Hellgate 100k – DNF #2

Friday December 9th – I spent the day traveling down to Virginia.

The week leading up to this was full of not running, a lot of working, and very little sleep. Not that I didn’t have time for sleep – I just couldn’t.

I was pretty terrified. Reading race reports. Getting advice from teammates. Hearing about the other cold years at Hellgate and “Hellgate Eyes.” I was way out of my league. Plus I hate being cold.
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I panicked about the clothes I had to wear. Got new gloves that were wind/waterproof but not bulky. New tights that were a bit thicker and also had pockets! Pockets are cool. Got my first SmartwoolΒ thing – a long sleeve base layer. New shoes – Merrel all out Terra’s… put a whole 6 miles on them before the race. Friends gave me boxes of hand warmers and toe warmers. Got a new headlamp so I’d also have a backup. I didn’t want being cold or unprepared be the reason I DNF.
shoes
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So yeah. I was terrified. I had a few simple goals.

1. Make it through the creek crossing 3 miles in.
2. Make it to sunrise (7.5 hours)
3. Make it to the 2nd cutoff (12.5 hours)
4. Enjoy it.
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I rolled into Camp Bethel around 9pm. Immediately found Chris, Ron and Hobbs inside getting ready. I had missed the Horton speech. It was cold. My toes had gone numb already. I was opening bags of hand warmers and they would disappear into pockets and gloves. Toe warmers already on. I debated on wearing my puffy jacket for the first half…. could I ever be too warm? I dont think so. But Chris was giving me looks like it was a bad idea.

Gettin ready in Bethel - photo by Chris O'

Gettin ready in Bethel – photo by Chris O’

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We left for the start around 10:30pm. My Mom drove me and new friend Tommy.

We wander around the Hellgate Trail Head for an hour or so – checking in, and disposing of drop bags.
bag
Horton tells everyone to line up about 15 minutes before the start. I take off puffy jacket 😦

Hobbs and I - photo by Chris O'

Hobbs and I – photo by Chris O’

I knew a lot of the first half would be on fire roads. Also knew that my feet would be getting wet in 3 miles – This was the thing I was most worried about.
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There was a good amount of water to avoid in the first few miles – each time thinking maybe that was the creek, and maybe it had dried up. But no – eventually I hear the water roaring, with no stepping stones in sight. I see others looking around – others saying “you just have to cross.” I of course start my way by almost falling in – I have a pretty bad rep with water crossings…

Cayuga Trails 50 - Water Fail

Cayuga Trails 50 – Water Fail

I reach the other side. Expecting my feet to be freezing, and was planning on having to change socks right away. But they felt fine? I decided to just keep moving and change later.
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I was very surprised at how comfortable I felt. I wasn’t cold. Well. I had feeling in my fingers and toes – pretty much all I worried about. I was glad I had no puffy jacket.

It was colder in some areas than others. I knew Headforemost Mountain would be the coldest. Also where my drop bag would be. I wore my sunglasses all night. I took them off briefly because I wanted to see the world in… not a yellow tint. My eyes felt cold when I blinked. I can see how they could freeze.
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A lot of the climbing was on roads. You could look up and see headlamps winding the mountain – Seeing where you had to go. The night was clear, and stars were bright – I would confuse them with headlamps. I turned mine off at one point – It was much darker than I expected. But the sky was awesome.

I missed a turn at one point. Found myself in a very dark area – trails weren’t too clear. I heard someone yell – and saw a string of lights pretty far away…. lame. I turned around.
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I wasn’t looking at my watch. I just wanted to make it to my drop bag to switch my vest. I was using an Ultimate Direction vest, and borrowed a soft flask from Mertsock. I should have tried it out first – I just cant do bottles in the front. It was driving me crazy. At some point the soft flask left. We had a few good sips – but I was relieved it had dissapeared (Sorry Mertsock – I will replace it πŸ™‚ ). Yes – I was much happier without water. I didn’t feel like I needed much, and everyones water was freezing anyway.

