Saturday, September 17, 2016

Huntsville Marathon #5. Marathon #15, Race #67

Running the 5th Huntsville Marathon I had lofty goals, such as getting a good enough BQ to actually enter and be accepted. My PR going into this race was 4:13:55 and I needed around a 3:52 to accomplish this. If I could do it, it would be a huge PR but I thought it was actually possible. My plan was to run the first 16 miles at an 8:00/m pace, then the last 10.2 at a 10:30 pace or faster if I was able. This would give me a finish time of 3:55 or better. If the race went well, I figured I could eat up some more of that time in the last 10 miles. Well, you know how the best laid plans of mice and men go...

The expo was in Ogden the day before the race, I drove there, picked up my bib #12 and headed to work after doing a quick browse of the vendors. I also asked the organizers if they were doing anything recognizing those who have done all 5 of the races since 2012. I guess I wanted some kind of recognition :) I got off work 2 hours early hoping I could get a bit more sleep than I usually do before a race and I think it worked. I got around 5 hours. 4:15 the first alarm went and I was up before the second one could go. On the road just after 5 a.m. and arrived in Huntsville a few minutes before the buses departed.

They had us line up like school kids and we boarded the buses. Bus #1 wasn't full so I switched over to that bus and ended up sitting with Robert Merkley for the ride up.

This was my 67th race and my 15th marathon. Not too bad for only intending on doing one marathon in my lifetime back in January 2012 when I decided to give this running stuff a try.

I met up with Joshua and after a few attempts we got an acceptable selfie done.
 Arriving at the start, the first thing to do is use the nice clean, non-smelly porta-potties. It wasn't as cold as I thought it was going to be, which had me a bit concerned thinking it could be hot nearer the finish.
Four awesome people who have done the Five Year Streak. Well, three and me.
Someone heard a rumor they were going to get a picture of those who had all the marathons, that got my interest and I wandered around wondering where we were to gather. Finally found 3 others who made the same claim and we used our own cameras to get the pictures done. I think their names were Hazel Riley and Michelle Duran but I can't remember the guys name. I will find out though.

They were running a tight schedule and we ended up not spending too long at the starting area before having to dump our drop bags and hike down the road to the starting line.

Rachel encouraged me saying I'm going to do great today and I've got this! The running community is awesome with encouraging one another. They had a lot more confidence in me than I did.

I got my 92 bpm music ready, Garmin set, and we were off.

The canyon is beautiful, its not like the rugged Cottonwood canyons, but its got a beauty of its own with the colors and it keeps going, and going, and going, which I love.

For me, the course seemed to be a bit long which I've noticed other years. But as we were running I was trying to keep to my garmin's pace per mile and figured it might sort itself out later, which of course it didn't.

I tried not to push it or go out too fast or back off too much and after 10 miles I was within 18 seconds of that goal time, 1:20:18. The next 6 miles weren't as steep and I noticed my times were getting longer for each mile,

I went through the half start mat around 1:46 which is a decent half marathon time. Mile 15 was at a 7:54/m pace and by the end of mile 16 I was about 2 minutes over my goal pace. But now I was into the miles that I could ease up a bit. The 8:00/m pressure was off, I figured a 10:30 pace should be easy to do if I at least just kept moving.

A couple of people saw the 4 on my calf and knew about Run4Fun, Ethan was one and there was Tim who had run with us out on Antelope Island last year, I apologized for not recognizing him.

Galen run up beside me at one point and told me I'm looking strong. He is such an encouragement. He slowed at an aid station and I kept going.

I did really well with getting water at every aid station. I tried to fuel every 5 miles or so, GU, oranges, skittles, banana chunk, whatever they had available. And I also would put water in my hat to help cool me off.

The next three miles I was able to eat up that 2 minutes I had added to my time. Those three miles were 9:14, 9:48 and 9:40. I was 13 seconds to the good and 19 miles were done. But that didn't last long...

My shirt came off as it was heating up some. At one point this girl went flying by me saying. "shirts off, must be Robert!". All I had the strength to do was feebly lift my hand. I had no idea who she was, but later found out it was Dyanna Wallace a fellow Run4fun member.

