THAT was painful.
Karl Meltzer, a famous and brash 100 mile runner, is fond of saying “100 miles is not that far.” After having finished my first 100 miler last March in under 20 hours and having it feel pretty good, and then running 416 miles across Iowa in seven days, I was inclined to maybe see his point. 100 miles can SEEM far, but reality is perception, right? So 100 miles really isn’t that far, if that’s your perception.
I found myself cursing Karl Metzler and his damned quote about every mile of the Coldwater Rumble 100 miler.
Maybe it was the fact I have hardly done any running specific training the past couple of months and chose instead to spend my time ice climbing and skiing. Maybe it was the pre-race pizza and beer tradition. Maybe it was the desert heat after I’ve come from negative temperatures in Colorado. Whatever it was, this second 100 miler was much more painful than my first.
This was the first year the 100 mile distance was being offered in the Coldwater Rumble, and I was pleased to have a part. The course consisted of five 20 mile loops through a desert course filled with beautiful fun singletrack trail, cacti, and lots and lots of sand. While the overall elevation gain was not that large, the course was constantly dipping down into little washes with a quick little uphill. It was fantastic running when I was still fresh, but when I was tired, the constant switch between walking these little uphills and running was wearing on me. My usual preferred race is a steep mountain race with lots of elevation and sustained uphill climbs, not this quick little annoying mounds. Still, a really fun and beautiful course. I was super pumped to have my good buddy Dave Swoish come in from Seattle to help crew/pace me.
Pre-race jitters left as usual at the starting gun, where the first lap consisted of a lot of jostling but not much talking between the top 10 runners. Usually I like to talk the first bit, but no one seemed in the mood; too amped up I guess. I was happy to stay in the top 10, but also was a bit wary about how quick I was going. I had wanted a super slow first lap, maybe around four hours, to make sure I was conserving energy, but the course was just too runnable. I ended up finishing in just over three hours. UH OH.
It turned out it was probably for the best to knock out miles in the morning, because laps two and three (miles 20 through 60), all I remember is the heat. I was drinking lots of water, but should have gotten a head of the heat earlier. My pace slowed down considerably, and it just became an endless game of pain, heat, and trying not to look at my watch to count down the 1/10ths of miles. My fueling was going well with a mixture one bottle of Hammer Perpetuem per loop, Hammer Gels, and then a mixture of “real foods” from the aid stations, but still was having stomach issues from the heat. I felt like I had my salt mixture right and kept taking Endurolytes which kept me from getting any cramps. I didn’t have any blisters or hot spots on my feet either; my new Altra Lone Peak 1.5s were performing up to par and beyond. My feet had swollen up some from the heat but the big toe box gave them ample room.
FINALLY the sun went away and my pacer Dave was able to join up with me. I had quit paying much attention to my standings in the pack and my pace, and was just concentrating on running as much as I could. I knew I would have a second wind come nightfall, when the air cooled and I was in my element. But still, my stomach kept turning over. At mile 72, I belched a little, and a little bile come up too. It got spat to the side, still continued to run. A second later, another wretch from the stomach, spewed to the side, still running. The third wretch was a full body blow that sent me to my knees and heaved my stomach onto the soft sand. I sat there, filled with sorrow, headlamp illuminating all these foods it appeared I have eaten, wishing I could scoop it back in and regain my lost calories. After a moment saying my goodbyes, Dave convinced my it was okay, and I should start running again.
And what a world the night changed into! Turns out, puking was the best thing I could have done for myself. I didn’t feel great, but I felt a huge improvement and was able to start eating regularly again. I had a lot saved up for my last lap, and knocked it out of the park! It was still a bit hot for me, and I was wearing the bare minimum of clothes, but it was finally cool enough I could put all my engines on full blast. I cruised in at a time of 19:17:32, a new Personal Record! There was not must jostling of placements in the second half of the race, and I ended up in fifth place overall, right about where I originally expected to finish.
With it only being my second 100 miler, it showed I definitely still have a lot to learn. This experience was quite unlike my first, or maybe it’s that I just forget how much pain the first one caused me? New problems showed me new ways of dealing with issues. I was REALLY thinking if all went well I could break 19 hours, but am quite happy with how I finished with the situations. Dave was an excellent help and kept me level the entire time, and the entire Coury family with Aravipia Running put on an excellent race. Course markings were beautiful and it was a pleasure not spending most of your time figuring out where to go!
After far too much post-race pizza and beer (still haven’t given that one up!) at my wonderful host Paige Swaine’s condo (too many thanks Paige!), I’ve made it to Los Angeles, where now my next goal is to finish all my final preps before Aconcagua! I leave in a week. Egad!
Links to Strava GPS track:
Miles 1-60: http://www.strava.com/activities/109758315
Miles 60-100: http://www.strava.com/activities/109758306