Friday, November 23, 2007

Ultracentric Recap...

Ultracentric is finished, new National Champions have been determined, and all of it has taken its toll.

There were great conditions at the race, save the 80-degree temperatures, but that was kept in check by a cool breeze off the lake. The race was well organized, and the main aid station was well stocked, and the food was good. I liked the music also, but it was a little loud. Also the two hills on the course seemed to grow throughout the day, but really I can’t complain about the course.

I know that even when I am healthy I am not the best, but I was coming into the race with a stress fracture, and still (stupidly) tried to set a pace that would have placed me in the top 3. I had my leg wrapped, but 4 hours in (25miles) my leg began to hurt more than I have experienced ever before. I slowed, yet refused to pull out or sit down, and in the next two hours I was able to painfully complete 9 more miles for a total of 34 miles at the 6-hour mark.

The pain continued to increase throughout the run, and forced me to slow even more so that the second 6 hours I was taking 2 walking breaks every lap around the 2 mile loop instead of a single walk break every 6 miles or so. I finished a mere 27 miles that second 6 hours to put me at 61 miles at the halfway point. At some point during that second 6-hour period, I felt my toes get wet. I knew exactly what it meant; at least one of my blisters had popped, and when I checked my feet after the race, I was able to confirm that.

I continued the run, and eventually I could not get myself to run at all so I reverted to a power-walk and it worked well. I was passing people right and left while power walking, but eventually, even that became too painful. At 18hrs 6min 2sec I completed my 84th mile on my stress fracture. That last six hours I had run I had only been able to complete 23 miles, a far cry from the 34 I had done in the first 6. My overall average pace up to that point was 12:56.

I felt if I were to continue at that point, my leg would have shattered, and I would rather have only 6 weeks to recover as opposed to 6 months. I didn’t want to quit though. I decided to take an hour-long nap and see how I was feeling afterward. My cousin woke me after an hour, and my leg felt no better than when I laid down. I decided then that it would be in my best interest to drop out at that point. I was satisfied with 84 miles in 18:06:02 on a broken leg. I also set three new personal records in the race: 50k in 5:22:30, 50miles in 9:19:26, and 100k in 12:08:09. Two more PRs if you count 34 miles for my 6-hour, and 61 for my 12-hour. I guess I can’t complain about breaking previous bests.

One other thing, which afflicted me, was extensive sunburns. As I write this, my back and shoulders are covered in blisters. I started out the run in sunscreen, but it must have sweated off, and I didn’t even feel any burning sensation until long after the sun had gone down.

Even though it hurt, I know there were others who experienced trouble during the race. My friend Dane Rauschenberg for one ran into problems when he couldn’t keep food down and therefore wasn’t taking in enough calories to keep going; yet he ran an amazing 70 miles. I know what he is capable of and I’m sure he’ll be back. You can read his account of the race on his blog. know the heat (80 degrees!) took a toll on several others who pulled out before the race was scheduled to be over; 37 of the 84 runners stopped early.

As much pain as I am in, if I could sign up right now for next year, I would. The pain pales in comparison to the relationships created, the sense of accomplishment, and lessons learned during the race. As far as the relationships are concerned, the races almost feel more like family reunions than competitions. Although every ultrarunner is by nature incredibly driven, we are less competitors and more comrades when we come together.

My cousin Don noticed this. He told me he wasn’t certain about how he would be perceived by the other runners because of his inexperience. He was, however warmly welcomed into the community, and said he had a great time running. He was running the 6-hour event simultaneously with the second 6 hours of my run. He amazed me; as everyone else began tapering two weeks before the race, he started his training. He only ran 4 times in preparation for the race, and never longer than 9.3 miles, however he was able to achieve 33.25 miles in the six hour race which was good enough for 5th place. It seems he’s a natural, has been bitten by the ultrarunning bug, and will be back soon on the circuit. With that talent he showed, maybe I should be the one crewing for him!

I’ll get some pics posted up soon, but until then, keep running.

Tim Lawson


Yellow Scuba said...

Great recap, Tim! You know that I thought you were crazy to run this race with a stress fracture, but you certainly had the spirit to do it! It was great meeting you and Don, and watching you both achieve so much. Congratulations. Now, HEAL that leg!


Dane said...

Was great to finally meet you in person. I was 100% impressed with your effort. I really hope you are smart now and make sure you are fully healed before you race again. I want us both healthy and racing together soon.