Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Long Haul 100 Mile Race Report

Race:  Long Haul 100
Date: January 14-15, 2017
Finish Time: 26 hours, 51 minutes
Distance: 101 miles
Elevation Gain: 144 ft

OH MY GAWD... I cannot believe it is OVER! A year of my life spent planning, training, preparing for 1 race event, 1 weekend of my life and it is finally over. So many sleepless nights of anxiety, race planning sessions, research, strategizing with other ultra runners... all of it is finally over.

The race was a loop course, five 20-mile loops. From the start/finish area you ran approximately 2 miles to the spectator area/aid station. Then you went straight out on a 6 mile out and back (where there was another aid station half way through) finishing that portion back at the spectator area. From there you headed out to the left on a 4 mile out and back (which the entire race I thought was 6 miles... it felt so long!) arriving back at the spectator area we would then head back out on the 6 mile out and back, then would complete the 20 mile loop by finishing on the 2 mile trail back to the start/finish line. 

Pace: Stay between 11-14 minute miles for the first 50-60 miles then try to keep it under 18 after that. I knew the night hours would be slower but I banked enough time during the day that I could power walk as needed and it would be ok. I had some miles that were slower when I had to address blisters, or change clothes but my goal was for an overall average of 16:42 to finish in 28 hours. Major goal was "DO NOT STOP MOVING" Do not sit down, PASS go, and collect $200. Just keep moving forward. 
Calories: Eat 150 calories per hour from the start of the race, more when I could stomach it early on. I planned to eat my avocado roll ups and PBJ sandwiches during the day (in addition to fruit, gels, chips ect) and my soup during the cold night hours. I planned to have caffeine between 12-4 when I needed a boost, and eggs/potatoes around 7am for breakfast with the sunrise to give me a little "pep in my step" before finishing at goal time: 11am.
Hydration/Electrolytes: Drink about 16-20 oz of water per hour (a little more when it was warmer mid day), and salt off and on throughout the day. 

My mom drove out early Saturday morning and started the race with me. She was able to bust out 26 miles with me with no training or fuel! She is amazing! She kept me on track for my pace, and slowed me down when I would speed up. I believe she was part of what saved my overall race by keeping me on pace and not letting me go out too fast. She reminded me to eat frequently and stay hydrated. We had a lot of fun on this trail course and chatted about everything. At one point we saw a beaver.... err, maybe an otter? It was eating a stick so it had to be a beaver, but it sure looked like an otter. We decided it was a Bevotter and we named him Pink Floyd (2 beaver-otters, so Pink & Floyd) reminding me every time I passed to stay "comfortably numb". I loved seeing that little guy. My mom headed home and I was alone for a few hours. During this time (miles 27-42 or so) I was on my own for support.
The Bevotter eating his stick.

This is where I failed. Several times I came through my tent and did not eat my planned food because it was not "ready". I SHOULD have taken the time to prepare it but I didn't, I figured when Justin arrived he could prepare it and I would get it next round. This was Critical Mistake #1. I had no idea how long Justin was going to be gone so I just kept going. I ate bits here and there but certainly nothing close to what I had hoped for at this point. I felt great physically but was starting to struggle a bit with some indigestion. 

Enjoying ourselves!
Spectator Area a.k.a. Tent City

Please don't rain!
 Around 3 pm Justin, Jason and Jessica all showed up and I was so excited! I was 8 hours in at this point and feeling really good minus just a smidge of acid reflex. Justin brought me pizza so I ate a slice of cheese pizza-which as I was doing it I knew was a mistake. I should have only eaten a few bites or even half slice. Critical mistake #2 (too much at once). Jessica and I headed out, we walked for a bit to make sure I didn't rush my GI with digesting all that pizza. We got about 1/3 mile when I realized we went out on the wrong trail... We had to turn around and go back to get on the right trail. Ahh! Thank God we caught this error before I got too far out of the way! We maintained my goal pace almost the whole time, and hit one of my fastest miles of the day with her. She has been by my side as my main running buddy for almost 2 years, I was so grateful to have her here with me. I don't think she will ever realize how special those 10 miles were with her! Even if I did make a wrong turn and do extra!
beautiful trails

Some fog rolling in-raptors were definitely out there
 When she stopped Justin continued with me. He ran 9 miles or so with me before stopping. Everything at this point was good, although I had decided not to eat anything else until I could shake the indigestion. I thought eating might make it worse. It was probably around 10 pm by now, and I was around 63 miles. 
Jason was SO ANXIOUS to get out and running after spending the day in the car, then sitting while others ran. He joined me for 20 miles. We walked a LOT of this 20 miles. I mean, a lot. I couldn't shake the indigestion and every time I started running I felt nauseous like I was going to throw up. Over and over I reminded myself "this will pass, stay positive". UGH! It didn't pass. I didn't eat. Jason was a trooper. We talked a lot about velociraptors, which was our explanation to all the creepy sounds when you are on a trail in the dark after almost 24 hours with no sleep. Raptors. It was a funny joke, and kept us entertained for awhile. He tried to trip me with a vine he tripped on (which then pulled up almost tripping me, ya Jason I know you were trying to make me fall so the scary trail raptors would get me and not you). Somehow I managed not to fall - thank you Jesus! He also used my amazing headlamp to make shadow puppets while we power walked. Turns out, he's pretty good at shadow puppets! Haha. I started falling into a dark place toward the end of his 20 mile stretch with me. Jason quickly, silently prayed for me, which was probably one of my favorite moments of the whole race. I didn't miraculously get better, but this did remind me of the bigger picture, and my life wasn't just this race. No matter what happened there are bigger things going on than how I feel RIGHT NOW, in this moment. Although I entered into a very dark place after this, I believe his prayer was also a turning point for me in the race, and without it I may not have had the push to continue.
100k! Had indigestion about 8 miles at this point,
otherwise was feeling fantastic!

