Carolyn Howard's Blog

Rocky Road Adventure complete! February 24, 2012

Filed under: Running — Carolyn Howard @ 9:16 pm
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This promises to be a rather long blow-by-blow account…I am so excited about the whole weekend and surprised that I remember so much of it.

It was dark when I arrived at 5.   I was getting nervous watching everyone arriving and wondering if I had a clue what I was doing. I hadn’t checked in yet and wanted to make sure that I was all set up. I had my bins well-organized with too much stuff and put them out with a chair near the start. I set up next to a minivan and introduced myself. This turned out to be so lucky. Bonnell Murphy and Jeff Stevenson are very experienced ultrarunners. Bonnell was running and her husband, Jeff said he would keep an eye out for me.

Loop 1 (miles 0-15)

Quite suddenly, someone said go and we were off.  I knew my initial goal was to start conservatively.  After a mile or two, I started running with the amazing Jean-Jacques D’Aquin.  Over the next 10 miles he told me stories and gave me valuable advice that I took with me the rest of the run.  I think the most useful was to walk on the obstacles not over them.  There were lots of sandbags along the way and it really was the safer way to go as I got tired.  Jean-Jacques has completed something like 17 – 100 milers in the last 12 years and it was an inspiration and honor to share the trail with him.

Loop 2 (miles 15 -30)

Jeff was there to see if I needed anything.  I asked him if he knew if there was going to be any FOOD.  He said he would make me a grilled cheese when I returned.  He filled my bottle with Clip2 and I changed into shorts and was off.  All the way through I was pleased  at how I didn’t lag at the aid stations.  I did eat something every station – a couple of pretzels, gel, m&ms – just consistently a little something.  I took a Succeed very hour.

I was very surprised at how interesting and beautiful the course was.  I had thought the relative convenience and ease of a loop course was going to be a trade-off for a repetitive loop and less beauty.  I never got tired of the course.  Mountains, views, trees and meadows made it varied throughout.

I did get a little down on that loop though.  I think it was just thinking about amount ahead and not feeling a significant milestone at 30.  Towards the end I saw Jeff on his bike and he said there was a chef coming at 1 pm.  When I got in at 30 miles, he had the grilled cheese and I was sooo grateful.

Loop 3 (miles 30-45)

Still not a hugely significant loop, not halfway but feeling great. The food thing was a bit of an issue for me because I had assumed (whoops) that there would be some type of food at the aid stations – potatoes or pbj or ?  The aid stations had candy, chips, cookies and banana.  The turn around also had gels.  After awhile I wanted to EAT and next time would stock up more for myself.  When I returned at the end of the loop the chef had arrived and made chili.  Delicious I’m sure but sounded hard to digest so I had another grilled cheese.  Grabbed my night gear and changed back to long tights. I saw Jeff and asked him to not let me quit.

Grilled cheese in hand!

Loop 4 (miles 45-60)

Just having a great time.  Sunset was beautiful.  Still on course for 24 hours which was a secondary goal.  I reached into my bag and took a few ibuprofen which isn’t my usual because I know the risks.  I got to the turn around and enjoyed an Ensure and Starbucks Via.  Wow, what a boost.  I felt great singing along and feeling the energy.  I started to listen to Krwing by Linkin Park.  I must have played it 100 times over the rest of the race, it just helped me to focus.  When I got to the start, AMY was there!  It was a big boost and she helped me get back out quickly.

Gorgeous views and sunset

Loop 5 (miles 60-75)

This was cool.  Uncharted territory.  I was moving really well and running a good bit.  Around 67 my stomach wasn’t feeling to well and I couldn’t think about eating food.  An angel gave me some oyster crackers but they were almost impossible to swallow.  I was still able to keep up on my nutrition with the gels and I had switched to Amino.  Didn’t feel tired at all.  I started to get a bit discouraged because my headlamp ran out of juice and so did my Garmin.  I didn’t like running with a flashlight and wondered if the bouncing light was making me queasy.  I pulled into the start a little wobbly couldn’t eat and headed back out.

Loop 6 (miles 75-90)

Jeff had said this loop is what would be the challenge and he was right.  I was a little cocky earlier, talking smack talk to myself and in my Facebook postings.  I think I must have pulled out a few more Ibuprofen which was ok because I made sure to space them 4 hours apart.  Around mile 77 was just walking, hardly running at all.  I got so discouraged I called Amy who was trying to sleep and said come pick me up at mile 80.  She said she would come out and we could talk about it.  Then, I saw Jeff out pacing Bonnell.  Tearfully and whining I said I couldn’t HIKE an entire marathon more.  He. of course, said “get going, go aid station to aid station, you will be so happy on Monday and I’ll see you at mile 90.”  So, then, even though I felt bad, I knew I wouldn’t quit.

I met Amy at mile 80.  Warmed up in the car for 10 minutes which wasn’t necessarily a good thing and said “will you come with me the next 5 miles?”  Poor Amy, what could she say?  She put on her running shoes and we hiked the next 2 hours.  She left me at mile 85 and I came back to mile 90 around 5:45.

Out and Back (miles 90-100)

At this point, it wasn’t reassuring that it was an out and back, only 10 miles.  I didn’t get a big boost from the daylight but maybe a little.  There were lots of stiff-legged people out in various stages of finishing their race.  Each mile was very long but I wasn’t thinking about quitting anymore.  I started to feel a bit sleepy but not too bad.  I finished in 27:02, 9th woman.  It wasn’t the elation I had imagined at the end but the more rested over the next day I really felt it!  So thrilled to have finished it.  It was a great race for me and a great challenge.  I feel very proud of what I did to train and prepare for this and that my hard work took me through.


I started out the race in my Kinvara’s because I was uncertain of my feet holding up and I wanted options.  I switched to my Hokas and they were PERFECT!  My feet felt great and I am sold!

This was my first extended experience with SUCCEED and Amino.  I was happy because I felt like my hydration/electrolytes stayed consistent and had no swollen hands.

This was a great race for me.  I loved the distance and challenge of digging in for an extended period of time.  I look forward to my next one which is not something I said last year after my first 50 at Leona Divide.

There are so many people to thank!  Amy and Jeff for sure.  My amazing husband and family who put up with me, the training and a lengthy weekend away from home.  Carolyn Talarico at Future Physique.  Her grueling weight training sessions and advice as a marathoner/triathlete really helped my overall endurance and strength.  Cody Jones at Advanced Physical Therapy.  Cody is also a marathoner/triathlete /cool guy who knew exactly what to do when I got injured twice and never wasted my time.



One Response to “Rocky Road Adventure complete!”

  1. Carolyn!!! I am so impressed and inspired to run 1-2 miles (hahaha) you go girl!! Wow and congratulations!!!

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