With my best running buddy, Sarah. Waiting for the race to start.
The doggies and I left the house shortly before 3 to go pick up Sarah. Her husband, Justin, would be driving out with Nick a few hours later. It was already a hot day. The thermometer read 100 and climbed as we made our way to Scandia. In Manhattan it reached 104!!! We took a route that I hadn't tried in my previous 2 trips. It was actually really nice. The other way is pretty boring. You spend most of your time on 1 highway going west. Boooorrrriiiing. This way had plenty of turns and it was really pretty. Lots of cute little towns on the way.
I was getting pretty anxious about the heat, thinking it could still be in the 90s after the sun set. So when we started seeing dark clouds to the west as we approached Scandia, I felt relieved. The temperature was dropping fast. It was cool and in the low 90s by the time we arrived at packet pickup. Hahahaha. Cool. 90s. We arrived just before 7 and were the first to race day register. It turns out Sarah and I were only the 2nd and 3rd women to register for the 100k in its 3 years of existence. Fun!
The guys in charge - John Neal, Rich Cox and Steve Breeding were great. I know Steve from a lot of other races and KUS events. John and Rich work for Pike Valley High School I think, so I only see them when I visit Scandia. The race benefits their track and cross country team. They are great guys and make everyone feel welcome. Well every year KUS, the Kansas Ultrarunners Society, of which I'm a member, picks one race and pays entry fees for its members. This was that race! So not paying was nice.
The next couple hours was rough. It didn't take me long to get all my stuff together, so I spent a long time waiting. A quick storm came through town with heavy rain but was gone in a snap. The general thought was that we were done with the storms. The sunset shown on the horizon. But before long, the mother of all storms took hold and didn't let go. I worried about the dogs in the car. I worried about the car seats which were being soaked from the deluge. I worried about the fact that I couldn't go to the bathroom. I mean, there was a bathroom and I could go to it, but...
Just a little more waiting.
Well once the RDs took a look at the radar it was clear that the storm wasn't going away any time soon. They pushed the start time back an hour. We finally got going at about 10:20. There was still plenty of lightning off to the southeast, but we couldn't hear thunder so it was a ways off. I urged Rich to let us go. We had signed waivers after all. He asked if everyone was ok with starting and in a few minutes we were off. Fireworks signaled the start.
It was quite cool and windy for the first several miles. So windy that I couldn't keep my hat on. I chased after it about 5 times before I decided to just carry it until the wind calmed down a bit. We headed east on a dirt road for a couple miles before we reached "the loop", which is 18 miles. There's an aid station at this intersection but I don't think anyone stopped for anything but to let the volunteers know our bib numbers.
Sarah and Gary. More waiting. And face making.
These first 4 miles, heading east, were on a dirt road with no gravel. So the rain had made it muddy. As far as mud goes, it wasn't the worst. It was soft enough that it was challenging to run through, causing strides to shift, ankles to rotate and muscles to work harder. But at least it wasn't sticky. We were on this road for a little less than 4 miles then we turned south on a nice crushed gravel road.
It was a little soft from the rain but better than the mud. And the gravel was really fine so it didn't bother my feet at all. There was a good pack of us running together. Dustin and another guy had taken off pretty quick from the start. But Gary Henry, Adam Monoghan, Eldon (of Wichita), Sarah and I were hanging together. A few times I thought I should be walking the hills, but they weren't very big in the beginning so I just went on over them.
I don't remember when Terry Rider passed us but it was fairly early and we were a bit surprised. He was definitely having a good day. The 5 of us continued on together and as we approached the next aid station about 6.5mi into the race, we were surprised to see the guys of the cross country team lined up outside the station (an oversized garage for tractors? barn?) doing a synchronized clap to bring us in. They had stepped up their game from last year after the coaches kept nagging them about how the girls' station got all the praise. It is true that they were slightly less than enthusiastic volunteers when I did the 50k last year. So this was refreshing.
I picked up a pbj rollup here. I really like the idea of doing pbj in a tortilla. Easy to carry. And they don't get stale or soggy like sandwiches. Sarah and I were in and out quickly. I think she was actually ahead of me so I did my best to catch up. After a bit of running, the rest of our pack caught up. The course is somewhat of a blur to me. Perhaps because it was dark. You'd think after running parts of it for 3 years, I could put it together. Nope. This might have been the section that we caught up to Dustin, who was walking. I guess he was starting to have a tough time. We passed Terry too.
I think there was a hilly section between the guys' and gal's aid station. Gary and I ended up out in front of the pack. Gary ran all the hills and I would run part way up the hills and power walk the rest of the way. We made it to the gal's aid station with no trouble. I think we were 12 miles into the race. I spent a bunch of time getting stuff from my drop bag. I grabbed some gingero-s that I'd packed and downed a 5-hr energy after spending several minutes trying to get the plastic off the lid. I had a few pringles and when I finally left the aid station Sarah apologized for making me wait. She hadn't made me wait though. I was taking forever myself. I was already a little fuzzy.
