Monday, October 26, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
Now, 2 weeks post-Oil Creek and no other 100-mile race on the "near" calendar, I must say it is nice. I did finally get the "itch" back last night for the next one, though. It took 11 days but sure enough, I'm mentally back and ready for the next one. It'll be awhile, though. The MMT100 isn't until May 2010 and the registration lottery doesn't open until December 1st. For now, I'm trying to slip back into "normalcy" which for me, includes kicking up some trail dirt on Saturday morning and every other Friday morning. I get plenty of asphalt during my pre-dawn weekday runs so I have no desire to go long on roads on the weekend. "But what about marathon training?" you may ask. Well, I'm not even going to pencil any marathons in right now for 2010. Don't get me wrong…I have nothing against the road marathon…it was my first passion…and I've got 24 under my belt. But, it's those trails that are providing all of the push and "umph" to get me out there right now. I love them more than you know! I figure that the Bobcat Trail Marathon, here in 16 short days will be marathon #25 and is a nice number to pause for awhile regarding marathons. I'm thinking more along the lines of longer and dirtier…ie: trail ultras. I want to volunteer at more, run more, and fully focus my energy in that direction. It can all change, of course, but for the foreseeable future, that's my plan.
My left abductor and left thigh have continued to remind me of their presence. I have limited myself to 5-mile road runs this past week with a pretty invasive foam-roller treatment immediately after each run while the muscles are warm. I roll 360 degrees around my left upper leg each time. Then, about an hour later at work I feel like yuck and a bit nauseous…squeezing those muscles like that flushed toxins right out into my bloodstream and the way I felt was expected after work on the roller. I continued to drink lots of water which flushed all the crud out. So far, no co-pays to the doctor or anything…and I think it is working well. Tomorrow, I'm hitting the trails at 6am from Pine Lane for 3-4 hours of nice-n-easy trail running. It will be a good reality-check of where my left leg stands in terms of recovery. Today, it feels like a million bucks…we'll see how it goes tomorrow. I'm not rushing it but I'd be lying if I didn't admit I am VERY eager to get on the trails for a very long time right now!
So, if you want to join me through the winter months on the trails and see every stinkin' inch of trail in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and a lot of West Branch State Park, stay tuned on here, Facebook, the NEO Trail Forum, and the Vertical Runner discussion board. I love to run alone but I love company, too and someone always shows up to run. I may love the summer months more, but cool weather and the trails are well,….simply second-to-none. "Normalcy"…abnormal to most but to me, the only way to be. See you on the trails!
Happy Trails, everyone!
Monday, October 19, 2009
- Big weekend in marathoning just went by with many local runners going different directions for their next 26.2. A few performances stick out in my head like Aaron's 3:09 in Columbus, Andrea's re-qualifying for Boston up in Michigan, Greg D. running, I think, his 6th consecutive marathon in 6 weeks in Columbus in 3:14 or 3:16, after running the Burning River 100 in under 23 hours, of course. Greg, who I doubt will read this, used to be nearly equal with me in ability. We ran similar marathon and ultra-marathon times and trained very often together. He has dramatically improved since then and really stepped it up and become extremely successful and my hat is off to him...all without injury. Simply amazing. My brother, Bill also ran his 3rd marathon of his life and in 2009 down in Columbus and 2nd in three weeks...all 3 under 4 hours, to boot. Those are just a few but I know many others set PRs and some had rough days, too...but they all crossed that finish line. Kudos to you all for covering the distance yet again!
- Inevitable, I suppose. A 5-day work-week. I haven't had one for a L O N G time. Here we are this week and yuck, I don't want to! Especially after a weekend with the Navy and no days off, it stinks. One day of it will actually be spent with the Navy again as I'll travel to western Ohio for a day of training to become a CACO (Casualty Assistance Calls Officer). Ever seen a movie (Saving Private Ryan and Taking Chance come to mind) where military in full dress uniform show up at family's house and deliver the news that their loved one has passed away? Those officers who do that are CACO officers and it's something I've wanted to be involved with for a long time. The CACO not only makes notifications but also helps with funerals, grieves with the families, and helps ensure financial matters are taken care of. Not nearly enough honor is given to our country's fallen and their families so I hope to simply do my part and serve in a very different way than what I'm used to.
