Thursday, February 26, 2015

I am invisible, invincible.

When I run dark streets, early mornings I reflect on many, many things..
It's just how I'm wired
It's how I roll
I reflect on the African proverb...
'when you pray move your feet'
And I think of our Jo
I think and I think
As I run early mornings, dark streets, cold streets...

Every step a thought of you
Every breath a prayer for you
We run side by side
You invincible
Me invisible
When I run I pray for you.


I attended a course in Toronto several weeks ago. All participants were given a name plate to place on the table. On one side was my name on the other side a message.

It read:

"Only when your conciousness is focussed on the moment you are in can you receive whatever gift, lesson or delight that moment has to offer". 

Barbara de Angelis

When I run dark streets, early mornings I am most susceptible to a state of oneness, a state of mindfulness.

I am, at that moment, invisible.

I see a ghost-like image of myself as I run. I see the fluidity, the strength, the breath streaming over my face into the darkness. I hear the rhythm of my heart, the crunch of my steps, the evenness of my lungs. I see an image of myself running dark streets, early mornings.

I am, for that moment, invisible, invincible.

My brain becomes flooded with gifts, lessons, delights and I become peaceful in that moment.

Life washes over me, through me, around me.

It's a good day to be invisible, invincible, alive.

For Jo.

Mike

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Hypothermic Half Marathon... Winnipeg style... Race Report

What's fina than a dina on Spadina?
A cup of steamed hot chocolate in a stunning Kathy Koop mug after 13.68 miles in -50.
I was at a the Hey Rosetta concert at the Burt on Saturday night when I received a text from a friend saying the Hypo Half Marathon had been shortened due to "extreme weather".

Extreme Weather? What the &%$ ...  of course it's extreme... this is Winnipeg in February! What are they thinking? Waiting for the bus is extreme! Why are they shortening the course?

And then I checked Environment Canada's forecast. Combined wind and temperature approaching -50 degrees Celsius.  Yup, this is extreme all right, even for hearty 'peggers.

Race Director Rachel Munday made the tough decision to shorten the route at about 6PM on Saturday evening.  Although disappointed, I saw clearly the wisdom in her action.  The risk to volunteers and novice runners is too high, dangerously high in fact. Rachel showed leadership under fire and is supported by 99.99% of the running community. To the 0.01%, for heaven's sake get a grip and give your head a shake!

The course started and finished at the Fort Whyte Centre and looped 4.5 miles through the gorgeous Fort Whyte grounds to Sterling Lyon Drive. Runners were given the option to run one loop, two loops, or three. This righteous runner chose option C, three loops, which coincidently, adds up to 13.5 miles (a Half and a bit). It was a genius solution because it allowed runners to self monitor their stamina and chill factor and exit the course at anyone of the loops. The volunteers were happy because they were not spread so thin. All in all, it was a most brilliant solution and a most perfect run.

The wind was not a factor in the confines of the bush, but on the open field (outbound) it tested our grit.  I wore goggles, a thermal toque, a face mask, and spread vaseline liberally on exposed skin and still the wind leaked into nooks and crannies in my layers. My exposed lower lip was in extreme discomfort. All I could do to prevent it from breaking off completely was hold a hand up over my face to block the wind. I asked one person to check to see if my face was still there. He replied, "Yea, kinda" and with that reassurance I forged ahead.

Vegetarian runners were well fed with a good selection of beans, grain, salad, yogurt and fruit. The meat eaters seemed to revel in the bacon and sausage of which there was an over abundance.  The coffee was fresh, hot, plentiful, and tasty. The food wastage was disappointing; all about were half eaten plates destined for the garbage.  Shame.

Approximately 540 runners were registered and about 440 started. The Timer person told me it's typical for about 10% of runners to not show on race day.  Today's turnout represents about 20% 'no-show' so I suppose numbers were a bit lower than previous years, but heck, that's to be expected in such conditions.

