I got ready after my whopping 10 minutes of actual sleep in the middle of an hour in the prone position. I got my shoes on switching to my Salomon Speedcross 4s from the Brooks Cascadia. Grabbed my super heavy pack and walked back to the aid station to “check out”. I headed out for the next section feeling pretty good plus it was light or roughly just past 7am.
I told Amber & Elena that I’d probably try to sleep at the Lewis River aid station and not to worry if I got behind a bit due to that rather than waiting it out til mile 140 and when I’d meet them again.
The forecast for the day called for showers. How just great! We’ve had 30+ days in the Pacific Northwest with NO RAIN at all and the weekend of the race it’s gonna rain. I was hoping that I’d get lucky and the rain would sweep by and miss me.
The first part of the next section was a total scramble. After some runnable parts it was just massive crawling over, around and under downed trees across the trail. Kudos to the organizers as we were told about this in the course briefing. The scrambling finished and there were lots of downhill which I tried to run easy on and then it started raining. I stopped and put on my rain jacket but the showers were intermittent so I decide just to take it off.
We hit some super steep short uphill sections where you’re basically just using your poles to make forward progress one step at a time. Little did I know this was again just a taste of what was to come. Overall the best part of this section was an actual sign stating 1 mile to go. What a relief and so helpful. I made my way to the aid station and sat down for a little rest. The clouds were looking worse but I figured I stay with just long sleeve shorts for the next section.
The next section was pretty awful from a runnable standpoint. We started out by just climbing and climbing. Luckily there was some longer switchbacks so it wasn’t too steep but just a long trek. The trail was pretty good though so I was hopeful that when it turned to go downhill for 4 or so miles I’d be able to run again. WRONG!! The trail immediately went to shit with just rocks and narrow parts along a ledge, etc. We finally got off the ridge and then it became just rutted and un-runnable. Finally, with probably 2 or miles to go it was runnable but I was so broken that I didn’t really have any mental energy to run. Plus it was never-ending so much so that another couple of runners had opened up the Gaia app to see how close we were to the actual aid station. We still had a mile to go even though we felt the aid station should’ve been right there.
The Gaia app allows you to in airplane mode on your phone look at the course that we downloaded into it so you really couldn’t get super lost for example. The lack of sleep plus being Day #2 was really wearing on me as I finally got to this aid station and then it started pour RAIN. UGH!
I hung out at the aid station hoping the rain would stop but no luck so I decided to leave with my rain jacket on…well it had rained enough that trail was becoming puddles which was soaking my shoes which decided to give me a big blister right on the bottom of my right foot. Oh joy!! I swear if it wasn’t for the rain that blister would’ve never happened.
This section had probably 3 or so super STEEP unrelenting climbs in it and it was getting dark. One climb prior to the aid station was so steep I couldn’t believe any normal trail user would ever take it and it went for a long time. I got over the top and started making my way down the other side of the hill. It seemed every steep up was almost always accompanied by a steep down in this section which is just not runnable really. The only good news was the rain had stopped so I was dry but my blister was killing me.
All these steep sections started contributing to a numb right foot because my shoes and the shoelaces were basically cutting off the circulation due to pitch of the trail. I got to Spencer Butte (halfway at basically 102.5 miles). Luckily at this aid station was a super awesome volunteer who knew how to deal with blisters. He taped my bottom foot blister with Leukotape and it felt WAY better. It still hurt but it was a ton better.
I didn’t hang out too long here just enough to refuel as it was getting late and I planned in my head to sleep at Lewis River Aid Station as I was starting to feel sketchy. Just basic tiredness where you’re not so alert and with the trail you need to be ALERT.
This section was okay but as usual it started to wear a bit at the end as we just kept going in circles around the river. The only benefit was the trail except for this super steep 2 mile downhill was quite good and normal. It was like a real hiking trail so I was able to run certain parts. Overall, I felt just TIRED when I finally arrived at the aid station.
My right foot was super tingly and basically felt like it was already asleep. I fueled and did all my nutrition then proceeded to the sleep tent. I tried to sleep but hadn’t planned for sleeping here so I didn’t have my earplugs and someone was in FULL chainsaw SNORE. Although I doubt quiet would’ve helped but I tried to sleep and this time didn’t even get 10 minutes. I did lay for a lot longer and ended up spending over 3 hours at this aid station resting.
Overall, I’m glad I did as it was 3:30am and this next section was the HARDEST for me on the entire course. I was able to have actual light when the super tough climbs with heinous trail started. I can’t even explain or describe how hard this trail was. It was so steep and didn’t even look like a trail at all. Along the steepness was some downed trees just for extra fun. Plus it just climbed and climbed.
