Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Issy Alps 100 Mile Unsupported

The discoloration from my hand warmers burn on my right boob from Bigfoot 120 miler less than two weeks ago still had not faded, and yet here I was standing in a drizzle at 4 am with John Barrickman waiting for my husband to take an official picture of the start of our Team Unsupported Issy Alps 100 Mile attempt.

And who is this guy I'm standing next to? John and I knew of each other but we had never run together. Sure we saw each other at races. We seemed to run about the same pace. But if you asked me what he did for a living or about his family, I didn't know him at all. But that's the great thing about runners and particularly ultramarathoners. You know that they are passionate about running long distances and are willing to suffer. This common thread makes you feel like you already know them pretty well.

This was my fourth finish out of 6 tries. This was my first unsupported attempt. After my DNF at a reverse route in the summer due to cougar encounter in the middle of the night (I had completed it in reverse last year), I felt a void. I knew that John liked to do unsupported outings and messaged him if he wanted to do an unsupported attempt together. Lucky for me, he had planned on this on the exact weekends I proposed. When the weather report for October 22 was reasonable, we decided to go for it instead of waiting one more week. It would have been better for my body to get more recovery from Bigfoot, but it had already rained a lot for the month of October and I didn't want to take a chance that the following weekend was going to be nice.

My boob burn was not the only thing that had not completely healed. My lungs and asthma got a beating and I got a blister under my great toe at Bigfoot. After I drained it, I removed the nail but was left with a tender raw nail bed. It had mostly dried out before this run but I still covered it with a toe cap in case. The toe cap stayed on the entire run but some dirt did get in it from the creek crossings.

Come to think of it, my second toenail was gone too, but it didn't hurt.

I had never packed for 100 miles unsupported. Here is what I had:

Salomon 12 L pack
Two 10 ml flasks with gels (no gel pack garbage)
Two small hamburgers cut into quarters
One blueberry muffin cut up
Two chocolate chip cookies
3 Payday bars cut into thirds
Two granola bars
Gatorade single serve packs
Two 5-hr energy drinks
10 salt tabs
Ibuprofen (didn't use)
Blister kit
One headlamp with extra batteries
One hand held light with extra batteries
Cell phone with battery charger
Garmin GPS watch with battery charger
Black diamond Z-poles
Two water bottles
2 buffs
One extra long sleeve thin poly shirt
One thicker Smartwool long sleeve
Thin quick drying poly capris that I could pull over my shoes (no rain pants because too heavy)
OR Helium II jacket
Emergency bivy
One extra pair of gloves
One extra pair of socks
Compression sleeves
Steri Pen
Waist pack for my phone and quick access to food

I started with capris, short sleeve, arm warmers, fleece headband, Salomon Mission shoes, and Patagonia wind shell.

What I would change? More packaged food. I would still keep the gels in my flasks but pack more Honey Stinger waffles, Power Bar wafers, and energy bars in general. I was worried about all the trash, but as long as there is an easy way to stash your trash, it's not that hard to manage. The nuts were really heavy and I didn't find they gave me immediate energy that I needed or even sustained energy. I would probably cook up some bacon the day before and just carry a ziplock of that. I would have started with shorts because I heated up too much during the day and brought different pants to put on at night.

Saturday morning, my husband and I woke up at 2:30 am, met John at High Point at 3:30, left his truck there, drove to Mailbox trailhead. We started at 4 am in a drizzle, although we could see the moon. Even with all my trimming down of gear and food, my pack still weighed 15 pounds. John's pack was 13 pounds. He has done more solo runs, so was better at packing. Here is a breakdown of each section. Everything is approximate mileage.

Mailbox up and down on the old trail 6 miles from the gate. 3 hrs 10 min. Rain had stopped early on the climb. Pack was heavy! Got to go on a just finished new section from where the old trail meets the new trail, basically half mile from the top. I can't believe how much work was performed to create a new rock path. Even in the dark, you could tell this was a significant project. The last 1/4 mile still the same, although they did create a few new rock steps in the tougher sections. It was still dark when we got to the summit so we took some pics and got out of there.

