Friday night before the race I woke up around 1 in the morning to the sound of pouring rain outside. Oh great, I thought, it’s going to be the 2009 race all over again. I already wrote a post about it, but the 2009 Chimera 100 had horrendous conditions. It was pouring rain and there were nasty biting cold winds that caused the race to be cancelled about 6 hours into the race. I tried not to think about it too much and fell back asleep for another couple hours until my alarm went off at 3:30.
When I woke up, surprisingly I was pretty alert… usually I drag and am pretty slow in the morning. I got my things together, made myself some eggs and then went to give Mark, who was still in bed sleeping, a kiss good bye before I left.
“Have a good run baby. This is your race, I know you’re gonna kill it,” were Mark’s half ass words of encouragement. Yeah yeah yeah… just go back to sleep.
Candy Store Loop: Miles 0-20
Since I DNF’d my last 100 mile attempt, I decided that I needed to go into Chimera much better prepared and with a plan. A couple days before the race, I made a plan for myself, giving myself goals of how fast I wanted to be at each of the aid stations. My biggest goal was to just complete the race, but next to that, I wanted to finish in under 28 hours and getting a silver belt buckle. Under 30 hours would get silver and over 30 would get bronze.
I gave myself the first goal of being done with the Candy Store Loop in 4.5 hours. I REALLY hate this loop, but I actually felt pretty decent throughout this first section. I’m not sure why I hate it so much, it actually is a really pretty loop, but I was happy that it was the first 20 miles and not the last so that I could just get it over with and not have to think about it again. The loop starts and ends at the race start, where you can use your car as an aid station, and I ended up being back at my car in a little under my goal. I quickly switched into my Hokas, drank 300 calories of Vitargo and then was back out on my way in exactly 4 hours and 30 minutes into the race. Right on time.
Blue Jay to Bear Springs: Miles 20-42.5
The course continued after Blue Jay for a mile slightly uphill until we reached the Main Divide road, which took us on a steep, two mile climb to the top of the Trabuco trail. I felt fairly good going up the hill and would alternate running a minute and power walking a minute up the hill. At the top was an aid station, which I was in and out of quickly and then headed down the very technical Trabuco trail, which dropped down into the back end of Holy Jim. As I ran though Holy Jim, I was having a ball. I felt absolutely amazing… it was night and day compared to how I had felt at this point at Rio Del Lago a month before. At 28 miles in, I hit the next aid station, which again I was in and out of in under a minute and then headed out for a 10 mile out and back section. The first five miles to the turn around were slightly downhill. I still felt good, but wanted to make sure I held back a little and so I would run for 9 minutes and then walk for a minute. After the turn around, I caught up to Andi Ramer and another runner and stuck with them for the five miles back to the Holy Jim aid station. Since it was slightly uphill on the way back, I had planned on running 4 minutes and then walking one, which was the same plan that they had. It was nice to have company on this section and Andi was a crack up. I think I was laughing the whole 5 miles, which made this really boring section go by really fast. Before I knew it, I was back at Holy Jim, 8 hours and 5 minutes into the race… 55 minutes faster than my goal plan.
After this aid station would be a long climb… 8 miles up to the top of Santiago Peak. The first mile of it was only a slight uphill and so I tried to run as much of it as I could. I passed a runner and he laughed at me and asked me if I knew what I was in for. Yes, I thought, which is why I am running every possible flat section that I can.
After a mile or so in, the switchbacks started, which would basically continue until the peak. I tried to play games with myself by making myself run one switchback and then walk the next. Again, I was surprised at how well I felt at this point in the race and going uphill. I made it to the Bear Springs aid station in excellent timing, about 9 hours and 45 minutes into the race, still ahead of my predicted time of 10:30. Two of my friends, Deborah and Kristen, were working the aid station, which was stocked with some hot food. I totally was not expecting hot food this early on in the race and was thrilled to have some especially since the sun was setting it was getting pretty cold out in addition to being in higher elevation. Some hot chicken broth felt so good going down and I also had a piece of quesadilla. I put my windbreaker on and then was back out on my way.
