|After the finish|
It has been a while since I've posted here. A lot has happened. I recovered from my vein surgeries, I paced a handful of races from 1/2 marathons to 100 milers, I had a job change and started the relocation process, I've summitted some peaks with friends, and I have dealt with some upset peroneal tendons in my left ankle. But this post is about none of those things. I'd like to write blogs about them all but I honestly don't know when or if that will happen.
|I thought I was ready...|
Ok, so I returned to the 50k distance in August with the Sapper Joe 50k, paced the last 25 miles at the Wasatch 100, paced the Top of Utah Marathon, and paced the last 38 1/2 miles at the Bear 100 again. I hoped all of this would be good preparation for my first shot at 100k. The Bear was 3 weeks before the Antelope Island 100k and so two weeks before the race I did my last long run of almost 22 miles with what I thought was similar elevation change to the race.
The week leading up to the race my wife got sick. I was worried that I'd get sick too and spent the majority of the week sleeping in, hydrating, and taking Zicam to avoid getting sick.
For fuel I planned to use Tailwind nutrition as exclusively as possible. Tailwind is a calorie and electrolyte drink (that comes as a powder) that claims that it is all you need all day. Really. I first used tailwind the week after the SapperJoe 50k and had been using it on all my long runs, a few medium runs, and every race I raced or paced. Tailwind has a challenge. You purchase 4 50-serving bags, tell them your goal race, and then train and race with Tailwind. If you are not satisfied, you can get your race entry fee refunded up to $150. I signed up for the challenge and hoped for the best. I have some friends that love Tailwind and swear by it.
I first heard about Tailwind through podcasts from trailrunnernation.com. Tailwind has customer service nailed. Between the handwritten thank-you notes, responsiveness to questions, and fast service, I don't think their service is matched anywhere I can think of. They even included extra servings and Performance Enhancing Kokopelis (PEKs from TrailRunner Nation) in each order. I wore 2 during the race.
I planned on filling my Geigerrig Rig 500 (2L hydration pack) with Tailwind and running with it. I don't have a lot of experience running with bottles and I'm comfortable with a pack so my hands can be free. I was also worried that bottles would run out on the longer sections. The pressurized system of the Geigerrig means I wouldn't have to suck my fluid out.
Ok, so race morning I woke up early and drove to Antelope Island. I checked in and got my stuff together and met some friends in the tent at the start. I was especially glad to see my friend Christie there. She is from Boise and was there to pace her friend Bertha in her first 100k. Even though it was 5:30am, Christie brightened up my morning like the sun.
|With Christie (aka human sunshine). I am crouching down here.|
So a few minutes before the start Jim Skaggs (RD) gathered us together and gave us our last warnings and instructions for the course. This is a fairly small race with only 31 people registered. I'm not sure how many started but only 24 of us would finish.
The race started promptly at 6am (as promised). It was dark but with the full moon it was beautiful and several runners started without lights. I was not one of them. I just went with what felt natural for the first flat section and up the start of the first hill. I talked with Nate Younger a bit. I had just met him but have been aware of him because of Sapper Joe. According to UltraSignup we were given similar finish goals. I quickly realized he had more ambitious goals than me and I let him go.
|Beautiful moon set|
The first section is about 5.5 miles and consists of a longer hill at the beginning and a shorter, steeper one just before the Elephant Head aid station. I probably ran more of the first hill than I should have and could feel my left ankle getting a little aggravated on the side hill. Luckily that faded soon and didn't turn out to be a problem. At the first AS I just got some water to rinse out my mouth and heading down the trail. I had mixed my Tailwind stronger than normal.
|West side... Yes, that is the trail.|
The next section is about 8 miles. It starts with a mile+ downhill that is a good time to open up the legs a little. Then there are some switchbacks and a few ups and downs. Eventually you get spat out near the beach with the toughest footing on the island. It goes from large, loose gravel, to baby skull rocks, to sand. It was tough to move well there but you just keep going. This was on the west side of the island where the general public isn't allowed and I thought it had the best scenery. After this you end up going up about a 3 mile hill with about 1000' gain to the North Sentry aid station.
