Friday, July 14, 2017

Canal Corridor 100 Mile Race Report

This may be the first of several posts about a little race I ran last weekend in Akron called the Canal Corridor 100 Mile Endurance Run. Last week was bittersweet for me. I trained for months for my first attempt at the big 100. I thought I had it in me but I wasn't sure. After all before last Saturday I had never run more than a 50K. My attempt to run the 100K last year resulted in a DNF albeit more related to a lingering hip/lower back injury. So this was a bug jump for me mentally and physically to take on a 100 mile event.

I had been feeling run down the week leading into the race and noticeably going to the bathroom more. I thought it might just be prepace nerves but finally Thursday I made the decision to go in and get checked out. Wouldn't you know I had a freaking UTI (urinary tract infection). I was pretty upset. I had trained so hard for this event. I didn't want to miss out. So I decided to see how I felt after a couple of days on antibitoics. The first day and a half was pretty brutal as I had a lot of nasty side effects from Macrobid such as nausea, loss of appetite and probably one of the worst headaches I've ever had.

Since my drop bags were already packed I decided to check in Friday at Lock 3 and just see how I felt Saturday morning knowing that I could always back out of the race if I didn't think I was up for it. I took it easy Friday and had a good meal, hydrated well and went to sleep around 8:30PM. When the alarm went off at 3:30 Saturday I didn't even think about anything. I knew it was go time. Since I was feeling well enough to hit to the start I told myself I would just give it my best. If I had to drop after 25, 50, 75 or whatever that's what I would do.

prerace with Steve
I got down to Lock 3 to check in for the start right around 4:30am. Steve and I snapped a couple of pictures and I used the bathroom and lined up with excitement among the other 60 or so runners ready to take on what the day might bring. After a couple announcements from the RDs we were off at 5am sharp. The first leg of the race starts at Lock 3 and head south on the Towpath headed towards Canal Fulton where we turn around about 20 miles out. It was dark when we started for about an hour or so and I enjoyed chatting with some of the other runners and learning about them.

I was fortunate to have my hubby Steve crewing for me at the allowed aid stops so I could have specific items that I wanted throughout the race such as chocolate almond milk and of course cranberry juice to keep my system flushed out. There were also race aid stations either full service or self serve (water) stops about every 5 miles, which made staying hydrated easy.

around mile 35 going strong!
I felt pretty good 20 miles in around 3:45. The next big stop was mile 30 followed by mile 40 at Lock 3. I was still feeling pretty decent here but did take a longer aid stop break to change socks, tape up my left hip and get something more substantive to eat like grilled cheese. Mmm! The next stop at Portage Path/Second Sole I tried to eat part of a Subway sandwhich but it was not happening. I had to fix a blister and also tape up my left arch, which was starting to bug me. Off I went towards Botzum, Hunt Farm and finally Boston Store at mile 57 where there was a bigger aid stop. Along this stretch I talked for a bit with other runners and ran into my friend Margie who was riding on the Towpath before Winking Lizard. That helped pass the time. Making it to Boston Store was mentally good for me as I started to struggle more after 50-55 miles.

I was so happy to have Steve crewing and at Canal Exploration to pace me. He had brought me a Melt Grilled Cheese, which tasted like a slice of heaven after running that long! Not to mention that he paced me the last long 34 miles. Getting to the turn-around wasn't too bad with him (mile 70) but then I started feeling pretty bad with cramping (GI and bladder) and when we made it back to Canal at mile 74 I thought that I might have to call it a day. I wanted to finish, but I also did not want to permanently damage my body. So I stopped here and lied down in the backseat of my car for a while. Like an hour. This was good and bad. As I layed there my body felt good. To good. I throbbed and rested. I wanted to be done like nothing more. Texts and calls from family and friends urging me to keep moving kept me thinking and then I decided to just try it. I was 75% done. I changed clothes, taped up some blisters, grabbed some food at the aid station and then off we went toward Station Road.

Mile 71ish with Steve
It was dark on the trail but the moon was full. The sounds of bull frogs and even coyotes howling in the distance filled the night air and made me want to keep moving fast. It was mostly a power walk at this point. Once we made it to the Boston Store again at mile 82 or so and had some food and a much needed bathroom break (GI was pretty bad) I was able to run a few miles. Then the GI started acting up again and I had to stop a couple more times including Botzum and Big Bend. It seemed like an eternity until we made it to the final aid stop at Portage Path/Second Sole at mile 94. At this point it was morning although still a chill in the air. I felt wasted but was in decent spirits knowing I was going to make the cutoff. After some cold macaroni and cheese, which was divine we were off to do the last miles including the hills leading to downtown Akron including that detour, Cascade finally making it close enough to see downtown. What a feeling. I was finishing. I was exhausted. I was able to muster up a little jog for the last 1/2 mile or so to the finish line. It was a long day/night and I finished in 27 hours and 23 minutes - longer than I expected but who cares. I did it!! The real goal of a 100 is to finish the damn thing and I DID IT!! Wow!

The finish!
Lock 3 was hopping with race staff and runners and family members. I was beyond happy to be done and have Wild Bill hand me that very hard-earned belt buckle! I chugged a smoothie and sat down for a while taking it all in and cheering for other finishers including some first timers like my friend Brian I met. It was pretty emotional. Finishing 100 miles is not an easy feat. Some of us suffered out there for a long time but the joy of the finish is worth it. After a while I got changed and then headed home. My awesome husband cooked me eggs and bacon and we celebrated with an IPA. That may have been the best breakfast and beer ever. A long, hot shower and then a long nap were up next. Later that night we went to dinner with my daughter to celebrate. I was done. It was really over. What a great race!!

Getting up and walking really sucked for the first couple of days! But I forced myself to keep moving. Monday I walked 2 miles, Tuesday I walked 3 miles and cleaned the house, Wednesday I walked 2 miles and biked for 20 minutes. Yesterday I ran 4 miles (slow with some walking). I am happy that my recovery is going well. And of course now I am sad that it's over. Next up is the hubby's first 100 at Burning River where I get the honor of crewing and pacing. Then who knows. I may run another 100 for time at some point. Probably not this season as I want to stick to 50K and under but you never know. Now I know that I am strong enough to run 100 miles. That opens up a lot of possibilities and curiosities in a person I think.

I'll have to dedicate a whole post just to the emotional side of the race. I feel like it reawakened something in me. More to come on that!

The blimp was out on race day!

My hard-earned finisher buckle! 


  1. Insane! So glad you were able to power through everything. The mental approach behind these things is really the key.

  2. Wow, just wow! Very inspirational.