Thursday, June 19, 2014

Zion 100 April 5th 2014

View from Cable Mountain Lodge
Warning this is going to be a long post and probably be another that jumps all over the place. This week was definitely a life changing experience for me and one I will never forget. The bad news was I came down with strep throat on the Monday before the event, I was leaving to drive to Columbus Ohio Monday evening for an early morning flight Tuesday so I called my doctor and explained my symptoms and asked if they could squeeze me in because I was leaving in a couple hours and leaving leaving in the early morning for Utah for a 100 mile run and I had to be well!! My Doctor got me right in, He went ahead and gave me a shot of rocephine to try to speed up the wellness process and then put me on amoxicillin. He wanted to be careful about what to put me on because some antibiotics can cause Achilles and muscle, tendon issues and we didn't want that but also amoxicillin could cause some tummy issues....this was the chance I had to take. My friends said I was nuts to go try to do 100 mile in the mountains of Zion 4 days after being diagnosed with Strep throat but I had to go and try. I mean I had planned on this event for 10 months and couldn't wait to get out there and see the there were several of my friends doing this race as well...some because I talked them into it and the other Holly since she kinda planted the seed in my head so I in turn returned the favor with several other people - what are friends for?  I arrived  early Tuesday morning due to the time change and really wanted to hike Angels Landing on Wednesday but I knew better if I were going to be half way well to toe the line at 4am on Friday morning so instead I did go into Zion Park and took the bus ride to a shorter less strenuous hike for about 4-5 miles.
 I had splurged the first 2 nights and stayed at the Cable Mountain lodge which was right at the entrance to Zion National Forest...I wasn't able to eat yet on Tuesday and went to bed fairly early but after the hike on Wednesday I was able to hold down a sandwich. On Thursday I made my way to the Super 8 Holly had recommended over in a town called Springdale...Amber was driving down from Montana, Holly her husband Bill and she had her pacer Karen coming with her all arrived this day as well as my friend Harry whom I met at the Center of The Nations...this was to be his first 100 my attempt. When I arrived at the Super 8 Amber was already there chilling in the back of her jeep and we got our room and unpacked...shortly after Holly, Bill and Karen arrived as well as Harry so we all decided to drive into the park again and my pass was good for the whole week!! We drove on back to some areas I didn't take on the bus and I was just amazed.....I completely fell in love with area already by this time and had no idea what was in store for me in the days to come! After our ride in the park and Bill who is a big rock climber got his thrill running up this monster mountain rock free handed (was really fun to watch him!! he is so skills and was like a little kid in a candy store grinning ear to ear as he was running up that hill!)
heading to packet pickup
Me and Wendy I was saying after the ride we stop at the cable mountain lodge for our packet pickup and they had wood fire pizza but the line was crazy! It was late getting dinner and we decided on the pizza place again.....One of my childhood friends Wendy Cooke Drake who is also a runner lives in Boulder CO and I had asked if by chance she was going to be at Zion this weekend and she answered she was not but later told me her friend Greg was going to be there and would great for us to meet. Service in the park was so scarce and when we got the flying monkey for dinner I had a couple messages from Greg to see where we were eating and hoped we could meet up. We missed each others calls earlier and had left some messages back and forth so I texted him and said we just arrived at the flying monkey. Holly Bill Amber Karen Harry and Myself were there and I was really hungry but still feeling really shitty...I was ranking my wellness each day I think I rated it this evening at about 52% better but I had less then 9 hours before start time and I was an emotional head mess wondering what I was going to do, what risk would I be taking if I did this, then convincing myself I am well enough at least to give it a try but at the same time pissed, scared, depressed and about 20 other emotions all taking place in my head and body. When we walked in I saw a guy sitting at the table who looked familiar and he said JENN! I then realized it was Hector, I had only met him thru facebook so it was great to meet him in person! Super nice guy and hope to get to see him again in the near future. As we sit for dinner I was in my own little daze fighting my emotions of uncertainty and all of a sudden I get a tap on my left shoulder and this person says I hear you are from
Portsmouth Ohio...and I turn and look up and it's Wendy!!!!! I completely lost control of all my emotions and this was the most amazing surprise of my life....I threw my piece of bread on the table, screamed where I think the entire restaurant got scared jumped up and hugged her and just started balling uncontrollably but in complete happiness....this was exactly what I needed and I told her this! We all hung out for a bit and ate supper and back to our hotel rooms we went....I really wanted to be in bed super early since I was still really not well but spending time with everyone was worth it. It was after 10pm I believe till we got settled in and of course couldn't sleep, Amber and I shared a room Holly Bill and Karen were in a room and Harry was down the hall. Holly had made arrangements for her husband to be able to get Amber and me to and from the run with them so that was perfect. During the evening thank God we had the latch on our door as around 1am someone was given the wrong key and tried to enter our room.....WOW that's never happened and Amber flew outta bed with fist in the air!! Then of course neither of us could get back to sleep since we really only had about another hour ish to sleep....we were all taking the 4am early start and it was about a 20 minute or so drive. When we did get up we still were in amazement with what happened and just laughed cause you cant make that shit up. When it was time to go we were telling the others about it and Bill said oh my I was working in the lobby at that time and the guy who was given the wrong key came in and was telling them about it....of course he would have never thought it was either of us this happened to! We loaded into the van and Harry was waiting to follow us over....we all knew that we would run our own run and if we were together we were together- they all knew I was still very sick and applauded me for even going for it stating they honestly didn't think they would even attempt it under those circumstances but I had to and I would play smart. By this morning I was feeling about 67.8% better....that's pretty good????
Rope Climb
Pre Race

