Saturday, September 15, 2012

Hallucination 100

7-hour downpour during the 100
51% finishing rate 
No pacer 
28th overall in 25:45
3rd place in my age group

  • September 7-8, 2012 
  • 4PM start from the Hell Creek Ranch in Pinckney, MI
  • 100 Miles on a 16.7-mile loop 
  • 15,000 feet total elevation change (The Garmin said double this but it could have been having a bad day)
  • Terrain is medium 
  • Aid Stations every 4 miles
  • 30-hour time limit
  • 133 starters and 69 finishers (51% of starters made the 100M. There was also a drop down option available for those that completed 4 loops. 13 runners used this)
  • Jonathan Clinthorne 1st place for Men in 18 hours 10 minutes 
  • Anastasia Andrychowski 1st place for Women in 21 hours 46 minutes 

Loop 1
0-17 miles (4pm-7pm)
It was hot, humid and I was shirtless. Around my neck I had tied a handkerchief filled with ice and the water was melting down my back. I still felt like I was suffocating.

I previewed the race using any photo or video I could find online. Somehow my mind formed this picture of magically even trail and gently meandering hills.

But of course none of that was to be. The trail had been washed out many times and there were piles of loose, decomposed dirt at the base of the hills and low points on the course. Often the ground was uneven and rutted. Tree roots rose up to grab at weary legs.

Loop 2
17-33 miles (7pm-11pm)
We were running through the dark. There was occasional rain that passed over us and it made the air a little more bearable.  At mile 23 I vomited a PB&J and that was some of the last food I would eat for the next 20 hours. I ran on maltodextrin, soda and soup broth. Most of my energy came from body fat slowly converted to energy.

A cold, hard driving rain began at 10PM that lasted for the next 7 hours. I finally felt motivated to run. The deluge was heavy and at times vision was limited to the ground just in front of my feet. Occasionally a large drop of water would land squarely on the top of my head with a resounding thump.

Each loop was about 17 miles and on the way back from the turnaround point, I was running with a Dr. from Thailand when my headlamp gave a very distinct on/off flash and signaled that the batteries were going to die. I had plenty of batteries 4 miles ahead and plenty of batteries 4 miles behind but I was not carrying any on me. Rookie mistake.

Mike Heider, #53, selflessly lent me his two mini lights and I tucked in behind two new friends Jerry and Dale as we headed back towards the main aid station. It was a very dark trek as I tried to preserve the batteries in Mike's lights yet give myself enough light not to twist an ankle.

It is still pouring.

Loop 3
33-50 miles (11pm-3:30am)
I made it back to the main aid station to my stockpile of batteries and sent out a silent thanks to Mike wherever he may have been.

I checked in at the aid station board and as I turned to enter the runner's area, much to my surprise, I found two bikers standing there complete with sleeveless leather vests, cans of beer and one smoking a cigarette! A second surprise "Can I fill your bottle?" These guys were volunteering at the aid station!

I was getting ready in the tent and I could see the carnage for this race was starting. A stronger runner than I was dropped even though she looked solid the first few laps. There was a group huddled around a heater in their wet clothes and blankets. And as I donned an extra layer, someone gave me a dire warning that parts of the trail were completely washed out.

My new biker pal filled my bottle, changed my headlamp batteries and got me absolutely pumped up to go back out! The next morning when I shuffled into camp I saw him sitting in a golf cart and we were both so psyched that I was still going that we shared a big high five.

The next 17 miles of running were mostly solo in the rain. It was fun to trek through the night like that.

Loop 4
50-67 miles (3:30am-8:15am)
I left for my fourth loop and it was getting cold. The trails were channels of running water and that loose decomposed dirt had turned into a thick mud. One climb was so slick that I used some small plants to pull myself up to a ledge.

I rolled into the aid station at mile 54 and knew I had to stay there to warm up. Both the temperature of the air and my body had dropped considerably. I waited around and watched while the DNF's piled up. After 45 minutes, one runner's boyfriend picked her up and she was kind enough to give me her poncho. I headed back onto the trail and started to warm up. That was about the time that the rain stopped!

I headed back from the turnaround point and daylight was on the horizon. A few miles later the 50k'ers and 50M'ers appeared and they were hauling ass in the outbound direction.

Mile 67. Returning to the aid station after a night in the rain.

Loop 5
67-83 miles (8:15am-1:15pm)
I said to myself that I would set myself right before I left the aid station so I changed out my clothes and took care of my feet for the 3rd time. There were no blisters to break because my feet were macerated and looked strikingly similar to the ruffled potato chips.

This loop felt like the slowest to me but at least the humidity was gone. There was a new mental assault to deal with as the 50k'ers and 50M'ers were blowing past at much faster speeds. Oh to have fresh legs! The constant passing made it tough to get into a rhythm and I continuously had to step aside. The runners were absolutely kind about this but it added a mental challenge.

Loop 6
83-100 miles (1:15pm-5:45pm)
Mile 83. Heading back out on the final loop.

It felt great leaving for that last loop! Granted I couldn’t move my ass any faster but I had a much better experience than Loop 5. My finishing time was going to be slower than planned (25:45) but I was happy it was hard and that I earned this finish.

I kept myself shuffling forward until a few miles before the end where there were a couple of steep downhills. Descending felt similar to getting hit with a baseball bat in the quads. "HEY! –SMACK-- I just wanted to remind you this is 100 miles."

As soon as I heard the band I was in striking distance of the finish line. I had a good surge and ran it in. Then I dropped on all fours to do some push ups.


3rd place in my age group
The 100M buckle

"3 days of peace, love and running". No kidding.
On site camping
The finish
Bands Friday night and Saturday
Resting before the start