Editor's Note: The language and content may be offensive to some so you have been warned.
How far is 100 miles anyway? What if I run from Chicago to Milwaukee? That’s 100, right? I wonder if they will have chicken soup this year? They had chicken soup last year, but not until later at night. I can’t stand those turkey sandwiches, Heed tastes like chalk and makes me want to puke and oranges only taste good for so long. I sure hope they bring out the soup earlier. And maybe they’ll have crackers to crumble in the soup. I sure could go for some crackers….
These are the things I think about while standing at the Nordic Trailhead on race day morning of the Kettle 100. Not pacing strategy, whether my drop bags have everything that they need (I didn’t bring drop bags this year) or whether I should go try to force out that poop that I thought was coming when I got up at 4 a.m. I think nonsense, and that’s because I have nothing else to do while waiting to begin this race. It’s not like I want to chat it up with anyone. If that was the case, I would be standing here with my crew, pacers, family and friends. Nope, none of that here. People stress me out, especially on race days. And that avoidance is mutual, as the permanent scowl on my face sends most on a wide berth of avoidance around me. So the solo foray into race day is a win-win.
I stand up on the porch just off the main cabin at the Nordic Trailhead and look at the crowd. I wonder if I know any of these people. I probably do, but I am horrible with faces so even if I ran with them several times, I probably would not recognize them. So I take a few photos with my phone and share one on Facebook to let everyone know that Crazy Joe is up to it again. “Third time’s a charm,” I write on the post and accompanying photo – a bevy of runners, runner supporters and onlookers milling about and talking in small groups as they enjoy the cool morning air.
"No one ever said ultra running was a clean sport, and the aid station buffet tables should always be approached with the same trepidation you would when deciding whether to take that after-lunch swim in a public pool filled to the rim with bladder-bloated toddlers."
The forecast was in our favor today – upper 60s and overcast, perfect for a day of running. And there is only a slight chance of thunderstorms overnight so we’re golden. Much better than the powerful thunderstorms that rocked us at last year's Kettle and soaked us to the point where many – to include me – were paralyzed with horrible groin chaffing.
The pain was so bad that I dropped from the race at mile 82, literally crying - my second try at Kettle ended. Determined not to repeat my balls-out-DNF again, I brought plenty of nut butter and applied it thickly upon the suspect nether regions. I thought back to this moment of application every time I rolled into an aid station and stuck my hand into the bowl of chips. No one ever said ultra running was a clean sport, and the aid station buffet tables should always be approached with the same trepidation you would when deciding whether to take that after-lunch swim in a public pool filled to the rim with bladder-bloated toddlers.