Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Heartland 100 2009

I've talked about the "Finish Line" experience in an ultra before...but here we go again - this was the finish line just after Terry and I completed 100 miles. There's the man with the clipboard!
Here we are, all bundled up, giving it all we got left coming up to the finish line. The first 1/2 mile is on this highway and then the next 99 are on dirt/gravel roads and then the last 1/2 mile is on the same highway.
When the sun rises the second day, you start to feel better and it causes you to start picking up the pace all the way to the end!
I think this was at mile 75 at Teterville aid-station. About 1:00 am. All bundled up like eskimo runners!
This is mile 18 at the Lapland aid-station. Still feeling strong at this point and running in shorts!

This past weekend was the annual Heartland 100 mile run through the Flint Hills of Kansas. The warmest and most comfortable part of the day came at 6:00 am at the start on Saturday. It was cold, around 30 degrees I believe, but with minimal wind. I was over-dressed and shed my wind-breaker layer within a couple miles. When the sun came out for a brief time around 7:30 am and started to warm things up, we could see an ominous looking cloud formation rolling in from the north. Then the wind picked up suddenly, the howling, cold, blustery northerly winds that blew for the rest of the day (never to see the sun again through the clouds) and night...and the next day.

The first half, other than being cold was uneventful. The hospitality and care at the aid stations was as phenomonal as ever! At every aid station I ate soup and cookies at least. Had to keep the calories up this event because of the cold. We came in to Lone Tree, the 50 mile mark at 11:13 elapsed time, or about 5:13 pm, which I think is one of my best 50 miles times ever. I ate at least two good cups full of noodles with alfredo sauce there, and we set out running again. At this point I met a few other runners and joined along side them for several miles. I enjoyed the company of Kevin from the KC area. He was running very strong but I heard he had to drop at Teterville on the way back in. Terry Rider and I pretty much stayed side by side from start to finish on this race. We returned to Matfield Green, around 57 miles in exactly 13 hours, so I was really thinking around a 24 hour finish was possible. Then it got dark and I got sleepy. Oh, I forgot to mention I had a case of night-before-the-race insomnia on Friday night and, no matter what I tried, I absolutely could not fall asleep and ended up sleeping from 2:00 am - 3:30 am on Saturday morning, then had to get up to drive to race start. Not only was I tired all day Saturday, but when the nightfall set in I knew it was going to be a long night. Between 9 and 10 pm was one of the hardest stretches to stay awake. I kept dozing off while running down the road! I can't explain it other than when the chin hit the chest and bounced back up - I knew I had fallen asleep and then I would shake my head a bit and nothing was working. The road from Matfield Green back to Ridgeline seemed to have grown much longer with a few more hills but we finally made it there and had some of Dave Dinkel's Prarie Power Pellets (a great bean soup) even though I was feeling a bit nauseated at this point. Then we set out to Texaco Hill and suprisingly made it there feeling okay and the stretch from there to Teterville seemed to go by quickly, because the wind was at our backs. By this point, I had my UnderArmour tights on under my shorts and dry clothes, 3 layers on top, 2 pairs of gloves and 2 beanies to stay warm. The wind chills were in the 20s all days. The odd thing is that I haven't hardly even run in a long-sleeve yet this fall because of the mild temps up until this wild, record-breaking cold weekend! It went from summer clothing gear to extreme winter gear in one week!

At Teterville, mile 75 I changed my shoes to my trail shoes, which I don't know if that was smart or not because taking my shoes off and putting a fresh pair on sure did hurt. Terry and I set out down the road to run, which we did a decent amount of, to Lapland. We could see Lapland from from seemed like miles away before we finally got there. Theresa Wheeler, friendly (tired and bored and cold) aid-station volunteer met us, bundled up, about 1/4 mile from the aid station to escort us in. I sat down, for probably too long, eating my soup, because the next thing I knew several people were yelling at me. "Adam, Wake Up, Get Up, Get Goin!" My head had fallen over asleep sitting in the chair, even if just for a split second. That never happens to me so they made me get up immediately and get out of there! The next section is the worst part for me everytime, from Lapland to BattleCreek. It just takes forever and it's so lonely and so dark and the hills seem so long and steep and like there's 10 times as many of them as on the way out and the rocks seem so sharp and the down hills so awkward and steep and painful. (Okay, that sounds like I'm whining...I did sign up for this and I did have fun. Back to the report.) Plus during this section I kept falling asleep. I knew I had fallen asleep when my, mostly walking course veered sharp to the right and I'd kick a rock. Then I'd wake up again. I did this dozens and dozens of times. Then I'd know to start trying to talk to Terry about something, anything, mostly mumbling to stay awake. Finally...it didn't seem like it would ever come...but finally we made it in to BattleCreek in around 25 hours, if I remember right, which is mile 92. We ate some soup but didn't stay long because it was so cold. There is a really steep climb from out of BattleCreek then it pretty much flattens out all the way to the finish. It felt like it took forever to get up to the top, by then the sun had come up.

We trotted along to the Mirage Aid Station and I grabbed a Boost energy drink and a cookie to eat along the way, just 5 miles to the finish. Here Terry and I, finally, had the closest thing to a surge we could muster. We ran to the finish the best we could. Then we got to the finish and high-5ived and I went to my car, cranked up the heat and finally warmed up for the first time in the previous 27 hours and 34 minutes, my slowest 100 mile finish time yet, but certainly the one with the most brutal conditions. Normally I feel an elation of joy upon finishing, this time I was just relieved it was over! But I was joyous the next day! Official Results: http://www.ksultrarunners.org/hlresults09.pdf

I drove home, stopping on the shoulder to nap, slept most of the afternoon and then all through the night and then, surprisingly, on Monday felt mostly fine, just with a few aches, but not that deabilitating limp/stagger that I'd experiened in the past. Now I'm just plotting my recovery strategy for the Run for Missions 100 in a couple weeks...

The goal one of these years is to break 24/25 hours in a 100 mile run, anywhere. I think with fresh pacers and experienced crew, this can happen. Not having fresh pacer legs to keep me awake and moving in the middle of the night made it hard. Anyway, it was epic, it was cold, it was tough, it seemed like a good idea at the time, and it was fun in the end...yeah...well...kinda...you know...not really...but I can't wait to do it again...so whatever that means!?