Good evening to everyone. I know it is very long overdue and thank you to all of you who have tried to keep me accountable to keep this more up to date. On my to do list is certainly an effort to be better at sitting here and getting my race reports to you much quicker.
My goal tonight is to get all the events from Potti and Sulphur here in my blog. Thanks for your patience
So back a month to Potawatomi (pronounced " I Want My Mommy"):
So the weekend started out much like the weekend of New Jersey. I met up with Catherine Harding and Lisa Van Wolde at Catherines house. I had just purchased a rack for the rear of my car and after an hour of assembly on the front yard it was time to pack the car and the new rack and start the road trip to Illinois. So lets double check, luggage, check, shoes, check, sleeping bag, check. Good to go!
We pull away and luckily Catherine looks back on her front porch and you'll never guess what is on the concrete stoop....................YEP, my box of food. What the heck is up with that container? For the second time in as many races I almost forgot it. Thanks to Cath for noticing, well, laugh no. 1 and the road trip isn't even a block old.
The drive was about 12 or 13 hours and we had already decided to split the trip into two days. The first day was from Barrie to Kalamazoo and then the last five or six hours Friday morning. We made it to Kalamazoo Thursday night around 10:00 at night and it wasn't long before the three of us had a beer and were off to sleep. The next day we were up early and on the road after a good breakfast at the hotel.
We arrived at the race site shortly after 1:00 pm and got a chance to check out the race site and just in time to hook up with Ken Moon and Mary Lou who was out on the course already in quest of her first 150 miler. The weather was good and it looked like the weather reports of rain and thunderstorms was a long way off.
After heading over to the local airport and picking up Michelle, my crew was complete and it was time to check into the hotel and get to theApplebees for a good pre-race meal and a good nights sleep.
4:30 am, a good night sleep and Lisa and I started to get ready for our 100 miler. We had a bit of breakfast at the hotel and arrived at the race site around 5:30. I felt really good and was happy we split the drive into two days as I was rested and ready to go. The sky was clear and no rain in site.......oops, spoke to soon.
The race started and Lisa and I had a plan and a time for each of the loops. My goal was to stay with Lisa for the first 50 miles. We finished the first loop and we were pretty much on time. The pace felt fast for me but I figured it was just because it was the first loop and I was a bit stiff. Did I mention that between New Jersey and Pottawatomi was 3 weeks and a total of 21 training miles. Yep, 21 miles in three weeks leading up to the hardest 100 miler of the year to date. Am I freakin' crazy?
Well loop no. 2 started out similar to number 1. Trying to keep up to Lisa on technical single track, 13 or 14 hills that make Creemore look welcoming. Then rain, no, not rain, thunderstorms. Straight down, hard driving rain. Great, just what I needed, hills, mud and then some more mud and trying to keep up to Lisa. It was pretty clear that I was holding her back and the intense training plan that I had in the weeks leading up to Potti wasn't helping either of us right now. Luckily Lisa was very patient with me and time and time again she would stop and wait for me, if I could have just convinced her to help me up the muddy hills and down the slippery slopes.
The rain stopped in the middle of the third loop but the damage was done. The mud was two or three inches deep in the valley areas and the creek crossing on the first loop became a welcome site on loop two through loop no. 10 as it provided a good opputunity to wash the mud off of my shoes and socks. What was a quick step and long jump on loop one became a slow crossing to wash off mud and cool down the feet.
On loop no. 3 I started to get hot spots on both of my feet and my sock my left foot started to roll under my toes, by the time I got back to the start finish I could feel the blister already well under way on the ball of my left foot. I had to stop and change my shoes and socks. I knew my feet would be wet again real soon but with the sock rolling under my toes the blisters would only get worse. I sat at our start finish area and changed. Hoping the short rest would deliver some new energy to keep up to Lisa and reduce the pain in my left foot. The first five minutes out of the aid station didn't go so well. My feet hurt and as it turned out I was holding Lisa back. She went on ahead and I was on my own. Somewhat bitter sweet knowing I was about to do the last 35 miles on my own until I got to 70 miles when Catherine was going to pace me.
The wet course, 16,600 feet of elevation gain and loss, sore feet, 21 miles of training in the last three weeks certainly were teaching me a lesson and a lesson the hard way.
The next three loops went by without much memory of how they went, I got into a zone and ran when I could and walked when I had to. The thing I found about this type of course was that at not time outside of the first mile could you get into a rhythm, there were no sections a mile long that you could pick up the pace or set into a comfortable pace. I could run for a minute then climb a big hill, catch my breath and then down a slippery slope or up another hill. This race was lot tougher than I expected and my lack of training was dissapointing me as well. I knew early in the race that I needed to work harder before Sulphur in five weeks.
When I got to 70 miles Catherine was ready to go with me, it was around midnight and I was tired and pretty sore. I knew that running any time over the next two loops would be a real stretch. Michelle had been doing a great job of keeping me in supplies, dry clothes, and lots of encouragement. After a couple of Advil I was off on loop no. 7. Catherine and I had already decided she would do two loops and the last loop I would complete on my own. What made these loops so good was the good company and the deer. We must have seen 6 or 7 deers on each of the two loops.
On my eighth loop (Catherines second with me) it was much of the same pace, walking most of it and running only for short periods of time. About half way through the loop we heard what may have been a large cat (not your ordinary house cat either) in the woods and he was hungry and it sounded like he had caught his next meal. My reliable pacer, Ms. Harding decided it was a good idea to stop on the trail and tell me about it. I remember saying Catherine, I didn't hear anything, lets keep going. Catherine, move, walk, Catherine, lets keep going......Oh No, let's just stand on the trail and make it that much easier for Mr. Cat to catch us, eat us for desert and clean up the mess before the next crazy person comes along. Finally for the third time I asked Cath if we could please continue to move forward. Ahhh, finally, she was moving again.
The race ended for me after 100 miles, 27 hours and 45 minutes, my feet were beaten up very badly, my lack of training meant I was in a significant amount of pain, I was cold, wet and angry with myself for thinking I could just show up and get the buckle. Lesson learned!
On a positive note, I would say if anyone is looking for the race that all races should measure up to, this would be the one. The course is very difficult, easily the hardest one I've done to date but having said that, the race director, Richard and his family and volunteers are the nicest group of people I've ever met at a race. The aid stations are without a doubt the best ever. The selection of food was second to none, the treatment and knowledge level of the aid station workers was fantastic. The swag was top notch as well. All of the participants received a long sleeve and a short sleeve technical shirt, a jacket, and a technical running hat. Oh, and a buckle, no. 4 in my collection.
The ride home wasn't great. Lisa and I shared the backseat, both uncomfortable, both kicking each other out of the way, trying to find a comfortable place to get a bit of sleep and having to work Monday morning back at our jobs meant Catherine and Michelle had to drive the entire way home in one shot.
I am happy to say that we are all still friends today and we look back on the trip, smile and can't wait to do it again.
Thanks again to those who are reading this, keep the emails with your comments coming. Makes me smile.
12 buckles, 1 goal.