I don't remember for sure why I decided I wanted to do a 100 mile race. I do remember at 3 days of Syllamo in 2009 and getting a flier in my race packet for the Ozark Trail 100 and I made sure I discarded it quickly. There was no way I was going to attempt to run 100 miles at one time. Then Jeff Wells said he was considering doing it and I started thinking about it. With selling the house and moving last May, I really didn't have time to train but figured I would decide by August if I was going to do it. I opted not to sign up and instead for my crazy running of the year, I ran Heart of America Marathon and then Lewis and Clark Marathon 6 days later. My decision turned out to be the right one since in October I was having issues with my right leg/buttock and was diagnosed with a bulging disc. I hesitantly ran the Q50 Ultra 50K in Louisiana that I signed up for and then did not run for about 2 weeks and then came back to running at a 13 min pace and in pain all of the time.
I then decided I would consider Rocky Racoon in February if I was recovered in time to do the training. I started to recover from the bulging disc but didn't feel like I was ready so looked for another 100 miler within driving distance later in the year and discovered Kettle Moraine in June. My one concern with this race was the course looked a little confusing and I was worried about getting off course. A couple days before the deadline in May, I felt like I was reasonably ready to attempt 100 miles so signed up.
My training went as planned up until after I ran the Free State 100K in April. It race went well, but after I started to lose motivation and had some stressful work issues with a job offer that were kind of depressing to me. I was only running about 50% of what I had planned for 3 weeks. I do think my plan for after the 100K maybe was too aggressive, but even the following 2 weeks, I could not seem to get back on track. For most of my runs after the 100K I really wasn't that crazy about running any of them. It was back to running for fitness and not necessarily enjoying the runs that much. One exception is I did enjoy running the last 24 mile loop at the Berryman with Jeff, but after that I still just didn't feel that motivated.
I still felt okay with running this 100 miles, but wanted to get it over with and go on with life. I doubted that I had what it took to run a decent 100 miles since any race over 50K really hasn't been that great for me. I finish, but often was losing motivation during the race and not eating right and feeling nauseous. I felt like after the Free State 100K since it had gone well with my new drink (Succeed Ultra and Succeed Caps) and I was able to eat during the race that maybe I had figured out how to feel good. My goal for my first 100 miler was to finish under 24 hours since I really didn't want to be out running any longer. The time limit for Kettle is 30 hours. My overall goal was to just finish and maybe cure myself from ever wanting to running 100 miles again.
I left on Thursday and visited my mom in Iowa and then drove until evening to Rockford, IL. Spent the night, slept, and relaxed and then went to Roly Poly for lunch before heading to Whitewater. I ate a whole #40 Roly Poly and got a half cold one #30 to go for later. I arrived in Whitewater at the Baymont where I was staying in the afternoon. I was a little early to check in so went to Culver's for a concrete and to check e-mail. Checked into hotel at 3 pm and took a nap. Woke up about 4:30 and drove to packet pickup about 15 min away outside of the LaGrange store, an unincorporated town.
Pickup had started at 4 pm and there was a long line outside in the hot sun when I arrived. I decided to pick up Allan Benjamin's packet as well since he seemed doubtful he was going to arrive in time. I saw Paul Schoenlaub when I arrived and we talked later in the store next door when he gave me some good advice for the race since he is a pro at 100s. I drove about a mile down the road to make sure I knew where to go to the start in the morning. Then I went back to the LaGrange store and had a certificate to purchase $7.50 merchandise so got wrap and put in the cooler for later.
I went back into Whitewater to Rocky Rococo for a slice of pizza and back to the hotel where I ate my #30 Roly Poly. I called Allan and Joan and left a message to let them know I had picked up his packet. He called later and they had arrived at packet pickup about closing time so they drove into Whitewater so we could plan with Joan for the race. I then got my last few things ready, ate the other wrap, and headed to bed, setting the alarm for 3:45 am. The race started at 6 am for both 100 mi and 100K.
