Saturday, July 12, 2014

Midnight 5K and Week 2 Wrap Up


Ever ask yourself, "Self, what the hell are you doing?" Those were my thoughts last night. "HaeWon, what the hell are you doing driving to Seymour in the middle of the night." I was driving there to run a 5K at midnight. My speed work for the week. If I didn't run the 5K, I'd have to run some speed work on my own this morning. Bed was sounding pretty good at 11 pm but the thought of having to run hard by myself in the morning made me go to Seymour. Besides, it turned out to be a very pleasant summer night, full moon and not too much humidity.

There were like a bazillion kids when I showed up at the Seymour High School football stadium. The run was to benefit the Seymour High School cross country team. The Seymour Owls. Maybe that's why it's a midnight run? I found my group of Crossroads runners and commented that I was about to get smoked by a bunch of high school kids. I actually felt pretty good though. My goal was to run under 25:00 and try to get my average pace down under 8:00 again.

The start was jam packed with kids. For a minute it felt like I was in a corral at the Mini-Marathon, it was that crowded. Gun went off and the kids took off. It was really dark. Too dark to see my watch for most of the run. My first mile felt 7:30-ish. My second mile didn't feel too bad but I felt pretty comfortable too so I was worried I was running too slow. The good thing about having all those kids blast out in front of me was that it gave me something to do... as in picking them off one by one. I was pretty sure my second mile was under 8:00 too but I was getting tired. The race was run through downtown Seymour. I had no idea where I was going. We kept turning block after block so I got really turned around direction-wise and just kept following the kids in front of me. Somewhere in the second mile Jane, who runs in the age-group below me, caught up with me. She's a bit faster than me so my goal at that point was to just stay with her as long as I could... to the next corner, the next street, the next sidewalk... where the heck are the stadium lights?!! Surely we're close to done by now. Finally, the stadium came into view and I let Jane go. Too tired to kick at this point but just trying to maintain my pace. I thought I'd run under 25:00 as long as I maintained my pace.

Here's what the Garmin ended up showing...

several of us thought the course was long...

Mile 1 - 7:35
Mile 2 - 7:46
Mile 3 - 7:55
last 0.1 - 1:21

Official time - 24:37 (7:55 pace)
Finished 74 of 237 Overall.
For the record, I got beat by 52 kids between the ages of 12-15. Fast little stinkers!
18th out of 121 in the women's race and won the 45-49 age group (1 of 9)


I didn't get home til 2:30 am but I was happy with my run and I got to sleep in this morning.



So this is how the week ended up...

Sunday - 10 miles
Monday - 6 miles
Tuesday - 12 miles
Wednesday - 3 miles (I cut it a mile short, it was pretty ugly)
Thursday - rest
Friday - 5 miles (5K + 1 mile warm up and 1 mile warm down)
Saturday - rest

Week 2 Total Miles: 36

I have more work days plus travel next week and no races so we'll see if I can keep up this pace in Week 3. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Training... on a Wing and a Prayer



So... Monumental Marathon training started last week... sorta...

Last week was Week 1 of 18. I am doing my own thing this time, winging it on my own. I'm basing the training program off of Hal Higdon's Intermediate 2 program that I've used for my last 2 marathons but I'm ramping it up a bit since, my problem has been, I crash in the last 8 miles or so. I'm sticking with the concept of doing a hard pace run that is about half the distance of your long run the day before the long run and doing another run the same distance as the pace run but not as hard, but I'm playing around with the distances.

That being said, Week 1 was pretty much not a training week...

Sunday - 20 miles. Not exactly running as it was Western States, but I did cover 20 miles of terrain
               after being up for, oh, 44 hours...
Monday - Took all day to fly home.
Tuesday - Got caught up at home and got a massage.
Wednesday - Worked all day then ran kids around all evening.
Thursday - Worked all day then was too trashed to do anything else.
Friday - Got up at 6 am to run a 5K.