This was also the section the lack of sleep was catching up. I was stumbling, hitting branches in the trail, etc as I went along. I just wasn’t crisp in my steps. I hit one branch on the trail that cut right through the mesh of my trail shoe and broke off inside my shoe. I immediately starting freaking out. My foot was already numb but I just prayed I hadn’t impaled my foot. With the branch and my swollen numb foot, it took a bit to get my shoe off. Plus if my foot was impaled I wanted to be careful. I got the half inch thick branch out of my shoe and my sock was totally fine. Phew big time CRISIS averted.
Every so often it would do a steep pitch down and then back up again. I kept thinking to myself how hard would’ve it have been just to cut the trail right along the side. I mean we’d flatten out for just a bit before it would turn and go down then back up. Plus it really was so steep I can’t believe it was a real “trail”. I’m not sure what it was.
I finally got to what seemed like a clearing and the trail went from goat to dirt bike rutted trail. Plus it started descending…I thought awesome I’m done climbing for a bit time to relax. WRONG!! After about 10 minutes of descending it went right back up and up. It was all on dirt bike trail now so a complete rutted mess. Almost harder than the goat trail because the footing was so awful. It was long this rutted section that I stepped on a rock which was just big enough that it basically popped my bottom foot blister under the tape. Boy did that hurt but again I was glad the tape was there as overall it was protected.
Finally I reached the top just as I was coming up on two other runners. I was amazed but I guess even though I felt I was barely moving on the uphills I was moving faster than most only to be did in mentally on the downhill and just the overall “hate” that I was building in my head for the course.
The downhill starts and it’s just a rutted mess and on top of that actual dirt bike riders come up on me at speed. Luckily you could hear them coming so I was able to hug a tree off the trail basically.
As usual the course hates me because just as I’m totally spent mentally the trail becomes somewhat runnable probably for last 2 or miles. I can’t get up any strength to do it and just continue my power hiking ways.
I come upon an intersection with a bunch of mountain bikers and they proceed to direct me off course. If I had more mental acuteness, I would’ve been fine but I was tired. I walked the wrong way for about a quarter of mile and didn’t see a marker so turned around and went the right way.
I stumbled into the aid station just a complete mess. You can see me here in this guys recap video: https://youtu.be/6SKDb3un6t0?t=12m53s
Now both feet were giving troubles with numbness. I immediately started shivering for some reason and felt cold even though the sun is just beating down. Now had I known the next section in more detail I would’ve left sooner as it was a real easy section. It had some scary uphills on rutted dirt bike trails with actual dirt bikers coming at us and requiring hugging the hillside of the trail but it had lots of dirt road sections that were runnable. Plus on top of that it was only 10 miles a total doable mental section. However, I stayed again at least 2 hours probably at this aid station. I would see almost all of the runners over the course this way as I always stayed extra long at each aid station.
It was just trying to mentally get prepared to suffer the next section. Sort of like building up courage to conquer the next section without just stopping in the middle, curling up on the side of trail and not moving.
I finally left with all my night/cold weather gear on as I was still shivering. About 30 minutes to hour into the next section, I finally warmed up and took off the cold weather gear. I swear the amount of time spent stopped on the side of trail doing pack stuff and such probably was easily a total of 3 hours time.
I felt totally wiped out mentally even with all the road sections at the end of this segment as I was so tired. I arrived to Chain of Lakes at mile 140 where I intended to meet Elena & Amber for the 2nd time and sleep. It was around 4pm on Day 3. Yep DAY 3. I had been up for 60 hours with only 10 minutes of sleep.
I told Amber and Elena that I was done if I couldn’t get any real sleep here. I had no dexterity and the way the trail/course was going I was sure to fall down the side of the mountain just because I wouldn’t be able to step correctly.
I sat and relaxed for about 90 minutes and then made my way to sleep tent. I was able to get an entire tent to myself since they were extra hot and everyone else sleeping was in a more open tent. I was cold so the extra warm tent was great. I asked Elena to run back to the car and get my foam pillow and sleeping bag for comfort.
Elena was an extra trooper throughout the whole thing because she made numerous trips back-n-forth to the car plus when I was sleeping she just hung out waiting for me at the aid station. Anyway, I actually fell asleep and when I woke up tried to rest a bit more before finally getting up. I slept roughly 2 hours and felt A LOT better. Not great mind you as Elena & Amber still needed to prod me to continue as I still wanted to quit.
Yep, the word quit was in my mind since the Lewis River Aid station but they gave me enough reason to try this next section which everyone at the aid station said was the hardest. It had 4 serious water crossings where one was up to your thighs and rope aided while another was a 20 yard river not deep but cold as can be. After the water crossings, you descend for a bit before making a super HARD climb to the top of some ridge and then another descent to the aid station for a total of 17 miles.
So I needed extra help leaving that aid station to try again…so much that I didn’t leave til around 10pm after being there for 6 or so hours…