(100 Mile Stud)
2014-11-21 11:23 AM
Though it took me nearly six days on both of my Tennessee runs, this was my first true six-day run. I watched live feed from Hungary last April, Arizona (Across The Years) as 2013 morphed into 2014, and Anchorage this past August, watching as people I knew ran their loops and laps, while I sat longingly in my living room easy chair wishing I could be there too. When the Icarus Six-Day event was announced, I didn't want to be watching from afar again. Still, it wasn't cheap, and as badly as I wanted to sign-up, I waited until the last moment.
My training wasn't at all what I hoped it would be going in, and waiting until the last moment to commit didn't help matters. Still, I was in no worse shape than when I competed in the NJ Three-Day race last May, so I took some comfort from that. I was also a bit surprised that only 11 runners would be competing. Was I missing something? Of those 11 runners, five were from outside the US, one wouldn't show at all, and only was female.
Day 1: We started in a light rain, which felt pretty good. I drank a little Ensure, some Poweraid, but mostly stuck with water. I ran for most of the first six hours, except for the small inclines along the course. I thought I was wearing my new Asics, but they were actually my NB 1080v3z. This gives you some idea of my state of mind at the start. The enormity of having 143 hours to go, then 142 hours to go, and so on, gnawed at the back of my mind. So did the fact that I was pretty much in my little zone on the course. At around the six-hour mark, I got sick after a brief sit-down, emptying my gut, and leaving me with more questions than answers. I changed into dry socks (something I'd try to do about every six hours) and put on my new Nimbus 15s. I then settled into a long walk. By the end of the first 24 hours, I had traveled 70 miles, far short of the goal I came up with in the comfort of my recliner back home.
Day 2 and 3: I eventually get to where I can eat, and then I eat and eat and eat. The food is awesome. The volunteers are awesome. They keep suggesting stuff to keep me going, and they make awesome suggestions. Humus on pita tortillas, olives, runny oatmeal, spicy noodle soup, and on and on, stuff I'd never eaten in an ultra before or even thought to eat in an ultra before. I have a blister on a toe on my right foot, which a volunteer fixed with a little moleskin, but another volunteer, a friend, has reservations about the fix, thinking that it will cause additional blistering later. I have switched into my Nimbus 14s which I last wore in my 3-day event in May. I am still walking. Bill Heldebrend, a bit of a hero to me, told me I had a good walking pace. He is 68 and can hold his own with kids half his age. I take some comfort from his words. He would drop early in the second day though, when he realized the personal goals he had set were not going to happen this time. He became our first "Icarus." I warned myself to not chase numbers. I was also glad I had my reservations for the Motel 6 on Sunday, and used that to convince myself that I was stuck in the park until at least then, so I might as well log as many miles as I could.
Day 4: I made the 200-mile mark as dawn appeared. I am in high spirits. We are now counting down hours, not counting up. I ask my friend to check out my foot, as I think there's a new blister. I'm right. I sat as she fixed it; I should have been lying down. I blacked out and maybe twitched a couple of times. Next thing I knew is that she is speaking firmly, asking if I'm hearing her. There's music in my head. I finally realize she is on the phone, repeating questions or commands to me that she is being given. I am told to lie down on my left side, and then I am told that an EMS is on its way. My first thought is that my race is over. The second is about the cost I'm about to incur. However, my recovery is very quick and I convince the EMS guys that I'm fine. The take my vitals three times and I pass with flying colors. They had seen seizures, and I was too "with it" to resemble a normal seizure case. It was just a matter of blood not getting to my head in sufficient quantities when I sat down. The rest of the day goes really, really well. I take it easy, but I stay on the course and log some good miles. As night comes, I'm told that I am in 4th place. It's way too early to think about that shit, but now that I know, it's all I can think about. It takes a lot of mental work to stay focused on my own math.
Day 5: This day was a down day. Hot, sunny, short on sleep. My feet are very sore. When I try to rest, my legs feel bruised to the bone, and I cannot get comfortable. I am in need of serious sleep. My bowels finally began to work though, and the bloated feeling in my gut starts to pass. At 92 hours, only 4 kilometers sepaarted 3rd, 4th and 5th. Half way through the day, I finally decide to try running again, at least on parts of the course. I do my best to imitate this shuffle that I see the young studs doing and my feet appreciate the change. As the day progresses, I often have to remind myself that I still have 12 hours of night-time, then another day and yet another night to go. This is far from being over. Again, I tried to sleep, setting my alarm for 3 hours later, but something went terribly wrong and I was out for four hours. I was devastated, thinking my goal was now completely out of reach, but after returning to the course, running a few laps, and re-doing the math, I calm down. I make good time through the night and those laps probably secured my 4th place finish (though I'm still vying for 3rd). Both pairs of Nimbus are hurting the top of my right foot, so I change back into my NB1080v3z, and fortunately, the pain is much less. I also change the timing chip from my right ankle to my left, something I should have done a day or two before, as my right ankle hurts so much more than my left. I just didn't realize that the timing chip might have been the problem.
Day 6: There are other races scheduled for this day, and it is good to see other runners. The park is also full of young high-schoolers in a JROTC program. Running is part of their day's agenda, and I both cheer and receive cheering from some of the kids. Two females, both vying to be part of the US 24-hr team put on a clinic through the day and night. I do my best to stay out of their way. Sometime around midnight, I break the US record of 383 miles (unofficial, the official record was less than that) for men ages 60-64, but I still want at least 400 miles. As the night goes on, it becomes more and more difficult to keep running, but the miles come. I have a couple of hours even once I top 400 miles, so I walk a few more miles, assurance miles, but the fire is gone.
As I am typing this, I just got a message from the RD that my official distance is 406.554 miles. (I'll have to ask Will to change my weekly number I posted a few days ago.) I looked at the results from two recent six-day events, and my numbers would have put me 6th in AZ and 9th in AK, so I feel pretty good about that. There's a Scotsman, William Sichel, who's my age, and who did 475 miles in AZ. I think I have more in me, but not 69 more miles, or, do I? Anyway, my right foot has a few minor issues that I hope will go away with rest. It is bitter cold here since I've been home, so I'm not even tempted to get out and see how running feels, but I might try a few miles this weekend.
This was a great event. The food served has spoiled me for all future ultras, I'm afraid. The RD's did all they could, and spared no expense, to make this event a first-class event. DW has already asked me if I have this six-day nonsense out of my system now. I could not give her the answer she wanted...
This is a short report, kind of a sketch draft for my blog report, which is taking me so long to get started on. Thanks for reading....