Sunday, September 27, 2009

Running the Bear

Running the Bear

I don't even know where to start.
Maybe where I left off from before the race. Shawn showed up in his giant truck. Of course my first thought was there was no way I was going to be able to get in & out of that thing after the race.
Before this we came up with a couple ideas for shirts & his friend drew it & printed it for us:
Miki, Shawn, me

Hard to see it, but at the last minute we added "in loving memory of Paul." My climbing partner, good friend & ultra runner, passed away last week in an accident. He will be missed by everyone who knew him.


at Leland's Mountain Trout Farm where I dropped off my drop bags

For those who aren't runners, drop bags are bags of stuff you put together & have it taken to specific aid stations along the course - you put in your food, extra shoes, socks, lights (for at night) extra batteries, etc.

all my food for the race

I actually slept ok the night before the race. That was shocking because it was the only night all week I slept ok. But getting up at 4am is never fun.

So there we all are at the start, 6am at Hyrum-Gibbons park.

Chuck & Ofer

6am start

Ofer, a little bit after the sunrise

typical aid station

One thing about this race is the incredible scenery. The beauty of this place made me start thinking about how glad I was to be here. So many things felt like they were going wrong the weeks before the race. My friend who was going to help pace broke her foot. My long runs never felt right. I got heat exhaustion during one run and had to hitch hike back to my truck. On that run I fell asleep on the trail, only after scrambling down off the trail to a grassy clearing. To be woken up by what I thought was a woman screaming, that I later found out was a sound mountain lions make. Realizing I had made a really dumb decision I scrambled back to the trail and fell asleep again.

My best long run was in Yosemite on some high trails - I finally felt like things were going good.

I included backpacking as some of my training. About a month & half before the race, I'd backpacked for about 2 1/2 weeks, about 170 miles. I double crossed the Sierra (west to east then back on different trails). Felt good but trying to run 3 50k's in a row starting a few days after I got done with that was tough. Maybe thats why I never felt right.

Two weeks before the race I did one last backpack trip, my annual Girrrls Trip. During the trip I ran for about 3 hours. I felt great. On my way home I got horrible news. My climbing partner and brotherly friend, Paul Weller, passed away in a terrible accident. It was shocking. This run is for him. I hope he is enjoying this scenery with me.

I had the good luck of Tim being at the aid stations along with my crew. His experience was invaluable to all of us throughout the race. Miki, Shawn & Tim were all waiting at the 30 mile aid station. When I was running down the hill I could hear Miki yelling. Just knowing that they were waiting for me boosted my spirits so much & I'd run down to the aid station in anticipation. I had felt pretty steady so far. No real big lows or highs.

From Miki: "Sept. 25th- Faye has been running since 6am. I am double checking my gear only to find a hole at the top of my water bladder. Awesome. Duct tape.
Next I realize my shoes are missing velcro for my gaitors, thank God Faye showed me where her extra velcro is (yes she packs extra velcro). Shawn and I hop in the truck and head up to the first aid station we'll meet her at- I think its the Cowley Canyon. She's doin great here. Next we head to Right Hand Fork. Still doin good, picked up a cute friend, Ron. Temple Fork, seems to still be hanging in, getting tired but eating and doin well. I snooze at this one, anticipating joining her at 52- Tony Grove."

Tim, me, Miki, Shawn

Lots of this is hard to remember the specifics. I remember feeling steady for most of the time. And even good for a while. I know coming into the next aid station was fun - there was a nice long downhill that Ron led and we ran the entire thing. That was alot of running for an ultra runner!

I got lost in between the next aid station. I'd started flagging down cars on the dirt road I was on asking if they'd seen runners up ahead. They'd said yeah, so I kept going. Turned out the trail I was on met up with the correct trail. I lost some time but was just really happy that the trails ended up meeting back up. I'da had to go back an hour or more to retrace my tracks. At least I know it was longer (and more uphill) than the right trail.

new friend Ron & I running into mile 45.2

I think this was taken at 45

I should have picked up my warm clothes here, like I wrote down in my notes that I was supposed to do. Of course, I didn't think I needed it for only 7 more miles. It got dark fast, and chilly. I also really started slowing down at this point. Night. Thank goodness it was only cold now & then.

Then I get to mile 52. Finally. Miki is joining me here. I was so happy to have her with me. It was dark and chilly but felt better now that she was joining me, even tho I could feel how slow I was moving.

Miki: "Faye comes in at 9:30pm. She fixes up her feet, sits for a moment, and off we go. It is dark and chilly. Lara lends me her beanie, and I am grateful. I have on almost all the clothes I brought w/ me. It is friggin dark and I slip a billion times and eat shit once. We meet 2 dudes who quote movies non stop, I'm talking entire scenes here. Funny stuff, glad someone was being loud cuz we were trudging along. We did belt out one duet. The forest seems intent on tripping me. We hear many animals, but don't see any save a pair of glowing eyes. The stations are WAY too far apart. We get a bon fire and soup at Franklin. I pick up a sweatshirt. Damn its cold!We are peeing every hour it seems, and its a pain to keep stopping. We see Tim, Alex and Ofer. Alex is napping on the trail; he is hurting. We cross tons of water which is extra fun in the middle of the night, on tired legs. Poor Faye is far worse than I; but we don't get wet. Yet."

