Monday, December 6, 2010

Run Like the Wind 24hr

Part 2 of my very busy day December 4, 2010:
Or as I like to refer to it: Walk Like the Breeze! Because that is what I felt like, the breeze! The Sealy 5k Jingle Bell Fun Run and Competitive Walk was such a huge success… I was on cloud 52! I don’t think it would have been possible for me to have a bad race. I don’t know what time it was when I left for Austin Saturday, but it must have been about 12:45 when I got to the race site. Race location and all information about the race are at this link:

What an awesome place! My first impression was turning off of a very busy Business 71 onto Old Bee Caves Road and finding wilderness within 1/4 mile of the highway! Saw my friend Mary Ntefidou just as I arrived at the race site. She is an amazing runner and an awesome friend! Soon after that I saw Deborah Sexton and not long after that, Debbie Evans, two more of my awesome ultra running friends. Deborah, Debbie and I are all getting ready for Across the Years in December.

It took me a few minutes to get my gear ready and pick up my race packet and timing chip. Funny thing is that my goal for this race was to get in at least 100k. Guess what my race number was… 101. Anyone who knows me understands why I simply could not, would not stop at 100k. It had to be 101 or more. I fully intended to get on the course and walk until 10:30 Sunday morning. I gave the race director the leftover bananas and oranges from the Sealy 5k so they would not go to waste.

Next - hurry up and get on the course for a few laps. The loop was not really a loop, but a 1 kilometer meander through a beautiful wooded trail that was covered in mulch with a few well placed trip hazards (small tree stumps hidden in the mulch). After I walked the first 5k, I got my stuff from the car to set up my drop bag area with the other race participants. My plan for this race was to stop for a few minutes every time I completed 5k and look at the next one as a new 5k! I would certainly reach my distance goal if I only completed 5k an hour, and I was completing them just a teeny bit faster than that, including the stopped periods. I knew that I would probably slow down during the night, so whatever I could put in the bag before dark would be a huge bonus. Oops, just realized I forgot my headlamp. And I forgot to eat any solid food since really early that morning. Thanks to Deborah Sexton and Debbie Evans, who brought extra gear and had a headlamp I could borrow. Many thanks to RD Sam Voltaggio, chef extraordinaire… the race chow was amazing. When I realized how hungry I was, I asked for some protein and was given the most delicious burger I had ever tasted (only the meat, no bun or anything else). I don’t know where Sammy gets his beef or how he seasons it… but WOW!

The funny thing about me and race food is that I usually do not eat anything heavy during races. I usually totally rely on Perpetuem, Hammer Gel, Endurolytes, a spoonful of plain peanut butter every now and then, some bananas and orange slices, and some pineapple juice for variety, oh and don’t forget the black coffee during the night. But, that beef patty was just what I needed at the time. I never got any stomach discomfort or restroom issues through the whole race. When the sun started to go down, I put on a long sleeve shirt because the temperature dropped a little. I was not ready for the thermals until some time after midnight when I believe the cold front came through. Thankfully it was a dry front, so the wind just picked up a little and we were mostly protected from the wind by the woods.

Back to the race plan; I mostly stuck to the plan of walking 5 loops and taking a little rest break, from 2 to 5 minutes. I love that the loop was 1k, so I never had to carry anything. I could wait a few hundred meters if I got thirsty on the trail. I usually took a small drink of water or Heed at 3k, and then drank plenty every time I refueled. There were a few times when I just refueled, hydrated and kept moving, but that was not part of the plan, so I was very careful to take the breaks. After all, this was supposed to be a training walk… getting me ready for Across the Years. I didn’t start at the same time as everyone else, so no chance I was going to move up from last place.

I need to repeat once more what a wonderful place this was to have an event like this! Thinking about the things I heard and saw (?) in the woods after dark. I was listening to my usual heavy metal with only one earbud in and started to hear strange sounds so turned off the music for a while. I was just the wind making the tree limbs creak and groan. The strange things I was seeing turned out to be rather large spiders trying to make their way through the mulch bed on the path. Their eyes glowed in the light from the headlamp like tiny little green strobe lights. There must have been thousands of them. The reason I know they were spiders is I stopped to see where the little green flashing lights were coming from… and it was a huge honking spider! (Not really that huge, about the size of a nickel including his legs) So, I had fun avoiding crushing spiders and watching out for those hidden tree stumps. Let me tell you, when you walk the same 1 kilometer loop enough times, you begin to remember exactly where you will encounter the trip hazards. LOL… I know I said a few choice words but I never fell down! Amazing, isn’t it!

I know the volunteers and the RD thought I was totally crazy, but I REALLY had FUN at this race. I arrived in such a great mood and it is sometimes hard for me to contain myself. Several times I jumped for joy as I crossed the timing mat.

I don’t remember exactly what time it was, but I had to change into thermal tights and shirt. This dog training facility has a really nice house for their office space and allowed us to use the indoor restroom to change clothes. Yes, I am a trail racer, but I have a problem with getting naked in public, so I took about a 45 minute break to go indoors and strip naked. I cleaned up a little and put on dry clothes from the drawers out after 50k. Again, I felt like I was starting a new race.

