Monday, November 14, 2022

The Stinger 24 Hour Race Recap


Running a 24 hour race on a track has long intrigued me. I have done timed races on larger loops, such as Hinson Lake (1.5 miles), Merrill’s Mile (1 mile), and a few others within the 1-1.5 mile range, but never 400 meters. I liked the idea of the simplicity of it all. Aid and other runners are always nearby, you don’t need to wear a headlamp, and there’s something about “just one more lap” that makes it seem doable.

The last time I competed at a 24 hour race was in 2017. I ran one in both 2018 and 2019, but “only” did about 100k each time because I was training for other things. So it had been awhile since I got truly loopy.

I went into this with basically just marathon training and a few runs after Chicago to dial in the pace. Honestly, I had no idea what to expect in terms of mileage. It seemed a bit greedy to assume I could just roll out a 100 mile finish without the proper training. But I knew that if I had a mostly good day that it was entirely possible.


Katherine and I shared a hotel room near the race site the night before and we went to an IHOP dinner with Aaron who was staying at another nearby hotel. We crashed pretty early and I felt very rested when I woke up. I had my now-traditional pre-race muffin, some coffee, and then we schlepped all our gear to the infield of the track. 



It was the right amount of time to get everything set up, get our bibs, and relax for a few minutes before starting. In addition to the 24 hour race, they also have a 12 hour and 6 hour event that start at 8am, 2pm, 8pm, or 2am. The bulk of the field was starting at the 8am time slot so they gave a few pre-race instructions to make sure we had enough room for the 80ish people to run on a 400 meter track. If you were moving with purpose, either running or walking, you could stay in lane 1. If you wanted to pass, you would do this in lane 2. If you were wanting to chat with someone while moving, you could either stay in a line or one person in lane 1 and the other in lane 3, always leaving lane 2 open to let people pass. I didn’t find it too bad myself overall, but maybe I’d feel differently if I had a record on the line or something. Every 4 hours, we'd switch directions so as to not be constantly turning left or right all day. 


The morning was very foggy and humid. I started with a tank top, but shed it pretty quickly. We had cloud cover most of the day which helped because there is zero shade on the track. 


I stayed behind Katherine for the first part of the race, chatting as we went round and round. I knew we'd do our own thing eventually so I enjoyed having company while it lasted. We both had planned for 10 minute miles in the beginning so it worked out to run a bit together. Aaron was always close by and as we played leapfrog all day, we'd give each other a little "whoop" as we went by. 


I wore my Aeropex headphones and had music piped in at a low level for the first 12 hours. I'm not sure how they lasted that long! In retrospect, the music playing from the aid station was loud enough to be heard around the track so I didn't really even want it after the battery died. I brought a second pair and never used them. Oh well. 


From the beginning, I was pretty good about my eating and hydrating. And that often being my white whale in races, I was proud that I hardly ever felt nauseous during this effort. I used gels at first until I got tired of them and then switched to bites of other things like fig bars, jelly beans, chips, and fruit chews. From the aid station, I got waffle fries, quesadillas, grilled cheese, and about a thousand bananas (??) and cups of soup. Bananas seemed to agree with my stomach so I just kept eating them. Jae kept us fed all day and had the most energy of one person I'd ever met. He'd follow us around the track with food, taking special requests and handing out hot food with tongs right to us in lane one. I kind of don't want to tell people about it because they have to cap the field every year! 


I started without a handheld bottle, but carried it for quite sometime during the day. I went through probably 2L of Skratch and then switched to plain water for a bit. Later in the race, I drank some Coke, Dr. Pepper, and broth for both calories and a bit of hydration. 


Taylor showed up early in the day and took a few photos as the fog was lifting. That was an unexpected surprise and a nice distraction while he was there. 




I got to 50k and my feet were killing me. I started with the Alpha Fly and the soles of my feet felt extremely sore. I switched to the Carbon X2 and they still felt awful so then I moved onto the New Balance 1080 and ran the rest of the race in my heavy trainers. My soles hurt ALL DAY. No blisters, just soreness. I tried loosening up my laces and it would help for awhile, but for this race, this was my white whale. Everything else felt good! I was in a happy place mentally most of the day, eating and drinking well, and felt like I had the endurance to keep going. Ugh, lesson learned.

