 135 runners in the race that left there. I arrived somehow in 124th place. I don't know if my improved placement included the people who dropped at Squaw lakes before me. I believe so because 13 more people dropped there and I certainly didn't pass 11 people.

From here on out, I did not take anymore pictures until it became light. We left on a road that mostly descended for about 3.5 miles at French Gulch where there was a water only stop. Then we started to climb the road again. This time, the climbing did not make me cramp but I thought we had only 4 miles to Hanley gap. Unfortunately, it was 5 miles and that lit a fire under my butt. I started to gain on the runners ahead of me and passed a bunch of them. I was able to run a decent amount of the down and rolling, but the trail was a little overgrown in spots and the footing was not great at times. This taxed us, but I was able to handle it better than most. We were all frantically trying to make the cut off. I passed a woman who asked how far until the aid. I told her 2-2.5 miles and she was disappointed to hear that. I then passed another woman standing off the trail and said hi and are you okay? Just about then she unleashed a massive amount of puke. I said sorry and moved along. In just about 100 more yards, a woman was laying on the side of the trail with her eyes closed. I didn't disturb her but thought it was too early to feel sleepy, so I think she was not feeling well. That was about 1 mile from the aid.

I arrived at Hanley, which was 52 miles, to what looked like total carnage. I got there at 15 hrs and 21 minutes, 9 minutes before the cut off. Again, cutting it tighter. I got my drop bag, got my night pack ready, left them at the aid station on a chair and took a bottle, shell, and hand held light up 1 mile to Squaw peak to get my flag. It was a long, rough hike up and very lonely. Three people were coming down on my way up. Finally got my flag to little fanfare and even less so when I got back down. I was planning on getting food when I got back down but they had closed and packed up the aid station. I was floored! I thought they wouldn't pack up until all the runners got back from the peak, with 2 behind me. This changed from when I did it the first year, so I was not prepared for that. Fortunately, I had packed a bunch of food in my pack that I was going to leave with. I just needed water and a kind aid station worker gave me some water from his jug in his car because I think they might have dumped out all the extra water. Needless to say, I left a little anxious but had to move on. I arrived at Hanley in 112th place, 32 more runners dropped here.

Other than a short distance with another runner, I ran the entire next section on my own. There was no one anywhere near me in front. I saw something dash ahead of me and saw rabbit ears. My only concern at that time was if a cougar was chasing it. I started clicking my poles together, talking out loud, yelling Marco! Polo! I saw a lot of insects on the dirt road and what looked like baby scorpions. I don't think I was hallucinating. If any of you other runners read this, please let me know if you saw them too. I was able to run a decent amount of this section and expected to arrive at Squaw Creek gap at about 60 miles by midnight to have 2 hours to get to Dutchman peak. Unfortunately, the aid station volunteers said that it was actually 7 miles instead of 6.5 from the last aid station. As soon as I got to the aid station, I just asked for water, no soup or grilled cheese. I had no time to spare. Another runner was sitting in a chair having soup and was not planning on leaving. I asked when the last runner left, and they said 25 minutes ago. I guess I was on my own again. But I was not scared this time, plenty of cars were coming down the road. Not as busy as earlier I expect.

I had 1 hr and 48 minutes to cover nearly 7 miles of mostly uphill dirt road. I likened this to the climb up Keechelus and No Name, which usually take me over 2 hours, but I was not ready to be timed out. I ran as much as I could and powered hiked like I never power hiked before. There was some flatter sections to run but not enough to make me feel better about getting there on time for the final cut off before the finish line cut off. Through all of this, I had to pay attention to my hydration and salt. With about 2 miles to go, I heard music coming from the aid station, so I thought I was closer than 2 miles. I finally saw a runner ahead and the cars parked about a mile away from the aid station where crew could meet their runner. I passed a guy sitting on the side of the road appearing lifeless but he said he was okay. He clearly was not going to make the cut off. I focused on getting to the top, with 1.5 miles to go to the aid, I started cramping again. I had to slow it down, losing precious time. I finally made the turn towards the aid and there was a girl who said that if I really pushed it, I could make the cut off. The next mile was steep and rough. I had 15 minutes. I pushed through the tight and twitching muscles to the edge but not enough to make me drop to the ground. People were coming down from the aid station saying good job. What I wouldn't have given to be in their shoes, carefree now until they got to the finish. TJ was coming down and we barely recognized each other in the dark. Jaymi was pacing her. Still a little less than 1/2 a mile but only 5 minutes, I pushed and pushed. I arrive at the speaker that was blaring the music and looked at my watch, I only had 10 seconds, I made the turn and saw the aid station tent and volunteers. I screamed at the top of my lungs but was drowned out by the loud speaker, "I'm here, I'm here! I made the cut off!" I waved my arms frantically to get their attention. I got there exactly at 2 am or 20 hours, 66 miles done. I was too tired to cry. I had worked so hard. I told them I would get my stuff quick and get out of there in a minute because usually one has to leave by the cut off. But they said, "Relax, calm down, get something to eat. We've been expecting you." So I did. I got a few things from my drop bag and left there in about 10 minutes. I was so thankful to be able to continue. I was ready to make a speech about why they should let me go on if I made it there 5 minutes after the cut off. But I didn't need to bother, and I was so happy about that. Now, I can relax and maybe enjoy the remainder of the race. Four people dropped here, but I think there were a decent number of people who dropped at the previous aid station. The live results did not include that aid station so I don't know. My place now was 90th here.

