Beast of Burden 100 Miler

Hi. I’m Lizzy. Some of you may know that I’m a runner from Waterloo, pretty new to the long distance running.

A couple months back I decided to sign up for the Beast of Burden 100 mile race in Lockport, NY. It’s a flat, out and back course, 4 times along the Erie Canal. It is also in January- which adds a bit of a unique element to it. Not gonna lie, my main focus in doing this race was the timing. I had no huge interest in a flat race (I prefer a bit of climbing). The reason I signed up for this race was because I wanted to get another 100 mile race under my belt before I turned 20, and considering my birthday is in March, I had few options for races (my first 100 was in September).

When looking into this race- the main thing I focused on was the weather. From there I looked into past results and gauged my finish time based on other people I knew who were around my time. I estimated about 28-29 hour finish – give or take depending on weather and trail conditions.

I already knew this race was gonna be fairly different though because of the obvious race conditions and such, but also for this race I was going to have a crew. My dad was coming- it was his first ultra experience. Byron and Lucy were coming as well to pace and crew me. I was allowed to have a pacer after 25 miles (super early in the race) so having 2 pacers would be nice- just to have people to talk to.

On Friday the four of us headed to Lockport around 3:30-4. We got to our hotel, Lockport Inn, and it was freakishly adorable. Got all of our stuff unpacked and settled in, and Byron gave me wet wipes with a sassy title on them and a Runs of Anarchy hat (which I already misplaced and he had to give me another one…) then we headed out for dinner at a little pasta restaurant.

When we got back to the hotel we hung out in the room drinking beer (Byron a bit too much) and talking. Mainly it was Lucy and I on the bed half asleep while Dad and Byron talked in depth.

Race morning: So. This section is gonna be a lot of information that no one really needs to know about me- so if that makes you uncomfortable, stop reading.

I had my alarm set for 7 am Saturday (10 am race start) but woke up at 6 am. I was quick to realize race morning that I got my period. Not gonna lie, I kinda flipped at first. Lucy and dad were still asleep, so I texted my Mum and Rhonda to ask what the hell I was gonna do. Rhonda told me to take advil every 6 hours to fix some things, so I took one then. I then messaged Byron to tell him, because turns out you can’t have secrets from your crew and I was….less than prepared. I hoped that it would work out well and started getting ready for race morning.

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Lucy and my matching hair race morning.

Got to the race start and picked up my stuff, saw Steven and Lucy and I headed to the car to get my shit in order while Byron and Steven talked. Pre-race announcements, and race started.

The start of the race was fairly uneventful. It was chilly, but not bad. ‘Bout -6 celsius or so? First quarter flew by fairly uneventful. I made a couple friends, Mike and Gary, got a couple selfies, was FORCE FED Mr. Noodles by my crew which I bitched and whined about cause I ~thought~ it was too early in the race to be eating that much (I’m inexperienced don’t mock me). And ended up getting through the first 25 miles (40 km) in ~5 hours. 5:22 according to Byron’s spreadsheet. At this point in the race Lucy came to start pacing me, which I was incredibly excited for. We talked boys and other shenanigans to pass time, like Lucy and I do. We talk about everything and anything. In this 20 km going out it started to get dark but I didn’t start to use my headlamp yet because Lucy’s is practically a car headlight.

At the 20 km aid station, my crew quickly found out that I had a blister on my toe. Lucy went to help me and Byron quickly cut in to pop it. I looked away and didn’t feel anything. Then I felt everything. He attacked me with that needle. I was practically crying while Lucy asked him to stop but he attacked my toe a good 5-6 times before finally I had enough. We got some food and headed back again. At the mid aid station we had our first traditional “us” moment. There were a few runners in the aid station as well as a bunch of volunteers, mid aged and around my age. I asked Lucy to grab me something and she responded with “What am I your fucking bitch or something?!?” to which I responded “Don’t be a fucking prick for god’s sake Lucy!”. This is fairly normal for us. I think the aid station volunteers thought we were going to kill each other. They probably didn’t want to send us into the night together.

Lucy and I finished up the first 50 miles together with an overall time of 11 hours. At this point Lucy and Byron decided to switch up pacing positions and Byron would pace me for the last 50 miles. He wasn’t quite ready so this was my longest aid station stop- being 25 min, but then we went on our way.  Not gonna lie, I don’t totally remember the next 25 miles that well. I remember talking, then not talking, but other than just trying to keep myself running instead of walking, I don’t remember much.

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Byron getting ready to pace by putting on Lucy’s shirt.

