This was my first 100k and I was very nervous going into it. I picked a tough race, because I wanted it to be a qualifier for Western States and I like to try things that scare me a bit. It's more motivating.
I trained on nearly all of the course with the Quicksilver Running Club training runs, so I was familiar with what to expect. That made me even more nervous! In particular, the stretch called "Dog Meat" after 24 miles -- a 5+ mile climb back out of Sierra Azul Open Space preserve. In addition, the scramble up a rock bed at mile 43. As is usual, Kristin and I took the Friday off and settled into a local hotel to get a good nights rest. We had a 4pm dinner at Buca di Beppo to "carbo load" and were in bed before dark!
The summary: the training really paid off and I had a blast. Kristin ran it with me as usual and we took the first 24 miles pretty easy. Temperatures were much cooler than we expected and the sun didn't peak out until we were entering Sierra Azul. This meant the Dog Meat climb would be hot, but I was expecting that. We ran a bunch of this section right behind Jim Magill whom we met on the training runs. We knew his pace was roughly our goal and he has a ton of experience. This paid off. We kept taking longer at aid stations and Jim would be in and out, but we would catch up to him 5-10 minutes later. This repeated for the entire day through mile 50 or so basically.
We took a few extra minutes at the Lexington Reservoir aid station. Kristin changed shoes and I drank some chocolate soy milk. This later made my stomach a bit upset, but a couple antacids fixed it. The climb up Dog Meat was not as hard as we thought. Kristin and I both brought music to help with this and it was fantastic. I had a few Guns 'n Roses songs, Deadmau5 and Cake (A Long Line of Cars) come on during the random shuffle. Somehow, the Cake song gave me an epiphany that it is a metaphor for life, this race, and many other things. It made me smile and have goosebumps on my arms. A long line of people going up Dog Meat for no reason. Well, at least it kept my mind busy and got me to the top. :)
At the top, I made sure to take care of myself with ice in the hat, on my back, and in my pack. There was a lot of shade along the way which was great. We made our way back to the Hick's Road aid station (pic below) where Kristin's Dad would meet us for the first time to crew. He had our supplies and ice. It was great to see a familiar face and he confirmed that we were right on our predicted time. Everything felt great and it was already mile 35! We knew that the hardest climbs were behind us, and I was excited, but the wheels can fall off anytime.(click to enlarge)
We made our way back towards Hacienda and through the parking lot. I briefly met Rocket Jones, a well known ultrarunner, who was having a bad day and dropping, I believe. Kristin and I saw her Dad again and we would then see him in another 3 miles at the Finish as we made our pass through for the last 20 mile loop.
We had heard that passing through the Finish line is a bit discouraging, so we expected it. There were already 50k runners having beer and food. We'd be back in another 5-6 hours though! We also forgot about the upcoming rock scramble. However, it wasn't too bad since it was short. There was a photographer at the top that got some awesome photos.(click to enlarge)
At this point, my intestines started to grumble and I had to use a bathroom soon. I've never had to go #2 on a long run. It's probably too much information (TMI), but I always go immediately after waking so it isn't usually an issue. From our training runs, I knew that there were port-a-potties near the Tina's Den aid station, so I had to hold out. This was probably the roughest part of the race. I was able to hold it and it was the happiest I've ever been to use a port-a-potty.
We had another long aid stop at Tina's Den aid station. It was quite a bit further up the road than we thought from the training runs. Don (Kristin's Dad) hiked all the way in (~2 miles) with our supplies and we saw Sean McPhearson, a QSRC member who had organized some of the training runs. The aid station was out of ice, but Don had brought some. It would've been disastrous without this. He also had hand towels soaked in cool water. The temperatures were only mid- to high-70's but it was very exposed. I'm delicate when it comes to heat so I try to keep cool with ice. The towel was awesome on my head (see below), but it was also great to have a wet rag that I could wrap alternatively on my wrists to keep cool.(click to enlarge)
At this point, we had only 10 miles left and we both felt great. Tina's Den was also the last cutoff time and we had about 3 hours to finish. The Bull Run aid station had been out of soda on the first pass through, but they had resupplied. We had one last decent to the Enriquita Aid station and the corresponding climb out. These were the cheeriest people on the course! Kristin had some delicious quesadillas. I thought we had about 8 miles to go, but it turns out that it was only 4 miles.
Kristin's feet hurt a bit so it was easier for her to run than walk. We knew there were a couple more roller hills near the finish, but we plodded along and ran the flats and downhills. We both felt strong and could start to hear the finish line. My Garmin kept flashing low battery. We were still at least 30 minutes below our goal time and we knew we had it locked it. We crossed the finish line at 15:28 and had qualified for Western States! It was still light outside and people were still there unlike some of our previous races. Ellen, one of the running club members, gave us our buckles (see below). Shortly after Jim Magill came in and there were congratulations all around. We did it!(click to enlarge)
What I learned:
Epilogue: After a few weeks break and running only "for health," I decided to sign up for a 100 mile this year. I was going to wait and have it be a goal for next year, but after pacing our friend Justin at San Francisco 100, Kristin and I decided to sign up for the Headlands 100 on September 12, 2015.Strava results