Monday, October 29, 2012

USATF-NJ 8k XC, Readington, NJ. 10/28/12

Well I can't say I am exactly trying to set myself up for success at the short race.  But that is ok.  My priority is logging mileage and the short races are simply a fun way to get in my speed work.  Yesterday I met a Team in Training group and trained with a bunch of really great runners.  I ended up totaling 23 miles at various paces.  It was a good day.

Today my mind is more pre-occupied with the impending hurricane that is supposed to hit at some point between Monday and Tuesday.  Sidney was supposed to have the weekend off and I thought he would be here to take care of everything like he usually does.  He never stresses out and always seems to manage to take care of problems as they arise.  I tend to stress out a lot and then figure out what I need to do, eventually.

After hours of running on Sat, I got to my car and found several urgent messages from Sid.  He was called to the base and about to be shipped off somewhere in the US not knowing when he will back.  This means Enzo and I get to ride out this storm together.  Sid sent me on a mission to find pumps and had located a small generator, extension cords, etc... Things I need if / when the power goes out to pump the flooding waters from the basement.

I was starving, but I wanted to make sure I got the pumps ASAP (as instructed).  I had to drive almost an hour in the wrong direction for the pumps and then headed back towards my home stopping on the way to finally ate.  Eating immediately after these long slow training runs have helped me recover faster than when I don't.  I knew I wasn't going to feel strong at the 8k today because I was so hungry during and after my long run and starving by the time I got real calories in me.

I almost didn't go to this race.  I had pre-registered and it was team race so that made me want to be there.  I felt I should be doing things at home, but I wasnt sure what to do, so I left for the race.

I arrived with about 40 minutes to go, ran maybe a mile warm up, and lined up to start.

This race is on a very well groomed XC course.  Three laps make up the 8k.  We start by racing across a field to a mowed path around the perimeter of a field.  Runners usually go out way to fast in this first stretch because we all know that we are going to get stuck in traffic, especially as some start to slow a little on the first incline.

As I take my first few steps, I already feel tense and tired.  I feel like I cant get enough air.  I had already used my inhaler, but I still felt bad.  I was secretly grateful to be in a pack where I felt stuck.

At some point in mile 1, Jim O flies past me.  He wasn't too far behind me last week at the 10k, and I feel like a slug on XC courses, so I figured that there was a good chance he was going to stay ahead of me today.  I was already making the loud whooping noises I make, almost involuntarily, to open my airways.  That usually doesn't happen unless I am working hard. I should be working hard in mile 1.  I just tried to stay below 7.   M1= 6:44.  (I was surprised it was that fast.)

In the second mile of the race we confront another hill.  This one was much greater than an incline.  This hill made my chest hurt. I am running behind Jim, and several other guys.  The pace felt just a little slower than I wanted to go.  Eventually I said excused me, and asked to pass.  Jim said something like, "If you hear my voice again, that means you are doing bad"... I already felt like this was going to be a bad day. This incline felt really hard.  I responded with something like "I am probably going to do bad today... I am due for a bad race."  I tend to be an optimistic pessimist in races... I recognize the worst but hope with some effort I can do my best for the day.   Karl L, who was just ahead of me commented that I was doing well and then he pulls away.  M2 =7:07  (Not sub-7... bummer!)

I know XC courses are supposed to be slower than road courses, but I really didn't want it to be.  I tried to find some speed while balancing out the distance I still had to cover.   I finished off the last part of this lap and headed back out again for lap 2.  Back across the grass and towards incline that I am not a fan of.  M3 = 6:53.   (Sub-7 again, better!)

Back up the incline, I realize I am just way too uncomfortable in the racing singlet.  Before the race, when I saw almost everyone in long sleeves and gloves, I figured maybe the wind is making it too cold for just a sport bra. I put on my team singlet for the race, the first time all year, but at this point I decided it needed to go. I was just too hot.  I tossed it before the end of the second loop and headed back out again over the first hill and down around the field.  M4 = 7:04.  (OMG, really again over 7!)

Although my pace fluctuated with the terrain, I felt my effort was pretty even. Quick math reminded me that 35 minutes is 7 min pace for a 5 miler.  I hoped to be close to that.

I had passed two women before the end of loop 2. Once I took off my singlet I started to feel better.  I felt like I finally found my rhythm.  I was pulling up on a few guys and feeling really good.  I caught back up to Karl L.  I worked hard to get there.  I suspected he had kick to drop.  I wasn't sure what I had.  I made a pass and moved ahead after that last hill.

I wished I had sat back.  I forgot about the wind we were getting from the impending hurricane that was in our face on the way in.  I really don't like wind at all.  After trying to ignore it, I just couldn't ignore how tired I was.  Karl passed me back, but I couldn't match his kick.  I tried.  Not today.  But as we came in towards the finish, I was actually very surprised to see the clock reading in the low 34:00's.  I dug a little and finished strong in 34:21. Final . 97= 6:31 (6:45 pace) (That made me happy!)

The USATF-NJ XC races are smaller races (about 250 runners) but seem to attract faster runners.  This means I would have to podium in the women's race to get a sufficient number of points for my Long Distance Running Series score card.  That never happens for me at the XC races.

