Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Western States Report

A day filled with running, beauty, friends, camaraderie and more learning opportunities. In a nut shell that's how I would describe my day out on the Western States 100M course. With ideal conditions of no snow in the high country, mild temperatures and a perfect trail free of any obstacles it was to be my best race ever. Being in what I would consider some of the best shape I have ever been in I lined up ready to have a perfect day.

At 3:30 AM I was awake, dressed and already consuming my fruit pudding (recipe from Scott Jurek). It's a thick green substance made of all sorts of fruits and it tastes good. Along with the pudding I drank the protein shake (another recipe from Scott Jurek) which now gave me somewhere around 800 pre-race calories. I have used these before and they work great! Heading out to the start I was confident and calm that the day would be a good one no matter what I accomplished out there. I had a lofty goal time of 22:10 which I knew to achieve would mean everything had to be "ON", no room for mistakes or issues and in a 100M race that alone is a feat. Of course I had detailed plan and as the gun went off began immediate implementation.

Up to the escarpment fast but not hitting high 3B or AT I made it 8 minutes under my scheduled time. Wow, what a difference no snow makes! On to Lions I felt great with my work load being way to low I passed a couple of trains and got into one that pushed my HR in 3A. What I immediately noticed is my fitness difference from last year. All the other times I have run WS my HR would be pushing 3B to maintain a slower pace. I felt great holding myself in check and enjoying the day so far. The trail looks so different with no snow and I day dreamed about last year and remembering the sea of snow that we had experienced. Arriving at Lions right about 12 minutes ahead of schedule made me feel great. I saw the pink pitcher of G2O and opted for water only in both bottles. I knew they would have G2O on the course and also knew the flavors would be Raspberry or Lemon Lime. I don't like the taste of raspberry so I chose not to take it. Now on my way to Red Star Ridge I caught up with Jim and we hung together all the way to the aid station and got to see the helicopter filming the course. It was pretty cool to see them so close to the trail backing off just enough to not generate any dust for the runners. We jumped up and down, waved and they took out picture it was fun. The downhill section on the back side of Red Star is pretty steep and technical but we hammered down it and came into the aid station on time for that section. Again I see the pink G2O and opt for water only in my both bottles. I am doing great eating all the foods and gels on my plan and running conservatively. The only part of my plan I wasn't implementing was drinking G2O. G2O is one of the places I get my sodium along with 4X sodium Gels and Shot Blocks. I don't take salt tablets unless I miss the items listed. I like to get all my salt from my foods and liquids as the gel caps make my stomach upset. (picture by Kendall Kreft at Duncan Canyon) I have used this method for most of my races and it has worked well but when I wasn't taking the G2O I should have substituted the 250 mg of sodium with something else and I didn't.....MISTAKE!!

Leaving Red Star I was excited to see this part of the course again as I remembered it being fairly difficult to run due to the trail conditions. I was happy to see the trail was in nice shape and easy to run and follow. I was feeling really good and couldn't wait to get to Duncan Canyon to see Stacey and Darin. At Duncan it was a quick exchange of new bottles and more fuel for the 5.9 miles to Robinson. Stacey implemented my plan of giving me two bottles of water like I scheduled. I didn't tell her I hadn't been drinking G2O at the prior aid stations, it simply didn't cross my mind at the time...... MISTAKE! Since Jim and I had done this section the prior week I knew exactly what to expect and headed off to Robinson. On the climb out of Duncan Canyon I could feel the sun but the nice breeze removed the heat from my skin and I was completely comfortable. The climb out the Duncan Creek is deceiving as it winds along Duncan Peak and Little Bald Mountain and you never really crest either one of them. The climb alone took me about 55 minutes but I wasn't going at a moderate pace not pushing myself much. Jim and I came into Robinson at the same time which left Bill scrambling to get both of us our items and out of there. I was anxious to see my weight my at Robinson because at the pre-race weigh in my weight was way down. I was nervous the scales were (Picture by Beast at Michigan Bluff)off and I would weigh heavy all day when in reality my pre-weight wasn't accurate. I was happy to see I was only a pound up at Robinson but again if pre-weight was low was I really up or really down at Robinson?? Oh well, on to Millers Defeat.

