I’m done with the Boulder 100… or actually, since I stopped “early” (midnight), the 24 Hours of Boulder. The weather was cold and wet, my legs were not recovered from last week’s St. George Marathon, and I was not having fun. Still, I did manage to run 64.4 miles—or over 100 kilometers. Good enough.
Here are some excerpts from an email I wrote to a friend. My recovery season begins today, so no more running for me (say, over 5 miles/week) for the rest of the year. Exercise-wise, I’ll just be doing strength training and some occasional indoor rock climbing and yoga the next couple of months—nothing very time-consuming and just for health and fun.
The email recap:
I’m home… actually, got home last night at 2:00 a.m., but after taking a 30-minute shower to thaw, I was too exhausted to write. I spent most of today with my legs propped up, reading a book.
Anyhow, I only made it to Mile 64, stopping at midnight (after 15 hours). I wasn’t injured (not even a single blister, just unbelievably sore muscles), but just couldn’t handle being so utterly exhausted while being super cold and wet any more. It was raining all day (it still is… very unusual!), and my pace had slowed to a crawl—it took me 4:35 hours to go the last 14 miles (that is 19:40/mile pace). And that was “running,” not walking. I tried walking, but that seemed to require more energy to keep up even my meager pace. I was only slowing down, and I decided I was not going to spend another 15 hours trying to finish another 36 miles when I was so cold, wet and downright miserable.
Overall, I’m satisfied with the results. Though I didn’t achieve my primary objective (or rather, the second objective, since the first objective was to participate without injuring myself), it still was a personal best for distance (64 miles, or just over 100 kilometers) and length (15 hours). I also PR’d for 50 miles (10 hours 15 minutes) despite being handicapped by doing the St. George marathon last weekend.
Just don’t ask me if I’ll try to run 100 miles again. I’m convinced that ultras are much unhealthier and far less fun than marathon and shorter distances (or, say, century rides and triathlons), so I suspect the only reasons to continue doing them are for ego purposes.
October 16, 2007 Tue: Well, I can walk again, and I’m already thinking about doing a 100-mile “redemption” run (2008). I guess my ego is pretty big after all… it’s just too hard for me to back down from a challenge I’ve already taken up even though running 100 miles definitely qualifies as “totally unnecessary!”
Lap 1 (Mile 7.1): 1:20:xx (11:12/mile)
Lap 2 (Mile 14.3): 1:16:xx (10:39/mile)
Lap 3 (Mile 21.4): 1:13:xx (10:13/mile)
Lap 4 (Mile 28.6): 1:33:xx (13:02/mile)
Lap 5 (Mile 35.7): 1:44:xx (14:34/mile)
Lap 6 (Mile 42.8): 1:31:xx (12:45/mile)
Lap 7 (Mile 50.0): 1:44:xx (14:34/mile)
Lap 8 (Mile 57.1): 2:03:xx (17:14/mile)
Lap 9 (Mile 64.3): 2:24:xx (20:10/mile)
Here are official results. Apparently, only six out of the 20 people who started the Boulder 100 completed the full 100 miles. Unfortunately, those six did not include me. Well, another day…
The Weather That Weekend
“In more than 30 years, I have not seen a storm like this on a game day,” said Gary Ozzello in Fort Collins, which had similar weather as the Boulder 100. See this article by the Coloradoan.
Notes & Lessons Learned
- Moments before the race, I visited my friends Adrienne and Micah, who conveniently live just a quarter-mile away from the Boulder Reservoir, where the race was taking place. On Sunday, Adrienne—as thoughtful as she is—even walked down to the reservoir to bring me some hot tea, but of course, I had already stopped and was long gone by then. Pity.
- Even through the first lap, I couldn’t help noticing how many runners were wearing knee braces on one leg or bands underneath their kneecaps, while others were already leaning to one side, hobbling. This did not seem very smart for them to be out here running such a long ways when they were clearly injured—I mean, aren’t Americans’ medical bills high enough already? Then again, considering my own calves were sore from the very beginning of the race due to running the St. George Marathon last weekend, maybe I shouldn’t be talking! But sore muscles are one thing, and bum knees or ligaments are another.
- During my third or fourth lap, a tall, pretty woman with blonde hair weaved in a single, tight braid caught up to me. Noticing my Ironman cap, she talked to me about triathlons, noting that she had just entered Vineman at the last minute this year as a training event. We ran together for 20-30 minutes, but she was asking me so many questions and forcing me to talk—something I did not have sufficient energy reserves for—that I dropped off the pace just so I wouldn’t have to talk to her and could concentrate on moving my legs. Well, it turned out this woman was Shanna Armstrong—the three-time Ultraman world champion, and two-time Race Across America winner. Of course, now I wish I had talked to her A LOT more!
- The food selection at the race was terrible—the worst of any event I have done over six hours, including all double centuries and triathlons. It consisted mainly of gels, Clif Shot Bloks, bananas, pretzels, cookies, and—during the night—limited amounts of pasta or ramen. (Gels and Shot Bloks seemed to dominate the tables, which I found odd. Did the organizers really expect that runners would be happy to run 24-30 hours consuming primarily small packets of syrup?). As a consequence, I feel I was undernourished and—worse—unable to hold down water. During laps 6-8, I had to pee every 20 minutes—a huge contrast to the Quicksilver 50 Mile race, in which I did not have to go to the bathroom a single time in 11 hours despite drinking a ton. The difference is the Quicksilver 50 had plenty of spongy foods such as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, whereas the Boulder 100 had none. There was some pasta available before lap 9, which helped some—but it was too little, too late, and the damage was done. Next time I would not rely on the food provided by the race and instead stash a lot of items in my car. These items would include peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, bagels, mini-donuts, chewy cookies, and maybe even pasta and rice with tuna, for example.
- I never felt like I was in danger of hypothermia, but with the rain, wind, and low temperatures during the night, I was definitely uncomfortable. Compounding the issue was not being able to generate enough body heat due to how slow I was moving the last few hours. So next time, I would stash plenty of dry, insulating clothing in my car next time, and be sure to change into them during the night. Chemical hand and feet warmers would be nice too in even more extreme conditions.
- Clearly, my Boston Marathon qualifying effort the week before hurt my chances of finishing 100 miles. Next time, I will give a 100-miler my full respect and follow a good tapering strategy.
- To finish anything that’s difficult, one not only has to believe in himself, but believe in the cause. Ultimately, I was too content to finish a mere 100 kilometers instead of an “unnecessary and unhealthy” 100 miles. If I am going to finish 100 miles next time, I am going to have to want it more.
- While I was content with finishing more than 100 kilometers, I am never completely happy to quit something. Quitting is dangerous because it sets a bad precedent for the future. This was the first time I quit something in many, many years, and it shall be the last time for many, many more.