Friday, October 7
Weather - Chilly, better than expected
Once I completely messed up my entire season after failing to complete Antelope Canyon 100, I was unable to run Vermont 100 because I no longer had a qualifier. That meant that I needed to re-shift my focus on a new goal race for the year. At the time, I didn't really have much on schedule, so I settled on this race.
The training that I did leading up to this race was very different than what I have done in the past. Yes, I ran the miles/time, but I was doing almost all of it as zone 1 and zone 2 running. That has historically been next to impossible for me to do as my heart rate seems to elevate very fast. Anyway, I was feeling as prepared as I could be going into this race. My personal life is still a shit show, so mentally, I was worried about this.
For some ungodly reason, this race has a 10:00 pm start. (Actually, I assume the reason for the start time is they added the 125 distance in 2020 and I assume they want to keep the finish line times the same).
As you can tell from the start line picture, there were NOT many of us signed up for the 125 mile distance. I knew coming into this race that as long as I finished, I'd at least be top 3 female, haha. Anyway, we were all smiles at the start line. A brief countdown and I'd accidentally reset my watch, so I had to wait for my route to load before I could start.
Within seconds I was in the back of this "very large" pack of runners. I had planned on setting up intervals, but I wanted to get a bit of running in first. I think I got about a mile in before I started them. I started with a 2:30/:45 interval (I think). This was completely intentional so that I would (hopefully) not blow up too soon with too much running.
The section on the road was very short and we turned onto the gravel roads that would be the majority of the course. Thankfully I had decided (last minute) to leave my puffy coat in the car. I was layered with a Rabbit EZ tee, Patagonia Airshed (that I discovered was basically indispensable after Cocodona) and my Patagonia R1. Strangely, it was even too warm for gloves!
I passed the one of the other females, Lynne, within the first two miles. I never did see her again the rest of the race. For most of the early miles I would leapfrog with the guy in the neon yellow shirt, red vest and sun hat - although we didn't talk.
The early miles flew by. I opted to wear headphones as I hoped it would keep me awake and more alert. The Kogalla was bright and there wasn't anything I was going to trip over.
The first aid station was over 8 miles in, Battle Creek. It was set up, but the tent cover was zipped up and I didn't see drop bags. Hmmm. I wasn't really expecting that. Kept going. A few miles down the road I really wished that I had stopped to use the bathroom. Grrr. The hills were starting to appear, and they were definitely bigger than I imagined. Up, down, up, down.
Looked like we were finally approaching a small town. This was the first time seeing the roving aid station near Lapland at almost 16 miles. Mary, a gal I follow on Strava, was manning the aid station. I grabbed a fruit cup.
Off I went towards the next aid station around mile 23. I don't remember much of this section. I think we were in a rural area. I remember some houses and dogs barking, but at night everything really looks the same. Same roving aid station. This time, I was able to have some cold brew. Yum, yum!! That was quite lovely.
Off I went towards the small town of Eureka. It was at this point that I realized... this isn't marked. I didn't notice at what point the course stopped being marked, but it must have been when we veered off at Lapland. We start heading into town and it looks like there are multiple ways to go and... no signage. THANKFULLY, I had loaded the .gpx into my watch. Apparently Ben had not renewed our Gaia and I wasn't able to pull up the maps without phone service.
This section went fast for me, although I was constantly looking at my watch to make sure I was on course. WTF, why would this not be flagged at all?!?
I really liked that it was paved, it felt good on my feet and I was moving well through here. A few turns and then suddenly on Main Street. It was early morning and there were a decent number of cars on the road. I see Mary in the street showing the turn for Cake Batter Batter, the next aid station. Again, just the moving aid station. I grabbed part of a hummus and ham wrap and was eating as I left the aid station. A few more turns and then heading north to Eureka Lake. There were some hills here, some traffic, and a narrow shoulder.
The nice, paved road finally changed over to dirt and I was wondering when we were going to see the next aid station. It should have been around 37 miles. Nothing... finally another runner came up to me and asked if I needed anything because the aid station had been a no show! Yikes!! I was thankfully doing ok.
