Today I’m climbing the final switchbacks to Bear Ass Pass between Lambs Canyon and Millcreek Canyon. In 1985, my first Wasatch 100 trail run, it took me just over 10 hours to get here. This year it’s taken me 56 DAYS. Say what?
Why use Trail Running as a Diet Plan?
I was supposed to celebrate my 20th Wasatch 100 trail run finish this year. Instead of standing nervously at the starting line on September 7th, I was three months into re-hab after having my hamstrings reattached to my hip. All three hamstrings on my left leg got ripped off my pelvis when I fell 20 feet from a cliff Easter weekend last April. The injury put an abrupt halt to my Wasatch trail run training (in fact, all training) and dream of running sub-27 hours, a new 60+-age record.
So, how did I make it to mile 56 and why has it taken 56 days? On August 10th, after 4 months of inactivity and eating like a bear getting ready for hibernation, I finally faced the scales to see how far north of my 155 Wasatch trail run target weight I’d strayed. Oh, my gosh…30 and a half pounds?? That’s like packing a 3-year old toddler! My diet plan started as soon as I stepped off the scales.
Real Diet plan success requires trail running determination
6 days into counting calories, about the time I usually give up, I decided that I’d try to stick with my diet plan for 100 days, symbolizing my own 100-miler weight trail run – one mile of the Wasatch course each day. Using Wasatch’s “Mileage and Elevation” chart, I started tracking my progress. Day 6 found me just past Horny Toad Junction on the climb to Chinscraper. It took me 18 days to get to the Francis Peak aid station but I was already down 8.5 pounds.
The 100-mile trail run diet plan took on a life of its own
Leaving Francis Peak, I remembered that my cousin usually meets me at Bountiful B (mile 24) with a “real cane sugar” Coke. Thoughts of getting that Coke on Day 24 became an obsession. When that day arrived, I put the Coke on ice for a couple hours, and then had my crew boss wife, Konnie, hand it off to me on our back deck. ‘not the same as rushing through an aid station but close enough for a guy just off crutches.
On those days when hunger really gnawed at my belly and my passion for my diet plan was waining, it helped to picture where I was on the Wasatch course, pushing through despite wind, heat, rocky trails and fatigue. The next big treat came at Swallow Rocks (Day 35). Two popsicles…one root beer and one banana. Years ago, Jim and Liz Knight started the tradition of refreshing parched trail runners with the icy treats at this remote aid station.
Official weigh-ins on Wasatch 100 trail run occur at Big Mountain Pass (mile 39), Lambs Canyon (mile 53) and Brighton (mile 75). Race personnel use cumulative weight loss to advise runners about fluid intake and, when a runner has lost too much weight and is in dire straits, as a reason to pull them from the race. But with my diet plan weight loss was the goal, I was down 19 pounds at Big Mountain and lost another 5 pounds by the time I reached Lambs Canyon (and a chicken and avocado sandwich), 14 days later. If I had actually been on the trail run the officials may have pulled me from the race, but for me these were great results.
Successful diet plan completion here I come
Only 44 miles to the finish my trail run diet plan…6 weeks and 2 days. Sticking to the diet plan i’ll cross the finish line in Midway (UT) on Saturday, November 17th, 71 days after the last Wasatch 100 finisher. I won’t get a finisher’s belt buckle but should at least be able to do up my belt buckle again.
To Be Continued…