Sunday, June 21, 2009

I Survived Mohican!!!

I can't believe it! I survived my first Mohican experience and earned a belt buckle! I've never had so many highs and so many lows in one day. The Mohican 100 is a very humbling experience but it's also very empowering. My race started out exactly as planned. I went out very comfortably, running with Kevin and Damien for pretty much the first ten miles. I stopped at Landoll’s and ate some food, filling up my bottle and being very careful to make sure I was hydrating. It was so muggy and I knew fluids would be crucial (more on this later!). Just before Rock Point Kevin and I caught up with Michelle, Regis, and a few other very solid runner. Again, I ate and refilled my bottles at Rock Point and was on my way. I was feeling very good and actually pulled away from people on the loop, being very careful to grab something to eat at each aid station and stay on top of my e-caps. I made a conscious effort to take the purple slow and brought a baggy of food with me. I was shocked to hear from Rob on the purple loop that I was only 25 minutes behind the leaders and was in great position. I was feeling great, running smooth, and things were looking up.
The first mile of the orange is brutal, I took it very easy and probably drank too much water and Gatorade. By mile 28 I was sick to my stomach and had already thrown up. My damn stomach! It gets me every time! I really struggled into Hickory Ridge thinking my day might be a short one. I was considering dropping. I took at seat at the station and took 10 minutes to get some fluids in me and started to feel better. I took some food for the road and off I went. I rallied a little bit but still couldn't keep fluids down or each any solid foods. I sucked on my bottle and just concentrated on keeping my mouth moist. I struggled on to Rock Point (through the Mill, Bridge, and Bridal) and was in very bad shape at this point (legs and feet felt great but the lack of fluid and food was killing me). I spent a 1/2 hour at Rock Point struggling to eat. Damien gave me some Pedialite at the aid station which gave me some relief after a few minutes. I made it 50 feet from Rock Point and threw up again and then dry heaved for a few minutes (it's a 100 mile race report, there are going to be some gory details). I filled a bottle with Pedialite and took a baggie of food and kept moving...I had to keep moving.
Half way through the loop I started getting really terrible headaches to go with my vomiting. I actually had cell coverage and called my wife, telling her to pick me up at South Park...I was done. The Pedialite started to kick in a bit and I actually felt like I might be able to walk a few more miles. I thought, if I drop at Fire Tower I can feel good about making it 100k and I can apologize in person to the pacers who came all the way to to Mohican to run with me. I left South Park before my wife even arrived. Roy Heger played a big part in lifting my spirits on this leg. We talked for quite some time and he shared a couple stories with me. I honestly couldn't tell you exactly what we talked about but the company was great and I came into Fire Tower thinking I can walk to the Covered Bridge...I’d reevaluate once I got there.
I picked up my first pacer at Fire Tower, Roger Honan, and we worked our way to the Covered Bridge. I tried to get some fluids and food down but still had no luck. At the bottom of the big decent I lost it. I was dry heaving...there was nothing to come out, my stomach was killing me. I thought, “there's no way I can continue, I'm in too bad of shape”. We struggled to the aid station and I took a seat thinking that's it. I told Kathy Ross to throw everything at me; if I couldn't figure it out here and then I'm done. She made me try everything. After a 1/2 hour at the aid station my stomach pain subsided and Roger talked me into walking. Only 5 miles to Hickory Ridge he said! I had a major meltdown a mile up the trail (straight uphill). This time it was just as much mental as physical. I was done, couldn't go any further and started walking back down the hill. Roger was brutal. He was yelling at me and cursing up a storm, telling me I'm not a quitter and that I could walk. I told him that I hadn't held down any solid food in 11:00 hours and that the headaches were starting to worry me. I didn't want to die out on those trails (I might have been a little over dramatic). We got back to the bridge, I tore off my race number and handed it to Kathy Ross. I thanked her for all her help and told her that was it for me. She said you still have two hours to cut off, lay down, rest, try and drink something, because you're not quitting. Roger was feeding me ice chips, I was like an infant laying at the bridge for another 30 minutes. Someone was getting coffee and I told Roger to get me a cup...I hadn't tried that yet, what the hell. One sip and my stomach was happy. Was it the caffeine, the warmth or familiarity of the beverage? Whatever it way my stomach was liking it. I downed two cups, filled a bottle with ice and coffee and duck taped my race number back together. I was alive and rallying.
Roger and I probably passed 10 people on our way to Hickory Ridge, where I ate some ramen noodles, filled our bottles and headed towards Grist Mill. Still going strong we passed another 10 people and were cruising. I met up with my friends Vince and Sandy at the mill, admittedly a little sad to see Roger go. He and Kathy Ross single handedly saved my race at 64, refusing to let me quit. I owe them both so much.
I was very tired at this point, we covered the distance back to Covered Bridge pretty easily but we were about an hour from cutoff! I knew we'd lose more time going towards Bridal Staging, there's just too much ascent to keep up a good pace. Luckily we rocked that leg and only lost 10 minutes. We refueled, potatoes were great, and we headed out towards Rock Point. I almost got lost on this section during the day and I was worried about running it at night. I was so tired and it was dark. Sandy and Vince did an awesome job keeping me company, keeping my mind off the pain, and pushing me on towards the aid station. About 1/2 the way through, the sun rose (it did not give the life I hoped it would). I was feeling sick again and was afraid to drink/eat anything. Once again caffeine was the answer, this time in the form of a energy jelly bean. I told Sandy and Vince that the only thing stopping me at this point was being struck by a truck on the road (with the way people drive and my alertness it was a real possibility). I thanked them for their help, I couldn’t have made it without them.
I picked up my dad at Rock Point, who paced me the last 10, and got a boost of energy by seeing my entire family there. Along with Julie and her husband my family ran the aid station and it was awesome knowing they were a big part of my finish, helping me out at a couple crucial part of the race. My dad was a hell of a pacer. He may have told me a couple little white lies about how close certain people were to me, but he knew just what to say to motivate me to the finish. He forced me to run when I didn’t want to, and was not satisfied with me just finishing. He wanted me to finish strong and that I did. Brad Compton and I were yo-yoing back and forth the whole way from Rock Point. He was hammering the down-hills and I was powering up the up-hills with my speed walking. When we turned on Wally Rd he was about 100ft ahead and I was just trying to stay with him. When he ran I ran, when he walked I walked. With approximately a ½ mile to go he started running and I said, “shoot, he’s probably going to run it in…I’ve got to catch him now”. Brad thank you for that extra motivation. I lengthened my stride for the first time in 70 miles and my legs said, “it’s about time you tried something different!” I flew to the finish…I must have been running 6 minute pace. Who knows where the energy came from for that finishing kick? In fact where did the energy come from to run 70 miles with almost no food or drink? The human body is capable of incredible things, you just have to push through the mental hurdles.

