Yes, I'm half Finn. I love Sauna's but that doesn't mean I like running in one. No, I don't even do surface heat training in one for hot races. But last Saturday at Kettle it was just that to this Pacific Northwest resident. Oh, on a side note, nobody in the Northwest pronounces "Sauna" correctly, at least for this Finn.
I arrived in Whitewater, Wisconsin Thursday to have a rest day on Friday. It was not hot, only 82 degrees and the humidity was mild at 68%. I could deal with this. Drove around to find the start, checked out part of the trail but mostly just remained horizontal as I had the previous week.
This is run in the Kettle Moraine Forest and on much of the 1079 miles Ice Age Trail in Wisconsin.
I had looked forward to meeting Wynn Davis. He's blistering fast and previous winner of Trail Mix 50k. He was going to get after it in the 100k that same day. We were staying at the same hotel and we talked for over an hour. I look forward to watching him at Superior!
I was nervous going into the race. One, only my third 100. Two, I made a huge scheduling error in doing Silver State 50 mile only two weeks before. No, I didn't "race" it, but come on, it is still 50 miles and did have 10,000 feet of gain. What did I do???
(pre-race nails. the eugene gang does this at states but I didn't get into it. I can do this for my "100" right?)
I only "race" 2 to 3 races a year. This was on the radar to get after. I had come here for specific goals. I had made them public.
1. Run Hard 2. Start "racing" at mile 70 3. Finish in 22 4. Get Top 10
I had looked at previous races, entrants, etc. These were going to be lofty goals from my research.
Race morning... 60 degrees
It's a fricken Sauna! At least to me living out west.
First 62 mile out and back was way to "hot". Finished the first 50k in 5:15. More than an hour faster than my splits. It was here I decided I had to run my own race.
I decided at that point that I was going to hike anything that resembled a hill. I was already cramping. Start pounding the S-caps. Eat and drink on cue. I was passed by what seemed to be more than 20 people at that point coming back to Nordic. I cared, but I was sticking to my plan. (but some of the 20 were relay runners and 100k runners) I'm not racing until mile 70.
Make turnaround at Nordic and exchange race belts and grab my second bottle of beans. Walk and eat. Run, drink, eat more beans. I get to Tamarack at mile 67 and I see my pacer for the last 19 Brian Gains . I was lucky to have him offer to pace on the Kettle message board. He has a couple of pictures and a short video on his blog. Thanks Brain.
At mile 67 Brian says I am in 10th. I had taken note, I thought I was also. That's o.k., not racing yet. But I knew why I had picked mile 70 to start to get after it, it was a down. Not less than a half mile out of the Bluff aid station (mile 69.5) I had come up on a #9. The down came and I just accepted the "free speed". I had hammered it pretty good, I looked back when I got almost through the switch backs and he was 4 or 5 switch backs behind.
Then from mile 70-81 it was time to jam. I knew I would be picking up Brian in a bit. Just wanted to really push through this section and gap prev. #9 by 15 minutes. I enjoy the fireflys through this section as we don't have them out west. Got to Rice Lake turnarund and Brian wasn't there. I knew I was early and way ahead of goal time. I just hoped he was here somewhere and could catch up. I ask the volunteer if you see him "to catch up with my sorry ass down the trail".
Brian does just that within 5 minutes. I fill him in on how it's going. I tell him I'm trying to gap the last dude by 15 minutes. Not a minute later here he comes. Crap, only a 12 minute gap at best.
Brian takes over the driving. He doesn't let me do any extended walking periods. "We're running in 15 steps Tom", "We should be running this", are some of what I think he was saying. I try to follow suit.
By mile 75 I realize Brian is fricken killing my. Relentless, not letting up. I am just hoping my legs can hold it together. It will be tough to catch the two closest in front of me. I knew they were many minutes ahead of me on the turnaround.
Brian doesn't faulter. Keeps me eating and drinking. Running and more running.
We get to the Bluff aid station at mile 92.5. I hurl my last 6 of 12 times here. I come into the aid station grabbing two more gu's and head out. I make pit stop. Then it is time to run.
Brian keeps me on que. I'm not talking anymore. But I follow suit. Brian let's me know of the headlamps ahead. He keeps my moving.
Finally we come up on previous sub 21 here. Brian tells me to take him on a small climb. Brain, that is a fricken mountain I think. I obey. We take him. Still running I ask him to turn off the lamp and look back. 75-100 yards he says. Crap, I still have to run.
We come up on sub 24 at Leadville. This time I can do it. A slight down. I continue, ask him to "check the lamps", he turns his off and does. Still 75-100 yards. I can't run "stealth" here. I'm not picking my feet up enough. So, I just half to try to remain to get after it.
Brian clocks me at a 12 minute mile. Don't laugh, that is good for me in a 100. Brian keeps me on task. I was glad he didn't say anything at the last mile marker. I didn't need any incentive at that point. I ask him one more time to check for lamps. None, we're good.
I say my # as I cross so there is no question who this wreck is crossing the line.
The next thing I want to do is sit down. I have wanted this for 15 miles.
Brian and I had ran well the last 7.5 miles. We had gapped the last two by 12 and 15 minutes.
6th overall, mmmmm starting to like that #. Afterall, that is what I was at Rio.
Finishing time, a surprising 20:13.
Sorry folks, no carring a camera during this race. I had business to attend to. This race confirmed that I will not be running in a Sauna any time soon.