Other than some vest issues – I was fine. The cold was bareable – If it stayed like this, I would be good. Tho I knew I was still heading for the coldest part of the Mountain and the coldest time of the morning. But I was 20 miles in, and felt pretty fresh.
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The first cutoff was at 6:40am at Floyds Field – supposably mile 22ish. I kept watching my watch miles creep up. 22 miles…23..24…25…25.6. I finally reached my dropbag, and it was 5:45am. I didn’t want to stop, I could feel how cold it was… but had to get this vest off. I switched it fast… then decided I should change my wet socks here too – because everything was starting to freeze. I went over to the aid station to get out of the wind. My hands quickly became useless and numb. But socks were changed… I would be dry and would have water for the daylight hours.

I grabbed some food, and a cup of water – it was frozen. I was shivering. Hands and feet numb now. I had to get moving. It was 6:05am and I took off. It was a nice incline out of the aid station, I was running to try and warm up. My lungs were getting tight, I was so cold. I was panicking. I felt like I was about to get stuck – not being able to breath, and freezing. I knew the sunrise would be coming soon… I couldn’t be done yet. I turned around. I had to re-set. If I keep going in panic mode – I wont get very far… and the breathing thing would only get worse.
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Upon my return to the aid station new friend Tommy was there. I told him about my brief attempt to leave – and he told me to get warmed up, and come out with him when he’s ready. I said OK.

I watched runners come and go. A group of us were de-frosting at the heater. Steam rising off gloves and glasses. Everyone’s water was frozen. Jackets were frozen from sweat. It was single-digits here. THIS is what I expected from this race – this is the cold that I feared. This was the stuff that I didn’t think I’d be able to handle.
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I was still at the aid station and it was 6:30am. I was pretty ok with leaving just before the cut off – I wished I could stay there till sunrise.

Tommy was finishing up with his shoes and socks, and grabbing some food. I was preparing myself for the 2nd attempt in the cold. Two other girls dropped here.

Tommy and I start our way to the trail. Immediately I’m shivering again. But I was pretty calm this time… Tommy did some talking, I tried to answer through my teeth chattering. We were running, and it was already starting to get light. Goal #2 was to see the sunrise… I was so excited.
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We had 5 miles till the next aid station, and so far it was all runable. We talked about our running, and mutual running friends. Then looked off to the left and saw red sky and beams of light… this was awesome.

We reached the next aid station pretty quick. We stayed together from this one too, at least for a while. Running had been feeling good, but walking I would get so tired. I was pretty confident in my ability to stay awake, or function on no sleep. I figured as long as I was moving – I wouldn’t be tired. Maybe it was the 26 hours awake so far – or maybe it was the lack of calories in the first half. Maybe both. I would be perfectly happy sleeping outside right now – it was beautiful out. Tho still cold.
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I told Tommy that he should take off if he felt the need. We knew we would be pretty close to making the 12:30pm cutoff. I was not as motivated. I didn’t know If I’d be able to stay awake for another 9 hours. But I told myself I would have to keep going if I made it.

Tommy had taken off. I was pretty happy being solo again. I didn’t stress about the cutoff. The trails were awesome. It was in these moments I asked myself some questions. Maybe the sleep deprived version of me had better answers. Definitely not the answers I had expected.

I heard voices then realized I almost nodded off. There was no one around.

I reached the aid station at 36ish miles. A tiny aid station – no crew one. No cars to hop in. I asked how far to the next one – they said 8 miles. I laughed.

This would be a long one. I stuffed my pockets with snacks. I’d need them to stay awake.
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I was still pretty happy to be outside. I don’t think I would’ve stopped yet anyway. I was loving this race. Only wishing I wasn’t so tired. I felt great. I had some minor IT band pain after my wrong turn earlier – made downhills kind of lame.

My watch was dead – so I had no clue how many miles I had left till the Bearwallow cutoff. It was 10:30am – Thanks to my fitbit I could at least know what time it was. I had 2 hours to go 8 miles… more or less.
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I was pretty zapped energy wise. I kept waiting for the 2nd winds to come – they never did. Food didn’t help. Salt didn’t help. Even with the lack of hydration – I was well hydrated… (3x in 11 hours) – what the heck. I walked pretty much every incline – which meant a lot of walking. I’d run when I could. But never got a good groove. I’d get tired – then eat something, then get tired again. But I didn’t care. There were moments when the wind was gone and I felt warmth from the sun. I’d look around and could tell I was in the middle of something awesome.

