Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Free State 100K Race Report

This year since I started running ultras we thought we would camp on run weekends. Since every year we always say we're going camping and never do. So this year was going to be different, so every weekend I run we're camping no ifs ands or buts about it. We were going to meet the Gabe Bevan family there on Thursday night. We were both camping with the families for the weekend and it was a really good time. My back had been giving me problems all week after a fencing project the weekend before. So I decided to take all week off hoping it would heal. I woke up on Friday morning and decided to test it out and hit the trail from Campground 3 around the cactus ridge loop and back 3-4 miles or so. I went past the campground because I wasn't paying attention and ran right past the exit back to the camper. I'm guessing it was 6-7 miles by the time I ran to the start finish and back. It was a little more than I wanted. The back was sore and stiff and bothered me a quite a bit during the run but, it didn't get any worse. So I thought maybe I could struggle through it. Me and Gabe spent Friday mushroom hunting while the hens talked and the rugrats played. Not much luck the first time out, but hit a spot on the marathon loop in the afternoon and found a bag full of 35 or so. After dinner we made a camp fire and we all ate way to many smores, but man were they good, then off to the camper for a good night's sleep. When I woke up Saturday morning the back was really stiff, I had no idea how it would hold up to 60 miles. I ate some breakfast and we all headed over to the start. When we arrived we chatted with a lot of friends and I was really relaxed until the start. Me and Gabe had decided to run together for as long as it was feasible for the both of us, as he was just using it for a training run getting ready for Western States, other wise I could not have kept up with him. We started out slow and steady. Gabe, Keith Dowell and I all ran together through much of the first half of the first lap. John King ran with us for a bit also. We chatted and ran easy not stopping long at the Lands End aid station. From there to the Kansas Ultra runners aid station, I now refer to as the swamp section there was a lot of mud. The first time through was fun, but after the first lap it wore me plumb slick by the time I got through it. I tried to keep my shoes and socks dry at first but, gave in and just lugged through it. I took a tumble and slid on my ass on the first lap and was covered in mud. We kept moving towards the Kansas Ultra runners Society aid station where I would get to see my wife and kid ,who had volunteered to help at the aid station. I refilled my pack and grabbed a bite to eat and and chatted with the wife for a second and we took off. From there we ran at a good pace back to the Lands end aid station, with a couple 6-8 mushrooms we found along the way. Rick Mayo wanted to know why we were mushroom hunting rather than running, we told him they were growing right on the trail and we just couldn't run by them. Off again to the start finish where me and Gabe finished the first loop in about 3:27 min. We grabbed a bite to eat and some more fluids and were off for the second lap 20+ miles into the race. I was feeling really good and the back was not giving me any problems at all which was surprising. Gabe had a heel problem that was bothering him and he told me to go on, at the start of the second lap. I was running and feeling really good at the start of the second lap, and caught up to John King at the Lands End aid station, we took off together and ran together for a while till we got to the swamp section again, I was feeling great and was running really well and slopped through the swamp section again this time staying on my feet. My shoes were full of mud and thank goodness I had forgot my other shoes in the truck and my wife had them at the KUS aid station so I had her retrieve them when I got there again. With a fresh pair of shoes and a few PB&J's and a couple of Stacie Sheridan's cookies I was off. I ran alone for all this section back to Lands End. When I left Lands End all of the sudden I hit a brick wall, I was running great and feeling great then all the sudden boom I hit the wall. And I struggled all the way back to the start finish. I changed my socks and put my shoes back on and hit the aid station for a bite to eat before heading back out. I thought I needed more fuel so I ate a whole black bean veggie burger as I left. I was a little concerned I had not been drinking enough because I had not went pee pee all day, since the beginning. I had drank 4 liters at least in the first two laps but was now running on empty. I was still struggling, and walking more than I would halved liked when I left on the last lap 40+ miles into the race. When I got behind our campground I got a surprise, my son had ran up the trail from the campground about 1/2 a mile or so and he paced me back to the campground where my wife and parents were there also. It's always good to see your family and get a few words of encouragement when your struggling. I had got a second wind for a bit after seeing the family but, that soon went away and I was back to a run/walk with more walking than I would of liked. Along the shoreline the rocks were hard on the ankles this time and I walked most of this section to the Lands End aid station. After refueling there, I headed back out to my last time through the swamp section. I tried to run through it at first but was just spinning my wheels and wearing myself out even more. I sloped through the first sections and low and behold there was my son Jarret he had ran down the trail from the KUS station to meet me again. He paced me back to the aid station and I really appreciated him coming down to meet me as I had been running alone for quite a while and it was good to see him. I think he enjoyed pacing me and he was a sweaty mess when we got there. As I refueled and chatted with the family a bit, here came Gabe up the trail and he and Stewart Johnson were running together, and they had caught me. I waited for a few seconds while they got refueled and filled bottles, and the three of us and a pacer Gabe had picked up earlier all took off together. I wanted to hang on to them as long as I could so they could pull me to the finish. About 2 miles from the aid station the tornado sirens began blaring, and from the trail it didn't look bad out there and we just wanted to keep moving. We were all running as much as we could only walking the steep hills. The sirens would go off then quit and then go off again, I was never really worried for myself, was just hoping the family was safe. It rained a bit on us, and the trail was soon covered with water making the rocks slick. We all finally made it to Lands End where the was a little crowd gathered wondering what to do. We didn't hesitate at all at this point we were going to finish tornado or no tornado. We didn't stay long and took off for the last 3.9 or whatever to the finish. The sirens were a little eerie at times and the rain was coming down harder but we kept it moving as much as we could. Stewart had ran ahead of us a little bit and the finish was getting closer, and running became a little easier in the last mile or two. When we finally came out of the trail at the road we were glad to be there and ran to the finish in 11:46 min.

My wife, son, and parents were all there waiting on me and was glad to see we made it out OK. It was my parent's first ultra and I they thought it was cool experience seeing all us ultra runners finish. They began to tell me how they had to stay holed up in the bath house while the sirens went off and that it looked pretty eerie out there. I think it was easier to be on the trail then holed up in the bathhouse. Soon other trail nerd friends came over and congratulated me, some of them had got pulled because they had to call the race due to the weather. I felt bad for them not being able to finish but, I'm sure Ben made the right decision. It was another notch on my short ultra belt and I felt like a learned a lot in the process this time. Can't wait till the next one! See you all there...

1 comment:

  1. Great race Darin! I'm so very glad you got your finish.. jealous, but glad! Hope to see you soon!