Saturday, April 23rd, was the annual Free State 100K trail race. This is my fourth consecutive year to participate. I have always loved this race and the course, despite the humidity and usual incredibly awful mud. However, this year was just perfect. The temperature started and ended in the upper 40s with a north breeze and never got too much above 60 with a good north breeze. Low humidity, dry air, cloud cover most of the day. A couple of sprinkles in the afternoon but not enough to make things slick. My shoes were actually cleaner at the end of the race than the beginning! It was honestly just a perfect day to run and the most ideal conditions possible and was the kind of day that makes ultra-running "fun". Well…kinda!
The first loop I finished in about 3:45, intentionally taking it slow to save energy for the second two loops. Second loop was only about 20 minutes longer than the first which was pretty much right where I wanted to be. Honestly miles 22-28ish were my lowest point of the day – maybe the warmest part of the day. I never felt terrible but I could've felt better during those miles and I kept groaning how it was going to be a long day but I was soon to snap out of it and I played great mental tricks to go from section to section to the end. I left the aid station in 8:10 to start the third loop realizing that if I really hurried I could break 13 hours, which was my goal for the day.
I really felt like I ran very well my third loop. I never had prolonged period of walking. I always ran the flats and downhills. I maintained a consistent pace and never spent too much time at any aidstation. I had gels and electrolytes every 30 minutes or so and towards the end of the day more grazing from the food on the table. I never fell, only tripped up a couple of times actually and only rolled my ankle once (like mile 3 which is ridiculous) but the pain went away within a mile or so. I hated the shoreline section exponentially more each loop and loved some of the course alterations they had made which, to me, made things go by so much faster. I loved the quarter mile of pavement for some awesome downhill running. No complaints from me!
I made lots of new friends on the course. The funny thing is I still feel new to ultra-running but people are now asking me all sorts of advice. So, I share what I know and what's worked for me and I enjoy encouraging others along the way. I met up running with Zach Adams from SE KS just a few miles in and we ran all the way together until about 4 miles left. At that point something clicked inside me and I just couldn't hold back any longer. I flew to the finish, arriving before dark, never having to use my light. I did the last 3.5 miles in about 35 minutes which meant I was holding a 10 min per mile pace on miles 60-62. I was pretty happy with that!
After it was over I got cold fast, ate some soup, and fell asleep in the car! Sore the next day but no pain or limping. I've trained really, really hard this winter and spring so I'm thrilled with the 13:01 finish. Next year I'll knock off the minute and hopefully an hour.
Free State Trail Run is a very classy event with awesome organization, awesome aid-stations, and just an incredible atmosphere. You couldn't ask for better? If you get lost or run out of water on this course, there is really no excuse. 2011 100K Results.
2010 Free State 100K Report
2009 Free State 40-mile Report
2008 Free State 100K Report