Go Jo, go!
I had the pleasure of marking the miles for the course yesterday and I gave my friend Jo lucky mile 13, Jo's Mile. I thought I would pass by it once and smile, but I passed it three times and it warmed my heart each time.  It was faded and wind blown, just like me, but it was there if you took the time to see.

It's good day to be alive all bundled up with rosy cheeks and dendrites dancing.

Mike

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Fat Ass Rockstar Marathon, Race Report


Raise your hand if you ran the Fat Ass.
Raise your hand if you ran this year's Fat Ass Rock Star Marathon.  Now take that hand and slap it repeatedly against your other hand and extend it to local rockstar Rheal Poirier for making it all happen. Lou Reed's "take a walk on the wild side" might be a fitting theme for this wild ride of a mid-winter marathon We danced feral on the wild side and, like the Fat Ass Full Moon in November, there's no looking back. The Fat Ass Rockstar is a unique, mid-January marathon along the trails of Winnipeg, Canada. 

"This is a low key, no fee, no support, bring your own water/food trail run along the Red and Assiniboine rivers" explains Rheal. 
Running Feral along the Seine River
Fifty-seven runners huddled at the start line at the foot of the Esplanade Riel and fifty-six runners crossed the finish line some hours later. Nine people ran the full marathon distance, forty-six ran the 10 kilometer, and two good looking guys ran a full marathon relay. 

A most affirmative nod goes to The Turtle Crew for their spectacular presence and joie de vivre.  One cannot help but smile in their company. What they may lack in speed they gain tenfold in heart.  

It's a good day to be alive, right Turtles?
A supreme nod of thanks is directed to the two rockstar volunteers, Bob Nicol and Doris Nelson. They placed themselves strategically along the course providing direction and encouragement. Twenty-six miles is a lot of ground to cover for two volunteers and they pulled it off admirably.  Thank you Bob. Thank you Doris.

Rheal was planting flags along the course well after midnight before the race, arrived at the start line before sunrise and stayed on course well past 6PM ensuring everyone crossed the line safely. He worked tirelessly preparing, organizing, planning, mapping, scouting, making a web page and on and on.  I'd like to tell you he made a few dollars for his trouble, but no. The only pay he received is the smiles and high fives of the fifty-seven runners. Rheal is passionate about trail running and wants only to share his love of this most contagious sport. 

He even took the time to answer several questions from a most pesky blogger herein referred to as MPB.


(MPB) Were there unexpected incidents?

(RP) For the 10 K everything went relatively smooth with the exception of a few runners not getting their "rock star". We didn't quite have enough volunteers and so we spread ourselves a little thin. I was a little nervous about this event at the beginning as I had a few people contact me beforehand saying they weren't good with directions but everyone made it to the finish safe and sound. As for the marathon we only had one person drop out. The last guy to finish took a few shortcuts and we didn't know he finished until he texted us that he finished the event. We're glad he made it to the finish line.

(MPB) Who placed first?

(RP) I have not idea who came in first. There are no real placements anyway. There are no results other than happy people who just ran an event.  It's just a reason for people to go out and enjoy.  

(MPB) What are the names of the volunteers?

(RP) Volunteers were Doris Nelson and Bob Nicol. Both were absolutely fantastic and went the extra mile the entire day. 

(MPB) What's your post race ritual? 

(RP) I don't really have a particular ritual for myself. Usually I try to clean and organize everything after the event and check on facebook to see the kind words people have said about my event.  I didn't have anything set-up post race for this event for the participants. On my half marathon night runs I've invited everyone to get together for a drink at a pub afterwards. I like socializing with my runners. I've gotten to know so many people that way. This event was a little tricky to have a post race get together. I hope some people managed to hang out after the fact. 

(MPB) Is there anyone you would like to thank? 

(RP) Everyone for showing up and showing me that people not only love to run trails but aren't afraid to run them during the winter months. I also want to thank my volunteers. Without them I would not have been able to pull the event off. I want to thank the people who shared and helped promote my event. I just found out that a mommy running group was actively posting my event on their facebook group. I find that amazing. 

