Monday, October 21, 2013

2013 Antelope Island 50k - Michelle

Buffalo Run 100 March 2013
Back in March Ryan did the Buffalo Run 100 mile race.  That was the first time I had been to Antelope Island and I knew I would be back.  We started the race with the full moon setting in the west and the sun rising in the east.  Once the race started everyone quickly took off and I hung back at my normal pace (slow).  In no time I was the last runner but there were still several runners within eyesight which is fairly unusual.  As I climbed the mountain I kept looking back down at the view of the Great Salt Lake. I had made the decision to leave my jacket and gloves in my car but was wishing I had brought them because the temperature was 37 degrees. It took a long time before the sun popped up over the mountain to warm me up but when it did it felt wonderful.

Start/Finish at 7:30am
The first 9 miles flew by with mile 7 being my fastest. At mile 9 I caught up with a gentleman who was bent over with his hands on his knees. I asked if he needed any help.  He said he was fine and was just catching his breath.  He told me he lives at sea level and wasn't used to the higher altitude in Utah. I told him good luck and went on my way. That was the first person I passed.  I was shocked!  I've NEVER passed another runner in an ultra before.  Although it was exciting I felt bad that he was struggling.

I soon came upon a section of the course that was gravel, sand and rocks that were the size of grapefruit which slowed my pace a lot. I kept looking back over my shoulder to make sure the guy behind me was still moving along.  At mile 12 I started the steepest climb of the whole course.  This section gains 1000 feet in 2 miles.  I noticed I was gaining on a man and a woman in front of me. I finally caught them at mile 13 sitting on the side of the trail taking a little break. I wanted to sit down and join them but kept moving instead. When I passed the lady she got up and joined me for awhile. She told me that the man she was with was her ex-husband and she was doing the whole race with him since it was his first ultra. As we climbed higher and higher the second place 100k passed us. The 100k race had to do 2 laps of the 50k. When he passed I thought at first he was Anton he looks just like him. He told us that the aid station was just around the corner Yes!

Once I got there I started eating everything I could get a hold of I was so hungry after climbing the hill. I chatted with the volunteers, thanked them, and left by myself. The woman who joined me for awhile stayed and waited for her ex. At mile 15 I started downhill and saw a herd of buffalo.  Roughly 700 buffalo roam the island and I am pretty sure about half of them were right in front of me!  It looked like the course went right through the herd so I put it out of my mind and was determined not to think about them until I got closer. A few more 100k runners passed me through this section without incident. In no time I had finally arrived at the buffalo. I wasn’t sure what I should do. Should I run? But what if they gave chase I couldn’t out run them. Should I just walk with my head down not making eye contact or curl up in a ball and cry?!? In the end, I picked up my poles (so they wouldn’t make noise) and just walked right by them. Nothing happened to me thank goodness.

Mile 19 at the road crossing
I asked Ryan when he was done with his race if he would come meet me at the 20 mile aid station. I was really looking forward to seeing him and our kids Zach and Hannah.  The course crosses the road at mile 19 and when I got there they were waiting for me. Ryan ran the 50k too and was so excited to tell me his finishing time of 4:56. A few days before the race I told him I didn’t think he could do 5 hours and he said “IT’S ON NOW!”!  I knew that would light a fire in him. I was so proud!

He asked if there was anything he could get me and at that moment a yogurt sounded good.  We had some in our cooler so he got one for me. It tasted so good! Usually I have a hard time getting food down because my mouth is so dry but the yogurt worked perfectly.  When I arrived at the 20 mile aid station and once the volunteers saw me they started cheering. One of them asked what he could get me.  I just shook my head and he said do you need some motivation? I said YES! So they cheered louder I couldn’t help but smile and laugh. I had a pretty good pace going up until this aid station then after that my goal of 10-10.5 hours started slowly slipping away. I got back on the trail and headed to the next aid station which the volunteers said was 4 miles away. Through this section of the trail I was having difficulty avoiding these wild sunflowers plants on steroids!  A few times they reached out and grabbed me and they hurt!  After I emerged from wild sunflower hell I could see the Lower Frary aid station less than a mile away which really sucked because it took forever to get there.

