Monday, August 30, 2010

Lean Horse 100 Report

You know what? Forrest Gump was right when he said “Life is like a box of chocolates…You never know what you’re gonna get.” At least he was right when it applies to running, and since he was a runner it’s all the more appropriate. Some days, you set out for a run expecting great things and are sorely disappointed. Others, you expect nothing and are shocked by what you get. It’s happened to me before. At the Colorado Marathon in 2008, I KNEW that I was going to qualify for Boston. I didn’t. Hell, I didn’t even come close. But ten weeks later, on a wing and a prayer, I ran the Missoula Marathon and got my BQ. This year, I entered the Bighorn 50 mile with every expectation that I would finish and get in my longest training run before the Lean Horse 100. Instead, I started puking at mile 19 and then did 15 miles of death marching before finally dropping from the race, my first ever DNF, at mile 34. This past weekend at Lean Horse, the cycle came back around. If you want the Cliff Notes version of this story, here it is: I finished in 20:21:55, 7th overall and 3rd in my AG. If you’ve got time to kill, read on…

I really don’t remember the moment in time when running 100 miles went from something I swore I’d never do to something I decided I definitely wanted to do. A big factor might have been the Lean Horse race back in 2008, a race I didn’t even run. My plan for that year had been to qualify for Boston at Colorado and then run the Lean Horse 50, my first 50, in August. After failing to BQ at Colorado, plans changed and after I did get the BQ in Missoula in July, there just wasn’t time to focus on the Lean Horse 50 in August, so I volunteered instead. Now, here’s a word of advice if you’re going to volunteer for an ultra. Do not tell the race director, especially if he’s a friend of yours, that you’d be “willing to do anything”. I ended up stationed along a lonely stretch of dirt road for approximately 28 hours, manning the Morph aid station at miles 11 and 89 of the Lean Horse 100. It was a long day, but I was astounded by the people coming through the aid station. Sure, I was tired by the end, but I had mostly been sitting on my butt and snacking on aid station food. These people had been on their feet that entire time and were still moving. And none of them appeared, at least at first glance, to be superhuman. They were like me. I began to wonder if running 100 miles was so crazy after all.

Flash forward to 2009. After running Boston in April, I knew I needed another running goal to keep me motivated and avoid a post-Boston letdown. That goal became the Lean Horse 50 that I hadn’t been able to run in 2008. I think I knew then that a 100 mile attempt was probably in my future, but it seemed prudent to test the waters a bit more. The funny thing is the Lean Horse 50 didn’t go all that well. I was ready for the distance, but obviously not ready for the heat and the 95 degree temps led to calf cramping that reduced me to walking most of the last 20 miles (swearing the whole way that I would never do this again, much less a 100). Still, I finished that race in a respectable time (9:32, 8th overall, 2nd in AG) and after the initial pain wore off, I began thinking about the possibility of running 100 miles. By the time the snow flew, my mind was pretty well made up: I would run the Lean Horse 100 in 2010.

I don’t really want to go into the gory details of my training plan, but I feel like I should mention some of the key pieces. Ultra training is MUCH less set in stone than marathon training. You can’t go to a bookstore and buy a book with an ultra plan laid out for you day by day. Much of how to train for these things is an experiment with yourself based on advice from others who have done it. Of course, as with anything, different people have different opinions on what works best, so you’ve got to figure out what works best for you. So, I feel somewhat obligated to share at least some of the key principles of my training for others who are looking for ideas. The basic structure of my training was to have two high mileage weeks followed by a moderate mileage week and then an easy cutback week and repeat that 4 week cycle throughout. The amount of mileage during the week didn’t really change all that much from week to week; the big difference came with the weekend mileage. For me, a “high” mileage week was around 70-75 miles, moderate was around 65 and easy was around 55-60. I know that may not seem like much, but on those high mileage weeks, the bulk of those miles came on the weekend. I used a mix of back to back and single long runs, sometimes running something like 25/15 and other weekends running 30/10 or 40/0….the goal was to get around 40 miles for the weekend. Some weekends were shorter mileage-wise, but because of tough terrain I was still spending a lot of time on my feet. I ended up with one 40 mile long run, three 30 milers, the 34 mile Bighorn DNF, and four marathons (two were actual marathons and the other two were just 26.2 mile runs on my own). I had several other 35-40 mile weekends with the mileage split between two runs. I topped out at 80 miles the last week before taper and then knocked the mileage back about 25% each week, running only 14 miles the last week, with two full days of rest before the race. I started out doing speedwork once per week in the spring, but when summer rolled around and the local trail series got going, I began using those shorter races as occasional speedwork and didn’t do any specific speed workouts for the last few months before Lean Horse.

