The race started at 4 PM Friday, and would take up the next 29 hours and 10 minutes of my life. During it I would experience chafing on a level I didn't know possible, nearly fall asleep standing up leaning against a tree while having a pee, and feel like someone used my lower body as a piñata at a party for ill tempered mafia goons.
There were moments of glory, too. When the first dose of Aleve kicked in. When the sun started to lighten the sky through the canopy of trees. When my pacers picked me up and handed me off, and I realized that I wouldn't need to be as clued in and could focus on moving my left foot in front of my right.
And of course, that moment when I crossed the finish line and realized that I was able to do something that I'd been dreaming of for hours and miles- collapse like a puppet with it's strings cut.
Quick executive summary:
Distance 100 miles
Time 29:09:26, pace 17:29/mile
10 AG, 69 Gender 88 OA
Let's talk about pain.
I mentioned chafing; it's something that I didn't experience at all during my training, so it was hard to address intelligently. I didn't. Pretty much just ignored it and hoped it would go away.
It didn't. 'Nuff said.
I had the weird experience of feeling like muscle on both sides of my rib cage were slowly being pulled off. I thought it mostly likely a muscle called serratus anterior, but it might have been lats. Anyway, It was a constant thing, too, like a 1st or 2nd degree burn. Annoying, but not really all that bad. It only hurt when I was breathing in or out.
The one pain that I thought might be enough to end my race was in my hip flexors. For half of my third loop I felt pretty intense pain when I brought my legs forward. Thankfully, it was a lot worse on my left than my right, so i was able to go up steps forwards instead of sideways- though I did that a few times, too. This is the pain that made me do my part to keep the maker of Aleve in business. I didn't take more than the recommended dosage in 24 hours, but it was a near thing. And remember, my race took longer than a day. :)
My poor little toe on my right foot was rubbed raw, but I almost saw that coming. That'll teach the little piggy to go "wee, wee, wee" all the way home. Weeing causes blisters if not done at the proper time. And the peroneal (fibular) muscles on the outside of my lower left leg are still in spasm. I'm currently using KT tape on it, and it seems to be helping a lot.
Finally, during my last loop, I felt electric jolts through my lower body at odd intervals, like someone flipping a switch to wake me up. I was seriously worried that it would turn into a muscular thing and my legs would stop and refuse to start again. The most intense shock was about 20 feet in front of the finish line and just about dropped me. That would have been embarrassing. But I probably could have crawled through in the time left. I think.
I was privileged to sample as many different flavors of pain during my race as when I hit Plum Market's cheese counter and sample the various kinds of cheese. Some mild, some sharp, some subtle and insidious, other brash and forthright. Some as multi-faceted as a gemstone.
Perhaps that will be my contribution to science: At work we use three or four different scales to help us understand how patients experience pain. I doubt anyone has ever made up a "cheese" pain scale. But it makes a weird sort of sense. Bree would be soft and mild and nice on a cracker. Gouda would be smoky and complex, Blue would be intense... anyway, I digress. Sorry about that.
I do remember coming in to lap 5, and mentioning to my friend Jenna and her husband Steve about it. I think one of them asked: "How do you feel?" I believe I answered "I feel a symphony of pain. And it is... exquisite." I'd been thinking about how I'd been feeling for a while; it was nice to be able to express it. Many thanks to Jenna and Steve for the straight line! :)
I was lucky enough to meet and run with far too many wonderful people to be able to do them any justice in this race report, but I'll give it a whirl.
My Pacers, Arin and Katy, were two of the most helpful, encouraging, and all around awesome folk with whom I was lucky enough to spend five to six hours of race time. They kept me going when I didn't want to, and not only helped me get through my fifth and sixth laps, but also to those laps. I had pacers lined up, and I didn't want to disappoint them by not running when they had made the effort and cleared away the time to help me.
Ken, a RUT friend and all around great guy, was at the middle aid station 11 of the 12 times I went through, always encouraging and giving helpful advice that I actually tried to absorb with the 1.5 synapses I still had firing. I always got a lift coming in to aid station- the volunteers were awesome everywhere, but particularly there. And I got watermelon! Yum. It was a spiritual experience.
There were a great many people I got to run with during the race- Sandra, Andrea, Lori and their pacers, Rick from lap two, who told such interesting stories about ultras he'd done in the past, Martin, Ben, Caroline- the list goes on, and many of the names and faces blur due to fatigue and distance. All I do know is that I couldn't have done it without the people around me.
The aftermath was even more of a blur than much of the race. I remember Melissa and John, two friends from the West Bloomfield Running Fit group being sky high from their first 50 mile, and being happy and proud that I was a part of their experience. Being fed by Jenna and Steve, and being convinced that a shower was a really good idea. It was, but fatigue and pain nearly made it impossible. I remember staggering around and Jenna saying that I was walking like one of her spinal cord injury patients, and being helped back to my tent like I'd had a few two many...
I remember waking up in the morning and trying to remember how to get up, and not really being sure that I wanted to. But also sure that my bladder would burst and not really wanting that, either.
It was an amazing experience. And I'm not ruling out doing another. Just... not anytime too soon. I think my legs could use a rest for a bit. My recovery is going well, so far. Not sure when I'll run again; hopefully in the next few days. But I'm not going to push it. I did a months worth of pushing already this week.