I remember a few years ago when reading anything and everything I could about ultra-marathons seeing a link for a 100 mile race in Oklahoma. The Mother Road 100. Right here in my home state. How could I not do this? I immediately tried to register for it, but the site was still under construction. I Googled and emailed every day or so, and finally the time came that they were accepting application. I was the 3rd to register, and got bib #3. I later found out that #s 1 and 2 went to the race director and co-race director.
The race ran from Arcadia, Oklahoma where the big red round barn is, to Tulsa to another significant Route 66 landmark: the Carl's Jr by the Turner Turnpike gate in west Tulsa.
The race was supposed to be a one-time running, but later they decided to run it again on another part of Route 66, this time from Elk City where the largest free standing oil derrick in the world is, to Ft Reno near El Reno Oklahoma, a nice place for a finish line. I felt so beat up after the first MR 100 that I SWORE I would never run another 100 mile race on pavement. (Route 66 is 99% concrete, and 82 year old concrete at that and continually gets harder as it ages.) So I was rather late in signing up for this race. Every now and then, someone would ask me if I was doing it....they had not seen my name on the entrants list....and the kicker was when it was announced that if you signed up by a certain deadline, you would get your same race number, in my case #3. So Last Saturday, I once again towed the line for 100 miles of running on cement.
It was fun at the starting line to see old friends and catch up on what was going on with other people's lives, but as always is the case, most of the chatter was centered around ultras and who was doing what next. Pictured above: me, Jenn, her husband Earl Blewett, and John Hargrove.
The race this year started at 9:00 am instead of the usual early morning start. This allowed for a more relaxed morning routine, time to eat, time to get the bathroom duties done, etc. Still with this extra time, I forgot to get my electrolytes and my Garmin. But my crew babe Dana came to the rescue and got me what I had forgotten at about the 2 mile mark.
And to correct a statement above, some of the road had been repaved as a lot of old Route 66 in western Oklahoma serves as the service road for interstate 40. So slight good news, a little less cement, but road noise all the way. The traffic on the road we ran on was not as bad as MR 1, but I did have a close call with an A$$ who wanted to play chicken with his pick-up truck. (Sorry I did not get his tag #.)
I started out at a very easy pace, chatting with Kathy and enjoying the day. But after a few miles, I remembered the task at hand--to beat Kathy, so I pulled away. My last two 100s. I have pushed the pace early, knowing full well that I would slow down later in the race. My thoughts were that if I went easy at first, I would STILL slow down later, so why not put some time in the bank. This approach has netted me 2 PRs in my last two races. SO I pushed, maintaining a 9:40 pace for over 20 miles. I did not use the aid stations along the way. I am very picky about what I eat, and relied heavily on my crew for my hydration and nutritional needs. I drank water, an occasional Gatorade, Coke, Sierra Mist, Ensure, and Double Shot coffee drinks. For food, I ate my fair share of salt and vinegar potato chips, ham and cheese sandwiches, 1 PBJ, s few chocolate covered pretzels, a Reeces peanut butter cup, and several powdered sugar mini donuts (thank you Roman!) I also had a couple cups of chicken noodle soup from Dana and her magic cup heaters, and some awesome TATUR soup at mile 72.5
One of the aid stations was at the Route 66 Museum in Clinton. I would have liked to stayed to look around, but I had a race to run.
Another interesting stretch of the run was in the miles before Weatherford. You could see these windmills for 12 miles before actually passing them. There were 100s of them, and the blades alone were as long as 2 semi-trucks. As the sun was going down, I tried to pick up my pace. I had slowed to around a 12 minute per mile pace due in part to my regular stops with my crew, but also to general fatigue. I had a goal of beating the sun to the finish line, but the race officials had given the sun a 3 hour head start with the later start. I would have to run a sub 22 hour time to finish before sun-up. My 50 mile split was 10:15:39. My nephew Jeff had paced me from mile 33 and stayed with me until mile 56. After that I ran alone for a few miles. It was during that time that Kathy, being paced by Tatur Dave, caught me. I thought we might run together, but they pulled away. Shortly after, I got my next pacer Lisa. Lisa is running her first marathon this next weekend, and was excited to do a little night running. She and I chatted the night away, and the miles quickly passed. Lisa and I ran together for 12 miles and after crossing a very narrow and very long steel railed bridge, we reached the TATUR aid station. Lisa then passed the pacer's bib over to my good friend Bobby. Bobby is also running his first marathon this next weekend, and got his first taste of ultra-pacing this night. I did also have another form of re-hydration. Ed, another marathoner-to-be had some of the best beer I have ever tasted. I entertained about half a bottle before leaving for the final 27.5 miles. Now to be fair, I must say that even though Ed had ran in the McNellies Pub run earlier in the day, he was not as snockered as he looks here. He paced for Kathy from around 78 to 90 and did not fall in the ditch even once.
