I am now a week since the race. I am still having a hard time putting together the words.
I’ve been in a writing slump all summer, I didn’t do a race recap of Titletown Ultra 8 hr, or Standhope Ultra 60K in Idaho.
The first race I didn’t think there was much to write about as I went into it as a training run. The second however was a whirlwind, and I may just have to go back and write a little something about my first major win and a cross country road trip with my dog.
Until then you get my latest 100 miler.
This trip was different. I have three clients who live in Corvallis, OR which is definitely close enough for them to crew and pace me. I am not sure if I actually even asked them if they would. I was excited to visit Oregon and run the trails that I hear them talk about.
I was excited to run Mountain Lakes 100, it was the only lottery out of 4 I got into this year and I wanted my Western States ticket. I heard alot of good things from said clients about this race organization (Go Beyond Racing) and the types of races they put on.
My chiropractor also knows the RD Todd and they used to run together when he lived in Oregon, and he knew most of the area I would be running. Having a little inside info was helpful.
I went into this race not as trained as I’d hoped. I had the miles under my belt but very little time on the trails. I knew that the race wasn’t going to be very technical and there wasn’t a ton of vert. I figured my Midwest miles would suffice.
I also had the main goal of sub 22 hours, with plan B being under 24. I told my crew that if it all went to hell in a hand basket I just needed to cross that line before the cutoff.
We headed to the airport on Wednesday morning. Our flight was delayed due to weather in Minneapolis and we had to fly south over Nebraska to miss the storm. We then had to literally run through the airport to catch our connecting flight to Portland. We made it with 5 minutes. Ah, yes who is this WE that I speak of. Well, myself and my beau Nick. This race would be his first real crewing experience. He was worried he’d mess it up, but I was tremendously confident in the team I had surrounding me.
After arriving in Portland my client Val picked us up in the rental car which was filled with all the camping gear and delicious snacks. A little grocery shopping and some lunch before we headed on the road. We were about to head to cell service dead zone for the next 5 days and limited amenity options.
Put me in a car and I turn into a baby, as in I fall asleep. It’s the best. Apparently I missed some beautiful scenery.
The reason for the early arrival was two fold. I knew that our best option to being as close to the start as possible was to camp at Olallie Lake Resort and all the sites are first come first serve. Second, I wanted to have some relaxing time with my friends and enjoy the unplugged time.
When we got to camp we spent some time deciding which site we wanted as we would end up having three tents on the same site. #13 it was, come to find out apparently it’s the best one. I do have to say though, I was kind of a B when we got there. It was misting and raining and overcast, which I hear is typical. I wasn’t having it. I knew in that moment I could never live there, also if race day was like that, I’d be pissed.
When we woke the next morning we got our first view of Mt. Jefferson. We then drove to Detroit, we needed gas something terrible and we needed to communicate with the other people in our party as to where we were set up at camp. A nice burger at the local cafe and we were headed back to camp. I would also like to note that I slept there and back. It was about an hour and twenty minute drive. Also worth noting, the road into Olallie Lake is gravel and full of potholes, some deep and makes for slow going. You definitely need to add on an extra 30 minutes to your drive time in and out of there.
Val and I went on a run from the campsite on a section of the course, while Nick maintained the fire. We took the PCT north towards Upper Lake. It was beautiful and the trail was buttery. It was good to test out what I thought I would be wearing on race day, as it was about 55-60 with the rain and the wind. Another down side of having no cell service was the inability to check the weather.
We made it to Upper Lake and then turned around. I got stung by a bee and we got high fived by some through hikers! It was a great shake out.
The rest of our crew showed up that evening while we had soup ready for them. It was really exciting to meet Biz in real life. Her and I were going to get to know each other real well over the next few days as she would be pacing me for the last 30 miles.
We get tents set up and Nick and I call it an early night. I was tired of being damp and cold.
Here we are on Friday, the day before race day. Eggs and bacon for breakfast. I then took some time to lay out my gear and drop bags. I had a mini crew meeting with Ben(crew chief) and Nick while the ladies ran into Detroit to get gas in the truck and last minute amenities. We talked about skipping the first crew accessible aid station since it was only 12 miles in. We talked about what I wanted where and how no sappy frou frou talk was allowed.
