Josh's Lake Martin 100
Lake Martin 100,
It has taken me month to get to this race report. I am not entirely sure why. In the past I have always sat down at the computer within a day or two and started putting down my thoughts and building a race report. Last report I wrote was pacing Kat at the Yeti 100 and I was jotting down notes on the way home form that race. Anyway lets dig into it.
Lets start with the training. After the Umstead 100 last year I fell off the training bandwagon for a good bit. Luckily I had friends that were willing to meet me at 5am in the morning and go for runs. I knew that if I told them I would be there I would get my sorry butt out of bed and get in at least those 2 runs each week. I stayed with that for a while and things started to come back into focus, mileage started to pick up and I started to feel decent about my running. I still hadn’t picked a spring race yet but knew it would be in the spring. That seems to be my preferred time to race my big events. Training during the winter in middle GA isn’t to bad. Although this year it was much colder then the past few years. Another benefit to me is the kids dont have a lot of activities going on. Soccer doesn’t start until spring so I can have most of my training finished up by the time that kicks in for the boys. And swim, well it never stops but its mostly on week nights and very few weekends so not to hard to work around. These are all important things when your trying to get in 60+ miles a week running along with being contributing member of the family unit. Of course Amanda is a huge help, allowing me to go off for the occasional 8+ hour weekend running adventures sometimes to other states and holding down the homestead.
Lake Martin, is a small race. It doesn’t sell out, its very low key. I think there were maybe 50 people signed up for the 100. They also had a 27 mile and 50 mile option. With all those together I think the number was around 200. I am beginning to prefer that over the larger races. I dont want to have to fight to get into a race if I can help it. With so few people it can get lonely out on course after all the 27 and 50 mile finishers have gone home.
Training really started to ramp up about Mid November early December. We knew it would be a hilly race so our goal became to find and run all the hills in Warner Robins we could. At least all the ones within about 6 miles of Kat’s house. And we did a dang good job of it covering many of them numerous times. Another thing I wanted to work on besides going up was descending. At Umstead in 2017 I really suffered in the late miles. Besides falling asleep I was in a lot of pain after about mile 62 and running was pretty much a no go. So I walked and walked and walked. I wanted to build stronger legs that would be more resistant to the pounding and give me a better chance to do a little more then death march the last 25 miles again. I pounded the downhills hard in training. I also added in a few different strength training routines. Spoiler alert, it worked.
Race weekend was pretty easy. They had awesome cabins you could rent and they were at the same location as the Checkin and Pre-race dinner. I snagged up one of those before they sold out and as luck would have it we were next door to Kat and Chuck. Bruce picked me up on Friday Morning, we loaded up my new race tote and we headed to middle of nowhere Alabama. Tiff Reed and Amanda Retiz followed us over. Tiff was part of Kat’s crew and Amanda was racing the 27 Miler. My crew/pacers consisted of Bruce and Greg. Since Greg would be coming form FL he would just be meeting us there later on that night.
So race check-in, dinner, getting settled, drinking a pre-race beer and shot of fireball then early to bed. Pretty standard stuff. Since the race site was only 3 miles from the Cabins that left us a lot of time to get ready in the mornings and not have to rush. Got up about 4am, made some oatmeal, drank some coffee. Went over gear and race plans with Bruce and Greg, packed up and headed out.
Race Start, uneventfully perfect. I love the way Ultra Distance races start. Walking, talking, joking no one is in big hurry. Of course I had a plan, you always have a plan and this one lasted almost an entire 6 miles before it went to crap.