The next section was painfully flat. I think it was perfectly flat for about 3 miles. I liked the hills better. I suggested taking walk breaks on this section but nobody wanted to, so I just kept on goin'. We finally reached some nice hills, including Hill 88 and I was happy for some walk breaks. Hill 88 is a steepish hill that's maybe a quarter to half mile long. Not bad for Kansas. The cross country coach makes the kids do repeats on it.
I tried a new gel while I was walking, Accel Gel I think. It was completely disgusting. It was really liquidy and when it hit my throat it felt like I was swallowing vomit, which of course made me want to vomit. I didn't though. I managed to get it all down. My stomach was starting to hint that it was getting unhappy with this run or my feeding of it, or something. It didn't help that I started forgetting to eat at aid stations.
The next aid station had an actual toilet. A camp toilet that is. I tried to go to the bathroom but again no luck. I think I had a few cups of coke here and they were absolutely amazing. The coke, the ice, perfection. The wind had long since died down, so the last section had been stangnant and mosquitoey. I like to refer to it as Mosquito Pass. It made me giggle. Because, you know, there's a Mosquito Pass in CO which is nothing like this.
Adam was a dear and waited for me during my attempted bathroom break. He didn't want to attempt the upcoming mud bogs on his own because he wasn't carrying a light. I was glad for the company. Sarah had gone on to get a head start on us. So the mud bogs were pretty bad. This was STICKY mud. And the mud was covered in puddles in many sections. The best strategy, of course, was to go straight through the puddly sections. They weren't so sticky. We caught up to Sarah as we sloshed through "the bog". It wasn't very long. Maybe a half mile but it was definitely taxing.
Not long after we left the bogs, I decided I really needed to stop and deal with my socks and shoes. My socks were stretched and misaligned from all the water and mud. I could also feel mud accumulating under my toes. Continuing to the next aid station without fixing this would be a mistake. A mistake I've made before. The challenging part was balancing on one foot while I cleaned out my shoes and readjusted my socks. I kept losing my balance and dropping my unshod foot into the gravel. There was a lot of falling over and removing gravel from my socks. But after 5 minutes or so I managed to get everything fixed up and my shoes back on.
I was immediately happy that I'd stopped. My feet felt so much better. It took me a while to catch back up to Adam and Sarah but I managed it after 10 or 15 minutes. Before we knew it, we were back at the loop aid station, the first one we passed. We'd run 20 miles. I grabbed more gels from my drop bag and a water bottle which I filled with some Succeed! Amino drink. Coleen gave me a sample to try and since this was a training run I figured it would be a good time. Oh I also grabbed some socks. We had to head right back toward the mud we left, so I put them in my pack to change into right after we got through.
Again, I think I forgot to eat at this station. But I had plenty of gels. I PROBABLY ate some. Apparently I cannot be trusted to keep myself properly nutritioned at night. Well my first impression of the Amino was, "Gross! Barf!" But I continued to sip at it and maybe 15 minutes later, the nausea that was threatening to set in had completely stopped. Not sure if it was the Amino or what. I was also taking S!Caps about every hour. But I can't remember how often I was eating gels now. Probably because I wasn't eating them enough.
This was my first attempt at not eating Honey Stinger Chews in an ultra. I seriously love them. But they make my mouth so sticky after a while that it's unbearable. So I attemped an all gel diet. Not so successful. Maybe I'll just start putting a little bottle of mouthwash in all my drop bags so I can rinse the taste out.
Well back to the run...Adam and I ran for a bit and saw Gary and Sarah heading toward the aid station as we headed back for the mud. We kept up a good run/walk routine. This part of the course made it easy to decide. Walk the steeper parts of the hills, run the rest. By the time we got back to the mud pit, another storm was coming through. It started pouring. It felt great!
When we got back to the aid station, most of the volunteers were piled in cars. I happily sat down in a chair to change my socks. Yes, it was pouring, but these socks would still be better than the muddy, stretched ones I was wearing. While I was sitting, Adam was grabbing food and asked if I wanted a peanut butter sammy. Sure! I grabbed the sandwich with my grubby, just-changed-my-muddy-socks hands and chowed down. So if you can picture it, I was eating a peanut butter sandwich that was covered in mud from my hands and being soaked in a deluge. But I couldn't be happier.
Before we knew it, Adam and I were back to that forever flat section. We decided on a run/walk scheme. It was easy to tell how far we'd gone because major roads intersected every mile. We walked for about the first minute and a half of the mile then ran the rest. We also got in the habit of switching sides of the road every once in a while so we didn't get any lopsided injuries. We still managed about a 12 minute per mile pace even with the walking. It was great. But the flatness was definitely boring. And we were back in mosquito pass.
