Monday, June 18, 2007

Mohican 100 Mile Race Report

In a way I was not looking forward to writing this report because I know I can’t do this race justice, but here it goes.

After a few wrong turns, my mom and I arrived at Mohican wilderness around 6:30 Friday evening. This was where we would be camping, and where the race would start 5:00 Saturday morning. I picked up my race packet. We ate the spaghetti dinner that was provided while I meet up with all of my friends who would be taking on this challenge tomorrow. Brian from Cincinnati and his wife Marsha, Kim, Rob, Mike, who was volunteering and pacing Kim. Tom would show up later, after he picked up Michael Hayden (17 year old, ultra stud) from the airport. The pre race meeting followed with an unmatched course description from 70+ year old Leo (“Where do you go? Well where did you come from.” You had to be there). This guy was awesome.

After the meeting I went to sleep, or at least I laid in my sleeping bag all night. I was too excited to sleep! This was the day I had been waiting for, I wanted to run! I got up at 4:00 am to get my stuff ready. I ate a Payday and some Fig Newtons (That’s right Mike, I said FIG NEWTONS.)

a few minutes before the start.

I put on my head lamp, got my water bottles and was ready to go. We started a little late, making sure everyone was present. Then, at around 5:10, with Race director Ryan O’Dell’s call from the bull horn “The 18th Mohican 100 Trail run is now under way.” We took off. I was off to the side, around the middle of the pack, so I walked slowly until everyone passed me. I wanted to make sure I followed my strategy (27 hour pace for the first half, then maintain or slow down if needed.). After a minute or so I was all alone in the back of the pack, perfect! Going into the race I was worried that the first 10 miles on the road might cause me to go out too fast. Fortunately the roads were just as hilly as the trails. I walked all the hills and ran slowly on the flats and down hills. A few miles into the race I was caught by a runner from behind. I didn’t think there was anyone left to catch me from behind. It was Fred Davis, who is a very experienced Ohio Ultrarunner. He was in the bathroom at the start, and was just catching up. We kept the same pace for a few miles, while I listened to his experiences of his 150 mile attempted at McNaughton, Leadville 100, and his 500 miles at the Sri Chinmoy 10 day race.

A little before the second aid station (mile 10) Fred picked up his speed. I was very happy watching him run out of sight. At that point I knew I would be able to stick to the plan, running MY race, not allowing others to alter my pace. “Welcome to the rock!” was the call coming from the aid station worker as I came into Rock point. I grabbed some food quickly, refilled my bottles and got on my way, as they told me they hoped to see me tomorrow morning at mile 90 “Me too!” I said. Now it was time for the real fun to begin. Almost all of the next 70 miles would be on trail, mostly single track.

I noticed I was doing around 15 minute miles instead of 16 I had planned, but I didn’t feel that needed adjustment. My hip joints started acting up around mile 15. That was something I have always noticed in training and expected. I was glad it happened this early. It wasn’t enough to slow me down and it never got worse. I think if it occurred all of a sudden at mile 60+ it my have slowed me down, but because I was used to it all day I just ignored it. I saw my Mom for the first time as I came into the covered bridge. She was volunteering there and did such a great job all day and night! She told me I was a little ahead of pace. I had known this and wasn’t alarmed. After filling my bottles and grabbing a handful of food I was off to start the orange loop.

This would be a 17 miles section. This would be the first full section I would run in the dark. At the top of the hill I was caught by Colleen (The Purple Lady) who plays a HUGE role in the Mohican 100 and was trying to take pictures of all the first time 100 milers. She was unable to get her camera ready as I ran by, then she asked “Is this your first 100?” I told her it was, then she said “Well then, your going to have to turn around so I can take your picture!” So I turned around and ran backwards while she snapped a shot.

Coming into Hickory Ridge, mile 33, feeling good.

handful of food, ready to hit the trail

Right around this time I caught up to a group of three runners. Two ultra vets and a younger, very cute, women also running her first hundred, her name was Sarah. They started to speed up after a while and I decided to let them go ahead, sticking to the plan. Then Sarah beckoned “Come on Josh, pick it up.” How could I deny a pretty face like that? So I sped up and ran a while with them, a man has his weak spots, and a young beautiful ultrarunner is definitely one of mine. A few miles into the orange loop I ended up running ahead of them. About that same time I came up on Erie Tom and Jim. Tom was all decked out in his ultra warrior suit. He was looking strong. He let me pass him on a hill, which I told him I didn’t want to, but he practically threw me in front (We finished withing 5 minutes of each other.)

