100 miles /160 km in 29 hours 24 min.
There are quite a few race reports on Fort Clinch . This one is personal, but I hope it gives somebody good information on the course as well .
Why Fort Cinch 100
Signing up for Ft Clinch was a matter of finishing up the distance after DNF in Leadville in 2016.
It was a result of curiosity – how does it feel to run 100 within time cut off limits of 30 hours?
It was due to my love to Florida, the ocean and the sands. Rather then shooting for a local race in Georgia. My heart is out there, regardless the heat. Amelia Island is also the spot where I had a great Atlantic Coast Triathlon in 2013 – Half-Ironman distance, so I kind of knew the park already: part of the run at that Half taken place in the park.
I did also think it was a flat convenient race. 10miles loop, popular park trails. In my mind it was like – PARK TRAILS.
– “Destin on steroids” – my pacer nailed it about the course while we danced Flight Of The Bumblebee in the woods, trying not to fall over the roots, up-n-down all the time.
The start and the finish of each loop is at a parking lot, so every time I could get back to the truck with my crew/ pacer and all the nutrition I need. It just tried and tested approach – I can’t have race aid stations food, and if I don’t have mine, I just don’t eat, which is not a great way to go in Ultra. (We did get a table to set next to the parked truck, but it ended up being more of a tent for shadow placed at the back of the truck.)
I was mentally and physically ready. After Destin50 -2017, where I walked a lot due to hip pain, I trained to endure the pain for long and I also learned I do NOT want to walk during 100.
- Vega Bars s, Picky bars, Macrobars. , unlimited amount
- Osmo Hydration for Women– about 2 galons
- Hornet Juice Aminoacids– the aminoacids I really like. They are not sweet and they don’t have much of that aminoacids “aftertaste” , about a gallon.
- UCAN starch – about 2-3 gallons.
- Cold coffee, vegan Ramen noodles.
But it were quesadillas that saved my night: volunteers were probably elves and they made that magic food that returned dead to life. Vegan version – with spinach and avocados.
I did pack multiple layers of clothes thinking the weather might change, but it didn’t , and I didn’t need to change at all
I did take all options of shoes I might wear on trails.
- Vibram Fivefingers
- Brooks pure drift
- Altra Superior 2.5
- Socks – injinji
- Ultra Aspire Velocity vest
- Triglide spray
- I did take bug spray with me, but turned out I did not need it
- East Coast AF Headlamp 1800 Lumen,
- And backup lamp BlackDiamond 500 lm
- Triflare yellow dress, because butterfly is my thing and because if I die , at least I will look bright doing it.
- 0.5 mile of asphalt,
- left turn, 2.5 miles of wooded dune trails,
- turnaround with a cooler with water across the park road,
- 5 miles of dune trail till the aid station “Youth camp” that had a camp site bathrooms, food, gels, water, Tailwind.
- About 2 miles by sandy-grassy packed trails till the fort. A couple of hundred yards around the fort on sugar-sand – a turnaround.
- Then the usual dune trails till the asphalt road.
- An out-n-back by fire road up to a sandy dune and back. that sandy dune turnaround
Packet pickup – at the park, at the same parking lot where the race start and finish and the main aid station would take place. Very laid back , quite atmosphere. Love small local races!
I get to chat with some runners, meet the aid station angels setting up for the next day.
The oceans were rough the day before. I was glad I am not there for a triathlon!
Headed back after the packed pickup to the Seaside Amelia Inn – the hotel is right at the park entrance, the location was the primary reason to choose this hotel .
“the base camp” am at the Ft Clinch parking lot
I ran 20 miles in Vibram Fivefingers. As comfortable as they are for me, I got blisters, and had to change into my old and broken to dust Brooks Pure Drift. After that I got small amounts of sand all over that abraised feet, all good now.
Started easy, got jogging with the crowd. I fell once. Thinking “is my race over?” as I sat on the trail assessing the situation. It’s the tree roots. Quite unnoticeable at sand at first, but then you get used to really paying attention to where you take your next step.
UCAN in vest bladder, Hornet Juice aminoacids in 1 bottle, in another. Picky Bars to start with.
Was good time to chat with runners!
– It’s my 17th ! – sad one lady with looks of a very experienced runner, and what looks to me as an ultra-running goddess herself with eyes glowing with eternal light of love and wisdom J
Miles 30-50 – lots of fun chat with fellow runners, happy to meet new people. Who was that 50-miler David heading to Marathon Des Sables?
By mile 50 sun went down, it was dark already, That 1800 lumens lamp is awesome!
Mile 60-70: The aid station made quesadillas and they brought me back to life, I hopped around the hills singing songs in Russian and hollering, scaring off nightlife, armadillos and deers.
Oh, those tiny spiders with diamond-starry eyes all over the course were so awesome! It was running under the stars on diamond roads. “Бриллиантовые дороги” (с) НАУ. Sound of ocean waves from the beach. Spanish moss and palm trees all over.
The mass of Fort Clinch walls under the bowl of stars turned upside down on us, reflecting in still waters of the bay.
After a couple of hours my SanDisc mp3 player died and the party was over. The rest was tough.
For example I remember I stopped at the main aid station, set on a cooler for a second and probably slept for like 2.5 min while my crew was changing my vest bladder.
