It’s been almost two weeks since I completed my second run around Bear Lake.
Yes, I did it again. It took two years and some friendly prodding to agree to attempt my second 50-mile adventure. I really wasn’t planning on doing it again. It just sort of happened.
Really, it did.
In fact, we — my wife Tawnya was in on the planning this time — were ready to bail. Like two years ago, the idea began with our good friend Heather Lehnig. And also like two years ago, the original group dwindled as people dealt with injuries and other commitments that came up. It was down to three of us, and Heather’s husband Brooks Lehnig driving the support vehicle while getting in some miles of his own as he would run back toward us after parking the van.
As the month of June rolled around, we recommitted ourselves and recruited a friend who had declared earlier this year she was not going to run much in 2019. Tawnya convinced Allison Stocks to join the party.
After two longer-than-usual training runs and a 30K race that deserves a whole other column because of the challenges you face completing it, we were ready to take on the “Caribbean of the Rockies.”
We had a late addition as another friend decided she couldn’t pass up the chance to join us. Sadly, Erica had to tap out shy of 20 miles. There is no pressure in this run as each person has to deal with knowing what is best for them physically and mentally.
This time around we decided to embark on the journey a little earlier than two years ago. Heather and I enjoyed the start the best as we ran under the stars and moon in 2017. Once again, an early start of 3:30 a.m. did not disappoint as the lake was beautiful under the stars as we left Laketown and made our way toward Garden City.
The early departure meant very little sleep, which would catch up with all of us later in the day. We didn’t have to deal with any critters like the first time, but a dog did run out and greet us with some serious barking less than a mile into the run.
Unlike the first time, I wasn’t really worried about making it. I knew what was ahead and felt in a good place mentally. I really hoped the whole group would make it. Obviously, I’ve already stated that one did not.
Allison took a spill about eight miles in and got some road rash on her hands and a knee. She was a bit concerned, but pressed on.
We all made it to the Idaho border. Soon after is when Erica told us she was going to listen to her body and was done.
The rest of us pushed on.
We enjoyed Fish Haven, Idaho, then it was on to St. Charles, Idaho, where you turn to cross the northern part of the run. Two years ago this stretch nearly did me in and that crossed my mind. This time I didn’t have any issues, but did start to feel every step as we approached the Bear Lake Hot Springs, where we had planned an extended break. At this point, we are just short of 30 miles.
After changing clothes and shoes, getting something to eat and resting a bit, we were off with the reminder that the east side is where rattlesnakes are known to be on or close to the road. We encountered one two years ago. No rattlers this time around.
Around mile 35 I started to hit a wall. My legs were heavy, my feet sore and the lack of sleep was catching up to me fast. It seemed like each of us faced similar moments of questioning if we could make it over those final 15 miles. The others would rally and encourage the person dealing with difficulties.
I also noticed the white caps on the lake and how all water craft had left. Dark clouds were collecting to the west.
Unlike the first time when it got really hot, it was nice running conditions for most of it this time. The key word there is “most.” We had to deal with a brutal headwind the last few miles and then heavy rain the final two miles. In fact, we loaded up in the support van at one point and sat hoping the storm would pass. It didn’t.
We put on another layer as the temperature dropped to 44 degrees. The combination of the rain and wind made the drops sting as they struck any bare flesh. With just under a mile to go, it was suggested maybe we should call it. I won’t print what Allison and Tawnya said, but they were not giving up when we were so close.
The rain and wind didn’t let up, but we made it. My legs are still feeling it. I chalk that up to not being a ultra runner.
Tawnya and Allison have run marathons, but nothing longer. Now they can say they have run 50 miles.
We couldn’t have done it without Brooks, who also ran his longest distance in a day, finishing with an incredible 37 miles. I still don’t know how he did it. If I had been driving and having to stop and go like that, I would have checked out. As anyone that has run with me knows, I need to keep moving.
Heather and I both have commented it was nice to welcome Tawnya and Allison to the Bear Lake 50-Mile Club. In fact, those two ladies are already talking about doing something longer. Perhaps, I will join them, but right now I’m not committing to anything that long. However, one thing I’ve learned is to never say “never.”