Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pinhoti 100 miler

McKenzie River 50 miler. Long Run Picture Company
2012 race season....three 100 milers, one 100k, three 50 milers, and two 50k's.....nine in total.  It is no wonder that as I was traveling to Alabama for the Pinhoti 100, I had more than my share of self doubt.  I was feeling fatigued, under trained, I had a sore Achilles tendon on the left and a sore knee on the right....what was I doing getting ready to run my third 100 miler of the year. Ken did not want me to race Pinhoti, "3, 100's in one year, you are over racing" he said....(This is where I should also mention that in the month of October I married my best friend Ken Sinclair, moved into a new house, and played nurse to Ken through his heart attack and cardiac stent placement!)
In my defense I ran Waldo 100k, Aug 18th (2nd place), followed by McKenzie River 50 miler, Sept 8th (1st place), racing well and feeling great for both races. Pinhoti on Nov 3rd just seemed like a good idea, after all, it was part of the Montrail Ultra Cup Series, Patagonia was one of its sponsors and well.....the idea of running in Alabama in the Talladaga forest on a trail called the Pinhoti....who could resist??
Husband and Wife!!
I arrived in Alabama on Thursday with my pacer and crew Amy Freeman, Ken was going to fly in on Friday (yes, Ken's cardiologist cleared him for travel...NO pacing).  The temps in AL were comfortable in the low 70's, with the humidity in the 50's.  Friday brought Ken to AL and some hang out time at the pre-race briefing with Yassine Diboun, Roxanne Woodhouse and the rest of the ultra pack, all of us prepping for a late season 100 miler.  After the briefing we carbo loaded at an Italian restaurant Amy and I ate at the night prior and heard one of the best lines spoken with a great southern drawl....Ken's dinner was delivered with the words of, "here you go big hungry"! Classic.
That night as I set my race gear out, I took one last opportunity to review the race packet information and my race strategy.  Not knowing how to rate the course, having never run on the trails, I was struggling with what splits to use, that would bring with it my goal finish time.  Ken had printed out from the Pinhoti website splits for both a 20 and sub 20 hour finish.  I elected to focus on the sub 20 hour splits.
Go time was 6am and so we set our alarms for 3:00am, picking Yassine up before making the 1 1/2 hour trek to the start.  Pinhoti is a point to point from Heflin to Sylacauga, where we were staying.  The temps were in the mid 40's with the humidity in the 80's, not too bad.  The drive to Heflin seemed to take forever but then almost to quickly we were toeing the line with the RD calling out, "get outta here"!  We started out on a gravel road before taking a sharp turn onto single track.  I took off quickly hoping that as we hit the single track I was in good position, one in which I could run without needing to pass or be passed.  I was successful, the pace was good, I was in a train with 4 guys and we only got passed in the dark by one speedy chick, Melaine Fryar.  We kept it nice and steady while in the dark, and I was thankful for the train as it allowed me to focus my attention on the rock / root strewn, leaf covered trail, rather than the next turn in the trail.

Feeling spry, early in the race! Picture by Scott Livingston

The Pinhoti course had 18 aid stations, the furthest distance between stations was 6.9 miles and the shortest just 3.3 miles.  Crew could support their runners at 12 of the aid stations and pacers could join their runners as early as mile 40.   I saw Ken and Amy at the first aid station, 6.7 miles into the race where I handed off my headlamp, ate a Hammer Gel and was off. I was thankful for the arrival of daylight as the trail was proving to be rather challenging with the obstacles on the trail fully camouflaged by the leaves. By aid station #2, mile 13, I had passed Melaine along with a couple of guys, and was greeted by my crew once again.  More Gel, a top off of the handheld and see you in 5 miles at aid station 3.  This was kind of fun, it felt like they were with me the entire time!  The trail remained the same, while beautiful with the many colors of fall I think I would have preferred the leaves to be green and UP in the trees.  I did forget to ask what kind of animal lives and digs all the holes that were along the trail.  The holes were about the size of a large grapefruit, some were disguised by leaves while others were identified by the sticks (skewers) someone had shoved into the holes.  To remain a mystery I guess.
Before descending Blue Hell trail. Picture by Scott Livingston
Ken swapped out my handheld for my hydration pack at aid station 5, the next 7 miles included climbing to the highest point in AL, Mt Cheaha and it was starting to warm up.  This section did prove to be a tough one and I was happy to have my ipod with me as I was running mostly solo.  I had moved into 4th place overall but was trading off and on with the 5th place guy.  I think by this point I had already fallen a 1/2 dozen times, no injuries but, body coming into contact with the ground non the less! During this section I crossed a creek about knee high, and came upon some scrappy looking campers....while I did not pay them any attention, they still managed to set me on edge and almost immediately I found myself sprawled onto the ground.  I fully expected to see when I looked back and while jumping to my feet, a rope tied across the trail.  I had to laugh when all I saw was a root crossing the trail, secured at both ends.  Seriously....a rope?!?

