"In a limitless world, why set your sights on the attainable? The prize within an arm's reach? Why not think a little bigger? Our expectations are the foundation for our accomplishments. The target you aim for is more than likely going to be the target you hit. You are worth more. You are capable of so much more than you give yourself credit for, but like anything, if you don't recognize and do something about it, the impact will be minimal." -Eddie Pinero, "Setting Targets" Your World Within
Temps were outstanding: 85 for a high and 48 for a low. Delaina and I got up at 4:15a, and we were out the door at 4:45a. The Mogollon Monster 100 started at 6:00a after a brief race meeting.
Food: I brought less of my own food this year, anticipating the “non sweet” race food. I mostly ate race food, quesadillas, ramen, peanut M&M’s, grilled cheese, a few oreos, peanut butter pretzels and Gatorade. I had some of my own food too, one chocolate/coconut GU, one cinnamon/white chocolate bar, one lemon cookie bar, 5 Skratch electrolyte mixes.
What I wore: Through mile 43, I wore compression shorts, sport’s bra and tank. Miles 43-78, I added a long sleeve, gloves, buff and compression socks. Miles 78-100, I got rid of the long sleeve, buff and gloves and put on a tank top. I wore my Hoka Challenger ATR 3’s. I had on my Ultimate Direction pack for all of my running, except miles 43-78. I had on a hat and my Suunto Ambit 3*.
*my Suunto lasted the entire 32 hours and 20 minutes with 32% battery life left.
New Things: Contrary to popular belief that you should “not try anything new on race day”, I did and I do. . . . I ditched my pack for miles 43-78 and ran with two handhelds instead. I picked up my pack again for miles 78-100. I have never ran a race with two handhelds. It worked out fine, and it gave me a break.
Miles 0-6 were a gradual ascent with rocks and switch backs. I started near the back and ran behind 2 runners from Colorado. The were running/hiking conservatively. I stuck with them for a while and moved in from of them about mile 3.
Miles 6-10.3 were a gradual decline to mile 10.3, where I would first see Delaina (my crew) at the Geronimo I aid station. More switch backs down, some steep. I stopped at the aid station, briefly, for refills of food/drink. This part of the trail was mostly exposed. The weather was great. The sun was out and a cool breeze was blowing.
Miles 10-20.3 started with a two mile climb. This was the most exposed portion of the trail. It felt warm here. Parts here reminded me of Zion. I arrived at Washington Point I aid station. Delaina refilled my drinks and restocked my food. She also gave me ice for my hat and for the arm sleeve that I wore around my neck.
Miles 20-26 began with a STEEP (understatement) climb up a rocky ascent (this will be repeated again at mile 43). I’m estimating a 20%+ incline up. Once up top, it was more climbing, on a forest service road to Houston Brothers I aid station. I would have liked more ice for my hat and sleeve at this aid station but they did not have enough to spare.
Miles 26-43 were some of my faster miles. SWEET single track on the plateau and a break from the rocks. The forest was dense at the top. It was beautiful. In this section, I ran for a while with the course designers and former race director’s, Jeremy and Noah (brothers) and Jonathon. These miles took us through two aid stations and back down the steep, rocky hill we climbed to Washington Park II aid station.
I started to have a bit of a mental struggle around mile 40. My stomach was a nauseous and I was thinking about how nice it would be to go to sleep in a bed and not run all night. I cried. I think that the elevation on top of the plateau and the faster running may have contributed to the nausea. I told myself that I would be able to sit down for the first time in the race at mile 43. I would let myself rest and eat. The nausea would go away.
At this point, I was approximately 1 1/2 hours ahead of my projected time. My pacer was not there, yet, I had to wait. (I found my pacer, Maria, on the Aravaipa FB page. She agreed to pace me ALL NIGHT for 35 miles!!!! I was pretty lucky to find her).
