June 23rd, 2018
Race Report: My First Hundy
Sunday November 6th, 2016
John B Adams Jr
Beforehand, may I thank The Lord for this experience. We had some time together I thank Micki Konarska Adams for her support through all of this. She understands my desire to live, be myself, try things, and she fully supports it. Without that, this doesn’t happen. Thanks to my kids and to Kelly Bridgewater for playing a major role in preparing me for this effort. Kelly and Micki were crucial in learning how to keep track of all you need during the race itself a month ago at Woodstock. Huge! Nicholas Budzyn gave me the advice that not only cured my IT band issues, but also taught me how to approach running in a way that is much more enjoyable and sustainable. John Sloan (my boss) got me into all of this and planted the 100 Mile seed. He also gave me Friday’s off to train. I am grateful. You don’t get through this without a lot of advice and support. I had a plethora of that. Thanks to our Walk/Run 100+ per month FB group, all my new runner friends and all my existing friends and family for the encouraging words along the way.
Race: Farmdale Trail 100 Mile Ultra, Washington IL.
Date: Oct 8-9, 2016
The race was to begin at 5am on Saturday, so I drove from Commerce, MI to Washington, IL on Friday. I wanted to get acclimated to the weather and be ready to go, so I drove out on Friday to camp at the campground. Micki had taken the seats out of her Yukon which she was kind enough to let me borrow. She did not want me to pull my back and took those big seats out herself :) That's dedication to a cause! So Friday night I took the liberty of starting the fire in the fire pit, chilled with a few other campers and had a few beers. Miller Lite was the beer of choice. Another runner from Michigan was there as well as a rep from Adidas. A few others came and went. At about 9 pm I hopped in the Yukon and slept the night away. Haha. It got a tad cold but I was well prepared with thick socks, comfy clothes, plenty of sleeping bags and blankets. Not ideal, but pretty good. I did not want to have much to put away at the end of the race. Reason being, I went solo. No crew. No pacer. Not advised? Pfffft.
My alarm went off at 4 am to give me ample time to change clothes and get myself prepared. The frost on the Window was not a good sign. It was gonna be chilly out there in shorts but it’s only temporary. I decided to put on 3 shirts and a vest. That was good thinking. I could always lose a layer at the first aid station if needed. So out I went and made my other preparations. Odd. I'm the only one up. The non-campers are not here. Uh Oh. My phone was set to not auto change the time. It was 4 am EST. That means 3 am in Illinois. Back to sleep. Error #1 and haven't even gotten started. One can only LOL. The extra hour felt like a bonus.
Course change announced. This was music to my ears. It had been a 10 mile loop done 10 times with river crossings in which our feet would probably get wet. I was not too fond of the idea in colder weather (as compared to the humid Summer we just had). Plus, water leads to blisters. So when it was announced that it would be 7 mile loops with no wet feet, I was very pleased. Not only will I keep my temp normal and avoid more foot issues, I would also be back at my truck every 7.15 miles. So if I had any equipment issues or other problems, it wouldn't be long before I could address them. That pumped me up. Oooh they had coffee. I never have coffee before a long run but today I do. I took a half cup for comfort and warmth. Good idea. It caused no problems.
And we were off!
Loop 1 began. I worked my way to the back of the pack. I ended up starting out with a group of about 7 who stuck together for most of loop 1. This was because we did not know the course and it can be comforting to tackle the first loop together. The runners I was with were mostly 50 mile runners who all started the race at the same time. We took a wrong turn early on but not for too long. Someone caught it and I am very glad they did. We doubted whether or not we were lost several times, though. We came to a crossing that looked pretty deep. Uh Oh. They said dry feet. But as I investigated the scene, there were logs and rocks. Near the log, the ground was high. We could cross. No problem. At about mile 5.5, one of the aid station guts was in a skeleton suit directing traffic. Nice! Directing traffic up Cougar Hill. Ugh. If it has a name, it’s not good.
Uh oh. Groin pain. I had injured it a few weeks back and thought I rested enough during taper week to heal. Then my IT began to flare up. This was not good. Not good at all. I prayed for healing and decided I was going to run through it. That's what I did. This will not stop me today – or tomorrow.
I had on my 2 month old Asics Gel Kayanos, a basic $49 headlamp, carried hand warmers (awesome), an extra headlamp in my pack, lots of water, and a few snacks. Oh, I always start each race with my banana :) I was good to go and very comfortable. Not over dressed.