My amazing crew at the top of Mt Cheaha!
Aid Station 8 and I was sad to see all my efforts in getting to the highest point in AL were only rewarded with what was called the Steep Lake trail also known as "BLUE HELL" running here!  Huge boulders, covered in colorful fall leaves made up the decent, add in a couple of wrong turns and I was ready for this section to be over.  A little further I saw my crew and was told that Amy would be joining me in 15 miles! Amy enjoys the 1/2 marathon distance but was stepping up to the plate to help a friend in need.  She would run a total of 22 miles, 18 miles on, 10 miles off, rejoining me for the final 5.5 miles.  Something to look forward to!  Added smile at this point was Ken sharing a short story....Yassine, "how far back is the next guy?"  Ken, "it ain't no guy" Yassine, "who is it?", Ken "it's D", Yassine, "shit!"....Yassine was super stoked that I was racing as well as I was....even if I was gaining on him.  He was 8 minutes up from me at that point.
Mmmm chocolate milk, thanks guys!
I was still feeling relatively good, eating what appealed to me at the aid stations, mostly gel and my protein chocolate milk (note taken when I drank too much....yup stomach cramps for a while after that!) I was doing well staying hydrated and taking S caps with the 80 degree temps and the humidity. The next few sections remained status quo for the terrain, rolling hills on a rocky single track trail.  Running along the trail I would actually slow at times to take in all the amazing shades of fall in full bloom.  Otherwise my gaze was focused on the trail directly in front of my feet in attempts at staying on my feet!  I was starting to feel some apprehension as the indentation of the trail was but a mere hint (in a wide open forest) in the broad daylight and the trail markings were few and far the heck was it going to look at night???
As promised, Amy joined me for some night time running at aid station 12, mile 67 (just dusk) leaving Ken to crew us both.   I was happy to have Amy running with me and Amy was happy to see that my pace was one she could easily keep! I took this opportunity to finally ask how much time I had on the second female, F2.  Unlike Western States, I knew exactly what place I was holding.   Amy shared that she and Ken had waited up to  a 1/2 hour at a previous add station and the next female had yet to arrive.  I was relieved as I knew that I was slowing, due to both fatigue and nightfall...I was hoping that F2 was doing the same.  Helping boost my spirits was Amy telling me that I was currently 11 minutes under my goal time!!
At the next aid station, I handed off my hydration pack and went back to my handheld.  The temps were dropping and I did not need the additional hydration (or weight) of the pack.  Amy was great company breaking into song frequently to keep us both entertained.  Having her second set of eyes also helped keep us on course when the markings were less than obvious and the trail almost nonexistent.   She encouraged me to trot off and on when we were climbing the hills and helped me up each time I found myself lying on a bed of leaves.  No surprise, I did not complain when we broke off the trail onto a gravel road.  Amy ran with me for 18 miles, as promised, before taking a break.  I was at mile 85, still feeling strong, mentally and physically.  Ken served me up some more chocolate milk and I was off.  Unfortunately, I struggled with staying on course during the following 10 miles, going off course twice.  The first time there was NO marking at a intersection and the second time I was looking down and missed a right was well marked....I did not ask Ken how I was doing for pace when I saw them at the aid stations.  I had slowed and gone off course.
 Amy rejoined me at Aid station 18, mile 94.5. She was a gem, she listened to me complain about going off course, curse at the rocks on the trail and retch as I tried to take in more gel calories.....and then she would break into song, thank you Amy for lifting my spirits, for being with me!  We were almost done, I was almost done....We saw Ken as we hit the road....just over 2 miles left....Ken calls out my running time....19:01, and then tells Amy not to let me walk!  To put into words what I was feeling.....I was going to be well under my goal finish time for the win (5th overall) and a new course record!  I finished in 19:24, 2 hours and 20+ minutes under the previous course record.  Indeed a nice way to cap off my 2012 race season.

