Sunday, April 6, 2008

rr: umstead 100 mile enurance run

rundangerously, temporarily posting under the nom de plume, walkgingerly ;)

well, as the update reported, the umstead 100 miler was my first dnf, even if tempered by a listing as a 50 miler finisher - the silver lining in an other wise gray, rainy day. i have no regrets about the dnf, but when i dropped out i was very disappointed at not being able to finish the last 2 two loops with emmy - we had just run the last 50+ miles together. i hoped she would to catch up with meredith and anthony, and run with them. as it turned out, she did run with them for the 7th loop, and picked up a volunteer pacer for the last one. but i've gotten way ahead of myself.

in the beginning. . . i woke up race morning to the sound of heavy rain beating against the bedroom window. it previewed what the day would eventually look like but, luckily, by the time we got in the car at 4:30, not only had the rain stopped - but the temperature was in the high 60's! from a weather perspective, i counted my blessing that we would avoid rain at the start - but 60's and 95% humidity wasn't exactly ideal running conditions.

we arrived at camp lapihio, race headquarters, at 5:15. after i left my drop bag for aid station #2 on the side porch, then went inside and found a place fro my main drop bags. i parked my drop bags next to cameron, a local runner about to run his first 100 miler. we would see each other on the course throughout the race. notwithstanding the current conditions, i had taken multiple everything so i could periodically change into dry clothes throughout the day. when emmy arrived, she squeezed in her drop bags next to mine and cameron's.

the runners had pretty much claimed every available inch of wall and table space in the cabin for their drop bags and equipment. normally the drop bags and aid station would be staged outside the cabin. blake norwood, the race director had given us a heads up on the logistics 0f moving everything inside at the pre-race briefing. he requested non-runners avoid the main entrance to the cabin and aid tables - it would be tight, but workable.

i had coffee and a blueberry muffin for breakfast. then went outside where the race started precisely at 6. in the humid, pre-dawn darkness, emmy and i started off at a brisk walk toward the airport spur. we walked/jogged a good chunk of the first 3+ miles, in the extreme humidity, and only started to run when daylight broke. i wanted to get a feel for the course during the 1st loop. when we reached the 2nd aid station at mile 6.8, i had oranges and cantaloupe. i didn't wear my fuel belt or carry a water bottle since plenty of fluids were available on the course.

just beyond aid station 2, emmy fell into conversation with barbara, and i set off on my own for a while. i eventually caught up with meredith and we ran together for a bit. i was so happy to learn that she'd be volunteering at the sybil ludington 50k in 2 weeks! i also ran with roger for a short while before i finished up the first loop just under 2:30. that was well under my target of 3 hours per loop - and overall goal to complete the race in 24 hours.

i dawdled at the aid station for a while before heading out on the airport spur. that dawdling at the aid stations would, unfortunately, became a reoccurring theme throughout the day. i took the time to change into a dry tech shirt and hat - the original ones were drenched in sweat from the first miles! changing into dry clothes at the main aid station also became a reoccurring theme for me during the race. despite the extra time at the aid stations, i also finished the 2nd loop in under 2:30, for a cumulative split of 4:54.

this is where i made what can only be the crucial mistake of the day. in addition to switching into dry socks, i switched from my trail shoes to road shoes. i should have skipped the trail shoes entirely. except for the quarter mile stretch into and out of the start/finish area, the entire course is run along park roads. but apparently the switch after 25 miles must have altered my gait, bio mechanics, or karma. a few miles into the 3rd loop i felt the start of a what would become a chronic soreness at the bottom of my left shin.

it was also in the third loop that emmy and i hooked up again and would run the next 4 loops together. after changing into dry clothes i also decided to grab my camera and take some pictures during the third loop. it was a small miracle that we hadn't gotten any rain during the first two, so i thought this might be the last dry moment to use the camera. it was definitely a touristy sort of loop - including asking jerry (runirishnc) to take our picture near the crabtree creek bridge! i managed to get a few nice photos, including one of jerry as we headed into aid station 2, along with roger as he reached that aid station, a shot of meredith and adam (the professor), and barbara.

i had enough of the picture taking by the time we finished the 3rd loop - in just under 3 hours. i again changed into dry clothes and we set off on the 4th loop. i was looking forward to seeing pat and katie at aid station 2 when we reached it. in somewhat of a bummer moment, turned out the we missed them by less than 15 minute at the main aid station. i was about an hour ahead of the projected pace. but the sad part was my sister-in-law and nephew had also come with them to support me. they couldn't stay and wait for me at aid station 2 - so i missed their visit.