Really, the summer flew by and before I knew it I was taking my son and daughter to their first days of school, my son was starting his first season of youth football (Go Rams!) and Lean Horse was upon me. I made the two hour drive down to Hot Springs on Friday afternoon. I pulled into the hotel parking lot, climbed out of the car and was hit by a blast furnace like wave of heat. Super. It was near 100 degrees and windy. The forecast for Saturday was slightly cooler, but this still wasn’t all that comforting. I checked in and then headed to the expo at the civic center across the street where I had to buy S-Caps because, like a rookie, I had failed to realize that I didn’t have enough for the race until two days before. I had contacted the expo vendor and she had been nice enough to set some aside for me (and she later told me that she sold out of them, so I’m extra grateful to her). I met up with several familiar faces at the expo and we exchanged nervous chatter. Amongst those faces were my friend and training partner Ryan and another friend from Colorado, Mike, who were both running their first 100.

Before too long, it was time for the pre-race briefing to start, so we filed into the auditorium. At some point during the briefing the race director, Jerry (another friend of mine), brought up the Black Hills 100, a new ultra event that he, Ryan and I are developing. Jerry brought Ryan and I up on stage to talk about the event and during our introductions said something along the lines of “Chris and Ryan are training partners. Ryan is a fast guy and we expect big things out of him in the ultrarunning world in the future. Chris is slower, but they train together…..uh….I guess I’ll let him tell you about himself” (side note: Jerry tends to start talking before the thought is entirely complete in his head). It’s true though, because Ryan is fast….really fast. Our training runs either involved him running really slowly to stay with me, or him charging ahead to the next ridgetop or trailhead and then waiting for my slow butt to catch up. Regardless, we started talking about the Black Hills 100 and next thing you know, the briefing for Lean Horse becomes a question and answer session for Black Hills. Oops.

After the briefing, I caught some downtime at the hotel before heading back to the civic center for the pre-race cookout. After that, I headed into town to watch some high school football, the Hot Springs Bison versus the Winner Warriors (Winner being an appropriate name for the town since they won the state championship last year) and then back to the hotel to try and sleep. Amazingly, I drifted off fairly early, 9:00 or so, and probably slept better than I ever have the night before a big race. I was up at 3:45 Saturday morning and that’s when the nerves really hit: “Holy !@#$, I’m going to run 100 miles!” After a quick, simple breakfast (Frosted Flakes and an English muffin, the breakfast of champions), I headed back over to the civic center to check in and nervously stand around. Once there, I huddled up with all the familiar faces in the room, as if there were safety in numbers from the dangers that lay outside. Just before 6:00, Jerry booted us outside and with a ten count and “GO!”, we were off.

Originally, I was going to break this report down into sections from aid station to aid station, but there were just too damn many (9 aid stations that you go through twice each for 18 total) and I really don’t remember many details (or anything noteworthy) between all of them, so instead it’s broken down from drop bag location to drop bag location.

Start to Argyle Loop (16.6)

The first three miles follow city streets and a bike path through Hot Springs before hitting a gravel road up and over the first significant hill and then down to the Coldbrook campground, and the first aid station, at mile 4. From Coldbrook, a two track road heads across a pasture to the Argyle Road, the most dreaded part of the Lean Horse course because of its constant rolling hills. The Morph aid station is at mile 11 and then the Argyle Loop aid station, where Argyle Road and the Mickelson Trail meet, is at mile 16.6.