The Course: 7.15 Mile loops, mostly single track MBT. That’s mountain bike trail. Just what I am used to. It started at the campsite and went immediately into the woods. This first section was maybe 1.5 miles of 2-way traffic, all run-able and simple. It takes you out to a reservoir which is about a .25 mile, flat straightaway to the larger 5-mile course. It then opens up and splits off back into the woods. There's an easy section for a half mile or so before it comes to the “climby” section. I had dumb names for certain sections. I called this Walktober because it's October and I need to walk a lot of this section. Genius, right? Felt like a mile but maybe not even that. After this climby section, it's a relatively easy 3 mile trip to the aid station - mostly. The first mile is broken up by a couple of creek crossings. Very pretty and you could easily get past them with dry feet. The first one can be jumped over. I wondered how I'd be jumping at loop 14. But someone put a rock in the middle to step on before that. I guess they had the same concern. I felt dumb for not thinking of that myself. But that little jump made it interesting so that's OK. The second one was even easier to cross but was muddy and slick getting up the other side. Not too bad at all, but you had to pay attention so not to slip backward. This was followed by a couple miles of windy trail through the woods. I liked this part because it's where you'd see other runners and the trail basically winded around through the same area. It was always nice to see other people in a less populated race. After essentially zig-zagging down a hill for a while, and crossing that previously described river crossing, we came to Cougar Hill. If it has a name, it's gonna be a challenge. I know I said that twice. This is not some West Coast monster incline. I'm not complaining. But I did need my hands to climb it, and my hamstrings definitely burned when I got to the top. The 100's would do this 14 times. Therein lays the challenge. At the top of the Cougar Hill was the aid station (5.5 miles from the start). There was a nice group of guys including the RD who were always there. They stayed the whole time. Very impressive. Funny. The food was good and they offered body glide, bug spray, and essentially anything you needed. I could eat a little here, then a little at the start area less than 2 miles away due to the last minute course change. So the next 2 miles were smooth sailing back to the start and I did not feel the need to mow down too much food. This was another section where you ran into other runners who were both coming back into the loop, and exiting the loop. I liked that. We ran back across the reservoir, briefly through some woods, past the parking lot, and through chip/timing area. There was an aid station right there with all kinds of stuff, plus my truck was just passed that on the same side. So I had ample opportunities to re-stock, make changes, address minor issues, etc. Perfect for me.
My routine at home base each loop: Get food. Slam a V8 while urinating at the other side of the Yukon. Take 2 E-Caps. Apply more body glide. Every other loop apply Vaseline to my feet. Make sure I have 2 full bottles of H2o in back pack. Refill water flasks. Chug some Iced Tea. Slam one cup Gatorade. Eat 4-6 olives from a cup and drink the juice. Re-apply bug spray just in case. Change shirts. Change hats. East some fruit. Re-stock Slim Jims, and grab a half sandwich, banana or bag of fruit to take along. I felt very strong about this routine and stuck to it nicely. I knew this would be key to finishing.
There were 16 entrants according to the registration. 8 finished the race. After Loop 1, I was in last place with a 1:50 loop time. Perfect. It's now 6:50 am and have completed 7.15 miles.
Loop 2 was still dark at first but the sun gradually came up. I opted not to change any clothes here. Went through my checklist and was good to go. Now I could actually see around the course. Pretty nice! Because of the daylight and the fact that I was now running on my own, I picked up the pace a tad. I was enjoying the morning. My plan at this point was to just take it easy and enjoy myself until noon. Then I could assess my situation and go from there. My other plan was not to get out of breath, thirsty, or hungry. If I could maintain that approach, I could sustain this for many hours.
At about 7am I was getting passed by the half marathon, marathon, and 30 mile racers. That was to be expected. Some were flying. "Passing on the left!" a few would shout. Most definitely I will move over if possible, or will turn to the side. Most just went around, which I thought was very courteous to the 100M runners.
Groin and IT pain were still present but not worse.
Loop 2 time was 1:41. This would be my fastest loop of the race. After Loop 2 I was still in last place overall for the 100. I was not aware of that at the time nor did I care. It's now 8:31 am and I have completed 14.30 miles.