There is a mini climb right out of Robinson and could be run if you wanted to push a bit. Then its down down down for about 2 miles until to reach a road that is mostly flat into Miller's Defeat. Seems like Jim and I are going to be leap frogging all day which was a blast, very encouraging and motivating. Again at Miller's I see the pink G2O being poured and opt for water, where is the Lemon Lime???? Off we go to Dusty Corners to where Stacey and Darin will get me ready for the canyons. Jim and I run slowly up the open road which goes on most of the way to Dusty but this section is only 3.6 miles long. I am now on a 21:30 pace if I can maintain my plan which seemed doable since my planned paces were fairly conservative in the last half. On my way to Dusty my stomach seemed to feel full so I backed off my water consumption but continued fueling. Dusty came up fast and here I grabbed my bladder pack which Stacey had filled with water like I had listed on my plan. I still didn't tell her I hadn't been drinking the G2O on the course. As I headed down to Last Chase my stomach had grown but no swelling in my fingers or legs. In fact, my weight looked down. My legs looked like sticks alongwith my arms which is never the case for me. My rings were loose and my hands were not swollen at all but my stomach looked hard and full and I could feel it. I wasn't nauseous but my stomach hurt and when I pushed on it it was rock hard. At the time I was at a loss as to why it wasn't emptying. My energy was good my body was begging to push harder but my stomach was sore. I ran down hill well but I generally excel in the canyons and can climb Devils Thumb easy but not today. When we got the Last Chance I filled my 60oz bladder with G2O because they had lemon lime.....yeah!!! I began the climb and couldn't power anything because I was so full of water, gels, bananas, Organic Food Bars and Shot Blocks. In all 4 years of doing WS this was my slowest climb up Devils Thumb. I just couldn't get my stomach to empty and because I was so full I didn't drink much of the G2O. I don't have experience with this kind of problem so I wasn't sure if I had too much salt or not enough. Generally I have to be careful not to over do on salt for my body weight but when I looked down at my blue shirt it was covered in white salt dust. I hardly ever have normal salt rings more or less on the front of my shirt. My weight was bouncing around my bogus pre-weight so the scales were not helping me out. Usually the scale is my best friend and I can monitor myself well by my weight. The stomach saga lasted all the way to mile 72. Through the canyons I could run the downs and flats well but anything uphill was hard probably due to the slight pitch forward when you climb just hurt my mid-section. I knew eventually this would all pass, it had to, I couldn't get any fuller but my lead on my plan was melting away fast. During my climb to Michigan I finally decided to take a salt tablet.

At Michigan I told Stacey I hadn't conceived a baby in the canyons but something is growing inside my stomach and it won't stop! I think I drank some broth at Michigan and headed into Volcano Canyon feeling a bit better. I ran pretty well down and when I climbed out to Bath road and saw Darin I was feeling slightly better. BTW: I hadn't urinated all day! The interesting thing about my dilemma is I had great energy, my brain was clear, I was sweating and I was happy. I think if I had felt low energy or foggy it all would have made more sense. Even though I was so full my weight at aid stations was within a pound of my start weight. All of this made if hard for me to troubleshoot the stomach problem, it simply would not empty!

Feeling better, Darin and I ran/walked up Bath Rd. and into Foresthill. At Foresthill I would pick up Stacey. She was prepared with broth, coke and other foods and I actually sat down in a chair and drank the broth. I never sit! I wanted to get my stomach fixed so I could run! I was only there about 2 minutes but it seemed like a long time. By this time Jim Rudig, John Liebeskind and Ken Ward were all together heading to Peachstone. We leap frogged and they were all a blast to hang around with. We had a huge party when you add pacers Stacey, Sander and Scott to the mix. We had fun but I was starting to feel a touch nauseous and we let them go ahead of us. At Peachstone I again sat in a chair and drank 3 cups of 7-up! It tasted so good I wanted more but Stacey said enough and we left. Off to Cal 2 and hoping to get there before we needed lights I ran well considering I was about 5 months pregnant with fluid and food. I wanted more 7-up so I was running for 7-up. At Cal 2 I again plunked down in the chair and began to drink my 7-up and it was de-fixed, yuk....didn't want it......want the bubbles. Stacey gets some fresh stuff....ahhhhh it was so good....more.....more. No, Stacey says.....easy girl. We leave and in about 10 minutes I stop lean over and out it all comes! I am not exaggerating it was a lot of fluid. I had at least 5 good heaves of serious liquid, Stacey estimated about 40 oz of fluid came out. I have never thrown up before. I have gagged and struggled to foods down but this was a first and I felt soooooooo much better. I could actually see my feet now! What a relief that was, I wish I would have done that up Devils Thumb!

