Where to start? This will be a l o n g race report, as most of mine usually are. I think this report may be longer the the norm.
I left home after Troy was on the bus headed for school. It took me longer than expected to arrive to Maria's home with accidents along the freeway and rush hour traffic. I finally arrived around 915. After unloading my endless duffel bags and stuff into her car, visiting with Doug and new pup Tahoe we headed to Starbucks and then were on the road to Pekin, IL; hopeful to arrive in 8-9 hours. The ride was safe and uneventful. We had both been hydrating all week so had numerous pottie stops and lunch.
We arrived to McNaughton Park 45 minutes before the 150 milers would be taking off. I could feel the excitement in the air! Andy (RD) saw us coming and yelled out a hello and had a hug for me. This years swag was a blue bird blue technical short sleeved shirt and a heavy fleece vest. Nice. The 150's also received a hat and the 50's the technical shirt. Two of my Minnesotan friends: Al Holtz and John Taylor were taking a crack at the 150. I spoke with them, with Chrissy Weiss, Doug Hansel, said hi to Dallas, met Jahmid from Seattle (and asked him if he knew Olga..yes!), whom were all entered in the 150. Wow, I was in awe.
We met up with Karen from MN, who was running her first 50 and visited with Don Clark a bit who was running the 100. Lots of friends to say hi to and lots of people to meet. Lots of fun. A woman named Tanya introduced herself and her daughter to me. Tanya was running the 50 at McNaughton and had left me a message on this blog. It was fun to meet her in person. I hope you had a fun run, Tonya!
The 50 that were running the 150 lined up at 6:00, I snapped a few shots and I had a feeling of "maybe another 5 loops wouldn't be too bad. Maybe next year..."
They were off!
Maria and I said goodbye to Andy and headed off to find our hotel and search for food. It was past our dinner time and we were hungry.
4AM and the alarms went off. Time to wake up and get this party started! Maria found the weather channel and it looked like rain soon. We had some breakfast, filled our bottles, made last minute adjustments and were heading to the race start.
Andy had a nice warm fire going but the wind was blowing smoke at me. Maria picked up her ankle chip, we checked in and headed back to the warm car. It was cold out. I decided to wear wind pants with a long sleeved shirt and jacket, hat and gloves. I didn't see a whole lot of runners with shorts on. I had plenty of clothing in my drop bag so I could change as necessary as temperatures changed.
About 545 we headed back out. The 150 milers had been out running for 12 hours and the 50/100 would begin at 6. Andy had some big name runners out there: David Goggins was running the 150 and Karl Meltzer was running 100. Wow. You just don't see these guys at the Midwest races. After only seeing photos and reading about these guys it was pretty cool to see and speak with them in person. They look damn good too :)
OK, so 600 and we are off and running. It was congested for almost the first 10 miles, eventually thinning out and then at times I swore I must have been the only runner as I was totally alone for hours!
During the second loop the rain began to fall. Oh man, here comes the muddy mess. There were already mud holes-big ones-on the trail before it rained, but as the rain fell the trail turned slick. Many runners went sliding down the hills on their butts.
I came up to Chrissy, we began going down a hill and she started to laugh. She asked me if I remembered what she said last year while we were running the 100. Oh yea, I said..you were going to begin making Butt Slide Gaitors (Chrissy is THE woman behind Dirty Girl Gaitors. She reminded me that as we were sliding down the hill her butt was becoming impacted with mud and the Butt Slide Gaitors would be perfect. I asked her if she had created any and no, she hadn't..yet. Funny! Chrissy was having a tough time, you know, to begin the 150 at 6 PM, and only have an hour or two of daylight before you have the night upon you has got to be so very difficult. I just couldn't fathom. Most of the 150's that I came across looked pretty beat up. Whenever I felt an ache or pain I thought about those guys and gals out there running for 150 freaking miles. The 150 wasn't looking so good to me anymore!
I ran with Beth Simpson for a long while. I enjoy talking with Beth as she has so much running experience, is so kind AND SAVED MY FEET! Yes, last year, at this race, she is the one that told me about the foot potion. Guess what? Only ONE blister this year. It's a honker, fully engulfed my big toe and is all nice and filled with blood but it is ONE and it didn't hurt THAT much. Last year I had 101 blisters. I re lubed my feet and changed socks every 40 miles. I couldn't believe all of the mud and dirt that was in my socks. Ugh.
Travis from blogging recognized me and we ran a few loops near one another. This was his first 50! He finished in fine form, under 12 hours. I was at the main aid station, having just finished my first 50 when he came in. It was great to see. See you at Ice Age, Travis!
I ran hard. Harder than I have in a 100. I felt good, I've never hit the 12 hour split at 11:39, as I did here, so I was pretty pumped. I listened to my iPod all but the first 30 miles and that kept me going. I had my eyes set on a 25-26 hour finish and it looked like I might pull it off.