Mile 20 was almost right on the money, 10:28, but I was realizing I couldn't keep this up and knew my BQ buffer was done. I was also doubting the BQ itself by this point, but thought I'll try to hold on. Mile 21 was about the same. 10:36/m and even mile 22 wasn't too bad at an 11:08. I thought well, I'll still get a sub 4:00 finish time. Maybe. But then mile 23 had me doubting everything. I was at 3:24, had 3.2 miles to go and only 36 minutes to do it in. Even if I could do them all in 12:00/m miles I'd still be over the sub 4:00.

Mile 24 was around 13:34 and the next goal was being threatened, Ryan Delany's PR. The wheels totally fell off the final 2.3 miles. It took me 34 minutes to complete that distance and I was trying to play all kinds of mind games. Run for 25 strides, walk for 25 strides. At one point this young girl came bouncing past running with an older guy and she invited me to run with them, I said "I'll catch up to you in a minute" Lies, all lies.

It seemed to take ages to get through the final miles and it I felt like I was going to puke in this stretch. At the last aid station I had to make a pitstop which I had no choice over. That wasted about 2 minutes I'm sure. I came out of the porta-pottie and asked for some more water before I left the aid station, I must have looked rough as one lady kindly told me to have some Gatorade along with the water which I did and she followed me for awhile to make sure I was okay.

I was quite familiar with the course and knew we were coming to the final turn. There were three guys ahead of me who all looked like they were around my age, really old. I thought I've got to get ahead of them, just in case. Pushing with all I had I did pass them on the slight hill before the turn. I got around the turn and had to take a walk break. Then out the corner of my eye I thought one of them was trying to pass, so I got into a jog/shuffle mode again, it turned out it was Galen. He encouraged me once more and it helped but I couldn't keep it up even though the finish was only 2/10's of a mile away. I told him, one more walk break, and I slowed to a walk for a few moments then figured I can do the rest. The crowd was great, they were hooting and hollering for the runners which helps so much. I finally crossed the finish line and bent over so glad it was over with. They asked if I was okay and I told them I just need to lay down some place. I was thinking along the lines of some grass, but they had a tent set up with recliners and I happily went there with some water to recover. London came in soon after as she has seen me finish and offered to get me a creamy which I thought would be great.

My finish time was 4:11:47, a new PR and slightly better than Ryan's PR for a marathon. After I relaxed in the tent, I wandered around and ended up going to where they did the awards. I thought I'd check to see if I did place but they only had two people for my age group and I wasn't in there. So I went back to where they did the print outs and found out I took 3rd place even though there was quite a spread between the guy who took second place and myself. There were two other guys who were very close to my finish time though and I'm sure they were those guys I passed on that little hill.

One of the things I should have done was taken some Ibuprofen. I had it with me and that might have helped those last few miles.

I also met up again with one of the girls who had also done the race 5 times after the race. I wanted a picture with her so her husband ended up taking our picture in front of the race logo board thingy.

When I called my wife to let her know I was on my way home, she didn't sound that disappointed that I didn't BQ, I suggested she wouldn't have let me go anyway, but she said sure I would! Well, that's all I needed for next year. Like my friend Ryan says, Its on like donkey kong!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Revel Big Cottonwood Half, Race #66 Half #49

This was a race I signed up for ages ago and it hasn't been my favourite race compared to some of the others I run, even though its always well organized, they have the best shirts, free pictures and great bling, but I've always wished there was more canyon running and less outside the canyon running for the course to make it faster.

Big Cottonwood is a gorgeous canyon that we often have training runs in as there are three races which use this canyon throughout the year.

Weeks before, I had decided to just run this race for fun and not attempt a PR or PB or anything, just take lots of pictures. I had spent the week prior recovering from Nebo which totally thrashed my legs for a time that wasn't anywhere near a PR and I've always thought Revel wasn't as fast as Nebo so why kill myself at it. But by Friday my legs were feeling pretty good so thought, ah, why not at least see what I can do.

As usual race morning means getting home from work around 1am and if I actually sleep, getting up a couple of hours later. The alarm was set for 3:30 and I was out the door by 4:05 to try to meet one of the first buses heading up the canyon at 4:30.  All morning I kept thinking why am I doing this. I didn't recognize anyone on the bus so figured it would be a quiet drive to the starting point. I sat by a guy who was doing his first half so he was pretty excited about it even though his sister who goaded him into it cancelled out.

