Monday, October 25, 2010

Part 2: The Sun Goes Down. And it gets very dark.

You get custom-made bibs at this race.  People wearing pink
are those doing the race for the first time.  Everyone else gets blue.
This was the Garmin profile from all four loops.  
Loops 3 and 4.

Loop 3, I was still hanging onto the fantasy.  I was going to finish all 100 miles.  I was going to have my crew come out and run to the finish with me.  I started slowing, however, toward the end of loop 3 (mile 46), and my feet were starting to hurt. 
There's not a lot of bushes to pee behind out here. 
Just sayin'.
I'm not sure exactly when my very reasonable goal of finishing a 100k turned into trying to do a 100-miler, but after the race, I met some other women who tried to do the same thing, at the last minute, convinced that another 40 miles wasn't that big a deal.

I saw JoJaJogger out there but lost sight of her after my 2nd loop - wanna give a shout out. She finished, and took home 100 mile buckle!  I also saw Catra Corbett, more than once.  She's tiny. She won the costume contest.

It slowly dawned on me that it's not just the training that your legs need, it's cumulative time on your feet.  That has to be there.  My 3rd loop was just over 4 hours.  I was pretty happy with my time so far.  I figured if I averaged 4 hours on my first 3 loops, I could then go to 5 hours per loop for the next three, and still make the 9:30 am cutoff to begin the final 9 mile loop.

I had this other idea, severely misguided, that the time on my feet wouldn't be such a big deal now that I was lighter.  I tend not to blister.  I figured that, with a nearly 30 pound weight loss, time on my feet wouldn't be such a big deal.  Right?


Sunset on the Pemberton Trail.  These pictures were stolen from
Raj, another ultrarunner I have the privilege of knowing.  
What I didn't realize, however, is that your feet support your body, no matter what the size, and they can only do this for so long before they started to feel like angry monkeys had been pounding coconuts on them.

I came in, from my third loop.  Dread Pirate and SWTriGirl had arrived to take over crewing, and Courtney got ready to pace me.  Sweet Baboo  went to do the rest of his run.  I changed into dry bra, shirt, and socks.  The sun had set, and we donned our headlights as we headed out.  I had changed into more comfortable shoes.  My legs were a bit tired, but that was all.

Me: not being cute, just trying to finish.
We started out and as we headed up the 8 or so mile climb I could feel myself slowing, but I was maintaining an 18 mile pace going uphill.  I was on track.  But then as we reached the top of the climb my knees started hurting.  Then my ankles. Lastly, my feet were wearing out.  The bones in them ached.

From time to time, I would accidentally kick loose rocks.  They weren't big rocks.  But it was the same spot, on the same foot, each time, with my big left toe, and I knew that I was going to lose that toenail.  The last time I kicked one it felt like someone had shoved a knife under my toenail.  I swore and staggered for a bit, and it took a while for the pain to go away, and then I was left with the rest of the pain.
At the last aid station, a man asked if he could try something to help my aching knees, and I was like, uh, sure.  I sat down and he started waving what looked like a short knitting needle up and down me and then around my knees.


I waited for him to actually touch the knee, but that never happened.  After a few minutes of this he said, "how does that feel"?

?? How should it feel, I thought.  You didn't do anything.

I settled on saying that I didn't really notice a difference, but I appreciated him taking the time to try.

Unbeknownst to me during this time my ankle, which I had rolled 2 weeks prior, was starting to swell.  I'm not sure if it had anything to do with the final results, because it didn't seem like it hurt, but there was so much pain going on that I am not sure I would have noticed.

At one point, the trail suddenly tilted down to the left, and I had to walk up toward the right, off the trail, to maintain my balance.  Courtney said something like, "uh, stay on the trail now,"  and I realized there was no tilt.  It was me.  By the time I was headed in for the final 5 miles of my run, I knew there would be no 5th loop, or 6th, or 7th.  I didn't have another 40 miles in me.

The other thing that happened was beginning to become concerning: Two to three times per mile, I started having to pee.  I'm not sure why this was happening, but after the 7 or 8 mile mark this was accompanied by diarrhea.  I've often been pretty satisfied at the fact that I don't get sick to my stomach, but this was not a helpful alternative.  My stomach was cramping a bit, but it was minor compared to what was going on my feet and legs.

