Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Boulder Field 100K

When RD Stephan Weiss announced his new race Boulder Field, right away Emir and I were interested.  Stephan puts on GREAT races.  We've done many of them now: Blues Cruise, Dirty German, Sloppy Cuckoo to name a few.  This one peaked our interest because it was in Hickory Run State Park, a place we've never run or even been to.  Since Emir has Oil Creek 100 miler only a few weeks after Boulder Field, coach Caleb advised that even the 50K would not be a good idea for him.  We need his legs to be well rested and ready so he can finally get his buckle.  On the other hand, he felt the 100K would be great timing and training for me since I am running the NJ one day in November with the goal of going over 100 miles.  Once all that was decided, we thought it would be a great idea to spend the weekend camping as a family and they would be my support crew for the day of the race.

Friday after school and work, we hit the road.  It only took maybe an hour and 20 minutes to get there.  Stephan had secured the free group camping area for runners and families to use for the weekend.  It was awesome.  A lot of runners, friends and family camped out especially friday night which made it a fun atmosphere.

The start/finish area wasn't too far from camp but I had our big Ultra bin full of my stuff so Emir snuck out and dropped me off while the kids were still sleeping.  They had a nice area setup for our drop stuff.  The way the course was laid out was a 12 mile loop and 19 mile loop so for us 100K people we came into the main area 3 times to have access to our stuff. And for me that meant also seeing my family/crew.

Stephan was blasting his usual German music.  I feel like I know the words to the songs now.  I utilized the potty one more time and next thing I knew we were off.  I didn't really have any specific goals for this race.  It's the inaugural running so no one other than Stephan knew really what the course was like.  We also were on our feet for 30 hours at the end of July which really wasn't so long ago.  So I wasn't sure what my legs would feel like say 30-40 miles in.  And I was also using this more as training towards my next big goal which is the NJ One Day in November.  It's a 24 hour race and I want to lower my 100 mile time so hopefully I will run more than 100 miles.  So that said, I didn't taper as much as I would have for an A goal race.  Take home message, really I just wanted to have a fun day and finish the race.
My "why do ultras always start so early" face

Since we started at 5am, we were in the dark for about an hour and half.  Stephan had marked the first 10 miles with reflective stuff so no problems there.  The entire course was a nice mix of very technical rocky, rooty stuff and super runnable sections.  I can handle technical (not fast) but I get frustrated if it goes on too long.  I love a good mix of technical, challenging sections with stuff that I can just let loose and run for a while.  For me, this course was perfect.  It was also so beautiful.  In the middle of the 12 mile loop, you climb up to a ridge and have spectacular views of the valley.  The first time around, the valley was super foggy and there was a full moon, I couldn't help but stop for a few seconds to take it in.

It was shortly after this that I completely wiped out, running down a steep technical hill.  My hand stung but I got up and kept going.  Once it got light out, I realized my whole hand was bloody, oops.  I washed it off with some water and all was good.  The second to last mile of this lap is on the Shades of Death trail.  Sounds intimidating and it is.  It was VERY technical and challenging.  But at the same time, it was so scenic so while I hate boulders and rocks like this, I actually enjoyed navigating through this part.  That is also probably because it wasn't that long either ;-)

I finished that first lap in 2nd place (female).  I was moving well and feeling good but I was hoping I wasn't going too fast.  I didn't look at my watch at all because I had compression sleeves on.  Caleb and I discussed going conservative the first half, checking things out and pushing myself the second half if I still felt good.  I feel like so often I feel good early and I just go for it and disregard all race plans that we made, I swear I don't do it on purpose!  So anyway I really wanted to listen and stick to the plan.  I filled up my supplies, hit the potty and headed back out.

