Sky Runs

Taking the long way round

Month: November 2014

The Quad Dipsea

 

Well that was fun! Not a super great as a “race” for me but terrific for training and boosting my confidence for TNF SF next week- not to mention the killer scenery, even with fog and some clouds. Since the 28.4-mile Quad Dipsea is technically an ultramarathon, here is an appropriately ultra-long post on how it went today, composed while the experience is still nice and fresh in my head.

After posting last night, I hurried to get my stuff ready and get to sleep, with a little help from Benadryl. It still took me a while to fall asleep as I was feeling all sorts of “taper pains” in my legs and feet, in places that have never hurt before.

My alarm went off at 5:30 and I snoozed it once, I was still so drowsy. Breakfast was instant coffees- a mix of Starbucks vanilla latte and Christmas blend, half a hard pumpkin bagel, some sweet and crunchy currant “twigs” (think Raisin Bran in stick form), and a couple of walnut pieces and dried apples and a dried fig- stuff I picked up at a neighborhood grocery store last night. I didn’t have much appetite and I’m generally not big on breakfast but I love my morning coffee and need to eat a bit to get my digestion moving along. It moved along nicely and then I showered and got ready.

Emi and Peter picked me up a little after 6:30 and we headed over to Mill Valley, a quick drive with no traffic. My stomach didn’t feel great and I still felt sleepy despite the coffee, so when we stopped at a gas station I decided to get a Coke. As I was trying to decide between a can (tastes better) or a bottle (to save some for later), I saw that they had Mexican Coke. Score! Sure, drinking a caffeinated drink less than an hour before a race start might force me to make some pits stops, but it would be worth it.

I picked up my packet and was warmly welcomed for coming all the way from New York (almost all the runners here are from California), then I organized my gear, took 2 Tylenol , two Peptos and a salt pill, peed several times, and got some photos with Emi, who was planning to do some running on other trails nearby and find a couple of spots to cheer me along the course.

With my trail angel before the start. Photo: Emi Yasaka

With my trail angel before the start. Photo: Emi Yasaka

I lined up somewhere towards the front quarter of the field as some announcements were made that I couldn’t hear, except for the part about the only rule being to “have fun.” The start was fast and straight up a short and steep bit of road, then we hit the stairs where I felt Icould hold my own. I don’t mind stairs, or if I ever did I’ve learned to appreciate them, because they are everywhere on the trails in Hong Kong. Some of the early steps were so shallow that even I could take them two at a time.

After the first stretch of stairs came another steep road section, much longer than the first, and everyone around me was still running hard. I hadn’t really digested the fact that “not too cold and some rain likely” actually means “pretty warm with 100% humidity” when running a race uphill. So I was gasping, lungs burning, legs lagging, kind of regretting my decision to add an extra layer on my back with the pack, and pulling down my totally unnecessary arm sleeves. Since it wasn’t raining, the visor came off too. Oh, and I realized that although I’d pressed something on my watch as we crossed the start mat, it wasn’t the start button, so I was about 4 minutes behind on my Garmin.

More stairs, a little more road, and then we got on the trail, up for a little bit to start, where by now loads of people were passing me, men and women. I let them all go and reminded myself that this first out and back should be a recce, and if I felt good I could “race” more in the second half. And I promised myself I didn’t have to run up any of the hills, ever (which curiously makes it possible to run up some of the hills, sometimes).

After climbing about 500 feet in the first mile and change, we headed downhill for about the same for a mile or so, a mix of stairs and smooth trail. Now people were passing me on the downhillls too and I felt a bit shitty. My legs were slow, and I wondered if maybe this “taper” thing just isn’t for me. Pushing in the humidity was messing with my stomach and it felt gross. I realized that with the amount of sweat oozing out of me I should probably take salt pills regularly, but when I went to grab one I realized I only had two left- for another 6 hours or so! Yeah, I was expecting high 50s to feel much cooler. I was soaked by now, and debated whether to shed my shirt at the halfway point, but then my pack might chafe me, so I also thought about leaving my pack and just carrying my water bottle and putting some gels in my pocket.

The welcome downhill stretch was followed by the first of the big climbs, roughly 1000 feet over two miles to the Cardiac aid station. This climb didn’t feel too bad, and since my watch was behind it felt like I got there way sooner than expected. I refilled my bottle, drank a bit of Coke, and raided a jar of S-Caps to re-up my salt supplies.

The next 2.7 miles down to Stinson Beach were almost entirely downhill, a nice relief. There were smooth ridgelines shrouded in cool fog, rainforest sections where it was actually raining, a stretch of gorgeous smooth trail among the big trees, more stairs, and finally the gorgeous approach to the beach, with a wide open section before hitting stairs and wooded trail for the final descent. The aid station was by a road crossing a little ahead of the turn-around point, which was also on a road, and not actually on the beach. I would have liked to touchdown on the sand, though of course not run on it.

I still didn’t feel too good coming down and had a little puke or two on the side of the trail and let quite a few others pass me. I get really stressed out when people are at my back and feel like I could fall any second. When I did feel better, going down the stairs, I occasionally found myself stuck in a train with no safe way to pass. I wondered whether I should stop running trail races with single track. I love being on it, but I can get grumpy about the crowding in the early stages of races and the Chatty Cathys coming up behind me sounding like they’re having so much fun while I am suffering trying to stay upright, dammit. (Of course, if I had someone to talk to it would be awesome until I got distracted and broke my face).

We saw a lot of the race leaders on this stretch, with first male and female way ahead of the others. I tried to count how many women were in front of me, but it wasn’t really possible because there had been an early start option for runners who were concerned about making cutoffs, and it looked like many of those coming back up the steep hill were conserving their energy.

Coming back from the first turnaround, which I hit in 1:30, I had the feeling that I would like to see this again, and so I might as well finish the race (Plus, 90% finished last year, and I don’t want my first DNF to be like that). I took my first picture here, something I rarely do, looking back at the crescent of beach.

The Stinson Beach lookback

The Stinson Beach lookback

Going back up the stairs on the big uphill to Cardiac was hell. It was not only me thinking that. As I got near the top of the stairs, I heard a guy down below let loose a scream of desperate rage. That made me feel better and I managed to run a bit through the redwoods section. I started making weak fartlek bargains—just run up to that next tree, or bush, or whatever marked the end of a gentle part of the incline. I got some music on for the tougher uphill stretches, but I couldn’t listen to much on the downhill portions. It’s too dangerous for me. And there were really no flats on this course, maybe a couple hundred meters here and there.

