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Grand Teton 100 mile race report<br>
September 1-2, 2007<br><br>
My husband and i arrived in Wyoming one week prior to the race. This<br>
was for a few reasons-- one was to visit Yellowstone, but also to spend some<br>
time acclimating to the altitude, as we live at sea level! Our resort, where the<br>
race is held, was about an hour drive from Jackson Hole, and when we got near to the<br>
resort, we reached a road that snaked up the mountain. I was very overwhelmed at<br>
how high we kept climbing up this road for miles on end, but thought, the higher<br>
up we climb, the less i have to climb at the race. It did not occur to me that<br>
the course would drop below the resort and in reality the course reached the base<br>
of the road heading back up to the resort. Ignorance was bliss at that moment though!<br>
After i took a nap and rested a bit at the resort, i decided to check<br>
out the opening miles of the race. All i knew was that the race, which is<br>
comprised of four 25 mile loops, starts with a climb up Fred's mountain for three<br>
miles and then comes back down to the base. I found the trail and started up. After about 10 minutes i thought i was going to pass out and had to turn around. It was not a good feeling. I emailed my coach, Lisa Smith Batchen, who is also one of the race directors, and asked her how long it should take me to get up to the top; she told me aim for 50-60 minutes. On Tuesday morning, i put on the iPod and tried again. On my way up i had to stop about 15-20 times to catch my breath and reign in my heart rate. If i was wearing a heart rate monitor it probably would have exploded. All the way up all i wanted to do was cry. It was so steep and long and combined with the altitude, i had no idea how i was going to do this four times during the race, let alone 75 miles into the race. Once i did finally get to the top i was surprised to see that it took me only 57 minutes, even with all the stops. The run down the mountain was energizing and once at the bottom i felt like a million bucks. Never in a 6 mile run did i experience such a wide range of emotions. It was trippy to say the least.<br>
That evening, I had dinner at Lisa's house with her husband, Jay, her two<br>
children, Colleen who i had met at Old Dominion, and a bunch of friends. We worked on putting together the race packets and other stuff for the race. It was such a pleasant evening. Everyone was so nice and encouraging. I shared with Lisa my anxiety and fears about the race. She told me that she would never have told me to do the race if she thought i could not handle it. I guess i often underestimate myself and my toughness. She does not, luckily.<br>
Wednesday Lisa told me to go 30 minutes up Fred's mountain. This climb<br>
was a bit easier than the day before and i felt like things were heading in the right direction. That afternoon, my husband and i decided to take the ski lift up to the top and hang out at the top to help with the acclimation. I had never been on a ski lift before and about 2/3 of the way up i became very anxious and nervous about the heights. I felt silly, but i could not help it. My husband also told me it would only be 10-15 feet off the ground, which it was not. Once we got to the top i swore i was walking down never to get back on that thing. As we walked down the trail, he commented on how steep and slippery it was. Some things are better left unsaid. Thursday i did another short jaunt partially up Freds and was feeling better each day. My confidence started to build as the week went on.<br>
Friday i just took things easy. I had a massage in the morning and just wanted to relax and put together my drop bags. Before the massage i hung out with one of the resort employees, Mike, who was going to run his first 100 miler at the race! He is also a client of Lisa and we got to hang out with Lisa's incredible daughter Annabella while they were organizing the race packet pick up. After my massage my husband and i went to lunch in Driggs, Idaho at a great little place called Miso Hungry. Wish we had known about it earlier! It was fabulous. I felt like i was starving all week eating lettuce and lettuce wraps. After lunch, we headed back to the resort of pick up the race packets and get weighed in. I debated on buying a hat and did not want to out of jinxing myself. Lisa told me to buy it and that i was going to finish and if i did not, she would take it back. So, i bought the last blue GT100 hat! The race packets were awesome as well. The race shirt is a long sleeve smart wool shirt, we got a pair of Injinji toe socks, clif bars, sharkies, montrail bottle, and more!!<br>
The prerace briefing was brief. Zach and Jay explained the markings and any other important details and it was all over and done in less than a half hour. The pasta feed was very impressive and i sat at a table full of excited runners. Everyone seemed much more experienced than me and the fact that they were nervous made me nervous. Two people sitting with me had just run Western States and were talking about their race anxiety. It was definitely contagious and i started to get worried all over again.<br>
