Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Run Woodstock - Hallucination 100 Miller

I decided to re-activate the blog temporarily to write a post about my adventures at Hell Creek Ranch this weekend. Before I went, I myself, was googling to read race recaps and to watch YouTube videos of the course so found it helpful.  

I've had my eye on this event since around 2010 when I first heard about it. At that time I was still only running road races (including my first marathon that year). I loved camping though and the event looked like so much fun and I knew I wanted to do it. Just never thought I'd be doing the 100 miler that's for sure. Don't even think that entered my mind back then.

I ran my first 100 miler in 2015 earlier then I was going to, for non running related reasons.  In 2016 I was going to return and try and run faster but the heat was hard and I stopped at 50 miles.  I ran Haliburton in the fall of 2016 but got scared at night on my own and was going to quit. Another runner came by who could only walk at that point due to feet issues, so I decided to join her and we finished it together, albeit after the cut-off (so an unofficial finish).  I decided to take 2017 off from 100's and wasn't sure I'd do another one. I don't have anything to prove and I was happy with my accomplishments in that area. However, after Haliburton last year, where I ran the 50 miles (love that distance), I decided I was going to go to Woodstock!

I quickly recruited my friend Oliver who I've known forever. Also a runner but not running to much lately.  We both signed up and it gave him about 9 months to try and get ready.  Before we knew it, time to go.

Oliver picked me up in Bradford at about 4:20 am and we with a minor stop to buy groceries and a sub, we were at the Hell Creek Campground.

You check in and then a volunteer on a bicycle escorts you to your site.  They are remarked for the event and quite small and cozy. The numbers are written on the grass with spray so a bit hard to see if you don't know what you are looking for.  Here's our volunteer:

We set up my tent and stuff first and then drove to Oliver's site and set up his.  Then before we knew it, it was time to pick up race kit.  I upgraded my shirt to the tie-die option for an extra $10 (I think) and it was well worth it. I love the shirt!

We talked to some people along the way and the place was starting to fill up fast.  The start for this race is 4:00 pm which I was excited about.  I liked the idea of running at night on fresh legs. What did worry me was that I had been up since 4 am. I'm not much of a napper and in fact, don't typically sleep well before big races either.

I saw some runner friends from Ontario before the start which was awesome. There were quite a few of us down there plus some crew.  Almost felt like home!

There was a pre-race meeting at 3:00 which was interesting. By the way, they don't mention it, but 100 milers follow the pink flags!

The race started at 4:00. I started the first loop hanging with Chris (from Ontario) and Michael (Canadian living in Michigan) and we were off. Chris and I ended up running the first two loops together, but not without adventure.  After passing through the 3rd aid station we were running through a single track section and I saw a man in front of us flailing his arms around over his head. I'm like "wonder what's up there, he's waiving his arms". Instead of flying through there as we should have, we stopped to walk and investigate, that was dumb.  I said "I wonder if it's bees", next thing I know Chris is saying "yes it's f*(#ing bees and their getting me, RUN".  We were stung, a lot.  They were yellow jackets I believe.  Chris had one spot alone on his arm where they hit him 4 times, plus other spots on his legs.  I had one behind my knee, on my butt, on the front of my thigh, under my gaiter on my right foot, my shin and on my left knee.  Turns out the one on my thigh was about 5 (didn't know at the time because I couldn't see it under my clothes). It hurt!!  Really bad. It seemed to last for that loop and then started to fade in the next loop but every so often you'd get a pang of pain.  Fun times.  Thankfully no allergic reactions from us but I was running with one woman who was allergic and had to use her epi pen (one sting).  A lot of people stung that day, some made it without but I think more got stung then not.  Made you really scared to go through there again. Thankfully by the time we arrived the 2nd time, it was dark and apparently they sleep. Still scary though.  First loop completed in 3:44:13 which is not too bad since we had the blip with the yellow jackets. (First 8 miles in 1:50:36; 2nd 8 miles in 1:53:37).

The 2nd loop started in the light and then got dark.  I fell on this loop.  Thankfully, it was a slo-mo kind of fall and I was able to fall on my left side vs my chest again (spring injury).  Nothing hurt but my pride but I did go a bit more carefully from then on, I had a lot of running left to do.  (First 8 miles in 2:08:41; 2nd 8 miles in 2:25:13).  Loop 2 completed in 4:33:54. Time now 12:18:09 am (total running time 8:18:07 for  33.33 miles).  I did start getting nausea during loop 2. I think it was the yellow sports drink and the coke I drank. Not sure what I was thinking. Coke caused me problems in the past during longer races but I tried it recently at shorter ones with no problem. So I thought I'd be ok.  I stopped drinking it and over time the nausea got less and less.  Won't make that mistake again. 