Bear Springs to Maple Springs: Miles 42.5-49.7
About 30 minutes after leaving the aid station it was pitch black out, but I was lucky enough to catch up to another runner, Matt, and we pretty much stuck together the whole section until the next aid station. The majority of this section was slightly downhill. I was getting a tad tired and it was a little harder to navigate in the dark and so I slowed down probably just a tad, but was still moving really well. I was excited to get to the next aid station at Maple Springs because I had my drop bad. When I arrived I sat for a few moments and drank the bottle of Vitargo that was awaiting me and also switched out my socks. Before I left, I asked one of the volunteers what time it was, in which he replied 5:55pm. Although I was stoked that I was still way ahead of goal pace, one thing worried me.. I had told my mom and my pacer, Amelia, to meet me at the Silverado aid station (which was only 7 miles away) between 8 and 9pm. I knew that it wouldn’t take me a full 2 hours to go the 7 miles to the aid station since it was all downhill, so I was just hoping that they would be there a bit early so I wouldn’t have to wait too long.
Maple Springs to Silverado Canyon: Miles 49.7 to 56.8
The first four miles after Maple Springs were all downhill switchbacks and my stomach started to feel weird. I think the downhill running was just mixing around the assortment of random foods I had eaten throughout the day and it was not feeling good. However, I was excited to get down to the aid station and see my mom and Amelia and so I pushed through it and tried to just ignore it. When I hit pavement, I knew that I only had 3 more miles of slight downhill and so I pushed the pace a littler harder, but when I got to the aid station I couldn’t find them anywhere. I asked a volunteer what time it was and he informed me that it was 7:30pm. I had predicted my time into the aid station around 8:30, but had told my mom to be there around 8 just in case, and I thought that would have been really fast for me. I told the volunteers that I would give them about 15-20 minutes before I would just continue on my own. The next 3 miles had a 2,000 ft climb, which meant that at this point in the race I would be walking, but maybe Amelia could catch up to me (I was allowed to have a pacer with me from this point on until the end of the race). I used the time to go use the restroom and just try and let me stomach settle since at this point it was really becoming a problem. After about 15 minutes at the aid station, I told the volunteers that I would give them 5 more minutes before I took off. I really didn’t want to leave with out seeing them though.. my mom had a clean change of clothes for me and I really wanted to have Amelia to run with through the night. Fortunately though, literally two seconds after I said I would give them 5 more minutes, my mom and Amelia appeared. I quickly changed my clothes, tried to get down some Vitargo and then Amelia and I started our climb up the Silverado Motor Way.
Silverado Canyon back to Maple Springs: Miles 56.8-65.8
LIke I said, the next three miles was all climbing. I run this section of the course quite often, but never at night. It was actually a good thing that we got to do this section at night so we couldn’t see how steep we were climbing or how much further we had to go. My stomach still hurt on the way up, but luckily Amelia gave me some Tums to try and when those didn’t work she suggested sucking on some peppermint. Nothing seemed to work, but we chatted the whole way up the hill, which at least helped to take my mind off my stomach. The whole 3 mile climb actually went by faster than I thought it would and I think in maybe a little over an hour or so we were at the top and were greeted by aid station captain, Scott Mills. Since I hadn’t eaten anything in over an hour and kept telling Amelia I would eat something in 10 more minutes (which eventually bought me enough time until we were at the aid station), I decided to be a good runner and try and get some food down. I decided on some ginger-ale and saltines and then we were back out on the trail.
Scott had told us that we had about 5 miles of rolling hills until the next aid station (which was back at Maple Springs), but it was more like 6 miles of pretty much all uphill and only a few short downhills. When someone says, “rolling hills” I get the mental picture of nice gentle hills, not straight up climbing. So much for wishful thinking. Anyways, I tried running all the possible sections that weren’t too steep, but that wasn’t much. On any of the downhill sections my stomach would start to ache again. UGH. But after what seemed like forever we made it back to the Maple Springs aid station.