Well done ladies! 2nd and 3rd Megan Hall and Melaine Fryar
When asked if I would run this race answer was without hesitancy, No.  Now, 3 weeks later the toughness of the course has faded along with my body aches and in its place is memories of the beautiful trails, the friendly people, the great aid station support and all within a well organized 100 mile race...maybe I would go back.
My crew and Yassine, 1st Female, 3rd Male, Oregon for the win!
Big congrats to Yassine for earning his ticket to the, "Big Dance" (and not getting chicked)!  I can't thank Ken and Amy enough for their amazing support out on the trails, thank you! Ken, thank you for supporting me even when you felt that I should have been resting.
My Patagonia gear was perfect from the cool morning temps on through the heat of the day.   I raced the early morning hours in my Capilene 4 hoody and Merino 3 liners, light weight yet with enough protection to break the early morning chill.  Thank you to RD, Todd Hendersen and all the volunteers along the 100 miles, 18 aid stations for putting together a great race.   For those other runners out there, I would recommend the Pinhoti 100

Next on my race calendar.....some well deserved rest!! 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Ticket to States

Post Western States blog I asked that you stay on!

What a busy summer of running is has been, all of it leading up to Waldo 100k, August 18th and hopefully my ticket to next years Western States 100 miler!  Going into the race I had a my goals established. #1...earn a 1st or 2nd place finish for the much sought after Western States entry, #2 course record for the Master division (Held by Meghan Arbogast) and #3... see #1!

One of the may climbs at Speedgoat
There are many things that factor into prepping for race day and this years prep for Waldo was no different.  While my work hours keep me from over training with high weekly mileage, I did place focus on what went into my training.  Waldo 100k has 11,000 feet of vertical gain and summits 3 peaks so I thought it was perfectly reasonable to register and run Speedgoat 50k in Utah on July, 28.  Speedgoat is held in the Wasatch mountain range and has 12,000 ft of vertical gain.  This is of course dependant on the year and the race director, Karl Meltzer (who added a 1000ft from the previous year just for fun).  My 7 hours and 31 minute 50k time for a 5th place finish emphasized only the fact that I am not a mountain runner and that the Mountains in and around Bend are not BIG mountains. The race did serve the purpose of putting me on some freaking tough climbs in preparation for Waldo. 
No obstacles here
Next race, Cascade Relay, held outside of Bend.  While at times I actually thought our team was in last place (think we were at one point), I ran my legs as if we were winning, concentrating on my leg turnover for the speedier parts of the Waldo course. I followed this run with a 21 miler around Paulina Crater the following day for the fatigue factor and one last run / hike up the South Sister with some fellow Oregonian Ultra runners and my race preparation for Waldo was complete.

Summit of the South Sister, blue bird day!
As with any trail run in the summer there is always fear of forest fires.  Last year McKenzie 50K was rerouted due to a forest fire and in 2008 Western States was canceled due to fire. This year it visited Waldo, just two days prior to the race a fire broke out around Bobby Lake. Fortunately it was contained and extinguished and RD Craig Thornley and his crew put great efforts into re-routing the course in short order. As expected they were successful and the 100k (62 miler) became a 65 miler! Western States picked the right guy to run their show.

