A Simple Running Log

November 12, 2012

Training for 11/12/12

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 6:24 pm

I did it! I ran 31 freaking miles Saturday! Except for yet another round of severe digestive problems, the race went very well start to finish, and I can officially call myself an ultrarunner.

I’ll start with Friday evening. Clark’s flight from San Antonio arrived at BWI around 4 p.m. Even though he was flying back with a coworker who offered to drive him about halfway home and meet me, I decided to just drive to the airport, since I got off work so early Friday and didn’t have anything else to do.

I met Clark at baggage claim. He brought me a pumpkin smoothie from the Jamba Juice in the terminal, which was pretty awesome. It didn’t take us long to get his bag and walk back to the parking garage, but everything beyond the airport was a pain in the butt.

It was the worst time of day for traffic, and we were in stop-and-go traffic all the way from the airport to the Severn River Bridge. It’s aggravating anyway, but worse in a car with a manual transmission. Traffic jams are the only time I wish I’d bought an automatic.

And since it was the night before a race for which I was already nervous, naturally my left foot started cramping from all the holding-down-the-clutch nonsense. Trust me, if I hadn’t had a race in the morning, I never would have even noticed my left foot, but since I did, it felt like it was going to fall off.

By the time we got over the Bay Bridge and back on the Eastern Shore, traffic had lightened up and my foot felt fine when we got home. Crisis averted.

We had spaghetti for dinner. I fell asleep on the couch just after 9 p.m. Clark woke me around midnight to go to bed. I laid out all my stuff for the race, set the alarm for 5 a.m. and went back to sleep.

I felt pretty well rested when the alarm went off. I pulled on my race outfit — shorts and a long-sleeved quarter-zip top — and then pulled on sweats over it. It was just above freezing outside. Yes, this sounds like I was setting myself up for a repeat of TCM, but it was supposed to warm up by 8 a.m., when the race started, and then get up into the low 60s by the time I’d be running the last 10 miles, so shorts were definitely the way to go.

I ate a bowl of cereal with milk (this is important later), put my last four salt caps in my water bottle’s pouch and was on the road by 5:45 a.m. for the roughly 90-minute drive to Upper Marlboro.

The drive up was uneventful. I got there a little later than intended, and was directed to park in a lot about a half-mile from the start area. I threw everything in my drop bag and hiked through the cold, wet grass to the pavilion where the race began and ended.

I saw Melissa before I even got to the pavilion. She wasn’t running Saturday, but she had very kindly made a bunch of Nutella and salted oatmeal cookies and planned to camp out at one of the aid stations and spectate. She also had her adorable pitbull mix, Tank.

It took two seconds to pick up my bib and hat (instead of a T-shirt.) I hit the bathroom one last time, stripped down to my race outfit, put on an earband and gloves and threw my drop bag in a pile of bags that would be transported to the first aid station for us. In mine, I had a headband, for when the earband got too warm, and a tank top to change into if the long-sleeved shirt got too warm.

From the race organizer’s Facebook page. I’m sitting with my back to the camera in the corner, Melissa is wearing the green jacket and holding her dog’s leash and we’re talking with Robert, in the green hat, who was also running, and his wife, Susan, in the black coat, who was spectating.

It was chilly, but it was definitely a good 10 degrees warmer than the start at TCM. I was feeling confident in my choice to wear shorts. The shorts vs. capris debate had raged in my head the entire three days before the race, haha.

About 10 minutes before the start, we were all called over to the line in a field on the other side of the pavilion. I ate a pumpkin muffin to get a few last-second calories before running. We listened to a woman sing the national anthem.

Also from Facebook. This is the starting area. I love how informal trail races are.

It wasn’t a very large crowd. The race’s website said the 200 entries had sold out in advance, but the results show only 133 started the race, and only 120 finished in the 8-hour time limit and got an official time.

I was in the back with Robert, who was driving up to Harrisburg, Pa., immediately following the race to run the Harrisburg Marathon the next morning, and Butch, another Runner’s World Loopster I’d never before met. We were still chatting about whatever when we heard someone yell “go” and noticed the pack started moving, haha.

And I was off to run my first ultra!

The race was three laps around a 9.8-mile trail loop, with an aid station at the beginning and halfway points, plus a .75-mile section of paved road at the beginning and end.

