Ok, here is my friend Rob's race report from the Keys 100. A truely horrible race that starts in Key Largo, goes 98 miles on US 1 and then makes a left for two miles on concrete and finishes to no fanfare, close to a beach on Key West.
Sounds scenic, it isn't. Sounds hot, it is! My friend Amy Costa made it 87 miles before she needed an overnight stay in the hospital an 7 IV bag of fluid, yoikes!
Anyway Rob liked it, here's his report. Enjoy:
here is my Keys Race Report for your amusement. Rob
I have been excited about running the Keys 100 for some time, as this race for some reason had great appeal to me. Unlike most ultrarunners, I do not mind running on the road and enjoy running road marathons. After running so many ultras in the woods, I figured running down the scenic Keys would be a nice change of pace. And after running the Ragnar Relay with my fellow beast LT and the wonder dog Brandi three weeks before the Keys, and running the OC marathon just two weeks ago, I figured my legs were “road ready.”I flew into Tampa and stayed with my good friend Andy “Tent Boy” Matthews, who iMichelle introduced me to at Vermont last year. Andy is just a super guy, has finished 12 100s, and has a sub-24 finish at Western States on his resume. I knew I would be in good hands. Unfortunately I had contracted a rather nasty cold just after the OC marathon, and it was quite embarrassing while flying down to Florida, with all the hacking and sneezing and phlegm being exuded from my body. I was in pretty bad shape, hacking incessantly and my nose running like a river. Fortunately, my cold calmed down a little the day before the race, as I had not been getting much sleep.We headed out of Tampa midday on Friday, with our goal being to make it to Key Largo by 7:00 p.m. for the pre-race meeting/briefing. We made pretty good time and pulled into the Holiday Inn in Key Largo just a few minutes after the briefing had started. We were stunned to find the room packed to overflowing as the RD announced there were over 350 runners entered in the 100 solo, 50 solo, and 100 mile relay. Last time I checked there were only about 30 signed up for the 100 solo, but by the start of the race 77 would be toeing the line. The RD announced that the 100 solo runners would head out first, and 10 minutes later the Relay teams would start. Now this was not the most complicated of courses – basically run 98 miles on the Overseas highway, turn left and finish in Key Largo. Andy and I decided to leave early and get some grub, and found a nice pizza joint for my favorite (and Andy’s too) pre-race meal. We then headed back to our motel, was in bed and got a pretty decent night’s sleep.I’m not a big fan of getting to the race early, so I set my alarm for 5:20 and figured we would have no problem going the 6-7 miles to the 6:00 a.m. start. I showered, got dressed, and had my first problem of the day. LT had turned me on to Micropore tape for taping my toes, and I had a brand new roll ready to go. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the start of the damn tape, and spent 10 frustrating minutes screwing around. I finally gave up and used a different type of tape, which later on turned into disaster, as my toes blistered miserably during the race. Now we were behind schedule and we raced out of the motel and booked to the start. As we got near the start line, we could already see headlights heading our way – not a good sign! I jumped out at the start, and headed out to catch up with all the runners – I was only a minute or two behind. The adventure had begun!The first couple of miles were in the dark, and I was passing quite a few runners. I felt great, it was a beautiful sunrise, but I quickly realized I was in for a hot, sticky humid day. My plan with Andy was to meet every two miles, and I didn’t carry any bottles with me. This worked great, as I love the freedom of being bottle-free. Our first couple meetings were a little rough as we worked things out, but we soon established a really good rhythm – tank up on water and/or Gatorade, fill my hat with ice, and head out. The Relay teams were starting to come through, and some of them were really flying. The winning Relay team ran a sub-11 hour 100 miles! We had our cooler well stocked with water, Gatorade, chocolate milk, diet coke, beer, chips and cookies. I knew I would have to force myself to eat something solid, and knew with the heat and humidity that would be tough. I told Andy early on that I would need a turkey sandwich slathered in mayo, and unfortunately the first Subway was not until mile 50+. So I tried to drink as much chocolate milk as I could, and it seemed to be working well. I hit the first 25-mile checkpoint at 4:04, which was just a little slower than I expected – I figured it would be a lot easier to get in the miles in the morning before the heat really took effect. Most of the miles were what I would call “land” miles, and you would not really think you were in the Keys. But as we moved south we started to see more and more ocean, which of course was that beautiful Caribbean blue. I was enjoying the course, there was plenty to look at, and the course included lots of asphalt bike path early on. As the race progressed and we entered the island part of the Keys, though, there was a lot more road running involved. Although I never really felt uncomfortable, some of the runners complained about running with cars whizzing just a few feet away. I decided to change out of my road shoes at mile 30 and into my Go Lites, as my feet had swollen and felt really cramped and my toes were already blistered in the road shoes. Putting