Made it 118 of the 126.2 miles, dangit. I'm pretty disappointed on how it all panned out at the end but oh well; next year, I guess.
The race was two weeks ago on 2/10. It started out in Baton Rouge, LA and finished in New Orleans, LA. 99% of it is run on the levy along the Mississippi and 1% of it is on road. Most of the levy was gravel with small/medium-sized rocks. I started out in my regular Brooks road shoes and I think I noticed my first blister around mile 25 or so. Then later I switched to some new Montrail Masochist shoes I had just bought; they have a rock plate in them and I really liked them, even though I still got a million blisters at the end. I was surprised; I ended up keeping those shoes on for 60+ miles and just switching out my socks occasionally.
I had always been intrigued with the distance of Badwater but never wanted to run in that heat. So, I was super excited when I randomly found this LA race last October. Before worrying about any logistics I just went ahead and signed up- wanted to make it happen somehow. I tried convincing my posse of Bernie , Bryan, and Chris to go and run with me but it didn't work out.
The tricky thing about this race was that there were only major aid stations about every 25 miles and so you basically needed a crew to survive. I didn't know what the heck to do- none of my friends/family would want to come out to just crew for me for a few days (and I definitely don't blame them; didn't even ask them) so I posted pleas on the race's fb page but no luck. I was getting pretty dang nervous and just planned on trying to figure out how to run without a crew. There are a few runners who do it but it just makes things so hard. I'd have to try to carry like a huge bladder on me along with five attachable water bottles or something, and then have to find random places on me to carry food. Hmm.
So finally like in December this girl, Alissa, posted on fb that her family could help crew for someone so I jumped right on it. She was one of the few finishers in last year's race and her family had crewed for her and learned a lot; it was the perfect situation. How her family was so gracious and willing to help, I have no idea. It was awesome.
Here's her family and I pre-race
Now that I had a crew I had no doubt about finishing. My pre-race mileage was really low but that was normal for me- I knew it'd all be mental after a certain point (well, minus the possibility of stupid blisters sucking).
I drove down on Thursday with a few of my friends (Ducky, Jonathan, Stephen) who came along just for a fun road trip. It was nice they came with me since the race is Point A to B; they made their way to New Orleans to pick me up on Sunday.
On Thursday night I went straight to the pre-race meeting for an hour or so- it was mainly just information for the crew and stuff. I met Alissa and her mom for the first time that night. I didn't know how the crew thing would work- it was all new to me. They assured me it'd be fine and that they'd just hop back and forth between Alissa and I and get us whatever we needed. So anyway, I went to bed around 10pm that night; wasn't too worried about it since the race didn't start until the next day at freakin 8pm.
On Friday I went shopping to buy my food to give to my crew. It was really hard knowing what to buy since I'm so used to the food already being there for me at the aid stations, and hard knowing what you'll crave after 20+ hours. I just grabbed a bunch of random stuff: oatmeal cream pies, chips, turkey, ham, cheese, bread, pretzels, whatever else. I ended up having too much.
Side story- I also bought blue Gatorade (that just so happened to be low-calorie) because I always get sick of the lemon flavor or Heed on races, and because blue is so good. During the race around mile 10, Alissa's grandpa was crewing for us and just to be nice, he parked his truck with our food in it on the road and then got out to help direct the runners' traffic on the levy. He said one runner came by and grabbed food out of the truck (thinking it was some sort of aid station for him??) and then complained that there was low-calorie Gatorade. Haha! Come on now, quit drinking up all my good flavored Gatorade. It's not for you!
So after shopping, I just hung around with my friends- threw the frisbee around some, went out to lunch...that's about it. I met up with my crew around 6:30pm and just watched some of the Mardi Gras parades. It was really neat.
More pre-race pics
Since the course was flat my plan from the get-go was to do an 8:2 run/walk strategy at a really slow pace; stuck with that plan until about mile 85 or so and then I just walked more. Alissa was doing great and stayed ahead of me for most of the race. Since there were only about 50 solo ultras that started at 8pm, we were pretty much on our own the whole time after mile four. There were a few good stretches where I matched up paces with a few runners and could stay with them some, but then you usually separate. You could always see runners' lights within a half mile or so but ya, you were alone. I never got scared, though, surprisingly.
I had a fear that I would be super bored during this race because it's just a straight, flat, open path but somehow I was fine the whole time; I think it helped getting a lot of miles in during the dark. But ya, it was pretty much just running on the levy out in the country with not much to look at; an occasional boat or something on the river- hence the one video.
