Run Rabbit Run Race Report
|Photo: Paul Nelson Phtography
|Race start with my favorite cheerleader
I had managed to get over my usual taper cold for just long enough when the smoke hit. The week of the race was all about what events were being cancelled, would it be safe to run. I was taking it all in stride. I guess that's one of the good things about having kids. You really can't get too hell bent on things you can't control...because it happens every day! I knew my throat would burn and hurt, but so would everyone else's so I couldn't complain there. If it got cancelled...well yeah that'd suck that all my training was for nothing but was it really for nothing? I mean I still had fun with my training, was in great shape and I'd just find another race to jump into even if it wasn't a 100 miler. Thankfully the winds changed, the smoke cleared up and the race was on. Years ago I had a marathon cancelled because of wildfires so in the back of my head I was thinking who has two races cancelled because of wildfires...that doesn't happen I'm sure it’s happened to someone but it seemed a logical thought a couple days before the race start.
As uncertain as I had been about this race for the weeks leading up to it I became increasingly excited. I still had 2015 in the back of my head, but my confidence seemed to be growing as my weary legs seemed to be getting stronger from tapering. The boys helped me check-in and being back in my element surrounded by crazies who are all crazy like you made me feel even better. I'm not sure if the comments at check-in about recognizing me from the previous 3 years or questioning why I wasn't on the hare list made me more confident or more nervous. But I was now set to run up this crazy hill and around these mountains in a few short hours. Ready or not it was game time.
My game plan was to go out conservatively, stay conservative, run a bit more conservative, and then around mile 70 start thinking about running. I lined up further back than normal and watching the start it’s a bit funny to see how far back I am and realize I finished 15th overall for the tortoises...just a word if you're thinking about running this race...you don't need to be first to Mt Werner to win...in fact if you're first the odds of not seeing Mt Werner again increase dramatically. I did the math...4.4 miles to the top of Mt Werner...that means even almost 4 min/mile slower than you want to run only puts you back 16 min! That's nothing in a 100 miler! So I kept my heart rate low and didn't let my legs work at all. I hiked with David for a bit but on the first little flat part he said he had to take off so I just waved. Shortly after David took off me of the race directors who has previously told me 3rd woman and 1st woman said ah here come the smart runners…I knew I was right where I needed to be. Kara caught up to me and I just kept at my easy pace. When we got to the top she said well I guess I'll see ya later.
I knew my game plan was not to overdo it to Long Lake. This section has probably gotten me more than the initial climb the previous couple times I've done this race. It’s gorgeous rolling singletrack and you've been hiking forever so all your legs want to do is bust out running. I held back...I kept reminding myself of this and even though I was behind pace I knew I needed to stay there. Long Lake came and went and I was running easily down Fish Creek. The only bummer of the race was being a week early the leaves had barely begun to change. Normally this section is unbelievably gorgeous so I was sad to miss the changing colors. Before long I hit the parking lot and was on my way into town. That's when I first caught up to Gabe, who'd I'd 'meet' later. She looked to be working hard and kept surging ahead and then slowing down. It took ALL my mental strength not to gun it to pass her...but experience told me she'd do this for a bit longer and then fall back and I wouldn't see her again. So I stuck to my plan.
I came into Olympian in pretty good shape, but knew it would be hot, crazy hot for me, around Emerald Mountain. I was taking no chances here. I added a bladder full of ice to my pack and filled my buff with ice. I was in 3rd I think at this point which was a bit higher in the standings than I wanted to be, but I was running my race and just had to stick with that. The next climb is just like Falcon only I had to run it slower, I had to keep things steady, if I wanted the later half of my race to go well. Shortly after leaving Olympian I passed David. He was in a world of hurt, bent over and not looking good. I knew I couldn't stay with him long so I yelled at him to keep moving, no stopping just walk and catch up to me. I honestly had no idea if he would finish at that point or not. Thankfully he rallied hard and ended up finishing strong, but I didn't get to see him the rest of the race.
I ran easily into Cow Creek where in the past my races have started to fall apart. But this year I was doing great! I was laughing, feeling good and staying on top of fluids and calories. Tyler, another rabbit teammate was there, and immediately started helping fill my bottles, bladder and kept me laughing. One of the volunteers was shocked at the amount of water I was carrying and said well someone was listening I told him I'd done the run out of water and bonk thing and was taking no chances. It might have been overkill, but I got through that section feeling good, not overheating, no stomach issues and hydrated so I'll take the chances of overkill versus bonking any day. I ended up drinking all three bottles and about 2/3 of my bladder. The climb out of Cow Creek passed quickly and really didn’t seem nearly as bad as previous years…go figure. The thunder hit as I approached the top of the hill, but there was nothing I could do at that point. I just kept going at my same pace and eerily eyed the storm clouds overhead. As I came down Lane of Pain I saw Gabe again. This time I knew it was a downhill and it'd be hard to stay behind her without throwing off my race plan. I passed her just and then just as we turned onto Little Moab...ugh...there was the first place woman, Christina Bauer - Rob Krar's wife, and she was moving slow on a pretty technical section. I knew I was going to take the lead here and I did not want to be leading this early. Thankfully Gabe came surging by again at the bottom of Little Moab, but I knew it was only a matter of time before I was in the lead.
