I had no expectations going into this race. My only intention was to enjoy running all day and try to get some of the stress from Wasatch out of my system.
The good thing about going into a race in this laid back of a mindset is that I was actually able to sleep soundly for 7 hours the night before the race. I didn't feel like I brought my best physical condition to the start line Friday morning but I knew that my mind was in the right place... A much better combination than the other way around.
And so we started. And I ran for about 5 or 6 hours without even thinking once about the fact that I was running a race. I ran for awhile at the start with Luke Nelson and Eric from Montana (never did catch his last name). After the first aid station I pushed further ahead of them and quickly caught up to Zach Gingerich. I ran with Zach for awhile and then pushed ahead and caught up to Troy Howard. I ran with him for awhile and then pushed ahead and caught up to Nick Pedatella. I ran with him for awhile and then we caught up to Leland Barker (race director who had started an hour earlier than the rest of the field). Running with Leland we caught up to Phil Lowery (who had also started early). After I pushed ahead of Phil, Leland, and Nick at about mile 36 I would end up running alone for the rest of the day.
It had been a fun morning of running and chatting with others, but I was kind of glad to be off in front on my own. Actually I didn't really think or care about being in front, but in front is the most likely place to be able to run alone for a long period of time. And I was in the mood to run alone.
I wasn't feeling physically great for a lot of the time after mile 40, but every time I felt weak I would rebound after a few minutes and feel strong for several minutes. The heat started to become an issue around mile 40 as well. It wasn't that hot but I was running out of water between every aid station. I'd fill up with 40 ounces and then hit the trail again, only to finish off this water well before the next aid station. I'm not sure why, but I was drinking a lot more water than I did at Wasatch, even though it was hotter at Wasatch.
Coming into Logan River aid station (mile 69) the heat had finally broken and I was beginning to feel really strong again after an hour long rough patch just before that. And then my 3 minutes at this aid station revived me to the best I'd felt all day. It's amazing what some upbeat aid station volunteers, a can of coke, and a warm cloth to wash off your face can do for one who has just run 69 miles.
After Logan River the sun was getting low and I was really excited to push on into the darkness. One of my favorite things about running long races are the transitions from light to dark or vice versca. It almost feels like you're running in a different dimension when you've been running in daylight for 12+ hours and then suddenly you're running into the faint beam of a headlamp. I love it.
Anyway, I left the mile 75 aid station with enough daylight that I still hadn't turned on my headlamps. Unfortunately just after this aid station there was an important trail junction which was marked with reflectors and tape. It was too dark for me to see the tape, but still a little too light for me to have my lights on so I didn't see the reflectors either. After about a 25 minute detour I was finally back on route headed in the right direction. My response to getting lost for that much time was entirely mellow. I tried for a little while to force myself to be at least a little upset with the time I'd lost since I knew I was on pace for a pretty fast time, but it just didn't really concern me much at all. And there was certainly nothing to gain by worrying about it anyway.
When I got to Gibson Basin (mile 81) I had decided that I was going to start taking in as many calories as I could at the remaining 3 aid stations in hopes of not having to eat too many more gels. After eating more than 100 gels in two weeks (60 at Wasatch and 40 to this point in the Bear) I was simply ready for some real food.
And so I went onto a soup and coke diet and moved along station to station until cruising down to the finish in a time of 18:43.
I felt really worn out for about 2 hours after finishing. I thought maybe this was going to be one of those ones that took my body a few days to feel human again. I slept for about 4 hours though and when I woke up I felt great. My body went into hyper recovery mode and I've just been shovelling in food and liquid ever since, feeling more and more recovered by the hour.
My plan all along was to take 2 or 3 weeks off after this race and then not race again until December at the earliest, but I do have some very tentative racing plans floating around in my mind so perhaps I'll start back at it later this week and see where that takes me.