About a month after Lake Sonoma 50 I decided it was time I took a shot at doing my first 100. I almost signed up for one about a year ago but am quite thankful I ended up not doing so as even with my experience now, I wasn't 100% ready. My decision process to pick races has been basically dominated by choosing the most competitive races. I guess since I am so new to the sport and coming out of college, I want to compete with the best to gain the most experience and get the most out of myself... may or may not be the best thought process. Run Rabbit Run fit perfectly into my schedule especially since Jennie and I were going to be living in Colorado for about a month prior to this September race. I thought a month of altitude running would be enough for me to not die completely. This race is also known for having the biggest $$ purse of any ultra in the world meaning it was going to be stacked with elites. Reading reviews and recaps on the race showed that it was an extremely well put on event that donated all proceeds to the prize purse and local charities, which seemed meaningful enough to me.
Prep for this race started around the beginning of July after a lot of inconsistent off and on running after Sonoma 50. Training involved the usual thing I like to do of building up lots of miles. I always look back at my training and wish I could have done more. I know a ton of people out there look down at doing purely just mileage (which is a whole different conversation), but to me it has worked and I try to train myself as much as I can to perform at the level I want to. Focusing on just miles is difficult because things come up in life that distract you, gets you away from the consistency, and defeats the purpose of that way of training. To me consistency is always the most important part in order to get fit. Although I felt as if I could have done more for this race, the 11ish weeks of decent training put me in a very good level of fitness to run a successful 100 miles, in my opinion. The only lack of focus came during weeks where Jennie and I were traveling away from the central coast to Reno (to visit my family) and finally to our new home in Colorado Springs. There were also a couple weeks of sickness and fatigue trying to adjust to not only the altitude but the real trails in Colorado compared to the ones I had been used to in Monterey, California. Overall the amount of vert I did per week was much higher than other training blocks I had done, mainly because it is hard to escape doing vert when in these mountains. For the 11 weeks I averaged around 160 miles with 15k of vert feeling real strong and confident at the end.
Jennie and I camped in Steamboat at the same spot on Buffalo Pass that we had a couple weeks prior when I scouted the course. It was much colder than it was when we were last there with temps at 10,000 ft hitting the high teens. We spent two cold nights camping up there which I really enjoyed as it gave me time to just chill and enjoy the beauty up in the mountains where I would be running 100 miles.
Before the struggle bus
Yeah I stayed with him for awhile. Nbd.
After puttering around all morning the gun finally went off and the leisurely pace up to Mt. Werner began. Confident and excited I stayed within myself the entire time just running off feel and taking it all in. I had read how there is always carnage in this race and to go out slow and yadayada. I decided to run slow for myself because I had seen how hard sections of this course were and I had never ran past 60 miles. Almost all of the big races I have done I have got myself out of the top pack early, leaving me to try and catch up. I did the same thing this year thinking I had much more time to hunt people down. I decided I rather not risk dnf'ing by going out like a maniac and instead risk not getting on the podium but in return increasing the chance of me finishing decently. Looking back maybe that was a dumb decision as I did really want to podium, but driving home with a dnf for my first 100 sounded so much worse to me.
Arriving at Cow Creek (mile 30ish) after feeling decent all day, things simply went to crap. Looking back at it I should have been so much better at limiting the damage of the situation. My legs never felt great before that and then a few miles before that aid station the legs just felt horrible. Mentally I went into a downward cycle thinking that the legs should not hurt this bad so early on. I had been drinking waaay too much Tailwind with not enough pure water for how high the temps ended up being early on. So I was dehydrated, grumpy, and rapidly falling apart. The next section was me having a good ol' pity party constantly asking myself how the hell am I going to run another 60+ miles with legs that would not carry me up hill if my life depended on it.
Descending into Olympian Aid (mile 42ish) I had been passed twice and then passed a few hares that looked surprisingly worse than me. I tried to let this fuel me as I always do when I see others hurting. I told myself some things that I ended up repeating all into the night. 'It can always get worse, your legs are supposed to hurt after 40 miles, and 100 miles is a long time.' I started to feel a tad better right before seeing Jennie at Olympian. I threw on some warm clothes for the night, grabbed my UD vest and soft flasks, through on the headlamp, and left into the night knowing that things were going to get real interesting.
The sun went down and I kept shuffling away with the legs not really getting much worse. Thinking back on things now I am still unsure whether it was mental weakness, the hours and hours and hours of darkness, being alone 90% of the time, or if it really was my leg pain that left me running slow for the rest of the race. Some sections, especially up at 10,000ft, were pathetic where I was fast walking basically flat fire road. Other sections I was running as hard as I could to get to some more bowls of Top Ramen while yelling out loud in frustration, literally convincing myself that the next aid station did not actually exist.
Mentally going over the race again I think I was much more delirious than I thought I was at the time. I am pretty positive I went probably seven hours only eating Top Ramen and chugging water at each aid station with nothing in between. Around mile 80 was probably one of the most inspiring things I have experienced in running. Making my way up a huge climb to Summit Lake Aid I was being followed by a headlamp for miles. Finally it caught me and I saw that it was the woman's eventual winner Courtney Dauwalter. Her shuffling by me made me quit whining and start shuffling up the climb too. We went back and forth, running then walking, working together. She was the first to say anything, asking me how I was doing. Here I was whining to myself trying to not let my manhood get stepped on by trying to not let her pass, and she is looking out for me asking how I am doing. It shifted my mood drastically and seeing her gap me inspired me all the way through the last 20 miles.
The section before sunset was difficult to say the least. Even with the full moon and my bright as can be headlamp, it was very dark and very technical for 80+ mile tired legs. I don't think I have ever stubbed my toes so much. Once the sun came up it was non-stop 'running' to the finish. I had no idea what my time or place was going to be. All I knew was that I was going to finish my first hundred, maybe be top 10, and have had a damn crazy day of running.
Even with everything that went on throughout the day I was extremely proud at my ability to keep moving and never seriously consider the idea of quitting. The last descent I told myself it doesn't matter where I finish and that this was a great experience. Looking back now it is hard to not be upset after having dedicated almost an entire year to ultras, training at an almost all-day consuming effort... especially when I finished just one spot from getting some $. In reality though that is what this sport is about and why I do it. It is going to take a lot more than just under two years of ultra running to get it down. Running takes a lifetime of learning to get even close to being successful. Running 100 miles in itself is something most do not get the chance to experience and I get the option to experience that more than once while also getting to run every single day. Constant enjoyment in the process is the only thing that will continue my success in this crazy sport. The entire 21 hours was hands down one of the best things I have ever endured.
Congrats to everyone that finished and all the studs that showed me how it is done at the Distance of Truth. Thank you to all the insane volunteers, spectators, and RDs for putting on the most well organized race I have done. Every aid station, the post party, course markings, etc. were phenomenal. Not a single complaint.
9th place in 21:38
La Sportiva Helios SR - Surprisingly did not have any real feet pain like I did at Sonoma 50. Only one blister and one painful toenail.
La Sportiva Aelous shorts
Ultimate Direction AK vest (the old kind)
Ultimate Direction bottles / soft flasks
Long sleeve Under Armour
Photo Cred: All Jennie