Friday, October 31, 2008

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

"Who are the ad wizards who came up with this one?" - Adam Sandler on Saturday Night Live.

On Saturday, October 25th, I joined 130 other folks for PCTR's San Francisco One Day. The concept for this "race" is pretty simple - run as many laps as you can/want around a 1.067 mile looped course in 12 hours (or 24 hours for the really brave). If you had to pick any place to do such an event, Crissy Field in San Francisco is probably it. Every lap consists of the following: People watching down the street followed by a turn up the dirt path heading directly towards the Golden Gate and then running parallel to the Bay and seeing Tiburon, Alcatraz, Angel Island, boats, blimps, wind surfers, and all kinds of beachgoers (especially dogs & kids). Not bad at all.

First off, a couple of heads up for this post:
  • Any mention of the words "far" and/or "fast" in this blog should be considered relative. I realize that this is a training run for a lot of people and my fastest mile is average for others. Oh well.
  • Prior to this run, my PR for longest distance run was 31 miles (aka 50k)
  • Since I forgot to charge my camera battery, all pictures have been "borrowed" from Rick, Jo Lynn, Victoria or my friend Jason.
  • This could be a jumbled mess of a report.
Wake up time of 6:00 AM for the now routine bagel w/ peanut butter and banana pre-race meal. Officially left the house in Stockton at 6:45 with a goal of making into Crissy Field in San Francisco somewhere around 8:00 AM. Crossing the Bay Bridge into the city, I could already tell it was going to be a beautiful (and warm) day in the city. Made it to Crissy field a little after 8:00 and grabbed my stuff so I could setup along route. Said hello to Victoria and Jo Lynn, who were there to volunteer at the aid station all day.

Funny thing about this event is the path right after the start/finish line and aid station. Every runner has set out a chair and their bags for any extra items and each lap you get to run down the line of goods. Makes for some fun viewing each time through. I found a spot and setup and then went back to my car to get my cooler. Coming back, I finally ran into Rick who looked like he was ready to run (but just volunteering on this day). Another unique and wonderful thing about this race is that you can have people send you emails and they'll print them out and give them to you when you pass through the aid station. Gotta thank Tamara for being in charge of this all day. I think by the end of the race, she probably knew every single runner and when they had email. Very cool.

At 9:00, Wendell counted down and we were off. I had no intention of maintaining an even pace for the entire race so my only strategy was to see how long I could maintain at least 6 laps per hour. For the first 5 or 6 miles, I run behind/alongside Andy Kumeda, who tells me a few laps in that he's famous for going out too fast. Perfect. Since he's out here for 24 hours, he's takes an extra long aid break somewhere after the 1 hour mark and I'm basically on my own. I hit the half marathon distance at the 2-hour mark and I'm thrilled at my pace - although being on target for 72 laps is not what I had in mind. I knew I would be forced to slow down soon. At this point, I'm basically in and around the top 5 for the 12-hour runners. Not too shabby.

For the next two hours, I keep trying to maintain hitting 6 laps each hour. At the 4-hour mark, I came into the aid station with 24 laps, which was good enough for 5th or 6th place. I was very happy at this point - basically just short of marathon distance at around 4 hours. Obviously not a flying marathon, but since I'm going to run another one, it's fast enough.

Up to this point, each time I've come through the aid station, Victoria and Jo Lynn would give me some sort of encouragement and that would fire me up for the next lap. I would also see Rick and Sarah D shouting out positive thoughts to everyone all day. Can't tell you guys how much that helped out there.

So at the 4 hour mark, I realize that I'm way ahead of schedule and I can take a little bathroom breather. Also, my feet are starting to get a little sore so I switch into my trail shoes. Ahhh. Love those Cascadia 3's. They're a bit heavier, but the cushioning comes in handy. No signs of discomfort from the calf or knee. Time to head out again.

