Monday, January 31, 2011

H.U.R.T. 100!!!

So it's now 2 weeks after HURT, I can wear shoes again instead of sandals, blisters are much better now!

Here's the story from Hawaii:

I left for Hawaii on Tues Jan 11th, right before all of the snow hit! Perfect timing. I went by myself, stayed at a hotel in Waikiki. Hotel was not ideal, had no tub! I asked to switch rooms but would have to be a suite to get a tub so I stayed put. The race takes place in the hills just north of Waikiki, so it was only about a 15min drive to get there, well it would have been if I didn't get lost each time. I paid an extra $20 per night for a kitchenette, figuring I'd cook some of my own food during the week and for the race. Well, the only thing I really used was the toaster, I could have kept a regular room and bought a very nice toaster instead! Due to my shin problems duting training, I've been wearing kinesio tape on my shins. This is fine at home in pants, but I was getting some funny looks at the beach and walking around in shorts with the tape on! No way I was taking it off at this point.

It poured rain Tues night and Wed morning, there were even flood warnings for some areas of Oahu and one neighbourhood was flooded leaving people homeless. I went to check out the course on Wed afternoon after the rain let up. It wasn't too bad so I put on my gear and went for a short run to get a feel for it. Yikes. The first hill right at the beginning is covered in thick roots and takes about 25min to climb.

Thursday more flood warnings, I drove up the north shore, it was clear up there. The weather cleared up for Friday and the weekend, so on race day the course wasn't too bad. Friday I just relaxed and tried not to walk around too much. Fri afternoon was meeting and kit pickup. Finally got to see some familiar faces! Monica invited me to join them for dinner, there's a place she always goes to for pasta on Friday night before the race. A few other Canadians joined us; Rob, Tammy and Jennifer Anne. Then there was Monica and Phil, along with a friend of theirs Don Fallis who's place they stay at in Hawaii. So of the 7 of us at the table, 3 people have done Badwater (Monica, Rob and Don). Don's wife actually made a docmentary about his Badwater experience which was entered in the New York International Independent Film Festival.

After dinner I went back to the hotel to get everything ready for the morning. I put things off way too long, should have been more organized and done it in the afternoon. I stayed up late and only got 5hrs sleep. I had 3 drop bags each with a few shirts (sleeveless, tshirts and longsleeves), then packs of eload powder, powerbar gels, clif shots, salt n vinegar chips, granola bars, beef jerky, boxes of vanilla covered raisins, even a can of ravioli. I'd also made pb and j with banana wraps. Turns out the food at the race was fantastic and had a huge variety, I barely touched my own food, what a waste!

For hydration, I bought a new belt a week before the race which took some getting used to. My current Nathan belt has 2 bottles 10oz each, not enough, so I bought some other Nathan Elite belt, holds 2 bottles 22oz each, plus has ample pocket space. I still wasn't sure if this would be enough so I packed a handheld in my dropbag, I could get it after a loop if I needed it. I also had my Nathan hydration pack in one of my drop bags in case I needed it, but I was drinking Eload and I only put water in the pack so I didn't use it. I brought tons of single packs of Eload to put in each drop bag, along with a pair of scissors and funnel in each bag to speed things up. People would usually do it for me at each station anyway while I sat on my ass.

During the race, I had a gel at least every hour, salt pill and electrolyte pill every hour. Food was awesome, a lot of it was prepared in little baggies so you could grab it and go. The aid station at Jackass Ginger had a chef running it, outstanding. They even had things like steak for dinner, but I couldn't stomach it. The little bags of potatoes hit the spot, I could carry them along and eat later. A race this long was all new to me, I wasn't sure what I'd be able to eat.

For lighting, I had a Petzl Myo on my head, Petzl Tikka 2 on my belt and a flashlight in my hand. Can't have too much light! At night when I turned the lights off to pee, it was pitch black in the trees, NO light was getting through from the moon.

Ok, on to RACE DAY!

Up at 345am, had coffee, toast with pb and J, a banana and a Mr. Noodles. Put double kinesio tape on my shins to make sure it would last for 36 hours! Out the door just after 5am, at the course by 530. Jennifer Anne was parking at the same time, so we walked together up to the Nature Center where the start is. I handed in my drop bags, had a gel and salt pill, then got ready to start. At the start, we all line up across a bridge, then they blow a conch at 6am to signal the start, and we were off!

