LOVE HARDER , EAT BETTER & EXPLORE FURTHER
Alternate title : That time I hugged Hal Koerner in the middle of the night and told him I was a dude....yup, real life.
Man, you would think we forgot we had this blog, right? It has been an absolutely crazy-busy spring and summer for the Hough-Canty clan. I feel like I’ve gotten on and off one (or seven) too many planes, missed too many lazy mornings with my pup and not had nearly enough double IPAs. Fall is finally around the corner - and I feel compelled to at least quickly sum up our Spring and Summer before dumping y’all straight into my Bear 100 race recap.
May - Post-Barkley and Post-Boston Marathon, Luke and I were itching to get an ultra done (technically having not competed since Mountain Mist in January). We signed up and won (in a sprint finish) the Nashville Running Company Dark Sky 50 miler in Big South Fork in TN. That long day together set a great tone for the rest of the summer….even though Jax puked like 5 times in the car to and fro.
June - A few weeks later we teamed up again and raced Rockin Choccolocco 50k in Heflin, AL. One of my favorite 50ks in the state and one of my first races back in 2016. I cut nearly 30 minutes off my time from that year and Luke and I took the race win. We relaxed with friends and all our Pinhoti Trail Runner lovelies and cleaned up some more puke….
July - One of my Bear 100 tune-up races and my altitude check-in, Beaverhead100k in Salmon, Idaho. I set the CR last year at this race and was given free entry to return - why not? We packed our bags again and set out to the middle-of-nowhere-Idaho. Check out last year’s race report for some finer details (the course didn’t change at all). I love this group of people, the continental divide trail and the horrible scree field at the end of the race. Aside from a minor shin injury that cleared up, it was a great day, taking some time off my CR and spending most of the race with Luke.
August - A month to focus on training - especially since enlisting the help of a new coach, David Roche, from Some Work, All Play (i.e. SWAP). Finally found what I was missing in training and racing - oh yeah, positivity! A whole month to really enjoy work-outs, actually take rest days, and stop pinching my muffin-top in the mirror (okay, “trying” to stop that bad behavior). I even spent a weekend camping alone in the Smokies to do some trekking pole testing on Mt. LeConte!
September - BAM! And here we are. We kicked off the month with my last altitude, hard climbing, tune-up race at Endurance Santa Fe (previously Ultra Santa Fe) in New Mexico. Labor Day weekend is perfect for this race, it gives us the opportunity to really enjoy time with our local friends and visit my own family in southern New Mexico. This race was great, I had Luke to crew, took 2nd Overall and only had one minor temper tantrum after peaking out at 12k feet for the second time in the race and not really liking the lack of oxygen (read: I dropped to all fours and cried loudly for 30 seconds).
So - onto the BEAR 100. This was my Big Hairy Audacious Goal for the 2018 season. The week pryor to the race hadn’t been spent as “restful” as it could have been - there was some work travel, too much catching up beer with friends in New England and pacing a good friend to her own 100-mile finish. But, regardless, Wednesday morning we got on a place to Salt Lake City to start my next adventure. We were in our favorite Air BnB (thanks Debbie!), my in-laws in tow to help crew and a cool Swedish gent who was also running Friday morning (Hi Alex!).
My goals going in were pretty simple, taking into account my sea-level training and my lackluster resting. I wanted to run this race with positivity - I've become so, so fed up with the toxic bitch I am to myself. How can I be the best I can, when all I've heard during a race is how much I don't belong...
A: Podium Finish
B: Sub-24 hour (at the Bear, a Sub-24 hour finish is a separate buckle the coveted “Wolverine” club)
C: Have a grand fucking time and don’t quit. Smile always and be kind (an important SWAP tenet that I love).
Start to Leatham Hollow (Mile ~20)
The Bear starts with a several thousand foot climb followed with a near identical drop - this course speaks my love language. I was in heaven watching the sunrise as we climbed toward Logan Peak keeping a good pace in a chatty conga line that was helpfully distracting. Mile 20 is the first stop when you get to see your crew - there was also an aid station at mile 10.5 that I blew through pretty quickly while it was still cool out and I had plenty of food. Luke and his parents were at Leatham Hollow ready to get me out quickly, I had no idea I was already 2nd Female. With some sunscreen, a pack change and my sunglasses - I was out of there!
A small aside: The entire Bear 100 race proceeds as follows : Uphill, Dowhill, Aid Station, Uphill, Downhill, Aid Station. Seriously. The whole time. It’s perfectly awful and symmetric. So if you read this recap and I don’t talk enough about how the race profile this is what is happening.
Leatham Hollow to Cowley Canyon (Mile ~30)
I caught back up to Franklin Baker on this section, having lost him on the downhill to Leatham Hollow. This section is some of the most beautiful running, but you pay for the views and easy running in the exposed fire roads. Boy, was it warm. I was grateful for ice in my pack at the Cowley Aid Station, my goodr sunglasses and enough streams to wet my Buff.
Cowley Canyon to Right Hand Fork (Mile ~37)
More exposed double track and an easy descent down to my next crew stop. I enjoyed a bean burrito and some cold water while my pack was filled. My only real complaint to this point was the dust - it had filled my lungs and my eyes and was making everything just a little gritty. I still felt great and ready to tackle this next section with some more runnable trail and I was excited for the second trying climb up to Tony Grove.
