Post-Mortem: Fans 24 Hour Race 2018

Over a week’s gone by, and I’m mostly back to normal. My foot still hurts a little bit, but I am able to walk without limping and most of the time I do not have any pain at all (although when I wrote that sentence, I had just gone to the printer to pick something up and my foot hurt a bit, so I guess I jinxed myself). I haven’t had much time to enjoy my break from running, because I’ve been traveling for work, but I’m looking forward to a weekend of nothing. Well, not nothing. I painted my bathroom. But there won’t be any running.

I’ve had some time to consider this years FANS experience. Overall I had a great time and I’m proud of my result. Of course it wasn’t what I wanted, but I did reach a new distance PR, and I made it past 12 hours. Some thoughts/lessons learned:

I liked bringing less stuff, but I really did need food at my tent. I got sick of the race food after awhile, probably because I was eating mostly cookies and pretzels. I realized right before I quit the race that I was behind on my food, and I either had to go back to the main aid station or walk a mile+ to the first aid station. I had some gels at my tent but what I really needed was a substantial snack like a bagel or a sandwich or anything different.

I don’t know nearly enough about foot care. I did a few things right, like stopping to fix my heel when my shoe was rubbing against it, or lancing my blisters and just getting on with it, but what I really should have done was tape up my callus to begin with. I read an article on I Run Far a couple days ago on blister care with a hilarious infographic on causes of blisters, with the #1 cause being “saying ‘I don’t usually have problems with blisters’ before the race.” TOO SOON, LIZA HOWARD. TOO SOON. I just ordered Fixing Your Feet so I can fix my feet.

42.3 miles wasn’t really that much harder than 31. Okay, it was also on a mostly flat trail, I didn’t have to carry my own water or gear, and I had plenty of people to motivate me along the way, but still. I was on my feet for almost 13 hours, and I felt pretty good the next day. As we were taking down the camp, I felt pretty crappy and sad about quitting early again, and thought maybe I wasn’t meant to run more than 50Ks. Then the next day I felt pretty good (other than my foot), and I realized that I completed 42 miles in about 13 hours with the last 10 miles at a slow walk, and the 50 mile dream was resurrected.

My job is more important than my race. I don’t get paid to run, I get paid to be an engineer. I had a site visit the Wednesday after the race, and it would have been unsafe for me to go out there with limited mobility. If I had continued for 11 more hours, even walking slowly, I doubt I would have been able to complete the site visit. Running is my hobby, not my livelihood, and this race was a good reminder of how to balance those. I’m reminded of one of my former coworkers, a construction manager who was a bull rider in his spare time. His superintendent finally told him that he had to choose between work and rodeo because he kept showing up to work injured. I don’t want to jeopardize my career for recreation.

It’s time to try something new. I’ve “failed” at the 24 hour event twice now, but I really love this race! I think it’s time for me to do the 12 hour race and set a different goal (like 50 miles?) before I give 24 hours another shot. Could the third time be the charm? Maybe. But it’s a lot of work and logistics and pressure to plan a 24 hour race. With a 12 hour race, I can sleep in my own bed!

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Race Report: Fans 24 Hour Race 2018

Official Results:
Distance: 42.3 mi
Placing:
Overall (24 Hrs): 67/78
Gender: 21/25

Watch Results:
Time: 13:41:27
Pace: 18:25
Distance: 44.58
Heart Rate: N/A

Goals:
A: 100 mi
B: 90 mi
C: 75 mi

Food:
What I ate the night before: pizza
What I ate on race morning: bagel with cream cheese, bagel with hazelnut spread
What I carried with me: n/a

Gear:
What I wore: to start – t-shirt, shorts, trucker hat, vest
Gadgets: GPS watch, fitness tracker

Discussion: Two disappointing results in two years! Not a good sign.

I slept really poorly the day of the race, which was frustrating. I hadn’t slept well in the days leading up to the event, so I was starting with a sleep deficit. That ended up not being a factor, but it could have been. I felt grumpy and wished I could just go back to sleep and not run.

My dad picked me up and we loaded up the car quickly. I only had one tub of stuff, plus a cooler with some pop, and a chair to sit in. He had the tent (a different tent than last year, he has an abundance of tents) and his own chair already in the truck. We got their early enough that we had a spot on the path itself, which was a huge benefit over last year. He had a great people-watching spot, and I had easy access to my stuff.

The weather was cool enough that I put on a sweatshirt while I relaxed before the start. I liked setting up camp early and having time to finish my food and chill out – even if that meant I had to get up earlier. It didn’t really matter since I barely slept – half an hour wasn’t going to make or break me.

