Tag Archives: 24-hour race

2013/05/25: Nanny Goat 12/24/100 (race report)

Short version:  Nanny Goat was supposed to be my 4th 100-miler (all taking place in a span of 16 weeks), and I planned for a PR.  However, knee pain prompted me to drop at mile 63.  I have no regrets.  After resting for about 8 hours, my knee felt quite a bit better and I actually went out to pace some other people at the end of their 100-mile races.  Total mileage with pacing was about 74 miles.  I would have liked another buckle, but it wasn’t worth risking injury.  This also enabled me to go out and help some friends with their races.  While the event turned out totally different than I had anticipated, it was a very rewarding experience.

Much longer version:

I completed my first 100-mile race at the beginning of February, followed by another one 6 weeks later, another one 5 weeks later, and then Nanny Goat 100 planned for last weekend.  I had high hopes for this race.  I’ve learned a lot in each one of my ultras, but 100-milers in particular intrigue me because so much can happen in the last 30 miles or so.  But this is part of what I love about them.  If it was easy and races went perfectly, they wouldn’t be appealing.  As much as I want things to go well, I love challenges.

My PR going into the race was 24:53 set on a similar flat loop course a couple months prior.  I had trained well, peaking at a 90-mile week which included a 47-mile weekend.  I felt great and went into the race seeking a PR.  I’ve put less emphasis on even pacing in ultras recently because I feel like it drags me down and makes racing not as enjoyable.  I’ve always been a very analytic runner.  I love numbers, and I love my Garmin.  But I’ve tried to get away from that.  I greatly attribute my attitude shift to Eric Clifton.

Eric was the second well-known ultrarunner I ever learned about, but for 4 years, I only knew about him from what I’d read (and later watching “Running on the Sun,” which chronicled the 1999 Badwater 135 race, which he won).  Eric’s a heart runner.  He runs as hard as he can for as long as he can.  This has resulted in some huge successes, including records that stood 15+ years.  As one might expect, this strategy has also led to some equally epic failures.  Eric and his outlook on running (and life in general) intrigue me.  I could talk to him for hours and not get tired of hearing what he has to say (and I have had the opportunity to do that).

Eric encouraged me in my second 100-miler in March to take a risk and not run conservatively.  I ran by feel and got a PR by almost 4.5 hours.  In my third 100-miler last month, I committed to it just in time to start my taper, so I ran it somewhat conservatively.  But going into Nanny Goat, I wanted to try his strategy again.  Of course I knew that doing this would lead to a huge PR or crashing and burning, but I’ve discovered that I love racing in the moment and am much happier running by feel and risking a meltdown than I am focusing on numbers and running “smartly.”  I’m not saying this is the “better” way, but I am saying that it’s becoming my preferred way of approaching ultras.

I looked forward to Nanny Goat as I knew a handful of people who would be there.  I was carpooling with my friend Colleen who I met at my second 100-miler (and who also ran my third 100-miler), as she lives relatively nearby.  Our 4-hour trip to southern California was uneventful, and we arrived at the race site in the early afternoon the day prior to the race.

The course is a 1-mile loop that starts/finishes in a barn.  (This is not nearly as torturous as people assume.)  There were about a dozen stalls in the barn that groups of people could claim.  A group of us had chatted a few days prior, so by the time Colleen and I arrived, someone had already claimed our stall and all of our names were written on it.  I smiled because I already felt at home.  Other “room mates” besides Colleen were Mitch, Josh, Eric, and Jeff.  Mitch and I cross paths at a lot of races, and I first met him at a 12-hour race I did last summer.  He was also at my 100-miler last month.  I met Josh at my second 100-miler (and again at my third 100-miler); coincidentally, his first 100-miler a few years ago was at Rocky Raccoon, which was where I ran my first one this year.  Josh is also the founder of the Run It Fast club, which is a community of people who encourage each other to push beyond their personal limits.  (FYI, “fast” is relative, as evidenced by the fact I’m one of the newest members of the club.)  I met Eric at my 100-miler last month; he’d been at my second 100-miler too, but I don’t recall seeing him there.  I had never met Jeff in person, but we’d chatted a bit online leading up to this race.

At the race site, I ran into a ton of people I knew and got introduced to a bunch of others.  There were many hugs and goofy poses.  Colleen is very photogenic, and she has a certain pose she does.  I won’t try to explain it.  Just look at the photos and you’ll see her doing it and the rest of us–why?  Because it was fun.  I also got to meet the race director, Steve.  He’s hilarious.

A couple group photos; I knew most of the people in them already (I’m in the jeans and red shirt):

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Colleen and me with the race director:

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I walked a loop of the course to see what it was like.  It was essentially flat.  The “worst” part of the course was a .15-mile or so section where there was grass that was uneven and had lots of potholes.  I knew the novelty would wear off of this area during the race.  My favorite part was a straightaway section (about .1-mile) that was shaded by orange trees; at the end of it, runners ran partially around a goat pen (yes, a literal goat pen) and then through the barn, around a curve, and a gradual downhill for another .1-.15 mile.  There was an out-and-back section that I didn’t care for, particularly the hairpin turn at the end of it.

Colleen and I discovered our stall was barren, unlike the other ones, so we made a trip to the dollar store to shop for some Hawaiian themed decorations.  We came back and quickly decorated before heading to dinner at the Cheesecake Factory with over a dozen other runners.  Not everyone who went to the dinner knew everyone else, but it seemed like everyone quickly got acquainted, and I don’t think anyone felt left out.

Our barren stall:

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After our trip to the dollar store:

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From dinner:

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After dinner, Colleen and I drove to the home of Evelein and Sebastiaan, two runners we didn’t know.  Ed (the Jester) had seen one of us mention looking for a place to stay the night before the race, and he put us in touch with that couple who belonged to his running club and were interested in hosting out-of-town runners.  They were really nice.  They’d actually offered to make us dinner, even though we decided to go out with the group; we invited them, but they declined.

Saturday morning, Colleen and I went to the race site at 6:30 for an 8am start.  All check-ins were done on race day, so there was a decent line when we got there, but we quickly got our bibs and swag.  Timing was done by a bracelet that contained a timing device; there was a sensor we passed each lap that read the bracelet and displayed our name, time, and mileage each loop on the barn wall.

“Room mates”: Mitch, me, Josh, Colleen, and Jeff (Eric was missing):

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Some more pre-race group photos:

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Colleen and me in front of the live streaming web cam (where we smiled and waved at all 4 viewers, haha):

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Outside of the barn, doing the “Colleen pose” before the race:

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One of the most memorable people pre-race was my friend Tony, Endorphin Dude to some who know him.  He ran the race last year and had a pretty epic meltdown and stopped at mile 88.  He came back this year for redemption.  As a result, he didn’t bring his notorious cape, decided not to take photos during the race, and opted not to do any of the other silly stuff that he normally does.  I will point out that since Nanny Goat last year, Tony’s completed 2 100-milers; I was at his second one and accompanied him on his last loop.  This year at Nanny Goat, Tony declared he was “all business.”

Me with Eric and Tony pre-race:

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Just me:

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Me with Josh:

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With Eric and Jeff:

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I had to laugh when all nearly 200 of us gathered in the goat pen and the announcement was made for people who “weren’t very fast” to move to the back, and about 90% of people moved back.  Someone sang a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem, and then we were off.

The race started out with some cloud cover which was really nice.  It was a bit crowded the first couple loops before people spread out, but it wasn’t too bad.  I was just enjoying the opportunity to be surrounded by so many friends.  At the very first out-and-back, as I was approaching it, my friend Brady who was coming back from it sprayed me with his water bottle.  I figured it was going to be a fun day!  I didn’t run with anyone in particular, but there were so many runners (and walkers) out there that there was always someone to talk to if I wanted.  The out-and-back section was nice in the respect that you got to cross lots of people going to and from the turnaround point.  I tried to always say something to the people whose names I knew.

Early on, I was making myself walk part of the grassy area (one minute each lap) as I felt like I was expending more effort than necessary when I ran it.  I was running the rest.  My average pace (including walking) was consistently 10-something minute miles, and I felt fine.  A 9-something minute mile slipped in there somewhere, but only once.  Everyone seemed to be moving at really good paces.

At mile 18, I noticed a hotspot and chose to deal with it ASAP.  When I went into the stall, Eric was there.  He had knee issues and was trying to remedy his situation with tape or something to get back out.  I didn’t have tape or know how to use tape, but I gave him an alcohol towellette to at least clean the area so the tape would hopefully stick.  After I fixed my foot and did what I thought I could to help him, I got back out on the course.  It’s funny because I thought I would have been frustrated to have to stop so early to take care of my own issue, let alone taking additional time to help someone else, but that wasn’t the case.  The day was young, and I wanted to stay out there as long as possible; I also wanted my friends to be out there as long as possible too.

My average pace, not including stops, stayed at 10-something minute miles for quite a while.  As the clouds burned off, it got warmer.  It wasn’t “hot,” but the weather change was noticeably slowing people down.  I normally don’t have any stomach issues, but I started to feel a bit nauseous around the marathon point.  I kept going, expecting the feeling to pass.  By the time I got to 30 miles, I’d still been keeping my moving pace under an 11:00 pace, but I wasn’t feeling better, so I opted to slow down more.  My running pace (or effort, as I was only looking at mile splits, never instantaneous pace) remained the same, but I walked more.  Another issue I had was the amount of dirt in the air.  I have asthma, and stuff in the air irritates my breathing.  I always develop a cough when I run, but in ultras, I can normally stave it off for many hours due to the lower effort level early on.  But I developed it in this race earlier than I’d hoped.  It wasn’t a big deal, but it was annoying and did slow me down.

