To start out, I do apologize for taking SO long to write part two, but I have been busy. Its time again to register for the Wasatch 100 and you have to ask yourself, do you do it all again? Clearly that answer is different for everyone, but for me its reasonable simple. First and foremost, does the wife approve? Second, was it worth the time, sacrifice, and suffering. Thankfully in my case both of these answers are yes. (with some small print of course) So assuming I don't change my mind between now and then I am going to put in my application. Just to give you an idea how quickly your fitness drops when you are at that level, I went for a run yesterday with one of my pacers and we did somewhere in the range of 6-8 miles in 1 hr 30 mins. Today my legs hurt, and I noticed my quads as I pulled my fat legs into the truck. Not bad for running 100 miles just 3 months ago and still having maintenance runs in between. So by May it will be back to square one.
Back to the story. After leaving the big mountain aid station, the sun has started to set, its still warm, and the course is easy. I currently am running with a 60+ year old hard man who finished the Hardrock this year in like 38 hours. Thats one of the nice things about these races, it seems you are constantly humbled. He pointed out a fascinating old airway beacon along the course which I wanted to go back to see but haven't. As we continued to run along the Sun is starting to set over the Stansbury mountains, similar to the joy in your soul that is beginning to set as well.
There was some anxiety associated with this part of the trail as just 7 days earlier I had fallen three times on this section, stubbing my left big toe, all three times. On the third fall I was running down a steep, black diamond, mountain bike course where I took a header off a full on run down a steep section that brought tears to my eyes. I never checked but I likely caused some type of hairline fracture in the first metatarsal. After rolling around on the grown for some time I was able to run the 4 or so miles out that day, but didn't run again until the race. As I ran down this section of trail in twilight, my mine focused on NOT doing that again, since I still had 50 miles to go.This section brought some of the first frustrating moments in trail selection too. I haven't been able to run this section exactly right yet after attempting (hence the black diamond mountain bike trail) to finish this section once before. Now that I had the trail markings this section turned out to be a mile waster, as I affectionately called it. A place where there put in meaningless turns and switchbacks to get the mileage right. The trail we should have run went along the ridge and dumps you out at Summit Park, yet the trail we ran takes down yet another steep, ball bearing ridge descent with scant switch backs. You descend down to the powerline trail almost all the way to Little Dell Golf Course, then promptly start back up the hill toward the pass on the powerline trail. where you cut off into the woods to cross the ridge to lambs canyon. This is one of those trail life lessons, if you will.
Its not the actual distance that matters; it the perceived distance and difference between the perceived and actual distance that dictates the mood at which it is accepted.
I think this section of trail was one of those crushing moments where the trail felt twice as long as it should have been (because it was) for the section of land crossed. When I finally rolled into the lambs canyon aid station, the Euphoria of Big mountain had rapidly disappeared. The good news was that my whole family was again waiting for me, as well as my first, soul supporting pacer.
Its always difficult to explain the emotional experience associated with such an event, but pacers are like catalysts to that experience, either good or bad. My first pacer, a friend who I respect deeply, and have enjoyed many a good time with, helped hold me off of the pit for another few hours. We started out together into the dark of lambs canyon together on a familiar section of asphalt that would soon lead to the beginning of my favorite 25 miles of trail. This is where I noticed, for the first time, the substantial difference between my training pace/strength and my race pace. The natural assumption is that race pace is faster in most races, but not so for me. I think in my training runs I would do the lambs canyon section of trail in around 55 minutes round trip at a good healthy pace (which in the mountains means like 12:30). Yet this time we where just creeping up the trail with large sections of walking. Yet what was still encouraging at this point was that I was still passing people, like I had been doing since the beginning. In my convoluted consciousness, this is where I anticipated making the most progress over the competition because 1.) I new the trail very well and 2.)I felt like I was best at climbing, which was the next 25 miles or so--Unfortunately I was mistaken. This was the last section where I would pass anyone for good.
As we rolled into the big water parking lot in Mill Creek, I started to realize that i was seriously hurting. Not so much in a fitness level, but in a fatigue sense. I was so tired, week, and out of it I just wanted to sit in my lazyboy (a camp chair) for the next 5 hours... The good news is that I was surrounded again by friends and family to encourage me to leave my lazyboy. After having a selection of food that didn't taste all that wonderful I headed out into the dark again with Dave, a fellow runner who I would spend the next 40 or so miles with, and my second pacer, an old friend from elementary school.We left the bigwater trailhead toward dog lake in another section of trail that I considered to be easy yet my training experience was light speeds faster than what I was doing now. This section of trail is the second big mile waster section where you go to dog lake, down Mill D South to the Y, then back up to desolation lake. My personal route would be East out of Big Water to the great western then along the ridge via the crest trail to Guardsman's pass. Either was additional climbing and descending was required. That being said when we reached the desolation lake aid station, it was a sight to see. Too me, it looked like the end of a rave with the camp fire still raging. Interestingly enough I don't remember anything except arriving at the aid station. We then began the climb up to the spine and out towards brighton.
This was where the pit began. If you remember the blog link I post sometime back about explaining the ultra experience this was the pit. Not in the means of your physical fitness, but in this case fatigue. As we ran out the easy section of the trail towards Gardsman's, I started to experience serious sleep depravation and dilution.
For the first time ever in my limited experience the desire to sleep was almost able to overcome the desire to stay awake, even during serious exercise. Another way to explain it is the subconscious starts to become as or more powerful than the conscious. Ever had the head bob's when your tired? How about while running? Well we where running and I was getting the head bobs, fading in and out of consciousness, and somehow staying on the trail. This is also where I experienced the best hallucinations. If their is anything I remember clearly, er kindof, its the hallucinations. I'll talk about them in part III.