Monday, June 30, 2014

Mohican 50 Miler Recap: Part 2

Continued from Mohican 50 Miler Recap: Part 1

Miles 26.9 - Finish

There is not much I remember about this second loop, and not just because it's a week after the race, but it was a very surreal experience.  After I changed clothes and filled up at the Mohican Adventures aid station I stopped at the indoor restroom and back into the woods I went.  Within the first 1/2 mile I had slipped going up a hill and was simultaneously lapped by a 100 miler.  Ugh, not only was I embarrassed but definitely took a punch in the ego.  Thankfully the 100 miler was really nice, she offered some encouraging words and was on her way.  Over the next 10/11 miles I walked when I needed to and ran when I could and rolled into the next two aid stations right on that 14 hour finish pace, even though I knew it was to late to actually make up that time and finish in 14 hours, I was sure going to keep giving it everything I had.  I continued with the Tailwind and Nuun, and at every aid station ate one solid food whether it was a handful of pretzels or a 1/4 of a sandwich.  My stomach felt great, my legs even felt decent at this point, other then a small spot on both my feet I really was holding up better then I expected.  As I exited the woods to head to the Covered Bridge Aid station I saw Glenn and Lindsey's car, seriously, these two were awesome! They were helping out at the aid station while they waited for me and as soon as I got in they had my bag and were asking me what I needed.  I also got a little help from Colleen, "The Purple Lady", who offered some help with my blisters and snapped a few pictures of the 3 of us.  Colleen is sort of a legend at the Mohican 100, she writes an article every year chronicling the race and leaving it's mark in history.  I got packed back up, threw on my headlamp.  Glenn and Lindsey grabbed my drop bag and said they would see me at the finish, seriously kid free and they are following my slow butt around a course Glenn had run earlier!
A note on my drop bag-It wasn't until the next morning I figured out it came from David who was running the 100.  Seriously my brain was not working at the time!
After leaving the Covered Bridge and before Hickory Ridge I was once again able to call home and say goodnight to the boys and talk to the husband.  It was nice, I told them I was taking forever but not to worry I was feeling fine.  As the sun set in the woods I was really happy I had my head lamp and tried not to spook myself, even after I ran by several deer and a family of raccoons (who I was convinced were going to jump out of the tree and land on my head).  I still tried to run during the last 7 or 8 miles, and it was nice only seeing the steps ahead of me.  I also enjoyed looking up and seeing the different headlamps heading through the woods.   I will say running in the woods at night is interesting and will take some getting used to.
The sun beginning to set in the woods
Those 2 eyes belong to one of the deer I saw.  The woods after dark is a creepy place in my opinion.
The miles in the dark went by rather quickly it seemed though and soon I was headed to the main road to make the turn to the finish.  Sure enough, there was Glenn and Lindsey cheering for me!  They pointed me in the direction of the final turns and said they would see me at the finish.  Similar to my Woodstock finish, I sprinted to the finish line, yes all on sprint, I needed the race to be over.   I collected my medal and water, saw Colleen again, who photographed the three of us once more, picked up my last drop bag and was given a ride to my car.  I said my goodbyes to Glenn and Lindsey and headed up the road to the McDonalds for french fries, a large coke and free wifi to tell those back home that I finished.
And DONE! Thanks to Glenn for the picture...crew/support and photog!
After texts and Facebook posts I headed back to the hotel for a much needed shower, toothbrush, and muscle rolling.  I enjoyed a "celebration" beer, rolled some more, and drifted off to sleep.  I will say I did not sleep well that night, my legs kept twitching, I was dreaming about running in the woods and I woke up several times and rolled my muscles out.

