Let me take you on a journey that covers three days, three states, and 78.6 miles. It is a tale fraught with peril, triumph, and the agony of the feet.
The Bear Lake adventure started out innocently enough. Scott and I drove up to meet with the rest of our party, Jamie, Teresa, and Desaray, in Logan to gather supplies for the weekend. There's nothing like 5 stressed out runners trying to make sure they're buying enough food for the upcoming weekend. The cashier was pretty impressed/horrified by the amount of food that was purchased for such short period of time.
We got everything loaded into the two cars and made our way to packet pick up in Montpelier, Idaho. When we arrived, we were showered with copious amounts of race swag.
We made our way over to our home for the weekend, found that it was on the second floor and had no elevator, and lugged our ludicrous amount of gear and food up two flights of stairs. Scott cooked a tasty pasta dinner for us while we foam rolled and tried to come to terms with what was about to happen. Jamie and I were in for the three full marathons, while Teresa and Desaray were in for the three half marathons. Scott was set to run the half marathon on Saturday.
The alarm went off at 3:30 a.m. on Thursday morning and the adventure began in earnest.
Day one: Location: Cokeville, Wyoming.
Fun fact about Cokeville, Wyoming: they had a miracle.
They also have a really long, hilly road that we got to run on.
For the first one, I decided not to take the early start and start with all the fastholes. The course would be open until 1 p.m., surely I would be able to finish before that. I'm always so funny.
|Trying to look excited for what's about to happen. Photo courtesy of Jamie Eckles.|
I mostly enjoyed myself for the first 10 or so miles. I wasn't making amazing time, but I thought I would finish somewhere around six and a half hours. The course was an out and back, and it seemed like we were going mostly uphill so I was looking forward to the turn-around. My physical state started to slip somewhere around mile 11, though, and once I hit the turn around the course still felt like it was still uphill.
The strange thing for me was how well I was doing mentally. Everyone was so far ahead of me, but I could just see one girl way up ahead, and there happened to be one woman who was walking the whole thing quite a bit behind me. I wasn't totally alone, but it felt like it. I figured I would make the most out of the solitude and sing loudly and badly as I went along. I also talked to the cows that were pastured along the course, because why not.
|This road goes on forever. And ever. And ever.|
Scott just walked with me and kept me company, which was nice after being alone for most of the day. I didn't even sprint to the finish. I waited until it was pretty darn close and then kind of shuffled in under the arch. It was a rough finish. I came in at 7 hours and 21 minutes. 21 minutes after the course "closed". The great thing about these races, though, is that they allow everyone to finish, the course support just ends. Thank goodness.
We went and got ourselves some celebratory raspberry shakes. Which turned out to be a bad idea after a long race with no real food in our stomachs. Lesson learned. We finally got some real food, had a little time to wind down, and then it was off to bed so that we could get up crazy early and do it all over again.
Day two: Location: Montpelier, Idaho.
Fun fact: Montpelier, Idaho: there are carved bear statues everywhere. EVERYWHERE.
It was also my favorite course of the three.
I opted for the early start this time, but had a hard time getting going in the morning and we got there just a few minutes late. I had to scramble to get going and chase down the rest of the runners. The course was point to point this time and extremely lovely. I was surprised at how well I was moving on stiff legs.
|Some shots from the course.|
|Stock photo of cows. I wasn't about to stop and take a picture as they ran down the road at me.|
After I finally got a gel in my system with some electrolytes and a caffeine pain pill, I was nearly a brand new person. I was able to pick the pace back up again and make better progress. At this point, most of the fastys had passed by and I was alone again. So I decided to go back to what worked the day before to keep my spirits up: singing loudly and badly, with a few sweet dance moves thrown in. I also had packed some real food with me for this one and I actually thought to eat some of it later on during the race.
|I love me some creepy old buildings.|
|Not only could he bring me liquid joy, he could also take pictures as I went along.|
Then it was back to the hotel to start recovering yet again and going to bed early. I did make myself go and spend some time in the pool, allowing my warm leg muscles a chance to cool off. Everyone was a little more subdued after day two was over. Scott whipped us up another tasty dinner of steaks and mashed potatoes and we were back in bed before the sun went down.
