Below is an excerpt of Nick's (the Bonney Lake store manager) race report from last months Pigtails Challenge 100 Miler.
The Pigtails Challenge 100 Miler. I chose this race because it is logistically very easy. The course is a 9.4 mile loop around a watershed preserve/lake. So the 100 mile runners ran 3 miles out, 3 miles back and then 10 laps (alternating direction each lap). That meant you were at the main aid station and all of your gear every 9.4 miles. All I had to do was think of anything I might want and/or need and put it in one big bin. Here's a list of what I packed, in no particular order:
Change of shoes, Extra socks, Extra shirts, Hats, Gloves, Nip Guards, BodyGlide, KT Tape, Nathan Hydration Pack, Nathan handheld pack (no bottle), PowerBar bottles (2), Amphipod handheld, PowerGels, PowerBar Energy Blends, Electrolyte/Salt capsules, PowerBar Recovery Drink Mix, PowerBar Harvest Energy Bars, Starbuck Double Shot drinks, Trigger Point Grid foam roller, Addaday Type A roller, Space blanket, Post-race clothes (pants, shirt, jacket), Marathon Maniac jacket, Wetwipes, Ziplock bags, Garbage bag (for dirty clothes), Garmin Forerunner 910XT, iPod Shuffle, Headlamps, Extra batteries, Flashlight (for my crew), Clipboard with projected times/instructions for pacers, Chair, Air Heads Candy
I tried to go to bed early the night before and actually got to sleep while it was still light out. I woke up at 3am to get dressed and get some food in my system. My wonderful wife and I had already packed the car the night before after Sabrina helped us pack. She too got up at 3am to drive me to the start and hang out for a few laps. We arrived at the starting area around 5am for the 6am start. Despite the early hour, there was plenty of life already. You see, at this event I was only running the half. That's right. Thursday morning roughly a dozen brave souls started a 200 mile race. Friday morning, about seven runners toed the line for a 150 mile run. I checked in, got my bin/chair set up and got as mentally ready as I could. After my dnf at the Mt Si 50 Miler, I knew the mental aspect would be huge in this race. To those that know me, it was no secret that I kinda wanted to go for the course record. Though the analytical side of me, which usually wins, knew that would not happen. At least, not this year.
This race is different from many ultra marathons in that you are allowed a pacer at anytime (but no more than two at a time). I had a huge outpouring of offers to come pace me from friends. It appeared that I would only be solo for the first 15.4 miles and possibly another 9.4 miles around the halfway point. Another difference, no race shirt. Instead of race shirts we all got race robes. They are a very good quality robe with the Pigtails Challenge logo. Bel got a picture of me in the robe before the race as well as a shot of all the 100 mile runners with the RD.
Everyone in my crew chronicled the event via Facebook so my friends and family could follow along. Most of the pics below are from them.
(Before the start in my robe)
(100 Mile Runners with the RD)
Shortly before the start of the race, I got a surprise. Sabrina drove up early to run the first lap with me! I went out solo for the first six miles before she joined me. The gentlemen behind me in the green t-shirt, Gavin, won the race and the gentlemen in the blue jacket got 2nd. The three of us, along with Hope (the gal in the middle) and another gal (who won the women's race) went out together for a bit.
Eventually, Gavin and the 2nd place finisher pulled away a bit. They turned a little too early but knew they did. They saw us and said "That was too soon, right?". Yes. Yes it was. I had actually let myself go a little too quick and started to pull back a little. The racer in me wanted to run them down and hang with them but I knew I was going too fast. I finished the out and back in 53 minutes. Afterwards, I ditched the jacket before starting lap 1.
(Start of the 100)
Sabrina and I cruised through lap 1 in 1:35. I made sure to eat something (usually a gel) every 30 minutes. At the main aid station I tried to eat something more solid and the backside aid station was more about getting some Coke or refilling my water bottle. I used the Amphipod handheld for the first 43 miles or so. After that I switched to the Nathan strap and my PowerBar bottles. They held more water and it was getting warm out.
At the end of lap 1, I grabbed some solid food and had Bel refill my water bottle while I ate. I also grabbed another salt capsule. The plan was to take one every lap. I was then joined by Jesse, one of the gals I coached for the Tacoma City Marathon. On one of our laps, I saw Linda at the backside aid station. She is an accomplished runner from my run club. She had ran this event in the past and was one of the brains I picked during my training. Jesse ran two laps with me in 1:34 and 1:46. Between those laps, Bel went home to rest a bit/be productive. At this point I felt ok but I knew I wasn't eating enough. Let me tell you, it sucks knowing you should be eating more but just don't want to. I had heard from friends who ran 100's that eventually I wouldn't want to eat and would be forced to by my pacers. I just didn't think it would be so early in the race and I thought I wouldn't be aware that I wasn't eating enough.
Between laps 3 and 4, I changed from my split shorts to my half tights and swapped the t-shirt for a singlet. I also changed socks and swapped my Hoka Conquest for my Hoka Bondi's. I also rolled out a little with the Addaday roller. Lap 4 I was joined by Tom, from my running club. He made sure I ate solid food on our lap, particularly some pb&j squares that I did not want to eat/tasted horrible to me at that point, and made a note on my pacer instruction sheet to make sure I was eating. He also kept me moving. If I recall correctly, this was the only lap where I spoke negatively (the thoughts crept up on a few laps) and Tom turned my attitude around real quick. He convinced me that as long as I could still walk, I could finish. We completed out lap in 1:58. This is the lap break where I discovered how glorious watermelon is. I'm pretty sure I had watermelon at every lap. I also started eating chips and potatoes at this point.
