In spite of my lack of motivation during the last 7 weeks of training I survived running the BR100. I considered not running it after Kettle Moraine 100K in June. That race went well, but I was beginning to feel burned out on ultras having run a 50 miler 2 weeks before Kettle. I cut back mileage and started weight lifting again and began to feel better, but still not feeling like I really wanted to run the 100 miler. People were being nice and asking me about the upcoming 100 miler and I really didn't want to think too much about it. Eventually, I accepted that I would show up at the start line and everything would be fine. Also, making it easier to accept I reasoned that maybe this might be my last hundred miler or at least for awhile and the idea that I don't have to do these things would get me through it. The economic side of me reasoned that I had already paid for the hotel and the race so it made more sense to go and give it my best effort rather than forfeit the money for the hotel and entry fee.
The drive was long (about 8 hours) to Columbus one day and 2 more hours to packet pickup at Cuyahoga Falls, OH the next day. I got to meet Kimberly and George there and we took a few pictures. Also, saw Bill Thom (runrace.net) and wife Michelle whom I would end up seeing several times during the race and she also took some great pictures. It was good to see a familiar face at this race since I recognized only a few people. CTC has used runrace for the past 3 years for our race registrations and I had no idea until my first 100 miler in 2010 that Bill ran ultras and got to meet him since he was timing Kettle Moraine. I gave a ride to Aaron from Tulsa to his hotel and agreed to pick him up at 2:45 am (1:45 am Central Time). He mentioned he had volunteered at the Post Oak runs that I ran in February but I had not met him previously. After I dropped off Aaron I had a yummy steak and sweet potato and Longhorn, checked into the hotel, in bed by 6 pm, awake at 6:40 pm, back to sleep at 8 pm, and awoke at 1:30 am.
The bus ride to the start did not seem too long and we were there plenty early to use the restroom and sit down in the castle. It is Squire's Castle and it was dark but I assumed I was inside some part of the castle. George somehow found me in the crowd before the start and took more pictures. At 5 am we started. I stayed with George and Kimberly at first and then got ahead. I figured I would be seeing George later.
The first 6.2 miles was a trail loop heading back to the start that had some wide gravel sections and some single track. Everything seemed to be going smooth as we were running along (lots of people together at this point) and suddenly we see a large group running towards us. They thought they had missed their turn. Someone asked if anyone had a phone but soon realized we wouldn't know who to call. Eventually someone decided where we should have made a turn even though no arrow but I guess everyone followed. We saw a marker fairly soon so knew we were going the right way. This didn't add much to my distance since we had just missed the turn as the others we coming back and probably lost just a few minutes. I heard though that the leaders went 3 miles longer on this loop.
After that loop we headed back out the same way which I wondered if this was right, but eventually figured out it was since they had closed off a turn to the right. There was quite a bit of road running early on. I stopped at the 12.4 mile station where Brooke was working the aid station. We had met a couple times before and was good to see her again. Our paths crossed the first time in a Body for Life group and we actually met in person in Florida about 10 years ago. Then in 2007, I met her and some other runners at Hocking Hills where I ran my first ultra. Since then she has become an ultra runner so it is kind of interesting how are paths have crossed since BFL when neither one of us ever imagined that one day we would be running ultras.
I felt I needed a bathroom soon at 12.4 miles, but didn't see one so waited until I got to mile 23. I saw George as I exited the bathroom. At this point I am still feeling good (in 52 place) and keeping a good pace and wondering if too fast. However I reasoned the course was pretty easy and a lot of road so the pace might be okay. I'm guessing the temperature was in the 70s and likely didn't go above 80 all day due to the cloud cover and rain. However it was still quite humid, but no one seemed to complain so I guess they were all used to it. At mile 25 there was a creek crossing and just before I had caught up to a girl I had been running with. We noticed the guy a bit ahead of us motioning us to go around on the road over a bridge so we avoided getting our feet wet as this wasn't a creek that we could jump. George caught up to us at this point since he crossed the creek. The girl running with us had no bottle and it was her first ultra. She seemed to be a strong runner but it was also early in the race so wondered how she would do.
At mile 26.2, I saw Michelle and she took my picture. My overall time at this point was around 4:20 so 10 minute pace which was a half minute faster than I expected up to this point. I picked up some stuff in my first drop bag and continued on. The course was still pretty easy from what I remember. There was some easy flat trail (towpath) on the way to the 40 mile aid station and my next drop bag. I had a feeling George was ahead of me at this point and indeed he was since I got to see him and his wife, Liz when I arrived. Up to this point I had been drinking Succeed Clip2 and Fizz, ate an almond butter, and maybe 1 gel. Also, had watermelon and potatoes mostly at aid stations. Overall, I thought I was feeling decent.
