Liza Howard

Liza Howard

Liza Howard is a national champion runner with multiple records in distances ranging from marathons to 100 mile trail races.

April 2018
M T W T F S S
« Mar   May »
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30  

Categories


Mad City 100km Mad Recap 120/365

LizaLiza

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.

Comments 40
  • Julie
    Posted on

    Julie Julie

    Reply Author

    ??????


    • Julie
      Posted on

      Julie Julie

      Reply Author

      Haha! I posted three heart emojis, but they showed up as question marks. I’ll put this instead: You are amazing!


      • Liza
        Posted on

        Liza Liza

        Reply Author

        I was confused by those question marks for a minute. What is Julie saying? Was my writing that bad? 😉 Congratulations to you too, Dr. Schmal!!


    • Tracy
      Posted on

      Tracy Tracy

      Reply Author

      Yay, Liza! I cannot even begin to imagine myself running that many paved 5k loops! Wow. You’re amazing!


      • Liza
        Posted on

        Liza Liza

        Reply Author

        I’m having a hard time imagining myself ever doing it again. 😉


  • Gene Taylor
    Posted on

    Gene Taylor Gene Taylor

    Reply Author

    Thank You for all the conversation that just is not possible on the internet. It was so good seeing you in person.
    The girls who gave you the cookies are Sandy and Katie.
    A BIG CONGRATS ON YOUR PERFORMANCE. Hello to Eliot.
    Gene


    • Liza
      Posted on

      Liza Liza

      Reply Author

      Same. I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to have you out there on the course too. Thanks, Gene.


  • Julie
    Posted on

    Julie Julie

    Reply Author

    YAY!!!! Congrats!


  • anne
    Posted on

    anne anne

    Reply Author

    Congratulations! I love your blog every day, but today, you really have me pumped! Rest well.


    • Liza
      Posted on

      Liza Liza

      Reply Author

      Thanks, Anne!


  • Kerry
    Posted on

    Kerry Kerry

    Reply Author

    Woohoo! Congrats Liza! What a great description of your run! So excited for you and always inspired by you. I have become a faithful follower of your blog and truly enjoy reading how life with family mixes with your running/coaching/teaching career. i could have used your humor perspective back in the day. in fact I still do!!


    • Liza
      Posted on

      Liza Liza

      Reply Author

      You’re my go-to inspirer, Kerry. What would Kerry do? 🙂


  • Jadd Martinez
    Posted on

    Jadd Martinez Jadd Martinez

    Reply Author

    Great work out there and nice to meet you Liza! Those Normatech boots were awesome by the way. I could actually walk afterwards.


    • Liza
      Posted on

      Liza Liza

      Reply Author

      Same, Jadd!


  • Allen Lucas
    Posted on

    Allen Lucas Allen Lucas

    Reply Author

    I was so thrilled when I saw that you had done so well there – what I didn’t know was the cold and, much worse, the wind you had to deal with. You represented Texas well and will represent the US even better in the hopefully better weather of Croatia. Recover well and finish off the remaining (thawed) jelly beans!


    • Liza
      Posted on

      Liza Liza

      Reply Author

      Thanks so much, Allen! I had to throw the jelly beans out. I couldn’t stand to look at them. I’m sure that will pass. 😉


  • Tim (Timo) Yanacheck
    Posted on

    Tim (Timo) Yanacheck Tim (Timo) Yanacheck

    Reply Author

    Liza, what a champion you are! Heart of a lioness, fast as a whippet, graceful as a swan, powerful as a (little) locomotive, sweeter than that box of chocolate truffles – so much for you to be proud of, and yet as humble as just another flower in the garden. Congratulations for earning your way onto the US national team going to Croatia for the world championship race this fall. Best wishes, Tim Yanacheck, Mad City Ultras race director.


    • Liza
      Posted on

      Liza Liza

      Reply Author

      And now my head is bigger than a whale’s. 😉 You are the very best. So excited to be part of the US team.