I started out slow. Really slow. Well, it felt really slow, but I didn’t really know for sure because I was running without my Garmin. I knew that the battery on it wouldn’t last for the entire race, so I had put it in my Harbach Park drop bag and was relying on my trusty old Timex watch for timing at the beginning. We hit a small waterfall along the bike path that I knew was the one mile point because I had made a note of it last year and I was at about 9:30 pace, which was just about where I wanted to be early on. My plan for this first section was to walk the uphills and run everything else, and that’s exactly what I did. I stopped quickly at the Coldbrook aid station to grab an extra Hammer Gel and then charged on. Just before Coldbrook, Mike charged past me. Ryan had also charged ahead right from the start. I would unexpectedly meet up with one of them much later in the day (how’s that for building drama??). I stopped again at Morph to refill my handheld bottle and also ate half of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, which tasted REALLY good at that point. I should point out that for hydration purposes I was wearing my Nathan hydration pack with water inside and also carrying a 20 ounce bottle that I was drinking Nuun (an electrolyte tablet that dissolves in water, kinda like Alka Seltzer but better tasting) from. I should also point out that I didn’t record split times at aid stations, but I did have a pace chart in my pocket showing the time of day I’d need to be at each station to maintain 24 hour and 30 hour pace. By the time I hit Morph, was about 30 minutes ahead of 24 hour pace already and a little further ahead of that pace when I arrived at Argyle Loop. I had no need for my drop bag at Argyle Loop, so I topped off my hydration pack and handheld, grabbed another half of a peanut butter and jelly and took off. Actually, I totally forgot about refilling my hydration pack until I got about 20 yards past the aid station and decided it was probably best to go ahead and go back to refill it rather than running another 4 miles down the trail to do it.

Argyle Loop (16.6) to Pringle (24)

From Argyle Loop, the course takes to the Mickelson Trail, a rails to trails path that features long, gentle grades. There are no lung searing uphills, but when you do go uphill, you do so for a long time. Of course, you also go downhill for a long time (although it always seems longer going up). The entire thing is really very runable, but I knew that I wasn’t going to run the whole thing. Because of the long hills, I also didn’t want to walk the uphills for miles at a time. So, the plan was to use a run/walk ratio of 10 minutes to 2 minutes. That plan actually didn’t last long. I was having some trouble finding a groove and decided to break it up more, so started going 5 minutes to 2 minutes and that seemed to work better.

I topped off my handheld again at the Lime Kiln aid station at mile 20 and grabbed some more food (I don’t remember exactly what). My fueling plan was to consume Hammer Gels and Clif Bars between aid stations and then grab some more substantial food from the stations. As it turns out, I quickly discovered that chewing Clif Bars takes a lot of time and effort, especially when you’re not producing much saliva, so I relied more on Hammer Gels, which I was surprisingly able to tolerate for a majority of the race (usually my body rejects them after 3 or 4). I arrived in Pringle at mile 24 feeling pretty good. Again, I had no need for my drop bag. I did grab a turkey and cheese sandwich and maybe a banana….it’s all a blur already. As I left, someone warned me that the next section was long and warm. They were right.

Pringle (24) to Harbach Park (35.5)

The section just past Pringle sucks. It’s long and straight and the trail is right next to the highway. I remembered running this stretch to the 50 mile turnaround last year and it being really hot. It wasn’t as warm this year, but it still seemed to take forever and I was starting to not feel so good. My stomach wasn’t happy about something and I could feel the sensation of nausea building, bringing back some unhappy memories from Bighorn. The run/walk went out the window and it was just a walk for a little while. I had read that ginger helped and had packed some ginger chews in my hydration pack. I took one of those and, lo and behold, it worked. My stomach calmed down and I was able to start running again. Right about this time, a lady who was running the 50K (which ended at the Carroll Creek aid station) pulled up alongside me and we started talking and running/walking together. Running with her helped immensely as it took my mind off the crapiness I was feeling and made the time go by a little faster. She took off ahead to finish her race just before Carroll Creek at mile 30. At the aid station, I topped off with water and Nuun and grabbed some more peanut butter and jelly for the road. It was quite a chore to choke down half a sandwich, but I forced myself to do it as I walked down the trail. After Carroll Creek, I started back in on my run/walk strategy and got into a nice groove. Little did I know then that this groove would last for most of the next 70 miles. The 5.5 miles to Harbach Park, in the middle of the town of Custer, went smoothly and I was starting to have some fun. At Harbach Park, I grabbed some spray on sunblock from my drop bag. Although I had put some on before the race, I could tell my shoulders (I was wearing a sleeveless shirt) were starting to get red. I again refilled my fluids and grabbed a cookie and half a potato before setting off.

