Sunday, June 22, 2014

Thoughts from the Trail: Backass Jackal Trail Marathon Race Report

Today, I ran the Backass Jackal Trail Marathon in Jackson, TN.  I ran this race last year in 6 hours and 43 minutes.  My goals this year were to run smarter, finish stronger, and beat that time WHILE enjoying the trail and the beauty of God's creation.  I love being in the woods.  It feels like home.

This was a 3.75 mile course that 18 of us had to run 7 loops of.

Here are a few thoughts from each loop.

Loop 1:  Even though it is in the 70's at the 7:00 a.m. and about 90% humidity, it doesn't feel hot yet. My legs feel good.  I need to relax and remember to run within myself these first two loops.  Yay, for once I didn't go out too fast!  

Loop 2:  I love trails.  Trails are my best friend.  Is that a snake???  It is so beautiful out here.  This is great.  Is that a snake???   I feel so at home out on the trail.  Is that a snake?  I'm feeling good.  Is that a snake???   (A copperhead was spotted on the trail the day before!)

Loop 3:  I am still feeling great!  These loops are flying by.  I love running!!!

Loop 4:   Where did my energy go?   My legs are moving in slow motion.  I'm going to power hike for a while.  What the heck is that buzzing around my head??  (Sprinting and flailing commence.)   Oh, good grief!  It won't give up!   (I round a corner quickly and almost hit my head on a tree.)   It's gonna sting meeeeee!!!   I bet I look like I'm having a seizure.  Oh, thank God, it's finally gone.  I think I'll walk some more.  I have to remember to put this in my blog.  :-)

Loop 5:   Running is hard.  My ankles and Achilles officially do not like me anymore. Why do I keep signing up for races???  It's hot.  The real feel of 94 is  here.  My feet hurt.  

Loop 6:  (Had a few swigs of Mountain Dew before this loop).   Whoo-hoo!!  I'm feeling better.  I'm running FAST.  Look at me!!!!  This is so fun!!  

Loop 7:   (More Mountain Dew.)  Almost done!  I'm so hungry!!  I'm so ready to be done.  My everything hurts.  EEEEK! Oh, it's just an earthworm.  I can't breathe.  It's HOTTTTT.  This air is too thick to breathe.  I feel nauseous and a little dizzy.  Should I hike a little while?  Nah,  I'm finishing strong.   Last little bit---I'm going to sprint it in!  

Immediately after that sprint:  Thank God it's over.  I can't breathe.  

One minute later:  That was GREAT.  A 27-minute PR over last year!!!  My A-goal was 6:15, but I'll take 6:16:42!  I'm hurting but happy.  Time to hit the chair.

A few minutes later:  I'm scared to take off my socks.  I hope my second toenail is still attached.

A couple of seconds later:  Nope.  Well, partially.  EEEW.  That's nasty.  I think I'll cut it the rest of the way off with these nail scissors in my bag.  (Which I did.)  Wow, that looks hideous.  I'll have hide it with a bandaid for the next 3 months.   "Hey, ya'll, I just CUT OFF my toenail with scissors!!  Anthony, come look at my toe!"

An hour later changing clothes in the backseat of the car: (I scraped the 2nd toenail from the other foot on the back of the seat.)  Are you kidding me? ??  That one, too??  Ok, half of it is still attached.   I think I will leave it alone.  

On the drive home:    My toenails all hurt.  Well, I guess not ALL of them.  (Wild laughter at myself.)  That was hilarious.  I think I will look into having those two permanently removed.  

Here are a few pictures from the final loop.  I was running hard, but I took time to take a few pics, mostly while in motion  (possibly contributing to missing that 6:15 goal... Whatever.)

One of my favorite spots.  Pine needles covered the ground making for soft running, but not much shade!

It was so green and lush.

Look, the trail has it's own mosquito breeding facility:
Tall and skinny trees do not make much shade, but they are cool looking at least.
Kind of rain-foresty (in my mind).
Just such a pretty spot.
Tired, happy, and toenail-less.  (Well, I still have 8 that are fairly solid.  For now.....)   

Friday, June 13, 2014

Painful, Wonderful Miles--Run Under the Stars Race Report

Last Saturday evening, I gathered with 190 other runners at my 3rd Run Under the Stars 10-hour timed event.  That is where I ran my first 50K and 60K during the last two years.   There is a 1/2 mile horse track made of crushed limestone, and we run in ovals around it from 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.   It's strangely fun.

I knew LOTS of people on the course this year, and in some ways it felt like a reunion.  Here are several from Run It Fast.  I might have nabbed this from Instagram:

There was a group of four of us who traveled from Clarksville, plus at least four other Clarksville runners there I knew.  A few of them--

At 8:00 p.m. there was allegedly a tornado warning in the area, but we started anyway.  Storms and rain had rolled through earlier, and the humidity was THICK.   I had a plan to stay at a 12:30 pace those early miles, to Run Gently.   I had to walk some each mile to keep pace at that rate, which was good for me.  I walked in those early miles to finish stronger!  I tried to stay on nutrition and hydration, but forgot to take in any calories until 59 minutes had passed.  I intended to take in calories every 45 minutes!  I also had some stomach, um, issues twice during the first 10 miles.  I was worried that was going to continue, but it didn't, thank goodness!

