“That race I registered for that I forgot about” aka Loco 100k 2019
|June 5, 2019||Posted by Melinda under Uncategorized|
Dr. Foster went to
In a shower of rain;
He stepped in a puddle,
Right up to his middle,
And never went there again.
….Except fortunately Dr. Mel is made of sterner stuff and DID go Loco again.
Loco is one of my favorite courses. There’s a really fun single track in the middle with multiple water crossings and log jumping. But, there’s also just enough road that you can make up time. The course rewards smart running and is doable, while still being very challenging. Now, let’s add in that it’s incredibly cheap to enter, local, they encourage camping at the start, and have some of the best swag and finish awards. And, I saved the BEST FOR LAST. Race management is incredibly supportive, friendly, and it feels like I’m hanging out with people who couldn’t be more delighted that I decided to join them for a weekend of running. (They also have a sense of humor. Check out their course description here.)
What a change from three weeks ago. I was starting to wonder whether I was done with ultras after Quicksilver. Thank God I drunk registered for Loco (scroll to end of that post if you missed that part) and then forgot about it until about a month ago, because logically doing another 100k 3 weeks after Quicksilver wasn’t the smartest choice. But, having already registered and remembering how much fun I had last year, I decided to follow through on my commitment and run it, even though I was skeptical that I had any business doing anything over a 50k based on my performance and training in the last couple of months.
I HAD A BLAST AND FINISHED THE RACE AN HOUR FASTER THAN LAST YEAR WOOT!!!!!!!
Apparently I have not forgotten how to manage and finish an ultra.
Compared to last year, there were four major changes in this year’s race.
- Upgraded my headlamp to something brighter
- Found an anti-chafe lube that WORKS. Zero chafing since using Squirrels Nut Butter.
- No longer have a strict black and white rule about run downhills/flats and walk the uphills in the beginning.
- Carried and used my trekking poles as needed the entire race, instead of only in the last 10 (mostly non-technical) miles.
Two things stood in my way of really nailing this year’s race.
- There was still snow on the course. One loop was reported to be 80% covered in snow.
- I had to go on antibiotics the week before the race and would still be on them the day of the race. It was a kind that doesn’t affect me on a day-to-day basis but I was not naive enough to think that decimating my gut flora during an ultra wasn’t going to have consequences.
Race management encouraged people to camp at the start/finish, so I set up my sweet little camp site in a grove of trees. I really like being able to stay on site of a race if possible.
It makes my race morning SO CHILL. I love being able to make a cup of coffee and wander around doing the morning prep for the race.
This year, knowing that the most runnable trail is in the first half marathon, I pushed the pace in the beginning…just a smidge. A couple months ago I realized that by not allowing myself to run up hills in the beginning I was shooting myself in the foot.
It’s a nice rule in theory. In reality, it meant that by the end of the race my quads were shot from pounding downhills, and I was leaving time on the table by not walk/running up very runnable inclines that I have consistently been able to run at the end of long races. So, a new rule was put into place – don’t run anything I wouldn’t be able to run at the end of the race. Which meant that gradual uphills were fair game.
This change gained me about 1 min/mile in the first 13 miles, which was rolling up and down hills on non technical “trail” (mostly jeep roads). That was good….but the better part of this strategy was it evened the work load on my quads and hamstrings/glutes. More leg for later!
And then….I got sent the wrong way out of the aid station and lost TWENTY FIVE MINUTES. All my banked time…GONE. I was now slightly behind my 2018 pace. Nothing to do but keep on going.
Thanks to my revised rule about gentle running up hills I continued to make time on my 2018 race….but it was about to get a lot harder.
Last year’s easy sailing down a gravel road into the marathon point aid station was a distant memory as I tromped through snow fields and got there within minutes of my 2018 time. It was a harbinger of things to come.
Next was a 7 mile loop, repeated by the same loop run the other direction. Last year we only ran the loop once, but since a later portion of last year’s trail was under so much snow that they couldn’t get a beast of a polaris through it, this is how we were making up the mileage. This 7 mile loop was passable but was reported to be 80% under snow.
The reports of snow were greatly exaggerated….but it was still a b*tch.
It was the trekking poles that saved me on this section. The steep uphill rock section that drained my life energy last year wasn’t exactly a breeze, but it also wasn’t that bad. I felt like an all-terrain vehicle as I speed hiked my way up with my poles. Bad ass. The back section of the loop is a perfectly runnable downhill if it wasn’t for all the loose rocky footing. I wasted a lot of time trying to run this last year, so this time I backed off slightly and continued to speed hike through it, while doing a little jog on any clear sections. And then I came to the flat road runnable portion of the loop, which makes up about half the loop.
Except this year, it wasn’t runnable.
It was snow.
Pretty much solid snow, about 3 feet deep.
Except for the places that I had to cross streams and mudpits.
I guess I get to snowshoe in running shoes.
It was hard. Hard to keep a rhythm. Hard to keep my ankles from twisting and my feet from sliding ALL OVER the place. Nothing to do but to keep going. Step stumble slip step stumble slip step stumble slip step stumble slip step….
Finally I got to a stream crossing about 1/2 mile from the aid station. Due to the depth of that crossing, race management had given us two choices that morning at the race briefing.
- Cross the water, go into the aid station. Then, reverse direction, go back through the water and continue the loop. This gives you 2 complete 7 mile loops with aid between the loops.