This was the same course I ran my last 5k XC race on in Sept.  I ran that race at a 6:52 pace and was 14th female...  today with almost 2 more miles for the 8k, I ran it at 6:54 and I was still 14th female.  Ok, I will take that.  To me that suggests an improvement in fitness, especially after 23 miles and bad recovery fueling yesterday.

I checked my result, then left to go prepare for the hurricane... hopefully it will not be as bad as predicted.

34:21 (6:54)
100 OA place
14th Female
12th / 30 of the "39 and under" AG

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Terri Roemer Paramus Run, 10k/5k Double, Paramus, NJ. 10/21/12

(   Article in the Record, by Bruce Weber)

The Terri Roemer Paramus Run, is an annual run that benefits the Paramus Scholarship Fund in Paramus, NJ. Runners have the option of running either the 10k at 9:05 am, the 5k at 11:15 am.  This gives runners plenty of time to race both. The race description explains: "Both the 5K and 10K courses pass through scenic, tree-lined residential neighborhoods." Um, they forgot to mention the hill.

Yesterday I ran an easy paced 22.5 miles, most of it with Team in Training.  It took just under 4 hours and worked out to 10:35 pace.  I don't care what anyone else thinks, I know that for me slower, longer running seems to make me stronger and takes very little out of me. I knew I wanted to race something today, so I was happy to take it easy.  But during the last 3 miles of the run, the allergies I thought I had been suffering from began to feel more like a cold.  My throat felt inflamed and the gatorade I refilled my bottle with was burning as a swallowed, badly.  Each swallow felt worse.  I was getting goose-bumps and felt like crud.  I could not wait to just get home.  This run no longer felt easy!

Even feeling sick, I still combed the race calendar for options. I was really happy to see a 10k USATF-NJ points race scheduled.   I am short on Category 2 races (those btw 4 miles and 15k) so it was nice to get another set of points for my score card. Once I realized I could run both the 5k and the 10k I was sold! 

So after getting registered I barely had time for a little warm up.  I knew nothing about the course, had no expectations, realized that if I just ran 18 miles at 7:09 pace and a half at 7:01 pace, so I should be shooting for about 6:40 for this race. I felt achy and had a lot of congestion but I have raced much sicker and still ran PR's so I didn't think it was going to make this worse... and if it did, it did, so what? It will still be a workout. 

The 10k
Gun goes off and I try to find a comfortable pace.  As I now look over my splits, I am surprised at what I see.  I take splits, but dont always look at them until later.  I thought my first mile was faster, but it was actually M1- 6:38.  I continued on cruising along thinking that I would try to run a pace that I could pick up the speed from in the last 2 miles.  M2-6:38.  (Cool! I had no idea I was that even!)  

And then came the hill!  I am actually glad I did not know about this until I had to run it. I am sure I would have not run the first two miles as well if I was trying to save myself for this.  I have to look at the data, but the hill was long and steep and one of those cruel tricks RD's play where you go up a steep hill to a turn and hope that you will go down after the turn... but you DON'T, you get to go up more instead.  I hunkered down, reminded myself that I run a lot, so I am strong and just tried to minimize the havoc this incline was going to wreck upon my pace.  As I passed mile 3 mark I convinced myself that we just got rid of all the Ups at once, so the next 3 miles will just all have to be downhills now!  :)  M3- 7:05.  (Ok, not as bad as I thought!)

I got back into my stride and found my rhythm.  I was now coughing out phlegm from my congestion and it was choking me at times,  As I a started to feel crappy, it was then that I heard my head... the song from two weeks ago that propelled to a 18 miler PR.  Awesome!  

We we making our way back downhill, but I felt like it was a little too steep for my legs to just fly.  I still needed a minute or two to recover from grinding up that incline.  I managed to salvage this mile and hit M4 in 6:38.  I noticed the clock reads 27:01, a time a few seconds faster than my 4 mile PR, although I have run a 4 mile split faster in an 8k. 

At this point, I started to get tired. I was told by the girls directing us that I was first female!  I didn't want to loose my position.  As we turned a corner, I peaked over my shoulder and saw only one guy in the distance. (Yeah, I know you aren't supposed to peak, but I dont like rules and I like to have information, so I look all the time especially when I cant gather the information I need without looking back).  I relaxed this mile focused on pushing in mile 6. M5 6:48.

I hit mile 6 and realized that if I can just hold my pace, I may actually win my first 10k race ever!  At some turn in the final mile, I had the chance to scan back and again saw no women. (oh boy, there she goes looking back again!) ;)  But the course was very turny so that didnt mean I was going to win it.  I figured if I just don't slow down, if there is a chick chasing me down and if she flies past me the she deserve that win.  I just didn't want to give it away.  M6: 6:37

At this point in the race, I was pretty thrilled that I was about to win. I looked at my time and realized I could be sub-42 and I picked it up, running the last .2 in 1:19 and securing the win :) 

10k Stats
TIme: 41:46 (6:43)
Overall: 24/448
Gender 1/197

So I get some water, talk to the RD, jog back to my car and text Sid.  I put on some warm clothes and head back to the race hoping to jog around between the races.  It was at this time I debated even running the 5k.  I had felt a large hot spot on the ball of my foot and it was getting more aggravated as I walked around on it.  I jogged a little and it actually felt better when running than it did when walking, so I decided to go for it.   I had worn a brand new pair of T7 Racers, which were great.  I love these flats.  The spot form after I had experienced some rawness related to the way I had taped up my plantar fascia.  The skin peeled recently there, and now I was racing fast, mostly up on my balls of my feet.  The turny, downhill running seemed to heat up the area.  I had my Connects with me, but I felt no need to change them for the 5k, b/c when running or jogging the hot spot wasn't an issue. 

