Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Bear

Entering the Bear 100 wasn't really my idea but rather one of Chris's many brainstorms that I absent mindedly agreed to a few months back.  With the opportunity to spend the previous week in the Wasatch Mountains--ooh, altitude training!--capping off the week with a 100 miler sounded like a cool thing to do... last spring.  The reality is that while I spent a lot of time on my feet over the summer, most of those were walking as opposed to running miles.  (And guess what the body wants to do if it's been walking all summer?)   Looking through my journal just now, I laughed to see that since finishing Laurel Highlands in mid June, my "long runs" consisted of a couple of 12 milers.  Not exactly an optimal training program going on here, folks.  I hoped, however, that the endurance base and muscle memory -- 25 hundred finishes from 1995-2006 -- were enough to pull me through this beast.
I'd heard mostly positive things about The Bear:  beautiful fall foliage, mountain scenery, challenging but not all-out ridiculous terrain, and an especially appealing low-key atmosphere.  I was also warned about course marking: "It's not if you get off course but when," hot midday temps, and probable sub-freezing nighttime conditions.  Accordingly, I carried the course directions and had plenty of cold weather gear both in my drop bags and with Chris, who did an excellent job of crewing and, I think, entertaining all the aid station volunteers.
The early miles were a joy:  I loved the first long climb out of Logan and spent parts of the first 30 running with fellow Coyote Cohort, H'ard Cohen, followed by two new friends, "the Larrys"--Hall and King--who were great fun with whom to pass the miles.  Somewhere around Mile 30 my usual iron stomach started rebelling, so the next 20 were passed babying it with mostly ice water. 
Thus I became locked in the cycle of food = nausea, nausea = no calories, no calories = no energy, no energy = I don't want to do this anymore!  Upon reaching the halfway point at Tony Grove, I announced my intention of stopping.  I was having a meltdown.  Chris wisely accepted my decision without trying to talk me into continuing--he knows me well--while waiting a few minutes, then plying me with instant mashed potatoes.  "Hey, those actually look pretty good..."  I love runny instant mashed potatoes!  After successfully downing 3 bowlsful and some soup over 2 1/2 hours (!) total at the aid station, and realizing that only my stomach was giving me issues--everything else (legs, feet, etc.) was fine--I decided that maybe I'd wait for my buddies Deb and Steve Pero and see about continuing on with them.  Upon their arrival, they annouced "We feel awesome!" so Team BL was born.  :)   Here we are, plus Sandy Sanger, about to leave Tony Grove.  (Yes, the Californian was cold.)
The night was lo-o-o-ng.  We walked and walked and walked and ogled the incredible full moon and walked and talked and laughed and told pirate jokes and walked and giggled and talked and laughed and spent waaay too long at the aid stations and laughed at Chris's jokes and moo'd at the cows and got off course for about 20 minutes and walked and walked and tried to keep warm and stayed together and had a grand old time.  Oh, and got off course another time and walked some more.  At Beaver Lodge we caught C2M'er (and TRT co-RD) George Ruiz, who joined our merry team.  At long last the sun rose, a welcome sight after enduring some hollows in the 20-30 degree range!  At Beaver Creek, mile 85, it was finally warm enough to shed some layers.  Yippee ki yi yippee yay!
There was only one more aid station at mile 92, the one with the best name:  Ranger Dip.  Deb is trying to get some calories into Steve; I am having no such problems now.  :)
Although I was tired and ready to be done, it really was fun and relaxing to complete a 100 miler this way.  No pressure, no hurry, just takin' it all in...   Thanks Deb and Steve!
                                              ...but the quads still hurt this late into the run--ouch! 
Chris spotted this guy at Bear Lake en route to the finish!  He's been working on his moose karma.
With about a mile to go, George and I attempted to break 32 hours.  We didn't quite make it (32:01), but at least I beat my best Hardrock time (gulp) by 6 minutes.  I wore the same shoes and socks the entire race and didn't get any blisters or foot issues.  I LOVE, Love, love my Salomon.Speedcross-2's!!
Deb and Steve weren't far behind.  This is the first 100 they've run completely together!
I stopped doing 100's a few years ago, mostly because of race burnout and an increasing desire to concoct my own trail adventures (fastpacking/running the Colorado, John Muir, Wonderland, Tuscarora, Ouachita, & Long Trails among other endeavors).  The Bear was my first 100 mile finish since the 2006 Heartland Hundred, and it was a great experience.  :)  I just may have to get back into doing these crazy things again!!  Ah-Ooooooo!!


Jamie Anderson said...

Great pics, Sue! Glad you had fun, that's what it should always be about. Sounds cliche and therefore kinda stupid, but it's true. That course looks awesome, hard not to have fun in that setting I'd imagine.

Laurel said...

That's awesome that you, Steve and Deb stuck together and enjoyed the run. Steve has been trying to get me to run that one for a few years now. Might consider it next year.

Beth Simpson-Hall said...

Great spending time with you and Chris!! Looking forward to seeing you in December!! Congrats on the Bear...and having fun while running it. Beth (the "other" Larry's better half!!) :)

Steve Pero said...

Yay, you're going to come back to running 100's!

Sue, the pleasure was I said at Tony Grove, we were honored to have you as a companion for the 2nd 50 miles (well, 48 miles ). I've already decided I'm going back, regardless of what I said in the car on the way back ;-)

Hope to see you soon!

PS: My quads never got sore :-)

Olga said...

This might be the way I may deal with my burnout and run 100's...what a fun time, with great people to share it! I am jealous:) Nicely done!

ultrarunnergirl said...

Way to go Sue! Nice "comeback" after so long!

chris mcpeake said...

Congrats. What a great bounce back. Way to stick it out.

Leslie said...

Aaaah, The Bear. One year later, I have amnnesia already. Beautiful, tough and good people were the things I remember most. Along with staggering along a dusty road in the middle of the night and having the longest descent of my life down the last 8 miles. Joy! Congrats.