- Speaking of Taking Chance, my girls got me the DVD for Sweetest Day. I've been waiting for it for awhile so THANK YOU!
- More Navy news: I did take my Oath of Office for the 2nd time yesterday. With my recent promotion, it is customary to take the oath again to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States, etc." and raise my right hand. I expect to being doing that for a very long time to come! I'm also getting a new assignment which directly impacts my 2010 schedule. It's a dream job, actually and I will be taking command of a unit which is 1 of 10 other units which make up one big battalion. It is an awesome opportunity and more importantly, a leadership opportunity that I've been seeking for a long time. More details about it once I get into the job. Being in this job starting in December will most likely keep me stateside for most of 2010. That's the big schedule change which of course, is good "family" news!
- It feels quite good, I'll admit, to not having the heavy weight of a 100-miler bearing down on me right now. A simple 2009 schedule remains and that's a relief. It's nice not to have to constantly be thinking about it. (I wouldn't dare change the last 5 months, though...they have been life-changing, for sure) Oil Creek still lingers in my mind but my buckle has been safely tucked away, protected for sure, but tucked away for now. I'm more concerned with my recovery from it and getting back onto the trails. The cold season is knocking at our door here in Ohio which beckons me onto the trails. I need to get back to 100%, though.
- The left abductor muscle is still reminding me it exists. It goes through good and bad times. My foam roller has become part of my daily routine as I try and expedite full recovery. I still hope that no permanent damage was done at Oil Creek but I can't say that with full confidence right now...I just don't know. As I back off right now, I'm going to get back to some weight and heavy-bag work to supplement some lower mileage. We'll see where this goes and hope for the best. The Bobcat Trail Marathon is only 20 days away, after all!
- I need to start saying "No." Too many "Yes, no problem, I'll take care of that" and increased stress levels surely follow. Taking an inventory last night brought it all front and center and some shedding of responsibilities is in order to keep my head screwed on correctly. I already took care of a few but more are on the chopping block. Simplify. Simplify. Simplify. Maybe you know what I'm talking about? I thought so.
- Group Runs: that term sounds so foreign to me. When the heck was the last time I was at a Saturday group run in the Valley? It seems like an eternity ago. It is time to get back to those long trail runs in the Valley with my friends and maybe some hot coffee and breakfast at Fisher's afterwards. I miss it so much. In order to do that, I need to keep my pen off of registration forms! Speaking of registration forms: if you didn't send yours in for the Winter Run for Regis, you're most likely out of luck as it will most likely be sold out today. I hope to lead some familiarization runs of this newly-revised event in the near future. Stay tuned.
Have a great week, everyone, and Happy Trails!
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
My race report for Oil Creek went "viral" as I like to say. My SiteMeter account nearly went bonkers with the hits from all corners of the country. Not sure how that happened but it did and it's been a fun ride. One of those who got a hold of it (not directly from me, mind you) was the newspaper in Titusville, PA where the Oil Creek 100 was held. They contacted me and asked permission to use my story for the paper and if I could send them a few pictures. I did so and yesterday, Thursday, they made me their front page story! The whole front page! It was pretty neat to see that in print like that. They are sending me a few hard copies to save. (Marjie, my resident "professional" scrapbooker will appreciate that!) Here's the story.
My recovery has been a rocky road. Without a doubt, Oil Creek did more damage than any previous event in my life hands down. I didn't get an adjustment at the chiropractor nor a massage but I rested all week long. Come Thursday morning, I felt more myself for the first time and energy levels were nearly back to normal (oh, my poor co-workers!). On Tuesday, I actually went to work but could not last to the end of the day. I left 2 hours early totally dead to the world. Just this morning, I met up with Gombu at West Branch for an extremely easy 6 miles on the mountain bike trails. It was so perfect out there. Leaves in full foliage effect and covering the trail heavily, mostly in reds. As soon as we started, I could feel a pinpoint right at the top of my left abductor. The stinkin' pain spot was still there. I told Gombu to take light walking breaks until warmed up and that did the trick. Eventually, we were weaving around the trails at a nice, comfortable pace, coming close to the lake every once in awhile. I've been thinking about hosting a 5-6 mile run out there to show everyone the trails then have a pot-luck social at my house only 12 minutes away. If you think you'd be interested in this, let me know or post a comment on here. I'd love to do it around Christmas and maybe have a "Dirty Santa" exchange. Hmmmm....this sounds like fun.
