I had ambitious goal going into this race. My goal was to run sub 8 hour 100 K. I had worked really hard for this event.
My plan B was to run faster than 8:09:12! The time I just mentioned was ran by Vinod Kumar Srinivasan in 2012. This still stand the fastest time ran by an Indian national for 100K.
Knowing that it is going to be a hot day and the total elevation gain is 3000ft I had left my hope of running faster than 7:45.
I am one of the lucky few who has some amazing friends. They are always there whenever I need them.
I posted on strava that I am looking for pacers who can pace me in the second half of my 100k. Pacers were allowed only in the second half. I got an overwhelming response.
My friends Anand Ayya kindly agreed to crew me and keep my energy gels and water ready at each aid stations (wherever it was allowed). David Vande Walle, Alex Atturbury and Mike Meinholz were set to pace me around 10 miles each.
David was set to take me from mile 31 to mile 40 (from Orangeville IL to Monroe WI). Mike was ready to pace me from mile 40 to 52 (from Monroe WI to Monticello WI). Alex said that he will take me to finish line from mile 52 to 62.
All was set and Anand said he will meet me at the start line at 8:15 so that I can explain him what I need at which aid station. The race start time was weird (9am) but it was what it was.
My friend Rahul and Maggie agreed to bring my family to the finish line.
My wife Namrta made some low carb dinner a night before the race and first time in my racing history I slept well before a race.
I woke up and had my much needed tea before heading to Belleville. I stopped at a grocery store to get some candies. I called Anand to check where he is. He said he is driving to the start line in Belleville. I reached there around 8:15, picked up my packet and bib number and chatted a bit with race director Scott Kummer and Adam.
All of sudden I saw Mike Meinholz and i said, Mike, you were supposed to meet me in Monroe. He responded that he just wanted to see me start the race. So nice of him! When I was chatting with Mike before the race, someone approached me (may be because of my Indian Jersey). He said, ‘Excuse me, I am a student in filming and we are making a documentary on ultra running, can you give us a short interview”. Off course, I said.
He asked me some questions and I responded in one go. And that was my interview for the documentary.
Anand arrived on time and I explained him what I need in Monticello, Monroe and Organeville while going out and coming back. He kindly took my bag and was all set for him to crew me. I also saw my buddy Kurt who was volunteering at an aid station.
Race started on time at 9am and I took off in a wrong direction. Someone shouted at me to go in the right direction. I corrected my mistake quickly and joined the runners. Half a mile into the race and I found myself leading.
The race course was a railroad trail with gentle elevation gain and loss. Total elevation gain was around 3000ft. It was not certainly 0ft.
I realized that unlike other races where I needed to act like a lion who is trying to hunt down a deer or gazelles. I needed to run like a deer today so that no lion can chase me.
It was a warm day. One mile into the race, I could feel my sweat. I had also to take a bathroom stop at mile 2. At that point two guys passed me and I started to chase them quickly. My pace that was around 7:20/mile dropped to 7:40 but I told myself to take it easy because race had just started. I passed one guy quickly and caught another one around mile 3. I asked him, ” Hey, are you Jeff Miller?”, Yes I am, “He responded”. I told him that you are my competitor today as per Scott Kummer’s ( Race Director) guess as to who will win the 100K race. We laughed and shared around a quarter mile together. We chatted for a bit, greeted each other and I took off.
The famous tunnel was at around mile 4.4, I turned my headlamp on because it was pitch dark in the tunnel. Even with the lights on I jumped into a puddle inside tunnel and my shoes got wet. Though it was not too bad. I took my sunglasses off and that made my life little easy in the super dark tunnel. Tunnel was really creepy and I thought of seeing some ghosts in there but there was no one except myself.
Just after the tunnel, I saw 100 miler leader coming to Belleville, we greeted each other and saw 2nd place 100 miler. Both looked great and were running very well. At mile 5.5, first aid station volunteered got alert seeing me coming towards them and asked me if I need anything but I politely said no. No issues so far as I was maintaining 7:20 pace and since it was a gentle downhill I was cursing comfortably. I saw my buddy Lee Dalegety who was running at third place in 100 miles race. We cheered each other, did high five while running and exchanged some positive energy.
Second aid station was at around mile 9.3 in Monticello and I was feeling great. I was just sipping water. Anand saw me coming and started cheering. Come on Vikas, Come on, Nice job. A volunteer saw me bib number and noted that. I got my gels and water bottle from Anand and took off again in 5-10 seconds. I saw many 100 milers coming from the other side and it was all fun on the trails.
I was still feeling good but It was getting hot and I started feeling that. I decided to get some ice and water on the next station. Mile 13.1 and my pace was still around 7:20, it was all uphill from mile 9.3 to mile 20. It was relatively tougher but I was feeling great. I stopped at the aid station and requested a volunteer to fill my hat with ice. They kindly did that and I put ice cube filled hat on my head. But, it was too cold for me. I took off from that aid station in 20 seconds. My head got really cold from the ice so I have to take it on and off to feel better while running. It got better in 5-10 minutes and all ice was gone. Since it was uphill till next aid station in Monroe, my pace at mile 19 was still around 7:20.
