It must of been a momentary lapse of reason vs clarity at the 50 mile marker in the Hinson24 Ultra when I made the final decision to ask my love Gina for a hall pass to run the 2018 Tunnel Hill Ultra in Vienna which was in Southern Illinois. Brandon Wilson one of the race's timers saw me, Richard Keehn, Robert Racine, and a pack of other insane friends running past him countless times on about a 1.5m loop around Lake Hinson. At about mile 50 he suggested I try a course that didn't require countless loops. I had become friends with Brandon years ago when becoming his Aide Station #3 (aka AS3) captain at the GY100, a combo 100k and 100m course along the coast of NC using primarily HW 12. Rockingham NC, where Hinson24 was located, was blazing hot so after enduring 55 miles with my buddies Rob and Rich I decided to stop. They both had completed PR distances and in fact, it was Robert's first ultra. He was so smooth they even gave him 55 despite him finishing 2 laps before me and Rich. I decided that if I did indeed receive the hall pass from my wife I would certainly not need to get injured and have plenty of recovery time. Tunnel Hill would just be about a month later on November 10th.
Road trips are always fun for me. I guess in many ways it gives me a chance to meditate, visit old friends, and get that rare opportunity to listen to podcasts and music I enjoy. As you all can likely relate, when taking road trips with family and friends, it's often easier to accommodate your fellow riders. This map shows the way to Tunnel Hill from my friends Lynn and Coleman who live in the Montezuma region of the NC Mountains. They were kind enough to put up with me for the night as I continued my journey from Eastern NC to Illinois.
I love and hate technology. This is one great thing about it though. Being able to face time family before going to sleep is a great thing to be able to do. Words can't express my love for them and how much I care for them but it's important for all of us to remember we have to also put ourselves first from time to time for our mental, physical, and of course physical health. If we don't maintain balance within our lives and take care of ourselves then we certainly won't be able to take care of the ones we love.
My friends, Coleman and Lynn live on the ridge of the Eastern aka Appalachian Continental Divide! How cool is that?? My car the 2017 Elantra deserves a plug. When I stopped here, this part of my trip registered a sweet 50mpg!!! When home, driving in the city, it gets between 28-35 depending on traffic.
My friends had a statue of Montezuma!! So of course I had to touch him for good luck on my way out!! I'm not sure about the statue. I heard of an Aztec Empire ruled by a Montezuma and was later killed in the early 1500's after altercations with Cortes a Spanish Conquistador of some sort. I'm assuming that the Montezuma also donned feathers similar to Native Americans. I'm trying to figure out why this area was called Montezuma though. The town was founded in 1883 and has an elevation of 2766 feet. All I know is before it was named Montezuma it had two other names of "Aaron" and "Bull Scrape".
Packet pickup was at Vienna High School. It was already cold outside so I was getting a bit concerned but excited at the same time. I had hoped to meet LAZ but he was sick.
One of the enticing reasons I wanted to do this race was because this record holding lady would be our guest speaker! Camille Herron is one amazing athlete for sure!!
Laz was sick but he sent his folks to sell his drop off bag designed for easy find with a locator that will light up so you can find it quickly. I found it pretty cool but not $80 cool. When the GORUN group were the AS3 crew for GY100, we simply put all the bags etc in numerical order from the runner's bib. It appeared that at least for a couple of stations that there was no order.
The moment when reality set in even more so...
The Mason's did a fantastic job volunteering for our meal as well as at all the aide stations. I'm pretty sure I wasn't the only one who had some school lunch flashbacks this meal.
During packet pickup, I met this guy from Canada. We had dinner together but he left before Camille spoke. He had gotten a room in a hotel 25 minutes or so away. I had decided to camp at the start but after the temperatures dropped I actually slept in my car.
Thanks again to the Mason's of the area! You guys rock!
Camille was our guest speaker. She is an amazing athlete but her husband Conor Holt is a great athlete too! I really enjoyed talking to her and listening to her speech. It was quite inspiring for sure. I'm still looking rough since it was no shave November, a month I attempt to raise awareness of the importance of all of us to get regular checkups and take care of ourselves.
These past runners of this race were now volunteers and I took advantage of their course knowledge as I prepared for the race. Thanks ladies!!
Yep... it was a bit nippy to say the very least!!
