Buffalo 100 2016

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About 66 runners stood bouncing on their twos waiting for the race director, RD, to yell go! The sun was high in the sky, although, you couldn’t see it with the cloud cover. Volunteers and support crews stood along the sidelines with cameras, smiles and encouraging words.

Fifteen minutes before the runners lined up at the starting line the RD gave a brief pre-race meeting inside the large white tent located at the start and finish of the race. He gave a description of the course and where the aid stations were located.

“You 100 mile runners are going to do two loops around the course,” he said.

“Do you have any maps?” asked a first time runner.

“No, but I can count on one hand how many runners have been lost on the course over the past 11 years.”

The RD continued by telling the returning runners about the changes made from the year before. And then everyone shuffled outside to the starting line.

A mix of excitement and anxiety passed over the faces of runners standing in the chilled air waiting for the countdown to begin. They didn’t have to wait long.

At the count of five, Garmins began to beep as they were turned on and locating the satellites.

Go!

And so it began, runners of every age and size began putting one foot in front of another. They had 30.5 hours to finish the 100 mile trek over and around Antelope Island. They encountered buffalo all along the trails and dedicated volunteers who were out there all night long cheering and encouraging everyone who came through their aid stations.

All the climbing is from miles 1-20 and again from miles 50-70 since the race is a double loop, so the walking starts pretty quickly.

My left hip began to ache a little within the first five miles. I knew it would be a problem and hoped it wouldn’t slow me down during the race. Then there were blisters on both arches of my feet by mile 13. Blisters early in a race were never good. I stopped to take some tape off my feet that was causing some of the blisters. And I left my gloves sitting on the rock. I didn’t realize it until a few miles later and I wasn’t going back. All I could do was hope they were still there when I made my return trip.

Two weeks before I had run the first 20 miles of the race in 3 hours 18 minutes, which is way too fast for a 100 or so I thought. I came in to the aid station at 20 miles in 3 hours 30 minutes. My support crew was waiting for me even though I was earlier than expected.

“I need my blister kit, water refilled, and more apples,” I called out as I came in. They scrambled to tend to everything. I was out within about seven minutes.

I continued down the trail which was little rolling hills for 30 miles and then would climb into the mountain section I had just finished. I felt good. The blisters were taped up and stopped hurting after a few minutes. My hip was feeling better and only ached in various spots every once in a while.

I stopped to take pictures here and there. The obstinate buffalo were right along the trail and forced me and other runners to take small detours into the sage brush to remain a safe distance from them. They run 35 miles an hour after all. I even saw my first coyote on the trial.

My amazing crew was at every aid station refilling my water, rolling out my legs, restocking my food, and telling me how great I was doing. My goal was to get in and out of aid stations within five minutes especially for the first 50 miles. Swiss Miss even showed up with a new pair of gloves. The sunset was absolutely amazing and I tried to run faster to see it without the mountains being in the way. I missed it by just a few minutes.

I came into mile fifty still feeling great and ready to pick up my first pacer, Troy. I pulled on long pants a beanie, and packed a long sleeve shirt just in case. Troy and I set out at a steady pace and hiked all the climbs. We made good time and found the lost gloves.

At mile 70, I picked up my second pacer, Cody. It was early morning and about 30 degrees Fahrenheit. We talked and maintained a nice steady pace. He was running with me during my most difficult hours 3-6 am. In all my past races this was where I lost the most time because I was tired and pretty out of it.

But I had changed my strategy to prevent this from happening. I stopped using caffeine three months before the race. During the race, I started popping caffeine pills about 130 am. This section of the race was still my slowest time, but it was much faster than any prior races.

At mile 83, I picked up my third and final pacer, Jake. It was still dark and I was still running. I felt good and my mood was in a good place. During the last 17 miles of the race there were times when I was coming up small hills and thought, “I should walk,” but I didn’t. I told myself I was strong and the hills were too small to walk.

Mile 89 was the last time I met up with my crew before the finish line. They provided me with more Oreos (my primary fuel for this run) and refilled my pack and off I went with Jake at my back. I watched the sun come up and it filled me with more vigor. I ran the whole way back to the start/finish tent.

My dad and youngest son were there waiting for me a little ways before the finish line. They ran with me toward the finish. I ran next to another runner. He pulled ahead by a few steps, but about three feet before the finish line he said, “Come on let’s finish it together.”

It was 9:30 am and I was surrounded by my best friends, my dad, and my son. I couldn’t have asked for more. It was a perfect race.

Finish time: 21 hours 30 minuets.

Second place for women.

First place in age group.

