I hear people say that continuing after 50 miles to reach 100 miles that it's all mental. For me, that has never been the case. Maybe it's because of my own physical limitations that I feel it's the other way for me. At the McNaughton 100 this past Sat/Sun, it was no different. It was typical of a race that lasts over a day -- alot of things can happen -- and usually does. Instead of a lap by lap detail as I've done in the past for this race, I thought I'd list the physical challenges which I encountered (or did not encounter) & how I dealt with them:
a fickle backbone (Drs. have told me it's Degenerative Disk Disease):
My back going out is the reason or the major contributing factor in each of my previous 100 miler DNF's -- was not a factor in this race -- thank goodness! However, on Friday morning the day before this race, I thought for sure I was NOT even going to start. My back is fickle in that it can go out for no reason at any time. But this time, my middle back went out (popped) when I awkwardly tried to lift a drop bag from the backseat from the driver's seat. It had slipped so bad that the pain radiated thru my ribs/chest & felt like I was having a heart attack too! After a painful & most tense time at packet pickup, I debated whether to spend the night, head home or find out where the local hospital was located. After deciding to spend almost every single minute afterwards in a motel bed, I miraculously got up to a pain free back! I guess I don't always have anything but bad luck . . .
heat (I have an extremely high intolerance for this):
Most would say the weather on race day was nice -- 40's to the mid 70's, clear skies. For me, I look at it this way: the high temps would be 15 degrees above normal & my body had not adjusted to the change. Yes, it was lovely scenery with a beautiful blue sky which I thoroughly preferred over dreary, rainy skies of past years, but handling the heat has always been a problem for me. Fortunately, for this race, I only had a slight problem mid-afternoon Saturday when no matter how much I drank, I was still thirsty and fluids stayed sloshing in my stomach. This usually only happens to me when it reaches 80 or so, but fortunately there was a nice breeze in the afternoon & I was able to survive this day!
feet & ankles (sprains, blisters, etc.):
These are usually not a concern for me for races 50 miles or less, unless it's the occasional sprained ankle. For longer distances & for races where the feet stay wet, it's a big challenge to finish without any problems in this department for me. With 2 creek crossings & 1 unavoidable soupy mud pit each lap for 10 laps, I was going to have wet feet the entire race (after the 1st creek crossing 3 miles into the race). The course was unusually dry for "Muddy McNutty" this year as I think it's the 1st year in the last 4 that it didn't rain the day before or on race day. There were still muddy sections, but at most places there was a fairly dry runaround if you made the effort. My problem this year was the one soupy mud pit that had a stream running down the middle of it. The mud was easy to wash off when reaching the creek a couple miles later, but the washing did not remove the sand & grit left behind inside the shoes! I ended up having several blisters for the 1st time in over a year, but nothing serious. The heavy wet shoes & socks had a bigger effect on me than the blisters this day.
I also had one short-lived problem, thankfully, with my toes this race. Coming down a short steep hill (one of countless) too fast, I used my forefeet to slow myself down (you know, the loud flopping you hear of runners feet coming down a hill behind you). Anyway, I did it so hard that I thought I broke the toes on one foot! It was extreme, wincing pain for a minute & thoughts of a DNF quickly came to mind. After shifting all the weight to the other foot & hobbling down the trail, the pain slowly went away (whew!)-- learned quickly not to do that again!
This seems to be a more of a recent problem as I've gained a little weight in the last couple years. Before, I had always put lubricant on prerace & that was all I needed. Now I've found it needs to be applied on a regular basis, but I still keep forgetting to re-apply it until chafing has started (by then it's too late). This race day, the bottom half of my running shorts had so much Hydropel & vaseline in them than they looked shiny wet! I've learned from experience that chafing can become extremely painful & can become a race ending factor.
other (hydration/electrolytes, swelling, nausea, stomach/intestinal issues, etc., etc.):
There are so many other things that can happen too -- too many to list. Like when I got some sweat/crud in my eyes early Sunday morning. Not wearing a shirt, I didn't have anything to wipe my eyes with. I was pretty much blinded until I shed enough tears to stop the stinging. With the help of the SUPER volunteers at the Heaven's Gate aid station, I was able to clear my eyes. This aid station, manned by the "Buffalo", is SECOND TO NONE in all the races I've ever entered. On this one day, I was helped by Bill Dey, Ellen Erhardt, Chris Migotsky, Brian Kuhn, Jeff Riddle & many others. And as it seems like every year, Ellen went way out of her way to help (chased me down after I had already left the aid station to give me a dry paper towel to use/carry -- just what I needed!).
the race in brief:
A dryer (less muddy) course than usual meant only a 50% DNF rate, much better than previous years. The course was still challenging, regardless, with its countless short steep hills & creek crossings. I was able to maintain a very steady pace, my best effort ever in that regard, & was able to crank out a course PR & finished 8th out of 44 runners. I was lapped twice by Zach Gingerich, winner of Umstead 100 (in a record 13:23 !! just 2 weeks previous). The 2nd time was at mile 44 (he was on mile 64), but apparently he dropped before he could lap me again. Chatted a little on the course with David C., Mike M., Nikki S., Juli A., Dan F., Roy H. & several others who I didn't get their name. It was a fun time on the trails!
My chart courtesy of McNaughton Park Trail Runs and RunRace.com:
I was happy to meet Rich & Eric too, the new Race Directors. They were really easy to talk to -- I think they did a GREAT job -- Thanks guys!
Not sure at this moment. I was planning on the John Bryan 50k as a recovery run before DWD at Gnawbone, but this race really took it out of me, so it looks doubtful right now. I'm about as sore as I've ever been, so will see how the recovery goes before making any plans.