2014 Run Woodstock Hallucination 100 Race Recap
One year later and we’re back in Hell, Michigan to embark on another 100 mile adventure around the Pinckney State Park trails. Leading into the event this year I added four 50+ mile runs (three DWD races + Haven-Kal-Haven run) into my training plan hoping that these along with what I’ve learned from last year would possibly help me break into a new finish time (20hr).
Running Fit hosts a late summer race weekend that is jammed packed with events and music. Yes, they do take on the whole 70s music theme – groovy! They spread the love of events over three days. Friday at 4pm kicks off the Hallucination 100 miler and the LSD 100k than that evening at 7:30pm there is a Far Out 5K (which includes a natural run option). Saturday morning is woken up to those toeing the line at 6am for the Peace, Love & 50 Miles + the Freak 50Kers. Then a second round of crazy hippies toe it up for the Half Marathon and Full Marathon at 7:30am. Did I mention they offer a Flower Power 5 Miler at 8am because they do. Wait, I’m not done….7:30pm that evening runners line up with their headlamps trek out for the Trippin’ 5K & 10K. Then Sunday rounds off the weekend with the Free Love 5 Mile. That’s 11 events in a single weekend on some amazing trails in Pinckney, MI.
The course is on a mixture of single track, rail trail and horse trail. The course is usually dry, runnable and easy to follow. For the 100 milers it is a 6 lap course. Each lap is roughly 16.6 miles with aid station about 4 miles apart.
With our canopy tent looking across the Start/Finish line I opted to leave my gear at our tent site as it was only a few steps away from when I would come through for the laps. I was aiming to shift into the first couple laps relaxed but also at a honest pace and then from then on taking each lap as it would present itself. A fellow ultra runner friend, Mark Linn, discussed with me earlier in the year on how he tackled and successfully finished last year’s Run Woodstock 100 (2nd overall) was by doing some run/walk segments on the between laps (laps 2 through 5). So if the day started to get rough I was planning to throw this run/walk time into the plan.
Before I get into the details of the laps, let me set the stage of the weather conditions. While we were traveling to the event that morning we kept reading every weather app we could install on our phones to understand what mother nature would present to us. The overall consensus, it was going to be the hottest day of the summer and a risk of severe storms later in the evening/night-time that should bring in cooler temps. So fingers crossed for those cooler temps plus lower humidity. Just before I suited up I took a quick dip into the pool that was at the park to help cool my core down as during setup it was HOT out.
After the sound of the air horn away we rocked it as Woodstock would. Peter (fellow ultra runner that pretty much trained with me all season) and I pushed the pace for the first small ‘parking lot’ loop to get us up with the front pack so we were not too buried with the crowd once we jumped on the single track trail.
The idea was to run this lap easy but honest when we did. The biggest factor that we found was the heat and humidity (as it did take a toll on me later in the day). The course was in good shape but some areas presented the typical Pinckney mud sections (aka, tie you shoes tight or they’ll get pulled off). As we rolled back into the start/finish area our lap one was completed. I felt good but it was definitely warm up as I was already drenched in sweat.
