Howl at the Moon 8 Hour Race Report

This was my first time at this event and I was excited to be running my first ultra since a McNaughton 100 DNF in April.  My cousin Dylan and I were both running.  This would be his first attempt at an ultra event.  Everything we read said to just bring your gear and set up camp right at the race site, so that's what we did.  We loaded up my truck with a tent, a few sleeping bags, some lawn chairs and out running gear and headed out.  We arrived at Kennekuk Cove County Park (say that 3 times fast) and were both really surprised how many tents were lined up.  There were a lot!  We set up, grabbed our bibs, then left to town to get some pizza.  We grabbed some supplies for the morning then back to camp to wind down.

We woke up bright and early, not because we wanted to but because a neighboring tent must have forgot that nylon walls are really thin.  Luckily we both picked up some Doubleshots the night before to get us on track.  It was nice out., cool and overcast and it was supposed to be like that all day.  What a surprise for August in Illinois!!  Just the week before it was around a 100 and really high humidity.  We set our lawn chairs near the start/finish and talked a guy into taking a picture of us.  Then, off to the start line to get thing rolling.
I started off pretty comfortable, I thought.  I found some people to talk to and found myself cruising along at a decent pace with Ellen and Katie who I had met back in April at McNaughton, they worked the Heaven’s Gate AS.  I knew this pace was a little faster then I had expected, but decided that I felt good and to just go with it.  We all talked and made our way through the 3.29 mile loops until I hit around 20 miles or so then I stopped at my gear to grab some shot blocks and rub some Arnica gel on my calves, that had been sore leading up to the event.  This was pretty much the last I saw of Katie.  Ellen ended up passing me a few times as the day moved on.

I kept looking at my watch and trying to do some quick math in my head.  I was on track for a sub 4 hour marathon.  Now I know that this is not a huge milestone for many, but given that I have averaged pretty low miles (around 30) for the last few months, I could not believe it and I still had gas in the tank.  I finished my 8th lap in 3:56 (26.32 miles).

So what does the mind do now?  Mine says “Hey, you could go sub 5 for a 50k, just keep pushing!” and I did.  I hit the aid station (located at 1.7 miles into the loop)  on my 10 loop in 4:51 (31.31 mile).  I was really surprised by this, but still felt ok so I continued on.  I came around and saw Dylan, looking tired, but still moving, which is key.  I asked how he was doing, and he was hurting, but was still in for getting over that marathon mark.  We walked together for about a mile then I took off to see how I could end up for the day.

I was wearing down pretty well in my 12th loop.  One of the downfalls of inconsistent training is not much warning when you’ve had it.  The sun had also came out and heat was picking up which was not helping my current state.  Now I just had to hold on.  I started walking in short bursts to give my legs some rest and always looked forward to the one hill on the course so I could take a stroll and stretch out my calves.  I finished this 12th lap and decided to walk the rest.  I caught up with fellow SLUG Norm Yarger and we walked almost 1/2 the lap together, then I got anxious and decided to get to running again.  I caught up with another SLUG,  Norm’s daughter Kat.  We were on the same lap so we decided to  finished up this lap together.  From here we had both finished 42.77 miles.  I walked back to my chair where my wife, daughter, Dylan, and Dylan’s mom and sister were.  Dylan had called it at day at 29.6 miles, enough to meet his goal of running his first ultra, well done!!! The rest of the family had been there for a bit cheering us on.
There were 38 minutes left on the clock.  I had to decide what I wanted to do.  I could go out another loop and risk not getting back in time or go grab a seat for a few minutes, stretch out then hit the 1/2 mile out and backs for the last 30 minutes.  I chose option 2!  I headed to my chair used a little more Arnica, refilled my water bottle then walked over the the section for the out and back.  I was hurting pretty bad so I just walked the first part of the out and back, then I realized that if I wanted to get 45 miles in, I had to get moving so I started slowly picking up some steam and just kept going until I got that 5th out and back in…. 2.5 miles + 42.77 = 45.27! and I’m spent!!

This was an awesome race, well put together and highly recommended for anyone looking to do their first ultra or just to do a great event.  There is a ton I left out about the other folks I met on the trail, but those are the stories that those “you’d have to have been there” sort of thing.

Thanks to the Kennekuk folks for a great race and to everyone who had words of encouragement though out the day!  To everyone who ran especially Ellen who went on to finish 3rd (56.14 miles) and would have had the new women’s record if the 2nd place finisher, Christine Crawford hadn’t knocked out 58.43!! Great job everyone and I plan on seeing you again next year!!!

My overall results -

8 hours – 45.27 miles – 10:38 pace

27th out of 236

6th place open male

all results can be found here