Blind Pig 100 Mile Endurance Race Experience:
This was in Spartanburg South Carolina on April 2, 2016. The race started on Saturday at 8 AM. Mark and I went and stayed at a hotel on Friday night at the Red Roof Inn which was about 34 minutes away from the race. I’m glad we did that because I got a good night’s rest before it all started on Saturday. I worked on Thursday and when I got home I took a three-hour nap before Mark and I drove to Spartanburg. We went to the camp area and got our spot for the race and then went and picked up my number and T-shirt. Then we went and had dinner at Jason’s deli. I ate a huge salad and some pasta. We got to the room and I took a shower then went straight to bed. I had hoped to be in bed by 6pm but didn’t crawl in until 8pm. Slept very well and was not too nervous about the race. I took a third of a Unisom to help get to sleep and stay asleep which did work well. I woke up at 5:30 ready to go and very excited! It was raining pretty hard outside when I woke up but stopped before we arrived at the park, thank goodness. Took another quick shower to wake up and got dressed for the race. Did some stretching in the room and felt strong. We drove to Croft State Park and got all of our gear situated and ready. I stretched more, took some pictures, and went over to the starting area. A friend of mine who is a photographer named Don Lucius was there that morning and took some pictures of me before the race and during the race for a little while until he had to go back home. He did get some good shots and I was happy he was there. Mark was a great help and help me get everything ready and situated. I was a little snappy because I wanted everything just right before the race started. I did feel bad about being a challenge for him and apologized later for my behavior.
The race started and I was feeling really really good. A funny thing happened right at the start which set the mood for a fun race. All the 100-mile runners had to do one mile out and back before we went to the trails so that we would finish the race at exactly 100 miles at the end. Two girls were holding signs the pointed the 100K runners one way (they didn’t need to do the extra mile) and the 100 Milers to go another way. I was in the middle to back of the starting pack and was running with an older couple that ran this race last year. When we got to the split area all the 100-mile runners went the wrong way. The older couple noticed and we went the correct way. This was funny because as we were coming back towards the camp area I was in the lead for a short time. All the serious male runners were behind me and catching up. Mark got the best picture of me leading the group with all the guys behind me. It looked like they were all chasing me. It was a great picture and I made it my profile picture on FB.
I did the first loop way faster than I should have but I was just going with it since I felt so good. I did the first loop in an hour and 40 minutes and it was 10 miles because of the extra mile in the beginning. Mark told me to slow down a little bit but I was still feeling good. I did the second loop in an hour and 42 minutes. Still a little bit too fast. The third loop I did slow down and did it in two hours. From then on it was a longer time for each loop. When I was out there on the trail I would listen to my iPod touch to the music playlist that Matt and I created. He put some new songs on there before I left to Spartanburg and I was happy to hear them when they would pop up. I also listened to movies he downloaded for me. Listening to the audio of the movies was awesome. The first movie I watched was Soul Surfer. The second movie I watched was the Social Network. The last movie I watched was Larry Flynt versus The People. When I wasn’t listening to a movie I was listening to music or running with friends and family and didn’t need anything. That pretty much kept my mind occupied which is the toughest part of the race for me. Each loop I tried to eat something when I got to the camp area. The trail was tough and required a lot of effort which meant consuming more calories. One loop equaled 9 miles and we did a total of 11 loops (plus the extra mile at the start). The first couple loops I just had a banana and drink my water with electrolytes (one full packet) and Tailwind (one scoop) in it. I went through four bottles before I started switching to water only bottle for one loop then the supplements bottle on the next. I ate a lot of bananas and some pasta that I had brought from macaroni grill throughout the run early on. I took a sodium bicarb pill and two magnesium pills after loop 4. The race director had a table full of food and I had pizza also. I had a total of four slices of pizza and a cup of tomato soup throughout the run. I tried to stay away from sugar until the last loop which worked out great.