I stayed that way until about 3 or 4am. I got so tired I couldn't stand it anymore. Literally. I was trying so hard to keep my eyes open. I even dozed off while I was walking and almost hit the ground, but woke up & caught myself just in time. Miki & Ofer walked beside me for awhile after that. Soon after we got to the mile 69 aid station. Suddenly, I hear "runner" and the olympic music blasting. We get there and someone comes up and asks if we want some soup and directs us to the huge bon fire and a circle of chairs around it. They came over, handed us soup & home made bread. I ate that then fell asleep, asking Shawn & Miki to wake me up in 15 minutes. It was a great nap. It was so hard to leave this aid station, it's way too cozy. Up to now we'd been leap frogging Tim, Alex & Ofer. Alex hadn't been able to keep any food down for a long time. Running for another 30 miles would be nearly impossible if he can't eat anything, so he made the wise decision to drop here.

Sometime around here I also started having to make major pit stops. Stomach not feeling great but after going I felt ok.

Miki: "Logan River is mile 69 and its heaven to us. We are greeted by the music they play at the Olympics when the awards are handed out, its awesome and lifts our spirits. We are pretty bummed at this point. Its just darkness, tripping over rocks, and cold. Coming into this aid was great. Huge fire, and doting aid station workers who deliver us a hot towel to clean our hands, a hot cup of soup and freshly made bread. Faye takes a 15min snooze. Shawn sits nearby as always, keeping the sparks from the fire off her. Alex decides to drop. He can't eat. It sucks. Off we go. We hit the biggest water crossing yet. We have to crawl on a couple logs, then crab crawl on even smaller logs to get to the middle, then rock hop. Geez! Still dry! The trail markings are far apart and not totally visible. It makes us nervous at times, but we do well."

Sun was rising. I'd heard I was supposed to perk up when the sun came up. I did a little but it didn't last too long. Miki was urging me along alot of the way here, and we slowly made it to the 76 mile aid station. Shawn & now Alex were there. Tim was pacing Ofer at this point & they were way ahead of me. Its so good to see friendly faces there. It's so encouraging.

a 10 minute nap a little before the mile 76 aid station
I actually felt comfortable there

From Miki: "Faye is so tired at this point. She looks burnt.
Day light isn't far off, and we welcome it. Faye snoozes on the trail. 3 runners pass us. Sun, finally. We get to Beaver lodge. Faye wakes up here, has some powdered cappuccino and such. She is on her own at this point. Earlier on I felt no way could I leave her, but she seems to have woken up."

I changed back into my skirt & got back on the trail. I thought I was feeling ok but again, that didn't last long. This section on an ATV trail was miserable to me. ATV's kept going by kicking up all kinds of dust, as if I needed more. My asthma had been acting up on me, and my wheezing was getting worse. I stopped & dozed for about 5 minutes during this section.

I was also letting the idea of 25 more miles get to me. I just didn't know how I could possibly make it. I felt like I was sleep walking. Mostly in a daze. I cried a few times during this section too. I tried to focus on just getting to the next aid station but that didn't help much.

At one point a runner was coming back on the trail asking if I'd seen trail markers. I just about sat down and cried thinking I couldn't take it if I'd gotten off the trail again. Turns out they were just sparse and we were on the right track. Unnecessary freak out.

This was the only pic I took all day Saturday. I just stopped caring. Anyone that knows me knows thats serious!

Next aid was 81.3 - no crew access. I got there & the aid station people were great. They sat me down & got me a full mountain dew, full potato, bag of chips to carry with me, and a message: she told me a really good looking guy told her to tell me to JUST KEEP MOVING and that I could make it. Again, that made me cry. Had to be Tim & Ofer.

I sleep walked & felt sorry for myself for the next few miles that seemed like eternity. Mile 85. Everyone was there for support. I barely noticed tho, except for what they were telling me. Miki, if she felt ok, could pace me from there to mile 92, or from 92 to the finish but I had to decide which. I needed her right then.

So she joined me. Miki's been there for me, pacing me, since I started the really long races. She's got nothing but respect from me for what she's accomplished & what she's done for me. Now she's travelling to odd places to pace me. No glory in what she's doing at all. She just ran her first 50k (the Bulldog) and it was her FIRST race she's done for herself. Now, for her to join me for the next 7 miles, after she's already run 25 miles, gives her rock star status.

For me, the next 7 miles were a major sleep walk. I was a walking zombie. I had to stop now & then to sit & doze for a few minutes. I was worried I was going to collapse and Miki would be left out there with me alone. I was secretly hoping I WOULD collapse just so I had a legitimate reason for stopping. But I kept walking and running (shuffling) when I could. The aid station seemed like way more than 7 miles. I couldn't even see straight, never felt so bad in my life. Yet I can still put one foot in front of the other, so I didn't want to stop. I kept seeing what I thought was a parking lot or cars, but it always turned out to be burnt trees. I finally yelled "where the F*** is it???" And then we see Shawn walking up the trail. Finally.