The first 13 miles went by, and I finished 13 in 2:47. I needed to be at 13 miles by 3:00 hours to stay on my goal pace.  I was quite ahead!   My normal half marathon time is around 2:10 or so.  I was being smart.  At 13, I decided my Hokas were putting too much pressure on my toes, and I needed to change.  When I bent over to change shoes, I got horrible CRAMPS in both glutes and my right pectoral muscle!! Ouch.  I noticed my legs were coated with salt.  I knew what the  problem was.  I popped two salt caps and made more of an effort to drink the Heed or Gatorade they offered at the aid station.

Miles 14-26 were from 11:00 p.m. until 2:00 a.m., roughly.  This is sometime before midnight:

 I wasn't feeling fabulous during these miles in terms of energy, but my spirits were GREAT.  I got really sleepy around midnight.  I brought out the Coke and Mountain Dew about this time.  Then I perked up.  :-)   They turn off the lights on much of the track around midnight, and I LOVE that for some odd reason.    At mile 26, I decided to change shoes again.  I knew I had a big blister on my second toe on my right foot and a hot spot on the bottom of the left.  This time, I wanted to change socks, too, and repowder/Body Glide my feet.

I took my sock off and was shocked at what I found.  My 2nd toe had on a blister helmet all around and under and below the nail. It was crazy.  It was probably the worst blister I'd ever had.  (Then it got much worse later!)  I debated back and forth with my friend Lucas about popping it or leaving it alone, but now that I knew it was there, it was all I could think about!  At mile 27, it felt like it was going to explode with every step.

I went to the food table to ask if they had a first aid kit.  It took us a while to locate a needle and then to figure out how to sterilize it.  (Someone had a lighter in his car, then he couldn't find his keys.  Then we realized there were alcohol pads in the first aid kit and that a bib pin would have to do.)   I spent 12-15 minutes at the aid station, but I popped and drained the blister.  It hurt actually more in the miles just after popping, then felt better.  ***The only two times I sat down that whole 10 hours were to change socks and to pop my blister.  "Beware the Chair."

I was a bit panicked after losing 12-15 minutes at that point.  My 26 mile goal was supposed to be 6 hours, and I had missed that by about 5 minutes.  Now, I was about 20 minutes behind.  I was afraid my goal of running 40 miles was slipping away.   In the years before, I had run 31.5 (and stopped) and 38.5.  I found myself in the "negotiation stage" and telling myself I'd be happy with 39 or 39.5.   But I knew I had to get to 40!!

Attempting to do math at mile 28 of an all-night ultramarathon is difficult.  I was trying to figure out how much time I had left and what pace I had to do to get there.  I finally figured out at some point, I had to average 16:30 miles.  That should be no problem, but that included eating, drinking, restroom stops (several steps off the track), shoe changes, etc.  But I had HOPE.  And that made ALL THE DIFFERENCE.  At mile 30, I got a second wind.  In fact, I felt stronger at mile 30 than I did at mile 15!  Miles 30-40 were AMAZING miles for me.  I was so focused and single minded and determined.  I was walking 2 segments per lap (so four walk breaks per mile) and still averaging about 13:57 per mile.  I was well under the 16:30 in every single mile, even with two restroom stops during those miles.   I'm not a super- fast walker, so I must have been running pretty decently in those miles.   I remember being pleasantly surprised at how well my body was doing in miles 30-40.

I reached mile 40 with about 24 minutes left on the clock.  I knew I could get in another mile, and if I kept it around a 15 minute pace, I could get a final 1/2 mile loop for 41.5.


Apparently, my brain sent a memo to my legs at mile 40 that we were finished, because all the energy and strength they'd had was no more.   I mostly walked that 41st  mile at about a 16:30 pace.  When I got to the clock, there was about 7 minutes left on it.  I knew I didn't have a 14 minute mile pace in me (even for a single lap), so I called it a night.  (Or morning, technically.)

I felt so happy, so SATISFIED with this experience.  Things didn't go perfectly---stomach trouble in the early miles, blistered feet, lost time performing blister surgery, but I rallied and came back strong.  I was proud of me, and that is a good feeling.  Isn't that why we do this???

 Well, hello, chair!!

I was so thankful for all of my friends this night--both old and new.  We told stories, talked running, teaching, kids, and blisters.  They made 10 hours and 41 miles such a fun journey.  I passed many miles with some great runners.  I got to see three friends run their first distance over 26.2.  I got to see the fastest runners over and over when they passed me, and it meant so much when they took time to offer encouragement.  

You may want to avert your eyes for this last part.  That big blister I popped at mile 27 and never looked at again?  It grew.  

That is one gnarly blister!  On the other foot, I suffered a blister on the bottom the size of a half dollar, a smaller 2nd toe blister, and my big toenail is bruised and lifted.  Here I am 6 days later, and the big toenail still hurts and this toe still hurts.  It was a small price to pay though.  TOTALLY WORTH IT.   :-)

I finished 45th out of 191 in overall distance.  I am pretty happy with that!  
Marathon/ultramarathon #15
Ultra #3
Personal Long
9 hours, 52 minutes 59 seconds