Right Hand Fork to Tony Grove (~Mile 52)
Passing through Temple Fork Aid Station (Mile 44) I quickly picked up my trekking poles for the first time of the day. I knew I wanted to be able to power up the 6 mile climb to Tony Grove. And power I did. Seriously, Miles 30 to 62 were some of the best miles of any race I have ever run. Just felt like I had entered this perfect flow of run, hike, run, eat, drink, run, hike, etc. I started Tony Grove with a nice guy who eventually let me pull out front so I could pace our climb. I finished the climb alone, passing a few people before reaching Tony Grove.
Tony Grove to Franklin Basin (~Mile 62)
A quick buttcrack body glide application, one more burrito, and some more liquids and off I went. I took my headphones for this section, I knew just how runnable it was after the short climb out of Tony Grove. I made this section my bitch. Beautiful, dusky, technical and some blaring club music. All was well until….Oh wait…here goes my stomach.
Franklin Basin to Logan River (Mile ~70)
Finally picking up Luke and my trekking poles we headed out to finish this thing. I lost a lot of time at this aid station. My stomach had finally decided that solid food just wasn’t going to happen and suddenly I started having a very intense panic attack. Luke talked me down and got me walking and we eventually clicked on our head lamps. We still managed to pass some people (including Hal Koerner) on our way to Mile 70 which we hit long after my watch clicked over to 70 miles (which is so not a complaint about the race - it just sucks when you had been counting on your watch being right). Fighting the negativity in my brain, I just kept talking to myself. Spent too much time again at Mile 70 desperately trying to eat, but I did get to hug Hal Koerner and tell him I had a man-crush on him - and proceed to garble an explanation about how I’m probably not a man so that didn’t make sense. We had to leave immediately…
Logan River to Beaver Lodge (Mile ~76)
Ready to finish this thing. The rest of the race quickly became, power hike/run to each aid station, sit until I could get in at least enough food to get to the next aid station, repeat. I never really got too cold through these sections and it was positive reinforcement to see I was still moving up in the field and rarely getting passed.
Beaver Lodge to Beaver Creek (Mile ~85)
Speaking of getting passed , third place female made up a ton of time (as I lost a bunch at aid stations) and passed me at Beaver Creek. I don’t remember much about this section. Middle of night fatigue, 100 mile fatigue and lack of calories was making this a tough sell to get to the finish line. But I knew that I was still doing something incredible for me. I continued to live in the moment and avoid the negativity monster - Luke would probably say the negativity monster was actually alive and well, but I was really trying!
Beaver Creek to the Finish
Wait, we’re not done climbing yet! A small climb out o Beaver Creek, a short jog into the Ranger Dip (Mile 92) aid station and then a gut busting, bent over a the hips, 30% grade hump up the last climb. Followed shortly by the most ridiculous downhill section of a race I have ever seen (even though I had seen it before). Man the Bear really makes you work for that Wolverine Buckle. The last 6 miles to the finish line are incredibly technical, dusty (this year) and straight downhill. Which sounds super fun - when you have 5 miles on your legs - and super sucks when you have 94 miles on them. I fell flat on my ass twice trying to haul it to a sub-23 hour finish and just couldn’t gather the strength for sub-10 minute miles. Luke did all he could to push me, but I was out of happiness at this point. I was happy to be finishing, happy for a sub-24 but I couldn’t find the reason to push for sub-23.
All is well, I was beyond ecstatic to collapse at the finish line with my podium spot and my Wolverine buckle. I met all my goals and actually executed pretty well for my second, tough hundred. I really can’t nit-pick it any more than that. Congrats to Kaytlyn Gerbin who fucking CRUSHED it and to Leah Yingling (another SWAPper!) who ran super smart and save some smiles and legs for the last 20. Franklin Baker chased some demons down and put together a solid finish after a summer injury. Fred Doss chose this as his FIRST 100 (wtf?) and crushed it!
And of course a whole, humongous thank you to my amazing husband Luke and his parents Ann and Tony who drove in from Wyoming to take care of their psychotic daughter-in-law. I'm sure I make them happy they only had sons :)
Rabbit Split Tee/Rabbit Straptastic Bra - Check these out! Seriously I ran 23 HOURS with not a spot of chafin. NOT A SPOT. First hundred miler to not scream in the shower. Love my rabbit team! https://www.runinrabbit.com/
Saucony Bullet Shorts - Until these fall apart at the seems, I'll keep racing in them. You can't beat these huge side pockets and hug to keep all my ish from jiggling. Not available online right now :(
Saucony Peregrine 8 & Swiftwick Merinos - Let me repeat - no lost toenails, no blisters. No lost toenails, no blisters. 'Nuff said. www.saucony.com www.swiftwick.com
Dirty Girl Gaiters - These are a must at all my races - especially in the dusty west. Keepin' it dirty! https://dirtygirlgaiters.com/
Nathan Vapor Howe 12L and 4L packs - www.nathansports.com
Patagonia Houdini - Can Patagonia please send me a new one :) slashed a hole in this bad boy, but I love it www.patagonia.com
Salomon S/Lab Wind Pants - Franklin picked these up at the Ogden outlet for me the DAY BEFORE THE RACE. And I wore them for the last three hours to keep the chill-monsters away. www.salomon.com
Honeystinger Cherry Blossom Chews - Sting or Bee Stung!! www.honeystinger.com
Tailwind - Helped me get through mile 60! Rasperry Caffeinated for the win! www.tailwindnutrition.com
Luke Hough & Liz Canty
Liz Canty and Luke Hough. Co-habitants who like to run, race, explore and drink much too expensive beer. Read along through the awesome, the sweaty, the daily life and the occasional bickering over which running shoes are the best…