When we got back to the girls' aid station I filled my bottle up with more Amino and drank another 5-hr energy. I'm not really sure why I did that. I wonder if it didn't cause some of my later intestinal distress. From now on I might just try to stick to good ol' fashioned coca cola. I did remember to grab some cookies from my bag and I think I got some pringles from the aid station too. The food selection was starting to look unappetizing. It was all pringles, M&Ms, pretzels, peanut butter, and ham sandwiches. Meat pretty much never appeals to me during a race, nor does cheese. Some watermelon or oranges would have been really nice at the aid stations. At some point those salty dry foods are just not what you want.
We didn't get far from the aid station before I announced to Adam that I needed a bathroom break. He walked on ahead. I felt a little better after finally going. It took me about 10 minutes to catch back up to Adam and I was still in pretty good spirits. I started to eat a gel and was talking about the third loop or something and Adam was sounding a little doubtful of finishing. His stomach wasn't feeling very good and we both realized that we would be finishing no earlier than noon due to the storm delay.
Before I knew it, MY stomach started talking to me. I couldn't finish the gel that was in my hand. Could not. I started guzzling Amino and water thinking that they'd make me feel better. I think we walked for a whole mile at one point. Adam was really nice to stay with me. But we got running again. We were running fractions of a mile now before I needed to take walk breaks. But I could still run so that was a good sign. Sometimes I get so sick I can't run at all. When we got back to the guy's aid station I went around the barn to take a bathroom break again. Adam and I sat for a bit at the aid station and I had a coke but didn't eat. I think I had pretty much sealed the deal that I would not finish, since I refused to eat at this point.
Hannah, a 40 miler who started early, and her friend Scott, a 100k-er, passed us at this aid station. I swear they came outta nowhere. Sandbaggers! Hahaha. Adam really kept me going at this point. He would say, let's run to those trees then we can take a walk break. Then he would say, oh we can make it to that second set of trees before we walk ok? And I said ok. The sun had risen and we could see forever. I just wanted to get back to the high school. I wasn't in a terrible amount of pain. I was a little stiff in the hips and my ankles ached a bit but I had no debilitating injury.
I just did not want to face running into the middle of the day (it reached 106) for 20+ more miles, uncrewed. Adam and I were partners in drop out crime. This was a training run for both of us and we agreed that running 100k was not necessary training for our races. We managed our way through the last 4 muddy miles with the following technique: run 2, walk 1 - telephone poles that is. Telephone poles are great motivation. Although, running on a trail and not on the darn country roads would be even better motivation.
I crossed the "finish line" and asked Nick if I could drop. He said "no" of course. I was totally expecting that. But I didn't give in. I listed my reasons. My feet are pruney, it's going to be really hot, I don't need to run this far today, I haven't eaten in several hours, etc. On top of that I sat down in a chair and took my socks and shoes off. He wasn't going to get me back out there. LOL.
Everybody else who came through dropped to 40 too, except for Terry Rider, who came in a half an hour to an hour after me and is a serious badass. There were 3 100k finishers overall. Adam and I probably would have been 3rd and 4th if we continued on. We ended up having to wait a couple hours to get our drop bags back from the course. I considered driving out to find them myself but wasn't sure how to get around the mud on the course so just waited. I was STARVING by the time we left. I ate one biscuit at the finish line. The eggs, sausage and gravy did not appeal to me at all.
There wasn't really anywhere to get a decent meal on the way back either. I tried to wait until we got back to Lawrence, but after about 45 minutes of driving I told Nick to stop at a gas station. I bought some Combos and ate most of the tiny bag before I started feeling sick. The rest of the drive consisted of me feeling sick to my stomach and thinking I was going to poop my pants. Oh and I also had an emotional breakdown, complete with tears, because I felt like I wasn't ready for Leadville.
But as my friend Coleen pointed out, it was good to get the bad run out of the way early. After all, my legs did feel strong. And even with the stomach problems, I still kept a pretty decent pace (13:09) for 40 miles, for me. And if I had done the 100k, I would've needed to take several days off running and potentially would have risked injuring myself before Leadville. I probably should have just signed up for the 40 in the first place. Leadville is THE race I'm getting ready for. No use putting it all out there on a training run.
Well I had a great time running with my friends at my last Kansas ultra for a while. I'm going to work hard at getting my nutrition in order over the next couple weeks. Our group is hosting a Sweaty Ass run the weekend after next. You complete as many 3 mile loops as you care to between 6pm and 6am. I will probably end up doing something in the 30-40 mile range. Don't wanna overdo it as it's just three weeks from Leadville.
Thanks to the RDs and volunteers who made it a good race. Thanks to my friends for running with me. And thanks to Nick for driving my crazy, emotional butt back home!
All cleaned up after the race. We didn't plant to match, but this stuff happens when you're BUBFs.