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Bryce 100 Race Report

Bryce 100 Race ReportIn the months, weeks, and days leading up to Bryce 100, I kept having the same conversation:

Other person: So, what’s your next event? (or any question like this)
Me: The Bryce 100.
OP: Uhhh, what’s the Bryce 100?
Me: A hundred mile run around Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah.
OP: (total silence and shock)
OP: A hundred miles of running???  That’s crazy.  You know that right?  I mean, that’s completely insane.
Me: Yeah, oddly enough, I actually agree with you.  It is crazy.
OP: So, why are you doing it???
Me: I want to see the edge and look past it.  I might even jump off it to see what happens.
OP: (Running away…)

Ok, regardless of the actual conversation, I never said that last part.  The one about seeing the edge, looking past, and maybe jumping.  Mostly because these conversations generally happened very briefly and didn’t really permit any in depth discussion.  To have mentioned what I call the edge would simply have taken too much time.  Instead, I just said that I wanted a challenge or something along that line.  But, candidly, I did want to see the edge.  I did want to look over it and, well, see what I would see.

I am sure you are wondering, what is this strange “edge” I keep mentioning?  To me, it represents many things, but for Bryce 100, it was the chance to push myself to absolute limits, to see my own breaking points.  But also, to see how I would respond to them.  I wanted to find them, try to go past them, and see what would happen.

In today’s world and our society of safety, ease, and comfort, there are very few chances to push yourself to the brink of your abilities.  Most people live in some kind of comfortable life and either never want or are never able to test themselves to their fullest extent.  Bryce 100 represented a chance for me to seek out my limits, come face to face with them, and watch what would happen next.  Would I quit?  Would I fail?  Would I crumble?  I had no clue what would happen but I sure as hell wanted to find out.

Bryce 100 Race Report

Sunrise…

One hundred mile runs are like no other events.  I’ve heard stories of people hallucinating, getting so lost they have to be rescued, becoming so depleted they simply shut down, or just losing their minds to the point they have to be removed from the course.  Would those things happen to me?  Would I also see Bugs Bunny running with me (as happened to a buddy of mine)?  Would I just shut down?  I may be crazy but I wanted to know what would happen as well as how I respond to it.  I mean, seeing Bugs Bunny?!?!?  That’d be hilarious.  Ok, not really.  But, I still wanted to find the edge and look over!

Let’s start with a little background about this race.  I think by now you know it is 100 hundred miles.  That alone is ridiculous, but it also starts at 7,500 feet above sea level.  For someone who lives around 1,000 feet, that would mean way less oxygen than I typically get.  Also, there’s just a touch of elevation gain during the run.  And, by “a touch”, I mean nearly 20,000 total feet of gain.  Yikes.  Those two factors make the Bryce 100 a very difficult one hundred miles, like extra difficulty was necessary.

Bryce 100: Pre-Race

One of the greatest things about run-only events is the ease of all pre-race activities.  For Bryce, I literally drove up from Phoenix the day before the event, arriving around 5pm.  Upon arriving, I did a short prep-run, went to race check-in, and said hi to some friends.  Then, I retreated to my room to eat and get to sleep early.  I just love the simplicity and ease, especially compared to all the hassle of triathlons!

And now, onto the race…

Bryce 100 Race Report

(One small note, if you want to see all the pics from Bryce 100, you can click here.)

Bryce 100: Miles 0-18

My only goal for the Bryce 100 was to finish.  With a 36-hour cutoff, I felt somewhat confident that I could finish.  But, one hundred miles is still one hundred miles.  With that in mind, I had planned on being extremely conservative with my effort.  I’d walk any uphills, no matter how “up” the actual incline.  I’d only “run” when the topography practically required it.  Even then, my run was more of a super-duper easy jog.  I wanted to do everything in my power to stay as fresh and happy as long as possible.  I knew that if I was starting to suffer early, I’d be in trouble.

The first eighteen miles were actually pretty mellow.  I mostly walked and, while doing so, chatted with other athletes.  The communal aspect of ultra-running is pretty amazing.  Everyone seems so happy and excited to merely be there.  I just love it!

