Monday, June 4, 2007
100.2 Miles, 27:11:56
After a full week of preparing Excel spreadsheets, directions, bags of food and countless other things it was Friday at noon and we were ready to make the trip to LaGrange, WI for the Kettle 100 Mile Endurance Run. My Dad arrived at our house and then we headed to Washington University to pick up Mindy (she's now taking Bar Prep courses there for the summer). From there we started the 350 mile trip to Wisconsin. I drove on the way up and we made a few stops along the way to fuel the car and ourselves. Just before the Wisconsin state line we encountered some MASSIVE thunderstorms; I was actually glad because they were hitting the area earlier than expected. I thought this was a good sign and that maybe we would be spared the rain for the race. We arrived at the La Grange General store for packet pick-up right around 6:30 pm and were soaked as we ran from the car. The store is really cool with a Mountain Bike shop, deli and tons of natural food products and other items. I also introduced myself to RD Tim Yanacheck (Timo) as he is a good friend of many of the SLUGs and he gave us quick directions to the hotel we were staying at in Whitewater. We made our way through the charming little town of Whitewater, checked into the Amerihost Inn, unloaded our things and quickly went over our crewing plans for the race. We then headed out to Wal-Mart to get a flashlight, some rain gear and my Dad some reading material as there would be a lot of waiting. Last thing was to grab dinner at Randy's (all you can eat baked cod, potato and salad bar for $12.00; HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!) and then we headed back for some sleep.
We all slept OK considering what we were going to face the next day and I woke up at 4:30 am ready to tackle my first 100 miler. The plan was for my Dad to take me to the start line and crew until mile 26.5; at that point he was going to the hotel to switch off with Mindy so he could rest in the afternoon and both would crew during the night. This was to insure they were fresh at night (or as fresh as can be expected) and could crew as a team during the "witching hours." We arrived at the start around 5:30 am and everyone was scrambling around, including me. I grabbed all of my necessities and headed over for the last minute info. Don Frichtl, a fellow SLUG, made it over to me and wished me luck (he was running a leg of the marathon relay) and Deanna Stoppler also came over and gave me a little present; some new gaiters! They were great but unfortunately I didn't have a chance to put them on as the race was starting in a matter of minutes; perhaps I can find some time later to try them out. Timo started the countdown and we were off!
I started out with Deanna until the first hill (about 1/4 mile) and told her to go on that I would be walking ALL hills from the beginning (thanks Paul Schoenlaub for this advice). She wished me luck and continued running; we soon passed the 1 mile mark and another runner yelled out "Only 99 more to go!" We all laughed but more out of nervousness than anything else. I first saw my Dad at the Bluff Aid Station (mile 7.4) and I told him that I was feeling better than I've ever felt at a race (it's amazing when you actually taper). Grabbed some more Clip2 and S-Caps and headed out. About 1/2 mile out of the aid station the rain started and I thought this was the start of an all day rainfest. Many runners donned jackets and trash bags but I figured there was no point; the rain was nice and cool and I wouldn't melt. Luckily it was short lived and stopped within the hour, nice! Shortly after the Horseriders Aid Station Stuart Johnson, a fellow SLUG caught up to me. He was running the 100K and had been hanging with his wife, Deb, until the Bluff Aid Station. We chatted a bit and recapped my strategy and then he headed on; I was running my own race and had a long ways yet to go.
I arrived at the Emma Carlin Aid Station (15.5 miles) and was at about a 21 hour pace; too fast! I decided to take the next section easy as it was the open marsh area which was flat with little shade; fortunately the sun was tucked away behind the clouds giving us a break. By the County ZZ Aid station my left quad and hamstring were tightening up so I asked my Dad to have Mindy bring me some Biofreeze along with my Marathon Stick when she returned. I thanked him for all of his help, told him to go back and get some rest and then continued on to the 31 mile turnaround. During this stretch I started seeing runners going back the other way as they had made the turn. I saw Christine Crawford (Female OA winner and fellow SLUG) and told her she was looking great; which she was, man is she fast!!! About a mile from the turn I saw Stuart and I told him my strategy seemed to be working. I asked him if he'd seen Deanna and he said that she was having a tough time but muscling through it. Then, about 8 minutes later there was Deanna! I asked her how she was and she said much better; she had loaded up on "Positive Vibes" at the turn. I told her that if she slowed down a bit that I’d catch up with her and we could run in her last 30 or so miles together; she said that catching up to her shouldn’t be a problem as she wasn’t setting any land speed records. I reached Scuppernong (31.4 mile turnaround), filled my water and mixed my Clip 2, grabbed some munchies and headed back out; I was feeling great! I would be seeing Mindy at County ZZ which was sure to put even more spring in my step; plus she would have the Biofreeze and Marathon Stick!
