Sunday, June 22, 2008
Day Seven of Seven
High: 85 & Sunny, Low: 62
(Thunderstorms in morning)
It's over. The 2008 "Buffalo Trace 7-Day Stage Race" is history. We had 21 finishers. All of them will get a cool finisher certificate courtesy of Katelyn Rose. That's me crossing the "finish line" around 3pm Saturday afternoon. I could have run until 11pm (according to race rules), but I struggled to finish those last few miles. My last 5-mile trail loop took me 2:07 to complete. It was agonizing. I ended up with 303.5 miles. That was my original "Ted Corbitt" goal. And befitting the accomplishment, I was awarded the "Ted Corbitt Achievement Award." This award is given annually to any runner that meets or exceeds 303 miles in the 7-day event. It is designed to honor Ted Corbitt, a pioneer in ultra running, and his 303 miles completed at the age of 82 in a 6-day race. Please note that I exceeded the 303 miles. I have a feeling Ted would have racked up more than 303.5 miles if he had 7 days. Corbitt passed away late last year at the age of 88.
While I am very proud of getting in 303 miles, I think I could have hit 350 miles. Without my class on Monday night I think I would have reached 300 miles on Friday and had less than 50 to go on Saturday. It would have been tough, but the motivation to hit 350 would have kicked in and I'd be out there until 11pm on Saturday trying to rack up those extra miles to break 350. Maybe not. I sure learned a lot about running during these 7 days. My greatest concerns coming into the event were problems that have plagued me in past 100 mile trail races:
-My left knee (almost always hurts after 20 mile runs)
-Serious chaffing (thighs, buttocks, nipples, under arms)
-Blisters (don't get many, but seem to "pop up" after 80 miles)
-Mental fortitude (I give up when I get tired or lose sight of a goal)
None of these were an issue! My left knee held out the whole time WITHOUT any knee brace or pain pills (I took pain relievers the last two days, but for my shins/ankles). I believe the key to keeping the knee in good shape was the slow running pace, with plenty of walking, and no steep downhills. My chaffing problems of the past have been solved with a new lube (SportShield). Frequently changing socks and shoes seemed to prevent blisters (I also used some BlisterShield). As far as mental toughness, well, when you don't have the first few problems, it's a LOT easier staying on track and keeping focused. Every morning at 4am my alarm would go off and I simply forced myself to get out of bed and make coffee. By 4:20am I was eating Cheerios, drinking coffee, and feeling "almost ready" to hit the trail again. I knew the sunrise over the trail would get me going. Every morning I was greeted by a view like that at left--and by curious deer.
One injury I hadn't planned for was the left shin and ankle to swell up and become painful and red. I guess that's what I get for exceeding the 10% rule ("You should increase your activity no more than 10 percent per week"). Well, going from 30-35 miles per week to 303 seems a bit excessive...and I paid the price. Icing and Aleve kept it under some control, but I looked like a wobbling zombie by Saturday afternoon. I'll keep icing today and see how it heals.
Other Lessons Learned:
1. Wear sunscreen. I never got burned. Reapply every 6 hours.
2. Force yourself to eat every loop. You need the calories.
3. Stay hydrated. I alternated H2O, Propel, Conquest, & Succeed.
4. Use an ice bandanna to keep head/neck cool.
5. Wear sunglasses & hat to shield eyes.
6. Soak feet in ice water as often as feasible.
7. If hot, ingest salty snacks & electrolyte pills.
8. If clothes are soaked (rain/sweat), change them.
9. Bring extra toilet paper.
10. Walk often. It's all about relentless forward progress.
11. Music is good. Bring an iPod/MP3 player.
12. Appreciate the trail (no roads!)--nature is wonderful.
Couple runners of note...all 21 finishers were special...but these stood out...
Connie: She came down from Highland, IN and did all 7 days wearing a jacket, tights, gloves, balaclava, and big buffalo hat! I didn't think she'd keep wearing that darn hat all week--she has some serious discipline and determination. She was in training for the Badwater Ultramarathon--she'll crew during the July race and then go back and do the solo run in August. Hope this week helped her acclimate to Death Valley conditions. Sorry it wasn't hotter, but we did hit 90 the first day. In addition to wearing a balaclava, Connie also brought tasty baklava to share.
Donna: She commuted each day from Normal, IL and ran a consistent 20 miles on five of the seven days. She got 25 miles on Wednesday, but only 10 on Friday. Not sure what happened on Friday. Like Connie, Donna brought some homemade treats...great chocolate chip cookies! She also wrangled her boyfriend into coming down on several days. It was nice meeting Steve--they both have great positive attitudes and it was a pleasure spending time on the trail with them.
Bill & Jack: The only real competition all week...subtle, but it was there. They each ran great EVERY day. Reminded me of the world-renown "Migotsky-Nelson Challenge Cup" days (a few years ago). Whatever happened to the Fat Kid? Anyway, Bill & Jack both got smoked by the two women above, but they really did get in a lot of miles and always had nice things to say to me. Bill ended up with 78.5 miles and Jack had 75.1 miles. Next time they'll both break 100 for the week!
Serena & Eric: These relative newcomers blazed through the week and ended up tied for 4th place! I went out last night at 9pm to just walk around and see the fireflies--and there they were finishing 20 miles--and then going out for 10.6 more before 11pm! That's the longest run they've each done...and it came after a long week of running. Well done.
Stage Seven Winner: Serena & Eric (30.6 miles)
Overall Winner: Chris (303.5 miles)
Runner of the Day: All the runners who came out today and finished the 7-day event! Congratulations to all 21 of you. It was great seeing you on the course.
Non-Runner of the Week: Sharon (My wife tended to my needs at night and was on call each day for supplies. Plus, she had to take care of the 8 kids all week by herself. "Kids"=7 gerbils and 1 hamster--they ran quite a bit all week too.)
For those that finished the "minimum" of 5 miles per day (that would be you Scar Face)---good for you! You still beat out a host of fine runners like Injury Prone Pat ("My hip hurts"), The Riddler ("My ankle hurts"), Danielle ("I'm tired"), and my Dances with Dirt buddy Srini (no excuse given).
Here are the male & female champions for 2008...Chris & Connie...at the base of Goat Mountain on Saturday morning.
Thanks to everyone that participated. I couldn't have done it without you. This was an unsupported race--no real aid stations, no volunteers, no crew, no pacers--but we encouraged & supported each other along the way. We are lucky to be healthy enough to do something crazy like this for 7 days. Appreciate your physical and mental strength. It was a great seven days. Are you ready for next year?
Buffalo Trace 7-Day Stage Race motto: "When 6 days just isn't enough...but 8 days is too much." I hear that! Sunday is a day off for me.
PS: I'll never complain about a weekend "20 miler" again. I was getting soft, but now I have re-earned my buffalo nickname...S&M.