Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Tunnel Hill 100

    This adventure began by meeting friends at Boomer Jack's to celebrate Dale aka #TexasYeti Badwater 135 finish. Another friend,Lesley, was doing this race to earn her 1st 100 mile finish and Carl was running as well. Monkey see, Monkey do and I was signed up that night.  Crazy friends do crazy things and drag others along but I'm not one to resist when it comes to running races. The race was 4 weeks exactly after my last 100 and I felt that was plenty of time for me to get my legs back fresh. Leading up to the race I didn't run much after my Pumpkin Hollar 100 mile finish.  40 miles over 4 weeks but all the miles were in 6 runs.  My ankles were sore after that race so I just rested and fought through all the ghost pains leading up to the race.
    Race weekend- myself and Carl didn't want to burn a vacation day so we flew up late Friday arriving just in time to grab dinner and go to bed after checking our gear. The race was held in Vienna,IL and so I packed all the cold weather gear I had. The race had a 8am start so we had plenty of time to catch breakfast and just rest. When the race began at 8am it was like 39 outside but with the sunshine it felt amazing. The course was on a old rail converted to a bike trail. 13.4 miles one direction before going back to the start and then 12ish the opposite direction before coming back to complete a 50 mile loop. It was real simple,straight and VERY flat. I opted using a Amphipod handheld instead of my UltraAspire hydration vest. Most aid stations were 5 miles apart with only 1 being 6.7 miles. No big deal.  With 2 ultra's scheduled in December I decided to run this race pretty hard. Well my pretty hard anyway but that's relative.  I started near the rear and soon passed Lesley and Preston. He was doing the 50 and running with her during his race. After passing them, I kinda set sail holding a 11:30 to 12 pace through the 1st 16 miles. I had a drop bag at each end of the course and 1 in the middle and it worked perfect. Lesley brought Josh to pace her the last 50 as well as crew her the 1st 50. I was ahead of her so Josh was really instrumental in getting me in and out pretty quick at each aid station that 1st loop. I really appreciate that kind gesture!!  At 16 I was going faster than I had planned n was sitting on a 12:00 overall pace and knew I had to back off which I did. Josh suggested it and I had sort of already decided to back off to a slow run/walk and go get that buckle. 16 to mile 50 were amazingly easy miles other than stopping twice to empty pebbles from my shoes. I'd chat with a few people along the route and then I'd move on.  On the far end of the course there was a long tunnel to go through. Gosh it was like 600 ft long and pitch dark so you just ran towards the light at the other end.  About mile 37 I ran with a lady from Alabama named Tanya. It was her 1st try at a 100 and she was kind of down so i got her back to running with me and we had a great conversation.  The girl had one heck of a power hike and was so strong!  I finally needed to move on so away I went to get back to the 1/2 way mark at Mile 50. It was dark n cool so I decided to change socks and put my tight pants under my shorts and finish this race out.  I wasted 30 minutes there but at the time I was looking at a sub 25 finish so I decided to take care of things before I had an issue. I took care of everything except for grabbing a coat,gloves or a hat but I felt great. Going back out I was cold but after running pretty hard the next 5 miles I soon warmed up and all was great again for the most part. Mile 63 aid station- the cold was really bothering my hands but Lesley's friend - Preston was there and graciously lended me gloves so I set back out feeling strong. I left my garmin behind and just ran off a stop watch and it worked great. I would run/walk on set intervals with an alarm telling me when to do each. I headed back to the start line which was then mile 76 to get more calories in me and grab a jacket before finishing out this race. It was a really great run...... About 2 or 3 miles from the start line a train track crosses the trail. I was heading towards it and I heard a train and then I saw it through the trees....... Yea I caught what seemed like a 100 car train. While waiting for it, 3 other runners I passed earlier caught me and I saw more headlamps coming. Standing around was just cold. I walked in circles and then jogged back and forth trying to get some heat but it wasn't enough. The train passed and I was just chattering and shaking.  I found some run/shuffle and knew I had to warm up if I was going to be able to finish.  I got in at Mile 76 Carl was there with the car warmed up so I sat in there for a hour trying to stop shaking.  Hot soup, clothes, nothing worked.  I knew I had to go back out and I made it just a few yards from the start line and the shaking started again so I walked back and threw in the towel.  I knew it would warm up after daylight but I couldn't risk going out in that shape at 4am with a minimal aid station 3 miles away and the next full one another 6.7 miles past it.  The race director graciously gave me a 50 mile credit and buckle and I just wanted a warm place to sit.  Takeaways- prepare for the cold before it hits you....... 100 miles is dang tough but at no point until mile 76 did I ever envision a drop but things can drastically change in just a few minutes and cost you everything you worked the last 19 hours for. I've finished 2 100 mile races in the last year but I can honestly say that this was the strongest I've ever felt this deep into a race. At no point did I ever not have any run in my legs nor was there any nutrition issues. I'm blessed to have the ability to run these races at 48 years old and still be a newbie of sorts in the running world.  So many people will never have the opportunity to see how far their body can carry them so I went home happy.
  Hoka Conquest2 is a great shoe! I ran them 70 of 100 miles at Pumpkin Hollar and 76 miles at Tunnel Hill without a blister or foot pain. Tailwind,EnsurePlus and V-8Fusion carried me through once again with just a few chips to supplement my sodium intake. That stuff works great for me! My Amphipod handheld was great until it got cold. Next time up north I will have a insulated one. Team Trot provided me with a great race shirt and the 1st time out I had no chafing issues which happens with many brands of shirts.  TrailToes- you helped save the feet and the boys once again. Everyone should try it.

  Next up- Brazos Bend 100! Legs feel great and I'm ready to get it done! Trail Racing Over Texas is the premier trail racing organization in Texas and it's bound to be a great race! Yes I'm biased but for great reason! Til next time #RunStrong

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