The sun was finally starting to come up. I had survived the night without getting too tired!
|This is not the section I was on, but the professional photographer captured the sunrise much better than I did on my iPhone|
We had one more visit from Mary and the roving aid station around 43 miles in. More delicious cold brew.
This section was pretty nice, it was winding gravel roads, some climbs, lots of cows. Made a turn and came across an unmanned water station, wooo! That meant that the course had finally met up with the 100 miler and maybe I wouldn't need the map again.
Saw my first photographer of the day here.
I got passed for the first time by a woman (I'm assuming a 100 miler? Maybe 100k?) in this section. She looked so fresh! Nothing remarkable in this section, and we made a sharp 90 degree left turn and I could see the mile 50 aid station. It was starting to get warm and I was looking forward to shedding some layers. I came out of the port-o-potty and realized that Lisa was in the medical tent and unsure if she was going to be continuing. She had taken a nasty fall and was debating if it was smart to keep going.
That lit a fire. I put on some sunscreen but think I forgot to get food. All I know is I ran out of that aid station. Ohmygod I'm first female right now? I did a lot of dumb things over the next few hours. Too much running, I just wanted to maintain my lead a bit, just in case she decided to keep going. It was only about 6 miles to Texaco Hill.
I remember filling up water, having some pickles, maybe part of a sandwich? I think actually a piece of candy here. Then it was on to Ridgeline. My mind is a blank for this segment. I came into Ridgeline at the 100k mark in 14:57. That is HUGE PR for me in that distance. The only time I've run even close to that pace was the 100k mark of Boulder 100 - a race where I also blew up towards the end. Oops. This wasn't going to end well.
This section was fairly tough for me mentally. It seemed like a gradual climb and I got passed by a decent number of runners in shorter distances. I knew they weren't running what I was, but it was somewhat demoralizing. AND IT WAS HOT. OHMYGOD IT GOT HOT. I ended up trying to use the stick of sunscreen I usually only use on my face on my arms and neck so I wouldn't get burned.
Finally we were heading to Matfield Green. This was my "major" drop bag. I had put in a waist belt in case I wanted to drop my pack, and I had a change of shoes. I ended up not using anything out of there because I still felt relatively ok, and decided I would spend the next few sections deciding if I would want stuff on the way back.
We crossed over the highway, and then it was seemingly endless climbing to Tower, an unmanned aid station. The best part of this section is that it was only a few miles from there to Lone Tree - THE TURNAROUND!! Of course the turnaround for me was actually 75 miles in. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out why it was so "far" away. Where is this aid station?
I finally see it, down a switchback (eyeroll). The volunteers here are so kind though (like all of them, really). They have different food! I grab a burger. It isn't great, but it's something other than peanut butter and jelly or ham and hummus. (Related - ever since the aid station snafu at Antelope Canyon, I've really been working hard to just be grateful they are there and take whatever calories I can, because I just need fuel. Funny how the mindset has made this all more bearable).
"Just" 50 miles to go, and I know I have time. Lots of time. I also am starting to feel NOT great. My feet hurt fairly bad from the constant impact on sharp rocks.
I get passed by more runners in this section. Grab water at Tower, and then I try to do some running down to Matfield Green and I just am not feeling it. I decide I don't need to change shoes. I just need some food and to get my Kogalla ready to go for night two, which means I need new batteries as well.
I wasn't especially looking forward to another night out, but I was looking forward to it not being so hot. Did I forget to mention that there was a full moon? I couldn't get a really good picture of it with my phone, but it was pretty!
Basically the moment the sun started to set, I got EXHAUSTED. All of a sudden, I could NOT keep my eyes open. I didn't want to take a trail nap. The gravel was sharp and pointy, plus the road was open to traffic. OH, AND IT WAS OPEN RANGE FOR THE COWS. The 6 miles back to Ridgeline were such a struggle. I posted on Facebook asking for advice on staying awake. I was listening to music, but it wasn't distracting me. I put on Jingle Cats, and that was silly for a bit, but didn't really help. Kristin gave me a call and a pep talk that helped get me to the Ridgeline aid station. I hit the 100 mile distance in a new PR of 26:50.