There were a handful of photos taken of me mid-race; here are a few:

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The warmer weather seemed to affect a lot of people.  The smarter people resorted to walking a lot more to save their energy for when it got cooler.  There were a lot of people throwing up and not being able to keep food down.  I was forcing myself to eat, but my stomach continued to feel terrible.  One older man, who was 81, actually collapsed on the course and was taken away by ambulance.  I think it made everyone else pay a little more attention to what they were doing and ensure they weren’t pushing themselves too much.  (The only “perk” of the warmer weather was that people started taking their shirts off, and half-clothed fit people aren’t too hard to look at.)

At mile 40, I still wasn’t feeling well, but I was running a bit with my friend Chris and new friend Andrea.  All three of us were at the exact same point; those two both went on to run over 100 miles in 24 hours.  At mile 41, I got a popsicle, which is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever eaten in a race.  I felt a bit better after eating that, but that was short-lived.  I was retreating to the stall more than I wanted.  But I had more hotspots to deal with and just felt sick.  At one point, 4 out of the 6 of us assigned to the stall were in there in various stages of brokenness.  I knew my issues didn’t set me apart as there were people feeling worse than I was.  I discovered this when I tried to get the other 3 to come out with me for a walking loop (any forward motion is better than none), and no one wanted to go, so I went out alone.

I wasn’t having a good race.  I don’t mean that I didn’t like my time (as ultras in particular are defined by so much more than that); I mean that I felt pretty awful.  And I’d begun having some issues with my right knee, which is a knee I’d previously had some problems with about a year and a half ago that knocked me out of running for a full month.  I remember my friend Brady catching up to me and exclaiming, “I finally caught you after chasing you for 48 miles!” That made me laugh; I was a mile or two ahead of him at that point.  We ran together a bit before parting ways.  Somewhere around this point, I met a guy named Geoff who I stayed with for about a mile.  He was running Badwater this year, and got accepted in spite of the fact he’d never crewed there before.  Since I crewed one of my friends there last year and had written about my experiences and lessons learned, I told him I would send him the link to that in the eent he wanted to pass it on to his crew.  I noted that he must be having a bad day too as he was just a couple miles ahead of me at that point.

I made it to 50 miles in 11:13.  I can typically get to the 50-mile point in races quicker, but considering all of my breaks, I was surprised it hadn’t taken me longer.  I continued to feel sick.  One nice lady shared some ginger chews with me, which helped a little bit.

Shortly before the 12-hour point, I found myself walking with a new friend, Leon.  He’d been flying around the course early in the race but was now moving at my pace.  This was not just his first 100-miler but his first ultra.  He wasn’t feeling well and said he was considering downgrading to the 12-hour.  He was well over 60 miles by that point.  I told him that even if he kept moving at the pace he was currently going, he could still break 24 hours for the 100.  It seemed like he felt pressured to make a quick decision since the 12-hour point was approaching.  (People could freely switch between the 12-hour, 24-hour, and 100-miler midrace.  If you stopped under 12 hours, you were included in the 12-hour results.  If you kept going past 12 hours, you were included in the 24-hour.  If you reached 100 miles before 24 hours, you got included in the 100-mile and 24-hour results and had the option to continue to 24 hours.  If you reached at least 86 miles by 24 hours, you could keep going to 100 miles and had 4 additional hours to get there.)  I told him not to base his decision on the 12-hour point because he was probably just in a low point that would pass.  I encouraged him to keep going and if he still felt like stopping later on, he could stop then; the only difference would be that his results would show up in the 24-hour instead of the 12-hour, which was a minor technicality.

My knee continued to bother me, which troubled me.  Ultras hurt, and my knees always hurt eventually from the constant pounding, but this is always both knees.  Pain in just one knee was concerning to me.  When the pain eventually moved to a different part of my left knee as a result of compensating for pain in my knee, I was also concerned but kept moving.  My friend Josh, who’s an awesome runner, dropped down to the 12-hour.  One of his deciding factors was that he’d taken 2 pain pills and his knees didn’t feel like they should have after taking that medication; I kept this in mind.  I was bummed about him dropping down because I really like Josh and he’s always encouraging out on the course, but I understood his decision as I secretly wondered if I faced the same fate.

I continued to move forward and took two pain pills.  An hour later, I took two more.  Not only did they not seem to mask the pain at all (as they should have), but I started to develop pain in my right IT band.  I went back to the stall and talked to Josh and Eric.  Josh had already dropped and tried to encourage me to go back out, as I would expect any good friend would.  But it just wasn’t worth the risk of injury to me.  Eric had knee issues too, and after reiterating to him multiple times throughout the day that a single race was not worth seriously injuring himself, I realized that I needed to listen to what I was sincerely telling him (and a couple other people).

At that point, Eric was at 47 miles and I was at 60.  He wanted to get to 50 miles and I realized 100k didn’t sound too bad for me.  We went out and slowly did a loop together before grabbing a beer for two final “beer loops.”  We chatted a lot.  Eric had dropped out his last 100-miler too (my third 100) after not being able to keep food down, so it was sad to see him not reach his goal again, but I knew he’d made the right decision.  We spent the last couple loops encouraging others and eventually made it back to our stall.

While sitting in the stall, I was a bit torn between being silent and not drawing attention to the fact I’d dropped and continuing to cheer others on.  This isn’t likely for the reason it seems.  I was at peace with my decision and I didn’t have a problem with people knowing.  However, there were quite a few people dropping and I didn’t want this to unintentionally provide someone going through a low point justification to drop unnecessarily.  I picked up on this when I told Colleen and she hinted that maybe she should stop too.  She’d had knee issues too, but said she was feeling okay; I told her to keep going and to do her own race.

There was a period of time where I tried to sleep in a chair with my legs over the edge, somewhat elevated.  My knees ached so much just sitting there.  Sitting there, I was confident I could have kept going and gotten to 100 miles in less than 28 hours, but it just wasn’t worth the price it would cost me.  I’m determined, but I wasn’t willing to risk seriously injuring myself for that race.  Had it been a different race, like my first 100-miler, I might have made a different decision; I had a finish-at-almost-all-costs mentality in that race.  But now, I have nothing to prove to anyone, including myself.  I think I slept about an hour.

My dad, who lives just a couple hours from the race, wanted to come see me finish.  I called him late the night before and told him about my decision to drop.  He said he understood, and I was glad he still decided to make the drive to pay me a visit.  He showed up early, around 6am.  Even though I wasn’t running, I was happy to see him and I was also glad he got to see part of the race.  He stayed about an hour before heading back home.

About 8 hours after doing my 63rd loop, I decided to officially get my timing band cut off.  I’d laughed at Eric a couple hours earlier when he’d gotten too close to the sensor, registered an extra lap, and went back out to make his actual laps register the number of registered laps.  As Steve was cutting my band off, Eric started laughing and I looked up at the barn wall to see it registered another lap for me.  Steve said it was no big deal and there would just be a one lap discrepancy.  I was sure I could talk to the timing people to get that one deleted, but instead, I went back out to walk a lap.  I ran into my friend Vanessa who was also walking, so we did the lap together.  My knee felt quite a bit better.  However, I don’t think it could have handled being out there for 28 hours non-stop, at least without injury.

After my 64th loop, I was just hanging out in the barn cheering for people coming through.  Seriously, if you want to witness triumphs of the human spirit and see just how far people can push themselves, come to the finish line of a 100-miler (or work an aid station near the end).  I was so proud of everyone who had been out there all night and continued to move forward, now close to the 24-hour mark.

I never intended to go back out on the course, but it just sort of happened.  I’d been trying to get things for runners when they came through (pain pills, coffee, batteries, gels, ramen noodles, etc.) when my friend Brady came through and asked for a gel.  There weren’t any out at the aid station, so I went to get some from my private stash.  By the time I got a selection (I wanted him to have a few options), he was already out on the course, so I went back out to catch up with him.  After I caught up with him, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to keep him company for a loop.

I really like Brady.  I just met him in person the week prior, but we’d been Facebook friends for a couple months.  My first knowledge of his family came last year when I crewed for my friend Karla at Badwater.  Ed the Jester, who had hooked Karla and me up, had very colorful attire, and I noticed the day prior to the race that there was a “mini-Jester” accompanying Ed and his pacers.  The kid was named Colby, and Brady is his dad.  I read a report Colby had written after Badwater and continued this kid’s progress is races… his first marathon late last year, his first ultra at the beginning of this year, his first 100k in March, and then I saw him and his parents at my second 100-miler.  I didn’t get to meet Brady, but I met his wife Shawna and saw all three of them a lot on the course.  A week prior to Nanny Goat, Colby (at the age of 12!) became the youngest known 100-mile trail race finisher.  I had the awesome opportunity to spend the final 7 miles with him and a few others (including Ed and Brady).

Brady’s a Marine.  There was a woman out on the course carrying a flag for 24 hours to raise money for a military charity.  Brady insisted on catching up to her when she was within sight of us.  She was just walking but had a good walking pace, and Brady paced off of her.  While I don’t think we ever mentioned it during the race, I knew Brady and I both realized it was Memorial Day weekend.  Being in the Air Force, Memorial Day causes me to reflect on friends who have died in combat.  Two in particular always come to mind.  The 4-year anniversary of my friend Roz Schulte’s death just passed a few days prior.  Roz was my first friend ever killed in action.  She was an intel officer deployed to Afghanistan; she was a strong, confident woman who was also incredibly compassionate.  Her life was cut short when her vehicle hit an IED.  The other person I always think about is Nate Nylander.  Just over two year ago, when an Afghan military member opened fire in a briefing room, Nate, who was in an adjacent area, ran toward the sound of gunfire in an effort to help others.  In his efforts, he thought he incapacitated the gunman, but this wasn’t the case and led to a shootout.  Unfortunately, Nate’s gun jammed and he was killed.  However, his actions prevented further loss of lives as others were able to escape unharmed.  I also did not realize until after the race when I looked at his Facebook page that Brady had dedicated his final 50 miles at Nanny Goat to a fallen hero: Marine Sgt Trevor Johnson.