The old school bus we were riding in, after awhile was following a number of other buses who were stuck behind one bus that struggled on the hill. It finally gave up on the chore and pulled over to the side. The congo line of vehicles going up the canyon finally sped up. Our drive must have been so concentrating on the other buses he didn't see the start line, or the guy with the light indicating him to pull over and let us out at the campground, until the runners started yelling at him. I was wondering if we accidentally got on the full marathon bus and were going to be running 13 miles to get to our start line! He finally pulled over and attempted to back down the hill which wasn't very successful and then he decided to just let us out and we'd walk back down to the start.

I trudged straight to the porta-potties knowing they'd still smell good at this time of the morning. The camp ground where we wait for the start is always quite dark so its difficult to find friends. I was standing around the porta-potty area and a girl popped up in front of me and said "Hi" with a big smile. I didn't recognize her at first but I was so happy to see Mercedes! We wandered over to the area  near the trucks for the drop bags while wrapped up in our emergency blankets. It was COLD! Probably around 30'F. We then met up with Mark, Jill, Timothy, Dulcinea, Camille and I'm sure there were others.

After one more trip to the porta-potties it was time to head out to the start line. With close to 3000 people you never really know when the race begins but the crowd keeps moving and while it did I grabbed a picture of myself with Carla Bassano and her hubby Raoul.

My Garmin was set to a 7:20 pace for the virtual partner, and my MP3 player was cued to play approximately 93 minutes of music with a cadence of 92 bpm and then two of my favorite songs at races.

After shuffling for a while and dropping the emergency blankets with all the others we crossed the start line, the race had begun.

I was away's back in the race and passed a lot
of people as I worked my way down the canyon. The first mile was done in 7:57. Slower than I wanted but I felt good. I passed the 2:20 pacers, London and Katie. Usually I've run to music which is 90-91bpm, the 92bpm was new to me but felt fine. Mile 2 was 7:34 and the third mile was 8:08, I was falling behind my goals which were 7:20 for a PR and 7:43 for a PB. Those first miles were cold on the face, I kept breathing into my gloves to try to warm up my mouth and nose. I had thought about wearing arm warmers, but my arms seemed to be okay and my gloves helped my hands. I passed the 2:00 pacers and then the 1:50 pacers Jorge and someone else. I think I heard him comment, I didn't recognize Robert as he has his shirt on.

The next three miles were a lot faster and I gained some of the time back. 7:19, 7:16 and 6:48. I stopped at most aid stations for water. At one I grabbed a GU and slid it inside my glove. At the next aid station I ate it as I got there and then got water to try to flush it down.

I think it was around mile 7 I took off my gloves and tucked them into my belt. I struggle with dropping clothes on the ground, I'm just too cheap.

The next three miles went pretty good too, 7:36, 7:15 and 7:35. I was feeling strong, not pushing it hard, but running comfortably and trying to use the downhill to my advantage.

By mile 10 it was warming up and I had started dumping the water from the aid stations into my hat and cooling my head. The shirt also came off at this distance. We were out of the canyon and into the flat area that usually kills me in this race. I pushed hard trying to avoid walking unless it was through an aid station knowing around mile 11 there was another downhill stretch. On that section I was able to get a mile done in 7:21 which for me is amazing so late in the race on this course. The last two songs started playing on my player, Fight Song by Rachel Platten, which always makes me think of Meridith and the fight she went through, and Come With Me Now by Kongos and they helped me run the final mile which was done at in 7:54 and I could finally see the banner around the finish area.

Two tenths to go and I ran them in silence, I heard someone yelling to me on my left and it turned out to be my friend Janet who wasn't racing but came to cheer her daughter Nicole and all her friends.

Final time, 1:39:43. I got a Personal Best for Revel, way better than I thought I would get. After awhile someone told me I took 2nd place in my age group which I was tickled with. I found out later the guy in my new age group that beat me finished 5 minutes ahead of me, but was only 3 seconds faster than I was. Something you never know in the race as you don't know when people crossed the start line. I'm not sure if they do an award presentation but I got the print out of my time and my placing medal and worked my way up to the end of the finish chute to get pictures of friends.

