- I have the most amazing wife, family, and friends that anybody could ever ask for.
- I am incredibly blessed to be given the opportunity in life to explore the natural world and physical possibilities.
- I didn’t complete my Wasatoja objective, but had a darn good time trying.
Slightly Longer Version: “Wasatoja is no gimme”
I knew from the get-go that in order to make this silly “double” happen everything had to go near-perfect. In fact, it was this logistical challenge that made the challenge so appealing to me. Sadly, the run was somewhat of a disaster for me and I ended up not even starting Lotoja.
The WF100 started off this year with near perfect conditions: cool, crisp, and not dusty given the rain the prior evening. The first 5 miles was fun and a group of us ran together at a fun pace. I got to spend a bit of time chatting with Larry O’neil, the Nicks (Pedetella and Clark), Luke Nelson and a couple other very strong dudes. As we climbed up to the top of the first climb the weather turned into something I had never experienced during this race. There was fresh snow on the ground, thick fog, heavy foliage, and it was really cold! It was however, quite beautiful and made for a very unique morning. The cold was nice because it took my mind off my hip/hamstring, which from very early in the race had decided to remind me that it hadn’t been too happy the prior month or so. By the Francis Peak AS (~mile 19) internally I decided that it was just plain silly and that I should stop. Due to the hamstring pull my stride length felt like it was about half what it should be and that was frustrating. But, I figured I might as well push on. My run followed this theme until about mile 35, just before Big Mountain at which point the amazing mental re-mapping of pain finally happened and things loosened up.
At Big Mountain my cousin Derek Ward joined me and my mood changed for the better. I no longer wanted to drop out and I felt like we were out for a nice jog together. Miraculously we weren’t too far behind where I wanted to be time-wise to make it to the finish by 3AM, something I had to do if I was actually going to make Wasatoja happen. So, we pushed on ahead at a steady and smart pace. The temps were unusually cool for this section which was so nice in contrast with prior years. We ran with my good friend Matt Hart for a tiny bit as we made our way down the dry and exposed ridge to the Alexander Ridge aid station. We slowed to a brisk walk up the “oven” even though it wasn’t hot. This is typically a good section to relax and we did just that. I still couldn’t believe that we weren’t hours behind schedule because I had felt so damn slow all day. We came into Lambs to the cheers of my amazing family and support crew. Running this section with Derek was a blast. He is a great runner, a stellar father and husband, and an all-around stud. He was just what I needed to get psyched and back into the race.
At Lambs my friend Kelly Lance joined me. I met Kelly last year at the 2009 Pocatello 50. He ordered more t-shirts than anyone else in the race, one for each of his children, his wife, his father, his crew, etc. etc. The dude is very talented and was super psyched by the energy of the race. Leaving Lambs is always a big mental milestone in finish Wasatch. We jogged gently up the road with the company of Darcy Africa and her pacer Roch Horton. It was great fun and felt like an outing with friends. The single-track up to Bear-Ass pass was just beautiful, it could not have been more perfect. Then, the Millcreek Road, which is just something you have to do and forget, not because it’s not pretty, but simply because it’s paved and cars are driving by.
We arrived at Big Water again to the greeting of my amazing family and friends, they are seriously amazing. I’m not sure if they realize how happy they make me. Knowing that this silly event I was partaking in was an excuse for them to go into Millcreek Canyon on one of the most perfect of evenings made me happy too. I crawled up to Dog and then Desolation Lake. I had a brief chunder session just prior to Desolation, but it only slowed me down for a few minutes. Kelly and I hit the aid station and then quickly climbed up to Red Lovers ridge and the Wasatch Crest trail. Sadly I just didn’t have any gas and couldn’t pick up the pace much, so I just stayed in 2nd or 3rd gear all the way to Scott’s Pass AS. I continued like this to Brighton and was hoping that I’d get something back there.
My family and support crew only got bigger at Brighton! As I left there with my good friend Mike Dawson (my pacer for the final 25 miles) and climbed up to Sunset Peak I thought about how incredibly blessed I am. It was this thought that carried me to Ant Knolls. From here over to Pole Line I was again stuck in 3rd gear or less, I just didn’t have the push that I wished I had had. Coming down into Pole Line I looked back and 2 lights were coming at us incredibly fast, somebody had a strong second wind, I couldn’t wait to see who it was. I was so happy to see that it was my friend Matt Hart who I hadn’t seen since Lambs Canyon and boy did he look good. He was ripping as if he hadn’t even run a mile. It looked like his pacer was struggling to stay with him. Kudos to Matt for pulling so well to the finish, that is the most incredible feeling….
But, back to my race, which I was struggling to keep together. My stomach went south and was characterized by some pretty pitiful vomiting episodes and whining. Fortunately I had Mike with me. He’s as tough as they come and honestly I was a bit embarrassing at how pitiful I felt and must have looked. I kept picking myself up and putting it into ultra-slog mode and pushing on. I couldn’t keep anything down, no water, no gel, nothing! It’s a pretty fascinating state to be in because you’re really forcing your body to do things that it is quite clearly telling you that you shouldn’t. And, since you’re stomach has pretty much told you to go to hell, your muscles go elsewhere for the needed sustenance to maintain forward motion. I had been here previously more times that care to admit so I knew I could slog it to the finish line, but it was a bit miserable. I could feel my metabolizm change from consuming calories I was putting into my stomach, over to burning fat and muscle.
Despite the less than ideal physical state I was in, I was still scheming how I was going to pull off Lotoja, a rather dreadful thought to be honest. As Mike and I left Pot Bottom and worked our way to the finish it was interesting already moving onto the next event in my mind.
I finished to a small gathering of my family and friends who so kindly got up and drove to the Homestead at such a god-forsaken hour of the morning (3:39 AM). Then, I showered and jumped in the truck en-route to Logan. As I laid in the back of the truck while Mindy drove I thought long and hard about if I could pull it off. Things were not looking good, I had to be honest with myself. When we arrived in Logan at just after 6AM, Mindy started gearing up and I hobbled around, still unable to make up my mind. My stomach was saying “hell no”, my dilusional brain was saying, “sure, at least give it a try”, and my mom was saying, “oh honey, you don’t need to do this, let’s all just go have breakfast and get some sleep” After some final pondering and trying to think logically with my completely fried brain I opted for my mother’s suggestion, which in the end was a very good thing.
The mood changed immediately, Mindy took off on her bike, and I was suddenly relaxed. I stared at my Einstein breakfast sandwich, which was orders of magnitude larger than my stomach, which had shriveled to the volume of about 0.5oz of gel.
I had stuck my SPOT tracker into the back pocket of Mindy’s jersey when she left so I watched her progress from an iPhone as we sipped orange juice and coffee. Vanessa then drove, as I slept, over to Montpelier (~mile 85), the next major crew spot in Lotoja. We setup camp on the side of the road and waited for Brendan and then Mindy. Brendan was in great spirits, ate well, and then took off. Mindy decided she’d had enough, turned in her chip-timer and joined the support crew role. We followed Brendan through the rest of the race and watched him finish strong in stride with our other friend Tom Adams. Ryan Kunz, a great friend of mine, also finished in fine form. We finished up with Pizza in Jackson and then finally called it a night. Wow, what a weekend.
Will I be back to attempt Wasatoja? Absolutely. It’s no “gimme”, part of what drew me to it in the first place. And, it will be that much sweeter when I am able to complete it.
Lotoja Pics Here