HB Logo

Tunnel Hill

November 10, 2018

We need a different hobby?

26th 100, wanted to go sub 24, but alas it was not today
203 out of 422 finished the 100, for a flat race that is quite low, the cold probably got people
Traveled and ran with Christy and Kim, we all earned a buckle...and then ate all the food

Why go back to a race you have already done? Because you forgot how cold it was and really think you could have done better...NOT.  Tunnel Hill is probably the easiest or one of the easiest courses out there.  Crushed gravel on a wide trail that is primarily flat.  It is a double out and back you do twice so you cross the start/finish 3 times which means you really only need one drop bag or your car at the start finish which you visit at mile 25, 50, and 75 miles.  That is why I chose this race the first time four years ago.  Coming back this year I was interested in a sub 24 hour finish and hoping for a cool blingy buckle.

Starting off at 7 am in little Vienna, illinois I couldn’t feel my toes as it was 23 degrees out.  There were over 700 people running both the 50 and 100 mile.  At the first aid station there were so many people I ran into a guy who stopped right in the middle of the trail.  This was a little crowded for a hundred mile race. Eventually people spread out.  Many of the runners, over half of the 100 milers would drop at 50. And they would get a 50 mile buckle.  Races like this are risky when you go by the finish at 50 miles.  The temptation to quit is quite strong, especially when it was really cold from 45 miles to 50 miles.  For some reason I knew I was in it for the 100 finish.  All during this race I had no thoughts of quitting.  Maybe I’m maturing as a runner.  Maybe my memory of how much these hurt is lost.  Maybe I will run anything for a blingy buckle.   Nope I’m mature, NOT.  Now I didn’t say I didn’t whine at points in the race but quitting was not an option.

I ran the first 26 miles in five hours and finished the 50 in 10:28 so I was on track to finish sub 24 hours.  I took time to put on pants and my puffy coat.  Check the feet, the pre-tape job was working just fine so I left my feet alone.  When I got back on the course I just couldn’t get my mojo back.  I was still running but taking lots of walk breaks from overheating, then I would get cold, then I saw the stars and had to take that in.  I just didn’t feel like I was going fast enough and kind of got down on myself.  Maybe it was the book I was listening to, “That’s what she said: What men need to know (and women need to tell them) about working together.”  The author was sharing a lot of statistics about the gap in earning between women and men and other depressing examples of sexism in our society.  Next time, note to self, pick a more happy book.

So I got back to the start/finish at 75 miles and realized I likely wouldn’t make the sub 24 and thought what the hell, give it a go, switch to music and maybe I get my mojo back.  At this point I was also noticing that the top of my left thigh was wonky, not feeling great, rather sore so a fast walk pace with short run breaks was working better than anything else.  I often took a moment to stand in the dark and look up at the stars.  Vienna is out in the middle of no where and the stars were stunning.

The last 20 miles were cold and rough as I was a little whiny.  To amuse myself I would come up upon a sleepy walker who was staggering and start talking to them.  They would perk up and walk with me for a bit and then I would be off on a little jog to the next runner or a star gazing moment or a moment to myself in the woods.

The last three miles were awkward.  The marathon race on Sunday was starting and the runners were going toward me as I was about to finish.  I usually have an ugly cry at the end of a hundred when I know I am going to finish; a cry of accomplishment, that was difficult, that hurt, that took infinite patience and steely determination and relentless forward progress.  That sucked and I did it, that kind of a cry.  It’s ugly and quite cathartic.  Well there were these happy people running toward me, congratulating me and I just couldn’t cry. I didn’t want to scare them as the ugly cry is scary looking and they were marathoners and wouldn’t understand.   So I finally finish and at the finish line the ugly cry comes out.  It was ugly and someone took a picture.  They seemed to understand and waited to give me my buckle, coat and towel.  I felt great after a good cry and finishing the run.  Christy got three breakfast sandwiches that disappeared into me and we sat in the car waiting for Kim.  I hacked up a lot of flem, the flem that was protecting my lungs from the cold.  I think I even fell asleep for a few minutes.  

Three women, three buckles, and a lot of laughing, always a good time finishing these events.  Kim says maybe we should pick a different hobby, one that doesn’t hurt so much.  But where else can you burn up 10,000 calories, hack up a lung, talk about pooping in the woods, and eat all the food.  Such glamor and grace, ultra running.

Return to Race Reports

Go to HudsonBeeks Home Page