My camera battery went dead and I grabbed my phone from my car but its not good to keep on while watching people and slow to start back up when it falls asleep so I missed getting pictures of lots of people I knew, but it was still great being there to cheer them on as they finished the half marathon, then the full marathon. There were smiles, high fives, tears and grimaces as people entered the chute but they finished and every one of them were champions to me.

I love the running community.

Finish times for Revel Big Cottonwood, probably my favorite race in 2016.

2013 1:48:31
2014 1:41:21
2015 1:45:29
2016 1:39:43

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Drop 13 - Fake it till you make it.

1:00am Finally home from work.
If I get to bed quick, I can get an hour of sleep before the alarms go.
1:35am who is calling me now? Work! No! Go Away!
I'm never going to sleep.
Alright, if I see 2:00am on the clock I'm just going to get up and relax before heading to the buses.
Its 2am, I'll lay here for a couple more minutes.
What is that noise? Oh, the alarms. wow, 25 whole minutes of sleep. I can do this.
Who's texting on Facebook at this time of the morning.
My brother in B.C. bugging me to get up. Dork.

25 minutes to drive to Cottonwood Heights.
Wonder how far away Susette is, she needs her packet and bib.
Wonder where Barb is, she needs to be on our bus.
I hate buses.
School buses, alright, lets get this over with.
Oh, there's Josh, why is he eating his bib?
Why do they get us up the hill so soon.
Hmmm I thought we were going to be inside the lodge.
Long line of porta potties, probably not long enough.
Why am I doing this?
It stinks bad in here.
Lost Barb, where'd she go?
Red Bull, that's a good idea isn't it?
Lets see if we can find Barb
Crap, she's disappeared.
It stinks in here again.
Better here than 7 miles into the race.
We need to meet the others for the group picture.
Still no Barb, ah there's Ibana.
Uh oh, lets go to the porta potties again.
It really stinks in here.
Its not cold, dump the shirt.
Shoot, I think we've missed the group picture.
Music get the music going early this time.
GPS, turn it on.
Its started. Lets go!
Oh, this hurts.
Hmmm. just passed Johnny, he's watching his pace, I'm not.
Not many people ahead of me. I can do this.
Breath. Breath in rhythm. In step, Out step, In step, Out...
Oooo 1 mile done, record for a mile, 6:19.2 Good start.
Got one minute banked so far. Twelve miles to go.
Oh, hey Johnny, go get it! I'm slowing, he going
faster maybe.
Did he have to pass me so soon?
Some of these people make this look so easy.
Run the tangents
Mile 2 done, yes, an aid station.
Water, half in me, half in my hat.
That. Is. Cold!
Why do they call them tangents, just cut the corners.
There goes the 1:30 pacer
Side ache...but in my chest and shoulders
Where are the race photographers...I haven't seen any.
Pacer behind me, go. away.
Girl has 4 on her calf, shoulders, everywhere, no strength to visit, talk later
I hate running.
The bottoms of my feet are burning on this hill
should be a good mile.
Hmm, looks like a dead rat, wonder if Monte saw it.
Aid station, they have GU, I need GU...ewww looks like peanut butter, forget it.
Water, half in tummy, half in hat, cor that felt good.
Pain in chest and shoulders is gone, now got a side ache.
S curve, cars in my way, can't cut the corners.
I hate country music, how do I have country music on my play list, but the cadence is right
9 miles done, same pace as Vigor, means no PR.
Got to speed up.
I hope this course is short.
10 miles, 7:25 pace, I'm doing it.
Final aid station, not stopping.
Ouch, this is a steep short hill, burning feet, I can use it to speed me up,
oh a tunnel, get through it before the GPS loses the signal.
Final mile, I will NOT look at my watch.
Wish I had gotten some water at that last aid station.
Can I get a PR? I don't know.
Gonna be close, NO WALKING.
I feel like I'm doing a 6 minute mile but its more likely a 12:00/m mile.
Where's the finish?
Where are the crowds?
This paved trail is downhill...I need downhill.
Work legs, work.
There's people! The finish must be close,
oh wow, its VERY close, I'm gonna be done,
pass this can do it
There's the timing pad...
its over, turn off the GPS,
Find some space to lay down, I'm dead.