It was on this stretch that I was running behind a man wearing a grey, sleeveless Kansas City Trail Nerds shirt. At one of the switchbacks he caught sight of me and my yellow SLUG jersey and said “Is your name Carey?” I was wondering how he would know that and figured perhaps we had met at a SLUG event; turns out it was Gabe Bevan. He’s a regular reader of my blog and I also read his; how random and totally cool that we were out running a 100 mile race together. This ultra-community is awesome! He was having a tough time with the heat and we chatted just a bit; also turns out he ran his first 50 miler at Berryman in 2006 which was also my first 50 miler. Unreal! I arrived at County ZZ (mile 36.4) to see Mindy; boy did that put a smile on my face. She handed me the Biofreeze and I snuck away to get a little privacy so I could apply it to my glute and hamstring; almost instantly the icy-hot sensation started and it began loosening up. Mindy told me to go slow so I didn’t beat her to the next aid station as it was only a 2.6 mile run for me. Gabe and I ran together a bit more and loaded up at the Highway 67 aid station for the 8.3 mile trek back through the flat, unshaded prairie. At this point it was mostly cloudy, humid and around 80 degrees; I was running around a 20.5 hour pace and knew I had plenty of time to take it easy in this section. I let Gabe go on as I slowed my jog and interspersed a lot of walking. This was a long stretch but I knew that it was important not to push it; there were still a lot of miles to cover. I reached Emma Carlin (mile 47.3) at 4:00 pm still pacing for a 21 hour finish; too fast but I felt like I had been taking it easy; slow down Carey, slow down. Nutrition during the race consisted mostly of Clip 2, some Hammer Gels and whatever “looked good” at the aid stations. This seemed to be working really well but I was less than half-way through the race and was quickly tiring of the drink and losing my appetite more and more. I hit the 50 mile mark at 10 hours, 50 minutes; halfway done as far as mileage but probably more like a third down in time. I reached Nordic (start/finish/mile 62 turnaround) at 7:55 pm for a 13:55 100K, not too bad. At this point Mindy had a cooler filled with ice to cool my feet before I changed into new socks and shoes; oh that felt so good! I also changed shirts, filled up my supplies and met my pacer, Chris McMahon. Re-energized, feeling fresh and with a pacer I was ready to tackle the last 38 miles; or so I thought.
Chris is from Indianapolis and had signed up for the 38 mile fun run in hopes of pacing someone for the 100 mile; last year he had dropped from the 100 miler at the 100K mark and wanted to “finish what he started” along with helping someone else achieve their dream of finishing a 100 mile trail run. From the beginning he was so positive and had a very “Zen like” feel about him as Mindy would say (he very much reminded us of fellow SLUG and my ultra-running mentor, Jerry Frost); I already knew that I was lucky to have him by my side. We chatted about the day and how I was feeling; we were walking but I promised that we would be running soon. It was about this time that Deanna was running towards us; funny thing is Chris and I were just talking about her as I was wondering what had happened to her. She was so excited to see me, told me that she had gotten lost and that it was a long story. She then gave me a hug and wished me the best. After that I kind of broke my promise to run as I just couldn’t motivate myself to run much. I had so much energy at the 62 mile mark but now, less than an hour later, I was TIRED, HUNGRY and oh, did I mention, TIRED! I was hungry but nothing sounded good, how frustrating; it would be like this for the rest of the race. Up to this point I had probably consumed around 3,000 - 4,000 calories; not enough but a lot for me considering I usually run a 50K on less than 500 calories. We hit the Bluff Aid Station (mile 70.3) at around 10:30 pm. Chris, Mindy and my Dad were all telling me to eat; I get it I need to eat but what? I grabbed some potato chips and Ramen noodles which seemed to go down pretty well. Heading out I filled my water bottles, drank some Coke and started out into the night. Next place I would see Mindy and my Dad would be at the Hwy 12 aid station (mile 77.1), a little less than 7 miles away. Doesn’t sound like too far but a lot can happen late in a 100 miler.
Shortly after leaving Bluff my stomach began doing somersaults, not good! I continued to drink my Clip 2 but was quickly growing tired of it and ate some starlight mints hoping to settle my stomach. In addition to the nausea I was exhausted and my body wanted sleep; running through the woods in the dark can make it very difficult to stay awake especially when you’ve been up since 4:30 am. Your world is confined to the little circle of light in front of you like running in a tunnel. Fighting the nausea and exhaustion we reached Hwy 12 (mile 77.1) and I started to wonder if I was going to be able to finish; could I keep going when every part of my body and mind wanted to stop? I guess we’ll soon find out. The volunteers at this aid station were unbelievable! I was able to down some more noodles, popped a few ibuprofen’s, had some fruit and headed out for the long stretch to Rice Lake; it was around 1:00 am. Technically this is the most difficult section of the course with a lot of hills, roots and rocks. Normally I love this but in the dark, fighting off sleep and struggling just to move forward it was a nightmare. Chris was great during this section as I kept saying I wanted to lay down for a minute, catch a nap and I’d be better. He’d always say “Let’s just go a bit more and you can nap at the next aid station,” of course he wasn’t going to let me nap as that would have been the end. We both knew that but I continued to ask and he continued to tell me to wait just a bit more. I kept hitting my big right toe on the rocks and knew that it was toast, it hurt but so did everything else! We arrived at Rice Lake and everyone was practically asleep. I hit the porto-potty while Mindy filled my bottles and talked with Chris about how I was doing. I tried some food but nothing sounded good; I needed calories badly as I was bonking. I grabbed a few things and tried to nibble as we left the station; it was around 2:40 am. This was the 19 mile turnaround so every step from now on was a step towards the finish; mentally this was a big boost. Back on the trail we carefully made our way along this tough section and I was practically sleep walking for much of the time; Chris knew this and led me along pointing out rocks and roots along the way. There was a beautiful spot along this section with a lake and the full moon reflecting on the surface; Chris reminded me to look around and take it all in which I did. It was absolutely beautiful!