I was surprised that I was not cramping on the steep down that we just came up. I took my time still. There were still 34 miles to cover, and some of that would be in the heat of the day. I arrived to the parking area where runners could meet with their crew. I think I passed a few runners here since I didn't have crew or pacer. I was basically solo except for sharing Annie and Jaymi at a couple of aid stations in the first half when I was still not too far behind TJ. I was just happy to be around people again. I like to run alone, but it's comforting to know that I'm not alone for long. I passed one guy on this section, which seemed to go on and on. It started on road then became single track on the PCT and skirted Red Mountain. The trail was sloping, rocky in parts, rolling but mostly descending. There were some cold pockets where I needed my arm warmers but not a jacket. I never got really cold, even when stopping at the aid stations. I finally arrived at Siskyou gap at 73.5 miles. Some people were leaving as I arrived and there was a girl and her pacer who left 5 minutes before me. Finally, I was able to sit down at an aid station, enjoy talking to the volunteers, and eating the food. I didn't linger too long and left in less than 10 minutes. There were several people who arrived as I was leaving but they didn't stay long because I saw headlamps come after me pretty soon. I caught up to the girls ahead, passed a few more runners, some of them walking stiffly on the down, and eventually was able to turn off my light. Sunrise was very beautiful.

I arrived at Grouse Gap at 80 miles at 25 hours, now in 77th place. There were unfortunately 4 drops here. So disheartening to drop that late in a race. Things must have to be really bad to end it there. I had more grilled cheese and soup, switched back into a lighter pack, and decided to leave my poles since I didn't really use them in the last section. BIG MISTAKE! We had a little over a mile hike up the road before getting back on trail and my legs tightened up there, resorting me to a slow crawl. At that time, Barrack Blakeley (17) and Wasch Blakeley (47) passed me with a strong stride. I could only wince a smile and told them good job as I stood still for a minute. I really needed to figure out what I had to do at that time, salt or water, because my hands were puffy and either could hold true. When I had no improvement with salt, I sat down and drank. I noticed my hands were becoming less puffy, so I found I was dehydrated. I sat for about 5 minutes to let the water absorb and was able to catch Jean Michel Fouard, Chris Fricker, and his pacer. They had also passed me on this Split Rock trail, which was new this year and a nice addition.The trail went up and down for about 3 miles. A runner was heading back towards us and I thought he was turning around to quit at Grouse Gap, but apparently, he never made it to the aid station and was backtracking to make sure he was not going to be disqualified. Turns out, Hal did not make him come back entirely since he had already done extra miles. This was Zak McKeon, and he did finish last, but at least he finished! We reached the intersection for the out and back to Wagner Butte. A lot of people dropped their packs here but I needed to keep mine. We saw a bunch of people coming back towards us, some congratulating me on making the final cut off to Dutchman. I saw TJ with Annie, and she was just about done with the out and back, so she was doing really well and ended up finishing in 29:57.

I was able to hike strong until we got to the final scramble. I had to slow it down but was able to go and retrieve the token needed to get credit for this part. Fortunately it was small and I just stuffed it in my shorts pocket with a Velcro closure. I did this scramble in the first year when it was wet and it felt like I was going to slip off the rock and die. It was nice to have dry footing today.

I thought I was going to feel good on the way down, but my legs felt shot again, so I ran/walk the next 5 miles to the final manned aid station. I cheered on the runners that were still making it to the turn around. I think everyone here made it to the finish. One of them was Krista Olson, Timothy Olson's wife and he was pacing her. I had heard that she was still nursing? If that is the case, what a trooper. I love hearing stories like this. Ultrarunners are such cool people! The 3 downhill miles just before the aid wer so steep and loose in places that I was constantly breaking with my quads and calves. Eventually, I was not able to run and walked about 2 miles of this downhill. Wished I had my damn poles!