Official time: 1:36:29, New PR! 3rd out of 15 in Age Group, 85th out of 791 participants, Highest I've ever placed overall. top 10.74%. Pace: 7:22/m.

Splits: 6:19.0  7:50.1  7:54.6  7:47.8  7:59.8  7:42.6  7:04.5  7:01.8 7:35.7  6:58.4  7:29.7  7:14.5  7:31.3

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Squaw Peak 50 - There's Got To Be An Easier Way To Have Fun

Today was a successful day. I didn't get any blisters or chaffing, didn't lose any toenails, didn't do any faceplants on the trail, lost 5lbs, had an awesome pacer and did exceptionally well in the last 10 miles.

The beginning of the day was not that successful. I got off work very early but stopped at McDonalds for my wife on the way home and stupidly grabbed a big mac for me. I got to bed around 10:00 so had at least 4 hours of sleep, more than I've had at other 50 mile races. My alarms were set for 2:15 and I woke up a few minutes before they made their horrid noises and I turned them off, got up and got dressed. I then realized I felt awful. I was sick. I felt like I was moments from throwing up and had serious stomach problems. But I went through the motions of getting ready for the race. I normally have a bowl of oatmeal and a bagel before a race but barely made it through half the bowl of oatmeal. Angela had to pack my bladder with ice and gatorade, I just couldn't do it on my own.

I drove south to Vivian Park in the Provo Canyon and there was a bit of confusion at the parking lots. Or at least I was confused.  I missed the proper parking lot so they told me I had to go back down the highway and park there but I was allowed to leave my drop bags, plus I had given Susette my home phone number instead of my cell number so she was inadvertently trying to call me but getting my house instead. But, I was able to meet up with her get my bib and race packet at the lower parking lot and we did the 1/2 mile walk to the starting line. I stopped at the toilets for about the fifth time that morning and got into the start line with everyone else.


I had two GPS watches with me in case the Garmin did what it did to me awhile back and lost the last 21 miles of a 50 mile race. The race started at 4:03, and we were off. The main pack pulled away from me quite fast.  I was trying to get my Epson to get the satellites and it took two tenths of a mile before it finally got linked. While I was doing this I thought I'm in no rush, its going to be a long day.

The first two miles are a slight downhill run on a paved trail. I should have been doing a 9:00-10:00/m pace, but it was closer to 12:30/m for those two miles. I was also supposed to begin the race with Angie Pace, but there was no sign of her at the start. Fortunately she caught up to me in the first mile or so and we ran together. It wasn't long before we turned to the left, off the paved trail and started climbing in the dark through dense undergrowth which lined the sides of the trail.
A few more people passed us and soon we figured we were at the back of the pack of the early starters. I wondered how long it would be before the 5am people would be passing us. Angie wasn't feeling very strong either and wanted to take it easy as she had two races the following weekend. After a normal paced couple of miles of climbing I began to slow down quite a bit and Angie was pulling ahead, I hollered to her to keep going, don't worry about me.

The next three miles I averaged 32:00/m. I was struggling badly, as I wasn't eating, was feeling like crap and having doubts I was going to make the cutoff. I kept trying to do math in my head to figure out the pace needed for that cutoff, but as usual, I just can't do math when tired while running.
Going through a camp ground they had toilets there so took advantage of that, and then going up out of the campground realized the aid station had been right around the corner. At each aid station they record your bib number when you enter it, and record when you leave. I didn't feel like eating anything, but had some coke and a sausage. I chewed on the sausage for about 1/4 of a mile before I finally gave up and spat out the pieces. I just couldn't swallow it.

It was in this section after the aid station the leaders of the 5am start passed me on the single track trail. Curtis Eppley was up there, Eric Nelson, and then someone ran by with the thumbs up shouting "Go Canada Go". I mumbled back "yeah right". I didn't recognize who it was, but later found out it was Paul Moody. Brian Passey wasn't too far behind them.

Father and Daughter running the 50 mile race.
My pace picked up some after this, but around mile 8 I came across Angie sitting in the middle of the gravel road. She was having dizzy spells and had to sit in case she fell on the road. She had taken some salt tablets and soon after she got up and we continued together to the first pass in the race which is around 8000' above sea level.