My future plans remain the same. The Inaugural Bobcat Trail Marathon is only 3 weeks away now down at Burr Oak State Park, north of Athens, OH. It's going to be a BLAST! I really want to be 100% for that event. If it means nearly no running and lots of foam roller action between now and then, then so be it. This problem I have with my abductor is not one of those problems that can simply be run through (well, unless you're in a 100 mile race, that is!). After that, you can see what's scheduled over on the right. One thing I've started to think about is the 3rd Annual Water Falls Run. I started it as a celebratory run on the last Saturday of the year in 2007. We had about 10 people. Last year, an incredible 70+ showed up, totally surprising me. This year, it falls on Saturday, December 26th and will follow the same course, visiting Blue Hen, Buttermilk, then Brandywine Falls for around 16-ish miles. Something else is in the works to marry up with this event and you will NOT want to miss it...but I have to keep it under wraps for now. Stay tuned.
Pictures have been plentiful with about 3 different photographers present on the Oil Creek course. There is one worth your time to look at. He traveled up to Pennsylvania from South Carolina. He is a 4-time Military Photographer of the Year and a war hero who earned the Bronze Star. Jeremy Lock was so moved by the event that he said it was one of the Top 10 events he had ever shot. He has uploaded over 800 images and trust me, they are breath-taking. Absolutely beautiful. Take a few minutes and check them out here. I want them all!
Have a great weekend, everyone, and get out that fall/winter running gear!
Happy Trails, everyone!
Monday, October 12, 2009
The weekend started with a 110 mile pleasant drive to the small town of Titusville in northwest PA. Upon my arrival, I met up with a handful of other Ohio trail runners and a few who come into our area to run our trail races. We had a light dinner at the Blue Canoe Brewery in Titusville. If you ever find yourself passing through this town or anywhere close, stop on in. It was really good food. Afterwards, it was off to Titusville Middle School which would serve as race headquarters for the weekend, the race start/finish, and my home for the evening. After picking up my packet, I claimed my own personal rectangle of floor space on the gymnasium floor where I'd camp out for the night. I found a spot by an electrical outlet so I could plug in my phone and mobile espresso pot. Nothing like fresh brewed espresso on race morning. The pre-race meeting was really great, too. It was standing room only in the cafeteria which was really cool to see for an inaugural event. All 3 races (50K, 50 mile, and 100 mile) sold out weeks earlier. Thanks to the great sponsorship, great swag was given out to everyone like hydration packs, bottles, sweatshirts, trail running spikes for the winter, etc. After many thanks to the local support for the events and a pasta dinner, the crowd dispersed to make their final race preps and relax. I took my spot on the gym floor.
Saturday, I arose at 3:30am, brewed my espresso, took a shower, had a PB&J sandwich, listened to some Casting Crowns in my car, then made one last phone call to Marjie. I made my way back into the school cafeteria where Tom Jennings was giving last-minute instructions and at about 4:57am, we all migrated out the back door to the starting line. At precisely 5am, we were off. After a short stretch of road, we entered onto the asphalt bike path which is the connector between TMS (Titusville Middle School) and the Oil Creek State Park. This time, it'll be a 3.55mi stretch. Future trips will be 1.2mi each way. He made it longer the first time to allow the field of runners to thin out before we hit the trail in the pitch black of early morning. Once we entered the trail, we were immediately in Boughton Acid Works. Here back in the mid-1800s, they used acid to refine the oil and after the acid soaking into the soil, it was forever scorched. So today, the earth in this spot remains dark and free from life. There was a strong smell as well...smelled like a house had just burnt down. That's amazing 150 years later.
