Surf the Murph 50 Goals

Oh man this race. I am basically not ready for it. That’s all I’ve got to say. It’s 6 PM and the race starts at 4 AM. I’ve sort of gotten my stuff together but I just… I don’t know. I’ve gone the entire two weeks since the Twin Cities Marathon ignoring what’s coming. Of course this is of my own making but whatever.

I’m hoping to get a few hours of sleep, but I don’t know. This is probably completely crazy. I have no idea what I’m in for. Although that’s somewhat ridiculous to say, considering 4 months ago I ran 42 miles. This is only 8 more. I’m just scared, mostly scared that I don’t have the toughness to get it done. It’ll be fine.

A Standard: 14:00
B Standard: 15:00
C Standard: 15:45

Let’s see what happens.

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Summer 2018 Running Goals Revisited

Summer is “over,” let’s see how it went for me.

  1. Distance personal best.
    I ran 42.3 miles at FANS, which I knew before I even wrote the original goals post.
  2. “Unofficial” marathon personal best.
    I calculated my unofficial marathon PR at 6:58:32, also achieved at FANS.
  3. “Unofficial” 50K personal best.
    Nope.
  4. Check out the Endless Summer Trail Races
    I volunteered for 3 of the 4 races, doing various fun things like checking IDs and putting wristbands on people who wanted to drink post-race, standing underneath the time clock so no one ran into it (success! though it was close a few times), marking pizza boxes, and directing people the correct way into the finishers’ chute (moderate success). I enjoyed volunteering, and considering how hot it was for 2 of the 3 races, I am glad I wasn’t running! Although there are great raffle prizes for runners…
  5. Legitimize my 5K PR.
    I didn’t end up doing this. I raced one 5K this summer and finished in 29:29, which was a best for that course, and it was after not running for 2 weeks, so I’ll take it.
  6. Race a new distance.
    I signed up for a half marathon (I counted this as a new distance because I have only run a trail half, and this was a road race) but ended up sick and DNS.

Yeesh. Only 50% of achievements unlocked, that’s not great. But that’s ok, those goals can live to fight another day, and I can enjoy the accomplishments I did have. I forgot to add on here that one of my goals was to run from home to the state capitol building, and I did that! It was kind of neat to run through downtown St. Paul. I found all kinds of cool buildings and nooks and crannies around town – I need to do more exploring! (I just went back and edited my fall running goals post!)

Twin Cities Marathon Training: Week 6

Not the best week. It’s a sign it’s time for a cutback week, I’d say.

Monday: rest
Tuesday: 7 mi, road
Wednesday: 5.8 mi, road (5x Wabasha St. Bridge)
Thursday: 6 mi, treadmill (40 min tempo)
Friday: 5.1 mi, road
Saturday: 13.2 mi, trail (Murphy-Hanrehan Park)
Sunday: 12.1 mi, pavement (Mississippi River Trail)
Total: 49.2 mi

First off, I hate taking Mondays as rest days. I had to as we had made some dinner plans, which then fell through. I was already tired and had mentally planned on not running, so I didn’t make a last minute change to get miles in. Instead we went to see Ant-Man and the Wasp, which was funny.

Tuesday I had to go over to see about my mom’s cats again, and decided to start my run from her house, rather than drive somewhere else. I ran around my old junior high (now called a middle school, so weird), then into an area of the city I’ve never been (at least, that I was aware of – maybe I went to some friend’s house when I was like 5 and they lived in that neighborhood). St. Louis Park is not that big, so it’s kind of strange I didn’t know anyone living over there well enough to have visited, but I guess there are other pockets of the city I don’t know and need to explore. I turned around and headed back toward my mom’s house once I reached a natural turnaround point (I reached a major road), but realized I wasn’t going to make even 6 miles that way, so I ran past my old elementary school (now housing a Montessori school and a French immersion school) and over the highway, before swinging back around toward home underneath the highway.

Wednesday I did bridge repeats with dead legs. I hated the workout but it had to be done. I felt a little bit crummy and I guess that carried over into Thursday, because I felt like total garbage at work Thursday afternoon (well, also I ate 2 ice cream sandwiches) and left early. I ended up feeling better only a few hours later so I guess I just had indigestion. I ran on the treadmill as a precaution. Friday I had no interest in running but did it anyway. Hooray, I guess? It was a dull 5 miles meandering through my neighborhood, trying to remember which streets went through and which dead-ended. I wasn’t super successful at that, but it helped tacked on the miles.