Before i went to bed i double checked all my drop bags, taped up my feet, set three alarms and tried to go to bed. I slept surprisingly well, about 4-5 hours, and did not wake up very often. I thought i was going to be a lot worse off. I woke up around 3:50, a bit before my alarm and laid in bed thinking about the race. Once i got up though, i became very very nervous. I had super nervous belly and thought i was going to be sick to my stomach. Once i got everything together, my husband helped carry all my stuff, including a cooler, down to the start/finish aid station and i then waited for my crew member Tracy to show up. I had met her online, and never in real life, which was kind of weird, but she ended up being a great crew person, even though she was a rookie!<br>
Around 5:50 am Jay called all the runners to the start. My husband was there waiting with the camera, and tracy went with me as well. The start was anti climatic as we started up the mountain and almost everyone hiked up, there was no running in my pack for those opening miles. I was hiking up with two guys from NY, Anthony and Ira. Anthony and I had emailed back and forth over the past several months and it was both of their first 100 mile races. On our way up the mountain we were lucky enough to see the sun rise. Once down the mountain, i drank a chocolate soy milk, took off my top layer and headed down to the Mill Creek section of the trail, section B, which is a 14 mile trek.<br>
The trail started up a climb on a gravel road, which surprised me as i thought this was the "downhill" part!!! Once up at the top, we hit a single track and then another gravel trail. The gravel trail was a steep downhill which led to an unmanned aid station. Past that we went a few more miles and saw some incredible views. For this section i was running with Anthony and Ira as well as the infamous Han Dieter, who is one of the most interesting and nicest people i have ever met. At the bottom of the trail, we hit Teton Canyon which had some of the most incredible views of the race.<br>
From that point on, we hit an aid station and started a 3 mile journey up the paved road, where we hit another aid station and entered a single track trail that eventually met up with the trail we descended on. This B section was very tough for me as it was basically 8 miles of uphill in a row. Much of the last section before the short descent to the start/finish line was quite steep in my opinion. Seeing as how the biggest hills near me max out at 1.5-2 miles, i was not very well prepared for these climbs, no matter how much stair stepping i did in the past 10 months.<br>
Once at the start/finish line, we headed out to section C, Rick's Basin, which was described as rolling hills. NOT rolling in my opinion! I guess there are different descriptions of terrain based on where you live.<br>
My first loop was completed in 6:20, wayyyyyy tooooooo fast! Lisa told me to aim for 7 hours. I talked to her about this and now that i knew the course and what to expect, i told her i would slow things down. The second jaunt up the mountain was not too bad and took a little over an hour to get up. I had some coke and went to the portapotty, which definitely seemed like royal treatment at the time. Once down at the base again, I asked Tracy to meet me at the bottom of the next section with my iPod because i knew that long climb back up was going to be rough and lonely. Heading down the trail i felt good, but my lips were chapped and really hurt and i could smell myself. I started making a mental note of things for my husband and tracy to have for me when i saw them at the aid station.<br>
Once at the bottom, i made my way down the road to the aid station and did not see them. My heart sank and i was a bit disappointed, but thought that maybe they were late and would see me on the road, or went to the next aid station up the road. Going up the road, it was about 4pm and the sun was getting hot on my legs. I felt like i was getting a little burned, but it was late in the afternoon and i was very dusty and could not imagine rubbing sunblock on at that point. By the time i got to the next aid station, they were not there and i got very upset. I could not figure out why they were not there and i was frustrated that i did not have my music. As i got near the start/finish line, I saw my husband coming up the trail. I was very snippy with him, but it turned out it was a miscommunication and they had left my iPod in my drop bag and the woman there swore she was going to tell me it was there for me!!! Also, the race updating had not updated since 2pm and he got worried and started up the trail looking for me. Luckily i had an extra iPod and my husband passed it on to me. I headed out to Section C and soon found out that the iPod was not working. So now i was a little annoyed, especially since i would not have it for the third climb up Fred's mountain.<br>