 We took a pre race picture and our events started in the dark which I liked since we had to climb the flying monkey trail in the dark!! I think I would have completely flipped out if I had seen what we were climbing on this one. There was an area with a rope which you had to use to help pull yourself up and I was using my trekking poles to help as well so I had to toss them up and try to grab the rope and get myself up...knowing but not really seeing how close we were to the edge of the mountain and if there was anything there to catch me if I slipped. I know I tossed my poles either to Amber or above the large rock and grabbed the rope and stated Im so scared!!! I know this was so short into the event too and there were already lots of choice words but mostly in amazement as to what we were all accomplishing!! By the time we got to the top the sun was coming up and we were able to see....this was the first area that was not marked well and we kinda did some circling searching for the markers and then figured it out with the help of a few other runners that came along.  Got to the first Aid Station refilled water had to potty and off we went to start the decent....this decent was on a dirt road for several miles, nothing super steep at first and sometimes it actually leveled out, then we got to the road that dropped down a couple miles and it was a gorgeous site!

 It was still super early in the event and the views took my mind off of how I was feeling at the moment and the winds hadn't really been blowing much up to this point. I knew this downhill was all road and was several miles down hill but then flattened for a short time before we arrived at the next aid I had a small bag where I had planned to go ahead and drop my jacket. I wanted to get in and out fast to try not to waste much time but stopped for a quick potty break. At this time Amber and Harry and I were together and we saw Holly and then Holly and Amber took off together for a bit. I told Harry to go ahead if he needed to and that we need to run our own events but he had in his mind we would stick together. I don't regret this in any way due to myself being sick and it being his first 100 attempt and he is an older man and like most ultra runners very stubborn and would never listen to his body and push push push till there was trouble....we will get into that more later in this recap.

Up the road we headed and I started to be amazed at how diverse this area is! It was like so many different terrains in such short periods of miles, total desert, then some green, then the virgin river, then slick rock, then gorgous flowers then more mesas to climb...I just couldn't stop looking at the scenery!!! I know we wasted some time with photos but it was worth it!!! We caught up with Holly and Amber not far up the road and Holly settled back into a slower pace and Amber Harry and I stuck together till we got to the nastiest mountain I had ever climbed in my life....breathtaking in all ways!!!! There was mostly flat and rolling dirt road here and we were in the lowlands if that's what they call them. We got to run by the virgin river which was so pretty!
 I had found the winds had started picking up before we reached this climb and that was really bothering my ears as I am sure they still had some infection so I tried to put my head buff over the ears to help protect them, I also found myself getting light headed and dizzy and it wasn't from altitude as this wasn't that high and I have been about 1000 feet higher before for some was just I was not recovered from strep throat in 4 days! My legs and attitude felt great...I was loving this!! Well kinda a love/hate to be honest. We head up this climb - this climb I believe is 1800 feet?? and its only 1 mile long.....the most sadistic thing is you don't get an aid station till you get to the top!! The top was called Goosebump Overlook and would be mile
31....Amber was kicking ass on this climb and took on off so we wouldn't hold her back and I had to stop for some breathers here and there and just sit to catch my breath. It was amazing to see how high we were climbing from and there are no pictures that could do that justice.  During this climb is when I talked to myself about evaluating my event and possibly dropping to the see at mile 74 we would be back to Goosebump Overlook and then have to go back down this very narrow slippery loose rock trail in the dark and with my dizziness already I had no idea who I would get down in the dark safely- heck it would be tough enough if my health was 100% so this was in my mind and I did call and let my mother know as she was already worried about me for doing what I was doing. After the first time leaving Goosebump Overlook we headed out to Gooseberry Point....the run out to the point was all slick was like walking on the moon!

