Saturday, August 27 - Sunday, August 28
Ultra Marathon #19
Weather - Sunny and warm during the day, cold at night
Lean Horse 100 was my big "A" race of the year. I planned in putting in a lot of responsible training, all while racing less, in hopes of building a solid base and having a strong race. We all know THAT didn't happen. Leading up to the race, I had planned on dropping to the 50 mile. I was 100% fine with that decision. Until... I got my bib number assignment. I had a 100 mile bib. What if I just went for it? The course is an out and back, and if I was feeling really bad I could just turn around early and get a 50 mile finish? I had not made a FINAL decision before leaving for South Dakota.
Day before the race
Heather was also running, so I asked her if she would be willing to drive (so I could sleep on the way back) if I paid for the hotel. She picked A and I up around 8 am Friday morning for the drive up to South Dakota. The drive was pretty uneventful after we got out of the metro area. We stopped in the fabulous town of Lusk, Wyoming for lunch at The Pizza Place. No, really, that was the name. It was so delicious!
|BBQ chicken individual pizza - yes I finished it all|
|A says "pondering what it would like to be POTUS"|
|I captioned this one "looking up the noses of our forefathers"|
I had researched places to eat (ok, breweries) before arriving, and we were disappointed to find out that the Sick & Twisted brewery wasn't REALLY in Custer. Womp, womp. With everyone in town for the race, there were long lines at all the restaurants, so we decided to check in at our hotel and see what else was in the area. We ended up going to a small bar & grill down the street that had a live band. Food was good and there wasn't a wait. Score.
After getting all my gear race-ready, A and I went down to the pool so I could sit in the hot tub and try to loosen up. We had plans to be in bed by 9:30 or 10 since we had an early wake up.
I slept HORRIBLY. It was too warm in the room, and I was sharing a bed with A - who was super fidgety. I tossed and turned all night, not falling completely asleep until probably 2:30. Needless to say, I did NOT wake up refreshed.
We had planned on about 20 minutes to get ready and head out the door. The hotel had put out a few breakfast items for runners, but it was nothing I would eat race day (yogurt and fruit), so I just grabbed a cup of coffee and we headed over to the start. We checked in at the track and then sat in the car until it was almost time to go. It was nice that the track had indoor bathrooms that we could use. The race started on the track, with a 3/4 loop before heading onto the trail.
Heather and I lined up in the back and planned to run together until she turned around at mile 15.6 for the 50k.
|At the start line|
|Not something you expect to see on a race course!|
|My "I'm feeling pretty good at mile 20" selfie|
Already can't remember SO MUCH from the run. The aid station just before the 50 mile turnaround had "breakfast all day" - so I grabbed a pancake and some bacon. Might have been the best thing I've ever gotten from an aid station. When I got to the turnaround I kept going... Tried to text Heather, but I didn't have any cell phone service.
|I guess I'll keep going?|
|Cow on course. I named this one "Plays With Laser Pointers" (If you haven't heard my story about this, you won't get it)|
I took lots of pictures of these mile markers - they was one at every mile.
|The last mile marker before I turned around|
When I got to Rochford aid station where my warmer clothes were, I changed out of my skirt and into tights, put on a long sleeve (which in hindsight, I may have packed something thicker), and then put my skirt back on OVER since I had so much crap in my pockets. I also swapped out my Brooks for the Hokas, thinking they would make my feet feel better with the amount of walking I would likely be doing. I was REALLY glad to have the warmer clothes. Especially during my longer bouts of walking, I got pretty cold. It was extra nice to have a jacket with a hood, as that helped keep me warmer as well.
Almost immediately, I regretted my shoe choice. I haven't run more than a half in the Hokas and the tops of my feet felt like they were rubbing. The good news was the bottoms felt fine? I just hoped that I wouldn't get any blisters, as I didn't have another pair of shoes in my later drop bag.
Tuned into my iPod (one headphone only) around 10 pm. It was a nice distraction, but wow, I really need to change my play list. I have heard all of these songs like a hundred billion times. This part of the race is really a blur. It was dark. I was by myself. I hallucinated seeing people/animals right and left. And I was INCREDIBLY tired. I found myself blinking just a little too long and was "drunk" running and swerving all over the trail. Sometime around midnight I made the decision to sit on one of the benches and take a two minute nap. It actually helped just to rest my eyes for a minute (and yes, I set an alarm so I didn't accidentally fall asleep). Of course the problem with doing THAT was that I couldn't stop thinking about taking another break. About an hour later, I did allow myself another two minute nap. Goodness, how was I going to get through this??
Made it to Horse Creek and was in and out of the aid station, only pulling a stretchier pair of gloves out of my drop bag. And then the confusion started. I had been walking/running a slower pace than I planned and I got super confused with cutoffs and how long I had to finish. My headlamp was pretty dim and I realized it was because my batteries were dying. I used the flashlight on my phone so I could change the batteries, which took forever because I kept putting them in the wrong way. Once I had the headlamp brighter I got my second wind. This section of the course was also downhill a bit so I did quite a bit of running, which was totally unlike the last time I ran 100 miles when I pretty much walked the last 40 or so miles.
I also warmed up when I was running and was more alert, so that all helped a ton. I still was trying to do the math with how much time I had left, and all of a sudden I was convinced that I was not going to meet the cutoff. Still running, still trying to not be grumpy.
