Monday, October 15, 2012

REDEMPTION

or

Top Of Michigan 100k

or

How My Friend Pulled Me Through



History

If you've been reading my race reports, you know that on September 8, I completed my first ultra, the Woodstock 50M.  Then, two weeks later, I dropped at North Coast 24 hr after 6 hours.  Doing that hurt.  On Saturday, October 13, I had the opportunity to redeem myself at Top Of Michigan 100k.  The only problem that I foresaw was the fact that I had developed patellar tendinitis that manifested itself after my first ultra in September.  In the five weeks prior to this 100k, I had only put in about 80 miles, with 36 of them coming at NC 24 hr.  So the fact that I may not have been fit enough was a worry.
Also, I believe that ALL jinxes are valid in sports.  That being said, I had already purchased the 100k sticker.  It wasn't on display, but I was worried that I had jinxed myself.

Overview



Top Of Michigan 100k (TOM), is a small race that can be run as an individual or part of a relay.  There are six relay legs ranging in length from 7.9 miles to 16.7 miles.  Jeff Winegard, the RD, was super awesome.  He was very involved, being at every relay leg, asking us how we were doing.  The volunteers were also tremendous.  They acted as traffic stoppers and AS volunteers in the rain.  I remember one of the last AS she had everything covered in plastic because it was raining.  She got out of her car, offered some goodies to us...  Everyone was so awesome!!!
I, of course, ran the individual.  I was accompanied on my journey by my friend Kurt Adams.  This guy is awesome.  More on that later.

The Race

This was my first venture into the > 50M realm.  The overall elevation is -758 ft.  There were no hills, so no built in walk breaks.  
We started out as a group of three: Kurt, John Sands and myself. 
me, Kurt and John
Before you do a double take, yes, I'm wearing a running skirt.  Many (mostly male) volunteers asked me why.  My answer?  "Because I'm confident enough to." 

Crystal and I before the start
My super beautiful and awesome fiance, Crystal, provided support at every relay leg stop.  She was fantastic.  I would pull in, she would fill up what I needed filling up, give me some encouragement and send me on my way.  She also provided support for Kurt and John.
About 10 miles in, John had to take an in-the-woods break, and we didn't see him again until mile 28.  
It was right before this point that I really hit bottom.  Everything was hurting.  I was tired.  I wanted to stop.  Kurt kept reminding me how crappy I'd feel if I DNF (did not finish).  I pulled into the relay leg at 28 to stop at Crystal's car with Kurt yelling to her "Keep him going beautiful.  That way <motioning down the trail>."  She asked me how I was doing.  I told her "I hurt."  She asked what hurt.  I took stock and said, "My pride, mostly."  She said, "If you're tired, that's fine.  But if you're hurt, that's a different story."
I love this girl.  
I got what I needed and carried on.

Further on down the road

So we made it to the 50k point and started incorporating walk breaks.  After running that long, starting and stopping running is what hurts the most.  Once you're going, the pain is just background noise that you can tune out.  We ran as a group of three again for quite awhile, wrapped up in our own thoughts.  That can suck when you're trying to drown out that background noise of pain.
At mile 36, Kurt says, "The starting gun for the marathon just went off."  I told him to suck my nuts.  He gave me a 5 hr. energy to try.  I was hesitant to try one of these.  I had never had one period.  Much less trained with one.  I told him that if I got violently ill, I'd be blaming him.  His response?  "If it gets you to the finish, you can do whatever you want."  It did not make me ill, and it helped get me over the hump.
Our three person group goal was sub 12 hours.  In our lucid, able to do math moments, Kurt would inform us that we were still on point for that.  John had brought along a map of the course, with mileage distances from AS (aid station) to AS (there were AS in between the longer legs).  This comes into play later.

The Last Leg (Cheboygan to Mackinaw City)

After leaving Crystal for the last time until the finish, the three of us started back down the road.  It was 16.7 miles until the finish.  It was at this point that I looked closely at John's map.  I noticed that the last AS was 4.1 miles from the finish.
Around mile 50, another friend from our local ultra group (RUT), Andrew Harding, caught up with us.  After a mile or so, he and John took off on their own.  They went on to finish in 11:48:xx.  Great Job Guys!!!
Kurt and I were hurting.  We would run for one mile, walk for .2.  Then it was run .8, walk .2.  Even during the latter, we were still doing sub 12 minute miles, so we were on point.  Kurt's watch died, so I let him know when we reached the 10k left point.
I kept checking my watch, waiting for that last AS.  We passed 4 miles to go.  I started to realize that my watch mileage was higher than our actual mileage.  I saw the last AS in the distance, about a half mile up.  I didn't tell Kurt my suspicion's yet.  When we reached it, we had 3 miles to go by my watch.  We asked a volunteer how much longer.  When she said "4.1," all wind was taken out of our sails.  I told Kurt, "We're not going to make it."  Referring to our sub 12 goal.  A volunteer tried to pep us up.  I remember thinking, "Look lady, we're gonna' finish.  We just ran 58 miles.  Shut up."
We ended up walking more that last little bit.  We actually walked the last mile or so.  We came to the last road crossing and a volunteer got out of his car to warn traffic.  I shouted to him, "Don't worry about it.  We'll wait."  We asked him how much farther and he said a half mile.  I told Kurt, "My watch says .8 by the new math.  I'm not running until I see the finish."
And then there it was.  We just looked at each other and started running.
this hurt

100k in the books.  12:14:50.

phew!

Post Race

Sitting in the covered pavillion just past the finish, I saw another RUT member, Mark McCaslin.  He's a 100M veteran.  I told him, "Mark, I don't think that I can run 100 mile."  In fact, I never wanted to run again.
My perspective changed the next morning.  Yeah, I was pretty sore.  But I couldn't wait to start training for the next one.  Now I had no race obligations, so I could give my knees time to heal.
100 Miler, Here I Come!!!

Lessons Learned

  • After running that long, starting and stopping running is what hurts the most.
  • With a solid spring/summer base, it's possible to complete 100k.  Painful, but possible.
  • Running with a friend is invaluable.
  • When traveling from Gaylord, MI to Mackinaw City, MI, it's quicker and much less painful to drive.

Food consumed

  • 80 oz. Go Juice
  • 1.5 almond butter and jelly sandwiches
  • 12 pringles
  • handful of pretzels
  • handful of dried fruit

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