Mohican Trail 100 Hundred-Mile Race #10
June 15, 2017
I picked up my friend Annie at 11:15 to head to Ohio for the race. She signed up for the 50-mile race and I’ll do the 100. This will be her first 50-mile race and she and I are both excited for her new challenge. We drove through Virginia which is such a beautiful route through the mountains. The drive to Ohio was uneventful and we arrived at 8:45 pm after we had dinner at Panera bread. Got settled in the hotel room and organized my race supplies. Then I had a shower, took a Unisom and slept for almost 10 hours, slept well. My routine before a race seems to work well and I don’t like to deviate from it too much. Thursday night is my main sleep night and Friday is a rest day with as much sleep that night as I can get.
June 16, 2017
Today I slept until almost 10 o’clock with the help of the Unisom. Trying to rest up before the race as much is possible. After getting up and moving Annie and I went to the grocery store to get some food for the Race. I got some supplies to make turkey sandwiches and some lasagna. I’m hoping that the variety of food I brought and purchased will keep my calories up for this race. I am going to focus as much as possible on maintaining calories with solid food. This race is very difficult and I struggled a lot with it last year and I’m excited to tackle it again but also want to be more prepared. Especially since the last race did not go quite as well as I was hoping for. I’m excited to wear my new skirt from Sparkle Skirt and it looks like good weather till Sunday when there should be rain.
After we went to the grocery store we came back to the room and dropped off our groceries and got our gear organized a little further. Then we went to Mohican State Park and picked up our packets, took a few pictures and then went to dinner early. Angela wanted Italian so we went to the Olive Garden. I had Shrimp Alfred Pasta and a bunch of salad plus two breadsticks (don’t usually eat gluten so that was a nice treat). Then we came back to the room and I’ve been relaxing until I’m about to go to bed. Checked over my gear one last time and everything seems to be ready to go. I’m also going to take extra precaution with my feet in this race. I have moleskin to put on and ordered some hiking socks that are thick. Going to give those a try and see if I can keep the pain on my feet a little more manageable.
I was hungry again before I went to bed so I ate a turkey sandwich with spinach and cheese and some sun chips. Usually, I try to keep my pre-race meals on the lighter side but I knew I would be struggling to keep the calories up on this race so I ate whenever I felt hungry without worrying about overeating before the race (that worked out!). I went to bed at 8:30 pm after I forced myself to stop reading a good book I brought and was into.
June 17, 2017. Race Day!!
I woke up a few minutes before my alarm went off and did a little stretching before I got up. I woke up at 3:20 am. Got my legs taped up with KT tape and we were out the door at 4 am. Wasn’t very hungry but managed to eat 3 bites of my leftover pasta. Made it to the start area in time to use the restroom, get my gear together and snap a picture. Annie was with me but had to wait an hour after I started for her group (50 miles) to start. Right before I started I read a very sweet note that my friend Leanne and Ava(Annie’s daughter) wrote for me. It gave me positivity and strength during the race and helped start the race in a positive and strong mindset. I carried the note the whole time and looked at it once when I was tired. It was a kind gesture and helped a lot. Just knowing you have friends that love and support you while you’re out there is a huge deal. I draw off on that positivity throughout the race when I need it.
I had two main focuses for this race: 1-take it slow and easy. 2-eat as much as I was able to. I was concerned going into this race because last year I had a really hard time with it. I got behind on calories and came as close as I ever have to DNF(Did Not Finish). The elevation on this course is brutal-12,800 feet of elevation and that blows through your energy and calories quickly. Getting behind on calories or having any other major issue will cost you the race. I planned and prepared so much for this race in hopes to have a smoother race experience. Turns out I DID have a great experience! It was the best race I have had yet. Took me ten races to finally get a strategy down that worked well for me but hey, 10th time was the charm! I’ll explain all that as we go. The race started out with 184 hundred-mile runners and only 77 of us finished, so I must have done something right.
