Hell Hole Hundred
I am completely and utterly spent and in shock. Not for the fact that I just did 100 miles in 26 hours, but more for the fact that the distance itself completely broke me mentally. There is nothing in this world that can prepare you for what your mind goes through on this type of race other than doing them multiple times, which sucks. I have done Ironman, and have broken mentally on a training ride where I got lost and couldn’t get in touch with anyone. I have had a child naturally after 23 hours of labor. I also lost my father to medical issues at the tender age of 18 when we were mending our relationship, which certainly tested me mentally. Those were nothing compared to this. Nothing. Running became therapy for me when I was 17, and I fell in love with it, always wanting to challenge myself to the absolute brink of humanity. That’s why I keep doing this crap. My family doesn’t understand it, but somehow, it’s still therapy and I still love it. So let me explain…
The race is just outside of Charleston, SC. So it’s flat. 80 feet of elevation change for the 19-mile loop. But it’s humid. And if you aren’t used to that, it can be a huge game changer! I have lived in GA my entire life so am used to humidity and heat, but somehow, SC is just a step above. Luckily it was relatively overcast and the forecast called for scattered showers later in the day, which would be nice.
We started at 7 am where the temperature was about 81 degrees. Very quickly, we all realized how flat the course was. I had decided that if it were extremely flat, I would be walking 0.1 mile at the top of each mile. So as I watched the others run off at the top of the 1st mile, I settled into my routine. I had a timer for 40 minutes for food and drank Gatorade, as I needed it. The first loop was just a feeler. There were parts that were on forest service roads and parts on some extremely rough horse trails with deep ruts from horse prints that were sure to be ankle breakers if you weren’t careful. But I kept up with my routine and felt pretty good. There were 2 manned aid stations, and 3 unmanned along the course, which was actually a good spacing. Lap one was done in 3:30 and I felt pretty good!
Lap 2. I headed out after refilling at the start line feeling good. I was still on my pace for walking at the top of each mile. But I felt so good this lap, that I probably crushed it a little too much. Oops! After refueling again at the start line with my Hubby helping me, and taking a quick 5-10 minute break, I picked up my pacer for lap 3.
Ben and I hadn’t met before so we got to know each other along the way. He had done a couple 100s before but was rather quiet and shy so we tried making conversation. Nothing to his abilities or friendliness, but on this lap is where it all went wrong. I started thinking about my 2.5 year old son and how much I just wanted to hold him in my arms, and that I would do anything to be able to do that. I started crying a little because I knew he was so far away and that I couldn’t do that. I scrambled for my phone and started flipping though pictures of him and texted my mom for a new one for me to look at. But even with that, I couldn’t stop thinking about how much I wanted him.
We made it back to the start line; I sat in the chair, looked at my husband, and just started balling. I wanted my son and I wanted him now! There was nothing I could do to make it stop and I just wanted to quit so I could go home to him! Rudy consoled me and assured me that he was fine and having a good time but I didn’t care. He told me that the faster I got done, the faster we could go see him. He and my pacer refueled my pack and kicked me out back onto the trail. Rudy walked with me for a little while and when we got to the woods, I broke down in his arms again. He hugged me and gave me confidence to continue, so I headed off for a lap of my own.
Lap 4. I started slow because I was super sore by this point. But then I got out of my head and told myself that as soon as I finished, I could go see him, so I took off. I still kept up my walk/ run schedule, and my eating schedule was fine. It was when it got to be about 12 am and ½ way through this lap that I started falling asleep and weaving uncontrollably because I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I’m sure a beetle could have crawled faster than I was walking! The biker dude that was riding the course to check on runners passed me twice. The first time I said I was fine, and then ran into a huge spider web which really woke me up! About 20 minutes later, it was happening again, and I guess he had circled back around because he found me and told me that he was going to follow me out to the road where his truck was. I’m glad he did, because he gave me a Pepsi. Wow! Caffeine! Who would have thought! I booked it to the finish line and was ready to go for the last lap!
Lap 5. I picked up my pacer again and was on a steady fast walk schedule by this point. There was no running happening, so if something wanted to attack me, they had a great meal coming! We race walked to the first aid station where I popped a blister on my foot, and got to the open field after the 2nd one, where all the hoof prints were. All was good until we hit the long 2.5 mile gravel road to the next big aid station. I was falling asleep again, hard-core! Weaving was at an all time high, and the pace slowed to basically backwards. This made that stretch of road last for about an hour alone. But finally we could see the flags leading to the road where he was set up and stopped there to take a break. I put my head in my hands and fell asleep. For something that felt like hours, I woke up, thinking I was snoring after just a 5-minute nap. Oh, but what a relief that was! I grabbed some more Pepsi and headed out. We were good to go for the last 5 miles of the loop. It was a slower walk than before but still moving forward.
The last part of the race was a 7.5-mile out and back section in which my Husband has agreed to go with me. He’s not a runner, but he sure is a good motivator. He walked with me, rather slow at the beginning. Then I realized what time it was! I thought I had to be done by 10am and it was 8am! I had to do 6 more miles in 2 hours! So I picked it up, a little… as fast as my feet would move. We hit the 100k turn around and kept going, and I broke. It had gotten in my head that I couldn’t take one more step forward and nothing was helping. I started balling again and saying that I wanted to turn around. No one would know! But Rudy convinced me to keep going until we hit that 100-mile turn around, a full mile beyond the 100k-point. Now it was all I could do to finish and just keep moving to finish by 10 am. I tried to pick it up as much as I could, and we kept moving until I hit that finish line. DONE!
I sat down, asked for a beer, got my belt buckle, and told the race director I F$#%ing hated him… HAHA! I did. Really. He laughed and said he got that a lot. I then heard that there was an ultra distance veteran out there who still had the 7.5-mile portion left, that was asking who I was, and saying how amazing I was doing. That made me feel better. It wasn’t about winning. There were 15 people who started and only 5 finished. It was about finishing. Getting to my son was my ultimate goal. Getting to qualify for the Tahoe 200 in September was another. And I did it. I couldn’t walk, but I did it. And apparently, I had 3 more hours to go before the cut-off. I wish someone would have told me that!! It took me a while to say I wanted to do another one, and I’m still not sure I want to after what I just went through. But I have signed up for the Tahoe 200 so now I’m committed. Reluctantly, but I will do it. This is just another goal accomplished and I will always keep pushing myself to do something better.