Martha is joining me for my trip to Wisconsin to run the Kettle Moraine 100 mile race tomorrow. She hasn’t crewed for me in a 100 mile since 2009 and won’t really be crewing for me tomorrow. She is planning to bring me chocolate milk and my drugs a couple of times during the day. Drugs? Yes, I am on antibiotics as I was diagnosed with an ear infection on Wednesday. My ears have been stopped up for over a week now, but I am hoping that they will clear as the antibiotics do their job, and I get everything flowing tomorrow during the run.
|Darin ready to run|
We pick up my race packet and then grab dinner at a wonderfully nice Italian restaurant in downtown Whitewater. I have some sausage stuffed ravioli, and Martha has some chicken dish. I don’t eat many carbs these days, so this is a treat to carb-out! I manage to clean my plate, but my stomach is definitely off a little bit with the drugs. Well, I guess I will see how things progress tomorrow.
The weather forecast is almost perfect. It is around 50 degrees this morning, but there is a chance for a passing storm late tonight. It should be a quick mover, though, so hopefully we won’t be slogging through the rain for hours on end. I start the race with ears completely clogged, a hacking cough from the drainage, and optimism that none of this will prevent me from finishing my 11th 100 mile race. My 100 mile record stands at 10 finishes with eight DNFs.
|The horde of runners and crews just before the start|
Mile 3.3 35:43 (10:49 avg./mile) Tamarack
The crowd of runners, which includes 250 100 mile runners and many other 100k runners, moves out quickly over the rolling terrain. I am a little quicker than desired on this first section, but I am definitely letting everyone go by me. My hacking cough is only an inconvenience, and I am getting great snot removal. Unfortunately, my body seems to keep producing plenty more. I grab a handful of potato chips at the first aid station and press on forward.
Mile 6.0 33:11 (12:17 avg./mile) Bluff
I am settling down nicely to a good pace. I want to average better than four miles per hour (15 minutes per mile) during the daylight today. This will give me plenty of cushion on the 30-hour cut-off and may even allow me (if things go wonderful) to get the elusive sub-24-hour finish. At this aid station, I grab some more potato chips as I really don’t feel like eating more than that. On this section, I meet Mike Smith who lives in the area and is trying to run his first 100 miler.
Mile 11.1 1:07:04 (13:09 avg./mile) Horseriders
This race is mostly on rolling hills. Up and down we go—up 30 feet and then down 30 feet. Some climbs are possibly 100 feet of climb at one time. It doesn’t sound hard, and relatively it isn’t. The problem is that there is no such thing as an easy 100 mile race. The good thing is that the entire course is on the trails except for the several road crossings. My pace has settled a little more, but the trail is now single track and a bit congested. This is an unmanned aid station so I move right on through.
Mile 14.2 42:35 (13:44 avg./mile) Emma Carlin
There are about 15 of us somewhat stuck behind a lady that insists on running a steady slow pace regardless of whether the course is going up or down. At one point I passed her, but then when I walked up the next uphill, she passed me back. Oh well, I just have to remain patient. However, when we get to this large aid station, I grab two ham sandwich quarters and move out of the aid station before she does. So, do a few other runners who were also “stuck” with me.
Mile 17.3 37:30 (12:06 avg./mile) Antique Lane
Now free to run and walk as I desire, my average pace actually picks up. Of course, I also wanted to make sure you know who doesn’t pass me. No fear as I don’t see her again until I am coming back from the turnaround at Scuppernong. This aid station is another unmanned aid station with just water, sunscreen lotion, and bug spray. Speaking of which, I put a little bug spray on this morning, but the mosquitos are definitely now in season.
Mile 19.6 25:45 (11:12 avg./mile) Wilton Road
These few sections are open prairie. The quick ups and downs have subsided to gracefully long inclines or descents that are mostly flat. My legs feel great, and my energy level is high. My stomach is not 100 percent, and of course I have the clogged ears and drainage, but overall I think my race is going well. Another unmanned aid station which I glide right on through.
Mile 23.0 43:42 (12:51 avg./mile) Highway 67
In the prairie section, I let Mike press on ahead. Either he will slow down, or he will have an excellent first race. I know though that I want to keep taking things really easy. I am not chatting with many people as I have to concentrate really hard to hear what they are saying. It is best to just run inside my own head listening to not much of anything. At this aid station, I grab two more ham sandwich quarters. Some of these seem to have mayo on them, and I like the taste. I also refill my Camelbak at this aid station.