I woke up at 2 am and couldn't sleep (feeling wired) so watched TV and checked weather before getting ready. I drank a protein shake with added coffee and ate Kashi Cinnamon Harvest Whole Wheat Biscuits with chocolate milk and also a banana. Used bathroom a few times and then packed up my things and headed to the start and arrived a little before 5 am. There were very few people around yet, but I put my drop bags on the proper tarps for the drop bag locations and got my chip. Allan and Joan arrived soon and she took a couple pictures. He was only going to carry one water bottle and I decided to do the same.
We started promptly at 6 am and near the front since we were headed out on a trail right away. 100 milers, 100K, and relay teams started with a total of 223 starters. It was a wide trail at this point so not too bad. There were timing mats at various checkpoints to cross and the first was at 15.8 miles. I planned to run with Allan as long as we could.
We stopped at all aid stations and had 4 drop bags (Emma Carlin - 15.8 mi & 47.4 mi, Scuppernong -31.6 mi, Nordic Center – 63.2 mi, Hwy 12 – 77.5 mi & 86.3 mi) on the course, some of which we could access more than once. We ran on wide trails, single-track in the woods, and through open grassy meadows. I started out in front and Allan ran behind and we managed to stay together. We talked with Jen that was at Berryman for awhile, and talked to some other runners as well. Some pretty interesting people met along the way. Several had mentioned it was their first 100 miler.
At one point Allan led the way and thought we had run too fast so I took the lead again at the next aid station. I slowed us down, but noticed he wasn't keeping up. The sun was out some and temps were warming up. It was about 64 at the start and I think warmed up to around 80 for a high. I took my time allowing him to catch up and wondering if he was drinking enough. I saw Paul and Brad, both from Missouri coming back from the turnaround and looked to be 4 – 5 miles ahead of me.
When we arrived at the 31.6 mi turnaround a little after 12 pm and Allan didn't look so great. We spent a little time there and once we started he told me to go ahead and he would try to cool off and recover. He mentioned he hadn't been drinking enough. I saw a woman at this station that looked familiar and realized she had been at Syllamo in 2009. I asked her name and it was Julie Treder from Wisconsin who had come to Syllamo with a couple other guys. It is always interesting,but probably not too surprising to see some of the same people at these events that are in the mid-west. At this point I was at 12:20 pace, but running was actually faster since this included all stops to eat and refill my bottle.
I continue on at a comfortable pace back to my drop bag at Emma Carlin which was 15.8 miles from the turnaround and still keeping a pretty consistent pace. The grassy meadows were quite flat so I could run a long time without a hill. I took very few walk breaks on the flat and saved the walking for any hills. It started to rain in the afternoon and at times rained pretty hard. The temp had cooled down so I welcomed the rain. I was passing people and everyone seemed more spread out. I ran behind a guy for awhile somewhere after 47.4 and managed to stay with him until going ahead after an unmanned aid station. The unmanned stations had Heed which I don't like, water, and a bowl of green olives with pimentos. I did not try the olives. I was just a little unsure about them. At the manned aid stations, there was a wide variety of items and I usually stuck with peanut butter jelly sandwiches or wraps, and sometimes some cashews and watermelon. I avoided meat since it never sounds good to me during a race.
I did see Joan again since she had been following us. I asked her about Allan and he was doing better. Also, Andy Starostka started following me since he had come up to his parents and to the race. I had him take my picture at Emma Carlin. He also helped fill my bottle and assisted getting items out of my drop bag. He asked if I wanted a pacer later, and I asked if he was offering. It sounded good to me but didn't want him to feel like he had to since with the rain I didn't figured it might not be too fun for him.
The time seemed to fly by and I was feeling good mentally and legs were still moving. I was using Succeed Ultra in my bottle and taking Succeed caps about every half to an hour. I didn't calculate my usage of Succeed in my bottle correctly so sometimes had only water so took extra caps since I didn't have enough of the powder packets. Also, made the mistake once of skipping one of the unmanned aid stations to fill a bottle and ran out before the next aid station. I used a gel every so often, but don't think I used more than 4. I am not a fan of gels during events longer than a marathon or more than 3 hours. The solid food was definitely better. I would sometimes feel hungry and just food in small amounts took care of my hunger.
