Thursday, July 26, 2012

Angeles Crest 100 Mile 2012

God only gives three answers to a prayer: 1. "Yes!" 2. "Not yet." 3. "I 
have something better in mind." 
-Oprah


Early on in the race w/Angela Shartel

AC100 Start Line


This week after the race has been a bit of a blur for me. I am extremely tired, but on the same note overwhelmed with excitement. From dinners with friends, celebration nights with my boys, to just trying to manage through my email inbox-it has all been a bit overwhelming. Today is the first day I woke up, and was able to walk normally. I slept 11 hours last night. Yes 11. I actually got up, and went for a walk down by the beach. Just 30 mins, but I cannot believe I felt great enough to do that. It's not that anything is really wrong. It's just that I have an overwhelming feeling of tiredness more than I have ever felt. More than after any other race. I believe when you truly put all you've got out on a course, and leave everything out there it takes it's toll. So this begins my journey and story of running a 100 miles on one of Ultra Running's toughest 100 mile courses; on the courses hottest recorded day in history. Ya I think it's safe to say its fair I am so tired-


I trained very hard for this race. Jimmy had drilled into my head that it wasn't about the quantity of miles I would run to prepare, but the quality. I committed myself for the entire month of June and part of July to only train up in the mountains and high back country of the San Jacinto's and Mt.Baldy. I actually sat down, and wrote up a quick 5 week training plan, and emailed the schedule to many of my crazy Ultra Running friends. Many were happy to agree to get in some miles with me, and I worked tirelessly for 5 weeks training with Simren, Brandon Adame, Jonathan Toker, Chandra, and Jesse. In the five weeks leading up to the race I summited Mt.Baldy six times, and one time twice in one day. I ran the Los Pinos 50k course four times(I sware to god I will never run there again!), and week by week felt myself getting stronger and stronger. I never once did a single mile of speed work, and cut out 100% of the "junk" miles. I rested when I needed it, but five days a week I was getting in the hours and miles I needed in the elements that were necessary for me to succeed on the AC 100 course. To be honest I believe this is one of my strengths. When I commit to something I am all in, and will do whatever it takes to make it to the goal.


We(me,Jesse,Chandra) got up to Wrightwood the Friday before the race. I checked in, and then we pretty much relaxed and hung in our cabin. It went by fast, and before I knew it Saturday morning had arrived. When Jesse woke me up that morning I went into the bathroom, shut the door, and sat down on the cabin floor near the shower. I took a deep breath, and put my hands together. I flooded my fingers within each other tightly, and repeated this under my breath three times, "Today you will have the strength of five ox, the speed of three cheetah's, and the belief that no matter what happens you will preserver"....Once done I reminded myself to take in this moment. Never again would I be here. Things only happen once, and before a blink of an eye the race would be over, and all that really mattered was to enjoy the day and race, and not take any of it for granted. After that I quickly got dressed, and we walked over to the start line. I stood there taking it all in, and was overwhelmed by all the hugs and love everyone was giving to me. Right before we started Jimmy Dean came over to me, and touched my shoulders. He looked at me and said, "This is your course- It will be 100 degrees out there today, and you love the heat-You are the best climber I know-Do what you do best, and believe in yourself". I smiled, and said, "Heck ya its on!!!". Today I would believe more than ever before, and master the art of squashing self destructive talk on the trail. He gave me chills with that speech, and it was just what I needed!!!


Miles 0-25.9 "The High Country"
The first mile I set out at a comfortable pace, and would keep this for the first 26 miles. I traded spots with Angela quite about the first 9 miles, and we were able to chat quite a bit. She is such a strong runner, and it was great to hear her kids are doing so good, and life is great for her. Most of the first 9 miles is a ton of power hiking as it is at such high altitude so I just stayed within myself and focused on running my own race. Early on Jane Larkendale and Sada Crawford pulled a ways out front. By the time I got into Vincent Gap it seemed all the ladies were out in front of me. I quickly zipped through the aid station, ate some fruit and potatoes, and thanked my awesome crew of Chandra and Jesse. In and out fast, and onward! The climb from Vincent Gap aid is a big summit up Mt.Baden Powell. You get up to 9,399 feet at the summit, and stay pretty high for much of the course until mile 30. I did what I do best, and just power hiked the candy crap outta the entire climb up Baden. I eventually caught and passed the extremely talented Jane Larkendale who would eventually drop due to hip pain. Paulette Zillmer would also drop, but I never once did see her all day. I continued on, and before I knew it I was almost to the top. It was getting very hot. I remember after climbing for two hours straight that my shirt was so soaked it was as if someone dumped a bucket of water over me. Thank god I had my INKnBURN tech shirt on. The material is just meant for this kind of sweating. I turned up the music on my iPod, and just felt amazing on this entire climb. Little by little my confidence was building on this course. God I was feeling so friggin strong. I dug deep, and the steeper it got the more I would push on. Hotter, hotter. Steeper, steeper. Push Keira I kept telling myself. I also kept saying, "come on legs-come on" as I powered up the mountain. Eventually I would make my way into the Islip Saddle aid station-mile 25.9