David came much earlier than I had expected and was a huge help in crewing and keeping me motivated. I didn't expect him to help out with any of my stuff as I assumed he'd just be crewing Katherine, but he helped all 3 of us and likely some other runners! Even just filling my bottles or asking me if I needed something was extremely helpful.


Somewhere in the 40-50 mile mark, I started feeling great. I knew I still had a long day and night ahead, but I was feeling deep in a happy ultra trance just ticking off loops. I ran with Kelly for a few laps and fed off her positive vibes for a bit.


It started raining in the late afternoon, but I was feeling a bit relieved as it had been pretty warm even with the cloud cover. I stopped shortly at my setup to tuck away some gear to make sure it was kept dry. 


Hanna showed up with the clutch Dr. Pepper and fries and though I couldn't enjoy all of it in one sitting, I did spend the entire evening sipping that soda cup. Plus, it was great to see her and get a few laughs of our stupidity of running in circles.




From past experience, I was hoping to get to 50 miles in 9ish hours and 100k by 12ish hours and succeeded in both of those goals. I didn't want to death march it in, but knew that as long as I could still do some walk/run, it was entirely feasible to get to 100 miles. 


Getting to those checkpoints was motivating and I started thinking of how to break up the hardest part after 100k. I decided to call Adam at mile 70 and then would walk a lap every 2.5ish miles after that to eat and take a walk break. 


I was probably in the best spirits I've ever been calling Adam at mile 70. In previous races, this has been kind of a melting point. But I felt confident that I was going to get it done at this point. He and I chatted briefly and then I got back to the task at hand.


I can't remember exactly what time Alfonso came by in his T-Rex costume with Waffle House waffles and more Dr. Pepper (!!), but I think he perked up the entire field. He and some other crew members started doing sprints on the football field while he was wearing the T-Rex costume. Instant entertainment after we'd been running in circles!





As the temperatures dropped, I went from being the only one without a shirt to layering up like the Michelin man. As long as I was still running a bit, I didn't feel too awful and honestly, the cold probably helped to numb the pain. 


Breaking up the last chunk of mileage into 2.5 mile blocks was perfect. I was running these somewhere a little slower than 30 minutes. I'd run 10ish laps and then get something to eat and walk a lap. Then repeat. As I got closer to 100, I broke it into different amounts, but this was giving me something to look forward to and making sure I was still eating. 


I heard the first few people get their name shouted out and their buckle presented when they got to 100 miles which was really cool. I loved that they gave it to you while you were racing! I was giving updates to David aloud as I was coming around. 10k to go, 5k to go, 1 mile, 1 lap!


I managed a 2:45 400m for my 404th loop to cross the 100 mile mark in 20:24:34.



They handed me my buckle and then I kept on trudging for a bit. I wanted to walk a couple of laps and planned on running a bit more to see how far I could go given that I felt pretty okay all things considered. But after walking, my left groin seized up on me and I could barely walk. It did feel okay enough once I was moving, but I couldn't run any more. I was in no man's land. A PR wasn't going to happen and it was far too cold to sit for another few hours. So I just walked very slowly like the zombie that I was. 


Aaron crossed the 100 mile mark shortly after me though they sadly missed calling him out on the loudspeaker. Then Katherine was on the countdown and I had to hobble quickly to make my way back to the arch to watch her earn her very first buckle. 


Aaron found some sort of superpower after his 100 miles and spent the next few hours whizzing by me. It was crazy impressive to watch. Katherine took her victory lap and then took a well-deserved rest. 


As the sun started to come up, I was relieved to know that we were getting closer to finishing. I kept thinking I should just stop as there was no point in me continuing to walk. But it seemed silly after all that time to stop so I just kept going. Once we were getting close to 8am Sunday, Aaron slowed down to walk with me for the final two laps, wrapping up our race days in a very nice way. 


