It really all came down to these six little words - "How bad do you want it". Like most things in life, you either want it or you don't. Some people don't want it bad, they just kinda want it...others, there is nothing else. For me, there was never a time during the race that I wanted to give up. However, you have alot of time to think during those 62.2 miles asking yourself, did you train hard enough, why are you doing this, did that ankle roll at mile 23 break something and are you just running on adrenaline?
WOW. That is one word to describe my experience at the Oil Creek 100k Trail race this year. As someone who had never run further than 31.1 miles (50k), I knew this was going to be a challenge of a lifetime...one that I had no idea how I would feel when I passed that 50k mark. Just 11 months ago, I ran my first marathon. Before that marathon, the most I had ran was the Army 10 miler. In those 11 months, I had ran numerous marathons, two 50ks and a bevy of half marathons and trail 10/20 milers. My mileage coming into the OC100 was anywhere between 40 and 45 miles a week (some 50 mile weeks), not even close to where I wanted it to be however injuries and life stuff sometimes don't allow you the time you need to put in those extra miles. One of the things that may have helped me is the climate I live in here near DC...its hot and humid all summer and most of my runs are after work when it is brutal. So when the temps rose into the upper 70's, low 80's, it really didn't bother me that much.
So Heather, the kids, and I headed out on October 4th, 2013 (Thursday) to head up to New Castle, PA. Heather's mom lives in New Castle and going there would allow her mom to see the kids and give us time to run the Oil Creek 100k on that Saturday. We left for Titusville, PA on the 5th around 12pm and got there about 2pm. We were staying at the Cross Creek resort and when we arrived our room wasn't ready so we headed down to Petroleum Center to check out Aid Station #2. On our way to Petroleum center, we ran into a nice little establishment - called the playhouse...hmm, strip joint in the middle of the woods??? Bet that has some quality talent - sorry, I digress. Might have to hit that after the run :)
They were setting up and one of the volunteers (Tom Lane) came up to us and we started chatting - everyone there was awesome and it helped me get an idea of where heather could meet me halfway through the race. We got back to the Cross Creek resort and noticed the sign when we came in - hmm, OC 150, guess they were trying to tell us something here - I can tell you it felt like a 150k.
So we chill in the room, its ok, not the best room but I thought it would be better than trying to get some sleep in the Titusville Middle School. Anyway, around 4pm on Friday, we headed over to Maria's Italian restaurant and got the "usual" - meatball and spaghetti (angel hair)...I got it last time when I ran the Drakewell marathon back on August 18th...After going to Marias, we headed over to the Titusville Middle School for packet pickup. Quick picture outside of Maria's in Titusville, PA.
Packet pickup was pretty cool, and was located at Titusville Middle School, when we got there we got the nice little welcome.
We got there around 4:45 pm and saw that most of the people would be camping outside that night. I met up with Katie Peterson who was a volunteer at the event and who was running the 100 mler the next day. Heather picked up her pacers bib and I picked up my 100k bib as well as some freebies they were giving away. Here is a pic of me after picking up the 100k bib:
|Shit just got real!|
Back to the room, we started laying everything out for the morning...heather was in full prep mode and did a great job getting everything together.
"Whose fucking idea was this anyway" were the first words out of my mouth when the phone alarm went off at 3am. I wanted to get up early, eat some peanut butter and raisin bread in enough time to get the dump going..nothing worse than heading to the starting line and squirting out a shit with 300 other dudes/dudettes...however, I was going to be running for 18 hours, who really cared and the funny thing was, I wasn't as nervous about the race as I had first thought. I was thinking to myself, I get more nervous for 5k races than the 100k...crazy, I know...I got dressed; red CEPs, under armor shorts, "run for independence neon shirt", and my ASIC's artic cats.
Here is a shot of me at 4am, barely awake....
Tom Jennings got up around 5:45am and said a few words about the course. He said the "bears" should not bother you, just don't come between them and their cubs - check...oh, and watch out for the porcupines, they sometimes come out at dusk and don't like to get off the trail - check, oh and this is the first day of archery season - Whaaaaaat - so some redneck with bad aim is going to derail my chances at my first 100k? After the briefing, we all went outside and heather got some nervous shots of me with my headlamp on.
