This weekend I ran the inaugural Daytona 100 ultra marathon. Here’s my race report with what worked, where things went wrong, and everything in between. There were three key things that helped me finish this race; my crew, my coach and the support of so many people on the course.
My partner Vicki crewed me during this race. Crewing point to point races are hard, and crewing one solo is even harder. She was a total trooper and said and did the right things when they needed doing. Thank you.
I started training with a coach, Joe Uhan, about six months ago. The consistency and quality of my running results have improved dramatically directly as a result of his help. I could write a lot about how professional help has helped me up my game, but that’s for another day. Thanks Joe!
More than once I was given water, ice, direct assistance, or kind words were said that lifted my spirits. It’s part of what I love about the Florida ultra scene, and ultras in general. Thank you everyone!
Course overview- The course was beautiful, and took us through amazing beaches, toured us through some very impressive neighborhoods, and through America’s Ancient city, St. Augustine. The scenery certainly helped ease the miles.
Shoes- I ran in last year’s Pearl Izumi N1’s up until mile 75 or so. They’re light, and have minimal drop. Last 25 or so were in Altra Olympus (more on the shoe change later).
Nutrition – Tailwind during the day, with an Epic bar every three hours during the day. After dark I allowed myself caffeine in the Tailwind and espresso beans, coffee, and coke. I also drank an “OJJ” mix recommended by my coach that was freaking amazing late into the race. I also took beta alanine twice somewhere around mile 40 and about six hours later (I forget already?)
Clothing- Lots of white, white and partially black Ink Burn singlet and white arm and calf sleeves. Some random black running shorts that I’d gone over 30 miles in before. Salamon hat with neck flaps. Ice dannas and arm sleeves stuffed with ice continuously during the day. Flip belt with slow and fast fuels and cell phone.
Ivan Scale- 3 ramp to 6 (post mile ~73)
Goal- Sub 24 in a cool, fast and flat Florida ultra
TLDR: Well run race by the RD and staff. Things went well before going bad. I finished because of the village.
The race itself was extremely well organized. Aid stations, on route support, and communication prior to the race were all excellent. This year the race took place during record setting temperatures and it would hit the field pretty hard. Fortunately I’d spent some time pacing in the desert and participated in the FURocious Summer Slam (technically I bandited ⅔, but whatever) so I was well prepared for heat even though I’d expected it to be a much cooler event.
The start at 6 AM was typical, with lots of FUR’s in attendance as both crew and participants. I met several people throughout the race that I’d only known in name from our Facebook group and it was nice to finally meet so many people in person. We did a short loop leaving the hotel and then turning south, where we would keep the ocean to the left until 95 or so miles later.
The sun soon rose, and the temperatures followed it. Not just heat, but a mugginess that pervaded everything like a soup. It was like a long face hug by a warm and moist towel. The plan was for me to run at a certain heart rate for the first half of the race and then do the best I could to finish. This caused me a lot of walking and soon I was towards the back of the pack. I stuck to my pace and nutrition plan as I figured we’d soon be fighting the heat and I’d push after temps started dropping.
We ran though several neighborhoods here, including several sections that were under construction and had many porta potties. They were very appreciated. =)
I ran with several friends during this time and we had typical ultra conversations. We eventually hit a beach section, and I was greeted by a baby whale surrounded by volunteers trying to save it. I don’t believe in omens, but it certainly set a mood for the beach. It was HOT. It was HUMID. The steam seemed to rise from the beach as the waves rolled in. Surprisingly there seemed to be NO wind at all. The beach was well packed, and had only a slight camber. I focused on this as the positive thing. While running at a lower heart rate it’s pretty comfortable, and it allows me to focus on form, foot turnover, and nutrition. I’m pretty sure this section resulted in a LOT of the DNF’s, as there were many people going really fast here.
