Monthly Archives: June 2010

Mohican Race Reports

I always enjoy race reports. I’ve compiled a few reports (that I know of) for your for reading pleasure. Or helpful advice for next year’s race!

Laurie Colon

Rebekah Trittipoe’s Account

Brian Philpot’s First 100 Mile Finish!

Red’s 1st 50 Mile Race Report

Mark Carroll’s Story-well at least the beginning!

Star’s Pacing Report

The story from David Huss

Mohican from Steve’s Side

Michelle’s Report

Suzanne’s Journey

Terri’s Race

Dan Rose (2nd Place!) His Race

NEO Trail Member, Eric Deutsch

And last, but certainly not least, my friend Ron Duke’s account on his pacing Chris Gillen on his finish. Enjoy, especially the last lines!!

Hi All: I thought that I would share with you all my “race report” from this years Mohican 100. Chris had a very good run on a hot and very hilly course. This year, the pacer pick up point was at mile 65 which was also the start/finish line. It was very physcologically challenging for the runners to go beyond that point when they were hot, tired and their cars were parked nearby. I saw some nationally known ultra runners get to mile 65 and call it quits.

Chris had given me 4 different race plans that I had printed. The plans varied from his dream race to a fall back hot weather plan. As I sat at the pick up point, I tore sheets off of my bundle of plans as the clock ticked on. When Chris got to the pacer pick up point, I had two sheets left which i stuffed into a pocket in my shorts. As we ran, I would check his plans to see how we were progressing. Chris’ wife and sons attended this run for the first time. When Chris told me that his family was going to be at mile 65, I told him that his wife might take one look at him and grab him by the ear and drag him home. Cathy was quite a trooper as we sat waiting for Chris to arrive. I tried to assure her that as insane as it all seems, we would be practical in our approach to the run.

The run was mostly uneventful. Two years ago, we saw lots of runners along the trail as we ran. This year, the heat had knocked a lot of the runners off the course and I would say we only saw two or three runners the entire night. As the temperatures fell, I could see that Chris was recovering from the heat effects from earlier in the day.

The job of a pacer is a very interesting one. Mostly, my role is one of providing some sort of a level of safety in case he were to have a heat stroke or injury. Months before the race, as Chris and I were discussing whether or not I was going to pace him, he assured me that he could make it on his own. I told him that I knew he could and I was just an old dog that he was taking along on the trip. My analogy was that of those old Lassie TV shows. That stupid kid, Timmy, was always taking Lassie out some where and at some point in the show, Timmy would fall down a well or something and Lassie would have to go get help. I told Chris that I was glad to go along on the adventure and if he fell down a well, I would go get help, otherwise, I was just out for a fun evening in the woods.

Another job is to monitor the runners intake of fluids, food and electolytes. After that many miles, the runner’s mind is a little clouded and it is the pacer’s job to make sure the runner is getting his needs met. Before we would get to an aid station, I would ask Chris what his needs were at that station so we would have a plan. If you haven’t had the experience, it is hard to understand the incredible gift that the aid station volunteers give to the runners. Most of the volunteers are locals and not runners. They sit in the forest all night long and seemed to be as glad to see we runners as we were to see them. Some of the aid stations have generators and string lights along the trail at the entrance to the station. The cheerful lights and volunteers are a huge boost to the runners. When we get to the aid station, the volunteers hover over us and help us resupply our food and water.

The last job of the pacer is phycological. Years ago, I was running a Mohican training run with some first rate runners. I asked them what makes a good pacer. One runner told me that I always had to remember that the run was not about me. If I hurt…. I needed to keep my mouth shut and concentrate on the runner’s needs. It was perfect advice. As the miles go on, the runner has a tendency to do a lot of math in his head as to how long he has been running, how far and how much longer he has to go. The pacers job is to keep the runner out of his head. Along the trail, I chattered like a monkey. I got Chris to talk about his family, his plans and the World Cup since he is a big soccer fan. As we ran along, I talked about an episode of Deep Space Nine that I had watched earlier in the day, Chris is also a Trekkie. I was amazed the he didn’t turn around and throw a punch at me for my constant yammering. The job of a pacer is to keep the conversation light and positive. If the conversation turns to tiredness or sleep, it can be very damaging to the runner… not to mention the pacer.