Happy to be almost halfway there. Photo: Emi Yasaka

Happy to be almost halfway there. Photo: Emi Yasaka

As I refilled and left Cardiac, I saw another woman making her way slowly down the hill, and decided to pass her- though she may have been an early starter for all I knew. I finally started to feel a bit more comfortable on this long downhill. The next uphill was shorter and not as much of a sufferfest as the trip from Stinson to Cardiac, and Emi was there near the top cheering and taking pictures, which gave me a huge boost. The final downhill to the halfway point was glorious. Especially the stairs, where I motored down and passed a lot of dudes. I got to the halfway at 3:05, filled my bottle and headed back up right away. I couldn’t be bothered to fiddle with anything else.

"Run with friends," "Fly high," "Have fun," they say.

“Run with friends,” “Fly high,” “Have fun,” they say.

The next 7 miles back out to Stinson beach was the leg I felt best on. I stayed steady on the upstairs and first uphill, cruised the first downhill and steps down, and again didn’t suffer too much on the way to Cardiac, continually bargaining with myself to run up the less steep portions. I passed a few people and not too many passed me. On the way down to Stinson, I began to pass quite a few women who had probably been way ahead of me earlier, maybe five or so altogether. One of them gave me a really hard time about passing her, I caught up to her in the redwoods, called out, “on your left” and thought I heard her say something scoldy like, “you can’t pass me now.” Hmm… So I hung on her tail, until the path widened a bit and she shouted at me to “Go now! Go now!” But she wouldn’t slow down to let me pass either, so I really had to sprint to get by. Oh well, at least it was downhill.

Going for round two. Photo: Emi Yasaka

Going for round two. Photo: Emi Yasaka

Coming back up from Stinson was hell again, this time squared. I had pushed a bit on the final bit down to the turnaround to pass just one more lady, which of course meant running back up the that stretch of road uphill to keep the distance and “look strong” to intimidate the competition. But it totally didn’t work! She caught me again on a gentle incline after the stairs and I never saw her again. My climbing legs started to feel like jelly. By the time I got back to Cardiac and refilled my bottle two of the other ladies who I’d passed had caught up to me, including the one I’d struggled to pass, and they barely stopped for aid before taking off down the hill. I gave chase for a bit but couldn’t hold the speed on this slick, steep, rooty and rocky downhill. I didn’t want to fall today, and was really hoping to avoid a repeat of Pikes Peak, where, among several other spills, I managed to bang my right knee hard while speeding on the very last mile of trail. Apparently in the single and double Dipsea races it’s legal to cut switchbacks and take shortcuts (though not in the Quad). I seriously don’t see how it’s possible to cut the course without killing yourself- all of the areas between switchbacks looked overgrown and many other portions of the course were steep enough as is without trying to find a steeper “shortcut.”

After I let the ladies go, I got into a nice groove coming down, and reminded myself once more that the final uphill stretch was not as bad as the big hill from Stinson to Cardiac. The worst had passed, just one mile or so up to go, and then I could let it rip down to the finish. I passed a new woman who was struggling on the uphill portion, and as we neared the end of the uphill I spotted my trail-passing nemesis once more.  Alright, race on!

I picked it up hard on the downhill road, eased a bit on a short stretch of trail, then got right behind her on the first set of stairs going down, and pushed hard to get ahead of her on the next strip of road before the longer final set of steps. She was gunning to stay ahead of me too but I knew I just needed to get to the stairs first. I did, went down a few steps, and then- slip! At least the steps were shallow and there was a handrail. I pulled up and kept going. A few more steps and slip! “Again?!” I said out loud. This lady must have thought I was being insane to keep going like that because I think she eased off a bit. I kept storming down the steps without any more falls and pulled in at 6:17 and change, 9th woman and 4th in my AG. Number ten came in about 30 seconds behind. The winner, Caren Spore, was also in my AG, has the course record (4:38) and basically wins every time she runs this race. She looked super strong every time I saw her.

dipsea finish emi

Done! Photo: Emi Yasaka

Phew, I was really happy to be done without too much pain. I didn’t have any firm goals but, on a whim, I thought top 10 would be nice (but unlikely given the first half of the race), as would would beating my 6:33 time from the Pikes Peak marathon, which, besides being shorter, also has less elevation gain and faster course record times than the Quad Dipsea. I would have liked a negative split too, but that wasn’t meant to be. However, when I went to check out my placement, the guy at the computer congratulated me for staying consistent with my 3:05 and 3:12 splits. I’m curious to see how others paced when the results are posted. I do feel that I worked harder in the second half than in the first, though part 2 was far more enjoyable for me.

28 miles was my limit today, just as 14 was it for last week. So while I’m still a bit nervous about going out with the “elites” at TNF next week, I’m a lot more hopeful about finishing. TNF has around 9200 feet of elevation gain drops 10,000   in 50 miles, while today was closer to 9300 up and down again in 28. I’ll try to stick with today’s winning strategy of starting slow, letting people pass me in the early miles, and picking it up when I feel good. I’m really not a good hill and trail runner– I live in a flat town and I fall down so much that I’m too scared to go near Bear Mountain or any of the hard trails around New York City– but I love to get out in beautiful surroundings with more forgiving terrain and see what I can do. I suppose I could go it alone on these trails but then I’d have to carry more stuff (mostly water) and I might get lost or freak out at bears and snakes and mountain lions. Participating in trail and mountain races motivates me to push a little more, while also humbling me outside of my natural habitat. It’s a fine balance to stay comfortably within myself while outside of my comfort zone, but when it works like today it feels pretty sweet.

I pretty much wore what was in my outfit photo last night, except I swapped a lightweight Outdoor Research Echo t-shirt for the matchy-matchy Salomon top. Partly because I didn’t want to look too Euro, but also because I was worried that friction from my pack could mess up the fabric .The Salomon Fellraisers worked really well on the terrain today, which was pretty wet, though there wasn’t too much mud. I managed no falls on the trails today, which is almost a miracle! The bottoms of my feet hurt a bit after the race, since they don’t have as much cushion as I’m used to. I dream of someday finding a pair of Hokas with good tread and big lugs for these kinds of conditions. The Smartwool toe socks kept my feet comfy and blister free. They’re not so easy to find, even in stores that sell Smartwool products, so I usually wear Injinjis unless it looks like it’s going to be wet out.

I packed 4 gels, 2 bars, and 2 packs of chewy stuff but didn’t eat very much because my stomach felt so off. I took what I needed whenever I felt my energy levels running low, every 45 minutes to an hour What I ended up consuming: 1 packet of Clif Shot Blocks, 1 packet of Squeezy chews (something I got at a race in Hong Kong), 1 mini-packet of GU Chomps (from the aid station), 1 Salty Caramel GU = 555 calories, plus some Coke, Sprite and ginger ale from the aid stations.