Lastly I'd have to thank my wife for putting up me when I spend so much time creating the route, scouting, creating maps, creating a registration page, putting flagging and sweeping the course. It's amazing the amount of time it takes to create and event like this. It's my labour of love but it's my wife's patience and understanding with me that allows me to spend time on these passions.

You contribute to the fabric of our fine community.
Rheal, you contribute to the fabric of our fine community, indeed, you help build community. You brighten and lighten our lives. You are THE quintessential rockstar!

Only Rheal knows for sure.
Will there be another Fat Ass?  Only Rheal knows for sure.

It's a good day to be alive... dancing feral along the twisty trails of MY Winnipeg.

Mike

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Lean Horse Ultra Marathon, part 4. A guest blog by Melissa Budd.

This is the fourth and final account of Melissa's Lean Horse adventure.  With nightfall comes inky darkness and chilly air. Exhaustion creeps into Melissa's tired bones. Hyperthermia becomes a growing concern. A ten mile final climb to the finish line is a "death slog". The wind picks up and drains the last few drops of Melissa's confidence. Hallucinations creep into her mind, winged animals buzz her face, furry creatures run between her feet and nip at her ankles. David, where is David? Finally, a cheery light bobs in the distance, but is it David? She can taste the sweetness of the magic finish line. 

Thank you Melissa for allowing SMR the privilege of posting this amazing adventure. You make us stand tall in pride and solidarity.

It's a good day to be alive,  

Mike


Getting to High Country wasn’t bad, but David told me that I was getting slower.  I started to get concerned that the next woman might be on my tail.  At this aid station I asked David if he could hang out until he saw the next women.  That way I could gauge how fast I would have to go to maintain my position.  I was feeling a little anxious at this point and wished I knew how much of a lead I had.  There was 5 miles between High Country and Hill City.  I told David to wait there until he saw the next woman or for 40-50 minutes.  At this point I was running slower than 5 miles an hour.  If he got to Hill City in an hour, he would be able to catch me before I left.  The trail to Hill City was all downhill.  With my anxiety a little higher than it was before, I pushed the pace a bit.  Coming into Hill City I was surprised to not see a head light bobbing along.  Where was David?  

As I entered the town (we had to go through town to get to the aid station) I reasoned to myself that this was good.  The longer it took David to get to the aid station, the longer he had to wait to see the next woman.  Just as I made the final turn to get into the aid station I saw David.  He looked astonished.  It gave me a boost of confidence when he said, “How did you get here so quick?  I know it was downhill, but you didn’t have to sprint it!”  Another good thing he told me was that he waited for 40 minutes and didn’t see anyone.  This meant that the next woman had to be at least 4-5 miles behind me, maybe even more.  The man at the aid station said, “if you keep this up, you could have a 21-22 hour finish.    All of these things made me quite happy.  I had 15.1 miles to go, I was still in first women’s position and I was feeling good.  The only thing that was darkening  my mood was the 10 mile uphill I faced.  I had put it out of my thoughts till now.  Here is where it may get ugly I thought as I left mile 84.9.

Right away, I could feel the effects of my fast descent from High Country to Hill City.  I instantly regretted my foolishness to run that fast.  Even though I was concerned about my placement, I should have never let myself expend that much energy on the downhill.  I was going to pay for it now.  The climb from Hill City to Orville (mile 89.9) was becoming a death slog.  All of my confidence had gone out the window.  To make matters worse, the wind picked up and I was freezing.  Dropping temperatures and decreasing speed can lead to hypothermia quickly.  I had to keep moving.  The uphill grade was not horrendous, but the continual uphill with no downhill to break it up was.  The only thing that made it better was that I passed three or four men as I labored up the hill.  “Where was David? “I kept thinking.  Seeing his headlamp would mean that I was close to the aid station.  Being close to the aid station meant that I was getting close to being done.  All I had to do was keep going to Orville, then Mountain, and then a 4.6 mile downhill to Custer and the finish.  After (it seemed like ) forever, I saw a headlamp coming towards me.  

