The 2017 Painful Elimination Race took place on Saturday 8/26/17, in lovely Hudson, IL. From the burbs of Chicago, Hudson is about 2 ½ hours away, so I opted to drive down the night before and camp (White Oak Primitive Camp at COMLARA Park), which I thought was a really great idea.
I figured I was capable enough to install the tent (for the first time), with only about 10 minutes of daylight to spare on Friday night. You see, I had to stop at Olive Garden on the way for pasta. Eating pasta while driving in the car on the freeway is not recommended. You should have seen my face! lol
Failing to put up my tent in time, I opted to strap on my headlamp, and put the darn thing up in the dark. The bugs thought this was a lovely idea.
Honestly, putting up the tent, in the dark…was the hardest thing I did the entire weekend. Running included. Granted, I only got in 16 miles, but more on that later.
It was not a hard tent to put up. I was simply flustered at the task of putting up this darn thing at night. Anyhoo…back to the race.
Just kidding. So, I fell asleep so peacefully the night before, after [finally] putting up my tent. It was so nice. I could see the stars through my mesh tent, and hear all the peaceful outdoorsy noises. Honestly, it was great. If I had had a more comfortable sleeping pad, I would have slept like a little baby.
My tent neighbor beat me to the punch, waking me throughout the night [he had to pee], and around 4:45am to take down his tent. And his light…always pointing sternly in the direction of my face. lol
I was up at 5:10am, taking down my tent, and stuffing it in the back of my car. I rushing so taking it down and putting it away properly was not an option. I ate half a banana on the way there. The 5 minute drive there, in the pitch dark…was somehow eerily comforting. Knowing that I made the right choice to come down the night before, perhaps… because I damn well know I wouldn’t have fared well leaving my house at 3am Saturday morning.
Google maps on my phone got me there perfectly. At one point, I was turning left at what appeared to be a dark forest. But, thankfully Google knew a road existed there.
5:20 I arrive at check-in, and park my car. There were unsurprisingly already quite a few cars there. The instant I landed I could already feel the energy. Good vibes, def good vibes.
I roll out of my car, still in my pajama pants and sleepwear from the night before. I get my race bib, change in the car, prep what needs to be prepped, and I’m ready to go.
The Race Starts
6am sharp, the race begins. I’m in back, naturally, taking my time. At this point, I’m gearing for 7 loops: My First Ultra. But, my plan was to just take it one loop at a time, and just enjoy myself. I was looking for a fairly pain-free weekend. I know, i know…lol. I know what this damn race is called.
I was fiddling with my headlamp minutes before the race started, and had fully planned on wearing it out on the first loop. But, poor planning made me put those dreams aside. As it turns out, I didn’t need the headlamp anyways. I felt perfectly safe running as it was, with no light at all.
I’m glad my hat gave me hell, rejecting my headlamp.
2 minutes into the run, I almost twist my ankle. close call, but I was perfectly fine. That was close. I think to myself, that could have really SUCKED! For the remainder of the race, I pledged to run way smarter.
I started out in the back, but eventually worked my way up through 15-20 people, feeling good and picking up some speed. I should have realized it was a bit too early to be picking up so much speed.
I thought one section of the trail was for horses, as the divots in the ground were inviting an ankle twist for about 3/4 of a mile. I’ve never really been a fan of running through horse tracks.
I was also a bit surprised by the lack of roots and rocks on the trail. For the most part, it was pretty non-technical. There were some decent elevation gains/losses, which definitely kept it interesting.
And that lake! Evergreen lake, the small bits that we got to see, was pretty beautiful. I was definitely looking forward to running near the lake, but was disappointed a bit that we didn’t see the lake a whole lot overall. That’s for a different race.
The rest of the first loop went by pretty smoothly. The course was clearly marked and I wasn’t tempted to go off course at all. It helped that I was always following someone, but that would not be the case for the next 3 loops.
I even talked with someone who had run on my home turf before: Veteran Acres (Earth Day and Frozen Gnome races)! I mean, how cool is that! We even knew some of the same people.
All the runners seemed pretty cool, and easy to talk to.
I finished loop 1 with about 6:30 to spare.
I headed to my car, and scarfed down the remaining half-eaten banana. I also decided that stretching my legs was not a great idea, for whatever reason. At this point, I hadn’t stretched at all.
I was just sort of looking around, taking it all in. I was actually doing this!
I refueled my water 3/4 full, just like the first loop. Why change anything up, right? I also opted to bring along my special weapon: CLIF ORGANIC ENERGY FOOD SWEET POTATO WITH SEA SALT!
I had never tasted this before. I figured…what is the worst that could happen?
Seems legit enough. It’s CLIF…I like Clif bars…
this was no CLIF bar. more on that later.
