For some reason I decided that this was my year to try something a little different with my running. I wanted a new challenge, so last November I decided I would get myself into the Wasatch 100. I spent the next 9 months with the race in the back of my mind, constantly thinking about and fearing the pain and the difficulty of the race. I have never been as nervous and as scared as I was in the days approaching the race. There were many times in my training that I had decided to drop out of the race, but somehow I found myself at the starting line on the at 5:00 in the morning on September 8th.
I didn't have a pacer for the first 40 miles, but I had my family, my friends, and my team in my thoughts, so it was nice to be able to communicate with them a little bit. I think I counted 127 text messages during the run. They were so positive and really kept me going. I am sorry that I didn't respond to their questions - it is difficult to text and run on trails. Brad was sending me messages to update me on the BYU races. It was getting me so excited. In fact, during that stretch (from about 9:30 am to 11:30 am) I was running along a few different ridges, and I moved from about 12th place up to 5th place. It was also the fastest pace that I ran the entire race - because I could not hold back my excitement. Sometimes he would send me updates and I would raise my hands in the air and cheer. (don't worry, I was alone at the time - no one could see me). Thanks to my athletes for running so well and motivating and inspiring me.
The race was incredible. I kept saying that I could not believe how good I felt and how positive I was thinking. My hip flexors started hurting about 12 miles into the race, but that was the only trouble I was having. I was able to eat and drink and stay hydrated. I came into the aid station feeling great at 39 miles and picked up my 1st pacer (Steve Petty), and was able to see Stef and Ashlyn for just a second, but it gave me a huge boost. Steve did a great job getting me to mile 53 at Lambs Canyon.
Mile 53 was the highlight of my race. I can't describe how uplifting it was to see so many of you there. My parents (and about 20 other people who were at the scene) have told me how incredible my team is, and I absolutely agree. I left the aid station on an unbelievable high that kept me going the next 2 or 3 hours. My next 2 pacers (Kenneth and Mark - old college running buddies) were surprised that I was so upbeat and that I could keep moving so well. My knees and my hip flexors were still in a lot of pain, but it didn't seem to slow me down too much. It was not until nightfall (at about 70 miles) that I started to feel some major pain, I was also having difficulty eating and drinking.
I made it to Brighton Ski resort (mile 75.6) at about 9:30. I knew that I was tired and hurting, but I also knew that I could finish. I was still in 5th place. Stefanie and my parents were there which gave me a huge boost. I grabbed some food, read about 20 inspiring text messages, and set out on the climb to 10,500 feet. I also picked up my last pacer, Jed, who had stepped up to pace me last minute. It is difficult to write about the last part of the race. Right as we left Brighton I could feel that I was in trouble. We slowly walked up the trail to Lake Mary. It was a steep uphill, and I was really struggling to lift my legs. I also started having some difficult stomach problems. Jed and I had to stop a few times so that I could throw up. I would feel a little better for a while, but knew that I was losing valuable calories and electrolytes. Everything I ate, I immediately threw up. Okay - this is getting gross, so I will finish up quickly. It took me and Jed about 1 hour to hike 2 miles up the trail. We came to a point that I had to stop and sit down. My legs were cramping and I was shivering and getting a bit delirious. About 5 or 6 other runners had passed me during the hour. I laid down on a big flat rock and couldn't get up for about 30 minutes. Jed kept encouraging me, but my body was at its limit. Everytime I tried to stand up and keep going, my legs would cramp and I would start shaking uncontrollably. We finally decided to walk back down to Brighton. But even that 2 mile walk seemed more difficult than the 78 miles I had already traveled. My stride was about 6 inches wide because I couldn't lift my legs. I had to keep stopping because I couldn't lift my legs. There were 2 or 3 times where Jed put me on his back and carried me as far as he could. Eventually I was able to walk a little bit, but the hour down the mountain was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. It was made even more difficult because I kept passing runners that were continuing the race up the mountain, and they were all so sympathetic and encouraging. I wanted desperately to keep going, but there was nothing I could do. Jed and I covered about 4 miles together in just under 3 hours.
My pacers were all incredible, and I felt bad that Jed had to struggle with me through the hard part. Steve, Kenneth, and Mark were the lucky ones. We had fun and I was doing well, but Jed had to endure the challenging parts with me. I covered a total of 80 miles and then officially dropped out. I feel like it was a physical decision, not a mental one. People think I am crazy for trying and crazy for putting my body through something like that, but I am glad that I tried it and that I had the experience. I pushed my body and mind harder and farther than I ever had before. The most I had run before the race was 31 miles. It would have been nice to finish, but at the same time I know that I did my best.
Cleaning my feet at Big Mountain