Sparkler Sprint 5K

Mile 1 - 7:25
Mile 2 - 8:29
Mile 3 - 8:21
last 0.1 - 1:06

Official time - 25:21 (8:09 pace)

So this ends up being the third 5K I've done recently with pretty much no running in between. I've kept my times pretty consistent (25:49, 25:32, 25:21) so I guess I can't complain. This time around, the morning was perfect! Nice and cool. My legs felt good. I blasted through my first mile... then my body decided it was done for the morning. Plus, the turn around wasn't marked. I went down the path that everyone was coming back on only to find them yelling at me to turn around. Most of us, me included, ended up running more than 3.1 miles. After that incident, I was really done. I wanted to just jog it in. I did do a 2 mile cool down so 5 miles total for the day.

Saturday - Slept in, then worked til midnight so no running.

Week 1 Total Miles: 25

So now it's Week 2.

Sunday - Got up at 5 am to meet my friend Bob at Morgan Monroe Forest for a 10 mile trail run. He's training for a 50 mile ultra so he stayed and ran 10 more. I went home and went back to bed until noon since I am NOT a morning person!

Monday - G is doing a dance intensive up in Carmel all week so I arranged my schedule to be off all week to drive her. Dropped her off at 9 am and hit the Monon Trail. I love running on this "trail" (it's actually paved.) It was threatening rain when I started, then started raining 2 miles in but it wasn't a hard rain so it actually felt good. Plan was to do 6 pace miles but my legs wouldn't cooperate after my trail run the day before so I ended up averaging 9:36 pace for 6 miles.

Today - Thunder, lightening, and a monsoon woke me up at 5 am. It stopped for awhile, but by the time I got up to Carmel it was a monsoon again. I had 12 on the schedule for today so I decided I'd hamster track it at the fitness center in Greenwood. I started driving back when the sun came out. It was blue skies and dry pavement by the time I got home so I ran my 12 on the county road instead. It was freakin' hot!!

So, 28 miles in 3 days. I have 4 planned for tomorrow, then another 5K with 2 mile cool down for Friday. That should put me at 37 miles for the week. Hal Higdon's Intermediate 2 plan doesn't hit that kind of mileage until Week 7 so I'm being more aggressive on the mileage. I also know I'm breaking all the rules about ramping up your mileage but I've run this mileage before... but yes, I'm also praying I don't blow my legs out.

So this is what I've decided to do differently this training cycle...

1. Wear a watch on more of my runs so I push the pace a little more
2. Do longer long runs - I have three 20's, a 24, and a 26 on the schedule
3. Pay more attention to my nutrition
4. Do more strength training

I am going to continue racing the 5K's to get some forced speed sessions on the schedule in addition to my pace runs. I've found that they are a pretty good indicator of my fitness level. Since I haven't been on a training program since April, my 5K times are almost two and a half minutes slower than what I was running in the Spring. Hopefully those times will drop again once my training cycle ramps up.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Western States Days 6 and 7 - The Race

So Friday night, I couldn't sleep...

John and I had gone out to dinner with his friend David (who is running the race too), Lauren (David's girlfriend and an ultrarunner), and Rich (David's pacer and John's coach) on Friday night. I noticed then that I couldn't keep my hands from trembling. Everytime I picked up a utensil, glass, or piece of food my hand started shaking almost uncontrollably and I got real self conscious and sat through most of the meal with them clasped in my lap.

I went to bed at 10 pm. Wake up call set for 3:30 am. I then spent the next 5 and a half hours tossing and turning, quaking inside, feeling like I was going to throw up at times. It was ridiculous. All I could think about was the 101 things that could go wrong, parking at the aid stations, what we packed and still had to pack, etc., etc. Finally, at 3:30 I got out of bed to shower with this feeling of impending doom that I was totally screwed since I now had to go 20 miles tomorrow morning without any sleep.

JC and I met John at 4:15 am for runner check in.

John's "before" picture
4:15 am with JC
 
John's wife and kid's met us for the 5 am start and the runners were off! Most of them walked up the Escarpment at a brisk deliberate pace. Most of the runners will walk the big uphills in this race. We watched the mass of 400 slowly make their way up the slope, then went back to John's condo to finish packing his car.
 
