I’m starting to think about MdS as a restful vacation with a bit running thrown in. I’m not underestimating the desert...
Mad City 100km Mad Recap 120/365Liza
It was 16 degrees at the start line of the Mad City, the USATF 100km road championship race this Saturday.
My brain still feels a bit numb, but I’ll do my best to piece together a picture of what running 5km loops for 100km in 16 degree temps was like for someone coming from San Antonio, TX where is was 70 degrees warmer.
I was actually warm enough at the start in three upper layers, capris, mittens, a buff and a warm hat.
But it was going to take a while to do twenty 5k loops, and I hadn’t run in those kind of temperatures in ages — or that many clothes, and I just didn’t really know what to expect from my body. (Body: Oh, HELL NO!)
In the end, it wasn’t the cold that slowed me (though the tips of my fingers still feel a bit tender typing this report); It was the wind. The wind got stronger throughout the day, and while it wasn’t ridiculous, there were stretches towards the end of the race that I had to put my head down, so my hat would’t fly off. I tried to make myself more aerodynamic — behind the hat. I’m sure it looked comical. It felt comical.
Other stretches were protected by houses and, without the wind, they felt balmy. I’d have to take my fingers out of my mittens, so I wouldn’t start sweating. Mitten venting. Then there’d be a turn, and it was head down into the wind again and mittens on.
My crew, Rachel, Matt and Gene were at the 2 mile mark, and they kept me fueled like a race car. I think I only actually came to a full stop six times during the race — and only for a few seconds. I really missed the stopping that trail 100-milers necessitate. I love stopping.
My nutrition plan was to alternate jelly beans (which I stole from my children’s Easter baskets), Tailwind and Coke every loop to get about 200 calories an hour.
Rachel and Matt would hold out a flask of one of the drinks or a package of jelly beans and I’d roll on through the 2-mile mark — across the bridge, down the sidewalk, left at the dog park, past the apartments…
The plan went swimmingly for the first 12 loops.
Then the effort to chew the jelly beans became too much. The jelly beans were hard because of the cold, and I really had to work at breaking them down. That’s right, I was running so hard I didn’t have extra energy to chew jelly beans. Or maybe my jaw was frozen.
And both liquids turned into slushees after about 15 minutes into each loop. Rachel and Matt kept the drink flasks warm under their coats, so they’d at least be liquid when they handed them to me, but as soon as I hit a windy section, they turned to slush. They were still tasty, just harder to drink out of a flask.
Ultimately, I only needed to drink 6 ounces of Coke to get the calories I needed each loop, so that’s what I did for the last 20 miles of the race. Well, that’s what I tried to do anyway. I think Rachel and Matt would tell you I handed back a few half-full slushees the last 3 loops.
So, all that said about the wind and cold temperatures and my jelly bean eating fatigue, I was very happy out there.
The sun was shining. My friends had come to crew me. And the volunteers at Mad City were wonderful — especially the women at the out-and-back turn around.
I looped around and around (and around) mostly by myself enjoying the spectacle of people running 5km loops and trying to stay on pace to qualify for the US 100km team.
There was a young kid on a relay team who I cheered for every time I saw him.
Otherwise I kept quiet — a bit too cold and taxed to talk. When people said nice things, I’d pull my lips back from my teeth in what I hoped resembled a smile.
My body held up just fine — (though I am first-marathon-level sore right now. I’m writing this report on a 3-hour flight, and I’m afraid the flight attendant is going to have to pry me from my seat when we land. ) But the course became mentally challenging the last three loops. I couldn’t think in terms of three loops left. I tried counting down the miles instead. My watch had died, but thankfully the course had mile markers. That worked for three miles. Then I was in no man’s land again. I wasn’t going to stop, but I couldn’t think about the repetitions that lay ahead. I didn’t want to make the quick left-right turn onto the sidewalk again, I didn’t want to see the two piles of vomit on the sidewalk heading back to the start/finish, I didn’t want to run up the hill to the turnaround and execute a tight turn around the cone. I didn’t want to take the left into the wind, I didn’t want to pass the Fighting Mallards baseball team billboard. Finishing seemed too far away to contemplate. I couldn’t muster the energy for positive self-talk. I decided to stop thinking. I just turned off and ran. And, eventually, I was running down the final stretch to the finish line. Timo announced my name and that I was going to qualify for the US 100km team, but I couldn’t speed up any. The wind was too much. And I was too cooked. And then it was over.
I lay down on the ground while kind people hovered over me.
I cannot tell you how happy I was to stop.
I cannot imagine running a 24-hour track race. I cannot fathom how Traci Falbo ran on a track for 48 hours covering 242 miles. That’s another level of fortitude (that I have no intention of exploring anytime soon.)
Thank you to the wonderful women who might be reading who gave me delicious iced cookies after the race!!
The Mad City 100km is an exceptionally well organized and executed race. Everyone involved from Timo, the RD, on down could not have been more welcoming, gracious or dedicated to putting on a stellar event. If running 100km on roads is your thing, or you’re curious about it at all, and you like chocolate truffles (there was a huge box for everyone in the pre-race bag!), you should get yourself to Mad City.
Thank you to Gene and Laura for hosting me! You know, writing this blog was initially an exercise in keeping my sanity after Asa was born. It has brought some wonderful people into my life. Gene is one of those people. Thank you for sharing your home and your running family with me.
Thank you to Rachel and Matt for staying outside for eight hours in the cold and taking such good care of me. You two are so wonderful.
Thank you to David Roche for coaching me so well and for being the best cheerleader there is. Your ability to inspire self-belief is unparalleled.
And finally, thank you to Eliot for making this all possible. I adore you.
Next stop: Croatia for the IAU World 100km Championships in September.
PS. Thank you all for reading this blog. You all bring a bunch of happiness into my days.