We had climbed around 3000' already in the race. Andrew Jensen visited with us for a moment while we were there, I introduced him to Angie, but for the life of me could not remember his name. Then Jade Magnus also came along and hung with us for a bit. He was saying he'd already taken about 200 pictures. Its always fun to see friends in a race.

I had been told you can divide the race into 4 sections. 15 miles of climbing, a 10 mile drop, then another 15 of climbing and the last 10 miles again dropping into the finish. At mile 25 I'd be meeting my pacer Ryan Delany.

When Brian Passey passed me I asked him if he happened to see Ryan to let him know I'm going slower than I figured I would be.

Brian Passey
I continued with Angie until we got to Kolob Overlook Aid station around mile 15 and I knew it was downhill for most of the next 10 miles. Met up with Carl Tippets at this aid station so we visited while we ran together. At this aid station we had drop bags, but there was nothing in them I needed. My music had stopped on me ages before and I gave up being able to listen to it for the rest of the race. Angie had settled down in the aid station, I grabbed a can of coke and figured I'd sip on it while going down the road. I told her I'm going to head out. Called out to the volunteer my bib number 199 and I started the next section.

I had drop bags at aid stations #4, #6, #8 and #10. With two of them having extra shoes and socks in case I needed them.

Girl from Arkansas
It had taken me 5 hours to do that first 15 miles. This was not a good start for sure.

Angie was having problems in this section.
The next section was partly a rocky fire road where I saw an older guy take a nasty tumble. Turned out he was trying to catch up to his daughter and had been calling her, but she couldn't hear him because she said had zoned out listening to her music. I talked to her later and told her not to blame herself.

A lot of the downhill was a single track trail which is the best to run on. For the next 6 miles my pace was much better, around 11-12:00/m. Saw another guy, Quinton I think, take a fall on the single track trail. I spend a lot of time looking at the ground when running and around mile 21 I was doing this, and looked up and there was Ryan standing in front of me. There was a long road behind him and I thought where did he come from, how did he get here, is it just an apparition? Turned out he wasn't a ghost but it was him. He had seen runners entering the Hobble creek road and thought maybe he had missed me at mile 25 at the aid station so decided to drive
Almost got Andrew Jensen in the picture!
back down and walk up the gravel road to see if he would meet up with me.


Carl Tippets
We visited the short walk down to Hobble Creek road, then he drove up to the aid station to wait for me and I started the trudge up Hobble Creek road which is about 4 miles of pavement and it was hot with very little shade. I told him I'd be about 45 minutes but I think it was closer to an hour. Carl Tippets passed me on this stretch and I didn't see him again for the rest of the race. I walked more than I wanted in this section but my pace for it wasn't too bad, around a 14:00/m pace. Carl was surprised this was my first time doing this race and said "Ohhhh you are in for a treat". I think he was referring to Bozung Hill.

It was in this area John Bozung the race director drove by and asked me "Are you glad you joined us?" I said yes! But I've been sick during the beginning of the race. He then handed me a banana flavored Creamy which was great! A car also parked on the side of the road further up asking runners if they needed water. I had plenty still, but asked them if I could soak my buff to hang it around my neck.

It was tough going up towards the aid station #6 at mile 25, but I finally made it there.  Ryan had my drop bag ready and I met up with Marsha Monson and her two girls(Doggies) volunteering at that aid station, she's a friend of mine who lives in Riverton. Again there was nothing in the drop bag I needed as I decided not to change my shoes as it would take extra time and the ones I had on were working fine. I stored my mp3 player, battery and headphones, got rid of some garbage and after some coke and snacks we were done and out of there.

We were around 5400' at this point and Ryan and I headed out from there up a gravel road or old creek bed, I wasn't sure which it was but it could have been both. For the next 15 miles there was going to be a lot of climbing. We went about 4 miles to the next aid station #7. I had a few cokes and a bag of nachos. We climbed a total of about 2000' before we finally had some downhill before we got to the next aid station which was the cutoff point in the race, if you weren't out of their station by 2:30 you would not be allowed to continue the race. As we were going through this area we knew we were going to be okay for the cutoff deadline, but we didn't have a lot of room for error.

