Beginners and Beyond

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Jackpot Ultra 12-Hour RR- very long (Read 98 times)


Muddling through

    Jackpot Ultra 12-Hour: Unprepared For the Distance

     

    My preparation for Jackpot was less than ideal. It's not that I wasn't running consistently or putting in the miles, rather it was how I distributed those miles. My Clearwater Half Marathon demonstrated that my fitness was much higher than last September for North coast, but my longest run since then was only 15.1 miles, a little over 3 hours. This was to prove crucial to both my race strategy and race day execution. Preparation was complicated by high potassium levels at my semi-annual physical which had my primary care physician concerned enough that she asked me to see a nephrologist. Anything that affected my electrolytes would be of concern going into an ultra marathon. I'm not sure whether it was better that I didn't hear anything from the further test results or not before I left for Las Vegas. I still haven't heard anything, so I assume there is nothing critical that needs to be addressed immediately. Still it had me on edge since nutrition, hydration, and my electrolytes were all issues at North Coast.

     

    Thursday when I was flying to Las Vegas brought its own set of stress factors. First there was the 12-14" of snow that had fallen overnight. Digging out my car was not the best taper activity when I was supposed to be resting and conserving my energy for the race. Then there were all the flight cancellations. One after another the flights out of Philadelphia including all the morning flights to Las Vegas were being delayed or cancelled. My flight wasn't scheduled to leave until 6:00 p.m. but at that point I was half expecting not to get away until the morning. I think it was about 2:00 p.m. when I received an automated phone call that my flight was delayed until 8:15 p.m. Even then the instruction were to be at the airport ready to leave at the original time, since it could change again. I did leave early enough to be ready for the original flight time, but I really wasn't surprised that it wasn't until about 8:30 p.m. before we finally took off. Meanwhile I'd made phone calls to be sure my hotel and rental car reservations would be held for. It was a direct flight so it was a little after 11:00 p.m. Las Vegas time when I arrived. Matters got frustrating after that. Highway signage was minimal and not too helpful. I must have made at least 4 wrong turns or missed turns before finally blundering my way to the hotel.

     

    With yesterday's directional issues in mind, the first thing I did after breakfast was Google directions to Cornerstone Park to be sure I'd have no problems getting to the race the next day. It's a good thing I drove there because it was another case of driving around in circles or back and forth because I couldn't find the streets I was supposed to follow. I eventually found the park by trial and error. I don't think the last three streets referenced in the direction even exist. After checking out the paths in the park, I spent some time sightseeing before picking up my packet late afternoon. It was fun to hang around the Red Rock Running Company store talking with other runners, including my friend Katrina, as they checked in. I joined a group of them that were dining at the Cheesecake Factory that evening. Being Valentine's Day it was a long wait for a table that could seat 15 of us. And by the way, I'm having second thoughts about shepherd's pie being a good pre-race dinner.

     

    Race day began with a few hitches. First I had problems getting to sleep, then staying asleep. After waking up almost every hour I finally got up, got everything ready, then headed down to breakfast. I waited...and waited...and waited. It was now 7:20 a.m. by my watch and breakfast was late. The race started at 9:00 a.m. and I wanted to be there about an hour early. So I knocked on the kitchen door to see if I could at least grab a couple muffins and a cup of coffee to go. Much to my surprise I was told breakfast started at 7:00 a.m. and it was only 6:25 a.m. Whoever had set the clock in my hotel room had set it an hour ahead. At least I could relax and drink my coffee while waiting for breakfast now.

     

    When I got to the park I was one of the earlier arrivals. I walked around a bit, found a place to drop my knapsack, and chatted with a few runners and crew. Much to my embarrassment I was persuaded to have my photo taken with two show girls who were there as part of race day entertainment. After dinner last night I could at least look for some familiar faces also. There were also quite a few others taking photos which have been or will be posted on Facebook. Looking ahead to the race, we would have enough cloud coverage that the Sun shouldn't be a problem and temperatures would be moderated. I think the high reached only 75F if that.

