Thursday, October 20, 2016

ARFTA - A Race (or Run) for the Ages

[Several photos courtesy of John Price and other ARFTA runners - thank you!]

Another interesting "Laz Race"!  This time in the form of a timed race, running 1-mile laps in a small park in Tennessee.  The catch being that you have as many hours as years you are old.  The main attraction is for the older runners who suddenly have the advantage of many more hours available compared to us younger folk.  And I'm suddenly in the "younger folk" category, so in a way that's a nice bonus for me, if only psychologically.

I decided it might be another good training race for Big Dog, plus a chance to run with some legends of the ultrarunning world.  I flew out from CA, taking it fairly casually for the most part and for once not asking John to come crew.  My goals were to get some training, see what it was like to do a 2-day running race, and most of all to "do nothing stupid."

The main challenge for me was the heat, running mostly in the sun in 80-90 degree temps during the day.  Well, that and running for 47 hours, that would be something new.  Let's see how that works out, shall we?

An nice article about the event in the local paper:

I wandered around getting my bearings before my 1 pm start time.  Here's the timing tent where Mike and Mike had already been working for a couple days:

Runners coming down the chute from the timing mat past the tent:

The hall in the middle of it all, where the oldest participants could claim a space and set up a cot (not enough room for everyone, so per this race philosophy, the advantage goes to the eldest):

Laz checking out the leaderboard:

Dan, #1 runner, moving slowly but surely.  At 85 years old he is a huge inspiration to us all:

The runners starting one hour before me:

I found a nice spot to set up my chair and box (with shade most of the day) and got myself ready.  It certainly is nice having access to your stuff once per mile.  I started with a plan to sit and drink/eat every 4 laps for the first 12 hours.  At 1 pm I got going with the running, making my first tour of the course.

And a very nice course it was.  First a downhill along a path that wound through the trees, the best part of the park.  The shade there was much appreciated.  Lots of people set up their tents down there.  Then along a park road, slightly uphill to a corner where I had my gear.  A flat run that gently curved around the fields.  A wide open parking lot that we looped around, the hottest part of the course during the afternoon.  At least there was another bathroom over there.  Back along the fields, greeting people going the other way.  Then a turn to the main uphill, a slightly steeper road that brought us to a sharp turn and a steep-ish drop to the timing mat.  Then do it again!

My first afternoon consisted of solid running, a break every 4 miles like I planned, and getting a bit warm but not too bad.  There was an aid station of sorts near the timing tent, and someone kept a cooler full of ice for most of the day.  That was awesome!  I kept putting ice in my bottle and was running slowly enough that I wasn't overheating.

It was fun to meet people, chat occasionally, listen to conversations, and catch up a bit with some runners I knew, including Sue and Karen.  Ray was always a hoot.

One of my passes by the timing tent:

And eventually the sun dropped down and we were all happy about the cooler temperatures, yay!

The first 12 hours went well, as I recall.  I actually remember very few details from this race, not only because I'm writing this report a month and a half later, but something about going in circles makes everything run together, as it were.  I'm fairly certain that nothing significant happened.  The splits show I made it to 48 miles in just over 11 hours, slightly faster than my 4 mph goal for the beginning quarter.

The important part (for me) relates to fueling.  Normally I use a mostly-liquid plan of SPIZ intake, something that continues to work very well for me.  For this race we all pay for the meal plan, where a caterer provides a bunch of good food every 6 hours (and the food is available for a while after it arrives so you can continue to graze if you want).  I decided to try to rely on that instead of bringing cans of SPIZ, figuring I wasn't running too fast and should be able to eat solid food.

Well, that didn't work out so well for me, and it was mostly a brain failure on my part.  I actually did OK with the eating and didn't bonk or ever feel low on energy.  What I forgot was that the SPIZ provides a lot of my water intake along with the fuel.  And I didn't consider that I should be drinking a lot more plain water to make up for not having the SPIZ.

Overnight was so nice and cool, I didn't notice this deficiency for a while.  I super enjoyed running laps at night, ah, so much better.  I think I had adjusted my breaks to every 3 laps, with a longer one occasionally in order to get food from inside the building.  At some point, I can't recall exactly when, I realized I had not peed in quite some time.

Actually, I think the first time I used the bathroom in the early morning I realized that something wasn't normal - not a lot of pee, and it was pretty dark.  Oops, I better get drinking.  In the meantime, I started needing the bathroom a lot, like almost every lap, without a lot of output.

