|Moment of awe during the Susitna 100|
1. Stagecoach 400 | self-supported bikepacking | Southern California | April 27 to 30
It was my first moment of clarity in a mind-numbingly tough day — while lingering over a cold chicken sandwich at the Subway in the town of Alpine, I finally glanced at a clock. "9:15 p.m.? That can't be right." But as hard reality set in, it made sense. It had been dark for an hour. With the exception of an hourlong breakfast, I had been riding, pushing, and struggling nearly nonstop since 4:45 that morning. This meant it had taken me sixteen hours to travel seventy miles. Sixteen hours! I pushed away the sandwich I had no appetite for, and called Beat.
"What are you still doing in Alpine?" he asked me. "How much farther are you going to ride tonight?"
|Trying to remember how to spell my name on the Stagecoach 400|
finisher sheet at Hub Cyclery in Idyllwild. It was midnight, I was
shattered, and I genuinely didn't remember. Photo by Matt Slater.
"I don't know, maybe twenty more miles," I replied with a resigned sigh. Few distances have ever felt so far.
Now, eight months later, I still can't determine exactly why I struggled so much during my three days and 13 hours on the Stagecoach route. It was a perfect storm of reaching a low point of recovery after the winter season, binging too heavily on riding thanks to new-bike love (I still love you, Moots), expecting the route to be much less strenuous and technical than it was, and not adequately preparing. The race was free (and really, a great contribution on the part of Brendan and Mary Collier), and I certainly got my money's worth of suffering. Not since the 2009 Tour Divide have I experienced the same levels of psychic entropy, personal uncertainty, and even despair. I know ... weird. It's taken me a while to admit these feelings to myself, as the Stagecoach really was supposed to be a fun diversion before I started training for UTMB. I value these negative emotions for the strengths they helped me sharpen, but I won't be back to the Stagecoach 400 route (and really, it's a beautiful, fun bike route.) But it was a dark place for me, one I'm not rushing to relive. Race report part one, part two, part three, part four, part five (wow, I know.)
2. Sustina 100 | winter running | Point McKenzie, Alaska | February 18 to 19
|Susitna feet, well-done|
3. White Mountains 100 | snow biking | Fairbanks, Alaska | March 26
|Nearing the cracking point, Cache Mountain Divide|
4. Bear 100 | mountain running | Logan, Utah | September 28 to 29
|Most hated descent. Photo by the awesome Danni Coffman.|
5. UTMB | mountain running | Chamonix, France | August 31 to September 1
|The elusive Mont Blanc as seen at the start of UTMB|
6. Laurel Highlands 70 miles | trail running | Laurel Highlands, Pennsylvania | June 9
|70.5 miles of wooded singletrack|
7. 25 Hours of Frog Hollow | mountain biking | Hurricane, Utah | November 3 to 4
|Photo by Crawling Spider Photography. I am planning to |
buy a photo package soon, but haven't yet.
8. 50Ks! | trail running | Bay area, California | All year
|"Crazy endurance eyes" — I love a tough 50K|
1. Mount Tam 50K, November 11, 7:18 — I was overtired and decided to race two women for thirteen miles. I still finished behind them but I truly left it all out there on the trail.
2. Steep Ravine 50K (winter), January 28, 7:16 — here's the part where I have to admit that Steep Ravine course is nearly identical to Mount Tam, only run by a different organizer. What can I say? These are tough trails. The January race was hard because it came after a peak week of training for the Susitna 100.
3. Ohlone 50K, May 20, 6:59 — This was my "breakout race" that finally lifted me out of my spring slump. The course has 8,000 feet of climbing, and the trails are exposed to the harsh sun and hot, just hot. I finished 14th out of 67 women.
4. Diablo Marathon, June 2, 6:58 — Not technically a 50K, still with nearly 8,000 feet of climbing, and I took a wrong turn and logged an extra 2.5 miles at the end. Temperatures were in excess of 90 degrees. Looking back, 2012 was my breakout year for running in the heat. I'm actually not that bad at it.
5. Coyote Ridge 50K, December 8, 7:09 — The bad luck race. I ran off course for three miles, and took a hard fall five miles from the finish. Miles 29 to 34 were a painful limp on the steepest section of the course.
6. Horseshoe Lake 50K, October 13, 6:32 — I was overtired so soon after my UTMB/Bear 100/Grand Canyon stretch, and then I was stung by a wasp at mile four. This race took place on my backyard trails, but it turned out to be a bit of a slog.
7. Steep Ravine 50K (summer), August 5, 7:05 — I completely forgot I raced this course in the summer. Wow, that's three times in one year. It must have not been too bad because I don't remember specifics of any struggles. It was the beginning of my peak week of UTMB training.
8. Crystal Springs 50K (summer), August 11, 5:55 — Temperatures reached 95 degrees on Skyline Ridge that afternoon, and I was running my second 50K in a week to sandwich long days of running and mountain biking during the big heat wave of the summer. I was quite pleased with the 5:55 finish.
9. Brooks Falls 50K, January 22, 6:26 — A Susitna 100 training run in the wind and rain on the hills above Pacifica.
10. Woodside Ramble 50K, December 15, 6:08 — A fun run in the cold rain. A sore hip made for some tough miles in the middle, but for the most part I felt great.
11. Crystal Springs 50K (winter), January 7, 5:51 — My first race of the year, and also my 50K PR. It seems strange to put it all the way at the bottom of this list, but the reason I logged my best time is because I had a fairly flawless race. This is one of the reasons I think I could put in a decent time if I specifically focused on racing a trail 50K, but I have yet to commit to that. We'll see what 2013 brings.