Thank god it was David.  He asked if I was okay, because this section of 5 miles took me a considerable amount of time more than the last one.  I told him I wasn’t doing well and that I was extremely cold.  He got a jacket for me and told me to keep going.  I got a few bites of something at Orville, but could hardly choke it down.  David looked at my water bottle and said, “you haven’t drank any water!”  I hadn’t!  I drank a little Coke and Ginger-ale at the aid station.  I was now only 10 miles out of Custer, but it might as well of been 100.  How could I go from feeling on top of the world 2 hours ago, to this?  I know I needed to keep moving.  I knew if I kept moving, no matter what, I’d still get that sub 24 buckle.  It was just going to be so hard.  The wind was whipping around and I really did not want to face those 10 miles.  I knew I had to, I did not have even the slightest thought of quitting, I was just dreading the pain I was going to go through to get to what I wanted.  Off I started to Mountain Aid station 5.7 miles away. 

Looking back, I was having trouble because I stopped drinking, I stopped eating and I should have been taking salt tablets.  In the moment, I couldn’t see that.  What I did see was hallucinations of animals and other things on the trail.  I was sure I would see something and then it would be gone.  Raccoons, rabbits, shadowy large animals with wings and beaks.  I wasn’t sure if I could keep it together.  The trail, at this part, had very steep drop offs on either side.  I remember thinking, “it’s okay if I fall off, then this agony will stop…I’ll be done”.  Luckily I had some sense and maintained that if I did fall, it might be worse because then I would be injured, and with my luck, conscious, and it would hurt worse and I wouldn’t be able to finish.  This was so different than last year.  Last year I had come across the leading lady at mile 84 and then had such a strong finish.  This year I had the lead for the last 50 odd miles and I was shattered!  Where is that light?  Where is that light?  I kept thinking.  Why did I tell David to not run too far in?  I really needed the company right now!  Finally I saw the light.  I was too tired and dehydrated to get mad at him for not running out to meet me at this particular aid station.  I asked, at this point (mile 95.6) if he would run with me to the finish.  Leave the car and come get it later.  Without hesitation he said, “Absolutely”.  He really wasn’t dressed for it  and it was so cold.  He asked one of the other crew people (who were standing around) if he could borrow a jacket and they could get it back at the finish.  He got a jacket from someone and we left.  4.4 miles to go and it seemed like it was not going to happen.  

To make matters worse, I started to throw up as we ran.  I guess I didn’t miss a step as I threw up.  David asked if I was okay and I replied, “yeah, it’s all good, I missed your shoe”.  At one point David started to walk, but it gave me a little boost when he said, “you are running faster than I can walk” and he started to run again.   I don’t know how, but we made it through the downhill.  All I could think was “WTF – Where’s the Finish?”.  After (it seemed) a long time, it felt as though we were getting close.  The trail flattened out and it looked like we were hitting some civilization.  No one had passed us.  I felt like I was moving so slowly but no one had passed.  We saw the trail signs and knew that soon we would be done.  As we came to the track, David told me to finish.  I got up on the track and tried not to look pained as I straightened up my stride and looked at the time as I came through the finish.  Hard to believe, but the time was 22:51.  Almost an hour faster than my time last year!  No one had passed me for the last 50 miles.  I felt so sick and beaten up yet so happy.  I was cold, dehydrated and depleted. 

After I finished, the paramedics took a look at me and decided that a doctor should check me out.  No rest for the wicked….off to Custer Hospital.  They got an IV established and gave me some medication for the nausea.  The staff at the hospital were wonderful.  They did a few more tests on me.  Everything was good, I was just dehydrated and low on electrolytes (which would explain those weird hallucinations).  One interesting thing the doctor said was that my creatinine levels were high.  Apparently, creatinine levels under 300 would be normal.  Mine registered 7000.  She said that was not unusual considering what I had just done.  She had never seen levels like mine in her years of medicine!