Aside from making new friends, not much happened of note.  I followed my nutrition plan, stayed as hydrated as possible, and enjoyed some sodium tablets.  Mmmm, so yummy.  Well, maybe not yummy, but definitely necessary.

My pacing goal was 18 minutes/mile.  This would equate to a 30-hour finish time.  Without any real frame of reference, I determined in the bliss of ignorance that I should be able to do this.  Through eighteen miles, I was correct as I arrived at mile 18 like a metronome at just over five hours.Bryce 100 Race Report

Bryce 100: Miles 18-27

This was the most difficult stretch of the race by far.  While only nine miles (and really, it was ten miles I later learned, to my extreme annoyance), it had huge and unrelenting climbs/descents.  Going to the aid station at 27, there were two massive climbs (some sections so steep I’d consider them fourth class climbing, meaning you had to use your hands) and one nasty, steep descent.  The remainder was comprised of slight up or downhill prairies.  Certainly very scenic running terrain, but also very draining and challenging.

My goal for this stretch was simply to reach Mile 27 still feeling “fresh”.  I know that sounds ridiculous, “You’ve just covered TWENTY SEVEN miles!  How can you possibly expect to still feel ‘fresh’??? Seriously, have you lost your mind?”  But, given my pace and perspective, I knew that while I wouldn’t actually be fresh, I would still feel fresh if I executed well.

I walked each ascent, with as much purpose as was prudent under the circumstances.  When going downhill, I would run but with as little effort as possible but never in such a manner to wreck my legs.  In short, I feel I did about as well as I could.

Cresting the last hill prior to the aid station, I knew I’d done well.  I felt pretty good and was definitely energized by the fact that (a) I’d covered more than one-quarter of my total distance and (b) I’d finished what appeared to be the most challenging section of the race.

One bit of comedy did greet me at the aid station though: seemingly the entire field!  When I reached the aid station, the first thing I noticed was many, many people sitting in chairs or on the ground and looking completely knackered!  Everyone just looked beaten and spent.  I couldn’t blame them as the prior ten miles were certainly not easy, but Come On People, you’ve got seventy three miles remaining!

After moving slowly through the aid station at Mile 18, this one seemed filled with bad, bad juju.  So, I quickly grabbed what I wanted for food, refilled both water bottles, and got the hell out of there.  There was just Slow and Tired energy everywhere and I wanted none of it!Bryce 100 Race Report

Bryce 100: Miles 27-40

Leaving the aid station, all the athletes were greeted with stunning views.  These thirteen miles were, more or less, wandering along the top of a massive ridge and the views were truly remarkable.  Each little view spot looked postcard worthy and I struggled to resist stopping at each one for a photo-op.

As rewarding as the views were, the terrain and course were forgiving.  This stretch contained the flattest section of miles over the entire course.  Don’t misunderstand, it wasn’t flat but it was actually runnable for the most part.  Keeping to my pacing strategy, I ran when I could and walked briskly the rest of the time.

As happy as I was with the scenery and the “easy” nature of the topography, I was becoming even more unhappy with my feet.  Now and then, I have what I think is called Morton’s Neuroma in my right foot.  My understanding is that it is basically a pinched nerve.  The sensation ranges from unpleasant to downright painful and, given the nature of what I was and where I was doing it, my right foot was much closer to painful.  I was doing my best to gut it out, as the sensation historically comes and goes but it seemed unfortunately rather constant this time.  Frankly, as I progressed, I was becoming more and more nervous about how it would feel to finish.  (Regardless of the discomfort, there was no doubt in my mind that I was finishing…)

As usual, a wonderful volunteer appeared seemingly out of nowhere and brought me some relief.  While sitting at the Mile 35 aid station, I volunteer came over and asked what I needed.  I replied: two new feet.  She said that didn’t seem possible but did offer some Aleve (or Advil or Heroin; I’m not really sure).  While I’ve never, ever used anything like that during a race, I felt like it was necessary as I didn’t see my feet improving without me stopping, which wasn’t going to happen.  So, down the gullet went two pills along with a silent hope that I wasn’t making a dreadful mistake!

