Monday, October 10, 2011

another 100K done ... Oil Creek 100 Trail Runs

ok, i have run only four 100k races. there have been the 100 mile race DNFs at mileage over the 100k mark, but that doesn't count. i'm talking actual 100k race distance. so i don't have a whole lot to go on when even beginning to imagine what kind of time i can run the 100k distance in. i just look at my first 100k (which i guess also really wasn't a 100k race ... it was the winter beast of burden 24 hour race) where i ran 63.75 miles in 17+ hours. then there was the green lakes endurance run where it took me 13:42 to cover the distance. and then there was the nj ultra fest 100k where i ran a PR of 12:22. and lastly was the vermont 100k this past summer where it took me 15:56. so many different races with different terrains and in different seasons, so i wasn't sure what to expect for the mountainous fall race at oil creek 100k. somehow i just pulled the idea out of my head that i would like to run under 15 hours; no real basis for choosing this time, just thought it sounded reasonable.

so on friday joe and i headed down to titusville, pa, for the race. it was a sunny and beautiful drive and we took a little detour through mansfield, pa, to visit friends tim and jackie. we arrived in titusville around 3pm and hooked up with friends karen and rob (rob preparing to run his 3rd 100 miler in 6 months!). we checked out a bit of the course markings and the EMS set-up, which was really impressive. they were totally prepared to take-on any emergencies!

dinner at a small italian eatery and then it was off to bed in the car-V. i'm getting pretty used to this camping thing before an ultra and it's quite relaxing, actually. no distractions. just get your stuff ready for the next day, lay it out in the front seat, and put yourself to bed. this time i filled my hydration pack the night before the race so i wouldn't have to fart around with it in the dark on race morning (lesson learned at VCU!). we camped in the parking lot of the titusville middle school (aka, race HQ). nice to have real indoor bathrooms to access!

it was a cool night, 56 degrees was on the thermometer at the school. i slept quite well and got up in time to chat with some friends who were running the 100 miler and see them off at 5am.

6am ... start of the 100k. i wore my "team T.U.R.D.s" racing singlet and arm warmers. it was a bit chilly - 40-something at the start, i think - but i knew it would warm-up eventually and i knew that i would warm-up quite quickly once the climbing in the woods started.

7:35am-ish ... aid station #1. didn't really need anything; i had been religiously eating my perpetuem solids and drinking water and felt pretty-well fuelled. i ate a cookie and a pb&j sandwich and started walking.

9:11am ... aid station #2, the only station where crew members could meet you. it was so good to see joe and karen and our friend jeff was also there waiting for his runner, mary, so it was a nice little reunion. all three of them tended to me, helping me refill my water pack and feeding me. peaches and rice baby food and dr. pepper tasted really good for breakfast! the trail had a lot of big climbs and descents, mixed with lots of switchbacks, and it really kept me alert (mostly because you had to be to keep from falling!). it was an absolutely beautiful course and the markings were, so far, outstanding! i had been feeling something funky on the bottom of my left foot, which i had experienced at VCU 2 weeks before. i had checked it then and there was nothing there then, but i thought i better check it out today anyway and if it was actually something this time i wanted to take care of it early. so maybe there was some kind of blistery thing brewing under the callus on my foot but taping it just didn't seem necessary. so i took some gobs of frozen vaseline and glopped it all over that foot and hoped for the best. ok, it was time to go ... i knew it would be a long time - 17 miles and many hours - before i would see joe again, so he walked me out of the aid station.

11:29am ... aid station #3. i was still feeling quite good and running and speed hiking at a comfortable pace. still fuelling well on perpetuem solids and water. now they were serving some nice hot grilled cheese sandwiches, my all-time favorite ultra fuel, so i knocked back a couple of those with some dr. pepper. again, the course had been going UP and DOWN a lot but so far this portion seemed less technical than the first half, so i was happy for the break. still, the course was wonderfully marked and i couldn't see how anyone could possibly get lost ... even if you tried. from this aid station we had to back-track just a bit to some stairs that lead us up to a long climb. excellent. i love long climbs like this; this is where i get my time back because i can speed hike the hills like no tomorrow. it's the descents that kill me ... on my bike or on foot, i am a regular chicken-shit going downhill, so i have to gain my time on the climbs. there was also some really smooth sections of running from here and i was still feeling really good. the left foot bottom was burning on and off and the heel of my right foot was hurting (maybe from a bit of plantar fasciitis, but i am in denial of that). i contemplated maybe changing shoes to a more stability pair when i got to the next aid station.

1:34pm ... aid station #4. the trails had been amazing but i have to say that i didn't really enjoy the last couple of miles on flat grass and then the paved bike path and road. but it was what it was and it got me back to the start/finish/aid station area and to joe and karen and jeff. my own personal pit crew waiting for me. the feet issues had sort-of worked themselves out (well, except for that burning feeling, which now was present in the balls of both of my feet). i have come to accept this feeling during the ultras; it's from the wicked calluses that i have there and i just know that it won't kill me and it will eventually go away when i stop running, so i just try not to focus on it. so not having to treat my feet i was able to focus on my stomach. and i was hungry. karen had gotten me some baby food custard ... sort-of tasted like custard, sort of not. but i woofed it down, along with two cups of pepsi and two grilled cheese sandwiches (two halves, so only one whole sandwich). i had also still been eating the perpetuem solids and drinking lots of water and taking endurolytes, so i was still feeling really good. joe clanged the cowbell to get me moving and i grabbed another grilled cheese and karen walked me out. i had to walk quite a bit from here since my gut was just too full of food. maybe i ate a bit too much. maybe. probably. wow ... i started feeling a bit crappy. so i just walked; the feeling would eventually pass. soon, i hoped.