I was wasted and hot when I got to the final aid. I had some Frito's, and they tasted amazing. Should have been a clue that I needed more salt. I had some watermelon and headed down the road. The next section was very runnable road, but I had to run/walk it since my legs were tightening up again. I went from being dehydrated to over hydrated again in a small amount of time. When will I ever learn? I was peeing clear frequently now, so I stopped drinking and just wet my mouth. I took a few salt pills, but not too much and basically walked until I could run. I was passed by 2 runners before getting to the last water only aid and knew I had 5 miles to go. The road had some small climbs. Eventually, it became downhill single/double track bike trail for about 1.5 miles before hitting pavement. I was passed by strong finishing Carolyn Hennessey with her pacer on the trail with about 3.5 miles to go. She was having a grand time now. Just about then, we passed what I assume was a father and son team-the Blakeleys. They were walking it in. The final person I passed was Chris Fricker with 2.5 miles to go. His hips were locked up and he was walking stiffly down this steep grade. I felt so bad for him, but he took it in stride (haha) with the help of his pacer. The sun was beating down on us hard now and it's always harder to handle the second day of heat, even though it was probably 15 degrees cooler than the day before.

As I was making my way down the steep hill, I saw a man in front of me at the bottom and he appeared to be directing foot traffic. Could that be the last turn to the finish? Why yes it is! I was so happy to see him and even happier to see the finish arch. I strode in under 32 hours and did a little hands to knees dance to the cheers of the people who were still hanging out. I sat long enough for Hal to hand me my buckle, a very pretty necklace, cool North Face Gym bag, a trucker hat, a finisher's sticker, and a Pine to Palm magnet. I finished in 73rd place out of 82 finishers and 142 starters. Not to shabby for 400 miles and over 90,000 ft in elevation gain in less than a month!

I want to thank Annie for letting me stay at her sister's house in Grants Pass and letting me spend the night at her house in Portland before I made the drive home Monday morning. Thanks to Jaymi for doing a lot of the driving back to Portland Sunday night and to both for crewing me when they could. Thanks for TJ and Tom for getting me to the briefing and the start. Thanks to Rogue Valley Runners for putting on a tough and scenic race, and thanks to all the volunteers who gave up their time to help us travel 100 miles. It was a treat to see our very own Kaytlyn Gerbin take the female win in 22:18 and a sub 24 for Phil in 23:32!

So is it time to rest? We'll see. I'm signed up for The Crystal Mountain Sky Marathon, which has over 9000 ft of elevation on the 17th, and Cle Elum 50K on the 24th. Maybe I'll volunteer? Then Bigfoot 120 on October 7.

My goal is one hundred 100 milers or 1000 marathon/ultras in my lifetime. As of this race, I have 49 races 100 mile or longer, and 417 marathon/ultras. No time to rest!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Bigfoot 200 Pain Cave

83 hours 25 minutes
3rd female
15th overall/66 starters
1 hour 17 minutes sleep
6 packs
One pair of contacts
3 blisters
2 clothing changes
3 pairs of shoes
6 sock changes
No falls
Countless trips
6 water crossings
No crew
3 pacers
One shuttle man
3 pounds lost
One very tired runner

I normally do not write a repeat blog on a race that I have done before, but this 200 was quite different from last year's. It was about 10 degrees hotter. The trails were in better condition in general (lots of trees removed) and better marked, so that made up for some time. But 4 days of high temperatures (mid 90s the first 2 days and slightly cooler the next 2 days) slowed us down more than a better course could make up for. Because I was slower this year, I was able to see during the day the parts of the course that I ran through the night last year. 

I wish I could say that I was ready for this year's run. Unfortunately, I didn't have the time to train like I did last year where I did a lot of climbing and running downhill with a heavy pack. Unlike last year, I did run White River 50 miles two weeks prior. That was a bit of a disaster and worried me that I was going to struggle at Bigfoot. Finally, I worked 9 days straight before Bigfoot. That wore me out more than the race itself.

I picked up Mark Tanaka from the Bay Area on Wednesday evening and we headed to the race briefing on Thursday. 

Pre-race briefing. Photo by Mark Tanaka.

We stayed in Packwood 15 miles away in a hotel and caught the bus from the finish at Randle HS at 5:30 am to the start at Mt. St. Helens Marble Mountain. That was a 2.5 hour drive, bumpy, and no chance to get a few more minutes of sleep. We unloaded at about 8 am, got out SPOT devices, and headed out on the beautiful double track trails in woods at 9 am. 

My plan was to change packs frequently to alter the weight on the shoulders and prevent chafing problems. I started with an older UD pack that is smaller. I carried 70 ounces of water for this 12.2 mile section, about half exposed and half tree covered. There is a decent amount of climbing but also very runnable sections and footing is good on this part except for the lava field. Selina Danko, who also finished this race last year, fell hard in the lava field and scraped and bruised herself only 3 miles into the race. 

