Training - I did ok with training. As some of you know, I am a low mileage runner. Not really by choice; I don't have a lot of time to train, so I just do what I can. Since I started running ultras in 1999, I have averaged about 25 miles per week. That's it. I have had some high mileage weeks and some zero mileage weeks. But when I total everything up, my monthly mileage is usually about 100 miles, including all races. So, given my wimpy style, I did pretty good with my training leading up to the race.
Don't laugh... but here are the numbers:
January (I had just run 150 miles at Across the Years on New Years Eve) Week 1 - 13 2 - 30 3 - 25 4 - 26 (Death Valley Marathon) Total 94/4 = 23.5 mpw average
February Week 1 - 13 2 - 17 3 - 42 4 - 37 (Centennial Trail Run) Total 109/4 = 17.25 mpw average
March Week 1 - 32 2 - 63 (Pacific Rim 24 hour Run) 3 - 14 4 - 19 Total 119/4 = 29.75 mpw average
So, as you can see, instead of my usual 25 mpw average, I ran 26.83. Therefore, I increased my average weekly mileage so far this year by 1.83 miles! Whew! Maybe that helped? :)
Rest - I think what helped most was that I got some rest before the race. I did not have other race responsibilities and I could focus on myself. I arrived in Raleigh Thursday after a full day of traveling and had all day Friday to chill. The best pre-race therapy opportunity arose when I discovered a Nine West Shoe Outlet store right across the street from the hotel. 5 pairs of shoes later, all at great discount prices, and I was free of my pre-race jitters.
Weather - Predictions were for "severe weather." Thunder and lightening kept me awake most of the night before the race. My sleep was fitful and short. I envisioned myself running through thunderstorms with cold icy rain (since that's what I am used to in the Pacific Northwest). I woke to rain but it was light...and most importantly, the temperature was warm. That was certainly doable. I was prepared with clothing for any possible weather (especially cold at night) and I was mentally prepared to be wet for the run. As it turned out, the weather was actually quite nice for running. True, the rain took its toll on all of us. Many suffered from blisters and chafing, and at night, those who were doing a lot of walking were cold. I didn't mind the weather much at all. I stayed warm in my shorts and tank. Instead of changing into dry clothes at night, I just added a short-sleeved shirt. Everything was just going to get wet anyway. I was a little nervous about getting cold, but I never did as long as I kept moving. So, I brought everything and needed very little in terms of clothing. Figures. Better safe than sorry always!
Gear - Very little. I consider my socks to be gear though. Feet are, of course, most important for the long run. I wore my Drymax socks because I haven't had a blister yet since I've been wearing them. They work best in wet conditions. I did apply a very small smear of Hydropel on the bottoms of my feet before putting on the socks, which worked well. I had not one blister! My feet looked the best they ever have after a long ultra. Despite that it rained the entire time, my feet never once felt wet. I wore gaiters to keep the grit out and I carried one water bottle (which had a pocket for some small emergency items like ginger), and well, that's all the gear needed to run Umstead! It was great to run light.
Pace - I went to Umstead because it touts an "easy" 100 mile course. I love to run on rocky single track trails, but my cranky ankle makes it too stressful for me. Umstead trails are like soft road, the perfect fast running surface. Smooth, even, wide, easy. There was only one 1 mile out-and-back section that was true trail with leaves, rocks and lots of mud. Despite not wanting to, I wore my ankle brace the entire race just because of that section. I'm glad I did. It didn't bother me except for a small blister on the front of my ankle were the brace rubbed the skin. Not bad at all. Anyway, my goal was 22 hours. My 100-mile PR is from my first 100 at Rocky Racoon in 2000. I ran 23:51. Since 2000, however, I have run tougher courses, including 4 Western States, and I never broke that time...though I can't say I ever really tried to either. Umstead was actually my first 100-miler in 3 years, since I had ankle surgery after Western States 2005. I've run Badwater and a 48-hour race, but not 100-miler, so it had been a long time. So, I was at Umstead to break that time from long ago. I knew I could do it and I wanted to give some good effort this time and not have so much energy left at the end of the race like I usually do. I wanted to run faster, more consistently and not slow down more than 10% for the second half. I knew I could do 22 (barring any unforeseen adverse circumstance) and I expected to do better than that. I had a secret goal of sub 20 hours. Despite that it was 4 hours faster than my PR, I thought that was a reasonable goal too.
Crew/Pacer - Tim Englund crewed for me and then paced me. The plan was for him to crew till 50 miles, which is when you can pick up a pacer. However, it took me a long time to "get my groove on" as I said at that point, so I ran an extra 12.5 mile loop before he joined me at about the 100k mark. Tim did a fabulous job at both and his altruistic attention helped me reach my goal. Thank you Thank you Thank you!
