I expected my first 100 miler to hurt, but couldn’t have predicted this much soreness! As each layer of pain fades away, new hot spots and sore spots emerge.
Even though I was pretty familiar with the Ice Age trail, some of the sections seemed that much harder on race day. The prairie sections felt pretty hot for 75 degrees. I ran out of water 20 minutes out of the last aid station before the prairie. I was dry heaving and reduced to walking through a good portion of this, and I could feel my body temp climbing. I decided to do a very slow run to each shaded spot, where I would stretch, walk, and try to bring my heart rate down. I’m glad that you had the extra water station by the cemetery, or else I would have been done at 40. I think that I drank two full bottles right there, and then filled up and finished one more by Emma Carlin.
I had a light in the last drop bag, thinking that I might need it at 77, but I decided I wouldn’t switch the light on until 15 minutes or so after the sun had gone down, so I decided to leave it in the bag and commit to ~1:20 for the round-trip to Rice Lake and back. Trying to keep this pace up, I didn’t lift my foot high enough to clear a log on the last downhill before Rice Lake, and I took a sweet digger into the underbrush, getting in a good two or three rolls. With just some scratches on my forearms and weeds in my hair, it was easy to laugh it off. I got a gnarly blister right above my heel post just after dark. Not that I didn’t have other blisters, but this one felt like a nail driven into my heel. I ran on my toes for a few hundred feet, decided that fix was futile, and then frantically conjured up a solution. I put a baggie inside my sock, which, combined with the wet skin, reduced the abrasion at that spot. Later adding band-aids, it was enough to hobble in the last 14 miles. I have heard that duct tape works even better.
I think the rollers in the middle of the Nordic loop are what really got to me. I saw someone post something about PUDS (pointless ups and downs) and WUDS (worthless…), which I thought was pretty funny. My quads were screaming and just about giving out when I went over those rollers for the fourth time. Is that part of the plan to make a Midwestern 100 mile that much more difficult?! In hindsight, I can see that incorrectly addressing some of those extra challenges could have easily ended my run. I wish that other runners could have overcome the events that caused them to DNF.
Normally, I would call those experiences negative, but I think that there was something in me seeking pain that drove me to enter this event in the first place, and that something makes me appreciate those extra challenges. I was secretly hoping that we would get a downpour after dark, just to really get my money’s worth of suffering. There were obviously some nice simple moments too. I’m much more of a start/stop runner than a long continuous pace, so I really enjoyed cruising some of the rolling and slightly technical downhills in Scuppernong, near Emma Carlin connector trail, and those near the Lime Kiln and points south. Carrying a nice stride on a gentle downhill on an awesome trail, it was easy to forget the soreness in the quads and the sharp pains in my hip flexors and shin. The atmosphere of this event was great. My attitude had bounced between competitiveness and plain survival when first starting, but after coming through Margaretville (mile 93) I settled into a much more relaxed state. I had a very positive experience at every aid station, and this had a huge effect on my attitude throughout the day. Just thought I’d share my adventure. I’m sure many runners went through much more than I did. The first day after the event I thought I wouldn’t ever try another 100. But the more I thought about the event, the more I realized that I enjoyed almost every minute of it. Although, it was a huge pleasure to stop at the end and sit down.