My plan was to stay with Kat and run at very conservative pace. Even though there were only about 50 people doing the 100, there were about 200 people in total doing all the other distances combined. So it was a little crowded and its mostly single track. Oh… Side note this is a real trail race, over 95% single track either up or down the entire way, almost zero flat sections. I trained on as many trails as I could to get ready along with a lot of single leg balance and strength exercises until I had just about memorized every tree and rock at L.H. Thomson and Arrow Park. Sorry back to the race. For like the first mile we were good but I descend faster then Kat and she hikes up quicker then I do. Well that allowed for some people to get between us and we started to get separated. Soon she was out of site but I figured I would just wait for her at the first aid station mile 6ish. I got to the aid station, got a snack saw Kat. I was standing right next to her one second and the next when I turned around she was gone. I looked all over and couldn’t find her. Only thing I could figure was she had taken off down the trail because she mentioned she had to pee and the line for the 1 potty at the top of the hill was to long to wait in. So only thing I could do was run. That was the last time I would see her for many hours and really the only eventful thing that happened on the first lap. Oh another side note, the course is made up of 4, 25 Mile loops.
Loop 1, 6hrs 10ish minutes. I felt good, I was able to snack and drink water and tailwind. I had spent time running with a lot of different people chatting to help the time go by. Another cool part of Ultra Running. You run up on someone and you dont always just run by them. If their pace is close enough maybe you stay with them for the next mile, 2 or even 5. Learn about them, find out why they are out there. That is how the first lap went for me. Almost perfect.
Loop 2, miles 25-50. 7hrs 30ish minutes. These miles sucked. I had heard Kat wasn’t doing so well and that effected my mood. There were a lot less people on the course and it was HOT out. Not summer HOT but spring time, haven’t run in any hot weather in months, and now its sunny and 80 outside HOT. I walked a lot more often. I had to really slow down on the hills to keep my HR down and everything was staring to bother me. Bruce Jumped in to action and started meeting me at extra checkpoints, getting me drinks of cold water and ice to put in my hat and vest. This helped but at this point I was tired, cranky, and feeling pretty defeated. I had to dig deep and just keep telling myself get to mile 50 and get my pacer. That and 10 minutes. If something was bothering me in 10 minutes it would be better just keep moving forward. Its all mind games at this point. How to keep yourself on track and moving forward when all you want to do is sit down and quit. I got a big boost when I hit one of the Aid Stations, when I got to the top of the Hill Chuck, Tiff and Lindsey were there. I was really excited to see them and it lifted my spirits for a little while. Before that I had probably just gone almost 2hrs without seeing much of anyone. They helped me get my stuff together at the Aid station then walked about 1/2 mile with me before they had to head to their truck. After I saw them I was able to pick up the pace a bit as the sun was setting although it hadn’t cooled down any. I was about to start the last 7ish mile section of the loop. Side Note again…. You run about 18 miles to the North of the Start Finish, then you cross back past the start finish line and have to complete a 7ish mile loop from hell before your done with the total 25 mile loop. It goes Up and Down step inclines just for fun. You would hike to the top of hill just to turn around a hairpin and descend it. On average it took me just over 2hrs to complete those 7 miles.
As luck would have it I would need my headlamp to do that stretch and be alone just about the entire time. Now I am in introvert and I have no trouble with alone time and I like being in the woods but it can become really hard to keep moving forward at a decent pace at a time like this. I plodded on and on and finally got to the end of the loop where I would pick up my first pacer Bruce.
Loop 3, miles 50-75 8hrs 45ish minutes. I changed shoes (Big mistake), socks, shirt, and hat. I was hoping that dry clothes and cooler temps would help. But it never cooled down. It stayed warm and muggy all night. Having Bruce was a big help. Someone to talk with, he kept track of the pace which I couldn’t keep. He had me lead so I wouldn’t fall asleep walking in a trance behind him. That was a very good move on his part. It was easy to just fixate on the reflective parts of his shoes as he hiked along in front of me. The rhythm quickly putting me to sleep until he suggested that I take the lead. Once out front I had to keep my eyes on the trail, look out for the water crossings, and pay attention to the trail markers to make sure we were staying on course. It made all the difference, that and 5hr energy drinks. My nutrition had become a cup of Chicken noddle soup, cup of coke and a sip of 5hr energy at each aid station. And it seemed to be working well. The plan from the start was to hike at night, try to refuel and get ready for last 25 miles. Again it was a single track trail with roots and rocks and I wasn’t going to make up anytime trying to run in the dark so why not slow down and try to recover a little bit. It seemed to work but I got a little behind where I thought I was. We crossed the start finish line to head out for the hellish 7 mile south loop and the clock read 22hrs. That was a spark I needed to really start and push myself. I was hiking as quickly as I could and at one point Bruce even told me to slow down and be more careful. But I was on a mission. I wanted to give myself as much possible time to complete the last 25 mile lap. We actually knocked out that last section of the loop a little faster then I thought we could have.