Loop 3 was exciting because I realized I could grab my phone for a loop, call the family, send a few voice text messages and then charge it back up during the next loop. I was happy to know I'd have a phone most of the race. 2 loops with, and 1 loop with out I figured. I called and got to talk to Micki and my 12 year old, Zack. The only clothing change I made was I dropped my vest and one long sleeve. I wanted to save as many extra shirts as possible for the next night. As the day warmed up to 60 degrees, I figured changing shirts was less important. I ditched my lamps and one bottle of water. I was carrying too much. I felt a bit lighter. Still wearing the same Gel Kayanos. After all, I have only gone 14.3 miles before starting this 3rd loop. I slammed a can of V8, re-applied lube, changed to a dry hat, and popped a Pepsid AC.
Loop 3 took 1:44. Great. I could sustain this for a while. My times are exactly as planned so far. I was still in last place overall, though I was gaining. This was not my goal. I did not care what place. It's now 10:15am.
Loop 4: Still in my ASICS. I dropped down to two short sleeve shirts and my back pack. This left me feeling significantly lighter than before. With only 21.45 miles in so far, I was feeling great. Pains I'd had in my groin and IT seemed to be subsiding. I called my wife back and was able to talk to Reagan this time. Got caught up on how everyone was doing. That's always uplifting. I voice texted the guys at work and let them know how I was doing as well. I needed their support and hoped they'd think it was neat, too. I also enjoyed this loop because Noon was approaching. Then I could move on to the next shift (12-4 pm and just enjoy the afternoon. After Loop 4, with a 1:47 loop time, I was in 6th place overall. I had passed some people. It's now 12:02 pm and I have completed 28.60 miles. Marathon accomplished.
Loop 5: Still in ASICS but took off the socks to re-apply Vaseline on the feet. Slammed another V8. Good thinking, I tell myself. I dropped down to 1 tee-shirt and changed my hat. This loop would not only bring me past the 50K mark, but deliver me well into the afternoon. Both helped my psyche. Now I can begin to concentrate on just enjoying the afternoon 12-4. Because once that's over, I just need to go 4 pm until about 9 am. I did that last month at Woodstock. Can do. I called and spoke to my son, Calvin this time. He'd been sleeping in :) Always uplifting to speak to the family. My loop 5 time was 1:53 and was still in 6th place. It is now 1:55 pm and have completed 35.75 miles. 50K accomplished.
Loop 6: Switched out to my NB Vongos. Gonna try to avoid the Saucony's. They had been hurting my right pinky toe. That’s no good. I did not think to cut the shoe. Oh well. This means I only have 1 pair of shoes left unless I circle back to the first pair, which I do not want to do. So I'll need to ride out the NB's. They feel light. I like it. 1:53. 5th place. It is now 3:48 pm and I have completed 42.9 miles. No milestones. Fine. Just go finish a loop. No problem.
Loop 7: Still in the Vongos. It's going to possibly cool down but I figure I can survive 7 more miles still in a tee shirt. 7 miles is nothing; I say to myself. I just need to keep moving. I did grab both of my headlamps just in case. I would always carry both headlamps. A month ago I had a scare when one lamp was acting up and I had no spare. So from now on, always a spare, and 2 sets of spare batteries. The comfort this gives me outweighs the extra ounces in weight by far. Made a mistake though. I forgot to re-stock water bottles in the back of my pack. I usually did not need them both, but I had given a bottle to a thirsty 50-mile racer last loop 2 miles in. He ran only with one bottle and did not conserve because there was normally some water available at mile 2. This water was gone. That’s precisely why I carry extra. So I told him to take one of mine. I had enough for the loop easily, but maybe not if I forget to re-stock, which I did forget to do. I managed to get through fine but am not a fan of being concerned. 2:01 loop time. Just fine. Holding steady. It is now 5:49 pm and I have completed 50.05 miles. That's a motivating Milestone. Halfway! 100K is not too much further, either. This is a good stretch. Still 5th place overall.
Loop 8: Still in the Vongos. I decide to stay in the tee shirt and just put on the same vest I wore in the morning. It had dried on the seat of my car in the sun. I have plenty of shirts left (and a couple more vests) but want to conserve a bit in case I want to make more changes through the cooler night. I may need to layer up and change out of sweaty clothing. Once I start doing that, I can go through a lot of clothing quickly. Re-applied Body Glide everywhere and Vaseline to the feet. These new socks were amazing. I'd always worn cotton but today I have smart-wool. I hadn't changed them and did not need to yet. I was still in the same dry-fit shorts I started in and would never change them out. Why bother if they feel fine? 2:03 loop time. Still holding steady. It is now 7:52 pm and I have completed 57.20 miles. Great. Next loop I surpass 100K. Motivating, for sure. 5th place overall.
