To overcome…and right into 2nd place
Those who know me personally, or follow Catra’s blog, are probably aware that I’ve had some personal challenges lately. I think that most people who were in my shoes would’ve opted to not do the SF 1 Day considering the circumstances, which is what I initially chose to do, but decided that I had to so I could have closure and move on. My performance this past weekend is a good example of how I managed to change one of my worst experiences in life, into an unforgettably positive one — both of which I will never forget.
My challenges came early on, even before the race began — having to figure out how to get to the race, and where to sleep the night before. With a few e-mails and a posting on the race forum, I managed to get the help of two of my running friends — Nattu Nataraj, and Miki Higuchi. Miki was kind enough to pick me up from SJC on Friday, invite me to a fantastic dinner at Sushi Tomi near her place in Mtn View, then drop me off at the Caltrain station where I would take a train to the city. Once I got to SF, Nattu picked me up, and allowed me to crash on his floor.
The following morning, when we got to the race, there were many runners/crew already setup along the grass lining the path we would be taking. I set my little cooler up in between Bob Harris and Steve Matsuda and Diana Rush — all fixtures of the SoCal running community.
The race started promptly at 9am. I was in a pack of about half a dozen runners, led by Wendell and Sarah’s son Aaron — finishing the first loop in 8:38. I let my adrenaline take control, and unfortunately I did not slow down for several more laps, especially considering that my plan was to average 12 min/mile. When I caught up to Steve Ansell and Beat Jegerlehner, they gave me a lot of crap about going out too fast. I told them they were probably right, but still continued to maintain the same pace, figuring I’d either crash and burn, or have a really good day — I was fortunate that it turned out to be the latter.
If you recall from my previous post before the race, I had some intermediate goals — 50 miles in 9 hours, 65 miles in 12, and an overall distance of 115 in 24 hours. Turned out I hit 50.2 miles in 8:54, then 65.1 in 12 — pretty crazy, huh. I hit my splits dead on, even though I really wasn’t paying attention to my pace or progress, not to mention I pulled those out of my ass, since I’d never done these kinds of races before.
I didn’t really have a schedule for walk breaks — initially, I was planning on taking one every hour, then realized that that was not frequent enough, so began walking every lap. So what I eventually ended up doing was walking from my cooler to the first stop sign along the road, then the slight uphill once we turned right onto the dirt all the way to the top, just past the trash can. This seemed to work for the majority of the race, and only towards the last couple hours did I increase my walking a little further to the trash can instead of the stop sign. The longest walk break I took was 2 whole laps — once with Catra in the middle of the night, and my very last loop I did with Kristen. I did not sit down at all, or stop for an extended period of time. I also did not change my shoes/socks, and only put on a long sleeve and shell at night when it got extremely cold, foggy, and breezy. My nutrition consisted primarily of Shot Bloks and fruit smoothies/juices, with one slice of pizza sometime during the late afternoon.
Most of the time, my laps were pretty uneventful, but there were some memorable moments:
- Go-Go Cindy bringing me a Jamba Juice
- My friend Eileen who I haven’t seen since HURT, coming out to cheer me on with her newborn baby and dog
- Seeing Kristen and Lori and their family, which included Ry (age 13), and Trevor (age 9)
- Flora, Jo Lynn, Rick Gaston, and Hao volunteering
- All the messages that people sent throughout the night, which was very encouraging, especially since I didn’t have a crew — thank you everyone!
Although I’ve been doing ultras for about 7 years, I’ve never run in this type of race before, so this was whole new territory for me. I knew it would be hard, but it was much harder than I ever imagined. My quads were thrashed during the race, not to mention my Achilles (the right one especially) were completely swollen. Typically, I only experienced these symptoms or pain after the race, so the fact that these appeared during the race indicated to me that it was not easy, and using the same muscle groups for 24 hours really took its toll. I remember at one point saying to Catra that I would stop at 100 miles, but as I was ready to call it in after reaching that distance, Rick Gaston informed me that I had a possibility of moving up in the rankings from where I currently was (4th). Other than being tired, I felt ok enough to keep going, so I did. I figured once the sun came up, I would get my second wind, and more people would be out to keep me motivated.
Around 7 or 8am, I noticed more people/runners out on the route as I expected, so it was nice to have some company again. I think I had about 113 miles with about an hour left, so I attempted to reach my goal that I had set before the race — 115 miles. I was joined by Kristin who walked a lap with me, and got 114 with just over 20 minutes left. I could’ve squeezed another mile, but was done. My quads and Achilles were screaming, so I ended up with 114.2 miles, which was surprisingly good enough for 2nd place overall, and first place in my age group (40-49). The winner was Shan Riggs, who ended up breaking the course record with a total of 130.2 miles!
The great thing about this kind of race is that I was able to go very minimal — I carried nothing, and ran with my light weight road shoes. On the flip side, I did a lot of rummaging around in my cooler, not to mention the long bathroom detours. which probably added up to at least 2-3 hours of wasted time. Near the end, Sarah and Wendell made the loop into an out-and-back — unfortunately, that meant that I had to go out of my way to get to my cooler, which made my laps at least another minute longer. Now the question remains whether I could’ve used that time to rack up more mileage, or whether I could’ve done something to minimize the time I spent. If I had a crew, I’m certain I could’ve done better — or at the very least, reached my max mileage a lot sooner. I guess we’ll see what happens when I return in 2009.
Psychologically, this race benefitted me in several ways — it was definitely a confidence booster to know that I could run 100+ miles in 24 hours, and also be somewhat competitive. More importantly, this experience allowed me to overcome my fears, sadness, hurt, and pain — both from my running, and more importantly, from my personal life.
- 50 miles 8:54
- 100K 11:16
- 65 miles 12 hours
- 100 miles 19:59