The Old Dominion 100 Endurance Run — A Reason to Get Strong Since 1979.
Peregrune runner David McCartney tackled the Old Dominion 100 Endurance Run. David is an ultrarunning veteran and took the time to share his throughs on the race, course, and strategy for the day. Enjoy!
“Where are the port-a-pots,” I asked.
“There are 20,000 acres of port-a-pots,” was the reply. That set the stage for the Old Dominion 100 — a race where the goal is to finish in 24 hours!
After packet pick-up, I was off to the traditional Italian dinner that was good as always. My usual go-to was chicken parm and a pizza, and I filled to the max. After dinner, we headed back to the hotel to get squared away. The 4:00 am start was going to be here soon. The goal for the race was to take short and sweet crew station visits. The first 12 hours needed to be fast to obtain time in the bank for the remaining 12. I needed to pack for short visits. I packed my vest with a few jacked bars, choc gels, caramel gels, LMNT, stinger honey waffles, sport beans, and a few other treats that could keep me going. The remainder of my pack included a power bank, backup headphones, banned aids, and misc health care items.
The 2:30 alarm blasted in my ear! I wasn’t sure what to expect! I knew what I needed to do! I knew how to succeed. The issue was the next 24 hours. Much like last week at Crewel Jewel, the issue was the fear of the unknown. I do my homework on the course. I watch videos of previous racers. I do my planning based on the knowledge I’ve learned. Now I just needed to put my plan into action.
My routine is a pregame bathroom break at the hotel and another at the start. My first pregame was a fail. No worries, there was always the start line. “Well, shit, there is no start line pot”! This will be a long day sitting on a full dinner if I don’t figure it out. I continued to gather up my stuff and head to the car. I drank my 6 am drink mix on the way to the start line. It was a short drive to the start line. I stuck on my bib, tossed on the pack, and put on my light. I headed to the line to do this.
3, 2,1 go! The first 10 miles went fast. It included rolling hills and pavement. I was knocking out easy 9 min miles and keeping positive thoughts in my head. The next 10 miles were falling off just as easily, to the point that I was 30 minutes early to my first check station.
We set plans based on assumed pace times. My amazing wife is my solo crew. She drives near as much as I run to get the supplies I need. I sent her a text to ask where she was. I waited about 15 minutes with no answer. I was feeling great and just decided that time lost would hurt me later on. I filled my water bladders that were still saturated in LMNT mix. I sent her a follow-up message and headed toward the next aid station. I was going to see her again at 36, so I focused on that. I had no more than left when she responded by saying she was there. “I’ll see you at 36”, was my response!
We finally got some trail running in working toward the mile 36 crew station. It included elevation, rocks, and roots. I am not a fan of elevation, but I was beginning to fill the road in my knees, and I welcomed the soft earth. Of course, my pace began to fall, but I was still under my pace prediction. The race-provided stations up to this point were well-stocked with fruits, snacks, and fluid. The Gatorade was less than delightful, so I leaned toward myself for electrolytes. The sugar treats don’t settle with my stomach very well, and I was still holding onto dinner from last night. I just kept my station visits quick and simple.
This race included a lot of beautiful scenery as a backstop for this long day. I reached the 36-mile crew station with minimal issues. I slipped on new socks on top of my freshly applied squirrels nut butter and laced up my shoes. My wife began to feed me as I straightened up my items for the next 20 miles. This station was a repeat, so I would see her again at 48.
This stage included lots of hills and rocks. Rocks slow down the pace and increase my fear of injury. I took my time through this stage while still keeping under my 9:11 pace. Whatever the race, I set a pace I can never drop below to maintain a finish. This stage was rather uneventful as far as injury or pain. I returned to my crew at around ten and a half hours. I once again reapplied new socks and butter. I knew from my homework that the next 30 miles would be hard and rocky. I tossed her a kiss and grabbed my trek poles.
