Saturday, August 20
Weather - Warm/hot during the day, cold at night
Surprise... I literally signed up to run this race at packet pick-up less than 24 hours before the race start. I'll start at the beginning. Steph had messaged me a while back and asked if I might be interested in pacing her for the back 50. It was before Fat Dog
so I told her I would have to wait and see how that went and then I'd let her know. Well obviously Fat Dog was a complete disaster and I didn't finish, so I messaged her and told her that should be fine. Well then about 10 days (?) before the race she messaged me to say that her husband was no longer going to be able to go with her (as crew), and could I crew AND pace. Sure, I said, no problem. Of course now the issue was that she was going to be flying into Rapid City on Friday, and I had planned on driving up early Saturday morning. In a crazy turn of events, it turns out that flights in Rapid City from Denver are SUPER inexpensive (less than two weeks out and it was only $217 round trip!) Needless to say, we jumped on that, and I was committed to helping Steph get a redemption buckle.
Steph's flight had landed before mine, but the Rapid City airport is TINY, and I found her near baggage claim with no issues. We opted to stop in town after picking up the rental to have lunch before heading to Custer. We stopped at a little Mexican restaurant, and I had a delicious plate of cheese enchiladas. Yum!
The drive to Custer was uneventful, and QUICK. Like from the restaurant, maybe 40-45 minutes. We decided to head right to the YMCA to pick up her bib. Right as we were getting out of the car, I notice that Ryan and Kelly had just pulled in. Small world!
There were some tables set up with merchandise and I noticed that the buckle was different from when I ran it in 2016 - it looked so nice and shiny! They asked if we were both running, and I said no, I'm pacing the back half, I've already run this one. The race director suggests that I just sign up and then I can get the new "and improved" buckle. I tell him that's totally crazy, and he insists I can just sign up right there. Steph seems to think it'll be great, and so... ok. I guess I am going to do this. I will have no drop bags, and only what I brought with me to do 50 miles, but I figure, hey, what's the worst that can happen?
Jandy, Troy, Lisa and Maureen were at the Mt. Rushmore Brewery down the street and we walked over to meet them there.
I had a few beers and then we headed back up to Hill City where we were staying so we could check into our hotel room. We eventually decided we were going to walk to the pizza place down the street - and it was delicious. Picked up some essentials at the gas station, and then it was bedtime maybe around 10.
So surprise... I now have to ensure that I have everything I need to run 100 miles. I think I have enough LMNT, and I had brought chargers, etc., just no Kogalla, but I figure with this not being a technical course, it's probably not necessary anyway. With a noon start, we didn't have to get up early at all, which was nice. Took our time getting ready - including braiding our hair and having breakfast at the hotel. Finally, around 10:30, we decided to just head to the start. We went to the YMCA to confirm the finish was still at the track and NOT the YMCA, then drove to the track to leave the car there. It was maybe a half mile walk back to the school, then it was just time to use the bathroom a bunch of times and chat with people.
The cat was finally out of the bag that I was running the whole thing, haha. Jandy, Lisa and Mo came to see us off, and a gal that ran Palisades recognized me and said we could use her crew if we needed anything at all.
We "lined up" on the street (with no banner or start line) and then the countdown started. Well, this was/is probably the most stupid and spontaneous thing I've done (at least for a REALLY long time), but here we go...
There was a slight course change from previous years, in that we actually had to run on the road for a bit before connecting with the trail. We had plans to walk the climbs and Steph wanted to run by heart rate, trying to keep under 150 bpm since she's been struggling with Covid recovery.
The early miles seemed to go fairly quick since we were running a decent amount. It was already getting hot. Steph was enamored with the scenery and we definitely took a fair amount of pictures.
The first aid station came pretty quick, but all they had was liquids - Steph had to take a minute to mix her own Heed, then we were on our way.
I had built up the hill by Crazy Horse to be pretty steep, so by the time we got there we were looking forward to a nice downhill. It didn't seem to be as bad as I remembered, but I tried to make a mental note of how far that would be from the finish line. This section really just seemed like a blur. We hit the second aid station around mile 11. I filled my flasks and took some watermelon. We quickly headed out.