Harbach Park (35.5) to Buckaroo (49.2 and 50.8)

From Harbach Park, there’s a long uphill grind to the high point of the course at the Crazy Horse monument, just past the Mountain aid station (mile 40.5). I was unable to choke down either the cookie or the potato, so I took some Hammer Gel instead and then got back into the run/walk groove. As I was nearing Mountain, I started feeling another familiar and unwelcome feeling; my right calf was showing the first signs of cramping. It did seize briefly a couple of times and I took another S-cap and made sure to keep up on the Nuun. After walking a bit longer, I tried a slower run and nothing happened, so I kept charging on. It seized one more time, with the Mountain aid station in sight, but that was the last I heard from it. At Mountain, I stretched the calf a bit, refilled with fluids and was off. Just a short bit later, the course topped out at Crazy Horse and I was really able to get into a nice groove running (and walking) the long downhill toward the turnaround point.

I knew at some point along this stretch I would see the frontrunners as they came back from the turnaround. The first guy was WAY out in front of everyone else and he was a first timer (all first timers had a green sticker on their bibs to signify their greenhorn status). I stopped for a quick fluid refill and maybe tried another turkey sandwich at the Oreville aid station (mile 45.2). Not long past Oreville, I was surprised to see Mike running along in 5th place overall. I gave him a high five as we passed each other. At this point, I began wondering where in the hell Ryan was as I had expected him to be one of the front runners. About halfway between Oreville and Buckaroo I finally found him and we exchanged some quick words of support. I stopped very briefly at Buckaroo on the way out to top off my bottle and then headed out for the short 1.6 mile stretch to the turnaround and back. At the turnaround, I pulled my cell phone out of my pack and called my wife to let her know I was still alive and halfway done. I hit the turnaround in 9:40, two hours and twenty minutes ahead of 24 hour pace. Once back at Buckaroo, I made my longest stop of the day to refill the hydration pack and change shoes. I also grabbed my headlamp from my bag. I had put it in this bag expecting to be here much closer to dark. It’s nice to be wrong about some things.

Buckaroo (50.8) to Harbach Park (65.5)

Of course, that nice long downhill from Crazy Horse to Buckaroo became a seemingly MUCH longer uphill on the way back. But, still, I was able to stick with my run/walk strategy and was constantly banking time. At this point, I was really surprised by just how well this thing was going, but at the same time I was trying not to get too excited about it because, after all, I still had half the race to go. Back at the Oreville aid station, I decided that chewing food was just too much damn work….I couldn’t work up enough saliva to do it properly, although I was maintaining my hydration fairly well and taking a leak at least every couple of hours. So, I decided to try some Coke and chicken soup and it was the awesomest thing EVER. Like nectar of the Gods. I tried some more at Mountain, after finally cresting the neverending hill, and it was still awesome. So I tried some again at Harbach Park. Still awesome. Back at Harbach, I made another pit stop to change into a t-shirt since it was getting closer to dark and starting to rain. I decided against taking my longsleeve shirt, gloves and beanie because I wasn’t expecting it to get that cold during the night and, as it turns out, that was a good choice….I was never cold for the remainder of the race. I also grabbed my Garmin out of my bag so I could know my pace for the final miles. As it turns out, I didn’t rely on it at all, just looked at it out of curiosity every once in awhile.