The race started at 8, and I ended up running and chatting alongside someone I’d recently met. It was a little faster than I would have liked, and after a little bit he did break off and run at his own pace, while I settled into mine. My plan was to run 10 minutes, walk 2 minutes, for as long as that was sustainable. I think it worked really well for me while I was able to run, but of course I can’t say what might have happened once I really started to get fatigued.

After my first lap, my dad left to go to work, and I was on my own for awhile. This worked really well for me. I got food and water at the aid stations and only stopped at my tent if I needed something (electrolyte tablets, gels, bug spray, sunscreen). Since it was threatening rain, I had to keep everything in my tent, which was annoying. I ended up tossing my sunscreen and Body Glide into my chair and not caring if it got wet.

It started to rain somewhere around 10 or 11. I knew it was coming, and I didn’t really mind. I didn’t want it to rain before the start, because I didn’t want to sit around getting wet or have to set up the tent on wet ground. I didn’t want thunderstorms to force the race directors to suspend the race. Neither of those things happened so it didn’t really matter. I didn’t have any chafing issues and it was warm enough that I didn’t get chilled. It was WAY better than heat and sun. I felt like everything was going well for the first few hours.

At around 4 hours elapsed (right after my first weigh-in), I stopped to fix my feet. One ankle was chafing where my shoe met my ankle. My sock was too low, and my ankle was dirty, so I had to stop and slap some moleskin on it. That fixed the problem, and at the same time, I worked on my other foot. I have a callus on that foot from some really old blister (possibly stemming from last year’s FANS race), and a blister was developing under that callus. I slapped some moleskin on it as well, but what I should have done is popped the blister. That was stupid. I thought the moleskin would be enough to protect it, but it was protruding too much. It seemed like a good enough fix at the time, so I continued, and was still able to run.

Since things were going really well, and I was finding my run 10/walk 2 strategy wasn’t working very well (I was always hitting the aid stations/my tent right in the middle of the run cycle), so I thought I’d try running to each aid station, then walking 2 or 3 minutes or so after the aid station/my tent. I did one lap of that and found it more fatiguing than I’d like, so I went back to the run 10/walk 2, and that was much more comfortable. I was having a decent time of running my own race, staying out of my head, and just letting the day happen however it would. I was pretty excited that I was still running many laps into the race, which hadn’t happened in 2017. I came through the 6 hour runners on their short laps and cheered them on.

My dad came back at around 2:00, and I was still running at that point, which was awesome. I was slowing down and my feet were starting to hurt, but I wanted to hit the 27.4 mark (12 laps) and get the unofficial marathon PR before I stopped to do anything. I came through 27.4 mi (12 laps) in 7:17:42, which is faster than my marathon PR; interpolating, that makes my unofficial marathon PR 6:58:32. So at least I made my first goal for the summer! I kept moving after that, wanted to hit the 50K mark (lap 14, 31.6 mi) before I stopped for a break. I wanted to get an unofficial 50K PR too, but since I was really slowing down, that wasn’t going to happen, and I also forgot to hit the lap button at that point. I think I came through somewhere under 8:40, which means that I finished 50K at around the same pace I did Chippewa Moraine. I was in good shape, time-wise, but I was slowing a lot, and both feet were really starting to hurt.

I took a longer break to deal with my feet – I lanced my blister several times but could not seem to fully pop it, no matter what I did. I finally decided to just cover it up with moleskin to protect it, and let the natural pressure from walking push the rest of the fluid out. I finally got up and started walking. The blister hurt, but so did my other foot. I had not realized how much I’d been compensating for the pain in my right foot. I thought if I walked it off, it would feel better, but it didn’t really.

I weighed in again and continued to walk. The blister pain actually did start to subside, and I was right – the pressure from my foot did make the swelling go down for awhile. The pain on the outer edge of my left foot was what kept me from running. It was especially bad during the gravel sections – it was impossible to keep from stepping on rocks and that seemed to exacerbate the pain, even though it was on the side of my foot, not the bottom. I just kept going, figuring that it would either go away or I’d just get used to it, and I kind of did.

I asked my dad about the weather, and he told me after about 4:30, it should be clear, so I got out my portable charger to charge my GPS watch, which was down to 10% battery. I clipped that on and wore it for the next 3 laps. Since I wasn’t running, it wasn’t a big deal to charge it while on the move. I tucked the charger itself into the pocket of my vest so my hands were free (other than my water bottle), and checked periodically to make sure the charging clamp didn’t dislodge. I got it charged up to about 60% and then put it back. My feet were still killing me and I was trying to decide what to do. I was thinking I should get to 100K and then stop for awhile, then I started re-assessing and decided I’d get to 50 miles and then stop. I walked through while the 12 hour runners were doing their final short loops and was able to cheer everyone on. The trails were a lot more empty at that point, except for a couple other people hustling through one final loop. One guy was running with his pacer and ended up dropping her as he took off to try to get that last loop in before the 12 hour mark – he had a little over a mile to go and plenty of time, but he wanted to make sure he made it.