I was really cruising at this point. Still no leg pains besides the hip joints. As I came into Hickory Ridge I was not surprised to see Mike ready with his camera. He snapped some photos and his wife filled up my water bottles. Mike told me Kim was about 15 minutes ahead. He wished me well and I was off again. The next stretch was 7 miles and would take me to Grist Mill. At Grist Mill there is a brutal 0.7 mile loop up and down a pointless hill. I walked up, ran down, and got back to the aid station. I grabbed some food, refilled my bottles and was gone.

Just I side note, I grabbed something to eat at EVERY aid station which really kept me going. I had NO problems with nutrtion all race. I never lost my appetite. There were times when I didn’t feel like eating, but I could always get it down. I also refilled two water bottles at every station. I did my best to drink 2 full bottles between stations. I stayed very well hydrated all the way up to 95 then I just let it slide because I knew I was so close. I took Hammer Nutrition’s Endurtolyte tabs about every half hour (Which I still didn’t pay Mike for, or the race fee, put it on my tab!) As far as that stuff goes, I was excellent the WHOLE race!!

Back to the race… On my way back to the trail after Grist Mill I had opened up a sizable lead on the people I had just passed about 8 miles ago. I saw Tom and Jim come by, strong and steady. Then I saw Sarah, she was much less enthused this time, I was a little worried about her chances. I saw Fred Davis again just before I went back into the trails “I’ll catch up to you when the sun goes down.” He said. “I believe it.” I replied, and I really did believe it! It was a 5 mile stretch back to the covered bridge. About 3 miles in I caught up with Chris, from Lansing Michigan. “Do you want to pass.” He asked. “Nope, I’m in no hurry, I’ll be here all day.” I said. We stayed together until the covered bridge. We talked about our training, and about how this was a 30 hour race, we were going to get our money’s worth!

I came into the covered bridge and met my mom for the second time at mile 38. She told me I was an HOUR ahead of my pace. “an hour? SHIT!” I said. That is what I get for keeping track of my pace with a GPS watch in the woods. I knew it was a little off, but I didn’t think it was that bad. I still felt great so I tried not to think much of it. There was a river crossing right before the CB aid station so I changed my socks here. I also put on the La Sportiva Sling Shots to see how they felt. I figured I would wear them for the 4 mile blue loop and I could change them if I didn’t like them. It turned out they were too small with my swollen feet so I changed back to the Wasatch Crest after the blue. The start of the red loop is a BIG climb for the first mile. I marched up it and to the next aid station at bridal staging area. This aid station was a real boost, I wish I could have come to it more than twice so I could have seen Flo, Fred Davis’s wife, a few more times. She was so great. “Look at you, lookin all fresh, look like you ain’t even run at all. Lookin all young, and healthy. All smilin havin a good time.” At mile 45 that is a good thing to hear, and to be honest I actually felt that good too! a mile or so after this station I was caught by Steve, from Columbus.

