Alexander County 24h
At this point for me it is all about the Dome. I will run my first ever 6-day event there between June 20-26 and I have high hopes for what I can do.
I entered Alexander County because there are still a few things I would like to figure out for the Dome. My approach is that with 3 little kids who are only 6, 8 and 10, I can't really afford to take off for 6-day races (which means 10 days away) on a regular basis. So I'm trying to get the first one right and then be done and maybe I can do more of them in 10 years if I feel like it, but obviously at that point my performance will be at a lower level. For now, it is a one and done if I manage to do what I'm hoping to do. If not, then I'm sure I will give it another shot in the near future.
I'm extremely happy that I did this race. It had a lot of purposes and I'm glad that I figured out now what I had to, instead of facing the problems at the Dome. I had no breathing issues during the run, but unfortunately they came on after the run and I could hardly breathe for the next few days. This is something I will have to keep working on with my doctor. The good news in the bad news is that I had a walk/jog on Tuesday after the race, at the pace that I will need on days 3-6 and even in the condition I am now, with lung capacity reduced to a fraction of it, I can do this pace "forever". However, it would be better without the lung pain... And this was the main purpose of the race for me, to see if my asthma meds are working well enough in a real race situation. Unfortunately the answer is no. But it is not as bad as it was before. It just needs some more thinking and maybe experimenting and I have 6.5 weeks to do that.
The cranberry pills are definitely working for the bladder problems and that is excellent news, and the 16 oz (0.5L) /h that I was drinking was perfect, so I will go with that for the Dome.
I also felt like it wouldn't hurt to do another 24h race before the Worlds in October, just for the experience. We decided with Coach Allen that going to 100 miles will give me all the information I need to know for the 6-day. Then if I feel like going further at a slower pace, that is fine, but if I don't, I would stop because the recovery from 100 miles will be faster and I can get back to training for the 6-day earlier.
To put in a little incentive, we picked the Canadian overall (15:19) and AG records (15:38) as "A" and "B" goals. Since I've never done a live ultra race shorter than 24h, we had no idea what I can do in a 100 miler, but it was something to aim for. I have a feeling that if I broke the overall record, I would have been more likely to continue to 24h just out of happiness.
The travel to the race was ridiculous from Canada and at different points in the week it looked like I wouldn't make it. My husband and oldest daughter managed to fly to Florida on Sunday, 26th April but they didn't let the two little ones board the plane. American Airlines had no seats on any other flights until Sunday the 2nd. A bit too late for the Saturday race. So I stayed behind with them, sorted everything out, re-booked with United for a Thursday flight - that was the earliest any airline had seats for.
So instead of arriving to Florida on Sunday and driving to Taylorsville on Thursday, we flew in on Thursday and I had a 10-hour drive to do for Friday. Which wouldn't have been that bad, except our car broke down on Thursday. We touched down in Florida at 9pm, took a cab and went straight to sleep. Then got up on Friday to sort the broken down car out, arrange for a garage to look at it, arrange for AAA to tow it, rent a car that I can drive to the race and then do the 10-hour drive. So it was again 11pm by the time I made it to bed. Maybe not the best race prep? And I didn't even mention that I lost the only key we have for the other car on the trail while I was doing one of my last training runs on Tuesday... And no towing company would touch it because the legal owner (my husband) would have to be present but he was already in Florida...
Anyway, I made it! The day went really well, I had an amazing crew, Chris and her boyfriend, Michael, who are locals, were so nice to come help me even though we had never met before and I just messaged her from a local running forum.
I also met a lot of people I had connected with online, Joe Fejes, Bob Hearn, Loretta Tobolske-Horn. It was nice to meet in person and also with all the other runners I had been reading about.
Chris and Michael, my amazing crew. Thank you guys!
I had no idea how to pace a 100 mile run and that showed! Next time I will be wiser. I guess you can't always expect to break national records at your first attempt on the distance! The only reason I can't stop thinking about it is because I was soooo soooo close! I was on pace until 97 miles! But then I couldn't hold what I would have needed to finish with the overall record. I broke the AG record by 14 minutes (15:24).
What I would do differently and if the mark is not raised before I try this again then I will do differently is, start out slower and not get carried away by feeling too good (I kept telling myself to slow down), and to push to the very last second even if I miss by a few seconds. Because this time once I saw I wasn't making the splits I needed, I just jogged it in for the last 3 miles. Otherwise I would have been within a minute of the record. It was mentally a huge struggle for the last 2 hours to keep the pace I needed and I think my brain was just looking for an excuse to pull the plug. Next time, I wouldn't let it. I'm going all out, whatever that result is. If it is enough, awesome, if it is a few seconds too slow, that was still the best 100 miles I could do that day. And not just the best 97 miles. Lesson learned. (Yes, I'm mad at myself for that. Chimp won.)
I could have continued after for the full 24 hours, but I'm actually happy that I didn't. The recovery is coming along really well and I could be back in Florida with the kids early Sunday afternoon to enjoy some time together. I also learned everything I needed to for the Dome. So now onto the big one! Fingers crossed!