Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Cactus Rose 100 Race Report (Part 2)

I wanted to quit the first 25 miles. As I scrambled up Sky Island at mile 18, I became so overwhelmed with he prospect of putting up with this torture for 80 more miles. I felt like I was in over my head. But, I saw a sign out there. The race director, Joe, had placed little placards throughout the course. Each placard had a saying on it. The one that stuck in my mind read: "If you're going through hell... keep going." I kept repeating that to myself over and over. Ultrarunners hit a lot of mental walls during these long distance races. The key is to recognize that it will pass. Things will get better. Keep moving. Don't stop.
Getting some rest the night before the race.

It was wonderful to see all the new and familiar faces out there. The thing I love about these ultra races is the sense of solidarity you have with the other runners. Each person is going through his or her own private drama, but at the same time, you are all united in the experience. My friend Dave Carder would pass me by and I would ask him how he was doing and tell him to keep it up, that he was looking good. He is a solid runner, fast and strong! I ran stretches of the race with Steven Monte. I ran my first 100-miler with Steven last year and he is a great guy. While we were running, we talked about - Christ, what did we talk about? Talking with him really helped pass the time and lift my spirits. Then, I would see my friend Lee Irons. Lee was super fast. He would pass me up and ask me how I was doing. It made me happy to see him doing so well in the race.
Coming into the Lodge, the main aid station.

I love running in the dark. It's a lot of fun, running as a group with your flashlights and headlamps on. Adventure is in the air. You can sense the excitement. I started off the race a little faster than I anticipated, completing the first 25 mile loop in 6:30. I got a little scared when I realized how fast I had gone, so I slowed down a bit and threw in some power walking. Fortunately, the mistake didn't prove fatal. Still, I must learn to not get too excited at the beginning of these races and charge out super fast. Slow and steady is the key.
Lee Irons and I right before the race.

By the time the sun came up, things started to get really warm. Almost hot. I took off my jacket, but even that wasn't enough relief. The day was a lot hotter than I had expected. As a result, I was sweating a lot and losing a lot of salt. I was taking two Endurolytes every hour. But, I noticed as I was going uphill, my thighs were cramping up. I put up with it for a good while - maybe 10 or 15 miles. When I finally got to Equestrian, I mentioned to the volunteer at the aid station my leg troubles. Olga was her name, God bless her. She told me to take four Endurolytes, not two. She also gave me a shot of tomato juice. I did as I was instructed and sure enough, the cramping stopped.
Feeling good at mile 65.

Calorie-wise, I was taking in about 250 calories every hour. That included one bottle of Heed (the Heed powder was pre-measured in a plastic Ziplock baggie at every aid station), one GU gel, and either a piece of banana or a piece of PB&J sandwich. If I felt rundown or fatigued, I simply scarfed down a handful of M&M candies.
My drop bags served as little portable aid stations.

By the time I started my third loop, night had fallen. I came in to the Lodge to find my mom waiting for me with Doug Ratliff. I met Doug at Badwater last summer. he is a great ultrarunner and a damn nice guy. He really helped me out. After scarfing down some hot soup and putting on my jacket, I felt like a million bucks. I ran into the night.
Race day also happened to be my birthday. On Oct. 30, I turned 25. My race number, coincidentally, was 25.

The rest of the story is history. I got lost. Wasted a lot of time trying to find my way back to civilization. Ran the last five miles to the Lodge. And so on. I honestly don't feel so bad about this DNF. I felt worse after Rocky Raccoon last year. Here, I know I didn't give up. I feel that had I not gotten lost, I would have finished. Hell, I was on track for a 30 hour finish. At mile 55, my time was 15:25:03. All things considered, my pacing was good (albeit a little fast for the first loop), my fueling was spot on (aside from taking too little salt in the day), and my legs and feet felt great. My training paid off. I was doing 120 mile weeks prior to the race.

My recovery has been phenomenal. The day after the race I ran 3 miles. The next day I ran 5. I feel fit and strong, ready to tackle the 100-miler yet again, smarter and better prepared.
Clothes and gear all laid out before the race


  1. Hey, this is Chris Russell. I was the really tall guy that pointed you and your family to Boyles. Very sorry about the DNF but way to battle til the end. I DNFd last year but finished this year. I'm sure you will do the same. Best wishes!


  2. Hey Chris! I remember you! I had a lot of fun out there. Definitely going back next year. WHat is your next race? Are you on FB? Are we friends on there?