This event is my first 100 mile run. I had started training for Mohican way back in February with the goal of lots of cross training to get stronger, address my weaknesses, smart running, working on form and not over training. This was done by weight training 2 days a week, using a roller nearly every day and running, of course. I had to pick my crew and pacers next, one pacer was a no brainer, Pat Krott, I had to do some thinking for who else I would trust to join my 100 mile party. I went with a friend I train with time to time at Oil Creek, Adam Peterson. I now had to get a crew together and I went with another friend whom I spent time with on the Oil Creek trails, Bill Gilbert. I also gained Damian Stoy's guidance for training, nutrition and form. Now that the crew and pacers were set I could just train right... nope.
Adam asked if Christine Vassen could come along and help Bill. Along the way I asked Mark Cangemi along since he had major knee surgery done and was not racing this year but very willing to share knowledge. Adam then asked Tom Lane along and Dylan Hyde got invited by someone... so now I had a very large group of supportive folks to help out. Things leading up to race day went well, such as diet, training, nutrition etc were feeling good and balanced. In the mean time Pat got a job out of town and was forced to drop from pacing duties. At first I was worried but I was able to look at my team and figured I had someone who could pick up that duty. The next day or two later Pat told me he worked it out, so he was back on the team and all was right with the world.
Finally Friday the 19th came and Denise (my wife) and I started the road trip to Mohican Adventures where our cabin ( race HQ) was located. the rest of the team was to filter in sometime Friday evening and Pat was coming Sat evening. Denise and I got there around 4, did the check in thing and decided to head to packet pick up and dropped off my drop bag. After I got my bib and the bibs for the pacers, we went back to the cabin to relax for a bit before dinner. Around 6:30 or so we went to dinner and then to the runners meeting at 7 to get any last minute instruction for the race. Around 7:30 or so Bill and Christine arrived and they came down to the meeting ( which was across from our campground).
The evening weather was awesome...70's and sunny. I had hoped the rain for the weekend somehow rerouted and it would be nice. By 8:30 Adam and Tom arrived and we had kind of a team meeting and found out Mark would not be coming till the following afternoon. Around 9 it started raining and by 10 PM we decided it was bed time. I don't think I fell to sleep until around 12:30 or so. We then got up at 3:15 to start the day I had waited 6 months for. I got dressed and ate a light breakfast. As the others were getting ready, I tried to relax and stretch. At last it was time to make our way to the start line. It was still raining off and on but by 4:50 it was a steady rain to start the race.
At 5 am we were off! I used the strategy passed on to me from Pat and Tom to walk the first mile or so in order to let the conga line thin out before I hit the woods. and it worked perfectly! I hit the trail head and was only in a pack of about 4 of us. I knew to hit my goal time of 27 hrs I would want to keep my pace average around 16 min miles. This is the first time I have run these trails but heard a lot about them and what was ahead. The rain kept coming as I finished the 4.5ish miles to come into the first aid station (Gorge Overlook). My crew was there, I grabbed some food and got my water bottles filled, felt great and off I went.
The section between Gorge Overlook and Fire tower was the worst so far, very muddy, but it was fun. Tons of single track after you get through the bit of black top to hit the trail head from Gorge Overlook. It was mostly rolling fairly fast, I only really remember 2 large climbs. One after you get on the trail from the road, awesome switch back section, and the one near the end of the 4.5 mile section heading to the Fire Tower aid station. This was my favorite section. All 3 times I went through it were very enjoyable. As I was climbing the hill at the end of the section I heard the bells and yelling so I knew the aid station was close and when I popped out of the woods it was great to see Tom waiting for me and direct me to the crew. I changed socks at this aid station, it was still raining but I still felt great and was very positive.
Leaving the Fire Tower aid station Bill let me know I was about 15 minutes a head of my planned time. I didn't see it as an issue, I was just taking what the day was giving me. Most of the section from Fire Tower to Pleasant Hill Dam is not very memorable except the last 2 miles or so. However shortly after leaving Fire Tower I started getting a pain on the top of my foot, (near the top of the ankle joint) every time I took a step. It was not a big deal just an annoyance and not sure where it was coming from. The last mile and half or so of this section was very cool. We went through an area that can be best described as Jurassic Park. We ran under water falls, over large rocks, through/over/under fallen trees and through creeks. This all leads you to a root climb to get to the top trail, not tough but very cool. The photo's I added of this area are not mine but it gives you an idea of what it looked like. As I got to the top of the root wall it seemed like just a short run to the end of the trail to the Dam where my crew was waiting.
