My first 100 miler at the CCC100 and I finished it!
By Bill "Fireball" Ball, 8/31/2004
I did it. I finally got it together to go out and run a 100 miler.
It all started about 2 years ago when I decided to take up running again to lose some weight after a 16 year hiatus from running in high school. I weighed 252 pounds when I started running in May of 2002. I had run several road 5K's and 10K's when I noticed an ad for a local 12K trail race. It was interesting but not long enough so I signed up for the Cle Elum 50K Ridge Run in September and ran it. I was hooked. I got down to around 232 pounds by that run but still wanted to lose more. So I increased the mileage and started to see the pounds come off again. Then sometime around last summer I got to around 200 pounds and had trouble losing any more weight. So this year I decide to do 3 things: run a 50 miler, run a 100 miler, and go on a diet.
The Mount Si 50 miler was my first 50. It ended up being a difficult run for me. Water not being at the aid station at Rattlesnake Lake when I got there was an upset.
My diet went into effect after the Mt. Si run: no more empty calories, junk food, soft drinks, etc.
Then I signed up for the CCC 100 so I bumped up my mileage slowly from around 40 miles per week up to around 75 miles per week. I went over to Easton several times this year to get a better understanding of the course. I went by myself one time, another time with Ultrafriends Kendall, Ronda, Stacey, Larry Up Up, Glenn, The Sheriff, and Beast. The last time I went over was last weekend with the love of my life Sheri. We scouted the aid station locations so she would not get lost during the event. Overall I ran around 60 miles on the course and drove about 20 miles of the course.
I had the training and the knowledge of the course which built my confidence, but in the week before the race I just about went nuts. My nerves were about shot. I laid in bed several nights before the race tossing and turning trying to get to sleep but kept thinking about that race. The day before the race I weighed myself at 185 pounds.
Come race day I popped-up out of bed bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, dancing around the motel and cracking jokes at my crew to get their lazy butts out of bed, I've got a race to go to.
We barely made it on time. I missed my name being called at the opening of the briefing so Kat let me know that Randy called on me. I ate a good-sized breakfast then took some pictures with my crew and of some fellow running buddies like my pal Dave Dutton and others.
The race got going after the national anthems from Canada and the U.S.A. At the get go I let every single runner go by me to where I was in last place. I made a note to myself that I would be passing them later on during the race. It seemed like everyone went out so fast! Not me; this guy runs his own race, not everybody else's. I passed two guys on the way up to Goat Peak. One was Michael Sweney and the other (whose name I didn't get) said his calf was already tight. At the get go I decided to walk all of the early hills and later see what I could do during the latter stages of the run. Fortunately I sat down a few nights before the race and did a number crunching session with my calculator to make out a few pacing charts for 29 hours on through to 32 hours. This really helped me stay in tune with the overall picture. At every aid station I would check these charts to see how far I had to go to the next one and how fast I was actually moving. To my surprise I was going at around a 30 hour pace. I loved the aid stations. Some of the people I knew from other ultras like John Bandur, Chris Ralph, Tom Ripley, Scott McCoubrey, and John Pearch ran the aid stations.
The first day of the run was just about perfect running weather; not too hot or cold with a good gust of wind every so often to cool you down. I would notify my crew at the aid station by doing my Billy Goat call as I was coming through the woods. It got me a few laughs and a few puzzled looks too from the bystanders.
Going into Stampede Pass, I had a fall that left me with a sore right shoulder for the remainder of the race. I took the fall pretty good though and rolled out of it like a gold medal gymnast. Between the Meadow Mt. and Olallie Meadow aid stations was the worst part of the course for me. It was dark by then and a little mist was keeping the roots nice and slick. There were the ankle rollers everywhere; rocks the size of footballs and just big enough to move a little on you when you stepped on them. The water on the course was mostly in that same area so you also had wet feet!
After the Olallie Meadow aid station I got a little confused during the downhill section before the turn onto the ropes. I thought that I had missed a turn because I had not seen a glow stick in a few hundred yards or so. I decided to make a U-turn and go back up the hill. I went to the last glow stick that I saw and groped around in the bushes looking for the ropes section. Well, I almost took a fall off a cliff - oops. So I went back down the hill again and finally saw the turn-off. The ropes where frustrating to me. I just could not keep my footing under me. I got one of the ropes somehow wrapped around my left forearm and got a rope burn. Ouch. The tunnel section was interesting. It seemed like it took me forever in "the hole" to get to the other side. Then there were the @#!%&$# roads; they suck! I live up here in farm country so I never run on paved roads: either farm roads or trails.
