Meet our newly appointed “Deacon” Adrianne and recently promoted to “Monsignor” Nick, both of who earned their titles after their incredible and inspiring first-time finishes at The Hennepin Hundred 100M race last month, with Adrianne finishing in 26:10 and Nick finishing in 23:40. It was the first time either had attempted to run the 100-mile distance.
Graduating from a run to the mailbox to completing a 100-mile race, Adrianne’s progression into ultra running was a long time coming. Having run her way through nearly every conventional race distance (except a marathon!) up to and including 50 miles, and meeting and running with an ultra running group, she craved the physical challenge of running 100 miles and putting her mind to completing something that few people can.
For Nick, the challenge of a 100-mile race fell into his lap; he won a free entry to The Hennepin Hundred at an LRC event hosted by Road Runner Sports in Kildeer. Free is a beautiful thing and a helluva motivator! Nick decided to try his hand at running in 1985 after he was inspired by a friend’s dad’s Boston Marathon performance; however, he abandoned that plan after a few 10Ks, a triathlon, and a duathlon. He started again in 2009 with the Lake Geneva Triathlon and continued his quest through varied running distances up through marathons and a few more triathlons until coming to the conclusion that swimming is just not for him.
But why join the Libertyville Running Club? Though not specifically an ultra running club, Adrianne points to its laid-back, carefree, love-all approach to running and runners and having a good time – who doesn’t like to get all sweaty then follow it up with laughs and cocktails at a different local establishment each week? The Club harbors an assortment of 5K to 100-mile runners who have distinct preferences for road, track, or trail, and hosts group runs that accommodate all disciplines. Having previously run with Golden Legs before they disbanded, Nick wasn’t quite sure what to make of the LRC’s post-run activities. In his experience, run clubs just ran then went home, that is until he stuck around after an LRC run for the festivities. Nick discovered the support and camaraderie to be nothing short of amazing and he subsequently pushed himself to run beyond what he previously thought capable. To each of them, the LRC represents everything running should be about: support, friendship, inspiration, and fun!
But how exactly does one train for a 100-mile race? There’s no one way to train for anything as the plans of these two will show you:
Adrianne – After Ice Age 50 – a 50-mile race race held in May, Adrianne didn’t really have a training plan for Hennepin. Her mileage was inconsistent given her motherly responsibilities (she has two young and adorable redheaded children) but still managed to complete another 50-mile run and an overnight 60-mile run. She pushed her children in the double jogger often, cross-trained with a kettlebell, and focused on clean eating. After being introduced to the LRC this summer by local ultra running guru, Shelley Cook, she found the LRC hill workouts to be fun and the speed workouts to be beneficial but challenging.
Nick – After Ice Age 50, Nick developed the dreaded plantar fasciitis which essentially derailed his plan to build upon his mileage all summer from the 50-mile race. Instead, he focused on running only the three weekly Club runs in order to give his foot time to heal. This approach ensured he was getting in hill workouts and speed workouts, a tempo run, and a long run (his longest being 16 miles!), all of which he found essential in his ability to run 100 miles, regardless of the fact that this particular ultra was flat and that ultras in general have a reputation of being something you finish rather than race. That being said, there is still an incentive to finish the race in less than 24 hours, as everyone who does receives the prized 24-hour finisher belt buckle, which Nick did earn (with 20 minutes to spare)!
Being physically capable of running 100-miles is one thing; being prepared mentally to run for 24+ hours is an entirely different animal and what really determines one’s ability to finish this type of race. Nick just focused on breaking the run into short legs of aid station to aid station (there were 20 aid stations in total). He pictured crossing that finish line so many times that when he finally did, it lacked the excitement one might expect. Adrianne found herself in darker territory: at mile 76, she began shaking in the cold and sweat and at mile 84, she went to lean against a tree that was not there. The hallucinations continued with visions of lions in trees and midget men along the trail until she actually fell asleep while running at mile 89. Her pacer got her to drink an energy drink and she soon retained her composure.
Pacers and friends at aid stations along the course offered encouraging words and reminded them to eat and to keep moving, which helped to lift both Nick and Adrianne’s spirits. Nick’s wife Sarah was instrumental in keeping Nick on task by meeting him at every accessible aid station, getting him what he needed, and encouraging him. Adrianne had two friends pace her through most of the race – both providing conversation, encouragement, and keeping her focused and on track.
So what’s next for these two? Adrianne’s race calendar is choke full of her usual races: Frozen Gnome 10K or 50K, Earth Day 50K, Dances with Dirt 50K, Ice Age 50M. She has also registered for Run of the Dead – the LRC’s inaugural race on November 1st. This elimination-style run gives runners an hour to complete a 4.25-mile course before starting the course again (and again and again – the event has 1, 4, and 8-loop options – she’s running the 8-loop, 34-mile option), and an after party for all participants. If time allows, she’ll add Kettle Moraine 100 and Chicago Marathon in 2016; she looks forward to seeing what a season of LRC speed workouts can do for her first marathon. In addition to our Run of the Dead race (he’s also doing the 8-loop, 34-mile option), Nick’s planning to just have fun and enjoy all the LRC runs (he leads the Wednesday night fun runs throughout the winter) and any other free race that drops into his lap.
Cheers to these two on a banner year of running!