Awards were announced btw the races, so instead of logging more miles, I socialized.  Hey after all, isn't this the fun of racing :)

I dropped my plaque off at my car, took off my warm up clothes, headed back to the porta pottie line and then off to the start.  This race had almost twice as many as the 10k.  Even though I felt stiff and tired, I still lined up towards the front. The gun went off and we ran the same way we did for the 10k.  I recognized several men who were just ahead of me in the 10k, also just ahead of me in the 5k.  

I wasn't even sure how to handle this race.  At a few tenths in I started to feel like this was not one of my brightest ideas!  My legs were tired! I was stuck behind runners and not sure I wanted to move beyond them when opening presented themselves (but I did). 

I hit mile 1, so grateful to only have 2 miles left, not 5!  M1- 6:42  Because I had assumed my first mile of my 10k was a lot faster (I thought the clock read 6:29, when it read 6:38!) I was really concerned to have run my first mile so much slower than before...(actually only 4 seconds)...  I was wondering how this was going to go.  

Then I saw Jim O, who called out 4th woman and 46th OA.  "Seriously! No Way!"  I either thought that or said it out loud.  A guy next to me, clearly much fresher than myself, attempted to help me out by making some race related small talk about what I need to do and where the other women ahead of me are.  I was so tired and congested that all I could hear was my heartbeat in my ears.  I believed I grunted something at him, as he pointed out the 3rd place woman directly ahead of us.  I moved ahead and passed her before 1.5 miles to go.  

I no longer was worried about my pace and I became focused on trying to hold a top 3 for the next 1.5 miles.  I had now passed a few of the men who had beaten me in 10k.  I felt proud to have the strength to run further faster than those who can run faster than me shorter.  It gave me hope that I have a new marathon PR in me that wants to come out soon. 

As I hit mile 2 it seemed surreal to only have 1 mile left to go. I could feel that I had the energy to maintain my speed but I wasn't sure I could catch anyone or run any faster.  M2- 6:45

I could see the first place and second place females ahead of me.  The really were not too far, but it looked like an eternity.  If I sped and they faded I could catch them in the last mile.  I tried to dig for something and it was rough.  I was depleted.  I was still gaining on the women.  I was actually reeling them in, but the straight away as so long, that they were really 10-20 second ahead of me. 
M3- 6:39

Every step felt like it was in slow motion.  I was truly working hard for this.  I could hear them announce "First woman... Here comes second woman"....I tried to dig for anything  and as I approached, they announced that I was securely in 3rd.  Final 0.1: 0:41

5k Stats
Time: 20:53 (6:44)
Overall 29th/708
Gender  3rd/373

The coolest part about this double is that my 5k time was exactly half of my 10k time.  Clearly I have 1 speed... now if only I can just hold that pace for 26.2... look out! ;)  

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Armed Forces Freedom Run 2012, "Revised to 7 hour", Burlington County Fairgrounds, NJ. 10/13/12

Alanna and I had a great day at the Armed Forces Freedom Run "7 hour" Relay  (originally planned to be an 8 hour) put on by the Burlington County Military Affairs Committee.

I stumbled upon this one night while combing the race calendars, as I so often do.  This was a brand new event.  First it was advertised as a Relay with a humorous comment that read, "Maximum team size is 8 runners (Minimum size is 1 runner, but that will make for a long day!)" After reading, what I clearly interpreted as "Teams of ONE are allowed", I mentioned this to Alanna to see if she wanted to show up as solo runners and race against teams of runners for 8 hours.  Of course she said Yes.

Race Day:  So Mother Nature was messing with us a little.  We woke up to temps below 30 degrees. Brrrr!  My car windshield was covered in ice. I had to revise my racing wardrobe to include some winter gear for the start.  Temps were only supposed to reach the 50's.  This was about a 20 degree sliding difference btw the 50-70+ degrees it has been lately.

Because this was an inaugural event, I expected glitches.  The first issue was that parking was in a different part of the fairgrounds, a few minutes away by foot.  Not a big deal for a 5k, but when they advertise that you can set up a canopy or tent for your supplies, it would have been nice to park at the race location to unload (where parking was extremely plentiful along the entire course).  I had my rolling cooler, and some clothes.  But Alanna had a large bin of her ultra gear.  She just pulled out the essentials (fuel, clothes, a chair and her cooler) and this was manageable.

We had a pre-race meeting where the Timing Guy, Mike, asked each team to grab a clipboard so we could manually record each lap time as we completed it.  There was chip timing, but this was his back-up. This is not an issue for teams handing off running duties at the end of each lap, but for Alanna and I we had to stop each lap to record for ourselves.  At this point, it was starting to sink in that Alanna and I would be running Solo.  Mike asked if we had friends to help, which we both sadly reported that we have no friends (hehe).  He suggested we recruit others to helps us.  We opted not to.  This was not actually a big problem at all and took about 5 seconds to swing by the table, stop, look at the clock, write down the time, and go on.  No biggie.  It broke up the lap. The only negative thing it did was make us both acutely aware of exactly how long we had been running and exactly how far we had run.  Sometimes it is nice not know.

