I completed another ultra race – 31 miles and some change on Monte Sano. Here are the details from the race and my new training routine.
I decided to try a new diet this year called the Primal Blueprint in hopes of losing some belly fat. I combined that with heart monitor training. Heart monitor training is designed to help you race faster by training slower. You use a formula to determine your minimal and maximal range and keep your rate within those limits when training.
Heart rate training was incredibly frustrating in the beginning. I had to run a LOT slower than I was accustomed to in order to stay within the parameters set. But over time I graduated to a faster pace while keeping my heart rate low. Win, win!
The day before the race I began to monitor what I ate – if you recall this was the same race last year I lost my cookies and continued to do so for the rest of the day! I decided not to eat after about 4 pm. in hopes of eliminating a repeat.
The race starts at 6:30. I want to be there an hour before the start – parking is sometimes a nightmare. This means I need to leave the house by 5:30am., which means I need to get up around 4:15 – 4:30am. That’s early folks! I get up on time, get all my nutrition in the car, load all other gear, extra shoes, socks, blister repair kit, hydration pack, etc… standard ultra fare for any race day. Find a great parking spot, set my phone alarm and try to relax until race time.
Alarm goes off. I get out of my car. Whatta you know! All the skinny people have shown up once again. They ALL look more serious than I do. That may have had something to do with my decision to only do one long run per week leading up to the race. Of course I still ran multiple shorter runs but my longest run was probably no more than 13 miles. I was pretty loose figuring I’d start off near last and see if I could pass a few before the 4 or 5 hours passed. Yup, it takes a while for a 54 year old to run an ultra these days.
Things were going as scheduled for most of the day. I had already decided I wanted to enjoy this race. Being out in the woods in the solitude of nature is pretty awesome – until my legs start to hurt! I spent a lot of that time talking to others but eventually I pretty much center on praying. All my nutrition decisions were going well so far. No gels, just bananas, peanut butter sandwiches, some Gatorade and Coke.
Then it happened. One of my goals in every race is to not fall. I know, I know, it sounds funny. But many ultras are run in the late fall and early winter. That means that leaves are all over the trails. Add sunlight, shadows and leaves and you have a wonderful hiding place if you’re a rock. I use the term rock loosely, think more of an iceberg concept. The tip of the iceberg is just a small sign of what lies beneath. Same is true of rocks on many trails but certainly true on Monte Sano. If you’re even afforded the luxury of seeing it, it looks like a small rock that you could kick down the trail. Usually not the case! What you see is just the tip of the unmovable boulder that lies underneath.
So here’s the usual chain of events for me and many others… Eventually your legs start getting really tired and want to cramp. Combine that with the fact that if you ever start leaning forward, as when one kicks a rock (attached to a boulder that’s not going anywhere) and you get a worst case scenario. The perfect storm – leaves, shadows, rock, cramping legs, leaning forward and I can’t get my legs back underneath me. Then it happened, I went down. I went down harder than any time before. Picture in slow-motion… Legs are tired, I’m cramping, I hit the tip of the rock, I start leaning forward, I try as hard as I can to get my legs back underneath me, not happening, I go down in briers then something happens that has never happened – I hit my head on a rock! Seriously, are you kidding me? Then I realize that it REALLY hurts. I reach up with my awesome yellow Nike running gloves, I pull it back down, BLOOD. Seriously? I’ve cut my head? My knees are cut from briers and now I’ve got to figure out if this could be bad. So I begin to rub my head, just seemed like the thing to do to assess my situation. My gloves are getting bloodier and bloodier. Because I’ve been a lifelong fan of boxing I decided to jam my index finger into the cut like they do a q-tip in a cut in boxing. After about a total of 10 minutes I get the bleeding to stop well enough to continue – I’m only half way done so I have to complete the race – right!
From this point forward when I run by the medical folks I do my best to turn my head or whatever it takes so they don’t see it.
Eventually I finish the race in one of the goal times that I set for myself and all is good. My head still stings but I don’t think much about it until a lady about 8 feet away says what did you do to your head? At that point I took a cut head selfie to see how bad it was. It actually took a few weeks for all the scabs to disappear. Whatever!
All in all another great ultra with another great story.
Not because of the fall but this may have been my last ultra. Been there done that. Will continue to run shorter distances for exercise but probably no more ultra distance stuff – but who knows?