Monday, September 14, 2015

Labor Pains 12 hour

teamdedic !
I had heard about the Labor Pains ultra prior to deciding to sign up because I had seen on my social media that several running friends had signed up.  I really have no idea why but I looked at it and said "I have no desire to do this race at all"  Maybe because TARC is early October and silly me was thinking that a 12 hour would be way too much only a month before my first 100.  I realized this was grossly incorrect as I watched Emir train during the summer for Eastern States.  Obviously I knew training for a hundo takes LOTs of training miles but I guess I wasn't really fully realizing exactly how much it entailed.  After seeing week after week, how many miles coach Caleb was assigning Emir and then adding to it that I had dropped down at Velebit and then missed Sljeme, I was on the hunt for something else to do before TARC.  I had forgotten about Labor Pains but then it popped up on my search for something not too far from home that was end of August/Early Sept time frame.  I emailed Coach Caleb asking his thoughts and he immediately encouraged me to sign up.  He said it was perfect timing to do a long race before TARC and to practice fueling/hydration for the 100.  If coach says it's good to do a 12 hour the month before TARC, then obviously I'm going to do it ;-) 

Labor Pains takes place at Liederkranz in Reading, PA.   It's only about an hour away from our house. Given that Emir ran 80 miles at Eastern States not too long ago, he had no desire to do a 12 hour.  He also is not a fan of doing a loop a whole bunch of times.  Labor pains is a 5 mile loop course.  So since he wasn't running, we decided it would be a family event.  We arrived about 40 minutes before the 7:30 start.  Now having done this race once, I might try to get there earlier if I do it again just to get a prime tent spot.  In the end, we had a perfect spot but it was pretty much the ONLY spot left.  I was able to get my bib and swag super fast.  There were both indoor potties and port a potties available so taking care of business was quick and easy.  As I got myself ready, I said hi to a bunch of our friends who were there.  I really loved the whole setup at the race.  When you come back in from the course you run right through all the tents and people spectating, crewing and then threw the chute to the aid area which not only featured an amazing spread but cold showers ;-)

excited to be at a race again finally

After a briefing from the RD it was time to start.  The kids were super excited and cheering as we went off.  A RWB runner that I met at Eastern States called out to me and we started chatting.  We ran/chatted together the first couple miles which was great.  After that I was just in the middle of this huge pack.  The race had about 230 runners so it was a little crowded on that first lap.  Everything was going well, I was feeling great.  I opted not to carry anything with me the first loop since it was 5 miles and I knew I could get a drink of water half way which I did at the water only station.  Next thing I knew at about 4 miles into the 5 mile loop the whole huge group was pulling up short and people were saying "this isn't right"  That jolted me out of the Amyland I was in.  I looked around and was like "crap we were here before already"  We turned around and the group split off into two basically.  I went with one of the groups and a few minutes later was like "crap we were here before too"  While others kept going I turned around and started going back in the direction we came.  A few more minutes later these two guys said "you're going the wrong way"  I said "yes I know but so are you"  And they said "no we did this last year, this is right"  "are you sure?!"  "yes!"  So I went with them but then they realized it was not the right way.  At this point I was panicking "I will never find the start/finish area!!"  I had gone out onto the road and a biker came to help me, I think he was a race volunteer.  He said that he had just helped a bunch of people get back on track.  He led me to the aid station that was at the halfway point.  The volunteers told me I would have to just do the second half of the loop again even though I was now at 5.5 miles.  "UGH!!"  All I could think was how stupid I was for not paying more attention!!!  I started running faster because I knew my first loop time was going to suck.  I'm not sure how that huge group got lost like that because when I went back through myself I had no issues, everything was very clearly marked.  Eventually I made it to Emir.  He was like "what the hell happened?!"  It had taken me over 1:30 for that first loop, I mean I did do 8.1 miles but only 5 of those counted towards the official race standings.  I was so frustrated mainly at myself.  I mean the whole point of me doing this race was just to get a lot of time on my legs, tired legs at that.  I did already have 30 miles that week not to mention the two weeks of 70+ leading up to it so needless to say I knew I wouldn't be breaking any speed barriers but no matter what I am competitive and it pissed me off that I messed up my race.  But I still had many many hours left to go so I tried to put that behind me.  I hugged the kids, chatted with Emir but everything very quickly as I didn't want to waste more time and headed back out.

frustrated with myself after lap 1
The remainder of my loops were very uneventful compared to the first until I believe it was lap 3 or maybe 4, I COMPLETELY wiped out and I mean flat of my face.  It was a brain jarring, hard fall.  At first I was worried because all my muscles cramped up and my head hurt but I stood up and all was well again other than I was VERY dirty.  I did feel a surge of energy for a while after that, maybe adrenaline.  I don't know but I came in from that lap feeling exhilarated and Emir was like "Woah you are so dirty but so happy"  And I was :-)

much happier second lap

I'm a dirtball!

