Agnès was supposed to come but, after crewing for me at the FOURmidable 50K trail nationals a week earlier, she had too much on her place before a 4-week subbing engagement at our local high school and let me go on my own instead. Hence the screwed in the title, an ultra running terminology I first learnt from teammate Mark Tanaka, who is a guru of running crew-less in most of his numerous 100-milers.
Now, an hour before the start, as I had setup my table in a convenient spot along the track, Tania Pacev asked if she could set a table for her runner, next to mine. Tania has been on Team USA several times as an athlete (100K World Championships) and is still involved for USATF to support the team at these 100K and 24-hour championships. I had met her at the 24-hour Nationals in Cleveland the two times I participated. Long story short, she decided that she would provide any support I would need, putting me in an unscrewed state. Here is my table at the end of the night, I didn't travel light this time (not my canopy as well as rain was initially expected but spare us):
his race preview. As a matter of fact, there was so much competition that I stayed away from Facebook for a few days before the race and, conscientiously, did not read Joe's article before the race, hoping to keep some of the pressure I was already putting on myself, off.
As for the sick dog, read on...
1. MY RACE REPORT
It was the second edition of this event, the Riverbank One Day Classic. It includes a 24-hour, a 12-hour and a 6-hour and, as its name indicates, we run on the track of Riverbank High School, about 15 miles of Modesto, CA. It was created by Jon Olsen, a 24-hour guru. After logging 158.5 miles at the 2012 Nationals, he went on to win the World Championships with 162 miles in 2013. He had a few bad seasons since then but he is resolute to make the team this time again, running Run4Water 24-hour in Lebanon, TN, on April Fool's Day, the day before the closing of the Team USA qualification cycle for this year's championships in Belfast, Ireland. With an expert such as John as co-director, his wife's support as co-director as well, and another ultra runner, Jeffrey Rowe, as 3rd co-director, you can expect not only a very professional organization, but also an amazingly supportive rally of local acquaintances, from Scouts to High School students. Here is Jon on Sunday morning, doing a few training laps on the track between his RD's duties.
On my end, here are the main points or phases of my race.
- The first 2 hours basically followed the plan. I was looking for 26 laps per hour and I did 28 in the 1st hour and 28 in the second. As a matter of fact, I was getting lapped often by the lead runners (e.g. Chikara Omine, Courtner Dauwalter, Gina and Steve Slaby), but was perfectly fine with that. Besides, although I was moving at 8:45 min/mile, Tania kept asking me to slow down at every lap, I got so tired of it... (Photo credit: event Facebook page.)
- After 2 hours, I started experiencing some diarrhea and had to stop every 15 laps or so with sharp pain in my guts, more specifically the lower intestine. The stomach was still working ok and I kept eating for a while and drinking as the temperature was rising, and in fear of getting dehydrated by the diarrhea. I was hoping the issue to stop after a few hours so I kept going without seeking treatment, for several hours. Unfortunately, that didn't pass or rather it worsen and, after about 10 hours in the race, I finally asked Jon for some Imodium. A few laps later, the nurse gave me two pills (I forgot what it was) and that produced the expected results after 20 minutes. Although, a new discomfort or pain was created by being the intestine blocked now...
- After these many hours of pain not really related to running, my stamina had decreased so much: for almost 10 hours, I had been able to maintain a decent pace given the circumstances but clearly missed my goal for the day. In a normal ultra race, I would likely have DNF'ed/dropped but, in a 24-hour, there isn't such a thing. If you stop, you get the mileage you are stopping at and still listed in the results as is.
- In the first 10 hours, I had completed 260 laps as planned so you think I just had to keep moving, right? With the diarrhea though, I had lost track of my nutrition and hydration, on top of my mental focus. I started walking to keep going and hoping for a rebound. But I hate walking, and I'm pretty bad/slow at it. I only completed 13 laps in hour 11, and 12 in hour 12. I ran a handful laps in hour 13 but logged only 15, then 17 in hour 14. By that time, it was 11 pm and the temperature had dropped significantly, getting down to 36 after midnight.
- Around 12:30 am I was moving so slowly that I decide I'd better stop for good and sleep for a while in the car, warming up my body on my heating seat. It took me about 30 minutes to settle in the car after changing layers and getting some hot broth, then I slept for 45 minutes.
- After this 90-minute break I came back on the track at 2 am, stopped by the restrooms for #2, still to no avail, but was stunned to be able to run smoothly again! I completed 43 laps at about 2'10"-2'30" a lap and was already seeing myself catching up a lot of lost ground. Unfortunately, by 3:45 am, I got cold again and had to go back to a slow walk which I did on 2 laps before getting back to the car for another break, hoping for another rebound...
- I slept for another 45 minutes (that's my natural cycle, I don't even have to set a watch!), and came back on the track around 5 am. Unfortunately, this time, the legs didn't cooperate, and slow walking was the only thing I could do. That was lap 384 and I was logging 11 to 13 laps an hour now. That's when I spent the most time chatting with others, taking pictures as the sun rose and just trying to kill the time... (Photo credit: event Facebook page.)
- Before the last hour, I did a few laps with the Slabys who were devising if they should jsut finish walking or do some jogging. That made me think that maybe I could try running again. With 50 minutes to go at 8:10 am, and convinced that my painful legs wouldn't stand the running, I still dare to try and, surprise, running was actually so much more comfortable than walking that I started logging laps at 1'50"! That allowed me to do 26 laps in the last 50 seconds, that is faster than I had ever run in this 24-hour. Although I looked like stupid as I was so far behind the leaders. (Photo credit: event Facebook page.)
- With that final surge, my final lap count was 448.3 for a distance of 179.3 kilometers or 111.4 miles. So far from my goal but still some distance, and at least 100 miles, for someone sick as a dog... 11th overall and 8th men.