Incredibly grateful for this finish and pretty cool that all 3 of the Rippedtents team made the podium. Aaron came in 2nd male, Katherine was 3rd female, and I was 1st female. Having my training buddies out there definitely made this day much better. I was motivated to keep moving because they were and I think we all pushed each other a little more.



I’m sure there are details and people that I’ve left out which I will currently blame on ultra brain fog. Just feeling really thankful for all the support to go do these crazy things!


Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Marathon #46: Chicago Marathon Runparty



Going into the race, I had a really good training cycle and thought that I might have a chance to swing at my 5 year old PR. My plan was to go out and try to latch onto the 3:15 pacer for a bit if it felt comfortable and then make a move around miles 10-15 if I was having a good day. It was a bit of a bold negative split, but my training indicated that somewhere in the low 3:10s could be possible.

The first few weeks after Eiger were a little rocky getting back into training, but I had a solid 8ish weeks after that. I was hitting all my workouts, doing all but one of my long runs on the road (I’ve often used long trail runs as a crutch), and was super consistent about my strength training. Nothing was feeling PR easy, but I also felt that the fitness was there and I was capable if I had “that” day. 

The trip itself was all business. I flew up Saturday morning and luckily, Heather spotted me in the gate so we were able to sit together on the plane. It was fun to talk about training and races and the flight went by fast with someone to talk to. We parted ways once we landed and then I met Allison and Ben at Midway who were coming in on a different flight. They ended up staying with me last minute, but it worked out for the best as I now had people to share the weekend with, yay!


Allison is part of Back On My Feet which is a program that combats homelessness through community and running. They were having a brunch at the Willis Tower for the marathon fundraisers and it was really great to hear inspirational stories while carbing up.



We then dropped our bags at the hotel and headed over to the expo. It was super crowded and we already had a busy morning so we were in and out pretty quickly.

The rest of the afternoon and evening were filled with just lying in bed, chatting, watching tv, and hydrating. We popped out to grab some food from the Whole Foods hot bar, but it was a blissfully uneventful night otherwise. I thought I might be too excited to fall asleep, but I barely could stay awake to check in for my 8:10 p.m. flight!


I got almost 9 hours of sleep that night. Spoiler alert: this would be the only PR of the weekend. 


On race day, I ate my brought-it-from-home muffin and washed it down with hotel room coffee. We got dressed and then headed outside shortly after 6 a.m. to jog a half mile to the start.



Allison was in the first corral so once we reached the gates, we gave each other hugs and good lucks. I decided to just sit down for a while and went to the portapotty a few times before the start. 



At 15 minutes until the start, I shed my warmup jacket and stood up to find myself a spot in the corral. I could see the 3:15 pacer and 3:20 pacers over to the right of me, but far enough away that I would avoid the clump of runners that would be huddled by the signs. 


Once we started, I knew that my watch would be going haywire based on everyone’s prior race reports of Chicago. So I truly just wanted to run by feel and hoped that somewhere near the 3:15 pacer would feel comfortable. They were on the far right still as we went through the first mile so I was content to just do my own thing until the field spread out at least a little bit. 


I didn’t necessarily feel bad when I started, but I did not feel good either. I kept thinking that I would ease into the race after a mile or two once I was truly warmed up. Spoiler alert: that never happened. I felt like I was pushing really hard from the gun which meant that I was running an honest race, but I also was fighting to stay with it with almost every step. That’s not to say that it felt bad, it just never really felt fluid.


Somewhere in maybe the second mile I started to get close to what I thought was the 3:15 pace group and ran in the pack for a few miles. I’m not really sure if I ever was with them or what, but a few miles and hydration stops later, I realized I was running behind 3:20 signs. This seems weird that I wouldn’t have noticed I was running with the wrong sign, but I also felt certain I was running a 3:15 pace so I’m still not really sure what the heck happened! It was not too late in the race if I had been feeling good to push down the pace, but I was not feeling good so I stuck with the 3:20 group for a few more miles.