Harbach Park (65.5) to Pringle (76)

After leaving Harbach, I called my wife again to update her on my progress. I was now 2 hours and 45 minutes ahead of 24 hour pace. I told her I wasn’t sure if I could keep this up for another 35 miles, but so far so good. Not long after I hung up the phone and stashed it back in my pack, I noticed I was catching up to someone who didn’t look to be feeling very good. As I got closer, I realized that it was Ryan. I pulled up alongside him and he gave me a casual “good job” then did a double take when he realized it was me. I asked him how he was feeling and the look on his face said it all. He’d been cramping and was just feeling generally crappy. We exchanged words of encouragement and I ran on. It was this point that I really started to realize how good of a day I was having. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would ever finish ahead of Ryan in a race. Of course, there was still a lot of race left, but the fact that I felt so strong this far into it gave me a huge confidence boost.

Back at Carroll Creek they were cooking up grilled cheese sandwiches. I had a quarter of one with some more Coke and chicken soup. That was pretty awesome too. I headed out of that aid station feeling great and was treated with one hell of a lightning show off to the east as I ran toward Pringle. The storm was never really close to me...the thunder was pretty distant, but I did get sprinkled on a few times. By this point, it was pretty much dark out, but I still had my headlamp stashed in my hydration pack. I was hoping to not use it at all and run only by moonlight, but the thunderstorms were kind of screwing with that plan. I hit probably the toughest stretch for me mentally between Carroll Creek and Pringle. Back on that long straight stretch along the highway, I was struggling. Physically, I was fine, but the headlight heading towards me were pissing me off, the fact that it was warmer than expected and there was no breeze was pissing me off and the fact that the trail was straight and seemed to go on forever was REALLY pissing me off. I KNOW that it wasn’t that long on the way out and if I ever find the bastard that lengthened it, I’m gonna kick his ass. Despite my attitude, I still ran/walked fairly strongly and finally arrived at Pringle. On a small side note, I should mention that even when I was walking, I was usually gaining time on the 24 hour pace. I made sure not to just walk too casually, but to walk with a purpose and my Garmin was telling me that my walking pace was generally around 13:30-14:00 per mile (24 hour pace is 14:24), a little slower on uphills. But I never got so tired that my walking pace slowed to a crawl; I was able to walk strongly the whole way, which played a big part in my overall finish.

Pringle (76) to Argyle Loop (83.4)

I had made the decision long before to ditch my hydration pack at Pringle. I figured that having all that extra water wasn’t really necessary at night and I had another handheld stashed in my Pringle drop bag. So, I transferred all the stuff I REALLY needed (Nuun tabs, cell phone, headlamp) from the hydration pack to my pockets (or head, in the case of the headlamp). The aid station didn’t have any chicken soup, so I went with tomato instead and headed out. It was just after Pringle on the way out that I had hit my first rough patch and it would be just after Pringle and way back that I would hit my second. I don’t know if it was the tomato soup or what, but not long after finishing it, I started to feel kind of queasy again. Of course, the logical solution would be a ginger chew since that worked so well before. Only problem was that they were still in my hydration pack and I sure as hell wasn’t backtracking for them. So, instead I just walked for a bit and hoped my stomach would settle down. Eventually, thankfully, it did and I was able to start the run/walk routine again. By this time, it was no long 5 minutes to 2 minutes. It was much more random. I would start running and go until it started to feel uncomfortable and then I would walk. Eventually, my feet and legs would start to ache while walking, so I would start running again and they would feel better. And the cycle would repeat itself. Back through Lime Kiln I got more Coke and, thankfully, they had chicken soup. I pressed on to Argyle Loop and the Mickelson running was done for the day. More Coke and more chicken soup and then it was back onto the rolling hills of Argyle Road.

Argyle Loop (83.4) to Finish (100)

My strategy for the return trip on Argyle was the same as before: run the downhills and walk the uphills. I could tell immediately that this section might be uncomfortable. I had developed some blisters on the balls of my feet, especially my left foot. The Mickelson is finely crushed gravel and nice and smooth. Argyle, however, is a gravel road with much larger pieces of gravel that did NOT feel good at all if I stepped on one wrong. Upon leaving Argyle Loop, I was about 3 hours ahead of 24 hour pace and still moving strongly. So now, the question became just how quickly I was going to be able to finish this thing. I decided at this point that it was safe to assume sub-24 was in the bag, but could I finish sub-21? That became my new goal.

