I was very fortunate to have great friends along as crew and pacers! Rachel Groves has ran several ultras and is training for her first 100 in the fall. She paced me from mile 50-75. Mike Ekbundit is a veteran at ultra endurance events, including two 100’s. Mike paced me from mile 75-100. Katie was the crew chief for the entire day. There were 3-4 crew access spots on each loop that I got to see these guys. I could not image completing this event without these three people! Ultras really are a team sport! I owe them so much!
The final weeks leading up to the Mohican Trail 100 went as planned with no unforeseen issues. Training, diet, sleep, recovery, and taper had all went as planned. Getting to the starting line healthy was the priority and I did just that.
The race morning alarm went off at 2:30am in preparation for the 5:00am start. I had a light bagel for breakfast and packed the car with enough crew gear and supplies to outfit at least three runners..haha…. After a quick trip to the restroom, we headed out on our 30 minute drive to the race venue.
The morning temps were in the low 50’s and the air was crisp. In typical trail race fashion, there was little hoopla at the start. 250 runners and crew with headlights burning in the dark, awaiting the start signal. I felt great and ready to get underway. I was not overly nervous. I knew it would be a long day and tried to conserve as much energy as possible (which meant staying calm at the start). I purposely positioned myself in the middle of the starting pack to force me to keep my pace in control during the first few singletrack miles. And we were off!
Lap 1 –
The first lap was pretty uneventful by design. I simply wanted to take in the scenery and learn the course a bit. After about an hour of running the sun came up and the sounds of the forest came alive. The course had a lot of character. Much of the trails and terrain were similar to Jefferson Memorial Forest, where I spent a majority of my time training. There were also unique sections, such as a gorge which we basically had to walk, climb through, that had a hand-over-hand root wall climb to get back on top of the ridge. My heart rate, nutrition, and hydration execution was all on track. 25 miles complete!
For this lap I put in my I-pod and tried to zone out for most of the lap. The temperatures and sun were in full effect by now, so keeping myself cool was the priority (temps 85-90 degrees). The field was pretty spread out by this point, so long periods of time would go by without seeing other runners. I was not fully aware of it at the time, but in hindsight I was not doing a good job of keeping up with hydration and electrolytes during this lap. While I thought I was drinking plenty, I was not peeing near frequently enough. Also, my heart rate on this lap had escalated to the higher end of my target zone. Partially due to the heat and dehydration. My elevated heart rate forced me to slow down to keep things in check.
Towards the end of the second lap, I began to have my first bout of negativity. I was getting hot, my neck and shoulders were starting to hurt (from a previous strain), and negative thoughts were starting to creep into my head. On top of this, I had started to get twinges in my calves, on the verge of cramping. I continued eating and drinking on schedule and knew that once I got back to the start/finish area that I would see my crew and things would get better. 50 miles complete!
Lap 3 –
After 50+ miles of running by myself, I was ready for some fun conversation with Rachel. We headed out on lap 3 and I immediately was having a difficult time with calf and groin cramps, especially when going uphill. I never had any debilitating lock-ups, but was on the verge many times during the first half of this lap. I increased my water and electrolyte intake and the symptoms had subsided by the second half.
For the first time all day, it was getting very hard to stomach forcing down gels. A couple times I felt nauseous, but never did vomit. My crew had gotten really tough with me on drinking more this lap. I was behind on hydration from the second lap and needed to catch up. Rachel did a great job of forcing me to drink more often. Our pace had slowed on this lap, but I still felt like we were moving good. Still doing more running than hiking at this point during the day was a bonus.
I had a blast running with Rachel! She sparked some great conversations that kept my mind occupied. Towards the end of the lap, the sun had set and we needed the headlamps. This made the trail feel new again and we were in good spirits all the way back in. The miles seemed to fly by on this lap and I owed it all to Rachel! She forced me to eat and drink on schedule and we had FUN! Could not ask for a better lap. 75 miles complete!
I picked up Mike and we headed out on the final lap. By this point, the temperatures were back into the 50-60’s and I was a bit chilled being wet. I had changed into a dry shirt which felt great. I was still riding the high from the third lap, but that did not last long. After about an hour into this loop, I could tell my state of mind was changing rapidly. Legs and body was still in tact, but my head was starting to wonder. Around mile 80, I felt a painful blister developing on my foot. At the crew station I sat down and they addressed my feet and changed socks. This was the first time I had sat down or had any type of equipment change all day. It was at this crew point I became aware my head was doing some funky stuff. Trying to talk to multiple people amongst the crew station chaos (there was really no chaos haha) was a chore.
From here to the finish was really a mental blur for me. The best way I can describe it was an out-of-body experience. My mind was loopy, I had lost all sense of time and awareness, and I was just randomly babbling to anyone who would listen. I remember asking Mike if it was time for another gel?…. Nope, only been 1 minute since your last gel….. Eat now? No, only been 1 minute since you last asked…..Gel now?…. No, still have 15 more minutes, etc, etc…. Mike led the way and I focused on his feet and we moved along. Despite not thinking clearly, I was have FUN in my own head. It was like a really happy drunk feeling as we moved along. That said, if I would not have been with a pacer, I would have been in bad shape trying to eat, hydrate, and stay the course on my own.
My quads and feet stabilizer muscles were extremely sore with about 10 miles to go. Each step downhill (and over rocks and roots) was getting more painful. Hiking was the norm from here on in, very few sections were runnable for me at this time. At no time did I ever want to quit, or even “take a break” for that matter. We kept moving forward all a big thanks to Mike! The sun came up and we removed the headlamps around mile 95. The sunlight gave a boost of energy and we moved towards the finish line with excitement!
Seeing the finish line, the crowd, and my crew, I lost it emotionally. It was such a great sight to see! Katie ran the last quarter of mile with me to the finish line!
Finish time 25:32. 29th place overall out of 249 starters. I could not have asked for a better experience for my first 100 miler! Extremely pleased with the results.
I kept this race report a pretty high level overview. If anyone has specific questions, feel free to contact me. I enjoy sharing my experiences 🙂