Are you training to run the 2022 Habanero 100 in Cat Spring, Texas? This could be the hottest year so far! Here is my 2019 race experience. Hope you have a great race!
The long and short of it: My 2019 Finish Place 62/94 of 50k finishers, 19/32 females There were 19 DNF. My Finish Time 9 hours 15 minutes of running and walking, well mostly walking the last 4 hours.
Highlights: Getting to run with some very nice and interesting people and listen to their stories. Seeing other runners doing their best to beat the heat and finish. The breeze on the open pasture. Ice in my bra. Crossing that finish line!
A few more details: The race started at high noon. Garmin says it was 97 degrees, but not very humid, but that doesn’t include the heat coming off the sand pits.
Somewhere around 200 of the 100 mile/100k runners took off first. Then 15 minutes later about 400 more runners from the 50k/30k/20k/10k distances headed down the gravel road that leads to the 10k loop trail.
I was in the middle of that pack.
Loop one: After taking off we were soon stopped by a pile up of runners as we hit the first narrow single track section through a few trees. There is nowhere to pass so we just had to be patient as it spread out.
Then we arrived at the first stretch of deep sand, like a wide beach that had to be gone through , not around. Many people were trying to run on the edge of the ‘beach’ which was slightly more packed down.
My body was warm from the heat but my heart was still adjusting to the running. Thanks to the logjam, my first mile was a 13:39 pace.
After we all spread out a bit along the trail, I managed a 12:35 second mile. I was happy with that but I knew that I’d be slowing down soon.
My next miles of the first loop were 14:37, 13:33 and 15:38, then 16:17 because that included stopping at the main aid station.
There was also an aid station at approximately mile 2.84. The enthusiastic volunteers greeted us each loop and helped us get whatever we needed. They were a crucial part of the race.
My main goal during each loop was to make it to the next aid station. My secondary goal was to finish each mile.
My most important goal of the race was to manage my hydration and keep my body temperature down. I loaded my vest bladder with Gatorade on the first loop.
The ice in my pack melted and my Gatorade got pretty warm. I added ice at the first aid station and also soaked my Mission brand cooling towel in the bucket of ice water and put some ice in my bra.
The towel was my secret weapon! I don’t think I could have survived without it. I kept it draped over my shoulders and sometimes on top of my hat , held in my place with my sunglasses, not very stylish but I didn’t die!
Other runners used ice in arm sleeves, buffs and in their hats. I probably should have used more ice, but I kept forgetting. Heat management takes a lot of thinking!
The second and third loops were pretty similar, but the miles were gradually getting slower and I needed longer aid station breaks to cool down in the shade because it was so hot.
My attitude was mostly positive despite suffering greatly due to the extreme heat. And then my toes started hurting so bad, especially my problematic big toe! I guess my feet were swelling, but there was nothing I could do.
The only other shoes I had were even tighter. I was wishing I had some sandals like a couple of runners I saw.
I tried to focus on other things, like adding ice and either Gatorade or water to my pack at the main aid station. Due to being gluten sensitive, there are few aid station items that I can eat. I can’t even eat Pringles.
But I did eat a few regular potato chips and some pickle slices. Other than that, the only food I ate was one package of Honey Stinger Chews and a cheese slice and a few bites of deli turkey. I
felt sick after eating the cheese and turkey so I decided to stick with liquid calories. I drank a V8 Mango Energy drink on one loop and a Redbull on the last loop. The caffeine really helped, but I didn’t want to overdo it.
Mile 19 was over 34 minutes because my muscles started cramping and I had to rest a bit after I made it back to the start.
I knew I’d be mostly walking the next 12 miles but I was determined to finish if I could, so I wanted to keep the cramps under control. My 4th loop took 2 hours and 12 minutes compared to 1:30 and 1:35 on my first two.
Even with my determined efforts, I got dehydrated. Plus, I think I should have run more long runs in training.
Finally, I started off excitedly on my last loop, pretty confident that I would finish as long as nothing happened. I had the pleasure of walking and chatting with several people on this 2 hour 3 minute loop.
Somehow I managed to kick a root with my super sore big toe and I caught myself from falling but this triggered a hamstring cramp from hell and I’m sure it was a sight to see from behind.
I was standing there rubbing my leg trying to make it settle down and waiting for my toe to stop throbbing like a giant thumb in a cartoon, when a nice man stopped to speak to me.
We proceeded together for awhile and then met up with another walker and had a fun three-way convo going. But then he disappeared and it was just her and I.
She turned out to be veteran ultrarunner, Lorraine Killion age 71, who had many stories to tell. We keep a great pace together and swapped stories til the end and before you know it she was telling me to run to the finish, which I did.
I was so happy to be done and surprised by my finish time. I hadn’t really been checking my watch much.
My goal had been to finish. I estimated between 8.5 and 10 hours from what I knew about the race and my poor ability to run in the heat.
My actual moving time turned out to be 8.5 hours. But you don’t go by that, hahaha!
I had a great time out there with everyone and I’m planning to run it again next year , probably the 100k distance .