IRON HORSE 100K Recap

In April of 2015 I had decided that it was my time to step up my game and take my running to the next level.  For me, that was to look for and register for my first 100k.  For the non-runners out there, that’s 62 miles and yes, to answer your unasked question, all in one day.  I had a good idea as to how long it would take me to complete this distance, but I also wanted a little head room just in case I didn’t have a good day.  After emailing race directors of three different runs and comparing the pros and cons of each, I settled on the Iron Horse 100k Endurance Run that is organized by Chris Rodatz and was held on February 6 up in Florahome, Florida, only about 2 hours north from where we live.

Normally I would drive up the morning of a run that was this close to home, but since it was an ultra-distance I had never run before, I decided to head on up the day before and stay at the host hotel that was only about 10 minutes down the road from the start.  I must say that this was a smart move on my part.  I was able to check in earlier than normal and relax for a bit before heading on to the race briefing that was taking place at the start at 5:30pm.  I picked up my bib, #63, talked for a bit with a few other runners before Chris explained the course to us.  It was a 25 mile loop course that had 3 main aid stations, the second you would pass 3 separate times.  Because of this, the longest you would have to go between aid was a 6 mile mini loop when you first entered the forest where aid station 2 was being set up.  After the briefing, the local church, that was at the start as well, was having a spaghetti dinner for the runners for a $5 donation.  When was the last time you had a full course meal for $5 with dessert and a good one at that??  After dinner, I made my way back to the hotel to get my things ready for the morning and relax a bit before hitting the sack early.

As I was lying in bed I decided that I would turn the TV on for a bit since it was still pretty early.  Well, do you believe in signs? As the TV clicked on, I noticed that the movie Forrest Gump was on, right at the point where he starts running!!  For those of you that know me, some of my wife’s cousins compare me to him and I even dressed up as Forrest Gump this past Halloween.  I texted Kasi to tell her and she couldn’t believe it.  I fell asleep shortly after that with those thoughts in my head.

I woke up that next morning earlier than I had to, so I just decided to get ready and head to the start.  Since I was going to be able to park my car right where the run started, I figured I would just relax in the car for a little while.  The weather called for temps in the low 50’s for the day, but at this time before the sun came up, it was still in the low 40’s.  I decided to start the run wearing a long sleeve compression shirt under my 100 INKnBURNshirt and my running pullover over that.  I also had on gloves to keep my hands warm and my favorite Headsweats trucker hat.  I did use my camelback as well, but without the bladder, to carry some essentials since I prefer running with handhelds filled with Tailwind Nutrition Since this was mostly a trail run but some pavement at the beginning and end of each lap, I chose to wear my Altra Olympus 1.5’s since it’s a hybrid shoe.

At precisely 7am, the gun sounded and we were off.  The first section was an out and back on a paved trail that brought us back to the start 3.5 miles later.  I stuck to my plan, consistently drank my tailwind and now headed off in the other direction to tackle the next 21.5 miles of the first loop.  I ran for another 2 miles on the paved trail before veering off onto the main trails where 2 miles later, 7.5 miles in, I was at aid station 2.  I didn’t stay here for more than the few minutes it took to refill my handhelds and adjust my pack before heading on off on the 6 mile mini loop.  Before I knew it I was back at aid station two, 13.64 miles in and feeling great.  At this point it was time to head off on another road in the woods for another 3.75 miles before turning around and heading back to aid station two for the 3rd time.  Like before, I didn’t stay for long.  It was here that I did most of my eating even though it wasn’t much.  I pretty much rely solely on my Tailwind Nutrition to take me the whole way in my ultras, but since It was my first 100k, I did eat.  I stuck to the pretzels, pb&j’s, salted potatoes and even a few sips of coke, but they had so many other things, I felt like I was at a buffet.  I was now ready to head back to the start to complete the first 25 mile loop.  I grabbed a handful of pretzels and took off.  The next 4 miles went pretty much the same as all the miles I had run already and before I knew it I was passing the 25 mile mark in a time of 5:09.

Instead of taking a break at this time, I decided to run the 3.5 mile out and back first before doing so.  It was at this time that I decided to take off my compression shirt and just run in my INKnBURN that I was wearing over it.  The weather was great and I needed to feel the coolness a bit more.  I threw the compression shirt in the car, but did stick the jacket in my pack just in case I needed it later on.  Again, after refueling and eating a few things, I headed on off to continue loop 2 where I was 28.87 miles in and still feeling strong.  By the time I hit aid station 2 again, I was 7 hours and 21 minutes in and had completed 33.13 miles.  It was at this time though that the skies were getting really overcast and it looked like it was going to rain, so to be better safe than sorry, I pulled out the poncho I had brought for this very reason.  I didn’t realize how such a large poncho can be folded into such a small package.  All the people at the aid station agreed that I should put it on, which I did, but not before putting my pullover back on since it was getting a bit chilly again.  Sure enough, 2 miles into the 6 mile mini loop, it started to mist and then rain.  Luckily it was not a downpour, but it was consistent.  That poncho was my lifesaver!!  It kept my pack and clothes from getting wet, so I didn’t end up getting really cold like I saw some people were.  I still felt strong and by the time I had completed the next 7.5 mile out and back, I was 46.83 miles in in a time of 11:05 and again after some refueling was onto my final 4 of lap 2.  Just over an hour later I finished loop 2 and had now completed 50 miles in a time of 12:19.

At this time the rain was still coming down and it was dark and cold.  The temperatures were in the upper 30’s and you could see the plumes of your breath in the light of my headlamp that I was now wearing.  Again, like I did at each aid station, I refueled and was just about to start on my final 12 miles when I realized I was really cold.  I decided to detour to my car and change all the clothes on my upper body.  I put on a dry INKnBURN shirt, another running jacket I hadn’t used yet over that and then my Olive Garden rain jacket I had brought as well over that. That jacket even had a great hood that I put on and then a dry Headsweats hat on over that.  I put my gloves back on that I had taken off earlier in the day and headed on out.  That decision to change was the right move because since I was now warm, my running pace increased, I hit aid station 2 for the last time and was heading on back to finish my first 100k in a time of 16:06 and be handed my first buckle.

It’s my plan to continue to push my limits, see how far I can go and keep on collecting those buckles, but for the next week I think I’m just going to reflect on what I did by holding that buckle in my hands every day and smile.  Next week it’s back to training since Boston is in 7 weeks and then onto a 20 week ultra-training plan that will culminate in my first 100 miler at the Wildcat Ultra 100 mile in Pensacola, Florida on September 3.  Wish me luck!  Run hard, run strong and #stayvertical my friends.

Iron Horse Ultra