I felt like I had gotten pretty far. Between 11:30am and 12pm – I was thinking I might actually make the cutoff. I had been on the trails near Bearwallow before – crewing for Hobbs last year. And the trails were looking familiar. They were getting more technical and rocky… and covered in leaves. I made an attempt to run more – but each time it didn’t last long. The leaves were pretty ridiculous – a foot deep and covering large rocks. Basically not runnable if you want to have ankles after this. But I still had 30 minutes… I had to be close.
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30 minutes came and went. Things looked familiar, then things looked like they would go on forever. I would be done when I reach the aid-station, and I was pretty ok with that.

I got to Bearwallow sometime around 1pm. My mom was there. We grabbed my drop bag and drove over to Boplets Gap – One of my favorite spots. I really wanted to get there via trail. But couldn’t leave without visiting it again.

Boplets Gap aid-station

Boplets Gap aid-station

I texted with Chris and went to find him and other friends at the finish line. I was excited to see everyone had survived, and speedy friends and team mates were finishing well.
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Overall times were not as quick as previous years. Everyone had a hard time with the last 4 miles of rocks and leaves into Bearwallow. They were calling this year “The Frozen Year.”

There was a recorded low of 8 degrees – not counting wind. 90% finished last year (the hottest year), 82% finished this year (the coldest year).
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There are a few things I would do different.
1. Try to sleep before the start.
2. If it’s cold – don’t stop. Even if it meant not having water – It was cold enough that I would survive another 20 miles… probably.
– If I had kept moving through Floyds field I think I would have been fine. Or at least would have made the 2nd cutoff.
3. Should just stick with what I normally use – Orange mud vest. The ultimate direction one is awesome for carrying things – but can’t find a good way to carry water/ a way that doesn’t drive me crazy.
4. My face froze sometimes. Probably cover it more.

Things that worked well.
1. Home made energy balls. One of the few things I ate in the first half – and they were awesome.
2. Gloves and mittens over them. I could feel my fingers for most of the race.
3. Hand warmers. I think they worked.
4. Toe warmers – I think they worked too. I could feel my toes for the first 20 miles.
5. Pockets. Pockets are awesome – easier to use than digging through a vest.
6. Sunglasses. I wore them all night. And all day.
7. Palmers cocoa butter chapstick. If there’s one thing I hate – it’s post race chapped lips.
8. New Merrel shoes – All out Terra’s. Awesome.
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I went into Hellgate pretty terrified. Pretty sure I was way out of my league. Finding myself along side people that are running Western States next year. —> Yeah – what am I doing here?

I found myself here with a large group of friends and MPF teammates. As hard as I tried to be alone – I found myself surrounded. And welcomed it.

I had a great race. I did something I was terrified of – and it was only briefly terrible. I felt like I belonged after all — I wished I could say I finished.

I got 47 miles… and it was awesome.

I plan on attempting Hellgate again. If Horton lets me back πŸ™‚
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This experience would not have been possible without the Red Newt Racing/ Mountain Peak Fitness team. A number of them were out there and had great races and finishes. If you’ve been thinking about training with a coach or personal training – Mountain Peak fitness has some of the best and most experienced.
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Here’s some races to put on that 2017 calender.

Apr 15, 2017: Breakneck Point Trail Runs, Beacon, NY
Apr 15, 2017: Muddy Sneaker 20k, Naples, NY
May 20, 2017: Ontario Summit Trail Race, Ontario County Park, NY
Jun 3, 2017: Cayuga Trails 50, Ithaca, NY
Jun 18: Gorges Ithaca Half Marathon, Ithaca, NY
Jul 8, 2017: Whiteface VK, Wilmington, NY
Jul 9, 2017: Whiteface Sky Race, Wilmington, NY
Aug 13, 2017: Dam Good Trail Race, Letchworth State Park, NY

The end.

Looking at Hellgate 100k

In 13 days I’ll be running Hellgate 100k.
It starts at Midnight – In the mountains of Virginia.

