Coldwater Rumble 100 - The Ups And Downs

Coldwater Rumble 100 - The Ups And Downs

Coldwater Rumble 100 was the third time I would step to the start line of a 100 mile race. It was also the third time that I was nervous, scared and excited about what was to unfold because the 100 mile distance is still a great unknown. My background is in triathlon and lately has been specific to the Ironman distance of 140.6.  The nerves I have at the start of those races are from how well I can race while the nerves at the start of a 100 mile ultra trail run are based on survival. I ask the question: Will I Make It? almost incessantly from the start line until I finish the first loop. Once I have completed that first loop I have a better idea of how my body is going to respond to the demands of the course.

Coldwater Rumble 100 turned out to be no different than the other two races when it started but it was most certainly different during and had me contemplating dropping out but thanks to terrific support from friends I kept my two feet moving. The following will be a recap of each loop and how I was feeling, what I was thinking and how I responded to the adversity.

Before we get into my race let me give you some background on Coldwater Rumble 100 istelf. This race is in its infancy as far as 100 milers is concerned so there is not much you can gain from reading race reports, and even if there were I would not read it because everybody's impression is different. The race takes place in Estrella Mountain State Park in Goodyear, Arizona which is just outside of Phoenix. The course goes through the desert and has approximately 8,500 feet of elevation gain (although I thought it was 6,500.) The course is 5x20 Mile loops with every other loop run in a counter-clockwise route. There is no shade and some sort of attacking cactus that I cannot remember the name of.

Get your popcorn ready because we are about to jump into the race recap:

Prior To Start And Loop 1: - The Holy Sh*t Look At Me Loop

When Jeff and I got to the race site and checked-in I could feel a bite in the air despite the 49* temperature. With no humidity the feel of the air was colder than I expected but I also knew it would warm up as the projected high was 73*. I decided to go with a compression shirt under a dri-fit t-shirt and arm sleeves. I wore CEP base shorts under my running shorts and a pair of CEP Merino wool compression socks. My trusty Hoka Challenger shoes and a baseball hat was what I was going to start with.

With only ~50 athletes starting the race there was no need to lineup too early so we sat in the car for a bit and stayed warm. Shannon, Tom and her son came by the car and we exchanged pleasentries about the race and then I headed to the start line. At the start I met a couple of people and then the count down was on.

Since it was dark at 7:00am I started the race with my headlamp and followed the other lights ahead of me until it was light enough out to take off. At the outset you begin by climbing and climbing and climbing. My immediate thought was that this was going to take longer than 24 hours to finish and was going to be very difficult. I tried to run my own race but you can get caught up in what the others are doing. After about 0.5 miles I decided I was going to walk so I could save my legs. Once you get past the first mile you can run and run I did. I caught up with another athlete and we ran for a bit. His name was Jeremy and he gave me some recon on the course since this was his third time at the event and he had a goal of sub-24 since the past two were over that.

Headlamps_Coldwater_Rumble_100

After Mile 5 I lost Jeremy and was now on my own. I saw two athletes ahead of me and I followed their footsteps. If they ran I ran, if they walked then I walked. We would play leapfrog with each other but what I noticed was that you can run from Mile 5 until the end fairly consistently. There was sand in some places and some hiking in others but overall it was runnable.

I finished Loop 1 in 3:37 and felt really good about the chances of breaking 24 hours. When you run marathons they tell you that you cannot bank time because you will burn out in the end. In ultra trail races I think the opposite is true. I think you can bank time and use it to your advantage and Coldwater Rumble was to prove that point.

Loop_2_Coldwater_Rumble_100

Loop 2: - The Almost DNF Loop

Loop 2 is counter-clockwise and starts with approximately 6 miles of running UPHILL. To be more precise it was walking uphill. I started loop 2 around 10:35am and the sun was out in full effect already but I did not take notice of it because there is no humidity and I did not feel myself sweating the way I do when I run in Dallas.

A few miles into the second loop I saw EMZ (Instagram Link) and told her I thought the course was harder than I expected and she gave me all the positive reinforcement she could and I was off to continue my climbing. A few miles later I saw Shannon and we wished each other well but I could tell that the energy was quickly leaving my body and I was doing my best to keep my feet moving. I reached an aid station and applied sunscreen and tried to keep up with my hydration and nutrition as best I could.

Some point during loop 2 I could feel my core getting sore and knew that was a serious sign of dehydration. I pee'd a couple of times but it was neon yellow and another sign that I was not drinking enough. Every downhill step caused a jolt in my back and core that felt worse than it should have been. I knew something was wrong but I never tried to correct and am still not sure why.

When I finished Loop 2 I saw Jeff and told him that I was dehydrated. Malia and Emily the same thing. They all told me to drink and that was the only thing I had to do for the entirety of Loop 3. At this point I was seriously considering a DNF but something told me to get through Loop 3 and that I would pick Jeff up for Miles 60-100. I finished Loop 2 in 4:28.

Loop 3: - The Revitalized Loop

This started off on not so good footing. I felt nauseous and was developing a headache. I saw Shannon a few miles into it and she asked how I was doing (at least that is what I think she asked) and I am not sure of my response but as we parted ways I felt a chill in my body and tears begin to well up because I thought I was going to crash on the course and not finish the race.

At some point during that moment with Shannon and getting to the first aid station my energy returned. I was drinking constantly and began eating oranges and dates. I started putting Gatorade/Water plus Salt in my hydration pack and before I knew it I was running and having to pee consistently.