At this point in the race it was what…maybe -12 celsius? I don’t remember being that cold though. Leaving aid stations was rough for the first 5 minutes until I got moving, and sometimes long walking breaks (over 2 minutes ahaha) I would start to get chilled. According to my dad, it was cold (he bitched a lot even after the race was over…). Also, apparently at this point in the race I started getting “short” with people (according to my dad as well – told me post race). I definitely can see that happening, I don’t remember snapping but I do remember I wanted some people to shut the fuck up at some points. (not my crew obviously they were wonderful)

Heading out into the last 25 miles I was at about 17.5 hours, with about 6.5 hours left until 24 hours. This was WAY ahead of my schedule, but at that point in the race it isn’t as necessary to hold back. Heading into the final ‘lap’, Byron told me he anticipated my time to be 24-25 hours based on my past pace and my want for more walking breaks. In my head though, I wanted 24. Obviously I did, cause someone told me it would take me longer, and I’m stubborn as fuck in these events.

I started the lap by saying I want to “take more frequent but shorter walking breaks”. For the first 75 miles, I had often walked at the bridges. The race is located along the Erie canal, so there were frequent bridges (1-3 miles or so). This gave me a realistic and visual goal that I often used. I tried to push myself in the next 20km to run to all the bridges, and if there was no bridge for awhile, to get a certain km mark in before walking. Near the end of this leg, Byron started pissing like a dog. If I hadn’t known better, I would have thought he was marking his territory. It started with me laughing each time, and got to the point where he would just disappear and I wouldn’t even notice until he was back.

When I got to the 20 km turn around, it was just before 6:30am. I came in determined to be in and out in under 10 min, deciding not to change my clothes and just pee and eat. I wanted to be done. When I was running across the bridge (to get to the aid station), dad and Lucy were across the bridge cheering and yelling “They haven’t seen anyone in 1.5 hours!!”. I went in and went straight to pee, and when I came out they informed me that at present I was in 8th. Cool. I asked what place female. They said 2nd. Cool. I ate a bunch of cookies and started leaving.

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At 140 km, kinda ready to get the last 20km over with.

Right after leaving the aid station, Byron said “Let’s run to all the bridges, then walk. You decide how long you wanna walk for, but we only walk at bridges.” Son of a bitch. I agreed, thinking it’s almost every mile that’ll be easy. First bridge wasn’t for 6.5 fucking km. God dammit. I did it, because that’s what I was told to do.

We finally got to the aid station, and as I ate I heard Byron say “Could we get some shots?”. I guess I do remember telling him now I wanted shots at the last aid station, but at the time it confused me. Here’s a vital thing that happened next, that made a BIG difference in how the rest of the race went for me. I wanted Fireball, Byron wanted Jack Daniels. We said that. They poured 2 Jack Daniels, Byron corrected them by pouring my shot into his own glass. Let’s take note of that for a second. That’s about 2.5-3 shots worth. After not having slept for a full night and having run for awhile. Regardless, we took our shots and went on our way.

At this point it was light out and we got moving again. 10 km left. First 4-5 km were fairly uneventful, with walking running breaks. Then Byron started getting pretty hyper. Whenever he would see a bridge, 300-500 metres out he would tell me to pick it up till the bridge. Which I did. Then he got worse. Weaving around me, running directly behind me, hitting my arms with each step, and when I told him to stop he started hitting the back of my knee with his hand. And pissing just as much as before. And he was talking, oh lord was he talking.

With the way the race course is, you have a point where you can see the aid station on the other side of the canal, but have to run a mile out still, cross a bridge, and run a mile up till the aid station. We were at this point. Lucy and Dad were across the bridge screaming their ears off. I took my final walking break then set in for the last 3 km.

Byron continued to make the most annoying sounds I’ve ever heard (at the time at least- I was tired), but it probably helped me run faster. I finally crossed the finish line and was told my time was 23 hours 28 minutes. I received my belt buckle and took pictures and headed into the tent.

While sitting there I was informed that I got 8th overall (32 registered, 30 started, 18 finished) and 2nd overall female. Cool. I also found out at this point how Steven did, getting 3rd overall. I changed some of my clothes, was fed veggie burgers, and asked to go back to the hotel when I started shaking.

At the hotel, Lucy ran me a bath and helped me get my clothes off (we reached a new level of closeness). When I was done showering, I came out to everyone passed out in the room. We packed up, and headed home.

