Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Midwestern States, Part 3: My Kettle Moraine 100 Mile #3 and 2011 100 Mile Goof #3

This year's Kettle (the first weekend of June) was my third running of this race.  The first was my 2007 epic win over Joe Kulak, which inspired me to start this unsustainable blogging habit.  The second stab was in 2008, when brutal midday heat gave way to lightning, torrential downpours, and nearby tornadoes.

This was also my third 100-mile race this year, after HURT in January and Antelope Island Buffalo Run in March.  I finished those races much more slowly than anticipated.  Two outs, need a hit.

I had a lot of time to get to the race and prepare, so pre-race should have been glitch-free, except
I couldn't find my driver's license 2 hours before my flight.  I needed it to rent the car to drive the 2 hours from the West Chicago suburbs to the race.  As it turned out, I had left it in the glove compartment of the car I drove to drop off my family at the airport 5 days earlier, while I ran before  working a couple of long overnight shifts.  I also managed to nuke the entry on my calendar with my hotel reservation information, but eventually figured it out.

It was already hot, lower 90's even as late as 6 pm.  And remember those of you from drier western climates-- the humidity makes the effective temperature much higher.  I tried to last-minute acclimate to the heat and humidity on the drive up by keeping the windows up without any AC or even the vent, but it was unbearable and probably dangerous.  I had to keep the windows opened a crack.

For the last few miles (20 minutes) though I deliberately green-housed.  Stopped at an intersection, clothes soaked with sweat, I tried to capture my the beads of perspiration on my face and general malaise with this self portrait.  (No make-up artist with a spray bottle was used.)

I felt better getting out of the car and seeing the cheery race directors at packet pickup.  Thanks for putting on another great race!

Jason Dorgan, Tim (Timo) Yanacheck, Anne Heaslett

Timo told me I was originally going to get bib #1, but the 2009 course winner and record holder (set that year in ideal weather), Zach Gingerich, had signed up two days earlier.

I woke up before 3 a.m. (1 a.m. Pacific time) and try as I did, I could no get back to sleep.  I nontheless insisted on staying in bed until my alarms went off at 5:20, resulting in my usual late arrival.

One minute before the race started, co-RD Timo instructed us runners to make sure we go over the timing mat at the start.  I think this is probably the first 100-mile race I've run using chip timing-- and totally off my radar.  I ran over to the table with the timing straps and frantically put it around my right ankle about 20 seconds before the race started.

by Jay Smithberger

From yesterday I knew it was going to be hot and muggy, (the same day a young man apparently collapsed and died at the Chicago Half-Marathon relatively nearby), and remembering my mid-race malaise last time, decided to go out slower, and NOT 7:30 minute miles like in years past.

by Jay Smithberger

I ran and talked some with a Harry Harcrow from Colorado.

 lifted from the web.  funny, I don't remember him looking like this.

I thought he was breathing too hard so early in a 100 miler, and concluded he didn't know what he was doing, but later decided I was wrong.

entering Emma Carlin (mile 15.5) photo by Billy Thom

Entering the prairies, I turned on one of my iPods and listened to two podcasts of This American Life.  I figured this would help me keep my mind off the never-ending prairie and the rising heat, but one of them was about some guy who had been molested as a child and how he plotted to seek revenge on the perpetrator-- interesting, but not quite uplifting.

at Scuppernong turnaround (mile 31+), photo by Billy Thom


At mile 41, near the beginning of the uncovered prairie section, which you would think is untechnical, I tripped over a bump or rut in the trail, and fell forward.  My bottle took the first impact, but in the fall, I managed to strain my neck (mostly the back and right), both rear shoulder, right quadriceps and left hamstring.  Nothing too bad-- definitely nothing fractured or snapped, but I had a bad feeling.  A fall like that causing pain and tightness in so many places can haunt and taunt you later.  I had good reason to worry.

A few miles later, my right rear armpit started chafing.  I had taken care to lube my crotch every 10-15 miles, but neglected my armpits, which probably only give me trouble in hot, humid weather.  I abducted my shoulder to prevent further friction, but about half an hour later, my right deltoid went into painful spasm.

I took a while to figure out what to do with my arm to relax it enough to let the pain subside, but I found (and would continue to find) that any position to relieve one pain would trigger or exacerbate another pain.  It turned into a zero-sum game, and a game I was losing.

