Friday, June 2, 2017

VM 150


The record should reflect, right from the start, that I only ran ~111 out of the 153+ miles of this event. 

The VM 150 was an event that ran from Ludington, MI, on the coast of Lake Michigan, to Bay City, MI, on the coast of Saginaw Bay.
Approximate route

The RD was Kurt Adams.  He also turned out to be the only one to finish the complete distance.  The event benefited the Michigan Warriors Hockey Program a program that benefits wounded veterans.  


Ludington - Scottville (10.49 miles)

The event started at 8am, 27 May 2017.  There were eight people slated to run the entire 150 miles.  There were also two teams of five that were doing it as a relay.
One of the solo runners was going to carry the American flag for the entire route.
We had a police escort for the first mile out of Ludington.  It was quite an experience to run in the road, in the same direction as traffic, book-ended by two police vehicles with their flashers on.
The Army and the Marine Corps was represented by veterans who were members of Team RWB.  The standards of those branches were also being carried by us.

That's me in the great big, brown, wide-brimmed hat.  Also wearing a long sleeved, white cotton shirt.  All that will come into play later.
I actually ran point for about two miles of this leg, and carried the Army standard for another two.

Coming into the the city of Scottville, we came across this water tower
Not sure if I should be frightened, or not

And here we are arriving at the first AS

 Scottville - Barothy (miles 10.49 - 22.56)

We ran most of this leg on some back roads, most of which were dirt.  I carried the Marine Corps flag for four miles, and ran point for two.  I started to develop some gas pains that I could not relieve.  It started causing me some problems towards the end of the leg.  It also started to warm up a bit.  I was determined to keep my shirt and hat on throughout the race.  I soon regretted that decision.
We arrived at the next AS, where Dean (the crew co-captain with Kurt's wife Jessica), had made some quesadillas for us.  Those were so delicious, that I had two.  While sitting and eating, I was also able to relieve some of the gas that had built up.  So I was now ready to go.

Barothy - Bowman Lake (miles 22.56 - 33.24)

The majority of this leg was run on two track.  My gas issues popped back up with a vengeance.  I was forced to walk ~7 miles.  Running was just not possible with the pain in my gut.  I ended up taking off the long-sleeved shirt at 4pm, and the hat at 4:30pm.
The biggest problem that the gas pain caused me was that I was unable to stay hydrated.  I couldn't drink because my stomach just wouldn't allow me to.  I was still in it for the long haul though, and just kept waiting for it to cool down.
Upon arriving at Bowman Lake, I grabbed some ice-cold BCAA drink with caffeine.  It was delicious.  I sat down for less than five minutes, and carried on down the road. I also re-donned the hat and shirt.

Bowman Lake - Baldwin (miles 33.24 - 39.66)

I walked this entire leg.  There were brief instances of running, but those were very brief.  On some long stretch of highway, Dean and his brother-in-law, Paulie, handed Kurt, his mom Elise, and I some push-ups.
Dean was aware of my gas issues, and promised that this would help.  It actually did alleviate the pain somewhat.  However, I still wasn't able to stay hydrated.
Towards the end of this leg, I finally was able to urinate.  It was brown.  I knew that if I kept on going like I was, I risked injuring myself.  Upon reaching Baldwin, I told Dean and Jessica that I had to stop.

Baldwin - Chase (miles 39.66 - 50.51)

I drove to Chase with the crew vehicles.  Once there, I just sat and drank.  And drank.  And drank.  I drank one gallon of water in the hours that I was there.  By the time the lead solo runners started showing up, I was peeing clear again.  Once Kurt and Elise showed up, I decided to get back to it.  The sun was going down, it had cooled off, my gas problem was over with, and I was properly hydrated again.

Chase - Hersey (miles 50.51 - 60.83)

I left Chase with Kurt, Dan, Alex, and Brian. (the latter two wood go on to finish 100 miles. Dan had to drop at 88 due to an injury.) For the first three miles, we ran .4, and walked .6.  We did this for ~5 miles.
After that point, either Kurt, Dan, or I (really don't remember who), decided to walk. So the three of us walked the next five miles.
I ate a couple of cups of chicken noodle soup with doritos in it, drank a couple of cups of coffe, and we were on our way.

