>I’ll start with the bad so I can end on a good note:
-Eventually, the crewing has to stop and you have to get used to doing things for yourself again. It stinks. Seriously. Why can’t we always have someone who follows us around with bags of snacks and drinks?
-Some of the ugliest pictures you ever dreamed possible will surface. No lie, at one point Dave looked at me, laughed, and said “You look like a mess.” Then he proceeded to snap a picture. Once all the pictures are posted and I have a chance to make my ruling, I will post what I deem to be my most un-pretty race pic here.
-Falling. Even when it hurts, it is still pretty funny. Especially when it’s your pacer (sorry Andrew!)
-The trails. How many people get to see the sun rise in Honolulu, twice, from the view I had on top of a mountain?
-Having complete strangers tell you they are inspired by what you accomplished.
-The spirit of an ultra. Until you’ve experienced it, there is no way to describe it!
-Being able to say “I finished the HURT!”
Here are some random pictures from the race. I think they help complete my story. (Blogger was being annoying and not let me put them in order, sorry!)
|Andrew’s sweet duct tape arm band!|
|Coming in after lap one, trying to get as naked as possible apparently.|
|My amazing crew post-race! All smiles.|
|My face as I saw my toes for the first time after the race|
|A wonderful woman rubbing my feet 93 miles in, and the Jackass Ginger mascot|
|Crossing the stream for the second to last time|
|My amazing crew pre-race! Dave got the memo on the dress code.|
|Putting on my shoes pre-race|
>Wow. What a day. Well, days. I am going to try to recap my race before I forget any of the details and while the pain is still fresh in my legs. Saturday morning started early – a 4am wakeup and we were out the door 45 minutes later heading to the Nature Center. Things were bustling there as the 106ish runners were getting ready to set out for a long couple of days. We gathered on the bridge for the ceremonial start with the blowing of the conch shell; I knew that like with most ultras, it would pay to start towards the front and not get caught behind the trail of people as you got onto course.
The first segment of the Y-shaped, 20 mile, loop that is run 5 times is 7.3 miles long. You climb for the first 4.5ish, then a trip through Pauoa Flats (your first of 3 for the loop) and finally descending through switchbacks and a rocky trail for the final couple miles. It was dark still through the entire first climb and much of the descent into Paradise Park, and I felt smooth and strong. I knew I was sitting in about 5th-ish place for the women and that’s right about where I wanted to be. One thing was clear though – it was humid. I came down to the first aid station and was soaked already. Something else I noticed that set this race apart from others was how little people were talking out on the trail. You were always working – whether it be pushing up the climbs, navigating your footing on the roots, or managing a rocky and slippery descent – and this left little time and energy for chatter. That just goes to show how tough the course is – usually ultra runners love to chat!
Dave, part of my super crew for the day, had ridden his bike there (cars were not allowed on this trip though) so it was nice to see a familiar face. Still early though, I made a quick turnaround and headed back up the trail 2.5 miles to Pauoa Flats before turning towards Nuuanu and the Jackass Ginger aid station. After the climb up is a steep descent filled with obstacles. As if the roots, rocks, and switchbacks weren’t tough enough, this section had 3 areas with steep slippery rocks that had ropes attached that you used to help swing yourself down them. Then, just before the aid station, was the stream crossing. It was flowing pretty strong this year and the rope used to help yourself across was definitely needed! Here I was able to see Ryan Schmidt for the first time, and he did a wonderful job for the first time out of many today getting me in and out quickly. As I headed out and made the steep ascent, the thought was definitely in the back of my mind “man this climb is really hard the first time….how can I do it 4 more times?” From Jackass Ginger you follow the orange streamers back through Pauoa flats, then to home base at the nature center. This section actually has a few miles where you can run fairly smoothly, and I felt strongs as I ended the first loop in just under 5 hours.
