This was my 3rd TRT100 in 3 years and my goal was to finish sub 24 hrs and get that gold coin in the middle of the buckle. My training had finally come together; I felt confident. I logged 1300 miles and 220K feet of climbing (440k total change). The last 3 weeks focused on heat training while tapering with proper nutrition and recovery. I had the feeling that this was going to be my day, I was excited, peaceful and happy leading up to it. My plan was to start conservative early and finish strong. The National Anthem plays and We are off at 5am.
I got to Tunnel Creek mile 17 at 8:40am, 3hr40min (10 min behind goal). The dreaded red house loop was better this year, I chatted with Bradley and next thing you know, Peter Fain (50mile started at 6am),slaps me on the back as he flies by, “feeling strong” he says, “flying” I say, and I decide to press the effort just a little. Wearing the gold Donner Party Mountain Runners shirt was a good choice! All through the day and night I heard, “go Donner Party” “nice shirt” “way to go DPMR”. Each time, I got a nice energy boost! So many DPMR members were on course and had amazing days.
I was moving faster, I reached the 30 mile Diamond Peak aid at 10:51am, 5hr41min, (9 minutes faster than my goal) but at a very relaxed effort. At mile 20 or so, I had felt hot, my usual tight back and hip flared up, and hamstrings were cramping. Crap, not again, “hydrate and salt dummy”, so I did and by the time I left the aid station I was back. Thanks to Betsy Boopstinator Nye for hooking me up with 1 aleve and 2 tylenol and crewing for me. More inspiration, she just finished her 13th Hardrock and was here to crew all day and Pace Helen Pelster for 30 miles. Her energy and encouragement were just the ticket, “go get out of here, you look great”.
The infamous climb up Diamond Peak(2mi and 1700ft) was over in 35 minutes and I passed 3 people, however that was not my goal. I was running my race today, not worried about passing or getting passed. “Find the speed that you can run as fast as possible”, but also where you can finish 100 miles running strong not hobbling. Listen to your body, stay cool, what do you need at the next aid, no more than 2 minutes, in and out, keep moving, be happy and thank the volunteers. Those thoughts were repeated all day and night. Enjoy your fellow runners and the view, embrace the pain, accept it and push through, drink, drink more!, salt, coke, watermelon, ice, more ice, in my hat and neck gaiter, stay cool, go, move.
Just past Snow Valley Peak the clouds rolled in and the temp dropped 10-15 degrees, finally I could run with more speed.
I pulled in to Spooner at 50 miles at 3:26pm 10hr26min, (20-30 minutes ahead of goal), but at my desired perceived effort level, (60-65%). A quick 4 min stop and Pete Broomhall took charge of pacing me. We were ahead of the crazy weather but it kept us moving as it followed us up to Marlette Pk.
Thunder and lightning surrounded us, but only a few drops. Quick stop at aid, my formula was fill 2 handhelds with ice and top with water, take 2 Scaps, 2 wedges of watermelon, 2 cups of coke, keep ice on me and get out. With Pete taking over mental functions, I could focus on running smooth, enjoying the view and a few laughs, making plans to run some cool places and keep at a 12 hour total pace for the 2nd 50 miles. I was now going for sub 23hrs! Pete kept saying, “under 12 hour pace, your moving good, stride is right on”, it worked! I believed him and we picked up the pace on the downhills without thrashing my quads. Power hiked the climbs and ran the rollers. It’s funny, but the more technical the trail, the more fun I have, hopping from rock to rock, finding the fastest line, in tune with the trail. I guess the change in stride helps to loosen me up, but flat even trails I get locked in to a cadence that wears on me.
Seeing Gretchen Brugman at Tunnel Creek is always the highlight for me, and 3 times is even better! She took care of me with noodles and broth, iced coffee, tums, salt and encouragement. All that, after winning the 50k earlier that day, she is awesome! On our way to Diamond Peak, “eat this rice cake, here’s your salt”, we were having fun and making good time. The sunset on the trail was spectacular, and Pete captured the moment on his phone.
More inspiration. I was ready to up the ante, “Running with Jesus”(based on Rolling Stones “driving with Jesus”) kept playing in my head after that and we pulled in to mile 80 aid at DP at 10:15pm 17hr15min, (45 min ahead of goal). I changed socks, downed a coke, and hugged Pete as he had exceeded his goals and I felt great and ready to head out. Eric Toschi took over and we climbed DP in 48 minutes passing 2, he kept me cool by icing the back of my neck. I asked him if anyone was gaining, he reminded me that it doesn’t matter, run your race and stay on track and all will be fine.
Back through Tunnel Creek, thanks John Trent, Noe Costanon, and Gretchen one last time, iced coffee, noodles, coke, water, baby powder for the chafe, outta there at Midnight! I can cruise in the last 16 miles under 5 hours, but we were going for a 4 hour split or better. Leaving there I felt great, power hiked the climbs and steady down. Eric kept me eating Pete Broomhall’s famous rice cakes, salt, chews, and water.
On the last 1.5 mile climb up to Snow Valley Pk, (elev 9200), I spotted 3 runners moving slow and I started running almost all out. I passed 2 and the 3rd got away at the aid station. I needed fuel, not much food all day, a smoothie, some coke, salt and outta there at 2:15am. That gives me 1hr45min to go 8.5 mi to break 23 hours. After the first 1.5 miles of rocky technical trail it opens up. We stayed on track and kept pushing but not all out. I kept seeing lights behind me, but not closing.
We finally hit the right turn to the finish and laughed and talked about how it all came together. Never catching the guy in front of me but content all the same. Nothing like seeing the finish line of this race, we did it! 22:35:31 in 11th place overall. Total satisfaction and gratitude enveloped me.
A shower and nap then back to the finish to cheer our fellow runners and to know the feelings of relief and joy as they cross that line, it’s almost like you are crossing it again each time someone else does. Three years and thousands of miles and adventures and I finally struck gold, maybe we are more like the settlers that came before us than we think.