Base of mailbox to Teneriffe trailhead, total mileage 15. The Granite creek trail is this slightly uphill, technical trail with a lot of small creek crossings. John started to jog when we started up and I told him immediately that I wasn't going to do that this early in the run. I knew it would drain my energy quick with a heavy pack. It's three miles and they went by pretty fast. You turn off on what used to be an unmaintained, overgrown trail that is now a wide and winding trail, set to open fall 2017. At least that's what the sign said on the other end off the newly paved Middle Fork road. There was no sign at where we entered it. This was a fun and easy run down, about 1.5 miles. We crossed the road and the Snoqualmie River to another trail on the other side and if you didn't know it was there, you'd have a hard time locating it. It looks like they don't want people to hike there because they made it harder to get down into it and they removed a log in the first water crossing. I should have taken a picture of John crossing it. It was only 10 feet across but the fast flowing river stirred up the sand in this drainage creek. John took his shoes and socks off to cross, I left mine on. It came mid shin for me. Two more water crossing, one with a log across still. Got to the CCC road trail where I knew we would have to cross another creek but the water is clear. I took my shoes and socks off to rinse them of the sand I accumulated in the last water crossings and my feet were good to go even with them wet. Refilled water bottles here. Ran down he dirt road for 4 miles and arrived at Teneriffe trailhead 6 hours into the run or 10 am. Parking lot was already full.

Teneriffe trailhead to Little Si trailhead, total miles 33. I was feeling sluggish by the time we got there.We started up to Kamakaze Falls (which was roaring with all the recent rain) together but I told John that he could keep going and that I would meet him at the summit. I took my time, knowing if I pushed here, I would be paying for it for the rest of the run. Either he was waiting for me or the climb was slowing him down but I caught up to John about half mile to the top. We sat and ate briefly. The sun was out and we had 360 degree views, including Rainier. A quick pic and we descended after less than 10 minutes on the summit.

Descended the previous road now double track trail to the connector trail and Talus loop trail to Mt. Si. It spits you out on the Mt. Si trail 2 miles from the top. Lots of people still coming down and going up. Felt pretty good. Ran into Brad Hefta-Gaub about a mile from the top. Again quick summit pic and down we went.

There was a young Asian guy who looked like he was in his 20s who we passed on the way up almost to the summit sitting and resting. We ran into him again on our way down closer to the summit but this time an older couple that was heading down was with him.  They said something like, "If there were some trailrunners, maybe they could give him some salt tablets for his cramps," just as I was walking by. I stopped and gave him 2 S-caps, and told him to take them now. I gave him 2 more and told him if he still was cramping on the way down, he could take them. I also asked if he had any food. He didn't and I gave him some nuts in a ziplock and wished him luck. At least he had a puffy jacket to keep him warm while he was sitting. He had a bottle of water. We headed down the old Mt. Si/Little Si trail, very steep and technical at times. Glad I had my poles. Hit the Little Si trail. Everyone was coming down as we headed up. Some climbers still were up on the big wall.

Arrived at Little Si trailhead at 14 hours or 6 pm. I had told my husband Ken 15.5 hours, so we were stoked that we were making good time.

Little Si trailhead to Highway 18 on Tiger, 56 miles total. The next 6 miles is flat with slight up near Rattlesnake Lake. It got dark as we were heading up this trail. Passed the location where I encountered the cougar the last time I was there. Coast was clear. Got some more water from the Snoqualmie River after we crossed under I-90. John started to feel tired here but we were able to walk/run. Once we got to the lake, he took a little 5 minute nap before we headed up the trail. Lots of option for water after all the rain we had gotten in the last few weeks. I used my Steri Pen for everything I drank. John just filled and drank. I led him up so that he could concentrate on the reflectors on my shoes and stay awake. Still he was struggling. There was one area of blow downs before East Peak. Once we got there, I had him lead to see if that would wake him up. He seemed to do fine. The 2 mile section between East and West peak had a ton of blow downs. Michael Havrda warned me about this but it was a lot worse than I expected. We must have gone over, under, and through 30 trees down. Very taxing. At one point, I almost fell in a hole left from the tree root of a fallen tree. With all the logging they have done up there, there is no buffer anymore and with any major windstorm, more trees are going to go down. So sad. This used to be one of my favorite trails and unless it gets cleaned up well, I'm less likely to return. The wind was blowing constantly about 10-15 miles with a few gusts up to 30 but at least it was not raining. John is pictured at East Peak and me at West Peak,

