Monday, May 22, 2017

D3: Rain and Records

D3 feels like a lifetime ago even though it was just last weekend.  Emir went back to Colorado and getting the house on the market was no easy task.  But that's not the point of this post....

I'm not even kidding a little bit when I say that I really thought I could only have good running years every other year.  It sounds crazy and yes I am.  I'm your typical runner head case.  I may not appear to be that way on the outside or say it out loud very often but I totally am.  Why did I think this ridiculous thing?  Well because I ran my first marathon in 2011.  2012 I had Una so I guess technically that doesn't count.  2013 I steadily improved on my own but had some serious downs, returning from pregnancy and post partum were rough.  2014 I was given the gift of Coach Caleb by Emir which turned out to be the best running gift ever because 2014 was a fantastic year for me.  2015 started out just ok but I had to get my appendix out and suffered my first DNF.  Just things didn't feel good.  2016 I bounced back, had a good year again.  And that brings us to this year.  I spoke last post about how pretty much all my training since NJ One Day in November has been sucking.  I've been really slow at times and long runs felt really awful.  Combine that with a random foot injury just before Austin Marathon in February and I was convinced 2017 would be another weird, not great year like 2015, especially since we are making this huge move across the country and have so much going on, I just knew it was all too much and I probably shouldn't have set any goals for this spring or maybe even not raced at all.  But since I decided I wanted one more big East Coast race, I decided to just do what I could. 

Coach kept telling me throughout training that I was improving a lot but of course I didn't believe him.  What was he looking at?  My paces were all over the place and sucked a lot.  What does he know?  He was successful in getting me to just keep doing what I was doing and saying would be worth it in the end.  It felt good that he was so confident but I still wasn't convinced I was going to do well at D3.  Honestly I don't know how he puts up with all of us crazy runners.

Anyway, even after doing what to me was surprisingly well at the SRT 50K, I still was not convinced that I had TRULY improved.  I was thinking ok that was much better than I thought I would do (well duh it was a PR) but I'm still not sure I'll PR this 100 or if I do maybe like 23 hours, 22:30 hours, we will see.
I love 24 hour races with a small loop, I can pack EVERYTHING!

The week leading up to the race was actually fairly relaxed around our house since Emir had just completed MMT100 that weekend before D3 so he was recovering and I had only a few very short taper runs.  The race weather forecast was not looking so great but nothing can be done about that.  They were calling for a nor'easter on race day, 1-2 inches of rain, high winds.  We still until that morning held out some hope it might slide out to sea a bit more than they thought, anything that might lessen the impact a bit.  Nope.  Pouring rain when we woke up.  I'm pretty sure the weather impacted Emir, my one man crew, more than me.  He had such a  time trying to get the tent, etc set up.  Then he had to just stand around in torrential rain and winds for 15 hours until the rain finally subsided.  So I do really appreciate all he did for me.

this was no easy feat at 6:30am in the pouring rain and gusty winds

The start of the race was kind of a blur, as I was in my car getting ready and emerged just in time for the start.  I was excited because my friend and teammate Kristen was running the 24 hours as well as another running Amy who I ran with at NJ 1 day and the infamous amazing Alaskan Dave Johnston plus I knew I would have a great time getting to know all the other wonderful runners that day.  What I do remember in those early laps was thinking how much I liked running on a track sooo much more than the paved loop at the NJ one day.  I remember feeling pains and just general sluggishness very early on at NJ one day.  This was much different.  My legs felt good.  I just felt like I was on cruise control.  Plus despite the weather, crews and spectators were out around the track.  I saw people ALL the time which made a huge different for me.  At One Day, I would only see people once every 10-20 minutes depending on how long the lap took.  I was loving this way more even very early on. 