It started with the drop bags; I had two of them: one at the main Mohican Trail start and one at the covered bridge aid station which was 14 miles into the trail. In each bag, I had a bunch of stuff that I could use in any possible situation (rain, cold at night, shoes, feet care supplies, food: all kinds, chargers for devices). In my gear, I had coconut oil to reapply for chaffing. I applied it 4 times over the course of the race and did not have any chaffing issues at all, yes! (Learned my lesson on that during Kettle Moraine) Also, I had shoes with new, dry socks to change into. That came in handy because they changed the course this year and we had to cross a small creek at the end of each loop (4 loops) so my feet got wet and the shoes and dry socks felt great to change into. At the Mohican Trail aid station, I had extra food in that bag which consisted of my leftover Shrimp Alfred pasta, lasagna, 3 turkey sandwiches, and other food I could carry easily. Oh, and Tailwind and MeStregth electrolytes which I went through 5 Tailwind packages (200 calories a pack) and 8 MeStregth electrolytes. I also took supplements throughout the race: magnesium pills (4), Sodium Bicarb pill (2), and Ibuprofen (6). I think the supplements and Tailwind really helped.
We had to do 4 loops total which consisted of two long loops at 27 miles each and two shorter loops at 23 miles each. I planned to take the first two loops slowly and steady which I did. The first loop I finished in 7 hours and the second one I did in 8 hours 20 minutes. The third loop took 8 hours and the fourth loop took 7 hours.
The race started at 5 am and I was ready to get going. I had my music going on my iPod shuffle and just started out easy and calm. In the first 5 miles there are some big hills and at one point I thought…”Oh no, what have I done? What am I doing, can I do this, and am I ready for this challenge again and can my tired legs be able to do this elevation?” (Two weeks ago I did the Kettle Moraine 100, two weeks before that I did the Keys 100, three weeks before that I did Indiana Trail 100). Back to back 100-mile races are hard because recovery time is short. Just as fast as the thought popped into my head I thought, “I can do this!, I have much more experience, learned so much since last year doing this race, and I’m stronger mentally and physically!” I got goose bumps on my arms and thought I got this and smiled and never looked back in doubt again. I have learned a lot since this race last year and have learned from many of my mistakes. Plus, knowing this trail helped because I knew it was very difficult and I adjusted my strategy for it (slower pace in the beginning and way more food). It’s not as easy as you think to eat on a race. It’s very easy to eat and eat when you don’t have to but put some pressure on to eat and add moving and heat along with pain and it’s a definite challenge.
The trails were just as amazingly beautiful as I remembered and I took pictures along the way. The waterfall on the long loop route was fun to see again. I also saw a big 4-foot snake that slithered across my path and into the lake-I took its picture. I wore my tree of life bracelet during the race and felt it reminded me to connect to nature. I wanted to work with nature and the trails so it would have mercy on me throughout the race. I know that sounds odd but Mother Nature can really help a person out when you need it and you can recognize it. Key West 100 was so hot and humid that it really prepared me for this race because it was very hot also but I didn’t mind it at all. I was comfortable during the whole race and it didn’t even rain on Sunday. No torrential downpours(Indiana Trail), no looking death in the face lightning (Kettle Moraine), no mud so bad you can hardly walk (Kettle Moraine), no heat stroke possibility(Key West), no time crunch(Destin), no freezing cold 20 degree temps(Tunnel Hill), no major breakdowns and being delirious(Blind Pig and Mohican last year)…..It was great!! I was in bliss and ran happily on this race.
My friend Annie was great to see while I was out there. On loop two at mile 30ish she caught up to me and we ran about 4 miles together until she had to take a different route than I did. I was very interested to hear about her experience on the trail and how her ankle that has been giving her issues was feeling. I was relieved to see her and hear that she was having a great time too. That positivity soaked into me and was a great boost. We took some pictures together and hugged before we went different directions. We planned for her to finish her race and go to the hotel to rest and then come get me in the morning when I finished. That worked out well and I was able to get into a good running groove overnight.
Matt, my husband helped a lot too out there. He was home with our adorable dog Millie but I knew he was with me in spirit. He also downloaded 40 new songs onto my devices and added a bunch of movies for me to listen to. That helped so much! Overnight I listened to three movies in a row and enjoyed it. I listened to funny positive movies: “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”, “Back to School” with Rodney Dangerfield, and “Parent Trap” the newest version with Lindsey Lohan. He also snuck in a few of his EDM songs and I would smile when they came on. He and I are in a very good place in our relationship and that gives me so much strength. I thought a lot about our communication and actions lately. We had a major incident happen recently when Mark (my ex-boyfriend and friend) went to my Mom’s house and showed her private personal pictures of me. This had caused me some stress and Matt helped me in a way that was not usual for him. Normally he would not understand why it would bother me and not really think to support me emotionally. This time he was very supportive and loving. That brought us closer together and has helped me feel our connection and love. Matt and I have made more effort lately to be more connected and loving and it just makes me so happy and strong. That’s another reason why this race went so well. I knew he was at home supporting me and waiting for me to come home.
