Kettle Moraine 100k, my first goal race of the year! I decided I needed to make some changes to my training in preparation for this race. First step, good training plan. I started by backing off doing races last year around November and replace it with quality training runs. I felt I needed to have months of consistent high mileage, work on a smart race fueling, pacing, and speed work. I hired Cari Setzler from Running Depot in Crystal Lake to write my training schedule and coach me.
Soon she had my mileage high and with no little injuries going on. She had me running 7 days a week, many times twice a day. Plus she added extra core work to my schedule. (This was a huge benefit) It was challenging working 40 hours a week, taking care of two kids and coaching 2 nights a week -on top of a high mileage training plan. But I was completely focused on getting myself ultra fit. I never felt overwhelmed because this was something I wanted to do. I soon learned how to manage my time better. Many times I was starting my second run of the day at 10:30 pm, then I would get up early the next morning and run again. I got completely comfortable with this. I knew the training was working. I ran Winona Lake 50 as a training run without tapering, and it actually felt kind of easy. I was able to keep a faster pace at Winona 50 than my Kettle 100k goal pace was. This was a good sign.
I had my goal pace in mind but I know weather plays such a huge factor in what we are going to be able to do on race day. I also know everyone has to deal with that weather, heat or rain- so we just have to come in to the race at our own personal best fitness level- then do what we have trained to do. With my race pace goals I thought I would have a good shot at a top five finish, but my main goal was win 1st overall Master Female.
Me and my friend Tom Wilson. He paced me to my first 100 mile finish at JJ100. I was so happy to see him! He is a strong runner that has finished many of the toughest 100 mile races in the country. I greatly admire him.
THE DAY BEGINS....
Kettle Moraine 100 mile/100k Starting line
I was as prepared as I could be. The weather at the start of the race (6am) was already 73 with very high humidity. The temperatures would rise to the mid 90s before the day was over. I knew any tiny nutritional, pacing, or hydrating mistakes would cost me big on a day like this. I just needed to keep my head on straight, remember to drink, eat and take salt. Plus keep a close eye on my heart rate so I knew I wasn't using to much effort early on.
I started middle of the pack. I wanted to start slow and ease in to it. It was the first time I had tapered all year, It was so odd running on fresh legs. I had to be careful not to go to fast. The course starts out on the Nordic loop. I kept my heart rate low and was running just a little faster than my overall goal pace. This was good. My race plan was to keep the same pace through out.
Me and Dorn at race start
When I finished the Nordic Loop my shorts were sopping wet from sweat. This was the first time all year that had happened to me. I didn't feel especially hot, but I figured I better be extra careful hydrating because I was losing a ton of water. I had a great crew, my sweet 11 year old daughter and my wonderful husband Royal. They would help me remember to do everything I needed to take care of myself today.
I was cruising through the hills and rocky trails having no problem keeping pace. I had practiced many times the months prior to the race on these same trails with many different shoes. I eventually decided my Inov-8 FlyRoc 310's were the perfect shoes for this course. They are very helpful on the rocky sections. I was running and feeling very comfortable. Drinking 2 bottles between each aid station and taking my salt every half hour. I was getting my calories from Hammer Perpetuem, Lemon Sublime Gu's and Honey Stinger Waffles. My goal calorie intake was 300 calories per hour. I was using Hammer Endurolytes for salt. One on every half hour and 2 on every hour. If I was feeling funny, I would add an extra salt or Gu. I was also careful to slow my pace after eating to keep my stomach digesting my calories. I was feeling good and hopeful the heat was not going to kill my goal pace.
Then the open fields came. Very soon in to the open fields I realized keeping my goal pace would hurt me. I did not realize it was in the 90s with almost 100 % humidity already. I just knew keeping the pace I had practiced a million times was not going to be possible for me today. I couldn't understand why. I had run so many miles on very tired legs and could always keep pace. Today I was tapered and 16 miles in to the race. I made a very smart decision at this time. Don't watch my pace, just move forward at a pace I felt I could keep in this weather for the remainder of the race. I was still keeping an eye on my heart rate, not letting it get out of the comfortable area. I ran the entire open meadows at a conservative pace.
The killer open fields!