Once I got there I still had a staggering 37 miles to go. I asked the volunteer where I could take a nap and he indicated that wouldn't be possible because they didn't have any blankets and I would freeze. I was definitely on the verge of tears. What was I going to do?? Luckily one of the volunteers had a Monster in their vehicle and offered it to me. I never drink energy drinks, but I was desperate. I was telling them how desolate and lonely it was. They saw a headlamp!!
A guy comes in and I basically assault him - "can you please leave this aid station with me??" He was asking for an iPhone cable, which I said I would happily let him use if he would walk with me for a bit so I would have some company.
And that's how I ended up spending 12ish hours (?) with Shannon.
The next 6 miles actually were ok. The Monster helped me stay awake and Shannon and I had some good conversation. We came into Texaco Hill and got more food. They had some delicious tomato soup. SERIOUSLY SO GOOD. My throat was starting to hurt from all the dust and I had developed a cough like I did in Tahoe. After my pack got soaked at Fat Dog I neglected to put cough drops back in, sadly. The soup did help. Don't remember much else about this section. We had great conversation about Netflix (mainly the new Dahlmer series), our families, races we have run, etc.
I kept getting SO TIRED though. I had not struggled at all the fist night, but nearly being up for two days was definitely taking it's toll on me. The clouds out there were SO trippy. I definitely spent time seeing things that weren't there in the sky.
Came into Teterville aid station and I made the decision to swap out my Topos for some Hokas, thinking the extra cushion would make my feet feel better. Probably not the best choice, but it is what it is. The next three segments were all 8+ miles, which made my head hurt. As we were leaving some younger guys asked how we were and I said I was dying of the sleepies. He offered me something called "Ignite" that had caffeine in it. SURE, I'LL TAKE THAT. Shannon joked that it was like we were doing some sort of drug deal in the desert. It tasted good, and it kept me awake, but wow, everything looked like it was shapeshifting.
Came into Lapland, the second to last aid station, and I knew that meant the hills were coming. In the dark it looked like the old matchbox car tracks where the cars would literally go sideways up walls. I entertained Shannon with asking if things were really how I was seeing them. Like some of the gravel looked like there were things painted on them. That was not real. Apparently.
FINALLY, the sun was coming up. I was going to make it?! Unfortunately, we still had HOURS to go. Official sunrise was technically 7 am, but that was just when it started to get bright.
We made it to Battle Creek. Only 9 miles from here. But at our pace, that meant 3 more hours and I was tired. No caffeine here. Two runners came in after us and the older guy was emptying his drop bag and HE had a Monster with triple java or something and offered it to me. OF COURSE, SURE, I AM TAKING EVERYTHING ON THIS COURSE. It definitely helped, so thank you!
We entertained ourselves the last bit talking about how neither of us could see the appeal to doing this multiple times. Turns out the older guy that gave me the Monster? This was his 19th time running this. 19. Whaaaattttt.
It finally seems like we are almost there. We can see the blue Cassoday tower in the distance, but I warn Shannon that it's really probably 20 miles away. For some reason, when I loaded the .gpx for this race in my watch it was actually counting down how far away the finish was - I've never had a race map do that, so I pulled it up and we were somewhat religiously watching it. Finally we are close. We get to the pavement and we know it's less than a mile to the community center. We had heard there was someone behind us, so we joked that we hoped he got stopped by the train if he was close.
After staying with me for 37(!!!!) miles, Shannon told me to run ahead so I could have a solo finisher picture. Holy shit, this was finally over!!!!!!
|Fist bump from Shannon|
And just like that, everything was over. I am totally out of it, but am handed a buckle and I go inside, where I am given the 1st place female trophy. IS THIS COOL OR WHAT?!
I'm also given a finisher jacket. (If anyone from the race reads this, please offer these in male/female cuts. Unisex gear is no fun for women :( )
I'm immediately congratulated by Lisa and she gives me a big hug. Everything is a blur with people offering food and a chair. I decide on chili since it is the only food offered that is NOT aid station food. After the massage, I stick around for a bit and wait for drop bags. All but one has arrived, and since it only had nutrition I opted to leave it since I'm way too tired to wait any longer.
Official Time- 36:49:30
Overall Place - 4/5
Gender Place - 1/1
Garmin Time - 36:49:30
Garmin Distance - 126.73 miles
Elevation Gain - 5,690'
Miles 1-10 - 12:27, 12:40, 12:36, 13:06, 12:44, 12:37, 12:24, 12:09, 13:29, 13:52
Miles 11-20 - 13:01, 15:25, 12:52, 12:51, 13:50, 13:56, 13:08, 13:35, 13:26, 13:11
Miles 21-30 - 13:11, 13:56, 13:53, 17:47, 13:16, 13:29, 12:59, 13:42, 13:41, 13:13
Miles 31-40 - 13:19, 13:00, 16:27, 14:05, 13:56, 13:49, 14:08, 15:23, 15:20, 17:39
Miles 41-50 - 14:28, 15:59, 16:12, 23:21, 14:24, 15:46, 14:36, 15:22, 14:09, 14:52
Miles 51-60 - 21:48, 13:38, 13:54, 15:09, 14:01, 14:10, 18:39, 14:47, 14:01, 14:22
Miles 61-70 - 15:01, 15:47, 25:47, 15:09, 14:29, 14:35, 15:31, 15:09, 20:48, 15:14
Miles 71-80 - 16:20, 16:51, 15:41, 17:07, 15:03, 20:11, 18:25, 15:42, 16:49, 15:38
Miles 81-90 - 16:12, 16:52, 27:21, 16:26, 16:19, 17:10, 17:23, 17:39, 30:28, 19:15
Miles 91-100 - 18:53, 25:01, 21:05, 17:40, 41:27, 18:07, 18:06, 18:52, 18:33, 18:43
Miles 101-110 - 39:59, 18:55, 19:42, 19:20, 22:12, 19:30, 20:51, 20:25, 20:27, 32:07
Miles 111-120 - 20:22, 20:00, 21:51, 20:52, 19:16, 21:36, 21:23, 30:22, 20:02, 20:25
Miles 121-127 - 20:34, 24:44, 21:52, 24:05, 21:59, 21:41: 20:37
50k split - 6:57
50M split - 11:48
100k split - 14:57
100M split 26:49:58 (real life PR is 27:29:33 - so this is a lot faster, but not a *real* PR)
** ALL WATERMARKED PHOTOS ARE COURTESY OF MILE 90 PHOTOGRAPHY **
- I honestly signed up for this because there was a challenge to do back to back weekends of racing for a special "Sofa King Awesome" buckle. I registered for this one as soon as registration opened. When the other race was getting ready to open I read through the info and thought it sounded like it might be too challenging for me. I was already signed up, so I figured I would run it anyway.
- The 100 mile distance has been around since 2000, but the 125 was new in 2020. Honestly, I'm not really sure why the 125 distance was offered. There was very little support (I didn't realize I was basically doing the first 50 miles unsupported. No bathrooms, no course markings, only a couple of minimal aid stations and no access to drop bags.)
- Meh on the gear. Shirt is plain and sadly, unisex sizing. It's 2022. Why is this still a thing. Same thing with the finisher jacket :(
- The buckle is nice, and the finisher award is AWESOME. A+ on both of those.
- Aid stations were pretty minimal, but they were fine. The volunteers were 1000% amazing. Most of them are ultra runners or simply like to volunteer and seem to make the rounds to aid stations at races around the Midwest. They were all awesome.
- The course itself - ugggggghhhh. Ok, so it was actually pretty runnable. But all that gravel really takes a toll on your feet over time, and by the last 25-30 miles even jogging a few feet here and there was completely miserable.
- Most importantly, if you run this race - be aware that Cassoday is barely a blip on the map. THERE IS NOTHING THERE. Get anything you need for the race, food, gas, etc before you get there. There are ZERO amenities and the closest place is 20+ miles away.
- With that said, I'm really glad I did this and I think it was a good morale boost for Cowboy in November.