The Rut's Lone PeakLone Peak. Sky Runners run to the TOP of the mountain, not around it. RESPECT. I signed up for The Rut because it's just the popular thing to do when you are married to Randy Shoemaker.
This 12k must to be one of the toughest in the USA. I'm not kidding.
My "report" is more of an EXPERIENCE. Take what you want from it - I had a BLAST despite the sick fear I stashed away knowing my knees might give out on me as they had in the recent past.
A little (and important) history:
I was really worried I would not finish and then put myself back even further from the recovery I was trying to "complete".
We uncovered, purely by accident, the powerful benefits of aqua running.
Starting in March I was on a decent running program directed by Randy. I was dedicated and compliant and preparing to finish this Rut Race strong. Between boot camp sessions and work I put more and more miles in (trail and road).
Over the months I tracked the pain in my knees. I figured it was "normal" to experience. How would I know otherwise? I'd never actually stuck to a running plan like I had this one.
The pain radiated and eventually I could barely stand. It was both knees so we knew it wasn't from an accident or injury. My running "form" was checked (and I passed), my shoes were changed (I now own 4 pair of Hoka One One's and 4 Asics Kayano). I found some amazing running pants by a virtually unknown company Lole so I got 4 pair of those babies. Of course a girl cannot have enough good support for "the girls" so I bought some CWX Running Bra's while visiting our daughter Claire at a T9 Store in Bezerkely. For those of you that don't know me: TO PUT THIS MUCH OF OUR HARD EARNED $$ INTO MYSELF IS UNHEARD OF.
Finally, I was told in July by my doctor - "YOU CANNOT RUN". He even added "OR WALK". The time frame was indefinite. The reason was after months of unexplained pain in both my knees we decided I had overdone it. It would radiate, I'd wear braces, I'd stop running...it would go away...I'd get back out and run...pain returned...wore braces...less pain...it was NUTS. Growing up I played sports and got injured a million times. I never EVER followed sensible advice on healing and therapy. Now I pay. Dang it.
I got massage from Cheryl, followed the regular chiropractic with Sommers. got the pre-adjustment therapy...I did EVERYTHING! It was so frustrating.
My JOB requires I run! I have ignored every utterance of these advices for so long that now it was a stone cold fact: I'm out.
My training was "reduced" to Aqua Running 5 weeks before the race. It was hard at first but the resistance training without the impact meant my knees were NOT hurting and could repair! My cardio was worked hard (as hard as I wanted). Randy was a mean coach some days and shush'ed me a lot. One bonus to Aqua Running...you can do it with your eyes closed!
Now for my "Race Report"
A few hiccups at the start...Like we thought the race started at 9am...and realized it at 7:50am THAT IT STARTS AT 8:00am! Banged on Dustin and Donna's door springing them out of bed. Thankfully Donna and I were in the 3rd wave but Dustin was in Wave 2 starting at 8:05. He made it!
So there's that.
Made it in the nick of time to the start line where I was met by Leonard and Shelley with giant smiles. That calmed me down. Leonard was a very cool cucumber and Shelley was bubbling and excited. I was freezing plus my stomach in knots from the "almost late" saga.
I hopped up and down trying to get warm and went to the BACK of the pack. I was the last one across the start line from what I could remember.
The RD said that wave 3 was the "fun wave". Donna WASNT THERE WHEN THE STARTING MOOSE SOUNDS WENT OFF! I kept looking for her panicking that she wasn't there. The race first begins in the Resort then curls around our building so I peered up at our window...she wasn't there. I was hoping she was just ahead of me...kept going.
The Rut Dustin - Start of Wave 1Made it to send Dustin off into the mountains for his very first EVER trail run! That awful sound is supposed to be a boy moose calling for a girl moose (it's mating season aka The Rut). We were running up up up the. Suddenly everyone slowed. It was a single track entry and everyone was being polite. One by one we stacked in tightly. I thought, "oh no...this might get tough. I could slow so done down or someone could hang me up." I was surprisingly running up the hill. RUNNING! That's not normal but I couldn't find a reason to stop, my lungs and heart were fine...my knees...fine...it was only a mile but a mile UP.