After doing the first loop with Brady, I decided to stay with him for a couple more.  He wasn’t quite to 90 miles, so I didn’t plan to stay with him the rest of the time as I didn’t think my knee could handle it, but I wanted to keep him company while I could.  I refilled his water bottle, got him gels and oranges, kept him company, and tried to encourage him to run when he probably didn’t want to.  I tried to stay positive for his sake.  Late in a race like that, I know (from seeing others and from personal experience) that people’s moods are very unstable and that mental lows are more easily triggered than mental highs, so while I joked around, I tried to remain cognizant of what I was saying.

At one point, I reminded Brady that the weekend before, Colby had broken down his race into 5-mile segments, so I told him he only had about two “Colby segments” left.  Colby and Shawna were supposed to get to the race near the time he was finishing, but it was dependent on flights as they were returning from a trip.  I think it’s so neat that Brady and Shawna have set a positive example for their kids and that Colby had a 100-miler under his belt (and a buckle ON his belt) and that even his 6-year-old sister Mimi loved running, including a difficult 10k trail run the week prior.

I thought it was funny that I completed three more loops within the 24 hours than I’d gotten credit for.  I’m assuming I could have brought it up at the time and maybe gotten credit, even though I’d removed my timing bracelet, but it wasn’t important.  In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter whether I got credit for 64 or 67 miles.  My race was over and the experience wasn’t about me.  However, I did take a break after 4 loops of pacing Brady; I didn’t want to leave him by himself, but our mutual friend Ryan had come out to help out and he stayed with him a few miles.  Ryan actually paced a handful of people throughout the race.

During the break, I rested my knee, drank some water, and ate a quesadilla.  I also cheered as runners continued to go through the barn, some finishing their 100-milers and others with a few miles still left.  My friend Mark came back, after doing something terrible to his knee the previous day, to cheer runners on.  He even kept Brady company for part of a loop.  His beautiful new bride Sharill also came back out; she had walked 20 miles the previous day.

Tony was pacing runners on their last laps, and when a finisher was coming through, he’d announce it and everyone would get up and yell and cheer (more than usual) and take photos.  He was really in his element.  Oh, you’re probably wondering about Tony’s own “redemption” race… It didn’t really happen.

Tony struggled a lot early on with keeping food down.  He’d put a ton of pressure on himself and did not seem to be enjoying himself in the ways he normally does.  He got as far as mile 43 before having a meltdown of sorts.  He ended up making it to mile 50.  Through some heart-to-heart talks with friends, he had an epiphany.  He had been concerned about what people might think, but he realized that his true friends would still love him regardless and that a buckle from this particular race wasn’t going to change anything.  Once he let go of the burden of not reaching 100 miles last year, the old Tony returned.  Watching him out on the course in the morning encouraging other people, taking care of their every need (including feeding Colleen pancakes off a plate while walking), and celebrating their accomplishments really made me happy.  Tony’s a great person, and helping other people reach their goals in spite of not doing what he had been dwelling on for over a year showed real growth in my opinion.  There was no doubt he was genuinely happy being out there.

When I took over for Ryan at mile 96, I was surprised how fast Brady was moving.  As we ran down to the grassy area, we were easily under a 10-minute pace.  I was glad when he chose to walk at the grass, haha.  We continued chatting and I kept reminding him to drink water (de ja vu of what I remembered him telling Colby to do just a week prior).  He seemed happy when I pointed out that we had less than a Colby segment left.  He also looked at me at one point and said something to the effect of, “Wow, you are really filthy.”  I told him I knew this, to which he responded, “No, I mean, I’ve never seen a white shirt that dirty!”  Thanks, dude.

I loved seeing the runners who were still out on the course, all less than a couple hours from finishing their 100-milers.  I tried to cheer for everyone and remembered that same point in my own races—so much distance covered, but still feeling like the finish line was so far away.  Some of the people out there looked pretty beat up, but it was inspiring.  I loved seeing Ed out there well past the 24-hour point and the completion of his own race.  That’s what I love about the ultra community—people truly care about one another.

There was a woman named Danni who, with about 5 hours left, was on the very edge of being able to make the cutoff and get to 100 miles.  The concern was that people tend to slow down late in a race and she actually needed to pick up the pace by about 2 minutes per mile to finish the 100 miles before the cutoff.  So what happened?  Ed sacrificed his own standings to ensure she made the 86 miles in 24 hours and then completed the 100 miles.  Ed completed 108 miles in 24 hours, a mere 3 miles behind 3rd place, but this didn’t seem to matter to him.  Seeing Ed out there in the final hours helping Danni was heart-warming.  Ed is continuously a beacon of hope in these kinds of races.  At one point, I counted no fewer than 8 people around him in the final several hours.  Why?  People know if they stick with him, they will finish.

I discovered my friend Colleen was on her final loop when we passed her on the out-and-back section.  Tony had paced her a handful of miles then went to take care of Jeff who was in greater need of support at the time, so she was by herself.  I got Brady through that loop and then told him I would catch back up but that I wanted to accompany Colleen at the end of her loop.  I ran back to where she was to walk with her.  She was in a lot of pain, but I was so proud of her.  I wished I could have accompanied her more, but I realized it was impossible for me to be in multiple places at one time.  I know she could have finished the race on her own, but I’ve found that company is really nice to have during long races.  I encouraged her to run at the very end and she did.  It was a beautiful sight to see when I announced there was a 100-mile finisher coming through and the barn erupted in cheers.  I let her run through the finish area while I hung back a bit and walked around the side—it was her moment.  I hugged her and then went back out on the course to catch up with Brady.

Colleen’s finish:

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Hugging Colleen:

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While running to catch up with Brady, I felt the blister on one of my baby toes pop under the pressure of the toe next to it.  I felt the skin slide down as my now-raw baby toe constantly rubbed against the toe next to it.  Had this been my own race, I am quite sure I would have stopped to assess it, but this wasn’t my race, so I quickly put it out of my mind.  I had to focus on Brady, especially since there were only a few miles to go.

Brady’s friend Tanya also spent some time pacing him, including in the final few miles, so I got to talk to her a bit.  As time went on and Brady’s family hadn’t arrived, I began to get concerned they wouldn’t make it by the time he finished.  I tried calling his wife Shawna and then texted her.  I figured she was still in the air (an accurate assumption, it turned out).  I also texted her to tell her he was doing well, where he was mileage-wise, and that people had been with him non-stop for at least 15 miles (including Tanya and me at that point).

Pacing Brady with less than 4 miles to go:

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Out of the blue, Brady hit a low point, but luckily this particular one wasn’t until almost mile 98.  I recall an exchange where I asked him if he needed anything—Gu, water, etc.  He said he “felt like goo.”  I had to ask clarification whether he felt like he wanted some Gu or whether he felt like he was goo.  He confirmed it was the latter.  Brady still had plenty of time to make the cutoff, but I wanted to keep him moving at a decent pace and still running in some parts because I knew he could do it.  At the end of the final loop, in the last .1 mile, Tanya called Shawna so he could leave a voicemail.  I had wished his family would be there for his finish, but that voicemail was the next best thing and I thought it was a very sweet gesture.  I really admire how close his family members are to one another.

Brady ran after hanging up the phone.  Once again, I got to announce there was a 100-miler finisher coming in.  I seriously don’t think I could ever get tired of doing that.  And again, I stayed back a bit and let him get his buckle, take photos, etc. without getting in the way.  When he went over and sat down, I asked if he needed anything.  He smiled, held out his arms, and said, “A hug?”  Of course.  Have I mentioned how much I truly love my ultra family?  Honestly, I’m closer to a lot of ultrarunners than I am many members of my own family.  Running long distances bonds people together.  Some of my closest friends were once strangers I met mid-race when we were both in low places.

Brady’s finish:

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Brady with his buckle:

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As I rested a bit, I saw Mitch and Jeff pass through the barn.  For some reason, I thought both of them still had two laps to go.  I got antsy just sitting around, so I took a shortcut to backtrack on the course to find Jeff who looked like he was in really bad shape; Tony was with him so I knew he was in good hands, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to have more company.  Luckily I chose to go out when I did as he was actually on his final loop.

Jeff was moving slowly, leaning to one side, and not very responsive, but his young son was right next to him showering him with praise.  It was precious to witness.  At one point, Jeff told him to go ahead, but he refused and said, “No.  I want to finish it with you.  Together: father and son.”  His son was walking right next to him with his arm tightly around his waist and his head against his chest, practically holding him up.  I felt so privileged to be there to see this very special moment.  As we got to the barn, Tony announced Jeff was finishing and once again, the barn erupted in cheers.

This is one of my favorite photos from the entire race.  It shows Jeff and his son, his wife off to the right, and Tony and me off to the left.  This was about 15 feet from Jeff’s first 100-mile finish:

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Unfortunately, I realized around this point that Mitch was already done and had finished just 10 minutes before Jeff (when I’d thought he had another loop).  I was happy to learn Ryan had been with him at the end, though.  Next, a woman named Elsie finished (her second Nanny Goat finish), then everyone waited for Danni to come in.  With seven minutes to spare, Danni crossed with finish line with Ed and a few other people, including her husband.  This was so neat to see.

