It may be cliche, but read the rest of this and then you tell me. It all started innocently enough. Standing on the starting line at a 24 hour race in Iowa, my goal was to get at least 70 miles in, test out different fueling and gear, and not injure myself to the point where I couldn’t run Death Valley in July. In other words, a typical weekend run.
I toed the starting line on a 1/4 mile track with 41 other runners, ranging in age from 19 to 65 at 7 AM Saturday morning. The goal was to get as many miles in as possible in 24 hours, taking in 22 ounces of water, 300-400 calories and 600-1000 mg of salt every hour to keep my electrolytes in balance. I had set up my own aid station, as had the others, stocked with what I thought would get me through the day-carbohydrate gels and drinks, recovery drinks for some protein, and “real” food (potatoes, pbj, ramen noodles) for later in the race. My strategy was to try to maintain a 12 min/mile pace through the first 12 hours, get 60 miles in, and then, taking rest breaks, average 18 min/mile to get the remaining 40 miles and my 100. In reality, anything over 70 was going to be a good run and a personal best, so I tried not to put too much pressure on the 100 at the outset.
The first few hours were run under a mostly cloudy sky, which kept the heat down and gave me some confidence that may have been misplaced. As we moved past noon, however, the sun came out and a high of 77 felt a lot warmer. My first mistake was realized about this time – my first 12 hours of carbs was basically all sweet-tasting. I was taking in enough salt, but my stomach decided it was done after about 8 hours. I couldn’t put another Gu packet in my mouth. I ran on for about 2 hours on no additional food, drinking water from time to time and still taking the salt pills. My body also tried to trick me into stopping. First, the left hip started hurting, after an hour it went away. Then, my right knee started acting up. Again, in an hour or so, it had disappeared. All of these games meant, however, by the time my pacer (aka Sandra) showed up, I was slow and feeling like crap. She had brought McDonald’s cheeseburgers (330 calories and 800 mg sodium, so perfect!) and Ramen Noodles. She walked with me as I ate 1/2 a cheeseburger and then some Ramen, and I almost immediately began to feel better. We restarted a run walk pattern, and I was able to get to 58 miles in the first 12 hours. Not on pace, but not too bad.
The sun was down now and I was feeling better. Averaging 11.5 min miles for the next 20 miles put me ahead of schedule. About mile 80, both my feet started to hurt. I had to stop from time to time and massage them both. I switched out shoes, which didn’t help, and then switched them back. I didn’t know it at the time, but I had developed a blister under my big toenail on my left foot and under the little toenail on my right. I had also strained a tendon in my foot, but all I knew was that it hurt. By mile 88, I was averaging 18-20 min miles. By the time my watch gave out, I was still within reach of 100, but every step was very painful. About 22 hours in, 100 was slipping away. I stopped again to rub my feet and decided to look at emails and pull some more strength from all the encouragement I was getting. One e-mail caught my eye. I read it, decided the race was over, called Sandra (waking her up at 5 am), and started packing up my things.
The e-mail was from our adoption lawyer. Our birthmother was in labor in Salina, Kansas- 8 hours away, and our son was entering the world 3 weeks early. Luckily my mother was home with our two year old son, so as we tried to decide what to do (detouring to St. Louis would have added another 4 hours to the trip), we called her and she immediately volunteered to stay longer and watch him. We packed up the jeep. I passed out and Sandra drove to Kansas. We arrived 20 minutes before he was born and had him in our arms shortly after that. He’s the perfect addition to our family.
When I think back to all the things that happened that have brought us to this point-deciding to check e-mail at that point; having Sandra at the race and having my mother at home so we were able to pick up and go; Patrick being 3 weeks early but waiting until we arrived before coming into this world-it reminds me of two things: 1-No matter how in control we think we are, we’re not, and 2-No matter what world you’re born into, everyone deserves a chance. I love that we can give Patrick that chance and I hope that we can give the kids at SouthSide as much of a chance. But hey, I’m not in control, right?
Filed under: About my training, About the children | Tagged: 24 hour race, 92 miles, adoption, carbohydrates, exercise, fueling, run, salt, salt pills, walk | Leave a comment »