Monday, April 17, 2006

McNaughton Park Trail Runs: The 100

McNaughton was another excellent adventure.

I feel so very fortunate to have met such wonderful people, to be able to call these people my friends. I wouldn't have so many incredible friends if I hadn't met them through running.

I left home early Friday to pick up Scott Wagner, then Alicia Gordon and finally John Storkamp, before we headed out for Pekin, IL. For a while at John's were weren't so sure when we'd be leaving. My car keys were lost. John eventually suggested we look on the roof, and yes, there they were, we were off and running.

I think the road trip was as much fun as anything else during the weekend. We laughed and laughed..all the way there and all the way back. My abs hurt today. It was fantastic fun..

After numerous stop breaks we managed to arrive at our hotel by 4:00 PM; checked in, and headed over to packet pick up. John and Alicia hadn't seen the trail before so we walked a few miles out and back. We realized how hot and humid it was..instantly. I mean, it was humid and sweat rolling down your chest hot...and we were only walking. Pekin broke a record 89F Friday.

We then chatted with Andy, the Race Director, who I must say puts on a fabulous production. The race is friendly, well organized and fun to run. He had very nice apparel again for the runners. The 30-50 milers received red shirts kind of similar to last year's technical shirts and the 100 milers received a red/black Brooks jacket and hat. Awesome.

By 8:00 we were back in our room, ready to sleep. That was a nice thought, but not one to come to fruition. I couldn't fall asleep. All night long I lay there, awake. I don't think anyone else slept much either. It was a sleepless evening.

4 AM arrived. We packed up the last of our gear, filled bottles and packs, and headed out to the race start. It was warm out already, but the humidity seemed to have vanished. The forecast showed a high of 85F with an 80% chance of night time thunderstorms. I was OK with the heat, but I really didn't want the thunderstorms.

John and Alicia were running the 30 mile, this would be Alicia's first ultra; Scott was pacing me for 50 and I was running the 100. The 30, 50 and 100 all began at 6 AM.

Note: next year there will the 50 and 100 option, only. Andy will not be holding the 30.

Maria Barton was running the 30 mile as well. We chatted with her a bit as we began the first loop but fast as she was, we never saw her again! Maria finished the 30 mile in just over 6 hours..I believe.

I and Alicia were able to run the first loop together. It was cool because at the first section we could see John running fast across the field from us. He was in second place. Speed.

The sun came up, the long sleeved shirts came off and temp rose..within the first loop. The wild flowers were beautiful, the rivers were full and I and Alicia just enjoyed the sights and the conversation around us. It was awesome. We ran along with smiles on our faces...wondering what the day would bring.

In 2:05 we were back at the start and I knew I needed to go out a bit slower than that. It just felt so good, I figured I'd run a few 2:15's then settle into 2:30's and try to eek out whatever I could during the night.

John flew by me, as anticipated, on his way to the finish. I can't imagine to be able to run like that. It looks as though he moves effortlessly and so fast. He finished in 4:15; good for 4th. Congrats, John.

I just kept moving forward, running with Chrissy (XY) Weiss who creates Dirty Girl Gaiters. It was so much to talk with her, this was her 10th 100. She is running Kettle Moraine, Badwater and Wasatch this year. Go girl. We ran together quite a bit during the whole race.

Alicia finished her run in just over 7 (congratulations)! so she, John and Scott went back to the room to clean up. I was worried about them coming back to the race as someone had to drive us home on Sunday. They needed some rest, I wanted them to sleep. They came back to the race though, and catered to my every whim.

Scott began to pace me at mile 50. I came in at 11:45. Alicia filled my bottles, John gave me some potatoes and I and Scott were on our way. He ran up ahead of me and I'd follow, always keeping him in my sights. He pointed out the logs for me and anything else I might trip over. He'd run up ahead at each aid station and get whatever I needed. It was wonderful to have Scott to guide me.

We grabbed our lights for the 60-70 mile loop. John went to get my batteries and guess what? I packed AAA's instead of AA or vise versa. I couldn't believe it. I didn't even have extra batteries. Scott had an extra pack somewhere so I used his. How stupid of me. I did other stupid things as well.

During the 70-80 mile loop my feet were really beginning to blister badly. I had removed the elasticon I wrapped them with earlier because there was so much sand stuck to the tape. The sand was rubbing my skin off. They had been blistering for most of the day, per usual, but the river crossings, the sand, it was all too much for my feet. I don't know why I have such blistering problems. There were 100 miler runners out there who didn't have ANY blisters. Believe me, I asked around. At times it was all that I could think about.

Scott told me we were going to take longer than the usual 1 minute stop at the main aid station. We were going to get food and sit down to eat, he was going to have John and Alicia fix my feet. I figured it was hopeless and I'd just tough it out. I really didn't want to waste time sitting in a chair at the aid station. Alicia brought me food, John removed my gaiters and socks. He applied Vaseline to each toe and across the bottom and told me I'd be fine. He went to get a pair of dry socks that I told him were in my bag. Well, gee, guess I forgot to bring along spare socks too. Good grief. Scott, again, came to the rescue and had a spare pair. After eating and having my feet fixed I felt very good. It was a 20 minute stop, but well worth it. The next loop I was able to move along.

I found out later that John just told me that my feet were fine; in reality he knew they were falling apart, but didn't want to freak me out any more. Good move on his part.

Next loop and the thunderstorm hit. It was cold and windy and the rain fell hard. The trail turned to a muddy mess. The hills that were difficult to get up and down while dry were almost impossible for me. I would usually get off the trail a bit and find a way next to the trail to navigate that was covered in leaves and sticks. My feet were throbbing. The blisters were popping and new ones were arriving.