We hit the Power lines and made our way down to the service road  towards Tiger. This is when it started to rain. John was getting sleepy again and I asked him if he wanted to rest when we got into the trees. He didn't want to stop and get me cold so we didn't. We went through some bike trails back on to the service road that led down to the Raging River. It was high and flowing fast, so we decided to hike up to Highway 18. We found a pretty nice path that others clearly had gone up. When we popped up on the freeway, we saw a police car in the distance that had pulled over a car. We ran as fast as we could across the bridge over the river and back onto the trail on the Tiger side. With the cop car behind us, the other cars passing us probably thought we were running from the police! Fugitives! We were not looking forward to the next part because for sure we knew we were going to get our feet wet crossing Deep Creek. Once again John took his shoes and socks off and I left them on. I got wet just above my knees. John had thankfully cleared the dense overgrown trail that heads up after crossing the creek 2 weeks ago. I was at Bigfoot, but if he didn't get to it, I was going to do it before this run. That was miserable for both of us the last time we went through there on separate occasions. When we hit the service road, it really started raining and we sat under a pine tree where it was dry to put on extra clothes. I put on my compression socks, Smartwool shirt, and poncho. I already had my rain jacket on, short sleeve, arm warmers, gloves, and buff. John put on long pants and a poncho. Warmer now, we hit the trail for 3 dirt bike miles before hitting another service road at Highway 18. I told Ken we would arrive there at 24 hours. We got there at 22 hrs 45 minutes.

Hwy 18 to High Point, 67 miles total. We had 3.5 miles to get to East Tiger but about one mile up, John said he really needed to stop and rest for a bit. We sat under a tree and he closed his eyes. I tried to do the same but immediately started shivering, so I got up and walked around in circles while I let him rest for 10 minutes. It didn't really help he said, and since we were moving slow, I started to get sleepy too. I had a 5-hr energy drink and seemed to perk up in 15 minutes. Finally made it to East Tiger. I only took his picture since it was raining and cold. John is sporting the fashionable poncho look.

I let him lead the next part which is a nice run on bike trails on the Preston railroad grade before you hit the East Tiger trail, which is still in pretty bad condition. It's never a nice run in this part, even when it is dry. Then Bootleg, Lingering loop, and to High Point. This part was really hard at night with the wet trail, rocky, rooty, steep down trail covered entirely with wet leaves. I slipped once and landed with my right knee bent. It hurt but I was okay, but that's a good way of tearing a meniscus! As we were approaching High Point, John was weaving like a drunk and I was concerned that he was going to fall and do a face plant. We walked past the tent city just about when it was getting light. We arrived there at 27 hours, ahead of my predicted time of 30 hours. Sweet!

High point to Front Street Issaquah, 80 miles total. We hiked up to the upper parking lot and planted ourselves under one of the information boards with a roof over it where the seat was dry. Sat down and did some major clothing change and pack re-arrangement. We spent about 20 minutes removing our heavier clothing, changing socks, stashing trash, and putting food in more accessible pockets. It was wondrous to air out my feet and get new socks! We hiked well up T3. The crowds were not there yet. In fact, there was no one at the summit when we got there. Some had already come down.

Then T2 and T1. Man that hike up to T1 is short but a beast!

The next part was very nice. They cleaned up the logging area and it was not so much of a scramble. Fun downhill. Got to the TMT, more good trails and Deiter Spring water! I had run out, so this was a welcomed stop. And, I didn't need to treat it. So much down hill after the TMT! This may sound nice, but it trashed our legs. My knees were killing me with the extra weight of the pack, still pretty heavy although I had eaten most of the food. Got to Front Street before noon, which was around 32 hours, 3 hours ahead of my predicted 35 hours. Saw Jessica Kelly and she took a picture of us. Thanks Jessica!