Unlike most races – you couldn’t register until just about a month ago. And it involved sending in a paper application to be reviewed by Dr. David Horton and comittee. 145 runners were selected – 28 females and 117 men.

hellgate_map
There’s about 12,000 ft of gain? I think – over 65ish miles.
hallgate_elevation

This will be much different from most other races I’ve run. No getting there a day or two early. No hotels or sleeping before the start. No need to worry about waking up early or breakfast. None of the usual crew.

I’ll be rolling in around 8/9pm for check in – then catching the ride to the start.

I’ll have one drop bag that I’ll get to see twice. I’ll have friend Hobbs and RNR/MPF team mates racing as well – my guess is I wont see any of them after the start. Hope to catch up with them at the finish If I don’t take the full 18 hours.

It will be cold. The trend for VA seems to be low’s in the 30’s – highs of 40’s/50’s. It’s currently looking cold and rainy for the 10th.

Usually I’d be more worried about being cold. But this years been about doing things outside of my comfort zone. Sometimes that means failure.

I’m looking forward to the long day in the woods. Looking forward to the sunrise after long hours in the dark. I’m pretty confident in my ability to perform on no sleep – but it’ll be interesting to really put that to the test. Looking forward to friends and teammates and my mom(!)Β at the finish. Hopefully I wont torture her by looking deathly or pretending to be hypothermic.

I’ll have 18 hours to finish. 6 hours and 40 minutes to get to mile 22.5. And 12 hours and 30 minutes to get to mile 42.5. My main goal for this race is going in un-injured. And being able to breath for the majority would be nice.

Maybe I’m looking for some clarity. Maybe I’m looking for some answers. Maybe I just figured out a way to get some real time to myself. It’s hard for me to not include others in my race plans – as I know friends and crew love this sort of thing. As always – it will be interesting to see what happens.

The end.

Twisted Branch 100k – 2015

Update:
Now that a few weeks have passed – Race reports have been rolling in. Instead of reading my sappy mess, you should check these out.

Jeff Green – Actually all you need in life is Jeff Green, and his reports. Read this and you’ll be happy forever.
Rob Feissner – Never ran further than 33 miles. Race was over before it started. He pulled this race off like a pro with his positive and relentless attitude.
Mike Mertsock
– Knows how to race, knows what he’s capable of. Before this race he said he wanted to push himself harder than he has before – he did just that.
Jason Vidmar – Continues to be the nicest guy I know. He’s a marathon runner, on his way to the dark side of ultra running.
Chris O’Brien – Great friend and teammate. Never ran an Ultra before – so he chose the hardest one and battled his way to the finish.
Matt Bertrand – Had constant knee issues the 5 weeks before this race. He wen’t into this injured – never doubting that he would finish. He never stopped moving, took 2 minutes or less at aidstations. Ran/walked/hiked perfectly in order to make the cuttoff at the finish line.
Dan Lopata – You would normally see Dan as the course sweeper, or volunteer. He chose to run this one, to challenge himself. He, as well as half of the other racers, found himself chasing cut-off’s.

Ascend Collective – Check out the masters of photography, and their photos from Twisted Branch.
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Friday, August 28th.

I convinced Jeff to give me a ride to Ontario County Park – I had decided I would join the crew in camping before the race. We picked up Mort. Got to OCP and drove aimlessly until we saw The Feisners, the Lopata’s and Josh. Eventually we found our correct site – home of Chris O’brien, 5 cars, and too many (cool) people.

The night was clear and dry, I set up my tent without the rain fly. Jeff, Strat and I played Frisbee until we decided we should prepare to run this thing tomorrow. We sat by the fire, surrounded by fellow racers, pacers, and crew members. They started trickling away into tents around 9pm.

I crawled into my tent. I layed there and could not sleep. I didn’t want to look at my watch, I didn’t mind. As a person that likes to be awake, I especially liked not sleeping in this setting.
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Saturday, August 29th.

At some point I woke up. In all the “not sleeping” I was doing, I was having dreams that I couldn’t sleep. I opened my eyes and was completely happy. Looked at my watch, it was 2:08am. I was wide awake, but layed there until 3am.

