Zion 100 Part Two

At Goosebump AS, we run out to the Gooseberry AS, mile 35, then go out a little further to Gooseberry Point-the end of the road so to speak, back to Gooseberry, and then take another trail back to Goosebump AS.
The trail out to Gooseberry is dirt
and slick rock.  All these sections of slick rock are irregular.  The trail goes up, around, down, in between the rocks.  This makes it hard to get into a running rhythm at all.


On the way out on Gooseberry, I start chatting with Warren from LA.  Warren has been in Hardrock also, so we chat about The Barkley, Hardrock, and other races for the rest of the Gooseberry section.
When we get to the Gooseberry AS, the volunteers are not real helpful with information.  In fact, if we didn’t see the other runners coming back in from the point and realized we needed to go there, we might have missed it.  We also saw another runner coming back the pink blazed trail toward us, which was wrong. ( I know this happened to a couple other people there too.)
What view from there!  But I did not tarry, got back to the Gooseberry AS, and took the correct white blazed trail back to Goosebump for the second time, now mile 43.
Now it was a six mile road section over to the Grafton Mesa Aid Station.


Notice the new buff?

Over at Grafton Mesa, I head out on a nice little five mile loop blazed green.  This is all trail, a nice climb up a big hill, rocks to bound over, a little slick rock.

It’s about 5 something in the evening. I don’t need my headlamp yet, but I would rather “have it and not need it” than be out on the trail and it get dark on me.



After this five mile loop, I am back at Grafton Mesa Aid Station, mile 54.  Now I am directed to follow pink blazes.  I start off down the road which will lead me to the Eagle Crags Aid Station at mile 60.

Have I mentioned how well I have been doing time-wise? No? Let me.

I got through 32 miles in 8 hours. I got through 50 miles in 12.30. My split around the 100K mark was 16 hours and change.  These are incredible.  The 50 and 62 miles are almost better than my stand alone time!

There was a lot of running in this race-more running than I am actually used to! My hip flexors were hurting a bit in the first 40 miles or so but then seemed to calm down.

I picked up my music at mile 54 before I start down the road.  This is great, because it is a long downhill, it is just getting dark, and I have a great pace going on.

Then it’s dark and no more pictures!  I had underestimated how far Eagle’s Crag Mesa was. Actually, it was only six miles, but in the dark, with no frame of reference (the Garmin had died) it was hard to tell.  I turn up a road, and up and up and up we go.  Finally to the Eagle’s Crag Mesa.

My stomach had started talking back to me a bit on the last five miles.  I had used almost gels exclusively, with a few bean-cheese burrito samples at the aid station.  I also had a Boost which was very tasty.  I ate some of my honey roasted peanuts on the last five mile loop, but couldn’t finish them.

The gels were no longer attractive to me. I did eat a serving of Gu Chomps in a lemon flavor which worked well. I need to remember that I’m more attracted to savory than sweet later in the race. There were no cookies offered at the aid stations (that I saw) which puzzled me.

After the climb up to Eagle’s Crag Mesa, I was hungry. I got a cup of coffee-which did not sit well, some potato soup-which didn’t sit well-and a homemade pancake with apple filling (which was NOT just an apple cinnamon gel smeared on top!) Thanks Turtle!  I managed to get that down and left the aid station.

It was 8 miles back to Grafton Mesa, a slightly different route back. At some point we left the road and back to trail. climbed up a big hill and back to the Grafton AS.  I kept trying to hang with a bunch of guy runners, since I didn’t want to miss the turn, but I have to take a bio break.

No worries, the markers led me right to the trail. I started the climb, and eat more gels. I had gotten one down, but the fruit punch flavor of the next one-nope, no way.  The stomach was really starting to churn also.
This section seems to take forever. I remember my ginger candy and nibble on it. It seems to help. And I tell myself, it is helping.

Back at the AS, mile 68 I know I need to eat. I take some ramen noodle broth, it seems to be okay. I go and get my capris and don them. I eat a little more Ramen. And some gold fish crackers.

Then I go throw up my stomach contents. Repeatedly.

Of course, I now feel better. I drink a little pickle juice, and then slowly sip my Boost from my drop bag. It tastes good, goes down and stays down.

I am amused by a conversation I hear.  A (male) runner is bemoaning to either his pacer or crew, about having to go down the Goosebump descent “in the dark, by myself”.  I guess it’s all a matter of perspective.  It didn’t bother me at all to do this.