Once back at the start/finish line i could not believe i was only half done. I was pooped. I felt like i had already run a hundred miles. Coach Lisa made me eat and Olga filled my hydration pack. My husband promised to go get the other iPod and have it for my next section for me. The third time up Fred's mountain felt great and i was a bit disheartened to realize that it took 1:30 to get up, it felt much faster than that. The guys at the aid station at the top were great though and very enthusiastic and encouraging. I looked forward to the next time i saw them, because that would mark the last time i had to climb up that godforsaken mountain!<br>
Once down at the bottom, Lisa forced some potato soup on me. She checked to make sure i drank it all too! After sitting down for only a few minutes, she got me up and sent me down to section B. Tracy was sleeping and my husband took the night shift so she could be well rested for day 2. Going through the second section in the middle of the night was very surreal. It was mostly single track and i was moving quite slow. At the last aid station, Olga had told me to just keep moving forward through the night and that i would pick up speed come day time, and i remembered this through the night. Luckily i had my iPod and had some musical company.<br>
The trail was dark and desolate. I was too freaked out to look around. I knew i was in bear country and mountain lion country and that twice that week bears were seen not that far away. I started to get very nervous and just looked forward at the trail. At one point i had to go to pee but i did not want to step off the trail. Since there were no other runners around, i just kinda squatted on the side of the trail and i thought i heard something breathing in the woods. I panicked and then realized it was me brushing up against the bib pinned to my shorts! The mind gets wacky after many hours of running.<br>
Once i got to the bottom of the trail and hit the short road to the aid station, i thought i saw another light behind but then never saw it again. At the aid station my husband was waiting for me and had his rented mountain bike with him. He wanted to keep me company on my trek up the road. It was really nice and we got to chat for a while. Turned out there was a runner behind me, but he had turned his light off. All night long the moon was very bright, so it was possible to run in the dark, but i had a hard enough time with the light that i opted to keep mine on.<br>
Once i hit the aid station, i kissed my husband good bye and told him to expect me in 2-3 hours at the start/finish line. I headed out back to the single track trail. The trail is marked at night with glow sticks and from far away a lot of them looked like animal eyes. Again, it really made me nervous. At the unmanned aid station, i actually saw a runner sleeping! i was slightly jealous, but also happy it was him, not me.<br>
I finally made it back to the start/finish line and must have been a bit loopy because i was convinced i was too slow and that i would not finish in time and be pulled from the race. Lisa talked some sense into me and forced some more soup onto me as well. I could not believe i still had 30 more miles to go! This was one long, slow race.<br>
As i was getting ready for the next 5 miles, my husband said he would pace me for the loop. I was totally shocked and very happy to hear this. Lisa told him to just stay in front of me and keep a good pace. We did that loop in well under 2 hours and i made it back to the start/finish right before 6am. It was now time for the final climb up Fred's mountain. This was the part of the race i had dreaded the most. My legs were tired but i knew that all i had to do was muster through the last loop onto the finish. It was almost over, sort of. I also knew that the trail marathon was starting at 7am, so i wanted to get as far up the mountain as i could before they overtook me.<br>
As i started up the mountain, i was pretty sure i was the last runner on the course. My pace was a snail's pace, but i kept reminding myself that all it takes is one foot in front of the other. I kept checking my watch to see what time it was and the minutes were ticking away as i trudged up the mountain. About 3/4 of the way up, the first marathoners caught me. I was mortified as i saw them flying up the mountain while i was shuffling, but each and every one of them was encouraging and nice. Almost all of them told me how awesome i was and that i was doing great. It really made me feel better no matter how embarrassed i was about my pace.<br>
Once i got to the top, i saw that it had taken me about 2 hours. I did not care, because it was done!!! Fred had tried to break me but i would not let him. As i approached the aid station, Augie, one of the two kick ass volunteers, came up to me and said that i was his priority not the marathoners and he would get me anything i wanted. I took a plastic baggie of cheetos and headed back on down after thanking them for being such awesome volunteers.<br>
