Where to start? This is going to be l o n g. With thank yous. Thank you to all of you, for thinking of me this weekend and sending emails and comments while I was gone. Thank you to Andy, the Race Director of McNaughton. He dotes on his runners from the time first time I see him at packet pickup on Friday to the final hug when I leave Sunday morning. He is incredible. The volunteers are wonderful, the Heaven's Gate aid station welcomed me back each lap just like I was a part of the family. Of course I'm thankful to my family who puts up with me and to Topaz, who ran almost all of my training miles with me, most of them while I was on snowshoes (see Steve Q, snowshoeing CAN be training!) and he (Topaz) was foraging through miles of snow.
Early last week Karen graciously offered to ride along to Pekin IL with me, as I was going solo this year. Most of the Minnesota contingent was doing Wynn's 50K in WI this past Saturday. I told Karen that I was now planning to leave Thursday, to meet my sister in law in IA, flying from San Francisco, as well as my parents, who were coming back from wintering in TX. Well, none of that panned out. SIL's flight was cancelled (American Airlines) and parents were ahead of schedule, arriving at my home to spend Thursday-Sunday. So, solo I was.
Thursday night it began to snow. And snow and snow. There was a 2 hour late start at school, so I hung out with the boys Friday morning, thinking I'd leave after I dropped them off at school. Well, the late start ended up being a cancellation for the day, so at 9 AM I was finally on the road.
I arrived at the Concorde Motel, $49 a night, around 6PM. The motel gave me the chills. There was a bar with a band and the doors opened to a parking lot, no into interior halls. My room faced the back lot where there was a Subway drive up window. I could hear the cars and the Subway speaker lady. Not a good thing. My room smelled like a smoking room that had been sprayed with Lysol. It irritated my throat and eyes.
I went to the race start to pick up my packet and made introductions. Andy gave me a big hug and welcomed me. I received a very nice red jacket and a woman's fit black/white running top, hat. Very nice.
Back to the motel of doom. I packed my drop bag, had my french press and beans, grinder all set. Crawled into bed with my Terry Goodkind series. The band began. The Subway girl was talking. Someone was pounding on the door. Oh, it was the door next door that sounded like it was in my room. I had a room that at one time connected to both rooms on the sides of me. Oh god. I could hear two men speaking like they were in my bathroom. Talking of women and drugs and money and guns. Good lord. One man left, another came, more money and drug talk, again and again, over and over. I was freaked out. I didn't make a sound. If they heard me, they would know I heard them. The hair on my neck stood on end. I was scared. Truly scared.
I decided to get out of there. It was 10 PM. I grabbed all my stuff, in the dark, packed it all and went to my car. I drove to the race start at McNaughton Park and slept peacefully and safely in my car until 5 AM. Whew!
I had just purchased a new vehicle last week. I didn't know where anything was. The dome lights, the back heater, etc. I do now!
I turned on the heater a few times during the night, it was cold and I hadn't packed for camping. I always carry my red down blanket, and it kept me fairly warm.
Managed to scrape up a cup of coffee, suck back a Hammergel and start the day.
As I waited at the start I was freezing. It was 34F. I wore heavy long pants, a top, jacket, fleece hat and gloves. I never changed during the race. I couldn't believe that this was my 4th McNaughton 100 and that 4 years ago I was standing at this very line scared to death, about to run my first 100, wondering what would happen out there. The fear was gone, I knew I could finish, there are 34 hours to do so. I was a bit concerned about the trail conditions. It had rained in IL for days and was drizzling and snowing off and on. It was going to be pretty mucky, I figured...I was right. It was more than pretty mucky...
I didn't see many familiar faces. The Minnesota's that were there were Al Holtz, running the 150, John Taylor, running the 150 and Jim Wilson running the 50 mile. Jim had finished the 50 mile on Friday.
Andy said go and off we went. By 6 the sun was beginning to rise so I didn't need lights. I had a Fenix handheld in my drop bag for later. I tried to just get into a rhythm and enjoy the first few loops. I have come to realize that I just don't get into my 'zone' until 30 or 40 miles. Before that my mind is worrying about the evening, the dark, my lights, tomorrow..blah blah blah. I kept telling myself to enjoy myself, this is the party that I have been training for. Enjoy the people.
