Running the Wasatch 100

My Wasatch 100 training began late June. I wanted to train hard and see what I could do in the Wasatch. I had a good base from running the Boston marathon in the spring, so I sat down and planned out a schedule. SInce I knew I was going to be putting in some long runs, I incorporated two cycling days to hopefully not burn out. My schedule was Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday – Running. I would run twice on Wednesdays and do my long runs on saturdays. Tuesday and Thursday I would bike for a cross train/recovery day. Training went well. I was able to run all of the race course during training and my longest run maxed out at 34 miles. It was mostly early morning runs with a few late night runs. Because of the timing I was training mostly by myself during the week. I could usually find someone to run with Saturdays for part or all of my run. I was hitting my weekly mileage goals and was lucky I didn’t have to deal with any injuries interrupting my training. 

Training came and went and it was finally race day. I was feeling well rested and ready to run. During training I had tried different nutrition and hydration options to make sure what I fueled with wasn’t going to upset my stomach during the race. The race nutrition plan to carry with me ended up being ProBar meal bars and energy chews, beef jerky,  CarboPro and Skratch labs hydration mix. I ran the race in Hoka challengers with 2XU compression socks. I carried nutrition, fluids, salt tablets, lip balm, small first aid kit, ect. in a Grivel Mountain Runner pack. Other equipment used: BD Storm headlamp, Real Gear extreme cooling collar, DriDucks Chilly bean cooling cap, Outdoor Designs stretch wool touch gloves, Hydrapack soft flasks, Camelback Antidote reservoir.

Race day morning temps were cool but the forecast for the race fell in the ideal ranges. The race starts north of Farmington on the road for a mile before you hit the trail up Bair canyon. I was feeling good and excited for the miles ahead. From the start to the Bountiful B it was 16 miles. Getting up Bair canyon and along the ridgeline felt good. The sun was starting to rise above the horizon and I could see runners dotting the trail both in front and behind me. Legs were feeling good and during the climb up to the Bountiful B station I caught up to a big group of runners. I quickly got water at the aid station and headed on my way. The aid station helped spread the runners out again and I continued on my way to the Sessions Lift Off (20mi), Swallow Rocks (27mi) and Big Mountain pass (31mi). 

I had been hydrating and taking salt tablets on schedule and just after Swallow Rocks it started to get warm.  When I got to Big mountain pass the nerves were gone and I was settled in. I picked up my first pacer here. The legs were still feeling good, no hotspots in the shoe or pack areas. I refilled water, hydration mix and nutrition and continued on my way. I was eating a Probar and it was getting hard to eat. I held on to it for a couple miles and tried to get it down but I didn’t want to push it. My stomach was starting to get slightly uneasy and the temps were getting warmer. Worrying that I wasn’t going to stay hydrated in the heat I continued to hydrate and salt but I think this was contributing to my uneasy stomach. Continuing to eat on an uneasy stomach hadn’t worked out for me in past endurance races so, I decided to stop eating solid calories and see if I could just drink my calories. I had pre-mixed my CarboPro and hydration mix together in baggies so when I refilled my water I could easily add it in without thinking. Foolishly, I didn’t think that I might not want one or the other during the race. Rookie mistake!

I got to Alexander Ridge (39mi), felt the same and continued on to Lambs Canyon (45mi). My second pacer for the rest of the race met me here. He was asking how I was feeling and what I needed. I realized by this point that I could be jeopardizing my chances of finishing if I didn’t keep up with my calorie intake. I refilled my water and headed out with some chews in hand to try and get down.  My pacer helped me to keep pushing up Lambs, reminding me to drink and eat and distracting me from my stomach. Heading to Upper Big Water(53mi) my legs were feeling good but my energy level felt just ok. The upset stomach definitely slowed me down. It felt like my energy was shifting focus to the uneasy stomach and not my legs! Continuing with my uneasy stomach I hit the Desolation lake (58mi), Scotts Peak (62mi) stations but didn’t stop for long and got to Brighton (67mi). 

By this point I hadn’t had many calories. I was staying hydrated and felt that was sufficient, but couldn’t get my stomach to settle enough to get some good calories in me. The race was turning into a nutrition failure! I changed socks at Brighton and took bites of nutrition to see what I could get down. I was able to get just CarboPro in my water so at least I knew I was getting some sort of calories. My legs were feeling tired by this point but I felt great standing and at this point of the race all I could do was just keep going. I kept pushing myself, trying to hike fast and run where I could. I hit Ant Knolls (71mi) and Pole Line Pass (74mi). I tried drinking ginger tea to maybe help settle my stomach but to no avail, I resorted to choking down some energy gels. The temperature was cooling down but still in a good range. The trail drops down to a stream valley at Pot Hollow (84mi) and the temperatures dropped significantly. There was a warm fire and chairs at the aid station it to sit down in and get warm while they filled up my water. I could have stayed there for hours. Though not what I wanted to hear, my pacer told me that we needed to leave. By this point the exhaustion of the race and being up for so long was getting to me. I knew he was right and if I didn’t get up I could easily spend too much time there. Leaving the fire the cold woke me up and got me out of my daze. We headed to Stanton (89mi). I was so tired by this point I remember taking long blinks and being surprised that I was still on my feet! I was just waiting to blink too long and being woken up by hitting the ground. It was a struggle for 5 miles to stay alert. I was trying to talk with my pacer, sing songs, pinch myself, anything to wake me up. 

It was starting to get light and it brought some renewed energy. I knew I was close to the finish and it made it easier to keep going. I didn’t even want to stop at the last aid station, Decker canyon (93mi). I was too close to stop. I finished the last miles running down to and along Deer Creek reservoir. The trail would go in and out of these small coves along the lake and it was deceiving as to where it was going to end. I hit the pavement and I could see the finish. I crossed the finish line exhausted, hungry, sleepy, sore, but happy. Hind site is 20/20 and there are things I would do differently but it was a great race and a great experience!

In addition to being a runner, cyclist, husband, and father, Brayden Iwasaki is a Graphic Designer at Liberty Mountain.


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