We ran through the grassy field to the paved road leading to the first aid station and the trail entrance. I moved up through the pack on the road. It was mostly downhill, which sucked, because that meant it would be mostly uphill at the end.

By the time we got to the trail entrance, everything on me felt appropriately warmed up, except my feet. They were numb from all the cold, wet grass, and it felt like I was running on stumps the first couple of miles, until they finally warmed up.

So now we were on the trail. I have to say, the whole loop was absolutely gorgeous. The leaves had all turned red, orange, yellow and brown, and had completely carpeted the ground. It was a clear, calm, perfect day. We really couldn’t have asked for any better weather for running.

They haven’t yet posted the pictures from this year’s race, but this is from last year, and it looked exactly the same.

Luckily, when we hit the trail, I had managed to place myself in the pack with people running about the same pace as I was, so there wasn’t a ton of passing or being passed on the narrow trail. The only annoying thing was the guy who had left his headphones home (those were forbidden and would result in a disqualification) and had brought a little speaker he was carrying in a fuel belt, blaring techno music, so everyone near him had to listen to it.

Soon enough, I’d left behind the one-man night club, and I was running along at an easy pace, one (speakerless) guy right behind me. Soon, we caught up with another guy in a red hat. He asked if we wanted to get around him. I said no thanks. I love following people in these races. It makes everything fly by.

The three of us ran the rest of the first section together. We were catching up to this woman in a yellow shirt, when she tripped over something and went down hard. She immediately grabbed her knee, and said she’d really done something to it. The three of us stopped to help her, but she insisted we keep running. She asked how far we thought we were from the next aid station. The guy in the red hat said probably about a mile.

We finally took off running again. Much to our surprise, we emerged from the woods and ran into the aid station about two minutes later. I love it when those things sneak up on you!

I think I ate a Fig Newton and some animal crackers at that aid station. The guy behind me stopped to use the port-o-potty. The guy in the red hat seemed to know all the volunteers at the aid station (I later found out he works for a local running store) and was taking his time, so I headed on alone.

This race was on the same trail as the 25K I ran in July, but it ran in the opposite direction. It was definitely more downhill, and therefore faster, this way. I remembered very clearly a long uphill from the July race, which meant it was a long downhill this time.

I don’t remember much about this part of the race. I wasn’t really running with anyone, but there was a guy and a girl running a little bit ahead of me the whole way. There was a long hard uphill near the end, which I knew was going to really suck the second and third times around, but right after that was the end of the first loop and another aid station.

Melissa and Tank were waiting in the parking lot at this station, and all the drop bags were spread out on the pavement. I put my gloves and earband in my bag and pulled on my headband. I took one of each of Melissa’s cookies and hit the trail for the second loop.

Sometime during the second half of the first loop, I’d felt the first gut rumbles. There was supposed to be a port-o-potty at both aid stations, and I’d planned on using the one at that station, but it was nowhere to be seen. I hoped I could make it to the halfway aid station, which I knew had one.

No such luck. I was running along behind a guy, with another girl right behind me, when I knew I was going to have to stop in the woods. I told the girl behind me to run ahead, and I dropped back, searching for a good spot to stop. These were not like the woods at home. There wasn’t much underbrush, so there wasn’t a lot of privacy! Luckily, runners had to keep their eyes glued to the trail so they wouldn’t trip, so most people weren’t really looking up into the surrounding trees anyway.

I finally hauled myself up a hill along part of the trail, found a big tree to hide behind and took care of business. I was hoping that was the last I’d hear from my digestive system.

While I’d been squatting behind that tree, the guy in the red hat ran past me. I caught up with him again, but he already had a running buddy right behind him. I ran behind the two of them for the rest of the section. The second guy in line was extremely chatty. He talked non-stop, mostly about races he’d run. I heard all about the girl he’d paced to a sub-4 finish at the Marine Corps Marathon a couple of weeks ago. The red hat guy talked a little about a 100-mile race he’d run — he lost 10 lbs. in water weight in the first 48 miles (they make you weigh in at checkpoints to check for that kind of thing in races that long) but he managed to gain back 2 or 3 lbs. by the 89-mile checkpoint. Here I am freaking out about 31 miles, and this guy’s done 100-milers? I love how there’s always someone running faster or farther than you. It puts your own crazy into perspective.