Miki: "We head to Beaver creek, mile 85. I snooze off and on in the truck. Fucking dog is barking the entire time. I see Lara and Alex. Ofer and Tim come thru. I change my socks and shirt and wait. Finally Faye comes thru. She is ravished. Tim pulls me aside and tells me what to do. He encourages Faye, knowing what she is going thru mentally at this point. Having to give more even though she has nothing to give. I join her here even tho we planned for me to get her at mile 92. I can feel her despair. Exhaustion is taking her. She dozes off while walking. We stop and sit on a rock. She hangs her head; I am looking at her and see her doze off immediately. I get tears in my eyes. I have never seen my sister look like this. My resolve strengthens for her. Her will power isn't broken, but she is just hanging on here. I cannot believe what I am witnessing. The human spirit fighting like hell! We move so slowly. Time is critical now. She can't go faster, its just not possible. Another short nap. Just as she says "Where the f**k is it" Shawn appears down the trail. Thank you Lord. "

At this aid station I was pretty out of it. I never thought that Miki might need to drop here. And I still wanted her there (selfishly). Another 8 miles for her makes almost 40 miles! Super rock star status now. I really didn't know if I could keep going without her motivation. We sat for a bit then head back out.... up the steepest hill I've ever seen. I'm SURE this was not my imagination. My asthma still pretty bad and my wheezing was getting worse. I felt like I was breathing thru a straw so this hill slowed me to a crawl.

I kept having to make more pit stops. Unfortunately there was bad news in those pit stops, that I ignored at the moment.

We just kept trudging. The closer we got to the end the more I was able to pick it up a little (at least in my imagination). We picked our way down the last big steep rocky hill. I see a guy walking in the opposite direction & I ask how far he thinks to the finish, he says 4 miles. I look at my watch.... 45 minutes till cut off. Holy smokes theres a chance I could make the cutoff? No way can I make 4 miles in 45 minutes right now, but I can't NOT try. So I pick my way faster down the hill. Miki catches back up with me on the last uphill to the water tank. One more downhill to go to the creek. I try to run as much as I can, I hit the creek.

Now for some reason I thought there was only one mile left when I got to this creek. I look at my watch, 20 minutes. I can't believe it, I might just make it. I wade thru the creek. Now it's just a flat dirt road. I'm busting my butt to make it but figure I should have no problem with 20 minutes. About 10 minutes later I realize, this is not one mile. It's two. Shit. Stil...Maybe....

So I pick it up as much as I can, which is a probably a pathetic display of shuffling at this point, but I see the finish line, right around 6pm, the cut off. But I'm still minutes away. As I go thru the white fence, I see my friends. Not only Tim, Alex & family, & Ofer, but all the awesome people I've met along the trail over the last day & a half. They start clapping for me. I got no energy to do anything but shuffle in. Then I hear them yelling my name and I can't help but smile. That just made it louder. I can't believe I'm here, finshing. I can't believe all those wonderful people I met are there, and remembered my name. It was the best feeling to hear that.

I stop at the finish line banner. People are coming up to me congratulating me, and condolences for finishing after the time limit (technically, its doesn't count). But hell, 3 1/2 minutes late? I don't care, I finished.

I was disapppointed not getting a buckle, but just finishing this Bear was incredible.

Miki: "This is it. The final leg. 8 more bloody miles.
The first 1.5 or so miles is brutal uphill. Faye's lungs are closing and she can barely breathe. I am struggling with the hill. We get thru it and start to hit mostly downhill. We are running (barely) trying to make up time. I can tell she has picked up on the downhills, to me she is flying. I am in so much pain, the downhills have inflamed my leg. I fall behind. I yell to her to keep going, and she does. I start to tear up. Fuck I am hurting and I feel like shit for not being able to run with her. Another uphill part. A wet crossing ( no rocks) and the longest mile is history to the finish. I limp in having a pity party. Tim meets me and I can barely talk without wanting to cry. I find out Faye missed the cut off by 3 1/2 minutes. Now I do cry. I know its partly the physical exertion taking its toll, but damn I thought she had it. No matter, she ran 100 miles of hell. Holy shit, I hope she never does it again. I am proud to have been part of it and will never forget this experience, never forget witnessing first hand what this strong woman went thru, simply to see if she could. Words and pictures don't do justice to it. I will keep this in my soul."

finish line photos

Thanks to my crew, Shawn & Miki. I don't know if I could have finished without you. Shawn showed up at every aid station he could after mile 30, and that includes all thru the night.

And Tim, Alex & Ofer with all your advice during the race, thank you for everything.

FYI, that bad news in my pit stops had me sent to the ER when I got home, all is well now, after a crapload (pun intended) of tests.




  2. a well deserved super rock star status. i don't know what i would have done without you & you know what I mean