I slept about 5 hours the night before Wasatch! When I woke up, I did the normal activities: ate oatmeal and eggs (thanks Q!), got dressed, got nervous, but this time, I also put on an ankle brace. In the car (well, behemoth vehicle), I took the brace off and put it on again. Fifteen minutes before the race, I took it off. The ankle will be fine, I thought.
I started in the middle with Erik and Mark and settled in to a nice and easy jog. Then, bam! The first climb of ~5,000 feet. I didn’t talk much because I’m a sea level gal and didn’t need to hurt myself yet. We got a beautiful sunrise over the Great Salt Lake, which was a nice reward for this climb. The even nicer reward at the top was the first view of what appeared to be endless mountains.
Now was my time to be Talkative Heather and made friends with everyone around. I told all the Latter Day Saints people that I went to the DC Temple last year and most emphasized that they aren’t practicing anymore. It’s not like I believe in anything either, so I get it.
I started running with this Texan, Kendall, and we were having a jolly old time on the trails (miles 15-20ish). I’d blaze through the Aid Stations and she’d then catch up and pass me until finally we were matching strides.
Then we took a downhill route and my watch beeped: “Off course”. Crap, luckily, it was only about ¼ of a mile, so we just hiked back up and I picked it up. The next downhill I was cruising until I wasn’t. Fall 1 of the day: easy fall, no injuries. On the next semi-flat dirt road Fall 2 happens! This time I go down pretty hard, hurt my arm, get a little bloody. I get up and walk a couple minute to make sure I’m fine. I am and I start jogging again and everyone was glad I was back. (People stopped both times to make sure I was okay. I am grateful for how nice every runner and volunteer was out there.)
Finally, I’m approaching mile 32 where I get to see Quatro, Barry, and Amy! I want Quatro to change my socks, Amy to make sure I was okay from the falls, and Barry to get me food and fill my bottles. I also get Barry as a pacer here until mile 69! I run off with a popsicle and a sandwich, BUT only two bottles filled. I get pissed off at Barry for not filling my bottle in the back and start to worry because it’s getting warm and we’re 9 miles from the next AS. Barry says to not conserve water and I can have his and I yell that it’s cheating for him to mule…I end up conserving a little, but I run out about a mile from the AS and it’s downhill, so it’s all good.
The next section is the worst was what I heard about five times leaving the mile 41 AS. It’s exposed and hot. It was warm, but I live in DC, so it wasn’t THAT bad. I’m not mad at Barry anymore, but he still says, “I want Happy Heather back.” “No.” It was a slog and I didn’t feel great, but we got to Lamb’s Canyon (mile 47) where Q and Amy were waiting! I sat down, asked for a hard boiled egg, and then I proceeded to throw up the same egg! I threw up for the first time in an ultra! “See, Barry! I told you I wasn’t mad at you anymore!”
Q fed me coke and a hot dog and Amy changed my socks. I sat for a little longer than normal, but with the whole puking thing, I wanted to make sure I was ready.
Barry and I left and started our climb in a beautiful aspen forest. Although, I started pulling away from Barry, so I say, “boy, bye” and drop him. I was back! Happy Heather was here to stay and I climbed that mountain and ran down that mountain and back up (making friends with mountain bikers) to the next AS where I finally needed my headlamp. I made sure I could leave my pacer behind and the AS captain said he didn’t care. Barry rolled into the AS, I gave him a high five, and I was off up the next mountain!
I wasn’t alone on this climb. This local, Shane, was running his 21st consecutive Wasatch after running Hardrock this summer. He’s a beast.
The next AS said I was in 4th and that 3rd was puking, so I was basically 3rd. I left and kept on running and passed the 3rd place woman, who was STILL puking and enjoyed the dark silence for awhile. I found Shane again and we went into Brighton together. I saw Ted (Lou’s crew and pacer) and was immediately bummed because I knew it meant Lou was not racing anymore. Huge bummer, but I ended up with three extra lovely friends at Brighton (Lou, Ted, and Chris) in addition to Q and Amy. Barry had called Q, so they knew he wasn’t with me anymore and that he was about an hour behind me.
Now I got to run with Amy! We started with the highest climb of the race and I was still eating my hashbrowns. I was a little tired, winded, etc. but Amy was relentless and it seemed like we were moving pretty well. If you need a pacer, I highly recommend Amy, especially overnight. She would say things like, I’m going to jog now and we’d jog. Not many people can get me to do it. It was a command, but not demanding?! She asked someone at an AS how far ahead 1-2 females were and they said about 30 min. Probably too much to make up, but who cares, we’re going to keep truckin’.
Scree time! Our last 20 or so miles was basically downhill. I fell on my butt (Fall 3), no biggie. I’d also make all these noises, “Whoa”, “Ooo”, “Crap” and Amy would respond with, “you’re okay.” I’d respond, “I’m okay” and we’d keep going downhill trying to find the best way down. This happened every other minute or so. Both feet on the sides, one foot in the ditch, both on top? I stumble down for Fall 4. This one hurt. Amy now asks, “ARE you okay?” “I THINK I’m okay?” She sprints uphill to me and I get up, walk it off, and keep going down. At mile 87, the AS says we are basically done with all the climbs and we leave. We’re on a dirt road and I have Fall 5! WTF, mate? How does one fall on this?! Amy tells me to take a 5 hour energy and I do. I feel fully awake now! WOO! Let’s do this.
Beautiful sunrise for the day. We see cars waiting at Top of the Wall where you can get additional pacers to the finish (mile 92) and I yell, “Good morning” to Quatro and Barry. Quatro joined us and we were off enjoying the views and runnable downhills. Quatro says I’m going to finish 2nd (turns out, I was in 2nd after Brighton), but now are we going to break 28 hours?! I said I wasn’t going to stress about that and just finish.
Q wasn’t used to the lack of markings, but they seemed extra sparse on this last stretch. We went through some fences with no idea left or right. Amy had the course on her phone (my watch was dead now) and kept us on track. The last few miles are on a nice gravel path next to the lake and we find the BYU CC team and Q jokes that we should keep up with them. I’m running the last 4 miles of a 100 miler, I’m doing just fine. I keep asking how much longer and Q responds in minutes and not miles.
We see the ¾ miles to the finish and we are cruising now. I cross the finish line (27:53!) and the race director asks something along the lines of, “Was everyone nice to you?” “Yes, everyone was super nice, volunteers, runners, everyone.”
Amy was my Soap B*tch (she brought me hand soap in the shower at least ten times). I ate some breakfast and start to feel dizzy, so I “trust fall” to the ground and lie there for awhile enjoying …