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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

RUTS Oak Ridge

Planning 2017 has been quite interesting.  With the USA National Championships in September as my main goal, I needed steps to take and races to get me to where I needed to go.  This round, it was the RUTS (Run Under the Stars) Oak Ridge 10 hour run that would get me to where I needed to be.  I never was any good with night runs because I enjoy my sleep, so psychologically, this would be tough.  Second thing is that I needed to use this race as a training run and not as a A race.  With my new training phase, my max weekly mileage was at 40 miles, which meant (to me) that I had about 40-45 miles of race miles, I knew that racing any more than that would require more time off, which wouldn't get me ready for my next race, a month and a week from now.  I needed to insure that the races added the longer miles I need without sacrificing any of the quality I was adding to my current training schedule.

With that in mind, I was ready.  It called for chances of thunderstorms and at least a bit of rain so I prepared by bringing as little things as I didn't want to take care of anything that would blow away.

Weapons of choice:

SWORD waterbottle:  (as a SWORD sponsored race, I knew I was going to do well with electrolytes)
normal waterbottle:  Mainly used to cool myself down but also as an emergency drink
Table:  Keep all my stuff on
Fold-out chair:  Used for when I need to switch shoes or feel like chatting
Garbage bag with my shoes:  Because knowing it's going to be rainy, I prepared 7 pairs to run with
Shoes:  Asics Gel-Lyte 33 3, pretty sad they're discontinued because they are my favorite, helps tons
Socks:  Injinji socks and another pair to make sure I don't get blisters (and I didn't!)
KT-tape:  Helps support arches (and I ended to race w/out feet pain)
Nike Combat Compression Shorts:  that and Aquaphor keeps me from chafing in a not so fun place
Adidas shorts:  Just your average pair.  Light, and pretty awesome
Underarmour shirt:  After the rain, needed it because of the chafing and temperature
Ice-Bug Buff:  If you fold it just right, you can easily put in your iPod shuffle in it!
Peanut Butter Crackers:  The perfect mix of carbs, protein, and fat.

Since I didn't bring too much as it was a shorter race and a possible rainstorm, I had only one goal:  Get to 62 miles and get myself a decent 100k time.  Race the first 40 miles and then coast from there.  Here's how the race went down

The Course:

RUTS 10 hour race was held in A K Bissell Park, where they concocted a 1.25 mile loop that was on mostly gravel-like paths and one bridge and a good bit of turns to keep you thinking.  It was pretty darn flat, making running big miles an easy thing to do.  The aid station was a quarter mile from the finish line, and had all the goodies that any runner would need.  All they needed was a little excitement.... which the thunderstorm definitely provided.  Haha

Mile 1-30:
I originally had thought that I would be at the point of getting the first 30 miles done in 4 hours and then spend the last 6 hours getting in 40 miles, but because I needed to plan ahead, I decided I'd get the first 30 at race pace and then back off.  However, that being said, I hadn't planned on running with Steve Barber, who was part of a team.  I really am a rabbit and enjoy being up front, so when he went out ahead, I let him go, because he was doing a relay with Joy.  That being said, try as I might, I couldn't help but little by little catch up to him.  Then with a tad of brashness, I thought, "What if I lapped him before the hand-off to Joy?" and so for the first 5 hours he was going to run, I battled against myself whether or not to lap him because that was an immediate goal.  Having one's mind wander during the race can be good at times, but sometimes, it can also be detrimental.  That's why I chose to focus on lapping certain people.  I knew lapping Steve was nearly impossible if he put the hammer down, but I also knew who was in 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th.  With that, I decided that I would focus on chasing after those people one at a time so I don't get side-tracked and bonk because I overshot myself.  Another interesting thing that happened in the first 30 miles was the horrific thunderstorm.  My sister and brother-in-law surprised me by coming and visiting AND sticking through the thunderstorm while supporting me.  Wow,  I thought I was crazy for running in the typhoon winds and lightning and sideways rain, but not as crazy as those two who were sitting through it all seeing me every 1.25 miles.  As the rainwater flooded the little creek, creating a roaring river, the path I was on became enveloped in the longest puddles, and there was no way around.... so I went through.  When it's raining sideways, you don't really care about your shoes getting wet.  You just go.  Some people didn't like the bigger puddles, but I imagined that if I ran fast enough, I would be running through without giving the water enough time to get in my shoes (disclaimer:  It didn't matter) and so I went at it like a maniac.  I figured that the disco lights (aka thunder) was for me and I needed to perform, so I began to press a little harder.  The first bits of the race, I went fast because I was fresh, but as time went on, I began to slow my pace down, so with this change of pace midrace, I allowed my body to stretch out a bit more!  To some, the thunderstorm was a great hindrance (ask all the people that had their tents blow away) but to me, it was as if chains were lifted.  I finished my first marathon portion of the race in 3:27:05 and the was just at 3:59:59 for my 30 mile split.

30-41.25 miles

It was during this time that I had to make a decision.  According to Sho-math, I was good to race up to 40 miles without significant damage, 50 miles with some recovery, and 60 miles with way too much recovery that I wouldn't have enough time to train for my next race, so the question was... how much should I push it?  I decided to talk it out and see where everyone else stood, because despite me continuously telling myself this was a training race.... I still wanted the win.  The timer crew told me that I was ahead of the number two guy by about 10 miles.... but that Cathy Downes... she was 5 miles behind me... or 4 laps.  That meant that I needed to be careful.  I continued at a decent pace, but I knew that I would have to make a decision soon... my legs were slightly sore from the distance, but more than that, I was sleepy.... so Red Bull it was, and it helped me stay awake, and my sister and brother-in-law had to leave...and now I had 4 hours left.

41.25-63.75 miles

4 hours left and Cathy was 4 laps behind... techincally, I needed to do about 4 laps per mile (5mph) and if she did 5 laps per mile (6.25mph), I would still make it.... but first, recon.  After lapping me, I decided to stick with her and confess.  She said right away that she didn't care and that it's normal to want to win... and we became friends.  We started talking about running (well mainly me) and that went on and on for quite a long time.  After almost 2 hours, I decided to take an easy lap and start running with her after she caught up, and then we chatted again.  This time, being the last hour plus change, she needed 4 laps to get to her goal of 60 miles, and so I calculated the time for her and we figured out that she had a good shot at getting 61.25 miles, so we went for it.  Finishing with about 5 minutes to spare, we both had a blast and it was a great time getting to know her!


Quads and calves were sore from the race so I definitely need to work them out a lot more.  Form was good throughout the race, but I need to also work on my upper back as it was sore from keeping my back straight throughout the race.  I tried to get through the race without pickle juice.... but I'll put that in my diet because I think it would have helped alleviate some of the soreness my legs got in the first 30 miles of the race.  Overall, the storm didn't really affect me, so mentally I was okay, but the post-midnight run definitely hurts me mentally, so I'll need more work on that somehow... I'll definitely have to add more miles for training.  As always, RUTS was spectacular, I'd love to race all the races, but always have other things going on, so will get in as many as I can!  Really appreciate my sister and her husband, as well as the aid station and timing crew.  They were all so encouraging.  Also appreciate all the runners.  No matter what, they were all encouraging and kept on pushing.  It was awesome to experience a thunderstorm with them and still run through it.  Finishing a strong 63.75 miles and winning was nice too... but the nicest part of the race was meeting everyone and enjoying the time I was able to spend with everyone.