Arriving at Lower Frary mile 23.5
Hallelujah, this aid station had a bathroom! I had to go so bad and there is nowhere on the trail that you can squat without someone driving by and seeing my white butt! Ryan was once again ready to help with whatever I needed. I gave him my pack and went to use the bathroom.  Upon returning I asked him for another yogurt. The volunteers offered me one of their chairs to sit in which I gladly accepted. Then it was back on the trail again for the final 6 mile stretch. At this point in a long race I start to struggle mentally.  It’s hard for me to keep going when everything hurts and all I want to do is sit and have a good cry. So I started singing to myself and watching all the lights coming on across the lake.  The reflection on the water of the Wasatch Mountains mixed with the city lights was a beautiful sight.   I saw a coyote just off the trail that started to howl and I thought ‘oh no he knows I’m about to die and he’s calling his friends’ but he just ran off.

At the last aid station Ryan told me that the three 50k runners that I passed earlier weren’t that far behind me so I kept looking over my shoulder expecting to see them any minute. After running along the shoreline from Lower Frary you make a hard left turn after passing through a chain link fence. Then you climb the last hill of the course. As I started up I could see the lady I had chatted with at mile 13 who was running with her ex-husband about a ½ mile back. That lit a fire under me! I could see Ryan waiting at the top where I had to cross the road. When I was almost there my little pacer came down the hill to meet me. My nine year old son Zach was going to finish the race with me. I was so happy! He was just the boost of energy I needed at that moment.

We crossed the road and had to finish the ¼ mile climb and then it was all downhill from there. As we started downhill I picked up the pace and started running and so did Zach.  He stopped running and just walked but was keeping up with me.  I looked at him and said “that’s not funny”!  He said I’m not laughing mom. Then he said “did you do the whole race this slow mom”? NO, I actually had to run some of it or I would still be back there! While we were running (in his case walking) he asked if a 50k was longer then a marathon I said “yes”.  He said “then I’d like to do a 50k someday” a few minutes later he said well maybe not my feet already hurt…which is totally understandable because we had gone nearly a HALF of a mile!  I just glared at him.

Once I could finally see the finish line I picked up my pace.  My fourteen year old daughter Hannah had walked up the hill to meet us too.  She fell in step right beside me so I went a little faster making them have to work to keep up with me. I just laughed when Hannah said you’re going too fast mom! Then Zach goes blazing by me with his hands up in the air and crosses the finish line saying “woohoo I just finished a 50k” little stinker!

When I crossed the finish line I said “that course was hard!  It looked a lot easier on paper”.  It was so good to be done.  I finished in 11:03:23 and not finishing last was priceless!  This is one I will have to do again.  The views were amazing!

Things I need to work on:

·   actually training for a 50k
·   drinking more at the end of a race
·   and staying positive

I did a pretty good job with my nutrition this time and I felt I stayed on top of my calorie intake.  I am looking forward to a little down time from races for awhile.  It’s been a busy year!

Sunset at the Start / Finish around 7pm


  1. Congratulations, Michelle!! You had me laughing pretty good when you referred to that section before Lower Frary as "sunflower hell!" It WAS!! :D Good description! I also am laughing picturing Zach running ahead of you to the finish! What a wonderful memory! Great job on kicking butt at Antelope Island!

  2. This race report gave me chills. So proud of you Michelle! What an awesome accomplishment.

    And whatever performance enhancing drugs Ryan must be taking.....I want some of those. Way to go guys!

    1. Cory, YOU ARE THE ONE who prescribed me the performance enhancing drugs! It's called TAILWIND :D Calories, electrolytes, and hydration all at once. I stopped at the aid stations for between 2 and 3 minutes total. Just enough time to add water to my mix. You will do great at Javelina

  3. this is so hardcore! I'm AMAZED at your perseverance!


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