The trail really was a mess. My first loop was just over 2 hours, my plan was to run the daylight loops in 240 or so and night was whatever I could muster. I'll have to look at my splits but I think each daylight loop was 210-240 or so.
I was a bit concerned about the amount of mud. It make the ups and downs crazy slippery. I thought of Karl Meltzer last year, how he just tramped up the muddy hills without a slow down. Someone asked me how I could get up the hills so quickly. I didn't think that I was!
During my 3rd loop I came across Al and John. Al was on his 9th and John was on 8. They both looked great. Al told me he went the whole night without lights; for a challenge. He challenged me to the same. I couldn't understand why? But he did just that! He ran 3 loops in the dark with a light to only illuminate his watch. Wow. I didn't want that challenge. But it came true, anyhow.
I saw Ryan Dexter. Man, he had finished 100 miles at 20 hours and was going on to finish up his 150. He looked fabulous, yes, Ryan, you did! He was moving well with his pacer and ended up finishing second to David Goggins. I never saw David.
I came across Ollie, who wasn't feeling too well. His stomach had gone south, but he was still moving forward.
Two gals that read this blog introduced themselves to me: Jess from Seattle was running her first 100. She became very cold and wasn't able to finish, but did get in 7 laps, I believe. She came to chat after I finished and looked very good! Good job, Jess. Ellen from IN was running the 100, too. I did see Ellen on the course in the morning. She looked good! You guys will have to post a comment and let everyone know what you thought of the race.
At miles 40 everything came together for me. I was eating well, which was a concern for me in the beginning. I haven't run a 100 since I have been cutting weight and pretty much eating Paleo, via Leanness Lifestyle. I have been eating only 1 carb meal a day, post run, and really didn't know how, or if, this would affect my race. I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich almost every 3 hours for the first 50 miles or so. I also sucked back over 20 Hammergels, I had 20 bottles of Hammer Heed. I was all carbbed up during the race. But still, I had to have something to worry about, so I worried about the way I had been eating. Which wasn't necessary. I used my blister potion at Heaven's Gate, every three loops, I didn't have ANY blisters. NONE. All race! Blisters have been the bane of my existence during 100 mile events. Not any more. Now flashlights are. I didn't have any upset stomach ache, no pains, I was in the zone. Finally.
I hadn't used my iPod yet, I was 'saving' it for the half way point. I was just producing endorphins, feeling incredibly exhilarated and full of fire. John Storkamp told me to Be the Warrior. I was. I was running hard through the mud, my legs held up. Has to be from squatting 210x12x10 each week during my weekly 2 hour leg weight session, as well as stair stepping 2 sessions a week. My leg strength has surprised me. My quads never felt tired, I felt great. I felt bad for some of the runners. Some were really struggling through the mud. One man was in front of me going up a hill, a muddy mess. All of a sudden he stopped and I was like WTF? I almost banged into him. Then I realized his SHOE WAS SUCKED OFF HIS FOOT. Right in the quagmire of mud. Stuck there. I told him he now had a great story, that his shoe was actually sucked off. He didn't think it so amusing. I didn't laugh; I just thought it was a good story. I guess not. I shut up and moved on.
The rivers were refreshing. It felt good to cross them, get all of the mud off my shoes and feel my toes chill. The crossings were mid calf high.
I was feeling so damn good I didn't want night fall to come. I knew that during the night I would slow due to the fact that I am as blind as a bat in the darkness, and I suck with lights. I have spent a small fortune in head lamps, all which sit in a drawer. They give me headaches, they are uncomfortable, heavy, etc. I knew that the night would cause me to slow, to stiffen, to lose my endorphin high.
At lap 5 Andy told me I had first woman. I was surprised, as I hadn't seen any women on the trail for a while and assumed it was because they were ahead and we were travelling the same speed. I was happy, giddy, is more like it. I grabbed my iPod and rocked on. I was euphoric, having so much fun, frolicking through the mud, enjoying myself, enjoying only having to concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other.
Loop 6 and Jim reminded me to grab my flashlight. I have a little Fenix I use. Jim helped me with batteries and such, took my empty gels, filled my Heed and I was off. I ran the first section and then went back to the start. I couldn't see. It sucked. It was too dark and my flashlight was not doing much. Jim gave me his handheld and Andy took the headlamp off of his head for me to use. He found it amusing that I didn't have a headlamp. I found it stupid. I thanked them both, and headed back out.
