Wednesday, December 7, 2011

100 Miles in the Mist at Chimera III

It was 9:30PM on Saturday, November 19th, and I was somewhere around mile 65 on the Chimera III 100 mile course.

We'd been at it since 6:15AM, and while we'd gotten lucky with the weather, it had been raining off and on since noon, and by 5PM the wind had really started to pick up. My forearms were numb but not too bad, and I had waterproof gloves that kept my fingers functioning. It was really nothing compared to reports I'd heard from two years prior, though I hoped it would not decline further.

As I ran down one hill and trudged my way up the next, I fixed my eyes on the lights of the aid station in the distance. It was the Maple Springs Station, mile 66.8. I could see it clearly up on the ridge, but was having some trouble getting to it in a timely manner. Up to that point I had been tracking well on my pacing if I wanted to finish under 24 hours, but in that one section, that ONE section, it was looking like I was going to go over on time.

I got out my pacing cheat sheet for the 10th time in 3 miles and peered at it with my flashlight. 9:45PM. I had to get to the station by 9:45 and get out by 9:50 to stay on 24-hour pace. I looked back up at the lights of the aid station as I headed down yet another series of hills and descents; I could not see very far in the dark, but in general it did not seem like I was headed in a direct line towards the aid station.

I looked at my watch again. 9:38. Reaching the aid station by 9:45 was very clearly not going to happen.

Still, I kept pushing forward and refused to dwell on it, reminding myself it might be possible to make up the time later on the course - but really, I knew this was unlikely. There was still much climbing to do to get over the top of Santiago Peak, and the wind was strong enough (and the day had been long enough) that moving uphill fast was increasingly difficult. I was perhaps maintaining 19-20 minute miles on the uphills, but no faster... and possibly, slower. I was not sure where I'd be able to make up the time.

At that moment however, I told myself to let go what I "should" be doing, or any feeling of regret over how the race was going. One of the goals for the race was to have fun, and also to try as hard as I could. I was doing both of those things. Another goal had been to stay focused on the section I was on, and not get wrapped up in all the miles that remained. "Run the mile you're in" was the advice I had been given.

I thought about the mile I was in. I was moving uphill as fast as I could. I was doing well - staying on top of my nutrition, pace, and hydration; and feeling good considering everything that had transpired that day. Really, it had been an excellent race so far. Tough, but excellent.

You are exactly where you are supposed to be, and you are doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing, I told myself. I relaxed. I felt better. I focused on moving steadily and with purpose up the hill.

Then, as the winds grew stronger, the last two lines of the famous Dylan Thomas poem drifted into my head:

Do not go gentle into that good night
Rage, Rage against the dying of the light.
With that, I fixed my eyes on the rocky, dark trail in front of me, and started to run.

Back to the start: Checking in at the Chimera III 100 mile race

The pre-race check-in was at Hell's Kitchen, a biker restaurant on the Ortega Highway in the mountains. Traffic was surprisingly bad so many runners missed this optional check-in, but for me it was a fun chance to meet race director Steve Harvey and talk with the runners that were there.

Hell's Kitchen - hard to miss. Excellent thick-cut french fries.

The mood was one of excitement and apprehension as we made last-minute decisions about what jackets to carry, what to put in our drop bags, and other considerations. As 100 mile participants, we would not see our drop bags until mile 50.5, and with an early sunset and 20-50% chance of rain it was important to have the right gear at the right times.

I decided to keep my waterproof jacket and gloves with me rather than trying to get to the drop bags before the rain came, but not everyone made that decision - this would become critical later in the evening of the race.

Race morning

The next morning was cool and overcast, but race headquarters itself was buzzing with lights, heat lamps, volunteers, and excited runners. It was nice to see familiar faces. SoCal Coyotes Pedro Martinez and Amy Chavez were also running the 100K, and I knew several of the 100 mile racers already, either through prior races or check-in the day before.

Runner check-in at Blue Jay Campground. Pic by Joe Bishop.