Right after I changed, which took forever since I was slow and soaked, I ate some delicious fresh hot Firetrail Pizza at the finish, from some kind of portable oven they brought out, and downed some GU Brew and half a beer. You have to finish to get your race swag– a Mountain Hardwear tech-t AND an Eddie Bauer zip neck fleece.

Theres a tasty slice of pizza on that glowing plate. Photo: Emi Yasaka

Theres a tasty slice of pizza on that glowing plate. Photo: Emi Yasaka

Thanks to the organizers for such a cool experience. The course was really well marked- I only made a wrong turn once because I was following some hikers going down a hill instead of looking up for the pink ribbons, and there were loads of volunteers stopping traffic at the road crossings and being super supportive.

California Jitters and Gear

Hills east of Fremont

Open spaces east of Fremont on the approach to SFO

I’m back in California for the third time in a year, in a place so lovely it hurts.

One of my few regrets in life is that I was not a runner during the three years that I lived in the Bay Area, back in the early 2000s. I ran in the Stanford foothills exactly twice—the first time during orientation week, with a group of ex-military guys who quickly left the slower among us in their dust, and one other time mor than a year later. During 1L I used a classmate and I used to go for evening jogs around the track at Angell Field, and during my third year I occasionally walked-ran on the treadmills in the little gym at Tressider Union. Every time I come back here, a little piece of me moans over those lost years of outdoor recreation.

I’ve been lucky to make up for it with quite a few memorable races out here over the past couple of years—the Tahoe Rim Trail 50K in July 2012 (my first solo ultra), the San Francisco Marathon a week later (my first sub-4 since my very first marathon in 2006), plus last year’s Big Sur Marathon (my first BQ!) and California International Marathon (first freezing weather race). And let’s not forget the epic 4 days of crewing and pacing 85 or 90 miles with Mama Mason at the Tahoe 200 in September.

Next up is the gorgeous Marin headlands area. I’m still nervous about my legs but they’re feeling pretty happy. Yesterday and today were total rest days, with very little walking, some ice, rolling and stretching, and lots of eating.

bands

I’ve prepared my “pace” bands, which don’t actually have any paces on them, just notes on the mileage and elevation changes between aid stations. And I’ve reviewed my Garmin activities to see what I did in the weeks before my previous comparable races this year- Pikes Peak in August was the closest to Quad Dipsea, and the Pinelands 50 Mile and Vermont 100K are somewhat analogous to TNF 50. It scared me a little to see how much I was running then and how little I tapered, basically only a day off (maaaaybe two) in the week leading up to those races. Now that I’ve actually rested I feel really unprepared and out of it. I’m hoping/praying that it will all come back to me with the start gun.

Now it’s time to prepare my gear. As usual, I overpacked, since I’m far from home and the weather in somewhat unpredictable. Some rain is likely tomorrow and probably warmer weather next Saturday. Here’s what I got.

 Nutrition:

fuel

My usual stuff. This is for both races (78 miles total). I try to stick to the gels as much as possible, with some chews and bars for when my tummy gets that empty hungry feeling. I probably won’t end up using much UCAN, and the ginger helps combat any funny tummy feelings. I’ll mostly drink plain water and some coke and ginger ale from the aid stations. After the 24 hours a few weeks ago, I’m almost done with Vespa and down to one VFuel, but I just restocked big time with their 40% off sale this weekend. Yup, gels were the only thing I needed to buy on Black Friday.

 Shoes:

shoes

My trusty old Hoka Stinsons got pretty beat up after the UTMB and Tahoe pacing, and I haven’t gotten around to replacing them yet, , so I brought out two pairs of Salomon shoes. I’ll probably go with the purple Fellraiser for tomorrow if there’s a chance of mud, and the red SLAB XT6 Softground for TNF next week if the ground is still damp. If it’s looking dry next week I’ll opt for a pair of Hoka road shoes.

 Hydration pack:

hydration

Probably the Ultimate Direction Scott Jurek pack for tomorrow and next week. The other options are the UltrAspire waistpack or the Nathan handheld-Spibelt combo. I’ll use some combination of the Salomon soft flask and one of the other flat bottles in the UD vest, as the original UD 20 oz. bottles are cylindrical and press into my ribcage too much.

 Other stuff:

stuff

Saltstick pills; chewable Pepto Bismol and Tums for the tummy; KT Tape, Voltaren and Tylenol for my leg issues; Vaseline, Trailtoes and hydrocortisone ointment for chafing; Neosporin for booboos and (not pictured) wet wipes for poopoos. I don’t actually carry all of it, only the smaller, lighter items.

 The outfit:

outfit

Looks like it will be a little wet but not too cold, with temps in the mid-50s. Do I dare to go out looking like a wannabe Salomon athlete? As much as I love the SLAB skirt and top I feel it’s a bit much to wear them together.

Okay, time for bed. I’ll need a lot of luck for tomorrow, but I’m blessed to have a running angel out there cheering me on tomorrow, and not wanting to disappoint her will probably keep me going as long as I can.

Rocking the Ridge and Cheering the Philly

View from a Rock the Ridge aid station

View from a Rock the Ridge aid station

Another weekend to get excited about. On Saturday, the folks at the Mohonk Preserve near New Paltz organized a training run and hike to promote their Spring 50-miler, Rock the Ridge. Though the morning was mega-cold and my right leg is still shaky, the sun promised to be out, Ken Posner of double-Badwater record holding fame would be hosting, and I had invited a young ultra runner who I’d met on the Long Path one day in August, so bailing was not an option. At the very least, I figured I could join the hiking group if I couldn’t keep up with the runners, or cut the run short of my 15-mile goal.

Mohonk Testimonial Gatehouse

Mohonk Testimonial Gatehouse

We met at the impressive historic-looking Mohonk Testimonial Gatehouse, which I hadn’t seen on my previous trip to Mohonk last year. The organizers kindly provided with day-use wristbands for the preserve, free of cost. After moaning about in our cars and making sure we were fully layered we stepped out for a short briefing and divided into two groups. I knew a bunch of people in the running group so I headed out with them, and then overheard something about three miles of uphill. Oh yay! Really it was more like four, but was great for keeping warm. I hadn’t run up a big hill since I was in Hong Kong, almost two months ago, so I didn’t feel too strong, but then the only way to get stronger on hills is to keep going up them, even if it means walking as needed.