Loop 4, miles 75-100 7hrs 45ish minutes almost a full hour faster then the previous one. Greg and Bruce switched out pacing/crewing duties and Greg and I were off to tackle the last loop. I was glad to be almost done and I was excited to have to some time to hang out with Greg. As you may know Greg moved to FL a while back and we haven’t been able to get in to many crazy epic adventures lately so having him crew/pace me was a great way to get caught up. At least I thought so. I also have a huge amount of faith and trust that he would get me to the finish line. Although he has yet to tackle the 100 mile distance he is a very accomplished runner and knows how to get things done.
My Crew had me sit down for a minute and do a quick “systems” check. My Feet hurt and I could feel them starting to blister but I wasn’t about to stop and mess with them. Its a 100 Miles, your feet are going to hurt suck it up and move on. I did Ditch my pack and went with my handheld bottle for the last lap. I was tired of wearing the pack. It had never really cooled down over the night and I knew once the sun came up with would start to get warm out again and wanted to try and stay as cool as possible.
So off we went and I felt decent, who would have thought. 75 miles into the race and I could still run some decent miles. It wasn’t long into the loop and we could ditch the headlamps. And after wearing one all night long that was big a relief. I was really up and down as far as my energy and attitude went. I would feel on top of things and we would knock out some really good miles running for decent chunks of time. Then my energy levels would slip and I would start to fade and retreat deep inside for a while. I was having trouble making the right choices on things. You just dont think as quickly when you have been up for 30hrs straight. We would come to a water crossing of which there were many. All of which I had crossed at least 3 times without getting wet and I couldn’t always figure out how to do it again. Of course it was much harder to hop across the water with that many miles on my legs and I had stayed dry this long I really didn’t want to get wet. I would stand there and stare at the water crossing and wait for Greg to figure out the best way to cross and try to follow him. It worked most of the time but I did slip up and get wet more then once. Besides my feet hurting I wasn’t doing to bad. My stomach was ok, I had found a rhythm with it. Cup of Soup, Coke, sip of 5hr energy, Ice Water, at each aid station and water between aid stations. It doesn’t sound all that great but it was doing the trick. The sun was out by this point and we were plodding along. I don’t remember the first point Kat and Chuck showed up to check on us. I was very excited to see them, they handed me some Bacon I ate a piece and gave the other to Greg, it didn’t sit that well. After we left them I hit a low spot as we were about to finish up the last section of the North Loop. Came around a corner and there they were again hanging out in their chairs waiting on us. Another good pick me up. We finished off the North loop, Greg had me stop again for another “systems” Check. Feet hurt worse but I only had 7 miles left I was not going to stop and screw with them at this point. I also caught a glimpse at the clock and figured if we pushed I may even come in under 30Hrs. So off we went into the 7mile loop from hell. Its really hard to explain how it feels at this point in a race like this. You just want to be DONE, your so close. 7 miles away from the finish that you have been chasing for almost 30hrs. But you cant do even one little thing to make it come any faster. 7 Miles, one more then our typical Tues/Thur morning runs. 7 Miles a distance that I have covered probably 100s of times. But yet it feels like you will never get there. Time seems to move fast but the miles seem to drag by. But slowly 1/2 mile by 1/2 mile we clicked them off and finally we could see the finish line up ahead. Greg took my trekking poles and water bottle and I gingerly ran though the finish line. I collected my Buckle, Greg went and ran another 2 miles so he could get a 27 Mile medal a deal he had made with the Race director before hand so he and Bruce wouldn’t go away empty handed. We loaded up, headed back to the cabin for a shower and then hit the road home. Another race in the books.