I saw Vicki for the first time at about mile 22.5 on the beach. I think at this point I’d been on it for about 2 hours and it was really beginning to mentally wear on me. Seeing her really perked me up and she gave me I changed socks to help prevent blisters and Sean Connolly, who was there crewing Lauren Hadley, helped her put together the ice danna.
I finished the beach section about an hour later and was told a friend was having problems. We decided to walk for a while to see if the problems subsided, but after a mile or so with no improvement he said to go ahead and move on. I allowed this to put me in a bit of a blue mood, and I snapped at Vicki several times before I pulled it back together mentally.
About this time we crossed the bridge into St. Augustine, which was really neat to run through. The fort, tourist attractions and other sections were an interesting contrast to the undeveloped beach sections we’d just run through. I would have taken a picture but my phone wouldn’t unlock because it was wet. I was out of water by the time I got through most of the old town and my phone wouldn’t dry off so I could call Vicki for water or ice. Someone’s crew here gave me water to drink and ice for my sleeves here and really helped me keep moving quickly.
Met Vicki and restocked and got moving towards the St. Augustine lighthouse. We hit the first, and only, section of shade. It felt NICE after the unrelenting sun all day. After that 1 or so mile stretch it was back on A1A for a while. I saw Vicki, changed socks because I was getting some rubbing. I know from experience that if I let them air out for a second I’ll prevent bad blisters, so I ate an Epic bar, some espresso beans, and put my night gear on. The sun was starting to set, and the temps were dropping, which allowed me to run faster since I was pacing 100% by heart rate. I started enforcing some walking every now and then to ensure I didn’t get ahead of my nutrition but I was very happy to be running comfortably this late in the game. My legs felt surprisingly fresh and my spirits were up. I was running what felt like a decent pace and was passing a lot of runners.
I hit Marineland shortly after and added music. This really helped me mentally and some fast beats helped me focus on foot turnover. I fell into my groove here and kept drinking, eating, and rolling along. I hit mile 71 aid station and did my final sock change. I KNEW I could have skipped this, but I was sweating heavily and wanted to make sure that my feet were good no matter how long it took to do the last 29 miles. Above my left knee had started nagging a little bit before this but otherwise I was looking to do the last 29 miles in six or so hours given how well I felt. I left the AS limping a little but knew that after I started walking my legs warmed up. But they didn’t. And the wheels completely fell off. I was *mostly* lucid, but the left leg, above the knee just started hurting BADLY when I would run; Walking wasn’t nearly as bad because I could powerwalk without bending the knee. But running was excruciating. I saw Vicki and we talked about why it had taken me so long when I’d been rolling along at a steady clip. I took LOTS more caffeine here and tried to focus on the fact that I basically had a marathon left and could still hit my sub 24 hour goal if I could get moving a little faster.
I can power walk a 13-14 minute mile pretty easily when my legs are working properly. I now started tracking my time with GPS and was doing ~15-16 minute miles while power walking. This worked for a short while then even power walking got really bad. I ran into Sean (and the other crew memeber who’s name I don’t recall =/) again here and he helped with different options including taking more electrolytes. He also recommended trying switching shoes.
I left them and called Vicki and asked her to drive back and help me with new shoes. Lowest point of the race. Honestly, if I hadn’t DNF’d at Iron Horse I probably would have dropped here. Vicki also told me, for about the thousandth time that I was in the home stretch and that I just needed to finish it. I told myself “things don’t always get worse” and started the five mile walk to where I’d meet Vicki.
I was basically alone, power walking for the next hour and a half. Things were not better, but at least weren’t getting worse. I stocked back up and went back out. Ground through another few miles but my pain was increasing for less and less pace. I’d been doing the math for sub 24 hour finish for hours. I could either take a chance that a nap would help and I could jog again or not finish in time the current pace. The only thing I could think to do at this stage was to elevate it and take a nap. I didn’t really end up sleeping (too much adrenaline and caffeine most likely), and then went back out.
