The weekend was just wonderful. I got to spend some great time with friends, and as always Julie's family took me into their home as though I was one of their own. We had a wonderful dinner, and I had a long visit with her dad, went over to the neighbor's vegetable garden (and ate some fresh peaches from the trees), spent time with her mom, and watched Julie open her presents from her birthday party. Even though I wasn't at the party, it was fun to see her open her presents. I was thrilled she took some down time to hang out when I arrived.
Friday morning I went for a short run around Julie's parents neighborhood. I felt great, the weather was cool, and I was ready to race. Dana and I then headed to Tahoe...what a treat to follow him to Tahoe and then get to spend the day with him. Dana was going to pace Angie for the last 25 of the 100.
Saturday morning came quickly, and it was time to head to Spooner to race. I was so excited when I arrived and saw Jennifer. We had run Coyote Two Moon, and had fun catching up. She is funny and likes to call me her "trail angel" because at Way Too Cool a few years ago I gave her electrolytes during the race and saved her. She grew up with Nikki Kimball, an incredible ultra-runner, and said that she had driven her down for the 100. She told me that Nikki was really wanting a pacer and worked very hard to sell me on the idea of doing it. I must admit that the thought was incredibly tempting as I have met Nikki before and we had a blast visiting about our dogs and she is just very sweet...of course not to mention just the honor to be with her on the trail in the same vicinity. Anyway, my head came back to reality in that: 1) could I really keep up with Nikki at the end of her race, probably not 2) even though Jennifer said she wouldn't care and just wanted the company I know my level and needed to be realistic and 3) as cool and fun as it would have been to help her I needed to do the race I paid to run. After reality set in, Jennifer told me that if she wasn't feeling it that she would head to mile 75 to run her in. Of course it was a fun pre-race distraction.
After that, we took off our jackets and headed down to the lake for the start. I was freezing at the start, even though it wasn't that cold, but knew since the first 6 miles were a climb I would warm up quickly...no over-dressing. As we were standing around before the start, I said hi to Kelly, a former Montrail teammate. We are often at the same races but have never met, so I went over to say hi. I guess I must have looked happy because the photographer from the local paper took some fun pre-race shots of me. After more hugs and hellos, we were off.
We climbed the first 6 miles to the haunted Hobart aid station. The dust and the sand on the trail was crazy. I must admit that the thought went through my mind that things were not on my side: smoke from the fires, tons of dust being kicked up, and altitude...hopefully the plan from my new doctor was as good as he thought it would be. But, all was good and the crowd was fun so I was just enjoying the crisp morning.
From there we had a mile climb then 4 miles down to the Tunnel Aid Station. The gift of the mile climb, which honestly I remember being steeper, was the first views of the lake. This is the one race where a camera is quite priceless. Breath-taking!! Around the corner and then down we went. I was in a line behind two other ladies. They were running much slower than I would have liked to go, but there was really no big option to pass without being overly aggressive...not worth it. I just chatted away with the guy trapped with me as we went down. I went through Tunnel Aid station fairly quickly knowing that I would be back around after 6ish more miles.
Then it's off to the Red House loop, which is 2 miles down steep, 2 miles rolling, 1 mile gradual up, and then 1ish mile steep up. I actually felt pretty good here and was running with a 50K guy from Waco. It was fun to come all this way and end up running with a guy from Texas. We then caught up to Kelly, and she and I chatted for most of the rest of the loop until the steep climb. Then noone was talking...just climbing. I love steep climbs because you just put your head down and go for it. I had a couple of people to climb with, so that was fun. It was here I saw the first of the Texas Rogue crowd: Jeanette and Jeff. They were having a good time heading out on the loop as I was going back up. Went back to Tunnel to re-load for the next almost 18 miles...an out-and-back to Mt. Rose aid station almost 9 miles each way, with a water only station 1/2 way.
