Liz and I left GA in the Winnebago on Tuesday morning (17 April) at about 1am en route to Las Vegas NV for Saturday's running of the 3rd annual Labor of Love 100 miler. It took just under 48 hours of driving, napping, resting, and food stops to make the 2000 mile trip. It was kind of exhausting with the only significant stop being about 6 hours somewhere in NM when we were both too sleepy to drive. Even though we were able to lie down and even sleep some in the bed while underway, there is still the constant bumping, grinding and swaying that is an inevitable part of being in a glorified moving van on the freeway at 65-70 mph. Once we arrived we did have two full nights to catch up on sleep and found a nice quiet spot near the race start to relax. Race morning we weren't 100% rested but we were both feeling reasonably well.
Race director Joyce Forier puts on an ultra extravaganza with multiple race distances from 10k to the 100 miler with races starting on both Saturday and Sunday, including a "Love Me Two Times" category for racing both days. I talked to one guy who had run the marathon on Saturday and did the 50k on Sunday. The course follows the Lovell Canyon Road which runs through the Spring Mountain NRA just outside Las Vegas NV. It's an 11 mile section of road that we did out and back 4 times with a 12 mile short leg to finish off.
Watching the weather as race day approached was concerning for the predicted heat wave. Lost Wages, I mean Las Vegas, was predicted to have highs in the low to mid 90's. Where we would be racing was higher and should be 10 degrees cooler but with nowhere to escape the relentless sun it could be tough. The night we arrived it was quite chilly at our camping spot but the next night, Thursday, was significantly warmer and Friday night was even warmer. We were preparing for a hot run. The 7am start found us with short sleeves and no need for gloves as it was already nearing 70 degrees. Even within a few miles of the start I was feeling the heat as the sun rose in the sky.
Liz and I had completely different races for this one. She does better in the heat and I was doing this run after a month completely off of running. The first two laps were brutally hot in my opinion. Everyone was running strong and hard and I was pulled along in this though I did fall back in the field for those first two hot laps. But the carnage started by mid-afternoon with many dropping out due to stomach issues and cramping from not eating or drinking properly due the fast pace and heat. By the end of the second lap I was already about 4 miles behind Liz. This gap would get even greater as the night wore on. By the end of the second lap I was really feeling wiped out even though I had backed off considerable during the heat of the day. The 11 mile stretch of road that we ran out on was basically all uphill with one sharp mile long drop in the middle. On the first lap almost everyone ran most of the way up this hill because it was a mild grade. I ran too much too but people were streaming past me all the way out.
I really looked forward to the sun going down and the temps moderating. And on my third lap I was able to really pick it up. It was my strongest lap but when I saw Liz on my way back she had actually gained ground on me. When I realized that I knew that she must be racing for the lead. I said as much when we passed and Liz said "She's not that far ahead." Crazy. If you've been following this blog you know what kind of schedule she has had and to be racing in the middle of it boggles my mind. She did go on to win and as if winning the race wasn't enough she admitted post race that she raced the clock also to finish under 23 hours. I do not have that kind of drive. She is incredibly tough.
On my fourth lap the sleep monster rode my back on the entire outbound trip, especially after the midpoint aid station. At this aid station I drank both a 5 hour energy shot and a Starbucks double shot espresso drink which I used to wash down a caffeine pill. And still I had to stop and lie down multiple times before I got to the turn around. And this is all in addition to stopping at the RV (we were parked along the race course about a mile out from the start/finish) for about 30 minutes to nap, wash my face, and change shirts and hat on that 4th loop. This loop ended up taking me about 7 hours.
The thought that plagued my mind as I did this slow lap was the fact that I was going to have to finish my partial lap after sunrise ... in the sun. I dreaded it. I started that lap at about 6:45 and was in the sun within about 2 miles. It was hot, I was drained, and I had blisters on both feet right on the ball of my foot between the great and second toes. I stopped at an aid station set up for the Sunday runs and sat in a chair to pop the blisters. They hurt even worse at first but the pain leveled off as I ran. Or rather walked, since the first 4+ miles are all uphill. After the first lap I walked 80+% of the outbound leg.
Liz had finished almost an hour before I finished my 4th loop and was sitting in a chair near the timing table. I told her to go to the RV since I'd be at least 3.5 hours to finish but she said she would stay and wait there. Which she did. I ended up finishing just under that 3.5 hour estimate and she was there, stiff and sore but awake. I was miserable. That last bit in the heat with blisters was not at all pleasant ... to say the least! But I sat there admiring the buckle and having one of the timing table volunteers' son's fetch me glasses of chocolate milk. Liz ended up winning the women's race in 22:54 while I limped in 3rd to last in 27:08. Results are posted here.
It is now Wednesday and we have the Salt Flats 100 starting on Friday morning. I was quite concerned with the blisters/swelling in my feet but they are getting better quickly and should be fine. We rested/napped/sweated/ran the AC on Sunday after LoL and did the 6+ hour drive up to Wendover UT which is right on the UT/NV border on Monday. We splurged and got a $30 room at the Red Garter Hotel/Casino last night to shower properly and sleep in a king bed. Sweet.
After Salt Flats we will fly home for a week of work and then back out to Las Vegas for the Zion 100 on 11 May. I am optimistic about my achilles issue being behind me now. I did feel some twinges during this race and there is still some tightness and "not rightness" in that ankle but I wore some road shoes and green Superfeet insoles left over from years ago when I had plantar fasciitis, and post race I feel no worse for wear. Thanks to Mark Swanson for the Superfeet suggestion! Maybe that month off is just what I needed but I still have the nagging thought that maybe I was being too cautious and should have finished NJ and perhaps soldiered on. Oh well, I'll never know and it is water under the bridge now. I hope that I can make up for the lost races later in the year and still get my 30 for the year. Time will tell.
Signing off 'til next week....
Race count Liz (11) Scott (6)