At this point I had taken off my sleeves so I was going to try to pay more attention to my pace to make sure I knew what I was doing.  I also checked my phone.  CRAP.  I had work texts.  I'm the weekend coordinator at work so if people call out, they call me.  It doesn't happen often but usually at bad times.  I was trying to call my department (yes while running) but my phone case had gotten a little wet in my pack so I couldn't type numbers and stuff.  After a few minutes of struggle, I finally just called my manager as she's on speed dial and I was able to do that.  As it turns out, she had gotten the text too and knew I was running so had taken care of everything (she's the best!) and was laughing her ass off at me as I blabbed on to her while running the race.  What can I say I'm a multi-tasker. Right after that I was passing by our campsite and saw Emir and Una coming out of the bathroom.  It was so exciting to see them.  I told them things were going well so far and that I was at mile 13.  Shortly after seeing them I started getting passed by people.  Probably by 5-6 people.  Normally I let that get me down.  "ugh I must be going so slow now, all these people are passing me."  But this time was different.  It was a runable section and I was doing 10 minute pace.  People were flying by me like I was standing still.  There was no way in hell I was going to go faster than that.  I knew I still had a lot of miles ahead of me and I didn't want to feel like crap for most of them.  I also kept repeating what Caleb had told me "stay conservative."
Boulder Field!

The 19 mile loop was where we encountered the infamous Boulder Field.  While the actual crossing of the boulder field was not super long, a couple miles leading up to it and a few miles after were pretty rocky and technical.  I know I was pretty slow here but I honestly didn't care.  I just went about my business and didn't worry about what anyone else was doing.  After that section was a couple miles of runable terrain followed by the last couple miles full of climbs.  The last part of that loop kind of took it out of me but I felt so energized when I saw Emir and the kids come running towards me as I hit the main aid station.  They were all so happy to see me.  I also, even taking things conservative, made the first 50K in 6:30.  Other than during C & O canal when I ran my fastest 50K time, 6:30 is my next fastest time so I really had to feel good about that.

Niko was feeling a bit bummed that he didn't see me earlier in the day when Emir and Una had so I said to him, "Hey buddy, could you help me run this first part here?  You can run with me until we get to the part where I cross the street"  He was so excited and couldn't wait for me to be ready to go.  Emir left ahead of us to snap some photos of us together.  It was so great to share some time on the trail with Niko.  We were both eating grilled cheese, chatting, trotting along.  It really doesn't get much better than that.
running with my Niko!

When it was time to part ways, I was feeling just so good and it would only be about 11 miles until I would see them again.  The second time around the 12 mile loop went well.  I wasn't moving fast or anything but I think I was probably just being consistent from the first half to second half.  I couldn't believe when at the next aid station was one of the women that had passed me way back at mile 13.  I just assumed that everyone that passed me was way ahead since they all seemed to zoom by so easily and fast.  I stayed behind her for a bit but then passed her on the climbs up the ridge.  After coming down off the ridge I also passed a few other people.  I chatted with them for a bit and they all said they couldn't believe they were seeing me because they had all passed me so long ago.  I thanked them and wished them luck and really thought they would probably pass me later at the boulder sections where I knew I would be slow again.

I was just cruising along even through the shades of death trail and in my own world when I thought I heard my name.  Of course I thought I was hallucinating but then I heard it again.  AHH it was Emir!  I was still at least a mile from the aid station so I couldn't believe it.  Niko wanted to walk some of the course to find me and they ended up at a playground just off the trail.  I told Emir that I was now back to 3rd female so he told Niko and I to go ahead and he and Una would meet us at the aid station.  Niko and I headed off and enjoyed some more trail time together.  He kept saying he wanted to do the whole rest of the race with me.  He said "I can definitely do 19 miles mom!  you take walk breaks."  I truly know in a couple years this boy totally will be pacing me for more than a couple miles and I can't wait but for now, he is only 7 so I had to let him down gently that it wasn't a good idea.
My crew!