3:40pm ... well, eventually the crappy feeling passed and i was able to run again and i arrived at the aid station #1 again feeling pretty good. wow, the heat had really kicked up. a wonderful volunteer offered me a big cup of dr. pepper with ice and it was sooooooo good. i refilled my water pack just to make sure i would have enough to get me to the next station, and i was off, hiking up the steep switchbacks that led out of this station.

5:36pm ... back to aid station #2 and to joe! here joe would join me for the run home. i fuelled on pumpkin-peach pie baby food, grilled cheese, dr. pepper and changed into a warmer shirt for the impending cooler evening hours. jeff was here waiting to join mary, so he helped get me ready. i just love how ultrarunners' crews are so wonderful to help others while they are waiting. it's such a wonderful community of people. i consider all of these people, even the ones i barely know, to be friends. refilled with a pack full of water, endurolytes, and perpetuem solids, joe at my side, and we were off. i was so glad to get to joe in the light so that he would get the chance to see some of the course in the daylight and really get to enjoy it.

8:25pm ... back to aid station #3. joe had fallen only once and me with more than one stumble/close-save. my mood was a bit up and down since i felt like i was just not going fast enough. i don't really know where i thought i was supposed to be time-wise, i just felt like i wasn't doing good enough. running on technical trails in the dark is definitely an aquired talent ... one that i have not mastered. i tried to run when it appeared to be not so technical, but i just kept getting scared of toeing a rock and falling. but once again, my speed hiking came in handy and i was able to cover some distance pretty good now that i think back. it just didn't seem like it at the time. we got to the aid station and joe had some eats and i just had a couple of cups of dr. pepper and half a grilled cheese. i had been doing well fuelling with the perpetuem solids, so i really didn't feel the need to eat a lot. we spent just a few minutes here and chatted with friend brian who was crushing his first 100k. what a rock star! and then we were off again ...

10:52pm ... for several miles we had been listening to the oil pump that was pumping at the drake well museum, which we had to run around. it was the strangest sound, but quite comforting when up on the trail ... you knew you were getting close when you heard it. on the bike path coming back in we crossed paths with rob and karen, who was pacing, as they headed out on rob's 3rd loop. and then, finally ... THE END! after 16 hours, 52 minutes, and 58 seconds i crossed the finish line! wow ... that was hard! harder than i had anticipated. i wasn't disappointed in my finishing time anymore (despite my thinking for so many miles that i just wasn't going fast enough). all i could think was ... that was so hard and i did it! i finished it and it was so wonderful to have joe out there experiencing it with me. he paced me in at vermont 100k and now again he did it and he is a wonderful pacer and i love having him out there with me. we did it. and now i could finally take a nice hot shower and eat some food and put my feet up.

i can't say enough what a wonderful race this is. the volunteers are absolutely fantastic, the course is way challenging and really beautiful and extremely well-marked. the staging of the race out of the school is so nice because you get to get right inside when you're done and there are hot showers and hot food waiting for you. i highly recommend this race ... don't know if i'm up for the 100 miler yet but the 100k is a great challenge (although i was really jealous of the 50k-ers when they were passing me and finishing and i was still having to go back out again!).

what i think worked in my favor on this one:

- i fuelled well with primarily hammer perpetuem solids and water and hammer endurolytes. no stomach issues; no nausea, no acid reflux. felt 100% well fuelled 100% of the time. at one point i think i over-did it on the endurolytes, but i backed-off of them for a while and got rid of some extra fluid and things got back in order easily.

- montrail rogue racers on my feet. perfect blend of minimalist shoe but protective enough on the rocks and roots. love these.

- i primarily hydrated with just plain water. love the taste of it and it's much easier to control my electrolyte status with this.

- i did not eat any candy during the entire 62 miles. a first for me, i think. i never craved it and i think it worked to not eat it and avoid the sugar high's and low's.

- once again, baby food did the trick. love that stuff. and grilled cheese ... need i say more? there is nothing to say except grilled cheese is heaven.

- joe has crewed for me so many times and he has stepped into the pacer role in grand fashion! pacing a runner through the hard times in the dark of night is such a personal time, in my opinion. to me it has huge significance. and sharing a night on the trails under a nearly full moon with my husband was nothing short of spectacular. once again, a moment in time that i will never forget and i am so glad that we have the ability to experience this.

it's now time to rest and recover, drink some beer and eat lots. a few pics of the fun can be found at until my next adventure ...


  1. Yay! Awesome report. You have such an awesome support crew :-) I was so happy to see you guys again at the race. Next time, we definitely need to all go out for beer and burgers either pre- or post-race!

    pumpkin-peach pie baby food? don't know whether to be excited by that thought or to be disturbed. Awesome.

  2. thanks, john. it was great to see you and i'm glad you had such a great run! burgers and beer after the race next time ... it's usually tradition to eat a big nasty juicy burger post-ultra! and beer is always good. don't be disturbed by the baby food ... it's good stuff. a little bland - no sugar - but it gets the good stuff in you without the effort of chewing! hope to see you out on the trails soon!

  3. Chirs, I agree with the Rogues, just enough protection without the weight. The setup at the school is nice. Did they have massage tables set up in the gym? When I did the 50k in '09 they were just what I needed for the long drive home.
    Jim Chely

  4. What a great report. After dealing with injuries and issues over 2011, I am hoping to do my first ultra in 2012. Your report gives a quick review of how that may go.