Front Street, over Squak, and around Cougar, total 93 miles.The pavement was very painful on our tender feet and the rest of the body. The hike up Sycamore lane is steep and that is followed by 1.5 miles of switchbacks on Squak. I had to stop and change clothes again. I was overheating tremendously. I was thankful for the nice weather but was woefully overdressed. I took off my compression calf sleeves and black capri tights and put on my lighter weight and more loose fitting capri pants. That was better but still hot. That took me about 7 minutes and I met John at the next intersection. The next part was pretty uneventful, except I thought I had more water than I really had and did not fill up. When we crossed the SR 900 to Cougar, I started doing math in my head and started to smell the barn if you will. I picked up the pace. Big rookie mistake! I did fine as long as we were running down or flat, but as soon as I hit the Quarry trail, my muscles protested. I slowed to a crawl, stopping several times. I had been running hot all day and my dehydration was catching up to me. Plus, I was running out of water. I should have taken a detour to the falls, but I didn't. I apologized to John for holding him up. We finally made it back to SR 900 after spending much longer on Cougar than I planned. Still arrived at this point ahead of schedule. I planned for 8 pm or 40 hours. We got there 5:20 pm, or 37 hr 20 min. We took our final picture on Wilderness Peak.

SR 900 to finish, total 103 miles. After a short, painful crawl up Squak, we got to a water source about a half mile in and I was so happy to drink again. I had a really sore right shin that I thought was a cramping muscle but turns out it was my anterior tibialis tendon, the one in front of your ankle. Usually that gets sore from tying your shoes too tight but in my case from lifting my toes constantly to avoid tripping on the steep downhills. It did not get better with hydration, only with flatter surfaces. I was able to do some running once we hit flat or downhill. Not fast, but not constantly walking. We took out our headlamps for the third time. I had to tell myself just a few more hours. Once we reached Front Street again, I knew it was less than 4 miles. We did some running along the high school trail that was new and longer, then hiked up to the power line trails of Tiger, which had been re-done and was also longer. Once we got on the Brink Trail, I was on a mission. Looking at our time, I felt we could get under 41 hours if we got going. Brink Trail is pretty technical, so I settled into a fast hike. John was behind me and I looked like a crazy and frantic person. And he was just doing his normal walk. We looked for the cougar that stymied Yitka Winn, putting an end to her stellar solo unsupported attempt. It pained me just to think about it. John said that no cougar or freaky man was going to stop us now. Finally, we hit the last trail-the Swamp trail There is a very long wooden bridge that I'm sure in the summer is really fun to run on  but it was as slick as an ice rink and I shuffled along, barely lifting my feet. You can mess up your knee here if you fell. Once again, John said if he got hurt, he would still crawl to the finish. We got to dirt and solid footing and ran most of the last mile to the finish gate. After 40 hours 41 minutes and 13 seconds, we finally could stop running. We started in the dark and finished in the dark at 8:41 pm. And the crowd went crazy! Actually, it was dark and no one was there except my husband who was waiting in his truck. I called him when we started our last section on Tiger. Originally, I had told him that we would finish around 11 or 12 pm, so he was happy to come sooner. John and I gave each other a congratulatory hug. I didn't even change or take off my shoes. I had Ken bring me my robe and I just put that on for the ride home. John I think changed and drove home to North Seattle without any rest. Crazy man. 

John said that if either of us had no problems (his trouble staying awake and me cramping for a few miles), we could have had a shot at sub 40. But we were thrilled to have finished it at all. We had two dry days and one rainy night. We worked well together. A lot of time we ran in silence, which was good for us both. We did not mule for each other or share anything. We just had each other's presence. It was a memorable run. Thanks John!

Blurry finish picture!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Deluge 120

I think Candice should just rename the race. Two years, two torrential rain weekends. I paced my friend Tracy Brown last year in slightly worse conditions. But I wanted to run it this weekend and thought it can't be that bad again. Wow, was I wrong. Tracy signed up again and got further this year but decided to stop without regrets.

