Sawtooth 2011 recap
Well, this year didn’t quite go as planned. The plan was to finish. Even with the best laid plans, the outcome is not certain. If you have been reading this blog at all you will know that there were a few hiccups the few weeks prior to this race; a busted up leg that needed stitches and ended up getting infected, a bad cold that left my muscles tired and achy, and a tweaked back which made it difficult to even walk just a few days before the race. Despite these issues I figured I could still go out and give it a shot. Maybe I would get lucky and everything would just fall into place and I already registered so I had to try.
Race morning I actually felt alright. My back was pretty stiff but I was able to get a few hours of sleep. I knew it was going to be hot so I decided to take it really easy and really easy is how I took it! The first aid station I got to see my crew (Annette and Wynter) was just over the 20 mile mark. I had already drank about four liters of fluid by this point. I drank some pop and a Powerade, had Wynter fill up my Camelbak and I was on my way. Only five miles to the next aid station.
This section went by pretty quick and was very pretty (well I guess the whole course is pretty…). I got to the aid station and my crew was missing. I still had everything I needed for the next long section so I was alright. It turns out I just missed them. The section to Tettegouche is a long one… This was especially bad since it was starting to get really warm/hot. I don’t do very well at all in the heat. I ran out of water about six miles into the ten mile stretch. This was not good. I still stayed positive and made it to Tettegouche. I was overly warm and very thirsty. I drank everything I could to try to get my hydration levels up where they needed to be and ended up staying at Tettegouche for about ten minutes while I was trying to get hydrated.
It was about this time when my stomach started to turn. Having no fluids it was impossible to eat so it had been quite a while since I got some calories. I tried to eat at Tettegouche but couldn’t eat much. After I left Tettegouche, I got about a half mile down the trail and my legs started to seize with muscle cramps! It looked like the heat and dehydration were catching up to them. About another half mile down the trail I started throwing up. This was not good. The section I was on was the toughest section of the first half because of the terrain, elevation, and distance. I drank what my stomach allowed and couldn’t eat anything. This is when I started moving really slow.
The cramps started to go away and gentleman who was a physics professor at UMD came up behind me and had decided to slow down to my pace for a bit. He told me his stomach was in about the same shape just before Tettegouche but he was able to get it calm down and was doing better. I kept going in hopes that this would hold true for me as well.
Darkness fell and I was chugging along the cliffs above CoRd 6. Last year at this time I was almost to Finland… I was way behind. This part of the course is a lot easier in the light as there were sharp drop offs and technical rocks you had to traverse just beside these cliffs. I could hear and see the aid station from almost a mile and a half away. This really helped to pull me through to CoRd 6.
My plan was to take a nice long break at CoRd 6 to see if could eat and drink and also see if my stomach would feel any better. I was able to take down a couple of grilled cheese sandwiches and a couple of cups of soup. It felt good to have food in me but my stomach was still turning. My crew and I hung out there for a bit and since I really wasn’t getting any better I decided to throw in the towel… JUST KIDDING. I thought it was a good idea to keep going even though I felt terrible! I told Wynter she could pace me. I was managing to keep a blistering 30 min/mile pace on one of the easiest sections of the first part of the course! I was having a tough time. Still hardly able to drink or eat. I was doing all I could to make it the eight miles to Finland.
While the section between CoRd 6 and Finland was probably the toughest time I have ever had moving forward in a race, ever, I still liked being on the trail. A few runners were were lucky enough to be on this section at the same time as me were treated with howling wolves. They sounded so close and they were in three different positions in proximity to where we were on the trail. The bigger group was just north while a couple of lone wolves were east and south, probably not more than 1/2 mile away. It was awesome.
This sentiment was not shared by all runners, however. Soon after the howling, a runner came sprinting by Wynter and I. He was just flying! Soon after another runner came up behind us and asked us if we had saw that guy sprint by. We said yes and he began telling us that he was running from the wolves and was carrying an unsheathed knife in case one came after him! This gave us all a good chuckle.
I finally made it into Finland just after 1:00AM. A full four hours later than the year before. Since nothing had changed in my situation for the last 20 miles I figured it wouldn’t get better in the next 50 so I turned in my chip at Finland. The circumstances were disappointing but for the way I felt I was amazed that I made it to 51 miles. Because of this, I know without a doubt that I will be able to complete this course if I were feeling better. Maybe next year.
I would like to thank Alicia for supporting me in my crazy attempts at these types of things. I would also like to thank my crew for being there and really helping out a lot as well as all the volunteers and the nice racers I had the opportunity to meet. It was still a good time even though I felt terrible for over half of my time on the course.
I took some video while I was on the trail and will work on putting it together so look out for that. Also, if you would like to see the pictures that Wynter and Annette took, check them out here.