Friday, February 24, 2012

"Very Small Rocks" - Race Report : Iron Horse 100 Mile

There is a scene from the 1975 movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail that is burned into my head after running Iron Horse 100 Mile Endurance Run.  In reality, this classic film about King Arthur and his knights low-budget search for the Holy Grail has nothing to do with the experience at Iron Horse, except maybe the scene in the beginning of the movie in which the Dead Collector is pushing around a cart and shouting, "bring out yer dead...bring out yer dead"...that might be somewhat reflective of the low-points of a 100-mile race :

Yet, one particular scene was ingrained in my head at Iron Horse, one that was shown on day 1 of my Psychology 101 class at Vanderbilt University - in particular, at 2:30 of the clip where, when describing "what else floats", the character played by John Cleese postulates, "very small rocks" :

Well, "very small rocks" is the best description of the Iron Horse 100 course, and lots and lots of them! 

Then, there was the railroad tressel bridge that one had to cross 8 times (4 on the outbound section of the 25-mile out-and-back, and 4 on the return section).  The first 4 crossings weren't too bad, but with tired legs, the last 4 were, well, a bit on the wobbly side.  It didn't help that there was a decent drop to the potentially gator-infested swampy water below.

Overall, Iron Horse 100 was a well put-on event.  With 50 mile and 100k distances, there were plenty of people at the start, and I got to meet a few folks that I had only known "virtually," including Jessica Rosario (she gutted her way to a nice 50-mile finish), Bradford Lombardi and Amy Costa.  I also got to spend a few days with my brother from another mother, Chris Roman, and his family, who graciously took me in and fed me like a king.  In the two days before the race, we ran easy 5k loops at the University of North Florida with Amy Costa and Kathy Adams (the amazing wife of my good friend Ray Zahab).  

My race was interesting.  I ran for about 43 miles with Kathy, at first way, way too fast.  Kathy would go on to experience a variety of problems en route to a 100k finish, but put forth some of the best projectile vomiting that I have seen in a long time.  She is one tough girl, that is for sure, and she pushed and pushed as hard as she could, even though she was unable to eat or drink for a long period of time.  I have a ton of respect for her, and am so proud of her 100k finish and that I was a small part of it.

After I was able to get Kathy to a state where I wasn't overly worried about her health, I pressed on alone until mile 71 when I met up with Lane Vogel.  He was riding the course on a bike and took me back to the 75-mile mark (the main aid station), after which he paced me for 25 long, slow miles on foot to the finish.   My feet were so sore from all of the rocks that every step was fairly painful.  We finished with a decent time - 22:22, but it could have been a lot better if I had been smarter with my pacing early on.  Each 25-mile out-and-back split was :

Note: Total Distance Corrected From 100.35 Miles

For fueling - Hammer Nutrition - Heed, Perpetuem and Hammer Gels.  Red Bull and Mountain Dew at night for a little kick.

Blisters - None.

Many, many thanks to Lane Vogel for pushing me to keep moving for the last 30 miles, to the entire Roman family for their incredible hospitality,  to Erin, Jeff and Nathalie for some awesome crewing and good times, and, of course, to all of the volunteers at the race!

Several posts will follow on what is upcoming, including another date in the desert in July, thoughts on Umstead 100 (and weather to do only 50 miles there in order to stay fresh and focus on the July event), and the permanent return of weekly training summaries.


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