I'm glad the guy talked me into changing my shoes at Hyak. Thanks to whoever you are. As I was leaving the Hyak aid station, I noticed that Jimmy the fifteen-year-old was gaining on me. I thought, great he's pulling it together. I had passed him a few miles before Tacoma Pass and he was looking a little ragged around the edges. So I was glad to see that he was still in the game! Although he had caught up to me, I never did let him regain his lead. On our traverse up Keechelus Ridge I noticed that his walking speed was faster than mine was so I had to compensate for this by doing more running than he was. In the future I think that I will have to work on my walking speed. Everyone walks faster than I do! After the Keechelus Ridge aid station, I never saw him again. I rolled down that mountain and made up some time. According to my charts, when I got to the bottom to where the Kachess Lake aid station was, I would be on a 30 hour pace.
I changed my socks, took aid, and took off again. Then I started having problems with diarrhea at around 6 am. It would stay with me for the rest of the race. I started to see my 30-hour pace falter because of this. It seemed like almost every hour I had to stop for this nuisance. It started to piss me off. I got over it mentally but not physically. I just had to keep going. A DNF was not an option for me at this point. I had gone 68 miles and was not going to let some ass get in my way, especially my ass. I chugged up to the No Name Ridge aid station like it was nothing. I had beaten the final cut-off! I was sure I was going to finish this thing. I moved out of that aid station with new resolve and determination.
Thorp Mt was next on my list. I passed an older guy struggling and was concerned for him. I told him that on his way up to Thorp Mt. He should leave his pack at the bottom but bring water because it's an out and back section. I found a trick to climbing that helped me in some of the steeper ultras like the Jim Bridger 50K (12000'feet of gain) is not to look up at the destination but to keep your eyes on your feet and focus on your footing and before you know it you will be at the top. It was the downhills that killed me during this race, not the uphills. Coming down into the Thorp Mt aid station I called out my number and name and then Chris Ralph the trail sweeper turned to me and was shocked to see me because the No Name Ridge aid station had told her that I had dropped out. I got concerned about this because I did not want to be considered DNF if I was still running. So I asked them if they would take care of it and they said they would if it came down to being a problem. They would vouch that I was well ahead of the cut-offs.
So I moved on towards my next goal: French Cabin Mt. I was surprised that I was still running, wow. I didn't know I had it in me but I was amazing myself. The climb up the exposed section to French Cabin made me a little nervous as I was worried that after all of my other falls that I had during the previous 27 or so hours that if I fell here it would be my last. Coming into the French Cabin Mt. aid station I hooted and hollered for my crew and they reciprocated. It was good to have those Frappacinos. MMMM! The Super Crew changed my shoes and socks while I ate. How efficient is that?
I was off again then at about a hundred yards out of the aid station I had another spell with the Big D word. Crap, I thought, I might not be able to make it if my ass keeps acting up on me. I told it to quiet down back there but it wouldn't listen. I would have several other stops to make before the day was over. The downhills just killed me going into the Silver Creek drainage area. I rolled my ankle really good during this section like I did last year in a training run in just about the same location on the course. I walked it off and began to run again.
When I got to the Kachess Ridge Lower trailhead aid station, I got some Pepto-Bismol, thank god. I was glad all of the downhills were finished. I had to walk about the last quarter mile going into that aid station. I got up out of the chair and just about fell back down into it. My legs cramped up and stiffened up while taking in food and drink.
I managed to shuffle into town and cross back over the highway again. The long section of road before the turn and the river was where I started to really fall apart. Then the section where we had to back track up onto the railroad grade just sucked. I must have missed this part in the briefing or the race packet but I thought that I was just about to finish when I was then redirected to go back west. I was just about to the finish line when newfound friends "Beast" Robert Lynes and Michael Sweney ran it in with me. Thanks guys. I finished with 23 minutes to spare! A time of 31:37.
The course offers great variety and is tough all around. The tunnel, the ropes, the Needles, and the scenery make for good a time. Come out and play sometime.
I will never forget this day. It was one of the best days of my life and thanks to Randy and Tim and the wonderful volunteers that helped make this thing happen.
-- Bill Ball - recovering in Mount Vernon where the ground is flat.
Photos from the race