It's dark out for the first hour, so we had to have our lights out already. The beginning is just a slow march as the crowd makes a few climbing turns and then starts up Hogback, a very long and root-filled climb. After 25min it levels out, then heads across an up and down trail until we come to another steep, rocky climb. This part is repeated near the end of the loop. If you were finishing a loop, you'd turn left and enjoy a slight downhill, but we're at the beginning so we turn right up the steep rocky climb. I was running behind Monica and Phil at this point, with Monica shouting instuctions and tips back to me the whole time. After climbing for another 20 minutes or so, we come to a road crossing where you run along the road for about 300 metres or so. The smooth and level road felt totally weird after the climbing, even moreso on later loops. At this point I couldn't help but to pick up the pace, I was trying to restrain myself from breaking away but when we got to the road I couldn't help it, it felt way too unatural to be running so slow while I'm full of energy. I pushed ahead on my own, but being only an hour into the race there were still many runners around.

After the road crossing, it's a bunch more up and downs (more ups) until we get to the Pauoa flats. This is a flat section in the middle of a very dark treed area, but HUGE roots covered the ground as far as you could see. I hated this part more than any other part of the course. There was a 3 way intersection in the middle, so we'd have to pass though this area 2 times per loop.

After the flats, we start to desend down many, many, many switchbacks until we get to Manoa Falls, then it's just some more up and downs for until we finally get to the first aid station, Paradise Park. This leg took me just over 2hrs, it wouldn't be so quick on later loops. I filled my bottles with Eload, grabbed a bit of food and I was off. I always take too long at aid stations, I was trying to keep it short for now, later I was so tired I didn't care so much. I left my lights here in my drop bag for later.

The trail from the intersection in the Pauoa flats to the aid station is an out and back, so we then head back up the many switchbacks, this part takes 45 minutes or so, very slow. Once we reach the dreaded flats with the roots from hell, we turn right at the intersection and soon break out of the woods and climb up to the top of a ridge. This part is way up and at one point it's only a few feet wide. A fall to either side would be hundreds of feet down. Once we reach the tip of the ridge, there's a very steep root filled drop down into a valley. There's a few tricky rocks to climb down that have ropes to assist, then it's many switchbacks again as we decend down to the bottom and reach a river. We then run along the river until we come to a crossing. The crossing has rocks to hop across with a rope to hold onto, then right across the river is Jackass Ginger aid station. This one had the best food, I always looked forward to arriving here. The aid station volunteers would shout out your number as you approached, so by the time you get there your bag is waiting and a chair to sit on if you wish. There was a huge array of food to choose from, too many choices in fact!

This was again an out and back, so we now had to head back to the Pauoa flats by climbing back up to the top of the ridge, which takes about 30 minutes of climbing. The climb to the ridge is one of the only areas fully exposed to the sun and wind, most of the course is in dense trees.

After we get back to the hell-root flats, there's a bit of a climb and then it's almost all down hill for the next hour and 45min or so back to the start at the Nature Center. There's still a few climbs, but mo more major climbs, until you start another loop of course! Someone told me before the race that if you do your first loop in under 6hrs, you're going too fast and will be in trouble later. Loop 1 took me 5hrs 30min, but I was feeling good at this point.

At the start finish I grabbed some food and chatted with last year's winner and course record holder, Gary Robbins. Very nice guy. He stayed for all 36hrs on crutches to cheer everyone on, awesome.
I still felt great on loop 2. When I got to the first aid station at Paradise Park, I had to grab my lights from my bag as I wouldn't be back here until after dark. My pockets were too full to fit my Myo in, so I had to wear it on my head at 1:45pm! This means it would be on my head for the next 17hrs or so, left a mark on my forehead after the race. Near the end of loop 2 it was mid afternoon and the heat was really getting to people. The temperature wasn't too scorching, but the humidity was 92%, so this is when a lot of people decided to drop. Climbing the ridge on the last leg was brutal, it was under direct sun and very hot. I found out later Monica and Phil decided to pull out early in loop 2. Monica was only there to try and get Phil to the finish, but early in loop 2 they decided it wasn't goping to happen and instead they headed back to their hotel to make the most of the weekend! This was an ongoing joke for the next 2 days, especially at the awards banquet.