After leaving the open meadows the course heads up to Scumpernong. Part of the way is easy Pine forest trails and part of it is fairly challenging hills, all wooded. I was more tired than I thought I would be at this point. During my vision of how the race would go, I thought I would get to the 50k mark feeling fresh. I had done so many long training runs on this course. I knew my body but today was brutally hot and humid, the first of the year. What I had practiced was not going to work today. This just meant I had to dig deep early.
I got to the 50k mark and saw so many of my friends and family. It was great seeing everyone! I smiled, gave high fives, and lied to everyone about how great I felt. Then I turned around to go run the same 50k back. The good thing about the turn around was getting to see all my friends on the ways back. Seeing them was uplifting every time!
When I got to the next aid station my husband gave me my Ipod. This was a HUGE help. I cranked my music high and was feeling great. Suddenly I was running through the trails quickly and keeping my heart rate low. I blew by a few women at this point...Woo Hoo!!!! One of them was the only Master female that had been in front of me. Yee Haw!!!! I was feeling freakin Awesome!
That lasted until I hit the open fields again. It was hot, I was tired, but this was my race! PUSH... PUSH... PUSH.... I had blown by those women so quickly I knew if I was able to run that open field the entire way, I would get a good lead on them. I know my training kept me going, the meadows were brutal. I was prepared for them mentally and physically and I was able to run them on the way out AND the way back in!!!! Yeah baby!!!
My 11 year old daughter Tasha was at every aid station. When I came in she would give me ice, fill my water bottle. She would encourage me "your doing great Mom, your 1st Master Female and 4th overall ". I wanted her to see me work hard. I wanted her to know it wasn't easy for me. She had her big 5k the next morning that she had been training for. I wanted her to be inspired by my performance. I wanted her to learn from me and show up motivated at her race the next day - to do her personal best! I was planning to show her how to dig deep and gut it to the finish line!
My Mom and Son were driving up to see me cross the finish line. For some reason my Mom worries about me running long distance. She has not been to one of my races yet. I kept thinking I should tell my husband to call her and tell her not to come up. I was pretty sure I would collapse when I crossed the finish line, and I didn't want to worry her. But every time I got to an aid station I was more focused on refueling and would forget to tell him.
I arrived to my final 7.5 miles. Bluff aid station. I hadn't thought there would be a chance in the world I may need a headlamp here, but since the heat had slowed my pace I needed to grab a headlamp. The good thing was now I was able to have my husband run with me. I had originally thought I would come in to early to be allowed a pacer.
I asked my husband, Royal, if he could set my Ipod to play Rhianna over and over again. He did and for the next 7.5 miles I blasted her song S & M while singing loud. Okay, now you have to picture this...44 year old white women, that is tone deaf and knows about every third word to the song- running through the forest, singing risky lyrics at the top of her lungs. Normally I would be way to self consious to do something like this, but this was what was getting me to the finish line! I had to keep running because I didn't want any women to catch me now!
My husband says I was keeping a great pace. It was hard. I never gave up the entire day. I ran flats and downhills and walked the big hills. We almost made it in before dark. Soon I was to the markers counting down to the finish line, 5 miles, 4, 3, 2, 1 !!!! Then just as I passed the one mile mark I saw this tiny little girl in a blue Team Inov-8 shirt standing in the middle of the trail. I said "Tasha?" She says Mommy!!!! I was so happy, I hugged her and we started sprinting to the finish line! I finished in 15:11 as 4th overall female and 1st Master Female!!!! The next morning Tasha got up and ran a super fast 5k. She was pushing so hard to the finish line. She said it was the most focused she has ever been in her entire life. She said she could not hear anything around her and she felt like she was floating! She kicked some major booty!!!! Honestly, that was my biggest victory! I'm so proud of Tasha!
I was so tired at the end of race I sat down with my Award. I wish I would have thought to get a picture with my husband and daughter at the finish line. My daughter told me after the race, "I think I'll wait a little while to start running Ultras because if I start to early I will run out of places to put all my trophies".
Here you can see Tasha focused on the finish line... Then totally tired just after she crosses.... Then Tasha and Brandi raise their hands in Victory knowing Tasha had just gave the race everything she had! Tasha is so happy with herself! What a fantastic accomplishment!!! Thank you Brandi for being Tasha's Running Buddy!