Stronger Than you Think

Allow me to start off this blogpost by emphasizing one tiny point: getting to the finish line of single 100 miler feels fantastic; getting to the finish line of your third 100 miler in 8 weeks feels amazing!  Most of us are probably used to having one, maybe two “A” races per year, and then having to wait another 12 months for the next round of “A” races to come around.  Not so for me this year, it feels like an “A” race every month!  Just as soon as Western was done and the wash was barely folded (but still warm from the dryer), Meredith and I focused immediately on Vermont.  As soon as Vermont was done, on to Leadville.  And now the quickest turnaround of them all: a very short 3 weeks to Wasatch Front 100 including, Meredith’s 9-mile Got2Swim event to benefit Colin’s Hope , Labor Day weekend, and an early Friday start just to change things up.  No time for pity parties, no time for “I shouldas”, “I couldas”, or “I wish…” other than a race report recap.  Just plain-old old-fashioned recovery (massage, ice bath, physical therapy thanks to , cryo-therapy thanks to , stretching sessions in the sauna at etc.), unpack, repack, refuel, reconfirm/tweak travel plans & directions, reconfirm crew and pacers, make pace charts, pack drop bags, replace batteries, repack luggage and cooler, yadda yadda yadda.  BUT, it provides a singular focus for our family this summer and so far we are very blessed to be staying on track!

Okay, quick rewind back to Leadville:  That certainly seemed like a LONG last 7 miles from Tabor Boat Ramp to the finish line, and the dirt boulevard felt like it went on absolutely forever.  I made sure to tell Marilee that after receiving my finisher’s medal and a post-race hug.  That’s one section of the course (from Turquoise Lake back to town) that I did not run or drive during the week before the race, and in hindsight it would have been a good idea.  I sometimes had to virtually pinch myself during the course of the day that I was out on the historic Leadville trail for its 30th anniversary, and especially when coming through some of the aid stations that people frequently talk about.  Our week of time up in Leadville was pretty special and I feel really lucky to have come through it happy and healthy.  Loved hearing Cole Chlouber’s speech at the pre-race meeting, amazing to come back 17 years after DNFing and put a fork in it!  .  We also had a great Friday morning pre-race shake-out run at Turquoise Lake:

Some race highlights (or comic relief):  My return trip from Winfield (mile 50) was going along absolutely fantastic.  My first pacer Derick Williamson from and I had an absolute blast hiking back up Hope Pass.  Don’t get me wrong, it was a grind, but we worked it pretty good.  Loved seeing the other runners on course and the mutual cheering for each other that was going on. When we hit the switchbacks, we quickly caught sight of Liza Howard (then in 2nd place) and her pacer Brian in hot pursuit of Aliza Lapierre (then in 1st place) and her pacer Meredith Terranova (my wife with the Chrissie Wellington arms!).  We continued to push the climb and early in the descent caught up with Aliza and Meredith after Liza and Brian passed them.  Derick and I bombed the downhill and made quick work of it.  After the river crossing I sucked down a random apple-flavored gel that almost came right back up, ick.  Luckily, the Twin Lakes aid station was not far ahead and that got my mind off of that nasty feeling.  Coming up the climb out of Twin Lakes with my second pacer Bryan Morton, I was still feeling good, eating and drinking well, maybe TOO well, because shortly after we hit the runnable sections my stomach violently revolted.  EVERYTHING came out very quickly, not pretty at all.  During this all, my friend Lee McKinley ran by while pacing Troy Howard to a 13th place finish and a Leadman finish, if only we had a camera!  So that certainly changed the focus from trying to reel in Liza to taking care of my stomach, staying hydrated, fueled, etc. and ultimately finishing.  I recalled here that during the Western States 100 training camp veteran’s panel , Andy Jones-Wilkins said that he always pukes during 100-milers, and his advice was to just laugh it off, not let it deter you, re-establish equilibrium, etc.  We started with just plain water, grabbed some Sprite at Half Pipe (mile 71), and then my crew had bottles of ginger-ale and mountain dew waiting for me at Treeline (73).  From there, things progressively got better as everything stayed down.  Whew!

On course music choice?  One strong memory was hearing the Firefall song “You are the Woman”  being blasted out the window of one the homes along the road in between Fish Hatchery and the Powerline climb.  My third pacer Drew Wolff and I busted out laughing and singing so hard!


What happens at May Queen stays in May Queen?  Another interesting memory was hitting the May Queen aid station (mile 86.5) at about 10:15pm, fueling up on hot chocolate and coffee (aka “coco-loco”), Drew simultaneously rubbing my left upper hamstring/lower glute (i.e my ass muscle) with pain-relief cream, and then taking a warm to-go bottle of same “coco-loco” concoction to sip on for the next 13.5 miles, YUM!!!  The May Queen aid station volunteers did an awesome job sending us out too!

It was definitely a team effort out there and I’d be remiss to mention the great work that my crew chief Mike Wilen did keeping everything running smoothly and keeping the twitter and Facebook worlds appeased with race updates.  Meredith put together a thoughtful little montage of our Leadville trip which you can watch here

We have also happened to inspire my brother-in-law Ryan, deployed downrange on his 4th tour, to endeavor on the “Race Across the Sky” in 2013!!!  His 2ID unit patches have been keeping me company in the pockets of my water bottles, but I let one out to get a quick view of Sugarloaf Pass J  No matter how hard a 100 miler gets, it does not compare to the perseverance, patience, and faith required to endure long-term separation from loved friends and family.

Less than 1 week to Wasatch and 6 short weeks to Kona!!!

Thanks for checking in!!!  -Paul

Oh, and the post-race Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA wasn’t bad either!

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