Kettle was a disappointment for me. I had what basically amounted to a mental block on continuing and instead stopped at the 100k mark. I had no medical issues, I just broke from fighting the course all day.
The race morning was really warm, 77F at 6AM when we all lined up. Ben and Sara had driven me to the start and would crew me every 15 miles or so. They also had several other friends racing from the CHUGs group. I queued up near the front since I figured I'd be one of the faster guys out there, and there were somewhere around 200 people between the 100k and 100 mile. Timo yelled go and we were off. I was feeling really good out of the gate, sure I could feel the heat, but the pace felt casual and was exactly as fast as I wanted to go.
The first 7 miles or so head out on the Nordic trails and intersect the Ice Age Trail, where we'd take a right turn and follow it for the next 24 miles. This was a lot of fun, rolling, single track through the woods all the way to the Emma Carlin aid station, where I'd see Ben and Sara. I rolled in there pretty well and they fueled me up in a couple of seconds and sent me on my way to Scuppernong at the turn around. This section was largely open prairie and was where a lot of us would pay for running in the sun. Running across them is pretty nice and definitely the most runnable section, except there is no shade, not much wind, and the temp was bumping 90.
By the time I got to Scuppernong at 50k I would have loved to dive into a swimming pool. I was hot and rapidly slowing down and getting miserable. I had already realized that this day wasn't going to be what I wanted. I was committed to getting back to Nordic, though. These next 15 miles would be brutal on me. I ended up fighting to get from aid station to aid station. It was absolutely scalding out on the prairie, but I ran every step of it. The aid stations average four miles apart, but I was running out of water between most of them. By the time I got back to Emma Carlin I had run out of water 20 minutes earlier and had stopped sweating. My clothes had even dried out.
Ben and Sara got me into a chair in the shade and put a wet towel on me and I started putting down a lot of fluids. It took about 20 minutes before I was able to wander back out and on my way back to Nordic. By this time I had largely convinced myself that I was going to drop, losing the mental battle that is so important at 100 milers.
So I continued fighting through the heat, passing only one guy I think and being passed a couple of times, mostly while I sat at Emma Carlin. I was relieved when I got back onto the Nordic Trail and headed in and just counted the miles. Timo was at the line shouting 100 miler coming in and a cheer when up. I headed in and sat down right away. The last few miles I'd been getting side aches and now had a little nausea too. Ben and Sara did their best to get me back up and out on the trail, and Ben was itching to run. Alas, they were no competition for the fight I'd been having with myself for 20 miles. I just couldn't face another 38 out there.
I sadly handed in my chip then headed to a chair to lick my wounds. I think the biggest lesson I learned from this is that I need to check the ego at the door and be ready to finish well off my expectations. I've got friends who've stayed for 5 hours at an aid station before heading out again. That's the attitude I need to adopt. I had over 17 hours left on the clock and I could easily have walked for a couple hours drinking and getting my body back on track, but instead got locked in on 'I'm not doing as well as I want so I'm done'.
Now I'm 3 for 5 at the 100, but I've got another one in 3 weeks...which I will finish even if it doesn't go according to plan.