Lap 2: Starting Lap 2 I was in 20th place overall, and still 5th or 6th place for female. The descent into Paradise Park was a little trickier this time and now it wasn’t just the roots, rocks and mud to watch out for – it’s also a popular hiking spot so there were groups of hiker everywhere! There were a lot of questions from them that I did my best to answer as I ran through. As I made the climb towards Jackass Ginger I also noticed how intense the sun was that day. The ridgeline at the top had several exposed parts and I felt the heat. Tracy Garneau was about an hour ahead of me as I descended here, looking strong. She is a joy to see out on the course as her speed comes so naturally and she always has a smile on. At the Jackass Ginger aid station I filled up my sports bra with ice to try to stay cool on the ascent. I was also still eating pizza fairly well, and was dabbling with Ensure here as well. All this kept me feeling pretty good as I headed back to the nature center.
|Coming in to Paradise Park, Loop 2.|
|Refueling at Paradise Park, Loop 3|
Lap 4: Coming in from lap 4 I told my number to the runner-checker-inners and was greeted with a “Hey Alyssa, guess what? You’re now the leader.” Oh man, please don’t tell me that I said half jokingly. It turns out, Amy had also had some bad fate on the rocks out there and was dropping for injury. Part of my hesitation to be excited about this news stemmed from the fact that I knew I wasn’t feeling great. I was dreading the climbs to come, and my back hurt a lot from carrying my Nathan pack all day. My feet were also in really bad shape at this point. We got one of the medical guys to come over and he cleaned my blisters and taped up my feet as best he could. At this point my crew was literally pulling me up out of the chair so I didn’t have to bend my back. Dave and I made our way up the next climb, and things got steadily worse for me. By the time we passed Paoua Flats, I hit one of the switchbacks, found a nice little rock, and told Dave I needed to sit for a minute. As I sat with my head down, I looked at him and said “I don’t know about this. I just don’t know.” He said not to worry, we were on the descent now and in 45 miuntes we’d be at Paradise park getting calories back in me. At this point I realized I had to get down there one way or another, so slowly but surely I crept my way down. When I sat in the chair I knew something was wrong. I tried several times to stand up, all to no avail as I couldn’t really straighten with my back hurting. As I sat for probably 10 minutes Dave was rubbing my back and I was trying to eat anything I could to regain my energy. Before long Hannah, the next female, entered the aid station looking strong. I was almost relieved to have her pass me – as bad as I felt I don’t think the added pressure of leading was doing me any good. And not only that, but I finally remembered to ask if the Ravens won, and I found out they didn’t. Thanks Flacco, as if my darkest hour wasn’t already bad enough.
I looked up at my crew and just said once again “I really don’t know if I can go on.” Ryan immediately gave me my phone, and I called Francesca to see what her thoughts were. After getting her up to speed on things, she said a couple things. One, that I had plenty of time, and I was doing so well there was no reason to drop. Two, she suggested taking advil for my back. She went through the remaining checklist – stomach, salt, peeing, etc and as she asked about things I realized more and more that things *were* okay, I just needed to fix my back. Gill then got on the phone and said the remainder of what Frannie didn’t: essentially, get on with it! He said that as long as my stomach was holding up, I had plenty of time to walk in the last 33 miles if it came to that. He reminded me that the HURT is one of those races where nothing else matters but getting to the finish – no matter how you do it. “Take some advil, stand up, and start walkinng!”
So….I did. And, it turns out that tough love was exactly what I needed. As Dave and I continued on up the climb I regained my energy, the advil kicked in, and I was feeling good again. As I came into Jackass Ginger and looked at Ryan I could see the relief in his face as I told him I felt better! He was super excited and so was Andrew, who would be my pacer for the next 15 or so miles. This section did get off to a bit of a bumpy start though as I made it about 20 feet down the trail, puked, and had to go back up to the chair to sit down. After a few more minutes I got my stomach settled enough to at least get on with the climb ahead, and we headed out. Things were still going fairly smoothly but my feet were really taking a beating, and the last couple miles which include a lot of pounding downhill over wet slippery rocks was painfully slow. But, we made it!