HUGE thanks to my pacers/crew. I honestly could not have done the race without you guys. Plus there’s no way in hell I could have gone that fast without you guys. You guys made the race. Dad, who went out of his comfort zone and spent an entire weekend awake with people he didn’t know, you were a great help and I’m surprised how quickly you picked up on what a crew does and was able to help so much. Byron, you have a way of pissing me off and endearing me to you all in one fell swoop. Couldn’t have done the last half nearly as fast without you- thanks for pushing me. And thanks for crewing me and force feeding me the first half of the race, regardless of me complaining. Lucy, I won’t get how you treat me like a bro and a child all at once, but somehow it works. I love how much love you have even in the short time we’ve known each other. Thank you for rubbing my nasty feet, making 25 miles fly by and babying me along the way. THANK YOU GUYS!!!

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An amazing group that I got to spend the weekend with.

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Haliburton 100

Hey. My name is Lizzy Hughes. I’m just a normal kid from Waterloo who likes to run. This past summer I decided to attempt to run one of these ultramarathon things I’ve heard so much about. I started with a 50 mile race, which suddenly turned into a 24 hour race two months later…which suddenly turned into me signing up for my first 100 mile race, only 3.5 months after running just 50 miles. Despite this I was feeling pretty good about it. Until about a week and a half out. I started noticing some pain in my heel, only to find out that I had a bruised bone in my heel. Okay okay I can deal. Keep running, baby my foot. Do some barefoot running at cross country practice…and shit. Stepped on a nice sharp piece of glass that went straight up into my big toe. Okay that hurts a lot. Go to my RMT. Find out that I have a minor tear in my hamstring- that apparently could potentially put me out of running for 3 months. Baby the leg, baby the foot, super glue the toe. Let’s go race weekend!

Letting my dad super glue me toe...

Letting my dad super glue me toe…

Come Friday, I went to class and then was picked up by my good friend Kim. We drove up to Haliburton- Kim, Richard, their friend Ruta, and myself. We got there just as dinner was starting so Kim (fellow 100 mile runner) and I went straight for food as Richard (50 km) and Ruta (12 km) unpacked the car (God bless their souls). That night I glued my toe together again and had Mama Kim tape up my toe as well, then half cried myself to sleep knowing what would come the next day.

Letting Kim tape my toe while I obviously do nothing.

Letting Kim tape my toe while I obviously do nothing.

Okay okay I’ll get to the race. Started at 6 am. I just stuck with the crowds for the first section. The route was a 25 mile out and back, starting with a 10 km loop, then going out to 40 km, turning around and coming back. I stuck with people on and off, talking sporadically but in general sticking to myself. I remember the route being so bright and beautiful. My perspective changed as the race went on.

My first fun event was getting a wasp sting right on my ankle along the sock line. Turns out the stinging turned into a sprain feel. I discovered at this point my angry side- letting every rude word I could think be said.

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I ended arriving at the turn around in 6 hours and 8 minutes. I was feeling pretty good about myself with this. I had been hoping to get the first 50 miles done in 12 hours, allowing myself a good 18 hours to finish the next 50 miles. Things OBVIOUSLY didn’t go as planned, because that just wouldn’t be right. This next section was odd. During the run back to the start, I had my only incredibly evident “down”. Turns out, when I get tired in a race, I turn into a weepy wimp. I went from singing and dancing to crying at the frogs, that were probably lonely and without a family- I can only assume. While running to the start/finish line, getting ready to start the second half of the race, every thought that came to my head made me want to cry. From wondering if I could finish to picturing my finish, I displayed my least favourite side of myself- my annoying teenage pathetic girl side. I ended up arriving at the turnaround at 13 hours and 8 minutes. Putting me an hour or so behind my intended goal. Triggering my wimpy side.

Thankfully, I didn’t have long until my pacer, Steve, would arrive. I had been anticipating his arrival practically from the start of the race. While going into the beginning loop, he wasn’t at the aid station yet, so I set off alone with my headlamp. The loop started with roads and ended on a trail, with an aid station in between. When I got to the aid station it had gotten fairly dark. I learned something else about myself at this point. Apparently, I don’t like going into dark forests that are inhabited by bears all alone. A very eager saviour came to my rescue. Chris, who had run the same race the year before in 26 hours, VERY eagerly offered to run back to the aid station with me. I accepted and attempted to absorb his enthusiasm. He was the first to “convince” me that I would finish the race. Through that 5 kms, we ran every section we could, and during the walks I would continually hear Chris yelling “IT’S BUCKLE TIME!” in between our conversations about life.