Pre-run briefing

Pre-run briefing

Once we reached the top of the hill, some of the group headed back to finish the eight-mile option, and Ken took us up for a loop of a few miles around to Spring Farm, up and down, mostly on wide gravel carriage roads, with a few stretches of deep leaves covering frozen chunks of dirt. There were tiny patches of ice in a few places, a reminder to enjoy the last days of clean trails before they freeze over. When I visited Mohonk last year, I ran most of the western sections of the Rock the Ridge course, so I hadn’t seen any of this part before. It’s all lovely really.

A colorful bunch of trail runners

A colorful bunch of trail runners

At our next decision point, a few of the hardier souls opted to continue up the mountain to Skytop Tower, for a total of 20-25 miles, while I decided to head back and finish with 14 miles. I hadn’t planned to go more than 16 on this day, and was very happy that I could run pretty much the whole way with just a few short walking breaks in the later stages of the big hills. Next week, I will try to double the distance at Quad Dipsea, and then almost once more the following weekend at the North Face 50 Mile in San Francisco. Just for fun.

Oh, and I’ll be back in the Spring for the full 50 miles!

Sunday was the Philly marathon, and I decided bring my cowbell out again to cheer it on. Tons of people I know from my running team, trail and ultrarunning gang and all over were running, and I especially didn’t want to miss the chance to see Maggie and Yoshiko fun-running as Devil and Angel, and Ken Tom running his #kentomming birthday marathon.

I caught an early ride with Tiger out of the city and arrived in Philly a little past two-hours into the race and headed over to the mile 14/25 markers. We saw some of the Nike NYC crowd cheering there, but it was feeling a little chilly, so we decided to start cheer-walking north for a few miles along the side of the course before turning back and cheer-jogging back towards the finish.

Tiger Ellen to the rescue

Tiger Ellen to the rescue

Somewhere around mile 22.5, we came across a man sitting on the curb holding his calf, and after asking permission Tiger began to massage his leg cramp away. Several other runners paused to ask if he needed medical assistance, but he said he was okay and just had a cramp. One runner stopped and gave him his Clif Shot blocks for the extra sodium.

Too short for this tall girl selfie

Too short for this tall girl selfie

As we were getting ready to send him on his way to the finish, the Angel and Devil arrived, and we started running alongside them and taking some photos. It seemed that the Angel had decided to pick up the pace at the end and pass as many people as possible on the way to the finish, while the Devil was very strong, and I struggled to keep up– the hip flexors were simply not moving fast enough. I had a sense of déjà vu of running this race last year, the day after racing the 60K in Central Park—the perfect sunny fall weather was exactly the same, and those final miles were so joyous, as I decided to enjoy them and not push the pace to the finish at all for a change. But this year I was really happy to only run a few miles instead of the full marathon. After the Devil and I stopped at the portapotties by mile 24 or so, she sprinted off to catch the Angel and I gave up and took a break with the mile 25 cheering group before continuing towards the finish with my cowbell in one hand and camera in the other.

Chasing the Devils tail and Angels wings

Chasing the Devils tail and Angels wings

Come Monday I paid for my weekend fun. The right leg hurts, in the hip, flexor, quad and knee. So I took a total rest day- no swimming, no walking, no nothing. A few days ago I came across an essay on the Ultralist about running and addiction, in which the author wrote about running two miles a day even when his knee injury was at its worst. Even though I think I am probably addicted to running (I want to run every day, and get withdrawal symptoms during taper and recovery periods), I can’t stand to do it when it’s consistently unpleasant. So this week is off from running and even most walking until I start the Quad Dipsea on Saturday, and I don’t know if I’ll finish. It may be an unofficial “Double Dipsea” instead.

Ultra Recovery: Ten Days After One Day

Why did I do this to myself? Part of the fear of racing hard is dealing what it will do to your body afterwards. Pre-race taper sucks because you are raring to go, knowing you can run but saving yourself for the big day. Post-race recovery sucks because you’re broken, basically, and can do nothing to fix it but wait until your body heals itself. And you have no one or nothing to blame but yourself.

But it’s worth it, of course, when a race goes well. The physical pain is offset by some serious emotional elation. It’s not quite like a drug, because the body still hurts so damn much and you can feel that, but it is. Think of the endorphin rush that comes from running a marathon, then multiply it by 5, and you get roughly the high that comes from running 136 miles. And unlike a drug high, it’s not something external that you take, it’s something you make. Instead of disrupting, it feels natural and organic and in sync with everything you are and want to be. It’s some heavy shit, I know, that leaves me looking on to the next one.

I’ll admit, I’m not great at actively pursuing recovery. Ice baths, foam rolling, hydrating: I know I should be doing it but I’m either too lazy or too busy. I prefer active bitching and moaning until I can run again.

 Day 0

As I mentioned in my last post, I wasn’t feeling too hot when the 24-hour race ended. One minute I was walking purposefully and happily to the finish, and the next, as I crossed the timing mat for the last time and sat down, I became a spazzy invalid. Things had started hurting a lot at night during the race, as expected. I remember smacking my quads and butt to wake them up, and massaging my abs, lower back and upper arms while I ran to soothe their pain. But afterwards, I was almost immobile, and I knew it didn’t help that I couldn’t eat or drink immediately upon finishing. Instead, I was retching and puking up some nasty brown goo. Once I got it all out, though I felt much better, and on the ride home I actually started feeling properly hungry.

I got home and took a shower right away, just to get it over with, and it felt fantastic. Something I love about going out to my limits is that coming home the simplest luxuries we take for granted every day become a source of great joy. Like a hot shower, flannel pajamas, and a cheese omelet from the diner around the corner, which is exactly what I ordered, with fries and whole wheat toast. My stomach must have shrunk from the lack of food overnight, because I could only eat half of the meal, but it was enough to get me sated and ready for some sleep. I napped, ate a bit of dinner (Peruvian Chinese food: some Lomo Saltado with yellow rice, roasted chicken and fried rice) and tried to sleep some more.

 Day 1

On Monday much of the pain in areas other than my legs had faded and I felt much better than on Sunday, but I was still I hobbling disaster. I literally had to pull my legs in and out of bed, or on and off the sofa, with my hands (a stretching rope works well too, I found). Craving bread, I went to Zabar’s two blocks away and bought half a dozens kinds of loaves and rolls. It took an hour or so. I slept in brief spurts, as if I had jet lag, which I guess I did in a way after shaking up my body clock so severely. During the 24 hours I had drank as much Coca Cola as I could take, alternated my gels and chews with those that had moderate amounts of caffeine, and had shots of 5-Hour Energy around 12 and 17 hours in. I was never sleepy or tired during the event.