Bryce 100 Race ReportFrom miles 35 to 40, the course meandered slowly downhill through a valley and my plan, prior to my feet engaging in open revolt, was to run this section.  I had no clue if that would be possible, but I figured what the hell and decided to try.  To my total shock, my feet actually were feeling better and running was a reality.  Happiness, joy, and surprise flowed through my blood as I blissfully (and slowly) jogged to the next aid station at Mile 40.

Bryce 100: Miles 40-45

Reaching the aid station, I had now reached my second checkpoint.  My plan was to “recover” from mile 27-40 as the course appeared to be comparatively mellow and this nicely enough, turned out to be true.  After Mile 40, however, was a different story as the course climbed for five straight miles and contained the steepest ascent of the day.  I knew that getting to the top of that climb would give me a big mental lift.  I also had the chance to chat with some friends I’d made along the way, which was very cool as, let’s face it, ultra-runners are some pretty amazing people.  Over the course of the entire race, I loved having the chance to hear other people’s stories about various ultras they’d done.  Listening to tales about pretty epic things is always good in my book!

Bryce 100 Race ReportEventually, the trail beckoned my return with its relentless siren song.  Like a trained dog, I responded to the call and found myself running again.

Most of these five miles were covered on forest roads and at a slight uphill.  The few single-track trail sections were through dense, verdant growth.  As a city dweller, any chance to run on forest trails is something I love and this was no different.

Watching both my time and distance, I knew I was still making “good” time.  (I saw “good” because 18 minute/mile is never something I would actually consider to be good.)  But, I also knew this section contained the highest point on the course at 9,500ish feet.  Monitoring my progress, I kept wondering if I’d read the map wrong or was misremembering it as I was getting closer and closer to Mile 45, yet wasn’t even close to 9,500 feet.  Jogging along a spectacularly scenic forest road, running right along a right line, I hit Mile 44 and concluded that I’d made some mistake.  If only that were true…  as my road, giving me these gorgeous, sweeping vistas literally ended at the top of a cliff and my eyes were simultaneously drawn to the view (which was flat-out incredible) and to this arrow, marking the direction of the trail (which was flat-out terrifyingly steep.)  Sigh…

I get it ok, I am not Spiderman.  As a kid, I read all the comics and so badly wanted to have spidey-like powers.  Being super strong, super fast, and basically as talented as your average ninja sounded pretty cool.  No dice though, wasn’t going to happen.  Until, however, this one mile.

Bryce 100 Race ReportMiles 44-45 were, I swear, up a wall.  I think I transformed into Peter Parker for a bit and, with my radioactive spider-derived powers, summited that beast of a mile.  I don’t even know how to describe how exhausting it was to reach the summit.  My 18 min/mile objective was temporarily abandoned, along with oxygen, energy, and happiness.  That mile was just one suffer-fest footstep after another.  With my lungs and legs burning, I mercifully (and very, very slowly) walked into the aid station at Mile 45.

Knowing I had five miles of descent, I ate more than normal.  Eating at the aid station and while walking the next section of miles, I made one peanut butter and honey sandwich, a full Coke, some donut bites, a couple of cookies, and a banana all disappear in about five minutes.  It was DE-licious, especially the Coke.  I don’t drink any soda, other than during a race but WOW does it taste incredible when the need is right!

Bryce 100: Miles 45-50

Five miles of descent.  Five miles to the halfway point.  Five miles to the turnaround.  These thoughts kept passing through my brain as I focused on getting the first 50 done.  I still felt pretty good, under the circumstances but was certainly feeling some fatigue.  Along with that, my feet were starting to hurt again combined with the realization that my sock choice was a big time No Bueno.  My little toes felt like they were being (a) pierced with flame-red knives while (b) tightened in tiny, little toe-sized vices during each step.  I know it seems like a Spa Day, but trust me, it was actually pretty unpleasant.

Bryce 100 Race ReportFocusing on maintaining a steady, while slow, effort, I progressed.  Mile 46 became 47, which eventually reached 48, 49, and wonderfully 50.  Getting to that turnaround was a pretty incredible feeling.  Partly because of how far I’d already traveled but also because I still felt very mentally fresh.  I knew my body was depleted to some extent, but I felt that I hadn’t even started reaching into my mental reserves.  Those supplies were still completely full and ready to be used, which I believed was a significant accomplishment.