We were coming up on the end of this section, and the halfway aid station, when I felt another alert from the ol’ GI tract. We were close enough to the aid station I knew I could hold on, and I made it. Luckily no one was in the port-o-potty when I arrived. For the second — but not even close to the last time — I had to stop to tend to that.

I drank a little Mountain Dew and ate some salted potato wedges at the aid station, where I said out loud I couldn’t believe I was already halfway done. And I really couldn’t! When I got back on the trail, I noticed my watch was at 2:30, 15 minutes faster than the 25K I’d run on the same trails in July.

I ran alone again for much of that section (where I got lapped by the leader — he set a new course record and finished in 3:18!), until, once again, my effing GI tract started screaming at me. After another scramble up a hill to the biggest tree I could find, I got back on the trail, just behind two women running together.

I followed them the rest of the way to the next aid station. They were also very chatty. I couldn’t really hear the first woman in line, but I did hear her say Phil’s sister had moved back in with them (with her and Phil, I assumed) and then the woman right in front of me say, “Did you tell her no police this time?”

We powered up that big uphill and finished off the second loop, arriving at the first aid station for the last time. I was too warm in my long-sleeved top, so I changed into the tank top. I ate part of a banana at the aid station, got my water bottle topped off and took another of Melissa’s salted oatmeal cookies.

She asked how I was feeling after two loops (and almost 21 miles!) and I said I felt surprisingly good, except for the three bathroom stops I’d had to make on the second loop. I had my fingers crossed the third loop would go better, digestively speaking, but I didn’t have high hopes. When it gets in a mood, it doesn’t let up until I’m done running.

I got back on the trail for the final loop. Only about 10 miles stood between me and my first ultra finish!

The third loop was the worst. We had all gotten spread out enough that I ran just about every step of it alone, no one within earshot ahead of or behind me. It felt like I was the only one out there. And my digestive system was probably the worst it’d been all day for this loop. My legs were worn out enough I was power hiking the uphills, but I couldn’t run the downhills like I wanted, because then gravity would kick in and make my GI tract act up some more.

I held off as long as I could on the first half of the last loop, but I had to use the bathroom in the woods again. This was the fifth time, if you’re keeping score at home.

I got to the halfway aid station for the last time, where I made another huge mistake. Since I’d only been drinking water in my handheld all day, I was craving some fluid with a little flavor. I should have grabbed a Coke or Mountain Dew — the one I’d drank 10 miles before hadn’t upset my stomach — but instead I took the first cup I saw, which had orange Gatorade. I gulped the whole thing, and immediately regretted it. That stuff always upsets my stomach, but that time, it seemed much worse than usual.

I ate some potato chips to try to counteract that sickly sweet Gatorade, but it was too late. As I tried to run away from the aid station onto the final 4.5-mile section of trail, I was no longer worried about pooping myself — I thought I was going to puke. In addition to the nausea, I got a terrible side stitch and tried to squash it with water from my handheld. I was really feeling sorry for myself at this point, but I knew I only had a few more miles to go, and it would all be over. I trudged along, running as much as I could.

Finally, the Gatorade moved on from my stomach and stopped torturing it, so everything south of my stomach once again struck up its familiar rant. I really wanted to scream out loud at my digestive system to just shut the fuck up already! 

It wasn’t listening, because I had to stop a SIXTH (and final) time on that last piece of the trail. Even today, two days later, I am still seething mad about this. I think I understand what went wrong now, but wow did that put a huge black mark on what was otherwise a great day. It was as bad as the final 17 miles of the Marine Corps Marathon a couple of years ago, which was an experience I’d really hoped to never repeat.

Of course, after all those hilly trails, my legs were pretty destroyed too, especially my calf muscles, but I’d expected that. I was running what I could and walking what I couldn’t, but I never stopped moving. I definitely ran a lot more than I walked, and I know I would have been able to run more of it if I’d only had worn-out muscles to deal with.

I emerged from the woods for the final time. Volunteers told me to turn left and run the road back to where we’d started. I looked to my left and saw nothing but uphill pavement, and laughed, but headed in that direction.

I’m proud to say I ran the whole way back, in spite of the uphill in the 31st mile. I even chicked one last guy right before we got on the grassy field that led to the finish line.

I finished strong and stopped my watch to see 5:29:11!

