Rio nailed it failed it
|November 7, 2019||Posted by Melinda under Uncategorized|
Dear Future-Mel. It’s not your fault that I’m sitting in the middle of NaNoWriMo right now. What YOU want is for me to write thoughtful and accurate blog posts so you can read and remember all the good and bad stuff that happened, because even though Present-Mel is sure she won’t forget any of this I swear we all know how well that actually works out. Also, I would like to point out to Future-Mel that she already knows whether my heroine ever gets out of that tree after being chased there by a dragon in this year’s NaNoWriMo, but my co-author and I need actual words to make that happen, not just some empty assurances of some nebulous future self that says “your novel isn’t important. Evaluating this race is since your next 100 miler is in 86 days.”
So, I’m making a deal with Future-Mel. This post gets one hour. That’s it. Whatever successes and faults are chronicled at the end of it is what goes down into the archive as truth.
Three of the best and three of the worst things that happened during Rio 100 mile 2019. (If you are looking for the race story instead of the more technical details, go back one post! )
I changed up my lighting and nailed it. Much less muscle fatigue, eye strain and I went through a lot less batteries. In the morning we do the Bike Loop which is mostly paved bike trail with very little technical aspects. I used a small handheld light that is technically my husband’s, but I’ve done so many races with it at this point it sorta lives in my running bento box now…I was able to switch it on and off easily since the bike path is well-lit on many sections to save battery. It’s small and has a clip. When I was done with it in the morning I put it in my pack and used it as my back up light source for the night portions.
For the night section I had a headlamp on my head, and a $15 OV LED Headlamp (get it from Amazon, not the other retailer who is not associated with OV LED and uncharges double. You aren’t supporting the inventing company, just paying double the price if you do) around my waist.
It’s a very comfy headlamp, but the band expanded enough to put it around my waist. Even better I could unhook the band and wrap around like a belt and didn’t have to wrangle it over my shoulders or my hips.
It provided a very good wide view light field without being so bright that it was blinding. The on-off is very simple and has two different lighting levels. I used my headlamp as an auxiliary as needed, but never replaced the batteries on the headlamp (a black diamond model), meaning that it’s use was very low (remember there is 12-14 hours of darkness in this race). I never had to pull out my back up handlight on the night loop.
Lighting is something that has been really important to me since losing sight in one eye. My depth perception is just crap at night and since my strength is being able to make time down hill, it’s important that I have enough light to do that. This OV LED Headlamp is worth looking into because of it’s cheap price. I found it very comfortable to wear and didn’t bother taking it off after dawn.
Although I liked being able to move my head around without affecting the light at my feet, I would encourage anyone using a waist light to have a back up headlamp or hand light. It’s much harder to see ribbons. My policy at intersections is to stop and flash my light down each possible route to positively identify a ribbon before moving forward, and to never assume where the trail goes. A headlamp or hand light works better for this.
A note on sizing. By the time I get layers of clothes on etc. I have a 29 or 30″ waist and it fit fine. The spot I wear it is probably even wider because to keep my abdominal muscles happy I have to push it as far down on my hips as I can. It did a great job of not riding up.
I will admit it. I was wrong in 2018. Having the right pacers was incredibly important. I felt like I chose well and I couldn’t have finished without them and my crew Aurora. Suck it up buttercup – you need other people and it’s a better experience for it.
3. Took Monday Off
I took the day off work Monday. The first time I’ve ever done that after Rio. Thank God.
1. My feet hurt.
Like from the very beginning.
I fixed a lacing issue early on (I have a really high and sensitive instep) but that really wasn’t a big deal (just some tendinitis across the top of one foot). It was the bottoms of my feet That felt like they had been smashed over and over with a hammer. The bad news was that at 19 miles it felt like my feet had gone 40 miles. the good news is that 40 miles they felt like they had gone 40 miles. But that’s a long time to deal with it, knowing that it’s just going to get worse. Most of the time the discomfort was distractible, meaning that if I had a distraction I could easily ignore the pain. Which usually means it isn’t serious.
I think the problem is that although I have an on-my-feet job (that I’ve learned to sit on as much as possible the week before an ultra), it doesn’t matter. I think the short 1-5 mile runs is what really makes a difference. Take a look.
Of course, there are a lot of factors that go into a 100 mile finish and this may or may not be significant. But it’s worth thinking about.