I was growing very frustrated with feeling so sick and not being able to shake it. My body felt good to run but every time I started I felt like I would throw up. SO FRUSTRATING. #GIproblems

This was going to be my FINAL loop. My 5th and final 20 mile loop. Oh. My. Goodness. Mile 80 I text Justin and asked if he were coming back. I told him I was struggling with feeling so sick and I just wanted to cry. He arrived around mile 83 (2:30 am) and continued walking with me. By the time we hit mile 88 I was weak, I was shivering cold unable to produce enough heat to warm my body. I could not walk straight, I was dry heaving, my eyes were blurry and I had no energy left. I started hallucinating, and that freaked both of us out. I won't go much into details, but I was certain there were disco balls buried along the trail. I was so certain that I kept reaching down to touch them and pull them up, but when I would they would disintegrate in my hands (sand). I didn't understand what was happening. I was very confused and disoriented. He reassured me I just needed to get food at the next aid station, and my warm change of clothes. We had about 1/2 mile to go, when I tried to lay down on the trail. I decided it was my time to die. I was ready to curl up on the trail and be left to die. He somehow convinced me to power through on what was the hardest and longest 1/2 mile (actually found out later it was only 1/5 mile...) of my life. It felt like hours. Every step was hard.
My darkest hour. Mile 88, 5:00 am.
Sipping hot vegetable soup broth and sobbing.
Eventually we FINALLY made it back to the spectator area/aid station. I got some hot soup and a piece of bread with jelly (quick carb and sugar). I dried off and changed into warm clothes, then we headed out walking some more. We made it back from the 4 mile out and back where I ate some more bread with jelly and soup. The sun was rising. Praise God the darkness was over and I made it through alive.

God said "Let there be LIGHT!" Talk about a renewed
energy when the sun came up.
Mile 92 I felt so much better I was really power walking at this point. Unfortunately I had been walking so horribly the past 20 miles I had some blisters that never got addressed and that made both walking and running very painful. I was walking/running really awkward trying to step on the blistered area as little as possible which was causing a lot of knee pain on one side. Ugghh... only 8 miles to go! Justin did some quick math and told me if I maintained 20 minute miles or faster, I could come in sub 27 hours. How as this even possible when I just walked the last 40 miles?? I am still going to beat my goal by over an hour?!? So I picked up the pace the best I could trying to keep the nausea to a minimum. I cried a lot this last 13 miles. Really, I sobbed. Off and on I cried for all different reasons. I couldn't believe I was almost done.
 I have never in my life been more humbled. Poor Justin I don't think he knew what to do or say. I just kept crying. I couldn't even hold a conversation because everything ended with me sobbing. I was so happy to be almost done. I texted an update to let everyone know I had 3.1 miles to finish. This was by far the longest, hardest 5k of my life. Most amazing thing? Jason and Jessica had gotten back to the spectator area, and all 3 of my amazing crew members power walked that last 2 miles to the finish line with me. They ran ahead about 1/3 mile to go and waited for me at the finish line. I cried the entire way. As I got closer I could hear all the spectators, and my friends yelling for me to run in and finish strong. I gave it everything I had running the last little tiny bit to run through the finish crossing at 26:52 (101 miles). Holy cow I did it.

They had a chair at the finish line and the race director promptly propped me into it, then awarded me my medal. I received my silver 100 mile finisher Belt Buckle. Again, this prompted more crying. Geez! I am not a crier! 
I loved this woman. What a great race.
I learned SO much from this race about myself and about the 100 mile ULTRA distance. IF there is ever a next time, I will nail my fueling. I am certain I would have come in around the 22-23 hour range if I had. My body felt really good the whole time, even after I finished my muscles are in pretty good shape overall. My hydration was on point, my pace was excellent (until I got sick), I was good about staying positive and walking it out for hours upon hours. Darn that food! I wonder if I would have hit such a dark, low, humbling place had I fueled properly throughout the entire race. I guess for now, I won't know. 

Great memories made, especially those regarding Pink & Floyd the Bevotters (which later turned out to just be otters), Raptors, shadow puppets and disco balls.

Jason, Jessica me and my husband. Greatest friends a girl could ask for #mycrew
One of my favorite quotes while I ran was from Jason saying something along the lines of "You have been such an inspiration to me... to NEVER run a 100 mile race!" You'd really need to hear the humor in this, but the struggle was real for me when he said it and it was hilarious. Glad I could be so inspiring! hahaha.


  1. I cried reading this. First off I cannot believe how much time and energy goes into training for just 10 miles... let alone 100! The strength that we as people draw from community, we are called to be eachother's cheerleaders in life and I am so thankful that even in the hardest of times, you had that on this run! Way to go, Justin, Jason, Jessica and your mom! Way to go Toni Lynne. Love you so much <3

    1. Thank you Dani! I was certainly a group effort. We all learned so much from it. It was a very emotional and HUMBLING experience for sure. <3

  2. Awesome and inspiring!!

  3. You are such an inspiration to so many people. This made me cry, and I am not a crier. You are a super hero that pulled through your darkest hours and came on top. Congratulations on your triumph. You are an amazing woman Toni in so many ways.

    1. Thanks Danielle, I'm not a crier either but this race certainly got the best of me! haha. Thank you for your kind words!