Lap 5: At this point I was about an hour behind Hannah, but also about an hour ahead of any female behind me. I felt fairly comfortable in my position, and knew that it was a matter of staying smart and not falling, continuing to fuel, and just counting down from 20. It was also exciting because as I got through each section this time, I was able to say goodbye to it forever! Also nice was that within an hour or so I would be seeing daylight again! 24 hours after I started the race, I headed out for my last loop. The sun rose as we made the first climb, and with gimpses of daylight I immedietly felt better. Andrew’s time as my pacer grew to an end, and I entered Paradise Park one final time. I was able to eat some bacon, and was in generally good spirits and we all knew at this point, barring no catasrophe’s I would likely be the 2nd female. I was in such a good mood I even pulled out my war paint and gave myself football-player-esque pink lines under my eyes with zinc. Ryan was now suited up to bring me in the last 12.5 miles, so we set out for Jackass Ginger.
|Getting ready to head out on my last 12.5 miles!|
Things generally went smoothly here, I was still able to move pretty well though I did have to stop a couple times, mostly to take my feet out of their shoes and rub them out so I could continue to run at all. As I sat at Jackass Ginger I couldn’t believe that I was on my way to the finish. I also couldn’t believe how far the finish was, even if it was only 7.3 miles away. I fueled up for my last climb and it wasn’t easy, but I did it. Ryan and I kept commenting on how few people we were seeing out on the course. Now there wasn’t even a woman in sight behind me. I was passed by one last guy as I made the final descent. My feet were so torn up at this point my running was painfully slow. But I was counting down the minutes, and before I knew it, the finish line was in view. I finished up in 31:06, kissed the famous HURT sign, and finally was able to sit without having to think about getting up again any time soon.
In the end, only 32 people finished out of 111 starters (28%!). 40 people completed the 100K option. Finishing the HURT was a huge milestone for me. To finish at all would be an accomplishment, but to finish 2nd, and within the top 10 overall, was the icing on the cake. It feels good to have my training pay off.
I have to give a special shout to my amazing crew that earned my belt buckle just as much as I did. A race crew is the definition of selfless. For 36 hours straight, I was the priority. They think about themselves just enough to make sure they are sleeping and fueling enough to get through their duties, but not once did they ever complain or even make jokes about how tough their job was. 31 hours is a long, long time. At every aid station they had all of my stuff ready to be switched out, asked all the right questions, and picked me up when I was at those low points. And not to mention the texts to keep my mom in the loop and the twitter updates for my friends! I truly could not have done it without them, and I will be forever grateful for all their work before, during, and after the race!
I am looking forward to the banquet tomorrow night to rehash some of the stories. I have bruising on my quads from the pounding of the downhills, and from the looks of it I will be losing a few toenails. However, one thing is for sure: it HURTs so good!
**I wrote this at 2am last night and have since been recalling all the other things I left out – including the funny parts. Stay tuned, those will be coming soon!**
Ummm….Was Sister, Sister a sweet show? Is it okay to use your finger to get a scoop of Cool Whip from the container but it feels a little gross to watch someone else do it?
Heck yes I am nervous! I am about to try to do one activity for potentially up to 36 hours. I am about to run 100 miles. There are alot of things I can fake my way through; this is not one of them. To give perspective about how nervous I am, as Ryan dropped me at the airport the other day, I was literally word vomiting ridiculous things and reasons why I should not go. Including: I think I’ve missed my flight, I can’t go.
Crazy right? But, I have come to embrace my nerves and realize that as long as I can keep them in check enough to get me on the plane and to the starting line, they are a good thing for the race. Nerves keep me from being too school for cool, as Pink may say. They will keep reminding me that even though its 100 miles, it is still a race. They will also remind me to stick to my plan, and not get sucked into anyone else’s race.
Additionally, as nervous as I am, I know deep down that I am ready. I know that I will put forth my best effort, because that’s what I do. And whether that’s a 27 hour race, or a 35 hour race, I’ll give it my all.
Because, while this is nice:
……That’s not what I’m here for.
Track me live throughout the race at: http://www.ultralive.net/hurt100/webcast.php
>I’d like to begin this post with a shoutout to Britney and thank her for releasing this sweet new jam just in time to make it on my HURT playlist!