The pain in my feet, ankles, and knees started radiating upward.  My hips hurt.  Then my back.  My back hurt so much that when I coughed, which was often (I was trying to fight off a cold) the contractions just about knocked me sideways with how much my back hurt.  I finally started crying, because everything just hurt so much.  I hate crying in front of people.  Hate it.

At JJ there was no holding onto anything, because everything was a cactus.  The loose rocks, which hadn't bothered me at all before, bothered me quite a bit.  Every step was excruciating.  There was no relief.  The ache turned into searing pain.  As we made the final descent to headquarters, I was walking at about a 25 to 30 minute pace.  I stopped and sat down several times, desperate to get off my feet.  I never expected pain like this.  I've had three very large babies, one of them with no drugs, but it was nothing compared to this.

Runners headed out for their 5th or 7th loop passed me HEY YOU'RE LOOKING AWESOME!! as they went by.

The pain worked its way into my lower back.  I was so pissed - I wasn't too tired to run. I wasn't too breathless to run.  But my feet were too worn out to continue.  If it had been anything but the pain, Courtney could have kept me going.  They all could have. But the cumulative pain of everything in me from the waist down was too much.  

About a mile from Jeadquarters, Dread Pirate came out with another guy, Mike, and walked in with me.  She talked me into taking a gel, and some water.  On this loop, I had had 2 PBJ sandwiches, 3 cups of Ramen, 2 cups of iced coca-cola, some sports beans, several enduralytes, some sport legs, and 64 ounces of Gatorade, but the last I'd eaten was at the last aid station.  I was moving so slowly and having stomach cramps, so what was the point in eating?

This picture was taken the next day, when
most of the swelling had gone down.
I hobbled into Jeadquarters, and asked about Sweet Baboo .  He hadn't passed me on the way out, so I was worried about him.  Nobody knew where he was.  We found out later that he was in a warming tent that we didn't know existed.

Dread Pirate, SWTriGirl, Courtney and Andy hovered around me, trying to get me to eat, putting warm clothes on me, because I was cold and in pain, and started shaking.  SWTriGirl brought me pizza, and THAT I would eat.  I was just sick of sweet stuff.  They brought me water.  Andy started taking off my shoes and leg sleeves, and when he gripped my right ankle, I yelled.

My ankle looked like a doorknob had been shoved under my skin.  I'd never seen it so swollen, even after I turned it. In fact, both my feet were swelling.

About then I started crying again, getting all snotty and messy, apologizing to everyone, because they'd come out for nothing. I was done, we all knew it.  It was after 1:00, and there was no way, even if I wasn't in pain, to suddenly run two loops faster than I'd run any of the others.  After about 30 minutes, I hobbled over, turned in my chip, and since I'd finished 4 laps, I was given this:
100K = 62 miles.  The distance I went was technically 61.6
miles, but I'm not going to split hairs.  
Sweet Baboo  showed up after a while, and walked me over to the warming tent.  It was 80 degrees in there. At first I was unbearably hot, and then I was cold again, and then it was perfect, and I fell asleep on a narrow cot.  Eventually, SWTriGirl and Dread Pirate were faces above me, telling me they were taking off and going to a hotel.  I don't remember what I said or did, but I think I fell asleep again.

My puffer-fish feet the next day.  They're actually in good shape., just swollen.
It's hard to see how swollen my ankle is.  You can see my only blister, a tiny toe-tip one on the 2nd toe on my right foot.  

While I was sleeping, Sweet Baboo and the crew were loading up the car with everything except a tent, because Courtney was LOVING this whole ultra running camp thing, and wanted to spend one more night.  

We headed back to the hotel, where I fell sleep.  After a night's sleep, I was surprised to find that my feet were fine, for flesh-colored marshmallows, and my ankle was still swollen.  I slept most of the rest of the next day, but got up in the evening, went down to the pool, and sat on the wall between the pool and the hot tub.  I would dip my legs into the jacuzzi, and then into the pool, and kept doing that.  It felt great.  By then, the cold I'd been fighting off for days was finally on me.  Monday, I woke up a little stiff and sore, and we headed home.  

