My first race of the fall season, The Hawk 100 was held at Clinton Lake in Lawrence, Ks. It is a 4 loop course, 25 miles per loop and the trails are super technical. There is very little elevation, but the subtle constant ups and downs will eat your lunch. The trails have a lot of rocks, small and large, along with tree roots. The small rocks through out the trails took it's toll on the bottoms of my feet. In addition to overall soreness and lost toenails I built a LARGE blister on the ball of my right foot.
There are three manned aid-stations. The start/finish, Lands End and West Park Road. You hit Lands End first, then go to West Park Road, do a 2.5 mile loop up Bunker Hill and come back to West Park Road, then head back through Lands End to the start/finish.
Before the sun came up I was ducking under a tree that was leaning over the trail and I did not know it had two trunks. After I cleared the first one I started to stand back up without looking up and drilled my head on the second trunk. That hurt for quite a while, then about 6 miles into the race on the North Shore I got stung by a wasp on my calf. I was thinking if this is how the day is shaping up, I am in trouble. And it did not disappoint.
The weather for the race was a little warm for September. At the start of the race it was around 55 to 60 and it got up to around 85 or so. I started the race with two 20 oz. bottles knowing it was going to be cool. I actually went through them pretty fast. The first aid station was 4.5 miles in and I drank a bottle and a half. Got them topped off and went the 6 miles to next other aid-station on the course. I went through both bottles before I got there.
I said all that because I started cramping really bad on the way back to the start/finish on the first loop and struggled with it for 30 miles. When I felt cramps I would drink. I asked another friend/ultrarunner Elden Galano along with the aid-station workers which are very knowledgeable about running many are ultra runners themselves what to do. They seemed to think by telling them how much I was drinking and how many salt pills I was taking that I was over hydrated.
I stopped the salt pills and just sipped on my water for a while and that is exactly what it was. I was to the point I though I was going to have to pull myself from the race. I would take in some water, wait a few minutes, be able to run because I wasn't cramping and start to run and instantly I would cramp. It was the worst feeling in the world. I felt helpless.
The aid station volunteers were right and it worked (One thing I've noticed at Kansas races, they staff their aid stations with awesome volunteers). I was very thankful for the helpful advice. Then through the day I started having to deal with the sore feet. Running a 100 miles, you are going to have some sore feet through the race and deal with blisters and toe nail issues. This is my least favorite part of the sport.
At the West Park aid station on the forth loop I asked a good friend and fellow ultrarunner Chris Wristen to try to bandage up my big blister to get me to the finish line. It lasted around five miles or so. There really was no helping it at that point anyway. I just toughed it out the rest of the time.
It was easier dealing with the issues because at mile 50 I came in to the start/finish aid station and was ready to leave at dusk, the same time Elden was heading out, so we did the loop together. Amazing the difference company makes. Elden's one of the race directors of Rockin' K 50 mile I like to run in the spring. He is also the only 3 time finisher of the Hawk 100, having run and completed it every year it's been in existence.
Elden had lined up a pacer for the final loop, and I chose to stay with them as well. Debbie is a friend and a great ultra runner as well. She had also spent the day running the West Park Road aid station.
Debbie did everything in her power to keep our spirits up, keep us in calories, and keep us moving. She did a phenomenal job cause I was dragging, and she managed to get me running and moving. When I wanted to stop because my feet hurt she kept me going.
Hawk 100 is a very well planned/managed/staffed race. The volunteers were great, the race directors Danny and Coleen are top notch. The course kicked my butt. Wichita doesn't have anything that can be considered technical. I get to train in rain, sleet, snow, hail, tornadoes, floods, 60 mph winds (north and south) 100+ temperatures, high humidity, but I don't get to train for the technical part of trail running. It's hard on my feet and legs but it's something I have to suck up and power through if I want to run ultra's. Because the Wichita area only has one. Heartland is next month. Country roads, rain, wind, cows, I can handle that.
I did finish, my fourth 100 mile ultra finish, second this year (second since back surgery, for all the people who said I wouldn't be able to do it anymore). I don't have the official time because Patsy didn't write it down, but it was under 29:13:32 which was when she looked at the clock.
Coming in to the finish line
The closer I got to the finish, the more I wanted to be done, so with a little over a mile left, I decided to step it up and run it in and be done. Patsy commented that this is the third time I have done this to her, she always has an idea of what time I will be coming into a particular aid station. And she's always within 20 minutes one way or the other of being right. Except for the finish. This is the third time out of the four 100's that I have finished an hour or more before she expected to see me (and one 50 miler). It's why my finish pictures are always so bad. She's running to the finish line trying to get her camera out to take a picture before I get there.
Some of the credit for that hour of time goes to Debbie, cause she pushed us along every runnable step for the last 12 miles. I greatly appreciated Elden and her through the second half of this race. It made a huge difference in my outcome.
Today I got a massage and got the tightness worked out of my muscles and other than some allergies to the adhesive in duck tape, mite bites, some heat rash, sore toenails and lingering pain from blisters, I'm feeling really good. Flatrock 50K in two weeks, Heartland 100 in 4 weeks, and volunteering with KUS at Pumpkin Holler 100 in 5 weeks.
And there's a 55K in December at Isle Du Bois I'm thinking about running. Just because.