Hersey - Evart (60.83 - 71.39)

We walked the first two miles out of Evart, then did a run/walk of .3/.7.
Once at Evart, we were all pretty tired.  We decided to take a 12 minute nap.
I remember my brain being totally frazzled.  It was definitely some of the strangest 'sleep' I have ever had.
I'm not sure how long we actually slept, but I'm pretty sure that Dean did not let us sleep longer than 15 minutes.
And now that I think about it, the nap may have actually been in Hersey, not Earth.

Evart - Partridge Rd. (71.39 - 81.95)

At this point, all the three of us wanted to do was to reach Clare (the 95.24 mile mark).  The Clare Moose Lodge was going to have a buffet breakfast waiting for us.  Dan started to have a recurrence of an injury that he had suffered less than one month prior.  Something with his leg.  He was hoping to be able to finish the event, but was realistically just looking to get to 100 miles, which was a distance he had not yet achieved.
We walked about eight miles of this leg, and ran/walked 5/15 minutes for the remaining 10.5.
Pretty sure the sun rose during this leg.

Partridge Rd. - Farwell (81.95 - 92.38)

We did the run/walk 5/15 minutes for about 5 miles of this leg.  That's all I wrote in my notes.  I do remember that we ended up pulling away from Dan when Kurt and I started running.  He ended up dropping at ~88.  When we saw him at Farwell, we all commended him on his wise decision.  I remember telling him "He who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day".  I thought it was very profound at the time.
I also remember the fact that I knew that breakfast and a 30 minute nap were less than three miles away, so we didn't take too long here.  Pretty sure we picked up Ruth Warner here.  The three of us would stick together the remainder of our respective distances.
This is where we found out that Dan had dropped due to his leg injury.
Someone also told us that Brian and Alex were planning on stopping at 100.  While this was news to us, I wasn't surprised at all.  They had been pushing the pace hard the whole event.  I said to Kurt on many occasions that they would blow up spectacularly if they continued to do so.

Farwell - Clare (92.38 - 95.24)

I remember nothing of these miles. All I remember is seeing the Moose Lodge from a quarter of a mile away, with all the volunteers there.  I ran through the parking lot to where Brian was sitting in a chair by an aid truck.  I said to him, "I heard something that I don't really want to believe".  He confirmed that it was true, he was indeed calling it quits at 100 miles.  This was a bit disappointing to me.  He, Kurt, and I had gone on a few training runs together, and both Kurt and I knew that he was really looking forward to completing the entire distance.
I went inside the Lodge, took my hydration pack off, and headed to the bathroom to clean myself up with some baby wipes, and then wash my hands.  That felt tremendous.
I then sat down to two plates filled with food.
After eating, I hopped in an aid truck, took my shoes off, and tried to sleep.  It was crazy sleep, once again.  The sun was shining in the truck, my mind was racing...  I honestly don't know how much sleep I actually got.
When our allotted time was up, someone woke me up.  I changed from the Altra Provision 2.0s that I was wearing into the Altra Olympus that I had brought.  The Olympus is the Altra version of Hokas.  They have a 36mm stack height.
I must say, those shoes were a game changer for me.  The pain in my feet was now negligible, and the pain in my legs decreased tremendously.  Super glad that I invested in them.

Clare - Loomis (95.24 - 102.97)

I have nothing in my notes for these miles.  I know that we walked.  After Clare, we did no running at all.

Loomis - Coleman (102.97 - 108.23)

Again, more walking.  Eddie Money was playing in Coleman.  He took the stage right after we arrived.  Kurt's sister fixed us a turkey sandwich.  I didn't want anything sweet, just protein.
I was also getting a caffeine withdraw headache.  I asked Kurt's sister to grab some BCAA powder that I had, that had caffeine in it, and to make me a bottle with three scoops.
It tasted great, relieved my headache, and put some pep in my step.  We didn't stay too long after finishing our food and drink, then off we went to North Bradley

Coleman - North Bradley (108.23 - 113.66)

It rained for about five minutes during this leg.  Hard rain.  Luckily, it was at our backs.  I made sure to stow everyone's phones in the Ziplock which held mine prior to the rain starting.
I remember Kurt trying to outrun the rain, and ending up just running into worse rain.  That brings a smile to my face.
We arrived at North Bradley.  Kurt and Ruth were already in new distance PR, prior to Coleman.  Because I sat out those ten miles earlier, I didn't reach a new distance PR until just before North Bradley.
We pulled in and sat in some camp chairs.  Dean had a special treat for us.  Bananas Foster.  I know, Bananas Foster during an ultra.
There was an extra one, so I had two.  I remember commenting that when this sugar dumped out of my system, the crash would be hard.
I was right.