As I headed down the mountain, i saw that there were still several runners behind me, i was surprised to learn that i was not in fact the last runner! I also saw Anthony coming up the mountain being paced by his wife, he had found his second (or 9th as he called it) wind!! I was so happy to see him still going strong.<br>
At the bottom of the mountain i was forced to eat more soup and then headed back to the dreaded section B of the trail. I met up with some marathoners and one ran/walked with me for quite a while. Turns out that we know a few of the same people!!! Once he left me in his dust, i met up with the last marathoner who was asking me about pacing and volunteering and how she was really interested in ultras. It was nice to have some fresh company on the trail!<br>
When i had left the start/finish aid station, I asked Tracy to meet me at the bottom in 2 hours. Somehow, i managed to do well on that section, maybe it was the new day, and i ran it in closer to 1:30-40 and she found me already heading up the road. About now it was late morning and it was getting hot. She gave me some sunglasses and i told her to go to Teton Canyon for some amazing pictures and that i would see her at the start/finish line.<br>
Heading up the street i was getting very hot. I could feel my legs burning and every time the sun hit me, it hurt very badly. It was really starting to wear me down. As i continued up the road, my husband pulled up next to me in the car and said i was almost there and met me at the station. I sat down, just exhausted from the heat. I was probably babbling as well. I slathered some sunscreen on my legs, but it was definitely a case of too little too late. As i was sitting there, Anthony and his incredible super star pacer came up the trail. Anthony looked refreshed and like a new man on a mission. I thought i may try to keep up with them, but they took off.<br>
My trudge up the Mill Creek trail was long and slow. There was little shade as the sun was directly above me at this point. My legs hurt from the sun, i was hot, and i felt like i was just barely moving. This is where i started to have some hallucinations, probably from a combination of the heat and being awake for so many hours/days. The first one i had was that i saw a yellow motor bike leaning against a tree, then i saw a propane tank in the middle of the woods, and lastly, i saw a grey and yellow tent with a family inside, but as i neared it, there was nothing there. That was the weirdest one, because i could hear them talking and laughing, but turned out i was all alone.<br>
After way too long, I finally reached the unmanned aid station which was in a tent and sat inside. Zach, one of the race directors was there and filled my camelbak and said he would tell my husband i was on my way. As i sat there another runner came up and found shelter in the tent as well. I told him i wanted some clouds or a passing little rain shower. I could hope, couldn't i? After a few more minutes we agreed it was time to start moving on and we headed back out on the trail. He was much faster than me going up the steep climb, but he kept turning around to keep an eye on me, which i was grateful for. I knew that once i got to the start/finish line it was only 5 miles to the finish. I could have crawled and still made it in time to finish before the 36 hour cutoff.<br>
Finally, coming into the start/finish line i felt like i could reach the end and it was a reality and that i was going to finish this race. My stomach felt a bit off and I told Lisa that although i was hungry, i was nauseous. She handed me a handful of pretzels and told me to nibble on them. My husband was all ready to go to pace me on the last loop. We headed up the trail and it just felt good to be that far along, and it was really special to share this section with my husband. I was so happy we could do this together.<br>
As we started up the trail we could see Anthony and his pacer about 2/3 of the way done the final loop, i yelled and waved to them, and i think they saw me. Then, we saw Gilles, a friend of a friend who i met earlier in the race. Gilles was covered in mud, all over his face, it was crazy. I asked if he was okay, and he said he needed sunblock and that was the best he could do. It was very funny. And even odder was that a light sprinkling rain came through, just like i had hoped for! The rain was cold and felt so good on my badly burned body. It was refreshing.<br>