- Turn around at the water, and complete the loop going the other direction. You run approximately 13 miles without aid, but you don’t have to cross the creek, AND it was your choice of whether you wanted to make up the short section of missed trail by doing an out and back once you got back to the aid station.
The water crossing looked doable, but I had already decided I would do option 2. I saw it as an opportunity to make up some of the time I lost by going off course earlier in the day. The snow had slowed all the runners down significantly (I later calculated I lost 60-90 minutes) and if given the option, I needed any advantage that race management was willing to give us. So, I turned around and turned my double loop into an out and back.
I’m only going to mention this briefly because in the end, we all run our own races for our own reasons. I know that at least one runner behind me didn’t run that loop twice. It was confusing at the aid station because some of us were doing the out and back option, and others were doing the full two loops. It was either an oversight of the runner who “forgot” to do a second loop, or the aid station sent them on without realizing they hadn’t done the second loop. Either way, it sucks and makes me feel sad. But, in the end the only thing at stake in this race is pride. It’s not a qualifier and doesn’t “count” towards anything, so I can take pride that I finished this race after completing all the miles that race management asked me to.
I headed to the 48ish mile aid station, and I knew I was within spitting distance of my 2018 times, even with the 25 minute detour, snow, and course change. Why was that important? Because if the wheels hadn’t fallen off at mile 48 aid station in 2018 and I had continued to run instead of just speed hiking, I KNOW I could have finished within the official time cut off. As long as I got into mile 48 in my 2018 time or better, with legs that were still able to run, I was in good shape.
I beat my time into that aid station by 30 minutes. I had 4 1/2 hours to get into the finish.
Step 1: Get to the top of Colby mountain.
I was tired, but still capable of running. Last year it had taken me 2:45 to climb up to Colby Mountain to the last aid station. I was hoping to do it in 2 hours this year, which left me a generous 2:30 to get to finish 15 minutes before cut off. How could it take me longer than 2:15 to go 8.4 miles, even if it was mostly uphill?
It took me 2:20. Which is STILL better than 2:45 right??? That works out to about 3 minute per mile improvement which is something.
That something was me continuing to run up the hill, at least until it was so steep near the end that just keeping a brisk hiking pace left me panting.
At this point (and throughout the race) I relied heavily on counting strides to keep running. Run 20 strides, walk until recovered, repeat. If I don’t want to stop after 20 strides, then keep running. If I’ve hiked for awhile and start to get that sluggish feeling of “I’m done running and I’ll just hike it in,” immediately run 10 strides to pop myself out of it (works every time). If the hill is steep enough to keep me huffing and puffing even at a hike, no running required.
I got to mile 56 aid station almost an hour ahead of my 2018 time. Time to get this thing done.
Step 2: Get to the finish
There’s a couple of long gradual uphills, but after the first steep down hill mile, most of the remaining five miles is runnable, as long as you can keep from tripping over all the dang rocks and scree. The brighter light AND knowing the course and not having to continually stop and double-check the markings were probably the reason I did this section in 2:06 this year instead of 2:15.
At about 11:30pm, 15 minutes before cut off, I ran into the finish – still moving well, still running, with just enough in the tank to finish with a smile and a sprint.
I was practically giddy floating – the finish felt good. I did it. I nailed it. It wasn’t my fastest 100k, but it was a challenging year and I still got it done.
And…then it became very apparent I didn’t take care of my elytes during the race.
I woke up about 5 hours after I finished the race and puked.
There’s nothing quite as debasing as puking in the woods beside your tent with your face pushed into pine needles. It just sucks. I didn’t know what was wrong. Was it the antibiotics? Elytes? Something else?
I tried sipping on a recovery sports drink and felt a little better but still not great. I got up an hour later and puttered around and eventually went over to talk to the medic.
Turns out I did an incredibly sucky job at managing elytes during this race, so despite being hydrated I felt like sh*t.
I know better. I really do.
Guess what. I took exactly four hammer electrolyte caps during the entire 62 mile race the previous day. I diluted the elyte sports drink at the aid stations because it tasted too strong. I subsisted mostly on applesauce, Gata, and homemade beet and rice sushi rolls – all relatively low in salt. Near the end of the race I did have a quesadilla and a cup of miso soup….but it wasn’t sufficient for the massive quantities of sweat caking my shirt, face, and neck.
FOUR capsules the entire day. My normal protocol is 2 per hour. I ran for 17.5 hours.
I am such a dumb ass.
I even had them in my vest.
The medic handed me 2 hammer caps and told me to take them, go eat something, and then take 2 more.
I ate some ramen and a pancake.
She decided that what I really needed what a bunch of sugar.
She poured me the biggest cup of soda that I can ever remember drinking in the last decade and told me to drink up. o_O
Can’t remember the last time someone in the medical field fixed my ills with salt and sugar.
She looked disappointed that I was by myself and planned on packing up my own camp, but after assuring her that I’ve felt much MUCH worse after endurance races from probably the exact same problem, she looked at my beaming barely-cleaned-with-a-single-baby-wipe face and some how trusted that I knew my limits.
So there you have it. Apparently I can still do ultras, they are still fun, and I’m still young enough to sleep on the ground for two nights and think it’s the bees knees.
The rest will have to wait for my nailed it or failed it post, aka “the 3×3.”