To help make my report make more sense regarding this course, it's easiest to think of it as one big oval (not really an oval but it'll make sense). Imagine the top of the oval being TMS (race headquarters/start/finish and Aid Station (AS) #4). Going counter-clockwise, AS #1 will be at the 9 o'clock position, AS #2 (Petroleum Center) will be at the 6 o'clock position and also a drop bag location, and AS #3 will be at the 3 o'clock position. 100 milers make 3 complete loops of this course plus one last "Heading Home" loop at the end to make up the entire 100 miles (100.3 to be exact). Most were between 6.75mi and 7.3mi apart with the exception of between AS #2 and AS #3 which was 9.75mi. The early goings in this race were pretty uneventful. I just kept trucking along at a healthy pace and meeting people along the way. We were in the dark until just after 7am when we could finally see the gorgeous landscape around us. I was fortunate enough that just after AS #1, I met up with Jenny Chow again. Jenny was running her 8th 100-miler of 2009 and her 10th 100-miler on the 10th day of the 10th month of the year! Cool, eh?! It was also her birthday on Saturday! If you read my Kettle Moraine 100 and Burning River 100 race reports, you should recognize her name. I met her at the Kettle where she won (and got one big motha of a kettle!) and was 2nd at Burning River. She's a machine....steady, strong, not fast, not slow...just so dang persistent. She always exhibits a smile, too. Anytime I can run with her is a pleasure.
At AS #2, ran by the local VFW chapter, I got rid of my headlamp and picked up my waist pack pre-loaded with Hammer's Perpetuem which I would drink for the remainder of the race. AS #2 falls about halfway through the 31 mile loop. Refueled, I headed back onto the trail en route 9.75 miles to AS #3. This is a long stretch and not so common in ultra-marathons. In my personal experience, I'm used to 5-6 miles between aid stations. I knew that loops #2 and #3 later in the run were going to be tough here. This time, though, it was great. Just as I left the aid station, Shaun Pope passed me (local trail runner). He was leading the 50 mile race which started one hour after we did. Although he wouldn't admit it, I knew he was gunning for the win. He is an extremely talented young guy and has great talent in trail running. He was barely 2nd place at the YUT-C 50K three weeks ago. There was a guy much older that chased him all day long but never caught him. Shaun won the 50 miler in under 8 hours!!! Simply amazing! A few miles later I ran into Bob "Gombu" Combs. Gombu is a veteran 100-mile runner and has his claim to fame at this past July's Hardrock 100, a race with a mere 48hr cutoff. He was struck by lightning after mile 90 but still got up and ran to the finish. He's also the YUT-C 50K race director. We ran together for awhile but around Mile 20, a little thing came back to visit me. Flashing back to Labor Day last month, I ran the Labor of Love 5-Miler in Akron. I ran it hard trying to break 35min. Ever since that day, I've felt a little "something" around my upper inner left thigh...the abductor muscle. I've used the foam roller on it a bit and in fact, I didn't even feel it at the Akron Marathon two weeks ago...and it didn't cause me any troubles at the YUT-C 50K a week before Akron. One thing I truly believe is that if you have any "issues," they will most likely rear their ugly head during a 100-miler. So here I am, at mile 20 in a 100 mile race and pain strikes. I don't use the term "pain" often...but this was pain. I wanted ibuprofen bad. I told Gombu I was having some issues and off he went as I slowed my pace. My stash of ibuprofen was in my drop bag at TMS, at Mile 31. Luckily, AS #3 had some so I grabbed 400mg, some food and got moving. I'm not a huge fan of ibuprofen. I prefer to take nothing if at all possible. To me, it's really a last resort. If I had a headache or some soreness, I wouldn't touch medicine. But this hurt and if I were to continue, I had to address it. Lots of chatter in ultra-running circles has talked a lot about taking ibuprofen during these endurance events and their possible harmful effects on the kidneys. I have not personally had any trouble but I was alert to it and the possibilities. I always limit myself to 400mg every 4 hours at the earliest. This first 400mg definitely took the edge off and I kept on truckin'. However, I felt that the rest of the event would be filled with regular deposits of ibuprofen into my body. :-(
Coming into AS #4 at TMS, I was feeling pretty good but quite sore. I quickly made up another multi-hour bottle of Perpetuem, grabbed my ibuprofen, ate some food and got moving. I'll admit that I glanced over at my car in the nearby parking lot...looking all lonely...wanting some company. Dang, the temptation! Heading 1.2mi to the trail again, it was daylight this time around so I was trying to look at everything I passed since the later Loop #3 would once again be in the dark. I was now mostly running alone which I preferred. I don't run with anything plugged in my ears, either. I just enjoy the woods, trails, trees, mud, and the sounds out there. Plus, at this point, time was just rolling by. Hour by hour by hour...just slipping away. This is also the area where I started my "trail pole-dancing routine." Give me a minute to explain, will ya?!: With a greatly shortened stride and my body doing what it can to hold my left abductor together, my quads were really getting tight. With ever-tightening quads, it made my stride tighter and tighter and harder to run...or walk. Well, the way I found to stretch them was to find a trail-side skinny (but strong) tree, grip it like you'd grip a pole, and ever-so-slowly lower down to the ground. Before doing it, I couldn't bend my legs greater than 90 degrees. Doing this restored some flexibility for awhile until they reverted back and I had to "trail pole dance" again. It hurt a lot going down but once down, it felt good. The first time I did it, a group of runners passed me...I can only imagine what they were thinking! Don't knock it until you try it! It worked and felt great! Many more pole dances to come later in the event, for sure!