Fifty miles is what it read in orange numbers stretched across the street! Well, that seems early. My watch only said 48.9. Would this distance difference cause an issue later in the day? I had hit their 50 miles at 11 hours. This put an hour in the bank. I headed down the road to keep my plan in motion. As predicted, this stage was slow going. It contained rocks, rocks, and more gd rocks. My poles came in handy for saving my face from bouncing off these jagged pains in the ass many times. Uphill lots of rocks. Downhill, lots of rocks. The only benefit to this stage was the trail softness. If you could dodge the rocks, that was. I was coming up to mile 60 when I started getting this old pull in my left hamstring.
It wasn’t constant, just come and go. The up and down was beginning to bother my muscles. I took a few minutes to stretch out. This was far from over, and I needed good health to cross that finish line.
I came into my wife at the mile 64 stations. I was feeling decent. I hadn’t visited the hamstring pain in a few miles, but it was in the back of my mind. Coming up was a muddy rock course used by four-wheelers, side by sides, etc. This was going to add more issues as far as safety and time management. I refilled my stash of pack goodies, slammed a red bull, and tossed her a kiss. I’ll see you at 80!
Fresh socks carried me up this bastard of a mud slick. This course was covered in grapefruit-sized rocks, sand, water, and mud. It wasn’t a solid portion, but it did provide softness and some possibilities of slower running. Every time I started a solid pace, I would get stopped by some rude ass blowing two-stroke smoke in my face. Other than a few rattlesnakes, this stage was pretty animal empty. Seeing nature helps put one’s mind at ease when in a tough spot. I did some quick mental math and decided I could take the remaining 6 miles in this stage slowly. I was beginning to feel pain in my knee. My salts were off, and I was out of water. I still had about 2 miles to the next station. A non-veteran runner might get freaked out at this point. Knowing your body at times like this will make or break your race and spirit.
As I came up to the next station, I was relieved. I was quickly pissed off that this station was as I found it. No people, No table, and No fluid! Some dry chocolate cookies were lying on the ground next to the sign that read “3 .1 miles to the next station. (Where my wife was). This situation is what years of training set me up for. I was pissed! What kind of Race Director would let this happen. This was after hard miles and had hard miles ahead of it. I told myself, “Relax. I still have time. I’ll take it easy.” Twenty-two miles to go with 6 hours left for my 23-hour finish. It was a few short miles to plenty of refreshing liquid. I left my aggravation next to the dry-ass cookies and worthless empty water container.
I came up to my wife with a gallon of ice-cold water. I had to take more time than I wanted for calorie intake, socks, and insoles. It was officially dark, and the darkness brought its list of challenges.
The next stage, as I thought, should be the reverse of the previous first 20 miles. Well, I was way wrong. This is where everything turns to shit. Not only was I incorrect in what the course had in store, but I was also incorrect in how much time I allotted to each mile. I tossed her a kiss after slamming watermelon and other mountain dew. The road seemed familiar, and I was in high spirits. I’ve made it this far with all positive vibes. Sometimes in long races, I find myself questioning my ability. At around 86, the road heads into the woods. I thought, “Well, this isn’t good. I didn’t see woods until after mile 20!” I pulled out my course elevation map, and it had three straight-up climbs. My pace time was set at 12 min miles. I was doing 18-20 mile paces up these hills. I had to grind, but I could still do it. Four hours of up and down, up, and down! I finally got out of the woods. I was back on the blacktop. My knees were fried from the whole day of abuse. I was out of energy. I made it to the 92-mile crew spot—no time for anything but a drink and a kiss.
It was 2 in the morning, and I had 2 hours to go 8 miles. This was all black top. I can do it. Pain is for tomorrow. I came 11 hours from Indiana for a 24-hour finish. Nothing would stop me. I took off on the straight road like a mad man. I was quickly slowed by switch back after switch back. Every turn made my left knee feel as if it was being ripped out. I needed this. I needed to be in the moment to cross that line. I could see the lights of the town. I could smell the dairy we crossed at mile 3. My knees were screaming for help. They wanted relief as much as my mind wanted another worthless buckle. I didn’t remember so many hills at the beginning. They were slowing me down, but the straights sped me back up. I looked at my watch. It was going to be close! Could I even trust what it said? I could see the fairgrounds. I was so close. I entered the final half-mile lap around the track. I couldn’t see the time, but I could see my wife cheering me on. I came here to finish in 24 hours to take home that buckle. 24:19!