I expected Alanna and I to be the only 2 ultra-runners present.  To steal Alanna words, "We get to be ambassadors of the sport today." We tried very hard to not seem too crazy.  I personally tried my best to not throw up and scare people.  ;)  (I found out later that one other guy decided to run the 8 hour as well, although he was also part of a team?).

As the run started, for maybe the first 2 hours I was asked to verify to my fellow runners that Alanna and I would actually be trying to run this entire run solo.  People seemed to not believe us.  It made me appreciate just how extreme ultrarunning is in some ways.  It also made me aware of how people tend to set artificial limitation on what they perceive as possible or impossible.  Ultrarunners know that 7-8 hours of running is not truly a HUGE deal.  It is a lot, but not impossible.  But for people who only run a few miles a day, a few days per week, the concept could seem unimaginable.

A another issue was that we needed to wear a D-tag on our shoe b/c there was chip timing.   I had two pairs of shoes so swapping the glued-on chip strip could have been an issue.  But it wasn't.  I just safety pinned it to my second pair of shoes when I needed a change.  I was hoping to just pin the D-tag to my shorts but I was told it had to be on my shoe.

Yet another glitch was the loop.  It varied for the first 4 laps.  The volunteers were a little confused as to which way the relayers ran vs the 5k'ers and we were getting a chance to explore various sections of the course. :)  By lap 4 we had sorted it all out and the loop was about .96 miles.  Alanna and I were tracking our own mileage with our Garmins, so out total distance run is unofficial.  The race was scored by counting completed laps, since we all ran the same lap distances, regardless of the differences between the first few.

As we ran along, I believe many expected us to stop after about 2 hours or so.  By 3 hours in people started to comment that they were impressed by us.  By 4 hours in, we were getting positive comments.

The RD did arrange for some games and raffles to take place during the run.  Poker cards were handed out and the best hand would win.  There was a bingo card and a person pulling numbers each lap.  I didn't participate in the games because I didn't want to stop to wait for winners to be announced.  Had I had a crew with me, I would have played more games.  There was a band for the first few hours.  A DJ from a radio station for the the afternoon.  There was a Car Show and food vendors.  It was a little like time lapse photography for me out there.  I watched everyone set up, do their thing, and then break down and leave... all in snippets of time 10 minutes apart. The fields were empty when I started. Empty when I finished.  But full of life during the 7 hours of the event.  Families would have had fun.

At 4 hours in a decision by the RD was made to reduced the event by 1 hour.  I am not sure why, but I didn't complain.  I was tired.  We now had 3 hours to go and not 4.  I was glad for this.

But at 5 hours in, I noticed some concern for me developing.  I fully believe that some did not think it was safe for a person to run 5 hours straight.  I had an odd conversation with one person who stated that he was concerned about me because I was not sweating and he worried about dehydration.  This was odd because I was standing at my cooler drinking a gatorade at the time, smiling and telling him I was feeling great.  I was at about 28 miles at the time, which is really not excessively fast at all for me (but he doesn't know this).   I didn't want to try to explain that I wasn't sweating b/c it was about 48 degrees and I had shed all my layers so I was running in a sports bra and capri pants.  I was cool.  I also know what it feels like when I am dehydrated and that was not a pressing issue at the time.  Others were still in winter gear (because they were not running the whole day and standing around was cold).  People running in more layers will be warmer and sweat more.

I did my best to assure him I was fine, and raced to find Alanna to ask if she was getting any flack for running for 5 hours.  She said No.  But she was taking more breaks than I was.  Maybe they didn't realize she was only a little bit behind me in distance run.  I asked her if I looked OK.  Maybe I appeared like I was struggling and didn't know.  I actually felt great considering I was approaching 29 miles and logging 10 minute laps almost with perfectly even splits.  She assured me I looked ok.  I told her I was getting a vibe like they may ask me to stop running. I did not want to get pulled.

Sid had a break from his duties at McGuire AFB (a few miles away) and appeared.  He ran a lap with me.  I told him my concern that I might get pulled simply because I don't think others understand that people do actually run this far.  He told me to tell the RD to google my name, race results, and ultrarunning magazine. That would be a good idea if I needed to convince others that running far was not unhealthy for those trained for it.

However, by 5:30 into the race, the Timing Guy seemed more supportive. He had checked the results and reported that I was leading for the most laps.  I made every effort to "not look tired" when passing the timers and the spectators, but I was very tired and it was tiring to try to not look tired.  Heck, who wouldn't be tired after 5.5 hours of running at a 10 minute pace.  LOL.

I had my heart set on a "leisurely" 40 miles for the day, and this was back when I thought I had 8 hours to do it.  I really felt 45-50 was possible in 8 hours if I really gave it my all.  However, with this not counting for anything official, trying for 50 miles was not going to happen.  I spent more time chatting with runners than focusing on hauling butt.

There was a med tent set up on one side of the course and at this time, they asked me who else was running with me.  I reported "no one" and they became very supportive of me.  Each lap, they asked how far I had run and cheered as I passed.  This really helped.