The 30's
I quickly hit lap 30 and felt pretty excited about it. This was equivalent to 32 miles and for me that meant - distance PR time! From here to the end, every step I would take would be the farthest I've ever run. You better believe I used that for motivation. I wish I could say I flew through the 30's into the 40's but it seemed to take me forever to get from 30 to 40 laps. Physically, I was doing fine here, but mentally...yikes. I don't know if it was the Advil or the laps, but I had to remind myself of what I was doing a few times and not to forget all the incredible scenery around me.

The 40's
Once I hit 40 laps, all doubts of hitting 50 miles were erased. The only issues left to decide were if my legs would remain in one piece and how many laps did I want to try and finish. I was still getting emails at this point and no matter what the email said or who it was from, I would find myself getting way too emotional. There was one email from my parents saying how proud they were of me and thought I was gonna burst out crying. (Ok, no more Advil from here on out. Focus.)

My pace had slowed down to 11-12 minute miles here but I wasn't really slowing down on the actual laps. I found that I would take a longer drink and food breaks after every lap. Sure enough at this point, I started to notice some aching coming into my knee - yes the old ITB area. Booooo. And I'm supposed to pretend that this wasn't expected? Alright - we're still ok, just a litte sore.

In my head, I'm figuring out the laps and mileage to think of what I have to do to reach 50 miles and also see how much time I have. 40 laps in, 4 hours to go. Time is not an issue. Even if I had to walk, I was going to make it to 50 miles. Just needed 7 more laps to hit 50 miles. Out I went..41, 42, 43, 44, and then 45.

[The following portion sponsored by Rick Gaston Pacing & Motivational Services] I see Rick at the aid station after lap 45 and he asks how I'm doing. I tell him I'm 2 laps away from 50 miles and after asking me if that's my goal, he's says in his pacer voice "If you're feeling good, go for it". Rick has some strange power of influence and it didn't take me more than a second to get the hell out of there. Laps 46 and 47 turned out to be my fastest since the early hours of the race. I think I ended up passing 30 - 40 people on those two laps. As I came around the back stretch on lap 47 I was counting every single landmark that I'd pretty much memorized all day..."First bench. Second bench...Last bench. Bridge. Last trail with the drunk ladies. The turn. And the Finish. Beep. 50 Miles!!" At a few minutes after the 9 1/2 hour mark, I had made the #1 goal for me in this race - get myself to 50 miles. After the long struggle through the 30's and fighting off the knee pain in the 40's, the relief set in. It was time for a break. Laps 46 and 47 had knocked me silly.

I sat down in my chair along the path and sent out two text message to my parents and wife "Just hit 50 miles!". At this point, I wasn't sure when I was going to get out of the chair, but it didn't even matter. After hitting the restroom, I came back and filled up on fluids. I changed my shirt for the second time and put on a small running jacket - it was now getting dark and a little cool.

I think I basically made up my mind at this point that my day was just about over. Yes I had plenty of time to get more laps in - heck, even make it to 60 miles. But my knee and calf would probably have paid the price and I didn't want to be a complete mess. However, I did want one more lap and a chance to go around once in the dark. I took off and shuffled around the loop (trying to not fall at the bridge) to finish my 48th and final lap - 51.2 miles. Not quite the full 12 hours, but 10 was plenty for this day.

The Aftermath
Before I get to my post-race crumbling, I have to say a few things about two cool dudes that I had the pleasure of running with out there. First off is Aaron Doman, the 13-year old son of RD's Wendell and Sarah. Not only did he run out in front of the pack for the first few laps, he managed to stay out there and finish with 26 laps for 27.7 total miles. At times, he ran by himself, with mom, with another girl (sorry don't have name) - but always just kept going. Awesome, Aaron!

Even more impressive to me and someone I looked for throughout the whole event was 9-year old Trevor Craig - he stayed out on the course for 10 hours running and walking with his mom and dad. Everytime I would see him, I wanted to make sure that he knew how proud of him I was and how great it was to have him out there. You could see how proud his parents were and I still can't believe how far he went - 25 laps, 26.7 miles - more than a full marathon. Way to go Trevor! Those two guys made me miss my boys more than anything.

