Though I had decided to go for under 7 hours again, I was still worried about how my lack of mileage would limit my endurance.
I need a quick fix that didn't involve training, and I remembered this article about how beetroot juice boosts endurance.
Unfortunately beetroot juice is a fancy "health food" item that is like $8 a bottle. But I'm no sucker. I just went to the grocery store and bought actual pickled beets for $2 a jar.
So the Wednesday before the race I ate an entire jar of pickled beets.
And another jar on Thursday.
By Friday they were getting unappetizing, so I dumped them in a blender thinking I would make my own juice.
I ended up with a glass of disgusting red mush. Choking it down was itself an amazing feat of endurance, and maybe that is how it works.
Another strategy I pursued was inspired by this article about carbo loading. It says carbo loading really works, and recommends 10g of carbs per kg of body weight. That is 680g of carbs for me. I am not sure how much food that is, but assumed it meant "All you can possibly stuff in your face"
So besides the beets, I gorged on all the starchy stuff I could find in the house. My staple foods have a lot of fiber, so I tried avoiding those because I know how that turns out. So I ate a bunch of crap I don't usually eat. Cramming handfuls of chips in my mouth, I congratulated myself on my smart race preparation.
Driving down to Asheboro on Friday night, my stomach churned with endurance.
|Godiva runners and volunteers, with wonderful race directors Kim and Jason far right.|
At the traditional pasta dinner in Asheboro, I topped it all off with 2 plates of pasta, a Costco wheat beer, and a cookie.
This was the first year Shannon and I attended the pre-race dinner, and it was great party. I highly recommend it if you can make it out.
|Jim C. received a lifetime achievement award|
for running Uwharrie 75 years in a row.
We checked into the hotel and crashed around 10pm.
I promptly woke up at 1:00 am with a sneeze. I seemed to be allergic to something in the room, and my sinuses were going nuts. At the same time my digestive system kicked into emergency processing mode to handle mass of beets and carbs I had consumed.
I had to get up to go to the bathroom every 20 minutes In between I laid in bed tossing, turning, moaning, sneezing, burping, coughing, farting and yawning. They had given us a room with double beds, and in the other bed, Shannon couldn't sleep either.
"It's REALLY noisy over there!"
|As part of a couple wearing|
matching shirts, I discarded my
last shred of dignity.
6 hours after I had woken up, I was finally at the starting line, highly caffeinated, and bouncing with anticipation. We were waiting for a parking glitch to get sorted out.
Shannon was next to me shivering and shaking from the cold and nervousness.
You would think that winning the race the previous year would give a person confidence, but for Shannon it only added to her raging anxiety. At the same time, she worried about competing for a place, if she could even finish at all, and this would hurt her upcoming attempt at the Umstead 100. I gave her a tight squeeze, trying to get the anxiety out.
Finally, Race director Kim gave us the go, and lead pack sprinted out onto the trail for the first of our 40 miles.
Shannon took a video of what it's like to run
The last time I had been able to run over 40 miles in a week was February of 2011.
So running 40 in a day would obviously be pushing my legs to their absolute limits. If I was going to do this, I had to run as conservatively as possible.
So my plan was to try for an even spit, completing the first half no faster than 3:25. This meant averaging no faster than a 10:15 pace. I would power-walk slowly up the hills and roll fast down the other side, letting gravity do the work. My hope was that the walk breaks would keep my legs from falling apart.
Unfortunately this plan conflicted with the other runners, who all ran a more even pace.
I would step out of their way on the uphills and then get stuck behind them going down. And there is a lot of up and down in Uwharrie.
So I ran out ahead to get some space to run. I was feeling really good, it was a beautiful morning in the forest, and my strict pacing plan was quickly forgotten. I went through the first 10 miles at a 9:18 pace, and instead of be worried, I let out a "wooohooo", and thought "This is going to be easy!".
featuring Trailhead Goofus and friend
featuring Trailhead Goofus and friend
At around 2 hours, I popped 3 Tylenol in anticipation of the inevitable pain to come. This is so incredibly stupid, I really didn't want to admit it. But it helps explain how I wrecked myself. Pain is the way the body communicates warning signals, and was I purposefully blocking them out.
In my car, I also put black tape over my speedometer, fuel gauge, and check engine light. Ignorance is bliss!
I continued on, feeling great. The only thing that was really sore was my wrist from holding my 20oz hand held (not a lot of upper body strength). I plowed through streams, powered up the hill at 16 and flew through the mud around 18.
I got to the turn-around and the volunteers were like a NASCAR pit crew. They got my drop bag, switch out my hand held bottles, and opened my Ensure. I chugged the Ensure and was out of there in 60 seconds.
I had completed the first half in 3:13, which is a 9:41 pace. For some reason I thought this was a good thing. I had a huge cushion with a whopping 3:47 to make it back.
I had carbo loaded, stuffed myself with pickled beets, and taken Tylenol. What could go wrong?
|"What, me worry?"|
Shannon took this one of me at mile 21.
I was blissfully ignorant of what another 19 miles would be like.
"I ran the first 20,
I ran it real fast,
I look at the sky,
And I fall on my ass
I got those Uwharrie Blues..."