Lava field. Photo by Van

I forced myself to take it easy, drink a lot. I felt pretty good as I entered the aid station. I ran into Matt Hagen on the way in and he was picking berries for Betsy. He had filled my hydration bladder and it was ready to go. Unfortunately, I did not know that some of the food had fallen out of one of the pockets. This would affect me later. It was still very heavy regardless. I again carried 70 ounces of water and brought a water filter. I carried some extra light clothing (shell, hats, gloves, light long johns) and a lightweight headlamp. I knew that I wouldn't need them, but didn't want to take that chance. My new pack was the Peter Bawkin 3.0. I was about mid pack at that time. There were 66 starters and I came in 33rd place. It only took me 8 minutes longer to get there than last year at 3 hrs 7 minutes. I wanted to keep my pace slower than last year because of the heat.

The next section is 19.1 miles with a lot of climbing and most of it exposed. It starts out with a climb in the trees, thank goodness, descends, climbs a little again, and then becomes exposed when it drops down to the Toutle River Crossing. It is exposed before dropping to the river. It was flowing much more than last year. Some were able to do it without getting wet. I did get one foot wet. Poles were a necessity. Last year, I had poles but didn't use them the entire race. I was strong enough without the poles but needed them this year except for the last 13 miles on the road. I felt okay coming out of the Toutle River, but then on the exposed climb up, I started getting really tight legs. I ate some pickles that I packed and they helped for a little, but soon I was forced to really slow down my hiking pace. I was passed by several runner, including a two women from Bend, OR. One of them was in her 50s, the other was 60. They motored right on past me in tandem, me in awe of their strong pace. 

Sue and Pamela from Bend, OR. Photo by Van.

I continued to eat, drink, and slow my pace but I still had very achy, tight legs. I could only manage a fast walk with occasional short running on the downs. It was frustrating because this was a nice rolling section along the flanks of gorgeous Mt. St. Helens. I tried not to think about all the people who were passing me. I made the right decision of slowing down as I came upon another runner who was flat on his back cramping. I offered my help, but he just wanted to be left alone. I totally related with that since I have been there many times before. I felt bad for him but kept moving. I noticed that the heat was shutting down my stomach. I was drinking plenty but just felt the water sloshing around. The only thing that helped it was to back off. 

Footing became a big deal for me this race. Last year, I was strong enough to handle the technical footing. It was still good in this section except for when we went through the blast zone. There were also some stream crossings that were muddy, not really a good water source. We were able to get through these without getting our feet wet. I knew there was a small waterfall with great clean and cold water coming in a shaded area. Most spent a decent amount of time here cooling down and drinking. I filtered my water and continued on fairly quickly. Some more rolling and descending until a short steep climb. I was really struggling here because I was almost out of food when some of it had fallen out into my drop bag. It was at this time that I met Mark Jolin and Filip Boelen. I noticed Filip had a pretty big pack and asked if he had some extra food. He gave me 2 V-Fuel gels and that saved me until I got to Windy Pass aid station. After the climb, there was a steep descent, more rolling, and a little bit of climb before dropping to the Windy Pass aid station at 50K. I was feeling better at this point, with the sun going down and temps improving. 

Stairs down to Windy Pass aid station. Photo by Van

Almost to the aid station thank gawd! Photo by Van.

Several runners were still there when I arrived, including Filip and Mark. That was the last I saw of Filip. The Bend girls had left. I had to go #2 (the first of many times-7) but the ground was too hard to dig a hole, so I stepped away from the aid station and used my scented doggie bags. That worked out well! I arrived here in 9 hrs 49 minutes, compared to last year's 8:35. It took me an extra hour to get through this exposed section.

I was feeling better and left strong. I did grab a couple gels but had packed a small zip lock of Oreo cookies and other goodies, only to leave them on the aid station table. Damn. I was going to run out again before the next aid station. Fortunately, I was able to hock another gel from a guy that I caught and passed. I had also just passed the Bend gals. They wanted me to tell their crew that they were on their way. This section went through some marsh areas, bushwacking, but overall runnable. I was walking the small hills, running the rest. The sun was going down but I knew that I would be able to get to the aid station before needing to get out my headlamp.

I arrived at Johnston Ridge aid at 39 miles in 11 hrs 49 minutes compared to 10:43 last year. I was pretty wasted when I came in, not focused and forgot to put my SPOT on my new pack. I didn't realize it until I was about 2 miles out, so not practical to go back for it. I had switched to a lighter Scott Jurek pack for the short leg of 6.6 miles, mostly downhill. I did eat half a hamburger before I left. I moved along okay, not slow, but not fast. My asthma was affecting me a little and I had to use my inhaler. This section is mostly downhill with short ups, again all runnable. I did run some of them, walked a few. The down helped with my asthma, allowing me to clear my lungs, less taxing on them. I hit the road into Coldwater. The markers were hard to see here even with the reflectors. It would have been great to have some flour arrows or something on the ground. I ran in strong to Coldwater where David Molenaar was waiting for me. He had been waiting a while. I arrived at 13 hours 30 minutes (or 10:30 pm). Last year, I got here at 12 hours 27 minutes. I was ready to get moving but decided I had better get my SPOT back. Fortunately, Matt and Betsy were there and Matt drove the 7 miles to Johnston to get my tracker. Thank you Matt! Betsy had missed the cut off at Blue Lake. She had struggled with the heat. I waited at the aid station for 30 minutes before I could leave, anxious now to make up some time, which was not a good strategy. 