Mile 25.5 34:59 (14:00 avg./mile) County ZZ
I ease into this aid station, and Martha is here with some chocolate milk. Unfortunately, the chocolate milk she bought is frozen! She scoops a little in a cup, and I take a couple of swallows before handing the cup back to her. She says, is that it? Yep, I will see you across the way at Scuppernong. The aid stations are within sight of each other so she only has to walk less than 100 yards, while I am running the 5 miles around the loop.
Mile 30.4 1:09:52 (14:16 avg./mile) Scuppernong
I find myself running most of this section with Tom. He is a little older than me, but definitely has the same mindset for keeping a relaxed pace. He also likes to roll quickly down the hills like I do, so we stick together easily. I have plenty of pep in my legs for when I stop to take a leak, it is no problem at all to catch back up to Tom. I roll into Scuppernong, and Martha has a full cup of mostly thawed out chocolate milk. I drink the whole cup, and then grab two sandwich quarters to eat walking out of the aid station.
Mile 35.4 1:08:00 (13:36 avg./mile) County ZZ
Tom spent more time in the aid station than me, and I will not see him again in this race. I believe it looks like he stopped at mile 54. The chocolate milk has given me a bit more energy and the fact that I want to get this mentally challenging loop that gets you to where you began, finds me pushing the pace a little. I am really hammering the downhills. I arrive at the aid station with Martha holding another cup of chocolate milk. I down that and grab two small sandwich wrap to eat on the run. My pace is great, and I start to wonder how long I can maintain a sub-15 minutes per mile pace.l
Mile 37.9 35:00 (14:00 avg./mile) Highway 67
The chocolate milk and sandwich wraps settle in as I take it easy coming out of the Scuppernong loops. I am going to just focus on trying to maintain sub-15-minute miles. At this aid station, I only grab some potato chips.
Mile 41.3 44:04 (12:58 avg./mile) Wilton Road
Back on the prairie, I try to run smoothly. There is one 100k runner that I keep leap frogging with. He runs when I am walking and vice versa. As the terrain is mostly flat, it is all about taking my time on mixing up running with some walking. Another unmanned aid station that I roll right through.
Mile 43.6 32:10 (13:59 avg./mile) Antique Lane
The day has warmed up some, but it is still probably only 70 degrees out here. There is a gentle breeze so far and most importantly, no sign of thunderstorms yet. I manage to keep rolling along, generally keeping pace with the runners around me. This is another unmanned aid station, but I take the opportunity to top off my Camelbak. At least I am drinking plenty of water as a day like today when it isn’t very warm will still take the water out of you.
Mile 46.7 45:38 (14:43 avg./mile) Emma Carlin
Back at Emma Carlin, and it is only 10 hours and 15 minutes since I started. I am expecting to see Martha again to get my antibiotics for the last time. However, she is nowhere in view. This aid station is quite crowded as there are crews for 50k, 100k, and 100 mile runners. There is a remote parking spot and the race is bussing the crews into the aid station. Anyway, I get some ginger ale to drink and then grab two ham sandwich quarters. I am starting to walk out of the aid station when I hear Martha call for me and run up after getting off of the bus. She says I am early—I am sorry I am running too fast! Anyway, I take my antibiotics and drink a cup of chocolate milk before kissing her good-bye. I tell her I will call her from the last aid station before the finish tomorrow morning.
Mile 49.8 49:52 (16:05 avg./mile) Horseriders
As the evening approaches, the mosquitoes are coming out in greater numbers. At this unmanned aid station, I liberally spray bug repellent on my arms, legs, and back. Hopefully, I won’t have too many more bites! My pace is slightly off, but I don’t think it is anything to worry about. I generally feel good, except for my ears.
Mile 54.8 1:17:52 (15:34 avg./mile) Bluff
This is a long 5 miles and with it comes some decent climbs. As the name implies, we have to get up and over the bluff, which seems to be the highest part on the course. The aid station is down the other side and not on top of the bluff, though. I think about using the porta john, but elect to wait. Instead I grab a couple more sandwich quarters and head out on the trail.
Mile 57.6 43:48 (15:39 avg./mile) Tamarack
At Emma Carlin, I had a headlamp in my drop bag, but as I was on pace (or even a little ahead) I elected not to take it with me. I have to get back to Nordic before dark. It isn’t as critical as it sounds as the trail from Bluff back to Nordic is double wide trail. Early on this section, I catch back up to Mike Smith. He says his IT band has flared up. He has taken some Advil for it and hopes he can push through it. At this aid station, I realize that we have to go the full 4.8 miles to Nordic, whereas this morning going out it was only 3.3 miles from Nordic to Tamarack. It is only 7:06pm, so I have plenty of daylight to get into Nordic.