I came through after the 12 hour race had ended, and decided to do one more loop before changing my clothes and shoes for the night. Mostly I wanted to use the porta-potty with my shorts on rather than with running tights – I didn’t want to wrestle with my tights in that confined space! I was still walking, and pretty much everyone was passing me, but I was still moving at least! It was getting toward dusk during that lap, and I carried my headlamp with me just in case, but it turned out to be fine. There were lanterns out on the course which looked really cool.

I sat down in my chair after lap #19 (42.3 mi) and took off my shoes. My blister had bubbled back up again, so I lanced it a couple more times. I went into the tent and changed into tights, a new t-shirt, and a hoodie, since it was getting kinda chilly. I brought out some fresh socks and then worked on my feet for a little while. It was getting dark out and I wanted to finish dealing with my feet before the light was gone. I finally put my shoes on, which was a difficult task because I was trying to avoid dislodging my moleskin. I lounged in the chair with my feet up for awhile, contemplating what I was going to do. I didn’t have a lot of hope left that I’d be able to start running. The pain in my left foot was not getting any better, and in fact was worsening. So I had 11 hours of hobbling ahead of me — or I could strike my tent and go home to my cats. I thought about it for awhile, and realized I wasn’t enjoying the effort. This was twice that I’d done this race and had it not work out. I also realized that I had been changed and sitting around for probably half an hour (I don’t really know), so I would be behind on my nutrition at a time when I really needed to be sure I was on top of it. Maybe quitting wasn’t a bad idea.

I said to my husband “I don’t want to do this anymore, let’s go.” He said ok, without any judgment, and I got up to take down the tent. My left foot hurt to the point where I couldn’t really stand on it, and that sealed it – but I made the decision to quit before I knew that. It turns out it was a good decision, because a day later, I’m still gimping around. I don’t know what the deal is – it doesn’t hurt at all when I’m not moving, there’s no bruising or swelling, but it hurts to walk. I am in big trouble if it doesn’t get better by Wednesday, because I am making a site visit in North Dakota and I have to be able to walk then. I’m hoping some stretching and massage, plus some rest, will be enough to make it feel better.

I don’t think the 24 hour event is for me, although I really enjoy the race! I guess maybe the 12 hour race would be a better option and would require much less from a logistical standpoint. I was questioning whether or not I actually ever want to do a long race, like a 50 miler or longer. I’m not sure if I’m cut out for that distance – I don’t seem to do that well with adversity, although I’m getting better. I lasted a lot longer this time and worked through a lot of issues before I ultimately gave in to the foot pain. I didn’t have any stomach problems, and today I feel pretty good. I was on my feet for 13 hours and traversed 42 miles, and I don’t feel much soreness in my hips or legs. If I’d dealt with that callus from the start (covered it up, or gotten a pedicure and just gotten rid of it), I probably would have been able to keep moving a lot longer.

I don’t feel the same level of regret I did last year, since I at least got in a mileage PR. I think the level of foot pain I’m still dealing with also makes me feel more justified – continuing could have done more lasting damage, or made it more likely I wouldn’t be able to do my job. I also had a great time – the atmosphere is so welcoming, and the other runners, volunteers, and spectators are so supportive. After a bit of time to think about it, I’m now really looking forward to doing the 12 hour event next year and creating some new challenges for myself. And… provided my foot gets better soon, I’m probably going to sign up for a fall 50 mile race, just to see what that’s like.

FANS 24 Hour 2018 Goals

Here we go again. After last year’s disastrous end at 29.5 miles, I’m ready for redemption.

My goals are the same as last year:
A Standard: 100 mi
B Standard: 90 mi
C Standard: 75 mi

The weather is not looking dry, but I think I prefer rain to heat. I think. Will I feel the same way tomorrow at this time, when it’s been pouring for six hours straight and my feet are raw and I’m shivering too badly to use my hands?