As I said, the field of 150 runners and 100 pacers had thinned out to a point where we were alone in the forest for 99 percent of the time. One might think that running through the forest in the dark would be a problem but I find it quite pleasant. We both had head lamps with halogen lights which were quite bright. When the trail was wide enough, I would pull to the left or right of Chris so my light would widen our field of vision. Roots and rocks are a constant danger. At one point, Chris tripped on something and did a bit of a flip. My job was to act like it didn’t happen.

Most of the run was under a canopy of trees. At one point we were in a clearing. Chris stopped running and told me to turn off my light. I sort of thought he had gone nuts but I didn’t ask any questions and turned off my light. We looked up at the stars and to our surprise, we saw a shooting star. Ultra runners often talk about mystical moments that they experience in an ultra and Chris and I had that moment. We thought that maybe we were hallucinating but at the next aid station the volunteers assured us that they had seen the shooting start also.

The forest had been completely quiet all night long save the very erie call of a blue heron. As dawn began to break, first we heard one bird chirping and soon it became a symphony. Daylight was a big boost for both of us.

The last ten miles were on a very challenging section of the trail. Chris was in a bit of pain but his gait was not showing it. I could tell he was digging deep so I cut back on my chatter and let him to himself. Two miles out from the finish line, Chris picked up his pace and I was scampering to keep up with him. At one point, I asked him where he was getting that finishing kick… his response was that he just wanted to be finished. Chris began to thank me for keeping him company on the run but I could honestly say that I got as much as I gave that night. 37 seven miles… the course was actually 101.99 miles is a real stretch for me. In the time leading up to the run, my biggest fear was that once we went beyond my normal mileage I would become a liability. I learned that I could run pretty well after that many miles.

Chris called his family when we were two miles out so they met us about a quarter mile up the trail from the finish line. As we neared the finish line, I told his boys to get behind their dad and I followed from behind. His boys were having a bit of a time trying to keep up with him. I now know that I need to add wind sprints to my training runs in order to keep up with Chris’ finishing kick.

The tradition in ultra running is that the pacer veers off of the course and lets the runner cross the finish line alone or with his family. There was an aid station just before the finish line. A good friend of ours who completed 65 miles but was pulled off the course because she missed the cut off time for that point of the race was there to greet us as we finished. Like the good sport that she is, Cheryl spent the night at the campground, got up early and cheered the runners as they finished. Cheryl was my cheering section at my “finish line”.

I suppose this all might seem sort of crazy for those of you who had the patience to read this entire email. It is hard to explain exactly why this is all so much fun. We live in a world where we are surrounded by people who have a million reasons for why they can’t do this or that. I am incredibly grateful that I have found a community where I can hang out with people who have a million reasons why they can.

T

MMT 2011

You all know about the comfort zone.
That’s where most ultras take place.
Running ultras is all about staying in the comfort zone.
All our strategies revolve around staying in the comfort zone.
All our advice is about staying in the comfort zone;
"Start slow"
"Walk every uphill"
"Don’t take any chances"
For all the talk about exploring human potential, and seeking our limits, Ultrarunners tend to play it safe.
They line up "challenges" they know they can finish.
And run them carefully
Well within their "limits".
We believe that success is never failing.
At the Barkley success is about over-reaching our abilities,
and living to tell about it.
Sometimes success is getting your ass out alive.
Some people "get" the Barkley. Some don’t.
But the Barkley is all about leaving the comfort zone.
The Barkley is about taking our chances with failure.
True success is not the absence of failure,
It is the refusal to surrender.

                 -From Laz, Race Director of the Barkley

This is mainly aimed toward me, as I contemplate MMT 2011. I waver between thoughts of not being good/tough/fast enough to contemplate finishing MMT 2011;  then I read something like this (again)  and realize I do need to step out of my comfort zones. If I don’t push myself to bigger and better things,I’ll never get bigger or better.

I like challenges. I sometimes (and frequently) don’t like the failures that follow. Sometimes I don’t handle them very well. But this post by Laz made me realize that sometimes success does not mean not failing. Like Laurel Highlands this year. It was a DNF for me, but I was satsified with my performance. I reached! I worked outside of my comfort zone a little!!!

Okay, I’ll need to revisit this post on my next wavering of MMT lol.

O

CREW Report:Mohican 100 Race

In the ultra community, there are the friends and families who follow their runners around on long races, commonly referred to as handlers, or “crew”. And the acronym of crew, is
Cranky
Runner
Endless
Waiting.

And you know what? It’s true.

Actually, it’s not that true. My runner wasn’t so cranky.