I was soon joined by Chris, Strat and Jeff by the cars, as we sat, and did pre-race things. One thing I lacked to think about was how long it would take to walk over to the start. As I walked back to camp from the bathrooms, cars had left. So I started walking, looking at my watch it said 4:50am. I started running. Made it with a few minutes to hang out at the start, and off we went.

Start photo - by Dave Justice

Start photo – by Dave Justice

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This would be Ultra #6. My first ultra only being 15 months ago. Each of them completely different, and one thing I’ve learned is you never know what will happen. I expected this race to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I never expected it to be mentally and emotionally the hardest day of my life.
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The race starts as expected. Nice and easy, long down hill in the dark. I’m soon surrounded by the people I’ve trained all year with. It starts to get light out, and we break apart. But it always seemed that none of us were ever alone. Jeff and I were together, and eventually heard voices behind us that sounded like Matt, Strat and Chris. The five of us re-united again, but it was still early.

Things start going south quick. I had been feeling twinges of cramps in my feet early on. I tripped or kicked a root, my calf seized up. I looked at my watch… it was mile 12. It’s too early for this. Miles 13 – 15 involved a good amount of climbing out of Naples. We hiked about 1000 ft in this section, and may have pushed too hard. I was toast. I took a pretty good spill in the Hi Tor area shortly after. Seized multiple leg parts. I layed, clutched my legs… here it was… break down #1 out of 20. I sat, Jeff sat with me. And that was it – we were in this together.
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After I picked myself up, we start running again. And soon realise we don’t see orange. We had missed a turn, and wandered onto some camp ground. A guy was there, and said this trail would lead back to orange, but we didn’t want to risk cutting the course.

Wrong way.

Wrong way.

As we ran back up the trail looking for orange flags, we saw Rob Feisner. We caught him just as he was missing the turn we had missed. Glad to save him the extra mileage, and welcomed his company. Rob stayed with us for a while, told us how he had a bad morning. He was the LAST person to cross the start line, but was working his way towards what we be a better day, 24th overall and 16ish hour finish.
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I had forgotten to return my headlamp at the first aid station, and was carrying it up until my spills in hi-tor. I noticed I was no longer holding it. Must have dropped it. But really – Jeff had it.

We finished the 1st half in 7ish hours. Things were ok at Italy Turnpike aid station – mile 29ish. Things were definitely going south though. We were 10 miles from Bud Valley. 10 miles from picking up pacers. 10 miles from still having 20+ more to go. I looked at my watch… we could make it to Bud Valley by 2:30pm.

With Jeff by my side, we had some good stretches of running, good stretches of dyeing. I lost track of cramps and break downs – but that was all me. We got to a quick stop aid station around mile 35. We sat in some chairs, there were other runners sitting, taking their time. I had M&M’s and tailwind by accident. And a PB&J. and more M&M’s. We left eventually, and set off for a long 4 miles to Bud Valley.

We came to a short steep up hill to a road, and had to pick ourselves over a guard rail. We sat. Looked at my watch. We could still make Bud Valley by 2:30pm. Jeff had actually been keeping track of cut off times – turns out bud valley was 3:30pm. We realised as we sat… we would be chasing cutoffs the rest of the night, and started moving.
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Bud Valley was the emotional turning point. Mike Welden was there, waiting for me. He would be my pacer. Mike Bray was there, he would be Jeffs. My parents were there, I can’t even remember if I talked to them. Danielle Snyder – is like my spirit animal – always there… always makes things better. Mike started walking towards the woods, trying to will me away from the aid station. But Jeff was still there. I started walking towards Mike. I walked backwards. Heart breaking as the inches grew between me and the person that stuck with me through over half of this. I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t leave. I wanted Jeff to come. I went back – Jeff and Bray followed.