I decided around mile 6 or 7 to push ahead of the 3:20 group to see if I could chase down a faster time. I still wasn’t feeling good, but I was hopeful that at some point, I might find that bit of fluidity. Once we started to head back south around mile 8, I was in a bit of a better headspace even if my body was not cooperating. I high fived some kids and smiled and pointed at people who called my name out from my shirt. 


I hardly ever have acute issues while racing. Knocks on wood. Yes, it gets hard and I often want to slow down or stop, but rarely is it because of one body part. However, something seized up in my right hamstring while running this stretch. I had to forcefully shorten my stride briefly to alleviate the pain and it never bothered me afterwards, but was a super odd sensation. 


The shade was nice on the return back in this section and the crowd support was really strong. It got to be a bit overwhelming at times though and I was having a hard time tuning it all out even with my music to block some of the sensory overload. I was actually feeling my best when I was just staring at the ground, but then I started to have FOMO of seeing things on the course!


Once back to the river and at the halfway mark, the crowds were REALLY deep. I was very Jekyll & Hyde about feeling hyped up by the crowds and then wanting to just get away from the noise. Clearly this was because I was not having the race I thought I was capable of.




Luckily, I was feeling a little better on the W Adams stretch. It was still supported, but the road was a little wider, the stretch straighter, and it was easier to just put one foot in front of the other. I was counting down all the little things to look forward to. When I could take my next gel, when I could start to look for my coach’s brother, when there would be less than an hour to go, etc.



I think this is where Ben saw me, but I thought he would only be following Allison the whole time and definitely was not expecting to see him!


I thought I would be able to see my coach’s brother at mile 18.5 and so I started scanning the crowds rapidly just after the 18 mile marker sign. There were so many people that once I neared the mile 19 sign, I gave up the ghost thinking I was looking on the wrong side of the street. Well, turns out, I couldn’t remember the message correctly and he was at mile 19.5. Doh! He got a few pictures of me, but I was definitely not scanning by that point. I was bummed that I had missed him and was now heading into what I had been told was no man’s land.





It was definitely a little quieter for a few miles, but not like how I had imagined. And given that the noise was not working in my favor, I probably was a little relieved. There were people walking at this point so I was telling myself that at least I was still running! I couldn’t help but think that I REALLY wanted to walk and said to myself that I would allow it at the next water stop. But then I just forced a shuffle through the stops because I didn’t want to give up any more time.


I thought it was funny/mean that they put the photo op bridge towards the end of the race. I'm definitely faking that I was feeling good here!



Just before mile 23, the 3:20 group passed me and I hung on for about 2 minutes before they slowly faded into the distance. I really had not looked at my watch splits much except for the half split and then mile 20 because the GPS was so wrong. Once the 3:20 group passed, I realized that as long as I didn’t completely die at the end I would be somewhere in the low 3:20s which was still really good. Not the day I wanted, but funny how a year ago, I was excited by that time!



Shortly after the mile 25 sign, there was an official blow up sign that said 400m to go and I was like, um, WRONG. I knew that there was still 1.2 to go and if you think a plank makes time go by exorbitantly slow, I’m here to tell you that the last mile of a not-so-great marathon might actually bend the space-time continuum. Eventually, I saw the 800m mark and was like, okay, just get to the hill, get to the hill. 


I’ve seen “the hill” in video and heard about it, but let’s just say the hill was blissfully underwhelming and a welcome feeling on my legs after all the flat. Plus, once you crested the hill, the finish line was in full view!



There was no time to slide under at this point so I went to the far right and gave it an honest push to the end, but wasn’t worried about a few seconds here or there. 





3:20:53


It’s my 11th fastest marathon, my 25th BQ, and will allow me to run Boston 2024 which will be my 10th consecutive Boston. I have a few more marathons on my calendar that I could have gone for a 2024 BQ, but it felt nice to now have that solidified. Even with 25 BQs, it’s still never a guarantee! Marathons are hard! 







