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The BEST way to run 100 miles! {Lean Horse 100-mile relay}

What an incredible weekend!!!!

It all started in January when Ann (a running friend I met when living in Green Bay) announced she was going to be doing her first 100-miler. I inquired where and when and all and she told me to come along to which I said— NO WAY was I running a 100 this year! But Ann assured me there were plenty of *other options* and so I looked into it. I mean, who doesn’t want to be there when their friend runs 100 miles for the first time??? Not me!

I found an option that seemed doable – the 100 mile relay and I liked the fact that there was a 2-person division. That way I could get in a “fun 50”, right? I asked my friend, Todd, who said HECK YEA! and we were on!

So, fast forward to this weekend. I had trained loosely to run a 50, plus added in some overnight training (we were CERTAIN we would be running well into the next morning), along with some runs where we rested in-between. Believe it or not, the hard part about this was running, resting, then running AGAIN (6 times!). Not to mention the task of finding 6+ running outfits that match and don't chafe. Oh! The logistics you just don't think about when signing up for a race.
Arriving in the Black Hills!
The first thing Ross went for - the saloon!
Secret mojo for the following day - unicorn poop cookies - courtesy of Ann's crew.
 The rules for this relay included that we could divy it up however we wanted. So Todd and I decided to go about every 2 aid stations/8-12 miles at a time. When we did this our run looked like this.

 Seeing that, we then opted to break the long climb up into 3 parts instead of 2. Believe it or not, I was willing to run the 12 continuous miles uphill, but he insisted, so we broke it up -- good for me, not-so-good for him, but again HIS IDEA...

We started off the day, bright (or rather dark) and early at 4 am. It was raining HARD when I woke up… oh no! But, by the time we were out of the hotel (5 am) it had stopped. Phew! Rain was forecasted on and off all day, so here’s hoping…

Got to the track to find Ann and crew + Todd and Torri (Todd’s daughter who would be crewing along with Ross).
Me and Anne
Team Pizza Pounders (we ate a lot of pizza on our training runs)
Ready to run - let's have some fun!
And after a few picts – off we/I went.
 The run was a 50 mile out-and-back along the George S. Michelson trail (even though I kept referring to it as the Phil Michelson trail). It was a nicely graded trail but, for the love of God, you would think that there would be SOME flat along it somewhere. Nope.

My first leg was a lot of up, up, up. No biggie, right? The trail was beautiful with load of clouds and fog, which actually made it quite eery. Evidently, about mile 5 I ran right by Crazy Horse Monument, but he, too, was covered with fog so I didn’t get to see him. I tried to stop and take picts with my camera, but my camera quality was not so good, so I stopped doing even that about halfway through that leg… geesh! Good thing I had Ross to take picts of the run.
Ordinarily, it would have looked something like this...
But today, it looked like this...
My first leg was about 6 miles up and then 4 down. Yay, down! (I was saying this now, but would not be saying so later.) Got to the end of my first leg to see everyone waiting for me and I was happy!

I saw Ann’s crew, too, and waited for Ann to come through (the only time would see her all day). 
Ann at mile 10 -- Aid Station #2. She looked great with her new friend, Norm.

 At this point, we were both feeling good and Todd had an awesome first leg/10 miles!
Todd at mile 20'ish - end of his first leg!
Even though the weather has horrible forecast for the day - everything turned out to be BEAUTIFUL! I only got sprinkled on 3 times and 2 of the 3 times it was actually a nice little shower!

Along the way, there were plenty of cool things -- especially the tunnels and bridges we got to experience:
Old steam engine tunnel
Cool bridge
Scenery along the way -- it was just gorgeous!
30 miles in -- Aid Station #6
Recovering with chocolate milk and icy leg wraps!

Plowing into Rochford - Aid Station #8. 38 miles in.
 This was the start of the climb. Todd got the first 4 miles or so of it heading into Rochford and was quite happy to be done. (He did AWESOME!)
Up, up, up was that leg! Another 6 miles of climbing. Finishing strong about mile 44 into Nahant.

Can we PLEASE be done with this CLIMB?!?! This was after Todd climbed another 6 miles.
Answer: yes!
We ran to the turnaround together! My fave pict of the day!
My turn to head to Nahant. This was 6 miles of decent.
Waiting for Todd in Rochford.
Torri- EXCELLENT CREW EXTRAORDINAIRE - Hanging in Rochford. Literally.
AND HERE HE COMES! Into Rochford.
As soon as I started my leg, my quads were SCREAMING! You know how I was happy for downhill at the beginning? Not so much anymore. It was pure pain from step 1, but I was proud of myself for fighting through it and that I kept on going- running the whole way!

