It has been almost 3 weeks that I have been processing Run Rabbit Run 100, so its finally time to write a blog post. I apologize, its written as though I threw up every memory onto a page, which is sort of what happened. I like raw, unedited race reports though…I hope you do too.
The story really starts 2.5 weeks out from RRR. I decided to do a shake out speed run on the trials..just an easy 4 miles. 1 mile from the house I caught a toe under a root, rather than holding and just pulling my leg, it broke as I was aiming to launch myself over a waist high fallen tree… as it let go I slammed my opposite knee into the tree and flipped me over it landing on the back of my head. At least that’s how I can work it out going back to the area. I don’t remember landing, I don’t remember getting up. I remember just thinking I had hit my knee and shin so hard they immediately blew up and I had to hobble home.
I must have talked to some people and then fallen asleep because a few friends of mine a day later knew I had fallen, and I didn’t remember telling them. I think for the next few days there are holes in my memory. I finally went to the doc, who told me under no circumstances should I run 100 miles at altitude… but I should be ok to fly in a week. I then talked to a PT who deals with head trauma and he seemed less concerned. Told me to lay around so my brain could stop moving and the headaches would go away. So my taper mostly consisted of napping and laying on the couch and meditating…. for three weeks. I finally ran the Wednesday before RRR and decided the world didn’t spin anymore when I moved so I would be ok. I do think that my head was more sensitive to altitude than normal, but I’ll get to that later.
So Ringo and I headed up to northern CO to exchange Cari for Gumbi and meet Drew, ET and gyro in Steamboat(our fantastic crew). Gumbi would end up pacing Ringo 60 miles, and the rest would be my wonderful crew for all 105 miles!
The weather was clear for the race, sunny and warm during the day(80s), and cold at night(20s/teens depending on elevation).
Ringo started at 8 am and I followed at noon in the Hare division.
There was a slight change to the start, due to a mud slide on one of the ski slopes we hike up, so thinking we were going on more single track than normal, not 2 miles into the race I realized we were off course…. oh well, no need to panic yet, it was just the first 30 min of the race.
Most people hiked the steep incline, a few tried to run it. I distinctly remember one guy who was expending so much energy trying to wave around people, I KNEW I’d either be passing him again, or he would drop. At mile 45 I saw a headlamp heading back towards me, I called out that it was the wrong direction… it was afore mentioned runner heading back to drop at the previous aid station.
Anyway, the aspens were pretty great, the sky a clear blue and I continued to head up to 10,500 to long lake. Long lake was a little out and back and I could see I was toward the back of the pack, but not far behind a large group of runners. Remembering my drop last year, I not only had LOTS of warm clothes, but I also kept to my own pace and didn’t worry where I was. I also remembered that around mile 30 I would start catching the Tortoises too, so no worries.
Ok, so maybe this is TMI but this is something that we female 100 milers deal with- PMS during races. Mostly I just had to stop quite often feeling like my bladder/colon was full all race long-kind of a pain, but ya deal with it.
Anyway, down fish creek falls I caught a few people-Monica was one of these runners. A runner from Washington state who would play leapfrog with me the entire way, slowing at higher altitude but speeding up at lower altitudes, just like me.
I hadn’t really seen many people up to this point, so when I finally saw Drew it was really nice. The Hare division allows no pacers or poles, so many of us spend the entire race mostly alone, however, there is a 4 mile road section that doesn’t have a shoulder so they allow a safety runner to accompany you to make sure traffic is aware you are there. This is about mile 15-21 and then again back up in the dark around mile 42ish.
Coming into Olympian Hall I was having some knee pain, probably leftover from the fall a few weeks before. In a matter of minutes Gyro worked his magic , having me make sure to rotate over my hip, and for the rest of the 80+ miles my knee gave me absolutely no problems-THANKS GYRO!!