While I was lubing up my feet at 80 miles Diane Van Deren was heading out for her 120 I believe. She yelled over for me to join her for a while. I was stunned. You know, I have this 'star fear'. These great runners, I feel inferior you know? I feel like I might be wasting their time by striking conversation. My problem, I guess. I couldn't believe she wanted me to go out with her. I did and it was incredible to speak with her. You know, ultras strip you down to who you are at heart. It doesn't matter what your employment, your family history, the size of your car, home or the jewelry that you wear. It you: pure as you are running with all the social stuff detached from you. I need to remember that as I run and to not be quite so afraid to speak with the runners that are so incredible in my eyes. I think it was Travis who told me that running with the David Goggins, the Karl Meltzers is like playing basketball with Michael Jordan. You know? We are all there..together..getting the run done. Fantastic. Every day basketball players don't play with Michael.
Doug Hansel was running the 150; he took a 5 hour nap and then joined me on the trail for a 10 mile lap. He was doing pretty well. We power walked a lot, getting through the cold, oh so COLD night. It was freezing! There was big time frost on the ground and I could see my breath. The rivers made my feet numb and I am not kidding. As I left the park yesterday at noon to go home, Doug was heading out for his 130th mile. I know he finished 150. I just know it!
After all of the 50 milers, or most of them, were finished, I began to notice that the only women I was seeing on the trail were the 150 woman. Where were the 100 milers? There were 8 of us registered, but I didn't know if they all showed or not. I made a mental note to remember to ask Andy about it when I came through the start/finish again.
As I was at about mile 70 I began to slow through the darkness. I noticed that I was having difficulty breathing. I turned off my iPod and could hear myself wheezing. Wheezing loudly. I'd stretch my neck up to the sky try to get big breathes. I couldn't. I slowed down some more, which really was pissing me off since I had been running so fast (well, fast for me, you know) and this breathing thing was costing me time. I noticed that when I ran downhill I was OK, but running the flats and hill climbing was making my breathing erratic. I thought maybe it was because it was so cold out. It was 27F at this time and maybe the cold air was doing something to my airways. Who knows. I kept going and put it out of my mind for a while. At mile 80 as I walked up the rope rock I told myself that if I couldn't get up that rock without gasping and choking that I would call it a day. Damnit. But I was afraid; I'm used to ultra pain but not this breathing shit. I took two steps up the rope rock and rested, two more steps and rested..it took a long time, and the only person in back of me I had passed quite some time ago, he was a 150 miler who finished 3rd, Ryan Dexter, I figured if I passed out and went into a coma it would be a long time before Ryan would come upon me. Luckily I went slowly enough where that didn't happen and I didn't need to drop.
I began to have flashlight problems. I had 4 flashlights and tons of batteries. Each time I put in new batteries, in like 30 minutes I was dim again. This was not a good thing. I came into the aid station, panicked because I was tight in the chest and couldn't breathe and mad because of my flipping lights. Marie and Karen both finished their 50's (yeah!), had showered and become pretty and were helping me out. Maria took my flashlights and a handful of batteries to her car, I was walking around the aid station asking if anyone had batteries; I didn't DARE go out without lights. Scary. No one had any! Maria had her lights and everything in her van, I was crabby for sitting around with f*cked up lights for 20 minutes so I asked Karen, as Marie was going to her van, if they could meet me on the big hill about a mile or two from the start. They agreed and thankfully they fixed my lights. I wasn't closing the end piece on tight enough, the battery wasn't making the connection and I was being stupid. The batteries still didn't last very long in that little Fenix-I had 3 of them with me this time and they were really pissing me off. Some people had lamps that I could see a mile away! I need to re look at lights again.
The sun came up and warmed the frost up. I was able to drop my lights with Maria and head out for my last loop. The last one! I told Maria it would probably be 3 hours for me to do the last 10. I had slowed big time. I was clawing at my neck feeling the tightness in my chest wondering what was going on. I took it slow and easy.
After Doug and I finished mile 90 he was going faster, I was going slower so we split up. Every time I came to a river crossing or a mud pile I'd think "oh, this is the last time" what a delicious thought at this point. I just wanted to be done. My breathing was tight and my chest hurt. I wasn't going to make my goal but what the hell..I was going to finish and that was pretty awesome in itself.
As I was finishing up my final Heaven's Gate loop, Paul, who reintroduced himself at the start, whom I've met at Superior and prior McNaughtons came thundering down the trail. He had left the start/finish and would have to run a 215 loop to make 28 hours. I told him I wanted to make 28 hours. I tried to follow him for about 5 steps and had a coughing fit, plus I was just plain old tired. I probably couldn't have hung with him if I could have breathed normally. He was flying! I was amazed at the will he had to make that goal. He did too: 27:57 or so he finished. I find that incredible. To be able to push like that in the last 10 miles. Wow.
I didn't push it. I pretty much walked the last loop, taking in the beautiful sunny morning, removing my jacket, hat, gloves and a heavy shirt. It was great to see people again, the 150 milers had woken up and were back out on the trail. I never did see any other 100 mile women. I guess they all dropped.
The finish line. Andy, Karen, Maria all whooping and hollering; I ran in at 28: something. Less than 28:30 I know but I don't remember how many minutes past 28. I was delighted. I finished the race, I felt pretty good and was doing fine.