Many of the lessons I learned last year are not applicable to this year’s race. All my heat management techniques are pointless. That’s okay, though. I did learn a couple other things that I’m working on for this year:

  1. Less stuff. I brought so much stuff last year that I didn’t need, and it was extra embarrassing to haul all that gear back after quitting early. Some of it was necessary because I didn’t live nearby and I needed to be prepared for all kinds of weather. A few days before the race it was predicted to be cold and rainy, and instead it was hot and sunny. So I had a lot of clothes and gear. This year I am bringing way less gear, but I also only live 7 miles from Fort Snelling now. If I need something, someone can get it for me in half an hour. I’m not bringing any food besides vanilla Coke and some gels – I’ll rely on the aid stations.
  2. No crew in the morning. My dad is picking me up and helping me haul my gear, but after the start, he’ll leave for awhile. He’ll miss out on some prime people-watching, of course, but I found last year that I felt guilty about having someone sit there all day just to give me fresh water bottle every half hour or so. I have run enough ultras to know that I can be self-sufficient for the first several hours of the race, and rely on volunteers, aid stations, and my campsite for anything I need. I can focus on getting in the miles and not on worrying about the entertainment of someone else. No one that visited me while I was running last year was anything but helpful and understanding, and no one ever gave the slightest hint of annoyance at being there, but I still felt like I was inconveniencing people.
  3. Arrive earlier to try to snag a better campsite. Last year, I had to set up my tent off the path. The people who arrived earlier set their tents up along the running path, which was way more convenient! I had to walk off the path, through someone else’s campsite, to get to mine.
  4. Relentless forward progress. This worked okay for me for awhile last year – I felt too fatigued from the heat and the sun to run, so I walked. I’m going to aim to do a better job of that this time. And if I do have to take a break, I’ll do it – and then get up. I don’t have to leave early.

This year I have some advantages I didn’t have last year. Obviously, I live here, so I’m not paying for a hotel room and I’ll be able to sleep in my own bed. The weather will be cooler so if I’m having chafing issues, I can switch to pants. (I’m making a mental note to pack a pair of tights.) I bought a pair of shoes with a rock plate but smaller lugs, so the gravel won’t bug me as much. And, of course, I now have “beat last year!” to drive me forward.

I won’t have time to post my Summer 2018 goals post yet, but I am setting a couple goals that will pertain directly to FANS – I’d like a distance PR, an unofficial marathon PR, and an unofficial 50K PR – hopefully I can get all three!

Fans 24 Hour Training: Week 4

Tapering hardcore.

Monday: 5.1 mi, road (Minnesota Point)
Tuesday: 5.1 mi, paved trail (Lakewalk)
Wednesday: 3.4 mi, road
Thursday: rest (kind of)
Friday: 4.4 mi, road
Saturday: 4.2 mi, road
Sunday: rest
Total: 22.1

I spent the first part of the week in Duluth, which was nice. I ran on the Lakewalk and on Minnesota Point – the two easiest spots to run when staying in Canal Park! It was nice to be back. I bought a new pair of shoes at Austin Jarrow and have been breaking them in. They have a rock plate but much smaller lugs than my current trail shoes, so they should be good for the gravel paths at FANS.

Home for a few days. #lakesuperior #duluth #onlyinmn

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Wednesday I got in a short evening run in the neighborhood after we drove back from Duluth. I’m really just trying to keep my legs moving and maintain my weight leading up to fans.

Thursday I went to see Slayer in concert in Minneapolis. They’re retiring, so this was my last chance to see them play, ever. I didn’t run but I did do a hell of a lot of jumping around and I was on my feet for 6 hours. My legs were exhausted afterward. So was that really a rest day? I don’t know!

Friday and Saturday were more boring neighborhood runs. The nice thing about finally living in a neighborhood with somewhat of a grid layout (not entirely, though, because it is St. Paul) is that I can mix things up and don’t have to take the same route. It gets annoying to have to manufacture mileage, but it’s better than running the same old routes because only a couple roads actually go through. Friday I also hit up REI since they were having a sale and I had a bunch of gift cards.

Sunday I took an unplanned rest day as I seem to be coming down with a cold. There’s no workout I can do right now that will help my race, but hundreds of ways I can mess it up, so I just took a day to relax, stain some furniture, and see Solo: A Star Wars Story.

I suppose I should do some planning and prepping for FANS… but I haven’t yet. I’m headed to Duluth tomorrow for a couple days, so most of my prepping will have to be Thursday and Friday. Maybe if I’m more laissez-faire about it, it’ll go better.

Fans 24 Hour Training: Week 3

Final “tough” week of training.

Monday: 6.4 mi, treadmill
Tuesday: 3.1 mi, paved trail (Centennial Lakes)
Wednesday: 8.9 mi, paved trail + road (2.9 @ Centennial Lakes, 6 road)
Thursday: 3.6 mi, road
Friday: rest
Saturday: 15.5 mi, trail (Superior Hiking Trail – Superior 25K)
Sunday: 4 mi, paved trail (Lakewalk)
Total: 41.5 mi

Monday I had to hit the treadmill due to the weather, which sucked. I powered through as best I could, but I am not used to it anymore!