This was a real blessing as we would run the next 15 miles together. We shared stories of running and life. He told me a story that I just can’t resist putting on my blog, I hope he doesn’t mind! His buddy, back in college got him into running. He was at his first 5 mile race, under trained but thought he could still bust his way through it. He went out hard and by the end of mile one he was toasted. He had to run and walk the rest of the way. Then when he got to mile four, he decided He would finish this thing with pride. So he took of running again. Within a quarter mile he said “I heard this ‘tick tick tick tick tick’ I’ll be damned if I didn’t look back and see this old, and I mean OLD women and her fluffy white haired dog fly right past me! Granny was just stridin along.” That story head me almost in tears laughing. Steve DNFed at Mohican in 06 and was out for revenge this year. Last year it was rock point at mile 52 that did him in. He sat down for too long and couldn’t get back going again. So when we came up to rock point this year we did no seating and got in and out as fast as we could. Sunday was Steve’s 50th birthday. His wife and kids were at the Fire tower awaiting him at mile 60, it was the first time they had come to his races. He was very happy when he got there. He took a bit longer at this station and picked up his pacer. I went ahead, running the 2.5 miles to the CB once again. At this point my feet were really bothering me. The podiatrists were at CB so I stopped and had them take a look. I was very reluctant to do this, as the chairs they had people sitting in look waaaaay to comfy and they even had foot rests! That was not something I wanted to get stuck in 60 miles into a 100 mile race, but I knew I had to get my feet checked out. They told me my feet were macerated. Which I think means they were full of water. I think it may have something to do with my use of Vaseline as my foot lubricant. I need to find something else now. They gave me new insoles and put patches on the bottoms of them to help my aching foot balls. When I got up 15 minutes later and started the climb up the orange loop I felt like a baby deer learning how to walk. After the climb I got my stride back. By this time It was getting dark. 60+ miles into the race, I started to have my first low point. It didn’t last long, and was based solely on the fact that it was getting dark and I was tripping on a few things. I was carrying a head lamp and a handheld I had just purchased Friday. I can’t tell you how valuable that hand held light was! I could see the trail very well and once I adjusted I could run almost like it was day light. Right before Hickory Ridge aid station I passed Steve and his pacer, who had passed me while having my feet looked at. This made me feel good because I knew I had made the right choice to get my feet looked at. Hickory Ridge mile 67, this is where my novice level of experience comes into play in a HUGE way. It was 67 miles into the race and my legs were still feeling fantastic. I still had the soreness in my hips, but it hadn’t gotten any worst since my 15. My quads and calf weren’t sore or tired. It was I combination of my feeling so great and the fact that I wasn’t tinkling clearly after 20 hours of running, that caused me to take off like a bat out of hell! I didn’t just pick up my pace. I started running, like and idiot. I must have been going 50k pace. It felt like 9:00 miles but at that point was probably more like 11:00 minute miles, regardless, way to fast. I was passing people left and right. I was running up hills for goodness sake! My thinking at the time was “your 67 miles in, you feel great, lets see what you can do!” Which wasn’t a bad thought, but I went way to fast. 67 miles is a long way from 100, now I know that! I passed about 8 runners in this 7 mile stretch which is a lot for how spread out everyone was at this point. All of them were a bit dumbfounded at my pace. I don’t blame them. Looking back I would have wondered too about the idiot blazing by me in his finishing kick, with 33 miles to go.

I really don’t know what I was thinking, I guess I wasn’t! By the time I got to Grist Mill 7 miles into my burst of speed, I was D-O-N-E, DONE! My quads went from fantastic to trashed in 7 miles. I stumbled up and done Grist Mill. My feet were in agonizing pain at this point. The down hill hurt the most. My quads were too trashed to stop me and the grinding if my feet against my shoe soles as I pounded down the hill was comparable to that of cheese in a grader. As I was about to check out of the aid station They asked me “Did you do the loop behind Grist Mill yet?” I said “Yes, I did the damn loop, and I’m not doing it again!” They got a good laugh out about that. The 5 miles back to CB were absolutely brutal. By far the hardest 5 miles of the whole race. I felt like crap, I was alone and this was the most technical of all the trails. The final couple miles were along the river, filled with roots, narrow, rocks to climb over. For some parts I had to pick my legs up with my arms just to get them over the obstacles. I never thought about stopping but before coming into the aid station at CB I wondered if I would physically be able to make the 1 mile climb at the beginning of the Red. I was in bad shape when I saw my mom for the last time. “I feel like SHIT!” I told her “FUCK…FUCK” I continued. “Are you going to keep going.” She asked. “Hell yeah, Fuck, I’m not going to stop now, no fucking way!) She made me a turkey sandwich, filled my water bottles and I was gone as soon as possible. Making sure I didn’t make my self comfortable and most importantly making sure I didn’t sit down, there might not have been any getting up at that point. I didn’t hesitate to chugh my 16 oz Monster enrgy drink that I had waiting for me. I said I would only use it if I really needed it, and boy did I ever.

I left the aid station to cheers which I tried to acknowledge with a faint hand raise. I had 8 hours left to cover the last 20 miles so I was ok on time if I could just keep walking. My race ups and downs can be monitored in my usage of four letter words. No cusing = smooth race. The expletives sure were flying after mile 75! After the monster climb at the start of red I caught up with Sharon, From Canada. This was her 7th 100 miler. She was also reduced to walking mode for the rest of the way so we kept each other company between miles 80 and 90. We were hiking at a good clip, around 20 minute miles including all the hills. We came up to the bridle staging area one more time and saw Flo once again. “Aw Flo, You stayed up all night just so you could see me come through again, didn’t you?” I said “That’s right baby, just for you.” She replied. Sharon and I got some food, refilled our bottles and took off again. At mile 85 I had the urge for an intensive bathroom break, if you know what I mean. Sharon offered me some toilet paper, which really saved my ass (pun most definitely intended.)