Based on some things I'd read, I suspected my empty bladder was rubbing and adding a little blood to the urine.  I paused and went to the car, pulled out my phone, and texted John to see if he could help with some research.  Still crewing for me, even when he wasn't there!  We determined that it was likely a minor issue that could be fixed by drinking more water.  There was a slight chance of a bladder infection or possibly something worse, so I needed to keep a close eye on the situation.

The morning was still nice so I drank a bunch of water and went back to running/walking.  I hit 23 hours (24 hours to go) with 83 miles, which seemed reasonable.

The heat on the second afternoon was problematic.  It started to sound kind of dumb to continue running during the hottest part of the day, when the nighttime is so lovely.  I decided to "hide" in the air conditioned building for a while, getting some food and then lying on the cold floor to cool off.  I put my feet up on a chair and I think I nodded off for a nice afternoon nap.

I actually woke up shivering, so I went out to run several laps until I was hot, came back inside to cool down, repeat a couple times.  My urine was back to medium yellow and I wasn't needing to use the bathroom as much so that was promising.

The sun went back down, yay!  After supper I did several laps with Karen and really enjoyed talking with her.  She had started an hour after me but I had stopped long enough that morning and afternoon that she was now on the same lap as I was.  We were motivated to hit 100 miles, so we motored through the last of the 90's together and then we were at 100, awesome!

I had hoped to get back into the groove overnight Sunday, but every bit of running (or even walking) effort caused my bladder to act up again.  I had reverted to some backup SPIZ I had brought plus I was drinking plenty of water, but my urine was still dark.  I would rest and it would look better.  Run and it would go darker.  This was the pattern of the afternoon and into the evening, dang it.

Finally, after hitting 100 miles, I decided to take a longer break and see if that would help.  It was cool enough to sleep in the car, so I crawled in and crashed for about 4 hours.  Getting some sleep hadn't been in the original plan, but "do nothing stupid" was, so I was OK with it.  Even though I was wasting cool nighttime hours.

In the middle of the night I got up to try starting again.  I did a lap, mostly to get to the bathroom in the building.  I grabbed some food and water as well.  I still wasn't happy with the state of my pee, so I decided to give it one more extended rest in the car.  It's quite a luxury to be able to sleep overnight in a race!

Monday morning rolled around and I decided I should just stop.  I didn't have any back pain or fever, so I was pretty sure there was nothing serious going on.  But I wasn't peeing clear yet and there was no reason to stress the system (or piss anything off, you might say) just for a couple more miles.  I finished the partial lap I had started and turned in my chip.  102 miles, that was fun and quite a learning experience!

Time to bring out the camera and take pictures of some incredible runners still out on the course!

Ice on the head seems like a great idea, as it was warming up again:

Gene who was set up next to me, putting on his white daytime suit (and adding ice bags to stay cool) - who also ended up winning the whole thing with 205 miles (at age 68)!  Wow, congratulations!

RIP Stu - the runner on the right:

Runners and gear in various states inside the building:

Colleen, who did get the 100 miles she was aiming for, well done:

I believe this is Patrick, setting up an umbrella:

So many people still going - amazing!

The aid station tent where I got plenty of ice on Saturday (thank you again):

Looking good, ladies!

More views from my chair - Gene is moving strong and staying cool:

Nice outfit:

Patrick and his umbrella:

More ways to keep the sun off your neck:

Dan chatting with the parks guy, who was super nice and accommodating about the whole event taking over the park:

Rich and Dan, still going - and going:

Liz, the woman's winner with 173 miles, well done Liz!

A couple of leans, in opposite directions:

Matt, who I met earlier but didn't figure out until later that I've listened to his podcast and would have asked him a lot of questions if I had realized who he was:

Tasha, John, and Ray deep in conversation:

Hi Sue!  Doing great!

A colorful crowd:

Terri knocking out the miles:

Karen still keeping at it - it was great running with you while I was able:

The Cantrell clan out for a family lap, 4 generations together:

Catching up to the Cantrells as they cross the timing mat:

Counting down - to the very last runners, with 35 seconds left on the clock:

Well, that sure was something!  A pretty spectacular event, even for us "young'uns."

Happiness is a post-race breakfast at Waffle House:

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