YouthCamp volunteers were like those elves in the woods: burning fire all night, caring about runners and cheering us out of there aid stations to get us moving! Was a blessing to see the sight of the camp every round.
running under the stars on diamond roads
Mile 84: I started taking a bit of gels. I don’t take any ever, but at that point nothing mattered. I was at about the same point as Megan Roth and Thomas Grinovich : those two looked as fresh and cheerful as if nothing special was going on and they were just walking in the park! Amazing! Thanks for inspiration!
The mental game of Ultra
The toughest part of Ultra is in your head. You keep jogging while listening to internal voice about
- You are a failure and this is all in vain, you will fail and DNF anyway.
- You wasted all this effort , money, time for nothing.
- You are disappointment to all those who know you that care about you and who don’t even care what you are doing out there. In fact, all your life is one big disappointment.
- Everything is bad and we all gonna die.
“Dear internal voice, – said I – what are your options? Should I just fait or quit? For what, excuse me, reason and with what, if you might enlighten me, purpose?”
The voice shuts up.
I tried mental tool that does work sometimes – gathering all the positive memories you ever had. Remembering the best moment in your life when you undoubtedly felt safe and surrounded by love and felt love.
“There is no place for negativity out there” – Scott Jurek
I was going through all possible self-devaluating negative talks in my mind. After DNF in Leadville, I was fearing one the most. That fear of DNF kept me going probably more then anything else.
Deep out there, at that point of being so tied, that talk with the negative voice is the point you pass through. It’s not the end. And once you do go through that fear, self-doubt, despair – you get immense self-confidence . It’s that straw you hold on to in order to bounce back and get up to the surface. So I did. I got back to that peaceful place and finished the race in peace.
Mile 90: “What happens if I am after cut-off time and I am still out there ?” I asked after crossing the timing mat for the 9th time, not sure if I even make it, though I still had 4 hours.
– Don’t even think about cut-offs! – said Caleb, the race director.
– You will do it! – said Joe. As he did million of times during the race.
I knew I had only 2 choices: 1) to pass out, and that wasn’t happening on my watch. 2) to keep shuffling that fancy “hundo hustle” .
There was sub-zero option to stop. Like – why would I? There was no sufficient reason since I still didn’t have anything broken.
– Why did you do it?
I got these questions later , when I told people in office about it all.
It’s that creating of something you thought was impossible, and then made it real. It’s getting to the most uncomfortable state and dismissing it for higher good. It’s the Big Adventure! Overriding that “lizard brain” telling you to lock yourself up in a safe room with food and drinks and do nothing. It’s the scenery. It’s most important of it – the people I meet during these events.
I crossed the timing mat the 10th time at 29 hours 24 min. I did not believe what was happening and did not slow down for the last loop in fear of not making it 🙂 .
– We have a leaner of the day! – laughed the race director and I didn’t mind, I was actually thinking I am trying to be straight! 🙂
Only after I stopped I realized in how much pain I was. Thanks to race director and the crew for taking care of weeping girl at the post-race folding chair 🙂
the only post-race picture of the glorious moment of finishing 100 miles run
There was SO. Much. Pain. The moment I stopped, I realized – I never felt this much pain in my life . I think I cried like a girl a little bit. The race director and his mom helped me to put my feet abrased by sand till blood, to cold water. Then we loaded my unfunctioning body to the truck and drove it to the hotel. I slept the second I got to the truck.
P.S. I never told to my FB friends what happened when we got to the hotel.
I could NOT walk.
Literally, the legs did not listen to my attempts to move them functionally.
We asked hotel for a wheel chair – they did not have it. So they rolled an office chair, and there I was – the mermaid without the tail, unable to walk, rolled into the elevator.
I fell asleep as soon as I took shower and gulped SiS Recovery shake
- So, how do you feel? – asks Stephen Rogers, a BA ultra, that did 100s several times, including Leadville.
I quoted Nowhere Near First: Ultramarathon Adventures From The Back Of The Pack Kindle Edition
by Cory Reese
“From previous ultramarathons, I knew that after running one-hundred miles, my body often felt like I had been standing on a train full of dynamite that had accidentally exploded.”
Sunday night after the race I could not walk .
Monday – we drove back to Atlanta
Tuesday – I was in office and working.
Wednesday – I swam and could kind of walk ok .
By Friday next week a thought of running did not cause nausea anymore.
4 weeks later I swam around Lido Key 7-8-ish mile swim in 4,5 hours.
They say experienced ultras recover even faster , I am grateful that my body didn’t shut down on me, that I didn’t hurt it in a way that would be serious in any way.
The morning after the race.
First time in my life I woke up feeling I did something BIG. Important. Impossible. Or so I thought.
I never felt this way before. Never even when I did Ironman events several times. Everything was rather possible given proper training and some sort of proper environment for the race .
I could not expect finishing 100. I could not KNOW in advance.
We all just don’t know what we can do in life until we go out there and do something that we consider almost impossible. Training that took me up to this level was all this journey of constant facing adversity, overcoming and getting stronger. Training mind to pay attention to what goes well, to face what goes not so well was the key to this growth.
I am so grateful to my coach Haley Chura , I could rely on her steady confident support and pulling me gradually up towards my goal. Grateful for the trust I have in her coaching.
Nobody ever did as much for me as my pacer and my crew and my boyfriend did those days. It’s immense. Not only he crewed – he also ran with me through the night 35 miles while being 1 week after his BQ-a-few-seconds marathon.
Much love and thanks to all the triathlon community for all the comments and cheers. I could not express how much it mattered to me when things got tough .