Last night I participated in the Pajama Romp. This was a 1.27 mile loop in Astoria Park in Queens. There were about 70-75 participants running this 6 hour event. I drove up with Alanna and John. Two other TNT participants (Ann and Carissa) came to cheer us on.
Friday night, I checked the weather and saw T-Storms predicted to hit pretty much between 5 pm and midnight with the most chance of making appearance around 7 pm.
I really wasn't sure what to do, but I knew I could not sit around all day waiting to run, only to have the run canceled or called off due to weather. Training is more important than racing right now. I knew that after last weekend's mountain 6 hour race, my legs were less likely to carry me 40 miles or more. Since I did not feel like I was set up well for a great race, I decided that this race would best serve me as the second half of a double training run day.
Sat morning, I met the Team In Training Team I train with at 7 am and ran a comfortable 13.6 miles with a few of our runners training for various marathons. Pace was easy and comfortable but I could feel by mile 12, that I was getting dehydrated. I drank and ate more than usual at this training run, but the warmth and humidity left me soaked with sweat.
I drank an Ensure and a Chocolate Milk immediately giving me about 400 calories, carbs, protein, fat, vitamins, etc as soon as I stopped. I can't really digest more than this in a hour, so I drove the half hour home and then had a big bowl of cereal, orange juice, and a banana for more carbs, protein, and potassium. At 1 pm, I made a big bowl of salty mashed potatoes for more carbs and electrolytes. I wanted to refuel my muscles as much as I could. I wanted to take a nap too, but I just didn't have time.
On the drive up, I drank a mango smoothie and was ready with macaroon, cantaloupe, and electrolyte-enhanced water. I felt like I still had a chance to run well and was open to the idea that I might surprise myself if I just tried to run like I did in my last 6 hour race.
I checked the weather once more, and still the entire night was marred by the prediction of T-Storms. As we sat in the car at 4:45 pm to avoid the hard rain, before our 5 pm start, I called Sid to have him check NOAA. He advised that we should be getting hit hard soon, if not already at that moment, but that the rain will blow over us. However, more storms could hit us in about an hour or so that seemed like they could have T-storms. It was hard to predict from the charts.
With this information, and the fact that I wanted to run at least 15 miles tonight, I decided that I was going to start out hard (at 8 minute pace), get a good 10 miles in, and then back off to see what I could do after a morning run. I knew this was not the best way to start a 6 hour run after having depleted myself of energy and fluids this morning. However, it was likely to represent a little of what I will feel like at 5 pm at my next 24 hour race. I don't plan to run 8's at a 24 hour, but I do expect to feel like crap so this will be good practice.
The race started just as some heavy downpours became worse. The gun went off and the pack started moving. I started fast and was the 4th runner out, behind the top three eventual male winners. I knew it would be minutes before I was passed by the women. I expected nothing less.
I ran the first loop at just sub-8. This was not too fast in theory. My last 50k started out at 7:50 pace and ended at 8:09 pace. My last 6 hour started at 7:50 pace and ended at 8:44 pace. My last marathon was 7:36 pace. When feeling good, 7:50 is a nice pace to start one of these runs. However, I would have been happy a little slower considering I was a little dehydrated and depleted at the start.
I stayed with the men for one main reason, to figure out the course. The rain was washing away all the white painted arrows and I was not sure how complicated the course would be. After 1 loop, we only passed about two places where I could make a mistake, I backed down to 8-8:10 pace per lap.
I held that for about 5 laps, then started walking the up hills. First, just the first up hill and then I added that second up hill. Once I started walking the ups, they seemed much steeper. I noticed that my legs went from feeling incredibly peppy to suddenly depleted and dead. I had been trying to fuel and hydrate from the start of the run, but I don't think I was able to keep up with my pace. I am 100% certain a slower pace would have yielded more mileage and less discomfort, but I just didn't want to risk stopping after 2 hour because of weather, so I keep up my speed until I couldn't run any more... I slowed a lot after 10 miles. I stopped to change my shoes and then continued to run. I hit 20 miles in just a little over 3 hours and decided that if I needed to stop then I could be happy with a 34 mile training day.