I stopped to regroup after each lap. After some loops I stayed longer than others depending on the need (getting headlamp, battery change, resupplying etc).  So the times I'm posting include the total time, not the actual time moving.  I tried to pay attention to my running time when starting the loops using a basic watch, as I ditched my Garmin after loop 1.  

Loop 3 I was on my own. I decided I wanted to run a 100 mile race with no pacer.  This is the loop where you were allowed to have a pacer if you had one.  This loop was pretty uneventful from what I can remember.  (First 8 miles 2:20:57; 2nd 8 miles in 2:18:20). I was pretty steady. The first 8 mile split always includes the time at the start/finish resupplying. Total loop time 4:39:17. Time of day, 4:57:26 am.  I knew during the next loop the sun would be coming up, yeah!!  Total loop time 12:57:24 for 50 miles. Totally happy with that since so much of it was in the dark, alone!

I resupplied and headed out for Loop 4 and remember looking at my watch. I started the loop at 5:15 (so spent about 15 minutes at the aid station). I remember looking for Oliver who would be getting up for his race soon (started at 6) and didn't see him. Thought about checking on him (could see his tent), but decided not to in case he changed his mind about running. Off I went. The 4th loop started in the dark.  During this loop I started having some gastro issues.  A bunch of stops in the port-o-potties and some Immodium helped that out but it took up quite a bit of time.  (First 8 miles 2:48:00; 2nd 8 miles 2:25:17). Total loop time 5:13:17 (time of day 10:10:44 am).  During loop 4 the lean was starting a bit but nothing major. More on the lean later.  The other difficult thing about loop 4 was the start of he other events at 6:00 am.  Most of the trail sections of the course are single track. So, as the faster runners came running through, I would stop and move out of their way (off to the side). I had the lean to contend with too. so had to be more careful.  This took up a lot of time as there were a lot of runners. So the loop time that I had was actually pretty good.  It took a long time for the faster runners to stop coming as there were quite a few events (50 miles, 50K, marathon, half marathon at staggering start times).  Because of the lean I did consider stopping after the 4th loop and taking the 100K option that they offer (which is really too tempting to a person running a 100 miles and is getting tired).  I knew I'd be disappointed in myself though, and plus, couldn't wear the hoodie or use the sticker and wouldn't get that buckle I wanted so bad. So I didn't stop!!  

I have to say the night running was actually pretty great. I still had the shirt on that I wore during the day plus a very light jacket, and was never cold.  Literally. I think it was perfect running weather.  I usually always get cold at night regardless, but this time I did not, and was really comfortable.

After loop 4 I stuck around longer at the aid station to get ready for  the daytime.  I ditched the headlamp, recharged one of the batteries as I knew I would have to use it again at the end of the race, resupplied etc.  Headed out for loop 5!  Loop 5 was HARD!!  The lean started getting really bad to the point that I would almost fall over. I kept trying to straighten up and I think this caused my lower back to start to spasm. Running was hard. It's hard to run when you are leaning.  So what's the lean.  Well if you are standing up straight, we'll call that due north for your head.  For me, my head was almost due west.  No shit, the letter C.  Towards the end of the loop I was in tears. I couldn't get my body straight and my back was hurting so much!  I didn't know how I'd continue.  Carol came down the final hill (crewing Steven), saw me and said "why are you standing like that".  It was embarrassing too. As you climb the hill people are cheering and saying you look great, way to go. Here I am, the letter C and trying not to let anyone see me crying.  I could here people talking about me as I went by too. Not offended at all, as I know how I looked. I would have been talking about me too!   (First 8 miles 2:33:34; 2nd 8 miles 2:44:54). Total loop time 5:18:28 (didn't lose much time). Time of day, 12:44:19 pm.  83.33 miles done, total running time 23:29:09.  Time of day 15:29:13 (3:29 pm). The thing about the lean is it doesn't hurt.  It only started to hurt because my back started to spasm maybe because I was trying to correct it. I'm not sure. 