After the hospital, I went back to the hotel and into the bath.  The water turned dark from the dirt I had accumulated over the day.  I drained it and refilled it.  If felt so good to lie there in the water, weightless.  I actually fell asleep for a bit.  Around 8:30am, I got dressed and David and I went back to the track to see the last people finish (you have 30 hours to complete the 100 miles) and then stay for the awards ceremony.  I got to see Ann and Brittney finish (it was their first 100).  I was so happy for them.  

Lean Horse 100 2014 was done.  First women and 6th overall.  What a ride those last 15 miles were.   Huge thanks to David, AKA my crew, for all of his help.  I don’t know that I could have shaved off an hour if he hadn’t been there for me! 





Saturday, January 17, 2015

Take The Low Road

Take the low road.
We take the high road because in the long run it gives us pleasure.  We are sometimes tempted to take the low road and tell that jerk just exactly what you're thinking, but we hold back. We take the high road knowing that, although the low road approach is gratifying, it's short lived and superficial. In time we regret choices made while travelling the low road. Always take the high road friends and resist the cheap satisfaction offered by the low road. The high road is pure and demonstrates strength of character and restraint.  Take the high road.

Except when running trails.

When you find yourself at a juncture of two trails, one leading up, and the other down, always choose the low road.  The low road is cheekier, saucier and demands more.  The low road thrills the spirit and lights the brain. The low road leads to trouble of a good kind. The low road takes you to the river's edge. It winds precariously along the steep pitches. It's narrow and windy, and upsy-downsy.  The low road is less travelled and full of adventure. And sometime the low road just ends, but a thrill's a thrill, so we backtrack and start all over again.

The low road is a little bit cheeky and a little bit saucy, but never rude, just like me.

Tomorrow I run the Fat Ass Rock Star with Cheeky Tim and I'll be looking for the saucy low roads.

It's a good day to be alive.

Mike


Monday, January 12, 2015

Lean Horse 100 Mile Ultra Race Report, part 3 (A guest blog by Melissa Budd)

Those of you familiar with Melissa's character know she's sweet, mild mannered, and never-ever says bad words. All that is out the window in Part 3 of her Lean Horse saga where she "swears like a sailor" at the no-seeums that swarm and choke her breath and seize her mind. The cheers of "first woman" ring through the darkness and confirm that she is indeed "winning it for the women". She struggles on with a sore back and swollen feet. An ice-cold Coca-Cola and a fresh pair of Hokas revives her sagging spirit and she continues on into the darkness realizing at mile 75 she's a full two hours ahead of her time last year.  Part three takes us up to mile 80.3; the hardest is yet to come.

It's a good day to be alive,

Mike


The rain had stopped so I just carried the poncho looped on my belt.  I was feeling warm  and didn’t need it.  After running a mile or so, I decided to put the poncho down near a trail marker.  I planned to pick it up on the way back.  After all, carrying unnecessary gear just makes you more tired.   I folded it and put it next to the mile 96 marker (I wasn’t at mile 96 but the trail is longer than what we were running).  I continued on for just short of a mile.  Surprise!  It started to rain.  I thought momentarily about going back for my poncho – but I just couldn’t do it.  Doing two extra miles when the rain could possibly stop?  Nope – not this girl (good thing….because it did stop).   I continued on uphill until I reached DMTM which was mile 49.3.  At that point, you had to run .7 of a mile past and then turn.  I decided to not stop on the way out, but stop on the way back.  It was here that I also decided to plug into my headphones.  I needed a little boost (mentally) from my music.  I started to wonder about my placement.  I hadn’t seen any women for a while (not since the cow incident).

