Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Oil Creek 100 miler
I sat down and worked out a quick plan that included a lot more quality fast runs to work my body harder in a short time with my only real long runs being my Saturday easy long trail adventures. As the weeks quickly went by I noticed a definite improvement in speed but was struggling with the long runs due to the intensity of the week and a few flare ups of the old faithful Achilles pain that always seems to crop up when I least want it to.
Two weeks prior to the race everyone at work was coughing and sneezing, colds were everywhere I looked, allergies were playing all kinds of games with my head and I was really unsure of how things would go in this race. I looked back at my calendar and mileage was ridiculously low coming into a 100 compared to my usual and I promised myself I'd just go out slow and plan on a finish. There was no way I was going to DNF this one and with all the doubts I had to stick to a safe plan.
OC100 takes place in Titusville,PA it's a beautiful trail and the fall colours do wonders to make it appear even more visually stunning. The fall colours also cover all the rocks and roots that make the fairly technical trail with 17,785 feet of elevation gain rather interesting to run on. The course is marked extremely well and the aid stations are well spaced and have their own competition on race day to out do each other with both decorations and amazing support for the runners. With 3 50km loops and a final 10km "going home" loop it is a great layout for a race and little planning is required to get the right equipment into the right drop bags.
Loop 1 with a 5am start I felt good, I stuck with my plan started out fairly easy moved out towards the front so as not to get totally caught in the "train" once we hit single track then counted back 8 runners and settled in to a comfortable pace. Things felt good all lap and at some point I moved up 1 or 2 places due to short stops in aid stations. Loop 2 the Achilles flared up a bit and near the 70km mark I was feeling a little discouraged so I forgot to gel,by 80 km I felt the slight dizzy feel and total flat energy level reminding me of the mistake. I quickly had a Roctane gel and made a plan for the next aid station....emergency food. I don't usually eat solids in a race and looking at the aid station food the only thing interesting to me was a slice of pizza, turns out it was the best pizza ever,suddenly my body came right back around the little bit of warmth on a cold day and loads of salt in the pizza worked wonders. The rest of the day it was gel then pizza then gel and I felt great, probably will never work again but I wasn't looking a gift horse in the mouth that day. Loop 3 was gradually into the dark and I always enjoy running in my little bubble of light so thoroughly enjoyed it. Going home loop is a neat little trick mostly uphill somehow it is like a final little slap in the face just to see what your really made of, to emphasize this fact the final hill has been aptly named "The Hill of Truth".
I finished up in 4th place with a time of 21:36 good enough for the sub 22 hour gold buckle, way better than I expected and enough to let me know with a few tweaks to the training I can still be competitive with a lot less time input if I do this right. The race was amazing super challenging and lives up to its hype in every way.
My ever trusty Brooks Cascadias performed flawlessly in the conditions digging in nicely to grab traction both up and down some fairly sketchy hills,I just can't say enough good things about these shoes. My GU energy gels worked wonders and while I did add a little substitute pizza for a change who can blame a guy after consuming 32 gels in a day and the new root beer flavour is a great chaser for a slice of pizza.