Et made sure to feed and refuel me because I would have no aid or water for the next 10 miles. This is my favorite part, nice single track trails and rolling hills from mile 21-42, low enough that I could actually run it all, I think its all between 6,500-8,500 feet… perfect for running! The night was cool, but not cold at that point and the full moon was AMAZING! It was so bright a few times I looked into he trees thinking it was someone’s super bright headlamp on a switchback ahead.
I saw them again at mile 30sih for more food and my headlamp.
The section from 30-42 went along uneventfully, just me and the night, illuminated by the moon.
Back to Olympian hall at mile 42 there was discussion about how many clothes to put on me. The problem is that from 42-50sih you hike really hard going up from 6,500 to a little over 10k and in the middle of the night. Working hard over rocks that are big enough I need my arms to hoist me up in places so I create a lot of heat. There is no drop bag in this section, and the aid station is at mile 52 and is flattish enough that in those two miles you can get hypothermic really fast-this is exactly what happens to sage Canaday in this section, he ran in just a light jacket and was warm until just a few miles from the aid station… got cold… and dropped.
I put up little resistance as they dressed me like Randy from the Christmas Story” I can’t put my arms down.” I of course took it all off as I powered up fish creek falls until mile 50 as the moisture froze on the plants around me, all of my clothes went right back on. I had on heavy winter tights that are wind proof over my quads, over that a down skirt, and then my puffy and a hat and mittens. Unlike last year when I got into that aid station shaking so violently I couldn’t put on clothes, I waddled in nice and warm, grabbing some broth and an orange, leaving behind several very cold and nauseated runners. This is mile 52 and 10,100 feet and people were feeling the elevation, effort and cold.
mile 52-57 roll uphill to a little over 10,500. This is the aid station that I sat at last year for 40 minutes trying to gather my brain and get warmed up. No problems this year, aside from not wanting to eat at all from mile 53-65 (all at higher altitude). Again I saw no one on this section.
mile 57-65.5 is all downhill. Though it was supposed to be 8 miles, it was much closer to 10 (the race works out to 105 miles and this was where the mileage gets stretched) I would say I had a bit of a low moment for those two miles where I thought the aid station should have been-but not bad. I tried to eat when I saw Drew at 65.5 but didn’t get much down. I knew the sun would start to rise soon and I was again taking off layers, but we plunge down to a low section where a lot of the cold air sits, so I didn’t want to really take everything off. Just a few minutes from mile 70+ I ran into RIngo and Gumbi moving well. This is another out and back so I knew they were less than 15 minutes ahead of me… but I needed to take off my clothes and change into warm weather pants because the next section was an exposed uphill section that got HOT!
Lucky for Ringo I took my time at that station- but in the back of my head I was still hunting them, looking for them around each corner as we hiked back up to 10,600 and mile 83. From mile 83 to mile 100 the course weaves through forest and fields up above 10,500 on single track. I was so focused going uphill for those 15 or so miles in the heat that I didn’t drink much and arrived really dehydrated. Not sunburned though, I forgot my hat but had chapstick with SPF 30–so I might have rubbed that stick all over my face…mmm cherry scented face.
Monica rejoined me in this aid station. I offered that we were both going to struggle in the high altitude since we were both from sea level and that maybe working together we would feel better. So from 83-90+ we hiked, gasped for air, and shared running stories. Somewhere around here was when I started coughing up, what I assume to be, was part of my lungs..pinkish foam. Many of the other runners were having the same problem, coming into the aid stations hoarse from the dry very dusty thin air. I told myself not to worry, only a dozen more miles to go, and lung cells regenerate pretty quickly!
Somewhere after this aid station..mile 93 or so I let Monica go. My coughing was getting worse and I was finally really slowing down-a lot. My head hurt, my chest hurt, I was wheezing, oh and still wasn’t drinking. For the first time in a race my hands were SO swollen. This is also where the 50 mile racers merge onto the course with us and start passing us. A bit disheartening but they were all nice and encouraging. I got some water from one runner who looked at my hands and said –you are so dehydrated. A 27 hour finish slipped away, a 28 hour finish did as well. I sat a bit gasping for air and allowing a second or two to feel bad for myself before getting back up and hiking uphill again. Before this race I decided it was time to practice more mental aspects of racing 100 miles. I found a good meditation guide that teaches to just clear your mind, don’t allow thoughts to hang around because it takes effort to continue positive self talk, and often its a fight to keep negative thoughts out so this was really the first time I actually let myself think and feel bad.
