Carnage: 2 blisters. 2 purple big toe nails. NO chaffing. Did not change my socks or shoes.
I brought to eat (and didn’t): Probars. Luna Bars. Square Bars. Stroop Waffles. GU roctane chocolate/coconut gel. Z bars.
What I ate: Watermelon @ every aid station. Sprite. 3 large turkey and cheese sandwiches. 2 quesadilla wedges. 1 grilled cheese. 2 pb & j cracker packs. 2 cookies. Ginger Ale. Soup. Ramen. 2 packs of GU watermelon, electrolyte chews. Skratch labs drink mix in pineapple. Water.
What I wore at some point during the race: Hoka Challenger ATR 2’s. Dry Max Socks. Lululemon* tank, sport’s bra, compression shorts, long sleeve, 1/2 zip. Buff. Gloves. Calf sleeves.
*I get a discount at Lululemon AND I really like their stuff.
Equipment: Petzel Reactik headlamp (6 hours). Black Diamond headlamp (5 hours). iPod shuffle (12 hours). Suunto Ambit 2 (until mile 61). Ultimate Direction AK vest. Handheld flashlight. Decided AGAINST hiking poles. Camelback handheld water bottle.
Songs on repeat: “Patience” (Guns & Roses). “Flashlight” (Jesse J). “God of My Everything” (Bebo Norman)
A week before the start, the course changed a bit for the last 34 miles. Pacer 1 would run 14 instead of 9 miles. Pacer 2 would run 20 instead of 26 miles. There were a few different aid stations that left us scrambling a bit the evening before as we neared the deadline to leave our drop bags at the start. . . race meeting. . . star gazing. . . dinner. . . bed.
31:04 the best that I remember it. . . Kathy, Delaina and I were up at 4:00 am and out the door with coffee in hand at 4:30 am. It was dark and cool at the start.
I had my hand held flashlight instead of a headlamp as the countdown began, 10, 9, 8. . . 3, 2, 1. . . we’re off! Cheers, whistles and hollers rang out. I got a last hug from Delaina and Kathy. I would see them in 28 miles.
I liked the climbing. NO, I LOVED the climbing, 10 miles uphill. I settled into a rhythm. There was a fire burning in Northern California. You could smell the smoke and the smoke from the fire created a haze that obstructed some of the view. I was eating and drinking, relishing the climb. I was not looking forward to 13 miles of downhill.
After 10 miles of climbing, it was all downhill to my crew and mile 28 at Seattle Bar. I arrived at 12:38 pm. I completed the first 28 miles in 6 hours and 28 minutes. (The cutoff at this aid station was 2:00 pm. I was looking forward to seeing my crew. It as starting to get hot. Hal had mentioned in the race meeting that runners would be into this aid station faster than expected. I ate some watermelon, got my bottles filled, got some bars for my pack and a turkey/cheese sandwich. I had been looking forward to that sandwich! I remember coming into this aid station in kind of a “fog”, mentally, not sure why? Delaina and Kathy hugged me, put watermelon in a baggie and sent me off. I kind of felt like they were sending me off, alone, into the wilderness, HA! And, they were. Hal said that next section would be the toughest part of the race.
The next 13.5 miles were the hardest part of the race! It was the hottest part of the day, the climb was steep, and I struggled. I was hot. I was having a hard time eating. My stomach struggled. My heart rate was high. After 6 miles, I made it to the next aid station at mile 35 at Stein Butte. I took an arm sleeve, stuffed it with ice and put it on my neck. One of the aid station workers told me to bow my head and he slowly poured a few cups of ice water on my neck and head.
It felt good . . . to stop, to get ice, to be in the shade, to eat some watermelon, drink some sprite. This was the lowest part of the race for me. I cried. I entertained the discussion in my brain of quitting. It took me almost 2 hours to eat my turkey and cheese and 1 GU gel. Glad I ate. My stomach was still “iffy”. There was a lady here that did not look good and I could tell the her non-verbal communication was not coming across to aid station workers. I tended to her for a bit (ice for her hat and helped her to lay down). The aid station workers took over and I headed out. A bit distracted, I forgot 1 of my water bottles.
“Being willing to be uncomfortable is essential for building toughness; it’s a characteristic that will pay dividends when honed to its fullest potential.”
–Jason Koop with Jim Rutberg, Training Essentials For Ultrarunning.