I hit the marathon mark around 4 hours and some change I think.  It was somewhere in this time frame that my stomach started turning.  Sometimes during ultras, I get in a phase where I just don't feel like eating but this was actual nausea which I've actually not experienced before.  Emir suggested it was because I had only done gels, chomps and waffles until this point which is possible but I've run that distance a million times fueling exactly that way and not been nauseous.  Anyway, he got me some coke and I forced a half a burger with no bun.  I was feeling slightly better but then my stomach was killing me.  Not to be too graphic but I spent some quality time in the potty and after that I felt MUCH better and started cruising again. 

This happened periodically through the entire race.  I was worried how much time I was spending in the bathroom as I was forced in there to unload at least 4-5 times but if I didn't, I wouldn't have been able to keep running.  I also noticed another issue with my frequent potty stops, I had horrible chafage in some awful places that were on fire whenever I went to the bathroom.  I was just hoping it wouldn't progress to the point that it would really bother me while running.  Since it was pouring rain for hours and hours, I felt there was no point in changing clothes especially since I wasn't feeling cold or anything.  I re-applied glide several times but I think since I was soaked the entire time, it wasn't having the normal effect to prevent the chafage plus I think wet clothes just chafe so much more than dry. I do have to add, I wore only pair of socks and one pair of shoes the ENTIRE race, my zensah compression socks and Altra Paradigms.  My feet came out just as pretty as they went in, despite being soaked for 21+ hours of running.

I had a very good 50K time, not far off my PR of a few weeks prior and then I reached 50 miles under 9 hours, very solid and ahead of NJ One day.  I felt very good about how things were going.  At this point, I decided to switch clothes even though it was still raining as I was finally starting to feel chilly.  Just as I was about to emerge from my tent back onto the track, my sister Cindy and her boyfriend Todd appeared!  I had no idea there were going to come and it meant SO much to me that they came to support me especially in those awful conditions.  They probably stayed 2 hours, cheering me every single time I passed by.  It was a huge boost and I think helped me go faster those miles 50-60. 

I don't really remember a ton between when they left and when I reached 100 miles.  Eventually, I think at like 15 hours, the rain FINALLY stopped.  So at some point I changed into different dry clothes including pants which I just put over top of my wet shorts and socks.  Kristen and I's friend Sophorn came to crew Kristen so it was great to have another familiar face to see every lap, always smiling and cheering us on.  Then came Christine who is also an Altra ambassador and we finally were able to get together to run a few miles a couple weeks ago in the Wissahickon.  She asked the RD if she could run with me and he said no problem unless I was breaking a record or something, ummm no!  HAHA  So she accompanied me for a couple laps which was awesome.  

I also met the infamous Yoshiko Jo!

Miles 80-100 were rough for me.  My legs were starting to hurt BAD and I was feeling exhausted.  I just tried to keep moving.  I would walk a lap here and there but walking was starting to become more painful than my slow run trot.  This part felt like FOREVER.  Eventually after crossing the timing mats for the millionth time, Emir said "Listen, you have 12 laps until 100, you got this"  And he explained how I had to go past the main timing mat to this other timing mat to make 100.  It felt SO HARD and every lap I kept repeating how many laps were left like one million times as I slowly made my way around.  I was also getting the nausea back worse than ever but I just wanted to get to 100 and then I could worry about that.
coke break, trying to head off the nausea
Once I had a few laps to go, I realized what time it was.  I had no clue what paces my miles were since I hit somewhere in the 60s.  It was a combo of that I just stopped caring what exactly my pace was and my watch was stuck under my jacket sleeve and gloves.  I was just moving how I could and I wasn't going to do anything better than that even looking at my watch.  Anyway, I starting realizing, wow I think I'm going to have a pretty significant PR.  But you know how math is at mile 98-99 so I was thinking I needed like 30 minutes per mile and stupid stuff like that.  Finally I crossed that big timing mat with only about .15 miles to go to the 100 mile mark and the clock said 21 something, I didn't make out the rest but I was like "holy crap I will break 22 hours!"  My previous PR being 23:32.   After I crossed the 100 mile mat, I was done.  I walked the rest of the lap to complete it and went and sat in the tent.  Emir came bursting in "21:21!!!!"  Holy crap!!!  that's a 2 hour 10 minute PR.  I was feeling simultaneously awesome and completely awful at the same time.  Sitting there my legs were THROBBING and I felt more nauseous than ever.  Oh and I also could feel the chafage wounds on my back, torso and unmentionable areas.