on the Go Lites was like walking on plush carpet, and my feet were greatly relieved. Andy and I also shared our first beer of the day – it was pretty funny, we had a six-pack of Corona in the cooler, but we blew though it so fast Andy had to go out and get another 12-pack! We were sharing a beer about every 4-6 miles throughout the day. As we entered Marathon and approached the 50-mile checkpoint, the heat had really turned up. There was no way I could have done this race without ice in my hat, and by the time my two-mile legs were up there was rarely any unmelted ice left in my hat. We got a nice long 11-mile stretch coming into Marathon where it was on a secluded bike path, and the miles were quickly flying by. I made a quick stop at the Marathon Fire Station, where they had a sign up that said runner check-in. I spent about a minute looking around before I realized that it was sign for the 50-mile racer check-in (which started at noon) and not the 100-mile halfway point. I continued on just a little farther and found the 50-mile checkpoint, and was very surprised and pleased to learn my time was 8:22 and I was in second place.Seven mile bridge was one of the highlights (or lowlights, depending on your take), as I would be on my own for most of this stretch. This was the only section where I had to carry a bottle, and I tanked up with as much water and Gatorade as my stomach could hold before heading out across this long and lonely stretch. It turned out to be not so bad, and the water views were pretty amazing. Andy was kind enough to park and run in and meet me about a mile from the end of the bridge. He was a portable aid station, and came stocked with ice, water, and my favored beverage of the day, chocolate milk. As far as wildlife on this run, I had a snake slither across the path right in front of me, saw a raccoon, and passed a beautiful but noisy peacock about 10 feet off the path – this was more animals than I usually see on a trail 100! Around mile 60 I passed a place selling beds and thought it might be nice to go in and check out their product for a few minutes… My hamstring was not a problem at all during the Keys, and I was sticking to my intake of two ibuprofen and two salt tabs every hour. The next 30 miles just kind of whizzed by – we were definitely into a rhythm – run 2 miles, drink, ice in hat and go! There was plenty to look at, with all the bridges we passed over, people out enjoying the day, lots of quaint shops that the Keys are famous for, and the traffic to deal with. The runners were getting lots of supporting honks from passing cars. Andy was finally able to secure the much desired turkey-mayo sub, and it went quite nicely with the beer. It was so hot and humid that I hardly even felt any effects from the alcohol – I think it probably evaporated before it entered my bloodstream. Most of the Relay teams had passed the solo runners, although there were still a few teams out there. The mile 75 checkpoint passed while it was still light, and I was all the way to mile 80 before I had to put on a headlamp.I was hoping for some relief from the heat when the sun went down, but no such luck. We were fortunate though in that most of the day there was a pretty good tailwind blowing. This may sound weird, but there were many times I wish it was a headwind just to get some heat relief. As I came into mile 90, I was starting to tire a bit, my legs were feeling the effects of all that road running, and I was entering a low. I figured it would be a good time to take a little extra chair time and try to eat something to boost my energy level. I tried to eat some sandwich but it seemed like I would have to chew forever before I could swallow, so I quickly gave that up and forced down some chocolate milk. It was time for a salt tab and a couple of ibuprofen, so I popped an ibuprofen in and tied to swallow – uh oh, big trouble. The i-tab was coated with salt from a broken salt tab, and when the salt hit my tongue my gag reflex kicked it. My mouth started watering like crazy, and before I knew it I was projectile vomiting. I guess I’m starting to get used to this because I remember thinking reflectively, “Wow, that’s a lot of vomit – very impressive!” After a couple of minutes of heaving I thought, either I’ll be in good shape from here on in or I’m in major trouble. Turned out, unfortunately, to be the latter. Major bad news.I swished out my mouth to get rid of the residue, and headed out. After walking for a few minutes to get warmed up, I tried light jogging but could only make it a little way before my stomach would complain rather vociferously. So I walked and ran when I could, my only thought being making it to Andy at the next two mile aid. When I saw Andy, I figured I would try some chocolate milk but the results were no good, and I again spewed impressively as Andy stood watch. Andy would later tell me that I threw up more during this race than he had during his entire life!Now I only have 8 miles to go, but if you’ve ever run a 100 you know that the miles are twice as long as you get closer to the finish. I had another problem in that I was starting to get tired, and figured I would need a caffeine pill at the next aid, which presented a big problem in that I had no idea how I would get it into my body. I actually had a decent stretch and Andy was kind of surprised to see me so quickly. So I sat in the chair, grabbed a glass of water and tried to swallow a No Dose – No Way! I don’t even think it got halfway into my mouth before I was spewing again. This was a particularly bad one and I ended heaving so hard I had to get on my