Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Race Report

Lean Horse 100 Miles

Hot Springs, South Dakota

August 23/24, 2008

Aug. 23rd, 6:00am. The sun is about to rise over the Black Hills. The weather is great. Temperature is low 60’s at start. However, the expected high is mid 80’s for the day. It’s a little warm for running. But I’ve done some heat training though. I was prepared for the high temps.

My plan for this race was to finish around 21 hours. Altitude wasn’t going to be factor since I had trained for Leadville, but didn’t get to run it. Start elevation is around 3400 ft., and gradually climb to highest point about 5800 ft. near the half-way point. Turnaround point is at 5400 ft. My plan was to start out slow for the first 16 miles, since this would be a hilly country road. Well, mostly ups. The first 2 miles was on sidewalk and little pavement through town before we head off on the graveled Argyle Road. Front runners are gone by then. Most everyone had settled into their pace. The first AS was 4 miles out. I was on target at about 10:45 min./mile. There were still a bunch of us packed together , and I got to chat with a lot of people on the way out.

A gravel road is not one of my favorite running tuff. Large rock gravel tend to kill my feet after 10 miles. I hit the 10 mile AS in good shape, refilled my water bottle, ate some snacks and off I went. I reached the Argyle road AS (mile 16.6) in 3 hrs. I was glad to be off the gravel road. From here, we’re on the Mickelson Trail. A good trail with small loose gravel. This trail was converted from an old railroad line. And no where is it more than 3% grade.

After leaving Argyle AS, I settled into a slow pace to the next AS (mile 20). While this trail is fairly easy to run on, I was reminded again why I not too crazy about running Riverside trail… long and straight. But I think this was worse. I soon realized it was going to be more of a mind game. The trail is only 3% grade, but when you stared at it for 2 to 3 miles at a time, it becomes daunting. I kept my head down and not looking into the distance.
I came into Pringle AS (mile 24) kinda struggling. I was beginning to feel some tightness in my right leg. Other than that, I was still in good shape. My pace had fallen off abit (11 min/mile). I ate a sandwich and snacks with coke, refilled my bottle, and off I went again. I tried to keep stops under 5 minutes.

From Pringle AS, the 3% climb continued. Time was now about 11am. It was getting warm. I kept drinking water and Accelerade, which was not one of my favorite drink, but drank it anyway. I also kept taking in Endurlytes (about 3 or 4 on the hour). Heed is my normal drink for 100 milers. Somehow the supplier didn’t deliver Heed at the AS. I was bummed about that.

For the next 20 miles, I slowed quite a bit. The 3% grade controlled. I thought, I’ll just power walk most of this and run most, if not all, on the way back. A lot of people went by as I just power walk. I kept telling myself, I will catch you guys on the way back. I trudged on to mile 50. I was way behind on my plan. I got to halfway in 11 hours. I took a 20 minute break. I changed my socks, shoe, and sat and ate chicken noodles and crackers. More people were still going by. I just sat and relaxed for a bit. One guy came into the AS in bad shape. He wanted to quit so bad, and needed a ride back. He was having major stomach issues. He sat for a minute, and then hurled off everything. There were a few of us taking a break. We all encouraged him not to quit yet. That taking an hour break could get him back on the trail again. And that’s what usually happens. If you take a little time out, and get some fluids and solids back in your systems, you can be back at it again. I told him to hang in there and not give up yet, and left.

I walked for 5 miles so my stomach could settle abit. Coming back from halfway point, there is a 8 to 10 mile stretch at 3% grade climb again before the 40 mile downgrade back to finish..well for the most part. At mile 55, I was about 12 hours into the race. I knew the 21-hour finish was not going to happen. So my plan was now to finish in 24 hours. I thought, it was now or never. From there, going up a hill, I started into a small shuffle. For the next 10 miles, I passed 10 people. They were all walking back up the hill, while I was just shuffling along. It made me feel great to catch up with people. I know that these people are hurting just as bad as I am. In these ultras, it’s not really a race with other people. It is a challenge as how far you can push yourself to overcome obstacles to finish a course. I gave them encouraging words as I went by. That was now my focus… catching people and just pushing forward.

