Sunday, September 21, 2014

IMTUF 100 Race Report

Sunset over Burgdorf
This past Saturday I toed the starting line the IMTUF 100 in McCall, Idaho which was my 8th 100 mile endurance run. This is the third year of the race but the first time I have signed up to run it.  I wanted to run the Western States 100 and needed a qualifier in past years so I opted for Bear and Wasatch.  As luck would have it I got into Western States and had a great day the past June.  Now I didn't have an excuse.  The first two you years I joined my friends Amy and Christine as a pacer which was a lot of fun.  Between pacing twice and hiking around McCall over the years I figured I had seen about 80 miles of the route beforehand which was comforting.

We arrived on Friday after work in time for the pre-race meeting and it was great to hear how passionate and excited both Jeremy and Brandi Humphrey were to put on this event for all us crazy people!  Michelle and I hung out briefly afterwards and visited with some of the other runners and friends before heading off to sleep in the back of the car with Zach.  Zach was home at lunch when I got there and I asked him if he wanted to go.  I was glad he came.  Before we got to bed we were treated to an amazing sunset over Burgdorf Hot Springs.

Just a few short hours later I was brought out of my sleep to a bull elk bugling back and forth across the valley at 3:30.  It was really amazing.  There was frost on the ground, which was a small surprise.  McCall was supposed to be in the high 30s but we were a bit higher altitude at the starting area.

The race started with about as much fanfare as most ultras....none!  Jeremy did a simple countdown
and then blew his elk bugle.  The first 20+ miles of the race looked easiest on paper with a relatively small gain and loss but that is also what makes them the most dangerous.  I have learned my lesson about going out too fast so I settled into a pretty conservative cruise with Drew Adams.   The sun came up somewhere before the first water drop at mile 6 and the fall colors we popping everywhere.

We cruised through the first main aid station at Willow Basket manned by Doug and Vicki Trees and said a quick hello.  A few more rolling up and downs led us into Chinook Campground 3+ miles later.  I met Michelle for the first time, got refueled and restocked and hit the trail again.  Chinook is at mile 13+ and I got there in 2:30.

After leaving you follow right along the river bank for a number of miles.  The trail if beautiful and the surrounding vegetation on the rolling hillsides are wonderful.  I got lulled into the easy flat terrain and took looked up to enjoy the view
and went down on my face hard.  I kicked a tiny tree root that racked my hips and sent my water bottles flying out of my pack.  Once the bottles were gone there wasn't any tension to hold the rest of the things in my pockets so EVERYTHING came out of my pack and scattered all over the trail.  Luckily I had decided to keep my long sleeve shirt and gloves for this section because they saved my elbows and palms as I rolled up in heap on the ground.

Drew was right behind and made sure I was OK.  I wasn't sure if I was or not but figured time would tell.  I finally got situated and continued up the trail.  Before starting the race I told myself I would allow time to take pictures and really just enjoy the day rather than try and go for a fast time.  As I struggled along the short breaks to take pictures were quite welcome.  The terrain remained
pretty easy for a return trip to Willow Basket and then up the Valley along Victor Creek.

The Victor Creek trail is barely a trail in most places but just as beautiful.  After a long stretch in the valley it turns steep quick.  When we got there Drew pulled away and I didn't see him again.  Climbing is usually my strongest aspect but I could tell it was going to be a long day as my hips kept screaming at me.  The climb was a perfect combination of rocky, technical, scenic, and fun.  In fact, this whole course is like that.  I want races to be hard but balanced with beautiful scenery and a few faster sections.  IMTUF seems to have it all in just the right proportions.

After cresting over the top I was ready to see if I could go downhill since sometimes when you get hurt on the trail it will only effect climbing but you can run down and vice versa.  No such luck.  I was stuck in a fast walk on much of the downhill with a little bit of running on the flat sections.  That was frustrating since from the time this happened to the end would be 90 miles.  I was determined to hang on as long as I could though.  Things often change over time during these silly things.  

I got close to Upper Payette Lake at mile 33 and Zach was waiting for me at the guardrail next to the highway.  I was way off my pace and he had walked up the trail to see if he could see me.  It was probably the best 5 minutes of my entire day to share that short little stretch with him coming into the aid station.  Along the way he says to me, Dad
I almost tripped on the rock about 10 times getting up here!  Wow, I said.  Let me tell you a story about the last 33 MILES.  He put a smile on my face as we came into the aid station side by side.

Michelle got me all situated and kicked me out of the aid station after getting some food and new bottles.  The three of us walked down the little path together until the trail turns up the hill.  It was a lonely feeling going out there. I was barely running and still had 70 miles to go.  I convinced myself that I was going to walk nearly the whole next section of 20 Mile trail.  It is about 8 miles gently uphill and 2+ miles down to Lick Creek Road from Duck Lake.  I figured if I could get there feeling decent the heat of the day will have passed and I can go into the night with a small chance to recover.