Near the end of loop 2, I caught up to Charlotte and ran with her a bit. She had a sinus infection and couldn't breathe on the climbs, but she really flies on the downhills. The technical spots where I'd slow down to avoid death, she would scamper down without slowing down using super quick feet. We ran into the start finish together. Gary shouted out 'Great job Charlotte!', I just looked at him. He came right over and apologized, he couldn't remember my name! Again, very nice guy. I think he felt bad, he remembered me after that! Loop 2 took 6hrs 01min, still going faster than I'd planned but was feeling good.

It got dark early in loop 3, good thing I'd grabbed my headlamp at 1:45pm, I didn't get to Paradise Park aid station until 8pm, way after dark. Near the end of this loop I was starting to tire a little, had to search for some motivation to keep plodding on in the dark over the roots and rocks. I brought my Ipod along on loop 3, but I found myself barely using it. Somehow I find it better to hear my feet when climbing up and down technical and rocky areas. Seems all the rocks were slippery, didn't matter where they were. Mainly because they were covered with muddy footprints from other runners. I was starting to sit down and take too long at aid stations. Earlier I was stopping for 5 minutes, now each stop was getting a little longer. The climb back up to the ridge from Jackass Ginger felt like forever. There's a bench at the top, so for the next few loops I would motivate myself to climb the hill by allowing a 30 second sit down on the bench at the top and I'd have a drink. So if I climb this steep hill for half an hour, then I get to sit down for 30 seconds and take a sip of a drink? Deal! Silly, but it worked. I'd actually count out 30 seconds and dangle my legs to get blood flowing, then I'm off again.

I finished loop 3 in 7hrs 39min, much slower in the dark and getting tired. The start/finish aid station after loop 3 was my longest stop of the race, maybe 20 minutes. I was still wearing my original tank top, but after sitting for a bit I was very cold so I put on a long sleeve. During this stop, Ultraslacker had sent Gary a message (he was tweeting thoughout the race) to ask how I was doing, I believe he reported that I looked like s**t, or something along those lines.

The 20 minute stop actually reinvigorated me, I felt great starting loop 4. So great in fact, that I sped out of the station and proceeded to turn left instead of right, then ran up the wrong hill! A runner heading the other way stopped me a few minutes in as I approached him from the wrong direction. Thanks goodness he was there AND that he said something, otherwise it might be awhile before I realized my error. I thanked him and took off back down the hill returning to the start/finish. I was pissed at myself for this, plus I was feeling great so I sprinted along and started to run up the correct hill, I only lost about 5 minutes or so. I also took a wrong turn elsewhere on loop 2, another 5 minutes or so there.

I felt good on loop 4, but had slowed down quite a bit and most of it was still in the dark. My biggest blunder of the race came at the river crossing on the first stage of loop 4. Previously, I'd been skipping across the rocks because I didn't like where the rope was positioned to hold onto. Apparently, my legs didn't have the same 'pop' as they did earlier in the race and I missed a rock and went right in the river. Up until this point, I'd been pretty much blister free, but that changed quickly.

Near midway through loop 4 way my low point. Feet were killing me, I was so tired of scampering up and down things in the dark, and the stress of time cutoffs approaching had me a little down in the dumps. Plus I was doing this whole thing alone, I didn't have a pacer and never really ran with anyone more than a little while earlier in the race. I needed some motivation. That wasn't hard, I hadn't really had to play my 'motivation card' yet, I'd been fine up to now. I thought about how many people were following my times online (I'd emailed the link to EVERYONE, family, friends, co-workers, clients). I thought about how much training and late night runs I'd done, runs in the snow, how many times I couldn't do something with my kids because I was training. I didn't even consider quitting, but I was worried that if I didn't make more of an effort, I wouldn't make the time cutoffs and then all of the training would have been for nothing. I didn't do all this and come here to get pulled. The thing that kept me going more than anything was my 8 yr old son, he was so excited for me to be in the race and I didn't want to dissappoint him, that was by far my biggest motivator. The morning I left for the airport, I found a note he'd stayed up late in his room writing for me to bring which I kept in my drop bag, here it is letter for letter including spelling mistakes!

