Saturday, July 23, 2011

2011 20in24 Enchanted Race Report

Last weekend I participated in The 4th Annual Stroehmann Back on My Feet 20in24 Relay Challenge, Lone Ranger Ultra Marathon, Midnight Madness Run & Pajama Loop event in Philadelphia.
In case you have already stopped reading out of exhaustion, specifically I did the Lone Ranger portion.

Oh. Welcome back. Yes. We will call it the 20in24 for short.


4th time I've done this race.
4th race report.
Same 8.4 mile loop. Run it as many times as you can in 24 hours.
Same pictures of the same stuff.
Oh boy, contain your excitement.

However, this past week, my recovery week, a new friend of mine commented that compared to her life, my life is a fairy tale.
So be it.

Once upon a time...
The queen of BOMF kingdom proclaimed that the knights in the land would compete in a series of games.

This 11th year of the 2nd millennium, 200 chosen knights would face the queen's ultimate challenge, the Lone Ranger.
Named after Sir Lone Ranger, himself once a valiant knight. Along with his steed, Silver.

The knights would be arranged along the kingdom's most grueling circuit, the River Trail of Schuylkill, measuring a full 68 furlongs. There they would remain through sunrise, sunset and sunrise again.
The knights would battle along the circuit, both among themselves and among the local inhabitants, creatures and villains at every turn. He who survived would be awarded in gold. Or a check for $3,000.

A liberal kingdom, male and female knights alike were in competition, indistinguishable behind their armor.

In preparation for the arduous task, during the preceding evening, I had taken my son, young prince Goodles, to the village eatery, Chick-Fil-A. There we were entertained and erected a tent to enjoy the splendor of activities well into the evening.

Alas, our choice of venue was leveraged against me. With close proximity to the village of Whelihan, my enemies had coordinated  a pre-competition attack.
Sir PJ of Whelihan and his collar-popped trolls provoked an auditory battle well after the moon had risen. When the son arose, the effects were clear.
I had not slept. With a sunset and sunrise still ahead, the true challenge of the day had been set.

I then traveled from the village of Downingtown to prove my worthiness to my family and earn my place among the knights of the kingdom. 

In the hours before the events commenced, all knights were visited by the Doctor of Medicine. 

He would inspect the strength of our hearts, the sanity of our heads, and ensure that we were free from spells and enchantments. While his approval was necessary for competition, once the event began, any tricks we had would be at our disposal. And our enemies' disposal.

The knights gathered, outfitted in their village's finest armor.

The games were launched by the singing of the Kingdom's anthem.

Cannons were fired and the competition was underway!

As with most knightly competitions, the ferocity of battle lie far ahead.
The kingdom's other challenges would surface first.

The initial challenge would loom over us for hours.
The golden dragon, rising in the east, hovering above. Waiting.

The queen had approved provisions along the circuit.
We also performed a degree of self-sufficiency.
A pacifist knight (rare in the kingdom), I solely possessed a canteen of artificially sweetened elixir swirling with electrolytic dust.

Despite the battle at hand, local peasants frolicked along the circuit, unaware of the hell that we knights were facing.

After the first 68 furlongs, the dragon had risen to a peak in the sky.
Steam seeping from her nostrils.

We continued, unabated by the moat crossings.

Fortune provided us with well-timed drawbridge placements.

We focused on our task. Ignoring false idols.

Escaping the gravitation of the pyramid's steps as they swept peasants skyward.

The dragon was the first to attack, sweeping her fire along both sides of the moat.

Our protection was thin but effective enough to counter the UVA and UVB attack.

Twice 'round the circuit and I had survived.

Vikings also plagued the circuit. Unprovoked, they set out in the moat.

For the tiring knight, he would need to avoid the vikings as they moved their ships.

The 3rd round, my elixir however must have been prematurely removed from the fire. My stomach reacted in vain.
With each step, the weight of the armor grew until I was reduced to a stumble. 68 Long furlongs.

The dragon's attack continued, though as it waned, the other village creatures began to stir.

The 4th round I found hope.
Some knights were stymied. Felled by the dragon. Taken to the infirmary. Or worse. Back to their village.
Other knights forged ahead unabated. Angels floating in the sky.

I remained on the circuit. My progress often delayed by mandatory visits to the Doctor of Medicine. He had to measure the fire in my ear. And the pressure of my blood. Each round, he permitted me to continue.

On the 5th round, like the cry of a damsel in distress, I was struck by a deafening sound.
My mind. It was failing.
Despite my strength, I had fallen victim to an enchantment. It had the telltale signs of Sir PJ of Whelihan. While I continued the march through the circuit, my eyes grew heavy.
I looked at my hand. There pulsating in the moonlight, a fresh branding on my forehand: RvW.