I got there feeling OK but really hungry for real food.  I barely ate any real food at States but today I was dying for real food at most of the aid stations.  Duck Lake didn't have much beyond the normal Oreos and M&Ms but they did have some avocado turkey wraps cut in small pieces that hit the spot.  I languished there for a few minutes until there were more runners than there were chairs so I got up and left.

From here it is just over a mile uphill and 4.5 miles downhill.  I walked the uphill and after cresting the top told myself I would run a half mile and walk a quarter mile and repeat.  I think I managed four of these before walking in the last mile.  In the last mile Linda Robbins caught up to me and we chatted for a while.  She offered me
a Tylenol to help with the pain, which I took.  I don't normally take anything but then again I had never felt this bad ever.  We met Michelle and Zach along the way and we all walked into a cheering crowd of crew and family at Snowslide.

Michelle got me set up again and got a bunch of real food in me.  I had an ensure and 2 cups of ramen noodles which really hit the spot.  I decided I would take her poles that just happened to be in the car and they were a lifesaver.  As I was sitting there I saw Emily scream through the aid station in about 5 seconds flat.  I was determined to try and keep up with her to help get me out of my funk.  It is two miles to Snowslide Lake and maybe another half mile to the top of the pass.  The Tylenol was doing its trick and I was feeling pretty decent and I was cruising up the hillside with Steve Loebner.  He had been
struggling with his stomach for a long time and I think getting some real food helped both of us.

Emily only had a few minutes head start and I barely caught up to her just past the lake.  The look on her face when she saw me was one of my other favorite moments of the day. RYAN ANDERSON what in the world are you doing WAY back here!  I told her that I heard all the fun happens at the back of the pack and I just wanted to see for myself!  She assured me that this IS where the fun is and we climbed steadily to the pass chatting away.  At the top, Steve snapped a great picture of us with the sun going down behind us.

The sun wasn't completely gone so I decided I wanted to get after the quick downhill section while I could still see my feet since it is really rocky at the top.  Jeremy told us at the pre-race that over the winter last year there was an avalanche that laid down hundreds of trees in the drainage between Snowslide Summit and Lake Fork.  They attempted to clear the existing trail but in places there were just too many trees piled up so they cut a path straight through.  The trees laying down reminded me of Mount St. Helens where the blast just laid everything down in a neat line.

After the initial steep descent of 1,200 feet in two miles the trail becomes really nice.  From there it
drops 200-300 feet per mile with several short ups and downs.  I have run this section a number of times while on vacation in McCall so I knew what to expect.  Emily and I were making what felt like decent time and finally made it to the water drop location.  I filled up and shortly after she pulled around me while I was getting something out of my pocket.  By the time I looked up she was so far ahead I couldn't see her headlamp!  I was happy for her having a great day and almost bummed that I was holding her back for the last I don't know how many miles.

I plugged along for a bit and then Steve caught back up to me.  He wondered how much farther it was and I told him if it were light I could tell him.  I have run a 3 mile out and back from the aid station a few times and where I turn around there is a wide meadow with a thick stand of trees on the other side.  Just as I am saying this we enter the meadow so I knew it was 3 to go.  The death shuffle was slowly creeping in on me and I walked most of the gentle downhill from here.

Steve said he needed stretch his legs and took off.  I struggled with what it arguable some of the easiest trail of the course not including the road sections.  The walls were caving in on me and after 45 miles of hurting and feeling terrible I made my peace and decided it just wasn't my day.  The final 2.25 miles took me 1:21.  Michelle kept asking people when they came in if they saw me and the common response was, he was right behind me a little way back.  I was getting dizzy and my legs were numb from my feet halfway up my calves.  Some of it may have been from needing more calories and some of it was from my fall earlier in the day.  Either way I was done and had zero regrets.

I have done enough of these to know what fatigue and tiredness feels like and this wasn't that.  If it were I would have gutted it out.  I felt bad for my pacer Brady who had yet to join me and I apologized.  He was volunteering with Derek at Lake Fork and said he had a good time nonetheless.  I told him if he sees a poor soul that looks like they need help to jump in with them.  He opted to go back to town with us and we crashed out at the Super 8.

After some good rest and a nice breakfast we headed up to Cloochman to see people through and got
the chance to see a number of our friends run through.  We also got to hang out with Mariah and her crew at the aid station which was a ton of fun.  Brady jumped in with a lady named Linda that I ran with earlier and a guy named BJ who were together at Cloochman.  They said it was nice to have Brady there so I was glad he got to help and see some of the course.

We went from there to the finish line to cheer everyone in right up to the final cutoff.  I always love cheering people in and didn't want to feel like I was avoiding the finish line after my DNF.  The course was amazing and beautiful.  I'll definitely be back and next time I'll be ready.

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