Charlton Lake mile 31
The race began at 5AM and we were was off.  The first part of the race takes you strait up Willamette pass ski area.  I had wrote down what my splits needed to look like to keep me under Meghan Arbosgast's masters course record ( I knew with the added mileage I was not going to break the record but wanted to track my splits until the course deviated.)  As I ran / hiked up the mountain, I used a technique given to me by Jeff Browning, a fellow Patagonia runner.  Rather than hiking what I could not run I would hike for 15 breaths and then run for 15 breaths, alternating in this manner I was 2 minutes faster than 2011 and by the time I was at the top of Mt. Fuji I was 5 minutes faster than my previous years time....Thanks Jeff!
Joelly Vaught and Alison Bryant were 1 and 2 early on and while I wanted one of those places I also knew it was going to be a long day and it was early yet.  I kept to my own race, running comfortable yet strong.  Sadly, I took a huge digger early on but fortunately it was on a soft, silt covered trail.  It was one of those falls that takes you completely by arms stayed by my side, and when my body hit the ground, my feet kicked back up behind me practically touching the back of my head.  Ken (my crew) made reference to a chimney sweep as I came into the next aid station...I was covered from my forehead down with dirt that stuck nicely as it had started to drizzle just previous to the fall.  While I am certain JB Benna got some great film of my dirt covered state, thankfully I have yet to see a photo.
Photo by Michael Lebowitz, this smile is for you!
I was running well, and as I came into each aid station I was pleased to find that I was gaining on F1 and F2.  At 4290 aid station Alison was 7 minutes ahead of me and within the following 7 miles to Twins 2 aid station (44 miles) I caught and put 4 minutes on her. I was still feeling good and was confident that I would be holding the 2nd spot to the finish. I picked up Ken, who would be running with me for the last 20 miles, he apparently did not expect to see me yet and was busy taking care of business in the bushes.  I of course just kept running and Ken had to catch me on the road.  Carrie and Roy (my crew) saw that in Ken's haste he forgot his hydration bottles and met us at the next aid station with them (good thing since there was no crew access from there out).  Coming into Gold Lake aid station at mile 50 I was surprised to see in front of me F1, Joelle.  We entered the aid at the same time and while I fueled up, she was off.  I left the aid station a few moments later and there was no Joelle to be seen.  The last time I saw Joelle she was coming down from the top of Maiden summit and I was heading up, she put the afterburners on and that was that. That girl is a tough mountain runner.

Loving the finish line! 2nd female 7th overall
I finished Waldo super happy with my F2 spot and my 2nd Western States entry!!

Huge thank you to Craig Thornley and crew for putting on an incredible race and all of the volunteers and the fire fighters who made this event possible! Thank you, Michael Lebowitz for being out there catching the journey on film. Yet again, my Patagonia gear saw me through all 11 hours, 22 minutes of the race in perfect style, even with all the dirt!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Western States 100

What an amazing experience....running Western States 100 miler.  The journey began with first my ticket...Second place finish at Waldo 100k.  Waldo was in August of 2011 and was the 1st race of the Montrail Ultra Cup series, placing 1st or 2nd in any one of the race series earns you a spot in WS 100 along with points earned for each race ran of the series.  The grand finale of the series was WS 100.
Having raced 2, 100 mile races (San Diego 100, June 2011 and HURT 100, Jan 2012) I knew I was capable of completing the distance.  My goal for WS was not only to complete the race but to race it well and with a competitive time.
My crew, Carrie and Rachel under the countdown clock!
There were rumors of perhaps record temps for the heat in the canyons and so I focused my attention on the Memorial Day training camp. This was both an opportunity to see the parts of the course I had only ever heard about (Devil's Thumb, The Canyons...) I was hoping to experience the heat of the canyons at some point during the 3 days of running on the course they call "States".  I ran 82 miles over the 3 days and while the 1st day was cool the 2 following days gave me some of the warmth I was looking for.  More importantly I was exposed to the same trails that I would be seeing on race day.  I continued my heat training in Bend , not on my runs but rather in a sauna as we had yet to see any heat.
As race day drew closer the anticipated high temps began to diminish.  WS 100 starts in Squaw Valley and finishes in Auburn at Placer High School and the temps were dropping on both ends.
We arrived in Squaw on Thursday, we being my DP (domestic partner) Ken Sinclair, my kiddo Rachel and Ken's sister Carrie.  Ken was to be my pacer for the last 38 miles and Rachel and Carrie were my crew.