Photo by my Dad

Photo by my Dad

Shortly after – the distance between Mike and I, and Jeff and Bray grew. Bray eventually came up to Mike and I…. Said he didn’t think Jeff wanted a pacer. I wanted to go back. I looked back, I saw Jeff. I looked forward… Mike was still running. Mike was there for me. Completely torn…. This was the hardest part of the race. The hardest thing I’ve ever done. My Heart broke…completely. I couldn’t breath. I ran away, crying. Mike noticed I was emotional… he told me the low points would pass. But this was no low point.
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It took a long time for me to get over abandoning my friend. I should have went back. Everytime I thought about it, I couldn’t breath. But running felt good. Cramping was less frequent – until I would trip or kick a root. I had Welden and Bray… sometimes they ran together ahead of me… sometimes I was Mike sandwiched. Bray left us a few times to wait for Jeff at aid stations.

As the running increased, breathing was becoming more difficult. I could no longer take deep breaths. I would focus on breathing…. but it hurt. It started to feel like I was breathing through a straw. I became stressed, and breathing was audible to Mike. He told me to stop. I was angry, I kept running. Mike kept telling me to stop.

I did finally. Breaths were short, sharp, and hysterical. I had stabbing pains in my ribs. I hunched my way over to Mike and a log. We sat. I was dyeing. Mike secretly wanted to pull me at this point.

We sat for a good 5-10 minutes. Then started walking. We still had 4-5 miles till Urbana. Bray caught back up to us and I was eventually ready to run. Running felt good again, breathing was better. We caught up to Matt and Jason, and Chris and Dave. We passed them, we ran hard. Trails were awesome in this section – flew down the hills. Ran all the way into Urbana, just as it was getting too dark for no headlamps.
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I took my time at the Urbana aid station. My headlamp was MIA (I would later find out that it saved Jeff’s life). Josh gave me his. I put on a long sleeve, as I had been feeling cold. Stole some pickles from Matt’s pickle stash (Thanks Meagan). Was about to start running again… then realised – I need to hug Josh. So I did.

It was 8:30pm as we left Urbana. Supposedly only 4 miles to the finish. Mike and Bray said it’d be an hour. I said 2 hours…. at least. We walked, it was dark. We knew we would be climbing soon.

I had been doing terrible on climbs up until now. My legs would cramp. Or I felt dizzy. There were times Mike walked behind me, to make sure I didn’t fall back. I had been dreading the climb out of Urbana. At the rate I’d been going, it would take an hour.

The climb starts right around mile 60, and it’s about 886ft. Steady climbing until mile 62 or so. But it went well. I didn’t mind the climb. I was alone. Mike and Bray were a ways ahead, but close enough for me to hear Bray complaining.

We get up this thing, pop out of the woods and were greeted by the moon.
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The finish line was elusive after this point. It was so close, but so far away. Always seemed like we had 2 more miles to go. I wanted to run, but I couldn’t run without tripping (tripping = cramping). We hiked. We can eventually hear the finish line music, but it would still be about 30 minutes till we got there.

The new Triad Trail was pretty awesome. The switchbacks would have been cool to do in the daylight. The finish line was straight out of the woods.

I cross a road. See the lake, see the finish with tons of lights, and people. Im greeted by Eric. Then Danielle. Danielle gave me the details on everyone else, including Jeff. Where was Jeff!? I didn’t think he was there. But eventually she said – “oh, he’s right over there”.

I walked over. Managed a word…. “Jeff.” Hugged him, and sobbed for the 20th time. Then we sat and talked. I heard Matt finish shortly after, then Chris right behind him. Roger Oskvig shoved food at me, and tried to make sure I wouldn’t freeze to death. But I was good. I went over and hugged everyone. Matt, Chris, Danielle, Jason, Dave, Jeff’s parents. It was weird to be done.
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People I need to note:
Jeff’s parents. We saw them more than anyone else during this race. Everytime I saw them, no matter how I felt, I couldn’t help but smile. They are so supportive, so positive… they were also usually a sign that an aidstation or road was near by.

Ben Metcalf. Helped Mike out all day with crewing. I would see him out on the trail, waiting for us. Always a welcomed site, and once again – couldn’t help but smile at his presence.

Jason Vidmar and Dave Justice. Two marathon guys that were there to pace 2 other runners. But I would discover them helping me, throughout the day. Two guys that are now unknowingly part of club Welden. Two guys on their way to the darkside. Welcome to the family you two.

Josh Stratton. DNF’d at 50k. I would start seeing him at every aidstation, and as sad as I was that he didn’t finish… I Ioved that he was there. He’s so positive, and has a smile that makes you forget life has problems.