Loop 9: Still in the Vongos. Time to get dressed. I got rid of all shirts, dried off really good with a towel, freshened up, re-applied glide and Vaseline, took a Pepcid AC, slammed a V8, ate some fruit, and re-stocked. I am enjoying the prospect of running through the night. It makes me pay attention. It's different and I like it. 2:15 loop time. It is now 10:07 pm and I have completed 64.35 miles. 100K accomplished. This next loop will represent a personal record for distance and bring me into the 70's. This is very motivating. 5th place overall.
Loop 10: Had to retire the Vongos. Somehow I am noticing the built in, inner arch. It is hurting a bit. I was kind of hoping to just ride these out, but it’s not going to happen. I go to my brand new pair of Asics Gels. I have had several pairs of these so I figure it won't be a problem. But I realize these feel different. They changed them. Not as soft to me. Oh well. Nothing like no choice. It's better than the Saucony's. But I get over it and find I am having a great loop. Not in terms of time, but in how I feel. I felt really good. Better than expected at this point, in fact. Very motivating. There are ups and downs in a 100 mile run and this was an up! The whole loop was outstanding. When I am done it will be midnight. Then I can begin another phase, the 12-4 am phase. No problem. Can do. 2:10 loop time. It is now 12:17 am and have completed 71.50 miles. Personal Record accomplished. So much closer to the end than the beginning. 2nd place for the loop. 5th place overall.
Loop 11: Uh Oh. Back pain. It will pass. Everything passes. It did. Feeling sluggish compared to the previous loop. To be expected, I guess. Not horrible, but my slowest loop so far. It's catching up to me and I can feel it. I am concerned that I have never been up here in the 70-80 mile range and do not know what's in store. I have no experience with this and my confidence has been compromised. But it's just one loop. OK this is why I had a running routine. For the past 10 loops I had constantly asked myself, "How's my breathing? How's my thirst? How's my hunger? How's my posture? Repeat. If any of those things felt compromised, I needed to correct is right then. That means to take a walk until my breathing is restored, have a drink, eat something, and get up on my hips. The better I execute this, the longer I go. Plain and simple. But now things are beginning to break down. Only 4 loops to go, though. I have done well to feel good for this long, I think. That wasn't the race. That was the warm-up. This is the race. Here we go. No problem. Can do. No milestone this loop. Maybe that's the problem. I should be in bed but have 22 miles yet to run. I think I ate the bacon during this loop. Bad idea as it turned out. Felt like a rock in my gut. 2:18 loop time. It is now 2:35 am and have completed 78.65 miles. Still 5th place overall, but somehow closing in.
Loop 12: Fear of failure is setting in. Can I get this far and stop? I am very tired. I seldom see another runner's headlamp off in the distance. I'm alone. I've been looking through a circle for hours (headlamp) Trees are taking on new shapes. Nothing too bizarre, but things are different. When I got to the 5.5 mile aid station for that loop, it’s like the guys knew I’d be feeling different. I received a nice little speech. He said, “You have been doing awesome all day and night. You are doing awesome now. Only 2 more loops. You are awesome. If you don’t think you are doing awesome after you leave this station, get your ass back here again and I will tell you are doing awesome!” That was fantastic. It energized me for about 2 more miles loll. 2:30 loop time. It is now 5:05 am and have completed 85.80 miles. Moved up to 4th place overall.
