Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pinhoti 100 miler, 6-7 November 2010

On November 6th and 7th I attempted my first 100 mile ultra-marathon. I realized afterward that this was only my fifth ultra I had ever attempted and the fourth that I had the pure pleasure of completing. The short, I started and I finished with an hour and a half to spare before the race cutoff. For those willing to stick around a bit here is a brief course description:
“The 3rd Annual Pinhoti 100 is a point-to-point trail run starting in Heflin, Alabama on the unmolested Pinhoti single-track trail. Runners will make their way over the highest point in Alabama while navigating over rocks, through creeks and across beautiful ridge lines of the Talladega National Forest. The course will consist of 80.62 miles of single-track trail, 16.98 miles of jeep road and 4.52 miles of pavement and will finish on the rubberized track in the Sylacauga High School Football Stadium.”
Yes folks...that is over 16180’ of elevation gain and 16586’ of descent!
          Training over the past few months has been anything but easy, anything but pleasurable. Between excessively long work days, less than desirable training conditions, erratic training overall and massive pain anytime I ran over 15 miles I was worried. I had been having troubles breathing and my atria fibrillations were occurring more often. Poor nutrition and very little rest pretty much had me going feeling that my body was undertrained but my mind was not going to stop. After all, there is that little DNF from the Jemez 50 miler I had to work off!
          There was one more thing though. A friend of mine for our running club had hit me up while I was on my last business trip about what my plans were as far as crew and pacers for the race. I told him I had not planned on having anyone and was going to head solo. He nearly IMMEDIATELY emailed me back and asked if he could crew for me telling me he would be honored to do so. He put together an amazing crew and pace team for me and having them added another level as I am one that highly fears letting other down. I would have felt terrible had they rearranged their schedule and I quit...
          I check in the day before down in Sylacauga then drive up and meet with my crew and a couple other runners from my running club as a pizza joint close to our hotels and near the start. My brother and his wife, who drove all the way from NM to help out with the race was still on the road and would not actually arrive until midnight. I was worried about them bring on the road and did not sleep before they got there and then got very little once they got there as the walls were not exactly soundproof and I could hear everything. It wasn’t pre-race jitters as I wanted nothing more than to sleep because I had only gotten about two and  a half hours the night before and the race was the furthest from my mind at that point.
          We wake at 4 am after a hurried two hours of rest and head over to pick up my crew and head to the start. It seemed like everything happened so fast. Last year the bus was late with the runners that stayed at the finish...this year it showed right as we arrive, 20 minutes prior to the start. I said hey to a few of the other runners, hashed out any last minute things with my crew chief and then we lined up.
          On “GO” which was a loud air horn in the middle of the cold dark morning. I simply walked to the start of the trailhead to allow the pack of runners to thin out since there was only about 200 meters of logging road before we hit single track. Running in the dark, listening to the hoots and hollers of other excited runners I am trying to convince myself that this is a good idea and it is possible. Then I hear a woman talking behind me and some of her statements sound really familiar. I knew that a for real legend in the ultra community would be there with us, but was not expecting to get to chat with her for the next 6 miles. Monika Scholz ran and completed her 23rd 100 miler for 2010 out there with us that day. She is running another 100 miler this coming weekend. The awesome thing is that I got to run the first 6 miles of the record for the most 100 mile ultras completed in one year with that is cool. She is so awesome, very humble and admitted to me that she barely knows how to power on her computer and that her “blogs” were not written by I found that very comedic and told her that she is a legend, motivator and hero to many of us.
          The first aid station was just shy of 7 miles in and I wasted no time...especially because Monika reminded me that I could lose almost an hour by wasting an average of three minutes at each aid station. Though I had a great mental pick-me-up from talking with her my legs were in severe pain. Over the past few months I have been in SEVERE intramuscular pain when running any type of distance. So...basically...I moved, one step in front of the other, questioning how far I would go before I could bear it no more. At mile 27 my crew met me and provided some Zaxby’s...Tony G, his wife Ally and my brother TOTALLY rock.

          I muddled on and had there been crew access at the mile 34 aid station I would have quit for sure. Especially because I had fallen hard, bloodied my knees a bit and thought I had dislocated my shoulder. I was mentally defeated for some time after that fall. My stomach had been shot for almost 15 miles though I had not gotten sick. It definitely felt like it was coming. The next section was a climb up to the peak of the highest point (supposedly...I’ll get to that later) of the race and the mile 40 mark. When I arrived there was a warm grilled egg and cheese sandwich, and a chocolate peanut butter treat that tasted great. I also stretched and hit my legs with the stick quickly. At this aid station I was allowed to pick up my first pacer, Jim B, and things really began to turn around here in many, many ways.