Finally we hit the last unmanned aid station and it was a mere 1.1 miles to the finish. This had to have been one of the longest miles ever. I knew if i tried really hard i could break 34 hours, but i really did not care, i was just very happy to know that i was going to finish, no matter what my time was, as long as it was under 36 hours. As we got closer and closer to the finish, i started to get a little emotional, but i held it together. As i hit the turn to the finish chute, i could see the finish line, Lisa waiting at the bottom, and in the courtyard behind there were all the finished runners and their families and friends. As i came down the hill to the chute, everyone started to cheer and clap and it was just a very incredible moment. Not only was i finishing an extremely hard 100 mile race, but all the incredible people i met over the past week were cheering me in.<br>
As i crossed the finish, Lisa's daughter Annabella placed a medal around my neck and Lisa presented me with the buckle and a big hug. Tracy was there, as were Anthony (icing his knee) and Mike and many other people i had gotten to know that weekend. It was just great.<br>
Soon thereafter, they started the awards. I made my way over to the area and found a seat on the patio ground. The winner of the 100 miler race, Andy Jones Wilkens , shattered the course record by HOURS!!!!!! What an incredible performance. After the top threes in all the races, they presented the age group awards. I was very happy to have won the 1st female in my age group. The award was a beautiful plaque. I also finished 26th out of 38 starters.<br>
Once the awards were over i really wanted to shower. I smelled so bad and was filthy. My husband helped me up and i started to walk. All of a sudden i could not see anything and i thought my legs were going to give out on me. He held me up and walked me over to the bench. Dr Naomi came over and said that most likely all of my blood had pooled in my legs and i got up too fast and to sit a little longer. She is a great person and anyone who has her as a doctor is very lucky! After sitting for 10-15 minutes i did feel much better and made my way back to my room.<br>
Once back to the room and my husband had the honor of taking off my shoes and socks. To my surprise i had some pretty big blisters on my toes! i had no idea. I took a bath and tried to scrub all the filth off of me. It was not an easy task. My sunburn was also very, very bad. Much worse than i had thought! All the salt washing off my body aggravated the burn even more.<br>
Once i finished cleaning myself up, i got dressed and wanted to head over to say good bye to Lisa and say good bye and thank you to Tracy. On my way over to Lisa, i saw Hans, who had dropped from the race. We chatted for some time and he was trying to convince me to run another 100 mile race out there in two weeks. Ha! He is such a trip. As I walked through the resort people kept stopping me to tell me how well i did and how i always looked happy on the trail! It really made me feel special that people even noticed me out there.<br>
I finally found my way over to Lisa and thanked her and hugged her and said goodbye. I then headed over to the lobby to meet up with Tracy. We chatted for quite some time and she took some post race interview video of me. I said my final good byes and thank yous to her and went back to my room. I tried to sleep, but was very hungry, i definitely did not eat enough during the race! I sent my husband over to the bar to get me some fries and chips, the only other vegetarian item was salad, so this was the best i could do. At some point i did fall asleep, but only to awake at 4am starving. I ate some more fries and my husband woke up and found me some left over cookies too.<br>
In the morning, i was sad to go. We were there for over a week and it was just such an amazing experience. I did not want it to end. I could have froze that moment forever and never left. Unfortunately they get 600 inches of snow a year there, and i hate snow more than anything else in the world! No moving to Alta, Wyoming in my future.<br>
Will I ever go back? I do not know. As of now, i would die satisfied never seeing Freds Mountain again. But, if i do not get into Western States, I am not sure what my plan will be. I guess never say never! The whole race was one big family and i felt like i knew everyone there, and that i had known everyone for years. It was a truly special event. Lisa and Jay are incredible people, and anyone who gets to meet them is lucky.<br><br><br>
View from the top of Freds<br><img alt="" src="" style="border:0px solid;"><br><br>
heading down Freds<br><img alt="" src="" style="border:0px solid;"><br><br>
about 1/3 down Freds<br><img alt="" src="" style="border:0px solid;"><br><br><br>
at an aid station<br><img alt="" src="" style="border:0px solid;"><br><br>
heading out the trail<br><img alt="" src="" style="border:0px solid;"><br><br>
view from Teton Canyon<br><img alt="" src="" style="border:0px solid;"><br><br>
at night with Solitude and Olga<br><img alt="" src="" style="border:0px solid;"><br><br>
at night<br><br><img alt="" src="" style="border:0px solid;"><br><br>
heading up the road<br><img alt="" src="" style="border:0px solid;"><br><br>