As we neared the end of this section we could see the Hwy 12 aid station in the valley below which meant Mindy, my Dad and hopefully something to settle my stomach. As I approached my Dad shouted out to Mindy that I was coming (she was taking a little nap in the car). She came running out with a smile asking what she could do for me; I’m very lucky to have her and my Dad who sacrificed their time and sleep to help me achieve this dream. The volunteers here were great as they had been before. The man doing the cooking made some hot water with a few drops of peppermint oil and had me inhale it along with a “European Spa Treatment” which consisted of a hot towel on my belly; believe it or not it worked and I was feeling better; it was 4:30 am and the sun would be coming up soon which I hoped would wake me up some and give me a boost. I grabbed some Fig Newton’s and headed out. During the next section we were eaten alive with mosquitoes but neither of us really cared that much; Chris had such a good attitude and said he didn’t mind sacrificing a pint of blood to help me finish; once again he was great! Luckily the unmanned station at Duffin Road (mile 90.2) had some bottles of insect repellant so we lathered up and headed on to the Bluff Aid Station. It was during this next 2.6 mile section that we caught up with fellow 100 mile runner Casey Lopez and his pacer. He was hurting and told us that both feet were just one big blister; at this point he was cursing the course and got mad! He said, “I thought this was beautiful yesterday! Now, I just want to be finished; screw you course I’ll beat you!” Hey, whatever it takes to get it done; right? He was very pleasant to Chris and I and focused his anger on the trail.
Chris and I continued and as we approached the Bluff Aid Station (mile 92.8) I realized that I was going to finish. I looked at him with tears in my eyes and said “We’re really going to do this; I can’t believe it’s almost over!” Coming down the hill I saw Mindy and my Dad and was flooded with emotion. I hugged Mindy and told her I had to keep going before I lost it (I still had 7.2 miles to go) and that I’d see her at the finish. I entered the aid station tent wiping back the tears and asked for something to settle my stomach; that’s when Casey offered me some Pepcid which seemed to help. We left out of the Aid Station with 7.2 miles and 2 hours to go; it was 7:00 am. Chris and I walked and chatted for the rest of the way; I was torn between wanting it to be done and holding on to this experience as long as I could. Ironically, part of me never wanted it to end. We breezed through the Tamarack Aid station (mile 95.1), thanked the volunteers and kept going. From there the mileage is marked with a countdown; I promised Chris that when we hit mile 1 we’d run it in. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1; is that really the mile 1 marker or am I imagining it. I asked Chris and he verified that there was indeed only one mile to go. With that we began running, both with smiles on our faces. I could feel the emotion welling up inside and the tears began. We made a turn and there it was, the Finish Line with Mindy and my Dad sitting right there waiting for me. I began crying so hard it was difficult to breathe but I kept going. I crossed the line as Mindy cheered and began crying too; I had to walk away for a minute as I was a complete emotional mess. We did it! When I say we I mean Mindy, my Dad, Chris and I for without all of them I never could have finished.
I’ve heard that you finish your first 100 miler a different person than you were at the start line and had no idea exactly what that meant until yesterday. I’ve encountered many struggles in my short 33 years, most of which were self induced. This had made me cynical of others and an island unto my own; there were very few people besides Mindy that I felt I could count on. This experience helped to tear down the walls I had built up and let people back into my life again. I said a prayer in the beginning of the race and God answered it by pairing me up with my pacer, Chris. His patience, encouragement and kindness helped keep me going. Mindy was absolutely unbelievable; words cannot describe how lucky I am to be her partner and soon-to-be husband! I can’t say enough about my Dad; I am so glad that we are close again as the sport of ultrarunning has repaired our relationship. We are closer now than we've ever been! And last, but certainly not least, the volunteers and RD’s, Tim Yanacheck and Jason Dorgan, sacrificed their time and energy to help all of us realize our dream! Thank You! We finished this together as a team for without all of you I never could have done it.
Life is too short; tear down your walls and achieve your dreams!
Check out all of the pictures at here!