When we reached the start/finish area, I had the shock of my life.  I was told that I couldn't stay at the aid station, that I only had two minutes to get back on course because of the cutoff.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!  There was still over 6 hours left in the race and I was already done 43 miles, there's no way I could be about to get cut off.  I said to her "Oh no, I'm already done 43 miles, I only have the very last lap left."  She proceeded to tell me that the RD said no one could leave after 2:50pm and it was 2:48.  I was baffled but didn't want to get cut off.   My kids always amaze me at how intuitive they are and really rise to the occasion when it's really important.  Niko said "Mom, here fill the water, I'll get you a sandwich and just go, I'll tell daddy you had to go."  So literally two seconds later I was off.
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I was wearing my Aftershokz headphones all day because they are so comfortable I don't even notice them.  That way I could listen to things on and off and not have to fiddle with anything.  Turns out this was the best decision ever.  Emir was texting me and not only because I literally couldn't type on my phone due to the sweat but also because I didn't want to waste time, I just called him and talked to him via the headphones.  He was saying he couldn't believe about the cutoff and I agreed and he was disappointed he couldn't see me off.   About 10 minutes later he was calling me again.  This time it was to tell me that they had made a mistake and the cutoff was supposed to be at 3:50 not 2:50, which makes much more sense.  He asked how long I thought this loop would take.  I said I didn't know, maybe 5 hours.  I told him I wasn't going to push super hard.  I was in 3rd and that was good.  I wanted to finish happy.  Turns out I ended up doing the last loop in 4 hours which I'm pretty sure was actually a little faster than my first time through and in a minute you will see why...

About a half mile from the boulder field, I heard someone behind me.  It was one of the ladies that had passed me early on and then I passed later.  Damn!  I wasn't totally slacking.  I ran a couple of the miles at 10 something pace and was moving steadily through the technical stuff.  She must have been moving.  We started talking about the cutoff and next thing I knew, another lady was with us, AHHH!  I said "holy crap, you were moving fast!"  Then she said she had to because she had been told she was cut off but she called Stephan to argue and he said she could go but she better make all the other cutoffs.  So then I explained to them that they had been wrong by an hour about the cutoffs.  While chatting, I could not stop thinking about how badly I wanted 3rd.   It's not really important to me what place I get but now with about 10 miles left having a chance to podium and get that beer growler Stephan was posting all over FB, I just felt like I needed to get it.  I also know how Niko always really wants us to do well at our races and he's seen them give out awards and it would mean so much to him to see me get 3rd.  Last year at Labor Pains I missed out on an award because of going off course and Niko still talks about how he wished he got to see me get an award that day but that I didn't because I got lost.  This was in the back of my mind now as I hung in back of the two ladies for a bit knowing that we were going to hit the boulder field at any moment.  I had seen both of these ladies struggling across the boulders the first time.  I'm not super skilled but I have learned a few things about crossing boulders in my Croatia and Bosnia adventures the past couple summers and I knew I could get across faster than them.  As soon as we reached the field, I went for it.  I made it across as fast as I could.  I made it a little ahead of them.  I had decided on my way across to get my bladder filled at this aid station so that I would not need to stop at the last one.  Even with getting filled up, I was still ahead of them.  From there I just took off.  I put everything I had in those last two sections.  Part of it was pretty technical followed by super runable.  I ran as fast as I could, as I could not be sure how close they were behind me.  I flew into the last aid station and the guys were looking at me like "wtf?!"  I told them as quickly as I could how those two girls caught me by the boulder field and I really want 3rd as I chugged two cups of coke.  And they said "well get out of here then!"  And that I did!  I ran everything that last section aside from those climbs in the last couple miles but I still hiked as fast as I could.  Emir called me several times during those last couple sections to see how I was doing.  I told him I was racing for 3rd which is why I'm sure he kept calling to make sure I was hanging in there (seriously those headphones were so handy!) and also because Niko was getting super anxious.

