Search This Blog

Monday, October 15, 2012

The North Face Endurance Challenge - Atlanta

My second time running it, still a hard course.  Last year, when I ran this race, I was unprepared for the amount of pushing I would have to do.  This year, I was prepared... but not prepared enough.  I still have a lot to work on in order to get to the point where I want to be.  Now I'm at a point where I can run a marathon on any given day and I would be okay.  In less than a year, I want to get to the point where running a 50 mile race would be a little strenuous, but more like a long run instead of a challenge.

When I finished the race, it said at the results tent that I was 23rd place, but looking at the online results, it seems that I was 22nd place... not sure what's up with that, but either way, I was second place in my age group.  My time was 10:43:03, which was an average of 12:52 min/mile, a rather slow time, but a decent improvement since last year.  Also, because I made it under 11 hours, it meant that I qualified to apply for the Western States Endurance Run... a 100 mile race.  Unfortunately, only 10% of the applicants are chosen through their lottery system so I'll find out in December if I actually manage to get in or not.

Anyway, about the race.  It was the same technical race with tons of roots and rocks ready to snag me as I ran, and snag me they did... I only actually fell down once, but there were more trips than I could count... resulting in a very painful big toe.  If you remember what the Mad Hatter's hat looked like in Alice in Wonderland... imagine my toe being his hat.  I bled quite a bit from that wound, but kept on going.

I prepared this race rather meticulously by making sure that I had energy and sodium intakes at all times to insure that I would do well and not pass out.  I had done some studying and figured out that the best thing for me was these three items.  Pickle juice, Pedialyte, and Chia Seeds.  With these three, I planned on tackling the race (along with the foods provided at the aid station).  I chugged 1300 kcal of chia seeds and water in order to start my day, and at every aid station, I drank two cups and ate a PB&J, but pretty much ran the straight-aways, jogged the down-hills, and walked the uphills.  I met up with a couple runners and together, we tackled quite a bit together, and although it was faster than my original plan, I felt like it was good to go while I still could.

Here is the race summary (trust me, it's a 50 mile race, this bit of running counts as a summary):

As I began the race, it was dark and I had my night light, allowing me to see... but not really see too much.  I kept on tripping over roots and rocks as I ran.  I ran in the second wave, which started 3 minutes after the leading wave.  In less than ten minutes, we caught up with the leading group, as the group was made up of both elites and non-elites.  This slowed down my pace considerably, but in hindsight, I was glad that we had that break which kept me from going too far too fast.  As I passed the stragglers from the first group, I met up with a runner who had hurt himself, after identifying his number, I made sure to not forget his bib number and ran to the aid station to let them know about that runner (still hoping that it turned out alright for him).

I made it passed the first aid station, and taking a couple gulps of water and some Nuu, I was able to continue on my way, walking only for a little bit, but decided to jog and then get back to running.  During this longer trip, I was alone most of the time, occasionally seeing a couple people that I would pass, or would pass me, and during this 6.1 miles, I had my first fall.  Up til then, I would trip and catch myself... always tripping on my right foot, and I would keep on going, reminding myself that I wasn't unstoppable... but this time, I fell and nursed an injury to my right hand for slamming onto the ground.  My legs were fine from the fall, but my hand hurt.  Fortunately, I don't run on my hands... but it was rather annoying throughout the rest of the race.  Making it to mile 11.1, I was doing pretty okay, a lot slower pace than what I anticipated at going, but slower is better than faster, so I took what I needed.  I kept on going at that pace and as the day became brighter, it was a little easier for me to see and I had fewer trips on the way up to the 'halfway' point.

It was between the third and fourth aid station that I met up with a couple runners and we ran together as a team, pushing each other forward and slowing down... but ultimately working as a team, and I got to know both of them rather well.  One worked for Fleet and was here with his girlfriend.  The other runner was a Race Director and just racing for fun.  They both talked a lot and I listened a lot, getting to know a lot about them.  It was great being around people that enjoy running and pushing forward to the best of their abilities.

After making it to the 27.6 mile point, I met up with Aaron and Tasha who came to support me with food and I didn't really feel like eating too much... but did take that amazing chicken broth they had at the aid station.  I drank another 650 kcal worth of chia seed and water, drank some pedialyte, lathered up some Ben Gay, and after taking a little breather, I put on my iPhone and started listening to Michael Jackson as I started the trip back.  Knowing that it was 22.4 miles to the finish line, it was 5 miles less than what it took to come out, so it should have been easier, but that distance is pretty darn close to a marathon and I had to keep on chugging on and doing my best to fight off the exhaustion that was setting in.

With 12.9 miles to go, I felt a little bit beat up.  The two things that helped me keep on going was listening to Michael Jackson and playing a little game of seeing how many people I can catch up with (didn't matter if they were 50k runners, marathon runners, or 50 milers... it was a game, and every victory counts.  Victory meant that I had all that positive energy within me pushing me to keep on going, to jog up those hills... but that went away little by little.  With 7.5 miles to go, I drank the pedialyte that I had saved up for myself, ate two handfulls of m&m's, I took a little break in the shade and sat down for a bit.  Little by little, I had run out of energy and was starting to rely on willpower to get me through the end of the race... well it was already at that point... it was just that my mental defenses were weakening.  Having 5.4 miles to get to the penultimate aid station, my right knee was sore because of all the tripping I had which resulted in sudden pressure when I caught myself with my leg... I had to force my legs forward to continue on.  Energy zapped, I was unsure whether or not I could make it running like I had wanted to... but I wanted to finish the race as best as I could.  As I passed by the 19th runner, I looked back and saw another runner I had previously passed begin to catch up.  Now as the hunter became the hunted, I had a new sort of energy pushing me to get to the next aid station.

Making it to the last aid station, the other runner behind me caught up to me, but with 2.6 miles to go, it was anyone's game.  I pressed on forward first, looking at this as an opportunity for me to get ahead, and caught up with my 20th runner... but no sooner had I done that, he came up from behind me and snagged the lead.  He was going a little bit too fast, so I didn't follow him.  It was one amazing race, and I was able to have a great time.  The last few miles were a mix of running, jogging, and walking because I wanted to make sure that I got to the finish line before the eleven hour mark was up.  I know I have a lot to work on... but improving an hour in one year is pretty darn good.  Can't wait to do the same thing next year.  Maybe improve more than an hour and go for a 2 hour improvement.  High goals and great accomplishments!

No comments:

Post a Comment