As I came into AS #2 and Mile 45, I grabbed my first can of Starbucks Doubleshot, 1 of 3 I'd have for the rest of the event. That along with some ramen noodles and I was set and got moving once again. Once again, I embark on the 9.75 trek to AS #3. The trail is much quieter now with the 50 miler and 50K runners gone. Lots of time could pass before seeing someone else. Over on this side of the course was a section I most adored on the course. The section was appropriately named "Hemlock Run." Most of the OC100 course is narrow, single track, rooty, rocky trail. In a few sections on this side of the course were these hundreds and hundreds of Hemlocks. Imagine this: a wider trail free from hills (a rarity in this event), no rock, no roots, just a bed of pine needles to run on. To the right, a 45 degree upward slope and to the left, a 45 degree downward slope. Now place on both slopes hundreds of sky-reaching Hemlocks. Absolutely breathtaking. I remember saying verbally: "God, nice job on this one. You hit a home run." (note: I mean that literally, not taking His name in vain) There were a few times where I stopped and rotated 360 degrees just to see it all...it was magical. It's running in places like this for hours on end that make it all worth it, by the way. While in Hemlock Run, a guy passed me wearing a black Akron Marathon finisher's hat from this year. I introduced myself and sure enough, he ran Akron two weeks ago. His name is Ernie and is from Toledo. It turns out that this 100-miler was his FIRST ultra-marathon. No 50Ks, no 50 milers...just straight to the grand-daddy itself, the 100-miler. The great news is that Ernie went on to finish...about 30min ahead of me. GREAT JOB, Ernie! After leaving the Hemlocks, I entered a really muddy section where trail shoe footprints were everywhere. That made an actual FOOTprint so easy to see. I looked down and without a doubt, a bare foot made the print, or was it a bear foot that made the print? There's been several sightings out here and we were advised to get a "bear bell" to wear, especially at night to alert the bears to our presence. I looked at it probably 3 or 4 times to make sure I wasn't hallucinating...which tends to happen to many of us who run 100-milers. It didn't have any claw marks, though but was probably about 6" long...perhaps a young cub? I got running again and was excited that I, number 75, was going to deliver the news to AS #3 in a bit. I also decided to grab my bear bell that was in my drop bag at AS #4. As I kept running, another person on the trail caught my attention...looked like a back-packer. He or she had a pack on, hiking poles, and....SHE was barefoot! Little feet, too! ARGH! That's my bear! Turns out she was hiking the 50 miler. She's from Florida and had never gone further than 15 miles. I can't imagine going barefoot with all the rocks out there. We shared a few words and I kept on going...a bit deflated, I must admit. But, I figured it would still be a good story for my race report. :-)
Dangerous. That's what it's called when you put a campfire at an aid station in front of a 100-mile runner, when it's cold out, over 54 miles have been covered, and an empty chair awaits. I did take a seat for about 3min, had a bowl of soup, something else I can't remember, then hit the trail. By this time, darkness set in and out here, it gets REALLY dark. Pitch black. There are very, very few clearings above us due to the tree coverage. Knowing a clear night was forecast, I froze in my tracks when I went through a grassy clearing. I turned off my lamp, let my eyes adjust, then stared upward at the sky. It looked like fairy dust had been spread across the sky. Stars everywhere and the main ones brighter than ever. Talk about having a "moment"...I didn't want