It was the best feeling rounding that last turn to where I could see them and they could see me.  The kids came flying towards me and we ran that last .1 of a mile or so together through the finish.  Niko was leaping with joy and shouting.  When they gave me my prize, he was beaming and said how proud he was.  THAT right there was exactly what kept me going and made me push myself.  I don't often talk to myself like that but on this day I kept repeating out loud "Niko will be so happy and so proud if you do this.  You will be so happy.  You will be so disappointed if you don't give it all you have"   And THAT is what being a marathonmom is all about.

felt SO GOOD to sit!
If you haven't run a Stephan Weiss, uberendurance sports race then you are seriously missing out.  Every single one of their races is great and this was no exception.  The course was wonderful.  It was beautiful, it was challenging and it also allowed for some real running.  Stephan spent a lot of time meticulously marking it which was obvious.  All the aid stations were amazing.  They were well stocked with tons of great options plus the volunteers as usual were the best.  At every single aid station, they right away asked what I needed, were grabbing my pack and filling it for me, just doing whatever they could to get runners what they need and get it quickly.  I even had some nice conversations with a few volunteers throughout the day as they were walking around away from the aid station and would accompany me into the station.

Kids having a blast at the lake!

The Hickory Run State Park was a great setting for an ultra.  As I said the trails were perfect.  It also has several options for camping.  It was the perfect place to have the whole family with me.  We camped together and they had tons to do while I was running the race.   They played on playgrounds, played soccer, went swimming in the lake and hung out at the start/finish watching and cheering runners.  Niko loved telling me about the runners he saw that day.  I really can't think of anything that would have made my race experience any better.  I have to thank Coach Caleb for making a solid race plan.  Turns out he knows what he's talking about ;-)  But seriously, if I hadn't listened to him, I would not have felt so good that second half and been able to run so much.  I also have to make sure that I thank Emir for handling the kids for the 13 hours I was running.  I know from experience, they get super antsy waiting for mom or dad to come in at races and it's not easy.  But he happily did it because he knew it was important to them and me.  He knows what it feels like to have all of us there in support at a race.  There's nothing else I can say other than MY FAMILY IS THE BEST!!!!! :-)

I found this on Niko's phone after the race <3

Next up: pacing Emir at Oil Creek October 8th!!!!  We are gonna git him his buckle!!!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Five Reasons to Run Ocean State Rhode Race

As much as I love traveling to new places especially ones with beautiful beaches for races, I had to turn down the opportunity to run the Ocean State Rhode Race in Narragansett, Rhode Island.  The race is scheduled for Sunday October 30th.  October is a super busy month for us with races and kids' sports and it would be way too much to fit another race in, let alone one I have to travel to.  That said, it looks like an awesome event with a gorgeous course.  Being that 2015 was the first year, there are only a few reviews out there but all were positive.  Here are five reasons why I think you should consider running the Ocean State Rhode Race.

1) 3 race distances, 1 event :  You may not be ready to go the full distance of 26.2 miles but still want to enjoy some beautiful, scenic Rhode Island miles.  No worries, there's a half marathon and 5K too.  All 3 races take place on the same day, staggered by a half hour.  Makes logistics for all groups easy even if you are running different distances.

2) USATF certified and Boston Qualifier: come on, I know this is super important to some of you!

3) Free Race Photos: who doesn't love free race photos?!  A huge plus in my book!

4) Gorgeous scenery & beach post race party: course goes along the waterfront and through iconic Rhode Island neighborhoods, giving runners a true feeling of what Rhode Island has to offer.  Enjoy finishing at the beach and a post race beach festival Rhode Island style.

5) Inexpensive: Even though the staggered pricing has ended, the marathon is only $100, half $75 and 5K $35.  Plus use the Bibrave code BIBRAVE to save an addtional $10.  Finally races that won't break the bank!

What are you waiting for?!  Check out all the race info on the website http://runri.us/narragansett-race-info/ and enjoy all Rhode Island has to offer!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Jahorina Ultra Trail (Bosnia)

Sorry for the VERY belated post however I've been busy, seriously busy ;-)

 So now that you are caught up on what I've been doing, I'll get into Jahorina :-)