Monday, July 25, 2022

Eiger 101k...that was really a 66k

 PRE-RACE


In late 2019, Roger started putting the bug in my ear about Eiger. I entered the lottery and didn’t get a spot, but I kept it on the backburner for July 2020 because runners are able to transfer bibs. As we all know, July 2020 was a bust and so I re-entered the lottery for 2021. I got in, but then the race canceled the 101k distance. So when July 2022 rolled around, this race had been nearly 3 years in the making.


It had seemed like a dream for so long that I was pretty negligent about training for it as an A race. I was training as I always do, but my race-specific buildup was super short and I was going into it relying heavily on fitness and adrenaline rather than course knowledge and terrain specificity.


I flew overnight Wednesday and arrived in Zurich on Thursday morning. I slept for a few hours on the plane, but was definitely quite groggy throughout the day. We had lunch at a brewery in Bern along the river and then drove through Ruschegg, the town that my family is from on my father’s side (my maiden last name is Ruegsegger). 



From Ruschegg, we continued our drive to Grindelwald, passing the beautiful Lake Interlaken along the way. Once in Grindelwald, we checked into our hotel room and then eventually went to have an early dinner.



I wasn’t really even hungry, but had some cheese fondue and bread because, well, Switzerland. Back at the hotel, I was tired, but found it hard to fall asleep because it was so warm in our room. We opened the door and window, but there wasn’t much breeze so I just tried to rest until I fell asleep. 


The next morning, we had breakfast at the hotel and then went to pick up our bib numbers and do a little shopping at the expo. We grabbed some sandwiches for lunch and spent the afternoon trying to rest and get our gear ready. The race had a complimentary pasta dinner with non-alcoholic beer for runners and our hotel was at the finish line so it made sense for us to go with this option.



I found it hard to fall asleep again because it was so warm in the room. We had to leave the door open to cool it off, but the race announcers were playing music until 10pm. I put in earplugs and eventually dozed off for supposed just over 6 hours. 


THE RACE


I actually felt pretty good when I woke up so I clearly got some deep sleep. I drank a coffee drink I had bought at the grocery store the prior day and choked down a roll. With a 4am start, Roger had been up since probably 2am, but I made him let me sleep until at least 3am. We left right at 3:30am which was plenty of time to drop off my drop bag, turn on our locators, and stand around nervously with other runners. 



Roger wanted to go out more quickly than me so I fully intended to spend the entire day alone unless some poor soul who happened to speak English found themselves near me at some point. We lined up way closer to the front than I cared for so when the gun went off, I let the field whoosh by me as I found a groove further back in the pack. 


The first 3ish miles were on pavement and we slowly climbed towards the trailhead. Maybe I’m just used to being further back, but it was WEIRDLY quiet. I feel like there is always nervous chatter for the first few miles in trail races and I felt like aside from the footfalls and heavy breathing, I could have heard a pin drop. 


Once we neared the trailhead, everyone started pulling out their trekking poles and I followed suit, snapping them into place just as I reached the single track. I was happy with my placement in the conga line, pushing comfortably, but not too hard. I didn’t want to be holding up the line so I felt good about my choice in the field that I was consistently closing the gap, but not feeling the urge to pass. There were a few times that the trail spilled out onto a road and runners would reposition themselves at these points. I wasn’t really thinking too much about pace or time, just trying to stay comfortable and run my own race. 




The first aid station at the top of the first climb was at Gross Scheidegg (mile 5.2) and I topped off my water at this point. It was a little hectic and you just had to push your way into a spot to have your water refilled. Waiting your turn wasn’t really a thing unless you wanted to wait all day. The sun started to come up and I stopped a few times to snap some photos, knowing that a few extra minutes of photography were likely not going to make a difference in my race. 




I switched off my headlamp and threw it in my very full pack, glad to finally be able to see without it. At some point in this next section, I caught up with Roger. He was not feeling great, but was still moving okay and though he tried to push me on ahead multiple times throughout the day, we spent the rest of our race together. We saw his dad atop First on the east side and he looked so genuinely excited to see us that his joy easily rubbed off on me.