So in summary, the first first 45 miles has good footing for the most part except through the blast zone and lava field, very exposed especially after 15 miles with only one good water source in the 19 mile stretch from Blue Lake to Windy Pass.

I switched packs here again into my Salomon 12L. Now I was using water bottles instead of hydration bladder. We struck out into the night. The 4.5 mile section along the lake is pretty runnable but overgrown, so this will slow you down. I remembered it was overgrown, but seemed more this year. It could simply have been that I was more tired and struggled more. Dave was behind enjoying the moonlight on the lake and taking pictures. 

Coldwater Lake. Photo by Dave Molenaar.

It was a nice night. I was still holding some of the heat in my body. After the rolling 4.5 miles, it climbs in earnest for 8 miles to Mt. Margaret. The trail opened up a little but then became overgrown again. There were some very steep sections, some running down, some sketchy trail along a rock face. It seemed to take forever to get to the out at back at Mt. Margaret. I knew that we were missing some of the best views of this race. I had seen it during my pacing duties at the 120 miler. The out and back is short but I was feeling the effort.

Mt. Margaret turn around. Photo by Dave Molenaar.

I had it in my mind that it was all downhill from here until the aid station and it was only 4 miles away. I was wrong. There were still several steep ups before it descended, and it was more like 6 miles down. I tend to have the bad habit of stopping eating and drinking if I think I am approaching an aid station as well as picking up my pace. I made this mistake again. I was bonking in the last 2 miles to the aid station to Norway Pass, now over 100K.  It was getting light and I arrived at 5:41 am, 20 hours and 41 minutes. I continued to lose time compared to last year. It was 18 hrs 57 minutes. I came to the realization that I would not be able to make it up. The heat had taken it's toll and continued to slow my pace. 

Descending to Norway Pass. Photo by Dave Molenaar.

Beautiful single track. Photo by Dave Molenaar.

I was pretty good at eating real food at the aid stations. I figured this would help me feel stronger again. But what I noticed was that I was getting weaker. The next section had a lot of downed trees, although less than last year. It was hard to get a rhythm. I found that getting over these trees would leave me breathless, winded. I kept eating more and more thinking that I just needed calories, but I still had the problem. Finally, turning a switchback, I had some shortness of breath and realized that it was my asthma that was acting up and making me feel like I was bonking. I used my inhaler once again and immediately felt better. I was able to pick up the pace. In addition to the asthma, my feet were starting to have hot spots. The steep up and downs placed a lot of stress on areas that are not used to it. 

Good morning Mt. St. Helens. Photo by Dave Molenaar.

I arrived at Elk Pass at mile 75.5 at 25 hours 14 minutes compared to 22:42 last year. I decided to change socks here and that helped. My feet felt great for a few miles. I again ate real food. My slow pace and lots of food led to pretty frequent #2s. Normally, I only go once during a 100 miler. The next section was a lot, I mean a lot of climbing with some of it in the sun and heat of the day to rock outcroppings. Basically, we did countless steep climbing and running down on technical, rutted bike trails. This really made my feet feel worse and my blisters were starting to rub more.  I was able to run a lot of these downhills last year but was slowed to a walk or jog this year. We finally arrived at the 5 mile downhill to Road 9327. Only thing was that it was up and down with a net loss. And, it was more like 5.5 miles to the aid. I ran out of water (no water on this section), and was again bonking hard. I arrived at the aid station tired, parched, and demoralized. This made me anxious and I had a little asthma attack. I used my inhaler again. I immediately took in a lot of water and coke, ate some food, and felt much better when I left. Howie Stern said I looked so bad entering the aid station that he could not get himself to take my picture. However, when I left, I was smiling and thumbs up. Road 9327 was 90.5 miles. I arrived at 31 hours compared to 27:44 last year. My overall place continued to improve now to 18th overall. I was 4th female. I was way behind female 1 and 2, close to female 3. 

One of many solid bridges. Photo by Dave Molenaar.

I expected the next section to be very hard. It stuck with me from last year, so I thought I was mentally prepared for it. I continued to stumble on the rutted downhill sections because of fatigue and blisters in my feet. The air was still quite stagnant even with evening temps. After what I thought was the top and expected to run down, we had about another mile of up. Then the down was quite long. Once again, I was wasted when we got to the aid station at Spencer Butte at about halfway of 101.7 mile and 36 hours 32 minutes, compared to 32:13 last year now 4 hours difference. I had a burger here. All the aid stations had been stellar. I always got what I needed. I again changed socks here. I tried to keep my spirits up. 