Here’s what my cankles looked like on Monday night. It was so strange and new I had to take pics, naturally.
Today, after a lot of the initial edema, pain, inflammation has died down I noticed the spot where I tore a ligament last spring is sore, so some of this may be due to making that a little angry.
Here are my rockstar shoes (who do not bear the blame for my feet hurting. Trust me) that did the entire race without a shoe change. I’ve never been able to do that many miles without changing shoes! Despite this trail being “not that technical” in my mind, I was surprised how beat up they got after doing the 100 miles.
2. Crew bags/drop bags
What a Cluster. I don’t usually get my campsite wrong in my crew document or where my finish bag is wrong. I also don’t refer to things that don’t actually exist like spare shoes, and leave the safety seals on my spare water bottles. Anything else I’ve missed? Oh. Forgetting my jacket. At least I tied a long sleeve spare shirt around my waist just in case I got cold at night. And then I made a major math mistake on my pace chart. Sigh.
3. Post race sleep
Running ultras really messes with my sleep for a couple days to a week afterwards. I KNOW this. On my run documents I specific list “take melatonin” in my post race section.
Do I actually do this? No.
After 3 days of getting a couple hours of sleep at a time before being wide awake and unable to sleep again for hours I bought some melatonin last night and FINALLY got a full night sleep.
I have insomnia. I know what that feels like. The post race non-sleeping thing is something very weird and feels different. It feels like I’ve screwed up my circadian rhythm. If I take melatonin earlier in the recovery process will I sleep better faster?
Bonus: A note about Pacing
After publishing this post a friend made a joke how I had put pacing in my “failed it” section merely because I ran it in the same time, but felt better the entire race.
She’s right. That isn’t a failed it. It’s not a nailed it either. But I think it’s important to take a look at how I paced this race for Future-Mel in case she wants to do some tweaks.
Comparison of myself to some past version of myself is the thief of my present joy blah blah blah but let’s look at some numbers.
There’s this chart that’s a lot of numbers and (yawn) it bores me so let’s look at this one instead.
Despite how the race felt, I basically ran it exactly the same as all the other times I ran Rio. **sad trombone**
I held myself back through the bike loop, Rio’s revenge, and the dark night of the soul because I really wanted the legs to be able to run it in this year. I felt fresher and my legs felt better than 2016 through the same sections. I lost 15 minutes going through Rio’s revenge after stopping to tape a hot spot, and then stopping for 5 minutes on the trail to try and fix a nasty mental afternoon bonk, but other than that I was posting identical splits without trying.
What was really suprising was Rio’s Revenge Round 2. This year I felt like I was moving so much better. Physically I felt better. And yet…..I DID IT IN EXACTLY THE SAME TIME. My only consolation is perhaps I was able to do it in the same time without having to push so hard mentally and physically? The Trail of tears to the finish was easier this year and 4 minutes faster over 4.5 miles isn’t insignificant. So perhaps that last section is where I can say my smart “hold myself back” pacing paid off?
The other thing I’m trying to convince myself is that three years ago I was in pretty damn good shape. So maybe it’ a win that I’m finally back to where I was three years ago? I try to remember that I’m a more mature ultra runner than I was 3 years ago. I have a lot more tools in my tool chest and can run an ultra more ways than one, even though the pace ends up exactly the same!
On the other hand, I feel like my body just gave my brain the middle finger and made it’s point that “you think whatever you want but these feet do what they do.” Is ANYTHING I do in training actually going to make a difference in my races?
Ingestion of all the things
- Gata bread and coffee pre race. Missed my mcmuffin :(. Camping at start has advantages and disadvantages.
- Water: I carried way more water with me than last year. Any section that I expected to take me more than 2.5 hours I carried a hand held in addition to 500 ml soft water bottles in my vest. The hand held didn’t bother me at all (28 oz., so a BIG one) and was super easy to refill and use. For some reason I not only peed at lot at night…I peed at lot during the day and it was *&^%%&&* annoying. If this is what it means to be adequately hydrated during a race, then eff that….