I checked my watch at the 50 mile turn-around, I had been running for just over 10 hours (averaging 5 miles an hour for 50 miles).   I thought (momentarily) how nice it would be if I could keep it up for the next 50 miles and finish in the 20 hour range (momentary thought!).  It was way too early to be thinking about my finishing time.  I wasn’t ready to pick up my head-lamp yet as it was only 4:00pm and it wouldn’t be dark until 8-9pm.  I stopped for a few minutes to regroup, get some food and talk with David.  He said he wasn’t sure, but he thought I might be the first or second women.  I saw a woman as I was leaving the DMTM, but she hadn’t done the out and back so would be at least a mile and a half behind me.  I continued on, happy to be on my way back now.

Still feeling good (except for my stupid shoulder) I ran the 6 miles back to Nahant.  The weather was warm and it looked as though there would not be the downpour I feared.  It was nice to finally see more people on the course as I made my way back.  I saw people I had run with earlier on. The wonderful thing about ultramarathons is that just about everyone would say something to you in passing, ”good job”, “looking strong”, “way to go”.  These are words I’ve heard before, but are meaningful all the same.  The strange thing about this race was I was also getting the words, “first woman!”, “there she is!” and clapping.  It was something I wasn’t all together used to.  Slowly it was sinking in that yes, I could be the first woman.  On my way before the turn around, I had counted maybe 12 people on their way back, but I hadn’t seen any women.  That doesn’t mean there wasn’t anyone (people can be missed if they are off in the bush to take care of some business), but I knew I had to ask David at the next aid station if he could find out for me. 

As I ran through the valley, I encountered more people with more encouraging words.  It felt strange to get that extra attention.  It is not that I didn’t appreciate it – it made me feel quite special – but there is always that part of me that questions my worthiness of warranting such compliments.  Why should I get extra merit just because there wasn’t another woman faster than me here today?  I certainly wasn’t going to be the fastest finisher – the lead male was at least a few hours ahead of me.   As I ran, I worked through some of what was going on in my head.  I finally concluded “Accept the compliments dummy”.  Even though I wasn’t going to be the fastest female to ever run this (far from it) – today I was winning the women’s side.  And if that fact could help me keep going at a quicker pace and finishing this race faster than last year – it was a good place to be and I should use it.  I knew that my friend Christine would be telling me that I’ve worked hard to get to this race and if I was in first place for the women, I needed to keep working to maintain that place.

I met David in Nahant (mile 56.6) and asked him if he knew what place I was in.  He said he was pretty sure I was in first and I told him I was pretty sure I was too.  I refueled and refilled my bottles.  It was getting a little cooler and I put on one of the shirts I was wearing earlier.  David had hung it out of the car window as he was driving and it was now dry (awesome thinking!).  I knew my next drop bag was in Rochford and I would have to pick up my head lamp there.  I estimated that I would get there sometime after 6pm.  I wouldn’t need it yet, but the next drop bag was at Horse Creek which was mile 75.  Last year I got to mile 75 at midnight and had a good 4 hours of dark!  David mentioned that because I had a crew (him), I could pick up my head lamp anytime, he would just have it in the car with him.  It really was so nice having a crew!  So David would get my head lamp out at Rochford and have it in the car with him until I needed it.


I was starting to feel a bit down at this point (physically).  My trap was still hurting (despite A535 reapplication at every aid station).  The trail from the DMTM to Nahant and Nahant to Rochford was a little long and the people I had been seeing were getting sparse.  Two miles before Rochford, surprise, I see David!  He was running out to meet me.  When I saw him, I thought “good!  I’ll be at an aid station right away”, but David told me in about 20-25 minutes we would be at an aid station.  I got a little upset and said, “Why did you run so far?  When I see you it is only supposed to be a few minutes to the aid station!!”  Poor David!  Here, he was trying to give me more company and in turn I got upset because I wasn’t close to an aid station!  I apologized and thanked him for coming out that far.  I did mention though, if I could, just come out a mile (just for my mental sanity).  We laughed at how funny the mind works. At Rochford (mile 62.7), we got out my headlamp and I made sure that David PROMISED me that he wouldn’t get lost and not meet me at the next aid station.  I also got out a small mag-light and put it in my running pack (just in case he did).
 