JC and I then drove to Auburn and left my car at Placer High School. Then we went to the grocery store. At the crew meeting, we had been advised to buy our food, ice, and gas for the day before proceeding to the first aid station.
 
Next stop - Robinson Flat Aid Station at mile 29.7.
This is the first big aid station that crews can access. Since all the crews get there at the same time, it's a zoo. We were actually suppose to park in a parking area and a shuttle bus was to take us to the station itself. However, by the time JC and I got there, the entire parking area was full. We were told that they were going to let 10 vehicles follow the shuttle bus down to the aid station itself. We were car #7. Sweet!
 
John felt that, best case scenario, he would get there no earlier than 11 am. We got there at 9:30 am and saw some of the leaders run through.
 
Emily Harrison came through as the leader of the women's race
She was 7th last year; unfortunately she later had to drop out at mile 62
 
I really don't have more pictures from the race after that because it just got too crazy. The crews need to set up as close to the course as possible so their runner can just grab what they need and go or, take a quick sit down break and eat and drink while their crews change their shoes and socks, do any blister care, and soak them down with cold water. Watching some of the crews, it was like watching a NASCAR pit stop.
 
Since everyone was at Robinson Flat, we initially did not have a spot by the road. As runners came through and their crews finished and moved on to the next aid station, more spots opened up along the road and JC and I eventually ended up where Emily Harrison's crew had been. Then, we waited... and waited... and waited.
 
11 am became 12 pm. Then 12:30 pm. I started getting worried. John's Achilles had really been bothering him and he had really been limping on Thursday after our Escarpment climb on Wednesday. This morning he said he felt better but had considered Thursday that he might not be able to run today.
 
All of the aid stations have a cut off time. If your runner does not leave the station by that time, they will be pulled from the race and cannot finish. There is a 30 hour time limit for the whole race. All the aid stations also list the 24 and 30 hour times for that aid station. In the beginning, the 30 hour time and the final cut off time at the aid stations vary about an hour, however, as the race progresses, the 30 hour time and the cut off time get closer and closer together until the 30 hour and final cut times are the same at the finish.
 
The 30 hour time for Robinson Flat was 12:55 pm. Final cut off time 1:50 pm. John finally showed up at 12:44. When a runner first arrives, they have to go through medical and get weighed, then they can get any food or drinks that the aid station offers, then go out to see their crews to get whatever else they need. John was starting to get a big blister on his right heel so we yanked off his shoes and socks to get moleskin over the blister and change his footwear. I felt like I was all thumbs, couldn't find a towel to get his feet dry. As a side note, if you ever consider crewing for someone, make sure you are good enough friends with them that you have no qualms taking off gross sweaty dirty clothing to clean off wet dirty body parts (like between their toes) while they sit around and groan.
 
We finally got John out of Robinson Flat at 12:59. We were going to race the clock the whole race.
 
The next aid station we were meeting him at was Michigan Bluff, mile 55.7. Based on his pace, we guesstimated he would be there at 8 pm at the earliest. We had 7 hours to kill.
 
Most of the Western States Trail is out in the mountains, in the middle of nowhere. There is basically no cell phone signal. I was able to get one bar at one gas station in Foresthill, but pretty much nothing else for 2 days. Some of the aid stations are only accessible by foot. At those stations, the workers hike in the night before and crews cannot access the stations. There is a ham radio operator at some of the stations. For the remote stations, someone will hike out with a results update as runners come through and get them to a ham radio operator who can then radio to have someone enter them online. Due to these facts, the online results can often be behind by several hours. Most of us could not even access the online tracking because hardly anyone had a phone signal. All you could do is guess what time your runner was going to show up based on how they looked at the previous station and whatever else you heard from the other crews.
 