I came back into Olympian about 15 min ahead of schedule with my crew no where to be found. I was in a panic. The volunteers couldn't find my drop bag and I had no idea what to do without a headlamp. I knew worst case I could make it to my extra clothes at Long Lake, but no light? Okay I could make it to Long Lake without a light and then it’s mostly dirt road to Dry Lake so I would be okay right? Then down to Spring Creek would be tough, but I'd figure it out. Not once did wait for my crew or drop enter my mind…it was merely figure out how to make it work. I knew if I had to I’d run in the dark. I'd make it work...but tears were welling up. I was like a deer in the headlights and people kept asking what I needed. My crew…my headlamp I wanted to yell, but I just stood there in capable of anything. Finally, my drop bag showed up and then I felt a familiar hand on my shoulder. Dan made it. Tears welled up again and it became a quick scramble to get me out of there. Bottles filled, pack my vest with my light and some warm gear, grab a coke and get going. Dan ran me out of the aid station to assess where I was, make sure I was in an okay spot and then promised to see me in a few hours. It was raining pretty hard, but thankfully warm enough that I didn’t even bother to put on my shell.
I wasn’t far out of the aid station when I saw Gabe again. I was feeling strong and excited going into the night and I had a feeling that when I passed her it would be for the last time. As I caught up to her we introduced ourselves and I wished her well. A couple blocks out of town I heard familiar cheers behind me. When I turned around Dan had brought the boys up. They hadn’t made it out to see me at Olympian and were begging to see me. So a couple quick hugs and kisses, promises of cuddles in the morning and I was alone heading into the night. I had set a random goal of making it to Long Lake without a headlamp but I could tell it was becoming unlikely that I would make that one. But at least I could make it without needing a long sleeve…sometimes you just have to embrace the little things. I was making good time on the climb and ended up coming upon Donald, a friend from the Pearl Izumi team, who was pacing a blind runner. Talk about inspiring. I ran with them for a short bit before they pulled off to let me pass and I was back to running alone. I was feeling great and super excited to get back to Long Lake. This aid station has to seriously be one of the absolute best aid stations ever! They welcomed me back and quickly pulled up a seat for me away from the fire when I adamantly shook my head no fire that thing is dangerous stay away at all costs. One girl took over as my personal assistant..she is amazing! I wish I knew who she was to thank her but she was a little bit of an angel for a pacerless runner. She filled my bottles, got me coke and Honey Stinger chews, recommended I put on my tights, and helped me get them on. Then she shooed me down the road and promised to see me in the morning.
The road to Summit is short and I knew was slightly uphill, but for some reason it was soul crushing. I was completely alone and found it difficult to run much of this section. The hills seemed bigger than I remembered and the magnitude of the race and all the miles alone were getting to me. I still made pretty good time. My watch did seem to be off the whole race and I was pretty sure I came into Summit behind pace. The only bad thing here was there is no where in the aid station away from the fire. So I stood in the doorway while volunteers filled my bottles. Then I took off downhill. On my way out I swore I heard Kara’s voice coming into the aid station. That lit a fire under my ass, but I had to remind myself not to completely trash my quads on this long downhill. When you leave the aid station you take a left turn at the bathrooms, for the second time I saw runners taking off down the wrong road. I apologize now to anyone who was camping there, but I couldn’t bring myself to chasing them…one was the mens hare leader no way I was catching him…but I also couldn’t let them keep going. I yelled at them but they kept going. So I yelled again hey runners! If you’re runners you’re going the wrong way. Ah no STOP WRONG WAY! Finally they stopped and turned down here…you have to turn here. By this point the smoke, which really wasn’t bad but was there and dry trails had made my throat super dry so yelling was a strenuous task. So good deed done now it was time to run and run I did.
I kept it at an easy consistent pace for a downhill and before long I was turning into Dry Lake. This has historically not been my favorite aid station. Everyone there appears to be zombies. I think a lot of people tend to drop here so runners look wasted and crews are standing there frozen and weary from being up all night crewing. I didn’t have crew here so I filled my own bottles and just took off happy to be back on singletrack. I still thought I was about 10 minutes behind pace and really wanted to be in on time (12:30am) since I had made Dan wait forever in 2014. I was also really ready to pickup a pacer. In the first 70 miles I probably ran 65 by myself. While I did basically all my training this year solo it was still a lot of alone time and time in your own head. This section went by pretty quick until I swear out of a bush came a bear paw swiping at my head. I ducked and sprinted a few steps, then stopped and turned around. No sight of a bear…nothing. Honestly I have no idea if it was a bear, a branch, a hallucination…who knows. But it scared the shit out of me and now I really wanted to be down that hill. I hit the flatter, smoother section and knew I was almost within sight of Spring Creek.