Last year after our trip to Bosnia and Croatia was already booked based on the Velebit Ultra, it was announced there would be a new ultra in Bosnia, Jahorina.  Emir and I were so disappointed not because we weren't excited about Velebit because we were but we have raced a couple times in Croatia and there's not much opportunity for running races in Bosnia.  The description and details just sounded like it was a perfect event for us.  But alas we would have to wait a year and hope that the first year went well enough for them to do it again in 2016.  Lucky for us in January the date for this year was announced.  I think we were probably the first people to register, haha.  There's actually 4 different distances all starting at different times over the course of the race weekend: 10k, 33k, 84k and 125k.  Anyone that knows anything about us has no doubt that 125k was our choice.  It was not until after the races were over that we realized how different the courses were from each other.  We had seen pictures and descriptions from last year of running the Sarajevo Olympic bobsled course, crossing these amazing cliffs and summiting the gorgeous Jahorina mountain.  We incorrectly assumed that these features would be in the longest course.  I mean there's gotto be some kind of reward for torturing yourself for 77miles! Right?!
our hotel, Lavina

We arrived at Jahorina late afternoon Thursday.  It was about 6-6.5 hour drive from Emirs parents house in Bihac.  There are no highways in Bosnia, well except for the tiny portion when you basically are already in Sarajevo.  Anyway the race was scheduled to start midnight Friday night or I guess really Saturday morning.  Friday felt like the longest day ever.  We walked around the mountain and admired it's beauty but didn't want to wear ourselves out.  I did take advantage of the extremely inexpensive massages at our hotel.  We tried resting but I only slept maybe an hour.  We ate a sizeable dinner around 5:30 as there was a pre-race meeting at 6. 

After that we got ready and were loaded onto a bus to take us to the startline. It would be a 2+ hour ride.  It became clear in the first 10 minutes the driver was not familiar with this bus.  He kept pushing all kinds of buttons and it was old and hot but not unexpected in Bosnia.   Then it began pouring rain Just as we were on small windy roads descending Jahorina.  The windshield was fogging  up and the driver didn't know how to turn on the windshield wipers either.  He was on his phone trying to figure it out.  I was like I'm not even going to make it to the start!  Shortly after it stopped raining and the rest of the ride was fine other than the blasting heat which unfortunately caused the water in our packs to be quite warm.  We were dropped off in a parking lot across the street from the bridge.  It felt kind of shady and no one from the race was there yet.  Many people were just peeing everywhere.  I being one of the few ladies in the race went into a bar that was packed.  I received some interesting looks but I get that a lot in Bosnia in my running attire anyway ;-) haha. 

After that the race directors arrived and we all walked to the bridge for the start.  They took some photos of the group, gave us tracking bracelets and sent us off with a shot of a gun.  Obviously I've run in the dark plenty of times and several ultras where I was running at midnight but it just felt so weird to start at midnight.  We just felt so low on energy after laying around all day waiting and a over two hour bus ride.  Just didn't feel like running.  After crossing the bridge we pretty quickly went up some steps and were in the dark woods.  We were definitely climbing.  Emir is much better at climbing than I am so he was a little ahead of me.  We felt like most people were almost sprinting up these climbs which surprised us with how long this race was and how grueling we anticipated it being.  With 33 hours to complete 125k we felt like we could be conservative and power hike these early climbs.  

Eventually we settled into our comfortable pace which was well ahead of what we would need to finish in time especially since we climbed a few thousand feet in the first few hours.  The first aid station was only water and fruit which was expected and no problem.  After going through this spot we had formed a group with about 5-6 other runners.  We conversed for a while which was fun and nice to make new running friends.  This turned out to be the best thing that happened to us during the race.  All the sudden we were engulfed in dense fog.  We could hardly see where we were stepping let alone the course markings.  We definitely lost a chunk of time during this section.  We made several wrong turns and fairly often we would have to fan out looking for the markers. Also adding to the difficulty, the race seemed to just go in any which direction not on obvious trails and roads.  We were constantly bushwacking our way through crazy rocks and trees and plants on mountains and through grass as tall as me through fields.  This was the case through much of the race so even after the fog left, it was not always easy to tell where to go.