I arrived at mile 41 at 5:06 pm, cutoff time was 6:30 pm. This aid station was called Squaw Lakes. You arrive at mile 41, run a 2 mile loop around the lake, and leave at mile 43. Boy! This aid station was like an oasis from the heat. I arrived and my crew quickly took my pack and handed me my handheld water bottle. It was nice to have my pack off. THAT section was tough. I walk/jogged around the lake and relaxed a bit, mentally and physically. Tim Olson did give me a bit of encouragement before I arrived. He told me that when he won the race, the second section was the toughest for him. He said I would gain my legs at the lake. 🙂 Thanks Tim! Delaina met me at the edge of the lake and walked me back to our “set up”. They had a chair and blanket laid out with my stuff. I only remember seeing the chair and I sat. I also told them, possibly sternly, that I only wanted to sit for 8 minutes. Not sure why I chose 8 minutes, but it sounded good. 🙂 I got some ginger ale, watermelon and another turkey/cheese to take with me. Delaina ran and got me my calf sleeves from the car, and Kathy put ice in my arm sleeve to put back around my neck. Those two were so smart. They set me up, right next to the aid station tables instead of in the back, where I would have to walk around everyone resting and sitting in the shade. Delaina met me at the edge of the lake so that I would not wander in this oasis too long. I do not know if this was their plan, but it was SMART. Nine miles to the next cutoff and to the next time I would see my crew. I was off.
I did ask for my compression socks, “maybe, they are in the next bag”
Miles 45 to 65 would be the longest climb of the course, uphill for the most part, going from 2500′ to 7500′! I had my headlamp on, the sun was setting, it was cooling off. (exhale).
I arrived at Hanley Gap Aid Station 8:30 pm. The cutoff time here was 9:30 pm. Here, I could drop my pack for a bit. My crew met me and handed me my handheld. I had to hike up 700′ to grab a flag and bring it back to the Aid Station Captain before continuing on. This was a hike. Man! At the top, I paused for a bit. The stars were so bright. The wind was blowing. I could not believe I was there. . . in Oregon. . . running 100 miles. Wow. At this aid station, a lot of runners were dropping. My CREW!! Again, they placed me right next to the aid station table. I did not see any of the carnage. THOSE TWO. They always had happy faces and hugs as I left the aid station. I wanted to make them proud. The got me my long sleeve shirt and 1/2 zip. It was getting cold. They packed my gloves, another sandwich and watermelon.
I did ask again for my compression socks, “maybe, they are in the next bag”
14 miles to go (miles 52-66) and one aid station in between until I saw my crew, my 1st PACER and hit the LAST cutoff!! Woo Hoo. It was cold. My iPod shuffle died. It was dark. I would need to stop every once in a while to catch my breath. I would occasionally turn off my head lamp. NO ONE was around. It was awesome. The STARS. I decided early in my training that I would look forward to the darkness. . . darkness of night, darkness of mind. What a cool place to be. . . in the darkness. I did not really see much wildlife. I saw a Jack rabbit, a baby owl and a few black scorpions. I wasn’t scared. By this point in the race, the number of runners had thinned out considerably. So, aid station to aid station could be lonely and quiet. I loved that.
I made it to the mid point aid station between 52 & 66. I arrived and sat. Almost immediately, I started to shiver. I knew that I could not stay long. I had some soup. Another lady walked in and sat. We both watched as a man sat shivering and sick. We encouraged the aid station workers to get him in a sleeping bag and have him lay down and warm up. He was not doing well. She and I decided that we could not sit and shiver anymore. We had to move. We had 6 miles to go. I do not remember what time it was. My watch died at this point. It kept the time but not the distance or elevation. I do remember looking at my watch before it died and it was the first time I have EVER seen 5 digits in the spot where the ascension goes!! Very cool.
My friend was tired. We talked to keep each other company, and I was hoping to keep her alert and moving. The only thing I remember about her is that she had two horses. She told me their names, but I forgot their names. I knew that we were getting closer. You could hear the music. By closer, I mean 1-2 miles away! My crew, pacers and I drove this part of the course the day before. I knew exactly what we were looking for. I pressed on faster, because we were almost at the trailhead up to Dutchman Peak and MY 1st PACER, the last cutoff.
I hit the trailhead and looked at my watch. It was 1:15 am. I made it. I made it. I made it. I got a bit choked up. I had a mile to go, but I knew I could go a mile in 45 minutes. I was in!! I arrived at mile 66 at 1:42 am! (huge exhale, a few tears) I received a hug from my pacer, Michelle, and I sat down. I ate some ramen, about two cups, some sprite and some watermelon. It was FREEZING. About 5 minutes later, Delaina came running up. I was hoping to be here at 12:45 am. She was worried. The aid station captain encouraged us to go. It was cold. I need to start moving again.
