Tunnel Hill 100M:
This very flat, fast course is in Vienna, IL (southern) on the Tunnel Hill trail system in Shawnee Natl Forest. The 99% compacted agg. surface is as clse to pavement as you can get without actually being pvmt. Very flat as advertised with the iconic Tunnel around mile 36 / 43 / 84 / 91. The course is a repeat of 2x25mile out and backs for the 100M. It makes it great logistically and for seeing other participants during the race. All around, a course and layout geared toward running faster for 50/100 or aiding in completing for first timers like me.
The drive on Friday afternoon was about 5 hours for my dad, Rajesh, and I. NAthan was to drive down Saturday evening to meet up with us for pacing duties and support during the last quarter of the race.
Freezing in the tent Friday night/Saturday morning, but, with plenty of blankets to stay warm (once inside ofthe sleeping bag and blankets. 8 man tent was comfortably large enough for Rajesh, Dad, and I.
7:30a start for race. Woke up around 5a to eat and get changed. Warmed up sitting in the truck while changing. about 35 degrees at the start, but, comfortable in the singlet, arm sleeves, buf, and shorts.
Gun goes off and ... I'm out Way tooo fast !! Could not control myself :( 8min./mile... I have geared everything toward this race most of the year, and am full of beans... and stupidity. I consciously slowed down around 20 miles (finally), but, was probably too late - 3 hours for 20 miles... The plan was to go out at 9:30-10minute miles, and grind it out with a goal time of 18 hours. So, as I return to the start finish after first out and back section, I am at roughly marathon distance in around 4 hours. I am okay at this point. I see and talk to my dad and grab some food, and restock on gels. I have been hitting the gels and sport drink a little too hard up to this point, but, seem to be tolerating.
Out I go again the other direction for the other out and back (inclusive of the Tunnel) section. It begins to warm up as it approaches mid day, and I noticealy start faltering with pace and comfort level with the stomach. Its only 60 deress, but, I shed the singlet, and everything else except shorts is riding tied around arms and handheld. I start to go through water a lot faster and cannot manage as much food, especially sugary. I am still okay, I have suffered through a lot of simlar situations in long runs in the heat. I was actually prepared for this scenario. I slow down and work through some tough patches.
8:13 for 50 miles when I roll into the aid station again at start line. It is 3:30 - 4p at this point and I am in a lot worse shape than I wanted to be in. I take some time at the aid station and eat some burritos. Hang out for abit and calm down, talk to my dad and grab some warmer clothes. I do not realize how cold I will be getting when dark comes around 5:30-6.
Around 58mi., it has gotten dark and much colder. I have been alone for a while in he dark, but, also, start to really get low mentally. I get off the trail a bit to piss, and hop back up, only to realize that I am unclear of which way I was going. I pick the wrong way. within 30 minutes I have returned to a familiar aid sation and realize my mistake. I am so destroyed by realizing that I have gone 1.5 extra miles at this point that I am overwhlmed with the defeat and resign to a DNF. Looking back, I could have turned back around and only really added on 3 miles... :(
I run back the 5-6 miles to the start/finish line. I tell the timer what has happened and reconfirm the distance I should have run (~76M). They graciously give me te 50M finish and buckle. Horribly, This is the first time I see Nathan - stading there with my Dad. It is great to see them, of course, but, I am so down at this point, and I have killed myself to even jog/walk back to the start, that I am actually struggling to continue from leg fatigue and soreness for fisrt time all day. I am able to at least hobble walk/jog with Nathan for a bit, but, cannot go on. I make it round 70M and call it. Thank God Nathan is the incredible great guy he is. As usual, he makes the best of the sitation and goes out for the running of the Tunnel leg solo (so sorry, buddy). 70.1M - 13:25:29
Eat more salty solid food, less of the gels / sugary drink
Stick to the plan - go out at your planned pace. 100M is much different from a marathon, 50k, or even a 50M.
Rough patches and mistakes/mishaps will happen. Be strong mentally and stay positive. Use other people and every positive method you can think of within each situation.
Play games within the race when things are tough - run 1 minute, walk 1 minute. Break it up mentally.
Rajesh ran through the night, was very cold, walked for a good portion of leg 3, but finished run 1minute / walk 1minute. While I was pacing him, His run pace from mile 95 to finish was in the 7:30 range!
I am inspired by this experience. I am eagerly awaiting my next opportunity to concr this challenging distance.