Lap 1 Stats – Finished lap 1 in 2:50:58 – Current overall position – 6th
Lap 2 – aka, Survive the Storm
After rolling into the tent after lap 1, grabbing my headlamp, ditching my GoPro (which I wish I kept as I could have captured some insane footage) and refueling my bladder in my vest…away we rolled onto lap 2. At this point Peter convinced me to start to the walk/run routine (walk 5 miles, run 25 miles) as the heat was rough and he figured we might as will chill on the pace until the temps dropped. Around 19 miles in we could hear a loud noise to the west of us. It honestly sounded like a train heading our way. I thought it was the rain of the storm that was in the forecast but rather it was the wind. And wow was there wind. The section of the trail we were on at the time was totally covered with trees. Limbs and trees were falling all around us. This made it hard to move through as you didn’t want to take your eye off what was above you but at the same time you had to watch the trail under your feet as tree roots do not move. We knew that there was a clearing coming up so we pushed the pace a bit just so we could get out of the tree canopy. Once we got into the clearly there was a brief sigh of relief until we could see the sky. I felt like the last action scene in the movie Twister when they were running from a huge tornado. We fortunately did not have a tornado but we could definitely see rotating clouds and the wind was absolutely incredible. As we ventured on the Lakelands rail trail we where then running directly west and right into the storm. The wind was so strong that a nearby cell tower was moving and whistling. We kept scoping out local barns and houses that we could see just in case we need to bail on the trail and find cover. Did I mention the lightning that was going on also? Holy crap! It.Was.Nuts. During all of this I kept waiting for the rain to fall and more importantly the temps/humidity to drop. But that never happened. By the time we rolled to the first aid station of the lap (Grace aid station) the storm had passed through and the wind calmed down. The next section of the route was covered in limbs and tree debris. I don’t now how anyone could have dodged the debris if they were on that section at that time and I’m sure people were. From then on the trail presented fallen tree limbs to traverse over. Bonus with that it created a quick stretch of the hip flexors each time I hurdled them.
As the we made our way through the second lap I started noticing that the food I was eating from the aid stations was not settling well with my stomach and I was feeling really, really tired. I was keeping up on my S-Caps along with water but the ‘rock gut’ stomach was no fun. Upon arriving to the end of the lap I quickly ran over to our tent (which thankfully was still standing but was rigged up as two of the main poles snapped from the wind) and Joe and Linda helped me with refilling my bladder and also gave me some oral re-hydration salts that was mixed with water. They said that it will help but may take a bit to take effect.
Lap 2 Stats – Finished lap 2 in 3:44:07 – Current overall position – 14th
From rock gut to just about falling asleep while running, this was a tough lap. As Peter and I rolled into Grace aid station I told him that I was going to sit for a bit and attempt to regroup. I could tell that Peter wanted to stay with me but he was looking great and I didn’t want to slow him up. I promised him that he would see me at the finish but now was the time for him to run his own race as I’ll be okay. I rested at the aid station for roughly 5 minutes and while I was there the only thing that sounded good to me was some ice tea. I asked the aid station workers and they found a bottle of ice tea in their cooler. Ahhh!!! It was cold and it was the only thing that had tasted decent in the past several hours. I proceeded to walk/run the next 4 mile section while listening to some tunes in hope that my energy would rebound. Upon reaching the Richie’s Haven aid station I was still not feeling well (stomach) but I was starting to ‘wake up’ some (roughly 43 miles in). Again I sat down for 5 minutes or so to attempt to get in a power nap in hopes to settle the stomach. I grabbed some grapes and apples started back on the trail. For the next 8 miles I kept the walking/running rotation going. At this time the rain was more consistent which started to help cool my core temperature. Around a mile to go until the lap was up my headlamp started blinking which was indication the batteries were getting low. So I started to plan my stop. Maybe I could take a 15 minutes power nap to see if that would help out while my crew refueled my supplies and batteries for my headlamp.
Lap 3 Stats – Finished lap 3 in 4:49:19 (ouch) – Current overall position – 25th
Lap 4 – aka, AMAZEBALLZ Lap
Upon arriving, my trusting crew escorted me over to our tent. As soon as I sat down Joe handled me around cup of the oral re-hydration salts. I mentioned how tired I was and instantly Linda was handing me two Excedrins (caffeine boost). While I worked on replacing my headlamp batteries, they took off my shoes/socks and suited me back up with new socks and a new set of shoes. At this point the air temp was cooler and being wet from the rain I started to shiver so I chose to change out my INKnBURN singlet to a INKnBURN tech shirt. Figured a dryer shirt may help me feel better along with warm me up. After about 10 minutes or more they had me off back onto my run. I took a glance down at my watch and noticed it was 4am. 12 hours it took me for the first 50. UGH! I knew at that moment that my target for the day was to make the cut off time and only entertain a sub 24 hr if I could find some way of getting back into it. After about a half mile or so of walking and taking in some food, I set the playlist on my Shuffle to ‘dig deep’ and starting to get into a rhythm of a pace. I rolled up onto the rail trail and could see runners in the distance so I started a mind game, let’s see how many of them I could catch before we turned off back onto the single track. GO!
