Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Agony of My Feet: 2009 Mt Si Ultra Race Report

The score: Me - 1, Mt Si - 2.

So far, a best out of three fight - I've lost this one. However, as long as the race still is being held, I will continue to return and not only even up the score, but make my victory table very lopsided.

I went into this run with less training miles than my previous year and the previous one before that. However, I had more gumption (or so I thought). My only goals this race were:

1.) Finish.
2.) Finish in the cutoff.

Fail on both counts. However, I didn't quite fail on the lack of training (even though my miles were absolute crap.)

An early morning drive with the family to the race start, I had prepared for the strong chance that I was going to be aid-less from the Cedar River turnaround (mile 34.5) to the finish. In my second drop bag, I had packed my hydration pack and a large thermos of flattened Pepsi. I was going really old school, all the way to the Karo Light Syrup I had in a gel flask to consume for some of the run.

The "gun" went off just after 5:15am and I went at a VERY conservative pace (15-16 minute miles). I eventually felt my body warm up well and began to run 12 minute miles instead once I got on the Sno-Valley Trail. I ran a bit with Francisco, a first time 50 mile runner. I told him what to expect from Rattlesnake to Cedar River and back, giving him some tips from my training runs there and previous experiences. (Francisco finished in just over the cutoff, but a 50 mile finisher all the same.)

As I continued on the trail, I saw that I was making decent time. Just enough to make the cutoffs. When I got back from the first turnaround (9.9 miles) and to the dropbag point at mile 14, I started to feel some hotspots on my feet - my left more than my right. I took off my left sock and slatered some vaseline on the area and continued. I should have kept that damn baggie of vaseline with the popsicle stick on the course, cause I was going to regret it later.

When I got back onto the road (it always seems longer when you head back), I proceeded to cruise easy on the asphalt. My road shoes were doing what they do best, run on roads. Nice downhills and flats to really get your flow going.

When I reached the 20.4 mile aid station, those hotspots started to feel HOTTER. I should have asked for Vaseline or something at this point, but I was...stupid. I pressed on and things started to go further south for me.

I ended up doing more walking than running as I was trying to reach the self-service aid station @ 24.3 miles. My legs were sore, calves and hamstrings were nagging the hell out of me, but the hot spots were now big blisters and I had one on each foot. I began the hike up to the second drop bag at mile 28.9. This was the place where I eventually dropped last year. I was dead set on not doing that this year and finishing. Well, I did half of that anyway.

The hike/walk with mild running combo got me to my dropbag with a good 12 minutes to spare. However, my time got gobbled up quickly after asking for duct tape and proceeding to tape up my damaged feet. I should have read up more on my Fixing Your Feet book by John Vonhof. You should only tape up after draining those blister bastards.

I strapped on my hydration pack and filled my bottles with pepsi with the help of an aid station volunteer, then setoff to Cedar Falls. As I went past the crowd, I felt some confidence and started to run. The tape didn't feel too bad...until the blisters exploded underneath. It turned into the horrific pain that I had last dealt with at Dizzy Daze a month ago. But unlike Dizzy Daze, I had more distance to go for Mt Si and both feet were suffering.

I was at a slow shuffle, seeing everyone else passing me (although I did appreciate all their encouragement) and then coming back the other way. I eventually made it to Cedar Falls, over 25 minutes from the time I was shooting for. The aid station folks were still waiting for me and gave me a ride back to the start. I was so grateful for them being there, race course volunteers are very critical to making these events work and work well. All runners should always give thanks and also volunteer as well, giving back to the community that supports their habit.

In the end, I covered 34.5 miles and took a very LONG 8 hours and 50 minutes doing it before I surrendered to my blisters. Further than last year, but still no cigar.

Post-race: I had to take two days off from work due to the inability to walk (blisters had wrecked some of the tendons in my foot, causing severe inflammation), my nervous system was fried, and my endocrine system was heavily taxed. I do know that I can build upon this failure of a race and make the rest of my running calendar for the year before the Oregon 100 a better one for sure.

Things learned:

- Acetaminophen, Caffeine, & Codeine pills from Canada make for a very fast and effective pain reliever on the course (better than NSAIDS since it doesn't inhibit the muscle's ability to repair itself). In the USA, it's known as Tylenol 1 w/Codeine, however this version has caffeine since it's from Canada. It's composed of 300 mg of Acetaminophen, 15 mg of Caffeine, and 8 mg of Codeine Phosphate (a very low dosage). Taking two of those took effect in under 15 minutes and if it wasn't for those blisters generating new bits of pain every time I took a step, I believe I could have gone on.
- Brooks socks (the Burn model - yeah, "Burn") are good for anything below 13.1 miles. Anything past that for me, I have to expect problems.
- I need to boost up my base, which means that I need to run longer on the weekends. A 2-hour run might be good for maintenance, but I should learn to stay on my feet for 4-6 hours at a minimum. As Mark Twight from Gym Jones said, There's No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. If I want to run long, I have to train to run long. There are no shortcuts.

Well, that's the story and I'm sticking to it.

Run happy & safe everyone!


King Arthur said...

Yep there's always next year.

I was surprised to read that you ran the miles instead of the kilometers but sometimes you just gotta say WTF Joel.

Jon said...

Yeah, but when the cost of a 50 miler and a 50k are the same price - why not go the full distance? :-)

Funnier still, if I had done the 50k's this year or last year - I would have finished!

lynchseattle said...

Hey Jon - sorry to hear you didn't complete the 50 miler, but the good news is you did push through the 50K. Enjoyed seeing you on the course though!

John Vonhof said...

Jon - Email me and we can talk about improving your feet! These are experiences to learn from and then make changes to do better next time. Yu've got my book. Let's make it work. ~ John Vonhof

Donald said...

Jon - Thanks for visiting my blog lately. Sorry to hear about your blister situation and DNFs. Have you experimented with various shoes and socks? I've reviewed some Drymax socks that are pretty amazing for blister control.

Good luck to you in your future pursuits - I look forward to following along.