I think I started getting tired around 4am, so asked for some solid food again. I ate half of a bbq chicken breast and it was delicious. Oh, I also forgot to mention that I ate some chicken noodle soup during the night. These things are all running together in my mind now so forgive the sporadic nature of this report. Thinking about time and pacing, 15 hours into my race (17:45 on the official clock) I had 16 5k’s complete, so I had one extra in the bag. Still feeling great I had been walking the kilometers anywhere from 9 to 10 minutes each, and then taking the break after 5k. I don’t know what time it was, but I had a burst of energy during the early morning house and walked 3 loops in a row in 8min30sec! I have NEVER felt this good at a race before! It was daylight when I reached 100k, and the race was to conclude at 10:30, and I was still feeling fine. So, I kept walking though I know I was slower. We had live results that we could check all night, so at one point I saw myself move up from last place to 7 out of 8 total participants. 6 were women and two were men (one guy dropped early due to injury). Then, I moved up to 6 out of 8. When I saw myself in 5th place, I started knocking out some really fast loops, not paying attention to the clock, just planning now to stop for a minute or two at 6k instead of 5k. I was taking extra Hammer Gel for energy it seemed to work for a little while, and then I regained my senses and just kept motoring forward and not trying to kill myself or cause an injury this late in the game. When I reached the end about 110k, I heard someone say “Wow, these women are kicking ASS!” Hearing those words really made me feel great. Sorry to say that the last man standing left at about 4 am or so because he had terrible stomach issues. I walked part of a loop with him a little while before he left and he is a very nice guy, competitive and really not happy that he had to leave when he did. He told me as he was leaving that he was practically walking into trees out there, so it was not safe for him to continue. I ended up with much, much more than I ever thought I would do at this race. I was imagining struggling to complete 100k and finished 113!

Here is the link to the final results where I ended up in 5th place overall, 4th place female: I NEVER dreamed I would do this well in this race, and I really want to thank Sam Voltaggio, Jeff Farrell, Jeff Linwood, Cheri Woldt (the winner), Mary Ntefidou (my dear friend who told me about this race), Deborah Sexton, Debbie Evans, Pat Shannon, Angela Ivory, the Schrodi Memorial Training Fund, and the owners of The Canine Center for Training and Behavior in Austin for allowing us 24 hour crazies to invade their space! I don’t know the names of the rest of the volunteers, but there were some high school students working on service hours and a couple of others whose names I don’t know. Everyone was awesome, and right now, I feel like I am writing an acceptance speech for an academy award or something.

The last huge thing I had to do was change clothes; load up the car and drive back home. I had planned to chill with Deborah and Debbie for a little while before going home, but changed my mind. Once I got going, I found Starbucks, then Sonic. A quad shot iced nonfat latte followed by a cheeseburger with jalapenos, some tater tots and a real Coke. I drove almost to LaGrange, and then had to pull over and sleep in the car for about an hour before I could make it the rest of the way home. I did not get to sleep until about 9pm, and I feel relatively good today. My legs are just a little sore, but here is the kicker… NO BLISTERS!!! The key to no blisters is changing into dry SmartWool socks about every 30 kilometers.

That is all.

Sealy 5k Jingle Bell Fun Run and Competitive Walk

Part 1 of my very busy day December 4, 2010.
I spent most of the day Friday marking the course. We had a meeting Friday night to make sure all the volunteers knew what they were supposed to do when directing the runners, so I felt confident that we would have no problems on the course. The past two years, folks had gotten lost because we did not have enough volunteers. The Sealy High School Choir Booster Club and the Choir students REALLY came through this year.

Up at 5:10 am… out to buy the bananas and off to the Hill Community Center to get the party started! The count shows we had about 60 people show up to sign up on race day for an estimated total of 115 participants. Wow, that’s about 30 more than last year! We may have started a few minutes late, but I tried to remember all the instructions (forgot to make one major statement… if you signed up to walk, make sure you walk every step because you will be disqualified if you run, and I had to disqualify one lady who ran across the finish line). Other than that one thing, everyone was perfect. I rode in the pace car to show the lead runners the course and also make sure my volunteers were in place. The winner, a 17 year young man, won the race in 18 minutes and change. It was a lot of fun watching the race from the front instead of from the back!

We got a lot of praises from race participants and I think the race will grow from this point forward. The 5th annual was a turning point for us. The Booster Club felt that if we could not get this right once and for all, we were going to give it up. I don’t know if we made a lot of money on it, and we could use a little more community support such as a large corporation to actually sponsor the run… $1,500.00 is a nice round number and would truthfully cover ALL the expenses, and then all the runners’ registration fees would stay with the club.

I will get the photos from Mrs. Kenner and post them up on my facebook page where anyone can see them, and copy past to get their finish line photo. When the event wrapped up and we had the party cleaned up, it was time for me to head out to Austin to start the 24 hour race I signed up for. The race director was kind enough to let me start late, just so I could get some experience walking all night… I will post the details about that one in the next blog post.