The storms had rolled through and the nearly full moon finally made an appearance, so I ran much of this final section with my headlamp off. I was able to see perfectly well enough without it and was enjoying the calm night, under the stars and moon. Although the finish was getting close, I tried really hard not to think about it and just focus on getting to the next aid station, as I had been all day. I refueled with more Coke and chicken soup at Morph and headed out for the last aid station. Just before the 95 mile point, there is a long downhill. I was able to run almost all of it and when I got to the bottom was done with Argyle Road and back on the two track toward Coldbrook. They didn’t have any chicken soup at Coldbrook, which was kind of a buzzkill, but I decided that it didn’t really matter at that point. I drank some Coke and headed out, only 4 miles to go. Right after Coldbrook, there’s one last steep hill before the course drops back down into Hot Springs. At the top of the hill, I turned my phone back on and tried to call my wife to let her know I would be in shortly. Unfortunately, the cell coverage in Hot Springs blows, and none of my calls went through. The last word she had, from when I had called at mile 65.5, was that I would be done around 3:00 AM, so she had set her alarm for 2:30. I left Coldbrook at approximately 1:40, knowing that I had sub-21 in the bag. After topping that last hill, there was just over 3 miles left and I ran almost all of it. My feet were sore, but my legs felt great and I could feel the finish line pulling me in like a magnet. I was flying down the streets of Hot Springs, sure that I must be running 6:30 pace. I glanced at my Garmin and saw that it was more like 9:10 pace but whatever; it felt really damn fast 99 miles into a 100 mile day. I hit the bike path leading to the civic center and it just seemed unreal….was I really running the final few yards of a 100 mile race? Up and over one more tiny bump in the trail and across the finish line to the clapping of a few guys who had finished not long before me and the ladies keeping time.

I dropped my bottles on the grass, asked the lady if I could stop now and planted my butt in a chair. It was the awesomest feeling in the world to finally sit down and know that I didn’t have to get back up until I damn well felt like it.

I guess the best way to describe how I felt when I got done is “content”. I was somewhat shocked by what had just occurred. Another guy I talked to the next day, who had also finished his first 100, described it as the best executed race tactically he’s ever run. I think that applies to my race too. I couldn’t have planned it better if I tried. Eventually, I asked to take a peek at the results and discovered that I had finished 7th overall. Mike had come in exactly one hour before me in 19:21, a spectacular 100 mile debut for him also. The winner, another first timer, had run a blistering 15:25, just 5 minutes slower than the course record.

Ryan’s wife and sister in law were at the finish and told me he was on Argyle Road and should be done shortly. I decided to wait and see him in. And, really, I was just enjoying sitting there and soaking in the atmosphere of my first 100 mile finish. I talked to my mom on the phone, who had suddenly awoken for no apparent reason just minutes before I finished, and my wife, who should’ve set her alarm for a half hour sooner. After awhile, I started to get cold and wasn’t sure just how much longer Ryan had, so I decided I should probably go take a shower and try to sleep. Those blisters on my feet hurt much more now, so I began a very slow shuffle toward the hotel. I hadn’t made it very far when I Ryan’s family start cheering, so I did a quick shuffle/hobble back to the finish to see him come in at 21:44, another awesome 100 mile debut. We congratulated each other and talked about the race a bit before I resumed my shuffle back to the hotel to shower and sleep. I was almost scared to take my socks off and see my feet, but it wasn’t as bad as I feared. A few blisters on my toes and some bigger ones on the balls on my feet, but not as horrible as pictures I’ve seen from other 100 mile finishers. I wasn’t really tired at all, but considering I had to drive back home in several hours, I figured I should probably at least try to sleep. I lay down and could not get comfortable at all. My legs and feet were aching and I couldn’t get comfortable in any position. And my brain was reeling. It just would not shut down and go into sleep mode. After about an hour and a half of kinda sorta dozing off here and there, I finally gave up, got dressed and went back to the finish line (this time, I drove the one block from the hotel to the civic center).