I am not sure my placing at this point but am guessing I hovered around 30-something since I had passed some people. My pace did begin to slow after the 40 mile aid station. I caught up to a really nice group of runners that I had passed earlier before arriving at the aid station. They asked if I wanted to go around, but I decided to try running with them for awhile since I was starting to feel crappy. They were going a bit slower than I had earlier but it got me through the next 6 miles where I refueled at the aid station and decided to take off on my own since they weren't quite ready to leave.
Soon after I left the aid station, I decided that maybe I would feel a lot better to get out of my wet shirt. I kept thinking eventually it would dry out, but it had rained off and on through the day and was humid and not drying. I felt much better without the clammy shirt by the time I got to mile 54 aid station. At some point I noticed on my GPS I was about 1 mile ahead of the markers so actually arrived at all future aid stations 1 mile later according to GPS. I decided to put on a dry pair of socks since I had ended up crossing some streams earlier and they were wet. It was also an excuse to sit down since I rarely ever change socks. I left my just in case I am super slow flashlight since it was still early and only 3 pm. I was about 25 minutes behind my goal since I had slowed. It didn't take long to lose the cushion I had built up early in the race. The group I ran with earlier arrived but again I took off ahead of them. Actually, I walked out of that station with one of their members that was going to get a head start and let them catch up. Later on when he would pick up a pacer, he passed me. I started running again and went ahead. This was the section where the runner girl in the tutu passed me looking strong like she was having a really good run. It was good to see since 2 years ago at KM I was at the aid station waiting for a guy I was crewing and she dropped out at that point clearly not having a good day.
At mile 65 I picked up my headlamp and charger for my GPS. I planned to charge the GPS until mile 71. It had been running close to 13 hours and had 30% charge. It was at 93% by the time I reached the next aid station. At mile 70, I passed the girl that didn't have a bottle earlier. She was walking and had a regular water bottle she was holding. She didn't look the greatest to me but at least was still moving. My pace during this section which I remember to be challenging was around 13 - 15 min and feeling nauseous. The section seemed to go quicker than I expected maybe since I couldn't see the mileage on my GPS as it was charging.
I dropped off the charger at 71 and continued on to the next aid station 3 miles away. I was still running a slow 14 minute pace and of course walking all hills. In fact there was a pretty big hill out in the open as soon as I left but then it went down. It was a great view from the top. Around mile 75 or so I see a bathroom and go inside since I think I might need to go but did not. Upon exiting I decide to take a Succeed Cap although I am not sure if I actually have too much salt since salty foods didn't sound good. A couple guys had caught up to me when I stopped and I was running behind them. I was coughing and realized the capsule had not gone down and drinking wasn't helping. I kept up the forced coughing for a few minutes and out popped the capsule at my feet. I took as a definite sign that I didn't need one. I passed the 2 guys and kept on running on some grass trails. At some point we are routed to running on the edge of a corn field. I had to pay very close attention to markings especially at night to stay on track, but overall didn't have any problems.
I made it to the Covered Bridge station mile 80 around 9:30 pm. An aid station worker that had run the course was describing the rest to me. She said a tough section coming up and then later would be easier up until the end. I tried some soup at the station but could only get the liquid down and had to discard the rest. I decided I would stop eating for awhile although I did use a few of the Perpeteum solids in the next few miles. I was also having a tough time drinking but continued to take small sips of plain water. The pace was very sad during this section at about 19 min per mile so a lot of walking. I felt awful and I remember a you've got to be kidding me type of hill that I had to stop several times. I couldn't believe how much I was sweating just walking up these hills. Earlier I had thought I was dehydrated, but not anymore. Also, part of the trail through here was challenging to navigate and stepped in a hole at some point walking but was fine.
At mile 85, the guy gave me a banana and a cup of Gatorade even though I asked for Ginger Ale. I drank it and it actually tasted good. He told me to take the banana and eat as I walked out and just toss it if I didn't want it all. I ate about half plus a packet of peanut butter and still didn't feel well.
At mile 89, I was feeling pretty awful. I got to the aid station and each time I would get to one for the past several it was becoming more difficult to figure out what to eat or drink since nothing sounded good. I started off with a ginger ale and a ginger chew. Then just for the heck of it I decide to try a sip of Gatorade. Immediately started to feel better so filled up my bottle with Gatorade and continued on.