I tried to sleep in those 7 hours but couldn't. Foresthill was the only small town nearby and JC could get a descent signal on his phone there so we decided to spend most of our time in Foresthill and start driving down to Michigan Bluff at 6 pm. We had pizza and JC stayed inside the restaurant to watch the World Cup games and I tried to sleep in the car. It was hot. I couldn't get comfortable. My heart was still pounding out of my chest.
 
Finally, we drove down to Michigan Bluff and got there just before 7. Michigan Bluff also had a parking area a half mile from the aid stations with a shuttle bus. As we pulled up, the volunteers there told us the shuttles were stopping at 7 pm. After that, we would have to walk down but could drive down to pick up our stuff at the end. We were just getting off the shuttle when I ran into Lauren, walking David through the aid station. She said that John was still right on the 30 hour cut off time. She also said that if he got to this station after 8 pm, I could start pacing him from here. Runners cannot have pacers before mile 62. However, there is an exception that says if they get to Michigan Bluff after 8 pm, they can get paced from there.
 
Mike, John's other pacer, was meeting us at Foresthill (the next aid station). We had no cell signal to tell him to come to Michigan Bluff. We were pretty sure John was going to get here after 8. I had predicted 8:30 pm. The 30 hour time for Michigan Bluff is 8:50 pm. I was already dressed in running clothes but had my pacer bib, fuel belt, headlamp, and hat packed in a separate bag for later in the night. I ran up to the car and got it. Once the shuttles stopped, we saw that the other crews were just getting their cars and driving them down to the aid station, and since JC would be alone to pack the car if I left, he went to go get the car.
 
Then John showed up... at 8:03. JC was still gone getting the car. I got John what he needed and was getting my fuel belt on, trying to figure out how to tell JC we were gone, when JC pulled up with the car. We left Michigan Bluff at 8:10, 40 minutes under the 30 hour cut off.
 
John had made up some time, however he had a big climb out of El Dorado Creek to Michigan Bluff that really winded him and he was slowing back down.
 
climb out of El Dorado Creek
 
I just needed to keep him moving. We had to get in and out of Volcano Canyon and it was getting dark. Due to his Achilles, and now a ginormous blister, he was doing a walk/jog/shuffle. We could aggressively walk the uphills and try to jog the downhills. Ironically, he had difficulty running the flats due to the Achilles. I walked ahead of him when the trail widened and tried to get him to keep up until he protested. "I don't want to pass out" was a sign to stop and slow down. I let him lead all the single track areas so he could choose when to walk and when to run.
 
 
We went 6.3 miles and pulled into Foresthill at 10:02 pm. John had family and friends meeting him there but the exchanges were quick. Mike took over pacing and they rolled out at 10:09, 36 minutes under the 30 hour cut off.
 
I then drove us to Greengate, our most remote aid station. This is the one John and I had driven out to on Monday. Problem was, now it was pitch black outside and I couldn't see all the landmarks I had picked out when we drove on Monday. After two wrong turns we got there.
 
Greengate on Monday night
 
 
Running the 6 miles with John really helped burn off some energy and I felt more settled after that... or I was just finally totally exhausted and knew Mike was running with John. We found parking by the side of the road by midnight and decided to try and sleep in the car again til 2 am. I think I finally fell asleep because I remember waking up when JC's alarm went off at 2 am.
 
This time, since we had to hike 1.25 miles down to Greengate, then JC had to hike another 1.5 miles down to the river crossing, we tried to minimize what we brought. I had been using a chart in the Western States Guide for the cut off times and had planned to write the ones I needed on my hand but forgot. I did know that the last several aid stations had the same cut off time and 9:20 seemed to stick in my head as a final cut off time.
 
John got to Greengate at 3:48 am and I was really pleased. We pulled out at the same time since he had already changed clothes after the river crossing. We were 1:07 under but he was really tired (OK, we were both really tired). Greengate is mile 79.8. 20.4 miles to go (Western States is really 100.2 miles)
 
We made it to Auburn Lakes Trails at mile 85.2 by 5:26. Still 1:04 under. Then it got a bit ugly for me... I started getting lightheaded, my stomach was grumbling, my eyes started glazing over. It was still dark and you had to concentrate on every step you were taking on the trail... I thought it would be really bad if the pacer passed out 10 miles into her run.
 