Carpooled down to Mt. St. Helens with Dave Molenaar from Olympia Friday morning. Got our drop bags there and stood in the rain for the race briefing. Then a two hour ride in a charter bus that had a bathroom in the rear to the race start. Fortunately was able to sleep for about 45 minutes, the last time I would sleep for next 2 days.

The rained stopped for the race start at 4 pm. It's always nice to start a race dry. It's okay if it comes later. The first 2.5 miles are uphill. So we all heated up right away and layers came off quickly. I sensed that we were all starting out too fast, so scaled it way back and got to say hi to a bunch of people I knew as I was passed. When I warmed up properly, I was able to pick up the pace again. Saw Howie Stern for the first photo op. I met a really nice girl named Heather from New Jersey and we ran together for a few miles, but with darkness descending, we got separated when I stopped to put on my headlamp. I went back and forth with her but the last time I saw her was on the short steep climbs in the Quartz Creek trails before the Lewis River aid at about 20 miles. It did rain during these miles, but we were in the woods, so not a problem at that time. It was the wet and muddy steep dirt bike trails that got our attention. My tip to runners for night running is to use a waist lamp or a hand held light. You can travel much faster being able to see all the rocks, roots, and puddles with a light down low. I wasn't needing poles yet and I prefer a hand held. I learned this years ago when I got almost hypothermic moving too slow to keep my body temperature up because I couldn't run the downhills and became chilled.

A bunch of great, wide eyed volunteers in the middle of the night at Lewis River, including Mr. 200 himself, Rick Arikado, who has finished all of Candice's 200 mile races. I was in and out, still warm, didn't need to sit, eat much, or change clothes. I estimated 5-6 hours to get there and I think I got there just past 5.5 hours. After I left the aid, I caught up with Matt Hagen. He was chipper as usual, and I was already becoming grumpy because I had a knot in my low back and a pain in my ass that put a hitch in my stride, but I continued running to try to loosen it up. He did all the talking and I just grunted. I pulled ahead on the flats and downhill, but when we got to the 4.5 mile climb up coarse bike trails, I had to scale down again because I was working too hard and wanted to conserve energy. Matt is a strong hiker and passed me back early in the climb.

Having run the 200 and now doing the same trails in the opposite direction in the dark was really playing with my head. I recognized some of the trails but mostly not. And they were taking longer than expected. So right away, the race was already taxing my mental strength, which I really needed much more later. The last mile before the Road 9327 aid is a nice section of running. I caught Matt again and we came to the aid about the same time. This time, we were greeted by Bigfoot 200 2016 winner Richard Kresser. Max Bliss was also there. Brandon Lott helped me with my drop bag and getting food for me. And Howie Stern was there to capture how we still looked at 28.8 miles. My clothes were wet, so I decided to change my shirt, hat, and gloves because it was important to me to stay as dry as possible as long as possible, even if I wasn't chilled yet. So that's my next tip. In a race this long, with a forecast that is foreboding and the possibility that it can worsen in the next few hours, might as well start dry leaving the aid station. I didn't change my lower clothes all race, but I changed the upper, hat, and gloves several times. It does not take up a lot of room in a drop bag, just make sure you put it in a plastic bag to stay dry.

I knew leaving the Road 9327 aid that we would have a short runnable section then a 5 mile climb. It started to rain more during this section and I started to get cold. I put on my OR Helium II jacket. That helped a lot. However, as we got higher and higher and the wind picked up, I got cold again. This was a 15 mile section, so no aid for another ten miles. In addition to a waterproof jacket and pants, I carry a poncho-tip #3. Or even a large garbage bag. I like the ponchos from Marathon and Beyond since they are thicker than some of the cheap ones. I put that on and felt better. I didn't want to bother with my rain pants, but I was not cold down low. I started with the poncho over my pack, but it flapped too much, so I recommend you have it under your pack, which allows you better access to your food, etc. I was passed by several runners at this time, including Dave. That was the last I saw of him for the rest of the race, figuring he kept pulling further ahead of me as I fought my own demons. I caught Matt again, but this time, he was helping Iris Priebe, who was very cold, and stuck with her until Elk Pass at mile 43, reminding her to eat. She looked like she had all the clothes on that she was carrying in her pack and a poncho and was still cold. I don't know if it was the reason she was really cold, but Iris was wearing capris, and with it being wet, I wonder if that was contributing. All I know is that I was planning on just capris at the start, then changed my mind when Candice said at the briefing that we were going to get wet from the brush even if it was not raining. So I donned compression calf sleeves at the last minute. So glad I did.