The race would begin when the sun came up at 6:15, so we'd have a better chance to negotiate around the rocks on the trail. The 100K and 100M runners would start together.

Assembling at the start with the 100K runners. Pic by Joe Bishop.

Our fearless leader addressing the runners. Pic by Joe Bishop.

At 6:20AM, Steve climbed on a ladder to address the crowd of runners, giving us a few last-minute directions and, just as important, a few jokes. Finally, he blew an airhorn that frankly sounded more like a dying pig than an airhorn, and just like that, we were off!

The first 20 miles: stumbling on the singletrack

The 100 mile race began from the Blue Jay campground with a 20 mile out-and-back to the south, with aid stations every 5 miles. The 100K runners would run the first 5 miles with us, then turn back to do 10 miles of that section.

In the beginning I was chatting with Amy and Pedro, but lost them as we thinned out on the single track. After that I ran with John Hockett for a while. I can't remember one thing that we talked about but I remember how much fun it was... that section was cool. It was a thin trail with sand and rocks so you had to constantly watch your footing, but it was slightly downhill so you could go at a good pace with minimal effort.

At some point John dropped back, and I caught up to a fellow named Steve - I had met Steve at the check-in at Hell's Kitchen, and this was his first 100 miler. We talked for a while as we ran. Steve has a really interesting job, so that was fun to hear about. He was also shooting video as we ran, which was funny - I would be talking away for several minutes in front of him, only to realize he was recording the whole thing. I even tripped at one point trying to jump over a rock... not to worry, that was captured on film too, as was my none-too-elegant recovery, only to trip again 2 minutes later.

At that point, I was the second woman - Rebecca Ocain was out in front. A part of me wanted to catch up to her, but I stuck to my plan of keeping an even pace, and reminded myself to focus on what I was doing, and not what other people were doing. I was hoping that if all went well, I would have plenty of time to catch Rebecca in the later stages of the race, without burning myself out early.

Approaching the mile 20 aid station with John Hockett. Pic by Joe Bishop.

Miles 20-50: Here comes the rain

From Blue Jay we climbed to the Trabuco trailhead, then headed down that trail to Holy Jim. That was one of the prettiest sections of the whole race, but slightly treacherous. The loose rocks on the bed of the trail rolled and skipped beneath my feet, and I focused intently on my footing for fear that I would twist an ankle.

At Holy Jim I saw Jessica DeLine, the RD from Twin Peaks. The crew there was great - helpful, efficient, relaxed. They also let me know that Rebecca was 15 minutes ahead of me.

From mile 27.5 the course went west on an out-and-back to Live Oaks - I had heard this was a moderately flat dirt road, but it was actually quite rocky to start, then became paved gravel. There were several water crossings, about 3 or 4. Most were narrow enough to leap over, except for one, which I eyed suspiciously. It seems silly but I have had trouble with blisters in prior races so I was trying like hell to keep my feet relatively dry and clean for as long as possible.

Speaking of staying dry, it had also started to rain - a light drizzle that would persist for the next few hours. At first I ignored it, but then put on my rain jacket after realizing that my clothes were getting wet, and I had nothing dry to change into until mile 50.5 some hours later.

Running into Live Oaks Aid Station - picture by Robert Mandelbaum

At the Live Oaks station, the crew were fast and helpful, filling up the bladder on my Nathan pack even though Steve had specifically told us the volunteers were obliged to fill our bottles, but not bladders - this would be the same for every other aid station too. They just couldn't stop themselves from being helpful. The crew was funny, too - after I thanked them for their great service, they told me the invoice would be in the mail. I laughed, then told them I wouldn't be paying it.

I ran as much as I could back to the Holy Jim Station, trying to keep up the pace, with a few brief walking breaks. I knew Rebecca was slowing down; she had said as much when I saw her walking back on her way from the Live Oaks aid station as I was still headed towards it. She mentioned her foot was hurting - this was too bad. I wanted to catch her, but felt bad if she was feeling some pain in her foot - at this stage in the race, that did not bode well.