Day 2

On Tuesday I felt slightly better but only by like 10% or so. Now is when the recovery starts getting old. And I know, I did this to myself, so the pity party can only go so far. And the mental elation is still there, making the physical pain pale in comparison. I eat the bread, crave a croissant, go out to buy one and run some errands. “Run” is way too strong a word. I walk a few blocks very slowly, that’s all. There’s still very little walking going on, and seeing other people run looks amazing. Dinner is pizza and beer to celebrate.

 Day 3

Compression and a donut. Photo: Sky Canaves

Compression and a donut. Photo: Sky Canaves

By Wednesday I am ready to test myself, so I go for a walk of about 2 miles. Originally, my big goals for this week were to walk one mile and swim one time. As I set out, I am no longer the slowest person on the streets. I’m almost normal. Not NYC-normal speed, but around tourist-normal. This is a vast improvement. I get tired as I approach the one mile mark and consider hopping on a subway for the rest of my journey, instead I stop at a magazine shop for a few minutes and feel up to continue. Half a mile of so later, I stop for a quick bite of veggies and pasta salads, then I walk a little more before catching a bus. My acupuncturist, Russ Stram of Runner Clinic NYC, has generously offered me the use of his Normatec compression boots for several days, so I start using them once or twice a day for 30-40 minutes. It feels very tight at first and I can barely stay at level 4 or 5 (of 7), but it’s a real luxury and I’m very grateful for it.

Day 4

Thursday I’m pretty tired again from my urban hike, so I take it easy and write up my recollections of One Day. I feel that I can almost walk normally except for some tightness at the front of my right hip/hip flexor, which gives me a peg leg sort of shuffle. I feel like I can start getting back to my life soon, which of course includes running at least 50-60 miles per week.

Then I look up the “Race Recovery” section in the Ultramarathon chapter of Tim Noakes’s Lore of Running (aka the “Runner’s Bible”), which reminds me:

Once you have completed the ultramarathon race to your satisfaction, it is time for a good rest. I suggest that for three months you should do little or no running but concentrate on other non-weight-bearing activities, such as swimming, cycling, or working out in a gym. … A minimum of one month’s near total rest is desirable.

I’m in trouble.

Day 5

Friday I get most of my routine back. I do loads of laundry and clean house, partly inspired by guests coming on Sunday, and I couldn’t have my apartment looking like a giant aid station. (Although my gang of ultra running friends would totally understand, a feisty pup is also coming over and he’d be likely to OD on all the gels, water bottles and toe socks laying around). I get out for a very short swim and walk back about another two miles and get some grocery shopping done as well. The water felt good but my walking stride was still a bit peg-legged.

 Day 6

Cheering on the 60K. The loud cowbell was the medal for the Pinelands 50-mile race. Photo: NYRR

Cheering on the 60K. The loud red cowbell was the medal for the Pinelands 50-mile race. Photo: NYRR

I’ve been looking forward to Saturday all week. This day is the NYRR NYC 60K (FKA Knickerbocker 60K), the only ultra put on by NYRR. I was going solely to cheer, though of course some people asked if I was going to run. NO WAY! The course– nine 4-mile inner loops in Central Park, plus a little 1.2 mile out and back– makes it great for spectating, and I would say it is one of THE two great get-togethers of the NYC ultra running community (the other one is Phil McCarthy’s TGNY 100, though that one requires that you pretty much run the whole 100-mile loop if you want to see everyone who’s out volunteering and helping out and stuff). Last year I ran the 60K, and loved the vibe of seeing friends and teammates out all along the course, and especially as we passed by the start/finish area by Engineer’s Gate on East 90th. Even Mary Wittenberg was out on her ElliptiGo cheering us on and snapping photos.

I had told Otto that I would be there early to pick up some brownies that he bought for later (just decadent artisanal brownies from Chelsea market, no funny business there), but I left home a little late, meaning I had to walk/run the mile to the start. The run part was laughable but still faster than walking, and I made it minutes before the start horn blew at 8am. Many friends and teammates were running, from speedsters going for the podium to first-time ultra runners just hoping to finish, while others came by to spectate and cheer. Though cold, the day was sunny enough that the chill didn’t feel awful, at least not to me in my many layers, topped off by my giant NJ One Day sweatshirt (I had asked for a small but somehow wound up with an XL). My One Day podium pals Maggie and Yoshiko came to town from Philly, and we all matched.

Cheering felt like great recovery. We made a lot of noise, stood around for over five hours, and none of it hurt. It was too exciting watching the drama unfold as runners we knew traded first places, set PRs, and struggled through their first or one of many ultras. I would have loved to pace someone too, but even a walking a single four-mile loop would have been too much too soon. Afterwards we walked back the one mile to my place, which felt like a long time. The rest of the afternoon and evening was spent partying “recovery-style”: eating and drinking (with Nuun at least as popular as the beer), taking turns in the compression boots and playing with my ever-growing collection of recovery tools, and enjoying/moaning through some of Tiger’s massage techniques. Our puppy guest of honor had a pretty good time as well.

Time for a wild ultra party! Photo: Maggie Guterl

Hardcore party, ultra-style. Photo: Maggie Guterl

Day 7

It is one week after One Day, and I wanted to see how I could run. My goal was modest: one loop around the reservoir, plus the return trip to and from home, or about 3.5 miles. I did it, slowly, and with hobbled form. The tightness in my right hip/hip flexor is causing me to lean over to the right side and it looks pretty atrocious. But it felt great. That evening, I fall asleep in the compression boots.

 Day 8

I do a bit more focused recovery today. Some time in the compression boots, an easy half hour swim, some time in the sauna afterwards, and a visit to Runner Clinic NYC to treat the tightness on my right side. I fall asleep at 8:30pm, soon after dinner. Following the days of over-excitability and somewhat erratic sleep immediately after One Day, my body seems to be demanding more quality rest.

Day 9

Today is the first f’ing freezing-ass cold day of the season and Day 1 in my plan to beat the wintertime whimpyness out of myself. Last winter I gave myself a grace period of sorts, since it was my first year of cold-weather running, which coincided nicely with the Polar Vortex. I focused my winter training on the Boston Marathon in April and ran no ultra distances until late May of this year. I still logged plenty of frigid miles, but I did most of my short, hard speed work on a treadmill as well as easy runs when there was too much snow on the ground. Even though I never ran more than about 3 hours outdoors during the winter, I often found myself getting sick, especially right after racing (I did a bunch of shorter races in the range of 15K-25K). I don’t know if I can train the colds and flus away, but I’ll try.