Day three: Location: Laketown, Utah.
Fun fact: bald eagles nest there during the summer. I know because I saw them.
This race was also horrible for 22 miles.
Jamie offered to take me to the early start for day three, even though she would be waiting around for an hour to start her race, so that Scott, Teresa, and Desaray wouldn't have to get up so early, since their race started at 7:00. We were moving noticeably slower on day three. We all had the appearance of ragged zombies, a dead, cold look in our eyes. I made my way up the hilly first portion of the course. Jamie managed to catch up to me quite early on in this one. And when we saw each other, we both vowed that we would not be running the secret day four race. The only thing that was getting me through this last race was knowing that I wouldn't have to get up and do it again.
I was running 16-17 minute miles. Around mile 10, there were some kids out in a field and they were trying to get the runners to talk to them. Since I was moving so slowly, I had time to answer their questions.
Kids: "You look tired, why are you tired?"
Me: "I am tired. This is my third marathon in three days."
Kids: "You're running a marathon every day? Why?!"
Me: "Because it sounded like fun when I signed up. But guess what. It ISN'T fun."
|A lovely sight before the busy road.|
I had been trying to get my runner brain to calculate what time I would be finishing. Math is difficult when you're sleep deprived and exhausted. But I finally figured that at the rate I was going, I would finish in about eight and a half hours. WHAT. Oh well. There's not much I could do about it but keep moving. I tried to enjoy the scenery, since it was very pretty. The day was not overly hot, we had some nice cloud cover. I got to pet someone's corgi. That was nice.
Scott had finished his race and had decided to drive out to find me. I was not in a good place mentally or physically when he did. I had been through 22 rough miles at that point. But he had something magical in the car. He had a small carton of chocolate milk. I didn't know that chocolate milk was ambrosia of the gods until that moment. I drank it down and got ready to keep on slogging. Scott said he would go back and get me a Coke as well. He left and I made my way up a massive hill. Once I got to the top, things started feeling a million times better.
That chocolate milk had done the trick. I felt like I could run. So I did. I started a slow jog, and was able to finish that mile in 16 minutes. Then the next mile fell under my feet in 14 minutes. I passed another runner. I flew down the hill and right past the aid station, not daring to stop, lest it should throw off my groove. I was nearly to mile 25 when Scott was back with the Coke. He was amazed that I was so close to the end. I was making up time like crazy. I stopped to drink some Coke, then just kept going.
They cruelly threw in a gigantic hill just past mile 25 that had to be climbed and then run back down before we could head to the finish. I powered up that hill and was down in no time. My time for that mile was 13:34, the fastest I had run the entire day. And that was with the hill, and stopping to drink.
|Killing the hill. Photo credit: Scott M. Stringham|
We had all successfully finished what we set out to do. Jamie, Teresa, and Desaray were all there at the finish to celebrate that we had all lived through it. Scott had a rough time with his half marathon, but still managed to come in 38th overall, out of nearly 200 runners. I was proud of him for pushing though when all he wanted to do was quit. He's got the makings of an ultra runner.
|Hanging out with all our bling after a rough weekend. Photo courtesy of Jamie Eckles.|
I don't know how I got through this challenge, I honestly wasn't ready for it at all. I didn't do a single back to back long run like I had scheduled. My laziness totally won during my training cycle. So basically, the take away from this is, if you're stubborn enough and are willing to deal with massive amounts of pain, you can do anything. I don't think that's a very good moral at all. But it is what it is. I know one thing though, I will not attempt anything like this again on such half-assed training. I learned my lesson.
|Lesson learned and buckle earned.|