When we got to Fords Bar I sat down in the chair and wanted more 7-Up but the Stacey just happened to tell my puking story and a doctor came over and said, "No more sugar, only water and have her eat tums". He gave Stacey a hand full of tums and said to have me eat as many as I want and drink only water, stay away from the sugar. I ate the tums off we went moving well and things were turning around, yippppeeeeee! At the river crossing I was feeling much better eating tums, gels and water. Great energy and my body was revved up. We crossed immediately and met Darin for the climb to Green Gate. I ran 50% of the climb feeling really happy that my stomach was cooperating. My stomach muscles were sore from all the pressure they had endured all day but feeling the sore muscles was nice contrast to the painful rock that had lived in there for more than 30 miles. On the way to Green Gate I drank a Red Bull which I knew was a risk due to the simple sugars in it but I wanted the caffeine. Leaving Green Gate aid station I was on the edge of loosing my silver buckle which was unbelievable since my mental and physical being was so strong all day but without a mid-section your sort of halted. I was darn determined to come home with that silver buckle so off we went on a focused push to make up time. I continued to eat tums, drink only water and eat only gels but now every 15-20 minutes vs. my normal 30 minute interval. We ran well and I was strong making up minutes at every aid station. My silver buckle was beginning to come back into clear view.

On the Browns Bar section Darin got his foot stuck in one of the many holes on this section of trail. The fall took him down and I knew he was hurt. He yelled for me to keep going and I could hear him screaming behind me. It was horrible as I knew he was in a lot of pain. I wasn't sure he was going to catch up with me and had to begin thinking on my own. At the aid station he caught up and despite his sprain continued on but had difficulty keeping up on the down hills and I could tell he was limping pretty good. I remained focused and ran well into Hwy49. Stacey had me out of there in 30 seconds and onto the finish. Darin was right behind me but when we crested and began the descent into No Hands he wasn't close. With the barn in sight and the flood lights from Auburn I was setting new goals. Under 23:15 would be nice. Leaving No Hands we ran/walked up to Robie and my medial quads were screaming. I had to be careful not take my stride for granted because my medial quads were short circuiting but I had less than 2 miles to go when this set in so big deal! Stacey was at Robie and we all ran in together. I was happy to have pulled it out to get under 24!

Despite my stomach issue I had a great day! I was really happy with my mental fortitude not ever giving up or getting discouraged. Even though I wasn't going to have the day I set to achieve I remained optimistic and never got down and out hoping every minute it would turn around. Unfortunately it took too many miles to make a large enough turn to set me the direction I needed be to achieve my bigger goal. I just loved running with a big Oregon group all day, what fun. I still want to do 22 hours on that course....there' always another year but now I will be hoping I get picked next December!

-Stayed focused and positive
-Never gave up
-Listened to everyones advice
-Laughed at myself
-Not one blister or lost toenail
-Very little chaffing - last year I was a mess

-Not drinking the raspberry G2O
-Not weighing myself at home before the race - my weigh is down and I didn't know it so I discounted my pre-race weight.
-Not communicating to my crew that I had no G2O out on the course so they can give it to me instead of water
-Not replacing the sodium with other foods.
-Not asking anyone at the aid stations what might be wrong

New lessons learned. Now recover and be ready for Vermont in 3.5 weeks.


skokesh said...

Way to go Ronda! I loved reading
your race report, well, all but the
pukie part. Eww. I'm very proud
of you for "gutting it out" no pun
intended. 1/4 of your slam has
been conquered!! You area amazing.
Susan Kokesh

caroline said...

Amazing job, Ronda! From watching your times on the race web page, no one would ever know anything was wrong. You just kept moving so steadily and strongly. Wow! Thanks for once again sharing your wonderful report and lessons learned with us!! May you recover quickly and well. :-)

kelly said...

Great job, Ronda. I had a blast running with you and I love your positive attitude!! Good luck at Vermont, you will rock there!

Andy said...

Way to go Ronda! I've really enjoyed reading your posts -- they've been informative and entertaining. Have a speedy recovery, and hope to see you in Vermont.

olga said...

Awesome job! Do I know the "pregnant" running feeling:) Way to keep positive and keep pushing for that silver bling! Now on to VT100 - a totally different beast.

Joe said...

Nice job Rooster. Good luck with the slam.

Greg Pressler said...

Congrats on a fabulous race. I told you that you were ready!

One down...three to go. Simple "addition by subtraction." I think that your fun is just beginning.

Focus on the finish line, but enjoy the journey.

Meghan said...

Great job overcoming the stomach issue. That was really rotten to feel good and not have any other salt related symptoms but a swollen belly. I am so impressed with your attitude and your sticktoitiveness. If anyone can do the slam, its you! You go girl!


GotLegs! said...

Ronda, nice report and self-awareness. It's cool to see how we overcome our individual struggles.

Now REST and get ready fro VT.


Jon said...

I was keeping tabs on you too in addition to tc, Al, Eric, and Karen via the webcast. Nice work and good luck with Vermont and finishing off the Grand Slam!