Mile 62.4 1:38:07 (20:26 avg./mile) Nordic
My stomach is definitely turning south. It is uncomfortable to run very much, so I am trying to be content with mostly walking at this point. The rain has started a little. There was a few minutes of light sprinkles, but now it has stopped. I get into the start/finish area and have a little difficulty locating my drop bag. I don’t have shoes in this drop bag, but I do have socks, so I change them. I also get my Camelbak topped off and put my jacket on as it starts to rain again before I leave the aid station. Finally, I get my headlamp all setup. It is dusk as I am leaving the aid station, so I turn on the headlamp and begin the trek through the long night.
Mile 67.2 1:34:21 (19:39 avg./mile) Tamarack
Within a mile of leaving the aid station, I catch back up with Mike Smith. Company through the night would probably be a good thing, so I stick with Mike as we slog into the first aid station after dark. I need to visit the porta john, but there are none here, and I am not desperate enough yet to go squat in the woods. I grab a few potato chips and then continue on towards the next aid station.
Mile 69.9 1:07:06 (24:51 avg./mile) Bluff
Mike and I roll back into the Bluff aid station for the third time, and we both immediately enter separate porta johns. This race is extremely well supported with about half of the aid stations having facilities. I am quickly successful in the porta john, and then get some Vaseline to lube things back up. I grab only a few more potato chips as my stomach is not very interested in eating much of anything. So far, my energy level seems good. This split is slower, but it included the pit stop.
Mile 72.5 52:38 (20:15 avg./mile) Duffin Road
Mike and I manage to keep up a decent pace mostly walking in the dark. If I can maintain 20-minute miles through the night, that would be wonderful. My legs still feel somewhat fresh, but as you know, my stomach is not happy. It isn’t like I need to throw up; rather it is just a discomfort that really won’t let me push the pace or run much. This is an unmanned aid station, so I just mark my time and keep moving.
Mile 77.0 2:01:40 (27:02 avg./mile) Highway 12
During this section, the rumbles of thunder begin off to the west. At first the lightning in 25 seconds away, and then it is only a few seconds. It quickly passes to the east and fades into the distance. There was some rain along with it, but not very much. We seem to have gotten lucky. We stagger into this aid station, and I think Mike’s IT band has had enough. Both of us feel like dropping and indicate so. However, I sit down and a nice volunteer fetches my drop bag. I drink a cup of Coke, and then change my shoes. The nice volunteer brings me a cup of broth, and I manage to drink that as well. Finally, he brings me a cup of broth with some potatoes in it. I choke that down and decide to give the next section a try.
Mile 81.5 2:10:00 (28:53 avg./mile) Rice Lake
I start this section with fresh shoes and a long sleeve shirt on. I am a little chilly, but quickly warm up to the point that I take the long sleeve shirt off. 30 minutes later, I am chilled again, so I put it back on. At some point in this section, I am falling asleep on my feet so I sit down and take a quick cat nap, leaning up against a tree. I am down for only four minutes and then up again with a little freshness. Later, there is a park bench along the trail so I take the opportunity to sit a bit. It isn’t long before runners coming back from the Rice Lake turnaround are coming towards me. I get up and stagger forward. I finally make it into Rice Lake at an extremely slow pace. It is almost 4:30am, and I think I am done. At this pace, I will not finish under the 30-hour cut-off. If my stomach was better I would have popped a caffeine pill or two, but I am quite certain that it would not tolerate that. I call Martha on an aid station workers cell phone, and she is coming to pick me up.
We have to go back to Highway 12 to get my drop bag from there, and then we go to Nordic where my other two drop bags are now. After collecting these up, we head to the hotel room. I am able to shower before collapsing into bed. I sleep a few hours, and then Martha goes out to get a couple of omelets from us. I manage to eat my very slowly.
I mostly lay around napping off and on until it is time to meet the Feigleys for dinner. Jim Feigley is a retired Marine General for whom I was aide-to-camp in 1998-1999. They live not too far from here near Watertown. We have a wonderful prime rib dinner at a local supper club. It is great to catch up with them as I haven’t seen them in eight years.
In hindsight, I am afraid I made the right decision to drop when I did. I am also proud that I gave it a go in less than top health and made it as far as I did. On Monday, I get stronger antibiotics from the doctor as my ears have made no progress on improving. A week later, and things are finally starting to clear out. It is unfortunate that this ear infection came on. I think I was very well trained and well rested coming into this race. With the perfect weather, I could have run a really good time. The good news is that I have my Western States qualifier already this year, so I will be able to enter the lottery in December for WS in 2019.
My next ultra-race likely won’t be until September, and it will probably be the Cumberland Trail 50k.
Never stop running,
DarinReturn to Darin’s Running Page.