Since my two 25K races had each taken me about 2:45 to finish, I’d expected my first 50K to take longer than 5:30. My only real goal Saturday was to finish, but I’d hoped to come in somewhere between 5:30 and 6:00.

I was really happy with my time, especially considering how much time I’d spent behind trees, cursing my digestive system. I think I’d have finished closer to 5:15 if I’d been able to keep moving without interruptions.

I got my finisher’s medal and pulled off my shoes and socks — no blisters at all! And no chafing, and no aches or pains, other than sore muscles. I was really grateful for the reinforced toes on my New Balance 110s, or I’d probably have a broken toe after the roots and rocks I’d kicked and tripped over a few times. But I’d come out unscathed.

Just after finishing. I couldn’t wait to take off the shoes until after I’d had my picture taken.

They announced the awards about a half hour after I finished. Much to my surprise, I won a coffee mug award for being the top female finisher with military service, a category added because it was a Veterans Day race. Technically, two women with military service finished before me, including a Naval Academy midshipman who was the overall female winner, but since they both got either the overall or an age group award, the female military award went to me.

Showing off my mug.

I hung out with Melissa and Susan while we waited for Robert to finish. When he came in, he said he was ready to run the Harrisburg Marathon the next day. See? There’s always another level of crazy.

I was ready to head home. I trekked back to my car and got home a little after 5 p.m. I noticed our mailbox was missing. I asked Clark what had happened to it, and he said it’d still been there when he got the mail at 3 p.m. I said, well it’s gone now.

It’s a good thing he got the mail before the box disappeared, because in it was a package for me from Nebraska.

It was a box wrapped in brown shipping paper. When I got the box unwrapped, it was a Fuji camera box, but I had a feeling what was inside was very far from a new digital camera.

I pried open the box and found a can of Black Pepper SPAM and a note:

“Sorry, it is not a Fuji. 😦

No man or woman should ever go SPAM-less. This is direct from the SPAM Museum in Austin, MN (via Grand Island, NE).

Enjoy. If one can enjoy SPAM.

My personal favorite… Green Eggs and SPAM.

TO Superstar”

TO Superstar is Tom, one of the Loopsters who went to TCM. He was really excited about visiting the SPAM Museum while he was in Minnesota. I mentioned I’d never had SPAM. (Mine was more of a Vienna Sausage kind of family.) When I posted on the Loop asking for advice and a little reassurance before the 50K, he commented I’d do just fine and “the victory Spam is in the mail.”

He had my address from a check I’d mailed him for the T-shirts he’d had made for TCM, but not once did I think the victory SPAM was literally in the mail! That was a cool surprise, and perfectly timed.

My finisher’s medal, hat, race bib, mug award and Victory SPAM.

Later they posted the final results. My time placed me 62nd out of 120 finishers and 10th out of 36 women.

They should be posting photos soon, I hope. There were a couple of photographers along the course, and they post the photos to Snapfish, so you can download them for free.

That night, Clark and I went to dinner with Kara and Huey for Huey’s 40th birthday. As we pulled out of the driveway, I showed Clark the empty space where our mailbox once was. Then we both spotted it — the whole thing, post and all, was 20 feet down the road. Someone had clearly drifted off the side of the road and blasted it with their vehicle sometime between when Clark got the mail and when I got home. I wish I could have seen that!

We went to Mitchum’s Steakhouse in Trappe for dinner. The food was really good, especially the pumpkin cheesecake I had for dessert, but by the time we were done eating, I was ready to fall asleep right there at the table. As soon as Clark and I got home, I passed out in bed.

Sunday morning, I felt pretty good when I woke up, except my calf muscles. They were really sore. But I was starving, so I went to eat breakfast.

There’d been about a half-gallon of milk left the morning before, after I’d eaten my cereal, so I was really surprised to see the whole gallon was gone Sunday morning when I wanted more cereal. Later, Clark mentioned how he’d poured the sour milk down the drain Saturday morning, after I’d left for the race.

Wait — the what??

The sour milk. The spoiled, rancid milk I’d eaten before running the longest distance I’d ever attempted. How did I not notice that? I know it was early in the morning, but damn, I didn’t think I was still that asleep!

So I think I know why I spent so much time going to the bathroom during the 50K! That should be easy to avoid next time. I hope.