I didn’t want to waste a lot of time at this aid station. It was FREEZING out if you were not moving and so if I sat too long I knew I it would just be way too hard to get moving. The Chimera seemed to be eating people alive as the whole tent was filled with runners who decided they would go no further. I sat in a chair and mixed in my magic powder A, which I had strategically waited until mile 65 to take, into a 300 calorie serving of grape Vitargo, drank the whole bottle in about a minute and then we headed back out towards Sanitago Peak.
Maple Springs to Indian Truck Trail: Miles 65.8 to 75.6
I had already ran the next 5 miles of the course, but coming from the opposite direction, which was a slight downhill, which meant that we were now going on a slight incline. We alternated running and walking and talked the whole time. At some point we were passed by one runner who was French and so we called him, “Pepe.” We both must have been really tired because we found this quite funny. We tried to look for Pepe later in the race, but he was never to be seen again.
Once we hit the peak, there was a new aid station set up, that had not been there the first time. It was manned by my friend, Chris, and another guy and they had all sorts of hot food, including bacon! I sat down for about 2 minutes, ate my bacon and I think drank some broth, grabbed a handful of Cheezits and then took off. Amelia and I walked for a moment and then she tried saying something to me, but I couldn’t understand her at all.
“What did you say?” As I shoved my handful of cheezits into my mouth.
“You’re mom is meeting us around 3 right? Sorry I had a handful of cheezits in my mouth,” she said.
“Yes,” I garbled back with my mouth full.
I swallowed the cheezits, “Yes. Sorry, I had a mouthful of Cheezeits too.”
This pretty much cracked us up. Its funny how the simplest things are so hilarious 70 miles into a race. We continued on, running a lot of this section, and talking so much that we turned a corner and were surprised to see that we had made it to the Indian Truck Trail aid station. We were shocked that we had made it there so quickly and to top it off there was a guy dressed in a cowboy outfit, lit up with lights all over. Again… the simplest things are hilarious this far into an ultra. We thought he was just so cool. Once inside the aid station, I chowed down on some quesadilla (something with a little grease was the only thing that sounded remotely tolerable at this point) and then we went back out.
Indian Truck Trail to Corona and Back: Miles 75.6-89.6
The first mile and a half or so started out fairly flat and runable, but then the rest of the way was downhill. A lot of people might think that 6 miles of downhill might be good, but at this point in the race, my legs were pretty trashed and were not liking going down, at least not for that many miles. Still, Amelia and I slowly ran the majority of the downhill, until about the last half a mile, which we walked in to the Corona aid station.
The Corona aid station (mile 82) would be where I would pick up my mom to pace me for the last 18 miles in and where Amelia and I would part ways. When we got in, my mom was right there waiting for us, ready to run (well hike) and so excited to see me. I sat down and luckily some guy gave me a couple blankets to wrap around me. I knew that I was going to have to eat some food again, since I hadn’t eaten for 7 miles, but luckily there was hot pizza! I ate 3 squares of pizza, drank some coke, took a Fein (caffeine) and then was ready to get this beast of a 100 over with.
So now that I had just gone down 7 miles, I had to turn around and go right back up it. I didn’t even attempt to run to run the long massive hill, but just put my head down and tried to walk as fast as possible. About three-quarters of the way up the sun started to rise. It was pretty amazing to look back and see how far up we had just climbed. Although at this point I was exhausted, it was a really cool feeling to realize that I had just ran all through the night. And as much as I would love to finish in sub 24 hours, before the sun comes back up, sunrise is of my favorite parts of the race. I also know at this point I will perk up a bit after having been in the dark for so many hours. I have never ran a 100 after daylight savings time and so this race definitely had the longest night of any other 100 I have done… 13 hours of darkness!
As we made our way up the trail, there were still lots of runners who were still heading down. I was feeling pretty horrible at this point, but I was just so happy that I was heading back up instead of down. Once we hit the semi-flat section, I knew we were getting close to the aid station again and so we started running again. At some point going back up the hill, the back of my left knee and my right ankle started bothering me quite a bit, so when I would run, I could only run for a few minutes at a time until the pain was too much and I had to walk it out for a few moments.