Me & DH after the race<br><img alt="" src="" style="border:0px solid;"><br><br>
me & my coach after the race<br><img alt="" src="" style="border:0px solid;"><br><br>
1st in age group award<br><img alt="" src="" style="border:0px solid;"><br><br>
dirty feet<br><img alt="" src="" style="border:0px solid;">

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2,828 Posts
As I said before, you had trained so hard & so diligently that it's great to se you accomplish such a prestigious goal.<br>
As fun as it was to follow along on the web-cast, it's so much more interesting to fill in the blanks with your first-hand account.<br>
You should be on Cloud 9 for awhile...& deservedly so.<br>
Wear that buckle with pride!

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5,805 Posts
meri - I printed out you RR and will read it tonight.<br><br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="" style="border:0px solid;" title="notworthy"><br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="" style="border:0px solid;" title="salute">

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You are amazing!<br>
Great job...not many people could do what you have done. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="" style="border:0px solid;" title="hello1">

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1,744 Posts I kept waiting for "I was impressed with my feet". (my favorite line from your first 100) <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="" style="border:0px solid;" title="Smile"> Anyway, I'm impressed with all of you.

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Meri I don't know what to say that hasn't already been said. I'm just a little misty eyed...<br><br>
You absolutely rock woman!!!!

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Meri, you are so amazing <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="" style="border:0px solid;" title="Smile"> I'm all misty-eyed and choked up.<br><br>
Congratulations! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="" style="border:0px solid;" title="Very Happy"><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="" style="border:0px solid;" title="Very Happy"><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="" style="border:0px solid;" title="Very Happy"><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="" style="border:0px solid;" title="Very Happy"><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="" style="border:0px solid;" title="Very Happy"><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="" style="border:0px solid;" title="Very Happy"><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="" style="border:0px solid;" title="Very Happy"><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="" style="border:0px solid;" title="Very Happy"><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="" style="border:0px solid;" title="Very Happy">

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Imagine my sadness (once I figured out that kick was back up but that the old forum link was kaput) not to find a Merigayle write-up in Extreme Running...<br><br>
... ah, but here it is.<br><br>
That's a wonderful report about a race that seems tremendously challenging. I can't imagine running a trail like that at night, especially up that high. Altitude makes my teeth hurt for some reason, and my teeth hurt right now just thinking about it.<br><br>
You got to meet Olga too! COOL.

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15,296 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
oh shoot!!! i just realized that i posted it in the wrong forum <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="" style="border:0px solid;" title="Sad"> forgive me srlopez!!!!

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Meri, I'm not ashamed to admit that I have tears in my eyes. I watched some discouragement on your face at times but mostly a lot of smiles. When you crossed the finish line it took everything not to let the tears flow. I know how hard it was for you, how tired your body was and the sunburn had to hurt. But you kept going. Your determination is inspiring.<br><br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="" style="border:0px solid;" title="notworthy"><br><br>
I don't really feel like I did all that much, but it was so worth it. You.are.freaking.amazing! Anytime you need a crew I will be there to help out. I'm already planning on next years Umstead. Will you be my coach? <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="" style="border:0px solid;" title="Smile">

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15,296 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
well, i will probably be out west next year for some race of some kind, Western States, or Teton or something. I will let you know <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="" style="border:0px solid;" title="Smile"> I hope you can come to Umstead!!!
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