some of my chafage, the rest is not suitable for the blog
I tried to take a few bites of stuff but couldn't.  Emir went to fetch me a grilled cheese and when he came back, I said I was done.  He didn't argue with me at all this time, unlike at NJ One Day.  My sole goal for this race was to PR my 100 mile time which I had just crushed.  That's what I was training for, not for more than a hundred.  I gave everything I had into that hundo time and I just had nothing left.  And neither one of us, was one bit upset that I wasn't continuing on.  I didn't have a single regret and I still don't.  Maybe one of these days I will say to coach, I'm doing a 24 hour race and want to do as many miles as I can, surpassing 100 and that will be my goal but that wasn't it for this race and my mind and body knew it and shut down accordingly. 
100.16 miles!

The RD Bill came over to congratulate me on my huge PR.  This was my first time meeting Bill and he's truly an incredible man.  I could tell how much he cares about his race and the runners and wants everyone to have a great day.  I enjoyed our chat even though I really just wanted to die.  I also appreciated his hard work throughout the day.  I think he probably did at least 50 miles on that track, the number of times I saw him walking the opposite way of us talking to every runner and offering soup, etc during the night.  I also wish we switched directions more than every 4 hours because I loved watching Bill dance with the Turn sign.  I've never seen someone so excited about telling runners to switch directions!  HAHAHA
Bill is one awesome dude!!

I know Bill doesn't want to hear what's great about the race, he wants to hear what he can fix.  But honestly I can't really find anything wrong with his race (he has been doing it for YEARS).  The timing at the race was OUTSTANDING!  They had a screen just past the timing mat/tent area so that as you went by you could see your mileage and place as you went by.   They would even move said screen every four hours when we changed direction.  They also moved the mats as needed so that we could get official 50k, 50 mile, 100k and 100 mile times.  They had kids from the Valley Forge Military Academy working hydration stations for us, two of them plus the main food station.  All that on a track!  It was awesome.  You could just leave your bottle(including the awesome handhelds Nathan gave us!) at the hydration station and they would fill it for you and pick it up next loop. 

I would be remiss, if I didn't mention how much running with my friend Kristen meant to me.  This may be it for a long, long time of us doing a race together and I loved seeing her out there, chatting with her and watching her push herself lap after lap just so calm, cool and collected all race long.  It was also nice to share laps with Amy Mower again who I met at NJ One Day.  She too had a huge 100 mile PR and went on to have a 24 hour PR with 109 miles.  Even though I didn't really talk to them I LOVED watching Dave and Tara zoom around the track like it was nothing all day and all night, so inspiring. 
Kristen and I making one of the turns together, with Amy on our heels

So I still haven't figured out my stomach thing.  There is a chance I had a slight stomach bug as Una had one over that weekend as well or maybe it was just the stress that running my fastest 100 time put on my stomach, who knows.  It took days for me to not feel nauseous when I ate.  I still don't feel 100% completely normal in the stomach but my legs feel very good although I won't go for a run until tomorrow so we will see.  What I do know for sure is coach was right (ugh) and in his words I
"see the value of doing the work even when you're unsure of whether or not you are making progress. Patience and persistence!"  I'll see how well I do at remembering that next training cycle ;-)

I will end by sharing my numbers from the race:

50K: 5:04:58 
50 miles:  8:54.35
100K:  11:26.22
100 miles: 21:21.47

Also aside from my big hundo PR, I set 2 PA state records for my age
I set the record for fastest 100 mile time and for most miles in 24 hours 100.16
Two PA state records in my last race as a PA resident!!

And yup I can't wait to do it again!

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