With 6 hours to go, the crowd support became awesome.  People started to realize that I was, in fact, going to run the entire race solo.  People began cheering for me by name.  They counted down the minutes for me (50 minutes to go!).  Some asked if I needed any fuel or water.  The Timing Guy logged my laps when he was there.   The Army guys in uniform applauded as I passed.  A woman carrying her toddler rushed to the side of the course telling her child "Here she comes! Clap for her! She has been running for 6 and a half hours!"  I was appreciative and motivated.

At 6:48, I crossed the 40 mile mark and knew I could get one more lap in before the end.  Alanna had stopped, completing 34 laps.  She met me with a few yards to go and kicked it in with me.  I finished that lap and ran the balance so my Garmin could flip to an even 41 miles in 6:58.

I walked back to the clipboard recorded my lap and sat down.  People clapped and someone gave me a water.  It was really a great day.

They gave out a prize for the most laps completed by one runner, which I won with 44 laps.  Alanna a was second.  I did notice the military team won with 66 laps and the civilian team won with 55 laps.  They each had teams of 8 runners.

I think we did a good job introducing the sport of ultrarunning to a crowd of people who thought we were crazy at the start.  By the end, they realized we were just a little extreme.  I was tempted to report that both Alanna and I are also Cancer Survivors, just to add one more layer of awesomeness to our day, but decided we did enough. :)

I did talk to the RD about suggesting to him some changes that could make this event a very attractive option for ultra runners.  There were glitches, but all were manageable.  He was very receptive to making changes so next year's even will run much more smoothly!

I look forward to returning!

41 miles - 6:58
Most Laps award

My award from today. Reads: Armed Forces Freedom Run 2012. Burlington County Military Affairs Committee.  Most Laps.  (41 miles worth in 7 hours)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Long Beach Island, 18 miler, LBI, NJ. 10/7/12 - The soundtrack in my head :)

Gun goes off.  Cold wind blows rain in my face. And the music in my head starts.  I immediately know I am ready for a good run.  Redemption!

I race without music, but I may start bringing some 24s.  There is nothing more inspiring than good music. My best races all have one thing in common.  The music in my head is awesome!   However, usually it is just the refrain of a song, since I rarely know all the words.  (Just keep refreshing that link and that was the soundtrack to my entire run!)

LBI 18 miler is a point-to-point race across a barrier reef island along the New Jersey Shore.  It is a pancake flat road course that runs in a straight line until mile 17.5, when you finally get to turn left, run around the block, and end at Old Barney, the Barnegat Lighthouse.

There is usually a head wind when running north and today was no exception.  The weather report was not the most pleasant. I left my house with temps in the high 40's, but I had an hour and a half drive to get to St. Frances' Community Center to get my bib by 9:00.  The race starts at 10:30.  The Community Center is about halfway between the start and finish.  Busses take runners to the start.

Late starts are crazy.  I never know what to eat.  I generally eat before a shorter race like this.  I knew I would be hungry by 10:30, so I tried a Cherry Almond Bonk Breaker bar I picked up on a whim.  It was gluten free so I figured why not.

I had an hour until the start, which by then should be about 50 degrees.  For me that is still sports bra and shorts weather, but add wind and rain and I am easily confused, so I brought a bag of clothes. I ended up wearing one of my favorite mesh singlets, with arm warmers.  I used the race T-shirt as a throw away.  I was glad to have packed some throw away gloves too.  I wore a new pair of shorts that I accidentally discovered had two secret gel pockets in the waist band! They rocked!

Because it was raining, I was happy to bust out my Senna hat for the run!  This was awesome b/c the brave spectators would cheer for me by yelling "Go Senna!" which was really cool!

So the gun goes off and I am easily sub-7:00.  I wasn't sure how recovered I would be, but I had about a 60-70 mile "recovery week" and know nothing about me was broken down.  Based upon my last half marathon on Sept 22, I predicted an 18 mile time (fresh) should be about 7:15.  A 6:45 mile isnt really going to be wise, so I slow up a little.  M1 6:58

I settle down and a teeny tiny woman made pretty much of just muscle cruises up next to me and we chat.  I ditch my throw away shirt and report that I really love the rain.  She mentions she forgot to start her watch and I offer to call out the seconds off mine as she reads hers so she can figure out how much to add to her watch time to be accurate.  At M2 we hit 7:05

I already like this woman.  She runs so smooth and effortlessly.  She reports that 7:00's is just about what she needs. I wonder how long I can stay with her.  I miss a mile and we average 7:02 for the M3 and M4.  I feel good and hit M5 at 7:02 as well

The rain is cold, but the wind is not terribly strong at this point. I notice the flags so I know we are running into it and I know it will never be at my back.  I decide that the pace is a little faster than I may be able to hold, so I wish Maggie (as I learned later) luck and let her go ahead.  M6 -7:06

I tried to think about this race as three 6 mile runs.  The first 6, I wanted a good start.  I wanted to relax in the second 6 and the work for the last 6, no matter how ugly it gets.  As I hit mile 6, I reach back, slip a gel out of the pocket and it goes down easy.  I am happy about this.

