Monday, June 4, 2012

I'm not sure what it was... Kettle 100 Mile - 2012

Race report from LPTRunner Ron Bero as copied from his blog:

It wasn't the schedule.  I was ahead of schedule.  The schedule allowed for some pretty slow sections.  Even at the end, that wasn't the end, except it was, I was ahead of schedule.

It wasn't the weather.  It was cool and breezy - perfect-ish day to run (I did sun-burn the back of my head however since I got my hair cut "special" for the race, since it's always hot that day - except it wasn't.  And, the hair-cut was extra special since my barber, who weighs at least 300 lbs and has had open heart surgery, hurt his back over memorial day weekend (imagine that) and his daughter was there and she's not all that good with the clippers).

It wasn't my conditioning.  I've put in plenty of miles.  I was actually passing people on the second 50K.  One guy that was waiting for his runner (he would be pacing someone for the evening) kept saying that I looked great.  And actually, relatively speaking I did.

It wasn't my stomach, really, relatively speaking.  I ran some with Logan.  At the 100k point he looked awful - White and awful.  I was having trouble eating.  The Gu wasn't cutting it, but I was able to get watermelon down - best watermelon I have ever had.  And oranges.  Some sandwich squares.  But I was bloating.  Drinking lots but feeling dehydrated.  Nothing an hour of walking couldn't have cured though.  I would have been fine.

I was tired though.  I started noticing the benches along the trail and envisioned me sitting in them being at peace with not moving.  That's actually been happening all spring.  I've noticed large rocks here and there on some of my runs.  There are days when the sun is out and I just want to sit down.  But I didn't and I don't because I was training for the Kettle 100.  Is that when it started?

I didn't sleep well the night before last.  I had night sweats and had to get up 5 times even though I only had 2.5 beers between 5:00 and 9:00.  I think it was just stress.  A very major internal conflict.  I can imagine a cancer patient, trying to sleep the night before they are to go receive their first chemo treatment.  One side of their brain saying you have to do this and here is why.  The other half, the half that holds their soul, the half that holds the self that is still a child and needs to be taken care of saying but I don't want to, I'm too scared.  Now, running a hundred is not like having cancer - do not even begin to think that I would equate anything in my life to that (and if you've no idea why I'm adding this qualifier, go talk to a cancer patient) - but the conflict I was having over running 100 miles was the same as described above.

The conflict.  In 2007, I decided I wanted to run 100 miles.  And I did - I was 45.  I had magical moments with my brother and sister and sister-in-law.  I felt alive.  Kathy was still in cancer treatement-ish but was there to support me.  I was surrounded by family and love and accomplished what I set out to do.  In 2008, we had storms and I quit at the 100K and that bugged me.  So, I took a weekend from my family and went to Superior.  I had Kathy's cancer hat and when I wanted to quit, I kept thinking - no - this is way easier than chemo and there is no way I can take a whole weekend from my sick wife and family and not do what I set out to do.  So I did.  In 2009 I did Kettle again.  Kathy and the girls were there and I honestly have no memory of being at the 100K point and going out again.  I remember it was cold and I remember Kathy was there at all the stops and I remember that I was pretty happy.  In effect, perhaps, I ran the perfect 100.  I quit at Vermont because Kathy was there with the RV and I didn't want to run anymore.  I was sick or was hurt until fall 2011 when I went to Superior again.  At mile six I decided I had no interest in running 100 miles.  I quit at mile 43.

My friend Kevin signed up for Kettle.  So I did too (kids - peer pressure never goes away).  2 weeks ago, running in the hot hot sun.  I got the idon'twannas.  I considered asking to be taken off the list.  but I didn't.

So,  after being a nervous wreck for 2 weeks and not getting any sleep the night before, I show up at 6:00 AM to run the kettle 100 and I am a nervous wreck.  We start and we start too fast.  But I am fine.  By mile 40, I'm tired etc (see above) and I realize, I just don't want to do this anymore.  I finally don't and really don't care (I actually knew this last september at Superior, but apparently forgot).  I can see my friend Joel, piloting his pontoon boat saying in a slightly slurred and at the same time over enunciated way "I just don't have the desire"  and at the same time, my other friend Dave saying - "I am no 100 mile runner."  As I noted, I have the conditioning, and as the guy above noted, I look fine so I pretty much decide to just finish out the 100K.  It is quitting, but It kind of isn't.  But is is.  And that's OK.  I'm 50.  I like running marathons and 50k's and 50 miles and even Voyageur 50 which takes 11 hours.  I just do not need to run another 100.  If I want to stay up late and feel magic and alive and loved by my family - I'll take them up to the boundary waters and we'll stay up late, siting on a rock outcropping in the middle of a lake, looking up at the stars, wondering what we're doing here but knowing we're here with whom we're here and we're all in it together and each of us is taking care of each other.

So what was it?  Another chapter of my life closed yesterday.  I'm looking forward to what the next one will be.  


  1. This was an awesome race report Ron. Well done

  2. Really enjoyed this, Ron. I hope I get a chance to run with you again over the coming months when I'm in Wisc again...
    Zack Johnson

  3. I think we had this exact conversation at Superior last year, except now you added Joel to the imagery.

    I too have said "kevin is running,........"

    Ultras are like black holes. They suck you in, and no matter how much you want out, you can't escape.

  4. Wonderful report RB. The existential angst is so thick you could cut it with Jean-Paul Sartre's butter knife. Nicely done, and congrats on completing 100 K.

  5. Well written! I felt this myself after Leadville a few years ago. I really enjoy doing 50k, 50M, and the odd 100K. 100 miles is damn tough! So come run Superior 50 with me!