Pinohti 100

How do you race a 100? Going into Pinohti, I wanted to figure this out. I came up with two possibilities for me.

1. Play it safe and bank on a strong finish

2. Run hard(ish) from the start and see what your made of by the end.

Even as I stood at the start line I had not decide which option I’d use for this 100. Option one sounded smart and looked good on paper. I am a conservative racer by nature, and enjoy feeling strong at the finish…but is feeling strong after 80 miles of hilly single track trails possible? Can I think I can possibly come close to racing an even split 100 when I am not an experienced 100 mile runner? I had my doubts about option 1.

Option 2 scared the crap out of me. I have never been a good racer. A good runner, no doubt. But a poor racer. Largely this is due to my lack of desire to win. Don’t get me wrong. Winning feels great. But this whole “win!” thing messes with my brain. Sometimes I am jealous of the runners who get to enter races and not have anyone analyze their past “performances”, current training and overall experience in an effort to predict their ability to win or place well in a race. It frustrates me because I KNOW there are plenty of ladies out there who have more drive or talent or experience or whatever it is it takes to be first to the finish and I really do not care. I want to run because I love running. I want to race because I want to push my own personal limits. I don’t care if I am the best. I’d run ultras if I was half as fast as I am and never won a thing. And the idea of other people judging my running sucks to me. But I see this as an opportunity to grown at a personal level too.

Also, I wanted so bad to FINISH this 100. I didn’t want to go out hard and drop. Option 1 left a better chance of a finish, even if it wasn’t my “best” result…guess I felt I might not have what it takes to race a 100 when you do more than let the miles wear you down by simply moving forward, one step at a time.

Race morning, things didn’t go as planed. There were small hiccups in getting to the start and my tummy was giving me trouble. Nothing too bad…I figured I’d be in need of a potty stop soon and hoped that would have me feeling better. 

Runners had the option of taking a 1.5 hr bus ride from the finish line to the start line or driving to the start and parking .5 miles out. I chose to run the .5 miles downhill to the start, rather than be at the bus pickup at 4am. Logistics of a point to point course I guess.

As I approached the start area, I heard the RD yell, “2 minutes!!” Dang. I thought. I have to pee! And sign in. And find a place to stash my jacket! And my tummy wasn’t feeling like a potty stop behind a tree would cut it. I signed in, stashed my jacket in the back of a water truck and skipped peeing in hopes of a porto being at aid 1 in less than 7 miles.

This race was awesome. Point to point, and over 80miles of single track trails. There was no flat and a few climbs with over 16000 feet of up on the course. Small stream crossings and one bigger, knee-deep and many paces wide water crossing. By mile 7, my feet were very much wet. I was grateful for the runs I had done with 100% wet feet at Bandera and Government Canyon leading up to this. I knew my feet could take wet for at least 30miles at a go and be fine. I was also feeling lucky to be use to crap hot weather and high humidity. It was 97% humidity at the start and stayed humid all day with a high of 80*. Blah! Lucky for us runners, there were spots of cool along the low points of the course.

After leaving the 2nd aidstaion, my tummy was still feeling bad and getting worse. I hadn’t seen a porto, and the trees were way too thin to hop behind for a real pit stop. But I was caring not. I wanted to feel better! Too bad for me though, because my tummy was not interested in doing more than cramp.

Running with severe abdominal cramps sucks. I tried not to think about it. I tried hiking off the trail in hopes of a change in my tummy. But nothing. As the miles went, I felt worse. Eating was hard because I was so nauseated. About mile 40, I asked my crew for imodium or pepto. Even though I wasn’t actually going to the bathroom yet, I KNEW what was coming with the cramping. Honestly, I was hoping with all I had that I would just go to the bathroom and feel better!!!!

At the mile 55 aid-station, I sat down and changed my socks. I put my NB 1010s back on, but my feet felt brand new. 🙂 My crew had tummy meds for me then, and was trying hard to get me to eat…I was trying hard to NOT puke and only took Gu and Coke with my water and salt stick tabs. Lots of Coke though. I really think I did a good job eating. Even though I had to stop eating foods I normally would eat, I was able to get in over 200 calories an hour in sodas and gels.

Let me back track to the climb up the mountain of Alabama. It was no Colorado mountain. But few are. 😉 When I read that the climb was technical, I was thinking rocky. I wasn’t thinking boulders! Haha! Joke was on me. Except for the parts of the down where I sat and lowered my self off rocks, this was a big hike for me. But only 3 guys passed me. I passed them back a few miles later and never saw them again. 🙂

After leaving the mile 60 aid-station, I finally had to go to the bathroom. I hiked off the trail for the 3rd time and hoped I’d be feeling better. Too bad for me, my tummy continued cramping. And the nausea got worse. It was getting dark, but I just didn’t have the mental strength to pull myself together enough to run hard. I was so bummed that I spent the whole race dealing w my bad luck stomach cramping. I thought about my beautiful children and how hard things have been for them. How much they want things that they can’t have now and how that hurts me as their mom. I thought most about my sweet little Caedmon, who even still doesn’t understand divorce. I wanted to push, but I couldn’t. Instead I doubled over on the trail and lost all I had taken in at the last aid stations. Well, I thought I had nothing left in my stomach until I started puking again 3 minutes later. :-/

At mile 65 I made another bathroom stop. And this time I started to feel better. Yes! I was finally feeling like my runner self. 65miles down, and I felt better than I had all day.

At mile 68 I picked up my pacer. We talked and walked and ran,enjoying the night on the trails. I was happy to be feeling better but still scared of solid foods. Yay for Coke and Mountain Dew!

 Looking back, I think I know why I stopped no less than 5 times in the last 32 miles to pee. Not only was I drinking Coke like a champ, I still took in close to 12ozs of water and electrolytes an hr, and the temp had dropped from 80 to in the 60s. Then, though, I thought I must have some sort of medical condition that wasn’t allowing my body to do more than dump all the water I put in it. I was quite peeved with all the potty stops and ready to chunk my water bottle into the woods.

Around mile 90 my hand-held light went out. Bummer! Lucky for me, I had a (weak) head lamp and a pacer w a light. Also lucky for me, about 6 or 7 of the last ten miles was on roads!

When I crossed the finish line at 2:25am, I was beyond happy to be finished. And  wanted a shower and food crazy bad!! The Race Director was kind enough to give me and my pacer a ride back to my truck after, and some how I manged to not puke in his truck on the way.

I’ll have to call that a good end to an almost-whole-24-hour-day. 🙂


Left out: Finished 3rd female and 7th finisher in 20:25. 3rd female earns me an automatic entry into Western States.

My alternator died a few hrs after I finished SO GLAD it didn’t die a few hrs before I started!!!!!!!! And glad I had someone to fix it w me! 🙂 Timing is everything.