North Bradley - Sanford (113.66 - 119.33)

It only took two - three miles for me to crash.  It was the worst feeling ever.  It wasn't just weariness.  It was like I had negative amounts of energy.  I remember telling Kurt that I was taking a 12 minute nap at Sanford.  And if necessary, would do so at every stop until the finish.  Pretty sure that I was belligerent about it too.   I also remember that a couple of miles before Sanford, someone that Kurt new joined us for the last few miles to Sanford.  Upon leaving Sanford, Kurt told me that I was muttering to myself and rolling my eyes at him the whole time.
I honestly remember nothing about that, and that's kind of scary.
Here's me pulling into Sanford.  I'm at the edge of the frame.  I turned right to a bench, and laid down.

Yeah, that's how we were feeling.
So we took a 12 minute nap.  I ended up moving to a camp chair after a few minutes on the bench.
I woke up very cold.  I put on a long sleeved shirt and the only pants that I had brought; my rain pants.  Those soon got really hot, as did the shirt.
I felt much better after the nap, and we ended up leaving around 9pm

Sanford - when I stopped (119.33 - ~121.5)

It took me almost an hour to go that distance.  Very soon after leaving Sanford, everything came crashing down in my world.  A woman who had run some legs earlier in the race, Shasta, joined us on our way out of Sanford.  As Kurt and Ruth pulled away from me, she stuck with me.  I took off the long sleeved shirt at some point.  I looked at my watch, and saw that it was ~9:50.  I asked her when we left Sanford.  After consulting with the crew via her phone, she told me 9.  I knew then that there was no way I was going to be able to make it to Midland.
I knew that there was going to be at least 30 minutes of sleep there, but I couldn't do it.
We passed an access point to the trail, where one could pull off of the road that was parallel to the trail.  I sat down on a bench and told her "Call whoever you need to call.  I'm done."
Some time later, Kurt's sister-in-law pulled up, and I hopped in.
My event was over.

Lessons Learned

I learned quite a bit from this event.  One of the most important things was to not break the cardinal rule of ultra running: "Never do/try something in an event that you haven't done in training".
I thought that the cotton shirt and wide-brimmed hat would not matter at all.  And while that wasn't the only factor to my early dehydration, it did contribute.  The gas, which made it impossible for me to stay hydrated, was the biggest factor.  But the heat that those two added definitely hastened the process.
This event was also the first time that  I had gone deep into the second day.  While I didn't last a full 48 hours (only about 38), that was still over 10 hours longer than I had ever been on my feet prior to this.
I am now seriously reconsidering the fact that Vol State is on my bucket list.  500km, in Tennessee, in July?  We'll see.
While the temps on Saturday barely pushed the low 80's (Fahrenheit), it was still warm enough to affect all of the runners.  Here in the Midwest U.S., we've barely had any weather approaching that which would allow us to acclimate.


As I stated, I had 100% faith in my training.  Here it is:

My Feelings on Dropping

I have no regrets.  I gave it everything that I had, and came up short.  I trained harder than I had ever trained before, and I went into this with 100% trust in that training.  That was not the issue.  I believe that the early dehydration issue took enough out of me that as the second night fell, my body just had nothing left to give.
I'm extremely proud of Kurt for finishing, and being the only one to do so.  I'm also proud of all of the runners who set distance PRs during this event.  There were many.  Ruth ran 128+ miles, her previous longest was 100.  Alex ran 100 miles, his previous longest was 50 miles.  Dan ran 88 miles, his previous longest was 78 mils.  Elise (Kurt's mom) ran 100km, her previous longest was 50 miles.  Shasta ran 50km (i think), her longest was ~10 miles.
Kurt stated that this event will happen again next year.
We'll see.  We'll see.
Myself, Kurt, and Ruth.  Well over 100 miles in.