Danielle Snyder. Ofcourse Danielle was there. Ofcourse she made things better. I didn’t require any technical help at this race – like getting gloves on cold wet hands. But if I did, she would’ve been the one to pull that off. Her words, and company was all needed this time.
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Results:
I was 32nd out of 47 finishers. About 87 people lined up at the start.
6th female out of 11
64/65ish miles in 17:36:56 (course cutoff was 18 hours)
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Things I learned:

  • As proved by Matt and Rob Feisner – this course can be completed with less than ideal training – with the right amount of mental strength and determination.
  • Matt can run with no knees.
  • I never felt tired or fatigued. The mind and heart were willing, the body just doesn’t cooperate sometimes.
  • Sometimes the adventure trumps finish time and place… or finishing at all.
  • Team Welden + Jeff + Jason + Dave = ❀

Things I used for fuel:

  • Oatmeal for breakfast
  • Picky bar in the first hour and a half
  • pb&j (x3)
  • 1 pickle at mile 12, then not again until 40 and 60.
  • nutella and jelly (x2)
  • Oreos (x4???)
  • M&M’s (x???)
  • Chips of some kind
  • water
  • salt tabs

If there’s one thing the course lacked – it was pickles. Jason had bought some and left them at a few aid stations. But most didn’t have any. Pickles are awesome. Everything else was perfect though – Scott Magee pulled this off amazingly.
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Coach told me never to think of this race as a failure. I was like… yeah – no way. This was the best race of my life. I experienced things to new extremes. I was out there for almost 18 hours, and never wanted it to end. Jeff and Mike both saw the terrifyingly emotional side of me, and didn’t run away. This race made friends and the community feel more like family.Β I felt love, pain, heartbreak. I cherish the experience I had, even if it was rough.
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Post Race
We ventured to Mikes Lake house only a few minutes from the finish line. People trickled in, and gathered around the living room with post race drinks and food. We stayed up until 3am or so, and eventually passed out on the floor. It was over. There was no sense of great achievement. Just a sense that this was some kind of turning point.
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A little side note : I asked Mike to Coach me in December 2014. Shortly after, I signed up for this race. Twisted Branch would be what we worked towards all year.Β  I soon found out that Dan O, and Jeff Green signed up. Then I Met Chris and found out he was with Mike too. Then Matt and everyone else signed up.

We all do different races throughout the year – but this one, brought everyone together. Im beginning to feel like home isn’t the old yellowish house I live in.

Home is running silently with Mike. Neither of us being good at all at small talk. Home is 8+ hour training runs, with a group of friends I can never tire of. Home is any amount of time with Jeff Green, Mike Welden, Matt Bertrand, Chris O’Brien, Josh Stratton. 5 People that have showed me nothing but love, friendship, and support. Makes you question what love truly is. These people are my life.

The End.

P.S. Save August for Twisted Branch 2016.

Strength doesn’t come from physical capacity, it comes from indomitable will – Mahatma Gandhi

The Road to Twisted Branch

Sometime in November/December 2014 I signed up for Twisted Branch 100k. The race is point to point – beginning at Ontario County Park (Naples, NY) and finishes on the shores of Keuka Lake (Hammondsport, NY). The race is scheduled for August 29th. Currently only 28 days away.
elevation

My training has been pretty consistent. Even though I feel like I’m a slacker – The month of July was only a few miles short of my mileage for May – 247.8 (highest mileage month ever). In May I RACED 127.9 miles. July I only raced 13 (total mileage = 242.7).

Bar Graphs! ... are cool.

Training bar graphs! … are cool.

May 9th – I ran 58.7 miles in a 12 hour race (Mind the Ducks) – Pretty much a 12 hour training run.
May 31st – I ran Cayuga Trails 50 Mile. That was goal race #1.

June 20th – We previewed the 2nd half of the Twisted Branch course (50k training run). It took us 8 hours. Looked something like this….
last50k
last50k2
How’d I feel after that? Terrible. Super intimidated. Do I really want to race this and die? not really.