I added more walking just to keep moving and started to notice just how much my feet hurt. This makes me sad. I am tired of foot pain. I am avoiding pain killers and just kept going. Walking hurt, but running showed me just how depleted my quads were of energy. I tried to spit (to track my hydration) and it was way too thick to be productive. I realized that even with my efforts to drink a little almost every lap, I was very dehydrated. I grabbed gatorade, coke, water with electrolytes, plain water and it wasn't enough. Pretty much everything was wrong and my morale suffered.
After walking a bit, at mile 22 I met up with Alanna and John, and declared with a forced smile "I am done! Now it is just about getting to 30 miles for the day." The deficit of everything, I manage to get myself into, made me incredibly nauseated. If I tried to force calories or liquids I sensed I would throw up. Acid type liquids (coke, juice, gatorade) were not appealing so I could not drink them. High sugar drinks, like my mango juice made me queasy. I grabbed a chocolate milk and ended up carrying it for a lap, not able to drink it. I ate a few pretzels and that seemed to help. Salty, dry, non-sweet, gluten free pretzels (thank you Ann) were the only thing I was able to tolerated. I ate a few and kept walking.
At about 26 miles in, I realized I had stopped having fun for the last hour and I was approaching 40 miles for the day. I walked with Alanna, who looked great, was moving well, and really supported me as we moved along. I rationalized to her. I was in pain. I was not accomplishing anything impressive. I was disappointed. I could be doing damage to feet by pushing on. I want to train tomorrow and it is not worth missing tomorrow's run for a low mileage 6 hour tonight. 27 miles is really just as good as 30 miles. An injury free-27 is better than hurting myself for 3 more...etc. I had tons of "good" reasons to stop. The reality is I wanted to stop, I wasn't having fun, and things hurt. I decided I was done.
I completed the lap the was 27+ miles and walked to my car. I called Sid and told him that I suck. That I was done and my feet hurt too much to make it fun to move. He tried to encourage me, but then settled on telling me he was proud of me no matter what I did. I gave Ray a call and waited to hear him press me to get back out there. I had just under an hour left. That is not a lot of time. I was surprised to hear him tell me that I did good and that a good 20 mile run after almost 14 this morning was good Hinson Lakes Training. It made me feel less like a quitter to get the support of Sid and Ray.
I walked back to the race, ate a few more pretzels and saw John run through, looking pretty beat up but moving and smiling (or wincing). He forced out the words, with so much pride, ... "I am past the marathon distance! I am past the marathon!" This is awesome considering this is his first ultra. We had a few minutes to go before they let us do the short loop. John said he wanted, needed to sit. He sat, I handed him some pretzels, and told him that if he is going to just sit, we should just walk until it is over. We could walk 1 big loop and then do the small loop until we can stop. A few seconds later we were moving again.
As we started our walk, John realized that after this big loop, he was going to be close to 30 miles. I was at about 28+ at that point. He found some strength and we added some jogging. We got the short loop and he realized he was going to make 30 miles if he just could run. He started running...then running faster... then faster... and exclaimed "I don't know where this is coming from!!!" He had 0.4 miles to go and 6 minutes to do it. He was getting his 30! My feet hurt less running. I felt a little better after sitting and eating pretzels. Running with John, running to help someone else, renewed my motivation to be out there again. I would not have gone out just for me.
When he hit 30, I saw that I was a little over 29 miles myself. I wasn't sure how much time I had left, but just figured I would run as fast as I could to get as close as I could to my 30 mile goal. I was running a low 7 minute pace for the last .7 miles and stopped at about 29.75 miles on my Garmin That is close enough to 30 to bring me joy. Thank you John :)
I am not sure what my official distance really is. We all know Garmins can be off. I did not count my laps, big or small, and I have no idea what the cone I stopped at measured. However, 29.75 + 13.6 is 43.35 miles for the day.
That is a good day and I am happy.