hands and knees to avoid falling over. I finally calmed a bit and told Andy to cut it to a mile and a half, so I forced myself off the ground and staggered off into the night. By this time I had been double chicked and had dropped to 4th place – not that I really cared, all I wanted to do was to get to the finish, whatever it takes. I again walked a lot and jogged a little, and made it to Andy, where again I put on a fine show for him. This one left me feeling really woozy, and I knew that even as bad as I felt I had to just get up and go. So out I head and Andy tells me it’s only about a mile to the turn at the end of A1A, and four miles to the finish. I am reduced to just walking at this point and looking over my shoulder, hoping not to see any headlamps approaching. As the minutes stretch on I can now see the lights of Key West, and I figure the turn should be very close. But I keep going and passing lots of streets, and start wondering if I missed the turn – this has to be way past a mile. I finally hit the end of the highway and find Andy, and he admits it was really more like a mile and a half. He also told me there were 3 miles to go, which of course made me instantly begin a fresh vomiting session. I was pretty much beaten at this point, my body was a wreck, I had cold sweats, and wasn’t sure if I could even stand up. All I could think of was how in the world was I going to run three more miles? But then I thought I just ran 97 miles, and there was no way I was going to let that go to waste. So I jumped to my feet and told Andy I’d see him at the finish line. He wished me luck and drove off.After walking a bit I started to feel marginally better, and even tried alternating jogging and walking. I kept a diligent eye behind me to make sure I didn’t get surprised, and trodded on. Then a mirage appeared in front of me as I imagined Andy was on the road jogging towards me. Turns out my crew dog drove to the finish, parked and ran out to meet me and bring me in. He also brought his portable aid station, so I filled my cap with ice, was actually able to drink some chocolate milk and hold it down, and we started towards the finish. I was really touched that he did this for me, and then I thought, jeez, this is bullcrap, he was able to drive to the finish, park, and run back to meet me and we still had a mile and a half to go? So I decided to just suck it up and run and get this damn race over with. Andy started by running next to me, which for some reason I found really annoying, so I made him run behind me and watch my six for any runners coming from behind. He also said we were about a mile from the finish, which was music to my ears.As we rounded a bend, Andy says “See those red lights over there – that’s the finish.” I could almost cry at the joy, and tried to pick up my pace. This lasted about 10 feet, so I stopped and begged for some more chocolate milk, which seemed to be doing a good job settling my stomach. We were getting really close now, and I told Andy we would run the rest of the way in. As we ran and the finish didn’t appear to be getting any closer, I quickly decided one more walk break at this point would not be the worst idea I ever had. We started off again, and soon we could read the numbers on the clock and see the finish line. I told Andy, “I gotta go” and as nearly always happens at the end of these babies, I broke into nearly an all-out, effortless sprint and flew across the finish line. First they put a medal around my neck and my first thought was “Oh Shit! A hundred miles and all I get is a medal?” but then he brought out the beautiful 100-mile buckle. It’s pretty ridiculous what I’ll do to get one of these. It was 2:22 a.m., 20 hours, 22 minutes and 55 seconds after the start and a long long way from Key Largo.Andy and I headed to our hotel where I took a quick bath and we both crashed around 3:00 a.m. I woke up at 7:30 ravenously hungry and was able to convince Andy to go to IHOP for some breakfast. First we went to the finish line, though, where I collected my age group award and was treated to seeing two finishers come in. I was really surprised to find there were only 15 finishers at this point out of 77 starters. I later found out that a girl from Florida named Amy, who is a good friend of Andy’s and had run much of the day pretty close to where I was, collapsed at mile 87 and had to be pulled from the race, even though she pleaded with the paramedics to let her continue after administering an IV – you gotta love ultrarunners. Turns out she needed six IV bags to get rehydrated at the hospital!We then went back to the hotel and I went down to the pool to soak my legs, and Andy headed back to the room to watch some TV. After about an hour I went back to the room, where Andy was in lala land. I jumped in bed for a quick nap and instantly passed out. We slept to around noon and headed back to Tampa, which ended up being an 8 hour drive. I was definitely feeling better, even though I could barely walk, and we stopped for burgers and fries for lunch, and more pizza for dinner. We both were exhausted Sunday night, slept well, and I flew back to the OC on Monday.After the race, I can definitely say that my legs took significantly more beating than normal, no doubt to running 100 miles on the road. The hot and humid conditions really took a toll as well, and I was surprised to find that I still had a cold, which I am still fighting off. Was the Keys worth it? Absolutely. I was encouraged to read that many runners who have done Badwater consider the Keys to be tougher, so that may bode well for next year. Next up – San Diego!