Doned give up!
Do your best.
Stay safe.
Remeber family.
Good luck.
You can do this!
Go Dad Go!
We are chreeing for You.
Remember Schicks Never give up!
I will miss you love James.
Go Dad Go! (in giant letters)

So, obviously I couldn't let the little guy down and that's what pushed me through the rest of the race. The sun came up near the end 4, it was a relief that I didn't have to run in the dark anymore. I was hoping to finish loop 4 well ahead of the cutoff, but it was very slow taking me 8hrs 30min. I got back to the start at 940am, which is 1hr 20min ahead of the 11am cutoff.

By the time I left the start/finish aid station to begin loop 5, I'd left myself just over 8hrs to finish the final loop. I'd have to go faster than loop 4's 8h 30min, but this was in the light and the fact that I just had to push through 1 more loop to finish would give me motivation. I knew that I was going to finish at this point, as long as maintained a half decent pace. My feet were extremely sore from the blisters at this point, that was slowing me down more than sore muscles and fatigue. At the aid stations on loop 5, Phil would drive out to each and be waiting there to help me with whatever I needed and get me out of there quickly. I was starting to get really stiff when I sat down at each station, but I'd loosen up once I was back on my feet for a few minutes. It was nice to know that each time I pushed through some crappy part of the course that I didn't like, it was the last time and I wouldn't have to do it again.

At the final aid station, I made the mistake of eating a bunch of food, but pretty much forgetting to drink. I'd run hard on the first 2 legs to give myself plenty of time on the final leg, but I was thirsty after not drinking at the aid station and went through my 2 bottles too fast. I was worried about cramping up so I used thee last of my drink to help me swallow a bunch of salt pills, electrolyte pills and gels. I had way more than I should have, but I was ready to do anything to get myself to the finish. At this point I was getting light headed and tired; and my feet were throbbing. I was feeling great knowing I was going to finish soon, but I was exhausted and it felt like forever. I then started to get paranoid that I'd roll an ankle or injure myself with only a few miles to go, so I started being tentative and going way to slow over obstacles. I knew I had time so I was fine with this. Once I could hear the people at the finish and I picked up my pace, I was so excited to know I was almost there. Then finally, I can out of the trees and crossed the bridge to a crowd cheering me on, and I was done! I'd finished my first 100 miler! Not just any 100 miler but one of the toughest there is! I was extatic, people were congratulating me as someone told me it's not official until I kiss the sign that reads 'We wouldn't want it to be easy'. After that I plopped into a chair and didn't move for about an hour. I didn't even eat, I was so thirsty I just kept having water and ice cubes. Monica took care of me after that, she getting me whatever I needed and even packing up my dirty clothes for me, I was useless.

So I'd finished in 35hrs 17min 20sec. There were 111 starters, 32 finishers and I came in 24th. This was obviously the toughest thing I've ever done, maybe ever will, but I'm already looking at what to do next!

When I got back and landed in Toronto, a friend picked me up at the airport. About an hour later, I got a call from my uncle who was at the airport with a bunch of other relatives to greet me but I'd missed them! They had signs, ballons, all wearing Hawaiian leis, and a trophy that said HURT 100 on it! I can't believe I missed them! Last week my work even had a party for me. The company's owner was so impressed that he announced he would pay for a flight to my next big race, anywhere in the world! I told him I have a 5k coming up in Australia...

Thanks to everyone who supported me and helped me along the way. Special thanks to Monica and Phil for all their help; to Charlotte for her tips, advise and encouragement; to Charlotte's boyfriend Chris for helping me at all the aid stations; and to Jennifer Anne for helping at the start finish aid station, I can't even count how many times she ran to my bag to grab things for me. Thanks also to Kinga and John Turner for the tips and advise leading up to my first 100 miler! And thanks to everyone elso who supported and encouraged me, all the attention was a little overwhelming!

Here's a few pics: ... 858574494/ ... 736956641/ ... 862645064/ ... 861447938/

Not sure what's next for me.  I'll stil post every little while, not as often until I'm training for a serious race again, but I'll still post some stuff. Eventually I'll even get some friggin pics on here!


1 comment:

  1. Hey Morgan

    just read this last entry now
    it is a great read
    Really---what are you going to do next?