Sunday, May 18, 2014

I'll Never Be Your Beast of Burden - Beast of Burden 100 Miler

I'll Never Be Your Beast of Burden

Beast of Burden 100 Mile Run
Lockport, NY
August 17th and 18th, 2013

Kettle Moraine was a great run.  I didn’t accomplish my goal, but I don’t regret going to the race.  Erick (my husband) was driving us home from Wisconsin and I don’t even think we were out of the state when I started scheming about my next 100 mile attempt.  He agreed that since I was trained up to the 100 mile point, I might as well find a race that I could do to get that coveted buckle.  
      I have never done a race in New York, so the Beast of Burden 100 Mile Race appealed to me even more.  When I saw a photo of the buckle on the race’s Facebook page, I knew I was in.  I had to have that buckle.  Erick checked his work schedule and said it would work.
It is very typical of me to post what my next big event is on Facebook.  I feel it helps keep me accountable.  If other people know I am planning to do a certain race, I know I will get it done.  My friends and family are supportive and I think (geez, I sure hope) they like to follow my progress along the way.  I posted that I was going to be doing this race in New York and it would be my first 100 miler without a pacer.  About five minutes later my buddy Joan (that I met at Outrun 24) chimed in and said she would come pace me.  Who does that?  How lucky am I? She lives in Canada a few hours from where the race was set and said she would meet me there.  I still have no idea how I got that lucky.  
My buddy Mike (a local friend that also attempted the Hallucination and Kettle with me) said he would also sign up and attempt to tame the 100 mile beast again.  Mike and I wound up driving out to the race together from Michigan, it was just bad luck that Erick got stuck working and couldn’t  take me to the race.)  Typically when Erick and I travel, he drives and I navigate.  Since I was driving to this race, I handed Mike the atlas and he promptly told me he has no idea how to read that thing.  We did make it to New York, after getting lost in Toronto and a slight detour to Niagara Falls.  

Joan met us and we planned for the following day.  I slept pretty good, we were able to sleep in a bit as the race did not start until 10:00 AM.   That is a late start for a lot of races but the race director said he likes to sleep in.  I like this guy already!

At the start of the race I meet up with Jennifer, she’s a friend I met on Facebook a few months prior to the race.  She’s done a 100 miler before, she has an awesome sense of humor and I was excited to meet her in person.  She is exactly what I expected.  The race starts and we proceed to run the first 25 or so miles together.  I head out quicker than I plan to, each time I look at my watch I tell myself to slow down, but I don’t.  She does a run walk plan and when I walk with her she is taking one step to my two.  She is so entertaining that I double time it to stay with her.  
Jennifer and I
The course is four out and backs (25 miles each) along the Erie Canal Towpath.  There is a main aid station (start/finish and turnaround point), a half way aid station and a turnaround aid station on the far end.  Joan said she will stay up all day and then pace me at night when Erick arrives.  I’m still not sure how people do this.  These people are superheros.  They come out and volunteer their time and stay up all day and night for nothing but a thank you.  Amazing.  I see Joan through out the  day and she takes care of me, filling water bottles, smiling and making me laugh.  

The towpath is almost completely flat.  That can be a good thing if you are looking for a personal best time.  It can also be a bad thing as you don’t engage other muscles like you do going up and down hills.  I enjoy the view of the canal and the path reminds me of a trail I train on at home.  
The day is warming up fast and there is not shade on this course.  It wound up reaching around 80 degrees.  Jennifer and I are getting close to completing our first lap and someone headed out from the aid station tells us there are snow cones up ahead.  Frozen water with food coloring, heck yeah!  I’m in.  It’s already hot and I can’t wait to get one.  I fill my bottles and grab some food and someone hands me a
Snow Cone Holder
snow cone.  I don’t have a free hand so I shove it down my cleavage.  Jennifer laughs at this and takes a picture on her cellphone to preserve the memory.  
I head back out on the course, we part ways here for a while.  We see each other along the next loop and she wound up dropping at the 50 mile mark.  She had some stomach issues and had been dizzy at some points.  

Mike and I cross paths now and again, he seemed strong but that heat was getting to us all.  I’ve said before that I typically forget a lot of the middle parts of my races.  The beginning and ends are easier for me to remember. It’s hard to stay cool today.  The aid stations are stocked with ice and I fill up bandanas and tie them around my neck.  It feels wonderful.  The volunteers also fill up our water bottles with ice.   I try to stay hydrated and keep up with nutrition.  Easier said than done at an ultra.  Any day of the week I could eat a whole package of oreos, but you put a plate of them in front of me at a race and I might eat one the entire day.  I think I survived on watermelon.  I just can’t get enough of it at ultras.   I never felt sick to my stomach at this race, although I did swallow a S-cap and it got stuck in my throat, making me dry heave.  Ultra running is so sexy...
       I am headed into the main aid station, but on the other side of the canal. I think I see the RV in the parking lot.  I call Erick and he is there!  My spirits lift, knowing he will be my rock as he always is at these events. When I get there he lets me know that he will take over crewing and Joan will pace me as soon as I get to the 100K mark, near the far end turn around point.  
The next 12.5 miles go by fast in the dark.  There is nothing to trip on and I can’t wait to get on the trail with Joan.  Until then my company are huge bullfrogs.  They hop across the path and I have to watch my step to avoid landing on one.  Huge bugs come out and I have to make sure not to breathe too deep and inhale them.  The moon is pretty full and I love the reflection on the canal.  Before I know it, I have Joan for company.
I of course stall at the aid station, using the real bathroom and wanting to sit just a few minutes.  I change my shoes to justify sitting.  No one argues with me, so I enjoy it.  Joan and I head out and she is a ball of energy.  You would never know she had been up all day.  She tells me stories and most of the time I just answer with, “Uh-huh” or “Oh.”  Her stories are interesting and funny, but I just don’t have the energy to laugh.  We walk more than run, typical for me after the 100K mark.  I always think this will change as I pass the 100K mark more in races, but it just hasn’t yet.  

Joan keeps me going,  she gets me from one aid station to the next.  She promises me that she will rub my calves if I keep moving.  I can’t imagine how good this will feel, so I do what she says.  At the next aid station she follows through and gives me a nice massage.  It is just what I need.  We press on.  Before I know it another out and back had gone by and we are headed back to the finish line.  Daylight has been here for some time.  I know Mike is still behind me somewhere.  Erick has been giving us updates.  I think he is only a few miles behind me and I am really hoping he meets his goal today.  Later I find out he fell short at the 93 mile mark, the exact mileage I made it to at Kettle.  I know it is still the furthest distance he has gone.  He’ll be happy enough with that, but he will still want a 100 mile finish one day.
We head towards the drawbridge to make our last pass over the canal.  Wouldn’t you know it?  A boat is coming through and the bridge is going up.  No choice but to stop and watch it go by.  The bridge returns to its place and we cross the canal one last time and head towards the finish line. My finish time is 27:55. I’m handed my buckle from the race director and I sit down and am treated like royalty by the volunteers.  
I feel fortunate to have tamed the Beast of Burden.  It wouldn’t have happened without the support of my friends and family.  I’m thankful for what they did to help me achieve my goal.

Months later I had the image from the buckle tattooed on my calf.  The Beast is now a part of me, both mentally and physically.

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