Monday, June 23, 2008

Ain't Nothin Wrong with the Bighorn, Part Deux

All the pictures can be found here.

The french is for the French Ultrarunning team that I leap frogged with all race. And to be honest, I don't think they really liked being passed by a woman, but I busted out my best french and finally figured out how to not have them consider me a dirty american (not that way). But eventually they passed me for good along with a good number of other folks that day, especially on the last 5 miles of dirt road at the end.

I love the Bighorn, it's all Wyoming, all the time. It was my first ultra in 2006 and my favorite wild and scenic trail outside of the Tetons. The race director, Melanie Powers, is not a runner herself but shares the enthusiasm and did a phenomenal job of re-routing our snowy course and getting all of us up to date. Her and her crew, along with Sports Stop Store in Sheriday were amazing.

I took an extra day off and left Jackson Wednesday caravaning with my friends, Kris and Julie, who I had married a couple of weeks ago. Julie was doing her first 100 and Kris, his first 50 miler. We stopped in Cody at Sierra Trading Post, the Wyoming Saks. Coffee at the Beta and then went through beautiful Shell Canyon and up and over Burgess Junction to come down into Dayton. Shell Canyon

Of course, we were staying with Lea and Marshall at the Foothills Campground right in Dayton and thankfully, right at the finish line. We set up camp, mine being a new tent someone has graciously given me and chilled. We were next to Dan and Pat Spurlock of Pocatello, who came with their son, Aaron to run. We caught up on things and enjoyed a nice quiet nite at the campground.

Thursday found us packing drop bags and wondering what we would need. The new course with it's extra loops and one out and back afforded us the chance to see Footbridge and Dry Fork Aid stations three times each so we only had to pack two bags. And the size of the bag was not brought up by race officials.

We checked in at the Sports Stop in Sheridan and met Kris's dad and stepmom for a meal. Being the health conscious runners we are, I opted for the chicken finger platter, Kris got about 2 lbs of nachos and Julie went with the hamburger. Got back to the campground and it had about tripled in size thanks to a troop of boy scouts from Colorado. Imagine the scene - 20 or so 13 year old kids and their dads (seemingly enjoying the trip more), no less than 7 vehicles all pulling trailers, canoes and other assorted crap. We stood there agape while Lea promised us that she threatened them with death if they were loud. And they were so quiet, helped by the delouge of rain and hail for the second nite. The worry was that the next night, if the skies decided to hail again, we would be in it, possibly on a ridgeline.

This being Julie's first 100, we had discussed reasons for a dnf. Last year, I read the running manual for the Cascade Crest and it made me want to run the race, just from the manual. But one thing struck me in my reading. It was a section for first time runners written by a woman named Melissa Berman, a 5 time CCC finisher and she writes

"Figure out ahead of time what would have to happen to make you quit and do not quit unless that thing happens. For some people it might be that they are not making some time/distance goal. For me it is I will keep going unless I injure something so badly that I am physically unable to proceed. And I finished with some very nasty blisters and I have spent 1.5 hours at an aid station (Kachess Lake) where my crew thought I was a goner, but I came back from the dead and finished. To finish CCC (and maybe any other 100 or any ultra for that matter) one must be determined to finish because inevitably something will happen out there and you will have to get past it or give up."

I don't know this woman but I think she pretty much hits it on the head. So with that quote, which I had taped to my drop bag on my first 100, we came up with a suitable list of things that be the reasons for Julie to drop. Please note that while Julie was allowed to negotiate some of these, the panel gave her no slack. Here they are:
1. Big Horn has rattlesnakes in the canyon, so Julie could drop if she was bitten by a rattlers BUT ONLY if she presented the rattler still attached to her jugular.
2. Lightning - In light of the recent weather, Julie could stop if she took a direct hit BUT ONLY if smoke was coming out of the bottom of her feet.
3. Hail - couldn't be ignore and Julie could stop BUT ONLY if she took a direct hit from a baseball size hail or larger and she had to present the hail. When the hail was Whopper candy size the nite before the race, we made her go out and see how it felt just have to gauge, she said it hurt.
3. Animal Attacks - Moose attack BUT ONLY if she presented a large hoof print on her cheek. Bear - no grizzlies at the Bighorn, so keep going.
4. Loss of Limb - BUT ONLY a leg and it had to be above the knee. From the elbow down, she had to continue even if it meant holding the severed appendage (with the handheld still attached) as she ran.