I know I won’t remember everyone (please forgive me), but some other notable things that I know happened at the race: My friend Kristin (who I met at my second 100-miler) completed her first 100k.  Lynne, who had been the photographer at my second 100-miler, signed up for this race with the intent to do 20 miles, but she completed 50.  Diana also completed 50 miles for the first time.  Lots of people set distance PRs.  It’s really sort of irrelevant what the numbers are—it’s just incredible to see people go farther (and in some cases WAY farther) than they ever had before.  My friend Giovanni completed the 100-miler after completing his last one just a week prior.  My new friend Leon, who considered stopping at 12 hours, kept going and not only finished 100 miles but did so in under 24 hours… and he’d never done an ultra before.

If you want to talk numbers, more impressive to me than the 24-hour winner (121 miles) is the guy who got second place in the 24-hour (and third place in the 100-miler)—Kent ran almost exact even splits in the 100-miler, with the last 50 miles being mere seconds quicker than the first 50.  Additionally, he managed to cover significantly more miles in the last 12 hours than in the first 12 (for a total of 119 miles).  Events like this give people an opportunity to test their limits, and many of them do far better than they ever thought they could do.

After the race, I took down our decorations and snuck in a shower.  There was a single shower in the vicinity, and since people took showers at different times, there wasn’t a line.  I was also surprised at how clean it was considering how many dozen dirty runners had been in there before me.

After showering; I was clean, but I managed to lose my hairbrush so my hair was a mess, haha.  With Colleen and Tony:

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Over a dozen of us went to lunch together, including some more friends who hadn’t made it to the race as well as Brady’s family who had finally arrived.  I told Shawna that after spending 7 miles with Colby and then 8 miles with Brady just 7 days later, she was next on my pacing list.  Lunch was fun.

This isn’t a very good photo, but this is Brady and Colby.  Colby was proudly wearing his shirt and 100-mile buckle from the previous weekend.

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Then Colleen and I made our way to our friend Eric’s house.  He was in the process of moving and had no furniture, but we were just grateful for a place to sleep for free.  He had his 4-year-old son there and I played with him a while upstairs.  That kid had a lot of energy; I wish I would have had more energy to play with him more.

Monday morning, Colleen and I had breakfast with our friend Paul.  Paul had attempted the 100-miler at Nanny Goat but dropped due to back pain.  He had been at my second 100-miler, but I did not meet him until this race.  After breakfast, Colleen and I headed back to Las Vegas.  Luckily, the majority of traffic was heading in the opposite direction, so our drive wasn’t bad.

Paul, Colleen, and me at breakfast:

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Looking back at Nanny Goat, I don’t have any regrets about the “running by feel” strategy I approached the race with.  Even if I had tried to run more even splits, I don’t think this would have prevented my knee issues.  And in future races?  I plan to use the same strategy, at least for the time being.  I know it sounds ridiculous, as this is a new realization for me too, but I would rather enjoy myself and crash and burn than to conservatively and safely run more even splits.  I’ve discovered that even when I crash and burn, assuming I don’t have serious physical problems, it’s temporary and if I keep going, I’ll get a second (and third) wind.

I also have no regrets about stopping when I did.  As I already said, I don’t have anything to prove to anyone.  I erred on the side of caution instead of potentially injuring myself.  I would have liked another buckle, but it wasn’t worth the risks I would need to face to get it.  There will be other races.  Also, if I had stayed out there the entire time doing my own race, I would have missed out on the opportunities I had to help other people in their own journeys.  It’s funny how things turn out sometimes.

The ultrarunning community is very selfless and giving, and the people in it motivate me to be a better person.  Through the current time, I feel like I have gotten so much more from others than I have given.   I truly appreciate chances I have to give back, in any capacity.  I doubt anyone would have dropped out if I had not been there, but I hope that in some small way, I was able to make their journey a little brighter.  I try to embrace the concept of doing what I can with what I have wherever I am.  At Nanny Goat, I was capable of going out and keeping some other people company, so in my mind, there was no reason not to do this.  Likewise, it took virtually no effort to offer words of encouragement to others on the course.  I aim to never get too wrapped up in the things I can’t do that I forget to take advantage of the things I can do, however small they may seem at the time.

Katrina

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2012/09/22: North Coast 24-Hour (race report)

VERY short version: I ran NC24, which was one of my two goal races this year.  I hoped to run 100 miles, but ridiculous weather got in the way.  I ran 89.28, which was a 23-mile PR for me.  I finished 20th out of 108 runners overall.

VERY long version:
I had two goal races this entire year: the Labor of Love 50-miler in April and North Coast 24 (NC24) this past weekend.  I added a third goal race (a marathon) six weeks after my 50-miler to take advantage of the fitness I had at that point.  All other races I’ve done this year have been “tune-up” or “supported training runs,” including two other marathons, a 51k, and a 12-hour race.

I also got a running coach to help me reach more of my potential than I’d previously done on my own.  Ian Sharman is a noteworthy ultrarunner whose style of coaching has been exactly what I needed.  It took a lot of the guesswork out of my training because all I had to do was run whatever miles I was told at the effort level that was prescribed.  Of course Ian took into consideration any issues that came up (like my exercise-induced asthma, tendinitis, long work hours, commitments out of town, etc.) and modified my plan accordingly.

I ran NC24 last year with very little training (meaning no “adequate” training) and had also decided to do a 9-hour race the weekend prior (38 miles).  I managed 66 miles in those conditions, so I definitely wanted to surpass that mileage this year.  I figured that if everything went perfectly (does anything ever go perfectly on race day? haha), I might be able to come close to 100.  I’d done 53.6 miles 3 weeks prior in a 12-hour race and felt like I could have kept that pace a while longer (but how much longer I really couldn’t speculate).  I also knew that being a certified loop course that the mileage I would actually run would be a bit longer than the official distance.  The race director posted a few days prior to the race that not running the absolute shortest distance each loop could add roughly .04 miles per loop; this might not sound like much, but it definitely adds up!  I set a tentative goal at anything over 80, hopefully at least 85.

Since the loop was only .9 miles long, it meant we were passing by the main aid station and our RWOL aid station (where we had our extra clothing and stuff) very frequently.  Ian had recommended that I try a 9/1 run/walk ratio.  I used to do a 4/1 ratio pretty religiously, but for the past year, I’d only really run; during ultras, I let the circumstances dictate walk breaks but didn’t have them set at specific intervals.  I’d intended to try out the 9/1 ratio at my 12-hour race earlier this month, but since the course was a gradual uphill for .6 miles followed by a gradual downhill for .6 miles, I didn’t feel it was conducive to it (as I hate walking downhill and felt the long uphill sections warranted more walking).

The course at NC24 is relatively flat, although the uphill sections seem to get more steep as the race goes on, haha.  There was an area on the back part of the course that seemed like a good walk break place.  Since I’d be hitting it every 10 minutes or so, it was easier to just walk whenever I got to a particular landmark than to have to stare at my watch the whole time.  Also, after quite a few laps, I knew which point equated to a minute of walking from the first point, so I didn’t have to look at my watch for that either.

I remember the weather being cold in the middle of the night last year, particularly with the wind coming inland from Lake Erie, so I brought a lot more layers of warm clothes.  I also knew there was a chance of rain, but I underestimated what a challenge this would pose.  It doesn’t help that I live in Las Vegas and am not accustomed to running in the rain.  The few times here I have run in the rain (and also when I ran in the rain when I lived in Texas), while I got wet, I didn’t really feel cold.  I am NOT used to running in cold, wet conditions.  The combination of being cold and wet is one of the worst sensations in the world for me.  (When I was in combat survival training as a cadet, while most people remember the hunger, I remember the cold and wetness…I actually saved some food throughout the training that I was waiting to eat until I got *really* hungry, which never happened.)

I brought a jacket I thought was water resistant, but it wasn’t!  I also brought multiple hats and gloves, but NONE of them were water proof.  I figured that the under layers I brought would stay warm with my water resistant jacket (haha).  Due to that error in logic, I totally overlooked the possibility that I could be wearing four layers of clothing and have them entirely soaked through.

My husband and I flew out of Las Vegas early Friday to ensure we’d get to Ohio early enough to get settled and get some sleep before the race the next morning.  It was actually a lot cheaper to fly into Akron AND get a rental car than to fly straight into Cleveland without a car; there were more flight options too.  Looking at flights into Cleveland, the only ones under $600 had at least two connecting flights and wouldn’t get us in until 11pm.  That was not a risk I wanted to take!  On the way to Cleveland, we stopped at a Walmart to get some snacks for the race, checked into our hotel, and then met at the park for some pizza with a handful of RWOL people who’d be running the race the following morning.

We got to the park about an hour late due to some trucks that were jackknifed on the freeway, but luckily people were still there.  Anyway, the weather was nice when we got to the park and I was wearing a short sleeved shirt, but within about 30 minutes, it got cold and it started raining.  This should have been a sign of what was to come the following day.  After getting back to our hotel, I got a call from George who had gotten delayed three hours with his flight but he said he was finally on his way from Akron to Cleveland.  We’d planned to maybe meet up once he got to the hotel, since he was staying at the same place, but by that time, it was late enough that it was easier for everyone to just go to sleep since we’d meet at the race in the morning.