Here are some more shots of the race pre-briefing:
Here are some more pics before the race had even started:
Ok, so the 100 milers started the race at 5am, 100k'ers at 6am and the 50k'ers at 7am - We lined up and he did the countdown and we were off out of the school, down the bike trail. We went down the bike trail for about a mile and then make a right hand turn into a WALL of something...it was pitch dark and the head lamp was ok but I assumed it was a hill of some kind :). I mean this trail went up and up - plus it was dark as hell...it became a hike...a few brave souls took off like it was a 5k but most of us settled in for about an hour until light came up. About 3.5 miles in, I roll my left foot inward kind of like you jam you ankle in between a hole...I was like, you have to be fucking kidding me...3 miles in, really JD...But I stopped tied my shoe tighter and told myself I would look at it at AS #2 which would be 13.1 miles away. I hit the first AS (aid station) in about 1:43 minutes which was 7.1 miles away. The AS #1 was ok, had some nice eats but the hill after it was a motherfucker...and that is no hyperbole - this bitch was like the Vail mountain climb complete with switchbacks....I didn't have that tough of a time initially with it but was thinking on the second loop, this is going suck! Here is a quick pic of me going up AS2 hill:
So my plan of attack was to carry a handheld until AS #2 the pickup a hydration pack from AS #2 till AS #4...eat a gel every hour and make sure you were taking your endurolytes. During my run from AS1 to AS2, I saw (what I thought to be) Sandi Nypaver but it was her sister Rachel. Based on her speed, she had to have been running the 50k b/c she was hauling ass up some hill and eating up the technical sections. Not being a very technical trail runner, I picked through some of the sections a little to conservatively but my goal was to finish, not burn out in the first 50k...plus, it was getting warm quick. After a shitload of ups and downs we finally got to AS2 which was ranked as my favorite aid station. Here are some shots of me coming into AS2:
|Coming into AS2 on the first loop.|
|Heather got a quick pic of me coming in to AS2.|
First stop, a devastating climb up Heisman hill...now this hil was a son of a bitch given you just filled your belly with some food and heed and now your climbing and climbing and climbing...after about 2-3 miles, I saw Alison, a friend I met at the YUTC about 3 weeks ago. I was supposed to run the YUTC (Youngstown Ultra Trail Course) but I had PF and sat out in prep for the OC 100k race. During that time, heather ran he first 50k so I crewed the whole day and met alot of cool runners, one of them being Alison. However, Alison was having a rough day, first she was not feeling good at all. We have all been there - just for her to show up to the 100k sick took major sack but I think being sick led to what happened next. She tripped over a huge root and massively rolled her left ankle...another local and I stopped to see how bad it was and it was bad. We talked for a little bit thinking of which way was better to go - meaning, the trail was one way, either you go back the way you came or you go forward...no side trails, no helicopter coming to get you, no ATV, nada...Alison told us to go ahead and at first it just didn't seem right but we kept going...we knew the boy scout camp was about 3 miles ahead so we ran ahead and told them at which time I am pretty sure someone met her to help her get back to AS4 (Note - I found out later she just sprained it really bad, oh and she had pneumonia too). At the boy scout camp, we told them about Alison and kept going...I finally got to Miller farm road which led to AS3...knowing that I only had 8+ miles to go to complete my first loop, I was feeling better. Right out of AS3, you hit cemetery hill which goes up and up and up....
At this point it was almost 80F - to give you some perspective, last year on Oct 5th in Titusville, PA, it was 35F...hmm, just a small change in temps...ok, so I am picking my way over the rocks and roots and I skid off this one wet rock and completely roll my left ankle...I said "NOOOOOO"...I seriously thought it was broken...however, b/c I rolled it back at mile 3.5 I had been favoring it a little even though I didn't need to...when I rolled it, my weight was on my right foot which was good. I stopped, pulled over on the trail and assessed how bad it was...I looked at the foot, it didn't swell so I knew that was good....I also tied my shoe tighter...I said, OK, I should be able to get back to AS4, it as about 6 miles to go...the next 6 miles were uneventful except the canopy in the forest that had been protecting us for so long had disappeared and the sun was blaring right down on us. I finally got to the road and it was 2.5 miles to complete the first 31.3 (50k)...for the last 2.5 they drag you past the drakewell museum and down the bike path back to the middle school.
|This is me coming into AS2 around the 44.8 mark.|
I came in 31st out of 82 that started the race. 27 people did not finish the race and 55 did finish (33% of the people.
Here are my splits:
Bib number 635:
Start to AS2 (13.9 miles): 3:13:50.90
AS2 to AS4 (17.2 miles): 4:20:58.90
Start to AS2 (13.9 miles) 4:16:12.70 (total time/distance: 11:51:02.50/44.8 miles)
AS2 to AS4 (17.2 miles) 5:53:14.50 (total time/distance: 17:44:17.00/62 miles)
Finish time: 17:44:17.00
My feet were pretty much destroyed after this 17 hour jaunt, feast your eyes on these small pigs! The left one was rolled twice so you can see its a little bigger than the right....
It was all for the sticker and the buckle:
Kudos to Tom Jennings for putting on an awesome event. Everything from the aid stations to the course markings was fantastic. I never had any trouble following the trail even in the middle of the night. Also thanks go out to all the OC100 staff and volunteers, you guys did a great job. Oh, and I loved the soup and grill cheese - I would think about it as incentive for each AS I was running towards.