 There were a couple times I had to almost crawl up a few of the rocks and many times I had to sit to just slide down them. There were also areas as we got closer to the amazing overlook with 12 inch gaps in the slick rock we had to jump over....I never knew I had such a fear of heights in my life and yet again it could have been related to being ill....this is where Harry helped me so much....he could see my fear he new how sick I was and he would offer me his hand so I could make that quick jump over these huge cracks!

 Once we got to the Point it was like Heaven on Earth!!! We took so many photos and then headed on back to Goosebump. Next stop was Grafton Mesa...this stop had my warmer clothes for night and flashlight batteries etc. After passing thru the first time I went ahead and changed into a long sleeve and grabbed my flashlight, we were told it wasn't hilly and we could just leave our trekking poles till we arrived back...we were also told to follow I believe yellow markers not green ( my colors maybe wrong now but whatever they were different) We headed out for what was to be a 5 mile loop before coming back and Harry took the lead...I was doing something on my phone whether taking a photo, texting, or doing a FB post and where Harry was new to trail events he missed the turn for the 5 mile we got down the road I noticed there was all green or what ever the color was that was for another distance race going on at that time and I said this isn't right, he said I didn't see any other markers? I said we are suppose to follow yellow so we turned to head back and see where we got off course, someone was coming towards us and we asked if they saw where it split and they said yes its prolly a good half mile or so up the road...SHIT!!! There goes a lot of time and we were already pushing some cut offs and I still hadn't make up my mind if I was going to stop at the 100K yet. We got to where it turned and then I was mad at myself for not paying attention either and following someone else....nobodies fault but my own....another reason to run your own event. This cost about a mile and a half off course and about 45 minutes of time. The only nice thing about this screw up was this gorgeous sunset!
We got back to the Aid Station and now it was already dark dark, I don't recall what time it was but I grabbed my night time jacket, headlamp, and extra batteries for headlamp and flashlight and final it was off to the the next Aid Station which also had a check point for time which I did not have on my card for some reason. Weeks before several of the times were written wrong and adjusted and I don't know if this was missing or if I missed it when I typed out my plan. Heading down the dirt road - it was mostly downhill but was a drivable dirt road so plenty of space. I started to really worry about Harry at this time as we had all this room and he would just start wondering off to the right and try to climb up the hill side. We giggled trying to make light of it and at this point I was feeling good and decided I was going on...I was going to go for the buckle but we also talked about if he continued he would have to stay either 20 feet in front of me or 20 feet behind me because when we got back up to mile 74 and had to go down the steep steep decline and it was single track and loose dirt I didn't want him to fall into me and knock me off the side of the hill and if I slipped I didn't want to knock him off the hill side. Also on this downhill he started to tumble a couple times which had me concerned but Harry is tough and stubborn as well. At this point I knew there was no way I was going to leave him because we had stayed together for at least 17 hours by now and there is no finish in the world more important then a friends safety.  We got to the bottom of this hill and it was flat for awhile and I had cell service again, I called my mother to tell her we were going to go on, during the time I was talking to her Harry went straight missing the turn to head to the 100K check in at Eagle Crags so when we got to the streets end and were on a main road with no markers I was looking for where to go next and realized we missed something. We turned back around and another lady was coming towards us as well and I yelled wrong you see any markers? Then a man was coming from behind her, they were together here from Hawaii and she wasn't happy at all with the course markings throughout the event.....some were so over marked while others were not marked well at all. We found the turn and up we went to Eagles Crags, at this time the lady said it doesn't matter now we will miss the cut off, the cut off is in 10 min and we were just starting up this big climb that was over a mile high. I pulled out my paper and that when I realized I missed writing down this cut off and I said I show the next cut off is 3am back up at Grafton and she then said no we have to be up to the top of this by 12:30 - SHIT.... I knew we would be close, I was cussing everything because now I was really going to try to go for the finish sick or not, I then started cussing myself for not paying attention and following someone else for the 5 mile loop that ended up being over 6.5 miles and cost us over 45 minutes, then the last mess up where I was busy on the phone telling my mother I was going on so that she didn't worry if she didn't hear from me for awhile which cost another 30 plus minutes and Harry and I arrive at the top and they are taking down the aid station and say oh sorry you missed the cut off it was 20 minutes ago....but you will have to go back down and climb back up to Grafton for another 8 miles as our Ham Radio guys