We made it to Brown's Bar, mile 89.9, by 6:51 am. 59 minutes under. I took a bathroom break, ate a GU and some Gatorade chews, got some water, then felt much better. Phew!!
 
Then things got real ugly for John. He was slowing down. Each step was an effort. I still wanted to try to have him run some stretches but he would start sluffing his feet and I was afraid he would trip and fall so fast walking was safer. The sun had come up but we were still in the woods. I wanted to keep trying to make descent time before it got too hot. We talked, we sang, I tried to tell him every story he hadn't heard before... anything to keep his mind occupied while walking ahead of him.
 
We finally got to Highway 49, mile 93.5, at 8:04 am and pulled out at 8:09 am. The sign there said the 30 hour time was 9:00 am and the final cut off was 9:20 am. For some reason I had it stuck in my head that the final cut off time for the next aid station at No Hands Bridge was also 9:20 am.
 
It's only 3.3 miles between Highway 49 and No Hands Bridge. However, there is a climb out of Highway 49 then a quad burning descent down to the bridge. After 93.5 miles the body just doesn't want to move anymore. It took over an hour to get to No Hands Bridge. I was in full panic mode. I thought we would never get to the bridge! I just wanted to put a rope around John and pull him along because the pace was really slowing down at an alarming rate. Plus, my sleep deprived brain was convinced we had to get there by 9:20 am. Apparently sleep deprived brains can't do runner math very well.
 
We got to No Hands Bridge, mile 96.8, at 9:10 am. I looked at the chart at the aid station and realized I was wrong about the cut off times. 30 hour time was 9:55 am and final cut off was 11 am. As long as John kept moving, we were going to make it!
 
After No Hands Bridge, there is another painful climb up to Robie Point. By now the sun was overhead and we had no shade. I had started with a long sleeve shirt at night but decided to keep it on to keep my shoulders covered. Other than being hot, I felt fine otherwise. However, it was really painful to keep John moving and see how much pain he was in. We had pretty much run out of things to talk about at this point and it was down to short comments like "just keep moving and we'll make it" and "almost there" countered by "it would be bad if I passed out!"
 
Robie Point, mile 98.9, at 9:58 am. We have 62 minutes to go 1.3 miles. How hard could that be? We were now in a residential area leading to the high school. Families were out in their lawn chairs cheering us on. It was all uphill...
 
Finally, someone says, "Turn that corner and you will see the most beautiful track in the entire world," and we see the Placer High School track. We get on the track and start walking. John's wife and kids see us and run out to walk with us and take pictures but John keeps yelling at them to go to the finish line. There is a split down the final straightaway so the pacers go one way and the runners finish alone so all the photographers can get the finish line picture. I ran to the finish to see it and cheer. The runners get routed straight to medical after that, then released to family. John hugs his wife and starts bawling. Lauren grabs me and I start crying too. I've never been so happy and relieved! I cannot even begin to tell everyone how stressed out I had been for over 48 hours.
 
the "after" picture
Final time - 29:27:00
 
 
For those that know me, you know that I came out here to Western States to finish what I started. It's finished now. John, me, his wife... we all agree.


Friday, June 27, 2014

Western States Days 4 and 5 - This is getting REAL!

Yesterday was the calm before the storm. We woke up to rain and 40 degree temps and were really glad we had made the trek up to the Escarpment the day before. I finally got to sleep in!

The morning was spent watching the USA vs. Germany World Cup match then driving into Truckee to pick up last minute supplies - extra batteries, towel, sponge, ziplock bags, and more food. John's friend JC and his family got into town. JC is going to help crew with me. The three of us then went to a Crew Meeting at 2 pm and a Trail Meeting at 3:30 pm.

This is our plan for Saturday...