Normally on a race, I would process the latest thoughts and issues with Mark. For the first time in a race, I thought of him just briefly. He is a person that has repeatedly hurt me, betrayed and broken the trust, and weakened my soul. A major incident had to happen for that chapter of my life to close and that was when he showed my Mom the private pictures. Since the day that I found out I blocked his Facebook account and phone number. It’s finally and completely over. It’s a relief. I feel concern for his future victims including his current girlfriend, Kelly. If by some miracle she ever reads this, please reach out to me for support and understanding when he has hurt you and you need it. I will be here to help you through it and understand his actions. From what I know of her she is a sweet person and doesn’t deserve his manipulative and hurtful actions for his personal gain. Took me years to understand and I’m finally free. If anyone else has been the target of such a person and would like support and help I would be happy to help to the best of my ability, just reach out to me. So, as far as thinking about Mark I just felt relief and happiness that all that is over and behind me. When one door closes (in this case bolted shut) new opportunities open . I look forward to my future relationship and am focusing on healing from the crap Mark dragged me through. I don’t want to start a new relationship being skeptical of every word and action a person makes so I’m focusing on letting him go and getting back to who I am.
Back to the race! Food, it was my focus the whole way. After the first loop, I ate my leftover Alfredo and it was delicious. Throughout the race I ate whenever I could and was able to. I ate a few bites of lasagna after each loop, chips, one slice of pizza, and my weight practically in watermelon, oranges, and bananas. Didn’t want or eat my turkey sandwiches or cookies or candy. Then drinking calories through the Tailwind was good too. I also stayed consistent with energy throughout the race. At every loop, then ½ loop I would have a sip of 5hr energy. I also had a half of a caffeinated GU on the last 13 miles. With the consistent calories and energy, I didn’t bonk! I never felt super tired and didn’t have any breakdowns. The only time I sat down was to change my shoes, fix my feet with moleskin and have a couple bites of lasagna. Otherwise, I was moving, no naps or rest breaks the whole race. This was a first on any race and I was thrilled. I kept waiting for the wall to come but it didn’t. I finally figured out the trick to these races and the key is FOOD! Something so simple yet so complicated sometimes. At every moment on the race, I had food to eat. I carried food in my pack but kept food in my sparkle skirt side pockets which are very big and easy to hold stuff. I would eat a bite or two as often as possible. Because of the huge amount of fluids I drank, the electrolytes, and the bananas I didn’t get any cramping either! This was a big deal because all other races I have hit some bad walls and felt so awful. To finally have a race where I felt actually good throughout the whole thing was amazing. Between my mind staying positive and happy and my body working smoothly and consistently throughout the whole race I was on cloud 9. This is why my 100-mile race #10 was the best race I have done yet. Despite the elevation, heat, and some very minor issues it was a great experience.
One of the minor issues I had was lighting. Towards the end of the third loop, my new headlamp with new batteries started to die. The last 5 miles I could hardly see the ground which made me walk. That was ok because I was trying to take it easy and was doing well on time. When I got to the aid station I decided to use the flashlight on my iPod touch for an hour till the sun came up. Keep in mind that it’s pitch black out on the trails and with the roots and rocks a light is imperative. 30 minutes into the trail with my iPod flashlight it died completely. I was standing next to a tree and didn’t move so that I wouldn’t fall down the mountain with a miss-step. Three men were about 5 minutes behind me and a stood there (no other choice) till they caught up to me. I yelled out to them so I wouldn’t scare them to death in the dark and told them that I would have to follow behind them until the sun came up and I could see. They said no problem and one guy pulled out an extra hand help flashlight he had in his pack and gave it to me. It was very nice of him; I ended up walking and jogging with them for the 30 minutes anyway. One guy was struggling pretty badly so I talked and told a few stories to keep his mind distracted. Then when the sun came up I gave back the flashlight and went on my way. I met three people from Facebook that I had never met in person before. We all (separately) became friends and have followed each other’s progress with races and such. It was nice to meet them in person out there. One of them was named Christy and she was struggling with keeping solid food down when she recognized me going by. Every time she ate she would throw up. We chatted for a bit and then I kept on going. She had a pacer with her and they were still moving forward and had a good amount of time. I worried about her a bit and hoped she finished. I messaged her the next morning and was very happy to hear that she made it to the end in time. Tough girl and I was proud of her.