I caught back up to her a few minutes later and we were back on our way. “Welcome to the ROCK!” Was the sound we heard once again, though, 70 miles later it sounded much sweeter! We did the usual food grab, water refill and head off again. My fast hike skills were starting to fade so Sharon pulled head. At this point I knew I would finish so I wasn’t worried about pushing the pace. My feet were absolutely destroyed. They were the main cause for my 25 mile final drudge. My quads recovered a bit from my 7 mile idiot run, but the feet were to far gone, and getting worse. About 4 miles from the finish a man approached me, Jim Lumbardi was his name, he was from PA, He knew Tom. He asked “would you like to talk while you go the final miles.” I replied “Hell yeah, but I don’t know if I have much to say.” We talked about my training. He said he would like to try 100 miles but didn’t know if he could do it. I told him I was in the same place 6 months ago and look where I am now. Of course I don’t know how appealing that comment was to him, considering I was a fumbling mess at that point, ha. He really helped me out those last few miles.

With about 1.5 to go a black car approached “How does it feel to be about a mile from your first 100 miler, good?” He said, I looked over, it was Rob “Oh hell yeah, it feel real good!” I replied “Great job, I’ll see you at the finish line.” Then he sped off. About a ½ mile later I was approached from the opposite direction by another car. I recognized it to be Mike and his wife. He got out and started walking with me. At this point, Jim, who had been walking and talking with me for the last 3 miles realized that he’s friend, Tom wasn’t far behind so he waited for him as Mike and I pressed on to the finish line. Then Mike attempted a joke that went way over my head “hey there is a nice race I think we should run it is called the engagement 50k. It is in between Dayton and Marion.” He said. “cool" I said, "lets do it.” Then he stared at me. At this point I knew I had just missed I punch line then I replied “It’s 99 miles into a 100 mile race. There are only so many things I can do while running 100 miles, thinking didn’t make the cut.” He explained to me Dayton and Marion, dating and marring, engament is inbetween dating and marring, get it? OH OK, I get it now! I told him how great it felt to be so damn close, and told him he would be experiencing the same thing about 1.5 months from down. When We got close to the finish he ran ahead to get a shot of me crossing the line. I started to get chocked up as I entered to campground for the last tenth of a mile. All of the training and it was finally happening, I was about to finish 100 miles!! I quickly shook off the emotions. I knew if I didn’t poperatze (Spelling??) Mike would have pictures of me crying like a baby all over bloggerland, lol. I let out a celebratory howl as I crossed the finish line, 28 hours 34 minutes 51 seconds later.

100 miles down

I was the recipient of many hand shakes and pats of the back from other runners and volunteers. I saw Brain who had finished and hour and a half earlier, his wife Martha who had been up just as long as we had, but didn’t get to have all the fun of running! Rob, Kim, Mike, Steve, who finished 10 or 15 mintues ahead of me, on his birthday!! He got that Mo Monkey off his back this year. I am sure I will see him at BR as we are both doing that one in August! Of course my mom was there, like she was there for me all day and all night! Not more than 5 mintues after I crossed the line, Tom came running through, fists pumped high in the air, He did it!! We gave each other and uncoordinated sloopy high five that only two guys who just finished 100 miles could apprectiate. I lasted about 10 mintues of standing after the race before I had to sit down. And from there I lasted about 30 mintues before I had to lay in the grassThis picture really caputre the feeling after the finish.

I was chilling at this point and put on a sweat shirt that Martha and Brian gave me (Which I still need to return.) and a towel. Kim came up and asked how I was doing. “your going to be out for the rest of the day” she said “I’m going to be out for the rest of the year!” I said. At this point the pain in my hips was really bothering me. My feet were beat to hell, but finishing a 100 mile race is the best pain killer there is. We stayed for the award ceromny and there was a bit of disappointment when we found out our buckles were being mailed to us this year because of such a high number of drop outs last year. All I wanted was to have my name called, go up there and get MY 100 mile belt buckle! It won’t be the same when I get it in the mail, but it will still mean the world to me.

I wouldn’t call this race a life changing experience. My life was changed after I ran my first 50k and feel in love with ultras. This was a life enhancing experience. I loved every minute of it even the ones filled with four letter words. No matter what I do in my life no one will ever be able to take this experience away from me. I am proud to say I worked for this and I earned it. This is the first of many.

thank you to everyone that helped me along the way, through training and through the race. You guys are the best.

I think my race can be summed up in one pharse: Just fast enough to finish, too dumb to quite.