The start was typical for most. I'm giving that look because my drop bag was just thrown in a pile with others unlike what I had organized with my GORUN team when we were the AS3 members of the GY100. Numerical order is not a hard concept but then again that might hurt the sales of that cool drop bag Laz was selling with the blinking lights etc.
I'm the Running Sensei... more like the Running Ninja here!
In the beginning it's one big burst of energy with everyone ready to get started. The mental part is remembering it's all about YOUR pace not others. Sure the support of others can help you avoid getting bored at times but the truth is everyone's body is different. It's your job to figure yours out. Heart rate monitors help me for sure. When running on instinct, I'll just cruise with whoever. In an ultra race, that can be bad news as the journey progresses.
I'm always amazed at what we can all do. She donated a kidney and here she is running an ultra. Wow.
I enjoyed the varying trails, tunnels, and bridges. They kept the race fun and as a former scout and now scout leader, nature has always been something I have loved.
At one of the turn around points, there was a nature museum! Of course I love nature museums but it was great to have a warm place to go inside with warm clean bathrooms too!!
1st marathon of the day complete in under 6 hours so at this point I was ahead of schedule but feeling good. I knew I would slow down later when it got dark and colder so a little time padding was fine as long as I didn't raise that ole heart rate etc and forget to eat. When running long distances, it is important for me to not eat too much at one time but instead a little throughout. You can imagine how cold your extremities would be as your blood rushed to your digestive system after eating lots at one time. I tried to eat about 300-400 cals an hour but I wasn't too strict about it as long as I made sure I was getting in good nutrition overall a little at a time.
This tunnel was really cool! The guy on the left was playing drums. That really made the experience great.
Yep. It was cold. As it got near nightfall and beyond the wind chill factor was below 20 degrees. It's important for me to blow my hydration fluids back into my hydration pack when not drinking so the fluids don't freeze in the tube. Fortunately, the electrolytes containing sodium change the freezing temperature so all went well.
Oh gosh, how tempting it was to stop longer and maybe even quit...NOT! But that being said, many did quit at this spot.
I'm still confused about this. I use a INaturalist app and I saw a picture of a "Frostweed" this matched or Verbesina Virginica but some discussion stated it may be a dicot of some sort which many create frost flowers. Either way it's pretty cool!
Can you see the Buck?
I'm not going to lie. There are all the "FEELS" when experiencing the crossing of a finish but none like finishing your 1st 100 Miler! Here is Brandon Wilson the man and friend who talked me into this and I was very honored that he personally met me at the finish to award me my first Buckle!!
My final time was 29:07 ish but I was so excited initially that I took this pic minutes later.
Swelling... somewhat concerned about kidneys etc but this all went away within a day. I guess some of the foot swelling may be also from typical pounding inflammation. I guess that was a long time to be racing.
Of course, it was great to tell the family the news!!
I'm not sure why my Garmin app went nuts after this race!! I do not have many friends on this app!
I know it may look like I didn't train much and yes you are correct if you only consider running. I live a crazy busy life so I have to hope my busy lifestyle combined with cross-training of martial arts, basketball, stationary cycling, and weight lifting will make up the difference. The truth is I get bored easily and I've decided that if it's fun then yes I will grind it out but if not then I won't. Sure, that means I won't be the elite athlete but at least I will be well rounded and not bored.
Martial Arts Training
Fun Cross-training doing some Flow Riding in Williamsburg Va at the Great Wolf Lodge
The Tunnel Hill 100 had lots of cool swag!!! It's great to have these items so remember such a great event.
2018 Tunnel Hill Top Results
100 miler top results...
50 miler top results...
Podcasts and playlists always great for the long drives...
Running on Indy is a fantastic podcast by my friend Blake Roberson and his friend Jesse. They have tons of great speakers and share a wealth of information. In fact, this podcast included an interview with Camille, the same runner who spoke as the motivation speaker at this race. They are sponsored by 361 (1 degree beyond). I have since then purchased their shoe and love them!!
If you need a pump me up motivation podcast then you might enjoy this one! Fair warning it is not for the ears of children as they often use foul language. Good stuff!
Whew I did it!!! To new adventures!
Week later... swelling gone but feet still look like they've been beat up. Nails about to go...
3 weeks later...
To new adventures!!!
Next up.... M2M50