Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Sulphur Springs 100 Miler

What a race....and a race it was.  Against time, heat and mental anguish.  O all you host of heaven! O earth!  What else?  And shall I couple Hell? (William Shakespeare, Hamlet)

Running Supplies
It all started well and I was feeling very well prepared....well mostly spoiled.  My nutrition, my hydration, the tent and all supplies other than what I would need to wear was all prepared for me....thank you Cornel.  You truly are the most considerate and caring person I know.  Just knowing that you and Claudia were in my corner and would be there to run with me when things got tough was motivating in itself.

Sulphur Tent City
Arriving at the dinner the night before and meeting some seasoned veterans like Guy and Lucy and hearing their stories provided a mix of excitement and apprehension.  Could I really pull this off?  Guy had only been running Ultras less than 2 years and he already had quite a few under his belt---held on with the choice of 100 Miler buckles I am sure.  Guy provided a lot of insight and really helped in finalizing my race plan.  Start off slow he said.  It was also my first time meeting the race directors, Tim and Andrea, and what an amazing pair. I would come to get to know them quite well over the course of the following day.  They provided the utmost motivation and insight to continue, but, we'll save that tidbit for later.  Everything was extremely well organized by all the volunteers and that was even more evident the next day.

Sulphur Mascot
Toeing at the start line the next morning, I was ready.  I took off at a comfortable pace and heard someone say, I'm just going to walk down Martin Road and let myself warm up nicely.  And, I recalled from the previous 50 Miler last year, how much havoc that Martin Road decent played on my quads.  Little did I know, but, this runner with all her expertise would be my running partner for most of the race.  The tips and encouragement that Robin provided along the way helped immensely.  I don't think there was a person on the course that didn't know her and lucky for me, she was using this 100 Miler for training and was running a slower pace than her usual stride. In the 3rd loop when my legs were feeling off, sluggish and painful, she offered me a Tums and almost instantly, I felt better.  Tums will be in my pouch for next year, amongst other things.  It was great conversation that passed the time away.  You meet such nice people with amazing stories at these races.

By the beginning of the 4th loop, the heat had intensified yet again and we caught up with another veteran Ron.  He was also feeling the affects of the heat and we collaborated and decided to walk the entire loop.  I had met Ron at a previous Ultra, That Damn Hill, so it was nice to catch up again.  Robin and Ron are the many faces of Ultras.  You see them at all the big races.  We had an enjoyable loop despite the conditions and even came across a snake in the grassy section.  Snakes, I'm okay with, now June Bugs, that's another story.  Despise them and the thought of them had not even crossed my mind at this point.

By the end of the 4th loop, I was still feeling pretty good, considering the heat and length of time already on my feet (considering I finished the 50 Miler in 11:35 the previous year).  Upon making another ascent up Martin's Road hill, I found some additional support at the top.  There beside Cornel was Susan, Jorg and Helen who had come out to support me.  I sat with them and drank a Radler while I worked on releasing my heel blister (never had one there before-in fact-I never usually get blisters at all).  When I started back down the hill, I thought, this is totally doable.  I started into a walk and by the time I got to the Hermitage, I was feeling good and really picked up the pace into a nice run.  I was thinking, where did this come from?  Then, it was right around the area where we had run into the snake earlier, that it was too dark to continue running and on went the head lamp and back into a walk I went.  It was shortly after that, that my calf seized, despite the salt tablets and lots of hydration through the day.  Susan met me at the last aid station and was willing to walk with me through this last portion. Thank you again for that, Susan.  Out came the June Bugs (you could hear the 2 of us scream as each one crashed into our headlamps) and the 3 Sisters to battle; while I struggled to keep it together to get to the finish.  I knew I was done.  My calves were obliterated.  I'm not sure, if they buckled under over use or whether it was the unfolding climate of the day.

At the top, when I told Tim I was done.....he said...oh no.....you're not done.......you have 3 more laps.  He helped with trying to work through my calves and Cornel was there to take over.  I think Cornel was a little disappointed that he wasn't doing the next loop with me as he had taken it easy on the 25k that morning, so that he would be in good shape to see me get to the finish.  Well, as easy as he could considering his daughter Claudia was also racing the 25k and the challenge was on.  Claudia was determined to beat her Dad this one around and that she did.  Her training and determination definitely paid off.  Well, just touching my calf at this point sent me reeling into pain.  I was happy to admit that I completed 100km (my longest distance thus far) and I would not be continuing.  Andrea also gave me a great pep talk and I am grateful for their attempts.  As I sat with Cornel and Susan and  drank another Radler, Cornel softly coerced me to try again.  It took some time, but, no convincing was enough to get me back on my feet, well,  until the pouring rain hit and then I didn't even have enough in me to run to the car.

The next day after a semi restful sleep, we arrived to bring down the tent and gather our supplies and were fortunate enough to see the last 3 runners come in.  It was Deborah, a gentleman and then Rhonda.  Rhonda was the last runner and this was her first 100 Miler;  to see her come up that hill, was so empowering that it convinced me to give it another try next year.  I think I've also talked Cornel in attempting the 50 Miler.  Well, truth be told, it didn't take much persuasion at all, come to think of it.  See you at the Sulphur 2017.

Happy Trail My Friends