Okay guys here it is - all the gory details of my first 100....
I have gone thru the same evolution many others I imagine have - from not being able to fathom a 50, to moving up to 50s, then to fast 50s, then to thinking about 100s for a year then to finally doing one. Just like when I moved up to 50s, I kept thinking I shoulda done this sooner...So...there`s been this combo of envy/awe/pity for 100 milers for the last year or so as I worked my way up to actually checking off 100 miles on the entry form and sending it in.
Work has been so busy that the weeks leading up to the LR 100 left me no time to tizzy - for those that know me, that`s amazing :). The only extra item I had to have for this ride were glowsticks - just putting them in the trailer made me swallow hard :)
We arrived mid-afternoon Friday only to hear there was over a 2 hour wait to vet in so we got set up first. The camp is beautiful - right on a lake, in the trees, the weather was **perfect** - cool, no bugs, clear skies. Tony came off the trailer and immediately started eating and was very relaxed.
At vet-in we passed the first big moment - getting *three* digits for a ride number. We were now one of THEM - everyone looking at us would know we were gonna try the 100 - there was no hiding from it now. I had strangers coming over and wishing me good luck by the evening - as they left the trailer I`m sure they were muttering something about mentally impaired :)
The start was cool and in the dark - YIKES was all I could think - what`s gonna happen when I`m riding in the real dark tonite? Smack - smack - smack...Lesson #1 - when riding in the dark keep one arm up in branch defense position. The first 5 miles or so was a controlled start down a sandy/dirt road (the whole ride was that terrain). By the time we left the road daylight was slowly arriving. They say that doing a 100 is as much mental as anything and I believe it - from the beginning I knew were gonna be out there for a while and must have conveyed that to Tony cuz at about 30 miles he went into low gear for him - hitting about an 8 mph trot that he kept most of the day. That`s very odd for him - I`ve never done a real slow 50 on him and certainly never had him slow down that early in the ride - I swear he was in 100 miler mode as well.
First check went fine - to the pen to wait out our hold and off again. Early in the second loop he drank - I felt my whole body relax - it was gonna be a good day :). Again odd for him to drink that early....I was not od`ing him on elect. - for some reason he does not do well when I pump him full of elec. I think the elec. get ahead of his system and he can`t catch up - at least that`s my uneducated opinion. At any rate, he had some Friday nite and then 4 times during the day combined with probiotics - he maintained an A on guts all day which is a miracle for him.
Annnyyywwaayyy.....the first 50 miles were uneventful except I kept explaining to Tony that we were new at this and we had a long way to go and needed to go an even pace. My biggest fear was "using" him up over 60 or 70 miles and then having to drag him at a walk thru the last part of the ride. As it turned out, that was not the case at all but, hey, what did I know? :)
By the 65 mile point he was eating and drinking everything in sight and I was beginning to think we may actually do this thing. He went in his rope halter from 40 miles on - that`s pretty good for this horse - considering 3 years ago his only gait was a jig.
While he was getting stronger each check I was starting to feel the miles. From the 65 mile point on I let my mom take him thru the vet line - it was nice to be able to watch your horse trot too :).
When we went out for the 65-80 mile loop I know it would just be getting dark when we came back but the last few miles were open dirt road so no light equipment needed. As I was heading out at 5:30 or so there were several riders heading to the dinner - sigh... I was just getting going good :)
Most of the loop was uneventful until the last 5 or 6 miles. We were in the woods when Tony stopped dead - every muscle in his body alert - I couldn`t see the HRM but I`m sure it was off the chart as 2 *things* on 2 legs slowly melted from the pre-dusk woods onto the trail. I yelled to Catherine (other first timer I was riding with) What the H*&^ are those??? My eyes as well as Tony`s were big as saucers I`m sure. Meanwhile, the things just slowly and calmly walked across the trail and into the woods. Tony was frozen and I was wondering if I was gonna need some Depends for the rest of our night riding experience...Come to find out, those were _turkeys_.....Coulda fooled us, right Tony? Well that convinced Tony and I the woods were not where we wanted to be right then so we put it in overdrive and took off at a canter. Deer promptly bounded thru the woods - that DID it - we were outta there!!!! We came screeching into camp at about 100 mph talking about monsters and trolls and lions and tigers :))
All day his heart rate had been falling faster each time - true to form by the time I got him stopped and got off he dropped to 85 - by the time we got the in timer he was at 54 - incredible! Now I was started to get butterflies - I mean we were 20 miles out!! 20 little miles - we could do those in our sleep right??? (Little did I know we almost did ). Anyway, I ate left over dinner - which I had not qualms about wading thru the entire ride dinner crowd to retrieve and watched Tony go thru the check like he had been out for an afternoon stroll. He looked better now than he did at 50 miles if you can believe that. These animals truly are amazing.