Nutrition - I love Sustained Energy. It works for me. I carried one bottle, which was refilled each loop. I started with Amino Vital and then alternated Tiger Gatorade (extra sodium) and Sustained Energy every loop after that. The SE has about 350 calories so I got some good fuel in me early in the race. I did take in a couple of 6 oz cups of Pepsi a couple of times, as well as another 10 ounces of water when I was feeling dehydrated mid race. I took 2 Endurolytes and about 6 Thermotabs (about 1/2 the sodium as Succeed!). I had two 1/2 potatoes and one egg dipped in salt and 1 cup of rice soup that was salty. In addition to liquid calories, I ate my own food, very little from the aid stations. I had a Pro Bar, a pop tart, about 6 gels, a JoJo bar, a 1/4 PB&J from the aid station, and a cashew chew bar. All in all, I'd say I got about 200 to 230 calories per hour in me. All went down good and stayed down, and I had no nausea at all. This was deliberately more than I usually take in and it really helped me stay fueled, warm and on task.
Splits - The website will eventually post our splits. I don't have my loop splits but I remember hitting the marathon mark in about 4:30 and the 50k mark in about 5:25. My 50 mile split was 9:04. My 6th loop was 2:30 or so, which is what I was shooting for, and my last 8th loop was around 2:40, bringing me in for a final time of 19:42. I'll take that!
What would I do differently - Nothing. That's a satisfying feeling! Of course, I should train more and cross train and core train, but as far as the race went, all went just fine.
Injuries - I didn't post about my pre-race injury. I always have one and I'm tired of hearing myself talk about them. So, I didn't mention it. But after Pacific Rim, 2 weeks before Umstead, I saw my podiatrist because I thought I either bruised a metatarsal or I had a neuroma. I had pain, swelling and numbness and tingling on the bottom of my right 2nd metatarsal. He diagnosed a tear (and "hopefully not a rupture") of what's called the plantar plate, some cartilage in that area that helps the tendons stay in place. It was very painful. I was limping. He gave me a 6-day methylprednisolone taper pack and I took that despite that it causes me to feel jittery and break out in acne and feel bloated... Yes! Just how I want to feel a couple weeks before a big race! It helped a bit, but the thing that helped the most was this cool taping job where you splint the toe into a bit of flexion, preventing the extension that provokes the pain. I experimented a bit before the race but was still worried that the tape would cause more problems than just leaving it alone. So, the night before, I taped up the foot with extra care not to leave any rough edges on the tape. I used KinesioTape, benzoin, and micropore. It worked like a charm, never came loose, and that together with a little extra metatarsal pad, got me through pain free....well, at least as far as the foot was concerned. I had some other usual aches and pains, like my chronic hamstring tightness, but really, I had no real problems.
Recovery - I rested. What a difference that makes! I slept, ate and ate some more. Massage has been exceedingly helpful. Today is 2 days post-run and I am feeling pretty good. I have no swelling in my feet despite the long plane ride home. I walked 2 miles today and will start slowly running again this weekend. I am registered for the Spokane River Run 50k in less than 2 weeks. I will be running it easy. Friends - It was great to see so many people I knew and wanted to meet. I was especially thrilled to see Jamie Huneycutt (who ran sub 23) and Kim Sergeant (who got the walking stick DFL award). These are two of the sweetest people in ultrarunning. It inspired me greatly to get to see Serge and Jamie Donaldson tear up the course for their wins and another course record for Jamie. And Ray K is a charmer as always. Great fun, great friends.
The higher-ups - Race management rocked. Blake and Joe did a phenomenal job. They made their difficult job look so easy and fun. I was impressed with everything. Not a glitch.
I am an ultra runner, physician and have been medical director of some of the toughest ultras. I tend to be a mover and a shaker and louder than my size suggests. However, my Gemini twin is gentler and contemplative, an artist, a writer, and a poet. I am a dog lover, a believer in souls, and have a special affinity for those who struggle because I have been there.
This is my crazy lovable huggable Weimaraner, Steely Dan. I call him Steely. He left us in January of this year at only 6 years from lymphoma that did not respond to chemotherapy treatments. Steely was a total goof. He loved trail running, road running, treadmill running, new experiences, making eye contact, sleeping on his back, me, kids, and liver treats. He was Zappa's best friend. We miss him dearly.
This is Stella. A rescue from the shelter. She's about 6 months old and a Border Collie. She is a joyous bundle of energy and curiosity and now also Zappa best friend. She will make a nice running partner when she grows up.
This is the now the big brother of my family - a rescued Greyhound. His name is Frank Zappa. I call him Zappa. He's 7 years old and has learned all about life beyond the track and crate from Steely when he was with us. It was very rewarding to watch his personality bloom as he settled into the family. And yes, he runs like the wind!
This is Natasha, my dearest friend. She was with me through college, medical school, residency, and she moved with me from Chicago to Spokane several years ago. She was my best running partner for 10 years. My sweet Natasha died from bone cancer in 2006. I miss her still. I hung a windchimes over the deck outside. When it chimes, I smile and think she has finally -- wherever she is now -- caught a squirrel!