My Kiddo!
Almost go time!
Race morning presented with cool/cold temps with rain in the forecast.  My crew and I were up at 3AM super excited for the 5AM start.  It is difficult to put into words the energy that surrounds WS.  This energy had been flowing through me from the moment we arrived in Squaw and I was eager to get the race started.
My race plan was to start out conservatively but steady, don't pound the down hills to early or toast the legs on the climbs.  I had a pace chart put together by AJW along with great info on how to put together a smart race specific to the WS course.
Nope no views here!
The first climb was incredible, 4 miles with 2500 vert ft.  I hit it slow and steady, the higher we climbed the uglier the weather.  Reward for reaching the top was gusting winds, pouring rain/ sleet and no views...... Sadly this weather stayed with us for the next 35-40 miles.  My fowl weather apparel consisted of a visor (put my sunglasses away in my hydration pack) my Patagonia Houdini, super happy it had a hood, and my fleece mittens.  A giant thank you to the amazing aid support who would happily wring out my mittens each time I came through and who had hot chicken noodle soup at the ready.  A few miles outside of Duncan canyon aid station I came across what all runners hate to see, a fallen runner.  She was with Meghan and a group of guys and was down with an asthmatic attack.  Fortunately the next 2 female runners were running with inhalers and offered them up to help.  The relief of the bronchial spasms was almost immediate and after a few minutes of hanging out, Meghan encouraged me to continue.
Some people sing in the rain, I smile!
My first opportunity to see my crew was at Robinson Flats, mile 30.  I was cold and felt like a drowned rat and pretty sure my smile of gratitude to see my crew looked more like a grimace as I could not feel my face.  Rachel took on wringing out the mittens while Carrie tried to towel dry by frozen body...Ken was busy talking strategy and shoving food in my spirit was lifted as I left my crew and while no warmer I felt pretty good.  I was a little bummed when Ken said they would not see me again until Forest hill, mile 72.  Michigan Bluff, mile 62 was a spot to see your crew but there was concern that they would miss me at Forest hill if they went to Michigan bluff first.
I think I finally started warming up around mile 45, thankful when I actually stopped to take off my Houdini and plug in some tunes!  Shortly after which I rounded a corner and rolled my ankle on a rock and fell to the ground.  I had not realized how fragile my emotional / physical state was until this happened.  ALL ultra runners roll their ankles, I do it often enough that I have to give credit where credit is due....sturdy bones : )  The difference this time is that I broke into tears, I had been cold for what felt like forever and then as soon as I was feeling better, I roll my ankle hard enough for it to pop and it really freaking hurt!  I forgot to mention that I was racing in my Adidas Adios, a light weight racing flat, hence no stability on rocks.  I spent the next while gingerly placing my footing so as to keep my rolled foot flat (or somewhat).  Not to much later I was back to running with out much thought of my ankle.  I spent some good miles with a fellow Patagonia runner Tyler Stewart and Montrail runner Eric Skaden over Devil's Thumb to El Dorado Bridge and onto Michigan Bluff where I was surprised to find Carrie!! I had chatted with a runner who had crew at Michigan Bluff and when asked I found that I was truly sad to say that my crew was going to be further down at Forest Hill.  