You can do this Van! Photo by Dave Molenaar.

We decided to walk the next 2 miles on the road. My strategy had changed earlier in the day to take it as easy on my body as I could in the first half of the race when it was hotter and see what I could do in the second half. There was no rush to get to Lewis River, mentally my halfway point. We turned right onto the descent. We were told it was very overgrown and hard to see the trail. I thought the trail was easy to see, but the markers were few. What really made this section hard was the spiderwebs and I spent the next 2 miles using my poles to bring down the webs. This was taxing and left me covered in spider webs, feeling sticky and gross. The air was really stagnant here as well before we were able to get closer to the river. We finally got on the trail along the river which were nice groomed trails but I kept catching my toe on a low root or rock. This frustrated me tremendously. I was tired, sleepy, and just wanted to rest. It took much longer to get to Lewis River than we expected. There was a lot of running on twisted trails in the park and I was not sure how much further we had to go. Selina came running past us both. I didn't realized I had passed her earlier. She apparently stopped to sleep at Road 9327. She didn't stop to say hi, so I figured she was trying to snag one of the sleep station beds before I got there. She was just sitting in a chair at the aid station, getting her feet worked on. She left soon after I arrived at 111.3 miles, 41 hours 33 minutes, compared to 35:40 last year. 

My plan was to eat, change, and sleep. I wanted my total time there to be about 2.5 hours. I used wipes to give myself a good sponge bath, changed into all new clothes, worked on my foot blisters, and put on new shoes. I used my albuterol. I ate part of a hamburger and some watermelon. I said good bye to Dave and thanked him for getting me to Lewis River. He was taken back to his truck at Coldwater by Allen Skytta, 3 hours away.

Pacer extraordinaire. Photo by Dave Molenaar.

Tonya had been resting waiting for me. I tried initially to sleep in the tent but then decided to just lay down on a cot outside by the aid station. I wanted to leave by 4:10 am, but it was more like 4:30 am. I ended up getting 30 minutes of sleep. I left there still tired but was able to get moving.

Immediately we had a hard time finding the trail.  It was marked incorrectly and we bushwacked through some branches. We realized the trail went up to the left. We placed the marker on the correct side, but I wondered why the earlier runners did not fix this. I lost about 10 minutes just trying to figure out where were supposed to go. We were running through the Quartz Creek trails, a series of steep ups and downs and across creek beds. My legs felt great after the stop at Lewis Creek and I was able to power hike strong, run downhill strong again. I had a good first half of this section, slowing again from fatigue and the return of the heat. I had to lay on the trail side for about 7 minutes to wake up again. Tonya found that I was running more than walking and had to shed some clothing. Overall, I made good time on this trail more than others. My goal was to do most of this trail during the early hours of the morning in the cooler air and that certainly helped. After what seemed like forever, we arrived at a road that lead us shortly to the aid station less than a mile away. Council Bluff was 130 miles into the race. I arrived at 11:20 am Sunday morning, 50 hrs and 20 minutes compared to 45:37 last year.

I didn't stay here long. I had momentum on my side. I had heard that Selina was still in the sleep tent. Someone told me that the passed out when she tried to leave there and was recommended to stay and rest. The next section started out with some climbing about 3 miles then some nice downhill running on service roads, another short steep climb, then 2.7 miles mainly flat on road again before getting back onto single track trail for about 2 miles to Chain Lakes aid station at 140 miles, 55 hours 4 minutes, 48:49 last year.

I refueled here with potato soup. It was delicious! I stopped eating real big meals because I was pooping so much. I knew the next section was pretty and runnable. Sure there are some hills, but this is not what defines this section. I just miscalculated how long it would take. Also, there were 5 water crossings. I got my feet wet on the second one. They dried out by the 5th crossing at Cispus. It took forever and a day to get to Cispus. By this time, we had caught up with Mark Jolin and Nick Davis. We crossed together, getting about knee high. My feet do not do well with crossing cold rivers. They are very painful as they start to warm up. It takes about 10 minutes for them to feel better. I decided not to change socks even if I had some dry ones in my pack since it was getting dark and I wanted to get to Klickitat as soon as possible. But as we started the climb to Elk Peak, it became clear to me that I was not able to stay awake. I asked Tonya to lead so that I could just follow her shoes. I could not distinguish the trail from it's surroundings. It helped tremendously to follow her. We again caught Mark and Nick, who were both falling asleep. They joined the train and the 4 of us with Tonya in the lead were able to motor through this beastly climb. We finally got to the out and back. Howie was up there, We didn't notice him until we headed down.  

