Monday, September 12, 2011

Wasatch 100 2011- The Perfect Day

Getting Ready to Run

A good friend of mine has told me several times that someday you will have the perfect 100 mile race, then you will spend the rest of your running career trying to have it again.  Well this past Friday, I had the perfect 100 mile race. Before I go into the details of the day I need to thank the very important people who supported me through the race.  First my amazing wife Tanae, she puts up with me training everyday, and makes lots of sacrifices for my running...thank you sweetheart! I also need to thank my dad, Steve Nelson, for being my crew chief for all 3 hundred's I have done. He does such an awesome job at getting me taken care of and moving, couldn't do it without you dad! My mom gets a special thanks this year for watching our daughters (Brynlee and Chloe) while I spent the day in the mountains.  Finally, a huge thanks goes out to Ty Draney, who happens to be the best pacer on the planet.  Ty knows how to keep me racing smart and when the time comes he knows how to get me moving. Thanks Ty!

Ok, now for the race report.  I had several goals going into this race, or any hundred for that matter.  Number one goal is to finish, two is to have fun.  In addition to those goals I wanted to run controlled to Brighton (75 miles) so I would have some race left, and I wanted to break 20 hours. I am pleased to report that I met all of those goals!   I will write a short section on gear and nutrition at the end, including a recipe for the EFS slurry that I raced on all day and as far as the report it seems logical to me to break the race into 6 sections, so here we go:

Section 1-Start (0) to Francis Peak (18)
The weather at the start was perfect for running, and as the 5:00 got close I gathered near the front with Karl, Evan, Jared, Timmy and several other familiar faces.  From the gun I found myself running with Jared and Karl out front.  We stayed together until Karl stopped to adjust his ipod and in the shuffle I found myself in front.  We had been running at a very comfortable pace, all listening to music.  I kind of zoned out and before I realized it I was alone.  I told myself going in to the race that no matter what I would run my race, it was easy to do by myself, no pressure to hang on.  I cruised up the climb and was surprised not to have anyone in sight when I crested chinscraper.  I just kept cruising and jamming to my music until high on the ridge before Francis Peak.  The wind up there got pretty intense, I shut off my music since I couldn't hear it anyway.  Once out of the wind I cranked the tunes and about 500 meters before the aid station Timmy Parr caught me and passed moving quick.  I rolled into the aid station swapped out fuel bottles, topped the water and pulled out behind Timmy as Evan rolled in.

Section 2- Francis to Big Mountain (38)
The next section was one of my favorite from the race.  I felt really good, didn't get lost on the very overgrown trail before Bountiful B, and just after Bountiful B Evan caught me and we ran together for quite a while.  A while after Sessions lift off we caught Timmy and the three of ran together into Swallow Rocks.  It was starting to get hot here and I was having to ration water just a bit to make sure I didn't run dry for long.  The folks at Swallow Rocks were great, they had popsicles!! While they filled my bottle I enjoyed half of a popsicle, and then took the other half for the road.  Evan and I ran together for another 5-10 minutes then he pulled away on a climb I chose to walk.  It would be the last time I would see him all day.  I continued to run my race, cruising along until I rolled into Big Mountain.  I was greeted by Bryon Powell of IRunFar followed immediately by my dad. I was glad to see the crew at the aid station, I swapped fuel again, filled up on water, stuffed ice under my hat, got a hug from Brynlee and headed out.

An awesome hug from Brynlee at Big Mountain

Section 3- Big Mountain to Lambs (54)
Last year this is the section that started a very rapid decline for me.  I was a bit gun-shy of how it might go and given that the heat was starting to get to me I opted to slow down a little to keep things together.  I methodically worked my way along the ridge trying to move smooth with out trashing my quads on the long descent down Alexander Ridge.  Karl caught and passed me just before the Alexander Aid Station, and he was flying.  I was super excited to see Karl moving so well especially considering his recent back trouble and flu.  He was still in the aid station when I got there, but left before I did.  I spent a few minutes there drinking as much water as I could trying to drop my core temp a bit.  I left the aid station after 11 glasses of water and had to move slow for a few minutes while my body absorbed it.  I took a minute at the spring to dunk my hat, shirt and pack, in hopes of staying cool through the "oven". As I came back to the trail I spotted Troy Howard coming quick.  I was feeling pretty good and hammered up the trail trying to get a bit more of a cushion before Lamb's.  I pulled into Lamb's still feeling really good, I was hot but not in the hole.  I took a few minutes in the aid station to eat a peach (amazing!) and my crew dumped ice in pack to try to cool me off a bit.  I walked out of the aid station accompanied by super star pacer Ty Draney, and spent a minute or so eating another popsicle.

Ty "the ace" Draney getting ready to pace

Hydrating at Lamb's

Section 4 Lambs to Millcreek (62)
Troy had passed me while I was eating the peach at Lamb's, but Ty and I caught him on the road when he stopped to answer an urgent call of nature.  Overall still feeling well we powerhiked/ran the ascent and then I heeded to Ty's advice for the descent to MillCreek: "Run it just like a bullrider one leg on each side and head in the middle" he elaborated that it meant something like run it just fast enough you  aren't braking and trashing your quads or overstriding and doing the same.  I felt like we were able to move really well and before long we were doing the Millcreek 5k of road to the aid station.  I was amazed that I felt ok running much of the road, with only occasional powerhiking.