When we arrived at the Indian Truck Trail aid station for the second time, I sat down for a few moments and ate some more quesadilla. I was now only 10 miles from the finish. Thank god! The aid station volunteers said that it was about 4 miles until the next aid station and it started with a small uphill and then would be downhill the rest of the way to the finish.
Indian Truck Trail to the Finish! Miles 89.6-100
When we left the aid station we realized that the volunteers were giving it to us gently when they said we had a “small” hill and then it was all downhill. Maybe if I hadn’t already had 90 miles under my feet, the hill would have felt not quite so big, but right then it felt giant. So my mom and I hiked for a while. Once the trail leveled out, we tried running as much as we could, but it was never that long because another hill would come up. I was getting a bit cranky because I had wanted to get to the next aid station and it seemed like it was taking FOREVER. It felt like we had gone way more than 4 miles, but FINALLY we made it. Nothing at the aid station looked good to eat and I asked the volunteers how many miles until the last aid station and they said 4 more miles. I knew once we got to the last aid station that it would be about 3 miles to the finish all downhill and I knew that section really well. However, I wasn’t quite sure on the section from where I was until the last aid station. I was thinking maybe 2 or 3, but when they said 4, I just got really pissed off. Not at the volunteers, I know that its not their fault that I had that long to go, I was just irritated. So I stormed off and kept on hiking.
After about a mile, the trail started looking really familiar again. I had not ran this section of the course in a couple years, but things started coming back to me and I knew exactly where we were, how many more hills we had, how many more turns we had to make, etc. This put me in a much better mood. I knew that we were almost done!
When we made it to the last aid station at Trabuco, we didn’t stop long at all. I hadn’t eaten anything for the last 8 miles and everything sounded horrible so I just grabbed some hard candy to suck on and kept going. Going downhill did not exactly feel great, but I knew it was just 3 miles until this whole thing was over with and so my mom and I ran as much as we could. I kept asking my mom what time it was because I wanted to make it into the finish before 10:15am, which would be the 28 hour mark. I had enough time to do it, but just couldn’t dilly dally in.
Finally we made it to a paved road, which meant that we had about a mile to go. This last mile I felt so sick, like I was going to have exorcist style vomiting, but unfortunately, nothing would come out. We alternated walking and running until we saw two ladies who told us we had 0.4 miles to go and so we ran the rest of the way in.
I finished in 27 hours and 45 minutes. I beat my goal of 28 hours and also came in 5th female AND was the youngest finisher in the entire race.
Chimera 100 was definitely the hardest trail 100 I have done yet. Badwater was harder, but that race is just in a league of its own. I am so proud of myself for finishing this race though. I set some goals, I made a plan and I did it. No matter how hard it got, never once did the option of quitting come to mind. I didn’t allow negative thoughts into my head and I really think that having a positive mindset is the difference between succeeding and failing at 100s.
Thank you so much, Amelia for pacing me through the night. I am glad we finally got to run together. You were amazing. Maybe the reason I DNF’d RDL was so I could meet you and you could help me tackle this beast of a race instead 🙂
Thank you mama for pacing me the last 18 miles in. Feels pretty cool to be able to finish a 100 mile race with my mom! Actually, that is 2 races now that you have paced me to the finish! It seems to be working for me, so don’t be shocked when I ask you to pace me again.
Thank you to all the volunteers and to Steve and Annie Harvey. You all outdid yourselves and put on such a well organized event. Will be back to conquer this beast again!
Finally thank you Genr8, for providing me with Vitargo. It worked wonders every time I took it and never ever gives me stomach issues… I had stomach issues because I decided to eat gels in-between aid stations. Big mistake!
And thank you Hoka One One for providing me with shoes!! I think a big reason why my legs felt so great so far into the race was because of wearing the Hokas and I didn’t even have any blisters, which is amazing for such a technical race.