19 March 2014

SC 24 Hour: Not a Way You Want to Run 24 Hours

In a recent Ultrarunning Magazine, Ann Trason talked about running a 24 hour on the track. She said, "It's kind of zen."

Well, yes. In a way, that really oversimplifies things. It is that, but so much more.

I thought I would hate running a 24 hour on the track. When Ray K. told me he wanted to put on the South Carolina 24 Hour, I thought, "Well of course I have to do that. But it will suck." It didn't. The constant support, everyone cheering each other on, the energy...it was wonderful. It was a party.

The fearless 24 hour runners!
Ray had his high school runners as timers. My timer was the super friendly Harriet who was out on the track for most of the race (though she went home to sleep, smart girl!). We made eye contact every time, and she'd say things like, "40k" or "68 laps" or whatever. Plus everyone else cheered me on. The kids LOVED the race, and we loved them.

Logistically, the track was easy to set things up. The high school runners brought out SCHOOL DESKS and we set up our little personal aid stations on the school desks. It was great for us out-of-towners who flew in and didn't have chairs and much of anything. Fantastic.

Most everyone was friendly. Zach Bitter (who ended up breaking the 200k AR during the race, and currently owns the AR for 100 miles and World Record for 12 hours) said encouraging things nearly every time he passed. Harvey ended up qualifying for the World Team, but started the race chatting and laughing with me. I made new friends - the runners, their crews, and the timers - and it was really a lot of fun.

"I want to puke!"

I started out feeling okay. Some of the women were hammering (Go Katy - she got the 200k AR and ran one of the fastest 100 mile times ever - but she always had a kind word and compassion, especially as she could see I was suffering.) and I probably went out a wee bit fast, in the 8:00-9:00 range, occasionally faster. I felt good, drank water, laughed, chatted, enjoyed the run.

That lasted for about an hour.

My stomach turned into a nightmare. I began feeling queasy. I kept up my pace the best I could, and began begging Wayne (who was timing) for cups of iced ginger ale when I came through.

My stomach grew worse. I ran through the aid station at one point and cried, "Wayne!" He ran over as I cried while dry heaving. Miserable.

I slowed down. Walk. Run. Cry. Dry heave. Cry. Walk. Run. Run. Run. Dry heave. I was not eating and I knew this was dangerous. I didn't know what to do. I asked Coach K for advice; he tried to get me to drink watered down Coke and I threw a fit and it made me more nauseas.

My tummy felt  little better, and my hamstrings - yep, both - seized up. I ran, walked. I wished I could eat. I found myself getting lapped and lapped and lapped - "Hi Zach, Hi Katalin, Hi Harvey, Hi Everyone..." and the sufferfest went on.

Should I quit? Was I pushing myself unnecessarily?

Ray suggested I take a nap. I did and it was good but I was still sick. I ran some more. I walked some more. I drank some ginger ale and cried. I went to lie down again. I got up. I ran. I walked. I dry heaved. I cried. I wished I could eat. Everyone said such encouraging things, even the kids as I told them, "Don't tell me I'm doing a good job! I'm not! I'm sucking." Oh, but you are, they told me, repeatedly. "I am feeling miserable and running horribly for me. Maybe you could say other things?" So they began talking about how nice I looked and how they liked my outfit and rainbows and unicorns and I loved the kids at Wilson High. I thanked them profusely at the end, and really I cannot thank them enough.

I ran with lots of different people. I walked with different people. I was in my head. I listened to music. I didn't listen to music. I felt the heat of the day (probably why I was sick) and the cold of the night. I pushed beyond what I could and it still wasn't enough.

My friend Iliana arrived to crew me approximately 6 hours late. I was freaking out, with stories in my head that she got in a car accident and was dead and now everyone would blame me because she was driving to see me. She arrived around 5 am and took charge, organized all of my stuff, and was an amazing crew. She said encouraging things.

In the end, Shannon and Harvey qualified for the National Team for World Championships. I envied them and admired their amazing performances. It was not my day at all. 

It was a day to have Alec, Lara's husband take a knife and attempt to pop my blister mid-race. It was a race where I ran the last 50 miles in shoes with the toes cut out. It was a race where the volunteers (including my boyfriend) ate more than I did during the race, much more. It was a race with blazing sun that burnt me, and rain that led us to our finish. It was race with so much fun (Colorful characters like Andy, who suffered immensely but pushed through with his pink power to complete 100 miles.). A lot of the other runners has issues with nausea, but apparently I had the worst problems, with nausea dominating 23 hours of my race.

I ran with Chris at the end, and then took a walk break. The last hour I found myself running pretty strong, knowing the end was near. I finished with nearly 90 miles, and was so grateful to finish.

Thank you to Ray, all of the runners, their crews, the volunteers (yes, I love you all), Iliana, Wayne. I had a blast, even if my stomach hated me. And I ran while carrying a slurpee. That was awesome.

Total food consumed:
  • one vanilla gu (33 minutes into the race)
  • Some cliff shot blocs (not too many)
  • 2 pop-tarts (Thank you, Max, for letting me raid Meghan's food supply)
  • a handful of cheese nips
  • some broth
  • a couple of crackers
  • two pretzels
  • a popsicle (Thanks Kelley!)
  • a slushee mmmmmmmmmmmmmm

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