When we arrived at the aid station, Steve was eagerly waiting for me with his watch ready to switch out for my dead Garmin. I decided to change my clothes at this point considering the dropping temperature and put on my compression socks. I ate something quickly, had my toes insulted, and set off into the night with Steve.

Steve had this great idea. He brought along a portable music player and decided to play my music out loud for me. Turns out I have the most embarrassing music a person could have. Every song that came on had me apologizing. As we hiked through the forest, we came upon many different people. We were passed by the first place runner coming the opposite way (much to my dismay…) as well as a fellow rookie struggling with tummy issues. I gave my ginger pills, salt pills and traumeel pills and moved on.

At this point my “run” turned more into a hike. I could feel Steve trying to push me forward, as well as my entire body and soul trying to hold me back. Finally, we got to aid station 6. This was at the 30 km point and the last aid station before the turn around (aid station 7 was right at the turn around). I was having some pain on my back and was quick to discover that my sports bra was playing this fun game called “Cut Lizzy’s Entire Back Open”. On the plus side, this gave Gary, an aid station volunteer, a new experience to deal with that he was evidently uncomfortable with. I was taped up with gauze and medical tape, drank a cup of coffee (which I don’t do much) and sent on my way.

Immediately after we began walking, one of the rudest, most offensive songs to be made began to play on my ipod, which in turn began to blare in the forests for all to hear. I continually asked Steve if we could skip and he insisted that he isn’t easily offended and it would be fine. From here I had to apologize and attempt to explain how it was my awful friends that put this song on my ipod as the lyrics got more offensive. Steve actually stayed with me though- surprisingly.

Our music died almost directly after I offended the forest. This happened just in time for my coffee to kick in. Poor Steve. I don’t think I stopped talking for 30 minutes straight. Anything that came to my little mind came right out of my mouth.

At this point we were verging on 2 am and the rain started. It was almost refreshing at first. Then, as my steps began to slow and the rain continued to thicken, the refreshing rain turned to cold rain. We finally got to the turn around where I added pants and a hat to my clothing. I had a cup of soup as well as another cup of coffee. Poor Steve.

Turn around

Turn around point.

This next section felt like years. The hills were all uphills. And obviously, this is the point where we go off course and add a couple more hills into our workout. Cause why not. Sounds like fun.

We trudged on and I kept changing clothes because of the rain. Every section that I had planned on running turned into ankle deep mud, meaning that I walked everything.

At this point my 28 hour goal was out the window and my revised goal was to finish before the 30 hour cutoff.

And then the longest section of the race came up. That section between aid station 4 and aid station 5 was only 7.5 km, but I could have thought it was 40 km if I hadn’t have known. At this point the sun was coming up, and regardless of the bright new day, the only words coming out of Steve and my mouth were “I think I see the aid station. Never mind.”, “Where the fuck is that aid station?”, “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me there’s another hill.”. (This is the point in the race where I started swearing a lot more…)

Oh did I mention that the entire time Steve was with me he continually asked me about my pee? From frequency to colour (I don’t know how he thought I’d figure that one out at 3 in the morning…). Every time I would take a piss he would practically clap for me. Yaaaayy kidneys! It was like being house trained.

We FINALLY got to the fourth aid station, which-thank the lord- quickly turned into the 2nd aid station. At this point it was 9:30am on Sunday, with about 12 km left to go. I decided at this point to ditch half my gear and clothes and try to push it. I dropped my outer pants, handhelds and outer jacket. I don’t know where the energy came from but Steve and I decided to play in the woods for awhile. I still had to walk the hills but stretching the legs felt surprisingly nice.

It took about 90 min (give or take…more give) to get through the hill loop (10  km) before getting back to aid station 2, the final aid station. Weeks back I had met one of the aid station volunteers, Don, and he had asked me what I would like the most to see at an aid station. Thinking I’m funny (which I am), I said a good couple tequila shots. Obviously, Don provided. I had told Don from the start that I would take my shot at the last aid station. Throughout the race Steve had said that he wouldn’t take a shot due to tummy issues, but when approaching that station Steve decided he was in. What was a silly joke was suddenly turned into the entire aid station shooting some tequila at 11 am on a Sunday. Seems about right.

Shots with the crew.

Shots with the crew.

We walked/jogged into the finish line, 2 km away. I ended up passing the finish line in 29 hours, 30 minutes. I was obviously met with the best cheer squad a girl could want. Huge thanks to the Haliburton crew!

My finish line picture!

My finish line picture!

Biggest thanks to the best pacer a girl could ask for!

Biggest thanks to the best pacer a girl could ask for!