2014 Keys 100

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They Keys 100 is a 100 mile road ultramarathon that runs the length of the Florida Keys. This is the second time I've run this race, and you can read about the details of the course in my report on the 2010 Keys 100.

1 The Race

The Keys 100 would be my third 100 mile race in 10 weeks, and I was not recovered from the earlier Graveyard 100 and Umstead 100. My plan was to take it relatively easy, or as easy as you can for a 100 mile race. The weather was kind, as storms a few days earlier left the temperatures unseasonably cool and provided a tailwind. The first 40 miles felt far tougher than they should have done, and by mile 45 I has a nasty headache and was feeling miscellaneously "rough". At that point I decided I needed to stop and rebuild, so I took some Ibuprofen and sat down for about 45 minutes. It's hard to get out of the chair after that kind of stop, so my son Ben walked with me for a couple of miles to get me moving again. I made slow but steady progress until around mile 66 when I stopped again as the sun lowered to change clothes and don illumination. I finished the race in 19:35.

2 What went well

As always, I like to list the things that worked and things that went badly.

  • Race organization. The race was well organized, and there were a few noteworthy changes since I ran the keys in 2010.
    • The seven mile bridge has cones along the white line separating the runners on the shoulder from the cars. This greatly reduces the sense of exposure.
    • More of the race is away from the cars on footpaths or service roads.
    • The race has a staggered start, which spreads out the runners, reducing congestion, which makes life easier for everyone.
    • There are now limited places where a crew and runner can meet. Strangely this actually made things far easier for the crew, especially in the dark. Last time it was hard for my crew to find safe parking spots, and it was relatively easy to look for signs for the correct locations.
    • The race was shifted a mile or so further south so you finish at a different beach that provides a larger location. The end of the race had a big pavilion with lots of seating and cooked food.
  • Weather. There were storms a few days before the race that resulted in unseasonably mild temperatures. The start was 8 MPH tailwind and 64f/18c, which was almost a little cool. The high was 82f/28c, which was nice if you're out of the sun and not running. We also had a tail wind of 18-24 MPH (29-39 KPH) which was like being pushed along by the hand of god when you were exposed to it, which sadly was only on a few of the bridges. The rest of the time the tail wind was at about running speed, so you ended up running in stagnant air which increased the perceived temperature. Overall, the weather made the run easier than expected, especially compared with the previous year that was so hot the race director described it as producing 'carnage'.
  • Hydration. I drank about 8 gallons/30 liters of my DIY Electrolyte Drink which kept me hydrated and frequently urinating. I've started adding more No Salt to provide Potassium as I think the high fluid/sodium intake might be flushing out Potassium. I had no problems maintaining Blood Pressure or issues with Nausea.
  • Fuel. For simplicity I used Ensure Plus drinking 21 of them, which provided 7,350 Calories, 231g fat, 1,050g carbohydrate, & 273g protein.
  • Clothing. Even with the milder temperatures, the sun in the Keys is vicious and I prefer to cover up than to try to use UV lotions. I wore my UnderArmour HeatGear Top and tights for the daylight hours, which worked well. I changed hats a few times, starting off with my Halo Hat while the sun was behind me, then swapping to the OR Sun Runner as the sun came around to the side, and finally resorting to my Modified Halo Hat that covers my face completely. I even wore white fingerless gloves to protect my hands.
  • Chafing/blisters. I had no issues with Blisters and only a tiny bit of chafing, in spite of my skin condition. I chatted to another runner at an aid station who was unable to continue due to severe chafing.
  • Rebuilding. This was a great opportunity for me to practice mid-race rebuilding. I crashed pretty hard at 45 miles, and I was able to recover and continue.
  • Jimbo Bandana. I used my Jimbo Bandana through the hottest part of the day and it made the heat far more bearable. With hindsight I should have worn it for more of the time, including into the evening.
  • Mood state. My Mood State was remarkably good considering how the race went. I only scored a #5 on The Ivan Scale Of Perceived Suffering, which is lower than I'd expect for a 100 miler.
  • Crew. I was crewed by my wife and two of my sons, and between them they have a lot of crewing experience. They knew what to do and when to do it, making life easy for me.
  • Heat Acclimation Training. The Heat Acclimation Training helped me deal with the temperature and humidity. Even with the milder conditions, this was still an issue.
  • Lighted vest. The new vests I got for me and my crew worked even better than expected. I used the Amphipod LED Xinglet and having the lights part of the reflective vest made them a lot more visible. My crew used the cheaper Grip LED Vest which made them visible and distinctive for quite a distance.
  • The Keys. I'm often too focused on the race to take time to enjoy the beauty of any of my races, so it made a pleasant change to have the time to enjoy the Keys. While some of the course takes you along retail areas, there are also areas of magnificent views, looking out across the blue waters. Both the sunset and the moonrise were dramatic and uplifting.
  • Watch. For this race I decided to try out the Suunto Ambit2 R, and it did a stellar job.

3 What went badly

While not much went wrong at the Keys 100, the result was a slow finish of 19:35, much slower than I would have liked, even when I'm taking it easy.

  • Fatigue. I had not recovered from Graveyard or Umstead, and three 100 mile races in ten weeks is too much. I knew that I'd have to take things easy, but even then, the race was tough.
  • Pre-race Massage. I normally have a Massage after a long race and another a few days before the next race, but I missed both between Umstead and the Keys. It's impossible to know how much this compounded the fatigue, but I believe it made things a lot worse.
  • Headache. I'm not sure what caused the headache that shut me down at mile 45. It wasn't dehydration or overheating, as I know those headaches quite well. I had a tooth filled a few days before the race, and my cheek became quite swollen until just before the race. I also had a small cut on my shoulder, covering about 2 square inches that was slightly infected. Either the tooth or the cut could have contributed, but they don't seem likely.
  • Foot pain. I often suffer from sore feet during ultras, and so I've been experimenting to try to reduce this problem. Using Minimax Shoes has helped somewhat, but the problem largely remains. For the last couple of races I've avoided Calf Sleeves and had some massage focused on my feet and calves. This helped at Graveyard and Umstead, but for the Keys I missed the massage. The foot soreness was not as bad as other races, but I did have some issues with my right arch.