It was at Elk Pass that the miles and weather started to take it's toll on runners. Runners now sitting in front of heaters, covered in blankets, rethinking their choices. Here comes Tip #4. Carry and eat something substantial BEFORE you get to the aid station so that when you arrive, you have some calories in you before you stop running and start shaking. This pre-load in calories will keep you warm. I ate a small burrito on the final miles before the aid and didn't get chilled when I changed again here. You still should eat more food at the aid station, because believe me, you are still behind on calories. I had a Sierra Design shell and put that on under my Helium II and was nice and toasty again. I rolled up my poncho and attached it to the side of my pack, in case I needed it again. Matt and Iris arrived as I was about to leave. He got her there safely and decided to stick around until Betsy arrived for her 100K start. Iris decided to take a 15 minute nap. Both later finished their long 120 mile journey!

I left there at about 5:30 am, still dark. This section in the first 1/3 is nice with smoother trails, many of it runnable. There are some short hills, but overall you descend to a road before doing the next part that is more taxing. It was now light. The trail from this point on is a mix of ups, downs, and flats, but you cannot get a good rhythm because of downed trees and branches hanging over the trail. So expect this section to take longer than you think and burning more energy. I actually only encountered one other runner in this section and worked hard to get to Norway Pass before the first 100K runner. I was feeling proud of myself for doing that until I heard their bus was going the wrong direction and had to turn around on a narrow road. They got started closer to 8 am than 7 am. I was also starting to have pain in my pinky toes from my feet swelling. They were rubbing the side of my shoes and my toenails were getting jammed. So my downhill running became more painful and slower.

At Norway mile 55, I again changed shirt, hat, and gloves. I also changed my rain coat. Although waterproof, these jackets still get damp. You get wet on the outside, and sweat on the inside. Tip #5. In a race this long with heavy rain in the forecast, have more than one raincoat if you can afford it. I have been running ultras for over 12 years and have accumulated gear over the years. I now switched to my Mountain Hardware rain jacket. I decided to put on my REI rain pants figuring it was going to get windy and cold as we climbed up the trail. I also changed into new socks, shoes with a bigger toe box, taped my little toes, and new gaiters. My feet felt much better. But, the biggest thing that happened here is that I picked up my pacer Kris Ryding. She was going to travel 65 miles with me to the end! I spent too much time there and didn't leave until around 9-10 am.

Of course, as we climbed up, the sun decided to make a brief appearance and I overheated immediately. I shed my layers one at a time, but would have saved more time if I just did it all at once. We got some brief views, mainly of Spirit Lake. Not too long on the climb, I was passed by the first 100K runner. They continued to trickle through, spread out enough that I was not constantly having to step to the side. They were all nice and said great job! Hat and gloves came on and off during this section, but at one point, I got cold again. Jacket back on until we descended out of the wind. Remember, eat real food! I now had to stop to eat, instead of eating while walking because it was just easier to chew and swallow. I can eat a gel on the run or walk, but this far into the race, better for me to stop to eat. For the most part, the rain stopped during this time and the wind was not horrible here yet. Again saw Howie for a photo with Coldwater Lake in the back drop and he was kind enough to pick a spot where we were actually running. My asthma was starting to kick in so I was only running the down and flats, not any of the hills.

