Thursday, May 23, 2013

3 Days at the Fair: Part 2

Continuous Forward Motion

I began lap 51 both excited that I was breaking through my mileage personal best but also nervous since I was unsure what my body would begin to tell me about going this far. I started to play numbers games in my head again and my “pie in the sky” goal of 100 miles seemed so far away. I mean I just ran 50 freakin miles and I was only half done!! I calmed my thoughts and remembered my 1st milestone was approaching: finish 100k (62 miles). Also, I had made it to a different milestone that I created with some of my coworkers. I had asked them all to guess how many miles I would complete, Price is Right style. The low guess was 45 and the high was 175(yea right). Once I was in that range I felt good that I wasn’t letting anyone down which motivated me to keep moving.

Keith was still moving strong and was taking a few more breaks than I to rest up for his next leg. His chart shows he stopped around mile 38, 49, 58, and 66. He had mentioned that during one of his breaks his hip tightened up on him pretty good but after walking for a bit he was back to perfect running form which I’m still baffled by. Previously to this event he had only run 32-ish miles as well as several Ironmans. Incredible feats to any average person but Keith isn’t average. In any event, I was still impressed with his strength to continue on and fight through the boredom he made clear to me he was experiencing .J

Crossing the 100k mark I made my next goal 75 miles. By now my pace had gone down to about 16:30min per mile and it was close to midnight and I knew I had a long night ahead of me. Then the rain started. It wasn’t a heavy rain but more like an inconsistent mist/drizzle. So as the temperature dropped I knew I had to keep moving to stay warm. I tried wearing my rain shell but I overheated on my running intervals so I ditched it and relied on my own body heat. What also helped was the awesome food the volunteers in the kitchen were cranking out. I came through the start/finish area and was greeted with a freshly baked peanut butter cookie and later on got a glorious bowl of ramen noodle. I think I asked them something ridiculous because they all started laughing at me at one point. I think I was just so happy to have some warm food that my brain could only concentrate on one thing.

about what i looked like
Mile 75 (my 2nd milestone) finally arrived at around 1:50am and I told myself that I needed to take a little longer break to take some pressure off my ailing foot which wasn’t feeling any better than it did at lap 25. My gait on the other hand, unlike Keith, was all kinds of messed up. I was leaning at about a 45 degree angle when running and doing this weird shuffle thing while trying to pump my arms with the hopes they would propel me faster. Keith came up behind me earlier in the night before he took a longer nap and said that I didn’t look too good. My response was that I look great considering I’m 69 miles in. I wish someone could have done a gait analysis on me at that point.

The rain continued and I decided that it was time to grab some tunes to occupy my brain for the night. Earlier there was a horse show and a wedding going on so the music from the party kept me going. I also knew it was time to switch to MY music when I caught myself singing “Hollaback Girl” by Gwen Stefani ( “A few times I’ve been around that track…” It seemed to fit the moment quite well. I also got “White Wedding” by Billy Idol stuck in my head to because there was a guy singing it at the top of his lungs right behind me for a while.

My pace during the night had actually gotten better. My average was around 14:15min per mile which was a little more than 4 miles per hour. The numbers games began again as I calculated over and over again if I could make it to 100 miles before 9am. My next milestone was mile 85 and if I got there before the sun came up I knew I could do it. I got there at 4:11am and this was when I realized that I was going to make it as long as I kept moving. No more breaks from this point forward expect to hit the bathroom which by now was either in front of my car or on the side of the course (just #1). The volunteers at the start/finish line were SUPER helpful at this point. Every lap they asked if I needed anything and refilled my bottle with whatever I wanted as I grabbed more food to get me through the end. It was very efficient and it was a good thing because I seemed to be hungry after each lap as if I hadn’t eaten in days.

perfect form
My average pace the rest of the event was 14min flat and I even threw in a 9:09min mile on mile 92!! That turned out to be my fasted lap of the day. I still am clueless where that came from. I think that is when it finally got light out again. There was no sunrise like I was hoping but the energy all around the course as people emerged from their tents must have gotten me going. Keith also woke up from a 5hr nap at this point and I got to run a half a lap with him too. Miles 95-100 were pretty much victory laps but they seemed to take an eternity. On my last lap I grabbed my camera and caught the views of the course that I had been passing for the last 22 hours. I came in on my 100th and final lap at 7:38am, finishing in 22 hours and 38 minutes. I had envisioned myself possibly crying or collapsing to the ground in total exhaustion, but I think I was too tired to be emotional and I had a warm and dry tent waiting for me on the other side of the course.
75mi snack break

Keith was still on course, still with perfect form, pushing his pace to reach his goal of 80 he told me almost 24 hours earlier. I got to my tent and just sat there for a while to soak in what I just finished. Still in shock I very un-gracefully crawled into my tent to change. I wanted to try to sleep a bit but my brain was telling me that it was time to wake up and eat some breakfast. I crawled back out and hobbled over to the kitchen where they had pancakes and bacon. BEST EVENT FOOD EVER. I’ll try to list everything I ate below but will probably miss some items. I attempted to stay away from gels and artificial foods and that certainly paid off. No stomach issues at all! The only thing that was odd was that I thought it would be a good idea to just chew an effervescent electrolyte tablet. I started foaming at the mouth before I had to spit it up. Very strange experience.

