Monday, June 2, 2014

100 Miles of Friendship and Fun

When I decided to once again train for a 100 mile race I had a sence of excitmement as well as a sence of ugh, what have I got myself into again.  My first 100 mile experience was just that, an experience.  A cold day in April where it had rained 4 inches 2 days before the race providing some challenging conditions to say the least, 20 degree temperatures, waist high water crossings, frozen feet and a mud pit.  You name it, I experienced it with my first 100 but I finished which was the main goal.  It took me 29 hours and 31 minutes but I got it done. I said after that race I would never do another 100 miler ever.  The toll it takes on your body is tremendous.  In fact my left ankle still feels the effects from that day from time to time even to this day.  Some days it feels fine and some days it hurts a bit.  I've just learned to accept it and move on.  So why would I want to go though that again?  Maybe it was for the challenge as I'm always up for a challenge, maybe I'm just nuts, maybe I thrive off pain and actually enjoy it.  How did I finally decide to once again take on the 100 mile challenge?  My friend Leigh Ann from Get Fit with LA was in the middle of one of her many 100 mile races.  Every time she ran one of those I found it hard for me to sleep as I tried to stay up to message her and give her some encouraging words in the middle of the night.  My wife Melissa and I were talking and decided during Leigh Ann's race that we were going to make a trip out to California and Run the Nanny Goat 12/24/100 race with Leigh Ann.  It was pretty good timing because our 15 year wedding anniversary would be on June 12 and with the race being the end of May we could do the race and have a vacation at the same time as part of our anniversary celebration.  What better way to celebrate than running forever.  We decided to commit to it on the same night Leigh Ann was running one of her 100 mile races.  So during the middle of the night sometime as I was talking to Leigh Ann I told her we would be coming to run a race with her.  I think  that may have given her a little extra pep in the step during her race that night. Melissa was going to do the 12 hour option which would be her longest race ever and I was going to once again try to go for 100 miles and so the journey once again began.

I myself have never really followed a training plan but I knew from experience and from what I had learned from my coaching certification I had a general idea in mind on what I would do.  I had about 21 weeks to train which was more than enough time as I had a really solid base already with a 30 mile run at this point was my standard weekly long run.  My usual training consisted of rest days on Monday and Friday (so 1 mile run) on Tu, W and Th I usually did 6-8 miles and the weekend was usually 30 on Sa and 5 on Su.  I would just modify that plan a bit.  As the weeks went by I gradually increased my miles and was still taking Monday off then Tu was 10 miles, Wed was 10-15 miles, Th was 10 miles, Friday 5 miles, Sa between 26-30 miles and Sunday between 10-15 miles.  About every 4th week I would do a cutback week on the weekend but that would just consist of back to back 20 mile runs on Sa and Su.  The longest distance I ever did in training was 35 miles. I really didn't focus on speed during this training just logging tons of miles.  I relied on a lot of the back to back runs while running on tired legs as a majority of my training.  Doing this enables you to still put in the miles on tired legs without near the risk of injury as maybe a 50 or 60 mile run would have.  During training I got used to the 10 mile runs to the point where it was just my standard run.  My highest week of training was 100 miles and my training months usually averaged around 300-330 miles/month.  This was by far more miles than I put in training for my last 100 miler so I knew I was well prepared for it.  I was running in 2 layers even when it was in the 70's in Indiana to try to get used to the California heat.  3 weeks leading up to this race I ran a half marathon race in which I set a PR by 4 minutes with a 1:28:56 which just goes to show you don't necessarly have to do speed work to get faster, just logging miles with a descent intensity will also help you get faster.  I had a few goals in mind during this race.  One was to finish within the 28 hour time limit. Two was to set a new 100 mile PR time which if I finished within the time limit I was going
Keeping the streak alive.
 to do that one as well.  Three was to run it under 24 hours.
Kat and I on the beach with the X Jump

Melissa and I left for California the Wednesday before the race.  We were going to meet up with our friend Kat from Smushtush Running and Fitness for some lunch and then some time at the beach before checking into our hotel.  We had a great time that day and Kat was so nice to finally meet in person.

The next day Melissa and I decided to make a trip to LA.  I got to keep my running streak alive with a 1 mile run up and down Rodeo Drive.  The only shopping I like to do is shopping for running shoes.  Didn't see anything there so I got my mile in and kept on going.  

Melissa and I with Leigh Ann
Friday was another rest day so we went to the race site and decided to get our stuff ready for race day.  Melissa and I were finally going to meet Leigh Ann for the first time.  We got there right at noon and she was right there to greet us.  I could hardly believe my eyes.  My awesome friend was finally standing in front of me.  I have a lot of respect for Leigh Ann and everything she has overcome in her journey.  We always tell each other that we might be long lost twins.  Our journeys are a lot of the same.  Weight loss, found a love for running, completed our first 100 milers at almost the same time and now here we were.  Side by side.  The 6 months of waiting was over and here she was!! 