So even though it was around 30F with a wind chill feel of under 20F, the sun was out and I figured I was good for a trip up to Grandma’s in Inwood. At least the wind was blowing from the west so I’d get it at my side and back as I headed north-northeast. I bundled up: long-sleeve Craft thermal shirt, a singlet and a fleece-lined wind-blocking jacket on top, long tights with fleece-lining on the thighs, knee- high socks, and shorts on the bottom, plus a buff, fleece headband, fleece hat, and super-warm mittens. I did not at all miss really having to think hard about what to wear before each run these last 7 or so months. It pays off though: apart from my frosty nose, I didn’t get too cold keeping an easy pace for 7.5 miles. My hip was still tight, but I have some wacky ideas about the body adapting around its minor aches and pains. I’ve run through so many of them and kept going, with a little more rest here and there, and more treatment when I can get it. Within a few miles today I felt more comfortable, got into a rhythm, and enjoyed the paths full of late autumn’s fallen leaves.

Day 10

On this Wednesday I wake up feeling sore from the previous day’s run. The original plan was to swim today, but since I didn’t have enough time to go to the pool in the morning so I decided to try for another freezing ass run, just a short 3.5 mile reservoir loop. This never happens, but I didn’t make it. I bundled up and set out, and my tight hip felt worse than ever, and I turned around and walked back home before I even got to the park. I’d rather run like a parentheses than cut a run short, so this was bad.

Later, I got a chance to go to the pool and got a good 45 minutes in, my longest swim in months. Then I sauna’d and started working on some hip strengthening exercise (clams, clams, clams).

As I recover, I am both anxious about my races in the coming weeks and casting about for an excuse to go run another 24-hour race around the end of the year. I’m heading to San Francisco next week for the Quad Dipsea on November 29th and The North Face Endurance Challenge San Francisco 50-mile championship race a week later. These are not big goal races, but rather a bit of a year-end treat to myself to run some mountains in one of my favorite places and catch up with friends along the way. Still, I’m not sure if my legs are ready for Quad Dipsea in another ten days, and I’m mentally preparing myself to let it become my first DNF if finishing would mean injury. And I gasped to see the company I’m keeping on the “elite” list for the TNF 50-mile race. I had been thinking of doing the sensible thing and switching down to the 50K or marathon distance, but seeing my name up there is keeping me in the game for now. It’s pride and ego, I know, and could well result in a “double-DNF” trip for me.

As for “the other 24-hour,” while running at One Day I remember telling myself to hurry up and qualify for Team USA, otherwise I would have to do it all again in 6 weeks for a final shot to make the team. That was a strong incentive, and in the days right after the race I felt pretty secure that my total mileage would be enough. After all, the only other American woman who ran more in 24 hours this year was right there with me. But I may have underestimated the number of ladies who really want a spot on the team. Last weekend, one ran over 140 miles, and in a few weeks a bunch of motivated speedsters are going to run around a track for 24 hours at the Desert Solstice Invitational. If more than three of them top 136 miles, then I have to think long and hard about whether to go for one of the “last chance” races around the very end of December/very beginning of January. Of course I don’t want to do it, but now that I have the dream and the experience it may well be worth a shot to make what could be the most competitive 24-hour women’s team in history!

New Jersey One Day

I’ve been called a lot of things since I ran 136 miles in 24 hours last weekend, mostly “amazing” and similarly superlative adjectives that could really go to a girl’s head (except I hear it too much from my grandma). Now while there’s no question that running that far in that amount of time is an amazing feat, I myself am a very ordinary person, all of the of weaknesses and flaws, as well as some better qualities, that that entails. Several people have asked me to write a bit about my running experiences prior to this past weekend, but it’s not until now that I’ve started to feel that it’s really kind of important to share more details of what I’ve done and how I’ve gone about it, rather than feeling shy about writing so much about myself. I’ll do my best to give you everything I’ve learned on this journey, as many others have done for me.

First, a little about my background,  on which I might have more to say another day. Long story short, I only started running about 10 years ago, at the age of 30, soon after I started working long hours at a law firm in Hong Kong, even though I’d wanted to be a “runner” for as long as I can remember. From 2005 to early 2013, I ran maybe one marathon a year, with some halfs and shorter distances here and there, and the occasional ultra that was really more about walking and hiking. My marathon times ranged from 3:45 (my first and best for many many years) to 4:40-ish. Last year, I moved back to New York City, and everything about my running changed when I started running with a team, made friends who encouraged and supported my love of running, and signed on with coach Michele Yates. Well, almost everything. The one thing that hasn’t changed is simply that running makes me happy. And more running makes me more happy. I’ve struggled with much unhappiness in my life, so this last part is very important to me.

So, back to One Day, or NJ Trail Series One Day as the race is officially known. I first got the 24-hour race on my radar last year from hearing others talking about them on various occasions, and then I got to see some in action when I volunteered overnight and watched my friend Tiger Ellen win at the Ted Corbitt 24-Hour, an event that is put on once every so many years by the Broadway Ultra Society (BUS). By this point I had done a couple of 6-Hour races organized by BUS, and 24 hours was just something I felt I’d do someday, kind of like running back-to-back marathons. Running in little loops for so long would require some mental adjustment. But then, I originally didn’t like the idea of running in small loops for even 6 hours. However, when I saw how the courses could meander and turn, with rises and dips, so that it wasn’t like going in circles around a giant track all the time, I found that I wasn’t bothered by the repetitiveness.

In early June, I ran my first 12-hour race as part of my buildup to the TGNY 100 miler a few weeks later, went out too fast, and swore to myself over and over that 24 hours would stay off the calendar for 2014. Yup. Then I spent too much of the summer traveling and running and hiking in mountains so that my original plans to race some PR marathons in the fall kind of fell apart. But after taking nearly 45 hours to finish the UTMB in late August, I had a totally different perspective on handling 24 hours. If I could run those last five miles of UTMB after 44 hours and 100 miles of mountains, surely I could figure out how to keep a road shuffle going for 24. I knew I would want to hit at least 120 miles, the qualifying standard for consideration to the USATF 24-hour national team. Beyond that, it would be nice to actually make cut for the team, which is drawn from the top six qualifiers and would realistically require at least 131 miles, based on current standings.