But back to the beginning of the tale. I’m going to just go over my life as “crew” here in this post. There will be another post about what I observed at the Mohican 100 Trail Race a little later.

I was well stocked for my 24 hours of following my friend around all weekend. In addition to me, his two friends, Luke and Heather, and his 14 year old daughter, Amanda, compromised of the rest of John’s crew. I found it helpful to have the four of us to help out John.

11 miles into the race is the first place crew is allowed. Runners aren’t expected until 0700. I get there, and the place is PACKED with cars! Whoa, I’m not used to be hanging with the front of the pack. I get of my vehicle, and am startled to see Dan Rose already running through. He’s running with the 50 mile people! I barely get a “hi Dan” out before he’s gone!

My runner is # 3 of the 100 milers here. Ooops. This is way too fast. But he’s happy and running. We get him some fresh food, swap out his water bottles and send him on his way. With all these cars, we head out early to our next handler location.

This location is right on State Route 3, a very busy state route. I am getting a bit stressed watching folks lingering far too close to the edge of the highway. Semis are going by.I just don’t want anyone to get squashed!

John comes through here, still in good spirits, well on his 22 hour pace. In fact, I think a little too fast still. It’s not a long stop for him, and he goes off for what I know are some good long hills on roads.

Our next stop is Mohican Wilderness, which was the old start and finish of the race. I kill some time here waiting for John by helping set up the aid station and working at the Aid Station.
John spends a little time here, chatting at the AS, while we wait for him at the cars. He’s still moving well and complaining about the hills.

We have a bit better idea of how John is moving now, and I spend a little more time working at the AS before moving onto our next handler spot. Which is back to our location on State Route 3.
We get settled in the shade, and I set up my chair so I can see runners coming toward me. Us crew is now reading books and magazines. I try and get up each time a runner comes through to tell them they are almost off the asphalt, just a turn onto the dirt roads 1/8 of a mile away.

With Mohican being such my local race, I know many many of the racers coming through. I am really enjoying being able to give a shout out to everyone going by, because I know how much it makes me feel to get a ‘good going’ from a friend at a race.

John is overdue, and as he turns onto the state route, I can see he’s in meltdown. It’s a total 100% change from before. I go down to greet him and know we’ve got a situation on our hands.
We get our runner seated, and let him sit for a bit. We get some cheese pizza and sweet tea (I swear by this, this is ultra runner nectar). We get his girlfriend on the phone (miraculously, this is an area of cell phone reception). Still, he’s not real enthused about going on.

So I go and change into my road shoes, and a running bra. I’m already in running clothes. I tell him to come on, I’m going for a training run, and he can run with me down to Rock Point. I don’t really give him an option here. He gets up and we start down the road. He realizes he forgot his bib, when changing shorts, and I run back to get it.

When I turn off onto the dirt township road, John is out of site! My gosh, did he get a second wind or what? I take off into a run. I caution a runner that I am passing that I’m not in the race, that I’m a fresh runner. (There’s nothing more demoralizing than a runner whizzing by you at mile 40 in a race.) I catch John on the uphill, and we chat and carry on down some country roads. I believe I told John 3 miles to the AS, but it’s closer. We approach the AS, and I turn around. John’s feeling much now, and looking forward to get back on the trails. He’s also mentioned having some more pizza next time he sees us.

Our next spot to see John is the Fire Tower Aid Station. I get here and get to hang out with a bunch of friends. I also made a stop back to town and picked up pizzas. My timing was impeccable. I was back maybe 10 minutes with the pizza when John came through.

His pace has slowed down. The hot horrible weather is taking its toll. The weather this year is awful. It’s around 90 degrees and very humid. My short run I took was horrible. I was soaked through my shirt in the mile that I ran. There’s no way these runners can keep up with their hydration and nutrition. Still, John’s going on. He keeps talking about being in the “hurt locker” but we give him a 20 minute stay and then make him go on to the Covered Bridge AS.

We have about 2.5 hours until we expect him at the Start/Finish line, which is mile 65 for the 100 milers. I hang out at the Fire Tower AS. The weather is taking its toll on the runners. Many ‘faster’ runners that I know are well off their pace. But everyone I see at Fire Tower continues on.

I leave the Fire Tower so I can get over to the Start/Finish at Mohican Adventures so I can have a shower. There’s a line at the showers, so I can this idea for now.I’m expecting John around 8pm.