But first, I need to go back up the road to Goosebump AS and off I go. I am in a good mood, probably not moving that quickly, but I got music going, my 400 calories of Boost in my stomach.

A few miles up the road, two vehicles come up by behind me. I move over and keep moving. Now they are creeping-and not passing me. I know they are trying to be polite, but I am now walking in loose sand. They finally pass me, and then pull up, right in front of me, next to each side by side-blocking the road!

This really pisses me off. They could have had this conversation behind me, instead of stirring the dust and then stopping. (Also remember it’s 130 or so in the morning. I’m a little tired.)
So being pissed off really fires up my adrenalin, and I am motoring up the road! I pass a runner and pacer and they are impressed at how well I am moving.

Bonus Miles

Yes, I am moving well enough to miss the right hand turn, back to Goosebump  AS. I keep going down the road. I am beginning to wonder where the turn is.  A vehicle comes down the road, and the  window is rolled down. The worst fear jumps up.

“Did  I miss the turn? Am I going the wrong way?”  The nice man says, yes,  I did. He estimates a 1.5 miles. I glance at my watch. I had used my inhaler at 2.02, just past where the crew cars angered me. Now it is 2.35 am.

I am so mad. I am upset, angry.  It’s my fault.  I go back up the road. Several crew vehicle stop and I make sure I haven’t passed the turn off yet.

I  make the turn, but can’t remember how far up this road back to Goosebump. It seems to go on forever. My little 400 calories of Boost has been burned up, now that my three hour or so planned section has now taken 4 hours (I guess, I stopped looking at the watch now.)
Finally back to Goosebump AS. Now there is the big descent, and eight miles over to Guacamole Trail.

I am STOKED to find another Boost in my drop bag. I drink about half of it down and put it  in my pocket. No other food looks appetizing at the aid station. 400 calories is not good to go eight miles, but what is my option?

I go down the big hill. We are routed down a different trail, an ATV trail, than the dipping, curvy trail we came in on. It is now 6 or so in the morning.  I am really not that far off my planned times (I had been ahead of my splits for the first 50 miles.)  In my notes for the race, I had notated “get to Guacamole AS before dawn”.  Well, that wasn’t going to happen, but it was closer!

Dawn  has arrived as I walk down the road and cross over to Dalton Wash Road. This was the section that I had recce’d on Tuesday.  I knew it was four miles of mainly uphill road to the Aid Station. I am completely out of calories.

Issue # 3  Breathing

I have exercised induced asthma, which only kicks in after, oh 8-10 hours of running.  I believe I have finally pin pointed my Achilles heel-or lungs, if you wish.  It’s the pre-dawn cold hour. I have had bronchiole constriction at Reverse Ring, TWOT x 2, and now Zion at this same hour.

I had been wearing my face mask as soon as I picked it up. I had been using my albuterol inhaler on a scheduled routine that day. I  had been taking my Singulair.  The only thing I could have done differently was wear my face mask earlier in the day (which was not available.)

Other than the one female runner and pacer, I had been alone for hours. With my bonus miles and slowing, all of a sudden I am being passed left and right.  Literally.  Runners are RUNNING up the freaking hill.  I felt like it was the Saturday morning marathon training group doing hill repeats.

More and more people pass me, most saying something nice. I feel like shit. I start to cry a bit, which immediately makes my breathing worse. I stop crying.

When my bronchioles tighten up, I can’t run. I can try to walk briskly-but if I over exert, the wheezing gets worse. I kept trudging up the hill in my little Hannibel Lechter mask.  I hate everything right now.

I am still completely out of calories. I’m feeling a bit light headed, but that could also be psychosomatic at this point.

(These pics are from Guacamole, when I recce’d the trail on Tuesday. Notice the nice blue sky on this day!)
A nice runner gives me a gel on the way up.  It’s salted caramel, and I can get this down.  I get to the top-no Aid Station! WHERE’s THE AID STATION?? I need food!!!!!

Nice runners come back assure me it’s five or ten minutes down the trail. Yeah, five or ten minutes at their pace-that is probably twenty minutes for me.

Praise be, I have another Boost in my  AS bag here.  I also fill up one bottle with Gatorade and six packets of sugar.  I figure I am too dehydrated to get much GI distress from this sugar bomb in my bottle, but the Guacamole Loop is 9 miles. I had estimated, pre-race, 3 hours.

Now the problem is the cut offs. The cut off at Guacamole, coming back in, is 11.30 am.  (Another runner mentioned it was noon, but I did not want to take a chance.)

