Well, the week is finally over and I can actually sit still for a couple of minutes.
I completed my first 100 miler this weekend. I still can not believe it. After months of training in the freezing cold weather, listening to hundreds of podcasts while running on the stupid treadmill at the gym, and sacrificing typical “college things” to get in my long run, I accomplished my goal. And it was all worth it! Here is my lap by lap recap of the Indiana Trail 100 at the Chain of Lakes State Park near Albion, IN.
I started the morning off with a peanut butter, jelly, and banana sandwich (i think I had/made about 5 for the entire weekend) and a small of cup of coffee at the hotel. We arrived at the starting in good time, and was able to set up some stuff with the Northwest IN runners at the Wolfhound Racing table. Not one for standing among a crowd in the back, I and my running partner from Chesterton Paul Stofko, lined up right up front. Donned in my new headlamp, AK Ultimate Direction vest, and new Salomon trail shoes, I was ready to go!
Of course, within the first two miles I tripped and fell, but Paul helped me up pretty quickly. Also, within the first couple of miles I settled into a pace with the winner of the race, Jennifer Skelly. Though I not one to usually talk much during a run, I really enjoyed our conversation and it took my mind off of running for a while, making the lap seem pretty short. My mom, who’s biggest worry was that I would go out too hard and die) told me to shoot for a 3 hour pace for the lap. Since I was feeling good, and was running along side of Paul and Jennifer, we kept a decent pace, coming in at about 2:47. Having to stop in the bathroom before I left for the second loop, Paul and Jennifer gained a few minutes on me. I of course panicked, grabbed my bottle, yelled at my mom a bit (sorry) and rushed off to try to catch them-not the best plan for the second of six loops. But I was able to merge back into their group within a few miles and settled into their pace.
The second lap was basically the same. Just kept running with Paul and Jen, talking, and enjoying the trails. We ended this lap in 2:51.
The third lap, I grabbed my ipod and just put one bud in, so that I could keep talking with Paul and Jenn. By the last couple of miles though, our group finally separated as Jenn pulled ahead of Paul and I was few minutes behind him. I was okay with it, knowing I would get to see Tracy my first pacer on the next lap. Coming in, I still felt good and was ready to get the fourth lap started. I came in at 3:03.
I had so much fun with Tracy. I was still in a good mood, eating well, and not feeling any worse than the last two laps. Tracy and I had decent pace, but I could feel myself slow down, and we walked a little more than I have been when starting and finishing the hills. That was one surprising aspect of the race I had: I never felt like I had to walk, or wanted to keep walking after a hill. As soon as it was over I was running. Tracy and I breezed through the fourth lap in 3:28, just making my personal goal of trying to get in by 3:30. At the end of this loop I was feeling a couple of hot spots on my foot, I think just because my foot was sliding around when the trail was banked (yeah ill get to that little joy later), so at my crew station, I ended up switching shoes. I also was given Blister Shield from Dave Sullivan at Wolfhound Racing, which helped so much.
For the start of the fifth loop I grabbed my long sleeve shirt again and headlamp, since the temp was dropping. This was probably my “low” point of the race. For the first couple of miles until I hit the aid station at 4.5, I was not feeling that energetic, yet my pacer, Dawn was great. I think she talked non-stop the entire 16.6 miles, keeping me well entertained! But my mood quickly shifted after seeing my mom and Tracy and the aid station, who were taking pictures and shoving food in my hands. As we got closer to the next aid, at around mile 8.5, I had, had half an espresso gel, was smiling, and gushing to Dawn about my love of peanut butter. We were flying through these miles, and I was feeling great. And then it snapped. We were within two miles of the last aid station, and something in my ankle rolled, popped, something and was almost in tears. So, going back, the majority of the trail was slightly banked downwards to the right, straining the inside of my left ankle pretty bad, but I did not think anything of it before. By the 5th lap, my ankle had enough. I hobbled, leaning on the under 5 foot body of my pacer, towards the aid station, and asked for tape. We managed to tape the ankle so that I could run, I finally got some Pepsi down my throat, and we took off for the last few miles to the finish line. I’ll admit, I was sad. I was afraid that one I couldn’t run and two, that I would have to force my mom to walk with me the 16 miles of the last lap-something I absolutely did not want to do. So, half hobbling, half running on the left side of foot, I managed to get to my crew, coming in at 3:57 for that lap. What really upset was that we were doing so well before that. Without the ankle problem, Dawn and I would have been in probably 10-15 minutes faster. 😦
So the final lap. I hobbled to my crew collapsed on the bench and demanded tape or just cut the foot off. Not knowing exactly how to do it to best stabilize my foot, Tom Taylor, another NW Indiana guy, and here with Dave, suggested putting on compression socks, which I had in my bag. With those on, a little more taping, and back to my Salomon shoes, my mom and began the final loop, after spending nearly 11 minutes there! I was not completely devastated, knowing I had more fight in me. With that, mom and I took off running all the leveled parts of the trail, including the hills. Yes, my mom would be in front me and we just ran as much as we could up a hill, until I had to stop and walk a bit, then back to running. For being the 6th lap of a 100 mile race, I probably ran more on that last lap than earlier in the race! But I said, if I can run, run. The parts that were again angled down, and any turn towards the left, hurt and forced me to walk. For some, my mom was the crutch (again another skinny woman trying support me, I really need some big burly pacers to just carry me) and we ran/hobbled together as much as we could. Despite the pitiful “running” I stayed almost upbeat for the entire lap. We talked, laughed, she cursed at the trail, and I ate my last peanut butter sandwich. It was a good time, even though i had been up for 18 hours running. We sped through aide stations, just trying to get done as soon as possible. I was still good with food, taking in another half of espresso gel and grilled cheese around mile 8.5. By the last aide station, I was ready to be done. And my stalker finally caught me. For the entire race I had been in second place, first Indiana finisher-which gets its own award. Right after the aid station I could hear voices, and I knew that one was a woman. Though I secretly wanted to throw my headlamp at her, I am impressed. She flew by me and was looking great. She did deserve her place. had stopped talking and my mom was just pushing me through. As we crossed the last road and parking lot (which was again slanted! AGH), we could see the lights at the end. I took off, mind blank, just getting one foot in front of the other. Mom left and I ran into the shoot and over the finish line. Though I didn’t burst into tears, the emotion I felt was amazing. I was handed my belt buckle, hugged and congratulated and posed for pictures. I think about it now, and am smiling. It was such an amazing feeling. My mom was crying and my pacers came running up to say good job. Paul even stayed around waiting for me to finish, which was awesome of him. He finished about 10 minutes ahead completing the 100 miler just 3 weeks after he won the Potawatomi Trail 150 race!
Sitting nicely in my chair, my dad gave me dreamed-about chocolate protein shake, as we talked about the last lap. I was so overwhelmed that some things that happened are still fuzzy. Dave Sullivan offered me a sponsorship with his team, Wolfhound Racing. I will now race for and with the team, and transitioning into running in Inov8 shoes. I could not believe what he was saying, and I am so grateful and so excited to start my running career!
Overall, I want to thank Mike P the race director and all of the volunteers and helpers at the race. It was a great first 100, and I enjoyed every minute of it! (Mostly) Also, I want to thank my amazing parents who stayed up all day and night to crew and help me. I could not have done it without them! And another round of thanks to my support group and pacers, Dave, Tom, Tracy, and Dawn, and of course to my running partner and inspiration Paul Stofko! He has been an incredible friend/mentor and I could not have done so well without him. I also want to say congrats and thanks to Jen Skelly the winner of the race. She was incredible and I look forward to running with her again!