My feet, however, were becoming more problematic.  My little pinched nerve issue was coming back and my little toes were just getting worse and worse.  Given that I reached Mile 50 shortly before 9:00pm, I knew it had been more than the minimum four hours since I’d last taken some Aleve so I enjoyed two more tablets and hoped they would have the same effect.

All feet aside, as elated as I was to be there, I have to admit to being extremely jealous of all the people “only” doing the 50 Miler.  They were done and could now go and celebrate their accomplishment, while I was about to run through night and day, covering the same miles I’d already traveled.  Much like the somber and slightly depressing aid station and Mile 27, I knew I had to get out of there.  Refueling and quickly donning my cold weather gear, I exited into the deepening night.

Remarkably, with almost a total ambivalence to pace and very little monitoring of my speed, I somehow managed to cover the first 50 miles in basically 15 hours!  My big goal was to finish in under 30 hours and somehow I was totally on target for that.

Bryce 100: Miles 50-65

Leaving that aid station was tough.  The sun was nearly set.  The naturally beauty of the surroundings would no longer distract me from my mounting exhaustion and discomfort.  Worst of all, my feet seemed to have developed some remarkable immunity to Aleve.  I don’t have a diverse and developed enough vocabulary to effectively describe how uncomfortable my little toes were.  I can only say the pain was extreme and nearly intolerable.

Bryce 100 Race ReportAs bad as my feet were, ascending to Mile 55 was amazingly simple.  Walking uphill relieved pressure on my toes, which significantly reduced the pain level.  This, no shocker here, was heavenly and greatly welcome, especially with the massive descent that faced me after Mile 55.

The other cool event was the depth of the darkness.  Normally, the total absence of lights around Bryce would render the darkness complete, but this night came with a near full moon.  This created a very surreal, almost unnatural illumination to everything.  I wouldn’t have dared try on any of the single-track trails, but during a few forest road sections, I turned off my headlamp and navigated by the grey stillness of moonlight, with the only other lights being the distant, bobbing headlamps of other runners.  In today’s ubiquitously connected world, these moments of total solitude and silence were magnificent.

Of course, my feet were still barking at me, so the silence wasn’t totally complete.

Bryce 100 Race Report Reaching the aid station at Mile 55, I reenacted a slightly smaller, yet still overindulgent, consumption display from my initial visit and continued on my way with great trepidation.  As beautiful and awe-inspiring as Miles 40-45 were in one direction, the pain and darkness made them equally awful in the other.  While I wasn’t overly tired or sore, the pain in my feet was mounting to the point that I knew I had to remove socks and shoes at the next aid station (Mile 60) to have a look.  Each step felt miserable and the few moments when I did try to run were, well, laughably short.  I wouldn’t last more than a few feet before arresting all movement and trying to find a way to pacify my feet.

With great happiness, I reached the forest road that I knew was but a short distance to the aid station and I began to plan how I’d eat, remove my socks/shoes, address my feet, and stay warm.  While this shouldn’t have been so complicated, to my “I have just covered 60 miles” mind, it was extremely challenging.

Thankfully, the aid station volunteers were incredible, as they seem to always be.  While I found a comfy chair by the bonfire, I was served eggs and pancakes by one volunteer while another, a true good soul, helped me remove my shoes and then socks.  They were absolute god-sends to me.

Getting my shoes off, wasn’t something I necessarily wanted to do.  But, it enabled me to rinse them with some cold, clean water.  That felt pretty damn good and I’d highly recommend it for those doing ultras.  Taking off your socks and shoes is great but pouring cold water over them is a whole new level of wonderful!

My toes, on the other hand, were messes.  Sixty miles of running does bad, bad things to people’s feet.  Some are worse than others but it is generally not good.  Comparing mine to the various (and nasty) photos I’d seen online, I actually felt lucky.  It was clear that my little toes were being crushed and I’d likely lose both toenails.  My big toes were slightly scrunched, but nothing concerning at the moment.  I also had a few places where the nails had rubbed the adjacent toes raw enough to draw blood, but again, nothing overly concerning at the moment.