Miles 25.9-37.5 "Hell on Earth"
I came flying into Islip, and once again my crew was kick ass, and I was out in a flash. I left knowing what was ahead, and I promised myself to stay mentally strong. To me this entire section of the AC100 course is the toughest part. It includes the infamous Cooper Canyon, and today would be one of the hottest days recorded in AC100 history. 25.9-30 is mostly ran on pavement. It's probably my least favorite thing about AC. Who wants to run four miles on pavement smack dab in the middle of a 100 mile race. Eventually I was off pavement, and started my trek into Cooper Canyon. I have been through Cooper before, but never when it was this hot. There is not a single positive thing I can say about this section. It's a relentless treck and climb out of a deep exposed canyon where the sun melts you to a pulp. The bugs prey on you while you try not to mentally fall apart in this horrifically hard section. One foot in front of the other I just "kept it moving" and tried my best to stay positive. I was sweating so bad my Rudy Project sunglasses just kept sliding off. I finally tucked them into my pack(LOVE these sunglasses!!), and used this time to pour water on my neck and head. Eventually I would go through all 90oz of water I had on me for this 7 mile section knowing I had about 1.5 miles left of climbing. Shit! Why did I pour my water on my head. I quickly reminded myself I was drinking all day, and a little time w/out water would be no biggie. At this point I decided to start counting my steps. I really just wanted to pass the time, and although the elements were so brutal I still felt great. I picked up my hike even more, and just counted away...1,2,3,4,5...before long I could see and hear the aid station. All I could think about was water. Oh god someone give me ice cold water please. I came into the aid station, and to my surprise my little brother Eric Wickland was there! He would be pacing Chris Price later so it was awesome to see him! My crew quickly iced me down, and everyone jumped in to help cool me down. I drank, and ate, and drank, and just did all I needed to do to get back to the right place mentally. Scotty Mills wiped and cooled my legs down(thank you Scotty!!!!), and Jesse and Chandra shoved watermelon piece after watermelon piece in my mouth. I was in and out in just a few minutes, and felt so amazing leaving here. As I left I was informed by my crew Sada Crawford looked like she was struggling, and it gave me a huge spring in my step to have my confidence assured. I crushed the next section, and arrived at mile 37.5 feeling great! Jesse shoved grapes and pineapple in my mouth while Chandra shoved Avocado in my mouth. I left with cheeks the size of chipmunks, and swallowed everything down with huge gulps of water and Nuun. I also finished this section with a deep appreciation for Salt Stick. Best salt pills on earth!! 


Miles 37.5-42.7- The race has begun
I zipped through this section. It was so hot. I just kept pushing, and it was during this section that I started to think about picking up my pacer, and my mindset just was shifting. I had thoughts of passing Sada, and was feeling super great. This section went by fast, and I flew in and out of Three Points aid/mile 42.7


42.7-74.6- The pass
The section from 42.7 to 49.1 Mt.Hillyer aid is extremely tough. It is absolutely unforgiving, and just relentless. Lots of exposed open climbing, and punishing. I spent a big part of it with Brandon Adame, and we chatted away as we climbed the huge pavement section up to Hillyer. It must have been 95 degrees here, and all I could do was think about cold water and some sort of fruit. This section is back country hell at it's finest, and I was so relieved when we finally arrived @ Hillyer. I chuggeded tons of water, ate two Hammer gels(LOVE me some Montana Huckleberry!!!), couple oranges, and was in and out fast. The climb outta this aid station is just brutal and exposed(of course) so i turned up my music and just powered through it. Eventually I got to the top, and shuffled my way down into Chilao aid- mile 52. I was so excited to get to pick up my first pacer, and see my Jesse. I was breaking just a bit from the high temps. I just cannot describe how hot it was out on that course in the Sun....