"Here is 100 Mile Stud, Julie Berg. Julie won the McNaughton 100 two years ago and she's done it again" said Andy.
Andy presented me with First Woman plaque and my buckle, we took pictures and had a party. It was really so very much fun.
I sat down and smiled, thinking about all that I went through over those 100 miles and how much I was grateful for. All of the friends around, everyone was so nice. Pure bliss.
As we sat around we watched the 2nd place male 150 come in, David Goggins and then 3rd, Ryan Dexter. Way to go, I can't fathom. And no, I no longer want to do the 150. It's just too much. Remind me that I said that when McNaughton comes near next year! We watched John Taylor come in, he finished 100 and decided to not go for the 150. 100 is a pretty respectable distance!
Karl Meltzer was there, all fresh and clean. He broke the course record in 17 hours. He passed me THREE times! He went up the hills effortlessly, he was wonderful to watch, but was gone too quickly!
Andy asked to take Karl and my picture together. Ohhhh yeah...gotta like that! Men all over the place. Then picture with Andy, picture with David, I'll post them soon. A ton of fun.
I didn't have time to run (ha) to the hotel to clean up before leaving so I just changed into clean running clothes from my drop bag. Clean clothes on a filthy dirty body. Ick.
Maria and I said our goodbyes 2 hours later and headed out of Pekin. Something began to happen to me. Something that scared me.
I couldn't breath. I had been wheezing at the finish line, but tried to get deep breaths and wasn't real concerned now that the race was finished. I coughed a croup type cough, but wasn't too worried.
As Maria drove out of Pekin my breathing was was more of a gasp and she mentioned that I sounded like Darth Vader. I was becoming nervous. We stopped at a rest stop about 1/2 hour out of Pekin and I had a coughing fit, I couldn't breathe, I was gasping. Maria asked if I though I should go to an ER, I though about it, went pee, had another coughing fit and said yeah, something is wrong here. This wasn't ultra pain this was scary stuff.
Maria called her husband and he looked online for an Urgent Care near where we were. We found the little itty bitty city and stopped at Urgent Care, I had a coughing fit, wasn't breathing well and the told me to go to the Emergency Room at the Hospital instead.
Off we went.
Luckily there was not another patient in the whole ER! I explained what was going on, explained that I had just finished an 100 mile race (WHAT???), and that I was out of town, blah blah blah. They put me on a heart monitor, asked 101 question and I'm sure figured I was insane because who the hell runs 100 miles. The Dr. asked me if I ran this over a period of 6-7 days. Um, no, 28 hours, you know? I think they thought I was originally there for foot surgery because I couldn't walk at all, but that is normal ultra pain. I explained to every medical person that came in and touched me that I had been running for 28 hours, had not showered and I stunk. I was full of sweat and mud and my fingernails were horrific. Among other things. They didn't seem to be worried about my state of freshness. They did a lung xray, which was clear, had me spit my cough substance into a bag and describe what it looked like! Um, green, yellow, gross, come on! They did an albuterol treatment and I instantly felt relief. I could feel my passage ways open up and I could take deep breaths. Oh thank goodness! I began to shake, didn't like it, my heart began to race, apparently this is a reaction from the albuteral. They did another treatment with something that didn't cause the tremors and now I was all opened up and breathing magnificently. They listened to me and said I was still wheezing, but better than prior. He told me it was probably "exertion induced bronchial spasm' but then also prescribed an antibiotic called levequin ? and an inhaler. Maria is concerned about the levaquin and runners, let me know if you know anything about it. Why an antibiotic anyway? I don't know if this came on from the flora in Pekin, the cold air or what but it scared the hell out of me. Maria and I were stuck there for over 2 hours by the time they were finished with me. As I hobbled out of ER a nurse told me I was her hero. She had never heard of ultra runners before. How nice, hu?
I had a few coughing fits on the way back to Minnesota but my breathing was much much better. I left Maria's at 952 PM and arrived safely at home at 1052. I couldn't get out of my car. I was stuck. My body had swelled so that my sandals were too tight, my feet felt like they were round as I hoisted myself out of the car. Luckily the garage opens into the laundry room, bathroom and living room without a stair. Topaz was very excited to see me, tried to knock me down with paw hugs but I leaned against the wall for support. I hadn't been able to sleep at all on the ride home; I just can't fall asleep in a car, even after being awake for 50 hours. I laid my sweaty, salty, stinky self on the couch, pulled on my down blanket and slept until 6 for the boys school wake up time.
I couldn't get off of the couch! I didn't move all night, I was stiff as a board. To get off the couch I rolled onto the floor, stabilizing myself with my arms until my legs could put my full weight upon them. Egads.
You know what though? This ultra pain is much better than that breathing scare!!
I have the day off today; Tyler has a baseball game at home at 430 and Troy has a 7 PM practice. As I hobble to the fields the parents will speak of me in hushed tones. Oh well. I love what I do!
I'm going to run a hot bath now! I hope I can hobble up the stairs :)
I have a ton of pictures I'll post later today.