50 milers are still finishing up and it’s exciting to see folks finish. I managed to see Cindy and Bob, close behind finish!! I also start to get caught up on race gossip. Who’s dropped. Who hasn’t. It’s easier to figure who is still in the race. Not that many.

John’s over due. I start toying with the idea that I may need to pace John. I don’t think I can pace him for 30 plus miles. My blisters have healed from Laurel Highlands, but frankly, John’s a faster runner than me. He outran me when we ran our little mile together. I was fresh, he was 40 miles into a race. I go and get my gear together. No trail shoes. No inhaler. No hydration pack. But I do have running clothes, and a hand held bottle. I figure I could manage with a hand held if I have to.

Everyone is over due at mile 65. Pacers are milling around, restless. Experienced pacers, like my friend Ron Dukes, is sitting still in a chair , conserving his energy waiting for his runner, Chris Gellen. I try to follow Ron’s example and sit, and keep hydrating. (I’m glad I only drank a few beers through out the day now!!)

We’re all still waiting and waiting. Luke now changes into running shoes. But Luke has a bum ankle, and is really not supposed to be running. We don’t talk about it.

John finally arrives. He says he is done. I say he isn’t. We get over to the RD, who’s taking numbers.John says he is quitting. I tell Ryan to ignore him, we’re going to get some food.
So begins about one hour of me trying to cajole John back onto the trail. I do understand that he’s hurting, he’s stopped sweating, he can’t run any more. But John still has plenty of time to rest up and get back out there. I know how he will feel on Sunday and Monday after a quit.

It’s my JOB, dagummit, of what he wanted me to do for him, is keep him moving forward. I get him turkey and cheese sandwiches. He drinks sweet tea.I get his girl friend on the phone.

To no available. The girlfriend is giving him permission to quit. Now his other friends are siding with John. He’s not sweating. He can’t run. I scold and swear, and bitch some more. John’s being more stubborn than me.

I guess I quit about one hour after John did. I took his race number, and reported him in as drop.

I think John did very well out there. It’s been several years since his last 100 miler. I think maybe the memory of the pain and suffering he had forgotten. But he did very well out there in the horrible heat and humidity. John’s a very good runner. It kind of gave me validation to hear him say “these are some tough trails” as these trails are our training ground here! Maybe I’m tougher than I think!

Kudos to all who ran Mohican this weekend, finisher or not. These are some tough trails, in good weather. And in poor running conditions these weekend, good for you for going as far as you could!

Highlands Sky Video

This is a video that Joel Wolpert created for Running Times magazine. It is about Highlands Sky, the race put on by the West Virginia Mountain Trail Runners. Check it out, it is awesome!

I will off to Mohican here in a few hours, to crew for a fellow WVMTR, John Reynolds. As some of you know, CREW stands for “Cranky Runner Endless Waiting” which is what I will be doing. My job is to swap out water bottles, and make this fast runner eat and drink when he really doesn’t feel like it. It’s going to be a warm day out there-weather is forecast for 90 degrees, so my secondary job is to make sure I have ICE all day long. There may be posts from the road from me.

A New Blogger Out There!

Suzanne is a friend of mine. She is another ultra runner, and she’s been able to accomplish a feat that I have not: finish the Mohican 100 Mile Trail Race.

She will be running this again in two days, and I’m seeing another buckle for her!

It also came to my attention that she has a blog of her own. Please check it out. Suzanne writes extremely well and I look forward to reading her race report on her Mohican 100 finish!

Race Grade

I give myself a “B” for race performace. This was an above average performance for me. I keep steadily moving forward. I passed people on uphills. I power walked for the most part when walking.

Equipment was F for Fail. I wore Drymax socks this time. In past long races, I have worn Injinjis and taped the bottoms of my feet. As I have not been having blister issues in 50K and marathon races, I decided to wear the Drymax. This was my race stopping mistake.

I would have to say C- or D for hydration/nutrition. I was eating an Endurolytes cap every hour. In retrospect, I probably needed more. My face and arms were coated in salt. I was eating a gel around every hour, and eating at the AS. But the idea is not to stay at the AS. Getting water into the packs took time, and I was eating about a 1/4 or a 1/2 PBJ and then heading out. I’m sure everyone was dehydrated with the weather. Getting the hydration out of balance may have been a factor in my blisters.

Race Report Part Two!! Finally!

Back in December, PennDot discovered the bridge that the LHHT used across the Pa turnpike was unsafe, and closed it immediately. The good news is a detour was found. The bad news is the detour is 8 miles-of road.

Dan Bellinger had run the road section and given some intel on it, which was immensely helpful. But without mile markers, I had no frame of reference on how far I had run. There is a gravel downhill, then a turn on a rolling asphalt road, then you cross the turnpike around mile 4 in the detour, then around 4 miles in a gradual ascent back to the trail.

I stop to pee and the runners who were in front of me are now out of sight. I’m alone, and thoughts are going negative. This long gravel downhill is getting to me. I’m really getting depressed and bleak. I finally realize I’m bonking and get a gel into me.

I finally make the turn onto the asphalt road. Where is the turnpike? It’s nowhere in sight. I try not to get hit by the fast moving trucks on the road. Now I can feel hot spots on my balls of my feet. CRAP. I’m getting pissed now. I’ve not had a hint of a blister problem until I hit this stupid road. I’m not happy. And WHERE is this turnpike?

I finally see the turnpike—in the freaking distance. I glance at my watch. It’s somewhere around 5pm. Now I’m worried about getting to the 9pm AS cut off. There’s no way I can do that. This adds to my already black mood. Which makes me power walk faster.

As I come to the bridge, I spot three runners ahead of me! This makes me feel so much better. I cross the turnpike and catch them.
“I am NOT Happy!!!!!” I declare. I think I scared them. Michael says I am moving well. “That’s because I am NOT happy!” Anger and unhappiness is giving me motivation to get down this gravel road, and I pull away from the three of them. The gravel is just making my now developed blisters worse.

A truck approaches from the direction I am going. It’s Rick, the RD, and tells me I’ve got “a little over a mile” to the AS. As I keep going AND going, I realize he’s lied to me. Of course he lied, he’s the RD. If he had said I still had three miles to go, I may have had a meltdown.

The AS finally (how many times have I said finally here?) appears in the distance. I’ve got a dropbag here. A volunteer keeps bringing me cold Gatorade as I rummage through my bag. I get my light, my music, scissors and some tape. I decide not to do anything to my feet until the next AS, where I think I have another drop bag. I think I now have a shot of getting to the AS within the cut off time.

The rain starts as I get back on the trail. It’s not particular a cooling rain. As it stops, it just raises the humidity level. It’s “only” seven miles to the next AS. And I have music now! I crank up my playlist. Now my mantra is “hurry hurry”. No walking, unless I am climbing. Go, go!

The soft dirt is kinder to my blistering feet, but when I set them down on a rock it hurts more. I can feel the blisters growing. That’s okay, I can run through pain.

I catch Bill and Tara right as we get to the next Aid Station. They have soup!! I eat two cups. I have not really been able to keep up with calories through this race. I’ve eaten all my gels I’ve brought. To spend more time in AS eating and drinking cuts down on your time on the trail. It’s hard to get this right.

It’s also 12 miles to the next Aid Station, with the 1230 AM cut off. It’s around 9pm. Doing the math now, I see I would need to keep a 17.50 minute pace to get there on time.

For any non ultra runners reading this far along (and thank you!) I know this sounds ridiculous. Who couldn’t “run” an 18 minute mile?

Well, okay, I’ve already run 48 miles. I’m tired, it’s still hot out. It’s now dark, so I am on a trail with a headlight. There is an actual downhill here. The trail at this point is through these huge prehistoric looking ferns, with actually cover the trail. You can’t see more than the edge of your light, and it’s hard to see the rocks on the trail. It’s very slow moving through here.

A kind AS worker had warned me of “two significant” climbs and I’m glad he did. I knew what to expect. But climbing is not keeping an 18 minute mile. I’m getting slower and slower, and the feet are hurting more and more. My mantra now is “run through pain”. And I can, or actually I can shuffle, but it’s getting slower and slower.

The worst point is when I put my right foot down in a water puddle. My burst blister explodes into fresh pain and I now can’t put my foot down, just the heel. I try to look for a hiking stick. I start crying. Which makes everything worse.

I stop crying. I can put my foot down again. But even if I make the cut off, there’s no way I can go on. A 30 minute mile does not complete a race. And now the cement mile markers are taunting me. I’m only at 54. I need to get to 56.

I get to 56. SO where is the AS? I’m looking for lights, voices, anything to show me I am close. I start to cry again. And stop. I’m not crying going into an AS. Finally I can hear voices, and see lights. Yes! I am finally done. I glance at my watch. I believe it’s 109 am. Cut off was 1230 am.