Kris and I arrived at Coldwater mile 74 in the mid afternoon. This is where I changed my pack from the original Salomon 12L pack to the Peter Bawkin 3.0. It was nice to have different areas rub. I went to turn off my SPOT and turn it back on but got distracted and forgot to do that, so on the Livetracker everyone thought I dropped. My poor husband did not find out until a few hours after I finished that I was okay. In my new pack, I had a new waterproof jacket, my Patagonia Torrentshell. I also had a very fine North Face hoody that I got from Pine to Palm 100. New gloves and dishwasher gloves to keep them dry in case the rain returned. Two people really stood out in helping me when they were there to help other runners. Thanks Jennifer Hughes and Scott Hodukavich! It was nice to see Matt catch up and I fully expected to see him again before the finish but he had a problem with his zipper on the Plains of Abraham. Some kind runner with their pacer helped him out and he survived. Having helped Iris, he had good karma come back to him. I had half a hamburger and cup a noodle. Used the bathroom and continued on my way. Kris drained a blister and taped it, so she was good to go again also! It was great seeing Peggy Boisvert for the first time too. She is such a big part of Candice's races as Volunteer Coordinator, so it was nice to see her being taken care of.

The next section had some decent running. We got a chance to see most of Mt. St. Helens before the fog swallowed it up. I was mostly surrounded by 100K runners. Nice to see that I was not the only one walking the mild hills. The steep hills really taxed my asthma. I used my inhaler, but the cold air continued to make it worse. During the 200, this section takes little time to run, but going this direction further into the race was very hard. I kept thinking the aid was closer than it was and even though this was the shortest distance between aid, I was getting very impatient. We managed to arrive at Johnston mile 81 just before it got dark. It was really raining and windy by this time and the tent was packed with cold runners. This is the first time I started shivering, so I really needed to get more serious about eating solid food. I grabbed a delicious breakfast burrito and ate half of it, saving the rest for later. I got some hand warmers and put them into my sports bra because I heard of other women doing that. Except, I never heard anyone saying they got burned from it but it happened to me. I didn't realize it until I took my post run shower because it never hurt. Those are actually blisters! Sorry for the soft porn.

Covering my nipple with my thumb! Any other gals ever had this happen to them? Anyway, my boobs were nice and toasty! Checked out of Johnston pretty quickly because it was so packed in there. Headlamps on before leaving but they were useless in the fog. Tip #6 kind of ties in with tip #1-having a hand held light or a waist light. In the fog, you need the light down low. In a pinch, take your headlamp off and hold it in your hand. It just limits your use of poles unless you have a waist lamp. This section definitely took way longer than in the 200. Wind and rain continued and combined with the fog, it was quite challenging. Plus your feet were getting wet from the rain and creek crossings if you missed a step.

There was a tent at mile 89 Windy Pass, but it was pretty small for all the runners that were arriving at the same time. I did get a chair in front of the opening of the tent. The walls of the tent were shaking and they had volunteers at the corners holding it down. The rain pelted the tent and it was loud in there. I decided to get out of my wet shirt and put on my Pine to Palm hoody, Patagonia jacket over that, and poncho. I left my rain pants at Coldwater when I changed packs. Big mistake! I had my dishwasher gloves over my fleece gloves. I thought I had a new dry hat but couldn't find it in my pack. But I was okay. Was not shivering went I left the tent. Ate more of my breakfast burrito, had some coke and we were on our way. I was the only 120 runner there at that time. The 100K runners went the other way. I left between 9-10 pm.

We climbed up immediately to the ridge and oh my gosh, we almost got blown over. It really gave the urgency to get moving. There were 4 very steep sections to ascend up some steps and my asthma took a hit. Fortunately, it eventually descended on the other side, still very windy and raining. Someone estimated that it was 30 mph sustained with up to 60 mile gusts. Whatever it was, it was powerful! Only when we were in a lull or down in a small canyon or ditch was it safe to stop and pee or grab something from your pack. Tip #7-if you can stomach gels, have them for quick calories. Many times I would tank out because it was such a chore to eat while getting pelted by the wind and rain. I have several gel flasks and filled them pre-race. It's so much nicer to grab those with cold hands than to try to rip the tops off the gel packs, then have to put the trash somewhere on you or in your pack. I like Power Bar gels, especially the real fruit ones because they are not thick and go down easily. Then I immediately get a burst of energy before my next bonk. The fog was better by the time we got to the Plains of Abraham, so I was able to put away my hand held light for good and just used my headlamp. We still had trouble finding some markers, but with the route on Kris' GPS watch, she knew right away if we were on course. Our bodies were assaulted on all sides as the trail twisted and turned, but the worse was getting pelted straight into the face. If I was mid stride and the wind was coming from the side, I was pushed over easily. I never fell. It was exhilarating and freezing at the same time. About 5 miles from the last aid station, we hooked up with the 100K runners again. A group of 4 passed us, but I decided it would be good to have them around in case the Toutle River was raging, so we caught up to them and tried keeping up. It was really hard for me on the steeper climbs. I had audible wheezing now even with my inhaler. I'm glad that they were there when we had to cross a couple of very swollen creeks that were as fast flowing as the Toutle. No rock hopping. Safer to get your feet wet. At some point, they stopped long enough that I had to get going because I was shivering when we stopped. I fully expected them to catch us by the time we crossed the Toutle. We did catch 2 other 100K runners and crossed with them. After crossing, there is a decent amount of climbing before you descend to Blue Lake aid at mile 108.