Eventually it was dawn and the fog began dissipating.  Emir and I took advantage of this and that it was a runnable section and ran for a while.  At this point we were feeling good.  There was also to be an aid station coming up with real food which we were looking forward to, unfortunately due to some politics the aid station was not where it was supposed to be and it had only some fruit, water and coke with no cups for anything.  Brief note about Bosnia for those unfamiliar.  While it is indeed one country and peaceful, it is run by 3 presidents and sectioned off into Serb, Croatian and Bosnian parts.  Due to this often things as simple as having a running race can be very complicated.  The fact that they are able to pull this off at all despite all the political crap is amazing so once we found out what happened, we understood.  Emir and I know all too well the difficulties of living and working in Bosnia.

Anyway back to the race.  There's a lot of things that happened that day but I have no idea what order they happened in so I'll just list them for you.  We encountered bulls and cows multiple times on the trails including bulls fighting (we would find out later two other runners were stuck in a tree for hours trying to escape them).  There were many herds of sheep which not themselves dangerous however they usually had herding dogs who are extremely protective.  We had to climb many barbed wire fences.  Some of this race went straight through people's land and they were all supposed to leave their gates unlocked however that was not the case.  Thank god Emir and I were together because I would still be out there standing at a barbed wire gate trying to figure out how to get over!  At some point it started getting HOT and part of the problem was that we were on a section of the course that was just fields and fields and fields.  No trees, just open fields and sun beating down on us.  We stopped several times when we went next to water or saw a spicket to wet our buffs so we could cool down which definitely helped but then for several hours there was nothing.  It was so long to the one aid station, we really thought we missed it.  Emir ran out of water because he was so hot and thought we would hit it 2 miles before we actually did.  I forced him to ask a lady that was outside her house for water.  At first she was giving him a hard time.  As it turns out, this village has no running water and bottled water is expensive so she did not want to be giving away any water.  She did fill up one of his little flasks in the end but once I realized what had happened, I felt bad.  We are out there doing this crazy nonsense for no good reason, it's not like someone is forcing us and then we go begging for water from people that hardly have anything.  Ugh.

About 45 minutes later we finally hit that aid station that we thought we missed.  A volunteer guided us to a shack of a house on the side of a busy road.  The family that lived there were so nice, offering everything they could.  Emir had to sit down and work on his feet.  He knew he had a hot spot on one foot that he needed to put a bandage on.  I refilled all my stuff, my bladder, multiple flasks.  I wasn't taking any chances after how long we went without an aid station.  They were offering sandwiches but they were really croisants with some fruit filling.  Now looking back on things, for almost 30 hours, we really only ate gels, chomps, honey stinger waffles, some fruit and pastries.  Our bodies are definitely used to fueling during these super long races on more substantial options at the aid stations which in the end I think didn't help us either.  Anyway I ate a couple pastries declined soup as I was BOILING HOT and asked to use the bathroom.  The lady pointed out back to a little shack. OHHHHH ok, whatever I gotto go.  Well that was my first experience with a real live out house and it was not pleasant and of course I had to go #2 real bad.  So yup I shat in a hole in the ground.  I've done worse running ultras.  After that I just needed to pour water on myself.  They had handed me a bunch of bottles so I started pouring one on my head.  The man who's house it was pointed Emir and I to a large tub of water in the back yard since they had no running water.  To say it was disgusting is an understatement.  I didn't want to offend the man but I couldn't help screaming "don't touch it!"  I already had to push Emir into staying in the race, he was hurting so bad from the heat, he felt like he had nothing left.  But I knew it would be getting cooler soon and he would feel better so I convinced him.  The last thing we needed was to get sick from this water.  We said thank you but no thank you and gathered our things to head back out.  We heard most of the group we navigated the morning with had dropped included one man that was at the aid station with us.  Aside from one other couple that was shortly behind us, only the fast lead pack were left.  Geeze.  We probably spent 45 minutes at that house but Emir really needed it to patch his foot and get himself together a bit. 