 
1. We'll see John off at the start at 5 am
 
2. We'll take 2 cars to the finish line at Placer High School in Auburn and leave my car there
 
3. JC and I will then drive to the mile 29.7 aid station at Robinson Flat and wait for John there
 
4. We'll then drive to the mile 55.7 aid station at Michigan Bluff
 
5. We'll then drive to the mile 62 aid station at Foresthill
 
6. John's other pacer Mike will meet us at Foresthill and start running with him there; John's family will try to meet us there too. You are only allowed one crew vehicle at all of the aid stations except this one so, from my understanding, Foresthill is a big party.
 
7. JC and I will then drive to the mile 79.8 aid station at Greengate. We actually have to park our car and walk 1.25 miles down to the aid station. I will stay at Greengate and JC will walk another 1.5 miles down to the aid station at Rucky Chucky Far. Rucky Chucky is the major river crossing. JC will have dry clothes, shoes and socks for John and Mike after they cross the river. The 3 of them will then run up to Greengate. John and I will then run to the finish at Placer High School. JC will drive Mike back to the Foresthill aid station to get his car, then the two of them will meet us at the finish line. Depending on the time, John's family may be at the finish line too.
 
There is a 30 hour time limit for this race. A 24 hour runner will get to Greengate by 11:20 pm. A 30 hour runner will get there at 4:55 am. I expect John to be somewhere in between. We'll have a better idea as the day goes on. You can track the race live HERE.
 
After our meetings, John's family got into town so all of us went out for dinner then retired to our rooms to try and get a good night's sleep.
 
Today, I met John at 9 am for runner check in.
 
 
This is where all the runners got weighed, got their medical bracelets, photos for the website, and their swag bags. They will get their official race numbers when they check in again tomorrow morning. I think the average BMI in the room was about 15...
 
Race Expo
 
 
Next stop was to drop off John's drop bags. They hold supplies for some of the aid stations that the crew either cannot access or will not be at. Some runners actually run this without a crew!
 

 
 
We then went and picked up John's family and drove into Truckee for brunch. We ate at a local restaurant called the Squeeze Inn. It was actually featured on an episode of "Throwdown with Bobby Flay." HERE is the Throwdown episode if anyone is interested.
 
Squeezing in at the Squeeze Inn
 
I went to get my pacer number after brunch.
 

 
This is getting REAL!
 
We then went to a final Runner Meeting at 1:30 pm. This was mandatory for all the runners so everyone was there. We got some final comments by all the various directors and the top 10 men and women runners plus some of the other top contenders were introduced. The conference room was standing room only (luckily we had a seat but I was too far back to take pictures). The ENERGY in that room was unbelievable. It was a bit surreal being there.
 
This is the starting line for tomorrow morning.
Under it is the countdown clock to race time.
 
This is a view of the Escarpment that we climbed on Wednesday.
 
After the runner meeting John and I packed everything for tomorrow and put most of it in his car. We then met some other runners for an early dinner. Now we're back in our respective rooms trying to get some rest. I'm meeting him at 4:15 am for the final runner check in. The gun goes off at 5 am.
 

Let's DO this!!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Western States Day 3


This was our plan for the morning... get up and down the Escarpment before our conference started at 8 am. In order to do this, we simulated the race start at 5 am and took off up the trail with our headlamps on.

 
Halfway up and the sun is coming up over the mountains.


Getting pretty close. Sun is up and I think we are both slap happy.

 
Made it to the top! We actually went up to the Escarpment and then onto Watson's Monument which is at 8713 feet - the highest point of the race.
 
 
It was a heart thumping breath sucking trek to the top but it really gave us a lot of confidence for the race on Saturday. 7 miles total for the morning, then it was conference time.
 
 

 
Today's lectures included talks from the Medical Director of Western States as well as Medical Directors from several other Ultra-Marathons. They were mostly the "this was my experience" kind of talks. Just fun to listen to with some interesting factoids...
 
*In 1974, Western States was the only 100 mile ultra-marathon in the US. This year, there are 126 100 mile ultra-marathons.
 
*The total number of 100 mile ultra-marathon finishers last year was about 40,000. To put that in perspective, the field limit for the Chicago marathon this year is 45,000.
 