Not sure if the caffeine kicked in at this point and/or the stomach finally settled, but I was feeling more like myself and the energy was coming back. I tackled the rail trail as honest as I could and ended up catching 6 runners. When I came into the Grace aid station (54 miles) I felt like it was a totally different day and I had just started the race. The volunteers again were awesome and cheered me on as I only grabbed a couple watermelons and kept on running. Again, now targeting to see if I could reel in more runners on the dirt road before we headed back on the single track. I really, really pushed this section as good as I could and took advantage of the downhill. Once I got onto the single track and shifted down to a gear that would take me through the rest of the lap with little to no walking.
The sun was starting to rise as I was wrapping up the lap and I knew that the half marathon was starting at 7:30. I was thinking it would be great to see my buddy Zach before he takes off on the half and maybe give him a quick update on the trail conditions but as I rolled past the start/finish area and took quick detour to my tent I looked at my watch and it read 7:20am. I was PUMPED!! I just tackled that lap in 3 hours and 20 minutes. When I rolled in Linda was shocked as she wasn’t expecting me. based on how I looked earlier, until later. I told her to get ready as I reloaded my bladder. I also dumped out my Gatorade in my 20z bottle and replaced it with some sweet tea. Yes I know that sounds odd but the tea was the only thing besides water that I could take in and it didn’t bother me.
Lap 4 Stats – Finished lap 4 in 3:54:20 (minus the aid station time from Lap 3 the lap was actually 3:20 and some change) – Current overall position – 19th
As we took off while the half competitors cheered us on I looked at Linda and said we got this sub 24! I knew that this lap would be the lap that I would have to dig in and keep moving to keep it a reality but I knew that we could do it. Linda made sure I kept up on S-Caps along with eating whatever I could at the aid stations. We would push the flats and walk the ups but any time I felt the down hill trail I would push it as much as I could.
Was great to have the trail conversations with Linda but honestly it was more of her talking and I listening. She got to witness the many tree carnage on the trail from the storm the night before. One of the trees that fell victim split at the bottom and exposed a huge bee’s nest that I never noticed during the night. Possibly because the bees were sleepy (not sure how) but now they were awake and sounded pissed. Fortunately we could scoot by the area fairly quickly without getting stun.
Lap 5 Stats – Finished lap 5 in 3:50:37 – Current overall position – 14th
As we rolled into the end of the fifth lap I spotted someone wearing the INKnBURN R2D2 shirt and knew of only one other friend in town that had it. Sure enough it was my buddy Brett Beier and along side him another friend Ryan Geers. Seeing familiar faces was a huge boost for me to get this final lap done! Linda and I peeled off to the tent for a quick restock of supplies. I quickly changed my shirt along with a new pair of socks, snapped a couple quick photos with some friends and one last good luck smooch from my wife. Brett jumped into the pacer role with me on this final lap.
I knew that we had time in the bank that I should be able to finish under 24 hrs but I didn’t want to risk it so we walked the hills, shuffled on the flats and pushed the downhills. Brett would tell me stories of the storm and how it hit the Kalamazoo area where he lived. His stories helped past the time as we kept our forward moving progress. As we came up on the Grace aid station I needed to refuel my bladder as I didn’t want to risk the chance of running out water between the aid stations as the sun was out and the temps were warming back up. Brett was in charge of reminding me to keep up on my S-Caps but it was getting harder and harder to swallow them without choking on them. What was great was that I was able to eat just about anything at the aid stations which earlier in the day was a challenge and last year at the race I couldn’t eat/drink anything on the final loop.