I forced down as much food as I could there. I was going to change shirts again, but my hoody was holding it's own. I simply added some thick arm warmers because that's the part that was really cold in the last section. I had a new dry hat and gloves. I left a few things to lighten my load and changed my shoes and socks. I had new gaiters but didn't bother to put them on. Big mistake. I would develop blisters from all the dirt that got in from me kicking my feet against each other. I didn't have blisters before this point. I had to take off my shoes twice in the last 12 miles to shake out all the small rocks and sand.

We left there around 6:10 am. I definitely felt this part of the run looked a lot different than doing it in the 200 except for the boulder fields. Really, everything looked completely new to me and took me a lot longer, which I expected at the end of a race compared to the beginning. Be prepared for a lot of sustained climbing to the Loowit trail. I coughed up a few mucous plugs, which gave me about 2 minutes of easier breathing before I became short of breath again. Still coughing them up now as I type this. Got passed by one guy who was having a strong finish. Got passed on the boulder field by two more guys because we were too tentative stepping on the wet rock. Sure glad we were doing it during daytime. We passed them back when I was able to run again on the trails. Thought I was going to break 43 hours easily, but those last 4 miles took forever. I ended up finishing just over 43 hours, happy but completely spent. Couldn't have done it without my pacer Kris and the volunteers!

I was sad to see Dave taking a picture of me when I finished. He dropped at Johnston because of the severe conditions, as so did many other runners, including Tracy. Betsy was running with Lisa Wood and Lee Newbill, and they decided to drop there too. It was absolutely pouring rain at the finish but fortunately no wind. Congrats to all the finishers (Darcy Piceu for an unbelievable overall win and new overall course record, Anthony Lee for 2nd male and incredible redemption run, Peggy Boisvert, Kerstin Fischer, and anyone else I'm forgetting now) and to all those who started but didn't finish because they were smart enough to know when to quit.

Thanks Dave for this picture! I got changed into dry clothes immediately, had my post race Land O Lake hot coco Mocha mix, and my instant Pho Noodles. I sat in the finish like tent in front of the heater swapping stories with other runners while waiting for the Coldwater aid station bags to come back. As soon as they arrived at 2 pm, Dave and I headed out. We stopped and picked up personal pizzas in a bar (pretty good for 2 small pizzas for $15). Saw some interesting characters in there. Dave was able to catch some sleep the night before so was able to stay awake as I nodded in and out a couple times. It rained pretty hard the entire ride back to Olympia. Quick hug and goodbye in the rain after loading all my wet stuff in the trunk of my car. I took off for home with traffic heading north. Able to stay awake, picked up burgers for me and my husband. I took a shower and headed to bed. Up at 3:30 am to take Ken to the airport for a short rock climbing trip in the Red River Gorge, short nap when I got home, then Yoda to the vet for a split nail. Here he is sedated and chilling out.

Well folks, that was my 50th 100 mile or more race and my 4th in the last 2 months. It's been a busy season. I'm thankful my body can handle this load and even more thankful for all the wonderful people who make it possible from RDs, volunteers, crew, pacers, family and friends, and search and rescue. I'm sure I'll be seeing you soon on the trails!