Monday, September 30, 2013

The Bear 100: Oh snap!!!!

I AM SO GLAD THAT I AM NOT STARTING THIS POST WITH A "I dnf'ed"!!!!  Because, I have to tell you, that is ALL I thought about for the first 29 miles.  BUT, spoiler alert, I FINISHED my first 100 mile race and IT ROCKED!

(OK, enough caps...I just had to get that out)

It is true.  My first 29 miles of the Bear 100 were plagued with negative thoughts, break-up calls to my pacers to explain that I wouldn't be needing their services, Facebook DNF posts, and standing in front of my 60 students to tell them that I dropped out of my race.  I tried to reason that a 50K would be a good day, and perhaps I could continue to 50, and that is also a hard ultra distance.  GOSH, the negative thoughts just flowed and flowed.  I believe that this was a product of nerves, freezing cold temperatures, and hard terrain (although I didn't really feel like it was must have just been taxing on my body).

Let us back up a tad (sorry...) to the night before.  Dang, it was cold, but after having shaking hands until 11AM on Thursday I vowed to go zen.  So, when I arrived at packet pick-up and put on two down jackets I floated (all zen-like) to grab my t-shirt and race bib.  All of the usual suspects were in attendance and some of them were complaining...I stopped listening.  I knew it was going to be cold and I was prepared.  I woke up extra early, took all of my t-shirts and shorts out of my bag and packed everything warm that I owned (NO JOKE).
So excited for the big day!
We went out for dinner and I was quiet.  Kelly Agnew must have picked up on this because he remarked," I so want to give you crap right now, but want you to do well..."  Blah, blah, blah... I wanted to kick his butt, but was too nervous to talk smack.  After dinner, Nick and I drove to the starting line and camped in the back of his pick-up.  We slept great and work up an hour before the start.  I was nervous, but collected, and that was basically my game plan for the first 20 miles.
Hanging out at the start.
The gun went off and we jogged down the street to the big first climb and I started to walk.  I hiked all the way up that first climb, hanging out with Amie Blackham and Jeremy Suwinski...they were very nice to let me hang out with them, as I didn't know what the heck I was doing.  It was so very cold and the running gloves with hand warmers weren't enough!  The views were fabulous, but I was really too cold to stop moving too long.

Enter negative thoughts.  I told myself to save my iPod until mile 20 and I was left with my head.  Oh, boy.  I saw Nick (crew chief awesomeness) at mile 20 and he asked how I was doing.  I told him that my legs didn't feel like they had any energy and that my hips were tight...also, that I was waiting to start having fun.  He told me to suck it up (nicely) and that he would see me in 9 miles.

Me, probably laughing at Forrest's jokes.
Enter negative thoughts with crappy iPod music.  Saw Nick at mile 29.  Same questions, same answers but with "this music sucks!!!"  Nick handed me my BEAR 100 Clutch Moment #1: an iPod of his music that I knew he was making for me and I huge thermos of coffee.  What I didn't know was that this iPod had phone calls from family, friends, and loved ones giving messages of love, encouragement, and inspiration (oh, and some funny jokes).  I heard from my grandma, Mom, Forrest and Pam, Colin, Chris and Cait, BJ, Scott Jaime, and Nick's grandma and mom.  Between crying and laughing, and COFFEE, I zoomed into the next aid station and THAT is how my roughest miles occurred at mile 1-29.

ADORABLE!  AND I got a hug!
BEAR 100 Clutch Moment #2:  I have the most amazing friends ever who bring adorable little girls with pompoms and are so helpful and I wanted to kiss you all, but my lips and face were full of Gu.  Thank you Curtis, Debbie, Lane, Cory, and all of the other lovely people I knew at aid stations.
Happy girl with the best crew chief in the world!
BEAR 100 Clutch Moment #3:  I picked up Ryan at mile 51.  Apparently, I was on pace for a 24 mile finish and Ryan was just barely able to make it up to the aid station in time.  Thankfully, I was running with Nick's SPOT because he could see exactly where I was and that things had changed since mile 29.  I had been looking forward to running with my friends and, of course, Ryan was pumped for me and also to see the beautiful views.  He made me stop to smell the roses and for that I am so grateful.  I think that this was the most beautiful part of the course.  The colors were practically fluorescent with white snow brushing the mountain sides.

Big hugs!
Ryan complemented me, saying that I was really moving well, but I was doubtful.  I guess this is a good time to say that my goal was to be done before lunch on Saturday (a 30-hour finish) and TO FINISH!  I mostly brushed Ryan off, reminding him that I'm just here to finish, though I was glad to be doing well.

Weather update:  Also, BEAR 100 Clutch Moment #4: I thought that it felt warmer.  I was moving just fine and only got cold at aid stations.  At mile 51, I changed my entire outfit for the second time so that I wouldn't have any sweat on me and this strategy was working well.

Food update: Also my race strategy: Also, BEAR 100 Clutch Moment #5: EAT!  I was eating Gu like a super woman!  My stomach was strong and only bothered me after eating at aid stations for about 45 minutes.

Running with Ryan was good.  I had some tired moments, but Ryan reminded me to eat while I felt good, fed me mints (like an angel), and encouraged me to drink a 5-hour energy.  As with the entire race up to this point, I ran the flats and downhills and walked uphills.  It wasn't until we started to descend into mile 75 (Beaver Lodge) that my left knee started to bother me.  We precariously tip-toed into mile 75.

Breein medicating.
BEAR 100 Clutch Moment #6:  Harrison: pacer #2.  That stinker looked jacked up on caffeine from the moment I saw him! I knew I was in trouble...more on that in a second.

Harrison Bootcamp.  Where's the whip?!
Beaver Lodge brought lots of friends, including Forrest and Breein who made the drive to say hi and see the finish!  FUN!  Breein helped me with my legs pains, while way too many people offered food, etc.  I don't mean this in a bad way (I feel loved), but I now know why 100-miler runners look at me with a blank look as I offer food...they are overwhelmed.  They have just been in the wilderness for far too long...

So off we go and right away Harrison starts check his watch.  Poor guy.  Basically, Harrison kept me company and milked every last ounce of desire to run out of me and did a great job motivating.  At this point my legs were aching and had some serious general fatigue.


We somehow managed to make it to mile 92, where I picked up Nick, who I love, but I will not pretend like this was the BEAR 100 Clutch Moment... Nope.  Nick's time brought tears.  We had a brutal climb out of this aid station and then a very hurtful and mean descent into the finish, with one sneak ascent (NOT NICE!).  I wasn't very nice to Nick and none of his motivating strategies worked and I lost a lot of time.  But this is not his fault.  My legs hurt and I reasoned that this could be the worst pain I have ever felt.
I did finally get to the finish where my loved ones awaited and I could lay down.  That was awesome!
Finish line party?

We pulled over so I could puke on the way home and the ever punctual Jodi and Alyssa pulled over, ran toward me, exclaiming, "We saw your car...we want a hug!"  Which I think means, "We saw you yacking, we are not sure if we want a hug anymore..."  We went out for water and I relived the story for the first time and it was awesome.

I wore my best buckle to work today and told my students all about my adventure and they think I'm cool.


  1. How many times can I say congratulations! I've been anxiously waiting to hear this report! Very very awesome, Britta! Maybe one day I'll get a blet buckle of my own. Maybe.

  2. Freaking cool experience huh! The Bear will come calling again for you, this time a sub 24 for sure.

  3. Congrats again on such a great race! Thanks for inviting me along for a small portion of it. Sorry, I forgot the whip in the truck. You managed a swift pace without it though.