Once we started back out, we were stuck in the blazing sun again for a while and I really had to push Emir along.  Eventually we started nearing the next mountain so there were trees to shade us and suddenly he was a different person.  He was ready to take on the world again, it was crazy.   So much so that suddenly I felt like I was being left behind!  It was ok though, we were doing well.  There was more mud (I forgot to mention how much mud there was on some of the mountains, we had to literally jump all around, climbing on all kinds of obstacles to avoid falling in deep ditches of stagnant mud water, also very time consuming), more animals and eventually we hit the next village where the mountain house aid station was supposed to be.  A man told us we would be there in 1Km but that turned out not to be true.  We were checking out every house along that road and none appeared to be it.  We ended up going on for a long time before we finally found it.  This was probably my favorite aid station.  They were soooo nice and they had a paramedic man there.  I had been so focused on Emir not quitting and how he was doing that I was only just now realizing my feet were hurting.  The paramedic asked me how I was doing and I said pretty good.  He said "are you sure?  nothing hurts?"  And I said "well actually my feet do but that's just normal for this many miles"  He said "Let me take care of your feet, it won't take long I promise.  Go inside get food and stuff then come back out and I'll do it"  AND that my friends is the ONLY regret I have about this race is that I did not go back out to him to get my feet taken care of.   At twenty something hours, who knows how many miles into the race, neither one of us were thinking clearly.  I was afraid to waste more time.  For so long during the day, I was convinced we would have no chance of finishing this race then Emir miraculously recovered and we started really moving again but we would have to really keep moving to finish so I didn't want to waste time if we didn't have to.  In my mind we didn't have to.  While my feet were bothering me a bit, I never imagined how bad they actually turned out.  I always wear Altra Lone Peaks for tough, rugged trails and have never had a single issue.  We both just got the Lone Peak 3's right before vacation and we did test them out on a 19 mile, 7 hour Mount Tammany training run and all was good.  So we never gave it a second thought about wearing them.  As it turns out, they were soaking wet for the first 6-7 hours of the race due to the dew which is what caused the problems.  In any case, I did not think I needed to take time for this so we left. 

And then I lost my mind.  The next section was all on a mountain.  It did not really follow any trails, it just went where ever it felt like it and we had to follow.  There were HUGE obstacles at every turn.  At some points we were vertical on our hands and knees climbing up.  This of course was all in the pitch dark which made for an even SLOWER go.  All the twisting and turning, jumping, climbing made my feet really start screaming.  I also freaked out when several times we were inching right along a cliff in the dark.  In daylight, I can imagine the views were AMAZING like the ones on the website that attracted us but in the dark, AHHHHHHH!!!   The pain and the never ending maze of boulders, rocks, huge trees, plants, dodging vats of mud and having to constantly search for our way just took it's toll.  I was a mess.  I fell probably 100 times in this section.  Emir was moving so well and I just could not keep up.  Then he's telling me how we lost so much time here so we really had to move to make it.  I couldn't handle it.  Then IT happened.  I fell and also stepped in one of those huge mud puddle cesspool vats and got my foot stuck.  I managed to get it out but the pain in that foot was excruciating.  I would realize later that the trauma from getting it stuck and then pulling it out tore one of my huge blisters which caused the pain.  I started crying.  I told Emir I was so done.  I couldn't do it anymore.  He said ok, we just need to make it a little bit more off this mountain and we will hit an aid station to drop.  "ok I can do that"
These were the cliffs we were on in the dark!

definitely would have been AWESOME in daylight ;-)

So Emir led the way and I hobbled.  In the end I hobbled for like 4 more hours.  After we got off the mountain, we followed the course markings and never found the aid station.  We were going so slow that the other couple caught up to us and said that it was actually a bit off course, they missed it too and then went back.  Also the people there were asleep so they had to wake them up.  AWESOME.  The next aid station was like 9 miles from there.  UGH I was so defeated!  And we were in the middle of the woods so even if we called they wouldn't be able to get us.  So we had to just keep going.  It was miserable.  We both started getting cold so we put on our long sleeves but it still wasn't great.  Finally we reached a town around daybreak and I was like "Just call please!"  So Emir did.  Unfortunately they didn't understand where we were so we sat outside freezing our asses off for an hour and a half before they found us.  Oh and I had to walk another mile after that to get to the man who came to find us. 

