Erin’s First 100 – Bighorn 100

I ran 100 miles…

It still sounds so strange to my ears, but I have the buckle, the jacket, the blanket to prove it.

After falling apart and dropping at The Gorge Waterfalls 100K I nearly didn’t even start.  If I couldn’t do 62 miles, what was I thinking trying 100 miles 9 weeks later?  But one night at our running groups post run dinner, Ryan sat me down and simply told me what I was going to need to do for the next 9 weeks to turn this around.  He also offered to be my pacer. Then came a flood of great advice from all my fellow runners with everything from training tips, to mental training.  There is a HUGE amount of knowledge in the Rocky Mountain Runners, and they were all ready to get me to the finish line.

The day before the race I was getting better at saying WHEN I finish instead of IF, but If I was honest… I didn’t really believe I could do it.

Right before the start Silke must have sensed my fears (or has incredible timing) because right before she darted off to the front of the pack she gave me a quick pep talk and mental toughness advice.

And then we were off…

I took the first climb easy and enjoyed the incredible wildflowers blooming everywhere.  Despite my easy pace I rolled into mile 13 aid feeling like my legs were wrecked.  3500 ft of climbing done, but much more to go. I listened to everyone’s advice, and didn’t worry too much about my legs.  It’s a long race, it’s early… anything can happen, and headed down into the valley of heat and despair.

 

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Flowers!! – Photo by: Ryan Smith

At this point my legs were feeling better, but I was a bit queasy so Matt left me for dead at kept on moving.  I found Carey at a spring shortly after, also not feeling great.  I sat with him, and chugged a little cold water before hitting the road again in an hours long chase to catch Matt.  I got to Footbridge early evening and was already feeling better in the cooling temps.  Rush got me packed up for the night and I set off for 18 miles of climbing.

The glowsticks were fun to follow in the darkness, and soon RMRs started coming down the hill on their return voyage.  It became a fun game of see if the next runner had an RMR shirt without blinding them permanently with my headlamp. Silke was the first through, and gave me a hug and another mini pep talk as we passed in the dark.  At cowboy camp, I saw Lassen, Andy, and Guy on their way down and we chatted for a couple minutes over soup.

I got to give Matt a smooch about a half mile from Jaws, and then before I knew it, it was time to turn around.  After finally getting a quesadilla, Ryan and I left Jaws, and with me on a cheese high, we proceeded to make short work of the first 5 miles back to the last aid station.  From there we moved well, but some of the rockier bits really slowed me down. The sun rose shortly before footbridge, and the views of the canyon were incredible.  I kept expecting to find myself in a dark place of hate and sadness, but instead, I continued to marvel at the beautiful terrain. Instead of the sun waking me up, it put Ryan and I into zombie mode for a little bit.  Thank goodness for coffee and pancakes at footbridge!

 

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All smiles – Photo by: Ryan Smith

 

Even with the rocky descent, I still managed to gain about 30 min on project hunt Matt, and sure enough, part way up the wall I caught him.  We both got to the next aid station together, and then it was my turn to leave Matt for dead. At mile 82 it was getting hot, but this was it… leaving this aid station meant that I was going to finish my first 100 mile race.  Ryan started to push me a bit through here, trying to make sure I ran every downhill step.  Things went well until we hit the final canyon.  Between the heat and steepness, I slowed to a near crawl.  When we finally reached the base, I dunked my shirt, and and cooling scarf into the river, and headed for the road.  5 miles.  5 miles of 105 heat back to the park.  I would shuffle until I felt I was boiling from the inside out, then Ryan would take my cooling scarf and hat, crawl down to the river, dunk, repeat.  There were a few life saving sprinklers on, and popsicles with 2 miles to go.  I thought the popsicles would be divine, but I wanted beer, and beer was still 2 miles away (the popsicles were pretty dang good though). Coming around the corner to the park I was thinking that I would hold it together, but then suddenly I turned the corner and there were cheering crowds, with the RMR’s all lined up cheering me in.  So I cried like a baby.

 

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truckin along – Photo by: Ryan Smith

And that suddenly… I was done.  I had earned my pizza, beer, and a chair!

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I totally want to go down this canyon right now – Photo By: Ryan Smith

This race was surreal for me because it went so smoothly.  I was sore from the long miles, and it was hard, but I never felt as terrible as I had imagined I would.  I got queasy in the heat, but never threw up and never cramped.  I was sure I would cry like a baby, but was overall in a great mood (except for that finish line cry), and only in the final 7 miles did the heat make me really suffer. I was just chugging along.  Slow but steady summed up my 30 hours 40-some minutes of Bighorn.

I can’t thank Ryan my pacer enough.  He chugged along with me for about 16 hours, gave me encouragement when I needed it, and pushed me through those final miles.

Thanks to Matt’s parents for crewing, and Matt for being my awesome training partner. (He finished this monster race too!)

And finally All the Rocky Mountain Runners who without their terrible influence I would never have signed on for such and adventure. Looking forward to more stupidity with this lot.

 

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All the 100 mile finishers – Photo By: Ryan Smith

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We did it! – Photo by: Ryan Smith

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