Tuesday I went to the Twins game (the Bulldogs men’s hockey team was being honored before the game), so I brought my stuff to work and ran at lunch. It was very warm. I walked probably another mile at the Twins game because I lost my cell phone. Brilliant. It turned out it was in one of those doggy dishes they use at the security checkpoint. So I lost it right away. Sigh. The Twins won, though! And I had a delicious ice cream served in a mini-helmet.

Wednesday I knew I wanted to knock out some extra miles. It was hot again, so I didn’t want to do them all at once, and decided to split my run between work and home. I didn’t intend to run as far in the evening, but I chose to run to the State Capitol grounds. It’s a mini-goal I set for myself (I should have saved it for my summer goals post!) – to run from my house to the Capitol grounds. I found all kinds of places I need to explore along the way – like the Tim Horton’s and the Candyland. I need to explore some chocolate-covered potato chips, yes. I also need to go walk the Capitol grounds and see all that there is to see there. I should make a St. Paul exploration checklist for my spouse and me to check off.

Thursday I ran a quick jaunt around my neighborhood. It felt kind of labored, but I got it done. Friday I headed north for the race, and spent several hours on my feet hawking Rocksteady Running gear.

Saturday was the race, already covered in the report linked above. After the race, I felt a lot better than I have in years past, and after a shower, some chili, and a bit of time lounging around tinkering on the internet, we decided to go on an adventure. We started out at the Onion River, just south of Lutsen, right off Highway 61. I questioned why I had agreed to hike uphill for probably almost a mile, but I had the energy, so I did it. We took some pictures along the way, then turned around and hiked back down.

We got back in the car and headed north, planning on going to Grand Marais for dinner, and to kill time with whatever we could find in the meantime. The weather had improved from gray and windy to intermittently sunny, which made the hiking a lot better. We pulled over at Cascade River and hiked around there a little bit, and then decided we might as well go to Devil’s Kettle, so we ended up there. THAT was at least a mile’s hike in, and included 176 stairs at one point. Thank you, Satan.

After that hike, we were ready to head into Grand Marais. Last year, we walked out along the breakwater to the lighthouse, but were too cold to hike out on the other side of the tombolo, so we decided to finish that journey this year. It wasn’t a long hike, and it was gorgeous at the end. The water looked so clean and clear, and the lake stretched on endlessly into the horizon, without Wisconsin in the distance to ruin things. I’d say conservatively we hiked 4 or 5 miles, which was tiring but also helped me avoid a lot of stiffness and soreness. We also made the most of our trip, unlike last year when I didn’t have the energy or inclination to do much additional exploring.

Sunday we headed back down to Duluth, since I am working here until Wednesday. We decided to make another adventure of the trip back, and stopped at Tettegouche State Park, where we hiked another mile or so to see Two Step Falls and High Falls, then hiked back out (obviously) and drove to the rest area at the entrance to the park, since my husband tripped and cut his hand while we were hiking and wanted to wash it out before we continued the drive. He powered through the hike though! We stopped just down the road at Palisade Head, which isn’t really a hike, since the road goes to the top. Palisade Head is impressive to look at, and it’s exhilarating to stand so high above the lake and look out in the distance. I was a little too nervous to get close to the edge to look over, but I still reveled in the experience from a safer distance.

After we got to Duluth, visited my grandparents, and went to see Deadpool 2, I went for a short run on the Lakewalk to complete my weekly mileage goal (running only – obviously I exceeded that with hiking). It was so nice to be back there. I’m feeling so torn between my new home in St. Paul and my old home in Duluth. I really thought I was adjusting to the transition – until I came back here.

It’s time to start winding down the mileage to rest my legs for FANS. I am hoping to run at least 36 more miles in May, in order to beat last month’s mileage, but I’ve got plenty of time to get that done.

FANS 24 Hour Training: Weeks 1 and 2

Transitioning to FANS training now!