PM Ridge at Mile 30After assessing both feet, I decided that the best thing I could do was protect the little toes from further injury.  Saving the toe nails was clearly not going to happen but I wanted to avoid serious injury.  So, I wrapped each toe in a few bandaids (again, THANK YOU volunteers!) and did so very, very loosely.  I was simply hoping to give them some protection and space in which to operate.

After finishing my middle-of-the-night breakfast, I put my shoes back on along with some new socks and departed.  Leaving that gloriously warm, pleasant, and beckoning bonfire was not easy… but I knew the terrain from Miles 60-65 should be relatively forgiving.  With a slight uphill and forest roads nearly the entire way, my feet were granted conditions as much to their liking as possible.  Thankfully, this resulted in a fairly pleasant and much less painful five miles of run-walking.  Sadly, my arrival at the Mile 65 aid station also meant the arrival of the second big mistake I made during the Bryce 100 (the other being my sock choice).

Bryce 100 Race ReportBryce 100: Mile 65-73

Ahhh nutrition.  Want to know the truth about endurance events???  They are really eating contests wrapped around exercising.  Sure, in an Ironman you are swimming, biking, and running.  I know, in a marathon (or ultra-marathon), you are running.  But, in reality, you are eating and hoping you don’t get sick while (fill-in-the-blank-exercise).  That’s the real trick.

Reaching the aid station, I actually felt ok.  Yes, my feet (and really my toes) were still incredibly painful but beyond that, I felt downright decent.  So what did I do?  I failed to adequately fuel and paid the price over the next eight miles (this being my second big mistake).  Not entirely sure why I just brain farted; could have been that it was 2:00am and I’d been moving and awake for twenty one straight hours, that I was incredibly fatigued, or just a mere oversight.  Regardless, always try to remember to fuel appropriately or be prepared to pay the nutrition piper!

While at the aid station, I warmed myself by the fire and yet another amazing volunteer made me some hot chicken broth with ramen noodles.  In case you don’t know, Chicken Broth + Ramen Noodles = Heaven.  After enjoying this delicacy, I said thank you and headed onward.

Bryce 100 Race ReportMuch like not being able to describe how much my feet were hurting, I’m not really sure how to describe what happened to me during these eight miles.  Whether it was the time of night (I covered these miles from 2am to 5am, more or less), lack of sugar/fuel, Will-o-Wisps in the darkness calling to me, or any combination thereof, I struggled.  Uphill, downhill, flats, none of it mattered.  I had transformed into an energy-less zombie, bent on doing nothing but slogging through the darkness.  The very few times I encountered other “runners” (none of us were actually running at this point), I couldn’t carry any conversation and, frankly, didn’t want to either.  (Thankfully, my zombie-like state didn’t come with any interest in consuming human flesh.  I wasn’t that undead!)

Slowly, yet surely, I did get through them.  It wasn’t fun; but I slowly, painfully, yet happily reached the aid station at Mile 73, about 20 minutes before sunrise.

Bryce 100: Miles 73-82

After feeling near dead during the prior eight miles and knowing the challenge that the next nine represented, I knew I needed fuel.  Entering the aid station, a volunteer immediately asked me if I wanted some coffee.  I think I stammered some affirmative response as she then asked, “What do you want in it?”  I knew they probably didn’t have Speed or Red Bull, so I said that I didn’t care, I only wanted it to taste good.  Plopping down in a chair, I watched her make my coffee.  I don’t know how she defied the laws of physics and got 86 cups of sugar into that regular coffee cup, but it certainly did taste great!

I also ate more pancakes and eggs.  Love is not a strong enough to describe how I feel about those wonderful volunteers.  I would never have finished without them.

Finally feeling alive again, I made to depart and realized the sun was just rising as I was leaving.  Along with the sugar, coffee, and food making its way into my blood stream, the sight of the rising sun lifted my spirits and energy.

I also found a strange mental dichotomy taking shape.  I knew I had 27 miles to the finish, but for some reason, I felt like I was nearing the end.  A completely ridiculous feeling, to be sure, but for some reason, getting back to that aid station seemed to enable me to ponder the finish for the first time.  I knew that if I could just survive to Mile 18 (the next aid station), I’d be past the worst sections the course had to offer.