I slept surprisingly well the night before the race.  I’d organized my drop bags the night prior and had my clothes laid out, so there wasn’t much to do before heading back to the park that morning.  I had three bags:  One with my extra clothing, one with stuff I didn’t need at the beginning but would likely want during the race, and one with gels and other snack kinds of foods.

I normally run in a running skirt, but since the weather was a bit chilly, I opted to start out wearing my CWX compression capris with the intent of changing later when it warmed up (haha).  I wore a short sleeved shirt with a very loose long sleeved shirt over that to begin with.  I ate a banana and a muffin that I got from the hotel, then we went to the race site at the park.  Arriving at the park was déjà vu from last year and I felt very “at home” with the people there and the overall environment.  The weather was cool, but I felt like I was wearing the perfect clothes (including my loose long sleeved shirt I would toss after a few laps).

The cooler weather felt great to run in and I was running faster than I’d planned.  I was effortlessly running a low 10-minute mile pace.  After a few minutes, I told Asa, who was running with me at the time, “I think I should maybe slow down because I’m going too fast.  His response was, “I know, you just passed Sue!” (While he hadn’t been at NC24 last year, I’d told him lots of stories about people, including Sue’s awesome performance, including being high on the leaderboard at one point amongst the elites at a point, prior to crashing under a tree for multiple hours in the middle of the night.)  I slowed down and Sue and Angela passed me.  After a few laps, Asa dropped back a bit and I ran and chatted with whoever happened to be in my vicinity.

I kept my eye on Angela and Sue who stayed about .1-.2 miles ahead of me.  They were taking walk breaks too, but they were at different points and for different lengths of time than mine; however, we were maintaining the same approximate pace.  Every time I thought I’d catch up to them on a walk break, they’d start running again.  This kept me occupied for a few laps; I wasn’t speeding up, but they weren’t slowing down either.  Finally, I think it was on the eighth lap, I caught up to them.  Sue was convinced I had lapped them, which I thought was really funny, but I assured her that we were on the same lap; Angela’s Garmin distance was almost the exact same as mine.  The three of us ran together a little bit, and then we played leapfrog for quite a while (just based on walk breaks being in different spots on the course).  Even this early on, I knew Sue was going to keep a similar pace the ENTIRE race, whereas I was intentionally trying to bank some miles earlier since I was concerned with how the weather later on would affect my running.

One of the neat things about a looped course, particularly a small one, is that you get to interact with everyone on the course (MANY times!), regardless of how fast or slow you are.  I loved getting to see RWOL people over and over again!  I was impressed with Alex’s consistency; I think we exchanged words every single time we crossed paths!  Jen was out there doing laps and she made it look really easy!  Angela (other Angela) was also out there knocking out the miles.  Chuck cracked me up and I made an effort to try to tap him on his right shoulder whenever I saw him (before passing on his left); he eventually caught on, of course…probably much sooner than he let on, but I appreciate him letting me amuse myself.  I tried to talk to everyone from our group whenever I saw them, but sometimes I was in a “zone.”  Also, sometimes people changed clothes and were therefore more difficult to recognize, haha.

The first several hours of the race were relatively uneventful.  I was taking a gel every 4 miles and I was taking sips from my handheld water bottle whenever I got thirsty.  The miles were going by quickly.  I got to the half marathon distance (based on Garmin distance…all of the distances in this section are Garmin distances since those are the numbers I had constant access to) in just under 2:15.  I got to the marathon distance in 4:35, which was kind of crazy to me.  That’s the second fastest marathon distance I’ve ever run (out of the 18 times I’ve run 26.2 or more miles in a race or in training); it was especially surprising because I still felt very good.  I was continuing to keep to my one minute of walking per loop and it was working out well.

I was very excited when I got to 50 miles in just over 9.5 hours; my previous 50-mile PR was 11:21.  As a testament to the huge dork I am, I was incredibly stoked that I got to the equivalent of two marathons in JUST under 10 hours; I’d struggled to ever get under 5 hours for a marathon, yet I managed to do double the distance at an average of under a 5-hour marathon pace.  I hit just over 60 miles by the 12-hour mark and I was feeling great, mentally and physically.

About 6 hours into the race, people started remarking that the storm was coming.  Looking out over the lake, it was very apparent that conditions were going to change.  There were a few crews who had dry erase boards on which they wrote words of encouragement, trivia questions, etc. for all of the runners to see.  One of them said, “Prepare for rain and hail!”  Hail?!  I sort of dismissed the latter part of that statement because my mind failed to comprehend it.

As I ran past the main aid station before the storm hit, I heard an exchange with one of the runners and one of the officials in which the runner seriously asked confirmation that the race would be paused if it rained; the person was of course told that the clock wouldn’t stop but that people had the option to seek shelter.  This made me chuckle.

When the rain first started, it felt good.  I’d finally started to get a little warm and the rain was refreshing.  Quite a few people opted to seek shelter, but I was actually having a great time.  I actually felt worse for some of the crews out there who were having to contend with holding their tents up with the downpour and heavy winds that accompanied it.  I heard of some tents collapsing and totally flooding runners’ gear (including extra clothing).

After a couple laps in the rain, I remember running by the RWOL aid station and exclaiming, “This is awesome!”  After a couple seconds of everyone under the awning just staring at me, I asked, “Why are you all looking at me like that?!”  I felt great.  I started to feel a little cool and noted that the other people out on the course were wearing jackets, but I chose to wait to put one on, so I was still just wearing a short sleeved shirt on top.  Then the hail came, ouch!  It was very surreal.  Half inch pieces of ice–craziness!  It didn’t last for long, but when it first started, I was on the back (south) side of the course and was getting hit on the right side; when I turned right and faced north, I discovered it hurts even more to get hit in the front (particularly my FACE) with hail!

After about an hour of the pouring rain, I started to get COLD.  I finally opted to stop and change my short sleeved shirt and put on my jacket that I thought was water resistant as well as some gloves and a hat that would keep my ears warm; I continued to wear my normal running hat too as the bill kept the rain out of my eyes.  I went back out in the rain and was still cold but felt a little better with a jacket on.

My lower back had been hurting a little bit.  Whenever I went to the aid station to get something to eat, I would take a few moments and bend over and it made my back feel a bit better.  I remembered the miracle workers in the med tent last year and decided to try them out again.  One of the guys in there actually remembered me from last year and recognized me the previous night at the hotel, haha.  Anyway, they did some poking, prodding, and stretching, and it didn’t seem like they got to the exact spot that was causing me issues, but upon getting back out on the course and running, I realized they had healed me.  I love them!

As time went on, I noted that getting 100 miles seemed more realistic.  By the time I got to about 14 hours into the race, I only needed to maintain about 18.5-minute miles.  Theoretically, this seemed like it should be easy, but I am very aware of how quickly things can change.  During this time, I spent some time with Keith, Chris’s friend.  He was several miles ahead of me but still looked strong.  Meanwhile, Chris was very consistent too.

The novelty started to wear off of the race right around the 65-mile point.  I’m not really sure what it was, but I just started to have less fun.  Almost every single moment up to this point, I had experienced a lot of joy.  (For much of the race, I was truly happy to be there doing a race I’d trained for so intently; I felt so lucky to be able to do what I was doing.)  I was still glad to be there, but it was more effortful to keep moving forward.  I was extremely cold, which I think was a large contributing factor.  I also finally saw Asa again and I pulled him into a tent to help me with an issue I’d recently discovered that had also begun causing a lot of pain while running (walking was okay).

While I’d changed my rain-soaked shirt a few hours earlier, I never changed my sports bra and there was a 4-inch by 1-inch horizontal section right underneath the front band that had been totally rubbed raw.  He helped me get the old bra off, cover the area that now looked somewhat blistered with bandaids, and I got back out on the course.  It was still apparent that I had chafing there, but it felt a lot better now that I had a barrier between my skin (or lack thereof) and the (dry) fabric.

The night was lonely at times because so many people had either retreated to tents, cars, and hotels for the night, or they’d turned in their chips early.  I just kept trying to maintain forward motion.  I really liked the moments, whether they lasted for just a few seconds or longer, when I got to interact with other people; this is sort of atypical for me because I am very un-social in most circumstances (pretty much anything outside of utlras, and I am much more happy sitting home by myself or with my husband than going out with groups of people).

I was also beginning to cough more, which is a “great” side effect of exercise-induced asthma.  A LOT of people noted that my breathing didn’t sound good and that I was coughing a lot (as if perhaps I maybe did not notice, haha).  My legs were feeling fine at this point, around midnight (15 hours into the race), but the coughing got a lot worse when I tried to run.  However, maintaining a walk pace was not keeping me warm enough and my teeth were chattering.  I made a decision to stop for 5-10 minutes and see if I could warm up a bit.

I went into Bob’s tent and Pam was laying down.  I felt bad because I didn’t know where else to go that was away from the elements, but I knew it would be impossible for anyone to sleep in the proximity of all of my coughing.  She noted that my asthma must be acting up.  Indeed.  I tried using my rescue inhaler to see if it’d help, but it had zero effect.  After about 10 minutes, I noted that I was still extremely cold.  About this time, I heard another downpour of rain outside.  I decided to put on my last long-sleeved shirt, but when I picked it up, I couldn’t figure out why it felt so heavy.  It wasn’t until I was trying to pull it over my head and realized it was dripping on me that I realized it was entirely soaked.  Okay, change of plan.