I ran the middle 6 miles pretty much alone, listening to the refrain of the song in my head while trying to run to the rhythm I created at a speed I could cruise at for miles.  It was just three weeks ago that 7:09 was my new half marathon PR.  Now I am running about this pace as a split in an 18. Sure, I could blow up, but I may not!  I know that being leaner is helping me to find my speed.  M7-7:10, M8-7:10, M9-7:08, M10-7:07

Eight miles to go.  I start to feel like I am working hard (two miles too soon). My legs feeling heavy.  M11-7:17, M12-7:13, M13-7:13.  

In response to the fatigue, I grab the last gel in my waistband.  It is very warm, thin, and gooey. I bite the tab.  It is Lime flavored.  It is also bright flourescent green. And it also SPLATTERS all over my face, arm, and singlet.  I am covered in green slime.  My only regret is that I made this maneuver AFTER passing the camera guy.  I would have loved to have captured that mess on camera! LOL!

I hit 13 miles at 1:32:54 and smile!  I pass a guy, who had passed me earlier, and encourage him to come with me. "Five to go!  We got this!!!"  He wishes me luck

A spectator reports: "Great job number 6!"

Huh, my bib is 856, not 6?  I look back. Confused. He yells. "You are 6th female!  4th is 20 seconds ahead!"

The 5th female is just ahead of me.  I can see 4th place up ahead and it's Maggie!  I pass 5th place and she is unresponsive even with me fading. M14-7:12

I get excited about being in the top 10, but the wind has kicked up some and I am really getting tired of it.  I need a break from fighting it.  I see Maggie looking back at me.  I know she feels it too.  I think that if I can just reel her in, I may have a chance to get her.  The wind is too much and we are both slowing equally. M15 -7:20, M16-7:18.

I see a guy run across the road towards Maggie.  They pick it up substantially and she starts to pull away.  For some reason, maybe because she is just alittle older than me and seemed so geniunely nice at the start, I am really happy to see her recover.  She is hauling!  I try to respond.  M17-7:07.

Maggie passes a guy in a blue singlet and I work my way up to him as well.  Maggie is gone and I know I cant catch her, but maybe I have a shot at catching this guy.  A truck drives by and a woman yells out "You got this! No one is behind you!" I glance back and see two men too far back to catch me in less than a mile.

The guy in blue is moving well. We make the turn towards the finish and he drops a little more speed.  I can't find a gear fast enough to match his speed at the very end.  We have a nice peppy finish and I log my fastest mile of the day! M18-6:50.

I am almost in tears as I realize that I just ran 18 miles in 2:08:54. 

Time: 2:08:54 (7:09 pace)
41/806 Overall
5th/ 384 Females
1st AG

Monday, October 1, 2012

Hinson Lake 24 Hour, Rockingham NC, 9/29-9/30

Sigh.... I would like to begin by reporting the deep sadness I do feel about what I considered to be a failure.  On the bright side, only one thing failed, not several things, so theorecticaly I am doing better :).

photo by Frank Lilley
I first thought about Hinson last year.  I decided I wanted to run a race for a friend's (Liz) charity called "One for the Books." (  One for the Books is an organization that believes that reading is a "starting point for all economic and social opportunities the world has to offer." Over the years I have known Liz, she has selflessly used all her vacation time and her own financing to travel to South America and other countries in order to participate in volunteer programs.  These programs worked to enhance the literary skills and interest in books in those children living in underprivileged communities.

Liz needs funds to do good deeds and I wanted to help her.  She knew about my cancer history and decided that if I can raise money for her charity then she would use that money to provide books to children in cancer treatment.  The idea is that books offer diversion, they educate, they are an escape, they can teach about coping with cancer, or be used as a tool to cope with cancer.  They are lightweight and mobile and can be carried from place to place where they make waiting rooms and hospital beds more enjoyable. They require no special strength, they can be interactive and shared.  Books are wonderful resources.  In my own cancer treatment, I found great pleasure in reading books for fun, for therapy, and for educational purposes.  Together Liz and I decided to provide books to children who may not be able to do much else as they endure cancer treatment.

I began fundraising and training back in December 2011. Month by month I requested donations to support my effort to run 100 miles.  In addition, I tried to prepare myself the best that I could to make that distance.  The goal is below my personal best, but a distance milestone I have not seen in some time.  I knew it would be hard, but I believed with hard work I could do it.

photo by Frank Lilley
As Hinson neared,  I was on track to raise the $2400 I promised to raise.  I was running with less pain in my feet than I have in years.  I was setting personal best times in short races, on consecutive weekends.  I was leaner and lighter than I have been in a long time.  I felt I was physically prepared for a great race.

I was concerned that North Carolina could get too hot for me.  I run best in the cold.  My best 24 hour was at about 32 degrees for most of the race.  Snow covered the ground, and damp air almost freezing air saturated our gloves and hats and clothes, but I managed to run well.  Heat and humidity, dehydrates me fast and I tend to get nauseous. Anything above 70 for me is heat. Once nauseous, I cannot eat or drink anything without feeling ill. In addition to the heat/humidity concern, I am convinced that nerves also make me nauseous.  At this point, I feel like I have created a self-fulfilling prophecy.  I am so worried that I am going to throw up that I end up throwing up.  I am working on ways to break that incredibly fun cycle.

photo by Frank Lilley
So I tried many things this time that I never tried before.  But first I must add, that when you have trouble in the 2nd half of 24 hour race, the only place to test ideas is in races.  So for this race, I pre-medicated with an OTC treatment used to treat GERD.  I took a pepcid AC before the race.  I used Tums when I got queazy.  I hoped to treat this and be done with it.