I got to the aid station tent and Oliver was there as was Michael who had finished running.  The volunteer there was amazing as well. They were all pretty worried (as I looked really bad) and wanted me to go to medic.  I had one loop to go, can't stop now....tooooooo close.  No time for medic. Plus I knew what it was and pretty much knew there was nothing they could do.  I wasn't at risk, it's just a lean.  So Michael put Tiger Balm on my back, gave me 3 Advil, and I stretched.  I had bought poles literally a week or so before and brought them with me (must have had some premonition). Oliver put one together for me to use on the right side (to try and straighten up).  I ate some soup, some grill cheese, got my headlamp (because it was going into the second night). So I took quite a bit of time between loops here but it was well worth it  Off I went for the final loop 6.  I was actually straight at that point.  The pole really helped. I'd plant it far to the right with each step. The drugs helped as did the ointment and my back and I was pain free!! Woo hoo.  Oliver and Michael were worried though, so Oliver got permission to go out on course to aid stations to check on me. The race person who was also worried was ok with that.  Turns out I was doing pretty good!!  I was power walking with bursts of running here and there.  I started the loop at the same time as a fellow named Dan who had a pacer.  I saw them off and on through the loop until towards the end when they went into full run mode.  At one point I knew they were in front of me and I called out to them to wait for me. The wind had picked up and I thought I saw something  white in the forest and kept hearing it. Thought something was following along side me in the woods.  This was the one and only time I got scared  out there (and it was daylight). Dan said maybe it was the white polar bear from Lost lol.  I'm not sure what it was, if anything, but was thankful they were there.  We all arrived at the next aid station and were told the sweeper was out on course.  We still had 4 hours to finish 8 miles though so knew we'd be ok but it's a little stressful hearing that.  I think that's the last time I saw Dan and his pacer.  I continued to power walk with my running spurts.  I have never used a pole before so running with the pole was a bit tricky so often just didn't use it (but then I would lean).  

In between aid station 2 and 3 I saw Oliver on the road. I asked him to drive to the lady that I had been running close to for a while (who was now dropping behind) and give  her my other pole. She was struggling with blistered feet. I saw her after the race and she thanked me for the pole, said it saved her race.  Paying it forward!

The last section of this course is mentally grueling!! I don't like it at all. It seems to be long and never ending. When you are tired it's even worse. I started talking out loud and cursing it and even shed a few tears (feeling sorry for myself).  But soon it was done.  (First 8 miles 2:50:56; 2nd 8 miles 2:54:09). Total loop time 5:45:04 (which included the long stop before I started loop 6.  Total time on 29:13:43 (time of day 21:14:19, 9:14 PM). I did it.  I didn't run through the finish but walked and enjoyed it. I actually stopped to jump on the timing mat.  I had turned off my lamp and folded my pole. I was still leaning a bit so one volunteer was holding me up the other pushing me up from the other side (I only know this from seeing the photos afterward).  It was only a mild lean at that point. My back was ok during the loop and only started getting a bit sore about an hour from the finish, so the loop was pretty much pain free (unlike 5).  Awesome.

They treat you like a celebrity at this race. Volunteers get you a chair, blankets, and ask what you'd like. I wasn't hungry and didn't want anything, but they keep asking to make sure you don't change your mind. Incredible.  They give you your hat with your buckle, medal, beer glass and then check results to see if you won an age group award. I did, actually came 3/5 in my age group. You get a little VW bus for that (which I love).

Michael stayed around to watch me finish which was great. Oliver was ever attentive, getting me a change of footwear and making sure I was warm.  Really well taken care of.  Carol and Sara were there waiting for Amanda who was right behind me finishing her first 100 miler so we had a bit of Ontario going on!!  I waited for Amanda to finish and then called it a night.   I actually felt pretty good. My feet were a bit tender but my legs were fine (shins a bit sore but nothing major). My back sore on right side. I guess leaning to the left would pull all the muscles on the right side.  Overall though, I was in pretty good shape. The next morning I was fine as well. After sitting in the car I'd stiffen up a bit but really, no major aches and pains (and no lean).

Total time awake:  Approximately 41 hours!!  Might be a record for me.

What I learned through this race?  1) the lean might be a problem. It happened to me at the end of the Cornwall marathon at the end of April so this wasn't the first time and I'm guessing won't be the last. Not sure what to do with that.  2) I'm a really fast walker. I knew I was but never realize how fast. I was passing people power walking. At one point a man was running in front of me and I was walking behind him.  If  I didn't walk that fast I'm sure I wouldn't have finished on time. 3)  I have some great friends (but knew that part already).    4) I'm not allergic to wasps!

The course itself is very runnable I think especially if you are trained. There's lots of road sections,  (dirt road and rail trail), so you have to be ok with that, which I am. The single track is hard when there's traffic but it's very nice.  It is rooty in spots so you have to be careful in the dark.  There are only 4 aid stations (including the start/finish) so it makes the course mentally daunting at times (at least for me). The span between 3 and the finish was really hard, and I dreaded it each loop.  

If you run the 100 mile event and take as long as I did, you actually miss all the action at the start/finish (which is the reason I wanted to do this event).  So I might go back and run a shorter distance just to have fun at the event and cheer people in. We'll see.  

So that's my adventure at Hallucination 100! Below is info on the lean (for anyone interested).

I went into this race saying it would be my last 100 which is why I wanted to finish it so badly. I haven't changed my mind on that as of yet.  I like the 50 miler, it's a great distance and the training isn't quite as difficult.  I like running at night so maybe I'll offer pacing services to people. We'll see. For now though, this is it.  I'll wear this last buckle with pride.

