To start: I am in charge of my training and racing. All responsibility falls on my shoulders for any failures.
TLDR: Lots of awesome people, tough race, mistakes were made, I refused to continue, lessons were learned
Vicki– Totally rocked at crewing. I asked for ridiculous things that I’d packed away and she knew exactly where it was. This really helped my mental state during the transitions as I wasn’t stressed about things. You rocked, THANK YOU!
Richard– Richard was a total rockstar on this run. After transportation situation on Friday didn’t work out he drove out and back on his own. During the race we rolled like a machine, talking through strategy for the next AS, how we were going to reel someone in, troubleshooting etc, etc.You rocked; THANK YOU!
Aid Station Volunteers– I tried not to spend any time there but all of the aid station volunteers were friendly, helpful and overall just awesome. Also, now that I’m starting to know more people in the ultra community it’s great to see familiar faces
RD’s– The Beck’s put on an awesome race. They are really nice people, friendly, and put on an awesome race. Specific example: Mike was giving me a ride back to Start/Finish is a gator and stopped to set up some glow in the dark duckies “Just to give them something to cheer them up” on a fence post. I think that’s seriously awesome.
How’d my feet do?
They did marvelously, only one small blister and my toenails didn’t get much worse (the left big toenail looked that way from the Pinellas Trail race). The bottoms have just one tiny blister, which I didn’t know about until I looked for them.
The course: The course was a 25 mile loop in St. Sebastian State Park. Aid stations about every 3 miles.
The race plan: Go out slow, survive the day, fight in the night.
I always, always, go out too fast. I decided to run the first loop using a Heart Rate Monitor to stop from doing what I always do. I knew it would be hard mentally but would pay off later. Loop two would be about surviving the heat, and then I wanted to just grind out the last two loops during the night.
I walked allllll the way to the back of the group starting out and let everyone shoot out of the gate. I was ok with DFL for quite a while as long as I didn’t start too fast. I had set my HRM for 155 which should allow me to jog and walk a lot but not overdo it. I was running this first loop entirely based on heart rate for carbohydrate sparing reasons. After a few minutes of running on the doubletrack I fell in beside a few runners and we chatted for a while. I met fellow FURbies, Lauren Hadley, who was running her first 50 as a training run for AO, and Bernadette, Roger, and Libo(sp?). We ran together for a while bs’ing and talking about AO and other things. It was coolish and cloudy and was awesome weather for running. Then, we hit the sand:
I knew that there would be sand on the course, and had trained for it on beaches, but I had no idea how much there would be. I mean, there was miles and miles of this stuff. Someone later told us there was about 9 miles of it (I think he was off, but not by much) I was mentally in a good place but it was frustrating to be wading through this stuff and not to be able to run. The good news was I’d worn gaiters so I didn’t have a lot of sand in shoe problems.
I was trying to spend <30 seconds at Aid stations because Aid Stations cause DNF’s. I forget who wrote the article on this, but my plan was to grab water as quickly as possible and keep rolling.
I got to AS3 and futzed around with my aid bag but was not really thinking clearly; I realized I’d been there a while and blew out of the AS alone and was moving as quickly as my HRM would let me. This next section brought a lot of bogs and the temperature was starting to climb.
About this time I heard someone yelling a ways behind me and thought someone might be in trouble. Nope, it was just someone in her zone singing in the middle of the woods. =)
I went through AS4 quickly and got back out in decent time; the temperature was picking up and I was a little worried about hydration becoming an issue.I hit another big bunch of sand to the next AS, and started to slowly but surely pass people in this section. This happened pretty much for the rest of the race, passing one or two people for every aid station, and was a good mental boost for me.
Ran into someone Mark(?) that I’d met during my first race and had a pretty cool conversation about the Keys race and ultra’s in general. I left him after 10 minutes or so to keep hammering out at my heart rate.
I switched shoes to my bigger ones, changed to my safari hat, and grabbed another round of salt tabs and supplements, and got back out from the Start/Finish fairly quickly. There were a lot of people there having bad days and I didn’t want to get sucked into it. I was *very* happy to have a pacer for the rest of the course as I’d picked up Richard and he’d be accompanying me the rest of the way. We ran off my heart rate monitor for a while, and discovered that we had a secret talent; we were pretty good at getting through sand quickly. The mood was light and we were able to get through the first few AS’s pretty quickly. It was probably a mistake to keep using the HRM during this loop as we were pretty conservative on pacing while using it.
My coconut oil/almond flour that had been pretty awesome for me in training runs was upsetting my stomach and I had a peanut butter tortilla wrap at AS3 that was amazing. We got back out with headlamps and the objective of negative splitting this lap as the heat was wearing off. I had a couple of gray spots and focused on eating during these times. I managed to make it through this race without crying even a little, which is a first.