Tonya and I took off down to the aid station before Mark and Nick. It again took longer than expected. It was about 2 miles, very steep in some sections. Fortunately, I was able to move well down this. There were a ton of runners at Klickitat when I arrived at 63 hrs 22 minutes, compared to 56:30 last year here at 157.4 miles. I wanted to leave here about 2 am. It was 12:22 am. I didn't change clothes other than put on some compression calf sleeves so that my legs didn't get scratched to death from the overgrown trail. I worked on my blisters and put new socks and shoes on. I had some amazing home made chicken noodle soup, tomato basil soup, and bread. After about another 30 minutes of closed eyes or sleep, I left with Tracy for the final 50 miles. I thanked Tonya for her company and great pacing job. She went to get some well deserved rest.

Immediately, upon leaving, I had trouble focusing on the trail again. It looked like the forest floor was one big carpet. I could not make out the trail. So I had Tracy lead. I was somewhat able to keep up. I again had trouble on the technical and steep down. The change in shoes and socks did not help a lot with the blister pain. I had to land gingerly. After a while, I needed to sleep on the trail for 10 minutes. I tried to do this closer to dawn so that it would help me long enough before the sun came up and would wake me up. The rest helped and I was able to stay awake for the rest of the race. I did most of this trail during the dark, but as it became light I was able to enjoy what I missed last year. It was gorgeous. Plus, it was easier to see the trail. Last year, it was marked sparsely and we lost the trail frequently. I was passed by Rick Arikado, who picked up a pacer finally at Klickitat and was moving really well. We found Mark Jolin just waking up from a nap. Apparently, he tried to get up and keep up with us but was still too sleepy. He was planning on doing the race without sleep. He decided to find a place to rest and went off trail for a while. About 6 miles. He was quite delirious when he got to an aid station. 

Again, this trail goes on forever, has a lot of PUDs or pointless up and downs (trademark Trail Nuts). There were overgrown sections. Finally, after you do a steep climb, you get up on some meadows, fun trails, and then the out and back to Twin Sisters with net downhill and good footing. At the beginning of the out and back, I saw the lead girl Katie Graf. She looked good, smiling. I also saw Rick and his pacer about 1/2 mile from the turn around. I arrived at the Twin Sisters aid station at 11:09 am, 74 hrs 9 minutes compared to 69:36 last year. Geri emerged from a sleep tent and left. She took off, trying to gap me. I wanted to just enjoy the rest of the race with Tracy, so I backed off when I saw how far she was ahead of me on the Pompey peak out and back. At Twin Sisters, I ate some more potato soup and watermelon. I had a strong climb out. I ran into Nick Davis and Jeff Wright. Also saw Daro Ferrera. A lot of these trails are runnable, if you still have legs. This is where the downed logs begin, less than last year thanks to trail work by Candice and her crew. The climb up Pompey Peak was more than the 0.2 that was on the trail sign. And steep. We made what I felt was good time down to the bottom of the trail, then it climbs again to the Green Tunnel, which was much more overgrown this year. Less of it was runnable. Also, when you reach this, it is 6 miles to the aid station. I wanted to believe it was 5 miles. 

I arrived at the last aid station at Owen's Creek at 190.8 miles at 79 hrs 58 minutes, compared to 76 hours last year. I had gained some time back. It was now 5 pm. I wanted to finish before darkness. But first, I had to change into my running dress, drop my pack, and wear a waist pack. I didn't change shoes or socks. I didn't want to disturb any of my taping. The gravel part was hard for me. Just the small rocks bothered my feel and I did a run/walk. Once I got to the road with smoother surface, I was able to pick up my feet without fear of tripping on rocks and rolling my ankle. I ran strong until the end. I did stop to walk several times if there was a hill, but for the most part, we ran. I passed one runner who was walking. Finally, we made a turn on the road and saw the bridge! This meant we would be passing Mt Adams Cafe and only about 1 mile left. We crossed Hwy 123, ran/walk along the back road, and once we reached Kehoe Road, I ran to the finish. We entered the parking of the High School and as soon as I entered the track, I dropped my waist pack and ran as hard as my legs would let me. I dropped Tracy and finished strong to the cheers of everyone who was at the finish line. It was wonderful! My finish time was 83:25, compared to 79 hours last year. I was really pleased that it was not much more considering the heat. My split from Lewis River to the end was 2 hrs 44 minutes faster than the first female and 4 hrs 2 minutes faster than second female.

Only a few more meters! Photo by Mark Tanaka.

I love you chair! Photo by Mark Tanaka,

I hugged Candice immediately, gave Howie a high five, and sat in a chair. I was so happy to finish and not quit. Matt Hagen and Richard Kresser (overall winner with new CR with a 62:18) encouraged me to pick out my buckle. There was apparently a favorite and they wanted to see if I could pick it out. I really liked the buckles with a large white flower and liked the one with the black background the most. As I contemplated it, they were standing behind me eyeing each other. Turns out I picked the right one!

