Monday, June 4, 2012

2012 Pocatello 20 Mile Trail Race – Tales from the Back of the Pack

by Michelle Scott Anderson Saturday, June 2, 2012

We had to endure this on race morning!
I’m not sure what my official time was but the important thing is I finished! When I signed up for this race I had asked Ryan if he would do it with me and he agreed. I knew that it was going to be hot the day of the race but the heat never really got to me. There was always enough of a breeze to keep the temperature comfortable and the scattered clouds helped too. When we lined up to start the race we headed to the back of the pack then we were off for a 20 mile adventure. I did this race last year, but it was the snow course route. So after 5.5 miles, everything would be new to me. Just like last year the winner of the 50 mile race passed in front of me about ¼ mile into the race which was mile 32 for him I secretly wanted to beat my time from last year but I wasn’t going to push myself so hard that I wouldn’t enjoy the race.

Just before the Scout Mtn aid station
So the plan was just to get from one aid station to another. The first one was at mile 5.5. When we got there Ryan filled my pack with water while I got something to eat. I tried to eat as much as I could which was probably not enough. It was 9.1 miles to the next aid station but first I would have to go up over a really huge mountain to get there. By now several of the 50 mile and 50k runners were passing us. It was funny to watch Ryan as they passed. I’m so slow that he was often about 10-20 feet in front of me and whenever a runner would pass me Ryan would fall right into step with them and keep pace. He would chat with them for awhile and then I think he would realize that I was no longer around so he would stop and let me catch up.

On the way up to Scout Mtn.
After the first aid station I noticed my chest was hurting with each breath I took. Since this race is at a higher altitude I thought that I might have a problem with this I just took more breaks so I could catch my breath.

On up the trail we continued. After a mile or so, Ryan asked if I would like him to soak a bandana he was carrying in the creek and put it around my neck. It felt heavenly! At about 7.5 miles into the race there were some people that had a cow bell and were cheering the runners on. It brought a smile to my face as this part was a really steep section I needed that encouragement right then. A little while later we hit a dirt road and this is where the views became spectacular. I just had to stop all the time and turn in a 360 degree circle. This road was steep and really long. I had trekking poles the whole race which helped a lot with my posture and kept the swelling down in my hands.

Right before the summit is when I started to whine to Ryan that I was tired of all the uphill and didn’t know if I could finish. He said “the only way down from here is to run to the next aid station and by then we’ll almost be there.” There was a patch of snow that we went through and Ryan put some in the bandana wrapped it up and put it around my neck so for about a ½ hour I had my own little A/C. Once I made it to the top I thought to myself, “I hiked my ass all the way up here and I will finish this race!” The whole time I was going uphill I kept wishing for the downhill. Be careful what you wish for. When we started downhill it was so steep and rocky my legs were shaking with every step I thought I was going to fall. I’m afraid to run downhill when it is that steep.

Between Scout Mtn. and Big Fur aid station
Then out of nowhere Ryan just goes bombing down the hill and sits down at a flat section to wait for me. When I finally reached him I told him that it was my turn to sit down and rest. Normally I avoid sitting down at races because I usually get stiff. But I needed to get my legs to stop shaking before I continued on. While we were sitting Ryan asked if I had anymore food I could share with him. I did have a sweet and salty bar and some honey roasted peanuts. I felt really bad because it took us so long between the first aid station and the last that he had run out of food. I always tell people when they go with me they need to pack a lunch!

Just before Big Fur aid station
Once the steep part was out of the way and we got back into the trees on a nice trail (that wasn’t so steep) I started enjoying myself again. This part of the trail was so beautiful and quiet, until I started running and heard a weird noise behind me. I asked Ryan what it was and he said it was his WATER BOTTLES!! I asked him where they were and he said “hooked to your pack.” I guess I was the pack mule for him.

As we were going down we met a guy going up he asked how we were doing and if one of us was the runner that needed help. We said no then asked him how far it was to the aid station he said about 2 miles. A minute down the trail we came upon a couple more people that were going to the runner that needed help. Then they said that the aid station was less than a mile. Hmmm, neither one of them was right. Shortly before the aid station I had a complete melt down and told Ryan that I wasn’t having fun anymore. Every step was painful and I could hardly run. When we got to the aid station a volunteer grabbed a wet wash cloth and handed it to me. Oh my goodness, it felt so good to be able to wash my face and arms with the cold water. Then when I was done I had the thought that I was probably the 280th person to use the wash cloth but oh well. The Big Fur aid station was the best aid station and everyone was so helpful. I sat down, they refilled my pack, brought me coke to drink, as well as something to eat. Once again I tried to eat as much as I could but nothing sounded really good. This guy came up to me while I was sitting and told me that I had 5 miles to go 4 were downhill and 1 was up. It turned out to be 5 miles with 3.5 downhill and 1.5 uphill.

Nordic Ski Area
Not long after we left the aid station we hit pavement. I was a lot more comfortable running on the road then I was on the trails. I think this part was my fastest mile. At this point I finally felt like I had to use the bushes but I was on an open road with nowhere to go so I held it. We turned onto a dirt road with a sign that said Nordic Center this way. I knew that there was a bathroom there but I didn’t know how far it was. Once we made it to the top I finally told Ryan I couldn’t hold it anymore so he kept a look out while I did my business. Then we got back on the trail went maybe 100 yards and there was the bathroom. Ugh.

Looking back at Scout Mtn.
The moon was gorgeous coming up over Scout Mountain where we had just come down. It was very big and bright. I had one more climb I had to get through then it was downhill to the finish line. Once we started on the downhill I couldn’t stop crying I felt so emotionally drained. Plus, my feet hurt like crazy every rock I stepped on I whimpered. I just wanted it to be over. I hadn’t been running for awhile but once we had a mile to go I started up again. I had brought a headlamp with me and ended up pulling it out ¾ of a mile from the finish. Ryan told me that he would come in behind me so I wouldn’t be last again but I wanted him to get a picture of me crossing the finish line. We came out on the road that we started on I could see the last turn into the finish line. Right before the turn I asked Ryan to run head as fast as he could to get a picture of me.

Finish line!
Before he left he stopped and gave me a kiss and said he loved me and was proud of me. Then he took off like his hair was on fire (if he had hair that is!).

Michelle, #27, Kirstin, Lynette, Dennis, Paul, and Pam
There is a slight turn into the finish line and once everyone saw me the cheering and yelling was so loud I couldn’t believe it. I started crying again. It was the most wonderful feeling to see so many people. Most of the time when I finish races hardly anyone is there. When I crossed the finish line I gave Ryan a huge hug. I’m not sure if I said thank you for sticking with me for the whole race but I loved having him there the entire time.

I am so proud of myself for not giving up and finishing the race. See you next year!

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