<<blister intervention: it was here at mile 43 that I decided to pop my one and only blister on my big left toe. One of the EMT’s walked over and offered to help. I decided to let him, because I was still waiting on my pacer. I popped it with a safety pin from my race bib, and I had started draining it. They decided to scrub it with a disinfectant soap. (yes scrub). That hurt. Then, they used a large syringe to poke into my blistered toe in order to further drain it. They used that d@%m needle twice. It hurt like heck!! They topped it off with an alcohol wipe, mummy wrapped it and sent me on my way. OUCH.>>
My pacer, Maria, arrived. I changed into a long sleeve, put on a buff, gloves and headlamp. We were off. BACK up the rocky, steep, 20%+ climb to the top of the plateau. We’d stay here all night, until sunrise, running at around 7,100′-7,800′.
Miles 43-78, these miles covered all of my night running and four aid stations. Delaina went home to sleep. Our house was about 20 minutes away from the Washington Park aid station. Delaina would be back at 5:30a.
Maria and I left the aid station around 7:30p and returned around 6:30a. Our night segment was pretty uneventful. It did get colder on the rim at night. We made sure to eat hot soup and hot food at each aid station. I was tired but moving well. I was slowing down on the climbs but cruising the downhill and flat miles. We heard elk and coyotes but only saw a mouse and a bunny. The sun started to rise at 5:30a. It was beautiful and windy on the plateau. I was looking forward to a change of clothes, food and the last 22 miles.
Miles 78-88 at this point I was so happy to have made it through the night! I came into the aid station and grabbed a change of clothes from Delaina. She fed me some more quesadillas, and I ate some peanut M&M’s. This section was “rolling” and exposed. It ended with a downhill into Geronomo aid station II. It was warm, but the breeze was cool and felt great. I tried to run/hike this section but it turned out to be only a power hike. My toe was in a lot of pain and I continued to hit it on an occasion rock, AGH!! I passed a few runners on this section. I still had my music. There were moments of tears, mostly out of frustration. If my toe was not so irritated I could have done some running. My body felt good.
Miles 88-95 HOME STRETCH! This section had more ascent than decent and more rocks!!! I came into Geronimo and briefly stopped. I did not want to sit down or stay too long because my legs felt good and there was not anything I knew to do for my toe at this point. So, Delaina was quick to get me going. Little did I know, the surprise I was in for, right before the aid station at mile 93/95!!! GLAD I was unaware of the difficulty! This section was mostly shaded. We were running with the 35K racers for most of this. (let me tell you, this is one heck of a 35K!!)
The surprise? A ridiculous, not even laughable, because it was so steep, switch back climb to the aid station. Guys!!! At times this was so steep that I had to use my hands. I did have to pause several times here to catch my breath. It was tough. Once at the top, I thought I had 5 miles until the finish. The ladies at the aid station told me that I had 5 to the Pine Trail Head and then, 2 miles to the finish. I almost did not believe them. I just wanted to be done!! Tears again and again.
Miles 95-101.5ish mostly downhill and mostly rocky and forever. 😦 At this point in the race my watch was off by about 12 miles. It dropped the satellite many times over the course of 101 miles. So, I was relying on my time estimation to know when I was close to the trailhead. Every turn. . . every straightaway. . . every climb. . . “was I there yet? Can I be there already?” The tears flowed a bit here, because it was over. I made it. I finished.
Then, I saw Delaina. I could NOT have been more happy to see her!! HA! I was there. I was done. She was so happy to see me. She was happy to see me for all of my 32:20 hours. I was MORE happy to see her this time. We walked the last 1.5ish miles to the finish. Closer to my ‘5 GUYS’ burger and fries. Closer to my shower. Done and Done (as Teresa would say to me.) It was a good feeling. Other than my toe, I felt good! What a race!
I would definitely recommend this race. It was tough, beautiful and exciting. Logistically, It is an easy race to crew and pace. The volunteers were top notch. The race directors had things planned and executed well. Cannot say enough good things about it. I would not change a thing.