Burning River 100: Breaking Wind, Breaking The Ice
Passing wind during an ultramarathon is as expected as gulping HEED (http://www.hammernutrition.com/products/heed-sports-drink.he.html?navcat=fuels-energy-drinks ) at an aid station. The combination of a race diet and prolonged jostling of the digestive tract is a perfect formula for creating gale force breezes the boys from Jackass would envy. I am shocked by the immediate acceptance, even celebration of public flatulence on the trail. As soon as one runner breaks the sound barrier, a symphony of cheek-squeezed sounds is bound to follow.
Around mile 30 of the Burning River 100 I fell in step behind a male runner. Lets call him Russ and say he is a father of four and a collegiate cross-country coach from Wisconsin. Like the start of many friendships in the running world, Russ and I first engaged in self-deprecating banter and grumbled about the weather conditions during an aid station stop and then hit the trail together. Conversation came easy between us and it wasn’t until after running together for 10 miles that we formally introduced ourselves. Russ was a stronger runner and took the lead as I trailed closely behind. It wasn’t long before a thunderbolt tore through his spandex clad booty, directly in my path. I appreciated the audible warning. Regardless, there wasn’t much for me to do, but wince and forge ahead. I hoped to declare my own brand of chemical warfare in return – if only I could get ahead of him. We acknowledged this act of nature was part of ultrarunning and joked about the topic for the rest of our miles together.
Eventually Russ ran ahead, leaving me on my own at the mile 67 aid station as I tried to pull myself together. “Everything hurt” and the attentive volunteers took note of my struggle. One volunteer untied my absolutely disgusting mudcaked shoelaces as I endeavored to replaced the Asics Nimbus with a lighter and fresher pair of Asics DS, while another brought me homeade vegan potato soup –and then a second helping of the savory delight.
Shortly after I left the station I sat down on the trail in order to retie a shoelace and catch a break. I looked generally pathetic plopped down in the middle the path, Raidlight running pack off to the side and shoe untied, and a runner stopped to check on me. His name was Harvey Lewis from Cincinnati, Ohio and he wasn’t actually racing, but rather out for a 40 mile training run and to socialize with friends who were competing. We quickly figured out that we had both been at the Badwater 135 in the week prior – Harvey as a runner and 4th place finisher, myself as a crew member for Eberhard Frixe – and that we had friends and interests in common. As we chatted I discovered that Harvey is an ultrarunning legend, though the legendary parts of his story had to be coaxed out of him.
From the moment we met until the end of the race he was nothing but selfless, positive and overflowing with helpful advice. I am beyond grateful for his presence which helped me to eventually cross the finish line. There were points – basically the tiny stretch between miles 35 – 95 in which I doubted whether or not I could finish. I started the race with a sore right hip and buttocks which still hadn’t recovered from a previous race and my body developed other pains along the way, the most debilitating of which was a throbbing left knee. The searing pain eventually demanded all of my attention and I was forced to stop running and instead march in agony for approximately the final 20 miles. I had been on pace to meet my sub 24 hour goal, but ultimately I was satisfied to cross the finish line- and more importantly, I was grateful for the generosity and goodwill of people I met along the way.
My diet consisted of a Hammer gel http://www.hammernutrition.com/products/hammer-gel.hg.html?navcat=fuels-energy-drinks every 45 minutes, a Hammer bar http://www.hammernutrition.com/products/hammer-bars.fb.html?navcat=fuels-energy-drinks every hour, salty soups at aid stations and approximately 20 oz of water per hour mixed with Endurolytes Fizz. I felt great the entire race – minus the leg pains – which speaks volumes about Hammer Nutrition which once again proved to be one of my best friends in a long race.