Saturday, May 06, 2006

A loooong day and night

It's hard to put into words the happenings from the other weekend. I think it's still sinking in the miles I covered in 24 hours, but I think the novelty has worn off some. I look at my feet as they soak in a tub of Epsom salt and apologize, yet am in awe at how far they carried me. I rub my knees with sports cream and apologize, and again, am in awe at how they managed to hold me up and keep moving even as they got creakier and creakier.

This was the first event of its kind that I have ever participated it. I knew I wanted to do it as soon as it was announced, but I didn't register for it until mid-April. I told a few people about it, but mostly kept to myself about the event. It's hard enough trying to explain the Ironman distance to someone ("so how many days do you have to complete it?") and I wanted to spare sharing too much information.

I did it to see how far I could push myself. What can I make my body do when it doesn't want to 'go' anymore? How strong mentally am I? I've completed 4 Ironman triathlons since 2002, so I know what it's like to 'go' for 12-16 hours. I didn't know what to expect in those 'unknown' hours and I looked forward to finding out.

I must admit that I'm not a huge fan of running. Seriously. People find that hard to believe when they find out how many IMs (4), marathons (12 or so), and ultras (7 or so) I've done since I started doing races back in 2000. Running hurts. The recovery sucks. That's why I don't run 5Ks or 10Ks. Running fast hurts more. I'm not a fast runner. I like to say I'm "built for comfort, not for speed." That was the draw to ultras - speed, or lack thereof. Don't get me wrong, there are some fast freaks that can cover 50k, 50 miles, 100 miles, etc in some sick times. I am not one of those people.

My goal was 2 hours. Complete each 8 mile loop, including breaks, in 2 hours each. That didn't last long. 4 loops, maybe? 32 miles? Oh well. Goals out the window. Time to make new goals. Walk and run the same sections each loop. Check. That I was doing most of the day until the sun went down. My spirits sunk with it on loop #9. Bored of the course? Not really.. just bored of the out/back section. I walked as I did the final 5 miles or so of Bull Run 50 - head down, shoulders down, face down.

I almost gave up.
I almost didn't care.

I had one loop left in my. That was my original goal of 10 loops. It didn't matter how I was going to do it, I was going to do that 10th loop even if I had to crawl.

Can I just say how much I hurt? It wasn't so much muscular pain as it was my joints. My feet were sore from the rocks and the pounding, my right ankle was bothersome, and my knees ached. Downhills made me cringe. This 10th loop was hours 20-23 or so. We're talking 3am-6am. I had been up since 5am Saturday. I had sat down at most 4 times for a total of 45 minutes to take care of my feet. I avoided the lodge, the fire. I didn't want to get sucked in. I didn't want to get comfortable. I had my sights set on 10 loops and I was going to do them. Bum feet, ankle, knees.. nothing was going to stop me.

That last loop was completed on sheer will power and guts. I had no adrenaline. I visualized the finish line, the cones, and my chair next to it, and I ran towards that. Okay, so at this point I wasn't doing a lot of running, but I did run a number of the flat sections. Once I got off the loop and on the out/back section, I knew I was going to finish within 24 hours. I walked, shuffled, yawned, and sleepwalked my way back. I could barely keep my eyes open. I did manage to jog the last few yards to make it look good.

23:09. 80 miles. 8-0. I say it and I see it and it just doesn't seem right. I look at my feet again and it just seems wrong that they went that far. Sure, there were others that ran just as far and a few that went farther, but they are more experienced runners. I tried to stay as positive as I could throughout the race. There is no way I could've done as well if it weren't for my crew/pacer Brent, as well as Em, who paced me on loop 9. She tried with all her might to get me to run and to eat or drink and I just couldn't. Brent was quick to refill my bottles or prep a bagel with nutella for me to take out on the trail. He was a rookie at crewing and did an amazing job. He deserves the credit for me doing so well nutritionally and not having any stomach problems.

The results for the solo runners can be found here on PDF, so you can see how I stacked up versus the competition. The grey column lists the time it took me to complete the loop, OUT is when I left to start the loop and IN is when I came back in. That number listed is the time of day. What's amazing to look at are the spilts for runner #6, who completed 13 loops for 104 miles. His first 7 laps were unbelievably consistent - within 1-2 minutes of each other. That's incredible pacing. He passed me a number of times and looked so positive and always had a kind word of encouragement to say, as did all the other runners.

I posted another, more detailed report on another website. This is more long winded and includes my splits and what I ate and when I went to the bathroom. Very interesting stuff. I also posted a few pictures from the weekend.

I hope to do this event, if not one like it, next year. I have a much better idea of what my body and mind is capable of doing and how far I can push it. Even before doing this run, I knew I was pretty strong mentally, but this showed how much guts I have to grind it out when the going gets tough. It was a great experience and I'm glad to have been a part of the inaugural event.


At 10:37 PM, Anonymous jdz said...

80 freakin' miles.

And for me an 18 mile training run still feels long.

I'm in awe.


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