My 100mi diet:
3 Buffalo sliced chicken w/ cheese sandwiches & plain greek yogurt (instead of mayo)
Half a bag of peanut butter/peanut M&Ms
6-8 bananas
 1 espresso brownie
1 large coconut water
2 Grilled cheese
1 bowl mac n cheese
3 cliff shot blocks
1 5hr energy
3 V8 energy-vegetable juice
15-ish saltstick electrolyte tablets
20 mint lifesavers
Assortment of cookies, candy, and chips from the aid station

I hung around for the awards ceremony and I received my 100 lifetime miles coin (the equivalent to a belt buckle in the ultra running world. I still think there should be an award that says you did all 100 in one year because technically I could have ran 50 and 50 in 2 years. However, I do really like the idea of mile accumulation and one guy who has been running this event ever since it began is now at 960 miles, completing 272 this year over the 3 days!! The 1000 mile coin is a beast. Also, if you haven’t noticed I never referred to this as a race. Technically there are winner for each category but this is more about challenging yourself. I was racing but it was never against another runner. I was battling the clock, my brain, my body, and the number 100. Today I came out victorious and I join a very elite few in the world that have run this distance under 24 hours.

finishing #80 strong!
Keith came in with 11 minutes left for his 80th lap. Extremely impressive considering his training was not typical of “ultra training mileage.” It was awesome to have a familiar face out there and being able to joke with him on the course every so often. He finished his last lap in 7:46min!!! 79 miles and he still had juice left. AMAZING!!!

It’s a few days later now and honestly I’m still in shock about what I did. People are congratulating me as I show them my coin I’m not letting out of my sight. I’m still limping around with my right foot injury but I have a feeling of satisfaction in my performance which I don’t typically get from the average races I run. I don’t regret anything from the weekend and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

Rick & Jennifer(awesome RDs!)
I did it
Lastly, I want to thank the race directors, Rick and Jennifer McNulty and all the volunteers that helped make this a successful weekend for all the participants. The support was amazing and I’m positive this event will continue to grow as it has been year after year. Congrats to all finishers and maybe I’ll be back again next year!!


Time to rest

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

3 Days @ the Fair: Part 1


                Thank you Issac Newton. Your first rule of motion (see previous post) was true and helped me to achieve my goal this weekend and surprising the hell outta myself!! This past weekend I participated in a timed running event down in north NJ at the Sussex County Fairgrounds. The weekend hosted several options for runners ranging from a simple marathon all the way up to 72hours (3 Days). Having done distances beyond and marathon and for as long as 12 hours in the past, I signed up back on January 1st, the day registration opened, for the 24 hour category. And a month later I got my good running friend, Keith, to join me.

                My longest distance covered prior to this event was 50 miles so I set up 3 tiers of goals t hit along that way. Each milestone got me closer to the ultimate goal of 100 miles in 24 hours. This was my carrot for the weekend and a lot of planning and thought went into this goal. A few days before the event I set up a spreadsheet to figure out the pace I would need if I had a run 20 minutes then walk 10 minutes schedule. This plan also gave me something to focus on during the event since we were all running in circles on a 1 mile loop course. With all the planning and packing complete, I started my short trip south to my hometown state of Jersey.

my setup
pacing schedule
                I arrived at the Fairgrounds Friday afternoon to some beautiful weather. There were already a number of tents set up along the course from the 48 and 72 hour runners and I saw a few of them circling the course as I took a walk around. I found a good spot to pitch my tent and filled it up with all my gear/food, then headed down the road for my “last supper” at a classic New Jersey diner. I’m a sucker for jalapeno poppers wherever I am so I got a plate of those and a giant burger with pulled pork. That hit the spot! I got some extra food to go to have later that night since I knew I’d be hungry again around midnight. Keith arrived as I was heading to bed and he just slept in his car.
Pacing & Motivation

                Event Day

                Keith and I went over to register and grab our bibs and took care of our morning rituals which meant multiple trips to the bathrooms. The start was at 9am so we said our good lucks to each other and told each other “see you in a day!” We decided to pace together for as long as we could but knew we would be separated at one point or another when we took breaks or needed to re-fuel. I think we stuck together for the first 25 miles or so. Keith was running faster than me and I was walking faster than him. He swapped out his shoes a few times but I stuck with mine throughout the whole event.

It was around this point that I started to feel some pain in my right foot. I was wearing 2 pairs of socks to prevent blisters so I took the thicker one off just my right foot and that alleviated some of the pain for a while but it soon returned. It was too soon in the event to call it a day and I’m too stubborn to quit most things so I kept on moving trying to adjust my foot strike to manage the pain. I took my first real break around mile 37 and put my feet up on a cooler and ate as much as I could. I was about 4:30pm and I was in a constant state of hunger because at this point I’m burning more calories than I am eating each hour. The weather was pretty overcast most of the day so I didn’t need to worry about cramping as much as I would if it was hotter out. I was still taking about 2 salt tablets every 2 hours just in case.

                At the 50 mile mark I was keeping a 12:19min per mile pace. This would have gotten me to around 120 miles in 24 hours. This was not a coincidence since my pacing chart I had on my car matched what I had expected to happen. I wanted to start out conservative but strong knowing that I would get slower as the day went on. I also didn’t know how I would react to running all through the night so leaving a buffer for longer breaks if needed was a great mental boost.

My first “longer” break at 50 miles (around 7:30pm) I was able to chat with Keith a bit who was only 1 lap behind me even though I hadn’t seen him in about 2 hours. We talked about how boring the 1 mile loop was but I stayed focused on my schedule and goals. Taking too long to break would have made me stiffen up and get cold, leaving me to play catch up throughout the night. Both of our concepts of time were getting out of whack but what can you expect with an event like this?

Part 2 tomorrow