Once we arrived at the downhill portion, we passed a ski stop that had a real bathroom and Roger ducked inside. Luckily, he felt mucho better after that and we cruised our way to Bort (mile 10.8) in good spirits. The aid station at Bort was inside a barn. Which was kind of cool but then I dropped my bottle top on the ground amid the muck and it became less cool.   



As we climbed out from Bort, we slowly inched our way back up to First (mile 14.3). The sun was rising, but it was cool in the shadows of the mountains and I was really comfortable. I was trying to soak in the views of the alpine valleys as much as possible, grateful for that exact moment in time of being able to attempt this race. 




The climb up to First was really spectacular because we could see people all along the switchbacks of the trail as it was fully in sight. As the cliff walk came into view, I was geeking out about how spectacular of an experience this was. I was grinning ear-to-ear as I walked along the cliff walk towards the aid station. Roger’s dad was there again and we were all in good spirits as he cheered us on. 


Photo from TripAdvisor

I don’t recall the aid station at Feld (mile 18) which I suppose means that all systems were operating properly at that point. I was using my eat timer on my watch to try to consume something every 30 minutes and was pretty on top of it. At this point, I hadn’t peed yet, but wasn’t concerned as that is pretty typical for me in an ultra. 


I do remember the climb to Faulhorn (mile 21) though as it was another stunning look at the alpine valley. It was at a ridiculous grade though and we climbed over 1,000’ in one mile. The frontrunners of the 50k started passing us in this section, leaping up the mountain like goats. We talked to some other runners from time to time and I remember that in this section we talked to a guy named Sasha who I recognized had made a comment on the Eiger Facebook post the day prior. 


Atop Faulhorn, the highest point in the course, the views were just unreal. My mouth was alternating between a giant grin and my jaw dropping. It helped that it was a bluebird kind of day that made the scenery pop even more. The aid station was tucked in away from the winds, but was a tiny space. We sipped Coke, filled our water bottles, and then began our next section of rocky descent to Egg (mile 24). 





It was slow going for me coming down as the rock scree was not something I was used to and given that a slip was extremely dangerous, I was taking my time. Lots of people were along this section of trail as well, hiking in both directions. Most groups were kind enough to let the runners have the right of way, though it was often tricky in narrow sections. 



Once the trail flattened a bit and we got out of the scree section, we finally were able to do some running! The aid station Egg was just a spot in an alpine field with a very kind group of volunteers who were offering hydration in this section. We topped off again and then had a really enjoyable section of running towards Schwand (mile 28.6). It was heating up, but we were still high enough in altitude that it was not uncomfortable. And we were running along ridgelines that were breathtaking. We stopped to take photos, we chatted about anything and everything, and we were both just truly having a fun time. For a while, I kind of forgot that I had a bib pinned on my shorts. 








As we neared Schwand, the descent in elevation and the midday sun started to feel toasty. I realized that I hadn’t peed at all by this point and that was a bit concerning, but I was able to go a little at this aid station. I put more sunscreen on at this point and was grateful for the volunteer who had a hose to douse my head with cold water. We set off down the nice forest service road and thought it would be easy cruising to the midway point. Ha!


It was at this point that we found ourselves on what we later dubbed “The Frodo Trail”. It was some straight up bullshit. The descents were so steep that you often had to use your entire body to lower yourself. It was all single track full of roots, rocks, and deadly drop offs. There were many portions that had fixed ropes and sketchy bridges. I couldn’t imagine trying to do this trail while it was wet or in the dark. 


Once we finally came out onto a less terrifying trail, Roger was feeling defeated. He was wanting to just run it in from Burglauenen (mile 33) and take the 50k finish. I was actually feeling pretty good at this point and spent the next couple of miles telling him that he was doing great and to just take a little extra time at the aid station to sit and eat. 


Coming into Burglauenen was super fun because it was full of civilization! There were runners and crew everywhere. I filled up my bottles, grabbed some bee-laden watermelon, and asked for my drop bag. I repacked my bag and tossed a few things that I didn’t need. Luckily, my feet seemed to be great so no shoe change was needed. I was sitting on a bench just taking my time when Roger came over and said he was ready. I was startled by his change in demeanor, but was happy he was ready to get going again.



