For my 100k attempt in Chillicothe, OH, after the 100k DNF at Woodstock, I experimented with several new ideas. I'm not sure which was a factor, if at all, since I tried so many different things. I'm also going to try most, but not all of the same things in my next race: Cumberland Trail 50k in Tennessee this weekend. A 100k & 50k are really 2 different animals, so not sure I'm going to learn exactly what I'm looking for.
If you love hills & single track, this event is for you. Many hills & almost all of the course is nice single track -- no gravel roads, 3% asphalt and maybe a few hundred feet of old forest roads. Four loops of 16 miles for 100k. The hundred milers ran a tough 4 mile loop at the start, then 6 loops of 16 miles. A 75k, 50k & 25k were also offered.
For the 1st 4 miles my pace averaged 18:40/mile! The 1st word that comes to my mind for this race is "STEEP" (my 1st word for some other races: Mohican - HOT, McNaughton - MUD, Owen-Putman - HORSES, Tecumseh - CROWDED, Grindstone - SLEEP). Since this was the inaugural running, I think most everyone (myself included) was surprised at the steepness of the hills. I've been on steeper hills (hand climbs), but never this steep for such extended periods.
There were straight up hills, but there were also gradual hills. I like to call a "smokin'" hill one that's just steep enough that you could easily run at full speed downhill and not fall on your face. There's one on this course where the downhill is at least a mile long, not technical and the only places that you need to slow down are at the sharp switchbacks. Even if your legs are shot, this type hill sort of "pulls you down" & makes you at least start into a trot. Well, on the 2nd loop of 16 miles, at around 29 miles, I came down this particular hill and halfway down I caught a second wind! It's a rare thing for me, but when it does happen, it's like magic -- legs feel fresh & it feels like I could fly. Those next 12 miles were perhaps my most enjoyable in several years in a race. That made my day, whether I finished or not. In fact, I felt so good I thought: why didn't I sign up for the 100 miler (offered at the same price)?
the short cut guy:
My second wind came to an abrupt end around mile 41. It was initiated by a runner who I thought I was "competitively" keeping ahead of, but later realized he had planned to cut the course when there was some separation between us. I had widened the gap between us to about 2 minutes (after he had caught me at an aid station). I was feeling great & getting into my 2nd wind & I wasn't planning on anyone passing me when I felt that way (surprisingly, only 6 runners passed me after the 2nd mile of this race despite how slowly I was running -- 5 were 100 milers who had made up the 4 mile extra loop at the start).
Anyway, cruising down the trail floating on air, I caught a glimpse of red way out in front coming from the right. If this guy wasn't wearing bright red, I would have never noticed him one way or the other (I wish I had not seen him). When I got to where he cut in, I realized what had happened. I blame myself then for trying to catch up to him (why? to look him in the eye? duh!). Anyway, after a short chase (stupid!), I gave up realizing there was no way he was going to let me catch him & I found myself totally exhausted from the effort. The next couple miles were the toughest of the day. I didn't get back "into" the run until I finished the 3rd lap & told the RD what had happened. I felt a little better after that & was able to trudge thru the last 16 miles.
My gut pain was tolerable, for the most part, the entire race. Maybe it was the very regular run/walk cycles with the hills. Maybe it was the special pre-race diet. Maybe it was the new acid reducing pills I took. More likely though, I just had a good day -- this pain is so irregular & unpredictable day to day.
I took in gels only (w/water, Gatorade & Heed) the entire race -- that was another experiment I tried. Just as I thought, I got sick of the gels after a while. One volunteer saved my race by letting me have some Gas-X. She said it was good for queasiness regardless if I had gas or not & it sure helped. Gas-X will now be a standard drop bag item.
I found a campsite that bordered the trail & only 200' from the start/finish. Unless you stayed at a campsite, you were supposed to park a half mile away at the public parking area. Having access to my car each lap was nice. Also, it saved me from walking that half mile at the end of the race.
Since the race started at 5:30 a.m., I ended up running 6 or 7 hours in the dark -- and under a full moon. There sure were some neat, but sometimes eerie shadows!
The forecast 12 hours before race start said a low of 45 degrees. I was prepared for that in my tent, and also brought a long sleeve shirt & gloves for the race just in case, but it was only 55 at the start (how can a last minute forecast be so off?). However, temps thruout the day were great. I wasn't going fast enough to generate much heat, but what I did sweat quickly evaporated with the cool breeze. All but the 1/2 mile of road each lap was under a thick canopy of trees.
Saw numerous "tame" deer, reminding me of McNaughton Park. Also met one whiney & disgruntled bow hunter (I was glad he was disappointed).
Race Director, Rob Carroll, should be commended for the great job, especially since he was directing his first event. It makes my head spin to think of all the responsibilities & everything that he did in pulling off such a multi-faceted event successfully on the 1st try.
Only THREE (3) out of the 23 starters finished the 100 miles, winning time -- 24:44 (17 or so of those 20 DNFs called it quits at or just after 3.25 laps, 52 miles!). 11 finishers out of 11 starters for the 100k. Happy to see that the 100 miler short cut guy did not even finish 4 laps.