After hitting the Holy Jim aid station once again, it was time to climb to Santiago Peak. I generally like this climb very much - it is not too steep, and the trail is winding and varied, with several stream crossings. It would be 7 miles to the Bear Springs aid station, then another 2.5 miles to Santigo Peak. On that day, it was a long climb.

Beautiful flora, mountains, and misty skies. Heaven. Pic by Joe Bishop.

I ran when I could and hiked the rest, but mostly, it was hiking. At one point, I got a good little run going, only to come over a ridge and look down to see a creek crossing clogged with about 10-15 teenagers. According to their shirts they were members of a high school wrestling team, who had apparently made it their goal to cheer each other on as they crossed the creek one by one. I exhaled hard in frustration, but almost immediately afterwards heard one call, "Hey! Let the runner through, she's in a race!"

I darted through the crowd of kids and stepped carefully over the rocks and logs to the other side. "Go, go!" they cheered. "Win it!" one guy added.

I gave them a wave and called over my shoulder. "Thanks so much! I will! I'll win it for you guys!"

With that, the cheers behind me as I ran up the trail were deafening.

After hiking through the forest, we hit a series of switchbacks up the side of the mountain, and at times, I could see Rebecca on the trail in front of me. This made me hike harder, though I reminded myself for the umpteenth time to stay relaxed and not push too hard, as most of the race was still in front of us.

About 1/4 mile before Bear Springs I finally passed her. Rebecca's foot was indeed bothering her, but at that point it did not sound as though it was too serious. She did seem quite down however, which any of us can understand after looking forward to the race for so long only to be nagged by an injury on the day.

The Bear Springs aid station was not where we expected it to be (probably due to where they could get the best radio signal), but it was great to see them. After that, it was on to Santigo Peak (2.5 miles up) and down the fire road to the Maple Springs aid station, which marked mile 50.5 in the race.

Heavy mist on the mountain, yet the sun shines through...

At Maple Springs, we would have access to our drop bags. My forearms and hands had started to go numb, so I thought this was fantastic, and looked forward to grabbing my thick waterproof gloves and a long-sleeve shirt to go under my jacket. I also reminded myself that I would need a back-up light and more gels before heading back into the night.

The wind on the mountain was picking up and it was getting harder to see the trail through the mist and rain. After persistent hiking I topped out at Santiago Peak, then headed down the fire road towards the next station. The road was very rocky, with jagged loose rocks underfoot. I got out my flashlight as it got dark. 

A glimmer of light in the night, and arriving at Maple Springs

By that time, some 100K runners were passing me on their way back towards Blue Jay - they all looked exhausted (which was not hard as they were headed uphill as I went down it) but I did get some smiles out of some of them. For the first time that day, I felt worry creep in as I anticipated the long and cold night ahead.

It was at that time that I looked out to the west, at the stormy clouds and mist, and saw one small golden cloud emerging from the darkness... it was like a glimmer of hope in the darkening sky and a reminder that there was beauty and majesty in the storm. I did not know if it was the sun or the moon that was creating the light, but watched for a minute until it was gone. Still, my spirits were raised and I reminded myself to let go of my fear of what the night would hold, and focus only on the here and now. I was where I was supposed to be, and doing what I was supposed to be doing. I just needed to keep doing it.

I ran on, and several miles later I got to Maple Springs. 50.5 miles in about 11 hours 15 minutes; a little fast but I knew I would need some extra time for the 3 big climbs I still had ahead.

Quesadillas and familiar faces: Maple Springs aid station

I went directly to the tent where the drop bags sat and requested my bag - I wanted to get what I needed from it first, then worry about what was desired in the way of food and water from the aid station table. At that station I recognized Paul Hassett, one of the volunteers from Twin Peaks, and I re-introduced myself. It was great to see a familiar face, though everyone else was just as kind and helpful as he was. I got the clothing and supplies I needed from my drop bag, then turned my attention to the table. They had freshly-made cheese quesadillas - freaking AWESOME.