The race temp may have started out in the 40s or something. It was nice the next day, for the most part- sunny but getting windy. I surprisingly bonked early around mile 55 at the aid station and right then it got really windy and cold. I was super sleepy and I just sat down while my crew gave me food. I was so tempted to take a quick nap but it just seemed too early to do so. I finally got up after 10 minutes or something, my crew bundled me in clothes, and I tried to go. After sitting so long I couldn't even bend my knees to run; I didn't know how I'd make it any further. Thank goodness I decided to suck it up- I took my first two ibuprofen, took some salt, put in music, and made my legs move. It worked and I was on a good roll for the next 25 or so miles.
It worked well with the crew. I couldn't see them on the road next to me the whole time like I had thought, but I didn't need to. I would see them every 3-4 miles waiting on the side of the road and they'd just ask me what I needed. Sometimes I could just yell to them what I wanted at the next stop and they'd have it ready for me. Towards the end, I didn't care if I stopped to wait for them so I would just take my time and change my socks or whatever. It was nice having a crew because I could bring my phone with me for once and I was able to text friends the whole time to give them updates, and then the crew would charge my phone when needed.
Around mile 80 or something Alissa was having foot problems so I had caught up to her and we decided to finish the race together. We were doing pretty good- trying to maintain some sort of walk/run strategy. Then, unfortunately, Alissa wasn't able to run much anymore because of being in pain and so I made the tough decision to leave her and keep truckin. My feet hurt but I knew I was doing okay.
Around mile 95 or so I was super sleepy and it was getting pretty cold out and it was dark. I begged my crew to let me sleep in their van so they let me take a 15 minute nap in a chair. I was out in one second and the 15 minutes went by way too fast. I ran another 5-10 miles and I was running pretty slowly and I asked my crew to sleep again so they let me sleep another 15 minutes. This was the first race that I had slept during it before. I don't know if it helped or not....I knew that I was going to get back out there and run after my nap, but I don't know if the nap did anything since it was so short. Oh well. I'd probably opt out of taking naps in future 100 mile races.
I learned that Alissa dropped out of the race around mile 90 or so. I was feeling exhausted and sleepy and cold. There were wind gusts of prolly 20 mph at the time and it was around 25 degrees that night (coldest since '89, I guess). Ya- I had only brought some shorts to run in. It's Louisiana- it was supposed to be between 40-60 degrees! Thank goodness my crew had extra clothes for me- they hooked me up with pants, hat, gloves, sweatshirt, blanket...
Then my friends called me and said they'd meet me on the course and run with me to help me finish. Very awesome! Around mile 108 or something they came out. It was nice to have fresh conversation and they helped me walk, too; took the pressure off my blisters on my feet.
Then the story gets funky. There was a six mile section where my crew didn't have access to the levy so we were going to be on our own. My dumb butt had stopped eating and drinking for about the last two hours because I wasn't hungry and I didn't feel like I was exerting much energy anyway. So we were walking during these six miles; occasionally I'd lose my balance, occasionally I'd think I saw things coming off the ground or weird objects in the sky, I was cold, bla bla bla. We finally made the six miles and saw our crew. Jonathan ran down the levy to them to get me some food and I decided to lay on the ground while he got it. I knew what I was doing- I wasn't going to fall asleep there for hours; I was just taking advantage of the break and I was tired! It had been 118 miles at that point and just eight to go.
The next thing I know, Alissa's mom runs up to me on the levy and is really concerned for me and brings me to their van down the levy, talking about not knowing if I'll be able to finish. I was really confused as to where she was coming from and taken off guard. She was saying they were concerned that I may have hypothermia- I was swollen, off balance, cold, laying down on the ground, slurring my speech, barely walking on my own, Jonathan came running down to get help (he said he wasn't running out of concern...)- other people who saw me were concerned; if I was her daughter she'd pull me.... She started crying some and felt responsible for me and she said that it was my decision as to whether I continued, but I'd have to prove I can walk on my own first and make sure I eat a lot and everything else. I was in a tough spot- I felt weird because of how concerned she was and I didn't want her to worry so much, but then I also wanted to keep going because I didn't have any prior intentions of stopping, but then I also was super, super tired and it was a nice excuse to quit. So, I decided to just quit.
Blah. It sucked. I know I could have finished if I had kept going but yes, it would have taken me forever and would have been super hard. Eight miles may seem short right now, but at the time it seemed like it'd be forever- at least another four or so hours. Of course, I regretted quitting the next day.
So we went back to the hotel, I set my alarm and only slept for three hours, then went on a swamp boat tour thing with my friends. It was a ton of fun. :)
And, as tradition, took some great pics of my perty feet
That's about it. I'm disappointed I didn't finish but I'll just have to try it again next year, I guess.
Thank you so much to my crew!! They were so awesome and kind. I'm not mad at Alissa's mom or anything like that; I know they were genuinely concerned and it was my decision to stop. And, thanks so much to my friends and family who kept in touch with me during the race. It helped a ton! All in all, it was a really good trip.