This could mean only one thing.
I stopped. I shouted (in a cellular manner) to my fair maiden at home in the village, minding our princess.
She confirmed. The curse of Rip van Winkle. With only one cure.

I returned to the grounds of the castle, the Hall of Lloyd.

Greeted by a pack of rabbits, I was welcomed to their burrow.
They were rapidly traversing the circuit as well. One at a time.
Relaying their message, "Sure Victory! Sure Victory!"
But for whom?

I promptly entered a deep sleep.
Ages passed. My hair and beard grew long. My feet, they blistered. My legs, swelled.

I was awakened by a communication from my maiden. A message of text.
"12 hours in. Be safe. Fight on!"

I sprung to my feet. Guzzled my elixir. Affixed a candle to my forehead.
340 furlongs behind me (you may know that as 42 of your miles), I reentered the competition.

Nighttime along the circuit, all sorts of treachery abounded. 
A knight was attacked by an ogre.

The queen ordered additional protection. Members of the royal guard spread out on the course.
Their carriages branded. PPD.

Ye there was also joviality.
Hundreds of illuminated peasants, proceeding opposite our course along the circuit.
Crying chants of encouragement.
Local peasants exploding mortars, with brilliant streaks of light in the sky.

Through 6 rounds.

My spirit was still strong.

The 7th round, I encountered a ladybug fairy. She was swept along by a tornado.
I planted myself in their midst and rode the tornado along the circuit, pausing to acknowledge a fallen Warrior along Mile 54. "Warriorman" Rick.

The 8th round, my luck had once again been challenged.
Walking the east side of the moat, through the enchanted forest.

I was quietly approached by a witch.
She walked alongside me and started to converse.

She attempted to disguise her evil. Her aura however was charcoal. Black. Decay.
Her attention consumed within gazes at her mirror, I escaped.

I would however need assistance.
Assistance appeared in the form of a fleet footed elf just ahead on the circuit.
We discussed the witch and her weapon. Deception. We pushed ahead.

Entering the 9th round, I maintained course with the elf. He personally enduring his 13th round. Our advancement was undeterred. 

The sun began to rise again. A new day born. 
The end within sight. Victory uncertain. But victory unnecessary.
Survival in the end. That was the queen's true test.

While a knight would be crowned the victor, he was but one small story of success in battle.

The 10th round. More enchantments. The witch had uttered an incantation.
34 furlongs into this 10th and final round of the circuit, my left knee was damaged within my armor. No visible marks, my leg grew stiff.

The elf and I parted ways and I limped back to the castle once again under the eye of the golden dragon. My progress slow. Furlong after agonizing furlong.
Tears filled my helmet. However, the Viking land was within view.

With but 13 minutes remaining in the competition, 84 miles later, I was welcomed back to the Hall of Lloyd.

My left leg now immobile, I gathered my gear and as before communicated with my fair maiden. She arrived to bring me back to the village.

We returned to our home, prince and princess in tow.
I climbed into the well and let the cold water heal my legs.
I climbed into bed and let sleep, unenchanted sleep, heal my mind.

And when I awoke, the tale of the prior sunrises.
It was not a dream.

For All of the knights. Who had competed. Who had celebrated. Not to seek the award of gold, but to return it to the most vulnerable peasants. We had grown and We will live Happily Ever After.

The End

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Good Karma Run Day

Oh. This will be quick.

I need some time to sit down and type up and insert images into a 20in24 race report.
I have 2 posts that will be, well, posted if life cooperates.

What's that? You want the abridged version?

I ran 42 miles. Took a nap. Ran 42 miles.
Go on with your lives.

Karma Out
My neighbor has been running for 30+ years.

He had not be able to squeeze in a run for the past few months because of a busy life.

I know what you're thinking. But it's true. Sometimes, you're making so many other sacrifices, that the additional sacrifice (time, mostly) needed for the run, just isn't fair.

I saw him at the neighborhood pool yesterday.
This is after I've bugged him 30 times already this summer about whether he's gotten out for a run (he's going crazy from runner's withdrawal).

Neighbor: "I might go out for a run tomorrow."
Me: "Cool"
Us: "OK BYE"

He's out walking his dogs about 15 minutes later.
I run up to him.

Me: "What time?"
Neighbor: "4:30AM"
Me: "I'll meet you at the end of your street."
Neighbor: "Thanks Mike. Thank You."

Got him out the door.
You don't want to stand up a running date!

And there ya go.
Months off of running, solved with a little push. 3 miles to start the day.

His next planned run? In 2 days.

Karma In
Look what I got in the mail today.