Matt, Janice, Andre, and Brandon arrived when I finished my 6th loop. It was good to see them and Matt was very excited and positive. They met me at the bridge when I was coming back from the loop and surprise be there. Matt was very good about rubbing my feet when I needed to change my shoes or socks. I changed my shoes three times. I used multiple pairs of socks because I kept getting a blister and the pressure bothered me on my big toes. Other than that my feet were pretty good. I was very fortunate not to get worse blisters. There were two female runners around our campsite that had bad blisters on their heels. One of the girls had to pop and treat it with a knife. The other female runner was a nurse and brought a needle and syringe to use. She stuck the needle into the blister and pulled out the puss. It was a great idea and I may try that in future races. They both said they were in a lot of pain on their feet but they both continued and finished a hundred miles.
Brandon was a lot of fun to have around during the race. After a loop, he came up and hugged me. I told him that each time he did that I felt the power so after each loop he ran up and hugged me. At 10:30 pm I was about to start another loop. He was standing there and showed some interest in wanting to go. Everyone had concerns that he could do a loop with me since the course was so tough. At that point, I was starting to get tired and was willing to walk more if he needed to. I asked him if he wanted to go and he said YES! I told him to get some food and I got him a headlamp. Mark gave him a pack of goo to use in case he got too tired and needed a boost. He was really excited to go. I told him that he had to complete the whole thing and couldn’t stop. That this was a serious race and we were out there to get it done. I was concerned that the course was tough (with the roots in the dark) and it was late but he said he thought he could do it. We started running and had a great conversation. We first started talking about candy and all the different kinds of candy that he likes. I told him the different candies I liked. It was a fun conversation that kept my mind off of running and pain for a little while. Then we really got into a great conversation about goals. He was explaining to me about how once you set your mind to something you can do it. How you can even train your body and train hard but if you don’t believe in yourself and believe that you can do it then you won’t. I was very impressed and live my life this way so it was touching. I told him I set my mind to this race and that I was going to accomplish this goal and that he was a big help in helping me do it. We discussed goals and mindsets further which was fun and interesting. I told him this race was exactly like he was explaining. I told him that a race like this takes strategy, training, the right amount of rest, and the right nutrition, as well as the right frame of mind to be able to complete it. He showed a lot of interest and really enjoyed the loop with me and running. He showed interest in doing more races and being a pacer with me. I told him I could train him and get him ready for a race to do on his own. He loved that idea and was excited, so was I. At the halfway point the two ladies at a water table were impressed that he was doing a loop with me and was my pacer. His ego was boosted from them as we kept going. He kept up pretty well. He did ask to walk at one point and we walked a good bit towards the end. Twice I had to ask him to walk a little bit faster but he did and it was fine. He did that 9 miles like a champ. I was very impressed and proud of him. Everyone at the campsite was very impressed he did get it so well also. That was one of the highlights of this race.
I did the next loop on my own. I listen to a movie and just plugged along. My blisters on my big toes were starting to bother me more and I was starting to get tired and cold. The pain on my feet was causing me to feel a little bit nauseous. Because of nausea, I stopped eating and drinking. I drank a little bit but not nearly enough. I really started to feel the effects of being tired, lack of sleep, lack of nutrition, and it was starting to get cold and windy. This was when I was starting to show signs of struggling and not feeling quite as well and strong. I walked a lot and felt I needed to get back to the camp. I ate some pasta and put on some different socks and shoes. I set out for another loop and took Mark with me. We left at 3 am for the 9th loop. He was going to run a loop with me in this was a good one for him to do. I really needed him on this one. I struggled on this loop the most. It took us three hours to complete. Towards the end of this loop, I was really starting to feel sick and my feet hurt so terribly bad. At one point I had to stop for a minute and just rest for a second standing up. A few times I started getting dizzy and had to hold on to Mark so I wouldn’t fall over. My feet began to hurt so bad from the pressure on my big toes and I told Mark we had to do something, I was desperate to try anything. I ended up taking off the gloves that I had on my hand and putting them over my toes and stuffing them back into my shoes. It looked really funny but it did relieve some of the pressure and got me back to the camp. It was Mark’s idea to do that and it worked great. I was very thankful he was there and suggested that. I needed to plan and figure things out of what to do from that point because I knew the next two laps (which were my last two laps) would be really hard since I was feeling like that. I did snap at Mark again during this loop and felt bad for it. He wanted me to go and lay down in the tent and I thought that if I did that that my legs with stiffen up too much and I wouldn’t be able to move afterward. He kept suggesting that I do that and I finally told him that I didn’t want to and couldn’t understand why he kept suggesting that. The last 30 minutes of the loop were pretty rough. I knew I was not thinking clearly and asked for Mark’s help to help me make a plan from that point on. I know I was not thinking very logically so I relied on him for a plan and help. We decided that once we got back to the camp I would eat and drink something, take two Ibuprofen, and lay down in the tent for 30 minutes. He was going to set a timer so that I wouldn’t sleep any longer than that.