It was better enough that I could walk faster without too much pain, but running still sucked moose lips. With running off the table I knew that I sub 24 hour was out of the window and now I needed to protect getting the buckle; pushing at this point might break me beyond my ability to finish. I’ve thought a lot about why I didn’t drop here; really it boiled down to that it just sucked, but wasn’t SHARP or STABBING pain, just a big knot of it here. I am not sure that makes or made sense, but it was what I was using as the metric for whether or not I should drop.
We entered Daytona Beach about this time. It was 2am ish on a Saturday night and I couldn’t run. All the bars were out. I’d left my cell with Vicki so she could charge it before I went onto the next beach section. I’d been alone in the dark on the side of the road for hours, but I only ever felt concerned for my safety here briefly when a group of VERY drunk French dudes started looking at me and talking. I kept hobbling trying not to show that I was hurt and was surprised when one peeled off towards me and said something I didn’t catch. In heavily accented English and with a thick perfume of alcohol he asked if I was doing a marathon; I said I was doing an ultra marathon but I could tell it didn’t connect. He showed me a bracelet that said something like 3:31 and he explained that he wanted to know how fast I was running mine in….I told him I was taking all day to do around 161km…I think he thought I was messing with him but then a smile cracked on his face and he said something like “Good luck” and staggered off with his friends.
I walked through the rest of Daytona without too much concern despite the time of night; there were a lot of cops and a lot of other ultra crews out there. I met Vicki shortly before getting onto the last beach section, grabbed my cell phone and GPS again and started the long five mile walk to the next AS. The camber on the sidewalk through this whole section really made my leg hurt and I picked my way through as quickly and gingerly as I could.
I hit this beach section and it was LESS packed than the previous beach. The section right where the waves are washing in are the most packed, but with my limited mobility I didn’t want to run the risk that I’d get my feet wet.
I started cruising along fairly well, and the the music and waves helped me stay focused on moving forward. The moon was mostly eclipsed by clouds, but still shed quite a bit of light. I hallucinated for the first time on this run here, when I saw a woman walk out of the water out of my peripheral vision; I’m pretty sure it was a tall wave breaking but it spooked me for a second. Caught up with a runner that I’d been chasing for a long time, and almost the first thing she says is “I’ve been hallucinating out here a bit.” I laughed.
Finally reached the end and the final aid station. It’s mile 92. Except, they tell me it’s not. It’s actually 93.5. That may not seem like much, but when you’re grinding down miles at 3 mph that’s a huge boost. Changed socks to get rid of the loose sand because now I had pretty bad blisters from my janky foot strike. Had coke and some salted potatoes and started the final run. In my mind I started counting once I got to a 10k; I know the distances at home and kept saying to myself “Could you walk that far in X hours?” Then walk!
Looped through Ponce Inlet texting with my friends that I’d gone to badwater with. Despite the short miles left I was really in a bad spot mentally here just frustrated with the situation. They really helped and lifted my spirits. I FINALLY got to the light house where we would start north for a short while before the FINAL two mile beach section. Got to the beach and for the first time, I had a tailwind helping me! Might not seem like much but after grinding out this race for HOURS it was a nice boost.
As I got close I saw Vicki walking down the beach to meet me and we walked in the last half mile or so together. As I got close to finish I had to keep looking away because I didn’t want to see the finish line and collapse which was a very real possibility at that point.
I finished in 25:36.
I have a large bruise on my leg and it’s a bit swollen. I didn’t trip, so I hope everything is ok, and will be going to professionals if it doesn’t self resolve from RICE in the next few days.
Overall, with the exception of my leg, I’m not beat up. I have manageable blisters, but DOMS is minimal and I don’t have all the weird post ultra things going on with taste, etc. That’s cool. I’ve got two tickets in Western States lottery; either I need to get in, or I’ll be racing again at Bandera in 8 weeks. Fingers crossed.
Thank you again to everyone who helped me get through this. You rock!
P.S.- I always edit as I remember things, and first drafts suck.