Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Labor of Love 100

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)

Wild Sebastian 100 mile

Here's Liz's slightly edited report on her Wild Sebastian run:

The Wild Sebastian 100 is a new Florida 100 on the East coast held in the Wild Sebastian wild life preserve.  I flew into Tampa, so had a long drive across the state.   I arrived at race headquarters just as the race briefing was finishing.  Found a reasonable motel 10 miles from the start.   Arrived a 6:30 am at the start, only to find out the race start was to be delayed by one hour due to rainstorms during the night. The race director wanted the course to dry out for us so we wouldn't get our feet wet.

The course is 25 mile long loops with aid very close together, never more than 3.5 miles between stations.  When I reached the first of 2 water crossings on the course, I was pleasantly surprised with a "water crossing" sign posted. There were mile markers every mile which was nice.  Unfortunately, on the back side and other portions of the course there was deep, snow white powder beach sand which after the first loop, most of us had to walk. Even this became very difficult...Sand soon filled our shoes. A mile section was deep grass, the Florida clumpy kind, with no trail.  I ran over a very large snake, boy did I run to the next aid station!  Also, there was an armadillo who ran right across in front of me.  The best part was coming around a corner upon a small herd of wild pigs, they didn't spook until I was 8 feet from them!  

This was a hard run for me, I had worked many hours the week before, night shift at the hospital.  There were many first time hundred milers, who showed great preserverence.  A lot of runners dropped. This is not an "easy" 100, nor hard, just challenging.  Post race we were treated to music with outdoor speakers,  a large shade tent, grilling with various meats. So much food!  

The awards ceremony included additional awards for fastest lap, most consistant lap, etc.  I napped in my rental car and had a second round of food before making way.  I would like to comment on the second place woman.  ( to the best of my memory, there was only 2 female finishers)  The blisters on her feet were unbelievable, but she stayed strong, and endured to the finish.  The second place male ran the entire course in five fingers.  He stated they worked well in all the sand...there sure was a lot of it.  

I must mention the course markings.  Every turn was marked with left or right turn.  Wrong way signs with a large X were posted.  Yellow ribbon ran across wrong turns.  At night....Every intersection was marked with flashing strobe lights.  You could not get lost.  I did take a wrong turn, running 3/4 a mile before realizing and turning back.  Of course, right there, was a wrong way marker I had missed and ran right by not paying attention.  All and all I have to give this race a thumbs up.  It is well oraorganized with a great post party and a challenging course. My finish time was 25:02. First female.

Race count: Liz (10) Scott (5)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Umstead 100

I haven't been to the Umstead race in about 5 years and I must say that Blake and his army of volunteers have kicked it up a notch from what was even 5 years ago an excellent race experience.  The quality, quantity and variety of food, the quality and quantity of volunteers, the prettiness of Umstead Park in early April, and the overall organization of the event make this an event with few peers.  I'd mention names from the organization of the event but I'm afraid of leaving some out. A lot of people work very hard to make this the popular event that it now is.  This was the 18th running and it filled within, I've heard, from 1-3 minutes.

As you probably know I sat this one out babying my achilles tendon which was hard but at least I had time to catch up with lots of friends from my time living in the area.  It was wonderful to see so many old friends!  It was painful to see Fred (Doom) Dummar on crutches after his extensive knee reconstruction after landing wrong in a parachute jump.  Best of luck with the speediest of recoveries, Doom!  That injury really keeps things in perspective on my minor annoyance of an achilles!

Liz finished her run in style runnning around 22:30.  She says that she feels strong but has no speed.  She is so steady right up to the end of the runs!  She's not fast but that steady forward progress gets things done in a very timely manner.  She definitely has increased pain and is feeling the strain of so many races in so little time (9 in 3 months) struggling to recover but nothing seems to be threatening to stop her yet.  Both of us will be skipping the Philadelphia 100 this coming weekend.  Me to let the achilles rest and Liz to let everything rest.  The following weekend Liz will be going down to FL for the Wild Sebastian 100.  I will be staying home to work.

After Sebastian we will load up the RV and drive out to NV for the Labor of Love 100 mile and the following week the Salt Flats 100.  Then we fly home from Las Vegas for 9 days to try to get in some work before returning to Las Vegas for the Zion 100.  If anyone reading this or anyone you know has someplace to stow the RV for those 9 days (1-9 May) to save us some parking fees we would be much appreciative.  We'll also be needing to leave the RV in the Denver area from 15 May until 12 June.  The RV is a 24 ft Winnebago View and not one of those monster 40 foot bus rv's.

My plan is to probably start the Labor of Love monitoring the ankle and running in shoes with plentiful toe drop.  There is definitely some tightness in the achilles area and some serious knots in the calf muscle but no pain at all.  I've been having some serious doubts about whether I'm being too conservative but I'm following my gut which tells me that as it is now it would not allow me to continue with our schedule.  I'm doing a lot of self massage with The Stick and rolling my foot over a golf ball to loosen the plantar fascia.  I'm also doing some gentle stretching and wearing (but not enjoying!) the Strassburg Sock.

Being a spectator at Umstead I got to witness a lot of inspiring efforts last weekend.  I saw Ed Demoney, at 78 years young, attempt 100 miles.  He had to stop at 50 but hey, 50 miles!  I saw 4 people 70 or older finish 100 miles including good friends Bob Calabria and Tom Sprouse.  Tom had a serious lean going at 90 miles and with 5.5 hours didn't think he could finish but got some massage and later in the final loop used some ingenuity to help fix the lean.  He picked up and carried what I would say was about a 4lb rock the rest of the race!  I got to see the incredible Mike Morton break the course record and run an uncontested 13:11.  He is now 40 but the sky is the limit on what this guy can do.  He is as smooth and effortless as anyone I've ever seen run, even after 80+ miles.  Garth Peterson broke 17 hours at 48 years of age.  And women's winner Traci Falbo nearly broke 17 hours with a 17:02.  Congrats to all!  Joe Lugiano is a technical wizard who, with some colleagues, has completely written the timing software and web interface.  The searchable results can be found here.

I'll post a report on Liz's run at Wild Sebastian when she gets back.

Race count:   Liz (9)  Scott (5)