For some reason the proverb “third time’s a charm” has been running through my head after completing my third 50-mile run recently.
I don’t know why, because I wasn’t even thinking about that saying during my third trip around Bear Lake on my feet. It wasn’t a race, and I certainly wasn’t looking to get lucky. Like the previous two times, the goal was just to finish the loop.
Part of me is thinking perhaps this was my third and last time. As we were completing the 50 miles last week, I certainly was thinking it was my last time doing something like that. But a week has gone by now and, as I joked with a friend the other day, I may be convinced to do it again some time.
With so many races canceled and very few actually being held, my good friend Heather Lehnig proposed we run around Bear Lake again and, in a weak moment, I agreed. Her husband Brooks agreed to drive our moving aid station, and the next thing I know I was committed to running 50 miles in a day.
Our group grew by two when Andrea Gosnell and Todd Moon decided to join the fun. Andrea is a strong runner who has qualified for and has completed the Boston Marathon. Todd is more of a trail runner and has done the Rim to Rim to Rim — starting at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and going down and up to the South Rim, and then back to the North Rim in a day.
I didn’t know Todd, but ever since Heather and I had our first trip around Bear Lake in 2016 and I wrote about it, he wanted to give it a try.
Both of the newbies were concerned and for good reason. They had never gone that distance. Yes, 50 miles is a long ways, but a lot of it becomes mental. There is no pressure during this run as each person has to deal with knowing what is best for them physically and mentally. I have learned that your body can do amazing things, but sometimes you have to convince it.
The previous two times we have run this, we have done it in June. August brought some more challenges — mainly our concern with the heat. We decided to get off to an earlier start than the past.
After getting a few hours of sleep in Garden City, we headed to Laketown to get started. We began the journey at 2:30 a.m. to the serenade of some foxes.
Getting an early start was perfect. The sky was unbelievable as we saw shooting stars and some planets. The miles were going by with ease. The first hiccup was around mile 12 when we ran into a skunk on the road. We gave it plenty of space and eventually got around it. The sky started to give us some beautiful colors by mile 20, and the sun joined us before we hit the halfway point.
We took a break at mile 30, which actually was the finish line for a race we happened upon. We cheered on some runners and then shared some road with them in Idaho as we headed south to the Utah side while they were going north.
The last 20 miles are always interesting on the east side of the lake as the road becomes somewhat rolling, while the temperature rises. Some cloud cover and an occasional breeze were welcome as each step gets harder to take.
Honestly, the last 15 miles were hard. I knew I could do it, but my feet were getting sore and my legs heavy. Everyone seems to have their moments of doubt during the run, but the others pick up them with encouragement.
Once we get to single digits in miles to go, I get a boost of energy and have to be careful not to pick up the pace too much and bonk. We just kept steadily moving along to complete the loop.
Looking back at the third time around the lake, I actually feel it was almost perfect. Other than the skunk run-in, there was really no major problems. There was no strong head wind, no pelting rain, no rattlesnake encounter and no jerk motorists.
Once again I have to give a big shout-out to Brooks for driving ahead and keeping supplies near. He once again amazed me with the amount of miles he got in.
It was great to welcome Andrea and Todd to the Bear Lake 50-Mile Club. And who knows, I may just do it again some day.