I felt pretty good heading out, but it was really the first time that I started taking note that it felt like I was running underwater with bricks attached to my legs. I couldn't get my legs in a good stride, and I definitely couldn't run any decent kind of pace. I was eating well, plenty hydrated, and right on with my electrolytes...so I just kept moving along. The best part of the out-and-back was that you got see people coming back and I knew I would have a chance to see my friends and other Texas people on this section. On the way out I saw all the front-runners coming back, and as I approached the turn-around I saw Mike and Angie who were running the 100. Then I saw TJ, an Austin guy. I grabbed drink and food and headed back the way I came. The only challenge on the way out is that the water stop that was supposed to be 1/2 way wasn't there, so mentally I had no idea how long the section was taking me until I was there...oh well.
On the way back, I caught up to Allen and John, HCTR guys, and chatted with them for a moment. They seemed to be doing great. Heading back I saw Leslie and Melissa, from C2M. Leslie was having asthma troubles and Melissa was keeping her company. Melissa said that Jennifer dropped and was going to pace Nikki. Then, I saw Diana and she stopped and we took a photo together, which was fun! Then I approached Robert digging in his bag to give TJ some papaya. I told TJ that I had ginger in my drop bag and would put it in his when I got back to the aid station. I hope he didn't need it though. About a mile and a half from getting back to the aid station, which I was fairly desperate to do, there was a guy laying on the trail TOTALLY cramped up. I gave him my electrolytes and made sure he was ok. I then ran quickly to the aid station and told them to go up and help him. Paul said that I should be called, "the salt fairy" because this is the 5th time I have given someone electrolytes during a race.
After Tunnel, I knew I was left with two climbs and the highest climb to 9000 ft. before heading to the finish. It just kept seeming that my legs, athough never really tired, never felt good. I just wasn't moving very fast and couldn't get myself to move any faster. It was just annoying. So I continued on. It was definitely hard to get overly frustrated because I otherwise felt great: energy was good, stomach was good, breathing was good. I also couldn't complain because most people I was passing at this point had an entire other loop to do.
The rest of the race was uneventful as I didn't have great speed, and took plenty of time to look at the wildflowers and enjoy the scenery. I just seemed to trot along and make my way to the finish. Not exactly the form I would have loved to be running, but ended up with a beautiful training run nonetheless. I finally got to the finish line, going this slow made the finish line seem forever to get to, and Dana was awaiting my arrival. He asked if I needed to sit and relax, but I said I was fine and ready to go. Steve had grabbed the car and we were off to pace and crew for the night...
I washed off quickly and we drove to Incline for dinner. Dana was driving and I wasn't really paying much attention. Then I lifted my head and noticed the ridiculous houses around us. He pointed out Bruce Willis's house and then the $47 million dollar compound on the lake...crazy. We went to an Italian restaurant to grab dinner. It was here that the dust caught up with my lungs. I started hacking a little. So much for wanting my pasta. I kind of lost the desire to eat. After dinner we headed to Mt. Rose which was mile 75, and where Dana would be pacing Angie from. When we got there Jennifer was there. She had found a guy who was supposed to pace one of the front-runners who had dropped to pace Nikki. All was working out well. The longer we stood out in the cold the more I was coughing. I decided to sit in the car to stay warm.
It was then Jennifer, my angel this time, found us a ride to the start/finish area so that I could get some sleep rather than sit in the cold and cough all night. We got to the start finish and I went to get my drop bags. I saw Diana there, and she said that Robert was about to come in, hopefully. I was so excited to hear that and headed down to the trail with her to see. We were just hoping he made the cut-off. After waiting a bit, and seeing someone else come in she asked the lady if she saw him on the trail. She said, "I saw him and he said his back was hurting so he is walking." At that we knew he would finish, so I went off to bed and planned to see them back in the morning to see people finish the 100.
I arrived back to the start/finish at the 26hour mark of the race. At this point, Steve and Trudy, who paced Angie earlier, said that Angie was doing great and should be in soon and that Mike has been very ill and that Julie was a saint and was pacing him in to the finish. As you can see from the pics, Angie had a great finish (4th woman overall) and Mike rallied with the help of Julie to get to the finish! We all celebrated with champagne and cake...Trudy was fully prepped for the celebration part of the morning.
We headed back to the car, went to Julie's cabin, rested, and then drove back to Sac so that I could fly home.
Overall the weekend was fantastic: good running, good friends, beautiful views, and thankful for great health!
Now I just have to keep myself from doing too much between now and Headlands...the downfall of my legs feeling not being sore at all.