It was sent to me by a fellow Lone Ranger ultramarathoner from the 20in24.

We crossed paths about 19 hours into the race.
He took advantage of my fresh legs (only about 65 miles deep) to help pace him for the remainder of the race.
Towards his finish at 118 miles!

In our delirium, he suggested he'd send me that book.
He told me I'd love it.
And I'd NEED to watch the movie, too.

And today, 3 days after the race, it was in my mailbox.
How cool is that?

Now go spread some running karma!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

2011 20in24 Prep - Heat, Sleep, Eat, Eep

Early bedtime tonight! Last good sleep before the race.
20in24 - Saturday @ 10AM until Sunday at 10AM

Here's what you should know.

I've put myself through every brutal hot day so far this year. Running, biking, walking.
And the race is now supposed to enjoy mild weather in the mid-80's with low humidity.
The means temperatures at night will be in the 60's.

While I'm glad I pushed the heat acclimation, I learned something:
My body is not made for heat.

It is made for cold.
But, I give props to anyone who can thrive in the heat.
I sweat too much, drink too much (water), and slow down too much.
I welcome this well-timed break in the heat!

I've gotten more sleep in these past few weeks than any other time this year.
Most of that is thanks to my guardian angel pushing the sleep topic.
But, I also read that increased sleep 2 weeks before an ultramarathon leads to better results.
Works for me.

What I did:
If I got to bed after 10PM, I forbid myself from visiting the gym at 5AM the next day.
Yes, that meant less gym. But I think it also meant a softer taper.

On race day, I'm planning to drink Ensure after every 8.5 mile loop until I exhaust my supply (9 cans).
I like that Ensure contains a large amount of wide spectrum electrolytes.
With as much as I sweat, I need them.

The race aid stations also supply ample food and drink.
I'll be sticking with whatever sugar-free electrolyte replacement drink they offer.
See. My teeth don't have much enamel left.
And while I've never had a cavity, they are extremely sensitive to sugar.
Gotta be sugar-free.

Oh boy am I nervous!

I'm worried about the pre-race health check.
They're gonna complain about my blood pressure.
I even tried 15 minutes of meditation today (a little late I know).
When you're tired, it's not meditation, it is head nodding, head whipping back, head nodding, head whipping back...

I am worried about surviving the next 36 hours without injuring myself.
When I play Dad, I am always at risk.

And the last Eep.
Putting together my race supply checklist today, my nervous stomach was doing somersaults.

So here it is.
I give you my stomach tumbling checklist (completely fulfilled just a few minutes ago).

Check List

  • Ensure, old and new, refrigerated 
  • Medium Size cooler 
  • Source of ICE, Wawa 
  • 6 PowerAdes 
  • Gum 
  • Vitamin D 
  • Baby Aspirin 
  • Toilet paper 
  • Antibacterial Spray 
  • Antibacterial Gel 
  • Vaseline 
  • Baby Powder 
  • Toiletry Bag  
  • Chapstick 
  • Deodorant 
  • Tooth Brush 
  • Toothpaste 
  • Mouth rinse 
First Aid/Blisters
  • Moleskin 
  • Athletic Tape 
  • Tough Strips 
  • Blister Pads 
  • Rubbing Alcohol 
  • Nail Cips 
  • Little Scissors 
  • Headlamp with fresh batteries 
  • Extra batteries 
  • Reflective bracelets 
  • Reflective hat 
  • Reflective VEST 
Race Clothing
  • Sunglasses 
  • Handheld bottle (x2) and holder 
  • Homemade legionnaires cap 
  • Regular running cap 
  • Saucony singlet 
  • 4 technical t-shirts 
  • Tri Shorts 
  • Compression Shorts 
  • All running shorts 
  • Race belt 
  • Little race belt bag 
  • Wrist bags 
  • All running socks 
  • 2 pairs of running shoes – New and ProGrid 3’s 
  • Orthotics – Old and New 
Street Clothes
  • Pre/Post-race – boxers, normal shorts, t-shirt and Nike Cap 
  • Non-running shoes 
  • Kodak Camcorder 
  • Cell Phone 
Extra Stuff
  • Chair 
  • Car keys 
  • Wallet/ID 
  • Home-made Gaiters 
  • This is Gonna Hurt - book
  • Towels (soap?) 
  • Safety pins 
That's it! Did I forget anything?
No? Then, just insert RUN.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Good Neighbor Day Run for Life 15K Race Report

Ever hit up a yard sale in the middle of a race?

The GND Run for Life race was last Monday, the 4th of July.
I've participated in this race, in some capacity, for about 12 years.
Most of those years, I was not yet a runner. Just a citizen that could run. At times.