We were helping time pass by trying to count the number of bridges and benches. Spoiler, it's REALLY hard to focus on that and not lose track!
For having run this before, I really could hardly remember ANYTHING. Steph had been looking for race reports before the race and she was disappointed that none of them really addressed the trail - so I will try to do that here. Other than the first half mile that was either on the road or paved path, it was ALL dirt/crushed gravel - with the EXCEPTION of maybe 3/4 of a mile (if that) in the town of Hill City. Which, ironically, we were staying at the Holiday Inn Express that was literally located across the street from where we would rejoin the dirt part of the trail! Anyway, one other thing I will note, that on the trail itself, I thought it was strange that there were no trash cans. Maybe there were at trailheads, but it seemed odd to me that there weren't any on the actual trail. Anyway, one of the only other things I vividly remembered was this little library! And I actually was within probably a tenth of a mile when I said it was "coming up soon." Haha.
The other thing I didn't seem to really remember was that on the way out it was mostly a gradual uphill. That of course meant that the way back would mostly be downhill, but the constant "up" meant less running and more walking. I was fine with that, but Steph seemed agitated about how high her heart was getting with just fast walking.
Thanks to running this previously, I had pictures that showed me roughly when we would start seeing the tunnels, and I of course had to take pictures of them again. That little bit of shade was SO appreciated! Since this wasn't actually a planned race, I was going in somewhat blind in terms of how far away aid stations actually were. I hadn't realized that in the middle we would have some relatively "long" distances between them - up to just under 8 miles.
After having done 200s, these still seemed really close together. We left the Red Fern aid station and had a rather lovely nice downhill section into the Mystic aid station - which did look vaguely familiar to me. I had taken a screenshot of Steph's pace chart, and she had noted what time sunset and twilight would be, so I put on my headlamp around 8:00, although I didn't need it right away.
|Pretty sure this bench wasn't here the last time I did this!|
I took the below picture at 8:15 - still not quite dark enough to need a headlamp, although it looks that way. We were really struggling in this section with BUGS. I assume they were gnats or something, but they were constantly swarming our faces, it was so annoying!
Finally had to turn on my headlamp about 2 miles before the next aid station, so maybe around 8:30 pm. The next aid statin was Rochford, and we had some instant mashed potatoes and broth. Stayed here probably longer than we wanted to, but we had another long stretch coming up so we needed eat. I made my first bottle of Beach Body - hoping to stay on top of my caffeine so I wouldn't be too tired. While Steph was in the bathroom I was helping a runner with some blister powder.
I really don't remember much of the night section after this. We had another aid station that I really can't remember at all, and then we were on to the turnaround at mile 50.4. Course was longer on the way out because of the extra half mile we did at the start to get to the trail. Another aid station where we stayed a lot longer than I wanted to. I was already getting pretty burned out on the food options - they were the same at all aid stations, sadly. At this one I managed to choke down about 2/3 of a grilled cheese sandwich, and of course the instant potatoes that would be the staple food item. The race director was at the turnaround and said he had been looking for me and that he was happy I was out there, haha.
We had arrived at the turnaround around 12:45 into the race (I think), and I was really thinking at this point that MAYBE I could get a course PR...
Like in all races though, of course things went "wrong." It was definitely chilly out, and since I wasn't planning on running the whole thing originally, I had figured that just a thin long sleeve and my R1 would suffice. It DID, but it was cold. Steph doesn't do well in the cold, so we weren't even running that much, even though the temperatures were great for it. I can't recall exactly WHEN, but I did get really tired at some point, maybe around 4 am, and I was really struggling. I slowed down a bit and was yawning a TON.
Other than being really tired, I felt really good, until at some point my lower back was just aching. I don't know if it is because I don't normally RUN this long with such a full pack, but it bothered me for a bit. Finally put some topical ointment on it and then it seemed to loosen it.
We had started over at the turnaround our bridge count, so that was helping keep us occupied as well. About the time we got back to Mystic is when I think I finally started to feel better and more awake. We got more food here, although still the same old stuff, so it wasn't exactly satisfying. People for the 30 mile run were just getting dropped off at the aid station, because their race started at 8:00 am. We headed out around 7:15. It was a long climb out of the aid station, wanting it to be sunny and warm - all while realizing that as soon as it DID get warm, we were going to regret it. So even though we were climbing, we were trying to walk quickly - we wanted OFF this course.