At this point I thought all the adventure was over.  Nope.  This man, super nice, obviously did not know how to drive this car and it was a bit of an adventure, it also took about 10 minutes to open the trunk.  He said we needed to stop at the last aid station to pick stuff up.  Next thing I know he stops and picks up a hitchhiker, ok cool.  Luckily seemed nice and dropped him off after about 5 minutes.  We got to the last aid station and there was the couple that passed us.  They didn't make the time cutoff and the last aid station was closed when they got there.  There we got to see first hand the ski slope you had to climb up to get up to the finish and I knew that I would have never made it, not with my feet in that much pain.  damn.   A crazy car ride up the mountain and we finally were back to our hotel. 

cheers to doing our best in a crazy adventure!
28 hours and 68 miles is what we ended up with.  And you know what, I'm damn proud of it.  This race was nothing like we've ever done before.  If it was only about running/hiking/fueling then I would be upset about not finishing but it wasn't.  There were so many obstacles that we are not used to that I don't feel bad.  Now knowing the course, we understand why so many people went out so fast.  Our strategy was to just go slow and steady the whole time however the latter part of the course really takes a lot of extra time so now it makes sense why those people did that.  
a few pics from the top of Jahorina, such a beautiful place!

The morning after we went to Jahorina peak, even though we didn't finish, this wasn't even part of our race anyway.  We couldn't leave without going to the top

Anyway, it didn't feel like a DNF.   It felt like a journey and we completed our part.  I did a lot of things out on that course that I never imagined I could or would do (some things are better left unsaid).  I have no regrets about doing this race at all.  While there are some improvements the race could make, I know they also are faced with lots of limitations as Bosnia while peaceful is still a country much divided and also not a country full of resources like the US.  It was a great learning experience especially as this is the country my husband was born in and grew up in.  It has always been important to me to learn as much about it as I can.  That said, while Emir and I tend to love to push limits and always do the longest option possible, we have decided that maybe sometimes especially on vacation it's ok to do the shorter race so that we can better enjoy our time.  There were so many awesome extras that came along with this race that we were unable to partake in because we were out on the course for 30 some hours (by the time we got picked up) and missed two full nights sleep so Sunday after we showered and ate we passed out for the rest of the day.  All runners received vouchers for zip lining, a ride on the ski lifts, a lunch and beer.  None of which we were able to do since these were only open during the weekend since it was off season on the mountain.  There was also a big post race party that we missed Saturday night as yup we were still on the course.  If we had done one of the shorter options we would have gotten a taste of the area on course (and maybe even a more enjoyable course with more landmarks) and then also enjoyed all these other things the rest of the weekend.  But you live, you learn and it's not like we had a terrible time.  We enjoyed our 4 days at Jahorina.  It was a really nice getaway and such a beautiful place and we got to run an ultra.  Perfect little trip in our books!  AND we are already planning on coming back next year because we want to do one of the other courses and enjoy more of Jahorina mountain and share it with the kids this time. 

I saved the bit about my feet for the end so that if you don't want to hear or see about it, you could still read my race report.  SO if you don't want to see, DON'T READ ANYMORE! 

Ok so here it is for those who want to hear and see about my feet troubles.  As I said, this was only my second time in Lone Peak 3's.  As it turns out they look and feel much different than the previous version 2.5's.  This actually saddens me because the 2.5's are amazing.  They fit and feel wonderful.  I also ran 50 miles in them, soaking wet from first to last step and my feet came out more beautiful than they went in.  They ALWAYS just feel so good.  Anyway as I said the 3's were fine for a 7 hour mountain training run however clearly wet is not their friend.  Our shoes were wet for the first 6-7 hours of this race and look below to see what happened.  I'll let the pictures speak for themselves even though I think in person was even worse but I'd like to just say how it took me an hour just to get my socks and calf sleeves off due to the pain.  AND my feet are still not back to normal to this day 7 weeks post race, still peeling and healing.  :-(  So needless to say I'll be going back to my 2.5's for my 100K this coming weekend.