Onward to Gimlet Creek (mile 66.3).  I liked knowing that my next aid station was only 3.6 miles away.  I was still feeling the effects of my shoulder and my chest muscles were hurting as well.  I hadn’t had a coke for awhile and it was making me a little grumpy.  David (true to his word) came out of Gimlet less than a mile away.  He asked me if I could have anything in the world right now, what would it be?  I thought it was a strange question, but I responded, “I would give my left arm for a coke right now.  Why?”.  He just said, “no reason, just wondering”.   As we approached one of the many wooden bridges, what did my wondering eyes did appear?  A Coke at the foot of the bridge….in a pile of ice.  I actually had to stop and laugh!  I asked him, “How did you know?”,  he replied that he, “just knew.”  I was so happy chugging that can down.  Gold star for my crew!   

At the aid station, I put on a long sleeved top as it was getting later and a little colder.  It was close to 8:00 and getting dark.  I got my head lamp from David and continued on to Mystic (mile 70.5).  I was a little sad that I wouldn’t be able to appreciate the beauty I had seen as I came through the first time, but I knew I would still be able to listen to the creeks that ran along side the trail and the waterfalls.  The area around Mystic was a little cooler, so I kept up my pace so I wouldn’t chill.  

As I was running by the beautiful creek I had admired on the way out the most horrid thing happened.  As twilight set, out came armies of bugs!  Not large mosquitoes, but little “noseeums”.  Those pesky tiny bugs that go up your nose, in your mouth and in your ears.  They were everywhere!  I ran along waving my arms back and forth in front of my face like a madman!  I must have looked insane!  I’m don’t have a “potty mouth” but suddenly I was cursing like a sailor.  These things were relentless.  I contemplated quitting, but even if I did, and I stopped, they would swarm.  There really wasn’t any way out of this hell but through it.  Luckily the aid station was close and I saw a headlight bobbing toward me on the trail.  It was David.  Man it was so nice to have someone to rant to!  As I vehemently described to him this hell that I was experiencing, he talked me down and told me to turn off my headlamp.  The light was drawing the bugs to my face….duh….again, glad to have the sense of someone else.  After running for over 14 hours straight, sensibility leaves.  David also lifted my spirits by reminding me that once it was dark, the bugs wouldn’t be a problem. Horse Creek was the next aid station and David said I was doing great.  I was feeling good after leaving the aid station.  My back pain was letting up and it was actually a nice change to be now running in the dark.


Just outside of Horse Creek (mile 75.3) I saw a headlamp bobbing towards me.  I could see David when he was further away now because of the light.  I told him that I really missed running with him when I was going through the tunnels.  They were very creepy at night and would be a perfect spot to REALLY scare someone.  I think, had the tunnels been closer to the aid station, either David or I would have probably done that to each other.  At Horse Creek I had my drop bag.  It was around 10pm.  I was pleased with my time.  Last year at mile 75 it was midnight.  I was ahead of last year’s time by 2 hours and feeling much stronger.  I contemplated switching my Nike Pegasus shoes for Holkas.  Holkas are very spongy shoes.  I had done a training run in them during the summer.  

The good thing about having David there was that if I didn’t like how they were feeling, I could switch them at the next aid station, he would just carry them in the car.  So, upon David’s insistence, I switched up my shoes.  Wow, they made my feet feel like they were wearing pillows.  I didn’t realize how sore my feet were until I put on the Holkas.  Instant relief!  I knew, at this point, I had 25 miles to go.  Even if it took me 8 hours, I would still get my sub 24 belt buckle.  This was my “B” goal.  “A” goal was to finish the race, “B” goal was to finish before 24 hours and “C” goal was to finish faster than last year (23:49).    I was feeling great.  I was still in first place for women and all of my goals were still within reach.  I did have to remind myself that now it was going to get harder.  The longer you go, the harder it is.  Although I thought to myself, last year I actually picked up my pace in the last 16 miles.  I left the aid station feeling confident.  On to High Country and mile 80.3!

To be continued in part four.