At that point, I heard one of the aid station volunteers call out, "RUNNER!" We all looked up the path to the north, the direction the light was coming from. Pedro! It was Pedro Martinez, coming back through the station after completing the Silverado loop I was about to embark on. He was running the 100K course, so it made sense that he would be coming back at about this time.

Pedro @ finish later that night. Pic: Joe Bishop

"Pedro! Hey hey! How are you doing?" I yelled out at him.

"UGGGHH! Ok...." he responded with a broad smile, but his voice was about an octave higher than usual so I could tell he was feeling a little stressed.

"What mile are you at?" I asked.

"Mile 500! I don't know!" he responded.

Yeah, he was definitely a little stressed. But, we laughed together and it was clear we were both glad to see each other, and to be at the aid station. It was pretty dark and windy out there, so any port in the storm was a happy one. Pedro ordered up some quesadillas himself, and sat down to take a quick break and refuel, while I headed out of the station.

"46, OUT! Thank you so much!" I yelled out my bib number as I left the station, running hard to get warm. On to Silverado Canyon - it was 7 miles, and mostly downhill or flat. I thought of the long climb that would follow that, and picked up the pace as I ran down the mountain.

Flashlights in the night: racing to Silverado Canyon

Behind me, I could see the flashlight of one runner getting closer. I didn't think that anyone should be gaining on me, so I picked up the pace. After about half of mile, the light appeared to be slightly closer, and two new lights had appeared, moving side-by-side. I was sure this was Rebecca and whomever she had started running with a few aid stations back. These folks must be turning up the heat a little as we headed down the hill. Feeling unwilling to concede a position at that point, I ran faster.

After two miles, I turned off my light and looked back - there was no-one behind me. I was glad, though I also felt silly for being so competitive at that point. We still had half the race to go, and anything could happen, yet I was glad to pull ahead of the three runners, and vowed to get in and out of the next aid station before they could see me and try to catch up.

The aid station at Silverado Canyon was jammin'. I mean, it was really jammin'. They had music blaring, and crazy costumes on, yet I was tired enough that it was almost too much for me to deal with, so I just wanted to get in and out as quickly as possible. For all their party-atmosphere, the crew at SC was also extremely efficient. One woman helped me, and she got me everything I needed in 2 minutes, tops, and she even corralled her overly ambitious husband when he also tried to help by telling him "I already got her covered - it's a woman thing."

Heading out of Silverado, I got confused about which way to go, and lost about 5 minutes retracing my steps, only to have to climb the same section once more when I realized it was the right way. Oh well. It was worth it to make sure I was on the right path.

By that time I had been joined by another runner - he was probably the single light that had been the closest behind. I was happy for the company by then, and peppered him with questions about where he has run before and what his favorite races were... standard running conversation, especially when you are desperate for distraction and not wanting to talk about anything negative like how cold you were, or how tired, or how much further you had to go. None of that stuff was up for conversation, or even warranted thinking about - I knew I had a way to go still, and that was the only thing that mattered - that, and climbing the hill I was currently on. At one point, my companion dropped back, and after calling back several times to see if he was ok, I continued forward. I had been happy for the company, but needed to focus on the task at hand.

Bedford Peak, and news from the front

After 3 miles of steep and rolling hills, I reached the Bedford Peak aid station. I was really happy to see these folks, as it meant one more big climb was out of the way. I restocked quickly, and for the first time had the wherewithal to ask what the race was like at the front.

"Oh, it's intense. There's Dan and Fabrice battling it out. When they passed through here, they were maybe 30 seconds apart." one of the volunteers said.

"Seriously? Wow! that's incredible!" I crowed.

"Yeah, and you're the first woman!"

"I know - but Rebecca's right behind me, so I gotta get out of here!"

I headed out in high spirits... now I just had to get back to Maple Springs, six miles away. I knew I faced more rolling hills, but did not think it would be too bad. 