Thank you Carrie for lifting me back up! Next crew support was to be my Kiddo at Bath Road.  This is the first opportunity your crew can actually run a short distance with their runner.  Rachel was concerned that she might not be able to keep up but I assured her that after 60 miles, she would be fine.  As we trotted up the hill on Bath Road I paused to look at my Garmin and did ask, "is 12:20 pace to fast" and proceeded to do a bit of power hiking : )  Rachel ran with me to Forest Hill where I was weighed ( forgot to mention, for this race you are weighed the day prior and then throughout the event to track your hydration status).  This was about my 5th weigh in and all was well.  After weigh in I ran to my crew who had all that I had asked for ready....they slathered my legs in Arnica Gel, and my face/ shoulders in sunscreen, I drank some chocolate milk and off Ken and I went.  I was so very thankful that I was going to have my favorite running partner with me for the last 38 miles.
Forest Hill, picking up my pacer!
We had some pretty good running from there to the Rucky Chucky river,  passing a handful of guys....we had yet to see any female runners.  Tyler was the last female I passed on Devil's Thumb leaving me sitting in 13th place.  Rucky Chucky was not so nice, while I had gotten warm at points during the race, I had yet to get hot and the Rucky Chucky was a river crossing that would put the water level to my mid chest at points at 8pm no less.
Rucky Chucky river crossing
Need I say brrrrrr, I once again found myself freezing and while the next 1.5 miles was a climb to the Green Gate aid station where my crew would be, I was still freezing when I got to the top.  Rach and Carrie were immediately on task, treating me like a queen.  They changed my socks and shoes, got me into a sweatshirt and my old Houdini and mittens....and for the second time that day, stomach feeling like crap, and freezing I felt the tears welling back up.  Rach started briskly rubbing my white hands and with her tears rising to the surface I "got a grip" stood up and said, "okay, let's go" to Ken.  We had our headlamps and off we went.  Seriously, I had not just signed up for this but had been looking forward to this day for a long time.
As we left the ALT aid station someone said I was in 10th place, Ken and I knew I was in 13th and so as we came into the next aid station, I went through while Ken hung back to verify my place.  He was told 10th and the woman tracking this "was NEVER wrong".  Ken caught me sharing this news and in the distance to the next aid station I passed 2 females, placing me in 8th.  I was super happy with this and while my pace was that of someone having run 85 miles, I was confident that I would not be passed.
I ran through the next few aid stations oblivious to the fact that I was actually in 11th place (having never jumped from 13th to 10th, the never wrong woman had been wrong) Ken on the other hand was aware, we came into Brown's Bar aid station supported by the Rogue Valley Runners and they said I was indeed in 11th and Meghan had come through about 30 minutes earlier. This was again confirmed to Ken by our crew 8 miles from the finish.  Ken kept this information to himself and I continued to run.
My crew joined us about a mile from the finish, running the last mile in with me, what an amazing feeling! John Medinger was announcing as I came in, acknowledging my Waldo finish that got me to the starting line and my win at Ice Age and finished with "and is the unfortunate #11" (top 10 are given automatic entry into the race for next year), I felt a small surge of emotions, but ultimately my 11th finish could not take away from my feelings of accomplishment....
What a feeling!