     

    After the national anthem was played by Ed Ettinghausen, one of the better known runners, we gathered for the start and I drifted to the rear expecting, actually hoping, I would be one of the slower starters. I had only a general plan for my walk breaks. Rather than specific timed intervals, I tried to adjust them to the terrain walking the slight uphills. Overall that seemed to be working at first, but the walk breaks, in hindsight, were probably too short, only 1-2 minutes rather than the 3-4 minutes I had initially been considering. Each loop was 2.381 miles, but it was a long, thin loop bent into a horseshoe shape with some parts overlapping like an out and back course. We were constantly in sight of other runners going both ways after only a couple laps. The peculiar shape must have thrown off the Garmin readings because a number of other runners commented that the Garmins were reading short rather than long. Splits have not been posted but my Garmin splits showed be at 1:03:33 for 5 miles, 2:08:18 for 10 miles (1:04:45), 3:14:32 for 15 miles (1:06:14), and 4:27:25 for 20 miles (1:12:53). As you can see I was slowing down noticeably after 15 miles, i.e. after I was beyond my longest training run. I had quite a few minutes banked at this point, but that would change as I moved into the second phase of the race.

     

    By mile 22 or about 5 hours into the race I was reaching a low point. I kept telling myself to think positive thoughts. I reminded myself that I didn't have a specific mileage goal, so as long as I kept walking I was making good, positive progress. I wasn't happy with the prospect of walking for 7 more hours, though. Meanwhile runners are passing me in both directions and almost everyone is encouraging - lots of waving, comments, and the occasional low five. I admitted to Katrina that I was having a tough time, but otherwise I tried to keep any negative thoughts to myself. Those next 5 miles took 1:25:07 and brought me through 25 miles in 5:52:32, my slowest by far to that point. I think I had a few laps that took me over 40 minutes when my benchmark was about 34 minutes. Running 34:17 per lap would give me 50 miles for 12 hours. My cushion was not only rapidly disappearing, by 30 miles it had disappeared entirely. But something happened between mile 25 and mile 30. Whether it was finally benefitting from what I'd eaten at the aid station or I was partially recovering with all the walking I'd been doing, I started feeling better and was able to push myself to jog short sections of the course again. That was something I never got to at North Coast, so I considered it a huge breakthrough for me. With being able to jog again, even if only for a couple minutes at a time, I covered those 5 miles in 1:20:06 reaching 30 miles in 7:12:38. I was perking up and still smiling. While I was still moving slowly, it was faster than I had been and I was able to continue that pace running 1:19:42 for that segment bringing me to 35 miles in 8:32:20. Along the way I got a lift when I passed the 50K mark.

     

    Somewhere around mile 36 or 37 was my slowest of the day. This became the real turning point in the race. The reason it was slow had nothing to do with how tired I was or how I was feeling. The sun had set and it was getting dark. I could probably have continued without a light source as some did, but I stopped to get a small flashlight from my pack. First I had trouble bending down to search my pack, then I had problems finding the flashlight. A couple young women crewing for some other runners offered to help, then once we found it, one of them offered to pace me if I wanted. I wasn't sure how serious she was and cautioned that I was going slow mostly walking. She didn't mind and said she'd like to because it gave her something more to do, so off I went with a new found friend. With the long stop that five mile segment took 1:30:13 and brought me to 40 miles in 10:02:33, but the transformation after the stop was almost miraculous. My pace didn't change much, in fact it was actually a little slower though these next few miles also included a potty break, so maybe I didn't slow down. Subjectively they flew by as the two of us chatted. Among the interesting items that came up were that she grew up near Edgewater Park in Cleveland, so was very familiar with the place where North coast is held. She's now in Columbus and knows or at least knows of some of the RW people from that area. Another 1:22:34 brought me to 45 miles in 11:24:47. At this point it was obvious my Garmin readings were not in sync with the official tally. With 19 laps and 45.239 miles run I made sure to grab my beanbag to mark where I was when the horn ending the race sounded. I did not really expect to complete another full lap. I decided to push the last lap a little if I could, so we started jogging, maybe actually running, more frequently or for longer stretches. Much to my surprise we not only finished the 20th lap, we had 15 minutes left to run. In that final 15 minutes I completed a partial lap of 5263 feet, 17 feet short of a mile. That brought us to just before the area where crews set up their tents and I had my backpack. My pacer angel had stayed with me for almost 5 full laps and when everything was tallied my total was 48.62 miles, well beyond the 40-45 miles I had anticipated.