I then took the most glorious 2 hour nap. I laid in the tent with the back open and the sun shone in like a warm hug. Usually the day before a race I tend to sleep most of the day, races usually start before the sun is up and then being on your feet for anywhere from 20-30 hours, you need the sleep. This race was different because it had an 8 am start. So I could actually be up with my crew.
I woke up not feeling so hot. Then.. with all the crew back I see the best sight on the table. Salted Nut Rolls! I have been craving them for months and couldn’t find them, Val found them for me and it was such a high spot, knowing that during the race they will be clutch. During the race though, I told them I was saving it for then end as a finishing treat.
We had pesto gnocchi and I had a salmon steak for dinner, and then it was bed time.
Race Morning: What a beautiful morning, sun shinning and no clouds. We could see Jeff. We made coffee and oatmeal for me. I have a pretty iron stomach and can eat right before running, so the plan was to take the oatmeal with me on the walk to the start. Everyone was in good spirits, I was feeling good and ready to run. The sun was finally out!
The race started five minutes late after going over all the course markings, details, and last minute crew recaps. A kiss of good luck from Nick and it was go time.
The course ran past the campsite and onto the single track to start heading around the lake. I decided to wear my short sleeve Sunnto jersey, full zip hooded Patagonia houdini, Oiselle mac rogas, cotton gloves, baseball hat, balega socks, and my Salomon SLab Ultra3 trail shoes.
I was feeling great. The trail was perfect. I knew that the first 26 miles were going to be the hardest of the course. The steepest climb and the most technical terrain. So I knew to take it easy. We had a pretty nice downhill for about 5 miles that was steady and on a fire road. It was glorious and a great opportunity to run some 8 minute miles.
We then had some rolling hills and the creek bed that we had to climb. This section was very reminiscent of some of the trails here in Wisconsin. At some point I remember being close the Ollalie lake and the trail looked so familiar. Low and behold it was the trail that Val and I had run on Thursday. I was confused though. I thought we ran on that at the end of the race, clearly I had it all backwards.
Coming into the Ollalie lake aid station at 26 miles was on the road. I was looking forward to seeing my crew. I was already over the trail butter and wasn’t sure what I was going to eat. I knew I was a little under goal time but not much. I sat and wiped my face off, not sure what I ate, but I knew I would see them in another 4.8 miles.
That next section was great. downhill and rolling and non technical. All I remember thinking was how that was going to suck on the way back so close to the end.
Coming into the aid station Nick made me eat mashed potatoes, a Noka packet, more fruit, I’m not sure what else, but it was alot. I left there knowing I wouldn’t see them for another 25 miles. They shoved tinfoil packets of baby roasted potatoes in my pack and sent me off.
These next miles were fucking amazing! I felt so good, I have never felt this good in a 100 miler before. The packets of potatoes were A fucking plus. I kept repeating that in my mind to make sure that I would remember to tell my crew. I flew through this. The uphills felt easy, my power-hiking was on point, I was using the downhills. I was passing people. I was in and out of aid stations quickly. I ate alot of fruit, oranges, grapes, watermelon.
As I was about a half a mile from Clackamas I threw up. It was black and I thought it was from the fig newton I had just eaten. I pulled my headlamp out but I didn’t want to turn it on, I wanted to come into the aid station with it still light. In my mind that meant I was on schedule. I knew that the next section could be fast for Val and I. I was excited to be running with someone from here on out.
I was feeling low, I was in a calorie deficit. I got cold. I was worried that this section that was supposed to be fast would be slow going. I threw up a couple times, but my legs felt good. She did a good job at keeping me in good spirits. I remember the stars and turning off our headlamps to see them fully. I made her promise to make sure Nick and Ben saw them later.
The cycle of not eating and running happened until we got back to Clackamas. I used a porta potty for the first time, ate a mix of broth and mashed potatoes. Well Nick fed them to me as I got my warm layers ready. Biz was ready for the task at hand. My legs were starting to feel the deficit so downhills were a little rough.
When we left Clackamas for the last time, I was cold. I warmed quickly though as I knew we had a climb ahead of us. This section is a bit of a blur and all I remember was trying to keep moving quickly while dry heaving and or puking. It was still black and remember Biz asking if I wanted to see the medics. I said no, lets go a little further as most of the rest of my body was ok.
Fun fact: I dry heaved so hard that I peed my pants a little.