Finally around mile 98 the last aid station at 10,600 feet came into view. I collapsed into a chair finally there and asked for some tailwind. Something I have never drank but I was depleted. I got a bowl of it from a volunteer and downed it, as I eyed my watch. Shit- I had 50 minutes to make it the last 6.5 miles downhill to get a buckle.
The official cut off time for everyone is 36 hours-32 for the Hares, and 30 for hares that want a buckle and there was NO WAY I was going home without a damn buckle again!!!! (Last year I didn’t dress warm enough and dropped at mile 70 unable to warm up.) I took a deep breath and told myself that the pain of running downhill for 6+ miles on a paved road would soon be forgotten once I had that buckle in my hands!
I put my head down and ran!! I passed Monica who had left me 6 miles earlier, I passed tortoises, I passed 50 milers..down down down down…I don’t need those quads..right? I passed one tortoise who looked at me, then realizing I was a hare he looked at his watch and called…” yea you had better run… you can make it, but it will be by the skin of your teeth!”
The wide road turned into single track and I started to wonder where the damn finish line was!? You really couldn’t see it until the last few hundred yards, and I couldn’t figure out for the life of me how much farther, I had less than 10 minutes. Suddenly I came out into a field and saw Gumbi and Ringo… with a slap on the back I passed him calling out “see you at the finish.”
The watch I had on was new, and too big and as I ran downhill it was bothering me a lot so I took it off and stuffed it into a pocket, so I thought I only had seconds left… and picked up the pace, driving my knees harder. I saw ET, heard Gyro and saw the finish line.
There is an official hugger at the finish line-this wonderfully excited volunteer that coordinates much of the race… she opened her arms and said “you got this, right here”…I basically leaped into her open arms and let my legs turn to jelly. I had less than 5 minutes to spare. Fred, one of the CO-RDs remembered me from last year….I mean how many women from NC sign up for the Hare division of that race….I will tell you, according to him- only me so far.
He asked how I felt to get the sub 30 buckle and all I could think to say was, “so great that I’m going to puke,’. Ha (I held it in for another 3 hours or so though). Those who know me know I am great for post race spewage
I didn’t get to see Ringo finish, as I needed Drew to help me walk around after. We mostly just went back to the room and after rinsing off 105 miles of sweat dust, and probably drool 😉 I very happily passed out, not to wake until 5 am the next morning.
Thank you so much ET, Gyro, Drew and Gumbi! I am so glad you all were there, as well as your lucky crew pants ET! I wouldn’t have made it under the cut off with out you wearing them! 😉 You guys took such great care of me before, during and after!! I am so lucky!
Also thanks so much to Carson Footwear ( http://carsonfootwear.com/ ) Orange Mud and Balanced Movement for supporting my racing! http://www.orangemud.com/
I finished in 29:56 107th overall of 203 finishers
A total of 121 dropped
Ringo finished 166th in 33:58, winning a spot for next year!
And though I conquered that beast, or bunny, deep down I still want to come back and better my time, I know I can!
I would absolutely recommend this race to anyone. Its a great challenge, its the perfect time of year when the aspen trees start to turn. The RDs and Volunteer coordinator really put their hearts into it, and most of the money raised by this event all goes to different local charities, which is really great!
Its super easy for crew because you basically run into and out of town so your crew doesn’t need to travel very far at all leaving plenty of time for their self care, and naps even.
Steamboat is a fun mountain town, I would also suggest post race that you visit the natural hot springs for a soak after. They have hot and cold pools which is great to get your circulation going again.
Hope you enjoyed my little race report… hop on friends!