I got back to Pringle AS (mile 76) in 18 hours. I had 6 hours left to make 24-hour mark. It was now midnight, and temperature was getting cooler, mid 50’s. It feels great when you’re moving, but when you stop for a minute, the chill starts to set in. I had caught and passed several more people coming into the AS. I ate some chicken noodles, snacks, and ice cold coke. And refilled my bottle with ice and water. Even when it’s cold, I still prefer ice and water. I was still keeping my stops to 5 or 6 minutes, and some at 2 minutes. I put on my windbreaker, and off I went. My body was still fine, and my legs were still moving great. I continued with a little shuffling, and gradually get into a slow run to each aid station. Through the night, when I see a light bobbing ahead, I was determined to catch the light.

I got back to Argyle AS (mile 83.5) in 20 hrs. Time was ticking away. I had 4 hours left to cover 16.5 miles. And now I’m back on the Argyle road… the hilly country road. It took me about 2 miles before my footing got use to the road. My legs were now taking a beating. The short steep ups and downs were taking its toll. Even then, I caught a few more people on this stretch. Most were barely moving along…not even long walking strides. I kept pushing forward. I wanted the 24-hour mark so bad. I kept attacking the hills, and kept short strides on the downs. My back was really killing me on the downhills. My quads were screaming,, but I kept pushing. Time was ticking away faster…so it seemed. I got to mile 90 in 21.5 hours. I had 2.5 hours to cover 10 miles. I grabbed a turkey sandwich and refilled my water bottle, and kept on walking. I could only eat half. Food was not going down so easy now.

I had 5 miles left on the hilly road before a turn off to the last AS. The 5 miles was going on and on. And it was basically all downhill. I kept going, and thinking.. the turn off is coming up soon. A few times, I thought… did I miss the turn-off? I really don’t want to go back uphill again. Finally, I saw the turn-off. As soon as I got on the trail, I started to pick it up more to get to the AS, which was almost another mile. I got to the last AS (mile 96) at 23 hrs. 5 mins. I thought… I don’t have time to eat another. I have to keep moving. I got my water bottle filled. And off I went. I had 55 minutes to cover 4 miles. On any normal day, 4 miles in 55 minutes is a piece of cake. But after going 96 miles, legs completely trashed, no sleep for 24 hours, it was going to be tough to make it. I kept telling myself…. I can make it… I know I can…. I am going to beat 24 hours. I caught one more person in this stretch.

It was beginning to get light now, as I came down one last big downhill before coming into town. It was absolute torture by now. I had 20 minutes to go 2 miles on hard surface. With about ½ mile to go, you have to cross back over a river before the final stretch to the finish. I saw 2 bridges. As I came to the first crossing, I didn’t see any markings. I went across, but only to find out I took the wrong turn. I almost just quit then. While I only lost 20 or 30 seconds to get back on the right track, it was tough going the last final stretch. With a ¼ mile left, I gave everything I had left… which at this point… there wasn’t a whole lot. I came over a small mound, and saw the finish line. The clock was ticking fast. I ran through the finish at 23 hrs, 59 mins, 05 secs. I made it… sub 24,,, with only seconds to spare. Talk about cutting it close. I was so glad to be done though.

I congratulate everyone doing this race, and finishing it. Some say Lean Horse is an easy 100. 100 miles is still 100 miles,,, no matter how you slice it. My hat’s off to the RD, Jerry Dunn, and all the volunteers for organizing this race. As with any race, if it wasn’t for volunteers, races do not happen.

Next, Mother Road 100, part II,, November 8th.

My reward for finishing 100 miles. Just awesome!


T Z said...

Arnold, that's a great story. I love the tension in the final miles, being so close to that sub 24, and taking it. Awesome.

When I did the race in 2005, we started way out west of town and we were on the Mickelson Trail all the way. That meant the finish line was out in the middle of nowhere. I was the next to the last finisher running on fumes and hamburger feet. There were only a very few people even there, and the awards ceremony was over by the time I got back to Hot Springs and they were packing it all up. I was lucky that they still had a belt buckle to give me. I am sure the race is way better now that it finishes in Hat Springs. I really want to give it another go.

See ya on the trails, and at MR II.


AB said...

Race is well organized now. great aid stations, start and finish at Hot Springs civi center, as well as awards and dinner. participants are increasing every year. hope you run it again.

see ya on the trails.