Ok, back to post-race destruction. I originally planned to stay until the end of the 12-hours and relax a little bit and share a few beers with Rick and Victoria. However, a couple of things happened. First off, my body was beat to a pulp. With my knee aching and my mind just exhausted, I think I would have passed out after one beer. My wife was heading out of the city and basically insisted that she drive me back to Stockton (wives really do know best). I got in the car, folded myself up into a ball, covered myself with a blanket and passed out for 45 minutes. (Not a great recovery process mind you). I woke up in Livermore and told my wife "Please pull over as soon as possible - I need to eat". I realized I hadn't really eaten any substantial recovery food and my body was not liking me. Best we could do was McDonalds, but never before have two cheeseburgers ever tasted so good (or eaten so fast). I topped it off with a milkshake and passed out again until I got home. Filled up the bath with hot water (again, don't try this at home - I was a bit chilly) and some epsom salt and took a quick bath. After the bath, I stretched a bit and then plopped into bed - game over.
  • Winners of the race: (24-hour) Shan Riggs - 122 laps (130.1 miles!) and (12-hour) Juan Sanchez - 72 laps (76.8 miles!)
  • Thanks to everyone who volunteered - this race would be impossible without you.
  • Thanks to Wendell and Sarah for another great PCTR event!
  • Will I do this race again? Well I definitely would like to volunteer. I'll get back to you on the running part. I need to run in the hills first and then I'll come back to the city.
So here we are (as of this writing) 6 days later and I'm feeling pretty good. I haven't attempted any running this week and probably won't until next week. My knee and calf are back to normal (which is right on the brink of hurting). I'm not sure what's left for this year. It's always a busy time with family so SF might be my last big race/run for the year. I would still love to do one more PCTR 50k (Woodside - either running or volunteering), but we'll have to see. I'm really happy that I got a 50-mile run in before the year is up. That gives me the confidence for next year knowing that I'm able to go farther.

Happy Halloween and don't forget to vote next Tuesday! Thanks for reading and good health to everyone.


Jo Lynn October 31, 2008 at 4:32 PM  

Wow, good report Mike. Congratulations again on the 50 miles. I'm really glad I was there to cheer you on. I plan on participating at Woodside in December so hopefully I will see you again then.

Rick Gaston November 1, 2008 at 10:48 PM  

Hey man, way to break your distance PR. Passing out afterwards is only a result of the hard work you put in that day. Frankly I don't know how you guys did it, running around in circles like that. Victoria, Jo Lynn and I were eating aid station goodies while you were out there. Andy freakin rocked it with a 2nd place finish. He made up for that extra long break later.

I'm glad you didn't start crying at mile 40. I would have gotten you a beer right then and there. Glad I could help out, hope that strange power of influence works again around mid-November. I'm pacing again.

Trevor was awesome, he participated last year too.

Well I plan on being there as a volunteer again and I think if you came back as a volunteer you'd have fun too. Bring the boys next time. Congratulations again on getting that distance PR. No need to push for another 50k running unless you're really itching to do so. Let the body rest, recover and catch up to all your plans. There's always next year, no sense starting it tired.

Marcy November 2, 2008 at 2:08 PM  

Excellent race report!! CONGRATS!! Wow, absolutely insane you ultra peepers are. Way to rock out ;-)

Victoria November 2, 2008 at 11:46 PM  

Yeah, I'm not surprised about the emotional stuff after mile 40. Frankly, I find it poignant enough when I'm watching other people complete big races-- I think that if it were me getting a bunch of love from people, I'd be a sodden mess.

Great job that day though-- I'm definitely inspired for AR50. I'll be back training hopefully in 10 days... or at least, I'll start running in 10 days.

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