Monday (4/30): 4 mi, road
Tuesday: 4.6 mi, road
Wednesday: rest
Thursday: 6.8 mi, paved trail (MRT)
Friday: 7.4 mi, road
Saturday: 7.1 mi, paved trail (MRT)
Sunday: 11.3 mi, paved trail (MRT/Harriet Island)
Total: 41.1 mi

Monday (5/7): 5.5 mi, pavement (MRT)
Tuesday: 6.1 mi, treadmill
Wednesday: 2.8 mi, pavement (Centennial Lakes)
Thursday: 7.7 mi, paved trail/road (3 mi @ Centennial Lakes, 4.7 mi around Harriet Island)
Friday: rest
Saturday: 4 mi, road (Be the Match 5K @ Lake Harriet + warmup)
Sunday: 16.1 mi, paved trail (MRT)
Total: 42.1 mi

Week 1:
Not bad for the week after a 50K! Monday I was still hurting, but a bit less – I just had a hard time walking after sitting for awhile. Tuesday I felt pretty decent and was almost back to a normal pace. I took Wednesday off running to get a massage. Now that I am back in the Twin Cities, I can see my previous massage therapist/friend. She is the best, although we end up gossiping through the session, so maybe I have to curb that.

I felt amazing on Thursday when I got back out to run. I ran across the Wabasha Street Bridge, came back across the Robert Street Bridge, and then ran along the Mississippi River Trail until the flooding began near Lilydale. That section of the MRT is going to be inaccessible for awhile until the water recedes, so I’ve knocked it off my route. It wasn’t especially washed out where I turned around, but there was no reason for me to run through water on the road.

Friday I decided to try to run to the Upper Landing Park, which is across the river from Harriet Island. It was not as easy to access as I thought. I ended up running down 2nd Street, which is VERY SHADY and smelled of urine. Then I ended up in a parking lot and got trapped by the railroad. I accidentally trespassed on the railroad right of way before getting the heck out of there. I finally realized there was no trail access from where I was, turned around, and ran up Kellogg until I passed the Xcel Energy Center and went down Eagle Street. From there I could reach Shepard Rd. and Upper Landing Park, but it was time to turn around and head for home at that point. I ran by several promgoers heading to the X, and then I ran by 2 guys, one of whom imitated me running. Thanks, fella.

Saturday I parked at Upper Landing Park, since I now know how to get there! I attempted to do some fartleks on the Mississippi River Trail, but after the first couple miles I realized it was too hot and ended up in survival mode. Sunday was also hot. I planned on parking at Lower Landing Park and couldn’t figure out how to get there, but accidentally found a new spot to run. I ran through Indian Mounds Regional Park and then joined up with the Mississippi River Trail (right around where I turned around the day prior) until I turned off to follow Battle Creek. I felt pretty hot and miserable the last few miles and walked some of the uphills.

Week 2:
I felt basically back to normal this last week. It was like I’d never run a 50K! Ha. Monday I parked at Upper Landing Park and ran in the Minneapolis direction. (West? I’m not sure. The river really winds around.) Tuesday I thought it was going to rain so I ran on the treadmill. Wednesday and Thursday I ran at lunchtime around the lake at work; my pre- and post-run processes need some improvements for efficiency and hygiene/comfort. That’s deserving of its own post. I ran a second short run on Thursday as well, which I kind of liked – getting in a decent mileage day without having to spend my whole evening running!

I rested Friday for my 5K on Saturday. I had actually planned on either doing a longer warmup or a cooldown after, in order to have a higher total mileage day, but did no running cooldown at all, and couldn’t even run a mile to warm up. Sunday I hit the Mississippi River Trail again, starting at Lower Landing Park and turning around just past Hidden Falls Regional Park. I am finding all kinds of cool new places! To get in a little more practice for FANS, I employed a run/walk strategy. On the way out, I ran 10 minutes/walked 2 minutes. On the way back, I ran 12 minutes/walked 2 minutes. The way back was significantly harder than I thought it would be, although I’m not sure if that was because of the 2 extra minutes of running or if I was just getting too warm. I had my hydration pack on me so I had plenty of water, but I forgot to wear a hat (I planned to but didn’t grab it) and got too much sun on my face. Overall I liked the run/walk strategy – it broke things up nicely and I still had an overall pace of 13:14, and that included stopping at a couple traffic lights.

My office is doing a push-up challenge (we are cumulatively trying to reach 30,000 push-ups), so my strength training got a bit of a boost the first week of the month, but I started feeling some muscle pain in my lower abdomen, only on the left side, so I stopped. The pain has gone away, so clearly I was just overdoing it with the pushups (we were literally on the floor in our cubicles doing pushups multiple times a day), but I am cautious about continuing.

This upcoming week, I have Superior Spring 25K to look forward to! I’m excited to return to the Superior Hiking Trail.