(Rolling our somewhere around lap 4)
(Finishing up lap 4 with Tom)
I was then joined by my friend Kelli for two laps. Somewhere on our first lap I discovered I no longer wanted gels or salt capsules. Still being aware of the need for calories, I mixed two gels and the salt/electrolyte capsules into my water. I believe this was the lap where Jeff (who I pushed at TCM) and his wife Heather were manning the backside aid station. It was good to see their faces for a few laps. At the end of our first lap, my family and friends at arrived to show some support. My wife, parents, little sister, nephew Malachi were there as well as our friends Faustine and Todd, Matt and Kara and their son Oliver. Having such a huge support crew at that point (just past halfway) was amazing. Playing with Malachi for a minute with the Addaday roller, sharing a cookie with Oliver, and some cantaloupe that Faustine and Todd brought.
(Starting lap 5 with Kelli)
(Photo my dad took of Kelli and I heading out)
It was either the lap 4/5 break or the 5/6 break where I discovered my magic potion (which, I believe Sabrina called my Galaxy Juice at 1 am). A mixture of two gels, salt/electrolyte capsules and PowerBar Recovery Mix. That was in my bottle the entire rest of the race and my crew prepped the extra PowerBar bottle for me while I was out so all I had to do was change bottles at the lap breaks. Bel was amazing at making sure I was good and had what I needed/had sunscreen on. I couldn't have finished this race without her there. Kelli and I went back out for another lap. During my first lap with Sabrina, I had started walking the uphills (roughly 700ft of gain per lap). Kelli kept saying how fast I was moving on the walks considering how far into the race I was. Our lap splits were 1:53 and 2:07.
(Gearing up for lap 6)
(Actually eating after lap 6)
After lap 6, I actually had a good amount of solid food. I are some Fig Newtons and a hotdog as well as more fruit. Bill and Sabrina had returned to support/crew chief for me. I was joined at lap 7 by Amy and Nicole, two gals from our Tacoma training group. They were amazing! Two very energetic, funny and talkative women is exactly what I needed at mile 62. With about 2 miles left in the lap, Emily and Tamra appeared on the trail. They are two of the employees at my store. I had coached/paced them through their first half marathon and they had driven up after work to pace me. Seeing their faces and running with them was most definitely one of the highlights of the race for me. We finished lap 7 in 2:05.
(Lap 7 pacers: Amy & Nicole!)
(Backside aid station lap 7)
After lap 7 Ben, the only other guy from my store, was there. I ate more solid food, including a slice of pizza before Ben and I took off. He was training for an ultra himself and was using this as a long run. Initially he had planned to run two laps with me but stuck it out for three laps. We chatted, well, Ben chatted tried to distract me like a good pacer. It worked well. At the backside aid station, I ran ahead (like 30 feet) for my last port-a-pottie stop. When I walked back to the aid station I just heard "I know you from Fleet Feet". "Colleen, right?" Our stores old Nuun rep was there. Turns out, now she works for Brooks Running. Once again it felt good to see an unexpected and familiar face out on the course. Roughly half way through that lap, the sun began to set. For whatever reason, the literal darkness brought me to one of my dark points in the race. I was not doing well with no light besides our headlamps. I wasn't cramping and I felt ok physically, I just wanted to be done. I had to fight a lot mentally the last three laps. We finished our guy's lap in 2:12.
(Amy helping Ben gear up for the guy's lap)
(Backside aid on lap 8, starting to get dark)
During the lap 8/9 break Belinda and my father-in-law had arrived to support me through the finish. I had more solid food: some amazing cheese quesadillas. I also had some really good chicken broth. While I was sitting in my chair drinking the broth, I knew I needed something else on the course with me. I needed Sabrina. Her spirit is contagious and her energy is seemingly relentless. I looked up from my cup and said "you have two more laps in you?". She just smiled and said "yep". So the last two laps were Sabrina, Ben and myself. The first lap we were loud. Talking to each other, laughing. We even youtubed the skip from the Wizard of Oz so we could do that for a few strides. Lap 9 was 2:18.
The lap 9/10 break I had more fruit, chips, broth etc. Its funny, everyone always told me in training Beware the Chair. I sat in my chair almost every lap break and had no problems getting back up. I had decided it was time to finish. Sabrina, Ben and myself headed back out for the final lap. This one was much quieter. We were all just pushing through. At one point, we even turned our headlamps off for a few strides to just embrace nature and the journey I was on. We finished lap 10 in 2:37. I had said something about finishing with them and Sabrina said something like "This is all you, we're pulling back". Her and Ben slowed enough to let me pull ahead but were still able to watch me finish. At 2:58 am, I crossed the finish line in 3rd place. My wife and father-in-law congratulated me as well as Ben and Sabrina. The race director came over and gave me my buckle and congratulated me as well. Side note: my watch is awesome. It lasted the entire race. All twenty hours and fifty-eight minutes.
After some pics, a little more food and some very emotional hugs, we left for home. While I was walking around fine at the finish line, getting out of the car at home was insanely difficult. I spent most of Sunday sleeping and most of Monday cleaning the apartment. Took a few Epsom salt baths and a few walks. It was nice to lay low for a few days. I took six days off from running afterwards to recover.
(With my amazing wife)
I learned a lot about myself on that run. I connected with friends on a deeper level and I connected with nature. I looked deeper into myself than I had before. I pushed through dark times and fought a mental battle like never before. I grew physically, spiritually and emotionally. I was given a whole new perspective on life and a new level of awareness. I had transcended.