Icing to my 11th place finish was taking home the win for the Montrail Ultra Cup Series! Not to bad for my first attempt at Western States 100!
Timothy Olson and Denise Bourassa Crowned 2011-12 Montrail Ultra Cup Champions

Huge Thank you to Western States for their amazing coordination of an incredible event, the support on the course was phenomenal, volunteers were super energized through the pouring rain and the darkness of night!  Super huge thanks to my family/crew and my pacer for being there through my highs, and my lows, you guys were amazing for the entire 20+ hours! And yes, you will be invited back next year (when I race back in!!).  Thanks to Spider Tech for keeping me pain free with the postural and lower back support tape, "the s*it just works". A big thanks to my sponsor Patagonia as always the gear worked great in the rain, sun and the river! I am looking forward to racing my way into Western States 2013....Stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ice Age 50 Miler--May 12, 2012

"In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt"  --Margaret Atwood
What better time to start blogging than with Patagonia as my new sponsor and a win in Wisconsin at the Ice Age 50 miler! This was a solo trip planning to make it a quick race weekend for some Montrail Ultra Cup points (having DNF’d Run Rabbit Run, I was in need of a 3rd race, hence WI).   The course profile…rolling hills nothing crazy.  Based on this I set my stretch goal as a CR sub 7:11:43, hell why not! My second goal was to beat the masters record 7:17:07(sorry Meghan) and my 3rd goal was sub 7:30. Race day arrived and I over slept my 3AM alarm, thankfully I awoke to my second at 3:30am. Thankful as my DP (domestic partner) back in Bend also slept through his 1:30am pst alarm, he was my security phone call!! Yikes!  Although I still had good time to prep I had a little extra adrenalin coursing through my veins.
I arrived at Kettle Maraine Park at 5:15, plenty of time to pick up my race bib, #50.  I actually looked at the other runners to verify that my #50 was my bib # and not 50 for the race I was running….what a dork!
Sandi Nypaver and I chasing down the leader
The stage was set with the RD singing the National Anthem then we were off.  I cruised through the first 10 miles, a bit fast averaging about a 7:40 pace.  I was in a group of runners including Sandi Nypaver and Adam Schwartz-Lowe(he too ran HURT 100) Sandi and I were 2nd and 3rd behind Melanie Peters.  F1 went out even faster than us.  Unfortunately I was surprised to find the “rolling” hills relentless and technical and just like that I was rethinking my goals for the day. 
Charging hard for the finish
I was racing with a Ultraspire hydration pack and it allowed me to race through the AS’s happily sipping on my fluid and munching on Honey Stinger chews and S Caps. The weather was humid but with a light cloud cover, not too hot. The hills eased up around mile 20 and I was happy to see some forested stretches to stretch my legs out on.  I passed Sandi, F2 and found F1 at mile 22 coming into an AS.  I was feeling pretty good and left the AS in the lead.  This did not last long, Melanie quickly caught me and pulled ahead…she was apparently feeling better, and for the second time, I let her go.  A bystander saw us a few paces apart and said “it’s a race” my silent reply, “not this early and not at this pace”!  After she was out of sight, I settled back into my own pace up hill, down hill, up hill et. honey stinger, salt, hydration.  I looked at my garmin at mile 26, 3:42…this meant I was still on pace for what I thought was the CR (turns out the time on ultrasignup is not the CR, the website has the CR at 7:04 set by Ann Trason!) I plugged in some tunes around mi 33 happy to take my mind off the leg fatigue from the ups and downs.  About mi 36 I lost satellite with my Garmin : ( As I came into the AS at mi 37 I again caught sight of F1 who was just leaving.  This AS doubles back at mi 43 and I asked the crew to have my drop bag ready.  Figured that would be a good time to swap for my handheld and drop the pack (almost empty) and off I went after F1!  I caught her in the next mile and put in a small surge up a hill, Melanie took a few walking steps and I passed her continuing the surge up and over the hill. 
I reached the next AS at mi 40 and turned around heading back to the previous AS.  No watch but figured when I saw F2 I had put about a 4 min gap on her.  I kept pushing the pace and while not feeling fast I knew I was running faster than F2.  I hit AS at mile 43 looking for my drop bag and turns out that it was MIA…I left the AS with my almost empty pack.  At that point I concentrated on taking smaller sips from my hydration pack and drinking at the AS’s.  The last AS was 1.5 mi to the finish, what a great feeling!  I drank some coke and off I went.  Overall I was feeling pretty good, still trotting the hills, and passing some of the guys : )  As I came up the final hill to the finish my eyes went immediately to the clock, 7:12 and change...finishing in 7:12:37, F1 and 11th overall!!! Super great feeling!  I will be taking home the win along with some extra Montrail points : )  Added bonus...turns out running sub 7:20 at Ice Age also qualifies me for consideration for the 2013 World 100k team, what an amazing day!
And Done!
Huge thank you to RD, Jeff Mallach for putting on such a great event it was super well supported, and plenty of course markings to keep to keep even ME on the right trail! Props to the Patagonia design team, my gear took great care of me all day, perfect fit with no issues to be found even after 7 hours!
Next up....The Big Dance in June!