All of us have an innate desire to challenge and better ourselves and we choose to in different areas. I've often chosen to challenge myself in the physical sense. Being healthy and active is important to me, and what better way to achieve this than being in the outdoors! My love of the outdoors started in my childhood and has carried over into my adult years. It's not by chance that my husband enjoys the outdoors as much as I do, if not a little more! Our two, high-energy, Australian Shepherd mixes complete our family unit! We indeed live a trail lifestyle!
About three years ago, I learned about ultra-running! It intrigued me! I started reading up on it and then committed to running my first 50K in 2015. I signed up for Foothills 50K Frenzy in Boise. This race took place in October, which gave me plenty of time to train for it. Now I was not new to endurance events. I had done a couple road marathons, several century rides on my road bike, including Seattle to Portland in one day as a double century. However, running 32 miles sounded overwhelming to me. To train for it, I signed up to do The Back Country 10 mile run at Sun Valley in July, the Resort-to-Rock 32K at Bogus Basin in July and then finally The Frenzy in October.
Training on trails was the easy part. Living in Boise, we have 190 miles of trails right in our foothills. These trails are busy, but there is plenty of room for all kinds of trail users. My two, little Aussie's were more than willing to become my training buddies. I also joined a great running group called The Pulse Dirty Soles, sponsored by the running store The Pulse Running and Fitness Shop. I really learned the trails with this running group and gained some great friends. The running store was awesome for getting me set up with ultra trail running gear. The hard part was figuring out the nutrition and hydration for a longer event. The Frenzy was an awesome first ultra for me and still is one of my favorite races!
Fast forward to this year. I had heard so much about The Beaverhead Endurance Run 55K and 100K: saw pictures, read about it and heard tales from friends that had done it. I knew this was the ultimate challenge so far for me! It takes place in the beautiful mountains near Salmon, ID with elevations up to 10,000 feet and breath-taking views into both Idaho and Montana. I would have to deal with racing at a higher elevation for 55K.
Training started for Beaverhead in January. I was faithful about putting in almost daily miles, but comparing to my ultra friends, I was behind the curve. I was able to put in some training runs at a higher elevation in Ketchum, but not as high as the race would be. Spent some time figuring out different ideas for nutrition and hydration. Gels and bars get really old and less than appetizing after putting in that much training. I thought I had figured out the fueling part, but not yet the hydration part. I also get tired of sport drinks, so decided on using Endurolytes made by Hammer Nutrition.
Finally, race day was here. So thankful for my friend Kim, who was travelling with me as moral support and driving logistics. Race morning started at 3:00 am, catching the bus at 4:40 am and the race starting at 7:00 am. It was a nice, cool, clear morning, but was predicted to be a warm one. Heat is a huge challenge for me and I don't do well! Felt pretty good until after mile 10 aid station. I probably pushed myself a little too hard at elevation and it started warming up. I forgot to take my Endurolytes every hour, so started falling behind in electrolytes. After mile 10 we started to climb, the temperature rose and I started experiencing some symptoms of nausea, weakness and dizziness. At least from mile 18 to about 24 I fought these symptoms and basically couldn't take anything in, but kept drinking water with some pickle-juice shots. So thankful for my friend Stephanie who hung with me from mile 18 on! The higher we got, the more patches of snow we went through and I would stuff snow down my shirt and in my hat to cool me down. We reached the scree section and I started feeling better because it was cooling down. We were at 10,000 feet with the most awesome, breath-taking views! We got off the scree section and headed down a very steep trail and came to mile 27 aid station where they had fresh smoothies! I downed a couple, had some potato chips, some gummy bears and felt so much better. Much of the last 6 miles was in the shade and downhill. We crossed two creeks, forcing us to get our feet wet, but it felt so good! At about 14 hours and 18 minutes I crossed the finish line and was cheered in by fellow runners and friends. The race was run first rate with awesome directors and volunteers. So far, it was the most challenging event I had ever participated in and I seemed to do so many things wrong. But I finished! I met the challenge, In my book, it was a success!
I hope my story will inspire someone to get out there and Xpand UR Limits! You don't have to do an ultra to achieve your goal or you can choose a harder challenge. Just get out there! It's not just race day, but all the hours, days, weeks and months to get you there and it will change you!