I have so many people to thank for this great accomplishment:

Thank you Dad for helping me find running, a true passion of mine.
Thank you Ron Ross for inspiring me to do ultra races.
Thank you Jen (my wife) for putting up with me and my crazy endeavors. I love you.
Thank you Rob and Michelle for talking me out of doing the 50 and encouraging me over these last few months.
Thank you to Kevin, Terri, Roy, Patrick, Damien and all the other runner who have helped me along the way. Whether we were just doing training runs together or you were giving me sage advice, you all contributed in your own way. The running community is truly a special group of people.
Thank you to all the aid station volunteers who kept me alive. Especially Kathy Ross who literally wouldn’t allow me to quit.
Thanks for Julie Miller and my family who did an awesome job at Rock Point. From all the runners, thank you for keeping us going!
Thank you Roger. You got me through the lowest of lows, and you wouldn’t give up on me even after I had given up on myself. I don’t know how to thank you for that.
Thank you Vince and Sandy. You kept me going when I had nothing left and didn’t let a single negative thought enter my head. I’m lucky to have such great friends and I thank you for helping me achieve my goal.
A big thank you to all of my MIT teammates. You are a big part of my success and I credit you all for helping me fall in love with running again.
To everyone that contributed to my fundraiser,, thank you for making a donation towards such a great organization. Your generosity kept me motivated to keep going during some rough patched. I knew that each mile covered meant more money for such a good cause.
To anyone I forgot. The list of people who contributed to my finish is too long to list in a blog. Thank you for anyone who offered me encouragement along the way!


  1. That is great to hear that you were able to pull yourself out of those bad times.

    Can't wait to hear the rest.

  2. What a story; good for you man! You had a hell of a support crew behind you and I was so happy to read that you duct taped your number back together. :) Congratulations on a well deserved belt buckle, Mike! Anxious to read the rest...


    That's a helluva of way to about a bad patch!!!!!

  4. Great job!!! Good ole coffee came through!

  5. Mike: It takes courage to attempt and finish a 100-miler. Congratulations on achieving something that has probably changed the way you view the world and live life. You learn a lot about yourself in that last 20 or 30 miles, when the chips are down and you are hurting. You can either give up or keep going. You kept going and that's awesome. It was great to see you again and congrats on an awesome finish. You and your family should be very proud. Now make sure this isn't your last 100. - Wyatt

  6. Michael,

    That was a great race report. I am so glad you stuck it out. Amazing what happens to the body and mind over 100 miles. Now on to BK 50 and then the BR 100 right? Lol

  7. I'd do the BR100 if I could afford it! My wife would kill me if I spent $200+ on a race. I'll be there to pace whoever needs the help.

  8. Great effort and great report!!! Congratulations