I did some yoga after breakfast, and used a foam roller and a stick massager on my calves to try to loosen them up. That afternoon, I went to my friend’s kid’s birthday party, and was home in time to watch the most entertaining NASCAR race I’ve seen in a long time.

First, Jimmie Johnson cut down a tire and hit the wall, a lap after Brad Keselowski, his only real competition for the championship, took the lead. Johnson had to go to the garage to repair his car, which meant if Keselowski could just hang on for a solid finish, he would go to the last race of the season next weekend with a hefty points lead.

But that wasn’t even close to the end of it! Clint Bowyer and Jeff Gordon rubbed on each other a little coming out of a turn, and Gordon scrubbed the wall. Instead of going to pit road for new tires, Gordon crept around the track and waited for Bowyer to come back by, and ran right into him. Bowyer slammed the wall and destroyed his car, and it also collected Joey Logano and Aric Almirola.

The whole thing happened right in front of Keselowski, but he got by without damage. If he’d lost his whole points gain on Johnson because of Gordon’s childish (but admittedly entertaining) retaliatory move on Bowyer, I’d be pissed, but he didn’t, so what happened next was even better.

Gordon’s car was unable to drive any farther, so he got out where it’d stopped and was immediately bum rushed by Bowyer’s entire pit crew! A couple of Gordon’s crew members pinned him to a war wagon to keep him out of the huge brawl that then broke out between Bowyer’s crew and much of the rest of his own crew.

Meanwhile, Bowyer was trying to get his own car to pit road to see if it was repairable enough to at least limp to the finish of the race. The thing caught fire though, and Bowyer abandoned ship, which must have been about when someone finally mentioned to him on the radio that his crew and Gordon’s were in the middle of a riot in the garage area.

So Bowyer leaps out of his car and sprints to the garage area. This was my favorite part of the whole thing — Bowyer, who’s been driving a racecar for the last three-plus hours, is sprinting away from these bumbling sheriff’s deputies trying to run him down and keep him from getting at Gordon. I think the local sheriff’s office needs to beef up its physical fitness requirements, haha.

Bowyer arrives at Gordon’s hauler, where Gordon has been dragged to, only to finally be intercepted by a NASCAR official.

And the race has been red-flagged because of all the fluid on the track that needs to be cleaned up from the huge crash Gordon intentionally caused.

It was chaos, and hilarious, because NASCAR drivers are all about my size. Let them punch each other in the face! They’re not gonna hurt each other.

Of course the crowd was going nuts. They finally got the track cleaned up, and set up the green-white-checkered finish, with Kevin Harvick leading. Harvick cleared Kyle Busch on the restart and was cruising to the win, but before he could take the white flag (and end the race if a caution came out), Jeff Burton shoved Danica Patrick’s car into the wall coming out of Turn 4.

NASCAR should have thrown a caution here, cleaned up the track and done another green-white-checkered, but for some reason, they didn’t think Patrick’s damaged car was putting down fluid as she pulled it down to the inside of the track and out of everyone else’s way.

So when the field came around the final turn for the last time, every single car — from Harvick on back — slipped in that oil. Harvick gathered up his car and got it across the line first, but at about fourth place, where they were running in a pack, they all just started slamming into each other right there on the frontstretch. It was an enormous pile-up at the finish line!

Somehow, Keselowski got through that one too and finished sixth, giving him a 20-point lead over Johnson heading into Homestead. All he has to do is finish 15th next week and it doesn’t matter what Johnson does, the championship is his. I feel pretty good about this, but not comfortable yet. Keselowski could easily cut a tire or blow an engine or get caught up in the whole Bowyer-Gordon feud next week, and hand the title back to Johnson.

To top it all off, Bobby held on for a decent 15th place finish!

And the Ravens scored a team-record 55 points in their win over the Raiders yesterday, so that was cool too.

This morning, I did an easy 3-miler on the road. My calves are still tight, but they felt pretty good while I was running. I was supposed to do some strength training after, but I just laid in the floor with Pepper for a while instead. I might do that after work tonight.



  1. Congrats on your first ultra! I’ve been checking your blog all morning to see an update 🙂

    Comment by Laura A — November 12, 2012 @ 7:15 pm | Reply

    • Thanks! It took a while to write since it was such a long race 🙂

      Comment by aschmid3 — November 12, 2012 @ 7:16 pm | Reply

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