Finally after hanging with friends at Tatur, Bobby and I headed out into the night. The next section was not pavement, but an old dirt/gravel road. Now you might think that would be just my ticket, but after being in a road rhythm for 72 miles, the loose powdery dust on the road and the golf ball sized gravel just did not work for me. the road was uphill all the was at a gradual grade, and a long jog was just not in the cards. We walked for a while, and then tried to mic in some short runs. The temperature kept dropping, and sleep began to creep in. After over 90 minutes, we reached Geary where we got back onto pavement. This little diversion was off of Route 66, and the next several miles were on a good smooth asphalt highway, and we picked up the pace a little. Still the cold and lack of sleep were taking their toll on me. I had almost stopped eating, but still had a warm Double Shot every 3 miles, so I was getting in some calories.
At about mile 86, my trail running buddy Vicky took over pacing duties. Vicky is fast....almost to a fault. I have nicknamed her Vicky Afterburn since all I see when running with her is a cloud of dust when she is off like a shot. She was a wonderful closer for me in this race. While waiting for me, she had done her homework, and had taken mental notes of all the runners who were ahead of me who she thought we could pick off. I had thought I was all alone on this dark starry night, but she said there were a whole slew of runners we could pick off. Dana took her aside and told her she needed to kick me in the butt, and Vicky told her she was just the girl to do it. So, with a sub 24 hour run still in the cards, we took off into the darkness. True to her word, Vicky helped me overtake 4 runners in the first 30 minutes of our running. I did not know I could pick it up like I did, and honestly, it may have not been all that much of an increase in speed, but it was enough. As the sun came up we went through the last aid station at Calmet where I grabbed a bag of Keebler fudge striped cookies. The extra sugar helped, and I felt even more ready to finish strong. We managed to pass 11 runners I think. (I am pretty sure 4 of them were pacers.) From looking at the first runner we passed, I am sure we finished 30-35 minutes ahead of where I would have trudged in had I been myself. I doubt I would have broken 24 hours were it not for Vicky. I was thrilled to be through, I was hungry, and I was exhausted. Truly, I had given 100%. I finished in 23:35:32. While I did not PR for the distance, maybe I did. I am fairly certain the course was 1.5 to 2 miles longer than 100 miles according to my Garmin. I am not at all upset by this though. Every race is different. I am happy to be a finisher. Bobby, Vicky, Jeff, and Lisa (not pictured) were imense help in this journey! Notice the awesome looking babe in pink on the front row. That is my wife Dana, who stayed awake all night and put up with my grumpiness, made sure I ate and drank, and kicked me in the butt when I needed it. She then drove me 130 miles home after the race. Show me a better crew babe anywhere in the world. There is none.
The only damage other than the expected sore legs was the toe on my left foot. For the 3rd 100 in a row, I have blistered badly on the side and top of it. It does not hinder my running or my pace, but it looks awful.
Kathy finished in 22:48:26. Second place woman, and she ran most of the way in a sling. So I lost the "smackdown" but hey, she is younger, and I carry around 60 extra pounds. Go figure. As good of a friend as she is, she deserves and gets my congrats. The competition will resume after the wounds heal.
Kathy and I had at least 15 people helping us in this run....pacers, people crewing us, and people helping in small ways wherever they could. Brian and TATUR had by far the best aid station in the race. No other stop was even close.
And I suppose when Mother Road 3 comes around, I'll probably be there.