At North Sentry I made a critical mistake. I needed to fill my partially empty pack but I put in enough Tailwind for an empty pack. Over-concentrated again. Leaving this AS you wind your way down the mountain on a dirt road down to the main road. It was on this section I saw my first wild life. I bet there were well over 200 buffalo in groups on both sides of the road. Others later commented that they had to go through the groups but I was never even close enough for quality photos with my phone. When you get to the main road you follow the dirt portion of it past the ranch before you jump on the trail.
|Long flat stretch on the East side|
After a few more miles and crossing the road you get to the Nine Mile Gate AS. I had a drop bag there. I dropped off my long sleeve shirt and gloves and my lights and picked up another package of Tailwind. I got some water and took off.
The section from Nine Mile Gate to Lower Frary flew by. It is only 3 miles but I was in a run 5 min walk 1 min pattern and that distracted me from the fact I was starting to hit a little low.
At the Lower Frary AS I saw Christie again and that was a huge boost. I got some water and ate a Tootsie roll and headed out.
|Filling up at Lower Frary|
From Lower Frary it is another 6.6 miles to the finish/start. I had signal on my phone so I texted my wife my progress and kept up my run/walk pattern as best I could. This was probably the lowest I felt all day and it wasn't helped by the giant sunflowers from hell that littered the trail. Just before the finish, is a super steep but short hill that I walked up. Then it was less than a mile to the start/finish.
At the start/finish I emptied the sand from my shoes and discovered holes in the balls of my socks. Unfortunately I'd have to go another 5.5 miles to get to my replacement socks. I grabbed a couple of ginger snaps to eat and refilled my Tailwind.
I walked most of the way up the long hill that I ran the first time. I spent the time trying to hydrate/fuel and when I got to the top I was able to get moving pretty well. As I power walked the final hill to the aid station I say Nate Younger coming back down. He wasn't feeling well and was DNFing. I wished him well and got to the AS.
At Elephant Head I took my time and changed socks into compression socks and added a new insole in my shoes. I spent over 10 minutes here. Meanwhile a guy came in and left. I would see him on and off for the next 15-20 miles.
I started to feel better after the sock change and with the downhill. I feel like I was moving pretty well on this 8 mile section with the exception of the horrible traction section and I walked most of the last mile up the hill.
|On the West side...|
I got to the AS and was able to fill and get out just before the guy who had caught me at Elephant Head.
I got moving again down the hill and saw the same large group of buffalo. At this point I was tired with about 40 miles on my legs, I was already smelling the barn. I just kept up a steady run/walk pattern with most walking breaks limited to a minute.
I got to the Nine Mile gate AS at about 50 miles and topped off my pack and grabbed some Mountain Dew (my first caffeine of the day). I picked up a light because I wasn't sure if I'd make it to the finish before dark. I knew the next section would go quickly so I headed out.
When I got to the Lower Frary AS I got a hug from both volunteers, 2 small cups of Mountain Dew and a 1/2 banana. I looked at my watch and thought that if I hurried, I could finish in 13 hours. UltraSignup had my target at a little over 13 hours so I wanted to beat that.
At this point I was pretty tired but I realized that running a 12 minute pace or a 10 minute pace hurt equally, so I opted for a faster run to compensate for my walk breaks. I feel like with my excitement, I ran more of this section than I did the first loop. As I got to the last hill I saw Michelle who was in the 50k. I had paced her husband Ryan at the Bear 100 and he had run the 50k. I encouraged her and headed up the hill. Ryan was at the road and I stopped for a quick photo op. Then I headed off with the goal of sup-13 in mind.
|About a mile to go...|
As I neared the finish I could see I'd make it under 13 and was excited. I dropped my hat and pack as I entered the chute so I could do my traditional somersault across the finish. Luckily, Ryan was there to take a photo. I ended up finishing in about 12:54 in 12th place out of 24 finishers.
|My traditional finish line somersault|
Hanging out at the finish I got chilled and quickly put on my dry clothes and ate my buffalo chili. I had a good time hanging out and seeing people finish. After a while I felt like I needed to get home.
|At the Finish with Ryan Anderson|
I got home fine but was feeling quite stiff. Later that night I got up to use the restroom. I finished my business and then the next thing I knew I was waking up on the floor with my wife standing over me. I don't know if it was just exhaustion, if it was sickness finally setting in, or something else.
So now it has been several days and I have done my first run since the race but I am still feeling the race. I am starting to think about another ultra but I'm not sure I'm read for a 100 miles yet. Maybe I'll start with the Buffalo Run 50 miler. Time will tell.