I did not even mention my foot issue as it did not seem to bother me at that point, or I just felt rushed to get back at it. This would be the last time I will see my crew till mile 27 at the start line ( Mohican Adventures). As you leave the Dam area you are sent down a lot of steps to descend the dam. The next aid station is only about a mile from the Dam, it is known as Covered Bridge and its the site of lone drop bag. I did not need anything from the drop bag so I ate, checked in and got back at it. The next two sections were by far the longest, both in distance and mentally. The first section to the Hickory Ridge Aid station was about 5.5 miles and was a ton of climbing. The trail was really getting beat at this point, 100 milers,/50 milers and marathon runners have tore up the trail into a muddy slog. At this point the top of foot pain was moving up the outside of my shin and becoming an issue that was on my mind a lot.
I got into Hickory Ridge and it was STILL raining. The trail was really just becoming swamp but somehow I was still very positive and the miles were going well, except for foot pain. The aid station was not very well stocked at this point, though they promised to be better stocked for the following loops. The last section of this loop was about 6.8 miles to the start finish line. Tons of climbing it seemed, but fun. I had not seen anyone since the aid station but heard voices in front of me and was making it a game to run down the voices. I was well within my planned pace and still feeling good. This section had mile markers ticking down till we hit the end of the trail head. As I neared the end of the trail, I passed a few people and got to a dirt road with a decent hill to climb. I followed the arrows which sent us through the back side of Mohican Adventures, crossed a bridge and ended up on a black top road that took us to a black top bike path, which took us to the start line. As I got close to the Start line I was surprised to see my crew short of the aid station but it was the only place for them to park. I took a seat, changed socks fueled up and wanted ice on my foot and shin. At some point Adam wanted to try deep tissue work and I gave in to it.
After changing my shirt and socks and taking some fuel we took the calf sleeves off, hoping that was the cause of my foot/shin issue. I was about to head out and Bill advised me I was still about 15 minutes a head of my plan. I left my crew and went to the aid station and checked in. Then off I went on my 2nd loop.
Realizing I was spending too much time at the aid stations, I felt pressure to blow through the rest, but knew I needed to stop and get what I needed as well..... this was going to have to be balanced well because the foot/ shin had now become a point of concern. I enjoyed the pace I was running, very slow but controlled, never out of breath or over reaching in this section. As I heard the noise of the aid station I was surprised how quickly the miles passed. I came in, sat down and Adam went to work on my foot again as I fueled up. This stop was much quicker and I got up to get ready to head out, checking with Bill, I was only a couple minutes a head on that section so I slowed to my planned pace for this loop, I was happy about that. I did tell Tom I was really wanting some Pizza for some reason and had hoped the aid stations would have some soon. Away I go on my way to the Fire tower..... in the rain.
As I stated before, the trails were complete shit at this point but my attitude was awesome and I accepted that this is my reality and everyone was fighting the same conditions. My foot was hurting and starting to swell ( from the deep massage I think). This section was enjoyable and before I knew it I was back to the climb before Fire Tower aid station. When I came out of the woods I once again seen Tom, who directed me to keep going through the trail about a half mile and the crew was set up in a parking lot just off the trail. I got there and they had a great surprise for me..... PIZZA! I ate as Adam tried to do something with my ankle, and Bill in formed me I was still right on pace. I asked about Pat and Mark. I was told
Pat says slow down and Mark would be there in a few hours. I spent far too much time feeding my face, but I needed a rest and it was nice to get under the make shift shelter the crew made and be out of the rain for a bit.
I got going again and before I knew it I was at the root wall, this time it was a bit harder to climb due to mud from all the other runners shoes but still fun. I came to the Dam right on time and my crew was there. My foot was really hurting at this point, so I got off of it for a few minutes while I ate. I was really excited because I had just passed my longest run ever and I was right where I wanted to be time wise and felt amazing other than the foot. As I got up I informed my crew I would be late the next time I would meet up with them due to trail conditions and wanted to save my foot a bit. I got going down that large hill again and on my way to Covered Bridge aid station. This time through it was very, very muddy and I just wanted to start climbing to Hickory Ridge aid station because the trail was a bit dryer while climbing for some reason.
I checked in at the Covered Bridge aid station and was on my way. This section seemed to take a long time, it was getting late and I had had my fill of aid station food and was taking fruit and eating gels. I finally got to Hickory Ridge and got some more fruit and pop ate and drank while I walked. I was getting tired... wanted a nap, ha ha. I got through the muddy mess and back out to the dirt road hill through the back side of Mohican Adventures, on the bike trail and ran till I got to my crew. I was happy to see them and excited to see Pat was there. At this point my foot/shin/and ankle had a ton of swelling, the crew iced and I changed my shirt, grabbed my hydration pack changed shoes and socks. Mark had got there also, so my crew was huge and things got very confusing for me and a bit stressful. Pat kept trying to get me out of there and finally I was able to do so. Adam was on pacing duty now so my next 23 miles I would have company.