Crap, now I am back to chasing cut offs again?  I drink most of the Boost and take a caffeine tablet. I had not taken one in quite awhile, due to nothing being in my stomach, but now I need the caffeine.
.The loop consisted of running around boulders, over boulders, over slick rock, behind slick rock. We then went out and ran single track trail among dead blackened trees, around more slick rock boulders, just an unending trip.

Two miles of this could be okay. Nine miles was just stupid and annoying. And I am so worried about cut offs.

Myself and another female were together, both worried about the cut offs. We then linked up with three more runners. We finally made it back to the Aid Station, mile91 at 11 am. I got my final Buff, sunglasses,  more Gatorade and sugar, and started down the hill for the finish. I was going to finish this race.
The sun had finally come out on the mesa, and it was maybe 60 degrees out, which really helped with my breathing.

But even with the warmer air, even running downhill was limited. I could run a bit, then had to walk. Run a bit, walk, run a bit, walk.  Physically I felt good-all systems go (well, except the lungs and stomach.)  This is a very frustrating problem to have, something I need to really work on. Somehow. I can be a very good little runner. My body can take quite the beating. I just need to get these lungs to behave.
I am almost to the road, and there is a course marshal there. To my surprise, I don’t go back to the road, back to the town park where the race ends.  I follow the flags up  yet one more smaller hill.
But then the flags lead me toward the river. A man is standing here, and I ask him where I am supposed to go. (I assume he is with the race.)  He says I cross the river. I ask  him if t here is a bridge and he says no, but to go upstream a bit, where it is less deep.  I say “you got to be kidding” but shut my mouth after that-he doesn’t need to hear it.

There are cows here. I stare at the creek-or maybe it’s the Virgin River, I don’t know. Where we are supposed to cross is churned up mud-and if I go in here, it’s going to be thigh high. Did I mention the cow manure patties around? Now I have to get my feet wet in cow feces infested water? At mile 97 of a race?

I cross the water and now the trail is loose sand.. My shoes are now covered in sand.  I am good and pissed off now.

I pass another runner though here.  The flags are now leading me through town. I power stalked it through town, and didn’t break into a run until I hit the town park. I glance at my watch, I believe it said 12.43. I try to go around the tent, but someone waves me inside. The timers are talking to another runner, and I sit down.  The other runner leaves, but no one is talking to me, the timers are talking to each other.  Huh? Would someone like to tell me my time? Give me a buckle? What I am supposed to do?

Coach Karl is there, and he congratulates me!  I give him my I’m pissed off speech, and I choose a belt buckle that is brown, the color of cow shit. I thought that was apropos. Karl tells me to get something to eat and go sit down and gives me a hug.

I wander over to the food-it’s just left over AS food, that I haven’t been able to stomach for the last 12 hours. I find the pizza making table, and ask if there is any food. They state, well, we’re taking a break right now, and I snap back” “so the answer is NO, then?”   I stomp over to my car, change some clothes, get my Ultragen, a beer and the cookies I haven’t ate earlier. I go slump down next to Karl and friends and whine about there being no food available  Brownie (who won the 100 mile race) offers me his chips, and Roch’s wife (I don’t know her name) goes off and finds me a plate of potatoes-that was so nice!!

Between the beer, the food, and the  hot sunlight I do start to chill a bit. I meet a bunch of  ultra runners and have some nice chats as I I wait for the drop bags to return. I told Karl I had “issues” but we didn’t discuss them..  I think Karl (and rightfully so) wanted me to mellow out, He knew I was disappointed with my race.

That is the whole blow by blow race report. It is now Monday. I’ve mellowed a bit about my feelings toward the race. I said I had issues, I solved them, that isn’t true. But I tolerated the issues and managed to finish the race.

Did it go according to plan? No. Do most 100 mile races (unless you’re Karl) go according to plan? Not so much.

So I am good with it. A finish is a finish. 🙂  I am highly encouraged with my splits thru the 100K mark; these times were just about better than my “stand alone” 50 mile and 100K times.

Overall, my opinion of the race?  I thought was it a very runnable.course. There is a lot of road. But it was not advertised as a “trail ultra” so I have no problem wit the road sections. There are some good climbs, but nothing outrageous (at least to my perspective.)  The views are stunning!  My pictures do not do it justice.  The striations on the mesas, the different colored mesas, that was really cool. Even the slickrock (in small amounts) was something cool and different to me to experience. This could be a cool destination race, with Zion National Park being 10 miles away.

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