And that’s about it. I went to the awards ceremony later that morning to get my buckle and award for 3rd in my age group and then drove home. Today, the day after, it already seems like so long ago. My legs are tired, but have been more sore after some marathons I’ve run. My feet are another story. They have been abused and are not happy about it, especially the left one, which had the bigger blister and also was swollen pretty good yesterday. But, hey, it was worth it.

Wow, 9 pages….if you’ve made it this far, maybe you deserve a belt buckle. What can I say, a long race necessitates a long report. And I’ve got nothing to do today but sit and type. Thanks for reading and all the words of support and congratulations I’ve received; it’s been great!


mike_hinterberg said...

Awesome job and great seeing you out there! I knew you could blow sub-24 out of the water. Also thought Jerry's introduction of you guys was sub-optimal, and I cringed a little bit as I'm sure Ryan did (I run with some really fast runners occasionally and they're very cool about it), but you took it in stride with the BH100 intro.

I too was thinking of a fast finish in the front for Ryan, glad he finished and hope he had fun, I had a great time chatting with him as well.

Chris said...

Awesome job yourself! I think what Jerry was trying to get at was the family thing where runners of all abilities come together at ultra events....he just didn't get the thought processed in his head all the way. I gave him crap after the race and told him that I made sure to run faster than Ryan just because of that intro. But, really, 100 miles has a way of leveling the playing field sometimes.

Ryan did have a great time though, and recovered very well after his rough patch.

theueckers said...

Great race report. Thanks for taking us along on the journey.
Now, I'm even afraid to volunteer for this race. Afraid for what it might lead to.

Mechaela said...

I loved reading this! It made me think of something I've heard about Ultras before: "the ultimate eating and drinking contest with some running mixed in" Congrats again on an awesome feat - you rock!

jt00ct said...

Amazing accomplishment Chris, congratulations! Thank you for taking the time to share your experience. Great information in your report.

Brian said...


Danni said...

Awesome job and great report! I'm super impressed. You are FAST! Sounds like this may be your thang!

Helen said...

Congrats Chris!!!

Very smart race, excellent pacing and way to keep your head in the game.

100 milers certainly are levelers - there's so much more to them than sheer running ability (which you clearly have too!).

Hope you recover well.

Brad Rhodebeck said...

Chris, I've followed your blog for a few months as I was amping up for the Lean Horse. Your post on Bighorn actually scared me a little as are training plans were similiar. This was my first 100 as well. Super JOB!! I was the guy running argyle with the pacer lagging behind, the day went way better than I dreamed of. I was 5th overall. (Also your newsletters were a great jolt to my pre-race obsession- Cheers, Brad

Chris said...

Thanks everyone!

Brad - So you're the guy who flew by me like your hair was on fire! I was cruising along, thinking there was no one within striking distance behind me and then I saw your headlamp back there and it was moving fast. I thought "that's gotta be a bike patrol, no one is running that fast this late in the race". You were obviously feeling strong. I couldn't help but laugh when your pacer came by, trying hard to catch back up with you. Nice job on a really strong finish!

Black Hills said...

Super report Chris..I'll give you my first hand account when we meet next week :-) Both you and Mike had phenomenal 100 mile debuts, way to go. I'm glad you set Jerry straight on who is the fast one...his intro for us during the BH100 announcement was bit awkward.


Christina said...

Well Done Chris!

johnmaas said...

It was a thrill reading your race report on Lean Horse.
Thanks so much for sharing.
You had a fantastic day out there.
You kept everything together very well and finished like a rock star!
Rest wisely and celebrate a bit.

jen said...

Finally got around to reading this epic race report and boy was it wrth the wait. Congratulations on an amazing performance. I'm SO damn impressed. You absolutely nailed it. Wow. Hop the legs and feet are healing up ok, take a nice break- you deserve it.

Needless to say, I suppose, this really makes me want to do an ultra!