As we made the Richie’s Heaven aid station loop and back to the Grace aid station I high-fived and thanked the wonderful volunteers. I told Brett that I wanted to zone out for the final 4 mile section to some tunes. So with the tunes cranked I made the final push. I’m pretty sure at some point I lost Brett but I knew he’d find his way. 🙂
As the miles trickled down to being able to count them on one hand and the time was looking good, I found myself thinking back on the day. What an adventure with dealing with the challenges that I wasn’t prepared for but able to over come them and never giving up. I kept thinking about a family, The Kennedys, back home who have two amazing girls that both have SMA (spinal muscular atrophy) and a video that was made by the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation. The video showcases one of their girls, Brielle, in the beginning of the video. She says “I can and I will” as she works with her physical therapist. If you haven’t seen this video you should. These kids are amazing and have the strongest heart and will to over come SMA!
Bonus about running a race that has multiple events throughout the weekend and it being a looped course, the muddy parts tend to dry out and are more manageable to run quicker through. About 2 miles from the end of the laps there is a sections of ‘shoe sucking off mud’ but this time you’re able to move through the section due to many other runners ‘making a path’. With roughly a mile to go I dropped my head and pushed the pace as best as I could. A couple turns and up a little hill, in site was the camp ground and the cheers from the spectators. As I rolled into the finish chute I say my wife on my right along with my crew. I did it! My second 100 mile race has been logged.
Lap 6 Stats – Finished lap in 4:10:52 – Finished 19th overall – 4th in age bracket
Did the race go as planned with my goal of hitting a low 20 hr to possible sub 20 hr time, no but I did take away many lessons to focus on for next time. I did run a faster second half though. In the end it was an amazing adventure and that I’m blessed with an incredible wife and family that support the time I put in for these events and I’m gratefully thankful. I had an absolutely amazing crew team. Linda and Joe should truly go pro on supporting runners. And did I say that my fellow ultra training buddy, Peter, ROCKED the 100 this year by coming back and 1) completing it and 2) finishing it in 21:40! Congrats brother!! So great to see someone come back after having to dropped the year before and finishing some unfinished business.
Since the race I took a couple days off from running to let the muscles heal up but then started right back up on my weekly runs. I can honestly say that I feel stronger this year post-100 miler than last year. Coming up next for me is the final 50 mile stop in Hell, MI for the Dances with Dirt Ultra Challenge. Funny thing is that I will be right back on some of the same trails that Woodstock was on. This course is known for ridiculous sections of trail (mud chest high, half mile river sections to run in, etc.) so no blazing land speed will be on my agenda. Peter is going to be joining be so I’m sure we have some good stories to share along with some laughs on the course.
Gear on the Run
- Shoes – Salomon Sense Pro (one pair for the first 50 and another newer pair for the final 50)
- Socks – Wrightsock Double Layer
- Gaiters- Dirty Girl Lime Gaiterade Hurl gaiters
- Bottoms – Salomon Short Tight
- Top – First 50 miles: INKnBURN Tie Dye Tank / Lap 4 and 5: INKnBURN Run or Die Scurvy Tech Shirt / Final lap: INKnBURN Healing Mandala Tank
- If you haven’t tried them yet, you need too. Read about my gear review blog here.
- Headbands used – INKnBURN Rock’n Rock Tech Tube, INKnBURN Run or Die Tech Tube, INKnBURN R2D2 Tech Tube
- Watch – Garmin 910xt
- Backpack – Ultimate Direction Scott Jurek Vest 2.0 for the first 50 and the Ultimate Direction Scott Jurek Vest version 1 for the last 50. I feel the version one is much lighter on me thus why I went with it.
- Bladder – Camelbak 70z Antidote Reservoir for the first 50 and the Camelbak 50z Antidote Reservoir for the final 50 miles
- Glasses – Rudy Project Rydon
- Headlamp – Princeton Tec Apex Pro (LOVE, LOVE this headlamp)