I was then in my warmest set of tops I had, even though they weren’t totally dry.  I realized that I had to make these clothes last, so I chose to wait until the rain stopped.  I knew that if the clothes I was wearing soaked through that my race would be done.  I’m not sure why I didn’t think about it at the time, but I should have changed my compression tights; while it was mainly my torso and arms that were so cold, it surely didn’t help that I’d been wearing wet tights ever since the first storm hit 8 hours prior.  I also never changed my socks or shoes; I never change things unless I have a REASON to do so.  Since my feet felt okay, I decided to leave them alone, but being in wet shoes and socks the entire time could not have helped.  Anyway, after about 2 hours in the tent, I had not warmed up at all but I hadn’t heard rain in a bit and knew I had to get back out and do some laps.

Since I was still so cold, I put on the warmest hat I had and also took the blanket from the tent and chose to walk with it.  The course was even more empty than before, and I was by far the slowest person still out there then.  I was generating no heat and it took everything I had to just keep stepping forward.  However, I’d only made it a few miles over 70 by this point and it wasn’t good enough for me.  I knew from the previous year that any progress forward accumulated more mileage than not moving at all.  I also remembered that I was raising money for the Fisher House and that a bunch of people had made per-mile pledges for this race.  This meant that there was a direct connection between the mileage I put in and the amount of money they charity would get.

After a few laps, I ditched the blanket because it wasn’t helping.  I saw Sue out there and she was still going strong.  I also saw Chris who was making steady progress.  There were a lot of people I hadn’t seen in a long time, though, and I wasn’t sure if they were just taking a break or had left the race early.  When I went by the RWOL aid station just over 80 miles, Angela asked what mile I was on and when I told her, she said she was in the same place (actually one lap ahead, but at that point, it was essentially the same) and said she was coming with me.

Angela and I spent the next 3 hours or so walking together talking about the race and lots of other things.  I loved having someone to talk to, and it was neat that not only did I know the person but we’d ended up in essentially the same position mileage-wise after having the same 100-mile goal this year.  She’d had issues with the cold and took some time to go to the medical tent to get warmed back up (smart…why had I not thought of that??)

We both became convinced that things would have turned out differently if the weather had been different, but alas, it is what it is.  I remember when it started to get light outside, we looked across to the far side of the course and there was literally not a single person over there.  The downpours had stopped, but there was still a light rain on and off.  The weather had definitely taken its toll on people.

One of Angela’s children (she had four beautiful kids who were cheering her on, along with her husband who was there) walked with us one of the laps.  Toward the end of the lap, I noted I was still very cold.  Angela’s daughter took off to go get me a blanket (Angela had been walking with a blanket since we’d started walking together).  I knew I was losing a bit of my logic when I saw her daughter take a short cut back to the aid station area and thought she’d gone in the wrong direction.  We were on the back section of the course, and there is a point where the course goes right, but there is an option to take a path straight ahead; way out in the distance there was land jutting out to the right, and for some reason, I thought we had to run all of the way over there.  Since I saw water between where we were and the distant land, I didn’t understand how Angela’s daughter was going to get over there without going through the water.  Wow, I was out of it… But I gave Angela a laugh when I told her that, haha.

Even with the blanket, I wasn’t warming up, so I chose to sit out a lap at the aid station.  Bob had brought coffee, which I graciously accepted.  I actually don’t even really like coffee but it had two big things going for it: first (and foremost), it was hot!  And it also had caffeine.  Asa also showed up around this time; he’d smartly gone to the car during the night.  I knew I would have gotten warmer in the car, but I feared I would not want to leave it if I got used to that warmth.

After a lap of sitting there, I went back out with Angela and Asa.  I came up with the crazy idea to run a little bit more.  After about a minute, I realized it wasn’t worth the effort I’d put into it; Angela, who’d followed my plan, seemed to agree.  There’s something logical about the thought that something will be over quicker if you move faster, but in a race like this, it’s not the case.  As is the case with events like this, when it starts to get light, more people magically appear back out on the course.  However, unlike last year, the sun was nowhere to be seen.

I was happy to see Pam back out there doing some laps and looking strong.  Groove was also out there racking up the miles; he was THE ray of sunshine in the gloom out there, and I loved his attitude.  Eric was back out there too and looking great!

In the last 45 minutes, it actually seemed light outside, although the sun didn’t officially make its appearance until the very last 30 minutes.  This was rejuvenating, though.  I decided to pick up the pace a bit more toward the end.  I always seem to get a second wind in races–I’m not really sure how this works, but I’m not questioning it.  My last full lap was almost entirely running, and partway through that lap, I decided I wanted to complete that lap.  However, I had no idea how much time I had left. Luckily, Asa’s smarter than me and had synchronized his watch to the race clock (brilliant, I say!).

I suddenly had a bunch of energy and just wanted to make it to the timing mat one last time.  While making the final turn on that lap, one of the males went flying by which only energized me, so of course I chased him.  I’d managed to capture the last .38 miles of the race before the horn sounded (.3 before the timing mat and about .08 after it) on my Garmin, and that segment was done at a 9:29 minute/mile pace (with the fastest instantaneous speed being a 6:33 minute/mile pace)!

What I find very funny is that my body knows when a race is over.  The last few minutes of the race, I felt no pain and ran my fastest pace of the entire event.  However, upon walking the few dozen yards to the RWOL aid station, I became very aware of every little issue with my body and it was difficult to even walk.  Everything suddenly seemed to hurt, not in an oh-my-goodness-I’m-in-pain-and-I-feel-like-I’m-dying way, but instead in an I-don’t-have-any-energy-left-and-I’m-so-glad-this-is-finally-done way.

My final official mileage was 89.2804 miles (which is a 23-mile PR).  Based on not taking the most direct route around the course, I suspect I added about 2 extra “bonus” miles to the race, but that’s to be expected.  That equates to just over 99 laps.  And contrary to the reaction I get from people when I tell them that, it really isn’t that bad!  It didn’t *seem* like it was that many laps while I was running them.

Thankfully, Van (as well as others) offered to let us shower in his hotel room (since we’d checked out of ours the day prior).  Sadly, he wasn’t in his room when we got there, so I didn’t get a chance to say bye and give him a hug; I’d neglected to do this after the race at the park because I assumed we’d see him in his room.  Oh, and also, Van was kind enough to give me a key to his room the day prior during the race in the event Asa wanted to sleep in a hotel that night (he knew I was planning on staying out there).  This kind of generosity is what I love about people at these kinds of events.  It gives me faith in humanity, really.

I was very happy for Sue, who won (really not a big surprise to me, honestly).  I loved seeing everyone else out there persevere too.  There’s something about enduring miserable times together than bonds people to one another.

The weather wasn’t in anyone’s control, so I can’t hold that against the race.  The race director, John, was incredibly helpful, engaged, and accommodating during the entire event.  I was also surprised when I met him before the race (he was going around meeting everyone) and remembered Asa and I were registered together and that we’d come from Las Vegas.  During the race, he’d give words of encouragement, even by name!  He was awesome.

The volunteers at the race were amazing.  The people at the main aid station stood out there in all conditions to refill water bottles and ensuring runners had everything they needed.  There’s something incredibly special about seeing people take something so simple a request for hot chocolate so seriously and literally run back and forth to get the hot water, mix it with the powder, and give it to the runner as quickly as possible to minimize the amount of time the runner is stopped.  The food the race had available was incredible.  As a sample, just based on things I personally consumed is as follows: ginger ale, coke, sprite, mountain dew, Gatorade, chips, watermelon, ramen (calories+salt+warmth), potatoes, rice, oatmeal, grilled cheese (majorly delicious, particularly during the downpour), and pizza.  I actually just relied on the aid station food and drinks the last half of the race.  I took just gels until then, but as it was expected, I lost my ability to even think of them without gagging, haha.

The RWOL people who came out to crew are awesome.  Bob got there really early to set up out aid station, including a tent that anyone was able to use (that I took advantage of a few times).  Jenny was out there a lot too taking wonderful photos of everyone.  She has a talent for taking meaningful photos.  I’ve seen a lot of race photos, but so many times, there’s something missing from them–some kind of personality that Jenny is able to bring to hers.  Jenny is one of the kindest people I’ve ever met; if you’ve met her too, I’m pretty sure you know what I mean.  It was also great that just prior to the race marked her 5 years since ending chemo!  All of the photos below are ones that she took during the race; I especially love the ones that include both Asa and me.

Tracie was part of the RWOL crew too, and while I never needed anything from her, she asked quite a few times if I needed anything and always had kind words to say.  George was there too, which was awesome; it’s hard to believe he flew all of the way there just to help out.  I foresee some kind of ultra event in his future…  Jen ran the 12-hour event, then she hung out at our aid station to help out too, which was very nice.  I actually thought at times that being stationary at the aid station would have been more difficult than actually doing the race; at least the runners were generating some heat through their movement!  I really appreciated all our crew members.

I was proud of Asa who committed to NC24 many months ago in order to share the experience with me.  His longest distance run ever had been a half marathon, and that was one time over three and a half years ago!  He’d done a few higher single-digit runs with me, but needless to say, his “training” was not ideal.  We joked that he was following the “Chuck” plan from last year (since Chuck’s longest distance prior to last year’s race was only a half marathon).  Asa ran with me a little bit at the beginning and the very end, plus a bit in the middle.  He racked up 35.24 miles total.  And as of tonight (60 hours post-race), he said he isn’t sore anymore and just has a little pain in one of his feet.