Started to warm up a lot at this point, and our lack of fueling was catching up. We had a semi-long stop planned at Red Fern so we could get our shit together, and Steph wanted to change shirts and possibly change shoes. This was also my favorite aid station BECAUSE THEY HAD BEER. I sat in the shade, drank my beer and ate a piece of bacon. This is also when Maureen caught up to us! She actually stayed a few minutes and had some beer with us before heading out.
The next section - another long 8 miles back to Hill City was probably our best executed. We set up a run walk and knocked out I think 6 miles in the 12-13 minute pace range! It was downhill and semi-shaded and actually relatively pleasant!
Things really kinda fell apart for Steph when we got back to Hill City. We walked all the part in town and then wanted to be fast at the aid station, but they were basically out of everything. We had to reapply sunscreen and get SOMETHING in calorie wise. I tried to eat a cookie but it grossed me out after one bit. Finally we grabbed some Hammer gels (BARF) because we knew we needed something. The next 10 or so miles were slow, exposed and miserable. It was a gradual uphill so we weren't really running and Steph was definitely starting to overheat. I was starting to realize we weren't going to hit that time goal of around 28 hours, which was fine, but man, I was feeling pretty good and just wanted to be done.
So leaving Hill City was hot. And exposed. At the Orville aid station I was finally smart enough to tie my buff at both ends with ice in the middle. That cooled me down a LOT. I also put ice in my hat, which also helped. I wasn't sure how steep the climb to Crazy Horse actually was, but I knew it was coming. We did lose a decent amount of time here, every time there was any bit of shade we would stop for a minute. But we were so close! Just that last climb, and then the last aid station, and I knew it was downhill into the finish.
We got to the last aid station and we had to spend a lot of time there. Steph desperately needed to lower her core temperature and needed fuel. The aid station managed to find some chocolate milk, plus we were able to put some wet paper towels on her and got her cooled down. We wanted to get out of there. I was hoping that we would start a run/walk right away, but she wanted to walk for a bit more. Finally, with about three miles to go, she was ready to grit her teeth through all the pain and discomfort and we did intervals. I was REALLY impressed with how much she worked to get through these last few miles. We actually passed a guy with a few miles to go and I tried to get him to do intervals with us but he fell back.
My watch was over on distance, so I wasn't really sure when we were going to be done, but we knew there was some flagging that would direct us towards the track. Finally, it looked like we could see someone sitting by the trail, and then... Maureen! She got a great picture of us getting ready to head into the track.
We decided to walk until we got on the track. I had told her that since this was her race, I would let her cross right before me - and I did. I am so happy we both finished! And we ran the ENTIRE race together.
Right after crossing, I was told I was the age group winner! Fun fact, last time I ran, I was 7th female and age group winner. Same exact thing this time, but I got a blanket instead of a cool trophy. Still neat though!!