A lot of people were involved with that list (read it wasn't only me) and while some people might think it inappropriate, it cut the mood.

The race started at 11am Friday so we didn't have to get to bed too early and had plenty of time in the morning. The prerace meeting was standard, door prizes, excellent outfits and familiar faces. We didn't have to get dressed too early seeing we were right there and just had to make it to the starting line 2 miles up the canyon by 11, easy. The one good thing about a late start is I was able to get in about 1000 calories that morning, which is fairly easy for a piggy like me.

Kris drove us up to the start with another friend Katherine Dowson doing her first 100 (finished 2nd woman). I found a nice size leak in my Nathan bladder and Kris did some quick duct tape work on it before the start. Saw my friend Aaron from GT100 and caught up a little bit. We missed the prerace prayer that my friends wanted me to lead seeing as I was recently ordained but enjoyed the national anthem. Then we lined up in the back and started the race.

Julie and I were with some other ladies and we chatted and figured out where we knew each other from. Saw Olga from Oregon for the first and last time as she busted out a 3rd place finish. The first part of the race is a big climb up the canyon and it can be hot. I was lucky enough to run into Wendell, who I believe is the creator of the Bighron and he shared some great history on the area. It passed the time on the climb nicely. It's hard to imagine when you first start a 100 that you will be back in this very place in somewhere between 20-34 hours, definitely a different person. What person you are coming back as is the real mystery.

We climbed about 8.25 miles to the first aid station, Upper Sheep Creek. Julie felt slow but was doing well and the sun was in and out of the clouds. And we had just missed seeing a bear with her cubs by minutes I guess. Only a black bear, so no out for Julie. Our next section was beautiful from Freeze Out Point to Dryfork, one of our first main aid stations. Kris and his parents were there and crewed us beautifully. We hooked up some good energy named Debbie from Virginia. We hoped she would stay with us but she had a pacer coming in sometime. I don't do pacers; prefer to make my way with fellow runners. I will pace others, but have never had one myself.

We felt pretty well at Dryfork which is at mile 15.3 and headed out for a loop up Riley's Ridge via which was one of the course changes and something that usually only the 50k people do. But before we headed up Riley's we visited my favorite aid station, Cow Camp for some bacon. Anyone who knows me, knows my obsession with bacon. If you saw someone with a grey skirt and pink shirt with bacon shooting out of the front pockets of a Nathan pack, that was me. And it was high quality bacon, not that thin crap that falls apart, this was Wyoming bacon. I was a strict vegetarian for 14 years and when I drop off the vegetable truck back to meat, the first and only thing I wanted was bacon. It's still the thing I want everyday. and they had bacon for me.

The climb up Rileys is good climb - 2000 feet in about 3 miles and then goes along the ridgeline until it drops again into Dryfork. First time up was great, I love these climbs and was doing well with my eating and drinking. Julie caught up on the ridgeline and I was glad to see her. She's the descender and I am a climber so we usually meet in the middle. Down to Dryfork again and no crew this time, Kris was signing in for 50 miler the next day. We grabbed lights, dinner and weighed in for the first time. I had dropped 4 lbs and needed to drink more. Then we headed out for some nite running. With the later start than usual races, we had to put our headlamps at mile 29.6.

We headed back to Cow Camp (more bacon) and then headed to the remote Bear Camp where supplies come in on horseback. From Bear Camp, we headed into the Little Bighorn Canyon which is beautiful during the day but we would miss it in the nite. It was around 9:30 and at that difficult dusk time. I had avoided candy and cookies all day as well as caffeine until the nite, but two hard falls on slippery rocks and logs around that time that wrenched my back and hips reminded me that I should get something in me that would sharpen my focus. I took some just in time for the big descent down the Haul (or the Wall, I get them confused). I followed an agile runner down this section and made it quicker than I thought.

It was dark by the time we reached our second big aid station, Footbridge. The river was raging and sounded angry in the dark. When I think back to this section, I realized it was where things went a little south and probably the part of the race I would choose to forget. My feet were wet and had been most of the day. I could feel hot spots that aspired to be blisters and there were a lot of people going up and down the mountain because it was the turnaround. Before climbing, we had to do this out and back on a rugged jeep road and I felt like I was going to get mugged here, just creepy. After that 3 mile out and back we changed shoes and headed up to the turnaround.