I took off my socks and shoes and crawled into the tent with Matt. It was so nice and warm and I fell right to sleep snuggling with him. I slept really hard for 30 minutes. The sun was still down when I crawled into the tent and it was up when my 30 minutes was up. It felt like I had slept a lot longer and I tricked my body into thinking that it was much longer than 30 minutes. When I got up I stretched in the tent for a little bit and put my shoes back on. I got some water and a little snack and I was ready to go. I felt good as new and totally recharged and reset. Best I had felt in a long time and I was ready to run again and knock out the last two loops. Janice was going to run this loop 10 with me and she was getting ready. We started running down the trail and I was feeling great. We got about a mile into the trail when my coworker Ray Bleau showed up. He had come to run a loop with me but since my phone doesn’t have any service I didn’t know when he was coming. He caught up with me on the trail because the race director told him that I had left five minutes prior to him getting there. It was a great surprise and he ran with Janice and I. This loop was completed in two hours and 15 minutes. I ran most of it and Janice and Ray were impressed that I was still running. We had a great conversation and made plans to go to Destin for the Ultra 100 Mile Run in February 2017. It was fun talking with Ray and Janice on this loop. Listening to the stories and making some more plans. We finished that loop strong and made it back to the campsite.
I had one more loop left and I was finished. I had plenty of time to complete the race and was excited to finish it. For the last loop, I told everyone that they could go if they wanted to. Mark, Andre, Brandon, and Ray went with me. We all had a lot of fun on the last one. My left leg started to stiffen up pretty bad around my knee so I took it slower. I ran a portion of it but did a lot of walking. I knew I was really tired so I was extra careful on the roots. I didn’t want to get injured on the last loop. Mark was very entertaining. He wore an all-black compression outfit and looked like a scuba diver when he carried my water quiver. He had his portable speaker and was playing old songs that were funny. He kept the mood fun and silly which was great. Ray talked with me and said I was doing well which felt nice. I was glad Andre did a loop with me, although I worried about him hurting his knee, but he was ok. Brandon had a good time too but got tired towards the end. Brandon and Andre walked a little extra towards the end and Mark, Ray, and I went on. I just needed to finish and didn’t want to slow down or stop.