What worked:

  • Nutrition-I used Tailwind Nutrition (200 calories per aid station variety of flavors and some unflavored Naked), Nuun (total for the day was 2 tubes of various flavors including Nuun Energy) & Picky Bars (total of 4 throughout the day) and I felt fueled and full.  I drank Coke & Ginger Ale at most of the aid stations, a handful of peanut butter filled pretzels, some pickle juice, had a couple 1/4's of sandwiches around lunch and dinner time, and chicken soup later in the evening.  I would say that Nutrition was spot on, at no time did I feel uncomfortable or have any gut bombs.
  • Hydration Vests-The combination of the Orange Mud Double Barrel and the Ultimate DirectionUltra Vesta worked nicely, I felt it distributed the weight differently for each loop and as a result my shoulders and back were not as sore later in the race and the day after.
  • Chatting along the way with other runners, even though this was one of the first races I threw in an ear bud, I had some great chats on the course with a handful of people.  As someone who is not very "outgoing", I had no problem talking with other runners on the course, mainly the basic where are you from, is this your first, etc etc.  It made the time go by faster and was nice when the conversation was there because overall it was a very lonely course.
  • Shoes, I would say that both the Lone Peaks and the Intuitions worked well for the 50, even though I ended up with one decent sized blister on my left foot, other then that I did not have any issues.
  • Headlamp: I really liked the Petzl Nao.  It was bright and I felt it lit the way nicely.  I will need to get another battery before Woodstock but over all I was happy with it, very comfortable to wear as well.
  • Training, even though I know time wise I could have benefitted from some more trail and hills in the cycle, the fact that I was only sore for the first 2 days post race and was able to run within a week was a win in my book. (I would have run sooner but a week filled with out of town family and out of town friends visiting, I spent the days with them and decided sleeping in was better for me then the 3/4 mile runs I would have gotten in)

What I learned:

  • Even though time wise I missed the 14-17 hour time frame I wanted to finish in it turned out to be a really good trail and training run.  I got 17+ hours on my feet, even though I ended up with Glenn and Lindsey I was solo on the actual course, so this was the longest run I had ever done and the longest run without a running partner.   It was my first real night time trail run and I feel pretty bad ass that I did it in an unknown woods by myself.
  • I really am stronger then I give myself credit for some days.  I really wanted to quit, but at the end of the day I would have taken Dead Last (DFL) over a Did Not Finish (DNF), because there was not anything "wrong" with me and I really did not have any issues that were life threatening, so I had no reason to quit. (I did have a massive headache the entire race, which I had attributed to the heat and humidity, and tried to solve it by increasing my fluids.  In reality, nothing I would have done would have fixed that headache.  It was my once a month hormone headache that decided to show up 3 days early, because I my once a month cycle showed up on Sunday 3 days early.  This actually was a relief, because it explained the fatigue and the headache that I could not shake.)

What I need to improve on:

  • Even though Woodstock is not as tough a course, I will need to add some more trail time in the next 66 days.  This should not be a huge problem since it was the weather keeping me away from them in the winter. 
  • Continue focusing on strength and yoga over the next 66 days, strengthening the core will help with the some of my fatigue.
  • Daily Nutrition: Honestly I ate like crap in the two weeks leading up to Mohican.  Between not running because of injury and nerves I was eating nothing but junk!
Want to help me say thank you to Lindsey? Vote for her until July 2nd to be on the cover of Women's Running: VOTE HERE (And tell a friend or share the link on Facebook/Twitter/whatever social media you choose :) ) Thank you!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Mohican 50 Miler Race Recap-Part 1

Once again it has been awhile since I wrote, life was certainly busy at the end of the school year, add in 2 boys playing baseball, and packing up our current home.  Free time seemed nonexistent and when it was I spent it with the family.  After we are moved and settled, I plan to blog regularly, I have a list of topics I am already brainstorming!

However I felt it was important that I take the few hours to sit down and write a recap of this weekends Mohican 50 miler, so here it is.