Still, I was on the fence for a long time. I considered taking more time to train and going for one of the 24 hour races at the end of the year (Across the Years in Arizona or the New Year’s One Day in SF) but that would involve travel, expense, and unfamiliarity, and it didn’t seem that many people were signed up for either. (And I know, there was Desert Solstice too, with many speedsters going there, but I’m not ready for a timed event on a track yet.) With the New Jersey One Day, there would be the advantages of being close to home, knowing the course, which I had seen in May when I visited friends who ran 3 Days at the Fair, and having some decent competition and many friends around. The only questionable factors were the weather, with the chances of freezing temperatures and rain at that time of year, the very long night, and my legs. The legs were the easy part: I sought treatment for them, but the cold and dark scared me more than anything. If it was going to rain, I was going to sit it out, because I doubted my chances of a good performance in those conditions, same for freezing weather. I only started running while living in Hong Kong, and last winter was my first brutal winter of running, during which I ran no ultras and focused solely on training for the Boston Marathon, with regular forays onto the treadmill, so I still have a long way to go in that department. UTMB had involved 2 nights with lots of rain on the first, but there I had the luxury of regular breaks at indoor aid stations to get warm and dry off before heading out again. I knew that if I wanted to do well at 24 hours, I would have to stay out all night and hope that my gear and motivation would be enough.

Maybe a week to 10 days out, once the forecast dispelled my concerns of rain or freezing temperatures, I started getting the feeling that this was really going to happen. My training had been very brief but as efficient as I could make it. Since I got back to New York in early October, I had paced a half marathon and a full, and run another marathon and a 6-hour race at a decent but not all-out PR effort. I did one slow and long-ish training run of about 18 miles, and raced a 5K. The rest of my runs in between were all pretty easy and moderate in length, 5-12 miles. Kind of boring but comforting.

The 5K race and full marathon pacing were only the weekend before One Day, which was maybe not ideal, so I made sure to get extra rest during the final week. I ran once for 5 easy miles on Wednesday, and swam for half an hour once. Russ Stram (aka Runner Clinic NYC) got all the tightness out of my hamstrings with an acupuncture session on Thursday, and Tiger Ellen LMT worked my legs a bit more on Friday. I got plenty of sleep during the week and packed and re-packed enough clothing, food and gear for a 240-hour race. I tried not to feel too nervous because I know the nerves are just an illusion that dissipates as soon as I start running. And anyways, I get about as equally nervous before a 5K as before 100 miles, it’s all the same feeling. I’m getting over it. Instead of nerves or stress I felt “bouncy” in the final days. Legs, spirit, mind, all excited and hopping for the challenge.

Friday evening I ate my favorite pre-race meal of Pad Thai with some sticky rice and white rice, went to bed early and had a good night’s sleep with the help of some Benadryl. I was still sleepy but raring to go in the morning and really excited to drink my first cup of coffee since Monday. I try to practice caffeine deprivation in the week leading up to every very important race. Not every race, since I hate the headaches, crankiness and other withdrawal symptoms that ensue when I’m separated from my beloved morning coffee, but a couple of times a year I can manage it. I ate some dry cereal and an oatmeal raisin Clif Bar for the last minute carbs.

I layered up before leaving home, but it didn’t feel as cold as the weather reports said, like low 40s instead of mid-30s. Perfect. And the sun was out. I tried to stay calm as I worried about getting to the race venue in time to secure a good spot for my aid station and setting everything up. Well really it’s not that complicated and there was plenty of space for everyone but I had to worry about something. Getting my bib took about 2 minutes and setting up my aid took about 5. Thanks to Tommy’s help, everything looked great. I said hi to people, fixed my outfit, sucked down a gel, and lined up for race instructions.

My "pro elite VIP" aid station. Photo: TSP

My “pro elite VIP” aid station. The chair may have my name on it but I don’t get to sit in it until the race is over. Photo: TSP

About 2 seconds after 9am, we were off. There were also marathon and 50K races that had started at the same time from a different point on the course, so I paid no mind to what paces others were running as I chatted with Shannon on the first lap. Usually in an ultra I like to go out fast and establish an early lead, assuming that there will be some slowing and suffering later but that I’ll be able to gut it out and  hang on to the finish. While that might work for a 6 or even 12-hour race, I knew that I couldn’t go around “hanging on” for 12 or 16 hours or more. So there should be no going out fast. I had told Tommy not to let me run faster than 8:30s on the one-mile laps, which was still relatively fast though.

Getting ready alongside my biggest competition. Photo: TSP

Getting ready alongside my biggest competition. Photo: TSP

After we ran the first lap in just under 9 minutes, Shannon said she wanted to slow a little more and I continued at my pace. 8:30s all around and around, through the marathon mark around 3:45. I was lapping Maggie, who I knew had some big goals for this race (I just didn’t know exactly how BIG- go read all about it here! ) and felt bad. I didn’t know if she was struggling or injured or what, but I told her at one point “I shouldn’t be lapping you,” and she just kind of looked at me like “exactly.” There were several Canadian ladies running, including Marylou, who I had seen set a Canadian record for 72 hours at 3 Days at the Fair, but it seemed that I was lapping them too.

I can’t say I had any sort of master plan. The day was lovely, I was enjoying the run, nothing was hurting, and Tommy was taking good care of me every lap, making sure I got a gel on the hour and some UCAN and water and whatever else I might ask for in between. I didn’t feel like I was “racing” though, since the pace felt easy and there were no ladies ahead of me, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to go after any guys at this stage.

Happy early miles. Photo: Dylan Armajani

Happy early miles. Photo: Dylan Armajani

Just before 6 hours I had hit 41 miles, which I felt was too much, since my 6-hour PR is just over 42 miles. I was a little worried about my speediness but I also knew that that the night would be so long and cold that it could break me a little. I was sure that I would keep going but I didn’t know at what pace, so I wanted to take advantage of the wonderful daytime feelings while I could. “Enjoy what you can, and endure what you must,” is one of my favorite mottos for running.

A little after 6 hours, or 42 miles, I took my first “mini-break,” just a couple of minutes to drink some coke and chat with Tommy and Dwight, who was crewing Phil. I was doing the math and figured if I had run 41 miles in 6 hours, and wanted to get to 131, that meant 90 more miles in 18 hours, or an average pace of just 5 miles an hour! Half-run, half-walk would do the trick. If I ran for a solid hour, then later on I could walk a full hour if I needed to. I was sure I could hit the goal with a conservative effort from this point onwards, though I still had a long way ahead of me.

 

I felt this good all day. Photo: Josh Irvan

I felt this good all day. Photo: Josh Irvan

The next time I lapped Maggie, I ran alongside her for a bit and told her about my brilliant realization- I just had 90 miles to go with 18 hours! “What are you aiming for?” she asked. “Low to mid-130s” I replied, “How about you?” “Same,” she said. Great, I thought, we could really do this, though I also wondered whether she wouldn’t have to slow down or stop later on. Still, she was only a few miles behind, and 5 miles an hour or so for both of us sounded reasonable to me. I said cool and went off again.