Now everything slowed way down. Ugh. I didn't want to be rude but I wanted to move a little faster. So I politely asked to pass. One things for sure here in Montana: nice people. So I slipped by a few people and slowed Dow. Because I had zero idea of what was in front of me. I mean I knew mountains and a serious climb according to the graphic posted on the Rut website so I didn't want to poop out too soon.
All the sudden I hear, "on your right" and turned to see Donna! I was so happy!!! She had to have run all the way to me! Let me tell you, that had to have been TOUGH. She passed me and kept going! The climb continued. I felt pretty good still.
Without getting into a "boring" explanation of the course...BECAUSE IT IS BASICALLY UP FOR 5 miles with a few 50 yard (less up) switch backs tucked in there and maybe 3 different downs lasting about 40 yards max.
Being polite...We jammed up almost immediately at this crossing. When they say "single track" it really means that here. Since it was single track almost the entire way you hop ahead and behind folks. In my head I began trying to remember if I'd made any progress ahead of anyone...that's about when I got to this hairpin turn that somehow went up even steeper! What the hell?! I really thought we had to be close to the top. I SAW AN ANTENNAE! Nope!
This section would be comparable to...the Tapo Open Space T has a goat trail that leads up to the ridge on the eastern side...do you know it? We really only go down it and when we do we have to descend you've got to do it on your butt part of the way to avoid tumbling head over heels. Well we went UP that for about a mile...I had to stop and catch my breathe at this point. I stupidly scooted to the right, which is dumb because I was dizzy and that side had a cliff so if I'd passed out I would have been a statistic.
I let a dozen people pass me. DANG IT!
Running UP a ski area. The widest part of the run. No one passed anyone because it was so dang steep! Back at it...got to the top when I heard cheering and whooping! Yes, the top!! No...not the top. Just a very cool and enthusiastic photographer that had placed signs telling us to look up and smile! I loved that. She was so upbeat and she was also the first person outside of a runner that I'd seen. She was hauling a lot of equipment so I guessed we must be close to the top...and we were.
First we had to get up this wide open shale like section. Crumbly rocks and a steep grade but at lease walkable. This is where I decided to try and pass a few people. I did! They were standing still taking photos BUT IT COUNTS! Hee hee
I saw the antennae again and heard music. WE WERE AT MILE 5 already! Yipeeeee!! In my head I was surprised that I felt good still. I had no water or fuel and the aid station had electrolytes and water...AND A DOG. I had to take a few minutes loving and petting this beautiful dog (got ok from his mom). The. I sheepishly asked if it would be ok if I left my extra shirt and coat to have them bring it back. I stripped while I ran all the way down to my sports bra In the. Idle of the trail (those that know me know this is a miracle. I was sweating bullets though and needed relief). She was super nice and said...no. Adding I only had 2 miles left and I could do it. PLUS it was downhill.
After thanking them for the music, refreshments and helping I headed down the trail. It was a fire road and easy to navigate. My knees were ok. We were on the west side of the mountain and it was 10:15 still cold. I was glad I didn't get rid of my apparel and while running I put it back on.
Down the fire road maybe half a mile I hear a guitar playing some awesome country song. I listened and picked up my pace, which I'd estimate was a 185 maybe 175 bpm. Yay!! This guy rocked!! It was seriously cold and his fingers must have been frozen but he was playing and smiling and singing...just fantastic!! I realized in my happiness that I hadn't noticed where the runners in front of me had gone.
Then I saw it...ummm...an opening in the side to drop down STEEP. "Careful! " yelled the volunteer that was directing. I thought, "wha?? Careful of what?" That's about when I reached out with my loooong arms and grabbed into the tree trunk to balance my way down...Straightish... I started to slip a bit. Got my footing and took another step. I looked down the path to the other runners I. Front of me. It was a standstill. Traffic had clogged up at this spot and I saw another jam ahead. Crap, need to get around those folks but how am I supposed to get down this 12 foot drop? Then I saw it, a rope!!! A rope!!!!!! I grabbed it and then, with all of the danger rappelling experience (read: I have zero experience I. Rappelling but 46 years of avoiding danger) I went FACE FIRST down. It was so easy! I couldn't wait for the next rope. But the people were staking up to get down. Bummer. Had to wait. But when it was my turn I zoomed again face first...wooohoooo!!!
There were 4 ropes going down total. I was shocked I wasn't scared.