One of the moments during NC24 when I realized how awesome the ultra community is: The rain had temporarily stopped, but there was still ankle-deep water on some parts of the course.  I saw someone out there braving the cold and wind to sweep water off of the path.  Who was the person?  Connie Gardner, the current American 24-hour record holder (who earned the title just 2 weeks prior).  She was not running the race, but she was still there helping out and giving out words of encouragement.  In how many other sports would there be a champion doing menial labor just to help others without even receiving any credit or reward for it.
It’s now been just over 2 days since the race ended, and I feel a LOT better than I thought I would.  I’m still coughing a bit, I have a little tightness in the top of my calves (right below my knees), and my feet are a little sore.  Oh, and my bra strap chafing (which was also on my back, I discovered) as well as some spots around my ankle from the chip strap and a quarter-sized patch on the back of my left knee from my wet compression tights are all healing well; all of the areas were BLEEDING by the end of the race, but now they’re all scabbed over and healing fine.  And I otherwise have ZERO issues.  Right after the race, I had a couple blisters on my feet, but by the end of yesterday (36 hours after the race ended), they’d been absorbed back into my skin.  No joint issues and not even any soreness, with the exception of the tops of my calves that I already mentioned.  I LOVE my Hokas; my feet were hurting so bad last year from all of the pounding on the pavement.

It’ll still be a few days before I venture out on another run, but I’ve been walking a few miles each day which I think has helped keep me loose.  I’ve also done some static and dynamic stretching.

My mileage this year was good enough for 20th place overall out of 108 runners.  This is a huge improvement over last year when my 66 miles got me 111th place out of 185!  I was better trained and covered more miles this year, but I also attribute my ranking to my ability to deal with “suck” a little better than the average person.  I’m not a “fast” runner, but I seem to do better in races of attrition.  (Almost exactly 2 years ago, I won the female division of a fixed-time ultra, an 8-hour one, in muddy conditions pretty much because other people gave up and I simply stayed out there.)

As I mentioned, I was raising money for the Fisher House in conjunction with this race.  As an additional way to motivate myself, I requested that people make per-mile pledges (although some people chose to donate flat amounts, which I surely accepted!).  I knew that for every mile I did that that the charity would get $10.47/mile plus an extra $400+ in other donations.  Overall, once all of the donations are input, this will equate to over $1,300 for deserving families of wounded and ill military members!  Quite a few people from RWOL made pledges and flat donations, and for that, I want to say thank you.  It means a lot to me.  If anyone else is interested in making donations, the fundraising page is still open.  The link is here: http://www.active.com/donate/2012TeamFisherHouse/KatrinaMumaw

There are a few things I learned from NC24 2012 that I will consider in future races (that maybe other people can apply to their own races…or maybe not):

1)  Prepare for the conditions.  If you’re not used to running in rain and the forecast calls for rain, bring supplies to deal with it.  If you don’t know what you need to bring, ask other people and/or do some research.  I literally had no water resistant clothes, and piling on more layers did not help because they all got soaked.

2)  Practice walking in training.  I ran all of my long runs and most of my training races, but I did supplement the runs with additional walking.  I think this helped me.  Don’t underestimate the difficulty of walking deliberately if you aren’t used to it.  While it may be different for other people, not throwing planned walk breaks into my training runs actually made the race seem easier because it felt like I was constantly getting to walk (because 1 minute per .9 miles seems like a lot when you’re used to not walking at all).

3)  For a long race, I keep myself in a zone where running is not effortful for a long period of time, for example, at least the first half.  If I’m getting tired and it’s only an hour into a 24-hour event, then I am in a bad spot and need to slow down or even walk.  If I’m getting out of breath and I still have over 50 miles to go, I need to slow down.  This is a big difference from shorter races, even marathons, where I expect a certain about of discomfort from the beginning.  However, for LONG stuff, it’s not worth it to me to be uncomfortable the entire time.  I enjoy running and racing, and if it hurts the WHOLE time, it makes me not want to do it.  Of course this doesn’t mean I want to finish the race with lots of energy; I just don’t want to burn out way before the end.

4)  Accept the fact that it will hurt.  No, not the whole time, but you will push your limits, and it will not be sheer physical joy the entire time.  But it will be worth it.

5)  Your attitude is HUGE, and it will greatly determine your performance and your experience as a whole.  Remember that you chose to do the event–no one made you do it.  You trained for it (hopefully).  You made sacrifices.  You owe it to yourself to do your best.  I asked a veteran 100-miler earlier this year how much extra training was needed to step from a 50-miler to a 100-miler.  His response was, “If you’re physically able to complete a 50-miler, you can do a 100-miler.  The only difference is mental.”  I understand this more now, even though I didn’t make it to 100.  Confidence that I could go farther carried me through times when realistically, in the given conditions, it may have made sense to stop.

6)  Have a mileage goal and a plan for how to reach it.  But don’t be afraid to adjust it based on conditions and how you’re feeling on race day.  I think the flexibility part is especially important if you’re racing in conditions you don’t train it.  I live in Las Vegas, and most of my runs the last few months have been in temps ranging from mid-80s up to about 110 degrees; lows have only dipped to the mid 70s.  In Cleveland, the HIGH was in the 60s and the lows got down to the 40s.  The cooler weather made it a lot easier to run a bit faster than normal.  However, the rain and COLD later on caused me problems because I wasn’t accustomed to them.

7)  Break the race into manageable pieces.  I’ll set goals for where I want to be in the next hour or so, or at what time I want to be to a certain mile.  My mind cannot comprehend anything over a few hours, so I tend to only think about things in smaller terms.

8)  Don’t feel obligated to stop at an aid station every lap (on a looped course…or every aid station on a more traditional course).  Stopping every lap to browse the food selection may seem harmless, but even if you just stop a minute every lap, that adds up a LOT over the course of the race.  You have an entire lap to figure out what you want, so get there, get it, and leave.  Or just don’t even stop.  Don’t waste time.

9)  Don’t fix things that aren’t broken.  If you’re not having any problems with your shirt, there is no reason to change it “just because.”  It saves time and you don’t risk doing something that may actually cause a problem.

10)  If things ARE “broken,” deal with them immediately.  Have a hot spot?  Deal with it when you notice it; it will NOT get better over time.

11)  Experiment with different foods in training.  While some people may be able to subsist entirely on gels, I cannot typically do that.  I have a list of go-to foods that I have on hand at ultras.  It also helps that my stomach is pretty tolerable, but I know some people aren’t so lucky.  During a race is not the time to realize your GI system cannot handle a particular kind of food.

12)  I discovered that I’m pretty self-sufficient at aid stations, meaning I appreciate crews and volunteers, but they’re somewhat of a luxury.  However, I benefit GREATLY by having someone with me, particularly at night.  When I was by myself, I tended to go slower, not move in a straight line, trip over things that weren’t there, and even nod off.  However, being able to talk to someone, I was much more alert mentally and this helped me physically too.

13)  Running farther than I ever have before is a neat feeling.  It has always been fun for me, even before I got into ultras.  Whether it’s 50 miles or 2 blocks, if it’s a distance you’ve never tackled before, it feels great.  That’s one thing I loved about training for my first marathon… Every (or every other) Saturday, I woke up knowing I’d travel on foot farther than I ever had before.  The longer I run, I harder it is to do this (since the bar keeps getting raised), but the “magic” of it is still there when it does happen.

14)  Be okay with the decisions you make.  If you choose to slow down, which might mean missing your goal mileage or time, or if you stop early, can you justify the decision to yourself the next day?  If you can, regardless of what the decision is, good.  But if you can’t, reconsider your decision.  What other people think really doesn’t matter.  You don’t need to justify why you did or didn’t so something to anyone else.  Sure, you can share your story with others, but you don’t owe anyone an explanation or an apology.  This one is a bit difficult for me, but I know it is the truth.  I really wanted 100, and a few people who knew me well said I could do it.  It wasn’t in the cards, but looking back, I don’t regret the decisions I made (like my 2-hour break).  This isn’t to say that I wouldn’t do anything differently, but I know things always seem clearer in retrospect.

15)  Running should be enjoyable.  If you derive no pleasure in any sense from it, pick a different hobby.  I can tell by the looks on coworkers’ faces that most of them would never consider running an ultra, particularly one of a looped course, but I can say that experiences like NC24 are moments that truly enrich my life and I would not trade them for anything.

And some photos from the race (taken by Jenny):

Just me:
1

Just me (note how pretty the weather WAS):
2

Me, Sue, and Angela:
3

Asa (hubby) and me:
4

Just me again:
5

Asa and me:
6

This was a couple hours before the race ended and I was COLD.  Asa and Angela are there too 🙂
7

This was toward the very end when I ditched the blanket and was trying to run some (roughly 88 miles elapsed by this point):
8

Most of our group afterward.  I love this pic!
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And the medal:
10

And one last set of photos.  Last year, Jenny also took photos at the race.  I LOVED the photos, and this is my favorite one from that race (below on the left).  This year, a few people commented that they noticed I’d lost some weight.  I said I had lost a little bit but hadn’t really noticed appearance-wise in running clothes.  However, comparing one of last year’s pics to this year’s, I can see a difference.  And the extra weight does make a difference in my ability to move quicker (basic physics). 🙂
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Katrina

2011/09/17: North Coast 24-Hour (race report)

Short version: This was my first 24-hour race.  My longest race previously was a 12-hour, with a distance PR of 51.88 miles.  I foolishly did a 9-hour race last weekend 6 days before NC24 (38 miles) but recovered okay.  Final mileage at NC24 was 66.48 miles.

Longer version (with pics):
I registered for this race almost 6 months ago.  I had great visions for how I’d train, but life happened and things didn’t turn out as planned.  Then, as if I wasn’t already tempting disaster enough, I signed up for a 9-hour ultra 6 days prior (during which I completed 38 miles).  My expectations for NC24, which was my first 24-hour race, were pretty low.  I really just wanted to meet a bunch of people from RWOL and have fun.