It continued to rain and started to pour. The rain didn't bother me though and felt good on my legs. The last 5 miles to Nordic had some really severe hills called the moraines, up and down like a roller coaster. I let myself run down them since walking was more difficult to hold myself back. I was trying to decide if I really needed to change shoes at Nordic Center which is 63.2 miles (they called it 100K). I decided it wouldn't do much good since my shoes would just get wet. There was wet grass and water standing in some areas so didn't make sense to change them and feet still felt pretty good even though wet. I reached the 63.9 Nordic Center at 6:42 pm and Andy had me sit down while I got things out of my bag. I picked up both my lights, ditched the disposable camera since it was wet, and got more supplies. He said he would see me at around the 70 mile, the Bluff Aid station and run with me to the end. I was amazed he was willing to run 30 miles since the furthest he has run is a marathon and figured it was going to take me awhile. I knew he would be an excellent pacer since he is a strong runner and has trail experience. I headed back out into the rain close to 7 pm and he said he would see me in 1.5 hours.
I was feeling a bit cold since I was still just wearing a tank. I noticed many runners had a jacket although one guy was shirtless. Being a bit cold kept me moving to warm up. The up and down hills didn't seem as bad on the way back out. I guess since I had a break at Nordic for a few minutes it kind of helped to recover a bit. I saw Allan at the last aid station which is 5 miles from where we started on my way out and he was looking good. He thought he would probably stop at 100K but wasn't entirely sure. Turned out he did decide to call it a day at 100K as did many others. I had 2.5 miles to the Bluff aid station 70.7 miles where Andy started off with me in the rain at about 8:40 pm. From there it was about half mile to Confusion Point, where there was an intersection of several trails and signs to follow depending on where you were in the race. The trail we were to follow I had not run yet and this section had some of the most technical trails of the race.
We were eventually in the woods on single track and I turned on my light at this point, probably close to 9 pm. There were fairly large rocks sticking up in the middle of the trail to watch out for. This slowed my pace a bit since I was trying to be careful not to fall. At mile 75 I tripped over something (probably a large rock) and fell, but didn't get muddy. However, my back felt kind of strange, but after several minutes it felt fine. I think I had twisted myself in a strange way when I fell. Andy pointed out many of the rocks and some places had steps. It had stopped raining around 9:30 pm I think and I was no longer feeling cold so was glad I did not have a jacket. The time seemed to be flying by even though my pace was slower. There were some areas though that were open and grassy that were very run-able so we took advantage of those areas. I was still walking any uphills and being extra careful on the technical areas.
They told us at the Hwy 12 station that the most technical section was ahead. I thought, I really wish they hadn't told me. The Hwy 12 aid station had the most food I had seen and they had Christmas lights leading to it. They told me I was the 6th 100 mile runner to come through. There were also relay runners and some 38 mile fun run people. This was the first point in the race where I knew how I was doing and was surprised at my placing. Back at the aid station where Andy started running, they told me I had moved up from page 3 from earlier to page 1. I wasn't sure exactly what that meant then. At this point, I did notice it took just a little bit of effort to get my legs moving again. I didn't think this part of the trail was any worse than some I had already been through, but it must have been rough since my pace was 15:16 over this section.
Mile 81.9 was the turnaround and I realized this race is 0.6 miles over 100 at this point, but really didn't bother me. I was glad to know it wasn't short. My Garmin 310XT GPS was still going strong and matching up exactly with their mile markers at the stations. I had also worn my Garmin 405 as a backup for when the 310 would run out and it also allowed me to see the time of day for awhile. At mile 83, I started my 405 since the 310 was getting low. I kept both going since the 310 is more accurate on the trails. For the first mile they were pretty close and then getting off a little after. We passed a runner during this section whose wife was pacing him.
When we made it back to the Hwy 12 aid station a woman asked me if I had seen a man and woman running together and if he was doing okay. I told her we had passed them not far back so she was glad to hear. We had more food and headed out again. I was noticing just a slight twinge in my left calf so started walking some of the less steep hills that I would have run earlier. I didn't want to take any chances of spasm or tearing a calf muscle like I did at Berryman a few years ago. I took a Succeed cap and that seemed to help after awhile. After mile 90, I tripped over something and fell. I hit my left knee on the ground. I noticed at the next unmanned aid station my hand and leg were muddy so washed off the mud. I had a slight abrasion on the knee so nothing too bad. I changed to my other light since my original light was not quite as bright and that seemed to help me see better. My 310 GPS shut off at 19 hrs, 14 min at 90.5 mi so almost made it the 20 hrs it is supposed to run.
Soon we are off that more technical section and back to the familiar trail I had run before and then to the Bluff Aid station where Andy started running with me and only 7.5 miles to go. I was just thinking a bit before we got to this aid station how hungry I was feeling and remembered this aid station had cashews. So I had some cashews, and peanut butter and jelly. I remember one of the workers joking something about us “pain in the ass” runners. I told her I was very low maintenance. We take off and I am running better again, not worrying about falling, and calf feels fine. At the last aid station with 5 miles to go and Andy says he sees a runner at the aid station. It turned out to be Paul and as we took off he said I would probably catch him. I had a little to eat again and we were off pretty quickly.
We soon caught Paul and he seemed to be doing okay, but must have had a rough patch at some point for me to catch up to him. He told me to keep it up. Soon we had the dreadful moraines to go up and down for awhile, but also some sections that could run pretty well so pace picked up overall for the last 14.3 timed section which they had me at 13:08, but included some of the technical. I remembered there being mile markers near the end and we started seeing them at 4 miles. When we saw 3, I thought it said 2 at first. I was still feeling really good, calf was good, and felt like I was running well.
Once we got to 1 mile to go, I said I guess I am going to make it. Before this point I had said nothing about thinking I would make it since I knew anything could happen. It felt like we sped up the last mile and judging from the GPS pace we did as the last mile we did as the pace showed 10:36 and then last 0.6 was 10:10. I wasn't sure of my overall time at this point since I didn't know the time of day. Both GPSs had been running at the time for awhile and I didn't know exactly when the first one had stopped so couldn't add the times together and subtract the time they had both been running. I would have guessed about 21:40. I see the clock and am surprised to see 21:21:22.0.
We went inside the tent and I really didn't want anything to eat at this point. They gave me my copper kettle and a plaque for overall Male Masters. I was 4th overall. The guy that won the overall race in 19 hrs 54 min was 40 so that is the reason they gave me the overall Masters. I sit down and eventually have some Ramen noodles which took me about 20 minutes to drink. It is tough for me to get much food down after a race. Brad was sitting and he had finished 43 min earlier and won the 18 – 39 group. Paul came in 5 min after me and won the Senior Masters award so the 3 Missourians that finished the 100 mile were top 5 overall and got 1st place plaques. Julie Treder, the woman from Syllamo was first overall female in 25:40. There were 155 hundred milers that started and 51 of us (33%) finished. I think with the rain, it was tempting for many to stop at 100K, plus the finisher rate for 100 milers usually isn't more than 60-something % and often less.
I noticed when I got in my car temp was 55F so ended the race at a perfect temp. I took Andy back to his car about 4 am I think and followed to his parents house less than an hour away. He showed me my room and I told him I didn't know if I could sleep. I took a shower and then laid down about 5 am. I woke up an hour later, but fell back asleep and then woke up an hour later at 7 am. I surprisingly felt rested so got up. It felt good to walk around and legs were a bit sore. I remembered I had some food in my cooler so figured I better eat it since the ice had all melted. Joan had picked up 2 of my drop bags and Andy had one. The last one would be taken back to the start. I called Allan and Joan and did not reach them so left a message. They soon called back and I told them I would be back at the Nordic start in about an hour and would see them whenever they got there. I let Andy sleep and took off and stayed awake just fine.
The night before I had noticed a shoe that looked like mine in the tent at the finish but didn't think anything about it. I realized in the morning I was missing a shoe from my drop bag so when I got there they located my shoe. I went into the building where Bill Thom from Runrace was working on results. Allan was not sure I was listed so I checked. Turned out he had checked before they had something posted so all was okay. I had a nice chat with him about the race and also the Runrace.com website since the Columbia Track Club uses this instead of Active.com for our race registration. Looking at the Kettle 100 results and all the check points and averages for each section, I am really impressed with Runrace.com timing system as well. It seemed to go pretty smoothly for them. I went back out to look for my other bag and also picked up Allan's bag. In a few minutes they arrived and we took some final pictures and I headed back to Columbia.
The drive home was long and I had to stop several times mostly to keep awake and was also good to walk around. I got home around 8 pm. Hugh had a Roly Poly for me they had given him earlier that someone had not picked up. I had that for dinner plus whipped cream cake he had made for me and then went to bed.
Even though I was a little scared of this distance going into this, I think being scared was probably a good thing. I feel so lucky to have felt good 99% of this race. I was just waiting for a point to feel crappy, wanting to walk, but at no point did I have to convince myself to keep going. It sounds unbelievable but it is the truth and I am surprised I felt this way. My mission was to run and I kept running as much as possible. With only 33% finishing, it is pretty obvious this was not an easy day for most of the runners. I think the Succeed Ultra drink and Succeed caps really helped me since I felt the same at the Freestate 100K. Also, having Andy pace me the last 30 miles I am sure helped too as it would have been running a long time in the dark alone unless I had tried to pair up with another runner at some point. I am thankful he was there to run with me.
Would I run another 100 miler? I wouldn't hesitate to try, but not sure when I will attempt another. Right now, I am looking forward to running my next marathon and then maybe a 50 miler. The 50 has been a challenge for me so maybe it won't be as bad next time since I think I have figured out some things I was doing wrong.. I am just amazed that even though a small percentage of people run these races, they are willing to put themselves through this since I could see how hard it was on them. Then there were some that seemed to finish feeling pretty strong. Either way, it is pretty amazing feeling to finish this distance.
These are my splits at the various checkpoints:
Emma Carlin Outbound – 15.8 mi – 2:58:20 – 11:17 overall pace - 51st
Scuppernong Turnaround – 31.6 mi – 6:13:20 – 11:49 OA pace – (15.8 mi – 3:15:00 - 12:20 pace) - 40th
Emma Carlin Inbound – 47.4 mi – 9:24:00 – 11:54 OA pace – (15.8 mi – 3:10:40 - 12:04 pace) - 18th
Nordic Center – 63.2 mi – 12:42:06 – 12:03 OA pace – (15.8 mi – 3:18:07 - 12:32 pace) - 9th
Hwy 12 Outbound – 77.5 mi - 15:57:44 – 12:21 OA pace – (14.3 mi – 3:15:38 – 13:41 pace) - 6th
Rice Lake Turnaround – 81.9 mi – 17:04:54 – 12:31 OA pace – (4.4 mi – 1:07:09 – 15:16 pace) - 6th
Hwy 12 Inbound – 86.3 mi – 18:13:31 – 12:40 OA pace – (4.4 mi – 1:08:37 – 15:36 pace) - 5th
Nordic Center Finish - 100.6 mi – 21:21:22 – 12:44 OA pace – (14.3 mi – 3:07:51 – 13:08 pace) - 4th
2010 Kettle Moraine Results and Webcast http://www.runrace.net/findarace.php?id=10156WI&tab=a4
Pictures : http://tinyurl.com/235cjbg