*Knee injuries are the most common ultra-marathon injuries, followed by Achilles injuries.
 
Most of the other factoids were medical cases so I'll skip those.
 
After the conference, John and I decided to drive to South Lake Tahoe for dinner. Squaw Valley is at the north end of Lake Tahoe so we took a nice scenic drive around the lake.
 
 
 
The views here are absolutely breathtaking!
 
Now it's off to foam roll my butt and get some sleep. The closing remarks from the Medical Director at our conference today was for all the crews to get as much sleep as we can these next few nights.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Western States Days 1 and 2

I'm finally here at Western States! For those of you that are not familiar with Western States, the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run is the granddaddy of US ultras and one of the most prestigious ultra-marathons. It's like the Boston Marathon of Ultras.

Western States started in 1974 when a man by the name of Gordy Ainsleigh joined the horses of the 100 mile Western States Trail Ride to see if a man could complete the course on foot. He accomplished this feat and a race was born. Gordy is now 67 years old and participating in this year's race.

This year, John, who is one of my best friends, got one of the coveted race entries. I am along for the ride, pacing him his last 20 miles to the finish. We (he's an orthopedist) also decided to attend the Medicine and Science in Ultra-Endurance Sports Conference that goes on a couple days before the race so here we are!

If you want to see a course preview video, click HERE.

This is a map of the course...


I will meet John at the aid station at Green Gate at Mile 80. Here is what my part of the course will look like. The charts read right to left and go from aid station to aid station.

 




Yesterday was a looooong day (I know, what else is new?)

I worked Sunday night then got up at 5 am to go to the airport. Flew from Indy to Dallas, then Dallas to Reno. Best part of the trip was when I got a whole row of seats to myself between Dallas and Reno!


Once I got to Reno, I rented a car and drove to Squaw Valley Resort in California. Finally got to the hotel at 1 pm Pacific time, which was 4 pm Indy time.

After a quick shower and change, I met up with John to grab food and drive on out to check out the trail at the Green Gate aid station - which meant about another hour of drive time... Then we ran part of the trail... and my body's like "Whoa, WTF are you doing trail running after flying all the way across the country and now it's 11 pm Indy time!" By the time he dropped me back off at my hotel I pretty much felt like I'd pulled an all nighter. Hmmm... maybe he's just prepping me for race day. That's pretty much what race day will be like. His race starts at 5 am. I will be there for the start, then crew all day, then run the last 20...

Today was conference day. Here was our schedule for the day...


The talks were interesting, some more than others. Most of the speakers were researchers with Phd's. I haven't heard this much physiology since I was in med school. Here's what I got out of it...

Cardiac Function lecture - Ultra-marathoners have enlarged hearts, abnormal EKGs, abnormal echocardiograms, and can have positive troponins with normal cardiac function. So...  if you are an ultra-marathoner and go to the hospital with a cardiac complaint and see a doctor that doesn't know this, you are screwed and will end up in the cath lab.

Neuro-Muscular Fatigue lecture - More physiology than my brain could handle at 9 am. I told John that what I learned was that if he got too tired, I should shock him with a cattle prod or something like that.

Carb Restriction lecture - Cut out carbs and your body will learn to use fat as a fuel source. You will feel crappy for 2-3 weeks if you try this. I believe this is the basis of the Adkins Diet.

GI Distress lecture - Most runners end up not finishing due to nausea and vomiting. Eating and drinking early on and eating fat will lessen this.

Sodium and Hydration lecture - Drink to thirst, salt to taste.

At this point, John and I decided that potato chips were the ideal food to eat during an Ultra - fat, salt, some carbs - perfect! Yes, we both love our chips.

Barefoot/Minimalist Shoe Running lecture - It's a fad. Experienced runners will have a foot strike pattern that is most efficient for them and over 95% of elite runners are heel strikers. Most people who try to change their running pattern will end up injured. In Ultras, the newest thing now is the super thick soled shoes (think Hoka).

Running Economy lecture - So much physiology and graphs that I went cross-eyed and didn't glean a thing.