So here I am, many many miles above the earth, on the interwebs. Pretty sweet, eh? I’m able to be en route to Seattle, blogging, g-chatting, and twittering with other HURT runners who are stranded in LAX. Yes folks, I am a huge nerd. Haha.
Anyway, it’s Thursday. Today is basically a travel day. All. Freaking. Day. As I was sitting on my first of 3 direct nonstop flights to my destination, I was looking at maps and realized that I really have no clue where things are. I think Minneapolis should be way more West than it is. And Seattle is wayy too close to Canada. And I actually still don’t really know where Hawaii is anyway because on all the maps they just move it into this little square in the corner, wherever they so desire. So as far I know Hawaii just floats around the Pacific all willy nilly.
But wherever it is, I am going. And word on the street is that it has been raining there. But would we want it to be easy? Pshhh, nope. There have been a couple little bumps in the road in the past few days. First, I managed to pick up some sort of sinusey cold infection disease. I still “feel” okay, but my nose is running like a barefoot Kenyan through the desert. Second, it appears that despite the expected arrival date of January 10th on the package of GU, socks, visors, and Ensure that I mailed, it has not arrived in Hawaii. Last tracking update was on January 2 in California. Odds are its in the bottom of the ocean right now. Which mostly stinks because I had made all my little baggies of GU and S!Caps all up already, and I will have to now go purchase the GU again, make the bags, find more injinji socks, and some Ensure. Again, not a game altering event, but certainly a pain in the ass.
The great news is that I am pumped to get out there and be a part of the race and share this experience with my crew that has been assembled. Hawaiian Ryan Schmidt, a friend of TWSS, is crew captain and my host for the vacation. He has never been part of an ultra before and I’m super pumped that he is getting to experience this before he leaves Hawaii. Ryan will hopefully be running lap 4 with me, barring no issues with his tendonitis. Ryan and I actually don’t really know each other that well, which works out perfectly for a pacer as that will give us plenty of time for him to tell me his life story. And, I will make him do so.
Many of you may be thinking that he is my one-man crew. But, alas, I shouted out Hillary a few weeks ago to see if she had any friends in the area that may be able to give me some good ideas for activities while I’m there. This was a great success as she put me in touch with Dave, her friend. Dave’s a triathlete, an ultrarunner; basically an endurance fiend. After hearing that his other friend wasn’t going to require his help at the race, he eagerly jumped aboard Team God and has been a huge help. His dad lives only a couple miles from the course so he has been able to be out there the past few days and give me some good recon on what’s going on out there. He will be running lap 5 with me. Or, hiking lap 5, whatever the case may be!
I’m sure there will be more later and hopefully pictures as I progress through the trip. Until then, this quote just about sums up what I’m after….
This has been written on my bathroom mirror for the past 8 weeks. It was there when I was out of bed at 4:30am to get my workout in. It was there at 6:50 am when I overslept and pushed my workout off until the afternoon. It was there after the good runs. It was there after I skipped a workout. It was there while I stayed in and missed the party to make sure I was getting enough sleep. It was there when I came in just a little later than I thought I would because I wanted to go to the party.
And now, 10 days before HURT, the work has been done and there is only one more great effort to put in. I averaged 87 miles per week in the last 6 weeks. One-third of the hours I have run have been focused on climbing. I got out there and ran mountains on the freaky days of December when it was warm and sunny at the top, but I was also out there in the snow when it was cold and miserable.
>You don’t have to like the sport.
You don’t have to even respect the sport.
But please, for the love of god, learn how to spell its name:
>I get a lot of questions when I talk to people about what I do. And that’s okay – I enjoy telling people about ultrarunning and endurance sports. But one of the things that always gets to me when I answer these questions is that I feel like the people asking them are looking for some deep, soul searching answers. One of the most common questions is “what do you think about during all that time you’re running?” I don’t know what answer would prompt any intrigue or excitement, but usually my answer is “nothing, really.” Or maybe, “putting one foot in front of the other.” I am then met with a look of disappointment by the person, as if they were expecting something greater. And while those are true answers, I suppose I do think about some things. So during the 9 hours I spent running this weekend I made note of the things I thought about:
-What is a Sharona?