When I reached Monroe, course took as sharp right turn on a highway and I kept following the direction given by the green flags. It was sunny, hot and not shaded in that area. Several turns in Monroe and I approached Monroe aid station where I saw someone in orange singlet. I recognized him quickly and waved. It was my buddy David who was supposed to pace me from mile 31 in Orangeville till mile 40 in Monroe. I was feeling tired and hot at that point but was able to maintain my desired pace. Anand and David put ice bandanas around my neck and gave me my water bottle and I took off again in 10-20 seconds. David said that he will meet me at mile 31.
Things started feeling tiring now and around mile 22 I had to stop again for bathroom. I kept sipping water and my pace dropped to 7:22 but I did not panic. Some calculation went through my mind and I said even if slow down significantly, I should be able to run 100K in sub 8 hours. Another aid station came around mile 25 and I was feeling the hot weather. I reached there and asked them to put some ice in my hat. Gentleman there said, man , we didn’t expect you so early. You are running way too fast. I waited for him to find the ice bag and fill my hat with ice. I think I spent around a minute there and my pace fell to 7:25 now. I was still doing calculation in my head and thought well even if my pace fell to 7:45 overall I should be able to run sub 8 hours. Ice did not feel cold at all and in fact that disappeared very quickly.
I was supposed to reach Orangeville (mile 31 or 50K) turn around point in 3 hours and 45 minutes but reached there 2 minutes late. I was feeling fried and asked Anand to put some cold water on my head which he did and David told me that I am loosing more hairs.
David started pacing me and We started running back towards Belleville now. My pace started to fall below sub 8 minutes per mile and I told David that there is no way I could run 7:30 pace at that point. David gave me a great company, we chatted little bit but he didn’t understand me most of the time. That may be because I was speaking in Hindi and he was saying what, what, what??? I was saying, Yaar bahut garmi hai!. That section was rough and it was all uphill till Monroe, I told David that this section is uphill so please bear with me.
David helped me pour water on my head at mile 37 and helped me fill my water bottles. We reached Monroe 10-15 minutes later than the desired time. My friend Mike Meinholz was ready to take me from Monroe to Monticello. David ran faster than me near Monroe and informed Anand and Mike that I am coming. As a super crew, Anand made another ice bandanas for me and poured cold water on my head. I took my gels and water bottles and took off from there. I was at mile 40 and was feeling super tired now. I started running very slowly with Mike after a quarter mile told Mike that I want to walk for a minute.
I did walk for a minute and started running again. My pace for 41 mile was 9:15 which I didn’t like at all. I have now given up the hope of running sub 8 hours and my focus now changed to 8:09:12. This time was Indian national record for 100k set in 2012. I told Mike that if will be very happy if I can finish before 5:09 pm. It was gentle downhill from Monroe to Monticello, so my pace started to come back again. Mike kept asking me what I need, does he need to talk or not. But my mind was at 8:09:12. Few miles with Mike and told him that lets hit some sub 8:30s and we did that 8:33, 8:40, 8:40 and when we approached Monticello we hit mile 52 with 8:03. I saw my buddy Jason who was biking in the other direction and I was feeling good at that point. We greeted each other.
Mike and I kept talking about race, distance and I dont remember what else he was saying. But that was a great company. Thanks a ton Mike for pacing me. It was his longest distance in a decade but he did a job of professional pacer. We reached at Monticello aid station where my last pacer Alex was waiting. Someone shouted, hey slow down now! I don’t remember who she was because my mind and body were fried in heat.
Anand again poured ice cold water on my head and gave me water bottles and gels. I don’t know why he gave me three water bottles at that point and I don’t know why I started running with all three. I felt lot of weight and eventually emptied the third bottle. Alex started pacing me and after a quarter mile I realized that Anand has forgot to hand me over the headlamp for the tunnel. I requested Alex to turn back and bring that for me and he kindly did that.
Around mile 54, I felt really exhausted and started walking. My mind was still at 8:09. Walked for 30 seconds and then started to run slowly, my pace again fell to 9:45. I was breathing hard at that pace and was feeling super tired. My mind was saying you will miss 8:09 if you walk again. My body was telling me to walk now. Well, I listened to my body and started walking again and this walk was 3 minutes long. Mile 56 was in 11 minutes and 25 seconds. I started losing hope of national record but tried to bring some energy from inside. Mile 57 was very slow too and I ran that in 9:45. At that point i lost hope of breaking national record. I felt sad but Alex kept me moving. We entered the tunnel and saw many 100 milers coming back. Since it was a downhill, we started to pick up the pace again and Alex kept encouraging me. We started hitting 8 minute mile pace and even ran 7:58. Alex asked me if he wants me to run a tempo run. I said, this the fastest pace I can hold. We ran last 4 miles around 8:15.
Near the finish line, Mike and Anand came cheering me and Anand handed me over Indian flag. That gave me last boost of energy and I finished the race in 8:12:35 by missing the national record by 3 minutes. I won the race but those 3 minutes will always haunt me. Race director Scott Kummer gave me high five amid the jubilation and clapping from the volunteers and spectators.
My daughter Kavya came and hugged me. At that point my legs were burning and I could not stay on my feet and threw away my backpack and lay down on the grass. My wife Namrta and my friend Rahul and Maggie then slowly started hydrated me. Thank you all for being with me and supporting my crazy passion.
I could not have done this without the help of my friends Anand, Alex, David, Mike, Maggie and Rahul. Last but not least I have no words to be grateful to my wife and kids.
I would like to thank all the volunteers and race director for organizing this event.
Prochain Arret: 100k in 7:59:59 or faster!