We walked across the street and over the train tracks to begin our ascent in the next section. It started out gently enough on a paved road and we were laughing and feeling good. Soon though, I found myself starting to feel wiped as we made our way to the summit of this section. Roger began gapping me and I was struggling to keep him in my sights at times. I felt completely beat up by the time we reached the top and I must’ve looked like it too because the volunteer stopped me and asked me some questions to make sure I was okay. I got some water and allowed myself to walk a bit even though it was completely runnable. Within a few minutes of walking, I finally felt okay again and so we ran into Wengen (mile 38.5).


My sports bra had rubbed my back nearly raw with chafe and despite me trying to rehab it with Squirrel’s Nut Butter, I needed something to come between the wet bra and my skin. I drank some Coke and ate some Pringles first and then asked the medical volunteers if they could tape my back. I could hear their collective shock as I pulled up my shirt for them to see it. After fumbling around a bit, they finally found a large bandage about the size of a greeting card and stuck it to my back. It still stung for a few minutes afterwards, but then it started to become far less painful.


As we started walking out of Wengen, Roger told me to take a salty bar. I knew I was likely feeling bad because I was starting to get tired of eating (weird, I know) so I took his advice. We rounded the corner towards the trailhead and he pointed to the top of the very large mountain in front of us and said, “oh my God, we are going up there”. It was just coincidental timing, but I immediately puked  And kept puking until all the Coke, Pringles, and salty bar were now lying in a field in Wengen.


Greaaaaaaat…….


I did actually feel a little better after puking for a short while. The initial climb wasn’t too steep and though we were going slowly, I was still moving. However, by the second mile, the steepness increased and I was trudging very, very slowly. I started to take breaks more frequently and longer, but was comforted that other runners were doing the same.



There was a group of volunteers about a mile from the top who were making sure that people were not in medical distress. I was likely very glassy-eyed at that point, but continued moving through, happy to see people who were not 40 miles into a mountain run. 



The last ascent just crushed me. I could see Roger pulling ahead and it wasn’t even like he was moving quickly. It was that my walking had been reduced to a shuffle, shuffle, stand. I knew that once I reached the top that in order to go on, I would need to sit for a while and make sure I ingested calories. And then keep them down.


There was one section that I came to that had a rock maybe about 3.5’ tall that I had to climb over and I just stood in front of it, staring. How the hell am I going to get over this thing? I eventually pulled myself over it, but was seriously contemplating just living next to that rock forever. 


As we came closer to the avalanche fences, I saw there were a few small sections that appeared flattish by comparison. I was hoping that I might be able to pick up the pace a bit when I wasn’t climbing. However, they were false flats and I was still trudging along just as slowly as the climbs. Roger was standing at the top of the climb watching me come up the last couple of minutes, encouraging me to keep coming.


In the next 30 minutes, we would both go from thinking that we wanted to continue to finding ourselves handing over our trackers. Apparently, Roger had alerted the medical team to come check me out as I was deathly pale. I knew I wanted to sit down and get some calories so I got a cup of broth and slurped on it from a bench. A medical volunteer came over and asked me some questions and while not exactly telling me that I needed to stop, was strongly urging me that I should not continue. He said that they could give me a bag of saline or two if I needed it as it was likely that I was extremely dehydrated. In 14 hours, I had peed only once. 


I was still very steadfast in my wanting to go on at this point. I knew it was going to be hard, but I was really wanting to finish. I’d been waiting 3 years and had spent the time and money to come to Switzerland just for this race. It was really hard to make rational decisions when the pull to keep going was so strong.



But at some point, Roger got really, really cold. And likely frustrated that I hadn’t made up my mind, nor had shown any signs of bouncing back to life soon. He told me that I could keep going, but that he was done and was giving them his tracker. I knew it was going to be extremely dangerous for me to continue. There was only about 3 hours left of daylight at this point and we still had about 5-6,000’ of climbing left to do over 21 more miles. I might have made the choice to continue if Roger was feeling great and wanted to keep going. But the thought of being out there by myself not feeling great seemed pretty dangerous. 


