Thursday, May 21, 2015

Dirty German 50 Miler Humid Fest

Emir and I wanted to do several long ultras this spring since we both are attempting our first 100 miler later this year.  It's not always easy to accomplish this though since we do have two small children and we also can't afford to travel ALL the time.  Lucky for us Stephan Weiss, uberendurance sports, puts on multiple events in our area.  We have both done Blues Cruise 50K and I did the Sloppy Cuckoo 12 hour so we know that his events are always well run and lots of fun.  The Dirty German was no different. 

The Dirty German takes place in Pennypack Park which is the same place as the Sloppy Cuckoo.  The Sloppy Cuckoo was a 6.55 mile loop and Dirty German was a 16 mile loop.  It's only a short 15-20 minute drive from our house.  Since my mom is still on the mend, our amazing neighbors let the kids sleepover and hang with them for the day, even taking Niko to his final kids race of the spring :-) 

Niko and Jaycie after running the final kids race
So in the morning we did our usual race day routine and headed to the park.  It has been very unusually hot and humid for May lately, as the weather people said it feels more like July/August.  We knew it was likely going to be mid to high 80s with high humidity however the week leading up to the race, we kept hoping they were wrong.  One step out the door Sunday morning and we knew, they were not wrong.  I checked my weather app because you know being outside feeling the weather isn't accurate enough and it confirmed yes it was 100% humidity.  But what can you do?  Off to Pennypack we went!

The start/finish area was the same as it was for Sloppy Cuckoo.  Emir and I set up a couple of chairs with our bags of stuff off to the side of the pavilion.  Aside from the 50 miler there also was 50K & 25K.  Logistics for getting our bibs and using the potty was easy since there was a staggered start 50 milers at 7:30, 50K at 8 and 25K at 8:30.   While we got ourselves together, we were able to chat with our friends that were there for the race.  Brian and Kourtney were attempting their first 50miler, Jen was attempting her first 50K and Janna running yet another 50K.  Before I knew it, Stephan was giving us the rundown for the day and off we went. 
Ultramoms!  Our friend Jen, also one of Niko's friend's mom
Kourtney and Brian

Emir and I started together.  We were crusing along.  I think probably like 10:30min/mile.  I didn't pass anyone, just kind of hung back thinking to myself "you are doing a good job not pushing it"  I was very proud of myself.  After 2 miles or so I'm not sure what happened aside from that I was totally already soaked in sweat.  I was kind of just following along with this girl in front of me.  It felt like an easy pace but I had lost Emir and a bunch of people that were around us.  That in itself should have been a red alert "hello Amy you are probably going too fast" but I ignored that and just kept along with her.  The miles were ticking by, my overall pace kept getting faster and faster but I ignored that.  I felt good and my watch must have been off, I couldn't be running 8:50 miles.  Pennypack park does not have any long, steep climbs just the occassional short hills.  And actually there were some sections of the course that were 2-3 miles of just flat including a 2 mile section of pavement.  So knowing that it's nothing in terms of elevations to say Blue Ridge, I just kept running even up the hills.  As far as fueling, I felt that I was being very proactive, way more than I have ever been.  I had a discussion with our coach, Caleb since I felt in general I don't start eating early or often enough.  His advice eat early and often.  I had Tailwind in my pack and the plain water bottles in my front pockets and I started eating from the very first aide station at mile 3.  Which is why I almost lost it at mile 14 when I felt so strange.  There really wasn't anything I could put my finger on as being wrong except I wanted to cry and I didn't want to run anymore.  I did have to pee for several miles but had been just trying to wait until we finished the first loop to use the pottys but at this point, I didn't care so I went off into the bushes.  I felt a little better after that but still just so depressed.  I walked for a few minutes then started running again but VERY SLOW.  At the time, I could seriously not understand what the hell was wrong with me, it was so upsetting.  Eventually during the last mile or mile and a half of that first loop Emir reappeared.  I felt so happy to see him.  I told him that I totally had crashed and didn't feel good.  "He said, take it easy for a bit, you probably went out too fast and it's really freakin humid out here."  I agreed with him but still felt like a loser. 
There were happy, fun times!
We finished the first lap with the overall pace being around 10:30ish, not bad actually.  I grabbed some chomps, gels and my extra baggie of tailwind, shoved it all in my pack and headed to the aide station that was on our way back out to the next loop.  There was tons of people coming in from the first loop after us and I was like "oh I think I was going too fast" Clearly I need to work on this.  Anyway I started feeling better so off we went.  Loop 2 was definitely harder than loop 1.  After my breakdown I wanted to stay with Emir.  We started walking some of the hills to give ourselves a break.  We also spent a little more time at aide stations than we wanted but really the conditions warranted it.  The one aide station that was at mile 3 and mile 11.5 of each loop was amazing as it had a cooler filled with ice sponges.  It was HEAVEN.  I rubbed those babies all over my body every single time we came to that station.  We also even though we had liquids with us on course, drank cups and cups of water at every station, it was just so brutal out there.  Loop 2 also had the Tailwind tragedy, well almost tragedy.  The baggie had opened in my pack and it wouldn't close anymore.  Emir and I both fought with it, wasting time getting pissed.  Finally I shoved it in a back pocket until we got to the next aide station and I just dumped it in my bladder and had them refill it for me.  Eventually we finished loop 2, much slower than loop 1.  We pottied, picked up more supplies and hit up the aide station before loop 3.
There were many down trees we had to climb over
trying to outrun the horses!! 
While chatting with people at the aide station, we found out that a number of people including a couple of leaders had dropped.  So while we were feeling a bit disappointed that we weren't on target to even match our pace from Blue Ridge let alone beat it ( I was really hoping to go under 10 hours), we realized that just finishing was going to be a huge feat for the day given the humidity.  I'm not going to lie, loop 3 super sucked.  The first few miles I was back to just feeling weird again.  Nothing hurt really bad and I wasn't even nauseous.  I literally just wanted to curl up in a ball and cry, really for no good reason.  So we slowed even slower.  Walked some, ran some.  I ate more, drank more.  Bathed in the ice water sponges at the mile 3 aide station and eventually things felt better, relatively speaking.  Then Emir's foot was really bothering him, like his shoes were pinching his pinky toes and he was having trouble running.  It was kind of a back and forth that whole loop.  He would run ahead but then have to slow back down and then I would run ahead and eventually have to slow back down.  There were a few times that it really felt hard to breath.  There was no breeze and the air was so stagnant.  A few times we had to slow to walking because we could feel our heartrates going so high as if we were running 7min/miles when we were probably at like 13-14min/miles.  It was just brutal is all I can really say to describe it.  With about 3 ish miles ago, I just started running and decided I wasn't stopping until I finished.  My feet were starting to kill me but would feel better when I was running.  Emir said just go ahead and he would be along.  I ended up passing a good 6-7 people those last few miles, which was surprising to me at the time but looking back I think everyone was just toast.  In what felt like forever, I finally crossed the finish line in 10:20 so all in all not so far off my goal of 10 hours and a few minutes later in came Emir. 
there were a couple of stream crossings, the water looks kinda gross but honestly I wanted to dive in
After feeling like I wanted to die and thinking how will I EVER run 100 miles, I mustered up the strength to collect my bratwurst and some grilled cheese, soooo good.  The best part about Stephan's races is the food after!!!  Well of course the race volunteers and well stocked aid stations are pretty awesome too.  And I have to point out what a fantastic job he did of ensuring that runners had everything they needed.  I would have had no idea if he hadn't pointed out after the fact that he went out to get more water as they were going through so much extra due to the heat and humidity.  I give him alot of credit for figuring that out before anything happened like a runner getting to a station that had run out of water.  Thank you Stephan!!!

