So, in my quest to successfully complete the Leadville 100 Trail Run later this summer, I signed up in February for the Booneville Backroads 100k. I've never run a distance longer than a marathon, so this would be a new adventure in training and endurance for me - and for Brian, who agreed to sign up for the 100k and run it with me.
Training leading up to Booneville was - for lack of a better term - sporadic. I had a handful of weeks where I was happy with my overall mileage, but most weeks fell short of my training goals. Regardless, Brian and I kept plugging along, getting in a (painful) 20 miler on gravel with our training mentor Brad a few weeks before race day.
Race morning, we were awake at 3:20am, ate half an English muffin, drank some coffee, and were out the door by 4:30. We drove to Booneville, parked by the Co-Op, and made our way toward the start/finish area along with a few other runners. A short while later, race director Steve Cannon led the bulk of the runners to the start line, accompanied by bagpipe music - very cool!
After chatting with a few friends, a prayer with Brad, and last minute instructions and encouragement from Steve, we were off a little after 6 a.m. Everyone's spirits were high and it was truly a gorgeous, perfect morning. Brian and I ran a relaxed pace for the first several miles. Our "strategy" was to get the first few miles out of the way, then walk up and run down the hills and jog the flats. And the hills were plentiful.
We made it in to the first aid station at mile 10 in really good spirits. And the volunteers were so enthusiastic and helpful! Brian and I spent just a few minutes here, drinking water and Gatorade, and grabbing a PB & J Uncrustable and some fruit chews before heading out again. I knew I needed the calories - but I HATE grape jelly - so I bit into an uncrustable and then shook the jelly out. Problem solved! :) The next aid station was a little ways off, at mile 23, so we continued with our run/walk strategy. I felt like I was keeping well hydrated, and we also were taking an S-cap every 5 miles or so to ward off cramping. Still, my fingers were starting to swell up like crazy, which typically happens when I run any significant distance. And at mile 17, we stopped briefly for Brian to treat a blister that had developed between a couple of toes.
We arrived at aid station 23 in good time and found our friend Kelly volunteering. She helped us refill our packs with water and locate our drop bags. Even though I had a fresh pair of shoes and socks at this stop, I thought about it but opted not to change either - my Asics were working out great and my feet (at this point) felt really good. Brian drank a couple of cups of Pepsi, and I had some more Gatorade, and after eating a clementine and grabbing a small Snickers for the road - as well as taking a pic in front of the Imes Bridge - we headed out again.
We walked quite a bit after leaving this stop, taking the time to consume a few calories and drink some water. By now, the sun was warming things up a little and I was off and on feeling a little nauseous. But we kept our run/walk strategy going, and a mile or so down the road we saw a couple of ladies (not with the race) running up a hill toward us. One of them had a black shirt with the slogan "Be Fierce" on it....exactly what I had written on the inside of my left arm this morning! :)
We had just completed a marathon distance when the sky became noticeably gray and it was apparent that rain was imminent. We stopped to pull out and put on our "rain jackets" which, once the deluge started, kept us dry for about two minutes. At this point in the race, we were just coming up to the first of three level "B" roads.....and they were doozies! It was impossible for us to run up or down these roads - too much muck to get any traction and several times my shoes were getting mired into mud to the point where my feet were coming out of my shoes. So, we stayed to the shoulders of the roads as much as we could, as much for stability as anything else.
Some of our "B" road highlights....
|A must-have selfie with cows|
|A snapping turtle that wasn't very happy to have his picture taken|
|Finishing the second "B" road and finally rounding the|
corner to aid station 30.
Heading out from AS 30, the skies slowly cleared and within a couple of miles it was all sun as we approached the third "B" road. This one was much more easily navigated than the other two, and our spirits greatly improved! Bonus - our friend Kyle happened to be searching the course for us and found us as we were finishing this road. We chatted with Kyle for a bit and then we continued on....and just a few minutes later we were joined by a dog that we assumed belonged to a nearby farmhouse. However, he stayed with us.....and continued on with us for several miles,.through the Holliwell Bridge, and even as we were on some fairly busy roads leading us into Winterset. Brian nicknamed him Spuds, after Spuds MacKenzie from the old Bud Light commercials. He wasn't a bull terrier, but he did kinda resemble him. But Spuds dropped us before Winterset....apparently he found more exciting people to hang out with!
Coming into aid station 42 at a park in Winterset, we both had hot spots and blisters developing on our feet and knew that we had fresh shoes and socks in our drop bags. So relieved to get out of the wet shoes after 15+ miles! Chris Nealy and his crew took great care of us and all the runners that continued to come in. We were at this aid station for 27 minutes - eating a bit, taking care of our feet, and hydrating. Brian and I shared a can of Red Bull that we had packed in our drop bag (Brian's first Red Bull ever) and got an instant boost of positive mood and energy. Chris also loaned Brian a pair of his own socks which were much better than the ones Brian had packed in the drop bag. Once we refilled our packs we put on our reflective vests, threw our headlamps in our packs, and we were on our way, walking a short distance to, and through, the Cutler-Donahue bridge, then exiting the park the way we had entered.
Leaving from mile 42, we headed north out of Winterset and made our way to the Cedar Bridge, just three miles away. We stopped briefly here for a restroom break (really we just needed to apply some body glide to some important parts! lol). Quite a few other runners were passing through the bridge at this time, so for the next eight miles leading in to aid station 53 we were able to chat a bit and enjoy a beautiful evening and gorgeous rainbows.