are gone and passed you when you were climbing up...we have a little water if you want some? SERIOUSLY!!! I was t totally pissed!! The folks from Hawaii came shortly after as well as two men and we all stood in disbelief saying we cant continue in the event because we missed a cutoff however we have to find our way 8 more miles and hope the ham guy is up there. Nobody too any of our bib numbers or names or anything so if anything would have happened to us they would have no clue where to even look. Harry and I headed out and down the hill we went, now he was falling very often so this is when I realized it was probably a GodSend that we missed the cut off because I think he would have been stubborn enough to try to go on and this was an 8 foot wide road again and not super steep where as what would be up at mile 74 was 1800 foot drop in a mile and single track! The folks from Hawaii called and someone picked them up at the bottom of the hill, we called Bill, Hollys husband and told him what happened and let him know where we were and which way we were heading, he couldn't leave yet as Holly was soon to be back to that Aid Station herself and he didn't want to miss her so we just started run/walking towards where we needed to go. We were almost to the backside of the next climb that would take us up to the checkpoint and Bill found us...we got in the van and were at about mile 70 on our watches and he drove us to the check point where I spoke to the Ham Radio guy and one of the main volunteers, I was basically told why should we be responsible for you if you miss a cut off, why should we have to write your bib down, if you know you wont make a cut off you shouldn't be going out there. WOW I said I didn't expect to miss a cut off I expected the course to be marked so we knew where to go, just as I did on that 5 mile loop from up here that turned into 6.5 miles! He was a complete douchbag! We got a ride to the finish from a stranger and then I spoke to Matt Gunn the Race Director, we did get our 100K finish and I also heard so many others speaking to him about the terrible markings and being lost for several hours so we were not alone. We found a hotel to sleep for about 2-3 hours and then headed back to the finish line to watch for Amber and Holly, Holly stopped around mile 94 because she had about an hour and a half left on the clock and didn't think she would make the 2:00pm official cut off, I felt terrible for her! What was soooo frustrating for everyone was they were so adamant about these cut offs but in the end they allowed folks to finish up till 6pm which is 4 hours past the official cut off time and yes they show up on the official results page and get credit. Holly would have only missed the 2pm cut off by 30 min tops, and here they pulled 6 of us well didn't pull us pretty much left us stranded ontop of Eagle Crag telling us to make our way back 8 miles and hope someone is there to help us and we were only TWENTY MINUTES past a cut off. I have mixed emotions, I am grateful we missed the cut off due to Harry's condition and also due to my own, I wasn't well and I had NO business myself trying to push through and go on down that dangerous climb in the dark but on the other hand it is upsetting when you and others get told you miss this cut off by such a SHORT time and then they allow finishers for 4 hours past the finish cut off time? Still makes no sense. It was nice hanging out at the finish line sitting drinking a beer with some new friends telling stories, most that I sat with and talked with had done the event before and dropped down to the 100K this year again due to numerous reasons, course markings seemed to be the number one reason I heard. I would like to do the course again but next year I am already signed up for several big events and around that same time, plus I have a very large goal for the end of May next year that I wont get into yet. I am hoping the course markings get better or that the course remains the same and then I may remember where I went off track this year and be able to really watch closely next time I do the event. The miles after 70 will all be new to me but I feel with so many complaints things will start improving..this event is breath taking and still 2 months later I still dream about that part of the county and can not wait to get back out that way! After the run we all headed back to the Super 8 and got some rest, Bill headed to Vegas to go climbing with a buddy and Harry left early on Sunday am. Holly, Karen and Amber and I went to eat breakfast then Amber headed back home and Holly, Karen and I headed to Vegas for a couple days. My body felt fantastic considering it did 70 miles in with those climbs. We all hung out in Vegas ate some lunch and walked around and I found out the AMC music awards were across the street, Im not a huge country fan but when does this opportunity come up! The girls headed back to the room to rest and I bought an after party ticket and STOOD yes STOOD in the 2nd row for 5.5 hours watching all the country stars come out and sing 2-3 songs and the next would come along. You had no idea who would be next as it was just a great party. At 1:30am I just couldn't hang anymore and had to walk back over to the hotel and get some rest. Who runs 70 miles at Zion 4 days after getting diagnosts with Strep Throat and then a day later stands for 5.5 hours watching a music awards party!!!! This woman is who! ha
I got home Tuesday evening, had bloodwork done on Wednesday as I had had shoulder surgery scheduled for Thursday am for about a month or so....that will be the next post

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