I was offered food but all I wanted to do was to have a shower, even if it was in their outdoor camp shower. It was cold but did the trick of getting off the thick 4 days of slime. I finally ate a custom pizza, so good. I stayed awake for several hours seeing others come in before trying to sleep on a cot. I was too hot, so I got up, ate some more, and watched as more runners came in. I did go back and got 3 hours sleep. Then didn't sleep for the next day. Too much happening with runners coming in. As of the morning, there were still 20 runners out there. Soon it became very hot again. I really felt for them. I cleaned out my drop bags that were back, ate some more. Didn't even leave the high school. 

Every finish was a highlight, but for me it was when Reed Glesne, who dropped last year at Twin Sisters at 174 miles and came back to finish with even harsher conditions. He is 64, turning 65 in one week! He looked so happy and his wife Susan paced him to the end. 

After a catered dinner of hamburgers, mac and cheese, and peach cobbler, we enjoyed the awards ceremony. I received my 3rd place female award, my second podium finish in 2 Bigfoots. Katie and Geri were amazing in their consistency. It was fun to have a little competition out there to help push us. I was able to act somewhat of a mentor to Katie prior to the race, answering a few questions to help her decide what packs to use and what to have in them. Looks like my advice helped! 

Katie Graf, Geri Ginsburg, and me. Photo by Mark Tanaka,

We left soon after that was done and started out 2 hour drive home. I had to stop a few times to sleep, having a hard time staying awake on the windy and dark roads. Mark drove a stretch. Somehow made it home without crashing my car. Finally got some sleep Tuesday night. So from Friday morning when we had to wake up at 4:30 am to catch the bus to Wednesday morning, I had just over 10 hours sleep. I know the race staff did not get much more. 

Will I do this again? I said no many times during the race but probably will.

Now Cascade Crest in less than 2 weeks. Last year, there was a gap of 3 weeks. This will be tough, but I will be going for my 9th finish at Cascade. Just going to take it easy!

Love the originality of the buckle and awards! Materials from the course. Photo by Van.

I can't thank everyone enough for their time and love in taking care of the runners from the RD to every last volunteer. We all know we can't do this kind of stuff without your help!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Ahhhh, retirement!

Congratulations to Bruce Hoff for completing ten consecutive 50K runs! He was the only person to stay healthy enough to run all the years I directed this race. And for that, he got a spiffy jacket! I just happened to get one for myself to celebrate 10 memorable years of putting on this race. Also, before the race, Bruce decked out in all the Pigtails gear: beanie, headband, gloves, arm warmers (can't see), wind pants, and visor. Of course other gear from my other races include a Craft jacket, robe, fleece pullover, and bandana.
As many of you know, putting on this race was a lot of hard work for me. I had to sacrifice free time that I have very little of. Holding a full time job in a very busy orthopedic practice, taking call frequently, working sometimes 18 hour days, it was easy to dread the time I had to put into organizing this run with no help until race day when my volunteers would help me shine. I lose a whole weekend every year just before Christmas, so I'm happy to get it back from now on.  So sorry if these results come with a delay. I know many of you understand.
I could not have put on this race year after year without my incredible volunteers. Many of you who have run it have helped as well and I much appreciate it. I have to give special credit to those who return year after year to help:
Matt Hagen, Betsy Rogers, and Tracy Brown. These three have manned the main aid station at the crossroads year after year and I am indebted to them. This year, I really didn't have to do anything and that took a load off. Betsy's Thai Butternut soup became a fixture, and this year, it was spicier than ever. Yum!
Jill Hudson, Heidi Perry, John Pearch, and Ray Shaw. These are my finish line experts. Ray was my finisher medals handler, Jill my timer, and Heidi and John my chefs. They got help this year from Leslie Miller who did an amazing job with the quesadillas.
Jerry Thayer has loaned me his equipment nearly all the years, coming early to set up and returning to help tear things down. His neighbor Todd McCrory has helped him many years too as well as running the race.
In the last two years, Christy Hammond's family has come out and provided an additional aid station. This year, they took over the mile 11/16 aid station, which again was a huge help. I would often have to come and take that aid station down after all the runners were done and we had packed up the finish line. This would often be in the dark, by myself in the pouring rain. It was really nice to have them there and I didn't have to do that this year.
Thanks this year to George Orozco and Kris Kissel for helping with parking this year.
And thank you to you runners for donating food and money to the Maple Valley Food Bank. We loaded up boxes of food and I was able to write them a check for $200.
Congratulations to all the winners. No course record was broken this year, but seemed like everyone was just out to have fun. Below is a picture of Sean Celli, who won the marathon this year. He took 1st 2 years ago, 2nd last year, and clinched the win this year. Not bad!

First Name
Last Name
Kelley Wiley



First Name
Last Name
                            Rick                  Haase              70M        6:55:03

Let me know if there are any errors.

Looks like this race will continue. I have had a couple offers. Maybe I will be running next to you next year!

Good luck in the future to you all! See you on the trails!