     

    My pacer, Lillian, continued to minister to me by helping me get my warm-up suit on, then running up to the aid station to get me something to eat and drink. Feeling a little better by then we walked back to the aid station area to cheer runners as they came by and congratulate finishers in the 12-hour race. Katrina was taking a break at the time so I decided to head back to my hotel. I was in no position to pace her at the time anyway, even walking. Unable to sleep, mainly tossing and turning, I finally decided I might as well shower and return to the race. Many of the 6-hour and 12-hour runners and crew had packed up and left, so it was mostly the 24-hour and 100-mile runners left. With not much else going on and few people about, I asked if I could be useful, so I was assigned to keep cups filled for the drinks, a simple enough job that even in my current state I could handle. It also gave me the opportunity to see and sometimes talk to the runners still on the course. I must have been there for 2-3 hours before Katrina returned to the course. I asked to be excused so I could walk a lap or so with her as a "pacer". I stayed with her until her husband arrived to walk with her until she finished.

     

    It would be hard to describe those who completed the 24-hour and 100-mile races. Some of them looked like sleep walkers while others remained bright and cheery. I don't know where they found the energy to leap and cavort to celebrate their finishes. There was lots of cheering for each and the RDs were on top of everything seeing that everyone got their finisher's medal and those who completed 100 miles got their buckle. I wasn't up to staying until 3:00 p.m. and the 100-mile cutoff time. This time when I got back to the hotel, first I grabbed another breakfast, then I finally crashed in bed and slept a good portion of the day.

     

    The quick fade shortly after I passed 15 miles drove home the importance of getting in some longer runs of 4, 5, even 6 hours. It wasn't lack of energy. My legs just didn't want to continue with that activity. My recovery with walking and being able to continue and start running again included both physical and mental components. At North Coast I was afraid that if I made the effort to run late in the race, I wouldn't be able to finish. This time I knew I could finish and it was a matter of whether I was willing to make the effort. Having a pacer, someone to talk with, was a major positive factor. I think I need to learn how to deal with races and situations when I won't have a pacer, but my preference at this point is to have one if at all possible. Much of that is that the time passes quicker subjectively, because I'm focused on something else besides running and how tired or bored I am at the time. With my next scheduled race being the Ice Age Trail 50K, I need to focus on preparing for that with more time running trails as soon as they are passable. I hope to add at least one trail race to my schedule before that. I'm still tempted to add a 24-hour track run to my schedule at the end of May. Even if I only run as far as 100K, it would be another intermediate step up leading to the 24-hours at North Coast this year. I'm recovering quickly again, so I suspect I can do a lot more than I have so far.

     

    As an addendum, even as I was posting this I'm remembering odds and ends I should have included such as comments on my eating and drinking as that was a primary concern going into the race. I ended up avoiding salty snacks and sports drinks in favor of sweet snacks, pastry, pie, etc. with primarily water supplemented by Coke and ginger ale.

    2014 Goals: Run first trail ultra, first 100K, and see what I can do in a 24-Hour race

    Jack K.


    I love sponge cake.

      Great stuff, wc. Dang, I'm impressed. Other than running thousands of miles over many years, can you train specifically for something like that? Wow! There is a little voice that tells me I might do one, someday. Great RR, as usual. Hats off to you.

      2014 races

      Santa Anita Derby Day 5k - 5 Apr  

      Mountains to Beach Marathon - 25 May

        Where's the showgirl picture? 


        Antipodean

          That's a great RR and superb effort to reach 48 plus miles. I must admit I had a double take when I first saw your weekly mileage, but it totally makes sense now. Great job!

          Julie

           

          PRs:  1 mile  6:57  //  5k   24:12  //  5 mile  39:32*  //  10k   49.10*   //  Half  1:52:18

           

          * courses slightly short

           

          "It's not the mountains we conquer, but ourselves."

          ~ Sir Edmund Hillary

          happylily


            Another great performance on your part, George. Bravo! You have been doing so well lately. I can't imagine doing close to 50 miles in one day. It must be so physically and mentally draining...