So what happened?

My training plan was specifically to get me to a 100K.  At this point, 50ks have gotten easy for me - in that I can do one and still do things and be functional afterwards.  I don't feel too sore the next day.  I have to work my way up to having 50 milers be that easy for me before I attempt to try another 100-miler.  That will be a couple years, I think.  Maybe 2012.

What did I learn?  

My crew was awesome.  They were taking care of me when I couldn't think. I now know that I get sick of sweet stuff, and need to have my own non-sweet food with me.  I need to bring my own sports drink so that I can get my nutrition partly that way, since watering down the drink seems to be common in ultras.  My clothing choices worked well.  I didn't get sunburned, I didn't get chaffed in a single spot, and I stayed cool.  My calves and quads are a bit stiff but not too much.  

Mostly I learned that I can go 100K.

Just not 100 miles.




  1. Great Race report!! Glad you ankle is better!!

  2. You are awesome! Great race report. I was talking to someone about Javelina Jundred on Saturday and saying, "Someday" ... Glad you are feeling better.

  3. Yet. :)

    Great report. Sorry it didn't go as you'd hoped, but a 100k is an amazing accomplishment. I tacked on an extra 50 miles I hadn't trained for on a bike. Can't imagine attempting that running. And seeing as you're already considering what went wrong/what to do differently next time, I have no doubt we'll be reading your 100 mile report at some point.

  4. Gad..I'm so impressed. I'd love to be able to run 50 miles or 100k someday but I'm not sure it's possible. Marathons are bad enough!

    You and Baboo (is this the Baboo from Lucy and Schroeder, i.e. peanuts? Sorry I missed that story..) are one tough couple! It's so great that you both enjoy running in general and doing ultras together.

  5. You did great. You trained for 100K and that's just what you did. It sounds like you might've gotten a little hyponatremic, in spite of the ramen and electrolytes. I'm glad you didn't try to push through the pain for another loop. There's always next year.

  6. Great job. 100k is awesome. You will be finishing your first 100 miler before you know it

  7. Incredible. Thanks for a fantastic report!

  8. Whoa, that was somewhat of an epic tale. Congrats on persevering through over 60mi. Best of luck on your rest and recovery, and on your next challenge.

  9. Great job! I love that fact that you conquered 60 miles. That is a huge accomplishment and I know that you will beat the 100 miles also!

  10. Great job out there. You kept at it and looked strong even when you were feeling like crap.

    Plus you finished WAY before me. It was incredibly hard out there but you got your 100k.

    You are awesome!

  11. Congratulations on earning that Badass Buckle! I too cursed those rocks, especially at night. You'd think by the time 300 runners had kicked those rocks several times, they would have been cleared off the course. Super job out there!

  12. Great job! I can't even fathom what you've accomplished. Looking forward to your 100 mile report in the future!!

  13. Congratulations! Love the belt buckle.. it's bad ass! As always a true and genuine inspiration to me.

    I love the "yet."

  14. YET is right! You are so going to do it one day! 100K is amazing! You are an inspiration and congratulations. Hope you feel better soon!

  15. Proud of you. Way to listen to yourself when needed & ignore yourself when needed. It's not necessarily what you wanted when you thought that 40mi wasn't THAT much more...but it's more than you've ever done & that's pretty damn impressive.

  16. Wow! I am impressed. 100k!! You are badass!!

  17. WOW! 100K is huge! Congrats!

  18. It was a great day and sucky at times but glad you nailed that 100k!! Congrats!

    I agree, time on the legs is KEY!!

    see ya at the next one, or 2,3,4,..


  19. Dude. You're so hard on yourself. You did 100k!! That's 99k more than many people do normally. I kept expecting to read in the race report that you DNF'd the 100k the way you wrote. You're so awesome!!!! And I hope that in 4 years I'll be smashing old PR's.

    Holy cow, you're a freaking rockstar<3

  20. Anonymous12:30 PM

    Nice work, this shit's hard, right. Be proud.


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