Hyponatremia and Rhabdomyolosis lectures - Watch your water intake. The best ways to prevent rhabdomyolosis is to be well trained and stay hydrated. If someone shows up and you think they are significantly hyponatremic and in rhabdo, save the brain before the kidneys. Most Ultra runners will finish with CPK's in the 5000 - 50,000 range and be OK. Then there was the dude with the CPK of 750,000... he ended up on dialysis for a couple weeks. Turns out he was from Australia, got an entry, didn't train enough because he got injured, flew here anyway because he had an entry, gutted it out and finished the race, then got massive rhabo.

For the non-medical peeps...

Hyponatremia is when the salt level in your blood is too low. When it's low, water diffuses from your blood vessels into your cells. Everything swells up. It's bad when your brain swells up.

Rhabdomyolysis is when your muscle cells break down. They release an enzyme in the blood called CPK so you can measure it to determine the degree of muscle destruction. The upper end of a normal CPK is 380. When your muscle cells break down they can release all kinds of nasty stuff in your blood that ends up clogging up your kidneys and causing kidney failure.

After our conference, we went out to eat and then to a reception. We are planning to run the Escarpment at 4 am so I'm off to bed. The Escarpment is the first part of the race. The trail goes up 2550 feet in 4 miles, cresting at Emigrant Pass which is at 8750 feet. Hopefully I'll get some photos tomorrow.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sun Run 5K - The Longest Day


Saturday June 21st. First day of summer. The longest day of the year. This was the view from my driveway
at 6 am as I left for my race. 68 degrees. 90% humidity. Awesome (insert sarcasm here).

It poured rain as I drove into work Friday afternoon. I had a moment where I actually wished for thunderstorms and tornados for the morning so my race would be canceled. I really did not feel like racing. However, I knew that if I didn't race, I wasn't going to run. What I really wanted to do was sleep in, then get online and follow all my fellow runners that were tackling Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, MN. Since I had to be back at work in the afternoon, if I didn't run early, I wasn't going to run...and, left to my own devices, that wasn't going to happen. So race it was.

Midnight - I finally got off work.
1 am - home; bed sometime after
5 am - up...well not really. Awake but didn't really get out of bed til, oh, 5:30.
6 am - out the door to drive to Columbus
7 am - pick up race packet and start moving around
8 am - race time

It was miserably hot by race time. I felt OK at the start but then got really reluctant to push the pace once everyone settled into their respective "places" - meaning I wasn't too motivated to catch the person in front of me. Then I realized I was slowing down way too much and had to kick it up a few gears. My pace was all over the place...

Mile 1 - 7:44
Mile 2 - 8:41
Mile 3 - 8:17
last 0.1 - 0:50

Official time - 25:32 (8:13 pace)

My goal for this race was to just run 25-something so I was fine with that. I knew that my second mile was slow but I also knew I had plenty of reserve to pick it up at the end to get in on time, although I always get nervous sprinting down towards the finish chute when I can see the numbers turning.

Ended up 6th overall in the women's race and first in the 40-49 age group.

 
This picture is for me more than anything else as the medal had no words on it so next year, when I have no clue what I got this for, I can look it up.

I was back home by 10:30 am. By the time I had showered and changed, I started getting the first of my text alerts for the runners I was tracking in Duluth. There were 13 friends running, but I could only track 4 by text alert so I got online to keep up. Then I got really sleepy...

I tried to grab a quick nap. I had to leave by 1:30 pm to go to work. Thought I'd nap til 1:00. Shortly after 12:30 though, my phone dinged. They were finishing. My friend Trena was the first of the group. She made her goal of lowering her Boston qualifying time by running 3:32. I knew everyone else would be coming in after that so I gave up on sleeping.

1:30 pm - left the house to go to work. Friends are still finishing.
2:30 pm - work

It was basically the shift from hell...

11:40 pm - DONE! clocked out and checked to see how everyone else had finished

Definitely the longest day...

One more shift today then it's off to Western States tomorrow morning.