Instead, as I described in the opening of this report, it took much longer than expected. After buckling down and embracing the journey, however, I crested one final hill and saw the lights of the aid station much closer than before... I had finally arrived.

Go sing it on the mountain: singing my way to mile 81.8

From that point (mile 66.8) until the Corona aid station (mile 81.8), the race was something of a blur. I remember arriving at each station, and the stretches in between, but they were rather unremarkable. They did seem long, but I knew where I was and tried to maintain focus on where I was in that moment, and what I was doing, and not let my mind drift too far.

I also remember singing... I sang songs from musicals. I remember doing "Fiddler on the Roof" and "Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat", mainly because I knew all the words to most of those songs and could sing them with silly, exaggerated voices. And when I couldn't sing out loud, I sang in my head, and that was good enough.

Running down to the bottom of Indian Truck Trail at mile 81.8 was ok - I was feeling tired and was having trouble moving as quickly as I had planned in my head (funny how that goes). It was good to see a few runners ahead of me, on their way back up from the bottom - we congratulated each other and told each other to keep it up.

Then, with a few miles to go to the bottom, I saw two headlights headed up the trail towards me. "Hey there, how's it going!" I called out, and got the best surprise in response... my pacer, Christi, was one of the voices that responded! She had arrived at the aid station on time (1AM) and had started making her way up to find me, when she saw I wasn't there. It was probably 1:30AM by that time, so I was glad I had not kept her waiting long, and was even more glad she had taken it upon herself to run up.

We said goodbye to the runner she had been hiking with, and she turned to go back down the hill with me. It was excellent to see her, and I got her up to speed on how I was doing and how it had been so far.

At the bottom, we were offered a smorgasbord of goodies from homemade brownies and chocolate chip cookies to coffee cake, but all I wanted was a peanut butter sandwich. The aid station crew seemed almost disappointed that no-one was taking the home-baked goodies, but by that time most of the runners just wanted bland foods, or more of what they had already eaten that day - at least, that's how I felt.

"No complaining" as we head up the hill

As we headed up the mountain, my mood turned a bit more bleak and became less responsive to Christi's chatter. Overall I was feeling good, but the 6.5 mile climb with 2600 ft of elevation that was Indian Truck Trail was a task I needed to focus every bit of my energy on. My mouth hung open to gulp in the maximum amount of air, and I inhaled and exhaled hard as I trudged steadily upward. In the dark, I had no concept of where we were or how far up the trail we had climbed - I only focused on the area I could see with my headlight and my steady climb towards the top.

"How do you feel?" asked Christi.

"Tired." I said.

I had given Christi very clear pre-race instructions that "no complaining" from either of us would be allowed, and that while it was necessary to exchange information about how I was doing physically, no whining about or dwelling on aches, pains, or tiredness would be permitted in our conversation as we made our way towards the finish.

I told Christi I was holding us both responsible for this - for that reason, it was no big surprise when she quickly chimed in with some encouragement, reminding me that we were putting the mountain behind us the further up we climbed, and telling me what a great job I was doing.

I knew what she was doing, but it didn't matter - I appreciated it, and appreciated her coming all that way to help my on my journey. I felt bad I could not converse back, but also knew it did not matter at that point, and that she understood.

So, we kept climbing, passing runners and other pacers on their way down to the aid station we had just left. In the darkness it was hard to see who was who (it's not polite to shine your light directly at someone, as it blinds them - this did not seem to prevent many other people from shining theirs at me, however), and I did not always have the energy or inclination to verbally ask who was approaching.

I was pleased to see John Hockett as he started down the trail - John was smiling about as much as I was, which is to say, he was hardly smiling at all. He mentioned that his knee was bothering him, but otherwise he looked pretty good (or, as good as you can look in the dark and cold after 75 miles).

Finally, we made it back to the Indian Truck Trail Aid Station. It was warm and cozy and the volunteers there offered me a chair, but I knew we had to push on. Christi refilled my Nathan water bladder, we stocked up on food, and then we hit the trail again.