Every time we crossed any water, I would fill my hat and plunk it on my head to cool me off. The cold water running down my back felt awesome. In one section of the climb the trail disappeared and we were following a bank cut out from runoff. We finally climbed out of that and saw the real trail which we had missed down lower. A number of other people had done the same thing as us. The 200' downhill felt great as we were approaching the aid station. We pulled in there around 1:51 pm which meant we had 39 minutes to get out of there, not that we'd spend that amount of time there. After some slices of water melon, filled my water bottle and the bladder with ice and water, ate potato chips etc we announced we're done, sign us out. It was 2:01pm. If I had started the race at 5am I would have had a nice 33 mile training run and a free ride in a truck back to the starting line.

But the pressure was off, I had made the cutoff and we could relax, almost. We still had the most difficult part of the race to do.


This guy was doing his 10th Squaw Peak race.
We had eight miles until the next aid station which was on the other side of the pass. We climbed about 1000' then dropped about 400 in the first 6 miles, as we ran around the side of huge open forested canyons we could see the mountain we were supposed to climb up to and go over Windy Pass. This was the part of the course I was dreading. I hated that drop of 400' as I knew it would add to the climb ahead and thought that was so cruel. And then it was steep to say the least. It might not be so bad if it was in the beginning of the race, but after already doing 40 miles? I don't think so.
Looking down a part of Bozung Hill

One of many climbing breaks
We would climb and I'd be watching the altitude climbing on my Epson. Each step burned as we looked to see where we could place our next footing. We would climb about 100' and then take a break, sometimes lucking out by having some shade to get a break from the heat. I knew the top was at 9000'+ so each 100' was bringing us closer.
Looking up a tiny section of Bozung Hill
There were about 8 - 10 other people climbing ahead or behind us and everyone was taking a break. It was like a war zone with guys laying beside the trail trying to get their heart rates down. It also seemed like the heat was at its hottest for the day and it was taking its toll on everyone. We had filled up our bottles and bladders at the previous aid station to make sure we didn't run out before cresting the top which helped, but my shoulders were aching from the weight. The climb seemed to go on forever. We could see people in the distance a few miles behind us and felt sorry for them knowing what they had ahead of them.

Runners struggling to climb Bozung Hill
 (Photo Credit, Jade Mangus)
As I climbed I'd see a ridge ahead and think it was the end, but then there'd be more. When we finally got to the top and began our decent to the aid station my Epson was reading about 9320'. On the way up I was figuring I am probably still going to be last to finish the race, but then talking to one guy I was telling him I was surprised at how many guys were racing who were in my age group. He asked me how old I was, told him 59, he was 53, then he told me he had started with the 4am group. I thought hmmm. If I get ahead of him, I won't be last to finish. It gave me a glimmer of hope.

As we crossed the summit we had a huge slab of snow to cross. My Altra Olympus aren't good crossing snow as they like to slide sideways so I choose to go down below it and met Ryan on the other side. While doing this I also grabbed a handful of snow shoved it into my hat and plunked it on my head. It didn't take long to get a massive headache and I had to take it off, I tried this a few times with the headache showing up each time. I finally lined the snow with my buff and that snow dripped cold water on me for the next 5 or 6 miles. It was awesome. I'm sure the people at the following aid station wondered why I was dripping so much.


I tried not to spend too much time at the Windy Pass Aid station. We got there and a number of the people who had been climbing up Bozung Hill were still there, but I think they all left before we did.

The aid station had run out of coke, so I had half a Redbull and some fruit and told them I'm out of here. This was the section I wanted to try to make up some time.

The soles of my feet were extremely tender, but I figured I'd do what I could. The trail at first was clambering over mud blackened snow from the other runners feet and muddy streams following the trail as the snow was melting. This went on a lot further than I thought it would but in this section others were going pretty slow and
between the slabs of melting snow I would attempt to run. We would come across the other runners and they graciously stepped to the side to let us by. I started counting. Ryan always adds the challenge in a race to try to pass others and I started this without any encouragement from him this time. Passing #10 and #11 I realized I was counting out loud and said "self, don't do that".  I kept my counting quiet from then on. I passed the 53 year old guy who was in my age group. I wasn't going to be last after all. We'd always seem to pass people in pairs, sometimes even groups of 4.