Anonymous said...

Stubborn bastard! You did awesome! I can't wait til August to see what I got.

If you want to do another training run up here before then, let me know...the fee will be about 50 bucks ok?

Meg Westlake said...

Hey hey Josh I was behind you for 21.1 miles to the CB where they told me I was out of the race an hour before due to getting to not making it to the Fire Tower in time. I knew I wasn't ready to finish this year, but I had really hoped to make it further. Next year, darn it! Nice report.

Kim said...

Man, I love that summation "Fast enough to finish too dumb to quit". You need to put that as a quote on your page.
Great race report!!! Nice try with the 33 mile finishing kick, I got a good laugh about that.
I am very proud of you, you ran your own race, even with chasing the chicky girls for a while!
(Mike tried that stupid joke on me too...I'm going to make sure I tell it to him about three times during BR....) :)

Rob "Buckeye" Powell said...

Nice Job Josh. You have earned it!

Josh said...


BR is right around the corner!! I think I can swing the 50+ entry fee. I really would like to come up there before the race for another run.


I knew you were back there, and you would just keep on coming until they told you to stop, ha! You have plenty of time to improve and I know you'll do it, great job!


Yeah, I really loved that quote too. I came up with it Monday morning and tried to remember it all day so I could put it in my report.
I really thought I had that final kick left in me, LOL, talk about a rookie mistake, that is one for the books. Oh yes, Mike will here that joke again!!


Thanks man, I look forward to seeing you out on the trails again soon!

ErieTom said...

What a great race report and an even better race by you Josh (well, ok, except for the 7 mile idiot run, LOL!!!). We need to run one together!

You'll get a kick out of this... at Bridal Staging Area's 83.4 miles and 24 hours of *running* I was 1 minute ahead of my goal pace. 1 minute! LOL!

It was nice to meet your mom!

ErieTom said...

Oh, and that was Jim Lombardi that paced you... he was part of Jim Fitch's crew. He ran a 20:05 5K a week or two ago and he's 63, a retired professor. Faaaast. I think he was going to pace me in but got tired of waiting for Tom The Turtle so he latched onto Josh The Flash!

Sensationally Red said...

I LOVE your race reports! I hope you you are printing all these out and will use them to compile the book that I see in your future. I get much motivation and knowledge from reading your reports. You have me so darned excited to run my first 50K. Excellent job. I feel as though I was there with you. You have a marvelous mother BTW!

Addy said...

Awesome report and running! I really thoroughly enjoyed your detailed reporting, and really just find your so inspiring. I can't wait until I run my first 100, or, hell, even my first 50k :D.

It sounds like you did almost everything right (besides that one section ;) ) and really showcased the effectiveness of your training.

Hope you're resting up well and enjoying the glow of finishing such an epic distance

matt said...

"No matter what I do in my life no one will ever be able to take this experience away from me. I am proud to say I worked for this and I earned it."

i just stumbled across your blog, josh. i am working toward my first 100 miler some time in the early part of next year. your words above really inspired me. thank you so much. i wish you the best and look forward to following your progress.

Josh said...


I am glad we were both able to have such great success in our first 100's! Ha, One minute ahead of pace! thats not a bad place to be 84 miles into the race!


You should be excited for the BT50K! I know I am! You are going to do awesome, and I am glad my expriences can help you along the way. See ya in July!


I am really excited about your TRT50k. I think you are so much more prepared than you even realize. You are going to do wonderful and it will give you a great base for your first 50m in the fall, and your first 100 miler next year??


I am glad my words were able to inspire you. There have been so many people that have and continue to inspire me, it is nice to be able to do it for others. I look forward to following your training, and hearing all about your 100 next year! It isn't an easy road (or trail), but what fun would that be, right?

Chef Bill Bailey said...

Great Job Running & Blogging!!!!

Maria said...

Great race report Josh! I teared up reading it. You should be so proud of yourself...seriously, you are fantastic!

mtnrunR said...

great report and great run

Josh said...


Look forward to running with you in the coming weeks!


aww, how nice of you to say. I hope to meet you at the bt50k next month!


Thanks! it feels good to be a 100 mile finisher.

Addy said...

Josh- thanks :) I hope I'll be more than ready. 100 still seems a bit intimidating to really plan for it yet. I definitely want to do my first 100k next may. Maybe (big Maybe) I'll be ready for Rio Del Lago on September 22? We'll see :) For now, I'll just live vicariously through you ;)