Kristina brought me bacon and cookies!!
My eating was so thrown off before this race having to eat out every day is not the ideal pre race carb loading strategy but it is what it is and I had to make the most of it.  I did not eat really healthy going into this with all the eating out but did the best I could.  Had some pizza, pasta, etc leading up to race day and was starting to feel slugish.  When you have been averaging 65-85 miles running per week and suddenly go to next to nothing it kind of makes you feel that way.  I was just ready to run.  California time was really throwing me off at this point.  We were a 3 hour time difference than them so I found myself getting up at 2:30 am their time then going to bed around 6pm their time.  I rarely ever eat anything before a race.  Race morning comes along and the race
starts at 8am which is 11am my time.  I decided not to eat anything before the race just to keep my
stoumach in line.  It had been hurting the last couple days from some of the food I wasn't used to eating so I didn't want to have any extra issues on race day.  We didn't bring a lot of food to the race as the race was well supported with basically anything you wanted or needed.  I did buy some Gatorade and water as well as some peanut M & M's and some oreos.  Both good for quick energy.  I also had a chance to meet up with my awesome friend Kristina from Live Laugh Love Run before the race.  It was so exciting seeing her there.  She brought me bacon and cookies!!  Two of my favorite things!! 

At the beginning of the race Kat and I decided we would stay together for a while.  We were both looking at starting out at 10 minute miles and just seeing how long we could go at that pace.  At the 20 mile mark we were at 3 hours and 20 minutes.  It was still overcast and pretty good weather for the most part.  Within t
he next 10 miles the sun came out and it started to get hot.  We ended up

Melissa accomplishes her goal of 40 miles!!

staying together for around 35 miles and then just kind of did our own thing after that.  This was Kat's 2nd 100 miler as well.  I am not going to bore you with mile splits and mile times for the whole race but if you want to see them I recorded the entire run with my garmin and you can see it here at this link:  http://connect.garmin.com/activity/507132969  Let's just say Kat is a frickin machine she kept going and going like the energizer bunny throughout the night.  Every time I saw her she seemed like she was running and had tons of energy.  Not sure how she was doing it but she was amazing to say the least out there.  At around mile 40 or so the heat starts to get to me and I have to start walking some.  I'm still walking around 15 minute miles but it's a struggle.  I catch up to Leigh Ann and decide to stick with her for a while.  We are both walking but I can tell she is slowing her walk down for me just to keep me going.  She helped me so much at this point and the fact she slowed down some for me was something I won't forget.  She helped keep me going when it was starting to get hard.  We ended up walking about 10 miles together.  I get to the 50 mile mark in a little over 10 hours and am thinking to myself if I can keep going at this pace I will have a great time forgetting that I have been able to do nothing but walk for the last 15 miles or so.  As we approach the 12 hour mark I know my wife is finishing up her race. I know she had a goal of 40 miles and knew she was going to be close to it.  Our friend Emily stayed with Melissa for the last several miles of her race and I know it really helped her to keep pushing.  Melissa ended up getting 40 miles in just under 12 hours.  Her longest distance ever by 9 miles.  I was so proud of her.  I was able to stop for a second to give her a big hug and for a picture but I  had to keep going as if I stayed around too long my legs would end up locking up.  I was about to the 60 mile mark at this point but it was a struggle.  My friend Emily was now walking some laps with me.  She was such a trooper staying and pacing people throughout the night.  She actually ended up doing 29 miles herself keeping everyone going.  At this point she gave me the much needed boost I needed to keep going.  Around the 65 mile mark it was time to go at it alone, in the dark, now having been up for over 24 hours with no sleep exhaustion was starting to take it's toll on me.  I was staggering and really tired.  I think at some point I was actually falling asleep here and there.  Somehow I make it to mile 70 and wonder if this is ever going to end.  I see Leigh Ann in passing a couple times and tell her I'm about done with this crap.  She assures me that she will kick my ass if I stop so I keep going.  I am now doing miles at around 25 minutes per mile struggling to stay awake.  At one point I ask for some coffee and they tell me the next time around they will have me some.  During that loop I see Kat and she asks if I'm ok?  I know I yelled something to the effect that I would be if I had some DAMN coffee!!!!  Sorry about that Kat but you just go crazy at that point in the race running on the brink of exhaustion and your mind doesn't really know what is going on.  I finally get to mile 80 having drank around 5 cups of coffee by now and a couple of delicious hamburgers and some ramen noodle soup.  The coffee is keeping me going but I am having to stop and pee every lap.  At this point I am still moving and on a coffee caffeine high. I get to cauculating it in my head and realize if I don't pick up the pace I am not going to make it.  You have to be at 87 miles by the 24 hour mark or they will pull you from the race. At this point I am at 80 miles in 19 hours and 52 minutes but I'm hurting.  Around the 85 mile mark the sun comes out and I get this renewed energy.  I have made it through the night!!  The hardest part about one of these is making it through the night.  If you can do that, you can finish.  I am actually able to run some at this point again.  Mile 87 I feel like I'm sprinting not sure where all this energy is coming from.  I end up running a 9:25 mile, one of my fastest ones of the entire race.  I see my friend Emily and she is in disbelief that when she left me earlier I was struggling to do a 25 minute mile and am now running at full force.  I decide to try to maintain that pace as long as I can adding the numbers in my head again.  Mile 88 I pull off another great mile of 9:43 and then a 10:24 at mile 89.  With 10 miles left I have now put myself in a position to run 30 minute miles the rest of the way and still finish the race.  At this point I know I am going to finish the race, now it's a matter of what time.  The 3 miles fast miles took a lot out of me but it put me in a good position to finish and that was my main goal was to finish what I had started.  I have never had a DNF in any race I have ever run and didn't intend to now.  10 miles left, I got this.  Just my usual easy 10 miler left.  Less than a half marathon to go.  I had already knocked out 3 full marathons.  I decide to do a run/walk method for the last 10 miles.  Run for 4/10 and walk for 1/10. That strategy