About this time the sun was setting and it started to rain. It wasn’t pouring, but it made the sugar sand stick to our shoes, and the high grass soaked our shoes. At this point blisters started to be a concern as we had a lot of ground to cover to get back to Start/Finish.
I’d been constantly moving forward for quite a while at this stage, I looked up at the moon which had just come out. There were puffy, silvery clouds all over the sky, and they were all flying into the moon, like it was some kind of vortex. This bothered me a lot. Fortunately Richard said he saw it too; Although he might have been fibbing a bit just to keep me calm.
I made a mistake during this time, and it was that I stopped eating as much. Richard was on me to eat, but looking back the calories just weren’t there. Also, although we weren’t running based on my heart rate monitor, I’d left it on and I noticed that I couldn’t get my heart rate up like I’d been able to do earlier, my percieved exertion was maxed but my heart rate was in the 140’s to 150’s. I was also getting twinges in my knees; Richard showed me how to high knee and mule kick to help fix these twinges.
We ran the rest of this loop doing tree to tree or marker to marker; our power walking was probably in the 15 minute range and we probably hit 12 minute miles during the running section. Overall we did loop two with a negative split around 20 minutes.
The Start/Finish tent felt like a mass casulty tent. There were tons of BMF’ers that were having hard conversations like “I’m not going back out there” and “Normally I’d let you talk me out of this but I’m done.” I needed a dry place to fix my feet and didn’t have a lot of options, but this, and my looming distance PR of 54, both hit me pretty hard mentally. After 25 minutes or so I said “I’ve got to get out of here” and we got back out with fresh socks and Richard muling my water (like I said, I owe him big time).
My legs were trashed from being so cold for so long and we tried to pick it up a bit with some running and I think my legs just weren’t warm enough for it at this stage. A few miles in my right knee starting feeling weird and “wobbly”. I tried focusing on my form and at this stage we were power walking because I wasn’t sure it would be able to take much running. I was focused on getting to AS1.
Hit AS1, had some salted almonds and focused on getting to AS2, where I was pretty sure Bob Becker would be able to tape my knee. I figured I was probably fibbing to myself and we discussed options for distance of just 75, and maybe just going to AS3 so I could at least do 100k. The last 100 meters to AS2 I really did not like the way my knee was feeling. A line from UR magazine was rolling through my head over and over again “..and he has never run again”. I didn’t think it was going to end up at that, but as I thought through the sand and the hog ruts I’d need to fight to get to AS3 I wasn’t sure I was willing to take the chance. Hurting it badly for a few miles and being out for a few months didn’t seem like a good choice.
Doc Hammer arrived about this time and taped/wrapped it but after taking a few steps it still didn’t feel like it was worth the chance. I DNF’d here, but really I REFUSED TO CONTINUE.
I’m not in a bad place mentally right now. That’s actually the hardest part for me on this; I know there were a lot of hard MF’ers that didn’t go out for loop two or three. I’m sure I could have gimped to AS3 and back to AS2 to get 100k under my belt, but I think it would have been a mistake and could possibly taken me offline for months. I think it was a good call.
Injury- I hurt my back about two months before the race and this knocked the peak off of my training for this race. Low time on feet probably had something to do with not enough leg strength.
Packing- I need to make organization simpler. It was great having everything I had; I needed my heat gear after all, I needed all the foot things I had. The tubs helped out greatly.
Fix my hip– My right hip doesn’t have the range of motion it should. I’m pretty sure this is causing the kinetic chain issues I’ve had. This is my first priority.
Strength Training– This is my second race where knee issues caused problems. Besides fixing the kinetic chain issues above, I need to have muscles that are able to handle the slow pace for very long times. Tire dragging and some weight training should help with this.
Altitude training– I think this helped a ton and while it’s time consuming I plan on using it for future races.
Mental strength- I was in a pretty good place for a lot of this race. I feel like I’m getting more comfortable at the higher distances and with sticking to a strategy. Until the very very end I feel like I was mentally able to get through the blue sections with “These are normal feelings and they will pass”.
Wild Sebastian is a little different in that you can get credit for each 25 mile loop; this means that I technically completed a 50. That means I did get a little bling:
I’m not going to aim for other 100 milers next year like originally planned. I think that I should finally listen to others, and aim for a 100k and try to do some fast 50 milers before stepping up to 100’s. This should give me time to develop the confidence, aerobic base, and the leg strength for the longer races.
Time to stop writing and time to visit ultrasignup.com… =)