Ty and I meeting my dad at Millcreek

Section 5 Millcreek to Brighton (76)
Once again my crew were rockstars, and in just a few minutes fuel bottles were swapped, water filled and popsicle in hand I walked out of the aid station super happy to be out on the trails.  Ty kept me moving well up the climb to dog lake and through another "bullrider" descent.  We caught a glimpse of Karl just before Desolation lake and came into the Deso aid station just behind him.  At this point I had a small glass of soup and one of coke.  Ty went for the spicy squid jerky, which just the thought of made me a bit queasy.  I continued to stick to the plan of running my race and staying in control of the pace.  About a mile before Scotts Pass we caught Karl, and continued on moving well along the rolling ridge-top terrain.  We made quick work of the aid station and really cruised pretty much the whole descent to Brighton.  At this point I was feeling great, so happy to be running well and not anywhere close to the suffering that I was doing in the same place the year before.
Coming into Brighton 
A Hug From Brynlee at Brighton to keep a smile on my face!

Section 6- Brighton to the Finish.
I was ecstatic to be at Brighton well before dark, my crew tuned me up in the parking lot outside of the chalet and when things were all set I went in weighed in, had another glass of coke and soup and headed out with Ty just a few steps behind me. Before my first 100 mile race, the Bear 100, Roch Horton told me the race doesn't start until mile 75, as we left Brighton I looked at my dad asked where Evan was.  He replied that he head left 34 minutes ago, I said ok and then said well I hope he is ready to race, because I am chasing him.  With that I headed up the trail determined to at least shorten his lead.   We had to turn headlamps on just a few hundred feet before cresting Catherine's Pass (it was amazing to see that section in the twilight!).  Internally I was amazed with how good I still felt, I hoped it would continue.  Ty and I just rolled along through Ant Knoll and beyond.  I just kept cruising as fast as my legs would go, there were sections that I had to slow a bit because of the rough, torn up trail, but for the most part the miles just kept ticking by.  I kept an eye on my watch knowing that the sub 20 goal was within reach, but was going to be tough.  At Pot Bottom, mile 93 I had two glasses of coke, and left with 1:19 left to break 20 hours.  At that point I decided to run every step of the 1 mile climb out of the aid station and to push the pace as fast as I could down to the finish.  Again there was some very technical descending that forced a slightly slower pace, but all in all I moved well.  I hit the road at 19:46:26, I knew I could break 20 hours, but I forced myself to move as quick as I could to get to the finish.  I crossed the line in 19:52:41, the last mile was a 6:15! My parents were there to see me finish as well as Tanae and many other dear friends.  I was so overwhelmed with all the emotion of the day...I felt so great!

Elation at the Finish Line
Overall the 2011 Wasatch 100 was an amazing expereince for me.  I met all of the goals I had going into the race, had a wonderful day in the mountains, in good company, and with great support.  I need to also thank La SportivaUltraspire and First Endurance for their wonderful support in my training and racing.  Without their wonderful equipment/fuel I would not have had the same amazing day in the mountains.
My Dad and I at the Finish 
Evan Honeyfield and I at the Finish-yeah Idaho!

Pack: Ultraspire Spry (first 76 miles) and Surge (final 24)
Headlamp: Black Diamond Icon

EFS Slurry: In a 10oz flask mix 3 oz EFS liquid shot, 1/3 scoop EFS then top with water.  For the very first and last flask I also added 1 scoop pre-race (a la holy hand grenade) Over the day I consumed about 11 of the 10oz flasks.  Apart from the popsicles, peach, coke and a few cups of soup no other fuel was consumed.  I carried 2 10 oz flasks at a time as well as 17 oz of plain water.
Ultragen: I ALWAYS consume ultragen after a race and at Wasatch I had 3 bottles.  I also had the chance to share Ultragen with a lot of runners and their pacers througout the day as they finished, which I thought was awesome.  I know their recovery will be better for having used it.


  1. Really cool. Congratulations. I woke up at 2:30 am on Sat to check the results.

  2. Awesome race, Luke. Huge congrats on making it so successful, there is nothing like being in the sweet spot for an entire 100 where you effortlessly hit your goals. Looks like your preparation and training paid of hugely.

  3. Great performance! - way to represent I-Dee-Hoo (both you and Evan. Enjoy the recovery! Maybe a Borah speed asecent late October if weather permits? I'll keep you posted.

  4. Glad to hear everything came together perfectly, especially after your issues last year. Congrats, Luke- many of us were following online all day, rooting for you.

  5. Hi Luke, what flavors of EFS liquid shot/drink mix did you combine for your slurry? I tried vanilla liquid shot in my water on a run today and it went down quite nicely...

  6. Thanks for the great comments, I appreciate all of the support!

    Brad- Let me know for sure, I might even be interested in coming out with you if it works out.

    Chris- I used the the whole rainbow of flavors during the race, but it turns out my favorite combo is Orange EFS and Vanilla EFS LS, it tastes like a dreamsicle!

  7. Luke -
    It was great catching up with you at the Bear.
    Thanks for the car shuttle. It was so awesome to have the car there at the finish. I owe you (or your wife, or both) big!

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