          Jim got yelled at because we made it to the next aid station (mile 45.xx) in just over 45 minutes...I was the one telling him how awesome I felt though and wanting that pace. The more I held it the better I legs STOPPED hurting altogether and so we rolled...and got yelled at again at the 55 mile aid station for moving too fast. What can I say though...the months of running ONLY at night after a hard day of work must have made me adapt to being better at night. Before we knew it we were at mile 68 and I was trading in Jim, who is an awesome pacer and great guy, not to mention extremely talented runner in for Sarah, the RD for our very own Pine Mountain 40 miler that was RunJasonRun’s (Jason) first ultra last year. Neither of us knew truly what we were in for...and the next 18 miles was a slow learning work in progress. From mile 68 to the Pinnacle AS which is run by my running club it is one heck of a climb. You have a great runnable section for a few miles, but it then turns to a long straight climb, which just about when you are tired of climbing and can hear in the aid station you continue to climb but through 13 lovely switchback that bring you close to and then away for the aid about anguish.
          Mile 75...the Pinnacle. For some reason statistics really stuck to me at this point in the race. Statistics such as 1) no one has ever quit after reaching the Pinnacle (therefore I could NOT be the first one) and 2)only nine women had ever finished this hundo (Club term for a hundred miler). I got to see many of my same friends at this aid station and a couple I hadn’t seen at aid station 4 and chat with them a bit. We got the “It’s all downhill from here...” and headed into the night. The next 5ish miles were incessant climbing. We hit 5 more of my own personal “pinnacles before we hit the next aid station. My pacer fell and lost her shoe and due to hallucinations I was looking at a branch telling her I found her shoe when she had already found it and was putting it on. It was bitterly cold as well. 23 degrees is what I think it got to and the wind was relentless. This next aid station is where I ran into Jason (RunJasonRun) and his blonde accomplice (though I confess I do not know what she looked like or if she was even blonde as things were just not there for me mentally). I told her that she was messing up the statistics and that she had to finish because only 9 women had finished the race ever so she to help us out with the numbers. I had totally forgotten about the no one quitting after 75 thing until I started typing really botched that one!! Lol...a legit injury is legit though and I would not ever want anyone to risk their life, their health or someone else’s because they were too stubborn to tap out when they should have. After a brohug and a quick sit Sarah and I once again head out...
          ...and climb more. I got a 15 minute nap stumbling though this area for an hour or more before I finally started to some to and get moving again.  The incessant climbing was taking its toll not only on me but on my pacer as well. It just never seemed to end! Ever. BUT...on the flipside we hit the 85 mile Aid Station is great time. I sat, got a little warm by the fire, applied some meds to some chaffed areas and drank a coffee and an Ensure...a mile down the road my stomach finally revolted. We made it to the 90 mile aid station and my brother was patiently waiting on me to take me the last 10 miles. He was worried that I was going to dust him but I was moving at well below his fast or slow pace at this point. I was now at a negative nutrition level and though most can run 15 miles with no food (I can on a normal day), doing it after 24 hours of running is one tough animal.
           So we head out. Tony had told my brother to make me run. There was no tackling the uphills for me. My shins had been hurting since about mile 60 and now they were really bad. Even downhills were rough. Heck...just moving was rough. My brother was telling me how proud everyone was of me and how he wants to do an ultra and how three miles into the ten he was doing his quads were hurting and he didn’t know how I did it. He reminded me that my dad was a cross country runner and told me how proud he would be of me...he has been gone for 22 years now...and this race started on his birthday. Emotions started kicking in and his little ditty’s that he was singing me were beginning to irritate me and I knew he was really trying to keep my mind off how bad I was feeling. Weak, tired, massive pain in my shins...nothing more to say than just spent.
Once we hit the road it was maybe a 1 or 2 percent grade, but I did not want to run it. 2 miles left and I was content taking the next two hours to walk it in if need be...but he would barter with me...”let’s run to this telephone pole, then walk to that bush...” and that is how it went until Charles R passed me and said something to the effect that I needed to soldier up...not even sure but I remember I resisted and then I just said a term similar to “Fork it” and took off after him and his runner. Then Sarah (Sarah and Jim were waiting for us at the 1 mile mark to finish with me) said that Lil’ Weezy (another GUTS runner) was trying to catch me and I needed to burn it in. I lost everyone on my way around the track and finished strong. Much stronger than I had intended to or wanted to initially, but I am glad I did it...

HOWEVER...I did not do this. I thank God for this success, my wife and family for their patience and my crew for truly being there for me through it all. It was an absolutely amazing experience.

This is Weezy's Looks just like mine though!
I am not sure on how many calories I consumed but I took either two Scaps! Or Endurolytes at every aid station, a total of 4 Motrin to get rid of a couple headaches, two Celebrex and I ate at every aid station. I went through almost three gallons of water and am still 3 pounds lighter than before the race. Oh yeah...and I did not change shoes or socks the entire run and barely got two small and non-inhibiting blisters on the ball area on both feet. Pretty proud of that...though my shins are KILLING me!! Just so happens that is all that hurts too is my darn shins. Lol.

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