At the Scuppernong turnaround (mile 31) where I arrived in about 4:57 in 2nd place, there had been several runners coming in only a few minutes after I left, so I was sure that several would catch me, after my fall on the way back.  But apparently most of them were having a tough time, since only one passed me-- Harry, whom I had underestimated and felt bad about writing him off when each of two times he passed me.  I asked him how he felt, and he either said "terrible" or "like shit."  But he was running faster than I.

I didn't know it at the time, but Harry apparently dropped at Nordic (mile 62), so I was in 2nd place. However, I continued to having to work out numerous cramps and pains that kept popping out in my body.  I would run several hundred yards with one arm over my head or behind my back, until that position threatened to cause a new pain.

photos by Cathy Drexler
great aid stations at Kettle-- olives if you want them!

I turned on my light right before Highway 12 aid station (mile 77).   The first year I ran this I turned on the lamp AFTER the aid station going other way (8 miles farther).

The 4 mile trail to the Rice Lake turnaround is probably the most technical of the course.  I had been still trying to run flatter, less technical sections, but soon after leaving Highway 12, my toe kicked a root, I feel lurched forward and my chest and shoulder muscles went into a really bad spasm, probably the worst and largest of the day.  I tried to walk it off, but with my mechanics off, my balance was affected and I felt like continuing would cause my calves to spasm on the climb.  I had to stop and rest against a tree for a couple minutes, pursing my lips as I forcibly exhaled to try to ease the pain.

I decided that besides continuing to grow more painful and less efficient, running was too dangerous to attempt.

Even power walking posed risks, such as straining a leg muscle (both posterior and anterior compartments), especially while ascending and descending stairs or other steeper sections of trail.  The risks weren't imagined-- I had several more painful, close calls.

You should all know me well enough-- though many a runner might decide to quit here, I didn't fell quitting was an option.  Besides, if it was flat and untechnical, I could manage a slow jog.

Lots of runners were passing me, but most were in the relay or the 38 mile fun run which started at 8 pm.  Realizing that my pace was going to be slow, I gave up first on the sub 17 and then the sub-18 goal, and just made aimed to win an age-group award.  So after turning around at Rice Lake aid station (mile 81), I asked everyone coming the other way or from behind which race they were in, and if they were in the 100 mile race, how old they were.  I had no problem getting "granped" by someone over 50 (Paul Schoenlaub, 51, who would finished 2nd overall), but just couldn't let anyone 40-49 pass me.  This was an imperfect research method, as people wear headphones or have no idea what I'm asking.

At Tamarack aid station (mile 92), 38-mile Fun Run participant Dominic Guinta caught up with me.  This was his last long training run before his second Western States (Dom has been extra lucky with the lottery-- some of us who have been running 100 milers years longer have yet to get in...)   Figuring that no awards were being given for placing in the Fun Run, he offered to pace me in, and got me running again.  Thanks again, Dom!

Only 46 finishers out of 131 registered runners and not sure how many starters.  Tough day (and night)!  More than hours over my personal best 4 years ago, but everyone was hurting.  The winner, elite runner Zach Gingerich, finished similarly-- 19 1/2 hours, more than 4 hours over his personal best and course record set two years ago.  I asked him how he felt when I ran into him headed the opposite way at one point, and I think he said what I think Harry said and what I probably said a bunch of times.

 Zach Gingrich setting the course record at Umstead 100 mile in 2010.  unsure of who took this photo

Still, despite nabbing that age-group award and everyone else running relatively slow, the early face plant and subsequent problems constitutes a significant failure to accomplish my original goal.  Though an out that was well worth it.

I'm not complaining.

Thanks again to all the volunteers-- who got me in and out quickly when I was doing well, and who attended to my needs later.  (I couldn't bend over or squat to pick up and open my drop boxes once the cramping started.)

Garmin Forerunner 305 recorded maps (missing a few miles) of my run: 
miles 0-31
miles 31-70
miles 70-100


race website

My previous KM 100 Race Reports:
recap of 2007 KM100: "My First Ultra Win Ever"
recap of 2008 KM100: "Sweltering, Scared, but Spared-- Surviving the Kettle Moraine 100 Mile Run from Hell (and My First Title Loss Ever)"

"Midwestern States pseudo-series"

part 1:  McNaughton 150 mile, April 2009
part 2:  Mohican 100 mile, June 2010

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