Ninth place overall

When it all goes wrong… it’s still a beautiful thing

The Buffalo 100 Endurance Race was a struggle. Running 100 miles is challenging, but some really ask are you a sissy pants or can you roll with the big dogs? Salt Flat’s 100, dished up 16 hours of rain and 40 mile an hour wind with a side of stomach issues making me consider quitting once at 50 miles. Pony Express was near perfect conditions, never once did I think of quitting. Things got hard and I had to slow down, but I was going to finish. Buffalo Run took the liberty of reminding me I have a lot to learn.

I was so excited that the weather was going to be beautiful for the Buffalo Run. Beautiful things can often blind us to problems. I wanted that sub 24-hour finish time. I was so close at Pony Express (24 hours 15 minutes), Buffalo Run was going to be my race.

I put in all the training, tapered, and felt good on race day and then the dominos started to fall.

My hydration pack was leaking. The temperatures climbed into the low to mid-seventies. The heat was getting to me. At one point, I was dizzy and light headed and had to slow down. I made my goal time for the first 20 miles, but came into the aid station soaking wet from shoulders to knees and had blisters on my feet. We changed my shoes and shorts. I took my handheld water bottle and continued down the trail. I was the sixth woman at that point.

There is no shade on the course, none. The sun continued to scorch my skin. Because it is early in the season, I had done zero heat training. I run in the early morning hours when temperatures are between 30-40 degrees Fahrenheit. I came into the aid station at 27.5 miles overheating, sun burned, and fighting nausea. Gear Gnome told me everyone was feeling the heat. Some runners were laying in the shade tent after vomiting repeatedly. “Everyone is feeling the heat and slowing down. But you’ve moved up three places because of it and your only ten minutes behind where you thought you would be.”

I told them I would be slower on this next section, 12 miles, until the sun went down. Sure enough as soon as the sun went down and a slight breeze cooled my skin, I was able to get in some good miles. My quads were starting to ache, which was abnormal because I do hill training, have run races with a lot more climbing, and had never had that happen. I knew the second loop through the mountains would be challenging on the descents.

I met back up with my crew at 38 miles and was in and out pretty quick. It was five more miles to the next aid station, which went by fast as did the next six miles into the fifty-mile aid station. I picked up my pacer, Sponge Bunny. I drank some coffee. I couldn’t decide if I was warm or cold. I pulled on a long sleeve shirt. We pulled off my shoes and drained the sizable blisters on my feet and off I went into the dark. Within three minutes of leaving, I decided I would be cold walking up the mountains so I sent Sponge Bunny back for my pants.

From miles 50-70 crews cannot get to their runner unless they hike about five miles, but there is an aid station, which runners pass through three times. Sponge Bunny and I took it easy not wanting to burn out the energy I had and could use better on the flat sections of the race. After a short time, the coffee was not sitting well in my stomach and I had to force myself to vomit to be able to drink water to stay hydrated. I continued to overheat on climbs and had to take my long sleeve shirt off. I didn’t think this was a good sign since Sponge Bunny was wearing full tights, shorts, and two layers on top. Around sixty-seven miles I started falling asleep while we walked. Sponge Bunny continued to tell me stories and made sure I was on the inside of the trail. As we came down out of the mountains, it got very cold.

I was shivering when we reached my crew at 70 miles. They wrapped me in Gear Gnome’s coat for thirty minutes. The sun was starting to come up and the tiredness lifted. Sponge Bunny and I went back out. I continued to have stomach issues and was doing a mix of running and walking.

At mile 77, J$ took over pacing. I had been going for 21 hours. My legs ached like the day after my first marathon. I didn’t think I could do another day in the heat. Twenty-three miles seemed incredibly far. But I went out. We shuffled along. J$ talked and I grunted. The sun was up and the temperature was climbing again. When we reached the aid station at mile 79, Cousin Jon tracked down some sunscreen and covered me with it. I ate some real food and sat in the shade for twenty minutes. J$ rubbed my sore aching legs and another runner gave us Icy Hot. Then I went back out. My stomach started to feel better for a few miles but then got a lot worse.

At mile 88, I was ready to be done. I climbed into the back of the van almost in tears. I didn’t think I could make the cut off times. Every inch of my body hurt. I was exhausted. I was sick. But I went back out.

Six miles of more heat. Shuffling along at a turtle’s pace. We reached the mountain view aid station. I plopped down into a chair. J$ rubbed my legs again. I shoved some more potato chips into my mouth and off we went once again. We trudged up and over the last hill and then down into the final aid station.

I crossed the finish line after 30 hours and 22 minutes. Totally exhausted and utterly thrilled to be standing on a desert island in the middle of a salt filled lake.