I think Lap 3 was when beer appeared in addition to water at the half way aid station.  I decided to give it a go.  It felt good going down and I felt good for a while after so I decided it was something I needed to do every lap until I finished, and it did not disappoint all day long.
beer is good fuel
 I also decided I needed to practice drinking coke and some other fueling strategies to help me prepare for the upcoming hundo (coaches orders).  The drinking coke thing has been amazing, I'm actually mad at myself for not being willing to try it before but at least I'm on board now.  I also made myself eat a piece of burger, grilled cheese and PB&J throughout the day in addition to sipping on my Tailwind, the occasional gel and chomps.   Everything went well in that department.   Everything sat well in my stomach and I felt fine.  I really felt pretty great until lap 6.  It was very sudden, I just felt very sluggish and my speed got a lot slower.  I didn't even really notice at first because this was the lap I finally caught up with my friends Bryan and Kourtney.  I was chatting a lot with them and then I went ahead.  Then suddenly they were back with me and I realized I had slowed a lot.  I really felt o-k except I just couldn't move fast so I really think it was just all the miles I have been running lately.  Which I know was the whole point of this race was to run on tired legs so it was all going according to plan even though at the time I might not have truly liked it.  After I finished that 6th lap, I just felt done.  I told Emir I was only going to do one more lap which would put me at 40 officially and somewhere between 43-44 actual miles due to my first lap boo boo.  He was asking me why and I said I just got real slow that last lap.  And he said that it had gotten a lot hotter while I was gone on that lap.  I hadn't really noticed but then again I didn't think 100% humidity was making a difference at Dirty German when I was in the middle of that one either.  So maybe he was right that just general fatigue plus the heat of the afternoon was causing me to slow down.  He must have said about 100 time "just see how you feel after this lap."  I said "ok" but in my head I kept saying "I'm done"

I passed my friend and teammate Kristin on my way back out, she was getting some stuff from her cooler with her husband Simon.  I told them I was done but doing one more.  About a mile into the loop, Simon appeared next to me.  We chatted a bit which was nice to break up the monotony.   Shortly after, Kristin came up and we chatted for a while too.  All I could think after they left me was how I was looking forward to just sitting down when I finished.  Eventually I made it back to the start/finish area.  The kids were nowhere to be found because they were off having a blast at the playground with all the friends they made for the day.  Emir came over and said "so you are going to do one more right?"  And without even thinking I said "yeah I'm going to go for one more, it's all I have time for."  I don't know why I kept telling everyone that lap 8 was my last lap.  I knew full well that even with going as slow as I was that I would easily have time for 9 laps and that I would keep going until I ran out of time.  Maybe I just needed to trick myself into thinking lap 8 was the last lap just to get myself through it.  Whatever works right?!

So anyway I took my time a bit going back out since I had two hours to finish my last lap.  It was more than enough time for one lap but definitely not enough for two the way I was moving the last couple laps.  I also took it super easy, relatively speaking, that last lap.  I walked more than I would have if I didn't have 2 hours to finish.  I also stopped for a few minutes to chat at the half way aid station while I drank my last beer.  I mean why not enjoy myself?!  Eventually I made it to that last little stretch of torture that leads you back to the start/finish.  It's definitely one that I will remember.  The course takes a sudden left turn and you start climbing a short but sorta steep hill which ends at a guardrail for what appears to be a sorta big road.  The kind race people have a step stool tied up to the guardrail to assist us in our climb over which even the step stool was a little difficult to climb the last couple of laps.  Then you cross the road and essentially rock climb straight up.  I'm pretty sure this is not actually part of any trail but was the only way back to the German club area and probably gives the race people joy watching us struggle up this rocky cliff especially later in the day.