I was a little confused at this point *surprise* and thought it was only 4 miles to the turnaround. I saw these really fast people coming down and I thought, wow, we are in good shape. But then realized it was 4 miles to the next aid station and then another 4 miles (which really turned out to be a demoralizing 5.3 miles) to the turnaround. I saw Katherine on the way up coming down and running with Bushwhacker, she looked good. Saw Aaron looking stellar and Tom H. from Bozeman. Good to see friends and share a few words of encouragement.

At this point, I was with Linda from California who achieved mini-fame in our mind when we found out she could pee standing up and another couple of folks that came in and out of the pack. We got to the Narrows aid station and they were fun, fueled by a good story from me that I had promised I would tell Julie at 3:00am (good motivator). Then we did the climb up to Leaky Mountain and the turnaround. And believe you me, that f-ing mountain leaked, all over my shoes and the blisters started to form. It was a slog up, during the nite probably when you want to do slogs but so tough. Made up to the turnaround, had some soup, espresso gel and headed down with my sore feet. Ran partways down and again found the difference between me and people who finish 10 hours before me, a lot of walking.

Made it back to Footbridge and past the halfway point mile 63.9 and another medical check. Due to my bacon afflication, I was now up 3 lbs over my official weight, nothing like gaining weight during an ultra. It's always nice to be past the halfway point and on the slide down but really, you feel like shit and can't imagine how you are going to get home. Thoughts aside, it was time to climb back out of Dry Fork Drainage back to Bear Camp. Up to this point, Julie had encouraged me to go and I had refused but suddenly thought of a good goal that she would appreciate so I took off. The sun was up and I passed a good many people on the climb.

The 50 milers started to bomb down as I was finishing the climb and I took a bit of energy from each of them. Matt Hart came down first, then two guys I didn't know, then Damian Stoy, then friends Eric Taft, Kris Quandt and some others. They all smelled shower fresh and looked really clean. They gave me energy to keep going to Bear Camp where I was still leapfrogging with the Frenchies. I passed them and continued back to Cow Camp and my last brush with bacon. I also took a look at my feet which I tried to fix at Footbridge but they were not looking good. Big blisters on both forefoots and spreading. A nice ER doctor or nurse try to deal with them with derma something and some mole skin but the skin is so saturated, it didn't stick. So I loaded up and headed for the big climb up Rileys for the last time. It was heating up but other than my feet, I felt pretty good.

I saw Laurie Andrews on the ridgeline as I was headed up. I threw on the ipod for the climb for motivation. I only use an ipod when there is no one around to talk to and this was a good situation for it. I got to Laurie and her pacer and found her really sick. Intense cramping, nausea and lack of food and water since the nite had taken it's toll on her. I unloaded my pack and gave them ginger, gel and my rain poncho for a sunshade and took their handheld to call back to their crew from the top. I pushed on and hiked with a relaxing man named Gort who helped me with the instructions I was given for what to tell the people on the other end of the handheld. I don't really get sleepy during ultras, just really ditsy. Finally got someone on the two way and figured that all out and made it to the top.

From there, my recollection of the trail and the actual trail were vastly different. I felt like I walked forever on that ridgeline waiting for the downhill to take me back to Dry Fork. It was approximately mile 79 at the top and my feet were in bad shape. At this point, I thought I would be off the ridge by 25 hours, but 26 hours creeped up and past and I didn't get down until 26:30. I had some 30 minute miles on that ridgeline and I knew if my feet got worse, I could miss the cutoff or worse yet, get pulled at the finish. One of the big blisters popped on the descent and I was kicking the other one trying to get it to go but I wasn't sure what the best thing to do.

Finally got back down to Dry Fork and Kris's parents were a soothing presence. At the aid station, I had an old lady shake (generic ensure, no fiber) and then saw the beer. I had half a cup of beer along with the old lady shake and the combo made me throw up a little bit in my mouth. I was hurrying worried about the 34 hours cutoff. My feet were hamburger and I decided we weren't looking at them anymore. 18 miles to the finish, that was what was ahead of me on feet that really didn't want to work anymore. My heels had been in acute pain for at least 50 miles but it was the blisters that almost brought me to my knees. I thought of Julie behind with her blisters and kept going. Also, the frenchies were ahead of me as they had passed me on the ridgeline during my crybaby period.