to move a muscle...well, maybe lay down right there on the trail and let the stars put me to sleep atop the grassy trail...that I could do. But, the clock is ticking after all so I got moving. (this is yet another reason I run these "things") Another 7.3mi and I was back at TMS, the 100K point, or just over 62 miles. As soon as I arrived, "someone" grabbed a chair, put it under the light, my drop bag immediately appeared and I hear "Nick, it's me! Kim!" Kimba!!! I didn't even look up at who was taking care of me so I was pleasantly surprised when it was Kimba. She dropped from the 100 mile event at 22 miles because her flu symptoms came back. So, she was back to help out at the aid station...thanks, Kimba! "Moose," a NEO Trail member was my other helper. He took care of mixing up my Perpetuem, filling my Heed, and getting me some food. I downed it all along with another Starbucks Doubleshot, put on my Smartwool gloves and winter hat, ditched my Petzl lamp for my high-power Princeton Tec lamp, took my tech tee off and replaced with with my red Sugoi hoodie tech top which is perfect for cold running. The temps were projected to be down at 40F and clear. Being highly dehydrated, getting chilled with no recourse can be really dangerous in these events and hypothermia could set in. I had to keep my core body temp warm. Simple forward movement (and it's not so simple on this night!) can generate enough heat to make the technical fabric work. OK, I said my goodbyes and I was outta there...bound for AS #1.
I get back on the trail after my 1.2mi trek once again on the bike path, am enjoying the darkness and quiet, the WHOA!!! "What IS that?" OK, since hallucinating is perfectly acceptable at this point, I looked at least 3 times. A porcupine! He or she was right on the edge of a very narrow section of single-track trail. As soon as it heard me, those quills stood straight up! I know they don't shoot but still, I'm a big wimp. I turned on my spotlight and tried "talking" it off the trail and moving towards it. Honestly, it was pretty cool and had colors of white, black, and brown throughout. Eventually after about 30sec of coaxing, it scooted off the trail and I got moving. "Yes, it was real," I told myself. Mind in proper working condition = check! Shortly after my porcupine encounter, I went through a very slippery, shoe-sucking section. I hadn't fallen all day but out went my feet and fell hard right there in the mud...my nice warm, cozy black Smartwool gloves and handheld liquid carrier drenched in muck. ARGH!!! Kinda hard to swap out gloves right now! "Improvise!" I thought. I found a tree and rubbed the heck out of it to clean them off. As for the sipping part of my handheld bottle, spitting at it and shaking it will NOT clean it off, by the way. Luckily, there were jugs of water left out for us about a mile later and I cleaned it off. Around mile 69, I came into AS #1 again, Wolfkill Run. A cool thing this time around was lit pumpkins and signs preceding the AS welcoming us in and the pavilion was decorated with that fake web stuff and Halloween decor. I had a hot-off-the-grill grilled cheese sandwich, a cup of cold Coke, a couple of salt tabs, and just a few moments leaning up against the wall. I wanted a chair, knew that was a bad idea, so I compromised with the "lean." (A guy at the finish who was working there actually brought that up later on Sunday) I finished my sandwich by the fire and got moving. A nasty ascent followed immediately and was starting to get "loopy." I couldn't keep my footing. I kept slipping off the trail and wobbling around. I even thought I may have turned around on the trail and was heading back to the aid station. Ugh...gotta get a hold of myself! I decided I hadn't made a "U" turn and kept on going.