I ran when I could, trying not to stiffen up by moving too slowly. I felt so good, I wished I had a few more hours of daylight to really move. I switched out the batteries in the handheld once and continued to the start.
Then came the lap from hell. I was running along, noticing all the bright lights runners had, questioning them about their lights, when Jim's handheld went out. I replaced the batteries again, and it still wouldn't go on. A runner from Norway (I think) helped me out, but couldn't get the flashlight to work. Shit. I ran on, worrying about the headlamp of Andy's that was getting more and more dim. I had AAs with me as that is what I understood the lamp to need. Before it died on me, I was at the Totem aid station and began to change batteries. Oops, it took AAA. Oh man. Screwed. No one had batteries. I went off in the complete dark. I berated myself. Told myself how stupid I am. How can I have run 9 100s and still have not figured out the damn light thing? What was I thinking? So what if the headlamps at home give you a headache, bring it along and strap it on your waist or your wrist..hello..you need a freaking lamp you know? I slowly navigated the trail. Hoping for a runner to come up so I could follow along. No luck. Suckage. I picked my way through the trail, ever so slowly, bitching at myself and putting myself down the whole way. FINALLY I realized that this is a learning opportunity. This is a time to say OK, I will never be without lights again, I will figure something out to work in the future. I am learning from this mistake. Yes, I may lose the lead, I may not finish when I wanted to, but look, I am running a 100 mile race, I have the fitness to be able to do this, that is pretty awesome. ENJOY, Julie. Enjoy the next lap that will be in the daylight, you can embrace the next lap, enjoy the sun, enjoy the rest of the race. OK, glad I have myself under control now.
I continued on, at times feeling like I should just curl up in a ball on the trail and cry. But it was too cold and I'd freeze to death. It was snowing and windy. I kept on.
At 530 I was so excited that the sun would slowly rise. I was coming down the hill of hell after Golf hill, in the muddiest section of the race, trying to get down without killing myself, trying to follow the ribbons in the darkness when I saw the lightness in the sky. THANK god. Happiness! I could see. Could I run?
Oh yeah. I ran as hard as I could back to the start. I lamented my problem for a quick moment, then got over it. I was ready to party. Andy told me I was First Woman/Second Overall. What? No way. Where are all of the boys? He told me sleeping or home. I could not believe my ears. After the slow lap from hell I had, and I'm Second Overall? Nutzo Cookoo.
I had a great last 10 miles. I ran as fast as I could. I rocked out to Ozzie, Black Sabbath and Megadeath. Runners asked me what I was on? Can I have some? I laughed, I'm just running..just enjoying the party. The endorphins came back in I finished the last loop in 240 or so. Great way to finish a fine race.
As I came in Andy had another hug for me, Jim as well. Andy presented my award, as well as some clothing from North Face, reserved for the first woman, pretty cool.
We took photos, had fun. Drank Diet Pepsi. I was able to see Charlotte, the 150 woman winner come in. WOW. All I can say is WOW. I can't imagine 150. I just don't have the want to do that.
I changed out of my wet muddy gross clothes, put dry clean clothes over my gross body. Visited an hour or so and headed for home .. with a smile on my face. What an awesome fun weekend.
Oh, Jim Wilson, a huge thank you! I just met Jim last weekend at Zumbro. He ran the 50 at McNaughton, on Friday and helped me out ALL weekend. I can't believe what he did for me. He was at the start for me every lap, bue one, while he caught some sleeip, he filled my bottle with Heed, he brought me sandwiches, he helped me with my lights, he even brought me a wad of Vaseline, he asked for my garbage each lap, he was incredible. Thank you, Jim.
Today I feel very good. I brought the boys to school and have the day off. Unfortunately, in my haste to leave the motel room of doom, I left behind my book, so I'll be heading to Maple Grove's Barnes and Noble soon. I am reading Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series 18 nice big fat 1000 page books, and can't miss number three! There is about 4" on snow on the ground, I and Topaz will hit the trail for a nice brisk walk this afternoon and I'll just be chilling today.
Congratulations to all the McNaughton runners. It was a tough day to be out there, for sure. To those of you running your first 100, it isn't always that rough. Come again, it won't always be that muddy!
I'll post some pictures later.