Lesson 1: If a race director provides directions to a race, use them.
Chris and I left San Antonio around 2:45am with plenty of time to get to the race and do a bit of pre-race puttering. We’d both looked at Joe’s directions on the race website and knew where we were headed. I decided to plug the address into my phone’s GPS just to make sure we didn’t miss the turn onto the dirt road heading out to Camp Eagle. I didn’t notice at 2:45am that the GPS’s route to Hackberry Road was slightly different than Joe’s route there. Cut to Chris and I sitting in his truck 8 miles down a dead-end dirt road (called Hackberry) in the middle of nowhere at 5 in the morning. Race start: 6am. You would have been impressed by our calmness as we realized the rest of the drive was going to be “a bit” rushed.
“Huh, well, looks like it doesn’t go through.”
“Guess we’d better turn around.”
“Gonna be close.”
We made it to the gates of Camp Eagle at 5:45 after getting caught behind a very law-abiding driver. Chris sat on 15mph-Guys tail, but he wouldn’t scoot over to let us pass. Interestingly I had a similar experience during the race with a runner wearing headphones.
Anyway, I made it to the start line at 5:58, embarrassed by the rush, but pleased I could check off the Murphy’s law-type story for you all today.
Lesson 2: Make sure you are clear about where you want a friend to put your drop bag (if you are not responsible enough to manage your own drop bag.)
Chris parked his truck and just had time to ask if I needed anything from the green bag I’d asked him to carry over before Joe began the start countdown. I said no and headed off. Long story short, my drop bag with all my fancy nutrition went back to Chris’s locked car. Cut to the mile 22 aid station where Chris was volunteering.
“Hey Chris, where exactly did you put that drop bag?”
“Oh, it’s in the car.”
After a couple of rounds of “sorry’s-my faults” on both our parts, Chris hiked back to the race start to retrieve my bag. I feel very badly about rushing Chris’s morning and asking him to leave an aid station to get a bag I should have been managing. He does not appear to care — because he is good like that. Lesson 2.5: Calm friends with high levels of tolerance are best.
Lesson 3: Keep the Immodium on you.
Instead of putting my entire immodium stash in my drop bag, I put one tablet in my pocket. Yeah, me! Without my GU resupply I was forced to use Hammer gels. My intestines registered their disapproval exactly 6 minutes after the first gel. But I popped the Immodium tablet, and that was the end of that. I was still very happy to switch back to GUs for the last loop. I heart those Watermelon Chomps.
Lesson 4: It takes a while to work up to being able to run four ultras in three months. I am not there.
I had a really tough time during the first two 16 mile loops. My feet and legs hurt from the get-go. And by the middle of the second loop, I was feeling pretty down on running. Northface 50 mile in December. Bandera 100k in January. Rocky Racoon 100 in February. Like I’ve said, I think these ultras are a means to practice suffering and work on integrity, BUT there has to be a little fun involved. If not, there are other, less gel-filled, ways to approach compassion. I was working on a list when I finished Loop 2 of 3. And then I took some Tylenol and everything changed. I’ve never had the “back from the dead” experience until yesterday. It was as if someone had shaken the dust from me and said, “OK, let’s go for a run now.” I’m not sure what my splits were, but I wouldn’t be surprised if my last loop was faster than my first. I flew. And, it was fun. There wasn’t anyone to catch; the guys were long gone. So it was just me careening down the rocks — and running back up them. I might have bowled over a few of the 50k folks I met with my happiness at this point. I am really thankful — because I might have stopped running after Nueces and taken up macrame if the suffer-fest had continued.
Refining the system: My goal for Nueces was to work on refining systems –especially nutrition. I learned again that I need to find a better way to dispense the gels than using the little packets. I’m thinking of getting a refillable toothpaste tube and using that. I’ll let you know.
I also need to figure out how to take on a bit more protein during the run. Laurel had me try a rice protein powder. I mixed it a bit of water in a tiny water bottle and thought I’d drink about a third of it an hour. I couldn’t do it. Tasted like chalk. I’m going to talk to the GU folks and see if they have anything to recommend.
I’m also still trying to figure out how much water to take in. Rhabdomyolysis is always at the back of my mind. With my feet hurting so much yesterday, I really wanted to make sure I was taking on enough water to help flush any excess myoglobin through my kidneys. I realized I’d taken on a bit too much when my watch started feeling tight on my wrist. (I’m smart like that.) Fingers like ugly little sausages. Happily water intake will be easy enough to work on in the Texas heat before Western States.
Asa just got up, so I’ll leave off for now. Here is Olga’s e-mail about the race results if they’re not up yet.
And here’s a wonderful short video of ultra runners John Ticer and my hero, Meghan Arbogast. (Asa’s hero is Ticer because he’s a fireman.)