Keys 100 Race Report 2011 – Juli Aistars

Date:    Tue, 17 May 2011 01:01:37 -0500
From:    Juli Aistars
Subject: Keys 100 Race Report and the joys of ultrarunning

This was a blockbuster weekend in ultrarunning, not only for organized races including 3 Days at the Fair, IAT 50M, MMT, Keys 100 and others, but it was the finish of John’s Transcon, an Ice Age 100 mile solo and Davy’s Little Canyon run. It is so much fun to read the reports. I am sure there are more coming… Congratulations to all who ran.

The Keys 100 event was a fantastic and fun experience. Marshall Ulrich was there to promote his book. It is always great to see him. I read the book before I brought it for a signing. It is a worthwhile read about a lot more than the details of his Transcon run in 2008. A book report on “Running on Empty” would warrant a separate post at another time :). My quick summary would be “Telling it like it is” which is Marshall’s style. Pam Reed
was there to run. Reading about the running adventures of these two was one of the biggest inspirations for me to step on the ultrarunning path back in 2003.

It was great to see Bob Becker, Sue Anger, Eric Friedman, Mike Melton, Christian and Babette Griffith, Alan Giraldi, Kevin Dorsey and so many others who are positive and fun people who make you smile a little more just by spending time with them. There were many great volunteers along the course, but I have to commend Sue for all the time and effort she put in volunteering both before and during the event. She was the course marshal and did a little bit of everything, including giving her special brand of encouragement. I enjoyed running close to John Pyle and Jim Schroeder early in the race and Jim caught up to me around mile 60 again. John carried the American flag and it was not a small one, for the entire race. John’s wife, Toni, and Eric Friedman crewed both John and Jim. Toni and Eric were so encouraging and it was nice to see them so many times. I first met Eric at AO when I had the job of foot care and blister repair. Babette and “Bon Bon” who were Christian’s crew also did a great job of encouraging and helping anyone who needed it. I felt bad telling Babette that I was uncrewed and not allowed to accept anything but kind words… Way to persist Christian! I enjoyed running with you and seeing you both.

Congratulations to Dave Carver, who I never got to see on this point to point course, for the overall win! Congratulations to the talented and humble runner and one of my personal heroes, Joe Ninke for winning the uncrewed division. It was Joe who put the idea in my head to take on the challenge of an uncrewed Keys 100. If he can do it for 314 miles, then 100 with ice and water every 5 miles should not be too daunting :).

Congratulations to the accomplished Pam Reed for the women’s win and to Rochelle (lister Ultrachelle) for an excellent run and the women’s uncrewed win. There were only two of us in that division. There was also a 50 mile race and a relay going on, but they were always in front of us, so it seemed like an entirely separate event.

I met many new runners including Richard (Chas) finishing his 1st 100, Rochelle who I ran with for a short while around mile 70 (yes, she picked up almost 4 hours on me in the last 30 miles). Rochelle also solo-ed a Texas relay of over 200 miles. The girl is a Vol Stater for sure! Karen suffered from the ultralean in about the last 10 miles of the race. I was a little ways behind her and I could see that unmistakable lean starting to happen. I remember the excruciating pain of it at Vol State and there is not much that helps it once it starts to happen. I also had the great pleasure of meeting Cyndi and David Graves in person and we had some good conversations as we ran together a few times. I also ran with another David, running his first 100, who later got me back on track when he found me wandering a little at about 15 miles from the finish. He gave me some advice and then said, “Maybe I shouldn’t be telling you.” It was his little pep talk that made me push on despite not feeling very good at that point. He moved on past me saying, “I have a race to finish up here!” I also had the chance to get to know Steve Wheeler who ran well and was crewed by daughter Leslie and her college friend, Ashley. Leslie paced Steve the last 17 mile of the race.

This point to point course is a great way to experience the Florida Keys. For about 70% of the run, we used the bike paths and weren’t too close to traffic. There were times when we had no choice but to run close to traffic and they do drive fast, despite the police presence. The seven mile bridge was fun to run, except you had to keep an eye on the oncoming traffic because it was so close. The thought of a blowout or a hubcap flying crossed my mind more than once. All in all, the 100 mile run was harder than I anticipated.

Running it uncrewed is very doable but does take more logistical planning and ingenuity. I was apprehensive about being on the road alone at night, but the only way to conquer fears is to face them. Joe seems to have uncrewed running down to a science. It was a challenge for me but I learned from it and it gave me a little more confidence. Feel the fear and do it anyway. I don’t know who said that but I try to jump off those cliffs sometimes. Always choosing the safe path isn’t really living, especially when you want to know, “Can I???”. I did not bring a cell phone and that was a mistake. It would have given me a sense of security since I did feel vulnerable being a woman alone and sometimes I didn’t see other runners or anyone for periods of time. I flew in on Thursday hoping to get a little rest before the race, but that usually doesn’t happen since you are excited about seeing friends and socializing. I thought I was getting the night running down, but I fell apart again about 2am and didn’t recover until dawn. Chas shone his light on me when he found me sleeping under a guard rail and said, “Sorry, I thought the blinking red light on your back was a race sign.” I had found a towel to use as a pillow. It looked clean, but who knows… As I was passing by a boat off the bridge about 1am, I realized that the two people who seemed busy getting ready to take their boat out were totally naked. I ran by as quietly as I could and averted my eyes. This was one time that I thought a cheery greeting might not be the right thing :). This IS the Florida Keys and stuff happens. I saw no dogs on the course, except a few on leashes.

On the way in to the finish line, I was joined by a biker named Kathy. She is a local resident and she was telling me how she was involved in the first Keys 100 race back in 1993 (I believe the same one Matt Mahoney ran) and how incredulous she was that people ran 100 miles. Kathy was a runner, but some injury took her out of it and she does other things now. She misses running. She rode along with me and encouraged me the last few miles. She is also one of Bob’s volunteers who helped with the setup on Friday and she was telling me what to expect next and what the finish area looked like. The sun was beating down, hotter than Saturday, and I had left my hat and glasses in one of my drop bags. This was one time I wished I had a crew.

The finish area was lots of fun, the busy volunteers treating us like kings and queens, attending to our every need, the paramedics obviously enjoying fixing feet and doing whatever was needed, each finisher being cheered in like they were the most important runner, all the way to the last. I got some sleep in a sheltered area, thanks to the kindness of a good friend. In fact, everything worked out very well, thanks to the kindness of good friends, in the days leading up to the run all the way to getting back to Ft. Lauderdale. It was nice to get some sleep before catching the plane this morning. And then there was the added bonus of meeting Melissa on the plane, as I mentioned in a previous post. She was one of Lane’s crew, who I have not met, but heard he did very well. Melissa loved the crewing and she can’t wait to run her first 50!

There is no place to feel more cared about and protected than among ultrarunners. There is no place to meet kinder or more generous people.

Changed a little by the last few days…

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