Tuesday, June 15, 2010

FANS 24 Hour Race Report

Sorry this is so late, but sometimes work and other stuff gets in the way.

I flew up to Minnesota on Wednesday the 2nd to spend some time with my folks and celebrate my brother's 49th birthday. I also managed some carbo loading and ran around the lake every day I was there. My folks, both in their 80s, are still very active and walk a couple of miles almost every day on the path that goes around the lake.

On race morning, my alarm went off at 3 AM, I got myself ready and drove to my brother's place and he drove the 2 hour drive to Minneapolis. I relaxed in the back seat, sort of dozing, but mostly just keeping my legs up. We got to Lake Nokomis a little after 6 AM, time enough to get a good spot to set up the tent, get our supplies out, and get signed in and weighed in. I had a chance to see Andy from the Darkside Running Club and we had our picture taken. My sister-in-law, Mary, was going to crew both my brother and me. I've never had a crew before, and let me tell you, it is great! Kind of like the difference between staying at a Motel 6 and staying at a 5 star resort.

We started out with a 1.6 mile out and back and then started the 2.4 mile loops. The temperature wasn't too hot, but it was a little humid, and I was already sweating after the first couple of miles. I kept an eye on my heart rate, and it got up to about 145 the first hour or so, but then settled down to an average of about 140. It didn't take long for the drizzle and rain to start and that was pretty steady until the end of the 12 hour race. The rain didn't really bother me too much, in fact it seemed to keep things cool and also kept the bugs away.

I really enjoyed this race especially during the day. As I've said before, my brother was running the 12 hour race and doing very well. He lapped my about every 1.5 to 2 laps and we exchanged a couple of words of encouragement and a high five each time. It was also great having Mary, my nephew Travis, and my brother's friend Ryan crew for me. I didn't have to stop to refill water and Gatorade bottles, they had full ones waiting for me after each lap. They were also ready with special requests such as food choices, dry socks, etc. My 50 mile split was 12 minutes faster than my 50 mile finish at Umstead in March, and that time difference is 100% attributable to having a crew.

I also enjoyed chatting off and on with people and offering words of encouragement to the front runners as they lapped me. I was impressed with a couple from Belgium and a guy from The Netherlands who had entered the 24 hour walk. I would pass them when I was running, but when I slowed to take a walk break, they walked by me like I was standing still. All three of them ended up with over 100 miles! Another guy I exchanged words with now and then was Tom. Apparently he has done this event several times, but had recently injured himself. Not to be deterred, he was completing the event on crutches! His initial goal was to complete a marathon, but when he reached that, he changed his goal to a 50K. He ended up with 32.59 miles.

Just prior to 12 hours the rain stopped, so I took that opportunity to go up to the community center to dry off and do a complete change of clothes. I got back down to the course just as the 12 hour runners were finishing up. My brother did an outstanding job and finished in second place with an amazing 83.69 miles. When I had originally set my goal of beating my brother, I was thinking he would beat his previous best of 71 miles, perhaps even do 78 miles. But the overachiever had to set the bar high, I had my work cut out for me.

A couple of hours later my stomach started acting wonky. I could still eat and drink but just didn't feel 100%. About this time the sun was setting, so I made the decision to walk through the night. I had already sort of planned on doing that, but now it was certain. I walked off and on with several people and that passed the time and made the laps go by faster. It was taking me about 50 minutes to do 2.4 miles and that included aid station and porta-potti stops.

My brother came back out to the course later that evening to relieve Mary and to finish out the night crewing for me. He did set the bar high, but now he was going to help me beat him. Things were continuing to go well, but at around 2 AM and 70 miles or so, I had to make a stop at the Med Tent. I had a blister forming on the ball of my left foot. When I first noticed it, I tried to drain it myself and change socks, but it seemed to get worse on the next lap. The doctors took care of me and sent me on my way. One of the doctors, Dr Dave, had run 66.62 miles during the 12 hour run, and then stayed up all night keeping his fellow runners on their feet.

There was another volunteer at the aid station that I have to mention. Mike Henze worked the entire 24 hours. In case you don't know, he was on the United States 24 Hour Team that competed at the World Championship last month and took third place. At around 3 AM I had the #12 dude in THE WORLD make me a custom peanut butter sandwich. I don't think there is another sport out there where back of the packers like me can mingle and share experiences with world class athletes in their sport.

Around sunrise, I caught up to Kelly, another Darkside runner. We ended up walking the last two laps together, and on the last lap we were joined by my brother and her husband. During the last couple of laps, blisters had been forming on the ball of my right foot. So I stopped at the Med Tent again to have Dr Dave work on my feet.

By this time we were in the last hour and they opened up the 220 yard out and back section. Now we could see everyone who was competing. I exchanged fist bumps with Zach Gingerich (he ran an unbelievable 13:23 100 miler at Umstead in March) who was hobbling almost as badly as I was. He had the race won with a 10+ mile lead over his nearest competitor, yet he was out there with everyone else sharing smiles and grimaces.

After the end of the race, there was a breakfast up at the community center. When I say up, I mean it was on a small rise, maybe 30 feet high. I actually had my sister-in-law drive me up there because my legs were toasted. (don't know how I'm going to handle the stairs the Burning River course has in the final miles!) My brother collected his second place award, and after sitting awhile I had to put my legs up. They weren't exactly cramping up, but they felt weird and sitting wasn't doing them any good. After the awards were given out, my brother drove me to the hotel where I took a shower, then laid in bed most of the day with my feet and legs propped on about six pillows. I did manage to hobble to the phone and order a pizza, but that was about all I could handle.

I flew back the next day and was moving slowly, but when I got home I did manage a 3 mile walk with little one minute "shuffles" mixed in.

Now, after a week, I am fully recovered and back to my normal running schedule, in fact, yesterday I ran 15 miles with a heat index of 105 by the end of my run.

Finally I'd like to finish with a couple of lessons I learned. Remove your fuel belt before spraying bug spray all over yourself. Ginger chews are lifesavers for your stomach. Do not do math in your head after being on your feet for 22 hours.

Well, looks like all systems go for the Burning River 100. I'm excited because this week I get to do a 22 mile training run on the actual course.

Now last of all some pictures from the race.

Awesome Crew Chief Mary, Super Speedy John, and Me

A picture of me with Andy, this dude had done Badwater, Comrades, and numerous other bad-ass ultras.

Kelly and me at the summit of Mt Nokomis.

All smiles at the start!

Hobbling at the finish. I've just been passed by Tom the Crutches Dude.

Trying to ease the pain in my legs.

The smile of the victorious sister :)


dennicapearl said...

wow, amazing entry!
thank you for being a strong inspirational person

La Historiadora de Moda said...

I just came across your blog via frayedlaces. You are so inspiring!

Sassy Molassy said...

Whew, This is impressive! Way to go. I couldn't make it 85 miles.

Beth said...

Wow, so cool!!! Love the tips you posted (the taste of bug spray is just nasty) and the pictures are AWESOME!! You're gonna do great at Burning River!