This race was really meant to be one part of a whole experience. This blog post will also be one part of a whole story. (breaking it up into pre-race, race, and post race hiking/thoughts)
The story really began last year. Several people from my running group had been looking for a scenic, 100 mile race that was large enough to accommodate a group of us, that wasn’t a lottery so people could get in, and that was in part of the country where most of us haven’t been. The race opened mid winter, I almost didn’t get up to sign up, but a text from Lynx and Spinz propelled me out of bed and downstairs to my computer to sign up. 11 out of the nearly 20 of us signed up for the 100. I wanted to make a vacation out of it, and wanted my husband to join…so I opted for the 52 mile race instead of the 100, (which was what I really wanted to do.) I knew I could run 50+, and still have energy and not be too sleep deprived to go to Rocky Mountain National park after for a week of hiking.
We flew out to Colorado Wednesday morning, picked up two friends in Denver, and headed up to Sheridan WY. The drive is a fairly straight shot up north from Denver, on the same continuous highway, but the scenery change is quite extreme. We passed the jagged mountains of Rocky Mountain National Park’s front range, and into wide sweeping prairie lands. Soon the flat ranch lands became rolling again, and eventually turned back into mountains. We arrived in Sheridan just in time for dinner, and met up with Lynx, Gumbi, and Grub (three of the eleven guys who were running the 100.) We poked around the very cool old west downtown of Sheridan, and then headed home for some sleep.
Thursday morning I woke up to “the flu.” For about 10 minutes I was concerned that I picked up something on the flight, and then common sense kicked in and I remembered I was probably just having a reaction to the altitude. We found a nice local coffee shop and after some blueberry gluten free/vegan pancakes and tea I started to feel a bit more like myself.
What made me feel even better was the concoction of beet juice, ginger, and orange juice Lynx made back at the house.
We met up with the final runners and their families, and headed off to packet pickup, followed by lunch, and of course the soccer game. With our bellies full, we parted ways, the 100 milers heading to their rented house in the country side, and Spinz, Drew, and myself were off to poke around all the stores and the Cowboy museum. Sheridan WY, where we stayed, was a really cool old cowboy downtown town that has been historically preserved, but filled with coffee shops, running stores, and yummy places to eat.
Only one of our housemates was running the 100, Grub. Being his first 100 he had several questions, which we tried to answer as best as we could. We prepared a nice vegetarian prerace meal, and got to bed at a sensible time.
The nice thing about Bighorn Wild and Scenic run is that there are multiple distance options. 100 mile, 52 mile, 50k and 30k, with the 100 starting on Friday at 11am, and the others starting on Saturday morning, with them all finishing Saturday afternoon. Friday we went with the other TrailHeads to the 100 mile race briefing, and then onto the starting line to watch them off. The starters included two first-timers; Replay and Grub, and the veterans; Gumbi, Lynx, Ringo, Icarus, Bobcat, Gilly, Snuffy, Remus, Bypass. As they headed off into the canyon, Spinz and Drew and I headed back to the car to see some of them run through the first aid station.
Finally after a long day of sitting, and watching and cheering, we headed back to Sheridan for my drop bag drop off, and a few easy miles around town. Drew headed off to the Y in town, and Spinz hit the computer trying to see where everyone was. I decided to do some last minute yoga and foam rolling, and then took a shower.
The hot water felt so good and relaxing as the warm water washed away the dust from the mountains. I was thoroughly enjoying my shower until, I felt a little something give and spasm in my neck. I tried not to panic, but I immediately knew that feeling, and knew that it was going to get worse. That night I slept on the floor, hoping it would help get the kink out of my neck asap!! I woke after only 3 hours of sleep to incredible pain, and on a whim decided to text my PT friend ET. She had just happened to have gotten up in the middle of the night, who can sleep when 10 of their friends are out running all night anyway? She responded very quickly that I needed to traction out my neck. (Thank goodness for good friends!) I hung upside down off of the bed for about an hour while my back loosened itself up….until it was time to hop in the car and drive up to the start of the race!