Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Bear 100 2015 - From mid pack to feeling like DFL

The hook: As I was meandering my way through the last 5 or 6 miles of this race I had a pocket full of pancakes in one ziplock and a pocket full of bacon in the other.  I was in the middle of the woods in a race called "The Bear", you can see my dilemma here.

From before the beginning;

I needed to do a "qualifier race" for Western States and I was talking with John about it he suggested a race called The Bear 100.  The great thing about this race is that it is both a qualifier for WS and Hardrock.  Amy was also planning on running it, so we could pool resources.  (Now picture this 80 plus miles into it, I am talking to myself about John's "suggestions").

Due to working full time and family, it is tough to train as hard as I should.  I didn't lose the weight I should have going into this...  That always makes me mad, because if I was serious as I should be / want to be I would drop the weight needed to be successful.  So blah blah blah a bunch of excuses.  I still felt pretty good going into the race.

I used Frank's ultrasplits site to come up with a few scenarios I thought were best can middle of the road cases.  Worst case was just finish the race, it is my only qualifier on deck as I don't get to race as much as some others (I am looking at you Jean :) ).

I won't bore you too much with details - I would say I peaked out at mid 70's for weekly mileage with about 10k of vertical.  I should have been doing more, I just didn't.  I also joined a gym sort of thing called "Orange Theory"- it is a HR based workout for an hour at a time.  I really just needed something other than running to provide some cross training.  It is a very good workout that I think helps me, and I think it will continue to help me.  I just need to keep up my weekly mileage ongoing.

Fast forward to the race...  Amy had to pull out with an injury so I decided to just fly in a couple of days early.  Flying into Salt Lake City and then driving a couple of hours into Logan.  I met up with Dan Burke and his crew Mike, we did packet pickup and dinner.  We also got to meet up in the morning of the race.  I slept great actually (I used some over the counter sleeping aid - melatonin), and woke up ready to race.  Had my standard english muffin, peanut butter and banana breakfast before race.

The race started pretty uneventfully - from a park and then some suburb streets to a long single track climb.  I tucked in with folks going about my speed and tucked in.  The first bit I just took it easy. For the first 6 aid stations mile 45 I spent a total of 6 minutes in aid stations and hovered around 75th to 70th I got to Temple Fork at 10hours and 12 minutes.  Pretty respectable this was about 10k of climbing.  Coming out of this was going to be one of the longest climbs and this is where it all started to go down hill for me.  I had a hard time keeping the gels down - I had started to use their gels (hammer) for the last couple of aid stations and they weren't sitting well.  During this climb and the heat with the elevation I think that is what did me in.  I started throwing up and really had a very hard time.  Looking back what I should have done when I got to the next aid station was sit for a bit and just regroup - I think if I had done that, maybe spent 20 minutes just settling my stomach and then headed out it would have saved my race.  As it was I ran in, got some calories (broth) and then got out of there.

I just tried to play catchup from that point running / trotting when I could and trying to keep gels down.  I threw up a few more times and really wasn't moving too well.  At some point I met up with Ryan he and I had been playing leap frog for quite a while and decided to run together - I know now that he slowed down to help me try to save my race.  I can't emphasize how important he was!  I know I am only spending a couple of sentences on our time together, but he really saved my race. At this point I hadn't given up completely on the sub 30 hour buckle.  As the major point in our race we climbed down into mile 85 together and that is when I completely fell apart.  I sent Ryan on his way, and I was trying to choke down some broth, but I started shaking so bad I couldn't even get it to my mouth.  I tried to get up to leave, but the aid station people weren't having any of that.  They covered me with blankets and I honestly don't remember much when I did look at my watch, I realized I had been in the aid station for over an hour.  I was starting to hyperventilate a bit and decided if I was going to get out I needed to do it now.  I slowed my breathing as best I could and got some deep breaths.  Got some broth and electrolytes and I was able to stand up and start moving.  ARG almost an hour and a half, they said I went into shock but well who knows I was just happy get out of there!  The nice folks at the aid station walked with me for about a half a mile to make sure I didn't fall over.  I knew then I was just turning this into a 15 mile hump, just keep moving.

I started to hallucinate a bit as I was coming into the last aid station about a mile or two out of there I kept seeing people or cars in the middle of the forest but when I got closer I realized it was just branches.  As I made it into the last aid station they all looked at me and said they were about to send a search party for me (I think they were joking.)  Once I got sat down for a few minutes I had some pancakes and bacon and was able to keep it down, it was so nice and filling after throwing up anything I ate for the past 10 hours or so.  I had them pack me a baggy full of both and started the long hike up and out of that aid station.  After a mile hike up I started to think that is when I decided that carrying pancakes and bacon through the woods probably wasn't my smartest idea but it was highly unlikely I would run across any critters :)

Then the final challenge - about a 3 mile descent that I probably would have enjoyed any other time but after my feet and slowness I was just crawling down this.  But the end was in site - I could see Bear Lake and what I thought was the line to the finish :)  Well after coming down through this we actually had to go back up a little hill and then back down to the finish - all stuff I could and should have ran, but just didn't have it in me.

I finished with my head down at 31 hours 40 minutes.  I immediately said I would never do this race again.  But then within a few hours I thought I could do this much better and I will need to come back and get that sub 30 belt buckle.

Now just a quick bullet point list of the good and bad with some lessons learned.

The good;

  • Training was ok
  • Having a change of shoes from the Kiger 3's to the Wildhorse 3 at mile 61 was probably one of my better decisions - Wildhorse has a rock plate of sorts and I think I would use the kigers for anything at 50 miles or under.  
  • Finishing the race no matter what
  • Finding a friend (thanks again Ryan)

The bad;

  • Not taking help when it was offered (Sachin I should have taken you up on that offer) next time for sure!
  • Not having enough of my own gels - I don't like hammer gels now even thinking about them kinda makes me sick

The ugly;

  • Driving back to the airport right after the race - that was ugly!!!  Sitting on the airplane wasn't good.

That is it for now - I may go through and update this I just wanted to spend a few minutes and write something up.


  1. Thanks for sharing. I need to get one of these under my belt, and getting a real picture from someone who isn't in the front gives me a much better picture of what I will face. Pretty impressive that you were able to suffer that long, and still finish. Congratulations.

  2. Yeah it was pretty ugly out there and it all fell apart in the middle and didn't recover. I am lucky I am just stubborn and I wasn't going to have another race to fall back on. :)

  3. I still need to get something down! Glad you persevered and got it done!

  4. That is stubbornness! that is ultra-running. Great job gettin' it done.