There were iced mud and slippery sections on this portion. I almost fell once (that's it!) and tweaked my knee. Dang it!! We had a little over a mile left, I thought.
Things flattened out and we crossed a foot bridge. There was a really awesome guy yelling at me (cheering me) that this was the hill I run. Get a move on it, run it to the top. I looked up and sized it up. I'd compare it technically to the grade at Tapo Open Space from the bottom of the path to the T. Ok I'll try. He was standing on the single track trail on the edge encouraging me...and when I got to him he gave me a pat on the back and said, "you can do it" I began slugging up what I was pretty sure he called THE LAST HILL. if it was the last one, and I'd survived this far, I knew I could definitely do it.
Ahhh made it and took 40 yards to catch my breath then got moving again. I met another runner, my “ShoeTwinsie" (we were wearing matching Asics Nimbus) and she was scooting along at a great pace...well, one I could try to keep up with. I began running behind her 20 feet. Then another incline!! Nooooooo!!
I quickly checked my watch (because looking up and away from the trail could mean I’d be falling into the stream we were running next to) and kept my mind busy trying to calculate how much more I had to go. I knew it was under a mile so I pushed a little harder.
Sarita finishing The 12K RutI was really pushing hard to finish...my knees and feet were wobbly. I was all alone on the single track zig-zagging toward the edge of the trees. The sun was hotter now but I could hear the cheer of the crowd and the announcers.
The girl in front of me was GONE. Once I hit the edge of the trees I saw I had about 100 yards of funky, uneven mashed up dirt path to go. A guy yelled at me “ this is where you sprint!!!!” so I picked up my pace (at least that’s what my legs, heart and lungs felt like anyway).
I saw Dustin cheering me at the final corner and that made me more determined. My legs felt heavy!
Then I heard it - “Sarita Shumacher from Simmy Valley”. YAY!!
That’s a WRAP.
In hindsight I spent 5 weeks NOT RUNNING AT ALL, barely walking, ON PLANET EARTH.
I did do aqua running for 6 weeks and it helped. I also got to Big Sky with enough time to get through elevation pains. I did feel that in the first 48 hours, slightly. Mostly when we were hiking the top of Lone Peak.
After I crossed the finish line I went to the water tent and got a glass of water.
Then I saw Donna running in! YAY!!! We all finished one of the toughest trail runs on earth.
I’ve run the trails around Simi, I ran a few Xterra races…I’ve run a lot of places.
The Rut is by far the best scenery, highest elevation, most frightening (those ropes!), tightest single track I’ve ever personally experienced. AND I LOVED EVERY INCH OF IT!
I wish we had a medal for it. I’m making my own.
Despite a lot of waiting for people (due to the single track issue) I think I did pretty good. I had next to zero pain - a little knee stiffness.
I'm going to return for sure - it was just too amazing. I'll be prepared better, that's for sure.
MORE OF MY ADVENTURE pre and post race
We arrived in Montana 5 days earlier than the race with the purpose of wisely acclimating to the elevation. Simi Valley's Rocky Peak (the highest elevation I think) is about 2,700.
Big Sky Montana (the START LINE of The Rut) yawns at this fact. They eat Rocky Peak for breakfast. 7,500 feet.
The weather was HOT. 95 degrees at the Bozeman airport! We got our stinky red rental POS, STUFFED our stuff in and headed to the only grocery store we knew of to get supplies to eat at the condo we were staying in.
The car LOOKED like a cat or dog exploded with hair all over the back seat, the smell was something like stale fast food with buckets of "febreeze". I didn't complain, I was so happy to be on our way!
After grocery shopping we headed out. The smell, I'm sure with the heat, was suffocating. We called the Rental Place (Hertz) and they were SO COOL letting us switch the car out. We were going to kick around Montana then drive to visit Morgan in Rexburg at BYU Idaho then to Salt Lake City and fly home. We got a Toyota mini-van. It didn't smell. There was plenty of space.
The drive to Big Sky is unreal. The temps reduced and by the time we rolled into the condo parking lot we were between 70-80 degrees. Perfect weather, perfect timing and the condo was off the dial amazing. Ahhhh...vacation!!!
For the record, my official starting ritual for vacation is to have a donut. I had one the morning we left to Montana thanks to Morgan!
NEXT BLOG: What happened when we got to Big Sky Resort...