worked pretty well and I was going  at around 14-16 minute miles.  I meet up with Yolanda aka  The Walking Diva for mile 96 and she walks that lap with me.  She is on a quest for 500 lifetime marathons/ultra's and this race put her one step closer to that goal.  I believe she is currently around 470.  Just amazing.  I continue the run walk method where at this point just moving forward is an accomplishment.  I finally hit mile 99.  My final lap!!  I see Emily and Leigh Ann together as I have about 1/2 mile to go and emotion takes over.  I do get pretty emotional in these things and the emotion of what I am about to accomplish took over and I start crying.  They see me and know it's my last lap.  Emily decided to do the last 1/2 mile with me.  I once again glance down at my watch and notice to myself that if I pick up the pace I can finish in 25 hours 30 minutes and something instead of 25 hours and 40 minutes and something.  Runners logic.  The 30's sound much better than the 40's even at this point in the race so I take off sprinting.  Emily says she is even having a hard time staying up with me.  I ended up crossing the line in 25 hours 37 minutes and 58 seconds.  A new 100 mile PR by almost 4 hours.  I accomplished 2 of my 3 goals during that race.  The major one was to finish and I accomplished that.  I set a new PR.  During the race I once again said I would never do this distance race ever again.  There is such a mix of emotions you go through in a race like this to feeling great to feeling like shit to feeling great to renewed energy when the sun comes up to feeling like shit again to feeling tons of emotion as you realize you are going to finish and then are overcome by emotion on that last lap and you cross that finish line.  It is a mental game more than anything else.  You're body can do anything!!  You just have to make it do it.  Maybe that's what I love about ultra running.  Pushing your body to the point of exhaustion and then pushing it some more.  It's a place that's hard to describe.  The point you wonder what the hell you are doing and then when you cross the line realizing the sense of accomplishment and that I just did that.  I went 100 miles on my own two feet to the point of exhaustion and felt like death but came back from the grave and continued on to finish.  As sick as it may sound it is what I love about it most.  Making your body do things you never thought possible and waiting for that day to where you can one day do it all over again.  I will do another 100 miler one day.  When only time will tell.  All I can say that is an experience like no other.  What a rush.  A feeling I will never forget.

If you're wondering I did run the next day to keep the running streak alive.  Pain in my ankles and tops of my feet but other than that I felt quite well.  I ran the next day, and the next day and the day after that.  Every day the pain lessened and today is virtually gone.  This weekend just 1 week after the 100 I was able to knock out an 11 miler followed up by a 10 miler the next day and felt good.  The running streak as of today is alive and well at 922 days.  You ask how long I will keep it going.  As long as I am able to.  I will run for as long as I can because that is what I love to do.  Run, just run.  If all goes well as far as recovery in the next 2 weeks I am planning on running 2 races in one day.  On June 14 I will be running a 45 mile ultra marathon on the morning and then in the evening I will be running a night trail marathon with my friend Ashtyn from Fit Life With Ashtyn.  That's 71 miles in one day. Looking forward to hitting the trails for yet another time.

Overall a great race with great support and I would highly recommend it to anyone doing their first ultra.

During this event I got to meet a lot of amazing people and lots of running page administrators from Facebook including Leigh Ann from Get Fit with LA, Kat from Smushtush Running and Fitness, Kristina from Live Laugh Love Run, Nicole from MyFitFamily who accomplished her first ultra of 50 miles, Yolanda from The Walking Diva, Sharon from Rungry Runner who accomplished her first 100 mile ultra, Tony from I am Endorphin Dude and Carrie from HW Fitness.  Amazing weekend of running with some amazing people I will never forget.

Mike