Now, did I want to win? Of course, people! But I underestimated my competition, assumed she would fade later on and that I would take the title easily. And more importantly, I wanted to have a good experience for my first 24-hour race. I needed to reach my goals and not hate the event and the process so much that I would swear off ever doing it again. To ensure that, I have to admit I was a little lazy in my running, especially in the second half and more so in the final hours.

Meanwhile, I carried on smashing PRs that I had no business breaking in the middle of a 24-hour race: 50 miles in 7:25, 100K in 9:29, 76 miles in 12 hours, 100 miles in 16:24. My pace slowed into the 9:30s or low 10s at times. I changed my shoes after 8 hours, and all of my top layers, from bra to hat to gloves, some time later when I started to get really cold. One side of the course had wind, so I kept having to adjust my layers to zip up and bundle up on the one side, then unzip and loosen as I came around the other way. I stuck to gels and UCAN until my stomach growled and then I ate boiled potatoes three times as I walked for a minute or so. My crew Tommy and Tiger had me completely spoiled with a pro-VIP-elite level of care, and even others- Dwight, Otto, Christine- who were there to crew the competition were always willing to jump in to lend a hand.

Tired but they keep going. Photo: Ken Tom

Tired but they keep going to make our dreams come true. Photo: Ken Tom

As night wore on, and the excitement of my last big PR at 100 miles faded, the larger part of suffering came in. It was not unexpected. The cold had tightened my muscles and joints, my back was stiff, and my face was freezing. My stomach went funny, I was puking up dark little mouthfuls that looked like sticky Coke, and everything tasted horrible. The broth was too salty, the crackers too dry, and don’t even show me that black bean soup. I was sick of the UCAN taste but Tommy insisted I keep taking sips and sucking down gels on the hour. I was thirsty but kept having to pee. At one point I peed twice in two laps. Really. I stopped drinking, kept moving, and tried not to think about the fact that the prize for doing this well would simply be the chance to do it again, and harder.

From miles 86-119 I was in the lead. Of the whole race. I don’t think I was fully aware of that or I might have pushed to stay there, since one of my long term racing goals is to win a race overall. I’d been told that the top guy had dropped but I thought there was another guy somewhere, or that the top guy was coming back. Oh well, I don’t think it would have mattered too much because by then the Maggatron had come bursting out.

As I slowed my pace and started to incorporate walking breaks after the 100-mile mark, my stomach seemed to appreciate the reduced effort. But meanwhile, Maggie had been gaining on me, and was fast closing the gap between us. She started blowing by me and I could only watch, stunned at the pace she was keeping and maintaining– even when she was well past me. I didn’t believe that she could keep it up but she did, the whole rest of the race, non-stop. I didn’t think it was possible not to fade somewhat late into a 24-hour race. But if anything Maggie got faster, running perfectly even splits in each 12-hour half for 142 miles total at the end. Mind-blowing stuff.

Deep into the night. Photo: Carl Camp

Deep into the night, circa 5 or 6am. I know it doesn’t look like I’m hurting too bad, but smiling for the camera is like an automatic reflex with me. Photo: Carl Camp

The final hours before dawn stretched on and other runners were few and far between. Perhaps some people were resting while I was out there desperate for some company. At one point I caught up to Yoshiko, who had just smashed a 100-mile PR, to see if we might get on pace together, but she said she was feeling mentally not so strong, and I went ahead on my own. At 20 hours, I requested permission from Tommy to walk one full lap and it was granted. I put on my puffy down jacket and felt heavenly. I was cooing and moaning over how soft and warm it felt. When the jacket got too warm for running, I swapped if for a downy vest, and went from walking only the inclines to more half-running, half-walking even on the flat portions. One minute run, one minute walk, repeat. Walk to that pole, run to the next one. I waited long and hard for the sun to come up, and when it did it was glorious.

Around 7am I grew tired of fussing with the low batteries on my watches and asked Tommy to make sure my laps didn’t slow below a 15-minute mile pace. If I could keep that up, I would have 134 or 135 miles. When I told the Canadian ladies that I would get 135, they told me to go for 136 and I thought that sounded ridiculous. 135 was as far as my limited expectations could take me, and anything beyond that was simply incomprehensible. 131 miles was already 5 consecutive marathons and too much! A short while later Phil asked what I would end up with, and he also told me to go for 136 instead of 135. Really? I did the math and realized that yes, 136 was entirely possible. So, with something like 22 minutes left on the clock, I did the lazy thing and grabbed a can of Coke and set off to walk my final victory lap. Yes, I had enough time that I could have pushed and pushed and made two laps of it, but instead I sipped my drink and enjoyed the sunshine, went with the flow and savored every last step of this “run.”

Enjoy Coke. Final lap. Photo: Otto Lam

Enjoy Coke. Final lap. Photo: Otto Lam

Unlike the other road loop races that I’ve done, the One Day course did not have any fraction markers that would allow runners to keep running until the final second, so it felt strange to be done and have time to watch others come in, rather than striving for that very last fraction of a mile. I stopped, sat on a bench by the start/finish and watched the last runners come in. Maggie, looking great still, overall winner.

Walking it in. Photo: TSP

Walking it in. Photo: TSP

We had hugs, photos, and #ottolamming, a pose of utter exhaustion named after our good friend. Tiger insisted on stretching me which I knew was for the best but hurt like hell. I felt great for a little while and then bad. Really bad. I puked, got dizzy, changed my clothes, and pooped and puked some more. I sneezed a lot and hacked up some of the phlegm that had been building all night. I couldn’t eat the breakfast or drink any beer, and even the few sips of warm water I took came up again, though I must say I felt very fortunate that this was happening now and not many hours ago. We got our awards- “ONE DAY” license plates with our total mileage noted on them- and then I sat in a corner and puked some more. I wish I had felt better to say more proper farewells and thank yous to everyone who made this experience so special and relatively pain-free. I got so much good cheer from the organizers, volunteers, fellow runners and crew people who kept the smiles and kind words coming all day and all night.

This is #ottolamming

This is #ottolamming

As for what’s next? I’ll detail my recovery week in a future post soon, but fingers crossed that I’ll make the cut for Team USA and have a chance to represent my country at the 24-Hour World Championships in Torino, Italy on April 11-12, 2015. In the meantime I’ll keep writing about my training, races and other little adventures. Thanks for reading.

The podium. Photo: Otto Lam

The ladies podium: 396 miles combined. Photo: Otto Lam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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