Official Time - 28:50:51
Garmin Distance - 101.46
Garmin Time - 28:50:43
Garmin Pace - 17:04 (7:46:52 running, 17:57:25 walking, 3:06:26 idle - way longer than I normally do)
Overall Place - 44/54
Gender Place - 7/16
Miles 1-5 - 12:41, 13:10, 14:09, 14:18, 15:03
Miles 6-10 - 13:54, 12:13, 12:14, 12:25, 12:32
Miles 11-15 - 20:35, 12:54, 12:31, 13:16, 12:44
Miles 16-20 - 20:10, 14:03, 14:53, 14:27, 15:48
Miles 21-25 - 15:40, 14:19, 14:41, 23:30, 12:21
Miles 26-30 - 13:22, 12:19, 13:19, 12:03, 12:43
Miles 31-35 - 21:08, 13:29, 14:20, 14:32, 14:07
Miles 36-40 - 13:58, 14:47, 14:15, 33:04, 14:24
Miles 41-45 - 14:08, 15:31, 14:15, 14:48, 20:06
Miles 46-50 - 15:55, 15:12, 16:05, 14:46, 14:33
Miles 51-55 - 32:55, 14:34, 13:36, 13:43, 14:01
Miles 56-60 - 13:39, 23:44, 17:54, 15:24, 14:53
Miles 61-65 - 14:22, 16:00, 22:34, 31:16, 17:34
Miles 66-70 - 20:19, 18:31, 18:53, 22:48, 16:16
Miles 71-75 - 16:50, 23:32, 23:05, 18:28, 17:07
Miles 76-80 - 16:35, 14:53, 17:09, 33:37, 13:28
Miles 81-85 - 13:51, 13:09, 13:11, 13:15, 13:56
Miles 86-90 - 16:28, 29:50, 17:30, 22:13, 18:49
Miles 91-95 - 22:09, 30:56, 20:36, 20:59, 21:29
Miles 96-100 - 24:05, 19:33, 28:34, 15:01, 14:39
Miles 101-102 - 14:21, 14:07
Supposedly the high temperature was 95 and the low was 44.6. Quite the fluctuation!
*By the way - we counted 67 bridges on the way out, and 66 on the way back. We don't even actually know how many there really were, but interesting we were at least close.
Immediately after finishing we just wanted to sit in the shade and have something cold to drink. We sat there until Jandy and Lisa finished their 50 miler. We really did want to get out of there to get some real food, so I collected all of Steph's drop bags and we went back to the brewery. I had one beer and then we wanted to head back to Hill City. Unfortunately, with it being Sunday night, our food options were really limited. We ended up just picking up stuff at the gas station, so I had some beer, a random BBQ chicken sandwich and a bag of spicy chips. We were able to stay awake until maybe 9:30.
- This is the first time I've ever repeated a 100 mile run. I always said that I would never do that, but let's be real, I wasn't even planning on running. It may have been a "good" thing that I had done this before because it helped me mentally to know that there was nothing truly terrible coming up on the course.
- I love, love, love the new buckle. It's so pretty!!
- Other swag was meh. No race shirt this time, instead a small towel (?) - only the packaging is race branded.
- The aid stations were really pretty pathetic. The early ones before dark had one flavor of chips, pretzels, and cookies. They did at least always have watermelon, but that's not exactly a calorie dense food. At night it was ramen, broth and instant potatoes. Once in a while grilled cheese or quesadillas, and of course the pb&j. And a handful of gels. I don't know what the answer is for "better" food options, but this all was really hard to choke down towards the end. Thankfully, after the catastrophe at Antelope, I've really worked to convince myself that food is food and aid station food isn't actually supposed to be "good" or something to look forward to.
- The course is actually great, and honestly you really can't get lost on it. It is not technical at all. There may be a few rocks, occasional pine cones, and we saw a total of three small snakes. Otherwise, you could probably do this with at least one eye closed and be fine.
- Would I run this again? I'll say no, now that I've done it twice, but who knows, I'm fairly easily convinced into doing crazy things.
Gear Used (top to bottom):
- Bula fleece-lined hat at night
- Rabbit "Runnr" hat during the day
- Goodr sunglasses
- Rabbit buff on my wrist
- Ultraspire Zygos 5.0 pack with two soft flasks, no bladder
- Rabbit EZ Runners Roost tee
- Zensah high neck sports bra
- Garmin Fenix 6S
- INKnBURN skirt
- Zensah crew socks
- Overnight - Patagonia R1 and Smartwool liner gloves and 1/
- Topo Ultraventure 2 with gaiters
- Petzl headlamp. Batteries actually made it all the way through the night (maybe 8-9 hours), and they weren't even new ones when I started. Crazy.
- One small battery pack. Used to charge my watch and then Steph used it to charge hers. 80%+ of battery left after both those charges. My phone battery never needed to be charged because I left it in airplane mode the entire race unless I was in Hill City.
- I had brought Jaybird Vista headphones but never used them! Longest race I've ever done without at least a little bit of music.
- Sunscreen - it's HOT AND EXPOSED. Chapstick - I used this probably a dozen times.
- LMNT (Raspberry flavored)
- Base salt