also, at some point during the second loop eddie had driven over to the airport to pick up anthony, who would pace meredith for her last 2.5 loops. when we arrived at aid station 2, not only was i greeted by katie running up to me with a great big hug, but anthony was there snapping some great candid photos with his camera! he managed to capture a really cool father-daughter moment - thanks anthony! and to inject some levity into the moment, pat had with her an extra large size umbrella. it was actually a beach umbrella, and all we were missing was the sand!

speaking of umbrellas, the non-rain spell broke during the 4th loop. it started a pattern that replayed itself throughout the day - light rain, calm, light rain. there was one major bit of rain during that period, but for the most of the day it wasn't too bad - and did cool off the humidity level as a positive side effect. still, at no point during the day did the sun ever manage to burn through the thick cloud cover. it was, literally, a gray and dreary day.

we also finished the 4th loop in just under 3 hours, for a 50 mile split just under 11 hours. except for the nagging soreness of the shin split, i wasn't feeling too badly - all things considered. but loop 5 would be a real mental challenge for me. i fell into this bleak, depressed funk and couldn't seem to shake it. thank god for emmy since she really pulled me through that loop. since i wasn't in a very talkative mood, she told me about the plans for upcoming art show and eventually the positive karma started following again!

we finished the 5th loop in another 3 hours. at 14 hours into the race we were, amazingly, still on target for a 24 hour finish! but the fatigue was catching up with me. it was dark and drizzle still continued to come in patches. while i had bounced back mentally, i was finally starting to break down, physically. i think at some point within a mile or two of base camp, a hematoma developed above the shin splint. i didn't feel it. instead, as we finished up the 6th loop and meredith and anthony passed us going out on their 7th loop, anthony and i took a quick look at my leg with flashlight. i wasn't pretty.

we didn't spend anytime at the aid station, opting for a quick turnaround. as we headed out the rain picked up significantly. but out on the airport spur emmy thought i was limping - i didn't think i was, but i did stop and look at my leg more closely. that's when i realized how large the bruise from the hematoma was. at the two mile mark i had to decide whether to turn off and head back to base camp for the red cross staff to evaluate it now - or try and keep it together for the 3+ hours it would take to finish the 7th loop. i made the left turn back to base camp, and the rest - as they as - is history.

the red cross guys weren't too concerned about the stress fracture - it wasn't life threatening, and they weren't going to pull me from the race because of that. the hematoma, on the other hand really did worry them and - by extension - me. the risk of a clot from the burst blood vessel was the real issue. i could finish the 22 miles and nothing could happen, or i could head out and get hit with a clot in the next mile. pretty stark choices, pretty easy decision to make. while i didn't like it, i could live with it (excuse the pun).

again, in the small world and positive karma universe, while i waited with the red cross guys for pat to come and collect me, i got into a nice conversation with a guy and his wife. he had run a half marathon that morning, just gotten to race headquarters, and was now getting ready to volunteer as a pacer. it turned out that he was the very guy who paced emmy for her final loop! he actually filled her in on all the drama and details of what happened when i headed back to in after the airport spur!

gotta love positive karma! despite the lousy weather for most of the day, this was a great event - all around- and will definitely be back next year to take care of some unfinished business :)

check out emmy's (ctmarathoner) race report.
check out meredith's (merigayle) race report.
check out anthony's (anthonyp) pacer report
check out jerry's (runirishnc) rr on kickrunners forum.
check out adam's (the professor) rr on kickrunners forum.
postscript: my official finish time for the 50 miler was 10:54:07, a 13:05 pace. best part of this news, north carolina becomes my 18th state on the road to completing a marathon or ultra in all 50 states! only 32 more states to go!


Johnny Dx said...

I feel you pain fella...I enjoyed sharing your experience through your report.

Recover well,


rundangerously said...

johnny, thanks for stopping by!

Sub said...

I'm sorry to hear about the dnf. I know this will not be a consolation to you, but there are very few people around capable of running 78 miles in 17 odd hours!!! You made a smart decision of not continuing. Hopefully on another day things will turn out differently. Heal up - the injury looks nasty.