We were maintaining a fairly consistent walking pace of 15-16 min/mile, which was surprising because both Brian and I were really feeling the hot spots and blisters on our feet. But everything else was feeling really good, my nausea was gone, and we wanted to get to the next aid station before dusk.
We arrived at aid station 53, which was manned with volunteers from Velorosa and they helped us refill our packs, offered us brats from their grill lol (which I declined, but they smelled so good!), and - Ruffles potato chips! Yes! It was exactly what I needed :) I sat down in one of their chairs and devoured a cup of chips, drank some water and Gatorade, and changed into fresh socks. Brian and I were at this stop for 25 minutes, still longer than we had anticipated, but definitely appreciated the break leading in to the final leg of the race. We knew the final stretch to the finish line would be physically and mentally draining.
Leaving AS 53, about a quarter mile down the road the Capital Striders' Turkeys had an aid station and we planned to stop in and chat briefly with Justin and his family. They also were grilling, and I succumbed and had a slice of quesadilla - it was perfect and it was hot! Justin also gave us a bottle of ice cold Coke!!! It was just what we needed, as most of the water and Gatorade throughout the day had been lukewarm. Brian and I shared the Coke, and it was awesome :)
By now we had our headlamps on and it was getting very dark, very quickly. The miles slowly clicked by, we chatted on and off, a nice combination of conversation and silence. There were a few racers ahead of us, some behind, almost all were walking. At mile 58, we came upon a man who was struggling and obviously in a huge amount of pain, barely making forward progress. We asked if we could help and he said he was out, he had called his crew and someone was coming to pick him up. IT band issues - so sad to get that close to the finish and not be able to get there.
We passed an unmanned water stop right before mile 59, but didn't take the time to drink - we were within three miles and didn't want to stop our momentum. We were still between 15 - 16 minutes for most miles, even on the uphills, so we were really pleased. Brad had showed us a little "trick" during our 20 mile training run, on how to correctly position our hands and posture on uphill climbs during an ultra, and it really worked for me - very thankful, as I feel it really helped get us through the latter hills in the race.
We turned the corner at 59 and were now on a section of the 10k course. Here, I double-checked our cue sheets and somehow I misread/miscalculated the distance to our next turn. I thought it was .3 miles when it was actually 1.3 miles. (I chalk it up to having only one contact in - my right contact had been bothering me throughout the race and I pulled it out and tossed it at mile 48.) So I could see, just had a little problem with adjusting and reading. I was insistent that we had gone too far, that we had missed our left turn. And we couldn't see any runners' headlamps behind us. Thankfully Brian knew where we were going - the last thing I wanted to do at this point was miss a turn and have to backtrack! So, he calmed me down, and once we made the correct left turn, I knew that we were in the home stretch :)
We had 1.8 miles left, and we actually picked up the pace a little and started smiling and laughing, maybe a little crying too, because we knew we were going to do it - finish our first ultra together. As we made our way into the boat ramp area of the finish line, we agreed that we would jog down the incline and cross the finish line together, holding hands - which is just what we did.....after Brian stopped to untie and take his jacket off from around his waist, which as we started jogging had somehow worked it's way down around his knees lol. But it was absolutely amazing, incredible to cross that timing mat and get a big bear hug from Steve Cannon. What an awesome guy and what a badass race!
We crossed the finish line in 17:37:46, averaging 17:01/mile. We sat around the fire pit for a few minutes, drank some water and cheered for a few other 100k runners as they came in. After a half hour, we slowly got up, collected our "bling" (Booneville mugs) and hobbled the 1/4 mile back to the car. It was a long drive back to Ankeny, and we were starting to crash, hard. But we made it - the real shock came when we arrived at home and got out of the car - we were shivering so bad, you would have thought it was below freezing, even though it was still 60 degrees outside. Brian talked to his sports P/T about it, and he said we were likely hypothermic, after constant activity for almost 18 hours and then stopping, our core temps dropped.
Post-Race.....tons of swelling in our feet. I've had minimal swelling after longer distance runs, but never like this. I'd post a pic of our feet, but it would just be too gross. Let's just say that six days post-race, my feet are back to normal, after ice and elevation. Happy surprise - the actual soreness in my hips and knees was gone after a couple of days! I feel....normal! lol
One big thing that went right: Neither Brian nor I shut down mentally during the race. I never once felt like turning to him and saying "I'm done." This was huge, knowing that I can mentally stay in the game even when things hurt a lot. Big mental boost for Leadville.
One thing to improve on: Time spent in aid stations. I feel like, by the total number of minutes in aid stations, we spent too much time in most of them. We didn't budget for an hour and a half + in aid stations, but that's what it added up to. Need to be more efficient in this area in future ultras.
To Steve Cannon for putting on an incredible race!
To Brad Dains - you're the man! I can never thank you enough for your advice, mentoring and patience!
To Dr. Aaron Rector at Active Wellness - for a year + of sports therapy and advice, and helping me get to the start line healthy and happy. And for giving me a love-hate relationship with the damn graston tool :)
To Brian - for running every step with me in this adventure! Can't wait for our next one ;) No one else I'd want beside me.
And this - my favorite photo from the day.....crazy good people ready to do crazy things! :)
|Brad, Chuck, Brian, me, Tim, and Curt|