- Electrolytes: combination of hammer caps, perpectuem in one of my hydration bottles with a target of one dose per hour. My muscle fatigue and cramping was at an all time low at this race. It’s amazing when you don’t just chalk up soreness to lies you believe about yourself (fat, out of shape. I know I know I KNOW) and actually problem solve. I’m so mad at myself it took me this long to figure it out. I ended up taking ibuprofen here and there throughout the race for a tendonitis problem on top of my foot and while it helped manage that, I didn’t get the boost out of the NSAID like I have in the past, which is great. It means that I was not substituting NSAIDs for electrolyte management like I have in the past.
- Food: I basically was never hungry and didn’t want to eat all day. It got a little better, and then a little worse throughout the race, but in general when my food timer went off (every blasted 30 minutes) I didn’t want to eat. I don’t know what was wrong except that my week prior to the race had been extraordinarily stressful and there’s a good possibility that perhaps I still have sub-clinical ulcers. I did a good job with balancing listening to my body, but also insisting that it take in fuel. Perpecteum probably saved me as a trickle calorie, and later on when palate fatigue set in, the electrolyte drink mixture at the race was fine. I carried most of my own food and barely ate any aid station food. I was looking forward to the hot food that they serve over night, but by then none of it sounded good. I never actually puked, and I never had to stop moving because of nausea. For the future, I’m going to stay on my probiotics long term and continue to pack baggies of a variety of sweet and savory foods for me to take on the trail since there was usually at least one thing in my baggies that I could eat on each stretch. Applesauce and mentos were hit and miss. The big winner was cinnamon toast crunch cereal! Chocolate almond milk was OK, as was cold brew cans of coffee (flavored, not black so that it hit the stomach better).
- My night time pacer had some pretty awesome caffeine pills that were capsules instead of tablets. 200 mg which is a LOT. 100 mg might have been better, but they don’t make them in that strength in this brand. To give you a comparison 1 fluid oz of expresso is about 64 mg. An 8 oz cup of coffee has about 95 mg. So, one capsule is about 4 cups of coffee. Starting in the wee hours of the morning I took one every 2-3 hours. The game in the late stages of the race was to get my stomach to the point over 2-3 hours to where I could handle another caffeine capsule (because my stomach had not felt good all day, I didn’t really know how much of it was the caffeine at this point in the race). I could tell when they kicked in about 10 minutes after swallowing because my eye would start to twitch. Two hours later when the eye twitch disappeared it was time for another. I briefly thought about my heart and then decided a buckle, jacket, and finishers medal was totally worth it. One thing to keep in mind if you decide to imbibe in copious amounts of caffeine is the amount of bathroom breaks you may have to take at innapportune times that will require wipes. Even if that’s not your typical problem at races.
- Maybe I need to figure out some sort of performance food that will work when applesauce and mentos fail me (this is the first race they ever have!!!! **sob**)
- Post race eating: All I wanted was dino nuggets and eggo waffles. What am I, four? I’ve never had either of those things (I hesitate to call them food) EVER before this week.
- For an overview about my approach to nutrition in general and specific foods, check out this post where I answer a Reader Question on exactly that.
- Orange mud hat
- handheld light with batteries
- calf compression sleeves
- balegra socks
- Topo ultraventure size 8 1/2 shoes
- Baleaf compression running shorts
- Random target sports bra
- Loco 100k (black) tshirt
- Running vest (red Salomon)
- No music or ipod
- GPS – dropped off with crew after bike loop
- At night picked up headlamp (dropped off sunglasses) and OV LED headlamp for waist and batteries. Switched out sun sleeves for arm warmers, tied long sleeve shirt around waist. Not cold enough for gloves
What’s up next?
If anyone has any questions, as usually ask me anything!
My next ultra will be Rocky Raccoon 100 miler, which will also be my 2021 qualifier :).
Thanks for sharing! It was fun following your progress during the run. I enjoyed hearing all about the logistics and how you felt during the run. I wish you a great time on the next one.
I thoroughly enjoy your writing, experience and tips. I want to ask you if you have ever used green LED lighting at night? I’m not sure how it would help with monocular vision, but I will say that I love the green at night, as it makes things “pop” out, as if in 3-D, as compared to white light, which washes everything out. My night time depth perception isn’t great (and I have worn glasses for myopia most of my life), but the green LED makes me more confident in my foot placement at night.
I’ll try it. I definitely do better with a full spectrum non-led light but that’s hard to find nowadays and my old Petzel that was pre-led finally died this year. Sigh. Thanks for the tip!!!!
I carry a white light, too, so I can tell what color the ribbons are.