So I made the tough choice to call it a day.


POST-RACE


I asked the medical volunteer what I needed to do to check if I needed an IV. They took my blood pressure and it was 100/70 which is SUPER low for me. Despite all my running, my blood pressure is typically on the very high side of normal. They had me lie down on a cot and covered me with a wool blanket and began the process of giving me a liter of fluid. It took almost 30 minutes so Roger had gone inside the hotel at the top of the mountain to stay warm and get a coffee. I eventually had them give me my phone so I could text Adam that I was okay, but dropping. 



Supposedly the color began to return to my face a bit, but I got really cold once I was lying there for a while. My sports bra was wet (and not possible to take off with an IV in) and I realized about 15 minutes in that I still had the cold, wet Buff around my head (that I could take off). I was shivering and they gave me a heat sheet layer below the blanket and found a hot water bottle to put on my stomach. 


Once the bag was empty, I put on my jacket to try to keep warm and Roger and I made the ride on the gondola down.



We took the train back to the hotel and took hot showers before going to find food. My stomach was a bit on the queasy side, but I did manage to get down some soup and a few french fries. Apparently, I also was craving salt!


It was bittersweet to be in front of the finish line that night in the hotel. I was actually not too sad about my decision at the time so somehow we were laughing about our misfortune. It really was a spectacular day until it wasn’t and I truly was at peace that night that I had made the right decision.


Later in the week, I would feel a bit of sadness that I had not mitigated my mistakes earlier in the day. But I tried to not dwell in the “what was” as I had no power to change the past. The impetus for the trip was the race, but we still had quite the road trip itinerary across central Europe. 


Recap & a few fav pictures below mostly for my own memories, but also, recapping makes me realize we did a lot of living that week!









SUNDAY


  • Breakfast in Grindelwald

  • Espresso & croissant with a passport stamp in Vaduz, Liechtenstein

  • A ride on the autobahn

  • Lunch with lots of beers and an obstler at the brewery in Aying, Germany

  • Our weird and super warm canopy room

  • A solo sunset walk to Peiss from the hotel


MONDAY


  • Gas prices in Europe

  • A moving experience at Dachau and perfectly timed with accidental free parking

  • Sandwiches & a chocolate croissant in Munich

  • Shopping for cuckoo clocks, dress shirts, and wandering through outdoor markets in Munich

  • Photos in Marienplatz 

  • Dinner at Brunnwart with Fabio

  • Our suite upgrade 


TUESDAY


  • Early morning drive from Munich to Neuschwanstein Castle

  • The best selfie ever

  • Lunch in Garmisch

  • The sketchy toll road and a trip to the ATM

  • Must go back to Achensee

  • A trip to the Riedel store

  • A drink before dinner at the hotel

  • Risotto and wine at Ambiente

  • Dessert at the hotel


WEDNESDAY


  • The scary and beautiful road day

  • Breakfast at a fancy rest stop

  • Lunch in Andermatt at the train station 

  • An espresso at the lake on Grimselpass

  • A train ride next to Lake Interlaken

  • Ice cream snacks

  • Hail & thunderstorms up to the top of Rothorn

  • The candle at dinner

  • The best night’s sleep atop the mountain


THURSDAY


  • A failed Hardergrat - only 1k 

  • Went to fancy lunch in Thun instead

  • Came back into town for an Aperol Spritz and ferris wheel ride

  • Eating chocolates wandering the streets

  • A little bit of shopping and mocktails at Atelier

  • Fondue with the Beutler parents and Milo

  • Beers in the courtyard of the hotel

  • The glass bathroom


FRIDAY


  • Mr. Beutler driving us back to Zurich

  • A $65 pork chop?

  • The most expensive lunch ever

  • Wandering Bahnhofstrasse and window-shopping

  • Luxemburgerli and views of Lake Zurich

  • The Workout Room Suite

  • Free dunkels at the hotel bar

  • The last supper


SATURDAY


  • The last breakfast

  • The airport debacle

  • One final sparkling wine