My hat is sitting high because of the snow inside :)
Most were walking but some were doing a slow jog. On the packed dirt trails without the rock beds I would fly, but there were long sections of rocky trail which if you fell on that stuff you'd look like ground beef by the time you stopped. I surprised myself at the speed that I was doing in some spots even though we had already covered 42+ miles. There was one section where we climbed some and we had a couple of people we wanted to pass but I'm not good on the uphill. I could see them ahead and with short sections of running on that climb we caught them and pulled ahead.  Ahead of them were two Addict 2 Athlete guys, they were running, but not fast, 2 more passed. I had no idea if some were pacers, if they started at 4 or 5am but figured the more I passed the better I'd be placed overall. Plus it helped me keep running.

We came through this one area that was filled with yellow flowers and I had to get my camera out to get a photo. We ca
me across the course photographer just below this. At least I think that's what he was.

We then crossed a huge field of grass before getting onto a road. Its a field we could see from way up in the mountains.

We got to the final aid station #10 at mile 47, and Marsha was there once again. The aid station volunteers told us we had 3.5 miles to the finish line. I hoped they were right, but I had seen some peoples maps of the course and they had been long by 2 miles. Their info plus what my watch was showing meant the course would be about 50.6 miles. I grabbed a cup of coke and got out of there tout suite. One runner walked out of the aid station just before us and we quickly passed him. 29 people passed.

We got onto the pavement and more people were ahead of us. Some had gone to a walk and looked like they were going to walk the rest of the way, but one girl was ahead of us as we passed one guy, she turned saw us and ran, I thought crap I don't need this but I waited until we got to a nice downhill stretch and I thought I can do this and pulled ahead saying to Ryan, Lets Go! We passed her, #33, and when we finally had enough space ahead of her I had to take a short walk break.

We passed a few more and then we had another guy we passed and for quite awhile he began to run trying to overtake us, I never looked back, but Ryan would look now and then and tell me he's getting close. He might have been just yanking my chain to get me to run more, and if he was, it worked. We had gone this far without anyone passing us and I wanted to keep it that way if we could. I was thinking if this course is going to be longer than planned I'll be in trouble and he will pass me, but fortunately the aid station people were right and it was going to be around 50.6 miles at the finish. A few more people were walking and we passed them. Coming down past the houses we knew we were close, there was the park, we were almost done, the cones were set up to guide the runners, I turned to the right, saw one guy in the finishing area and pushed as hard as I could, heard my name being called and was tickled to see Susette Fisher sitting there cheering us on, I passed person #39 just before the last corner and I was done. Finish time was 16:02:?? I was so glad to be done.

There was an empty chair in the finish line and I plunked down into it and didn't move for what seemed like hours. Susette came over and sat with me and we had some great laughs about the race and the possibility of doing this race again next year. She was adamant I would. It was so good to see others who had finished hours before me still there. When I heard the river was very close I thought I need to go cool off in it, but as soon as I stood, I started shaking with the cold. It was almost like my body temperature had dropped instantly and there was no way I was going to go to the river.

This race was an incredible experience. I couldn't have done it without Ryan, he is the best. Anyone who is looking for a challenge should do this race. You see countryside that most people in this area will never see in their lifetime. The race packet was the best I have ever had in all previous 60 races. Bozung Hill adds character to the race and I'm sure its what places this race into what a lot of people say is the 4th most difficult 50 mile race in the USA. I have no interest in knowing which ones the other three are, or even running them, but I will definitely do this race again.

The only thing I would recommend for the race to change is mark the course with more than the few flags. A number of places I would have gotten lost and left the course where it turned off a road or trail if I hadn't had others I was following to help me or correct me. Even some chalk or flour poured onto the road making arrows would be great as a lot of time is spent watching where to put your next step and in that moment you might miss the flags in the tree.

My official finish time was 16:02:28. There were 59 guys registered in the race in my age group of 50-59. Out of those 59, 38 finished the race and I was 31st. Overall, I think there were about 350 who registered, 264 of those finished the race and I was 220th.