Saturday I planned to do some recon for Surf the Murph at Murphy-Hanrehan Park. I’m considering running the 50 miler this fall. I’m still undecided, partially because I’m going to use my result at Moose Mountain Marathon to extrapolate whether or not I can make the cutoffs, and partially because I didn’t love my run there on Saturday. There was a lot of grass, which I hate. I despise the feeling of grass on my legs – so itchy! And of course I am paranoid about ticks. (I found none on me. That must mean they are all in places I can’t see.) If they mow the course, I’m still in. If they don’t, I’m out.

I planned to run 15 miles, and through 8 or so I was cruising. I was like “Wow, yeah, I can do this! I can totally race a 50 miler here!” Then I bonked. I guess I didn’t eat my first gel soon enough, although I wasn’t really hungry. But I also was experiencing a non-food-related bonk, if that’s a thing: a bug bonk. Some deer flies were following me, probably only a couple, but they were dive-bombing me over and over again and I was flailing my arms in vain, trying to get rid of them. I think I killed one or two but ugh. So annoying. I hate flies. I got turned around quite a bit on the trails and wasn’t sure how far I would have to go to get back to the parking lot, and I was running out of water. I reached the parking lot at 12.7 miles, and I had been walking for probably 2 miles. Even through the runnable sports. I gave up. I actually started to walk out another 1.2 miles so that I could do an out & back to get the 15 miles I had originally planned for, but after a quarter mile I actually said out loud “This is stupid” and returned to the parking lot. Ugh.

I decided to add the remaining 2 miles to my run on Sunday. Determined not to bonk again, I ate more food before leaving, and I opted not to do any marathon pace miles. I parked at Hidden Falls Park (up above on Mississippi River Blvd, not down near the picnic shelter) and ran 5 miles downriver, turned around, ran back, and then did another mile upriver and back to get to 12. It sounds slick and easy but it wasn’t. It was another miserable run. It rained for about 2 minutes right before I started running, so the sun was back out AND it was extra humid. The air was so hot, even though it was only like 80-82 F, since the humidity was so high. Most of my run was pretty slow once the heat caught up with me, and even after the clouds returned an hour and a half into the run, I was already sapped and couldn’t really recover. I was thirsty even though I had plenty of water (probably because my mouth was getting dry – I should have had a candy or something) and my stomach was a little too full of water so I felt uncomfortable a lot. It wasn’t as miserable a slog as it was on Saturday, but it wasn’t great. If the clouds hadn’t come through and provided shade for most of the run, I am pretty sure I’d have quit early.

So, this upcoming week’s a cutback week! I’ve had 6 weeks of increasing mileage and my body is starting to say nope. I’ll be in Duluth this coming weekend anyway and won’t have time for 4-5 hour runs. I also need to give my poor back a rest – no, not my muscles, my skin. My sports bra has totally shredded the middle of my back since I wore my pack 2 days in a row (and it was pretty bad after the first day, woof), and I need a chance for it to heal!

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!

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!

Spring 2018 Running Goals Revisited

“Spring” is almost over (for these purposes, spring is March, April, and May), so I should hold myself accountable to the goals I set for myself.

  1. PR at the Hot Dash 10 Mile
    DNS, womp womp.
  2. Course PR at Chippewa Moraine 50K
    I had a 25 minute course PR!
  3. Overall PR at Chippewa Moraine 50K
    I fell short of this goal, unfortunately. Time to improve my nutrition in ultras.
  4. Sub 4 hours at Superior 25K
    Yes! I had a great race and came in at 3:49:45!
  5. Sub 30 minutes at Be The Match 5K
    I ran a gun time of 29:00 (watch time 28:30, grrr, I am stupidly bitter), so check check check!

60% achievement – that’s a D- in school, but I consider it pretty good. I don’t set goals that I can easily check off. Well, sometimes I do, but not exclusively! It’s sometimes nice to not make my goals so that I don’t have to make up new ones, ha.

I wish I had run the Hot Dash 10 Mile, and I feel stupid for not getting up to run it, but whatever. It’s not like I forfeited thousands in prize money or something. I’m sure I would have enjoyed it but it’s fine. I like sleep, too.

Checking in on my overarching 2018 goals:
-Taking deliberate rest breaks: I plan on taking 2 weeks off after FANS.
-Running more miles than 2017/reaching 1000 miles earlier than 2017: I am 70 miles ahead of my 2017 mileage through May 23rd.
-Going outside daily “with intention”: Not every day, but more days than not. I’m keeping track in my running journal.
-Turning strength training into a habit: No
-Tracking spending: I forgot I was going to do this, so no
-Spending more time with other runners: Kind of? I walk at lunch with 2 other women, and I have people to talk to pre and post race, but I’m not going on group runs or anything. I didn’t join the running gym as it’s really far from my house.

Now I have to hurry and make up my summer running goals since my first opportunity is just around the corner!