A tale of my trials and tribulations out on the trails. I hope you find my rewarding experiences inspiring for yourself.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Well, I successfully fell out for the 1st time ever. It started with the 3:30 AM wake up call. Me and dad had driven up early on Friday to make it to the pre-race briefing at Thousand Trails at 3 PM. The next morning was very hectic. A huge breakfast, and I misplaced my GPS until about 30 seconds before the race started. Got out onto the steps, and I heard somebody say "go," and we were off. Into the darkness. The 6 mile climb to Maverick Saddle was long, but not too tough. We were running along the Mad river, filled up our bottles there. After that was the climb up the Hi-Yu Trail. That was a tough little climb. Wonderful view though, as the sun had just come up, and the valley below where we had started at was very picturesque. Ran along the Hi-Yu trail for a while, until we hit the Lonely Lake. It was glass. Ran to Ann Lake, about 10 miles in, and had breakfast. Continued up to Klone Peak, 20 miles in, and had another meal. I got cured of my appetite for Clif Bars during this section. Those things really started to taste as gross as they look. Boy oh boy though, my dad's breakfast burritos got better and better. I looked forward to the next 10 mile stop to eat one. After I hit Klone Peak, I started to feel like crap. Since I started ultrarunning, my stomach has gotten worse and worse at processing those gels. I had a few in the 1st few hours, and decided when I wanted to throw up that I would eat any more. Switching over to solid food, my stomach felt a lot better, and my mood popped up again. after Klone peak it is a very long and steady downhill. After the peak you hit "the haunted forest." It is all burnt, very quiet, and very mysterious in my mind. I ran into my dad and this hiker at this point. He came to say hello, and nothing more! Thankfully, he had no aid, because I would have been very tempted to take some at this point. it was a few more miles down this hill from that point, and I found a stream. Filled up with some ice cold water there, and was back on my way. A couple more miles down the trail, I hit the 2nd SAR checkpoint. They had a hammock, and I wanted to lay down in it. I decided not to. Kept going down, down, down, until I hit my 2nd favorite section of the course, where the trail becomes asphalt/foot and I become a blister on it. Ouch! Found myself at the culdesac trailhead, and Chris and Tom the RDs were there. Spun around to the left, and ran down the trail to South Tommy Trail. Me and Dan Probst and one of his friends stopped at Fox Creek to water up. This is the last water for 14 miles. It is also the start of my favorite section of the course. This is a 4800' climb in 6 miles. I had to stop more than 10 times on this climb to get my heart rate down. This was the toughest climb of my life. Got to the top of Signal peak, and ran down Tyee Ridge at this point. Actually, I lie. I was so wiped out from the climb I couldn't do much more than a slow walk. Slowly, I recovered. I was so lonely out there, and so miserable. I had hit the lowest emotional point I have ever had since I started ultrarunning. I felt the big kill coming closer. There is a long uphill section of the Tyee Ridge trail, then it is a rolling downhill. On the uphill section, out of nowhere, I hear "Run Ben, Run!!" Dan Probst had caught up again. His buddy that he had been running with had faded on the climb to Signal Peak, which I could understand. We ran together for a while, and the company was good. I still felt bad though. We got on the downhil to the next SAR, and I took off. 8:30 miles, and I was flying. That felt pretty good, although my knees were not doing so hot. Ran into Joe Lee at this section, the gentleman I got my GPS coordinates from. He dropped here. I kept running really fast, because the sun was setting, and I wanted to make as much time as I could before it got dark. I got mixed up on the trail, because it was a bushwhack trail more than anything else, and the bricks used to reinforce the windy section that the motorcyles used were strewn all over the place. I tripped over one, and got my 1st battle wounds of the race. The descent into Cougar Creek was horrible. It was down this really steep hill with more rubble than the Flintstones would ever deal with in a lifetime! Me and Dan got to Cougar Creeek and filled up, the 1st water in 14 miles. It was nice and cool down there, but it was very dark outside, so I knew it would be getting cold down by the water here. I was completely beat, and felt CCC 100 kicking me in the butt. I knew I didn't have much energy left. got onto the Mad River trail, and it was 5 more miles to the next SAR checkpoint. I was planning to stop there. I lost Dan for a while, and then he caught up. We got on the road to Maverick Saddle, and got to the SAR checkpoint there at about 11 PM. He went on ahead, I didn't. This is where the big bloody DNF caught me at. Being an idiot, I had decided to try an incredibly difficult endurance run 3 weeks after my 1st 100, thinking my body would be healed up by this point. I was wrong! This is the 1st time my legs weren't strong enough to keep moving. I will be back again to conquer this course, so we will see how it goes at that time. Thanks Chris and Tom, that was quite the challenge.
Hey there! Ben Blessing is my name. I am a former Marine who is working towards my Bachelor's in Music Composition. Other than that, I spend my time on crazy weekend trips running insane amounts of miles. I am currently training for the Cascade Crest Classic 100 mile Endurance Run. I have high hopes of getting into the Badwater Ultramarathon next summer.