|Pre-race with Marc and Christian|
As I've previously outlined in this blog, my Umstead plan was to run the first of 8 12.5 mile loops in 2:25 (as long as it came easy), and every loop after that 10 minutes slower to account for fatigue and more time required at aid stations for maintenance and to address minor problems. This would put me right at 24 hours. Major problems that might come up would take more time and if that happened I'd reset my goal to finishing in the allotted 30 hours.
|One loop down|
|I'd grab a banana and half a roast beef sandwich for each loop. When I saw the camera I did the old banana phone gag. Everybody should want to run with me, I'm so funny!|
|The "fun" loop with Christian, half a day into the race|
There was carnage by the fire, and the night was still young. Most of the fireside cots were occupied by blanketed runners. But I wasn't looking for medical help; I just wanted to sit and eat. I couldn't get too near the fire, which was good and bad. I wasn't warming up quickly, but I think back now that the fire really didn't lock on to me. A med staffer named Pancho (sp?) noticed me shivering and looking pale, and came to see how I was. He saw my haphazard layering as I had been adding jackets in the cold and got me to put my wind jacket on an outer layer, just under the ski jacket I was about to add. I had some chicken noodle soup and stumbled around re-layering jackets and pulling warmup pants over my tights. I staggered toward the door, determined to get back on the course. I found out later that Marc went back to Pancho and asked him to take another look at me before I could get out the door. Usually you want your crew to get you in and out as quickly as possible, but even more important is that they look after your well-being. Pancho stopped me and said I really needed to sit longer and get a good amount of food in. He rationalized that a few more minutes spent here would pay off on the course. I still had well over 11 hours to do the final 2 loops. He also felt my pulse and found it strong and not rapid, else he would've mandated I sit and perhaps even pull me from the race. I took his advice and sat, away from the fire, slurping warm soup, and when I got up again I felt decent. I had nearly an hour downtime but I was back in the game.
Marc was my pacer now, and we agreed to walk for a good while and let the food settle. I grabbed trekking poles to help. I had been listening to music since the start of loop 3 but decided it might be better to talk so I stowed the headphones. I dreaded the thought of 25 increasingly cold and slow miles, but the idea of dropping and feeling compelled to go through all this again was even worse. I reminded myself to take a section at a time and the dread passed. My mantra for the race was, "Finish this and you'll never have to do another one" though I rarely had to use it.
|If you're going to walk, walk with a purpose|
|Around mile 98.|
|Does it get any better than this?|
|Getting my 100 mile belt buckle|
So what happened? I've always had eating issues in 50 milers, and even with my plan to fully stock my own aid station with food I should be willing and able to eat, it's probably not surprising that I would still have issues. It really blew up in loop 6 shortly after I had both a gel and a banana while walking up a short hill, and immediately started running after the hill before allowing the food to settle. That's the most likely cause I've come up with.
More puzzling is why it wasn't a simple purge/reset and instead turned me into a stumbling mess. My guess is that I over compensated on the early overeating and slowly got myself into a deficit and it accelerated after I got sick. Once I properly refueled, I was back among the living.
What went well? I reined myself in early and stuck to my plan amazingly well for 5 loops. Obviously taking time to recover after the loop 6 debacle was the key to not just finishing, but finishing alert and in good spirits. Absolutely no death marching, and no sleepiness. I never once felt like I wanted to just lay down and sleep. No hallucinations--I feel cheated! Once I got the clothes right, I didn't get cold again even as temps dropped deep into the 20s. And as I passed mere feet from my car on every loop, I never once had an inclination to just pack it in as I warned would be a challenge in a mulit-loop race. Even at my lowest point I never thought of quitting. Finally, I had great support from my pacers and crew, including Christian's wife Jamie, and Jordan Chang who filled in once when my crew was on a breakfast break, and a quick assist from Rachel Kelly with my gaiters.
A day later, I have more perspective. I gave myself every chance to hit one of my goals of finishing in under 24 hours, and making it 5 loops solidly on plan and feeling great tells me I was capable of doing it. When I fell off the tracks, it wasn't because I ran beyond my abilities, but rather that I still don't have nutrition nailed down. Maybe I never will, and this is what may keep me from trying another hundo. Once I missed my 24 hour goal, I was able to shift into focusing on my next goal, to finish. I most likely could have finished earlier by running again once I felt better, but I feel fine with my decision not to derail myself again just to get a little better time. And a day later, I feel pretty darned good. If I didn't have giant blisters on the balls of my feet I could walk pretty normally.
Finally, I have to admit that going into the race, I thought it might be a lot of misery to get through, just to be able to say I've run 100 miles. Obviously it wasn't all puppies and rainbows, but I really enjoyed a lot of the race. I will always remember this well.