I was able to eat the last of the boiled potatoes I had with me and the mashed ones we brought. More broth and I was drinking the maurten drink mix. I was so over it, but I could drink and getting calories. At one point about 83ish miles in told Biz I would need some caffeine soon, preferably coffee.
We made it the next couple miles in what seemed like a dream state. I never have a problem with being tired during the night in 100’s, but with the calorie deficit, this was different. I knew I needed to try to eat something. They had a plain crepe at the aid station and I basically dunked it in a 1/4 cup of coffee to make it soggy enough to try and swallow. My throat would not let me physically swallow more than liquids a this point. I managed to choke it down along with the remainder of the coffee. That helped tremendously. Biz even said she could tell my mood was uplifted and I was in a better place. I felt like I was moving faster, maybe I was.
We were then able to pass the time by laughing about our high school style, Halloween costumes and boys. Before I knew it we were climbing to last big ascent before we went down into the Olallie Meadow aid station. We had about 10-12 miles to go. I was getting worried about making it under the 24 hour cutoff. My sub 22 hour goal was gone. I knew that was our the window by mile 60. Without the throwing up I could have made it.
The sun was just making the sky light up and we were hauling down that trail. It seemed to go on forever. I kept looking behind me and at my watch. I finally realized how close we were to the aid station. I told Biz that I would drop my pack and carry water. I knew the chances of me actually drinking it were slim, but I knew I should have it. I also had been surviving on ginger chews for the last 12 hours, so I of course took an extra one.
Ben told me I could make it, I was so full of doubt. I knew that the 4.8 miles back was going to be a climb because on the way into it at the beginning I was flying downhill into it. Remember when I referenced that earlier? I was so sure I couldn’t climb almost 5 miles in an hour and 11 minutes. I remember looking at Nick with tears in my eyes, “I don’t think I can climb that fast.”
I turned around and saw that it was actually only 3.8 to the finish and we left, some how Biz knew what needed to be done. She got out front and kept a more aggressive pace than we previously had, looking back to make sure I was right there. I put my pain aside and we ran the inclines and a girl who I had been leapfrogging with came into the aid station as I was leaving. I remember saying to Biz that we would let her pass, as it was me against the clock at this point. Usually my ultra competitiveness would make sure she didn’t pass me.
I knew we were close when we started seeing people walking towards us on the trail. One guy said it was about a mile to go. We had 34 minutes to get under 24 hours. We walked that next incline.
I was starting believe we would make it. As we crest the last little incline my crew must have seen Biz and myself as I heard them cheer. We came down that hill and onto the road, not entirely sure where I should go. Nick and Val joined Biz and I. They were talking and happy, I have no idea what they were saying. Next thing I know, I’m running through the finishing arch so relieved to see the time on the clock read 23:42:17. I finally let my emotion take hold and cried as I was given my buckle and glass from Todd. When Nick embraced me I probably had the ugliest cry of all and then Renee was crying and we hugged. Hugs all around to the rest of the crew and more tears.
How do you thank these people?! I remember telling Ben when I hugged him that I pushed so hard because I didn’t want to disappoint him.
I sat in the warming tent and drank my after race magnesium to help my legs settle down. As I walked up to Todd to tell him hello from my chiro, he told me I had won the 30-39 AG. With how shitty I felt at the end of that race, I was shocked.
There is still so much more to this story that I can’t bring myself to get out and it’s already kinda lengthy. But the crew hung around and got breakfast while I went and wet wipe showered and napped. We took down camp and parted ways. Ben, Biz, and Val back to Corvallis and Nick and I back to Portland where we would stay for the next two nights.
We had the best time staying in the cutest renovated house into a hotel, eating, and moving slow. It had been 14 months since I last raced a 100 miler and I forgot how much I need it.
When we got home I asked the whole crew to write their experience of the days before the race and during. I wanted to hear what it was like from their point of view. And to be able to remember some of things I had forgotten.
~First race where multiple clients paced me
~First race where I had stomach issues. It was due to the amount acid in my stomach from all the fruit I was eating.
~First 100 miler where my “tender foot” wasn’t an issue, at all.
~First 100 miler where I was not only going for a specific pace, but also wanted to be in the top 10. Ok, let’s be real top 5. 7th isn’t shabby.
100% recommend this race. My heart is full and my legs are not yet recovered. I don’t have a race on the calendar for the fall/winter yet. But I have some unfinished business with Run Across Wisconsin…