This is where you realize that a 100 is at least three times as hard as a 50. I used every distraction trick I could think of, I thought of my family and friends and their love, I thought of the good energy of Sweatpants and Steve and my friend Cole, I sang and there was some more crying. And then I ran into a guy from Bozeman I remembered named Herbert. I met him at Targhee couple of years ago when he was running the 100 and me the 50. He said three things to me and I repeated those three things for at least 10 miles like a mantra:

I know you are hurting
The hard part is over
Now enjoy it.

I think acknowledging my pain was the greatest thing he could have done for me. It freed the brain lock that was only focusing on the pain and discomfort in every step. And while it didn't take it away, it helped. The frenchies passed me for the last time on a climb and this is where we made our euro/us connection and all I had to do was defer to them which is fine when your feeling kinda crappy and defeated. We discussed Mount Blanc (dream race), "very difficult" they kept saying and I asked them if they liked this course and they just shrugged (euro for not really). Then they went on. About 8 miles from the end, I ran into a guy that had some ankle issues so we limped and bitched to the Tongue River Trailhead. We didn't bother with names, we didn't really care. We shared few words but the company was better than our own minds. I got to the road and knew it was 5 miles to the finish. They sprayed us down, put ice in our bottles and pushed us out. This section sucked, I knew it did, it always does and I was living for the last aid station, which has popsicles, lots of love and sometimes wine. The nice lady there gave me a grape popsicle, some coke and then she filled my handheld with ice and coke.

At this point, I was moving at about 25 minute miles and people were passing me a lot. I couldn't even acknowledge them and that's a rarity for me on the trail. The road went on and on, I kept looking for the bridge signaling the end of the road section. I couldn't walk because that rubbed the blisters more, I couldn't run because that just wasn't an option so I had that bad old lady ultrashuffle that really feels like you are going backwards. I tried to practice a smile but they weren't coming. I wanted the end real bad. Finally, finally I see the nice traffic girls who held traffic for me as I sorely crossed, then short sidewalk to the park and a gravel track. I heard the bagpipes, heard my friend Jenn who did the 50k cheering for me and ran to the finish banner. I will attach pictures that Kris took at the finish because I think it speaks volumes.

I tried to soak in the river but couldn't stand up. Kris and Julie were there and laid me down, took off my shoes and immediately took pictures of my gross feet like any good friend would do. I laid on the riverbank and convulsed for a bit under a blanket. I couldn't really talk or form real sentences for a while. This behaviour worried Julie, who stopped at mile 75 with her blisters but Kris had scene worst carnage than me. I wondered how I was going to get back to my tent because the 200 yard walk seemed impossible. I ate two bites of hamburger and managed to get down some recoverite and shook for a while.

Became human again and talked to Ty Draney who pulled out a phenomenal sub 20 performance for third overall. All my 50 mile friends did so well. Scott Griffith from Afton was 7th in 9:18, Eric Taft was 8th in 9:24 and Kris, in his first 50 was 13th in 9:49, Kim Taft in 10:50 as the 7th woman. And my friend Jenn Staph, who trained so hard for this and cried probably as much as I did on the trail finished proudly in 14:46 and is probably still wearing her finishers shirt. Results are here

I did make it back to the campground aided by my friends. I drank a beer and ate little. Remembered to call my worried parents and sister to let them know I was okay. I didn't sleep well or at all that nite, mostly just twitched. My feet were bad but not as bad as I thought but walking was defintely an issue, the blisters about the size of half a credit card. I peed outside the tent that nite and maybe a little inside too.

We woke and broke down camp and headed into Sheridan for the pancake breakfast, yum. I asked for extra pork products and we sat with the Oregon folks. I went to check the times and heard my name called. I was third in my age group and got this kickass rock with the race info burned in it. My time was no third place time but lucky me, I am still in the 30-39 age group and have one more year before I am throw in with the lions of 40-49. These women are truly mortifying to me. They have absolutely no limit on their threshold for pain. They have had multiple children and probably tied off the umbilical cords with their teeth. terrifying. But I was pysched to have an award, the buckles were sick - skateboarder style with wood and of course, the finishing jers. I have to say the Bighorn is up there for swag, top 5 at least.