I arrived in Cleveland on Friday, Jenny picked me up (she’s even sweeter in person), and I shared a hotel with Lori and Sue.  There was also a get-together at the park that night for our little group (runners and crew) for whoever was already in town.  I slept pretty well that night; Sue didn’t get in until almost midnight, but after chatting a few minutes when she came in (since we’d never met), I went back to sleep.  I didn’t have my usual problems sleeping, and I think it was because there were three of us, there were multiple alarms set, and I also figures that someone would call one of us if we didn’t show up around our planned time, which was an hour and a half before the race start.

The course is a .9-mile certified loop right by the lake.  The path is wide, which is nice, but it’s paved, which isn’t so nice.  There was very little elevation change, but I was very aware of where the slight uphill and downhill sections were.  There were tents and aid stations set up all along the side by the timing mat.  Our aid station was the largest and best by far.  We had everything imaginable to eat/drink and medical-wise.  Our crew, headed by Laura, was totally awesome.

At 9am, after some very short remarks and Susan singing the national anthem, we were off.  A bunch of us decided to walk the first loop.  After that, I started running; I ran the downhills and flats, and I walked the uphills (although they didn’t seem very noticeable at all at the beginning).  By the three-hour mark, I was just under 15 miles.  Over the next few miles, I developed an ache on the inside of my left knee.  I didn’t really want to waste time to get it looked at, but after deliberating, I stopped in at around mile 19 (4 hours).  The people there were extremely knowledgeable, and although I had low expectations for what they would do, particularly for a non-USATF member who was nowhere on the rankings.  However, a few of them discussed it, asked lots of questions, and poked and prodded a bit.  I felt better after that.  However, over the next hour, while my knee pain went away, I developed tenderness in my left Achilles, which I’ve never had before.  I was stretched, prodded, massaged, and iced a bit.  Also, while I was there, an older man, who had been in the race (walking at an extremely slow pace), came up and said he wanted to to a “tune-up” on me because he noticed I was leaning as I ran.  He did some stuff to my back, I heard a few pops, and I felt incredibly renewed.  Little did I know that he was in charge of the medical team there, and his name is Dr. Lovy, ultramarathoner and world renowned sports physician.  Wow!  Anyway, I was told to come back if it didn’t feel better in a few laps.

I continued to walk and run.  I ran when I felt like it and walked when I felt like it.  This seemed to work well.  It was also partially dictated by who happened to be around me on the course at the time.  At times, early on, if someone I knew was passing me, I may speed up for a half mile or so to chat a bit; I also didn’t have a problem walking a bit to talk to someone else.  I loved seeing everyone repeatedly, even if it was typically only when they blew past me.

There was a lady I came upon at one point with flowers in her hair, and from the back, she looked like someone who I’d just seen a photo of in Ultrarunning magazine on the airline flight to Cleveland.  When I looked back at her, I noticed it was her.  I mentioned it to her, and she nonchalantly said, “Oh, yeah, that must have been Western States,” which is a 100-miler.  A few laps later, she was quite a bit faster than me the majority of the time, we ran together for a lap and talked.  From then on, whenever she saw me, she always said hi and had something encouraging to say.  Even when I put on layers (I never actually changed clothes, except shoes once at the guidance of the med people), she still recognized me from behind.

My Achilles issue seemed to be getting worse, so I stopped in again, for the third time, about 2 hours after the initial time (and an hour after the previous time).  This time, I ended up getting a heel lift put into my left shoe to help.  From then on, I opted to ice my Achilles for 5 minutes each hour.  I felt like I was wasting time a bit, but I also saw it as an investment.  Once of the med students even came out onto the course one time to ask me as I went by how I was doing; now that’s service!

As time went on, I continued to run, walk, and chat with lots of people.  I also discovered the wonderful world of aid station food: pizza, ramen noodles, potato soup, hotdogs, rice, mashed potatoes, etc.  Yummy!

My miles were getting slower as my right ankle began to hurt, in addition to my Achilles.  I really didn’t want to go back to the medical people again, but around mile 39, I decided to do it.  This time, a heel lift was also put in my right shoe, and the med team spoke in foreign terms about what was going on with my ankles.  I was then sent on my way, after more poking and prodding and massage/pressure.  I was told to come back in 2 loops.  It took me a few minutes for my muscled to warm back up, but I felt better and even began running again, which I hadn’t been doing.  After two laps, I did stop by the med area again, but only long enough to say that whatever they’d done had worked and that I felt better and didn’t want to try to fix what no longer seemed broken.  It was around this time that I got a second wind.  I was excited to feel better again be able to run.

As the night wore on, the north side of the lake got increasingly colder.  All of my previous pains from the night gradually came back too along with feeling of blisters that made me not even want to take off my shoes to look.  I had resorted to solely walking, and very slow walking at that, as in 25-minute miles!  Something kind of funny happened in the middle of the night.  My husband called me to say goodnight (ha!), and I realized how much effort it took just to hold the phone to my ear.  I tried to tell him I was almost at 45 mile, but he was silent, and when I asked if he’s heard me, he admitted he hadn’t been listening.  I was frustrated, not necessarily directly at him but at the whole situation, so I repeated myself in a louder more direct tone.  Then, a guy walking right next to me, who I never met and whose name I don’t even know told me to give him the phone.  I hesitated and then gave it to him.  He then said very clearly into the phone, “She said she is almost at 45 miles.  This is extremely important and you need to listen.  She’s doing great and still smiling.  You should be thankful to have her in your life.  Here’s your wife back.” And he handed the phone back to me; the mystery man and I never spoke again.  Wow.

One of the weirdest things I experienced happened so fast I didn’t even have time to react to it.  At one point, I’d seen a rat or something scurry across the path near the main aid station and didn’t think anything of it.  Then a few laps later, I feel a sensation like something is trying to latch on to my cloth calf sleeve.  I look down just in time to see this ball of fur scurry back down my leg and disappear into the shadows.  Interesting…  I took it as a sign I was moving way too slow, haha.

Later on, I ran into Susan who was slowing down too and just wanted to do a couple more laps to get over 65 miles.  I was about 10 miles behind her but was happy to have some company.  As it got cooler, people left the course to to to their tents/hotel rooms/etc.  After two laps with her, I ended up coming across Lori who was unsure she’d be able to get the last couple laps to get her to her goal of 60 loops.  I never doubted she had the ability to meet that.  Two more laps sounded about right to me too, as that’d push me over 60 miles; my previous distance PR (which I got during a 12-hour race) was 51.88 miles.  We sat for a while, then went for a slow loop, sat for a while, and then did our “final” one.  At that point, my body wasn’t feeling good, and I opted not to go back to the med team as I viewed my current issues as “normal wear and tear” after going that distance.  Also, by that time, people who were actually in contention for national championship titles were coming down with issues, and I didn’t want to take anything away from them.

Some people mentioned maybe going out for another lap once the sun came up, but at that point in time, I had no goal of doing that.  I opted to try to get some sleep as it was then 4:30am.  I could have maybe kept going, but it just didn’t seem like the 25-minute miles I was painfully putting in were worth much, and I didn’t want to seriously hurt myself.

I tried to curl up in a lawn chair with my arms tucked in an oversized sweatshirt Jenny had lent to me prior to the race.  I think I dozed off a bit, but it wasn’t good sleep.  When I heard rustling around once the sun came up, I could hear people talking about doing a “victory lap.”  At that point, I was unsure I was even going to be able to unfold myself from the chair.

I got out of the chair and took a few steps.  Surprisingly, I felt quite alright!  There was just under an hour and a half left in the race.  After transitioning from a slow walk to a brisker one, I decided to try running, and I found out that running didn’t feel any worse!  From there, I had a ton of energy and I wanted to get in as many miles as I could in the remaining time.  As it turned out, I fit in just over 6 miles in.  The last .72-mile segment (my partial lap) was done in 8:25, which is a “blazing” 11:41-minute/mile pace (my Garmin was long dead by then)!  Of course, as soon as I stopped running, my body resorted to feeling broken.  But I was so excited!  My final distance was 66.48 miles, and I had shared the experience with so many other people.

To all of the other runners from here who I met, thank you for your support and positive attitude.  You all are amazing people.  And to everyone on the crew, thank you for going above and beyond, not sitting there passively, but actively ensuring that everyone was taken care of.  Also, thanks to all the local people, runners/crew/families, who took time out of their own schedules to make things a bit easier (i.e. travel-wise) around Cleveland.  And of course I’m grateful for all of the people “stalking” us online and sending positive vibes our way.  I was overwhelmed by all of the compassion and generosity I experienced this weekend.

Jenny took tons of photos.  She has a way of showing people’s character in the photos she takes.  She has a true gift.  Here are a few of my favorite pics from the event:

Before the race:
1

Our aid station:
2  3

During the race (with Eddie):
4

Crazy hair:
5

One of my favorite race pics ever, courtesy of Jenny.
6

“Intermission”:
8

66.48 miles in the books!:
9

Dinner after the race
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Bonus photo
I’m sure there are much worse, but this is the double blister I discovered between my big and second toe.  It hurt.
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Yesterday when I woke up, my left knee was hurting a lot and my right ankle was swollen but didn’t hurt.  However, I was constantly moving around from the time I got back last night through today (no sleep since I left Cleveland) I was readying my apartment for the overs to come.  After rushing up and down the stairs on multiple occasions, I remembered I was supposed to be hurt.  Right now, I feel almost back to normal.  My knee is a little stiff at times, but the rest of me in fine, and my blisters have somehow began to resorb back into the skin.  All is good!

Katrina