About 1/2 mile from the end, a lady runs up to pace me. She was actually looking for someone else, but decided to stick with me regardless. She was a volunteer, had been drinking, was bored, so went back to find someone else from another relay to pace. She found me instead and stuck with me. She was quite lovely (I never got her name, since I was speaking in 1-word sentences/responses) and she did a great job filling our 5 minutes together with stories -- including one about a guy who had his own gold claim passed down through the family and we saw him panning for gold as we ran. Only in the West awesomeness.
Me and my new friend coming into the Mystic Aid Station.
Happy to be in Mystic. Don't let the smile deceive you. I went straight to my chair and Icy Hot after this.

More western love. The next aid station included a covered wagon.
Todd rolling into High Country. Mile 80.
 After this, I ran from High Country to Hill City (where I got momentarily lost) and then into darkness. After I hit Hill City, it was the "just get to" game going on in my head. I believed this leg was 9.6 miles long. Hill City Aid Station was about 5 miles, so directly after that was nightfall and then "just get to 6 miles" (look at watch) 5.2 miles. "Just get to 6 miles, just get to 6 miles" run, run, run, look at watch 5.41 miles... And then once it clicked over to 6 miles, it was "Just get to 7  miles", run, run, run (look at watch) 6.22 miles. Ugh! But so on and so forth until 9.6 miles. No one. Pitch dark.  Run to 9.8 (maybe I had the mileage wrong?). Nothing. I scream "HELLOOOOOO...." No one there. I see some lightsticks a little later and then an aid station finally. (Well after 10 miles and..) what I realize about this leg -- I don't like running in DARK!

Todd saw me. Gave me a big hug. I smelled the icy hot on him, too, and was glad he used it. It was the one thing that saved me on the last leg. Also, dare I mention that another relay (a 5-person team that we had been close to all day), was closing in on us. I had lost some time running uphill in the dark and this team was getting über competitive. Nice, but competitive.

Torri, Ross and I went straight to  the last aid station, to hang and cheer Todd on. I relaxed a little (I had no more legs to run - yay!) but mostly waited for Todd to come through. It was dark, they had a campfire and the other relay had come up waiting for their runner as well. At one point, Torri and I decided to walk back to find Todd. We walked back about 1/2 mile to find him running! He was in such good spirits and let me know that he ran UP the last 4 miles - WOW! At this point, I was so proud of him. I let him know the other team was gunning for him/us and he was so determined not to let them overtake us! He ran straight through the aid station and onto the end!

After Todd came through the aid station, we went to the end. Todd had 4.5 miles of downhill to cover. I placed our light-up lantern by the trail turn so that he would see where to turn from the trail and waited... then we got to run to the end together!
Running in from the trail
And me, Todd and Torri finishing!

16 hours and 40 minutes and 100 miles later!


After finishing, we relaxed, ate a bit and went back to our hotels/teepees.

Ross and I slept in (a novelty of not having kids we don't often get), got up, texted Robin (from Ann's crew), ate breakfast, went back to bed, heard from Robin, got up and went back to SEE ANN FINISH HER 100!!!!!
Ann coming in with her 2 daughters!
Todd and I grabbing one of the first picts with our favorite new 100-miler!!!
A little recovery and off to the awards ceremony! (Also on the track grounds)
Ann got 2nd in her division

And we got first...
 While it wasn't like we beat out a ton of people -- there 2 other (5-person) teams -- I am SO proud of how Todd and I ran.We couldn't have asked for a better run - one we both enjoyed and ran well with.

Highlights of this race:
  • We had the awesome support of Torri and Ross
  • 16 hours and 40 minutes and 100 miles later!
  • Got to be a part of Ann's first 100-mile run
  • Spent a weekend with the love of my life
  • Ran 100 miles with my running BFF

Honestly, can't think of a better weekend!

Our First 14'er

Ever since we moved to Colorado, Ross and I have wanted to hike a 14'er. 

Note: For non-Coloradoans, a 14'er is a mountain peak that towers over 14,000 feet in the air. Colorado has 53 - the most of any state - and because of the thin air and the beauty and all, it's a great feat to hike one.

 Over the years, we have both had opportunities to hike one or another, but never were able to make it work -- mostly because of childcare. After a few hard hikes last year (Rabbit Ear's Pass, Hahn's Peak and Fish Creek Falls), I thought the kids might have it in them to do a 14'er WITH us... and what better day to make Ross' dream come true than Father's Day?
Hiking Fish Creek Falls last summer. Back when a 2.5 hour hike was a LONG hike!
Leading up to the hike, I tried to get the kids excited. I took Lincoln "snack shopping" with me where we got tons of food I knew they would love - GORP, Snickers bars (the BIG ones), energy chews, I let him pick out the chocolatey-peanut buttery granola bars, teddy grahams - you name it. If it had sugar, carb and/or protein in it, and they would eat it - SOLD!