Arrived at Hill City aid station very early, before 7 am. Apparently I had forgotten to turn off the flashlight, as when I finally was able to text Heather to give her a better ETA and let her know that I was not dead, but my phone pretty much was. I sat down briefly at the aid station by the fire pit because I was pretty cold (risky), had some broth with potatoes, then headed out. From the aid station I knew I "only" had 15.5 miles to go. However, that seems really far at this stage of a race. The sun was just coming up, it was really cold, and I was back to feeling tired. I needed another nap. This time I couldn't wait for a bench, so I sat on a rock and closed my eyes for another 2 minutes. A runner came up behind me and said "you can't quit now, no sleeping!" I appreciated the concern and told him I had an alarm set.
Back to run/walking since I was so freaked out about the cutoffs. My lower back was beginning to ache from the weight/placement of my pack. I kept stopping to stretch out my back and calves, as they were incredibly tight. Finally, when I arrived at the second to last aid station, I realized I was being ridiculous and that I had obviously been miscalculating my time/pace. Whoops. But what I *had* accomplished was running a lot faster than I expected, meaning, I might even be able to PR this race!!
And then... the hill. Remember that glorious downhill that we had from mile 8 all the way to Hill City (mile 15.5)? Well, about mile 92 is when the climbing started. HOLY CRAP. I am sure the hill wasn't even that steep, but I'm telling you, it was like climbing Mt. Everest. I actually got passed by a few people on this climb because I was moving slow, my back hurt, etc.
When I saw Crazy Horse, I knew it was flat/downhill all the way to the finish. As soon as we got to the plateau, the sun came out and it was approximately eleventy billion degrees. I had to take off all my layers and apply sunscreen as we had gone from Antarctica to the surface of the sun in approximately 2 minutes. While I was happy for it to have warmed up, the chafing in my arm quickly started to hurt again without the long sleeve layer.
At the last aid station a wonderful volunteer put some neosporin under my arm/sports bra, which helped alleviate some of the pain. Bless you, awesome volunteer!
From here, only 4.4 miles to the finish. FOUR POINT FOUR OF THE LONGEST MILES EVER. Again, at least it was downhill. I ran a lot of it, but with the sun being so hot and me being so tired, I was obviously not progressing as fast as I wanted. I did pass another runner in the last two miles, and he looked WAY more miserable than I did. I had a runner in front of me that I was keeping within eyesight to see where he would turn for to enter the track.
I texted Heather to let her know I was coming in substantially earlier than expect. I could see A and Heather sitting in the bleachers when I got close. I took a walk break before I entered the parking lot and then A came to join me for my 3/4 loop on the track. She was so happy to see me and told me "run, Mommy!! You are first in your age group, I checked!!" I ran into the finish line with a PR.
|Thank you, Heather, for a sweet finish line pic!|
Garmin Time - 28:18:10 (not sure how I'm so far off from official, but still a PR, so I'm cool)
Overall Place - 35/44
Gender Place - 7/12
Division Place - 1/2
There were 26 people that DNF'd, including my friend Kate :(
A and Heather had brought me my flip flops (THANK YOU THANK YOU), and I sat down on a bench while A very kindly took off my shoes and socks. She should get her own award for that. We spent about 20 minutes at the finish line, cheering for a few more runners as they came in, then decided to go to the hotel room so I could shower and pack before the awards ceremony at 12:30.
We packed, cleaned up the room and I showered. They had some leftover pizza that I snacked on, and then we headed back over to the track for awards. I got my FIRST PLACE age group award (seriously, I never podium, this was damn exciting) and my second buckle.
|Accepting my AG award from the race director|
|All the 100 mile finishers that stuck around for awards|
|Heather got first in her AG in the 50k and of course too! Winner winners, chicken dinners!|
- Where to begin?? This was an incredible experience for many reasons.
- The race director is wonderful with communication. I had emailed him a few weeks prior to the event asking what I would need to do to drop distance if I chose to, and he was very responsive.
- The course was very well marked. The trail itself is marked every mile with markers and signage, but in the few places where there could be confusion there were very clear signs of where to go.
- Some of the best volunteers/aid stations I have ever experienced!! They were all very quick to ask what I needed, fill bottles, get food for me, it was just awesome. At one aid station in the middle of the night, a volunteer asked how I was feeling. When I said "tired," he got me a cup of coffee (I'm assuming out of their own personal coffee stash).
- The "breakfast all day" aid station was fantastic. I wish I would have had time to sit and eat some eggs or something, but it really hit the spot.
- Since I'm still pretty new to extremely long distances, I liked that the trail was not super technical. It gave me a lot of confidence during the night to be able to run without fear of tripping over roots or rocks, or falling off a cliff.
- Course is beautiful. Lots of trees, meadows, rivers, wildlife.
- Speaking of wildlife... I saw ELEVENTY BILLION deer. The freakiest is seeing them at night. The way their eyes reflect in a headlamp is kind of terrifying. Other than that, did not see any mountain lions or snakes, so that was nice.
- The belt buckle is pretty cool, but obviously, the highlight for me is my giant age group award. I will treasure that forever!
- The best thing about this race was that I did it ALONE. I did not have a pacer or a crew, and I got it done - and faster than the only other 100 mile run I've completed. I had some "inner demons" to battle, and I'm super proud of myself for getting through this without quitting. It helped a lot to have A tell me "Mommy, you can do anything!" - I totally believed her and kept repeating that to myself.
- This race is gradually increasing in size, but it's really got something for everyone. There is a 100 mile, 50 mile, 50k and 30k, as well as a relay. It's been on my list of races for a while, and I absolutely don't regret going for it.