It was a low key and local event, nothing to compare with last week's Western States, especially in terms of competitiveness. For this reason, I was a favorite again. Despite being my first attempt at that "distance" as we say, our Grand Prix co-chair, Bill Dodson, offered to come and record all my splits in case I was going to set a new Age Group Record (M50-54). Although that record still shows at 140 miles on the USATF tablets, Ed Ettinghaussen, aka The Jester, has run 146.6 miles in 24 hours last Fall. And Ed was actually present to run his 17th 100-mile race, on his way to setting a new Guiness record of the highest number of 100-mile race ran in one year (which I believe is 40).
her ultra passion, addiction and achievements in this interview. Yes, that was her 100th 100+-mile race back then, not "just" her 100th ultra race as it was the case for me 2 weeks ago. For the non insiders, an ultra is any distance beyond the marathon mark (26.2 miles or 42.195 km), typically 50K (31.1 miles), 50 miles, 100K, 100 miles, ...
The start was conveniently set at 8 am which meant a breakfast before 5 am for me which wasn't much of a problem since I had flown back from 3 weeks in Europe the previous day (Friday) so the jet lag woke me up even earlier than that. I woke up at 5 am in Annecy to catch my flight in Geneva so I had been up for 25 hours the day before the race which was less than ideal, maybe some late sleep resistance or deprivation training, but I don't recommend to do that the eve of a 24-hour race...
Getting into the race, I knew my biggest challenge was not to start too fast so I made all the efforts not to take the lead, knowing we were mixed with participants in the 12-hour and 6-hour races. I settled on a very comfortable pace between 8:30 and 9. After a few laps, my GPS distance was actually off the official marks (multiples of 1.06-mile lap), so I was actually not sure about the real pace. Besides, it was difficult to really gauge the effort as we were running against wind gusts for the northbound half-mile, more on this later.
I kind of recall that the wind decreased shortly after midnight. The night was cool but, keeping running and running, and fighting this wind, my body temperature was fine and I ran all night with a very light wind breaker. My legs were fine, it was more my mental which was getting weaker. Pierre-Yves (Couteau) had stopped by on his way back from Sacramento for Darcy Fink's celebration of life, and he did help me during the evening with a few bottle refills and mixing some mashed potatoes (I was racing in Darcy's memory and in honor of my friend Ann).
Later, Greg (Lanctot) also stopped by after his trip to Sacramento and another obligation, and stayed all night and the next morning to support us which was super helpful for me.
Running through the night was so peaceful but, with my previous long day, I was getting tired around 1 am. Based on Jon Olsen's experience at the 24-hour World Championships last year which he won with 167 miles, I had bought a bottle of 5-hour Energy booster. I mentioned that to Greg and he didn't object so I took it around 1 am. Wow, for someone who never drinks coffee, that was something. Again, not much physically as the pace was slow by then, but I was seeing much clearly all of a sudden! (4 next pictures from Shiran (Shir) Kochavi)
pacing Pierre-Yves last week at Western States was less hours and miles on my feet. Craving for food after having run on Vespa and only 17 Gus total, I stopped by a Mac Donald's to learn that they were not serving meals before 11 am, damned! Thankfully, I found a Burger King which was more open to the idea of a hamburger and fried at 10 am, and crashed in my bed by 11:30 am. Just slept for 5 hours to wake up and work on a work project.5 more hours before going back to conference calls on Monday morning then flying to DC in the afternoon, getting to the hotel in Georgetown by 1 am. I must admit I was really tired on Tuesday and wasn't 100% up to my game for the important customer meeting in the afternoon but it went ok. On Tuesday evening I even met Alex for a short 10K run in Rock Creek Park. I was still tired and short of breath and I had hard time keeping up with him despite a mild 8:30 min/mile pace on these nice trails, phew! Alex ran his first marathon last year in 3:38, a great performance for the little training he was able to put in with his studies and job, and he got in the Marine Corps Marathon again this year.
- John and Maureen Brooks and their PCTR volunteer crew for setting up such a professional event, staying up for even more hours than us, wow!
- Bill for staying for more than 14 hours and logging at least 85 of my laps!
- All the runners for their encouragements as we were passing each other so many times in a day.
- Loren, Harris, Pierre-Yves and Greg for the assistance at the aid station, with a special mention to Loren for taking pictures with my camera to make this report more visual.
Now, I didn't meet all my goals but a few were certainly too aggressive for a first. Too many pit stops, not enough sleep the previous nights, drinking too much (for once!), no specific training, a very "positive" split (80 + 47 miles) or should I say negative, the lack of combativeness in the last 3 hours, some chaffing, the fatigue the following 2 days, there are quite a few lessons to learn from to improve. Running on Vespa mostly worked with one pouch every 2 to 2.5 hours: I topped it with 17 GUs, one can of Coke, 2 cups of soup and one bowl of mashed potato, not that many calories compared to those spent. Overall, I've even more respect for Ed's amazing M50-54 record at 144.6 miles.
Next race is in 2 weeks, the grueling Tahoe Rim Trail 100, "a glimpse of heaven... a taste of hell..." Some unfinished business to take care about from last year, yet again one my primary goals will have to start conservatively. You'd think that I'd know better about pacing by my 100th ultra race, but I'm still young at heart and taking the risk to push my limits while I can. Let's see how this plays in 2 weeks then!