Training went ok for this race, due to weather conditions I did not run on the trails as much as I would have like from January - April, but I still made it work and got in all of my long runs.  The longest run I had done for this cycle was 32 miles (on trails), along with a 26.2, a 23, some 20's, some 18's and a handful of 13-15 miles.  The two weeks before Mohican I did not run though, my nagging shin pain had returned and I was not confident I would make the starting line if I kept just "pushing" through it.  This break probably was harmful to training, I did not do any jumping and only a few short runs and mainly focused on Isometrix & Yoga from p90x3.  The break however did help the shin, and I was able to run with only a minimal amount of pain at the beginning of the Mohican 50 miler.  Looking back I should have figured out a way to run a few more hills, even if it meant some parking structures or just trekking up stairs.

Packing/What I took:

Since I was going solo and without a crew I packed a little more then I needed just to cover every basis.
  • Long sleeve jacket
  • Capris Pants
  • Extra Pair of Running Shorts
  • 2 complete running outfits (tank/sports bra/socks/skirt/hat)
  • 1 head lamp & Headsweats Headband (left in Covered Bridge drop bag)
  • Fruit/Water/Peanut Butter & Jelly/Pickles/Peaches
  • Marathon Stick 
  • Beach Towel to change under/sit on
  • Ultimate Collection Jenny Ultra Vesta
  • Orange Mud Double Barrel HydraQuiver
  • Rain Poncho
2 Bear II Drop Bags and both contained:
  • Bug Spray
  • Body Glide
  • Monkey Butt Powder
  • Aspirin/Tylenol/Benadryl/Arnica
  • First Aid Kit (bandaids/neosporen/liquid bandaids)
  • Tailwind/Nuun/Picky Bars (portioned into ziploc bags so I had enough for each section)
  • Hair Ties
  • Comb
  • Colgate Wisp Portable Toothbrushes
  • Sunscreen
  • Baby Wipes
  • Kleenex
  • Gin Gins

Friday: Day Before

I spent Friday afternoon driving down in a rain storm.  What should have taken 3 1/2 hours took roughly 4.  I got into Mohican Adventures around 5:15 pm and picked up my packet.  They had a nice little set up under a pavilion, which is a good thing because it was pouring at one time.  At this point I was unable to get a signal on my At&t phone, I knew service would be spotty but did not know it was nonexistent.  I know it sounds silly but I am rarely out of contact with either my husband, my family or my children.  So as I started to worry, I knew that they would be worried at home as well about whether I arrived safely. (Friday was not as relaxing as I had hoped).  While I was still trying to find the two people that were running the 100 that I knew from one of my running groups, I met Amanda from Twitter and chatted with her and her friends for a bit and enjoyed the pre-race pasta dinner that was included with our registration fee.  There was also the Great Lakes Beer truck there for anyone that wanted to enjoy a nice cold one.  By the time the pre-race meeting had started, I had found Lindsey and Glenn from Out for A Run.  Both run with the Rusted Bears in Indy (which you may remember from last years epic Red Eye Relay adventure) and Glenn was doing the 50 miler on Saturday.  We chatted for a bit and listened to the pre-race instructions, and I followed them to the Mohican River Inn where they had also booked a room. (Good thing to because there was no service within miles of this place and I did not have directions to get there!)

Just a "little" rain-despite the downpour the course was surprisingly "dry" the next day
"Beer Truck" Provided by Great Lakes who is a race sponsor
I checked in and the desk let me use the hotel phone to call home and let everyone know I was safe and in basically the middle of nowhere!  I got everything organized, layed out, bought a bag of ice and filled up my bottles and coolers, watched a few innings of the Tigers game and then I was sound asleep.
"Flat Jess"


Race Morning

I woke up before my alarm, after what was surprisingly a restful nights sleep.  I changed, brushed my teeth and loaded up the car.  I headed down to the race early because I remembered passing a McDonalds in the other direction, and I had hoped they had free WiFi like the ones at home.  SCORE!!! Even though Katie was the only friend actually up and I was able to chat with quickly, I was at least able to send messages to the family and let them know I was ready and would contact them after the race since I now knew where to find WiFi!

