A few weeks ago Breein and I were stopped in Rawlins, WY. She had some work related things to do at various Wyoming outposts and I was along to provide moral support. Aside from the pep talks and inspirational speeches I gave, my purpose for being there was because we were headed to the Wind Rivers after all of the work was done. As we finished up in Rawlins, I remembered my grandfather had worked in Rawlins when he was younger but couldn’t recall the details. I sent a few photos to my father and him to let them know we were there, but any information around his time spent in Rawlins escaped me. It was only after IMTUF was over that I remembered that he had wrote down a few stories about Rawlins. Through these short written accounts, I got a better idea as to why he was working in WY and how he came to up and move back to Pennsylvania.
All of this has nothing to do with IMTUF, but has everything to do with why I’m writing a race report. Any story needs to have an intended audience in mind. Over the last year or so I had lost touch with who my audience is. Because of this, I’ve grown apathetic to write anything at all. I don’t care to write a race report for other runners. I don’t have any products to shill or promote. And I’m certainly not trying inspire others to do anything. Personally, I’d rather keep my thoughts and experiences private aside from the few people I care about. What I realized in reading about my grandfather’s experience in Rawlins is that the reason I need to write my thoughts down is so that my son may read them. He may never have an interest to run or do the things that I do. Regardless of that, my intended audience is him. The words are meant for his eyes if he chooses to read them.
Up until about three months before IMTUF, I had decided that I wasn’t going to run it. The consequences of tearing my quad at Gorge Waterfalls in April proved to linger a little longer than expected. My fear of tearing it again or doing too much too fast impacted my ability to train/run downhill. Using poles helped a ton for my confidence, but throughout the entire summer, I didn’t allow myself to bomb any downhill running. Breein and I did manage to get in a lot of 20+ runs and on terrain similar to what we’d see at IMTUF. Despite that, not really being able to train running downhill like I needed to would be an issue come September.
All of that changed when my father mentioned to me that he and my mother wanted to come out to Idaho for the race. They hadn’t traveled to see my run a 100 since Bryce a few years ago and considering all he was going through, running IMTUF was now an obvious yes. Once that was decided, training went as good as it could have given my quad situation.
I had reserved the Hornets Nest in Burgdoff in December, so our lodging at the race was secure. My parents met Breein and I in McCall on Friday and we all arrived at the cabin to join Debbie and her support team. All in all, we had eight of us there.
Debbie and I managed to get through about 20 minutes of the hour long pre-race briefing (a new record for me!).
From what I remember, I got a good nights sleep. I had no nerves prior to the start. It’s nice to not be worried about little things or feel the stress of racing that I used to feel. Having paced IMTUF the prior two years helped my mental state tremendously. I was confident that this race is quite a bit longer than 100 miles. I’ve seen friends struggle on this course. I kind of knew it could be a rough one and that was okay with me.
Here are my notes of the actual race… I don’t remember all events that transpired however.
- The race start was much to fast. I knew this, but probably ran a little too fast as well.
- My quad tightened up from the cold weather. I was hopeful it would loosen up and I wouldn’t cause any damage early on.
- I ran roughly 15 of the first 33 miles with Jennilyn Eaton. Although I had never really met her before, it was nice to have the company while we both weren’t feeling particularly enthusiastic about racing.
- The sunrise was really pretty.
- The first of two “water drops” that were either misplaced or missing came and went.
- Somehow during this first 33 miles, my salt intake got really out of whack. I felt like I was eating okay, at least for me.
- I came into Snowslide (mile 48) starting to feel the effects of whatever it is that I screwed up on with my nutrition.
- My quad had loosened up by this point. Somewhere during the afternoon, it started to rain. I don’t recall when exactly.
- The climb up Snowslide was incredibly steep, but incredibly beautiful. This loop is the best section on the course. Just stunning.
- At Lake Fork I picked up Breein for pacing. This is always my favorite part of running any 100. I get to catch up with her about what has been going on. I get to run with my favorite person.
- From Lake Fork back to Upper Payette (roughly 30-40 miles) was rough. Fairly early on in this section, my stomach started to go. The dizziness on the climbs put the biggest damper on any ability to move quickly. Breein helped me get back on track with my salt. Heavy doses of broth and S-Caps managed to at least keep the dizziness at bay.
- Despite the dizziness going away, my stomach issues persisted. Multiple violent episodes of puking had me starting to doubt my ability to move faster than our current pace. We still managed to run the flats and downhills, but it was slowed for sure.
- I have had many issues with my stomach in 100s. This was so far worse than anything I’ve ever experienced.
- I accidently stabbed Breein in the toe with my pole.
- The rain continued all night. We saw multiple people without waterproof gear. It floored me to see people shivering and wet with jackets that were soaked through. We were prepared and warm. Frequently we were too warm despite the rain, and had to keep our jackets open to keep from overheating.
- At some point before dawn, the fog was so thick we could barely see a few feet in front of us. Even on an easy dirt road, it was tough to move very quickly.
- Also at some point, I realized that the only way to keep from puking was to stop ingesting anything into my body. I refer to this as the Bear 100 pacing method.
- Hours of not consuming anything seemed to do the trick. The final time through Upper Payette was when I finally began to able to get some calories in again. That and the fact that the sun came up, gave me new life.
- Upper Payette to the finish was actually enjoyable for me. My body 100% turned it around and I felt pretty amazing the whole way.
- Breein, however, was starting to feel a little rough. (probably an understatement) Due to just how bad I was doing during the night, she neglected to take care of herself as she should have.
- I remember a stupid climb up after Cloochman.
- I remember too many switchbacks
- At roughly mile 97, we saw some of the biggest bear (grizzly) tracks I’ve ever seen. They were over top of the runner tracks that was only a tenth of a mile or so ahead of us. Long story short, he was close. Deadfall was everywhere. It was foggy. Bear attack seemed imminent.
- The downhill to the finish was pleasant for me. My quad wasn’t going to tear. This made me happy. We listened to most of the Pearl Jam studio albums. We listened to a lot of Grateful Dead.
- After just over 30 hours of traveling on foot, we made it back to Burgdorf.
- IMTUF 2016 didn’t go as planned. They usually don’t. I’m happy that my dad was able to travel so my parents could come out and be apart of it. The 2017 version will hopefully see me with the downhill legs I need to run this race well.
- I’d like to thank Breein for managing me through the worst I’ve ever felt during one of these things. I know first hand that it’s difficult to watch the person you care about struggle so much. Thank you for getting me to the finish.