Michelle and I made our way down one mile to the car. Delaina ran ahead of us. At the car, we were all there, me, Kathy, Michelle, Delaina and Teresa. I washed my feet with a cold, wet washcloth. I asked again where my compression socks were. . . I am sure they were like, “if she asks about those D@$% socks again. . . “ I ate some more watermelon. I switched out headlamps. I got hugs from everyone and we were off. I felt at this moment a humongous sense of relief. I felt like the race was now in Michelle and Teresa’s capable hands. I just had to keep moving. I was being SO well cared for and these two were ready to do their part and get me to the finish line.
Michelle is a (Boston) marathoner. She ran fast. She especially ran fast to my 66+ mile fatigued, sleep deprived body, HA! This section of the course was on the Pacific Coast Trail (PCT), very cool. The time with her went by fast. Michelle lives in CO. I have not seen her in years. We had a lot of catching up to do. Our conversation went deep. She was so positive. I remember that she told me I would not be running mountains like P2P in heaven. She said God would have bigger ones for me to climb. That made me cry. 🙂
The first 8 miles were relatively downhill. The last 6 to mile 80 were gradually uphill. The sun came up. Such a cool experience to be in the dark for so long and to be still moving as the sun rises. It was warming up a bit. We did stop for a bit at aid station 73.5. Michelle “ordered” me a grilled cheese. I ate some more watermelon. The aid stations at mile 73.5, 80 and 90 were my favs. (All day the aid stations were excellent.) I think I was a bit loopy for these and in really good spirits! I was having such a great time. Michelle was very encouraging and positive. I also remember crying as we ran into mile 80. Michelle kept telling me how strong I was and that “I was doing it!!” She said this many times. We arrived at aid station 80 at 6:33 am. I SAT. I ate some soup.
Teresa was rearing to go! She was almost bouncing? Okay, she was not bouncing. I exaggerate. T W E N T Y miles to go. I could not do math in my head at this point. I was a bit concerned that I would not make it? Michelle and Teresa were so confident. This is just what I needed. They had talked about what pace(s) I needed to run in order to finish. I think we probably left this aid station at 6:50 am or 7:00 am.
10 miles to the next aid station, but 8 miles to the last climb over 7000′. 8 miles to Wagner Butte. (A mysterious, secretive climb-HA!) This section took SO long. The steepness of the trail was getting to be painful. UGH. Parts of this section to Wagner Butte reminded Teresa and I of Tillamook 50. We came to a place on the trail that broke off to Wagner Butte. People were leaving their packs here. I left mine and we headed toward the Butte. Boy! This section went on and on and on. FINALLY. . . we made it. We had to scale some large boulders to reach the top and grab a flag, which turned out to be a pink or blue, plastic baby pacifier! NICE touch. This was one of the best views yet. Teresa stayed a bit below. It was beautiful.
Teresa was great on this section. She was encouraging. She walked a lot more than she probably thought she would. The downhill was relentless. She would “suggest” that we run and I would say, “I don’t want to.” It hurt. Really, at this point, walking hurt, running hurt, standing hurt, sitting hurt. The goal was NOT to stop hurting. The goal was to finish!! Gosh, finally, after about the 5th time she “suggested,” I decided to move. I took some Tylenol. Maybe, that would take the edge off of the pain in my toes and quads.
Now, on to the next aid station at mile 90. MILE 90. 10 miles to go. I was doing it. It was so great to get to this aid station. We arrived here at 10:53 am. The aid station was off the trail, on a jeep road. We had 10 miles downhill. Thank goodness about 9 of it was on the jeep road/mountain bike trail.
It felt better to run than to walk. It just took like 3 minutes to get started and for the ‘focus on the pain’ to go away. I planned for this. I told myself it would hurt at some point. This was that point.
Your questions, your anxiety should never revolve around whether or not you’re comfortable. If you want something bad enough then you know that being uncomfortable is an ingredient. What hurts now in the present is the very same thing that will transform your life down the road.
I asked Teresa to put us on a run/walk interval. We ran 5 minutes and walked 5 minutes for about 8-9 miles. This was great. This is when Teresa looked at me and said, “You know what Byron said on Facebook?”
Beyond proud of my wife, Elizabeth Redman McClain. She finished her first 100 mile trail race in 31:04 hours!!! Looks like she has about a 17 minute pace. That is just amazing given the terrain she had to run across. She is such an amazing woman!!! And she loves me!!!
We both started crying. We quickly got it back together. Oh dear! We finished the mountain bike trail and hit the pavement. Well, it was like San Francisco. Good grief!! Really? So STEEP. I walked a lot of this. Walked until I was one corner away from the inflatable finish line. Teresa peeled off to the right. I went straight. I crossed. I finished. I could stop running.
Stay tuned for more. . .