Race Report: FANS 24 Hour Race

Official Results:
Distance: 29.5 mi
Placing:
Overall: 116/147
24 Hrs: 77/84
Gender: 18/19

Watch Results:
Time: 10:24:37 (This includes about 25 minutes of time between when I finished my last lap and when I finally stopped my watch)
Pace: 19:57
Distance: 31.3
Heart Rate: N/A

Goals:
A: 100 mi
B: 90 mi
C: 75 mi

Food:
What I ate the night before: sesame chicken with brown rice, chicken satay skewers
What I ate on race morning: bagel, Clif bar
What I carried with me: n/a

Gear:
What I wore: to start – tank top, shorts, trucker hat; later changed to t-shirt, shorts, trucker hat
Gadgets: GPS watch, fitness tracker

Discussion: There’s nothing like “failure” to make me want to try again.

Also it’s really funny that 9 months ago, I’d never even run a marathon, and now I’m looking at 29.5 miles as failure. Once that thought popped into my head yesterday, I started to feel ok with the results.

I have a long history of quitting when it comes to running. I walked the mile runs in gym class because I didn’t want to put in the effort. I ended up in the duty van in college during ROTC physical training runs far too often, because I would rather quit than be so much slower than everyone else. I DNSd 2 races last year because I didn’t get enough sleep the night before. So in some ways it’s not surprising that I quit this race so early on.

My husband and I drove down to the Twin Cities on Friday afternoon, picked up my packet, and then went to my dad’s to transfer all my supplies to his truck. The plan was: I stay at my dad’s Friday night, he takes me to the race, we set up, he crews me til late afternoon; my husband stays at our hotel Friday night so he can sleep as late as possible, he arrives at the race in the late afternoon to crew me til the next morning. That part worked out pretty well, although I slept really poorly. I must have gotten an hour or two of sleep at some point, but nothing really restorative.

It was 75F at 6:30 a.m., so that was not the best omen. It took about half an hour to drive to the race start, which was really easy to find and had plenty of parking. We unloaded some of the gear, set up the tent, and then I ate a bit before heading over to the start. I should have made sure we unloaded the chairs, so that I could have sat down for a bit before the race started. Not that it really mattered in the end, but still, I was standing and moving around for an hour before the race started. I didn’t warm up, but I wasn’t planning on it.

The race started right on time, and we did a shorter out and back on the path before turning around and starting our first full loop. The trail loops around Snelling Lake and has significant sections of shade, though it also had stretches of full sun. The shaded sections were actually bearable, but when the sun blazed down on me, it sapped away my energy. By noon, the temperature had reached 90F. I know that’s nothing compared to the heat from, say, Western States or Badwater or Marathon des Sables, but I have had zero heat training.

I ran almost all of the first “long” loop (the out & back + the full loop), stopping to walk for 5 minutes so I could finish my Clif bar. I did a few intervals of Run 30/Walk 5, then went to Run 10/Walk 5, and then deteriorated into Walk Slowly/Run Occasionally. The loops all kind of blend together to me, so a traditional recap isn’t going to make a lot of sense.

During (I think?) my 9th loop, I was walking along and heard some cracking noises. I thought it was squirrels or just trees moving in the breeze. Nope. A tree came crashing down about 20 feet behind me, and maybe 15 feet behind a runner coming up to pass me. We looked at each other in shock, then I high-fived him, because what else do you do to celebrate a near miss like that?

The heat was really frustrating to me. I’m so envious of the folks who were still able to run in the heat, and who didn’t seem to have even a touch of sunburn. I was reapplying sunscreen every 1.5-2 hours, and I STILL got sunburned (though not too badly). All I could think about was making it until the sun went down. If I could just hang on, and keep moving forward at whatever slow pace I could comfortably manage, I could rally in the evening.

My friends showed up around the 6 hour mark, and one of them did loops 10-12 with me. My feet were starting to hurt, so I’d changed into my trail shoes to relieve some of the pain from the gravel. The extra support and the rock plate helped a bit, but the bases of both my heels were really hurting. After loop 10, I took my socks off to see what was up. On my left foot was a blister stretching across most of the circumference of my heel. On my right foot was a blister that had formed on top of the remnants of an old blister (from Chippewa Moraine, I think!), about the size of a walnut, puffing out about half an inch. So, no wonder. I lanced them as best as I could, bandaged them up, and started moving again. It didn’t feel amazing but it felt a little better.

I managed 2 more slow laps, talking with my friend, gimping along, and then sat down to rest again and talk with them. They decided to leave, and just as I was gearing up to leave again, my dad told me my stepbrother and sister in law and my 2 nephews were at the park getting their permit. I didn’t think they were coming since it was so hot and my younger nephew had been sick. I decided to stay until they arrived, and then talked to them for a little while, ate some of the snacks they brought me, and then headed out for what I didn’t know would be my final lap, lucky #13. The blister on the right hurt a lot, and I ended up changing my gait to try to accommodate it, which was bad news. I planned to try to tape it up better with some moleskin, and I did, but when I got up to test it out, the chafing on my inner thighs/near my shorts liner really started to sting and burn, despite changing my shorts, cleaning the salt away with wet wipes, and slathering the area with Vaniply and Vaseline.