Shortly before AS #2 and mile 75-ish, I came upon the replica oil derricks again but this time they were fully illuminated. A man was standing watch over the generator that powered the halogen lights. The idea was that these derricks could be seen from the overlook on the other side of the park but the fog was super thick. Luckily, we got to run right through them. Arriving at AS #2, I had a piece of pizza, changed out my gloves, downed another Doubleshot, and was on my way to AS #3, a L O N G 9.75mi stretch in the dead of night. There was one solitary thing I was looking forward to at this point...that bench. That bench at the overlook that I'll get to around Mile 77. Since I first saw it, I told myself: "Before this race ends, I will lay down on that bench." Honestly, I couldn't wait to get there. There might of even been a bit of a zip in my stride. I finally arrived at the overlook and sure enough, no derricks could be seen due to the fog. I took off my waist-pack, turned off my lamp, and laid down. The stars were brilliant, the bench cold, and I was....happy. I heard total silence except for my own breathing. I started counting down from 100 and by 92, I was asleep. I think I did that twice and laid there maybe for 2 or 3 minutes tops. I knew I had to stand up or I might actually fall into deep sleep. I got moving...but thrilled with my brief stop. From here all the way to AS #3, all I could do in my mind was calculations in my head about my pace and if I could possibly get cut from the course. When I was at AS #2, I overheard them say that at AS #3, runners had to be out of there by 8am or they'd be pulled from the course due to the 32hr time limit. Not having mile markers on the course made it tough to figure what my status was but the thought of being pulled tugged at me hard. My left leg was becoming immune to the ibuprofen so it pretty much hurt bad all of the time. The race was purely mental now since obviously, my body had shot up countless flares into the sky telling me to "STOP!" I arrived at AS #3 and saw a familiar face, Michael Kazar, a very accomplished ultra-runner himself. He wanted to chat but all I kept saying was "I gotta get going...gotta get going." I left at 6:55am and figured if I could cover the next 7.3mi faster than normal, I would have some cushion for the "Final Trip Home" 7.75mi loop at the end. I thought that 9:25am was the drop-dead time to get back to TMS, AS #4. Later than that, I may have to drop out. I pushed it as hard as I could physically go. Power-walking everything, full-stride, running when I could. The pain increased but I blocked it out. It didn't matter. I kept listening for the oil pumps...a sure sign I was close to the bike path and Titusville. I got to the bike path around 8:45am...YES! I'll be back at TMS by 9am...plenty of cushion and essentially, guaranteeing a FINISH. I kept up the pace on the bike path, soaking up the 2nd morning sun since I started this event, and headed to mile 92 at TMS.
I didn't know how emotionally fragile I was until about 1/2 mile from TMS. I look up and in the distance I see someone, blond, in a blue windbreaker. It kind of looked like Marjie who as far as I knew, was home or at church with the girls waiting for my call after the finish. As I got closer, it WAS her. I shouted "You're going to make me cry!" I ran up to her and nearly toppled her with a huge hug and yes, crying. She was totally unexpected and to see her at this point after going through this event all alone just made me crumble. Happiness would be an understatement. Once the tears were wiped away, we got moving and she filled me in on the happenings of life over the last two days and how the webcast was down since around mile 50. Turns out that due to technical issues, they shut it down instead of putting out bad numbers. (this is very typical in 100 mile races, by the way...but I'm confident they'll fix it for next year) We ran and walked to TMS where the aid station was nearly shut down. Not too much to pick from but I didn't want much. I shed the headlamp, gloves, and hat, saw the "buckled" Maria and Amy who finished their first 50 miler the night before, and even took a phone call from my daughter who just happened to call while I was standing there. 7.75 to go! Alright, the last 7.75 are pretty much uneventful and was more of a celebration in my head before the actual celebration. It was partially on trail already run but included a trip back through the Boughton Acid Works and across the old suspension bridge that the workers used back in the 1800s to go to and from the Acid Works...thus the name of this final "Headed Home" loop. Cool way to end the race. After the bridge, the course goes up and up and up a series of switchbacks...this course never gives up! It eventually tapped back into the main trail I was on a few hours earlier..right before the bike path to TMS. The final stretch of asphalt was not easy. I was finding it difficult to simply walk and found it easier to walk backwards. I did a few more "trail pole dances" and kept on moving. I am sure that the stretch from AS #3 to TMS where I pushed it took it's toll on me...now I was paying the price. Still, I was at mile 99 so let's go! As I approached TMS and the finish line, I broke into a nice stride, and had one momentary chill up my back and perhaps one tear that was quickly wiped away. I turned the last corner and it was over: 30hrs, 49min, 8sec. 1hr, 11min to spare! A volunteer handed me my buckle and a surprise, an oval OC100 sticker for my back window of my car. Turns out 48 finished the 100 miles and 84 started, I think. I was 40th so as usual, I am mid-pack in terms of those who started the event.