The aid station volunteers were all smiles, offering us whatever we could possible want. Andy was at the start finish, high fiving us every time we ran through. He'd announce our arrival each loop. It was incredible fun. The endorphins were at an all time high. It was one huge party, if running is your kind of fun!

The sun finally came up and we were running our last loop. Thank God. This 100 mile run was all fine and fun, but it would be awesome to just be finished. My feet hurt more than they ever have. 7 blisters popped that last loop. I knew I had to just suck it up and stop complaining about them. Complaining wasn't going to make the blisters feel better. Scott told me to disassociate with the pain, let it go. I did. I pretended that they no longer hurt.

Chrissy had hung with us for a few more loops. Scott told me I could finish in 27 something and could probably place third but that I had to hammer. I told him I didn't have any hammer left and I didn't care where I placed. I just wanted to finish. He knows me better than that. I had told him months ago that my goal was to beat my PR prior and that 27 something would be incredible.. After I pouted a few minutes I realized that I did need to hammer. He was right. I did want 27 something, I wanted a PR and last year I ran this in 29:07. I got it together, told myself my feet were fine, hell, it was only blisters, not a stress fracture of PF or anything. Get moving girl and stop whining. Run on.

I did. I ran as fast as I could. Scott ran up ahead of me and told me to hammer harder. OK, I'm thinking, I'm hammering harder!! Finally, we were at the last section. 3 miles to the finish. I felt a huge blister across the ball of my foot and just prayed that it wouldn't pop before I got there. Just let it hold on until I reach the end. The popping is too painful.

As I came into the finish Scott told me to remove my pack, jacket and garbage bag for a rain jacket. I felt like a pack mule; I was so tired of carrying all of this stuff around my waist for the past 27 hours. Scott collected my things and I ran on in, Scott following. Tears ran down my cheek as I realized I was finally done. I had made it, I was able to finish in 27 something and the blister on the ball of my foot was still in one piece.

Andy announced my arrival; John and Alicia were right there, it was incredible. John and Alicia barely slept all night. They were there to cater to Scott and I, each time we came into the start finish. Just so I could run a 100 miles at McNaughton.

Friends like this don't get any better.

Scott was correct, he did get me in at 27 hours and I did get woman's third. I think my time was 27:27 or 27:37 but I could be wrong. I didn't really look at the clock. Thank you Scott.

We took pictures and hung out, I drank multiple Diet Pepsi's and coffee. Eventually I was shaking so much so we went back to the hotel for a shower before heading home.

Alicia removed my socks and shoes. My feet are shocking. I've never seen them this blistered and beat up. We were still laughing though. John took pictures of the 101 blisters and Scott said I needed to send them to Jon Vonhoff ( Book: Fixing Your Feet) to teach me how to care for my feet! But seriously, I need to know how to beat this whole blister thing. It could cost me a 100.

What a crazy road trip home. We realized that I had been awake over 70 hours but I was just too ramped up to doze off. The endorphins were still flowing freely. After dropping off John, Alicia and Scott; I did arrive safely at home last night. I didn't have the energy to climb the stairs to bed so camped out on the couch.

I'll probably be hitting the couch quite a bit today.

Alicia, Scott and John: Thank You.

I have a few pictures to post; John is going to send me some more. When I receive I will post.


jessie_tri_mn said...


That word doesn't do justice to what you accomplished out there.


What a race
What great friends
What an inspiration

You rock!

Hope your feet are healing well :)

Cathy said...


Wow! What a terrific race & what super fantastic friends. You are simply amazing!!!!

Hope the feet are doing OK.

Best to you.


Travis said...

Awesome job! You were just ahead of me for the 2nd creek crossing on the 3rd lap. I recognized you from you picture, but I did not have the juice left in me to say much :) This was my first ultra. I ran the 30 and the heat was tough. Congrats on getting through the 100, you have a lot to be proud of!

Anonymous said...

Do your feet look worse than the picture of your toes that you posted about 1 1/2 years ago??
Whatever happened to the pictures of the bun-bun cake?
Great job!

marathonP said...

Congratulations Julie. You did it. That's one more peak attained, and so many higher ones to climb...and that's the best part. Way to go. The only thing better than these accomplishments, is the training and vision it takes to get there.

Not only are you inspiring, but you make what I am trying to do seem easy: win/win!

Congratulations again. Give those feet a little well deserved spoiling.


Lora said...

GREAT JOB JULIE!! I'm so inspired by you!! I'll keep reading until I finally decide I can do it too!!!

Hope the feet heal soon!

robtherunner said...

Congratulations on another 100 and a PR over last year. The way your feet sound I am thinking of Ferg Hawke and his feet after Badwater last year. I think we need some graphic photos of your feet.

Sheila said...

Congratulations on another 100-mile finish and a PR. To be able to ignore all those blisters is something I find just incredible, not to mention running for 100 miles. You are truly the strongest woman that I know!

'Zilla said...

Oh. My. Goodness.

Strong. That's the word that describes you. Physically, Mentally, emotionally. Amazing.

This is the third *really amazing* race report I've read today.

I guess I won't complain about my *one* little blister anymore!

Way to go!

Cliff said...

100 milers..crazy. I can't believe u run with all the blisters. Your friends are awesome.

Brett said...

Congratulations on a great race! Way to fight through the adversity. I can't imagine what the pain must have been like, and bearing that through that many miles is incredible. You are amazing!

E-Speed said...

HOL-Y CRAP!!! You are one tough cookie! Great job and congrats on teh PR!

mg said...

Awesome! I love reading your reports - you're so inspiring! Hope your feet are better.

Anonymous said...

Nice work Julie. It truly was a brutal event. You did a nice job staying in the game. Congrats on your win! (=:

Darren Fortney