So the race starts and I feel great.  I easily cruise through a sub-13 minute loop 1 (1.52 mile).  I start planning my walks. I add a walk break in to the next lap, hitting 13:40.  I still need to burn off time, so I add another walk break and come through in about 15:06... perfect.  I wanted 15 minute laps.

By 2 hours in I had already finished 8 laps and "was working 9" :).  I hoped to keep this pattern.  But by 3 hours in, I was already starting to feel ill.  This was very upsetting to me.  My drink mix wasn't going down.  I was feeling dizzy and lightheaded.  I didn't know why.   Everyone around me was chatting about how cool it was and how it was such a great day!  I noticed that my clothes were saturated in sweat.

When I saw Jim's friend Deanna, I recalled her giving me a hug before the start, stepping back and saying "Wow, you are so warm!" Then I saw Alanna and remember her telling me she had plenty of ice if I needed it.  I also remembered the note pad next to my bed last night and it had only one item listed as needed for the race: "Ice."  It all clicked at that moment.  Even at 70 degrees or so, I am overheating!

By 3 hours in, I was already falling off my pace and struggling.  But with a cup of ice in hand I ran off again.  I started chomping on ice chips.  Within minutes, I was feeling better.  In fact after eating ice while I ran, I was back on pace and completely elated!  I felt I had found the solution to my problem, I was too hot!  The dizziness stopped. The nausea left me.  OMG, was this the secret?!  Sucking on ice while running?  No way!

I filled an ice bandana. Tamra had bought me dixie cups and a bag of ice.  I went out for loops carrying a paper cup, crumpled over so the ice would not fall out.  Sometimes I stuck the cup in my sports bra.  I did this lap after lap, as the only thing I could consume on the run was ice. I was tickled by the fact that this was the most LOW TECH intervention I had ever made in a race and it was working!  I have 4 handheld bottles and I am carrying a crumpled paper cup.  I have sports drinks, drink mixes and juice, and I am sucking ice.

I was happy to get some cooling and a bit of hydration from this, but I needed more calories and more fluid.  I started icing down some Mt. Dew (the only thing I could tolerate) and getting calories in me between laps.  I tried chilling down an Ensure (thinking more bang per swig) and that just made me feel ill. I tried coke and ginger ale.  I was able to get them down, but not as easily as the Mt. Dew.  In the first 4 hours or so, I did manage to eat 8 pringles and about a cup of mashed potatoes.  However I had a lot of trouble swallowing anything, so I tried to stay on liquids.  I took 2 E-caps every two hours or less.  I had a lot of trouble swallowing the tablets.

I was still running well despite this key issue.  In fact, I was surprising myself that I was going so steady lap after lap on mostly ice.  After learning that 66 laps was 100 miles and I was at 35, I was thrilled.

photo by Frank Lilley
For the majority of the race, I consumed mostly ice. I would slam a shot or two of Mt Dew between laps, get more ice in a cup and run.  I was still sticking with the lead women. Despite the drama, I did not feel like I was working very hard at all.  I wasn't worried about catching anyone but rather just wanted to try for 65 miles in 12 hours.

I was so pleased hit 40 laps (60 miles) with about 13 hours to go.  I was still on my plan.  However, I already knew that if I could not eat, I was not going to make it much further.  I tried again to take in fuel.  A pretzel turned into a solid block of mashed pretzel that I could not force down (another sign of how dehydrated I was).  I couldn't even chew up gummy bears, they seem so stubborn without the attack of saliva.  So I went back and forced down some sips of ensure.

As it got close to dusk, I asked Tamra to get me a cup of coffee.  I thought if I sat with something I found comforting, I could possible change things.  I few sips of lukewarm coffee and off I went.  It was not long before I asked Tamra to walk a lap with me.  As we walked, I threw everything up.  Tamra asked what it was about her that made me puke.  I reminded her that I only ask her to walk with me when I feel like puking.

Once I throw up, I can walk more miles, while cycling through rounds of throwing up, dry heaving, and attempts to eat/drink, but then I shut down.   I usually try very hard to avoid puking when I feel like it may happen.  Regardless of people reporting that throwing up makes you feel better, it makes me feel worse.  In fact, I believe that throwing up messes up my electrolyte balance, makes my heart palpitate and makes me unable to function properly.  I get to the point where I cannot will my legs to take another step, often finding myself stuck hundred of meters from where I need to go and certain I will never get there.

We got around and I decided again to sit down, drink something, anything (which was a failure), and then try for more laps.

At this point, I had about 10 hours to go.  Things were touch and go, with my feeling of hope slowly being usurped by the black cloud of negativity, justified by the fact that I knew I was facing the impossible. There was no way I was going to be able move well in the last 10 hours of a race when I have managed to deplete, starve, and dehydrate myself in the first half.  I had already begun throwing up.  I knew it was over and made me incredible sad.

I know that from the first throw up, I have about 4 hours of movement left in my body.  If I throw up at 20 hours, I could manage.  If I through up at 14 hours, I am not in a good place.  I can't move fast because the bouncing irritates my stomach and creates more problems.  Last 24 hour resulted in me puking up black curdled blood.  I am reduced to a walk.  So I walk.