I had a little over 4 miles under my belt, and I was feeling pretty good. Loop 2 started and it felt like I had almost no time to prepare. Those 6 or so minutes just flew by.
Starting out again, this time with quite a bit more light..i was ready for some more running. Again, I took it slow in the beginning.
This time, though, I apparently took slow to the next level, because I didn’t see any runners after the first 4-5 minutes.
I started to notice some strain in my left hip flexor, so I was walk-running a bit.
My theory was this:
Run when you can. If not, then walk. And most importantly, have fun!
I was very much enjoying myself, and the solitude of the race. The place was pretty beautiful, after all.
About 2 miles into this loop I decided to open up my sweet potato concoction. I wasted a bit too much time opening it and figuring where to store the cap (decided rear short pocket was best, after failing to stuff in my water bottle pouch).
IT WAS TERRIBLE!
lol, i forced it all down though. At 200+ pounds, I know I needed something to keep my body happy. It was so salty, and omg…i had to force it down.
My hip flexor did continue to give me some problems. And I kept walking. Then running. Then…
I finished my 2nd loop with about 4-5 minutes to spare. I sat in my car, again, refueled, and didn’t stretch…again. I meant to check my phone before loop 3, perhaps give the wife an update, but i honestly forgot. I was too focused on the race.
On loop 3, I decided that I needed a break from Mr. sweet potato (but I brought another anyways), so I began the loop eating a homemade rice krispy treat (yes, I made them!). It was delicious.
I was going a bit too slowly. But, it wasn’t for lack of effort. Ok, well maybe honestly I did dog it a little. I admit to perhaps walking a little too much.
My theory evolved to:
Run when you can. If not, walk, BUT, you must keep someone within your sight. Unless you start feeling pain; then you can walk. But then you’ll feel like a loser.
I kept someone within eyesight for about 10-15 minutes. Then I was by myself again. lol
Another 2 miles into the loop, I wash down my tasty rice krispy with an awful tasting sweet potato thingy. Truth be told, I was actually getting used to the sour, potent taste. That was a little concerning to me as well.
I almost fell on this loop (missed one of the very few roots on the course), but my cat like balance (so I keep telling myself) kept me upright.
I timed the finish all wrong. I thought I’d have at least 3-4 minutes to spare upon crossing the finish line. That didn’t happen.
I finished with 1 minute 30 seconds to spare. Everyone nicely cheered me on, though.
I had to book it! I quickly refueled while sitting in my car, and grabbed another sweet potato thingy. Then I raced to the start where I barely made it. Obviously, no stretching, yet again.
I was a little foggy to start, wondering to myself how I so badly botched the loop prior.
But, I was running. I knew full well I would finish this loop, no matter what. I also thought that perhaps it could be my last. I was still feeling OK, less the hip. I would play this loop by ear. see what happens…
Within about 5 minutes everyone was gone. I was ok with that. I was running my race.
During this loop, I decided it would be smart to stretch a little. My hamstrings were feeling super tight. So, every half mile or so, I stopped and stretched. Nobody would have known, though, since they were all ahead of me.
The stretching definitely did help. not my pace, though. lol…but my legs were feeling better.
For the 3rd time today, I lovingly finish my CLIF sweet potato energy pouch (gross), but by this time I’ve learned to take smaller amounts at a time, and to keep moving while eating.
Not that it really helped, though.
So, here I am, run / walking. Stretching. Eating goo. wondering why I didn’t take another rice krispy with me. Oh, yes…that would be because I had no time to get one. And I listened to myself not to. My body was coping pretty well with the sweet potato.
I was enjoying the views, and I honestly thought I was making better time than loop 3.
But, I suppose I was enjoying the views a little too much. About a mile left to go, I trip over a root, and fall pretty hard. My right quad fell perfectly on a giant root, square on, and I let out a pretty good yell. And curse words.
That sort of took all the steam out of me. But, I knew I needed to keep moving. I had a cut-off to make.
I was pretty pissed at myself for falling. And my quad seriously hurt while running, or even walking for that matter. I was pretty sure i was fine…it just hurt like a ………
I walked. I ran. I knew I was done… 4 loops…i just needed to get to that finish line!
With 15 seconds to spare, I made it! I was done.
By the time I had walked to my car, my gps said I had gone 16.7 miles. Perfect, sort of, since 67 is my lucky number.
Everyone cheered me on through the finish line, and was pretty great.
I headed home, and proceeded to eat many more rice krispies.
What to do differently
- stretch in the middle of loops 1, 2 and 3, and while at my car.
- practice setting up my tent beforehand =)
- run a little less the week before my race
- take the friday off, or even a half day
- mentally prepare
- get something not sweet potato
- don’t fall
Hats off to everyone who completed 1+ loops out there. Ya’ll are awesome! And, to the 4 people who completed 15 hours … you are incredible!