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Pistol 100

March 19, 2022

Alcoa, Tennessee

Crushing it
(Just feels good to say that)

We had to wait two years to run this race as it was one of the first races to be cancelled due to Covid.  I’m glad we went as the Pistolers of Tennessee put on a great event with a sweet buckle.

Traveling to the race is half the battle as you can fly into Nashville and drive three hours or fly all the way to Knoxville.  Sandy and I decided to spoil ourselves by flying all the way instead of the driving before and after the race. It is especially uncomfortable after running a hundred to drive a long ways.  There is not much in the race site town of Alcoa except several dollar stores.  

The race usually begins at the high school however since the roads around the school were under construction we started at the nearby pool and park.  The course was an out and back Y with two legs including one small lollipop loop.  There were a couple of steep hills that provided a walk break each lap. The rest was rolling pavement alongside a river and small lakes.  Quite a beautiful place to run.  Each loop was ten miles with aid stations a plenty so you could run this while carrying nothing if you wanted to.  I like to use a pack to have my phone and special snacks and to also not have to stop as often. Being that the course was an out and back you got to face the runners and this created for lots of smiling and encouragement during each lap.  Smiling makes a runner have happy legs and happy legs go fast.

At night the course was lit up so no need for a head lamp.  I just could not believe this and brought my head lamp in my pack.  Sure enough I didn’t need it until the last two hours.  For some reason the lights went out and then back on and then out again.  I carried that head lamp for ten hours and was super glad to have it when the woods went dark.  It is rare that a race longer than a mile loop can be lit up at night and it was nice not to have that head lamp on all night long.

The other thing about this race is volunteer Julie.  The woman has quite a collection of costumes.  At the conclusion of each lap Julie is there at the start finish tent with some friends to encourage runners to go out again for another loop or celebrate their finish.  I was encouraged by a different Julie in a different costume from a bee, to a dinosaur, to a butterfly, there were too many to remember.  I do remember being pumped up and dancing out onto my next loop.  Great encouragement, thanks Julie and friends.  All the volunteers were quite amazing and helpful.  Thank you.

I felt good after the first three laps, hitting my splits, half in 2:30, marathon in 5:10 and 50k in 6:10.  I connected up with another runner Jen and we ran two laps together.  She was a bit faster than me and that helped me get a great time for my 50 mile split, 10:22.  The course was a bit long so my 50 was really 10:30.  So now what.  I tell myself if I’m in the 10s (ten hours and a few minutes) for 50 miles I have to go for it, go for a sub 24.  This means after already working hard for 10 plus hours I have to work hard for another 13 plus hours.

At this point my low back tightened up.  I have not had this happen before and wondered what was up.  I felt like I couldn’t get a deep breath and downhill was not pleasant to run.  This lasted for the next 30 miles.  I let a massage person try to stretch out my hips, and although the stretching felt good, it didn’t help.  I tried to relax while running but really the only thing that helped my back was to slow down.  I chatted with Jess and she said no dilly dallying (NoFingAround) if you want the sub 24 and also gave me some ideas about my low back. Nothing seemed to help.  So I just keep running and tried not to stop, dilly dally, and lose time.

I saw my friend Sandy several times during the race and usually once on each loop.  About 40 miles in she said she already had blisters.  I felt bad for her as that is early to have to deal with foot issues.  I told her to fix her feet and get on with it.  She has a no quit attitude and knows how to take care of foot issues.  Then I didn’t see her for a couple of loops and wasn’t sure what was up.  We next saw each other after she had to spend an hour with the medic who helped tape up her toes.  She was back on the course but could only really walk.  I knew she could finish if she wanted to and she did. Sandy is one tough lady.  She was smiling but I could tell she was in pain with each step.

Because of the out and back type course you could see who was in the lead and track the top runners.  I thought I was at least in the top ten of the women and there was a couple of older ladies that were likely in my age group ahead of me by a lot during the whole race.  We smiled and waved and encouraged each other.  Then during the last loop I come up behind one of them and she is walking.  So I just keep on running and pass her at mile 95.  This felt great as I though it would move me up a place in my age group.  At the finish I found out I was first in my age group and they started giving me all sorts of goodies, a coffee mug, a blanket and other goodies with the pistol logo.  What I liked most is while others were walking in the last 10-20 miles I was still running.

During the week before the race I was coaching a new principal and we were observing an elementary classroom where the teacher was working with two little boys in first grade on reading.  After one of the boys read out loud to the teacher, he announced that he was crushing it. Crushing his reading.  During the Pistol 100 two different guys told me I was crushing it, now my pace wasn’t that fast but I was running or in running motion.  So I used their language and told myself I was crushing it, yes I talk to myself while I run these events, who doesn’t.  It feels so good to finish strong … and it doesn’t take nearly as long.  In my early days of hundreds I remember not being able to run the last 10-20 miles and it seemed like it took f o r e v e r to walk.  So glad to be running at the end and crushing it.

6th woman
1/7 in 60-69 age group
48th hundred miles or more event


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