I may update this post with more thoughts as they come back and more photos, but that's it for now!


When we went to 3 Days at the Fair in NJ we noticed a lot of elderly people out on course leaning. I remember remarking at the time about it and wondering why they were doing it.  They were walking together and all leaning the same way, it looked kind of funny (won't lie).  Came home and googled and didn't find any information. Not much really written on it.

Then it happened to me at Cornwall and I was horrified. I thought I'm not old enough for the old lady lean (sorry if that offends anyone).  Again I googled and found nothing. My chiropractor thinks it's fatigue related. 

A few months ago there was an article in Ultrarunning Magazine about a man who had the leans.  He would lean to the point that he'd fall over.  He also did research on why it happened but ultimately didn't find out too much either.  

Across the Years (race) site has some information on it as follows:

Why Some Ultrarunners Develop a Lean

It has been noticed that some ultrarunners, including your friendly webmaster, sometimes develop a significant tilt during the running of Across the Years, one that never goes away for the duration of the race. We asked Andy what he knows about this. It is caused by exhausted iliopsoas muscles.
On Iliopsoas Exhaustion

There is a lot of theory, a lot of hypotheses, some factual data, etc., and I can only go with what I know and results.
Muscles can only contract. In order to do so, many things need to be in place, like glycogen, electrolytes, etc. When one is missing or not sufficient, the muscle reacts differently. When a muscles is fatigued or does not get sodium or potassium or a host of other chemicals, it stops firing. When that happens, it no longer contracts. The opposite muscle if in the back or spine is still firing, so the body will lean in the direction of the muscles that are still working.
We know it is a local issue, not a global one, since when that happens in any given individual, the lean will always be in the same direction regardless of the type of race or the direction of the turns. A blood test may not pick it up since the global amount of potassium may be normal, but the particular muscles that are fatigued and out of potassium are not.
Potassium is most implicated since it is the electrolyte needed to make muscles fire. Giving someone potassium may help, but the potassium goes throughout the body, not only to the affected area, so there needs to be an attempt at finding out just why that muscle or muscle group stopped working. It is usually due to inherent muscle imbalances, short leg, spinal issues, gait issues, etc., and if those issues are addressed, then the muscles can regain firing and the lean stops, or at least slows down.
There is a firing order of muscles that needs to occur in order to stay upright, or to move, walk, run, turn, and one has not only to work with the muscles that no longer fire, but the other muscles and bones and joints as well, that may be causing the imbalance. What I do is a complete structural evaluation and try to fix the problem as well as I can, not just the symptom, which is the lean. If I find the origin and can temporarily fix it, the lean will minimize or maybe go away.
There needs to be follow-up after the race since the full treatment may take a long time and many things need to happen.
So there you have it. The lean. I'm guessing it's going to be something I'll have to continue to deal with and I'm not sure what to make of it. I'll be speaking to my chiropractor more about this and try and come up with a game plan.

During the race I had heard there was a man leaning. I came upon him and said "hey guy, you look like me".  Unlike me, he had never seen it or heard about it, and was quite horrified that he was leaning. I tried to explain what I knew to him. He rested for a while and then started up again. He was behind me and I heard him say "wow, you're leaning really bad", to which I said "I told you",but in my head was thinking, hey dude, this is you in an hour lol.  

My running for the most part is injury free so if this is the worst thing I have to deal with so be it.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Deleting Blog Posts

I have printed my blog entries! From 2007 to January, 2016 when I stopped blogging.  This way, I'll have all the entries saved to look at in the future.  The books are terrific and I'm so pleased with how they turned out.  They are hardcover and even come with an index at the front.  Very easy to make too. I used Blogs2Print if anyone interested in printing their own blogs to save.  

I will delete all my old blog entries now but keep the blog up as it has addresses of blogs I continue to follow.

Blogging got ruined for me!  I decided to make my life a little more personal. When I started out, not too many people visited my blog, mainly friends.  Over time, as my running picked up, fellow runners started following the blog as well.  That was all great.

Then I became aware of some visits that weren't as welcome. Creepy to be honest.  So that's when I decided to stop putting my life out there.  

It's unfortunate, as I go back over the entries and read them it's a great source of information and memories.  

I have continued to write race recaps though, I just do it on a word document and stable it to the Race Bib.  

So for now I'll say farewell.  Maybe to return, but probably not. I'm on facebook though if anyone wants to connect. I'll accept people I recognize from the blog (so send a note with your blog name if it's not recognizable).  My Facebook is under Robin (Chisholm) Brunet.

I wish you all the best, even the creepy stalker, everyone deserves happiness I guess.  Just stop sucking the happiness out of others to get yours.....and that's not just my happiness I'm referring to.

Ok farewell everyone!