At one point I was approaching an aid station and there was a funny male volunteer sitting at a table recording everyone’s number as we passed through. There was music blaring and he was having a good time. As I approached he yelled out my number and I was looking up at him and gave him a wave just as I tripped over a huge root I didn’t see and came sooo close to a face plant right there. Lol! He yelled, “So you are falling head over heels for me!” It was funny and we joked around each time I passed through that aid station. On the last pass through he said I was doing well and looked good, meaning I looked strong still at that point in the race when people were really struggling. It was 8 miles to the finish. Then he said I was going to make it and good job. His comments made me happy.
The last loop of the race it was supposed to rain but it never did, luckily. A storm was headed our way and the cool breeze felt wonderful. I enjoyed the run without any music for a while then put on the music towards the end. The last eight miles were the biggest struggle because my feet were hurting. I had blisters from previous races that didn’t heal up yet and the blisters from this race made it tough. The Ibuprofen helped a lot but it was still painful towards the end. The flashlight issue and feet pain were my only problems on this race.
The finish line I went under the bridge and crossed the small field as I saw Annie screaming and yelling for me! She was so happy and I was so happy to be done and see her. She was full of energy and excitement as I came in. The announcer said my name and then said, she looks too happy and fresh to have run 100 miles….she needs to go back out there! I just shook my head and smiled. Annie had a tear in her eyes and was so proud of me, which made me feel great. She came jumping up to me, she is a ball of energy, with her arms open and I thought we were both going to hit the ground if she bear hugged me, lol. Luckily we stayed upright and hugged I went straight to a bench and sat down. It was the first time I sat down for over 30 hours and didn’t have to run off or hurry. I took my shoes and socks off which felt great. We snapped some pictures then made our way to the car. I changed my clothes and we hit the road to head home. Annie drove until we found a place to eat at Applebee’s. I couldn’t sleep because I was hungry and my legs ached. After eating dinner and having one of Annie’s Naproxen’s (pain reliever). I was then out cold in a deep sleep nap in the front seat with my soft fuzzy blue blanket. I slept hard for exactly an hour then woke up feeling good.
I drove a little while after that and we had a great conversation about how special these long distances races can be and the draw to do them. I enjoyed hearing all about her first really long distance experience and how much she loved the trails. She is hooked We made it to her house at 9:20 pm and her family were so happy to see us. I didn’t stay long because I wanted to get home to Matt and Millie asap! I got home at 10 pm and they were so happy to see me too. I looked forward to getting home, seeing them, and telling Matt about the race. I took a shower then we talked all about the race. He spoiled me by rubbing my legs and feet with magnesium oil and lotion, made us a picnic in the bed of a big plate of chicken to eat with ice water and lemon, then he rubbed my back till I fell asleep which took less than a minute. I felt so loved and happy. It was the perfect ending to a great race experience.
Recovery mode: I slept in which felt great to recharge. It’s been two days since the race and I am doing everything I can to recover. My next race is in exactly one month, Burning River 100. Burning River is race number 4 out of 5 in the Mid-West Super Slam Challenge I’m doing. I am eating as much spinach, salads, chicken, and fruits as I can. I’m taking all my supplements to help heal from the inside. I’m resting as much as I can but walking around a lot which helps my stiff legs. I feel better after this race than I did at Kettle Moraine for sure. I’m still smiling about the whole experience.
Thank you for following my journey and reading my report. If you are an ultra-runner, I hope you learned something. If you are able to relate to any of this, I hope that you know we all have struggles but can get through anything if you keep putting one foot in front of the other and appreciate what’s around you. If you are Kelly or anyone recovering from a toxic relationship, I hope you reach out to someone that can help you heal and become strong again-it can happen. If you are reading this, I thank you so much for your love and support throughout my journey. It’s not over yet.