So I quit. I chose to take the easy way out. Neither the chafing nor the blisters were the worst anyone has seen in the history of chafing and blisters, but I didn’t see any reason to continue and to make them worse. (It’s 2 days later and I’m wearing flip-flops at work, so I’m glad I didn’t in that regard.) I had sort of stopped caring about the race, and there wasn’t much to look forward to, just endless loops. I didn’t want to trudge around in a circle with a stinging crotch for 14 more hours. That was really not going to give me any guidance as to my readiness for a longer race.

It’s funny that in the end, it didn’t even matter that I was undertrained. I was plenty well trained for 29.5 miles! And while the heat really concerned me, I think I managed my hydration well (I only lost a pound at the first weigh-in, and had the same weight at the second weigh-in, probably because I wasn’t running hard), I didn’t have much nausea, and I still had the sense that I could pick it up once the sun went down.

I’m chalking this race up to a learning experience, even if it wasn’t the learning experience I was looking for. There were still a LOT of lessons for me.

  1. Having a crew makes me uncomfortable.
    My dad was so kind and gracious to sit out there in the heat for 10 hours, fill my water bottles, monitor my food, and support me. He kept offering to do other things, like spray me with sunscreen, but it just made me feel more guilty and uncomfortable. I am so used to doing everything for myself, since I usually go to races alone. I spent extra time at my tent because I felt bad that he was by himself. He did enjoy the people-watching; I think he was getting too many ideas from one of the other crews nearby – there were like 7 people crewing one guy and they were like a NASCAR pit crew! No thank you. I think if I do a long race, I won’t enlist a crew until the later stages, when I need extra gear or to get resupplied or something.
  2. Visitors are too much of a distraction.
    It was awesome to have my friends and family visit. But it kept me at the campsite longer than I should have. It was also sort of demoralizing that when I was running with my friend, he was walking. So I walked, too, when maybe I could have run here and there. And I talked, which slowed me down, too. It would have been better if we were both entrants in the race and could meet up, part ways, meet up, and so on.
  3. I brought too much stuff.
    I should have just relied on aid stations. I didn’t need like 75% of the stuff I brought, and again, it kept me in the campsite longer than I needed to be.
  4. Running a marathon doesn’t destroy me physically anymore.
    I’m not walking around much, but that’s mostly due to the blisters, since even without shoes on, they hurt. I have some general soreness in my back and my hips, but that’s it. Granted, I took several long breaks, but I still traveled 29.5 miles.
  5. I’m the slowest walker ever.
    I’m short, and I’m long-waisted. So my legs are not really built for fast walking. But it was hard to be out there, seeing people putting in a similar effort but passing me with ease, or even seeing people struggling and being unable to catch up with them.
  6. Summer is not the time to try new distances.
    I don’t do well in the heat, so I think it’s best left to the spring and fall when I’m trying something new, at least as long as I’m living in Duluth.
  7. I don’t really like timed race formats.
    I like point to point races. I like running a set distance, rather than a set amount of time. I just couldn’t shift my paradigms enough. I really should do more “run for x number of hours” training runs, to try to get into that mindset better.
  8. I will totally do this race again.
    Maybe just one more time, for “revenge.” It was such a cool atmosphere, though! I mean, I got an email from the race director yesterday with the subject line “Well, THAT Happened!” These are my people. The race rules packet was littered with funny, snarky comments. The whole attitude is so relaxed – it’s not full of aggressive, hyper-competitive runners, it’s full of people doing their own thing, whether that’s winning, taking it easy, or doing all their laps in the opposite direction. And the volunteers were so great! Especially the lap counters. My lap counter (a guy for the first 6 hours and a woman for the last 4) were SO cheerful every time I came through, calling out my name and telling me great job. This is a real benefit of a looped course: getting to know the volunteers and making a connection. So many more times to thank them, too.

Now I don’t know what to do with myself. I’m getting a massage tomorrow, and then I’m not running for awhile. At first I said two weeks, but now that I didn’t really go above and beyond in distance, I might amend that. HOWEVER, no running until my feet heal completely. Curnow is in 6 weeks, so I do need to be mindful of that and at least put in a bit of training. Maybe I’ll have a really great performance there, since I didn’t beat myself into the ground this past weekend!