Just 11 miles and one more climb to go.

Formulating a new plan

By that time, we had established that a sub-24 hr finish was out of reach (really, I had know this as I headed into the mile 81 aid station 30 minutes behind pace), but we had also determined that I had to break my previous 100-mile PR of 25 hours. 

The plan at that point was to power through (interpretation: survive) the short climb up Trabuco Peak, then run as much as possible to the finish, knowing there would be some walking breaks as we hit the renowned "rolling hills".

As we headed up Trabuco Peak for the race's final climb, I was prepared for it to suck, but it wasn't too bad. That section is incredibly rocky and steep, but if you can deal with that, it's fairly short and over quite quickly.

After that, we hit the Mid-Divide aid station, then pressed forward to Trabuco Trail, which was the final aid station of the race. We were reduced to a walk on the incline up to the aid station, and with a keen eye on the clock, we hatched the plan that we would would stop only briefly so I could drink a cup of Coke and chow down a gel, then we would head for the finish.

We were in and out of the aid station quickly, and headed for the finish at Blue Jay. Less than 3 miles to go.

Sunday morning sunrise and a sprint to the finish

By this time, the sun had come up, and the sky was filled with smokey grey, blue, and pink clouds. The mountains were dark green, and the trees and rocks glistened with the rain than had soaked them in the night. It was awesomely spectacular, and we were filled with glee and awe as we ran and surveyed the mountains around us. Those are the moments I live for in ultrarunning, and it made every step of the previous day and night worthwhile. I was so happy to have Christi there so the moment could be shared.

We ran together down the trail, being careful not to stumble as the loose rocks rolled under our feet, and cheered as we hit the metal gate where the trail meets the asphalt road. I ran as hard as I could. A part of me did not believe there were less than 3 miles from the last aid station to the finish; I thought it was more like 4 or 4.5, and I did not want to chance not breaking 25 hours because the distance on the course guide had been off.

We took a turn through the campground, following the asphalt road, then suddenly, came to stop. The road continued onward, and I was positive that was the direction to go to the finish, but there was a fresh white arrow on the road that said otherwise; the chalk arrow pointed straight and sure, telling us to take a 90 degree turn to the left.

"No, that's from earlier. We ran through this way earlier, and this arrow is from then. We go this way to the finish," I said, pointing straight ahead. But still, I dawdled. "But... this arrow looks so fresh."

I looked at Christi, torn. The clock was ticking, we had to keep moving.

"I'll check it out, you stay here," Christi said, and ran in the direction I had originally thought was the right way. I followed her for a while, then stopped as she came running back, saying it was the wrong way.

But I still didn't believe it, and after a few more runs back-and-forths and hemming and hawing, it finally became clear: we should have followed the white arrow all along.

We turned on our heels and ran like hell back to the white arrow, then took off on the single-track path headed back into the trees.

Finished! With Steve and Christi. Pic by Pedro Martinez
We ran through the trees and over a bridge, dodging branches and rocks. We ran hard, stopping only once to climb over a tree that blocked that path. Within a few minutes, we hit the asphalt road of the Blue Jay campground. I looked up and saw the finish line, at the top of a sloping road. I ran as hard as I could.

And finally, finished! We finished at 7AM on Sunday morning, having started at 6:15AM on Saturday. 24:45, my best 100 mile time to date. I got a hug from Steve Harvey and cheers from Pedro, who had been camping out in his car right next to the finish.

After the race

All in all, I felt really great, in fact, I was shocked at how great I felt. I had been able to run well in the last few miles, and while my abilities to hike uphill had been hampered by exhaustion, I had been able to move effectively and with little pain on small slopes, flats, and downhills. This was not typical for me, when comparing it to previous 100 mile races.