             

            Thank you for this great RR, it was very interesting. I'm thinking about a 50k event this summer. It sounds so puny compared to what you did.  I will make sure to contact you to ask about proper pacing and nutrition strategy, if you do not mind.

            PRs: Boston Marathon, 3:27, April 15th 2013

                    Cornwall Half-Marathon, 1:35, April 27th 2013

            4 years racing, 14 marathons, 14 BQs     


            Muddling through

              Another great performance on your part, George. Bravo! You have been doing so well lately. I can't imagine doing close to 50 miles in one day. It must be so physically and mentally draining...

               

              Thank you for this great RR, it was very interesting. I'm thinking about a 50k event this summer. It sounds so puny compared to what you did.  I will make sure to contact you to ask about proper pacing and nutrition strategy, if you do not mind.

              I don't mind at all, but SueInTN would be a better source. I'm still experimenting and learning what will work for me.  The people over in the Ultra Runners group have also been a big help. There's also a big difference between 50K and 12-hours. 50K for you shouldn't be much different from a marathon.

              2014 Goals: Run first trail ultra, first 100K, and see what I can do in a 24-Hour race

              GinnyinPA


                Congratulations on doing so well in the 12 hours.  Thank you for the RR.  It sounds like you are getting more comfortable with that kind of racing, which is really different.  If you want another this spring, there is a 6, 12, 24 hour race in Chambersburg, PA in May.


                SheCan

                  What a great report!  I feel so inspired after reading.  I can't believe after your 12 hour race you went back out there, and helped and paced and just continued to be a part of even longer races.  Congratulations on your 48.62 miles (!!!!!!!)  I hope I keep growing and expanding my horizons like you have.

                  Cherie

                  Running- the real sport.  The others just play with their balls.

                    All I can say, is congrats. These type races just amaze me. I was wanting to be part of a 12 hour relay on March 8, but have elected to pass this year. Big kudos to your 48.62 miles and exceeding your goal.

                    scottydawg


                    Barking Mad To Run

                      Much to my embarrassment I was persuaded to have my photo taken with two show girls who were there as part of race day entertainment.

                       

                      I would have loved that myself, lol.   The running 12 hours, on the other hand...

                       

                      Wow, quite impressive, George!  As someone else said..how do you train for that?  Congrats on your determination and stamina in accomplishing your 12-hour outing, exceeding your goal while doing it!  You really are an inspiration!

                      "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." Theodore Roosevelt


                      Bad Ass

                        Great job, George!  I cannot wait to hear how the rest of 2014 goes!

                        Damaris, Marathon Maniac, Ultra Runner

                        Next:  San Francisco Marathon

                        Blog

                        "The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire."

                        LRB


                        Dreamer

                          Nothing about the two or three dozen ultra marathon race reports I have read since becoming a runner inspire me to want to do one.  Instead, I sit in disbelief while shaking my head at some of the most courageous feats one could imagine.

                           

                          But alas, I have learned to never say never where running is concerned.  That said I will never run an ultra!  lol

                           

                          Heal well and hopefully learn from your continued ultra running experiences.

                          "Training is not always fun, but it should always be rewarding."


                          Muddling through

                            Nothing about the two or three dozen ultra marathon race reports I have read since becoming a runner inspire me to want to do one.  Instead, I sit in disbelief while shaking my head at some of the most courageous feats one could imagine.

                             

                            But alas, I have learned to never say never where running is concerned.  That said I will never run an ultra!  lol

                             

                            Heal well and hopefully learn from your continued ultra running experiences.

                            That's what I said for 45 years, yet here I am.    I said the same about marathons when I first started running, then ran my first less than two years later.

                            2014 Goals: Run first trail ultra, first 100K, and see what I can do in a 24-Hour race

                            LRB


                            Dreamer

                              That's what I said for 45 years, yet here I am.    I said the same about marathons when I first started running, then ran my first less than two years later.

                               

                              Yes, I know.  It is a frightening thought!

                              "Training is not always fun, but it should always be rewarding."

                                Amazing, congratulations George.

                                 

                                (and apologies for taking this long to read your report).  I hope your training goes well for NC24.

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