Loop 13: 85.80 - 92.95. I'm going to be candid right now. This loop absolutely sucked. No other way to say it. It was 5 miles to the aid station but it felt like 15 miles minimum. This 7.15-mile loop was like doing my first marathon. There are ups and downs in a 100 miler; lots of them, and this was a major DOWN. First the trees and ground began moving. Then my heart rate felt out of control. My chest was in a vice. Then my eyes began closing on their own. I couldn't drink enough to satisfy my thirst (I have become dehydrated). My shoulders began to throb and ached with each and every step. They felt like they were going to pop out of my skin. I was stumbling around like a drunkard, taking brief breaks to lean on a tree. Damn. Gotta keep moving. Cannot stop. Must move forward. To stop is to add time. No good. At each Ledge, I feared falling so much that I was walking slanted. Yeah, not much running this loop. I wanted to stop and go to sleep on the ground where I stood. Had it not been cold, I may have taken a nap. The only thing keeping me going was fear of hypothermia. I had to get to the aid station or risk serious problems. I had no choice but to keep moving. But my plan was clear. Get to that aid station and let them know I am not fit to continue. From then until that aid station, I saw a space craft, people having a gathering, cars parking, white flags waiving, and men building a tree stand. Unfortunately, they were all hallucinations. It got to where everywhere I looked, I saw things that did not exist. At least it kept my mind occupied. Seriously. I don't use music on my runs, ever. So I ran out of thoughts, or didn’t have the energy to think. My subconscious mind took over. Then I remembered this quote and I think it was by Dean Karnazes: “When you hit the wall, keep walking along it until you find the door.” OK. Can do. At some point by miracle I reached the aid station. The door had opened. Not before climbing Cougar Hill for the 13th time, though. As bad as that hurt, it woke me up just enough. Snapped me somewhat back to reality. From there it was a short hobble to the aid station. The guys there seemed as if they knew I was in trouble. They assured me that in my next 2 miles to home base, the sun would start to rise and I'd at some point feel energized and revived. Deep down I knew I was not quitting anyway. I could not bear the thought of getting this close and stopping. Not today. No way. But I tell you, the words from the aid station dudes helped big time or my body could have shut down despite my wish to continue. I got to home base. 2:36 loop time. It is now 7:41 am and have completed 93:05 miles. I have somehow moved to 3rd place overall. I did not know that.
Loop 14: As I managed to slurp down some broth and eat a single potato chip (yeah, eating finally got to be difficult), one of the aid station dudes approached me. I told him about my struggles and visions. He and his buddy’s flashed their 100M belt buckles and said, “Yeah, we know.” “Get what you need and get moving. Last lap. Victory Loop. Go.” Point taken.
Shoes and clothing no longer matter. But for what it's worth I was still in the shorts I began in. There was just no need to change them and my bib was pinned to them so I could change shirts faster. Changing shirts is more important than shorts. Something I learned a month ago during my 100k finish.
Can do. Grabbed some fresh water, slammed several cups of Gatorade and I moved out. I actually RAN a mile or two until Walktober. I told those hills, “Thank you and I will not miss you at all.” I ran into the other runner from Michigan which was nice. She was coming in on my way out. Just a few minutes behind me. She was running, which motivated me. So then I ran again for a while. Always nice to see people in a long race. They were few and far between now. On this loop there were no hallucinations or heavy feelings of sleep deprivation, at least not to the previous extent. My legs had really done well all day and night all things considered. Only now are my legs and feet feeling pretty rough. But it doesn’t matter. Not one bit. There are ups and downs in a 100 Mile race and THIS was as UP as UP gets. I am going to finish. Nothing could block this realization that I am going to finish my first 100 this morning.
Because of the sun, because I ran a fair amount, and because I was excited, the aid station seemed to come pretty quick. I was amazed how quick, in fact. The dudes at the aid station were shot. Haha. They'd been up the entire time, working for us. They were beyond fantastic. I was also texting my family and work friends. This kept me entertained. For the first time, my legs were feeling pretty bad. I really had not experienced any severe leg or hip pain through the race. I'm not sure I'd realized that until now. But now my legs were burning. I was done running. Even when I could run a bit, it was as slow as I walk, anyway. I figured I'd walk out the last 2 miles and maybe spare myself unnecessary injury. Haha. Worrying about injury and recovery at mile 98. “That's funny,” I think to myself. I began my 2-mile March to the finish. I'm going to get the Buckle I'd been working toward for 10 months. 10 months of training and I'm just minutes from completion. Surreal. I must have been sleepwalking because I had no idea that in what seemed like only 5 minutes, I exited the woods. The finish was right there. I did it. 100 miles. Only 3 years prior, I’d given up on running due to an injury that seemed certain to be preventing me from ever running a marathon. I hadn’t really given up though, see. I said, ‘If I cannot run, I will walk.” And so I did. During 3 months of walking, The Lord healed me. My first marathon was that next September, then 5 more Marathons, a 50k, a 100k, and now a 100M. Never quit. 2:19 loop time. It is now 10:00 am and have completed 100 miles. I finished in 3rd place overall. Only 8 finishers and I think 3 DNF'd. So for my first 100 I guess I was 3rd out of 11 total? Not sure but I will take it. This took me 29 hours and 3 minutes. Now I understand why it's a 32 hour cutoff in Farmdale.
I hope this race report somehow helps in your en-devours.
John B Adams Jr
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