  • Shannon Mitchel
    Posted on

    Shannon Mitchel Shannon Mitchel

    Reply Author

    Congratulations!! Fantastic job and as usual a great blog. You are always inspiring!


    • Liza
      Posted on

      Liza Liza

      Reply Author

      Thanks, Shannon!! I hope I get to see you in person in 2018. 🙂


  • M
    Posted on

    M M

    Reply Author

    Way to go champ!

    There’s gotta be a way to tempt you into a 24 hour. (Didn’t you do one walking for charity?) If not road/track, there’s a race in some woods in NC that has timed and distance events. 🙂


    • Liza
      Posted on

      Liza Liza

      Reply Author

      I only walked/jogged for 12 hours a looooong time ago. You have a great memory. Seems like a good goal for a 50 year-old — and I still have a bit of time left. 🙂


  • Cinda
    Posted on

    Cinda Cinda

    Reply Author

    Congratulations!! This is so awesome. You really dealt with some challenging conditions to come away with the win! I’m so proud of you and so happy for you!


    • Liza
      Posted on

      Liza Liza

      Reply Author

      I don’t know, I doubt I could have dealt with the “challenging conditions” you ignore regularly. 🙂


  • Thomas Reiss
    Posted on

    Thomas Reiss Thomas Reiss

    Reply Author

    Nice post, I felt exactly the same as you described it. Fun chatting. Good luck at worlds.


    • Liza
      Posted on

      Liza Liza

      Reply Author

      Thanks, Thomas. Really great to talk to you too.


  • Dave Dehart
    Posted on

    Dave Dehart Dave Dehart

    Reply Author

    Awesomeness. Gene and Laura are great people. Laura state champ in the mile back in the day. Beat a future Olympic bronze medalist! It has been fun following along. Time for a break.


    • Liza
      Posted on

      Liza Liza

      Reply Author

      Agreed about Gene and Laura! Gene told me that story about Laura. 🙂


  • Dave Dehart
    Posted on

    Dave Dehart Dave Dehart

    Reply Author

    Not a break from your blog…I mean a break from training for you.


    • Liza
      Posted on

      Liza Liza

      Reply Author

      🙂 Blog streak! (I have to catch up on the days before the race.)


  • Tiffany
    Posted on

    Tiffany Tiffany

    Reply Author

    Congrats on your win and qualifying for US national team. Wishing you many happy miles in training for Croatia!
    Tiffany Virag, PT, OCS, Cert. DN of http://www.Elite Recovery Zone.com


    • Liza
      Posted on

      Liza Liza

      Reply Author

      Thanks, Tiffany! And thank you so much for bringing those Normatec boots and allowing me to sit there using them for a while. It’s hard for me to say how much they helped, since I’ve never run that far on road and sidewalk before. But I think they definitely had an effect. And they felt wonderful at the time. Thank you!


  • Pommers
    Posted on

    Pommers Pommers

    Reply Author

    Super impressed Liza. Very well done on such a great result. Love your description of fatigued jaw trying to chew frozen jelly beans – made me chuckle. All the best with the training throughout the rest of the summer.


    • Liza
      Posted on

      Liza Liza

      Reply Author

      Thank you!! You too. 🙂


  • Catherine
    Posted on

    Catherine Catherine

    Reply Author

    You inspire me! You make the world a happier and better place. I can’t even imagine how I could be as awesome as you, but you pull me up and are a great example!


    • Liza
      Posted on

      Liza Liza

      Reply Author

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Catherine. You are wonderful.


  • Laura
    Posted on

    Laura Laura

    Reply Author

    Hi Liza, I hope you received the pics that I posted on Facebook. I tagged you but not sure if you got them. Gene took the pictures following your race progress. Congratulations to our National 100k Champion LIZA!


    • Liza
      Posted on

      Liza Liza

      Reply Author

      Laura, Thank you SO MUCH for the pictures!!! It was so wonderful to meet you. Thank you for being there and for being so kind. Remember you have a warm place to visit if you ever need a break in February. 🙂


Leave a Reply to Thomas Reiss
Cancel Reply