I just want to say how thankful I am to Marjie for her support of me this past year. Many non-running spouses do not support their running spouses in these endeavors but for me, I've been blessed with someone who has really supported me. The training for the Kettle Moraine started around Easter this year and since then, well...three 100s...complete. Thank you, Babe!
I also want to say that this event in particular was hands down, the hardest, most grueling test of my life. With a leg that was uncooperative, I had to mentally dig down deep to find the will to continue. I once again played Casting Crowns' "Praise You in the Storm" in my head all night and morning long. Keeping my attitude and outlook positive was key. I would NOT quit. I WOULD finish. (It also helped that knowing whatever the outcome was, I'd have to blog about it...and a DNF (did not finish) entry for the OC100 is not something I wanted to write!)
Thanks to the many of you for your support this year and for your countless messages through all 3 events. I appreciate it all more than you know! Thank you also to Race Director, Tom Jennings for orchestrating an event that was so extremely well done. We all expect hiccups the first year of an event but I saw very, very few. This event has a very bright future and given my close proximity, it'll be hard to not get involved. You did phenomenal, Tom!
Friday, October 9, 2009
Course: it is essentially 3 50K loops (about 31 miles each) with an add-on loop at the end to make up the entire 100.3 miles (course description)
Time Limit: 32 hours or 1pm Sunday
Thursday, October 8, 2009
The first one really should be titled "No Excuses....never."
This second one is a summary video from the 2009 Massanutten Trails 100. This also happens to be my goal race for 2010. The registration lottery opens up in December...considered the toughest 100 mile race on the east coast.
Lastly, this is an interview with Stan, the Race Director of the MMT100. It's his brief insight into the ultra-marathon, 100 mile culture. It sort of helps answer the "why" question I get so often.
FYI: I will post all tracking information, weather info, and final details about the Oil Creek 100 tomorrow morning before I leave for Titusville, PA. There is nothing else to report right now. I am getting good sleep, eating lots of carbs, and drinking lots of water. Final drop bag planning will be tonight. I am ready.
Happy Trails, everyone!
Monday, October 5, 2009
So here it is, my schedule as I count down the final hours:
Tuesday-Thursday: lots of rest, drinking of water, good nutrition, solid nights of sleep, and one very short run on Wednesday. Hit the carbo-loading head on come Thursday.
Friday: leave for Titusville, PA around noon, about a 110 mile drive. I'll be meeting up with Tanya, Gombu, Slim, Pebble, Maria, and Amy at the Blue Canoe Brewery in town just to hang out, shove down some more carbs, and relax with my like-minded friends. Afterwards, the pasta dinner and pre-race meeting and packet pick-up will happen between 6pm and 8pm. In the meantime, I'll stake my space on the Titusville Middle School gymnasium floor where I'll sleep for the night. Some runners grabbed a hotel, some are tenting outside, and some are setting up camp inside. My plan is to take our feather bed, fold it in half forming a really comfy bed and then using my sleeping bag to bury myself in. TMS (Titusville Middle School) lights out is at 10pm. (I feel like I'm going to camp again!)
Saturday: I'll take my travel pot and after brewing some espresso and probably double-triple checking stuff, the race will officially start at 5am EST. Gombu, Slim and I are doing the 100 miler. Tanya, Pebble, Maria, and Amy are starting at 6am in the 50 miler. There's also a 50K that starts at 7am. After that, I've got 32 hours (1pm Sunday) to travel 100 miles!
I'll post the webcast link once again on Friday morning before I leave along with the current weather link. I make no promises about the webcast but I am optimistic.
The picture below is the ultimate goal, a gold and silver finisher's buckle. This is an actual buckle being held by race director, Tom Jennings. Thanks to him for sending it to me as a little dose of inspiration. Hopefully, the next buckle pic I post here will be MY hand holding THIS buckle.