Photo Credit: Denny Hohisel, Nordic Trail Head, June 6, 2015 (from left: Me, Sid Wegener, Kevin Clark)
3am Saturday morning my alarm sounds and its time to go enjoy a 100 mile ‘fun run.’ What was I thinking!? I met up with Sid (featured in the photo) to drive into the park together and start prepping drop bags. We had three large bins as it was expected to rain at some point during the night. Of course with such a huge local event, everyone was there! We met up with Kevin (featured above), and Denny, who was crewing/pacing for another runner. Lining up at the start, I wished Ryan Norton luck for the day, as well as Mary Flaws (owner/creator of Running in the USA, and a great runner!..she took second today), and a few other running mates from PRO and LPTR. Both the 100k and 100m runners started at 6am…it was already beyond 60 degrees.
The goal for today was to get Sid to the finish line. Last year, he dropped at 47 miles and his one goal was to finish Kettle – I agreed to get him there. It was not my day, it was his. I’m not sure if it was a gun that went off, or just a simple 3-2-1 countdown, but we were off. Starting out with Kevin, we had a blast joking around for about 3 miles. It wasn’t until about 6 miles in that runners started to spread more – it was a lot of bottlenecking on course for quite a while. The first 6 miles was on one of the nordic ski loops, some up and down hills, but really some easy-going running.
At mile 6, we were at the first big aid station. I was wearing my 70oz pack for water, so always drinking, but still, as I’ve learned, I downed a couple of cups of water, a handful of Scaps, and ate a full PB&J, while packing candy for the road. People might think I’m a hound, but at least my nutrition and hydration is dialed in and will never kill my run!
We were now running on the Ice Age Trail, with a couple easy water stops on the way to Emma Carlin at mile 15. When we got there, Sid changed shirts, I changed my bandana…it was already 75 degrees and full sun. I went to the food…I kept feasting. And of course kept taking Scaps – the best invention EVER! Now it was time for the prairie…my least favorite part of every race that takes place on these trails! It meant lots of sun, wet grass, and sand…lots and lots of sand. The time on the prairie was spent complaining about it 🙂 I will admit, early on my legs still felt like they weren’t well oiled….like I was maybe 90% back from racing 3 weeks prior. I needed to remember this as we continued or else I might suffer later on. I took some ibuprofen.
We got to Horse Riders, a stop on the way to the 50k mark. Sid was having a bit of GI issues, so as i waited, I just kept drinking, watching runners continue on, and letting my legs tighten up a bit. It took me a bit to get going again, but I was able to shockingly. I don’t do well with idle time over long distances which I’ll mention later on! On the way to the 50k, Sid turned to me and said, “I think we should stop at the 100k.” Inside, knowing this was not a race for me, but more of a training/fun run, I was doing a little dance! I was definitely okay with that, and given Sid has never done anything past 50 miles, it was probably the smarter decision. We both agreed we would see how we felt at 47 miles. A few minutes later Sid turned to me again and said, “I feel like I’m going to throw up.” Ok. So now the dietitian in me kicked in and I started harping on him about fueling and drinking….
We got to the 50k mark….Sid was still not 100%. But I know he didn’t want to quit. We kept going….back through the prairie in the full sun. I was feeling the best all day after mile 32, it was like my body was finally warmed up! Sid was still struggling with fueling, and I continued to encourage him all the way back to Emma Carlin. When we got there, it was the best feeling ever! Shade!!! (Photo below: Starting the Ice Age Trail at 47 back to Nordic)
We took about 15 minutes there for Sid to recoup. I was pretty much that kid eating everything off the buffet line. Put some bug spray in my hair…the horseflies were horrendous! Sid was feeling better which was awesome! Now his legs were ready to go of course! But at this point, that amount of idle time just killed my legs more…I agreed, we need to get to the 100k and probably call it quits. My legs wanted to go but again, for me idle time is the worst thing I can do to them. When I run, I just need to be consistent. Starting and stopping has never fared well for me! We started walking…
It was 15 miles to the 100k mark. We hiked majority of it, which was fine. At this point, neither of us wanted to be sidelined for future running. This was simply a run to get Sid a finish at Kettle. We knew that and stuck to our guns. Both of us wanted to finish 100 miles, but Sid’s fueling may have beaten him up early on, and with the humidity, my feet were rubbed raw from the sand in my shoes. We just wanted to get there now.
Reaching the nordic trail head, the 100k finish or 100 mile turn around, I asked one more time. “Are we sure we want to do this?” Sid said yes and I knew it was time. We had to stop and congratulate ourselves. We were both wrecked in different ways, but finished together and got him a Kettle 100 buckle. That was goal and we did it.
A few take aways…
1. Maybe don’t agree to run all 100 miles with someone to get them to the finish…although very enjoyable, next time just pace certain parts of it and crew. I think that would have been more beneficial for both of us. I was concerned about wrecking my legs for Championships, and I hope that didn’t get into Sid’s head!
2. Maybe ‘fun running’ isn’t for me. I put a lot of pressure on myself, but I also get it from other people. One comment made on course was, “Wow. You are running REALLY relaxed today.” Sid and I were doing a great job out there, enjoying ourselves and the run. Why people think we always need to race is beyond me! Sometimes I just want to be a finisher, not a competitor. But it helped me realize even more, I enjoy running for a purpose. Whether that purpose is to race or help another runner, I need purpose. There is no shame in that.
3. The Kettle and Ice Age trails are meant for horses apparently! Wear gaiters at all times and possible a different shoe might be warrented….the sand was really frustrating! This is something I will be looking into. I love the ALTRA Olympus 1.5 and they did a great job, but maybe the lone peak wouldn’t get so sandy on the inside.
4. My A race was 3 weeks prior to Kettle. Was I recovered enough? Maybe for 50 miles, but not for 100 miles. It was humbling out there. Any distance of ultra running is challenging, no matter what. The right recovery time is needed, as well as the right preparation mentally and physically.
Diggers: 0 / Almost diggers: 3 / Shoes: ALTRA Olympus 1.5
Up next…lots of training time! I have DWD 50k as a training run next month (a tune up really), but its time to train for NF Championships. The goal: sub 8.