With all that in my head, I began the treacherous trek to the next aid station.  With three massive descents and two massive ascents, I had no doubt it would be slow and difficult.  While I loved the increased ease that downhill travel brought, it absolutely tormented my feet.  The constant slamming and crushing with each step was close to unbearable.

My “I feel great!” outlook lasted through the first two downhills and one uphill.  After that, I was focused on enjoying the morning light and making progress.  I pretty much did anything I could to take my mind away from the pain in my feet.  Getting past Mile 80 was, unsurprisingly, pretty lifting though.  While 20 miles is still, well, 20 miles, I knew that 20 would eventually become 10 and from there only single digits awaited me.  That was a pretty sweet feeling.

Bryce 100 Race ReportAfter what seemed like hours upon hours of drudgery (Wait, what?  Oh, yeah, it actually WAS hours and hours of drudgery….), Mile 82 and yet another aid station staffed by angels appeared.  Nearly falling into a chair, I just felt beaten and destroyed.  All of my body felt pretty decent.  Except for my feet, which was a real bummer as I sorta needed those.  You know for walking or maybe even running.  Sigh, I really could have used a motorcycle.  But, as bad as I felt, another volunteer came to the rescue, with freshly made eggs and cheese burritos smothered in salsa.  I know, I know, it sounds awful but trust me, at that moment, it was pure love at first bite.  I was in a masticatory heaven and loving every second of it!

Finishing yet another breakfast, I set off towards my last aid station at Mile 90…

Bryce 100: Miles 82-90

With only one small climb, I was determined to make good time.  I was sick of my feet hurting.  I was sick of being hungry.  I was sick of being exhausted.  In short, I was just sick of everything.  The “I want to be DONE and I want to be done NOW” feeling started and just kept getting stronger and stronger.  While I was having fun, I wanted to be finished and I wanted that finish to happen as soon as possible.

So, I made a decision: I was shutting off the pain valve.

I knew my feet would continue to hurt but, I also knew that I wasn’t breaking my toes; they were just getting squished and forming some pretty gnarly blisters.  I could deal with that.  No bones were breaking.  Nothing really bad was happening; it was just soft tissue damage and I could deal with that.  From that point on, no matter how it felt, if the terrain permitted running (meaning, flat to slightly downhill), I made up my mind that I was running and running with a purpose.  If the trail was uphill, I was power walking every, single climb.  Pain and I were no longer on speaking terms and that decision was final!

(Now, in the air of candor here, I continued to feel my discomfort and knew I was probably making my toes more unhappy.  But, I really didn’t care.  I simply could not handle the thought of being on that course for more than ten hours.  No way, now how.  So, I just ignored whatever “pain” or, as I like to say, “discomfort” I was feeling and continued running.)

Bryce 100 Race ReportWith that plan, I crushed that section like I owned it!  Ok, not really but I did move with more urgency than I’d displayed in the prior 30ish miles.  Settling into a rhythm was actually pretty pleasant.  My Garmin had lost power many, many hours prior, so I have no clue about my actual pace (and I’m sure it wasn’t anything other than turtle-like), but I felt strong and consistent.  That’s probably as good as it was going to get for the remainder of the event and I was good with that.

As crazy as it sounds, sooner rather than later, Mile 90 and yet another phenomenal aid station rolled into view.  I didn’t stay long; just enough time to get some water, refill my bottles, enjoy a bean, rice, and cheese burrito (gross right?  WRONG, it was awesome.  When in Rome, my friends, when in Rome…), and quiz one of the volunteers about the last ten miles.  How long is each climb?  How many miles to the final summit?  How many miles to the campground road?  I wanted to know as much as possible so I could make as many mental tic marks as possible.