So I filled my belly and we headed for some coffee. Ran into Marie and Kevin some folks we had run with during the nite and they had both finished. Kris and Julie were headed for some more camping but I had to get home. I wasn't going to make the kennel hours to pick up Scoobie but I had to work Monday. I got to the top of Burgess Junction and was hit with exhaustion so extreme I almost drove off the road. So I pulled off on a beautiful camping road and took an hour nap with the bird quietly chirping. Felt much better after and drove on. I only got tired again in Yellowstone but was only an hour and a half from home so I toughed it out. I saw a beautiful grizzly male on the side of the road digging for grub, so gorgeous and also got within three feet of a buffalo who wanted to go down the yellow line and more power to him. I love buffalo with their leg warmer fur around their ankles and their enormous heads.

Finally back through the Tetons and I went the inner park road to enjoy the view. It was that perfect time of the evening when the light is right and it feels like both the animals and the humans are settling down for the nite. Got home around 8:30 and dragged everything inside where it still sits. Made some mac and cheese with tuna for dinner and went to bed.

My feet are healing, I walked with my friend today with the dogs and my legs feel great. I iced the stovepipes in the creek twice and that felt good but the swelling up again and I need to put them up. I think recovery will be easier than my last 100 which was almost 4 hours faster because my legs feel relatively fresh. And that's good because I have Devils Backbone in 3 weeks in Bozeman. This race is so amazing, run by Tom and Liz McGoff-Hayes and there are still spots open in the relay of 25 miles each. Here's the website.

Good luck to my friends running Western States this week, not jealous of you at all. Keep cool in the canyons and run the last part (that's just what I hear). Steve, I will be thinking of you hammering it out with Olga, do what she tells you.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Shafer Butte

My life this second is narrowed to Steve's shoes, they were brand new this morning, Asics - white with red stripes, maybe Gel Eagles, maybe something else, but now are looking dusty and old. I know he will be pleased with that, no one wants their shoes to look new. My hat is pulled down low to block the sun as my sunglasses sit on Steve and Marni's bookcase where I forgot them this morning. Having blindingly white skin, blue eyes and freckles, sunglasses are a necessity but they aren't here so I forget about them. My whole focus is staring at Steve's ankles. And I am close to his ankles because we are all bent over climbing this hill, like ants. I notice he's wearing Smartwool socks, olive green with a hole on the left inside ankle bone and I wonder if that happened in the wash or whether he painfully hits his ankles together sometimes like I do and it wore a hole in it. I guess he could have caught them on something too. I think he shaves his legs too.

We crest a break in the hill, more to come but we all stand straight for a few steps. Ben, possibly the youngest person there this morning proudly claims that we have 48 miles to go having only gone 4. I want to throttle him and it's only 6am. We are on the side loop that we are going to do on the way out only. RD Frank said, "just take trail 4 to lower side of trail 6, it's real easy". Real easy consists of a couple of unmarked turns and this heinous hill. Debbie asks Steve if this is the worst the climbing will be, which I think is a really bad question, especially 4 miles into a race. But he allays my fears by saying yes, besides getting back up Mores Mountain and Shafer Butte, this is the hardest climb. Sweet side trail.

When Steve and I ran into each other at Desert Rats in Fruita in April, he told me about this race, Shafer Butte in Boise. Laid back race put on by an old school ultrarunner, Frank Hanson whose knees were shot but could still put out some pain for others. 52 (give or take) miles, 10,000 feet climbing with minimal aid,no medical help, no course markings, no entry fee, self timed, no published results, no photos, no proof, sounded perfect to me. For a second, I thought doing a 52 miler with that much climbing less than 2 weeks before a 100 that I was minimally trained for could signal trouble. But then I remembered that I don't live and train for any one race, my eggs are spread out in so many baskets, I'm kinda a bunny slut. I'll have a good time this weekend, meet some Boise runners and do a funner run than I would here in Jackson, so I accepted his invitation to stay with him and his family. And Sweatpants would be there too.

Sweatpants is an icon, in my opinion. He ran the entire Bear 100 in grey Hanes sweatpants and held (no handhelds) two gatorade bottles that he probably bought at the Preston gas station on his way over. When he got hot, he pulled one leg (just one) of the sweatpants up. Hand helds and shorts are for ninnies, Sweatpants rocks it old school. He's also a damn good runner, eternally positive with lots of good stories and commentary for the trail. Steve and Sweatpants do a lot of races together. Simpatico in their running style, I felt like I was being let into the inner sanctum of great duos, like the Lenny and Squiggy of the running world.