climbing the step stool

the guard rail

climbing the boulders to the end of each loop
Anyway I crawled my way up the one last time, Emir saw me coming as I emerged over the hill and told the kids I was coming.  I'm guessing they were waiting for me as I knew Niko loves to run through the finish with us when he's at a race.  He even mentioned during this race that he wanted to do a loop with me but he only had sandals so with the rocky terrain in some parts I said it wasn't a good idea.  But it did trigger in my mind, hey he's going to be able to do stuff like that with us now especially at an ultra like this when my last lap is basically a walk for him which is very awesome and I'm excited to be able to start including him even more in our adventures.  Back to this finish.  Both kids ran over and each took a hand.  I don't know why but I was shocked that Una grabbed my hand.  I mean now that it's over I'm like of course she wanted to run the finish with me just like she's watched Niko do a bunch of times but for some reason it hadn't occurred to me that she would want to do that.  Despite my surprise, I was so happy.   I was so genuinely happy to be crossing the finish line with my two kids that I know I had the biggest grin on my face.  It was truly a wonderful moment not really because I had run 49 miles which is pretty exciting in itself and always makes me smile to run an ultra but it was just so special to have Niko and Una by my side and both genuinely excited to be helping mommy finish the race.  After we crossed Niko said "Mommy, you did really great.  you never gave up or stopped, you kept going until you didn't have more time."  Sometimes when I have tons upon tons of miles to run especially lately during the hundo training, I think "ugh am I doing too much.  is it affecting our kids?"  And then things like this happen and it re-affirms what I do think most of the rest of the time that our kids are being affected but in a very positive way.  They are learning how to be dedicated to your commitments and that you don't give up when it's hard.  And they are learning compromise too.  Despite mommy and daddy going out on lots of long runs, they do spend LOTS of time with us.  They see how we make compromises and do our runs super early or late or just whenever we can.  And they also learn that sometimes they have to let mommy and daddy go at times they might not like in order for mommy and daddy to be there for them other times.  Of course they also want to run like mommy and daddy which is great too.  Niko ran in the Healthy kids series in the spring and is starting up again next weekend, this time he will be running a half mile every week.
definitely my best finish so far

But I digress.  Back to the Labor Pains ultra.  After I finished.  I was able to go right up to the grilling man and get a fresh cheeseburger right off the grill, so good.  We stayed and watch the awards ceremony since we were watching the people finish after me and then it wasn't long until it started.  When they gave out my age group, I realized that if I hadn't messed up my first lap, I would have easily made 50 miles that actually counted and I would have at least gotten second, maybe 1st depending on my time.  I was kind of bummed but only really because Niko kept talking about the awards and I know he would have been SO Pumped to see mommy get one :-(  But it was my own fault.  It really wasn't what I was after for the day but would have been a nice treat at a race that was really just a training run for the hundred.  But at the same time, even though I messed up, it's really nice to know that I ran well enough on super tired legs to place.

The race itself was awesome.  I mean obviously location was good for us as it's close but it was definitely inexpensive.  The bang for your buck is actually pretty incredible considering the spread offered during the race, the coffee mug, shirt and they will be sending a sweatshirt with your milestone mileage on it in a few weeks.  The event was extremely well organized and it was clear that the RD and staff want this race to be fun for the runners AND their families.  The choice of facility alone is perfect for families and crews to accompany their runner let alone the food and drinks available plus the playground for the kids.  It was all just perfect.  The kids had a blast and were more filthy than me which is great.  Emir had a great day too.  The 5 mile distance is perfect.  It's long enough that you don't feel like you are running circles but short enough that I saw Emir fairly often.  And there were so many of our runner friends there and other people that he was occupied chatting and hanging out while I was running.   The course wasn't extremely difficult but definitely some challenging sections with the rocks and the roots and a few climbs.  I ended up with 6100 feet over my 49 miles which was more than I expected.  Despite my stupid mistake, I had a fun, productive day.  I don't know what next year will bring but I would definitely run Labor Pains again.

Of course we all know what is next for me, it's all I've been talking about most of 2015 ;-)  But it's big so it needs to be talked about and ALOT.  I'm really starting to chomp at the bit waiting for TARC 100 to roll around!  This past weekend especially has got me geared up.  Yes I had lots of miles to run AGAIN but it was ALL our friends that were running 100s that got me fired up.  Most are running friends we haven't even met with the exception of our #teamdedic crew member Sandy.  I was tracking a solid 10-12 people this weekend all running 100s at various different events.  Everyone I was following finished including Sandy which only excited me even more.  It was her first 100 and from what I could tell following the pics and videos from her crew was that she kicked ass.  YAY SANDY!!!!!!!  So now we have only 25 days left until the big race and I'm freaking out (in a good way) so in the next few weeks just ignore all my crazy posts or even worse if you see me in person :-D #ultrarunnersarecrazy

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