Sunday, April 03, 2011

Rocky Raccoon 100 mile 2011

I went to TX the first week of Feb to try my first 100 - Rocky Raccoon. I had done some 50 milers and was inspired by those running the Superior 100 last Sept - especially those doing it as their first or second 100! I asked what my next step would be if I wanted to bump up and was told "just sign up". Oops, I was hoping for a nice list so I could continue pushing it off by not doing the things on the list. Hmmmm.

I ran the 50 at Rocky last year so I decided to give the 100 a try. One reason: it's an 'easier' 100 - the distance is intimidating enough without doing a 'harder' one. I still think that was a good idea. Another reason: I figured I'd sneak away and try to finish one 'out of the spotlight'. I was thinking I didn't want to advertise it and then totally suck, so that was the plan. I've decided that was a dumb idea.

I had plenty of questions leading up to the race. The first question of course: can I actually run/walk that far? I also considered that Feb is not really a good time for a first 100 for someone living in MN. Training-wise I really had no ramp-up in miles. I ran 50 miles at Surf the Murph around Halloween and then basically tried to maintain as much as possible. I ran two 50Ks between Surf the Murph and Rocky - raced one, enjoyed the other!

As the race approached I was thinking: it's better to go into a race undertrained than injured. I wasn't injured, I suspected I might be undertrained. I also realized this was new territory so I started thinking this might be a process - it may take more than one attempt to figure things out and get a finish. The challenge of course was to not let that thought be a cop-out and an excuse to quit.

So what happened? The short version:

Goal: 100 miles, 30 hours or less.
Actual: 80 miles, 25:53.
Needed: 80 miles in 24:00 to continue, so ~2 hours too slow

loop 1 - ~5:00 (left at 5:10)
loop 2 - ~5:10 (total time 10:20, left at 10:30)
loop 3 - ~6:12 (total time 16:42, left at 17:15)
loop 4 - ~8:38 (total time 25:53)

How it went:
loop 1 - pretty well
loop 2 - pretty well
loop 3 - pretty well, blister care added ~30 minutes
loop 4 - wow, the wheels really fell off: more blister care, all walking, tired

Problems: I had some blister issues - the heels of both feet, and then later the ball of my left foot. I think the time spent at the aid stations having them treated was the real problem. And then there was the other deal, the bigger deal - I got tired. Not sleepy tired, but "wow this is a long ways" tired. Imagine that. :)

Here's the longer, play-by-play version:

I didn't want to spend much time texting/facebooking and all that, but I did want to report back to people on how things were going. So I had an email set up that I could do Reply All and send a quick message. And after loops 2, 3, and 4 I also thought to take a picture of the clock and upload that to facebook.

Loop 1:

The wood bridges were frost covered and slippery... I was being careful but one of the descents was too steep and out my feet went. I had 2 thoughts: "this shouldn't really hurt", and then "I was wrong" as I hit pretty hard. It definitely could've been worse. A little later we were directed around another bridge and there was a runner down - heard later she broke her leg. I was with Misty and Vicky and we stopped for a bit and then I moved on. Didn't know if I'd see 'the girls' again so started chatting with a guy that looked familiar from another race - really didn't want to spend the next 29 hours by myself! Ended up hanging around him for 2 loops, and was also happy that the girls caught us. Loop 1 was in the dark for the first hour or so.

This is the email I sent after loop 1:
"Crazy trip, nice to be running. Took hard fall off wood bridge but ok. On pace. Hooked up w/Leonard Martin ? (mother road)...
Stalking him now.

Was with misty and vicky more of this loop than expected. Now I'm chasing them and leonard. :-)

So far so good and fun..."

Loop 2:

I was the last one out of the aid station after loop 1 so wanted to catch the others but didn't want to chase too hard. Missed a turn and went the wrong way for a bit. Back-tracked and got back on the right trail. I think I hooked up with the others before the 2nd aid station. About 26 miles in I had my first bit of blister care done... popped left foot heel blister with some guy's knife, didn't pop the right ones, and a guy taped both heels. This was pretty fast compared to later blister care stops. I believe I caught the other folks again after that and finished loop 2 with them. Loop 2 was all in the light.