So I get there Friday in time to drive over with the guys to the pre-race meeting. This meeting mostly consisted of dropping off your goods to the race director, namely beer and water. I like a race where the runners provide the water, make sense to me. Frank said about 10 times how easy the course was to follow but I later learned that the only time Steve had gotten lost during the race was when he was with Frank. I knew that I needed to stay with Steve and Sweatpants tomorrow because I have crappy orienteering skills. There was no prerace crap talk about who had done what, how fast and when. I couldn't tell last years winners from this years newbies, very low on the ego meter, another good sign for a good day. Marni, Steve's wonderful wife, made us a great prerace dinner of spaghetti and meat sauce and we went to bed.

Got up around 3:45am for the 5am start, had coffee, cereal (Apple Jacks, love people who have kids), some power bar and hit it to pick up Sweatpants. We dropped off more water and our drop bags at the start. Frank said that the drop bags to be put at the top of Bogus wouldn't be watched the whole time so if you had a "family heirloom drop bag", this would not be the time to use it. We all had the same white garbage bag and the bags were fairly communal during the day. I pretty much rifled through the bags looking for better snacks than mine.

We started the race and it seemed like a record turnout this year, about 17. I was running with a woman named Debbie that I had spoken to the night before. This was one of her longest races and she was nervous but excited. She didn't know the course and I remembered what Frank had said, to stick with someone who does so I told her I had no idea of where I was going. I had a map and some bad directions but I was pretty sure, if left to my own devices, I was going to get lost. Steve and Sweatpants were up ahead but within sight. There were about 4-5 women in the race, all nice and unassuming, which meant fast.

So we are all kind of bunch together and Debbie asked me what my hobbies were and I thought, do people still have hobbies? I stammered for a bit and then said "I read a lot", which isn't a lie, I just didn't say that it was sometimes Star Magazine. What was I supposed to say? I love to watch tv, read ultrarunning magazine and eat more food than my stomach allows sometimes. They were going to find out I was a geek at sometime, but let's make it later. I quickly changed the subject.

Steve and I had started together around mile 4 and he was giving me lay of the land on the way up, which was pretty much a good, mellow climb up to Bogus Basin, the local ski hill. The paved road goes 16 miles up but there are trails the whole way up as well. I was so impressed with Boise trail system; the greenbelt has 125 miles of trails (Jackson, wake up!!). We were on mostly single track, some jeep trail and a few gravel roads. We wound our way to the first aid station mile 9 and Jack, the man with friendiest face you have ever seen greeted us. I was eating and drinking fine, thinking I was going a little faster than I would if i was alone but felt good. The scenery was beautiful, terraced green hills filled with balsam root and lupine in bloom. We wouldn't see him for another 35 miles so we said goodbye.

From there, we were on a dirt road that went by some summer cabins, quaint and sketchy at the same time. We also ran into Leon, the local running nerd. He's mostly a road runner, evidenced by the dink shorts and ever present breathe right strip. But he comes out for these things and has been around for a while posting some fast marathon times and loving the ultracentric races now. Ben, his mini protege, talked about these races, mile loops done over and over. Sounded like torture to me. I did enjoyed listening to the stories Steve and Leon told of old Shafer Butte races going back years. Leon had cut the extra 4/6 loop and was going to turn around once he hit snow (road runner) but he helped pass the time.

So the four of us made our way to the second aid station and drop bag site at the top of the ski hill and mile 19. It was a steady climb up but still felt good and was eating and drinking well. We did have the added benefit of a very cool Boise day. Steve was hoping for some Western States heat training and he wasn't getting it. I was bummed that I didn't have gloves because it was cold and windy when we got to the top. We changed out some things and filled up our bottles and bladders. Frank told us that they couldn't get to the turnaround because of snow so we were on our own for 14 miles until we got back here. We left the aid station and headed towards some downhill, straight downhill because the snow was blocking the road so it would be a straight shot down the bowl. We ran into Sweatpants going the other way, he and Teresa had thought they were going the wrong way and turned around. They were going the right way but Teresa was done for the day, a recent injury flaring up. She headed back down and we traded Leon for Sweatpants and headed for the turnaround.

We were now 5, Ben, Sweatpants, myself, Lynnete and Steve. We headed straight down the snow filled backside of Shafer and I got conservative real fast which means I wasn't sliding but walking and sidestepping. Steve was gone, sliding his way down, Sweatpants on his heels. They waited for us at the bottom and we had a 2 mile interpretative trail loop to do both on the out and the back. It was a nice trail, fairly good climb and beautiful views now that we were up high and on the backside of Shafer.