I arrived at Chilao, weighed in, had a shit ton of food shoved in my mouth by Jesse, and took off with my first pacer Chandra Farham.  I also got some huge encouragement from Jesse which I needed, and I was ready to rock after that. We crushed this section. I am humbly saying this. At times I was running so fast Chadra had to remind me to slow down to save my legs. We flew in and out of Short cut mile 59 aid, and once again I was able to take in fruit, avocado, and just zip in and out. Chandra and I just chatted and chatted, and her energy was just incredible!!! OMG we were having so much fun blasting away into the sunset, and before I knew it we hit the HUGE climb up to the Newcomb's Saddle aid. This is about mile 64 in the race, and never lets up until you arrive at the mile 68 aid. On fresh legs even the best runners would feel the climb here. We hiked like maniacs, and just kept laughing, talking, and moving at a super fast pace. All of a sudden Chandra looked at me and smiled huge. My head was down as I was telling her a funny story about my 16 year old son Tyler, and as I looked up I saw Sada ahead. She wasn't moving to well, and I could just tell she was hurting. I am extremely competitive when I need to be, but I also love this sport and everyone in it. I am friends with practically everyone, and am always in awe of any of the women in this sport. My lord we race against the men(the only sport that does this!!!) and I always try to encourage other women. I passed her with huge words of encouragement, and on me and Chandra went. She didn't say to much(she is amazing as this was her first 100!), and continued for about 1/2 mile to run and try and keep up with my strong hike. Eventually we came in to the aid station together, and I was in and out before she had left. I would never see her again, and she would end up finishing behind me. She raced a great race, and crushed that course on such a tuff day! Once Chandra and I left the aid I knew this race could be mine. I was feeling way to strong to let anything happen, and we flew like crazy people through the night downhill into the campgrounds. I knew once we reached the bottom it was just a huge climb up to Chantry. Before I knew it I could hear the noise from the party up ahead, and all I had to do now was run less than a marathon!!! 


Chantry to the finish!!!! 
I came into Chantry, and was so excited to see everyone. I quickly spotted my crew, and second pacer Slater Fletcher. We high fived, and I couldn't wait to run with him. I chugged a Guayaki Pure endurance Tea(LOVE me some Guayaki!!!), and once again had zero problems taking in some Carbo Pro and fruit. I must have ate four pieces of Watermelon here!! LOL! In an out we went, and before long we were headed up the trail. I used Slaters bright light for this section as he always has the best gear! Man his light rocked. The section from Chantry to 83.8 is 100% all climbing. Not like little climbs you might find on a normal 100 mile course, but more like some of the toughest climbing you can find anywhere around. It steep, relentless, and on fresh legs would be brutal. I had 75 miles on my legs, and was hurting. We pushed, and pushed as Slater just told me story after story. I love this about Slater as he is the best story teller ever!! Both him and his wife are very good friends of Jesse and I, and we just love them. We would stop about every mile, and he would remind me to take 5-6 big huge fast breaths. Once I would do that we would start powering up the mountain again. Step after step, mile after mile we just kept it moving. My legs hurt so bad, and all I did was listen to his awesome stories, and refused to give up. I kept quietly reminding myself that I had given birth to a huge boy at the young age of nineteen. If I could get through that I could most definitely get through this shit!! Before I knew it we made it to the top, and I chugged a bunch of water and Nuun, and took two Hammer gels. At this point we started to run pretty hard down into the Idlehour aid station, and I was ecstatic to see my Coyote friends Erin and Jeff waiting for me!!! Yippie! I ate, drank, and we quickly got outta the aid. I had covered that section in 2:40!! Oh man yippie! Ok one big ass climb down, two more to go. The next climb is up to the Sam Merrill aid station. Once again I did exactly what I did before and took it little by little. We would stop every bit, and I would take in 5-6 deep breaths, and then we would immediately keep it moving. One foot in front of the other. Up, up, up we went as I focused on just the task at hand. I would start to think about how much farther I had to go, and then stop the though fast and only focus on the next 50-60 steps. Just get up ahead to the next tree or bush. I pushed as hard as I could, and stayed extremely positive in my head. Slater was absolutely amazing on keeping me positive. He constantly was encouraging me, and together we made it to Merrill in one piece. My lord this course is just so tough. So tough. 