For the last 20 miles I put on his easyboots as it was now *dark* and there were two sections of chunky gravel that I didn`t want to risk a bruise on - Tony bruises if you look at him wrong and I didn`t want to take any chances. Just putting on the glowsticks made me feel all grown up :)) How many times I`ve watched 100 milers put those on and thought - one day I`ll get to do that. All day and especially now folks going by the trailer wished me luck or offered sympathy....they were clean, well fed and going to bed and I was going back out for 20 more....
The last 20 miles was a 10 mile loop done twice - just like earlier in the day. Only now you could watch from camp across the lake and see the green dots heading out on their last leg - each time camp would erupt in catcalls, cheers, and clapping as another rider went around. I was not exception - my cheering squad came thru loud and clear - I called back and off we went.
Boy is it DARK out there - glowsticks schmo-sticks - I couldn`t see squat. Not only that but those darn bullfrogs jumping into the lake sound like a cannon being dropped in the water. Geez, this is stressful :) Actually, it was awesome - the night was clear, the only sound was the muffled foot fall of the easy boots on the sand or him stopping to eat bamboo.
Magmt had dropped red glowsticks in the middle of the road for us to follow - Tony looked at *each* one - *both* times around :) I met up again with Cathering midway thru this loop - her horse was a little tired so we stopped and let the guys eat and take a breather. That seemed to help so off we trotted/cantered - cantering broke the monotony of trotting and got us there a little quicker :). Finally to the beaver dam which meant only a couple of miles till the first 10 of the last 20 are done. In we come, stop by the water tank, he drinks and then Samm offers me some of Nina G`s famous tea - yum, yum :)
This is it - 90 miles down. I can`t believe it - Tony is easily trotting out of camp for the umpteenth time that day (ha ha to those whose horses are smart enough to realize they`ve already been on that trail once ) for our last 10.
100 miles almost down - if I weren`t so tired I`d be amazed...By now tho it`s 10:30 or so and I`m exhausted - I didn`t eat enough during the day and I can really tell it. We stop to let them graze and I almost fall over asleep in the saddle. I decide we have to get going or I might just curl up in the bamboo and snooze.
I ask Tony if he has any canter in him - of course he responds and off we go. Canter, canter, gallop, gallop - does anything compare to galloping the last 5 miles of a 100 in the dark just holding the end of the loop you`ve tied in the reins on a horse who feels *that* good, has his ears up and is willingly cruising?
I don`t think so.....
At any rate that`s how I came in - except we had to stop and take a gander at my mom huddled by the finish line in Tony`s wool cooler (Thanks, Mom!) - I`ve always said the day he stops looking at things is the day I get worried. I groan as I get out of the saddle and hobble to the camp behind Mom and horse. Tony is walking out, ears up like it`s no big deal....Again by the time we get to the vet he`s waayyy down. I go thru immediately as it`s getting cold and he`s wanting to stiffen a little. I came in 10th and decide to go ahead and stand - I knew my time was too far from the winner`s to have a chance at it but how cool to have a BC sheet from my very first 100!!!
Does anything compare to a vet telling you your horse looks awesome and will do very well in 100s as he trots two perfectly sound, even circles for the BC check? Not much in my book - except the cantering bit I mentioned earlier :)
Needless to say there`s tons more I could say but Angie might throw tomatoes at me - suffice it to say it was a great experience!
Long Leaf 100 bound....
PS - Catherine finished in fine shape about 30 minutes behind me so both first timers made it.
Tina & Tony - who still shies at 90 miles...