After chatting for a few minutes with Steve and Pedro, we were ushered in towards the heater and offered hot food and drinks. I was so happy to be surrounded by familiar faces and not to have to run any more; I had enjoyed it while it lasted, but was happy at that point to take a break from the running and the mountain.

As for Christi, she had to get back to her car at the bottom of Indian Truck trail and was getting colder by the minute, so rather than wait around for a ride from me (once I had time to get a quick nap in) or someone else, she refilled her pack and headed back on foot the way we had come, 19 miles, all the way back to the bottom of Indian Truck Trail. I love it.

And then, we sat around, watched, and waited as the remaining racers came in one by one, or sometimes in twos or threes.

Ethan Brown with pacer Adam, all smiles after his finish. Pic by Joe Bishop.

Steve dancing in the rain as we wait for more finishers. Pic by Joe Bishop

In the end, it looked like we had been lucky to get through Saturday night with mostly light rain and some winds, with the strongest rain starting after 12PM on Sunday... just in time to give the folks that were still out on the course a really hard time.

Some of the runners still on the course were first-time 100 mile participants, yet they slogged it out through cold, rain, wind, and pain to cross the finish line at Blue Jay.

The final runner finished at close to 4PM after being on the course for over 33 hours. It was the first time Susy Gutierrez had attempted a 100 mile race, and about 25 of us gathered with her family at the finish to cheer as she crossed the line exhausted, soaked, and choked with tears.

Shane Caver's family meets him at the finish. Pic by Joe Bishop.

Susy gets a hug from her boys after completing her race. Pic by Joe Bishop.

That may have been the best part of the entire weekend, though I am admittedly glad my own race went well too.

In Conclusion: What I learned

The day after the race, I got an email from a friend and fellow ultrarunner that said "Congratulations! Biggest lessons learned are....(fill in the blank)"

I responded to her immediately with the following:

1) Balance is key - going at a more restrained pace in the first 50 miles will pay off big time later, allowing a faster pace through the last 50. Take walking breaks if you feel your heart rate getting too elevated.

2) Don't let the inner voices talk for too long - shut them down as soon as you realize they are at it again. Focus only on completing the section you are on, not that you still have X miles to go after that. Run the mile you're in.

3) Eat according to the clock - even if you don't feel like eating anything, if an hour has gone by you MUST eat something, even 1 bite at a time. You will feel better soon.

4) Smile, sing, whatever you need to do to keep your spirits up, even when you are all alone and you are only smiling at the trail.

5) Don't linger at the aid stations, no matter how nice everyone is! An extra 3 minutes per station can add up, so get back out there!

To this list, the only other thing I would add is to always, always have the right gear for the weather forecast - do not rely on your hopes that would will get lucky or beat the rain by getting to your drop bag before the bad weather starts - if rain is in the forecast, carry a rainproof jacket with you at all times (at least, if you are going to be out of contact with crew or your drop bag for an extended period of time).

And finally, a sincere thanks once more to Steve and Annie Harvey for their hard work putting the race together, and for all the volunteers who supported us on our quest. Another big thanks to Christi for pacing me through the night - it was a delight and privilege to run with her, it helped my spirits and kept me on track, and for that I am very grateful. Finally, thanks to Coyote Pedro and all the other runners who provided good company and conversation before, during, and after the event. It was my pleasure and privilege to  run with you all.

That's all - hope to see some of you there next year!


  1. Nice report! Thanks for the family photo at the end.

  2. Very nice report Tiffany! You ran a great race. I was at Bear Springs AS and then ITT and it was tough going for you runners! I'm thinking AC might be easier. :)

  3. Thanks Shane and Jeff! And Jeff, thanks for your help out there... I think I actually met you at Bear Springs before running off, though I did not remember your name. Brain was not always working 100% out there :)
    You guys were all smiles and so efficient. Thanks very much!

  4. Awesome report Tiffany. Brought back many memories. Congratulations on such an excellent race. Loved seeing you at the finnish line.


  5. Thanks for sharing your 100 mile adventure in the mountains. Your awesome Tiffany!!!!