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The BEST way to run 100 miles! {Lean Horse 100-mile relay}

What an incredible weekend!!!!

It all started in January when Ann (a running friend I met when living in Green Bay) announced she was going to be doing her first 100-miler. I inquired where and when and all and she told me to come along to which I said— NO WAY was I running a 100 this year! But Ann assured me there were plenty of *other options* and so I looked into it. I mean, who doesn’t want to be there when their friend runs 100 miles for the first time??? Not me!

I found an option that seemed doable – the 100 mile relay and I liked the fact that there was a 2-person division. That way I could get in a “fun 50”, right? I asked my friend, Todd, who said HECK YEA! and we were on!

So, fast forward to this weekend. I had trained loosely to run a 50, plus added in some overnight training (we were CERTAIN we would be running well into the next morning), along with some runs where we rested in-between. Believe it or not, the hard part about this was running, resting, then running AGAIN (6 times!). Not to mention the task of finding 6+ running outfits that match and don't chafe. Oh! The logistics you just don't think about when signing up for a race.
Arriving in the Black Hills!
The first thing Ross went for - the saloon!
Secret mojo for the following day - unicorn poop cookies - courtesy of Ann's crew.
 The rules for this relay included that we could divy it up however we wanted. So Todd and I decided to go about every 2 aid stations/8-12 miles at a time. When we did this our run looked like this.

 Seeing that, we then opted to break the long climb up into 3 parts instead of 2. Believe it or not, I was willing to run the 12 continuous miles uphill, but he insisted, so we broke it up -- good for me, not-so-good for him, but again HIS IDEA...

We started off the day, bright (or rather dark) and early at 4 am. It was raining HARD when I woke up… oh no! But, by the time we were out of the hotel (5 am) it had stopped. Phew! Rain was forecasted on and off all day, so here’s hoping…

Got to the track to find Ann and crew + Todd and Torri (Todd’s daughter who would be crewing along with Ross).
Me and Anne
Team Pizza Pounders (we ate a lot of pizza on our training runs)
Ready to run - let's have some fun!
And after a few picts – off we/I went.
 The run was a 50 mile out-and-back along the George S. Michelson trail (even though I kept referring to it as the Phil Michelson trail). It was a nicely graded trail but, for the love of God, you would think that there would be SOME flat along it somewhere. Nope.

My first leg was a lot of up, up, up. No biggie, right? The trail was beautiful with load of clouds and fog, which actually made it quite eery. Evidently, about mile 5 I ran right by Crazy Horse Monument, but he, too, was covered with fog so I didn’t get to see him. I tried to stop and take picts with my camera, but my camera quality was not so good, so I stopped doing even that about halfway through that leg… geesh! Good thing I had Ross to take picts of the run.
Ordinarily, it would have looked something like this...
But today, it looked like this...
My first leg was about 6 miles up and then 4 down. Yay, down! (I was saying this now, but would not be saying so later.) Got to the end of my first leg to see everyone waiting for me and I was happy!

I saw Ann’s crew, too, and waited for Ann to come through (the only time would see her all day). 
Ann at mile 10 -- Aid Station #2. She looked great with her new friend, Norm.

 At this point, we were both feeling good and Todd had an awesome first leg/10 miles!
Todd at mile 20'ish - end of his first leg!
Even though the weather has horrible forecast for the day - everything turned out to be BEAUTIFUL! I only got sprinkled on 3 times and 2 of the 3 times it was actually a nice little shower!

Along the way, there were plenty of cool things -- especially the tunnels and bridges we got to experience:
Old steam engine tunnel
Cool bridge
Scenery along the way -- it was just gorgeous!
30 miles in -- Aid Station #6
Recovering with chocolate milk and icy leg wraps!

Plowing into Rochford - Aid Station #8. 38 miles in.
 This was the start of the climb. Todd got the first 4 miles or so of it heading into Rochford and was quite happy to be done. (He did AWESOME!)
Up, up, up was that leg! Another 6 miles of climbing. Finishing strong about mile 44 into Nahant.