This year, I once again elected to push the kids in the jogging stroller for the 15K route.
The race course is a 5K loop.
As you probably guessed, the 15K runs 3 loops.

The kids were not excited to hop in the stroller.
I was not ecstatic about pushing them. This would be only the 2nd time this year.
But they get an up-close look at Downingtown from a unique angle.
I guess that's what sold them.

They climbed in the jogging stroller with minimal diversions like toys and stuff.
They were mostly interested in one of my bottles of PowerAde Zero.
I had stocked 3 PowerAde bottles and 1 bottle of water in the stroller. Call that an advantage.

In years past, for the 5K and 10K, we would line up in the middle of the pack.
For the 15K we line up in the very back, figuring it doesn't really matter.

They chip time you, too, so you get an accurate time-after-hitting-the-starting-line. Fine.

The gun goes off, we walk to the starting line.
A few people participating in the walk, which commenced 4 minutes later, stopped in front of me to chat about donuts. After a few moments, they observed my intended forward momentum and parted to let us through.

Loop 1 was busy. Crowded.
We stuck to the outside of the crowd and climbed through them.

Loop 2 was much nicer.
But it was getting hot. Felt like a very humid 80's.
I only stopped at one water stop on Loop 2 and that was for Goodles.
He gargled the water, didn't even drink it.

On both Loops 1 and 2, at the start of the final mile, a guy on the sidelines soaked the kids with a water gun. So funny.
The end of Loop 2 introduced restlessness. I knew that might happen.
We were headed toward bagging Loop 3:
Either I would run without the stroller (depositing the kids with my wife and her parents) or we would just finish at the 10K mark.

Except. Yard Sale moment.
On the final mile we pass a house with a card table set up out front.
With little toys on it. Think "Happy Meal" toys.
A 10 year old girl emerges from the house, hanging up a sign just as we pass.

The kids and I agree. We're doing that final loop and they can each choose 2 toys.
Talk about motivation.

But the stroller was heavy. And we were getting restlesser.
Loop 3, at the .5 mile mark, HoneyBunny hops out and dashes 100 yards. Then hops back in.
Goodles scores another cup of water at an aid station.

And the course is deserted.
Hot, disgusting conditions. Few takers for the 15K?

We muddled along.
My Loop 2 split was 1:30 slower than Loop 1.
Loop 3 was an additional minute slower. Really not that bad.

Approaching the final mile we have to pull over on a sidewalk and stop to let a fire truck or ambulance go by.
I couldn't continue on the sidewalk because there were people sitting in chairs, cheering.
But not yielding to wide-load running families like us.

Water gun guy must have gotten hot. He wasn't along the course this Loop.
The kids had planned to point at me. New soaking victim.

Then, Heaven. Nirvana. Valhalla. What have you.

The kids jump out and scout the free toys.
It's like letting them pick something out of the candy aisle. Takes a while.

Me. Supportive, encouraging Dad. "Cool kids. Pick something fun!"
Me. Waning runner. "Uh, kids, let's grab something. I didn't want those 2 guys to beat me."

Those 2 guys glide past us. Probably didn't even know I was in the race.

Our booty secured, we take off to enjoy the final mile.
Those toys have since disappeared BTW.

I paced a few 15K finishers that needed a push.
We finish about 5 minutes slower than last year.

Probably the heat.
Definitely from not running with the kids.

I was satisfied with the results.

We went on to enjoy the remaining festivities.
Kids Fun Run.
Big Wheel races.
Carnival. Games, rides, ice cream.

Home to chill.
I was wiped.

Back to enjoy the fireworks at dark.
What a great day.

Turned out I placed 2nd in my age group. Got a nice little medal.
Which really identifies a Poor Showing, poor representation in my age group . C'mon guys!

Looking at the results, I noticed one other obscure ditty.
In 4th or 5th place in my AG was a kid I played football with in high school.
To protect his identity, I'll call him Bimmy Jitmer.

I haven't seen him since high school. No biggie.

But, he had been part of my life.

Our guinea pig died a few days ago. Poor little guy.
When he was a thriving little guinea pig, I'd always great him with a little whistling tune.

Just a few weeks ago, I took a moment to think about the origins of that tune.
Lo and behold, I was whistling "Bimmy Bimmy Jitmer. Bimmy Jitmer!"
Yeah, the taunt levied at poor Bimmy in the locker room.

That's the kind of cool stuff that happens when you run your local 5/10/15K for a decade!

And that's also the race report. No kids will be with me next year. I probably won't even show in my AG.
In fact, HoneyBunny and I will probably run the 5K together.

Upcoming? Oh just the most important race of my year.
20in24 on Saturday.
I'm ready.