It was looking more and more like I would finish. Even though I was feeling better I wasn't sure how much longer I could keep running since motivation was low. However calculating in my head how long it would take to finish walking was motivation enough to try running. Then I get to a towpath trail which is smooth and flat. I can run again even though only 12-something for my fastest miles. At mile 93 aid station I had a drop bag but told them I didn't need anything. The last aid station is at mile 96 and I check in, say I don't need anything and continue on. A policeman escorts me across the bridge across the Cuyahoga River. I'm getting closer to the end and feeling hopeful and even passed a guy walking.
More trail through the woods and up stairs soon to follow. Eventually there were 2 long flights of stairs. I don't remember but seemed like over 100 stairs. One set I counted there were 60 so can't be far off. When I get to the top I am looking for an arrow to point which way to go. Then am wondering if I am off course even though I know that can't be. Next thing I hear lots of growling and dark dog-like creatures running through towards me from the side, but I am still on the stairs. I am thinking coyotes or wolves? I know I am not hallucinating. Is the end near or will I just be attacked. I yell "no" and they stop snarling and in defensive mode. Soon a man appears and at this point I realize they are dogs. He said to not kick them which I had no intention of going anywhere near them as long as they didn't come near me. I asked if he knew which way I needed to go and he didn't answer. He didn't even apologize for his dogs and I noticed as he is leaving they have multicolor glow collars. I found interesting I hadn't even noticed those but they were moving so fast I didn't see at first.
I am really ticked off about the man with the dogs and still trying to figure out which way to go. I see a sign had fallen off and I am thinking it had pointed left so I start running. It seemed like I had run awhile and I didn't see any flags so I decided to go back just to make sure I am headed the right direction. I decide to try right and see a woman in her backyard which seems odd at 2-something in the morning. She says she hasn't seen any runners. I go a little further and see an exit and now arrows so determine I had gone the correct direction the first time. At this point my GPS already has over 100 miles. I am a little pissed that I have wasted nearly 15 minutes, but still hope I can finish under 22 hours. I had hoped I would finish around 21:45 or so. I see someone coming up the stairs yell at them to go left and take off as fast as I can run at this point. I wasn't about to let anyone catch me so close to the end.
I finally get to the street and there are arrows and eventually cones where we should be running. Someone mentions half mile to the end. I am very aware of 2 people running behind me, a runner and his pacer. I pick up the pace. I ran the last 0.6 miles 7:53 pace! Time was 20 hr 53 seconds and 102.6 miles on the GPS.
Overall, I placed 34 out of 199 finishers and I think 360 starters. 2nd in age group 40 - 44 out of 32 runners and also 2nd place USATF. The 1st place guy in my age group was only 9-something minutes ahead of me so I am pretty sure I would have caught him if not for the dogs and the sign that was down. Bad luck for me since I lost out on $250 but am more thankful to have not been attacked by the dogs. The guy that won my age group was his first ultra and talked to him the next day and got to congratulate him.
George and Liz were at the end. George had finished a little over an hour earlier. I had to go retrieve a bag of luggage out of the car to leave for the guy I had given a ride to the bus. Then I followed them home. George and Liz took good care of me at their home. Liz made me some toast and tea in hopes it would help with the nausea I was feeling again. After sleeping about 5 hours, I had some chocolate milk and cherries. Food still wasn't sounding good. We made it back to the finish in time to see Kimberly just as she finished 18 minutes from the 30 hour cutoff.
Looking back on this race and I am not sure I remember everything clearly due to how I was feeling, but looks like things started to fall apart for me around 40 miles which is way too early for a hundred miler. The unmotivated training, the worst and longest case of nausea I have experienced (still feeling 2 days later a bit), the dogs, the lack of marker at the end, I feel like overall it was a really decent effort for me. I had hoped to run 2 hours faster, but the trail was tougher than I expected later in the race. If I had been feeling better, I think the tougher trail wouldn't have seemed quite so bad. The positive is that other than the nausea I am physically okay and walking well. I walked 1 hour with the dogs this morning. I'm glad I ran it and am thankful for the experience, but am going to be taking a break from ultras for awhile and see if I miss them. I do have an event in October I have signed up for, but I can go as far as I want so I am not obligated to make it an ultra distance. Beyond that event, I am not sure what is next for my running.