Thursday, August 13, 2009
2009 Burning River 100 Race Report
Well, it's been nearly two weeks since the race so probably about time that I put together a race report. First of all, this was probably the funnest race that I have ever participated in. It was well-organized and scenic and a pleasure (er, relatively) to run. Holli, as always, was the best crew that I could ask for and deserves my utmost thanks and appreciation. I'd also like to thank my parents for coming out to support me and for my brother Dave and sister-in-law Lauren for coming out to help pace. I'd like to thank Dirty Girl for some much needed cups of soup and espresso beans at the covered bridge station, Kevin for his help as I cruised in and out of aid stations, and Mae and Nate for their enthusiastic support. Finally, I'd like to congratulate Dirt Dawg, who has finally chased down his first 100 miler and thank him for his support and company during those first miles.
In truth, there are many others who also deserve thanks. There are Tom and David who I had not met until the covered bridge station, but who both volunteered to pace me through much of the night. David, good luck finishing the Grand Slam--that is an incredible accomplishment. There are the podiatry students who did their best to keep my feet from falling apart at various aid stations. There are the aid station volunteers and fellow runners who magically showed up with mole skin, duct tape, and a variety of other medical supplies when the podiatry students weren't around. Then, of course, there are all the volunteers who just made the whole event happy.
I've decided not to write much about the details of the race itself. Let me say that the first 50 miles went pretty well (11 hours) and I was even feeling pretty good after 60. Then a couple blisters began to form. Then, I made the mistake of removing some moleskin that I thought was bunching up on me (it was, but it was also providing some critical padding). Then it began to rain. Then I had to run through some pretty significant mud.
I finished in just over 28 hours and 30 minutes, but my final pace was a pretty pathetic hobble and my over-riding memory of the last third of the race was largely one of, let us say, discomfort. It was frustrating as my leg muscles held up well and it was really my feet that caused me such significant problems. As you can see from the photo of Holli and I crossing the finish line, she is quite literally pulling me along. Still, I didn't give up and I am proud of that accomplishment. Furthermore, I think the foot problem is something that can be managed. In fact, two days after the race I realized that my toes were so cramped up that during I was not actually moving most of the muscles in my foot. I'm not sure if this was caused by the change in my gait due to the rather large blisters on my feet or the other way around. In either case, it gives me an excuse to buy some new socks and shoes and, perhaps in the near future, to try out some barefoot running to strengthen my foot muscles.
All that aside, here was my epiphany as I cruised through the ups and downs of the race. What if, rather than thinking of all this running as a series of training cycles and races I just ran when I felt like it. I mean, why does something as fun as running 100 miles need to be a once a year event? In fact, it has taken me a couple 100 mile races to realize that I do, in fact, really like to run. Perhaps for people who are training intensely for particular times or to win competitions, the distinction between training runs and actual races matters, but I have typically run races at nearly the same pace that I train. So what is the point of distinguishing between training and racing? This matters because, despite the foot issues, Burning River was just fun and I would like to do it again.
So, I've decided to go ahead and sign up for the Hallucination 100, which is Michigan's first 100 mile race. You are all welcome to join me as spectators, crew, or pacers. The run is a series of 12.5 mile loops and there is a campground on the loop where everyone can hang out all weekend. What else can you ask for in a good time?