Once I had my questions answered, I was gone and only just minutes before noon on Sunday…

Bryce 100: Miles 90-100 – the Last Stretch

Leaving the aid station, I immediately faced a decently steep one mile climb.  This gave me a good chance to (a) practice power walking, (b) take some pressure of my toes, and (c) do a little math.  Knowing I had ten miles to the finish, I quickly realized that if I “dead man walking” walked all of them, I’d be on the course for another five hours!  That was terribly unappealing and totally unacceptable.  Given that I was now fully exposed to the midday sun and at altitude, avoiding that potential reality would hurt and take some serious focus.

I decided to try and maintain no worse than an 18 min/mile average.  Writing this Bryce 100 race report, that speed (can I even use the word speed right there???) seems laughably slow.  But, at Mile 90 and knowing the challenging and exposed terrain I’d face, 18 min/miles seems to be about the best I could perform.  With that in mind, I planned on power walking every single uphill, running with as much effort as I could muster on the flats, and trying to run as best as I could on the downhills (of which, there weren’t many).

After the initial one mile climb, the trail flattened for a few miles, which gave me a chance to fall into a nice running rhythm.  Of course, this beat the hell out of my feet but I simply kept the pain valve closed and focused on getting to the finish.  It was hot and I was just so done with running that discomfort didn’t matter.

Bryce 100 Race ReportGetting through the flat-ish section was awesome.  It got me a few miles closer to the finish, was flat, and relatively “easy” (nothing was easy at this stage though).  Beyond it, however, lay my last big, big climb: about three miles of exposed, nasty, and rugged trails that seemed to be near vertical and took me from the valley floor to the ridge line.  I knew this section would hurt and it didn’t disappoint.  My only relief was that I was going uphill and thus decreasing the pressure on my toes.  At least that brought me a little relief.

When I finally crested the last knoll, I knew I was close.  All that remained was (1) the ins-and-outs as the trail slowly meandered in and out of the various canyons on the ridge line and (2) the campground at the very end.  As the trail was mostly flat, I ran when I could.

Mentally though, these five or so miles were pretty tough.  Each “in” appeared to penetrate further than the prior one and, after the first few, I kept hoping that I’d be on the last one.  One after another after another, they came.  I lost count after eight little canyons.  I was out of water, the sun was void of pity, and I so badly wanted to be done.

After what seemed like an endless number of canyons, I rounded a bend and the “out” section of the trail headed up rather than out!  I knew this had to mean I’d soon be cresting the last climb and heading into the campground!  Reaching it, I couldn’t believe I was just a couple of miles to the finish…

Grabbing a quick drink of water from a Good Samaritan jug of wonderfully cold elixir, I turned left onto the dirt road that would lead me to the finish.  Running with all my effort, I emerged from the forested campgrounds, and could now see the finish.  Unlike every triathlon, there was no banner, no finish-line photographer, and just a few random spectators.  Giving my legs the last of my energy, I “sprinted” to the finish, crossed no line, and was done!!!  100 MILES!  Now, in addition to tons of pain and discomfort, I also was flooded with relief and happiness!

Bryce 100 Race ReportHeading into a finishing tent, I collapsed into a folding chair.  I gave my bib number to some volunteer, who marked my finishing time.  After a few minutes, I realized I had no clue what my time was… 32 hours and 53 minutes!  HOLY S###!!!  I just ran for nearly 33 hours.  I cannot express how happy I was to be done, not only because I was done running but more so because I finished my first (yes, I just said “first”) 100 miler.  Seven years ago, I couldn’t run a 5k without feeling like death was swooping down to claim my soul and now here I was finishing a 100 miles.  Amazing what consistency, time, and determination can do!

Looking back, I am extremely happy with my performance.  Not so much the time (although finishing those last ten miles in under three hours ranks as one of my biggest athletic accomplishments for sure!), but that I feel like I planned and executed well.  The only two changes I would make are (1) having coffee earlier and (2) trying out the socks prior to the actual event.  I know, I know, I totally broke the age old adage: Never do anything new on race day!  I certainly won’t make that mistake again…  🙂

Thanks for reading (assuming you made it this far) the longest race report I’ve ever written!  To be fair though, 100 miles is also the longest running event I’ve ever done!  I hope you had at least as much fun reading this as I did both running the event and writing this report.

Up next for me: Ironman Mont Tremblant!

Bryce 100 Race Report

Such a massive finishing reception!

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