June 27th – We completed the ADK Great Range Traverse. Which put me in a “completing stuff with friends is fun mode”. I know coach thinks I can do well… or “win”. If I try to do that I’ll likely be in tears, and not in a good place mentally. So im not gonna try to do anything.

July 4th – I watched Jeff run his first 50 miler – Finger Lakes 50. While Mike and I ran the “course” backwards incorrectly… somehow ended up with 20 miles out and back – when it should have been a 15 mile loop.

July 11th – we went back out and ran the first 50k of the Twisted Branch course.
first50k
first50k2

I felt better about the 1st half. Much more runnable than the 2nd. Just as much elevation though. Just as dead at the end. And took almost as long.

July 18th – I raced 0SPF – Trail Half Marathon. Took 23 minutes off last years time. 13th overall – 6th female – and 3rd in AG. Trailsroc never fails at putting on an awesome race – or being the best cheer squad – or aid station.
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July 25th – I watched my coach run 100 miles (Burning River 100). I thought Cayuga was the best race experience. Turns out crewing and pacing are way better. There’s really nothing like watching someone run for 23 hours. And in the meantime watching other people run – and coming up with names for them. Like “confused guy”. Or “rough guy”. “white shirt guy”. “Yellow shirt guy”. Don’t judge us on our naming skills – Were an obvious bunch.

We were also cheering for Daven. Eventually we got a text from his dad saying he could use a pacer. Matt and Jeff shuttled me to the 70 mile mark, and I jumped in. My first time pacing. Daven’s first ultra with a pacer. Cool. unfortunately this meant I would miss 40 miles of Mike running. But pacing Daven was probably the coolest thing I’ve done yet. Good company, and an enjoyable 20 mile run. And maybe I helped by being there? Maybe not – 4 hours of silence can be annoying.

Oh yeah – and Daven won. Cause he’s super cool. and Coach was inching his way up the entire day – finished in 17th overall, and sub 24 hours. __________________________________________________________________________________

August 1st – (Today) – Ran with a fun group of people on the Crescent Trail. Managed 18/19 miles. Seeing most of them again tomorrow at crazy hours (4amish) to run the start of Twisted Branch in the dark.

Everything that’s happened gets me more excited about running. Running longer. Adventuring further. Sleeping less. It’s the one thing im 100% about. It also makes it seem like everything else is falling apart.

Life’s confusing. I don’t know what im doing. Somehow I manage to make it to work everyday. I fear Kyle might disown me eventually. I’m the closest to “bankrupt” I’ve ever been. But I have this thing where I don’t care about money, cause it’s lame. You should be able to do whatever you want. Much like my thoughts on sleep (a waste of time). Both are equally bad advice. I used to care about things. Now I just care about people. Im contemplating 100 milers – something I had no interest in earlier this year. I used to be so organized, and punctual. Now it’s just chaos. Lovely chaos.
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So back to Twisted Branch. Do I have a plan? No.

Thinking of combining the first half and 2nd half is pretty terrifying. I could compare it to Cayuga – I mean, it’s only 10 miles more right? yeah. Cayuga was super runnable though. Cayuga hills were steep – but they were over quick. Twisted Branch is a soul sucker. The kind of hills that just beat me down. They never end… then turn a corner, and continue to never end.

I guess I could be semi-optimistic and say there are more runnable sections than hills. I’m just a wimp. I like rolling stuff. I like downhills. Or if im on a mountain – going up is cool. When I want to run – not cool.

So how’s this gonna work? The thing that’s worked best so far, is having simple goals. Forget cut off time. Forget any time goal. Forget the competition – it will be good. I’ll try to stumble my way in, but the course is rugged and hilly – it’ll be a long day. I will break down. I’ve accepted this is just part of the journey. Hitting bottom, finding what’s important, then bouncing back.

I’m beginning to think I don’t want to spend that day alone. Normally I love the point in a race when everyone is spread out, and I’m in no-mans land for hours. Maybe I’d be all about some “me time”. But im beginning to think of it as an adventure. And who’d I want to adventure with… hmmm.

I’ll have a “crew” – but I don’t think I’ll need them for anything other than seeing their faces.

So It’s August. This thing happens soon.

The end.