This is the email I sent after loop 2:
"Loop 2 done... Feeling tired? (40 miles, duh) :-)

10:20ish for 2.....

Still with leonad, misty, vicky...

Too many questions - shut up, brain. Too fast? Too sore? Sticking with Leonard - help me finish or will he kill me?

Oh, Wrong Way means wrong way... Only 5 minutes lost.

So far so good I guess... Going to settle into my own thing.

Loop 3 here we go

Thanks for tuning in. :-)"

Loop 3:

After loop 2 I decided sticking with Leonard was wearing me down too much and I better settle into my own rhythm, so I did. I think I ran the early part of loop 3 with Vicky. Before the 2nd aid station I felt some weirdness with my right heel blisters and decided I better have them looked at. I think a couple blisters joined forces into a pretty big one and then popped. A guy at the aid station taped them up - I appreciated the work but I think it took about 30 minutes which is a long time. Once I got going again I think I was walking pretty well but not doing much running. Caught Vicky and finished the loop with her.

In hindsight it was crazy but my 'plan' was 3 5-hour loops to be done with 60 miles in 15 hours... leaving 15 hours for the last 40 miles. I figured 15 hours wasn't required, but coming in almost 2 hours over that was a concern. The blister care and the fact that it got dark during loop 3 and the fact that I was fading made that a long loop.

This is the email I sent after loop 3:
"Yay - new mileage record for me... 60 miles.

Anyone fall for my 3 loops even splits baloney? Yikes.

16:45ish for 60mi. Blister issues - takes time but the people are great.

Time is going to be an issue. Well, so will the miles. :-)

Ok,big night mode.... Changed clothes... Need new batteries n lights, food/drink, get out there.

Don't wait up, kids. Hehe

See ya."

Loop 4:

Loop 4 (miles 60-80) is where things got away from me. After slowing down and 30 minutes of blister care I came in later than I was hoping from loop 3, and then completely changed clothes which made that a long stop - another 30 minutes of no forward progress. I left at 17:15 which left me less than 13 hours for 2 more loops - less than 6.5 hours each and the previous one had taken me over 6 hours. I tend to freak out when I get too close to cut-offs and thoughts of doom were creeping in.

I was only walking at this point and had some new blisters. I didn't know if I could walk a 6:45 loop anyway, and realized stopping to have the blisters looked at would put me over for sure. So the seeds of doubt were already there, I was about to stop and put myself into a bigger hole, and my thoughts were something like this: "you're most likely not going to make it anyway, and even if by some miracle you push and push and push and do make it... then all you'll have done is qualified yourself to go out and push push push some more to try and do a 6 hour loop, and good luck with that".

Well is there any surprise it ended the way it did? The blister stop on loop 4 was another 30 minutes, and all motivation to push was gone. I walked by myself for all but the last part of the loop... by chance I ran into a friend of a friend and stumbling in together as the sun came up made the last part pretty enjoyable - more so than it otherwise would've been.

This is the email I sent after loop 4 - actually hours later:
"Sorry no update for so long... Phone battery died. May have a chance to send more later but I made it 80 miles. Walked with a guy
the last 4.4 miles - he was finishing 100 and I was finishing 80 - took us 2 hours for those last miles.
My feet are hamburger... Really takes the whole package to finish one of these. I'm pretty satisfied with how it went.
Was nice to go all day and then all night.

Final tally: 80 miles 25:53. Needed to be done in 24:00 to start the last loop. If it's not obvious I really faded.
Room for improvement both physically and mentally.

Thanks for being interested... or at least pretending to be. :-)



Part of me wonders if I should be more bummed... but I think I'm not because I'm encouraged: I feel like I made it far enough that now I actually believe I can do it. So now what? Well, on April 9th I will try again in Illinois at Potawatomi (the old McNaughton). Yeah, 9 weeks after not finishing an 'easier' 100 I'm going to try a 'not easy' 100... hmmmm. But I'm going with some friends, and we have a plan - so this is the next step in the process. Wish me luck. :)