Thursday, January 24, 2008

24 hours on a treadmill - Race report

24 Hour Treadmill Challenge

January 18th, 2008 10:00am

My set up team had been at Snap Fitness setting up for the treadmill race for 2 hours before the planned race time. They did a great job of making this happen. It's not just two treadmills and a clock. We had to move the treadmills into position, set the fans, run power cords, get the Internet connections up and running for a 24 hour webcast and a dozen or more key tasks HAD to be completed before 12pm and we started running.

I arrived at Snap at 11:ooam with my friend Cliff who would prove once again to be THE key player in my success during the 24 hour race and THE success of the webcast and website activity. After we tested the equipment and got everything in place I did one last "check your head" inventory and decided I was ready to run.

Time: 12:00PM The Start

Cliff (Also the official timer) got us started on time. I planned to start off like you should when running a 24 hour race, in control, relaxed, paced and prepared to slow down as the hours go by. It sounds weird to acknowledge that when just starting but I have learned from racing 24 hour races and studying 24 hour results of top 24 hour runners that slowing down cannot be avoided and must be embraced. My plan worked great. If you then put a well crafted hydration and nutrition plan with the pacing goals you can make some big miles happen in 24 hours. Off I ran...

I started eating and drinking at 20 minutes. My plan was to eat solid food every hour (PowerBars and EFS bars) as long as my stomach would let me (goal 18 hours or so). I would drop in 2 gels every hour. This worked out to eating every 20 minutes. Over the course of two hours I would also work on 1 bottle of Infinit Nutrition Red Rock Running Rocket Fuel (this is a drink I created for me that is designed to do one thing - keep me running hard for a long time). This formula/mix is available in the store, stop in and check it out.

Time: 2pm

All was well we had changed runners on team many a couple of time now and Cliff had this process down and I had begun to settle in to my running, eating and finally started to relax and run.

Time: 3pm-6pm

Time went by very fast during the first 6-7 hours. I went by the 26.2 mile mark about 4:08, 50K shortly after. Things were moving along. I really had nothing to add to this report that was unique or strange because all was well. That is good since it was a 24 hour race.

Time 8pm -11pm

During this time block things got interesting. I passed 100K, took on some more EFS bars and Infinit protein and electrolyte drink. The main thing that happened during this time was I came to the harsh reality that this was going to be a race between me and my feet. In some races it's you and your stomach others it's your legs (cramps) sometimes your mind. In this case it was going to be me dealing with my feet for 14 more hours.

Harsh reality. It hit at 10:40pm. I was running with Casey "I can sweat" Harney and all of a sudden I got a new (as in different that I had) pain on my little toe. It was sharp and sudden. I didn't know what this was at first however, after looking down and seeing my white shoe turn red from the blood I knew what had happened. The huge blister I thought I had popped! WOW! What relief! I was able to get some relief off of something so damaging. Damaging because the blister was now a wound, open and exposed to infection and irritation. But who cares, it feels better now and I can run faster so I'll deal with the infection and problems when I am done. Let's run!

Time 12 Midnight - 3am

Half-way. Now just do it all for 12 more hours. The cool part of this is your half way done. The sick part was that I felt sad to think it would be over in 12 hours. Sick!?! Yes, I do love to run. I look at 12 and 24 hour races as a gift. The gift to run non-stop and have nothing else to do or focus on but running! Every time I get to do one of these race I love the whole experience no matter what. No matter the size of the blister - I love to run, race, compete and in this case I am racing against myself and I love that also.

James showed up to run for Team Many at 12am and decided to run in his sunglasses also. The sunglasses helped for many reasons. 1- it gave me a bit of a change of scenery. 2- I had a big, bright flourescent light above my head. 3- I always train with sunglasses on so I felt at home in them. You should know the rule... if you do it in training do it in the race.

The darkest hour of this event came at about 1:30 am. I was running with Ernie and I hit a low spot from HELL! Highs and lows come and go. You always hope that the highs are not too high and that the lows are not too low. I did not have any luck with that on this particular low. It hit me like a ton of bricks and man did it hurt.

The trick with really bad lows (with 8 + hours to go) is to not FORCE yourself thru it or out of it. When this is done it often causes too much fallout and damage that you have to deal with later. Some athletes force themselves out of a low by eating too much, drinking too much, taking too much caffeine, etc... I have found that a zen like approach works best. Breathing, relaxing, a little food, a small amount of fluid and embrace it for a small time while you give the body a chance to do what it is going to do with or without your help. Ernie (an experienced ultrarunner herself) knew I was in a low and did the best thing she could do to help me. Nothing. You simply have to go through this alone. Once the low passes you are like a new person running, joking, singing (Barry Manilow) and back to the business end of the treadmill!

Time: 3am - 7am

"I just lost 4 hours" I yelled to Cliff. It's like I was asleep I told him. Where did the time from 3 am to now (7:10AM) go? He assured me that I had not been sleeping or dreaming but that I was running very well the entire "lost" 4 hours. I asked him if I ate and drank his reply was "like normal" he then mentioned that it was time for me to urinate and weigh myself again. This would only be my 3rd time off the belt.

55 seconds later I returned from the bathroom. My weight was the same as when I started and all was well with the urine. If you cared?

Time: 7am - 10am

It's getting close now. I think Cliff told me this to get himself going until the end. Everybody was tired now. My support crew had worked hard to keep timing Team Many, feed and hydrate me all day and now the end was in sight.

My feet were so bad at this point that blood was oozing out the side of my shoe and if I slowed my pace it actually hurt my feet to change my stride length. The best thing to do at this point was to disassociate completely.

Time 10am - 12pm

The last 2 hours of timed events usually gets going at a good clip since you want to be done. This event was no different. I took in a 100mg of caffeine and chased it with a few shots of coffee and off I went. Clipping off miles at 9 minute pace (fast for having run 23 hours). During the last hour more and more people showed up to see the end of the event. I was so glad to see everyone even if I didn't talk much I was happy on the inside. As I approached 10 minutes to go I got that sad to be done feeling again. 23 hours and 50 minutes of running and deep down inside I didn't want this to be over. On the surface I needed to be done. I needed to get my feet the medical attention that they needed! 2 Minutes to go. Stephanie was right there with me as I cranked out the last 2 minutes of the NEVER TO BE REPEATED EVENT. 30 seconds Steph told me. I reminded her that I am going to go and sit as soon as I was done and then Cliff hit my stop button. 24 Hours! I was done.

12pm - 12:10pm

My feet were screwed up beyond belief. Swollen, bloody, raw, blistered, and red. I didn't know it then but I would later learn that two of my blisters were infected. The total damage report was all to my feet. Legs were great, stomach great, back fine, all over ok! Feet, not good! 6 blisters, 3 toe nails gone (2 fell off during the run, 1 to be removed later), swelling so bad that I don't know when I'll get a real shoe on it.

But man that was fun! I love to run.

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