We went up Mores Mountain, down the back and hit the turnaround, 6 1/2 hours with most of the climbing done. We started back up and noted that we hadn't seen Lynnette at the turnaround. On the way over to Mores, we saw the leaders and a couple of other runner. I saw Trevor from Victor and we shared a quick hi. But no Lynette, Sweatpants called her name in case she went the 07 route which included an additional mile on the road because of some other shortcut. We started back up and saw Debbie and Dane who were together and looking good. On the way back up Mores, Sweatpants told us a good story about his second HURT where he took some "magic powder" recommended by a weightlifter co-worker of his. He said he came to somewhere on the second lap covered in his own vomit being slapped by someone but did manage to finish the 100k that year. It made me laugh and we shared some corn nuts.

We had to now climb up the snow bowl back to the top of the ski hill and we all took our own routes and time. Sweatpants had shoes with baloney slices on the bottom because he was slipping and sliding all day like Scoobie on a soapy floor. I chose to stay far right of him in case he came down so he wouldn't take me with him. He did manage to break through the snow to the water running underneath, bummer but no complaints from him. We made it back to the top, grabbed some food, got some race reports from Frank, who's in first (Craig Thornley) and who dropped.

We start to head down running and the first 4 miles goes quickly. There's a climb in the middle of this section and I am glad because my achilles is started to ache from the hand over hand climb out of the bowl, bad sign. I try not to mental discuss this with myself because it won't be a good conversation. At this time, I am with Ben only, who I have dubbed Napolean Dynamite because when I close my eyes and he talks, it's like I am in the movie. And he says the same kinda stuff as Napolean would, num chuk, things falling out of the sky that you just have to ignore. He tells me he's in the Marines, which surprises me, but Steve later explains that he's the Marine band which makes much more sense. So Ben is no help with my Achilles but some downhill, then uphill, then stretching while peeing seems to be a help and we continue on.

We are now all together and make it back to Jack and his smiling face. Cliff's dad offers to take what we don't want to carry for the last 8 1/2 miles down and we gladly give him everything but our handhelds. We were moving well before, always glad for the walking break but running all the downhills and flats but now we take off knowing we are in the homestretch. We run the last 8+ miles, walking the few hills in 90 minutes. We are on the spine of the ridge leading us out of the foothills and down to town and it is beautiful. We pass kind and polite mountain bikers and I am loving Boise running. It's the three of us now, Ben has gone ahead after phoning his parents to come pick him up at the finish. He said he would get our picture at the end which pissed the guys off. We were running (end of race) fast having found that rhythm of running with others when the conversations are done, the friendships are set and its just about finishing up.

We see the road that will take us to less than a mile. I notice houses I didn't see in the dark on the way out and lots of flowers that went unnoticed this morning. I am hurting at this point but who cares, almost done. We hit the road and Steve and Sweatpants are ahead and I am running in between them. They are blocking the wind for me and I am getting pulled along by them and I couldn't like them anymore for it. I am dying now but still running and we are all ready for it to be over. We see some people ahead and say that it's Sweatpants fan club and sure enough, they cheer for him as we make the final turn to the tree. You have to touch the tree (Ben humped it) to finish. Frank is there so he has the official time which is charitable by 3 minutes, 11:28 fastest 50 I have ever done. It was slow in comparison to prior Shafer Buttes for Steve and Sweatpants but still a great day in the mountains.

I have my regular post race recovery drink, beer and we chat with others who had finished before us (almost everyone). Marni is there to meet us with Jed, Steve's 21 month old twin. We say goodbye to everyone, hit the Boise River for an ice bath and drop Sweatpants off at home and head to Steve's. I take a shower, we eat pizza and then brownies with ice cream and go to bed at 8:30, a perfect day.

Sunday morning, wake up, have some coffee and I need to hit the road for the 6 hour drive back to Jackson. I have to pick up the canine from the kennel before 5 so I say goodbye to the Boyengers and head home. It's a beautiful day and I enjoy the drive. My legs are a bit tired and my feet ache, but not terribly so. I will now put the recovery phase into play which will include some trips to the accupuncturist and maybe a massage, lots of protein, minimal running and lots of down time. Some runners hate the taper, not me, I'm lazy by nature and it's more time for tv.