Can we PLEASE be done with this CLIMB?!?! This was after Todd climbed another 6 miles.
Answer: yes!
We ran to the turnaround together! My fave pict of the day!
My turn to head to Nahant. This was 6 miles of decent.
Waiting for Todd in Rochford.
Torri- EXCELLENT CREW EXTRAORDINAIRE - Hanging in Rochford. Literally.
AND HERE HE COMES! Into Rochford.
As soon as I started my leg, my quads were SCREAMING! You know how I was happy for downhill at the beginning? Not so much anymore. It was pure pain from step 1, but I was proud of myself for fighting through it and that I kept on going- running the whole way!

About 1/2 mile from the end, a lady runs up to pace me. She was actually looking for someone else, but decided to stick with me regardless. She was a volunteer, had been drinking, was bored, so went back to find someone else from another relay to pace. She found me instead and stuck with me. She was quite lovely (I never got her name, since I was speaking in 1-word sentences/responses) and she did a great job filling our 5 minutes together with stories -- including one about a guy who had his own gold claim passed down through the family and we saw him panning for gold as we ran. Only in the West awesomeness.
Me and my new friend coming into the Mystic Aid Station.
Happy to be in Mystic. Don't let the smile deceive you. I went straight to my chair and Icy Hot after this.

More western love. The next aid station included a covered wagon.
Todd rolling into High Country. Mile 80.
 After this, I ran from High Country to Hill City (where I got momentarily lost) and then into darkness. After I hit Hill City, it was the "just get to" game going on in my head. I believed this leg was 9.6 miles long. Hill City Aid Station was about 5 miles, so directly after that was nightfall and then "just get to 6 miles" (look at watch) 5.2 miles. "Just get to 6 miles, just get to 6 miles" run, run, run, look at watch 5.41 miles... And then once it clicked over to 6 miles, it was "Just get to 7  miles", run, run, run (look at watch) 6.22 miles. Ugh! But so on and so forth until 9.6 miles. No one. Pitch dark.  Run to 9.8 (maybe I had the mileage wrong?). Nothing. I scream "HELLOOOOOO...." No one there. I see some lightsticks a little later and then an aid station finally. (Well after 10 miles and..) what I realize about this leg -- I don't like running in DARK!

Todd saw me. Gave me a big hug. I smelled the icy hot on him, too, and was glad he used it. It was the one thing that saved me on the last leg. Also, dare I mention that another relay (a 5-person team that we had been close to all day), was closing in on us. I had lost some time running uphill in the dark and this team was getting über competitive. Nice, but competitive.

Torri, Ross and I went straight to  the last aid station, to hang and cheer Todd on. I relaxed a little (I had no more legs to run - yay!) but mostly waited for Todd to come through. It was dark, they had a campfire and the other relay had come up waiting for their runner as well. At one point, Torri and I decided to walk back to find Todd. We walked back about 1/2 mile to find him running! He was in such good spirits and let me know that he ran UP the last 4 miles - WOW! At this point, I was so proud of him. I let him know the other team was gunning for him/us and he was so determined not to let them overtake us! He ran straight through the aid station and onto the end!

After Todd came through the aid station, we went to the end. Todd had 4.5 miles of downhill to cover. I placed our light-up lantern by the trail turn so that he would see where to turn from the trail and waited... then we got to run to the end together!
Running in from the trail
And me, Todd and Torri finishing!

16 hours and 40 minutes and 100 miles later!


After finishing, we relaxed, ate a bit and went back to our hotels/teepees.

Ross and I slept in (a novelty of not having kids we don't often get), got up, texted Robin (from Ann's crew), ate breakfast, went back to bed, heard from Robin, got up and went back to SEE ANN FINISH HER 100!!!!!
Ann coming in with her 2 daughters!
Todd and I grabbing one of the first picts with our favorite new 100-miler!!!
A little recovery and off to the awards ceremony! (Also on the track grounds)
Ann got 2nd in her division

And we got first...
 While it wasn't like we beat out a ton of people -- there 2 other (5-person) teams -- I am SO proud of how Todd and I ran.We couldn't have asked for a better run - one we both enjoyed and ran well with.

Highlights of this race:
  • We had the awesome support of Torri and Ross
  • 16 hours and 40 minutes and 100 miles later!
  • Got to be a part of Ann's first 100-mile run
  • Spent a weekend with the love of my life
  • Ran 100 miles with my running BFF

Honestly, can't think of a better weekend!