Merrill, Millard, and the finish! 
To be honest I don't really remember Merrell. We got in and out fast, and I do remember my legs were just shot after this aid. I struggled to run fast, but just listened to Slaters stories, and did my best to shuffle through this extremely technical and rocky section. Eventually we arrived at Millard, and I was starting to fall apart. I ate a ton of watermelon, and we left quickly. The hike outta this aid station is pretty darn tuff, and part of it is on pavement. As we climbed and climbed I started to worry that I had not seen a ribbon or marking for a bit. After about 3/4 of a mile I mentioned to Slater my concerns. He agreed, but said he had not seen any markers for a turn. He then said you keep hiking up Keira, and I will run back down the hill to double check. He took off super fast, and I kept hiking up the hill. After about 2 mins alone all of a sudden my light went out!!! NOOOOOO!! No joking. There I was in complete darkness. Without my pacer. I lit the watch on my light, and started singing to myself as I was scared shit less. Here I was tired, fragile, and in complete darkness in the middle of the mountains. Eventually after about 15 mins Slater came flying up the trail, and assured me we had been on the right trail. He changed the batteries in my light and I moved the best I could. Unfortunately due to standing for 15 mins my legs just locked up. I tired the best I could to run and shuffle the last few miles, but they were just done. I by no means was death marching, and my hike was still a pretty good pace. The problem was I just could not run. I did the best I could to not focus on the fact that this little mishap cost me at least 20 mins, and let Slater keep my mind positive. He assured me we would  get in under 23:30, and eventually we hit the pavement that I knew put us within 1.5 miles to the finish. OMG I was almost done!!! We hooked up with the little trail on the left that eventually leads you to the neighborhood that winds you to the finish. All the sudden I saw Jesse's big smiling face, and then before long we were met up with Chandra, Kevin, and Simren and they all finished the last 1/2 mile with me. Before long I came stumbling through the finish......


I would not have made it through the race without the help of my amazing love Jesse. I just cannot put into words how amazing life is being able to share all of it with him. We have so much in common, and in order to be in this sport is a huge necessity. He is so supportive, and just so understanding of what it takes to do what I do. It rocks to have my partner also an Ultra Runner, and our life is so much fun!!! Thank you also to my two dear friends, and best pacers on earth Chandra and Slater. I love you guys so much, and you are both incredible athletes yourself. You both rocked!!!! Everything really came together perfectly at the right time with the right race. I am super happy with how it all turned out, and am flying on cloud 9 this week for sure. I have been taking in tons of Recover-eas and Nano Reds, and that has helped a ton with my recovery. Been having way to much fun this week....and actually looking forward to rocking out a few more solid races in 2012. I pulled outta Wasatch as I know it's not a good idea to do this again in 6 weeks. It's just not gonna happen. I decided to run Cuayamaca 100k in October, and then have a few surprises in the books for November and December. Cannot wait!!! 


Congrats to Chris Price (aka Prizzle sauce) for crushing this course and winning overall!! What a total rockstar this guy is....Jorge nabbed 2nd overall male, and miss Angela would end up behind me for 2nd female!! So awesome!! Great day for team Rudy Project! 


I also wanted to say something about the apparel I ran it. I never once changed clothes, and had zero chafing for the whole day. I ran in my new INKnBURN denim shorts, and my Coyote jersey. All 100% INKnBURN. All I can say is its best stuff on earth. Comfy, soft, held water extremely well, and just amazing!! I also went through 16 Hammer Gels, 8 Clif shot block packages, lots of Nuun, tons of Carbo-Pro, and 24 Salt Stick caps. Plenty of fruit and potatoes also. My energy always felt great, and I am happy with my nutrition intake for sure. 


It's amazing when you just believe in yourself how much you can make happen. 












9 comments:

  1. Congratulations Keira. You were INTENSE out there, a picture of concentration. The mental strength is what did it for you in the heat. Very impressive.

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  2. Not that it surprised anyone, but - awesomely crazy ass great!

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  3. you kick complete ass! congrats on your win!

    i was super bummed to hear you come thru Sam Merrill aid station just as I had to take a nature break. :(

    looking forward to your fall events!

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  4. Wolfpack 2012!

    Knew you'd win and go sub 24 =)

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  5. Great recap. You are the MAN, I mean the WOMAN, you know what I mean. You are AWESOME! and an Inspiration! Congrats on shreadin' it!!!

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