The day before, we went on a warm-up hike up to Lily Pad Lake - and we were in business! The kids were stoked about hiking. The morning of, Lincoln even asked me if we could hike Lily Lake AGAIN before hiking Bierstadt. Oy vey! This child did not know what he was getting into.
My happy hiker on the way to Lily Pad Lake
Check out my new hiking stick!
 Morning of, we awoke bright and early to pack up our stuff. We were heading back to Denver after a week of staying up in Silverthorne at our new place. Knowing it was going to be cold, I wasn't in too big of a hurry to get out of there. Since the forecast called for a clear day, optimally, I wanted to summit later in the day when it would be a little warmer. We packed up and fed the kiddos breakfast.
French toast, eggs, blackberries = Breakfast of Champions!
We arrived at Guanella Pass around 9:15 and were on the trail by 9:30. Since there was a bike race going on a little later, all of the lower lot was full and we parked in the upper lot. Clue #1 we were not true hikers - we couldn't find our way from the upper lot to the trailhead. Brilliant! But, we got there the round about way. 
BAM! Found the trailhead!
We started hiking and hiking. The path actually goes a little down for the first 3/4 mile and through a lot of mud. We made our way around it as much as we could. Then you cross a river and the kids enjoyed that. Our feet got wet, but it was nothing terrible. That is when you start hiking UP.

We went for 1/2 hour and then had our first snack. Normally, we find some cool spot to stop along the route - a cool rock to climb up and sit on,  an overlook with a view, a lake, etc.- but today we said we would have "walking snack breaks" for the most part. The wind was picking up and I was afraid of stopping for too long.
When we did stop, it was usually to climb up on some sort of rock - boys!
 Along the way, we met hikers coming down and the kids would ask if they made it to the top. About 1/3 of them hadn't, so I started telling the kids not to ask. I didn't want the kids thinking THEY couldn't make it. After that, when we passed hikers I would ask them in a low voice and, if they answered that they had summitted, I would say "Look guys! These guys made it! Isn't that great?!?!" Or something along those lines. We got some great stories and great advice from those passing.
Still below tree line.
 Soon enough we were at 12,000 feet. What I didn't realize then is that you climb a total of about 500' elevation in the first 1.7 miles and then another 2,000+' in the second 1.7 miles. That's a BIG difference! And I am pretty glad my kids didn't realize it so much. They were troopers and just kept plugging along.

It was somewhere right around 13,000 feet where spirits started to get low. I ran up to 13,000' EXACTLY (on my watch) and said "Look guys! We are RIGHT at 13,000 feet!" We stopped, looked around and took some pictures to admire the view. We then found an AWESOME little cove behind/in some rocks that sheltered us from the wind and sat down to have a proper snack break. I think that was a life saver. 
My attempt at a panaramic pict
Look at those happy faces - so excited to be eating!
Hunter hogging the cheese and sausage, while Lincoln snacks on energy chews!
 And from there on out it was plug, plug, plug. We played some hiking games we had made up in the past - like 20 questions, only instead of it being something you saw, it was something you thought of. And you got more than 20 questions. The kids were awesome and started taking breaks anytime they could.
They were seriously SO tired!
At one point (it must have been 13,400' feet or so), I said something like, "we can't rest too long or we might not make it." And from that I hear Lincoln, "WHAT!?!? I am NOT going to let 600 feet come between me and making it!". And he didn't.
My determined little hiker.
 The trail had turned to pure rocks at this point (or, rather, we had lost the trail, so we were hiking/scrambling over pure rocks at this point). Being that the kids LOVE to climb on rocks, they were in decent spirits, just tired. Hunter kept saying how he wanted to just lay down and go to sleep and I assured him that he could sleep the WHOLE way back to Denver... we just had to get off the mountain first.

 The closer we got to the top, the more motivated Lincoln became and he was leading us all.

No one can take this away from me - EVER!
On top of the world at 14,000 feet!

 I was happy to finally be there! We took some token pictures to prove that we had made it to the top.

Then, being Father's Day, I tried to take another one to remember the day by.
We also got him a soda keg and CO2 system for kegging beer, but I somehow think this was the better gift.

After pictures, it was signing the log (more proof that we had made it)!
Linc and Hunter signed their own names!
 And hung out with our new friend who lives at the summit.

After all the logistics, it was more snacks and then it was time to descend. As we went down, I tried to get a better "Father's Day Picture" with just Ross and the boys.
It was so windy on the way down, Ross couldn't keep his hat from blowing off!
Thankfully, the walk down was a lot easier than the walk up!

And there you have it. 6 hours of hiking. 7.5 ish mile round trip. ~2,500 feet vertical. And...
One 14'er conquered.
(If you ask Lincoln about it, he will make sure to tell  you it was 14, 065 feet, not just 14,000 feet up.)

 Happy Father's Day, Ross. I love you.