I proceeded to start, and on the way dropped off my bag for the Covered Bridge Aid station and my finish line bag.  I was uneasy, not because I was nervous, but I knew I still had no contact with my family and that was very unsettling to me.  After a quick restroom break and a quick before race picture with Glenn, we were lined up and headed out.
Glenn and I before the start
Loop 1 (Miles 0-26.8)

The start includes a small run through the camp ground on pavement before entering a single track, and it did not take more then 100 yards for my shin to start aching.  At this point I immediately went to the "what are you doing, this is stupid, why are you running this if it hurts" place.  I knew that if I was really serious about Woodstock 100, I needed this run, I needed to know how my body would handle 50 miles.  I needed to know how my stomach would hold up, how my nutrition would work.  I told myself to slow down, take my time and run when I could, walk if I had to and play it safe.  With a 31 hour time limit I knew that I could take a nap if I needed to before finishing.  I made it through the first two aid stations right on target for the 13-14 hour finish I had secretly been aiming for despite the nagging shin issue.  However between the Fire Tower and the Covered Bridge the wheels fell off for the first time (Yes the first time, this race was not a positive experience for me like Woodstock was).  I was physically feeling fine, but emotionally I was lonely, even though I had found several people to chat with along the way, I really just wanted to talk to home.  For a small portion of this section I was distracted by the beauty of the course and the amazing waterfall and hand climb.
Just a little muddy, this was actually better then I expected
One of the many hills
Water fall
Hand Climb
Rock formation
The "trail"
Down the steps to re-enter the woods to get to Covered Bridge
Covered Bridge
Upon arriving at the Covered Bridge aid station, I changed my socks and used the restroom again for the 3 time in the race.  It was really humid, so I was drinking 24 oz of Tailwind and 24 oz of Nuun (2 tablets), between each aid station, but this meant I was also using the restroom every time there was one, because I did not want to have to use the woods.  As I headed back out into the woods I actually threw in one of my ear buds and started listening to a little bit of music.  I rarely listen to music when I run but I really wanted to bust out of this funk and have a good race.  However, it seemed every song made me miss home even more and wish that I had someone there for me. (I was the one that thought it would be easier to go alone, since 5 people in a small hotel room is often more work for me, I did not however anticipate being that lonely)  When I got to about mile 18ish, I was at what appeared to be the highest point in the forest, and took a chance that I could get a signal.  Sure enough, one tiny little bar on my phone, but it was enough to call home!  At this point I did not even care how much time I was wasting, I did not care if it was a race I needed that conversation.  I needed to express my desire to quit and I needed to be talked out of it.  I needed to hear the voices back home and know that they were ok.  At this point I was seriously considering dropping after the first loop, I did not care I had made the trip, I was just done.  I felt defeated as my time had gotten slower after the first two aid stations despite the terrain being tougher, and me taking it safer.  At that point a DNF was looking better then a ridiculously slow time.  After the chat with the husband, who specifically told me not to quit and just finish, I knew quitting was not an option, I had come to run 50 miles and I was going to give it all I had, even if all I had was slow in comparison to so many out there.

As I continued on my first loop and ran when I could, walked when I had to I was lapped by Glenn.  He was flying! (I later learned he finished 6th at 8:06!! AWESOME!!)  As I came through the first loop and passed the finish line heading to the Mohican Aid Station, Lindsey (who was cheering at the finish and sitting with Glenn who was already done) spotted me and ran across the street to walk and chat with me for a while until I made it the extra 1/2 mile to my drop bag.

I decided I needed to switch my hydration vests, I liked the Orange Mud Double Barrel, it was the first time I had ever worn it, and it was working great, but it was so sweaty and gross I want something dry.  Same with clothes, I wanted dry clothes, everything was drenched (I love being a heavy sweater it's great!).  I had my Ultra Vesta in the car and decided I did not want to wear the shorts I packed but wanted the skirt instead, so I made the trip to the parking lot, not ideal, and at Woodstock this will not be an issue since my car will be right there, but I was not going on until I changed and swapped vests.

To be continued....