In addition to feeling stronger, the way this loops lays out you can run and you can run quite a bit. I guess that I ran this loop about 85% of the time and finished in 4:41 but felt stronger than I did when I finished loop 2. Coming into the start/finish area I saw Jeff and he told me I looked much better. I warned him that we were about to embark on a 6 mile hike but I also knew that having company for the next 40 miles was invaluable.

There is something cleansing about running 60 miles in 12h42m solo but it is also very lonely especially when the sun goes down and there are less athletes on the course.

Loop 4: The Determining Loop

As we started on Loop 4 it was already 7:45pm and we calculated that we had 11h15m to finish and get in under 24 hours. We started to try to do that math on the minute per mile pace but with the hiking in the first 6 miles it was pointless because it was after that where you can gauge how much time you have and how hard you have to run.

We got past the worst 6 miles on the course and I told Jeff that if we could get paces into the 13:00/mi to 15:00/mi range we would set ourselves up for a walk on Loop 5 and I think that gave us energy to get through the next 14 miles because our paces fell out as:

13:58, 13:10, 15:26, 15:26, 13:21, 12:01, 13:09, 13:17, 12:08, 14:55, 14:27, 13:55, 12:47, 17:55 (includes ~3:00 at the final aid station).

At this point we felt great and knew that we had picked off a lot of athletes that had been ahead of us. Spirits were high but at the same time wanted to stay within ourselves and calculated that a 20:00/mi pace would get us home in under 24 hours.

Loop 5: The End Is Near......I Think

Knowing that we had plenty of cushion and that there were no other athletes close by we took a Walk With Purpose approach to the final loop. We would maintain our mantra of:

Run When You Can. Walk When You Must And Cascade The Downhills.

Having this in our heads and at the tips of our tongues proved to be fruitful as we maintained a solid walking pace of nearly 16:00/mi. I do remember at one point Jeff saying to me that I probably only had 2 or 3 matches left and my response being that my eyeballs hurt. This was no exaggeration since I was wearing contacts and with no humidity they seemed to be drying out and were bothering me.

In the desert there are no true landmarks because something may seem like it is 10 feet away but in reality is miles plus the course winds through the desert and makes the distance even longer. This happened to us twice as we were just trying to get from one aid station to the next. At this point I was bloated and could not eat anything but I kept my drinking and so much so that I pee'd approximately 78 times on the last loop.

Jeff and I have run enough together that we make the best of it all by calling back memories of the past while saying the dumbest stuff ever and I also know his tricks. I was too tired to calculate time left to reach the finish in under 24 hours and he kept telling me we needed this time or that time and me wondering if he was lying so that we could finish closer to 21-22 hours instead of 24.

It was at the final aid station that I was able to do that math and see that with 4.5 miles left and 1h40m to go that I could maintain that 20:00/mi pace and get in around 6:30a. I was ecstatic knowing that we had this in the bag and that I would finish in 4th place overall as the volunteers at the last aid station told us that only 3 athletes had headed into the finish at that point.

It was with about 2 miles to go that Pete (a competitor I met on the course) went flying past us with his pacer like their pants were on fire. Even if I could manage to run at that point there was no way I was going to keep pace. OK, fine.....5th place works for me (actually finished in 6th place OA.)

I told Jeff that when we got off the mountain and hit the pavement we would run. We got there and he asked me if I was ready. I told him no let's walk a bit more and then I noticed a headlamp coming off the mountain and started running and told him to: Let's Go. He was bewiledered and couldn't figure out why I was running. Sure enough we finished 8 seconds ahead of another competitor who turns out to be the husband of Jenny from Runny Legs.

Post Finish: Asleep In My Eggs

Learning from the past and wanting to make sure I ate food after the finish Jeff and I walked over to food area and I wolfed down two pancakes and some coffee. One of the volunteers offered to make some eggs and I heartily accepted. It seemed to take forever and while sitting there practically fell asleep sitting down. It wasn't until Jeff woke me up and told me to switch spots so that the heat would hit me on the other leg that I woke up. When the eggs came I devoured them in what seemed like two bites. Once done I told Jeff it was time to hit the road and we did.

At the hotel room I managed to get my clothes off and into the shower for 5 minutes to wash away the hurt of the day, not to mention all the sand and rocks. Out of the shower and into bed. Those 5 hours of sleep never felt so good as I woke up in the same position I fell asleep in.

Conclusion:

Coldwater Rumble 100 is not easy. Not by any stretch of the imagination but at the same time if you have a plan and stick to it you can make it a fun day. There are parts that are very runnable and parts where you must hike unless you are super human.

I cannot thank Emily enough for inviting me to the desert to race, nor can I thank Jeff enough for being a part of this event. Jeff changed plans for work to be out there and pace me through 40 miles. Shannon.....you have no idea what you did to help me when I saw you as I started Loop 3 and I cannot thank you enough for being the mirage in the desert at that point. Malia deserves credit as well. She was 'bossy' about me drinking and peeing on the course. She offered advice about it and it helped for sure.

The entire experience will not be forgotten and I am looking forward to the next 100 Mile Start Line where I will be nervous, excited and scared all at the same time.

Mile_65_Coldwater_Rumble_100

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Jason Bahamundi

About the Author:

I grew up in New York and lived there for 34 years until I got divorced and moved 1600 miles to my new home in Texas.  I love New York and miss it but that does not mean that Texas hasn’t been great to me because it has.  It was here that I discovered endurance sports and specifically the sport of triathlon.  Triathlon has given me new life through all the challenges it presents.  I no longer look at life the same way and I can say that is in part due to my endeavor into this sport.

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