My plan was not to think about place until I got back up to Summit, but with the out and back section of Spring Creek its impossible not to think about where you’re at. I knew I was in the lead, but had no idea by how much. Just before the aid station I heard a guy yell holy shit…top female and top ten overall…it took a minute for my brain to process what he said. I hadn’t been counting the guys or paying attention to my overall place, but what I was in the top ten? No way! I tried to push the thought out of my head. Just then I burst into the aid station where Dan was ready and waiting. I commented how hot I was and that I did not want my cold clothes. Dan insisted I put them in my vest just in case. Then I grabbed more coke…the thought of broth on a ‘hot’ night seemed terrible, filled bottles and headed right back out. Spring Creek is another fun aid station and it was great to see Jonathan, from the Runner’s High team, and Kara’s husband, Brian. What seemed like 5-10 minutes out of the aid station I passed Kara and wished her well, but inside was a bit worried about how close she was. I ran pretty well up to Dry Lake and was glad to get the heck out of there and start the climb up to Summit. I don’t know if it was being behind on calories or just having been worrying about this climb, but it was miserable. In a way it passed by quickly but I was really struggling on this climb. This is the section of the race I was most disappointed by. In my head it was going to be a run/hike but in reality I hiked the whole thing…slowly…miserably. Looking back I think I was really just bonking and behind on calories so it frustrates me that I could have gone faster here.
Eventually I got back to Summit. All I wanted to do was sit…I never sit! Unless I’m changing shoes of putting on/taking off tights I don’t let myself sit in aid stations. So this was bad. But even Dan looked at me and said if you need to sit for a minute to reset that’s better than carrying this on for the next section. A pacer graciously gave up his seat for me and thankfully it happened to be next to his runner who was puking non-stop. Talk about motivation to get the hell out of there. Summit Lake is carnage. Runners are wasted and its not a good place to just hang out for a bit. Volunteers kept asking me if this was my first time through…so lucky for me that it wasn’t. No I kept insisting I’m outta here. So a couple cokes and an espresso shot later I was heading toward the Wyoming Trail and excited to be on some runnable terrain. I had been envisioning this section for months and was ready to go now. As we left we again heard Kara coming into the aid station. We still had a long way to go, some 26ish miles, and I had no idea if I could hold her off. I looked at Dan and said I WANT this…I really, really WANT this! And so we hiked the short little climb out of the aid station and then started running and kept running and running and running. I didn’t want to blow up but I was running scared and I had also been preparing myself to race from Summit to the end. If I wasn’t going to win I was going to go down swinging. Dan had gotten an update that Kara was 10 min behind me at Summit. She had made up quite a bit of time on that climb and I was worried. I felt like I kept looking over my shoulder waiting for her to appear, but she never did. The Wyoming Trail is an almost 9 mile section of rolling singletrack above 10,000’. This was my territory. This kind of elevation is barely even noticeable for me so I was able to keep a fairly good pace going. I was also excited to still be wearing my headlamp. I’ve never left Summit with a headlamp on before so I knew I was on pace to PR. We hit Long Lake and just like earlier they were rockstars. I was in and out of there in a couple minutes. I was worried about how close Kara was so I didn’t want to waste time taking off my tights. I dropped my headlamp, grabbed sunglasses and just kept going.
Leaving Long Lake you know you’re in the home stretch. You start seeing 50 milers and their cheers only push you harder. But this section is HARD. It’s a rolling uphill and the hills you barely noticed the morning before now seem monstrous. I was glad to be running as much of it as I did. I was just too scared to slow down or stop. And then we turned the corner and saw Mt Werner aid station a quarter mile away.
|Finally nailing the downhill...with a smile
It wasn’t my greatest race and I’m a bit bummed knowing how much time I left out on the course, but overall it was a good race. I know my nutrition was off, I was dehydrated and way under my calorie intake. I stopped counting calories around mile 20 and based on how many calories I unpacked I was much further behind that I ever realized. A 26:30 is a solid time on that course and a 2 hr PR for me. So I’m proud of my effort and excited that I know I still have room for improvement. Thanks Steamboat for another great weekend and I know I swore I wouldn’t do it again…but I can’t wait for more!
A huge thanks to my ever patient husband and pacer, Dan. My parents, Nana and PopPop for taking care of the boys and keeping them alive. The volunteers and race directors who made RRR a great event that makes me want to come back for another go. And to my sponsors: Runner’s High for the amazing support; rabbit for the excellent gear; Honey Stinger for keeping me fueled, Swiftwick for another race without blisters or feet issues, and Nuun for keeping me hydrated.
Shoes: Pearl Izumi Trail M2s, my last pair
Socks: Swiftwick Aspire
Clothing: rabbit tank, mountain climber shorts, long legs tights, sleevie wonder shirt; BOCO tweener hat; Sauce headband