-Man, has Avril Lavigne put out any new jams lately? These old ones are dope.
-Who sings this song? …oh, Avril again.
-Why does my iPod only play Avril Lavigne and Daniel Powter when it’s on shuffle mode?
– I wonder if this guy is going to tell on me for trespassing.
-I wonder if I will get shot by a hunter today.
-Oh my god there’s a bear!
-I just saw my first bear.
-Why isn’t that bear hibernating?
-Where is that bear’s mother?
-Man my legs are tired.
-If I could eat anything right now it’d be a cheeseburger from Fudruckers.
-Does Fudruckers even still exist?
-Where are these hikers coming from?
-I need to buy a megamillions ticket.
-Man this pack weighs alot.
-I should drink more to make it weigh less.
-Now I really have to pee.
-There is nowhere to hide in the woods in the winter when you have to pee.
-Hahaha: yellow snow.
-How can I possibly sweat this much when it’s so cold.
-I wonder if anyone still has Kid Pix on their computer.
-I should probably think about something deep and thoughtful now, to impress people.
-Hmm…deep and thoughtful. World Peace.
-Carly said interesting things about diseases the other day when I ran with her. Maybe that’s something deep.
-It would be weird if you could give people diseases without having them yourself.
-I would give ____ shingles or something gross.
-Boom boom pow.
-Vanilla gingerbread GU tastes like Christmas.
-I wonder what I would say tastes like Hanukkah.
-Maybe I’ll try to run up this whole climb since it’s the last one of the day.
-Yep, maybe not.
You get the picture. While ultrarunning does offer you the time to do some soul searching, that’s certainly not what it’s all about for me. For the most part, it really is just about the run.
>My parents have always been two of my biggest fans. They have also given me some of the most useless advice during my races:
Mom: Good job Alyssa. How do you feel?
Alyssa: Not so good. My stomach is a little iffy right now.
Mom: It’s okay to quit if you want to.
Dad: How do you feel?
Alyssa: Not so good. I’m not sure my legs are gonna hold up.
Dad: Well, it’ll only get worse.
My parents’ words were ringing in my ears this week. While I am feeling good physically, mentally the winter is tough. I don’t want to get out of bed. I don’t want to drive 2 hours to run 5-6 hours in freezing temps. My mind wants to just hibernate and watch Jerry McGuire and Princess Bride all day. I was able to drag myself out for each run this weekend, and still, everything just seemed to get worse.
Saturday’s 50K was so cold my straw from my nathan pack froze and I couldnt drink until over 11 miles into the run. Then I fell, twice, in the Do Loop and got a hole in the knee of my last pair of running tights that didn’t have holes in the knee already. It scraped me up pretty good and I cut my intended run a little short. Sunday was just as cold, oh and it was pouring rain. Foggy and icy, I knew it’d be a long day. It also just looked super spooky up in the mountains:
The rain made the little icicles from the tree branches that fell on my head for 3.5 hours. The rocks were slippery and I couldn’t make good time. And I was cold. And wet. And lonely.
On my last repeat on Sunday I was making good time trying to fly recklessly down the mountain in hopes that I could make my run all of 30 seconds shorter than if I took my time and ran carefully. I hit a log that was set up to make a step along the climb and before I even realized what happened my leg slid down the log, my other leg reached out to catch me but only found air, and boom, there I was, sitting on a log. Listening to the soundtrack of Rent on my iPod. After looking back up the mountain to ensure no one saw the embarassing feat I just managed, there was only one option: to laugh. And just like that, the spell was broken.
So yes, it will get worse.
But then it will get better.
And this is what I came for.
12/6 – Easy 8.5 miles, 75 minutes
12/7 – 10 miles with 4×2 mile repeats, 85 minutes
12/8 – Easy 7.5 miles, 1 hour
12/9 – 15 miles, 2 hours
12/10 – Easy 8.5, 75 minutes
12/11 – MGM 50K, 5 hours 40 minutes
12/12 – Hill repeats, 3x30minutes, 3 hours 20 minutes, 15 miles
Totals: 95.5 miles, 14 hours 55 minutes