I tacked up lap after painful lap, just counting time until it hit midnight.  I am a streak runner, so I need to run one full mile each day to keep my streak alive.  I wanted to make an effort to run a lap after midnight to see what I could do and to make it count if I discovered I couldn't run again.

As I came out of the woods with Tamra at about 11:30 pm, I saw Jon K, (Ray's son walking in the lot). I asked him to come with me for a lap.  It was a great decision. Tamra, Jon and I walked a lap and Tamra let me know it was midnight.  I was dry heaving already but knew I had to try.  At the start of the next lap, John and Tamra decided to wait at the tent and I took off.  I thought I could do the entire 1.52 mile loop, but just before the end of the loop I started to throw up again, but I did not want to stop running until I hit at least 12 minutes, just to be sure I got the mile done.  I was not sure where the mile mark was, but I am sure I more than covered the distance.  I have never thrown up WHILE running but I did today.  It was horrific.

photo by Frank Lilley
I got back around and asked Jon to come with me again.  But first, I wanted to show him my hat, because I knew he would love it!  It was  the hat I bought in case there was rain and it said SENNA across the front (because Ayrton Senna was known to be one of the best racing car drivers in the rain in Formula 1 history.)  Since Jon is also a racing car driver, I knew he would appreciate my hat.  He did.  There was something so refreshing about walking with someone who was talking about racing cars instead of racing ultras.  He was funny and distracting.  He told me crazy things about his super memory skills and told me I looked like I was drunk.  He said things to try to make me throw up on purpose (Because he knew it would help me get the loop done). Because of my friendship with his dad, I already feel like I know and like Jon even though we met only once before and for most of that time I was racing.  Because he was there, we were able to walk 25 minute laps while laughing in between groaning and moaning.  He was a great pacer!

However by the end of our 4th lap, I had to tell him to walk ahead of me.  It suddenly became clear to me that I dont really know Jon that well and didn't want him to stand there and watch me puke my guts up again and again.  It isn't like he could help me.  He walked off and gave me my space.  I threw up everything in my stomach and dry heaved some more.  I was surprised there was stuff coming out.  It was as if my stomach had not emptied any of the little sips of everything and was waiting to return it to me.

At 79.xx miles, I decided I needed to lay down.  The wretching was making my abs sore.  The acid in my throat burned.  I just wanted to crawl in a hole.  I asked Jon to wake me up in a hour... but in an hour, I had less motivation to get out of the tent.  It was colder out (great for running but not for sitting) and I was not feeling strong enough to move.  I did it all wrong. I was supposed to eat and drink then sleep but I was so afraid of my stomach I did not consume anything. Now I was awake an hour later and probably worse for it.
photo by Frank Lilley
So I stayed in the tent thinking about what I could eat and everything made me feel sick.  I just could not bring myself to consume anything. So I waited.  By 7 am, I finally decided to walk a lap to get me over 80 miles.  I then began to clean up the camping area.  I could still move, but Tamra and I had a flight that we needed to rush to make.  I was not running anything amazing, so I cleaned up a little so we could leave earlier.  At 7:24, I asked Jon to do one more lap with me and then I would grab the banana for the banana lap.

We got in with about 7 mins to spare (I think the race started late), but I wasn't planning on going halfway out, so I dropped the banana at my tent site and continued with my slow motion attempt to collect the massive amounts of cups dropped by the several people all sharing our area and still racing.  Tamra broke down the tent and packed up most of the stuff (Jon taught me the racing term for this, but I forgot it - I apparently do not have an audio-graphic memory), and after the banana lap was done, we rushed out to take quick showers and hurry to Charlotte.

I was not able to eat much again until 4:00 pm Sunday.  I was repulsed by food and my stomach felt so irritated that food consumption actually hurt. I did get in a cup of hot cocoa and part of a coconut chocolate chip cashew hammer bar.  After a small sandwich and some fluids at 4:00, I weighed in a saw I was still 4 lbs lighter than my 115 lbs the day I left for Hinson.  I can't remember that last time the scale read 111 lbs.

However, nothing hurts.  My body is strong and I woke up this morning feeling very much recovered.  Sid and I took Enzo for a 7.6 mile jog/hike on one of our more technical and hilly trails.  I did it in the same pace I do it when not a day (or is it two) off of an 82 mile run.

I swore off 24 hours at Hinson.  I concluded that even though I am the fittest I have ever been probably ever, that I am running the fastest times I have ever run, and I am the lightest/leanest I have been in years, I just may not have the physiological processing system required to run longer than 12 hours at a time.

We'll see.  I don't feel good about walking away from a failure.  I know the trick is to walk away from success.  I have this problem about falling my on face. I am a glutton. I am just compelled to continue to get up again and fall repeatedly, hoping to just one time find some glory in a job well done.

However, this race broke my spirit a little more than the others. The race itself is wonderful. It beautiful, well-run, and perfect course for big mileage. I trained hard for this and hoped the digestion problem in the past was a by-product of sub-par preparation.  But my defeat at Hinson made me want to just lay face down in the dirt (or in the tent) and play dead forever so the pain from being repeatedly knocked down hard would finally just stop.

It hurts.
                  A lot.
                                  To fail.

I just wish I knew what was wrong and how to fix it.