The 3rd loop started well enough, but it was not long and I started to feel blisters starting. I could not believe it, to get about 55 miles in the rain with no blisters then they start when the rain stops and I get fresh socks and shoes. In order to save my foot Adam and I took this section as a run and hike. Pace was great and when we got to the Gorge Overlook aid station we hit the target time and things were looking good, I was still on my 27-28 hr goal. The next stop for us was the Fire Tower, most of this section for me was a blur. I just could not focus and my blisters on my right foot and both heels were getting much worse, so I stopped and made my shoes much tighter, as I think the crew let them way too loose, I should have adjusted them before I left the Mohican Adventures aid station but I kind of just wanted out of there.
As we made our way to the Fire Tower aid station we walked into a very sad state of affairs, lots of drops and folks looked rough. I grabbed some food and pop and headed over to the crew. Again we iced my foot I had some coffee and things were very, very confusing. We tried mole skin and tape on my feet to help the blistering but nothing would stick. I spent 20 min. there and only got stressed for the time spent. Since this loop is shorter, we would not see the root wall or Dam again, so the section was about 2.6 miles long. We started out hiking and I finished my coffee, did a lot of chatting and ended up walking the whole thing, my feet hurt so bad at this point. As we came into Covered Bridge Adam grabbed my drop bag, I lubed the blisters up really well, had coffee and some food and off we went.
It was getting very late and we had some ground to cover. As we climbed up a long hill at the start of the Hickory Ridge section we talked time left vs miles left, I could not believe how much time had slipped away and now for the first time I was against the cut off. We were running and hiking pretty quick while coming up with a plan to get this thing done. The plan was I would not sit again and when we got to Mohican Adventures, I would drop my pack to my crew, I would check in at the aid station, Pat would bring my pack and batteries for head lamp to me and we would head out with out wasting any time. All I had to do now was make the cut off. Adam and I were passing folks, it was fun, Adam says see those fireflies (headlamps), lets catch em...lol and that's what we did for miles. But with about 4 miles to go before leaving the woods for the dirt road I ran out of steam and my feet didn't want to work with me. The blisters hurt so bad, the swelling and pain in the foot was making it very hard to take steps.... and time was slipping away.
We were within a couple miles from the dirt road and I could not put pressure on either. If I step on roots or rocks I would just tip, Adam would grab my pack and help me out, we did this for a mile or so then I came to realize it was after 5 and I had failed... more than 3 miles in less than 30 min was not going to happen at the pace I was reduced to. It was a tough few minutes of conversation with Adam but we both knew it was over I was not going to make the cutoff. At this point Adam suggested going to get his car and meeting me at the road instead of walking the dirt road and bike path. I agreed this was a good idea but we ended up just parking me on the side of the trail to get the pressure off my feet. I fell asleep while there, for about 45 min or so, till the crew came into the woods to get me. We went out of the trail on a side trail that dumped into the camp ground, and ended up getting a ride down to the cars from a camper we accidentally woke up.
When I got back to the cabin I took a shower, chatted with the crew for a bit, then fell asleep while I had my legs elevated. I woke up and everyone was gone and Denise was packing up the car. I knew it had to be around noon for sure, but it was only 9:30. We checked out and finished loading the car and headed for home.
As I sit here and type this a week later, I feel unfulfilled but I know I did give it all I had. I am happy to have made it 75 miles and that so much of my plan went well. A few things will change for my next 100, such as a much, MUCH smaller crew, too confusing and stressful late in the day. I will tie my own shoes and make as many adjustments myself as I can, go with my gut when I have a strong feeling about something and not use so much Hammer Perpetuem, it seems to bloat me after hours and hours of use, alternate with water is the answer I think. My foot swelling has gone down and I only have 1 blister left to heal, foot pain is getting better. I now have my attention on the OC100 in Oct.
- Black Diamond head lamp
- Sugoi visor
- Suunto Ambit2 R watch (http://www.suunto.com/)
- Race Ready shorts
- Race Ready singlet
- Nike t-shirt
- Amphipod hand helds (www.amphipod.com)
- Nathan Hdration pack
- Icebreaker socks
- Injinji socks
- Montrail Mountain Masochist II
- High Desert Drop Bag (http://highdesertdropbags.com/hddb/index.php)
- Hammer Gel (http://www.hammernutrition.com/)
- Gu Gel
- Hammer Endurolytes
- Hammer Perpetuem
- Hammer Sustained Energy
- Natures Bakery Fig Bars
- aid station food
- Hammer Recoverite
Odds and ends: