CACTUS ROSE 100 2010 RACE REPORT
**I've had this saved on my computer and decided to post it for the memories of my first 100 and my first time on this course. this took me back to one of the best races / accomplishments of my life.
This being my first 100 I didn’t know what to expect. I’ve read stories about all the pain, hell, and doubt that goes on during a 100 so I was expecting the worst. In Feb of 2009 I ran my first ultra, the cowtown 50k. I did two 50k’s that year but my main goal was to break 3:10 in the marathon which I did at white rock in December of 2009. About a year before qualifying I discovered ultras and trail running. I was anxious to get started with that, but I told myself that I must break 3:10 in the marathon before moving onto the next goal. I ran my first true trail race in Jan of 2010, the Bandera 50k. It whipped my ass. I wasn’t nearly prepared enough and didn’t know what to expect. My time was slow, by body hurt like hell, but something about it left me wanting more. I quickly signed up for a 50 miler a couple months later, but with a better game plan together. Doing a 50 miler had been on my mind for about 2 years at this point and I had every intention of doing one all along. Also, that whole time a 100 miler was on my mind but I told myself I need to get some 50 mile experience before even thinking about that. I did the hells hills 50 in April, and at about the 48 mile mark was when I decided to pick out a 100 and go for it. The 50 never truly tested me, and I think that’s what I’ve been after all along. A true test when I have to pull everything last thing out of me to keep going and see just how bad I really want it. About a week after hells hills I landed on cactus rose 100 Oct 30th. It was the same course as the Bandera 50k I had done, but about 6 miles of flat sections cut out for a 25 mile loop. It scared the hell out of me picking such a difficult race for my first one, but the difficulty is what drew me to it. As training went on I felt that the more technical a course is, the better I perform. I had about 6 months of training, and knew if I really wanted it that I could make it happen. I respect the 100 mile distance and know that it is not a joke. So I took training very seriously. I hit another 50 miler, a 45 miler, about (8) 40 milers and countless 30-35 milers. Training in the heat really took a toll on me. Around the beginning of August things weren’t going too good and I started really second guessing doing the 100 at all. I took about a week off and started back fresher then ever and things really started looking better. As the weather cooled, I amazed myself with every long run I was doing by holding the same pace for 6,7, or 8 hours at a time. Still I knew that doing 100 is a totally different ballgame. I was predicting about a 28 hour finish time. I calculated a 12:20 first 50 then about a 15:40 second half. That allowed for some very low points and slower running at night.
As the race approached I decided to camp at the start/finish for the first time. It really worked out nice and that is what I’ll always do from here on out. The days before the race I was surprisingly calm and confident about myself. I was mostly pumped because my family was going to be there crewing for me and this was my chance to show them that I can do this stuff. They would be getting there when I was around the 40 mile mark. I had three great pacers lined up; Dalton, jen and my brother. The plan was for Jen to do 50-75 with me and mainly keep me company and keep my mind off of the pain. Then I planned for Dalton to do miles 75-95 with me because that was going to be most of the low points and with his 100 mile experience I felt comfortable with him with me during that time. The last 5 I had my brother pacing me so I could finish with a family member and give him the opportunity to see the course. The course would consist of (4) 25 mile loops with 4 drop bag areas. The course is very rocky with very little sections that you can really open up the pace. There are few 100’s that are more technical, but there are mountain races that have quite a bit more elevation change. The hills on this course aren’t the longest but they are nasty. Filled with loose rocks and poor footing, they give even the most experienced runners a challenge. You can face a challenge with fear or look it dead in the eyes and tell it to bring it. Going into it with confidence is very important, and you can never let the course beat you mentally. The race was a self supported format which I really liked. Everything was laid out and I felt I was as prepared as possible.
Loop 1- I woke up pretty calm, and ready to take on the challenge. I got a horrible night sleep but knew that I wasn’t the only one so it didn’t scare me at all. I lined up a little toward the front knowing that I wouldn’t want to be behind too many people once the course cut down to single track. Also we had to sign in at every aid station and didn’t want to get in a long line at the first one. I started off at a pretty light jog the first 5 miles only walking lucky peak (kind of forced to walk it). My game plan was to run the runnable sections and walk the hills up and down. Also my plan was to really pay attention to my legs and keep them feeling fresh for at least the first 50. I hit the first 3 sections, about 15 miles pretty solid and was already over 30 minutes ahead of schedule. Loop one went great and I did everything according to plan. I talked with fellow runners to help keep my mind off of things and took in plenty of calories. That is one thing that I believe in is taking in quite a bit of calories and keeping as much as possible from gu/chomps type stuff. Loop one was clocked at 5:15 about 40 minutes ahead of schedule.
Loop 2- I knew that being 40 minutes ahead of schedule was either really good or really bad. I felt good and was taking it easy so I was still confident. I started out on loop 2 a little more conservative knowing I still had a long long ways to go, plus the sun was heating up. It hit about 80 that day which isn’t too hot but hot enough to where electrolytes play a big role and nausea can end a race which it did for many runners that day. I had a lot to look forward to at this point, I knew that my family would be there which always lifts your spirits and also this was the last loop without a pacer. I ran with two main people the first 34 miles. At about 34, the guy I was chatting with told me to go ahead that he needed to slow down. I couldn’t tell if I should also slow down because I was going too fast or if my higher calories were doing me good. He had run about 5 other 100’s so I trusted his judgment, but I was feeling too good to slow down. I came into equestrian at mile 35 about 40 minutes ahead of schedule and knew that was going to grow because I had the easier sections in front of me. The next 10 went by pretty uneventful and was pumped to come into equestrian at 45 because I knew my family would be there. Jen was also there and everybody was ready to go. They helped me fill my bottles and get going a little quicker. I left the aid station feeling great, but that quickly changed. At about mile 47, I started feeling nauseous, sluggish, and not very good. The heat was starting to factor in and I didn’t realize that my electrolyte plan was insufficient. Endurolytes don’t have nearly the amount of sodium that I had thought. My stomach was feeling sloshy and my energy was zapped. Loop 2 took me about 5:55. I made it into 50 at 11:10 about 45 minutes ahead of schedule but knew that things were about to get slower. A doctor on site asked me some questions and we came to the conclusion that I needed some more salt. He gave me S! caps which have quite a bit more sodium and I immediately started feeling better. Without him I don’t know what I would have done.
Loop 3- Jen and I set out from the lodge at the halfway point. My stomach still wasn’t right, but we started out running and I figured I would gamble and let it settle on the run instead of walking too much. We talked the whole time and it really kept my mind occupied and that’s when things starting getting good. Between 55 and 60 we were making great time and I felt great (not a bit worse then mile 1). We hit ice cream hill at about mile 62 and when it was starting to get dark. I was feeling stronger and stronger and amazed at how good things were going. We came into mile 65 and I was pumped, probably the most energy I had all race. I let Dalton know I was feeling good since he was going to be pacing me after another 10 miles. Having my family there was awesome because I would feed off of their energy and kept me at a high nonstop. At this point it was completely dark with 35 to go. We kept a very steady pace through the next 10 miles which were the hardest sections of the course. Miles 70-75 was when I started passing people and the other runners were looking bad. I fed off of that and kept trucking hard. Running every bit of the flatter sections and power walking up the climbs. That loop was the slowest which was fine because I new that I was going to start hurting at some point so I was still being conservative. I clocked loop 3 at about a 6:35, and by this point was about 2 hours ahead of schedule. I thanked jen for what an awesome job she did then got ready for loop 4.
Loop 4- this is it. As Dalton and I set off, I immediately started doing calculations in my head. I was feeling great so I had no plans of backing down. I knew that a 26 hour finish was very feasible and was pumped knowing that I was going to make a great time. I calculated out what a 25 hour finish would be and knew that if things went good that a 25 hour finish was possible. I did the math for a sub 24 time and quickly erased that thought. I would have to run a 6:10 final loop. That was 25 minutes faster then loop 3, and I felt like a held a pretty good pace on the third loop. I also realized that my brother would have to do the last section with me in the dark. He had never run trails in the dark and especially nothing like lucky peak. I was skeptical and I knew he would be too. Dalton and I hit the section at a pretty good pace. Marching up the climbs with tremendous intensity and running the rest of it with a good pace and my legs still felt like new. I was expecting things to get very ugly by this point and was thought that the final loop was going to be closer to an eight hour loop. We came into mile 80 as fast as I had done that section all day. He is really competitive and immediately looked at the pad to see how far behind I was from the next guy. He made sure no time was wasted and we were on our way in no time. Miles 80-85 was the hardest section. This section was taking me about an hour and a half the first three times. We stuck to the game plan and ran everything that was runable and power walked up sky island at a pretty good pace. Coming down it is very technical and tough in the dark. The #4 trail that winds through the backside to the sisters is also very technical with lots of smaller steep hills that annoy you because you seem to forget about them every time. There is about a quarter mile stretch of pretty smooth trail leading up to the sisters which gives you a bit of a rest and allows you to pick up the pace a little. By the time I got on top of the sisters I was feeling great knowing that most of the hills were completely done for the day. I walked up fuji, the backside of the first one (the steepest climb of the entire course), then actually ran the climbs and descents of the next two. That astonished me because I walked those all day and finally 82 miles into it I decided to run them. I was passing people going the opposite way on their third loop and they all looked like they were in a ton of pain, but of course I fed off of that and kept trucking. At about mile 84, Dalton and I did some calculations and realized that a sub 24 finish was possible. I couldn’t believe it and we quickly got a game plan together to tackle it. We said that our goal was to be out of equestrian at 20:30 which would give us 3:30 to do the final 15. That was averaging 1:10 per section which was the same pace I was doing all day. When we pulled into the station he mentioned to my sister that I was on the verge of a sub 24 and that it might be a good idea if he continued to pace me instead of my brother. We set out at 20:30 on the dot, and I was determined to get it done. I was feeling great and we set out running at about an 8-9 minute pace. That all stopped when we hit the ice cream hill section for the last time. Before reaching the hill you go through about three smaller dry rivers that are very steep descents and climbs. At about this time my big toe started screaming in pain on the descents. I felt it all day but by this time it was too late to mess with it. The section leading up to the hill seemed to take forever and it all made sense when we realized that some how we went in a circle. I quickly shrugged it off knowing that we did the first two miles of that section extremely fast. But at that time I was not in the mood to spend any more time on ice cream then I had to. It’s not the steepest hill but I feel that it’s the nastiest. Coming off of the hill was when the higher pace started taking a toll on me. We came into nachos at mile 90 right on schedule which was good because the next two sections were fairly easy. As I came in, the 4th place guy was sitting down. We told them that I was feeling good and he jumped out of his seat and I never saw him again. Before the race I knew I would run the first half pretty conservative so I told my brother that whatever place I was in at mile 50, I was going to pass half of those people the second half. I’ve always been a pretty strong finisher. We grabbed some food, I refilled my bottles and we were off. We had 2:20 to tackle the last 10 miles. At this point running was becoming a struggle for the first time all day. I was taking walking breaks on runnable sections for the first time. Dalton would not let me get off pace and we kept on. That section went pretty much the same throughout, a slow painful jog with walking breaks, but we stayed on pace. We came into equestrian at mile 95 and it was as dead and empty as it gets. It was about 3:40 in the morning and I was 3 ½ hours ahead of schedule. My family was sound asleep because they were not expecting me so quickly. I woke them up knowing that if I let them sleep they would have missed the finish and sat there expecting me for quite some time. Brenna and jenny jumped out of the tent and I told them I was fine and that im very close to breaking 24 hours. I told them that I didn’t need anything and that I would see them in a little bit down at the lodge. My biggest mistake happened at this point. I am very disciplined about sticking to a game plan and staying consistent on calories. My adrenaline was very high at this point and I thought that I could skip eating at the aid station to save time. I had some food in my pockets which I knew was enough to get me through the last 5 miles. We started out at a very brisk pace. I had 1:17 to make it to the lodge. I felt pretty confident about that since that section took me between 1 hour and 1:10 all day. About a mile into the section no words had been spoken yet and Dalton said “man you’re not leaving this to chance are you?” I said nope and kept trucking at about a 9 minute pace. I was focused and thought that I had it in the bag. After running for 23 hours your body is on the verge of shutting down and dropping calories for a split second can send the body into extreme fatigue. About a mile and a half into the section we hit a pretty technical part at which I stopped running and started walking up it. I tried to start running again and my body shut down. Skipping food at equestrian caught up to me. Even my walk slowed way down. My stomach got nauseous and my speech got slurred. Dalton told me that we had better pick up the pace because this wasn’t going to cut it. This was by far the hardest wall I had ever hit during anything in my life. My eyes started to close and I would try to talk but nothing would come out. If I didn’t look straight at the ground I felt like I would fall over. I tried to power walk but it wouldn’t work. I tried to start running again but I was practically running in place. At that point I wasn’t sure about breaking 24 and I honestly didn’t care. I was so exhausted that I just wanted to walk it in and be happy with my time knowing that I still completed 100 miles. Dalton kept pushing me to get going, and kept doing calculation on how long we had to go but I didn’t care. I was on the verge of snapping and telling him to let me be. But deep down inside I knew that I did want it. And I also knew that this is what I’ve been wanting all along: a true challenge. I wrote motivational quotes on all my gu’s to remind of me things while I was out there. All those quotes started coming to mind with two in particular. One of them said “you’ve always wanted a true test, well here it is” and the other said “there is a point in every ultra when you are faced with a decision-a decision to give up or search deep with yourself and preserve it til the end”. I thought to myself well here it is I’m about to find out what type of person I truly am. I’ve got 3 miles left and im faced with a decision. I could have easily decided to walk it in and be satisfied, or as another quote said “I’ve never regretted pushing myself when things get tough but I’ve regretted quitting every time”. I then decided I would give it all I’ve got knowing I could come off that course without any regrets. I made a smart move to reach in my pocket and eat some chomps. As soon as I was done I popped a couple gin gins in my mouth (they take away nausea and work wonders). About a minute later I was at mile 98 staring at the base of lucky’s peak. The sugars started kicking in and I started climbing up it. The power walk that I had going on all the other climbs was gone, but lucky isn’t too long so I knew all I had to do was just get up it. Once I got to the top I knew with my big toe that the descent was going to hurt like hell. On the way down I really had to try and mask the pain, but knowing it was my last descent of the race kept me going. Once we got to the bottom Dalton told me I need to jog it in, no more walking. I had about a mile and half left and it was still way too far to know that a sub 24 was going to happen. Running was very painful but I knew that I didn’t want to leave anything on the course. For the next half mile I was ready to be done. I painfully jogged it and was looking for that turn that took me to the jeep road. It was the longest half mile of my life. We were discussing that the turn would be exactly one mile left when it popped up out of nowhere. That was a huge sigh of relief and we looked at our watches and saw that I had 17 minutes left. That was the first time that I knew I would break 24 no matter what. We picked up the pace a little bit and my spirits were back up to where they started. We talked about what a day it had been and I thanked him for the push. As we took a right turn out of the woods I could see the lodge for the first time. Every bit of pain was gone and I took off. I never thought that breaking 24 was possible on this course. Not for a first timer, especially with my short ultra experience. I could see my family standing there and what a feeling it was. The months leading up to it, you just don’t know if a finish is even going to happen. I think that’s what drew me into the 100. I love the challenge of something that you’re not sure if you can do or not. Crossing that finish line was one of the most surreal moments of my life. I could type ten more pages trying to describe the feeling but couldn’t come close. I ran the last mile in under 10 minutes and my official time was 23:53. It was simply a perfect race. Everything seemed to fall into place perfectly. I completed the final loop in 6:05, 30 minutes faster then loop 3 or over a minute per mile faster. Knowing that I didn’t just complete a 100 but I executed it so well was the best feeling of all. I felt that I had finally proven myself to my family and most of all to myself. There is a lot of self doubt that goes on during a 100 but that was all gone. I wasn’t sure if I would ever do another 100 because I knew it would be hard for it to go that smooth. They gave me my buckle and joyce gave me a hug but I think it was more to make sure I stayed standing. I was in shock and could not believe that it was over. We stayed for a couple minutes got my bag and headed to the car. Once we got to the car it was time to take off my shoes and get into something comfortable. When I saw my toe I could not believe how big the blister was under my nail. I got into some sweats and pretty much fell asleep as soon as I sat down in my truck. That was the first time I sat down in over 24 hours and it was painful because my legs were cramping with every position I tried to put them in. my family got my bags from boyles and nachos while I sat in the truck. I slept for about an hour or so then woke up with some major hunger pains. I immediately said ihop and phoned ahead to my brothers vehicle. We arrived at one in about 10 minutes and I was ready to tear it up. I felt pretty good and was surprisingly alert. Besides in the car, I did not take a nap that day and had sushi for lunch with my bro and went trick or treating that night with my nephew. I got to bed that night at about 9:30 and woke up at 10:00 the next day. It was a solid sleep and got me caught up for the most part. I lied there for a second scared to move not knowing what to expect. I was surprised to see that my muscles weren’t really sore and I had absolutely no joint pain. I was ready to get back at it except for my toe. My blister had gotten so big that it dislodged my toe nail. Days went by and it didn’t get any better. It started to get infected and swollen and very painful. Finally a week later I called the doctor and scheduled to have it removed. Within two days of the removal I was back running with my application turned in for western states. Right now I’m trying to find that next 100 or next challenge. I learned so much from my first one that I think I can go out competitively and harder. We’ll see how that plays out!
Loop 1 - 5:15
Loop 2 - 5:55
Loop 3 - 6:38
Loop 4 - 6:05
First 50 - 11:10
Second 50 - 12:43
Took in about 200 calories every aid sation, ate about an additional 100-150 in middle of each section, and took in about 100 fluid calories each section.