When I got to the bridge I had a lot of smiling faces to see. Matt, Janice, Ron and Laurie, and my Mom with the dogs (Monty and Jake) were there. It was such a great feeling to have so many people there to support me. All the happiness and energy was really felt and helped. They all walked up the hill with me and watched me finish. The race director, named Angela, congratulated me and gave me a belt buckle. Janice took a short video of me finishing which was nice. I got a few pictures and walked back to our campsite with everyone. I was so happy to be done. I felt tired and my feet were sore but actually felt pretty good. It was a harder race on my body than the Destin race for sure. My back was good and other parts of my legs didn’t have any issues luckily. I took my shoes off and put flip flops on, sat down and had a snack. I chatted with everyone for a while and enjoyed being finished. It was such a great race and I really enjoyed all of it except loop 9. I soon got really tired and went to the tent to lay down. I slept for 20 minutes then got back up to be with everyone. The couple that was also in out tent site just finished as I got up and I went to congratulate them. She was one of the females with the blister issues. They had a hard time but finished. Turns out they ran the 50-mile race in Destin this past February when I ran my first 100 there. They are hoping to go again in 2017 and we all look forward to seeing them because they were very nice. I hung out with everyone for a bit then went and took a nice hot shower. They had facilities near our site and it felt great to get cleaned up. Then we all started packing up to head back to Charlotte. Mom took Brandon and the dogs home. Janice and Andre went back to their house. Ray had left shortly after I finished the race. Ron and Laurie, Matt, Mark, and I were hungry so we went to dinner at Jason’s Deli. I was able to get my appetite back and had a big salad. Then we all went back home to Charlotte. I took a 40-minute nap in the car on the way back and felt pretty good when we got home. We decided to unpack the car the following day since we all were so tired. When we got home we all watched a little bit of a movie then went to bed. Mark took the night off work so he was able to stay over. I slept really well for almost 9 hours and felt great when I woke up. I was still stiff in my left knee area but it would feel better as I walked around and moved.
For this race, I tried to wear an outfit that was as comfortable as possible. I wore my black tight shorts that I do most of my training in, a thin bright orange tank top, pink compression calf sleeves, various shoes and socks, arm sleeves and a vest when I needed it. I wore a beanie hat and gloves when the temp dropped overnight. I used hand warmers overnight also which worked very well. I felt very comfortable during the day and warm enough at night.
For future races, I need to have better food ready to eat through the event. I ate too much pizza and felt a little heavy from it. Maybe a salad or more chicken would have been better. I had plenty of bonk breaker bars, fruit, and other snacks but I didn’t want them. I craved watermelon during the day and had a few slices from the main aid station when they still had it. The warm tomato soup was the best when the sun went down and it was cold.
My mood stayed pretty even throughout the race except when I would get annoyed with Mark at a few points. He tries to help and sometimes I don’t want it or don’t want to do what he suggests and we get fussy with each other. It all worked out though and he was a huge help. I really enjoyed the whole experience and loved the route. It was fun running by the river on the last few miles of each loop. I did stub my toes a few times but tried to be careful and didn’t hit them as much as I thought I would.
Taking the 30-minute nap was a huge risk and move on this race. I was so worried that my legs would stiffen up and I would not be able to move when I got up. It really worked out and I felt so much better after I laid down. I don’t usually ever take medication during the race for pain because I don’t want to miss a sign or symptom of an injury which happened a few years ago. I was close to the end and the Ibuprofen helped my feet so very much that it was totally worth it. I only took two pills that one time and it worked out.
Overall it was a wonderful race and experience. All the people then came to support really made the race fun and positive. The race was well organized with emails on instructions for the details. The race director was very nice and so were the volunteers. There were 100 people that signed up for the race. 87 showed up to run and about 7 didn’t finish. I was the 26th person overall to fish and the 10th female to finish. I was happy with that and had a great time doing the run which was the goal. I would like to do this race again next year and look forward to it. I did most of my training at Sherman Branch which was a Mountain Bike park that I really love. Most amounts of miles I did in training were 27. I did two training runs at Croft Park prior to the race….one was 9 miles and the other was 25. I ran 100 miles in Destin on February 14th so I felt I could do the distance and focused more on the technique of trail running which I think worked out. Next year I should do a few longer training runs at Sherman Branch and I will be a bit more prepared.
Looking forward to running this race again next year as well as a few more ultra runs before then. My next race I will train for will be the Ironman in Cambridge Maryland on October 1st of this year. I may try to do one more running race before then if I find one that looks interesting. I know these races are hard on my body so I do not plan to do too many more hard runs this year.
Thanks for reading!