I was so dead

it was so hot
so done

While Pennypack park is no where near the most difficult trail in the world especially with not much in elevations however it is still fun.  We ran on a multitude of surfaces from blacktop to gravel to rocks to overpasses and underpasses.  There was definitely enough uneven footing with rocks and tree roots to keep you tripping at times and I definitely saw many a runner who had taken a spill (not me for once!).  I lost count and actually I think it increased each loop how many downed trees we had to climb across and there were two small stream crossings for the cooling off if you wanted ;-)  There were many people out for walks and bike rides and we even encountered a couple of horses on our travels and TONS of horse poop, yum. 
super happy that we did it
And now back to me.  I was feeling alot of disappointment on Sunday on various occasions (anyone else notice a pattern that this happens every ultra?!).  But it definitely was extra bad this time.  I don't know why this happens but I totally knew that it was VERY HOT and VERY HUMID but for some reason thought I should be able to go normal pace or even faster and actually was so confused by my crashing at mile 14.  I felt like a total failure.  I become this completely irrational person.  I mean I even saw everyone else struggling but yet in my head I was the only one that sucked for struggling in the conditions.  I am however proud of myself for stopping, slowing things down and not giving up completely.  I really thought I was going to DNF at mile 14, that I was going to walk the last two miles of the first loop and not go back out.  I also have to thank my husband for helping me through and never saying that I should just stop, not that he would unless it was super serious but still he deserves high praise for being supportive yet tough.  Later when we got home and saw the stats from the race, it was like "geez we didn't do so bad!"  We were mid pack of the people that finished which is good and even the fast people had much slower times than in previous years not mention the 44 DNFs out of 110 runners.  So we were slower than we wanted but it was all relative to the conditions and we DID FINISH which really is my most important goal in ultrarunning.  Sometimes I forget that part ;-D  I also realized that it's never easy to run in the heat and humidity but especially not this early in the season.  We had maybe one medium length training run in these conditions leading up to the race, so our bodies have not had any kind of chance to adjust unlike in say August when you kind of start getting used to it.  Despite the struggle, I am really happy we ran this race and that we finished on a tough day.  I learned alot about pushing through bad times, how to take it back a level so that I can keep going and I improved my fueling alot.  I know all of this is going to really help in all my future ultras but especially the 100 miler (I'm back to being confident I can achieve this ;-) ). 
First race in Altra Lone Peaks. They definitely made me feel way more confident on the rocky, uneven terrain even on steeper decents, no slipping and sliding like in the past.  VERY HAPPY.  And of course my ZENSAH sleeves!!!!
my perpetual bad toe.  We have decided it's definitely the way I run, not sure how to solve it.  It was definitely not the shoes, I will try different socks for the trail races.  I wore the Zensah peak socks which were awesome at Double Blue Ridge, no issues but maybe need something thicker for trail.  BTW it doesn't hurt at all ;-) 

Next up is Velebit Ultra in CROATIA!!!!!!!  Ever since Niko has been born, we have tried to visit Emir's family in Bosnia and Croatia every summer.  Unfortunately for multiple reasons it didn't happen last year which makes this year even better than usual.  I miss our family.  I also miss those beautiful countries.  And of course, it's so great to get to run in different countries.   Velebit is going to be hard as hell with over 22,000 feet of elevation but it will be totally worth it, you will see.  I'm so excited we are only a few short weeks away from our trip!!!!!!

My first ever marathon!  Plitvice  2011 in Croatia
Plitvice Marathon 2013

Doing some hiking 2011

The fam enjoying the Adriatic Sea on the island of Ugljan, Croatia 2011

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