A direct quote from my race report last year: "Would I run another race in Pekin in the mud - NO." Well 6 days after that post, I signed up for the 150 miler at McNaughton. Yes, I had a complete memory lapse! Apparently I recovered from the race after that time & had only remembered the good times. Maybe I thought I'd get lucky & there wouldn't be any mud - Nah! Well, anyway, the short of it is this year I DNF'd after 100 miles. I honestly believe if the weather had halfway cooperated, I had a good chance of completing the distance. But with 12 hours of steady rain before the race started, the chances of finishing were close to zero. Hats off to Ryan Dexter who ran a SUPER race and also congrats to all those who toughed it out the entire 150 miles.
I arrived in Pekin & set up a tent at the start/finish. At that time, I decided to stay in a motel as the forecast was for wind & rain. My old tent leaked last time, so I decided to use it just as a staging area.
I took a room on the top floor of the Holiday Inn after my experience with thin floors at the Super 8 last year. Of course my luck was not any better: the top floor was being renovated & my room smelled like formaldehyde! I didn't sleep well either because of the whistling wind & rain pelting my window all night.
I picked up my packet & prepared for the race in my car as it was raining steadily & it was very windy. As it turns out, in the cramped quarters, I missed lubricating all my critical areas . . .
rainy packet pickup:
I was hoping to follow the same game plan as last year: start very slow & walk ALL the inclines the 1st loop. I didn't have trouble doing that on the splishy splashy trails. It did stop raining about halfway thru the loop. The 1st creek crossing was almost at my waist & the current was fairly strong. I thought if the creek was up another foot with a stronger current, it would be a dangerous crossing without a rope. For the 1st loop, I finished a couple minutes slower than last year, but felt I had used quite a bit more energy this time.
The course conditions really deteriorated by the time the 2nd loop began. The runners had worked the surface water into the trail & it became very slippery. In my opinion, this was the worst condition that the trail would ever be in. I slipped down several times (the only times I did so the entire race) & strained a muscle on my inner thigh. I also stumbled & fell in the 1st creek crossing with my knee finding the only big rock in the creek! The creek had gone down about 6 inches since the 1st loop, but I still managed to get everything below my neck wet! Somehow the S-caps I kept in a capsule on my waist stayed dry & my watches were both still working. By the end of this loop, I felt like I had used twice the energy I should have used.
Halfway thru the 2nd loop, the clouds cleared off & the sun came out. All my 3rd loop was in the bright sun -- nice! With the wind & sun, I noticed a difference in the course conditions immediately. The biggest surprise of the entire race was "where" the course was the most difficult to run. Last year, the hilly 1st half had a layer of "peanut butter" mud that made it like a mud ski resort -- this year I only noted ONE small downhill like this!! Also last year, the 2nd half was a good place to make up some time -- this year it had a few extra mud holes.
It became dark on my 4th loop. Ever since my stumble in the creek earlier, I seemed to have a chill that I couldn't quite shake. Normally I would run with less clothes but not this race. The fact that I was hardly moving fast enough to generate any heat was probably the cause for keeping a long sleeve on most of the race.
There were the usual numerous deer sightings here from late evening to early morning just as last year & I had a couple close encounters: one deer just casually walked off the trail to let me by & stood just 15 feet off the trail; another jumped out of the woods & crossed in front of me & "snorted" -- the snorting is what startled me!
The night was cool & as I was running I was thinking if it would just continue to dry up & with a sunny day, I would get some good miles in. But the drying wind stopped during the night & I noticed the course drying only very slowly each loop. As I had noted before, the hills on the 1st half were not like last year -- most of them were already dry by morning! I think if the hills were peanut buttery, my race would have ended in less than 50 miles.
When morning came, I was ready for the 50 & 100 milers to pass me. Last year I was 5.5 miles into the loop when they started, this year only a couple miles. I saw Bill, Paige, Brian & several others I recognized cruise on by, all looking so strong!
Nearing the finish of the 8th loop is when my legs decided they would not cooperate anymore. My shoes felt like 5 pound weights. The trail was in it's best condition & improving, but it was all too late for me at that point. I did not like the thought of only completing half of the race though, so I decided to just walk it in the 2+ loops (to 100 miles). I thought, at least in my mind, I would have then completed 100 miles within the specified time limit (34 hours) so I did complete a race -- much like I did when I dropped down from 50 miles to 60k or marathon at LBL a couple years back. Official finish time 32:53 (last year 29:25).
I did have a couple issues during the race that kind of reduced my fun this year:
I developed a strange & scary looking "rash" on the back of my legs -- I noticed some pain when I got mud on them & it felt better when I washed it off at the creeks. It was like small stickers were rubbing against my legs. I did not have this problem last year.
Also, I developed some chafing. The best medicine for chafing? -- don't let it get started!! No matter how much vaseline I used (tons) once it started, I was never able to stop the pain completely. My shorts soaked up so much vaseline they may have looked like I peed in them, but believe me, with that chafing, that was the last thing I wanted to do!
The Heaven's Gate aid station is second to none! Brian, Ellen, Gregg, Bill, Jeff and EVERYONE ELSE there -- you're the best! I felt like I had my own personal attendant each & every visit. Brian & Gregg -- Thanks so much for going the "extra mile" with my drop bags -- you guys are SUPER! Ellen -- I don't have the words to express all my appreciation -- Thanks so much!
Also I would like to give Thanks to Andy for his dedication to this event for so many years. It's incredible to think about the logistics for such a long event. I've heard rumors -- maybe someone will be able to take on the monumental task next year.
Next up -- I'm going to see how I feel later this week. Right now I'm tentatively planning to go back & re-trying the John Bryan 50k, a race which I was disappointed in the way I ran last year. However, if I'm still in recovery mode this weekend, I will likely point to the Dances with Dirt (DWD) 50 miler next month in Gnawbone, Indiana -- a race that I've already registered for.