Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Kettle Moraine 100 (Race Recap)

LaGrange, WI
Saturday, June 8
100 mile attempt ?
Weather - overcast and humid, rain

Race Day

I had to get up at 4 am to ensure I had time to get ready and drive the estimated 35 minutes to the start line. I had tossed and turned all night and was up before the alarm.

Took a (very) quick shower because the water was absolutely freezing and took forever to warm up. Finished getting ready and got all my bags out the door. I threw my breakfast into the microwave in the lobby. Decided to take my bags to the car and drive to the door so I could leave right away. THE LOBBY DOORS LOCKED ON ME!!? Thankfully, there happened to be a janitor emptying the trash that let me back in. Not sure what I would've done otherwise since there was no one at the desk.

On the road by 4:35ish and, understandably, I was afraid of the GPS not working, and was somewhat relieved when I appeared to be following someone. Arrived to a really full lot at 5:15ish, and thankfully the way the volunteers were filling the spaces, I would be VERY close to the finish line.

Usual cycling through the bathroom line multiple times until it was a few minutes before the start and time to line up.

Start - Bluff (7.4)

I had been back and forth about whether or not I should bring poles. It was suggested that if it rained, poles would/might be helpful, although the general consensus was that there were no hills big enough to justify their use. Since I had flown Southwest, I figured I might as well bring them. With that said, I did NOT start with them, and I put them in my only drop bag, which was at Nordic, which I would not see again until roughly the 100k mark.

The start of the race is on faded, grassy trail. Per the norm, I started in the very back. I never did look behind me to see how many people there were, and that was probably a good thing. 
There was nothing too exciting for the first mile or two, and I was struck by how this "easy" pace was so slow. Every minute under an 18 is banking time, so I tried to not stress about it. I believe it was a few miles in before the rollers started. They did NOT feel that bad this early in the race, but I could see how they would not feel great many hours later.
I was a bit surprised to arrive at the first aid station sooner than expected, Tamarack. This is the only time this would happen in the race. I don't think I even topped off my bottle, but I did grab an orange cup, although it was hard to open and without a fork I ended up making a big mess trying to get any of it in my mouth. 

To interject here, there are a TON of aid stations at this race, hence all the choices I made in terms of pack size and water. I opted to use my favorite Salomon Adv Skin 8 pack, which is my daily pack. I like everything about it for shorter things, BUT, the pockets are NOT great for a race. Meaning, there are pouches in the front, one zipper pocket and then the big pocket in the back. Although most of it did not get used (and definitely some of it could have been placed at another drop bag), I carried my dry bag of electronics and my (ever-growing) medical stash. These items did bounce around in the big back pocket and I believe it was likely the small battery pack that contributed to my eventual horrific back chafing.

Onward.

Arrived at the Bluff aid station and used the bathroom - there were actually FOUR port-o-potties there (but I still had to wait). I definitely topped off bottles and I'm sure I grabbed food but I don't remember what. This was also the location of the first timing mat, which I apparently hit at 1:46:05, about dead on with my initial time "goal."

Bluff to Horseriders to Natalies to McMiller:

I have no idea what this was. I believe we climbed out of the aid station and moved onto the more single track trail. It was rockier and more narrow. I want to say I read somewhere that this would be the hardest part of the race, but I don't remember it being that bad. Somewhere along the way, my pace chart was way off, which I think messed with me a LOT going forward. Maybe there is something to be said about just being ignorant?
I don't know what Stone Elephant is, but I liked the sign.
The 100k runners started an hour after us, and I believe it was in this section between Horseriders and Natalies that I started to get passed by them. Probably annoying for them, but wasn't fun for me either. 
I cannot remember the Horseriders aid station at ALL. I think Natalies was the one by the road? I kept wondering where this "prairie" section would be, and then I figured we had finally arrived there. It was REALLY getting humid at this point and I was constantly having to adjust my shirt. We were back on the grassy trail area, and I was running a bit more here than I thought I would. Thankfully, with the cooler temperatures, this wasn't as awful as I had feared.
After leaving this area we ran behind a shooting area. It was pretty crazy. Felt like we were in the Hunger Games or something. 

I arrived at the McMiller aid station, just over the pace I hoped to maintain. Of course my mileage was already off, so I was getting discouraged. I was so happy to see Doug and Kristin! I used the bathroom and grabbed some food, including a banana, which Kristin felt the need to document since I hate them.
I left the McMiller aid station with 4:53:46. Just over the pace I hoped to be .

McMiller to Wilton to Hwy 67 to ZZ

I have no idea what this section was. At all. At some point, we were in the trees and there were some wooden bridges. 

The Wilton/Squatch aid station was at the edge of a dirt road. I had been running with an older gentleman and he had been lamenting about wanting a popsicle, and what do you know, they had some! I filled bottles and I think grabbed a granola bar before heading out. We had a straight, exposed area before turning and having more marshy (and moist) meadow areas.
I am pretty sure this is where I saw teammate Jeff, coming the other direction, which meant that he was like 15 miles ahead of me. At the time I think I did the math and thought it was less than that. I can't remember the Hwy 67 aid station at all. At some point maybe a mile before we got to the ZZ aid station, we were met with a barrage of 50k runners heading towards us. 

ZZ to ZZ...

The ZZ aid station was hopping when I first got there. I hadn't realized that we would hit this one twice, and the 100k and 100M runners had to do a 5ish mile loop and then we would head back the way we came. Used the bathroom and headed out for the loop with 7:26:45 elapsed, about 15 minutes over goal. I was not super pumped about going out, but there were other people ahead of me. I had been informed that this was a tough loop and to be prepared. The hardest part of the loop turned out to be when it started raining maybe a mile in. I do not mind running in the rain, and the temperatures weren't that cold. But it did make the steeper descents not a ton of fun. I ended up running with a guy for maybe a mile or two - this was his second attempt at Kettle Moraine. We came to a wider dirt road section and could see people camping off the trail. Getting close to getting back to ZZ and caught my toe on something and went flying. Ugh. The aid station was basically a ghost town by now and all the spectators seemed to have retreated to avoid the rain. Grabbed some grilled cheese and headed back out, leaving at 8:55:29.

ZZ to Hwy 67 to Wilton to McMiller...

Still raining. The trail in the woods was fine. A little slick and only really muddy in the flatter areas where water had pooled. Conditions were deteriorating pretty quick though. And then we got back to the meadow area. That's where the mess started. What had been dry earlier was now a disgusting mud pit. 

I don't mind getting dirty, but it takes a lot more energy to run in the mud! The rain did stop, and then the humidity kicked up a notch. It was making me feel nauseous, which is not something I normally deal with when I am running. Nothing was sounding good to eat and the more remote aid stations only seemed to have sweet food items, which made my stomach churn. Arrived at McMiller and got some food and a magical beer! Historically a beer midrace tends to make me really happy and the volunteer gave me a full one! Left McMiller at 11:36:15.

McMiller to ... eventually Bluff:

I had a few REALLY great miles. Like I let the beer settle in my stomach for a few minutes and then ran a LOT! I had some of my fastest miles of the race in this section and passed multiple people.

Maybe Horseriders was this aid station where we had the horses cross? Either way, volunteer Nicole had recognized me on the way out from the 200 mile circuit. I was hungry here and starting to get tired. I had some delicious meatballs, a shot of fireball and made a dose of my caffeine. 
Unfortunately, literally the second the sun started to set I started to get tired.

I came into Bluff feeling super tired. Wasn't sure what I needed to get me back to Nordic. I used the bathroom, grabbed some food and then found a random partial beer. Sadly, it was a weird peach flavor and it did not give me super powers. Left Bluff at 15:16:43, nearly an hour over my goal pace. 

Bluff to Nordic

By now my pack was driving me nuts. Something was rubbing me uncomfortably on my lower back. I was getting SO INCREDIBLY tired and was just trying to keep moving. I knew the cutoff to be out of Nordic was 12:30 am and I was on track to make the cutoff, I would just be a lot closer to it than I had wanted to be. 

The few miles to Tamarack went ON FOREVER. The longest miles of the race, seemingly. I asked the people at the aid station what they might have to help me and I think I got some coffee, but it didn't help. I talked to Ben for a bit but then just threw in some music and tried to run as much as possible to get back. The hills didn't seem as bad as I feared. I arrived at Nordic and tried to rush to swap out packs, debating what I actually thought I would need for the last 38 miles. I asked about food and unfortunately a lot of the food options were gone, the volunteer telling me they had run out, but that burgers would be prepared at 12:30.... like only if I was going to miss the cutoff. Blah. I was out of the aid station about 35 minutes under cutoff.

Nordic back to DNF

Things unfortunately seemed to get worse. The poles didn't really do much and I only found myself having them out because I had thought maybe they would help. I was SO FREAKING TIRED. I had taken a second caffeine dose at Nordic, along with the coffee/caffeine gum and it didn't seem to be helping. Tried not to stay too long at Tamarack but I remember sitting there. Someone asked what mile the aid station was and for some reason I had thought I was way over on miles, I got a very small pep in my step for a bit when I realized I was further than I thought. On to Bluff again. I don't remember what happened here. Maybe I did another fireball shot? Or maybe this was when I had the gross peach beer. Either way, I left at 20:28:46 - over an hour off my goal. 

This is probably where things went even worse for me. YES, I was moving slow. At some point I think all the aid stations when I got tired were a bad thing. I really got in my head here and when that happens I mentally check out. 

The next aid station was Duffin, which is where I finally saw Kristin. I gave her a hug and told her I was in a sad space because I was just so unbelievably tired. I told her I was going to eat and try to nap for 5 minutes to see if I could get a reset. I took my last caffeine dose, ate a pancake with sausage and closed my eyes. Didn't help. I wasn't going to drop while there was still time on the clock so I headed out. I didn't make it more than a mile or so up the trail before I had to sit and close my eyes again.

A guy I had been running with a small amount walked by and asked if I wanted to walk instead of sitting. I agreed. I was still tired but it helped having someone to chat with. 
I was feeling a tiny tiny bit better when the sun started to come up, but we came into the Hwy 12 aid station with only about 45 minutes to get to the NEXT aid station, which was over 4 miles away. Megan said I could continue if I wanted, but the idea of 4 more miles just to DNF seemed awful. I wonder if those times were actually enforced, because looking back now, once the sun was up, maybe I could have bounced back from being tired...

Megan made me a sandwich and said she would get us a ride back to Nordic. I was so tired I fell asleep holding my sandwich. (I guess I was unfortunately as tired as I felt).
Once back at Nordic I saw Kristin and Doug. Got some pictures of my super muddy legs and "fake finish" picture with my consolation 100k buckle.




Thoughts:
  • To say I'm disappointed is an understatement. I thought I was past all these temper tantrum "quitting" races. I ran a LOT (for me) in this race. For comparison, I ran 8:54:30 at Oregon Cascades (successful sub 30 100 mile completion) and 8:00:18 at Southern States (successful PR 200 mile). I ran over 10.5 hours here (with 20+ miles to go), and yet I failed. Of note, the aid station time is MUCH longer than normal 100s, but the last few stops were definitely time consuming trying to find food and caffeine solutions. Sad.
  • Also upsetting to see JUST HOW FAR BACK I am in these. I was in the bottom 5% of people THE ENTIRE RACE. I know I'm slow, but wow. Sad and defeating.
  • The aid station were fully stocked, just a lot of snacky things that didn't work for me. I was definitely in the minority of non-crewed runners and I wonder if I would have had some other food options that I could have fixed the nausea earlier. I did love that the major aid stations had multiple port-o-potties. I only peed ONCE on the trail, and that was at like mile 78!!
  • The buckle is awesome and I am happy that I was able to get an unofficial 100k finish (which I didn't know the race did).
  • The race shirt is so fun and I'm glad I can wear it because it doesn't have a distance on it.
  • Gear issues this race. My shirt kept getting bunched up behind my pack. My pack was chafing me even though it never had before. 
  • I was wearing a nearly new pair of Topo Ultraventure 2's and yet they didn't feel comfortable most of the race. Not sure if that was terrain related or what, but that hasn't happened before. While I came out filthy, zero blisters again.
  • And wtf with my caffeine?? I definitely get tired in 200s, but that is days on my feet, not just one. I was drinking Mountain Dew and Dr. Pepper on course and I took THREE doses of my caffeine, and I felt like I had just been up for days. 
  • Last thought - I wonder if I need to take a break from 100s for a bit. I really struggle to be fast enough for these, and it is so discouraging to get "so close" just to have a small thing or two go wrong and blow the race. It's only been a few days, maybe I just need to think on it.

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