May 25, 2013 (Riverside, CA)
The term “ultra marathon” is associated with running a rather far distance. That, we can all agree on. However, the rules of ultra marathon-ing don’t specifically point to an exact requirement for accumulating these miles.
The Nanny Goat 12/24/100 challenge was the perfect party for kick-starting Memorial Day Weekend. The run was repetative mile laps around a horse farm and as you can imagine, no GPS or course map was needed!
Coming off a 50 mile run traverse through Zion National Park just two weeks prior, I decided the 12 hour challenge would be the “smarter” option for me. In 2011, I ran 56 miles in a little under 12 hours at Nanny Goat. It was rough and tough at times but here I was again, back for more. I clearly didn’t learn any lessons to stay away.
With all the running around (literally) I had been doing in May, my goal for NG 2013 was just to bag at least 50 miles. I was also running to raise money for the Ben C. Horne Memorial Prize which gave me a little extra motivation when the going got tough(er).
Like any other long run or race, there are the good states, the “ok” states, and the awesomely haggard states you reach. Running in circles for 50 miles is….interesting.
When Randy and I arrived at the race site, the atmosphere was alive and upbeat. We couldn’t help but have a chuckle at our ourselves and the other “goats” that showed up to tackle this ridiculous challenge. Some people may say that this was a sub group of an already sub group of runners. However, I just saw a big group of people that voluntarily signed up to suffer yet have a good time.
After picking up race numbers (#69 for me…ha.ha.ha….) and snagging a doughnut at check in, we settled our “station” (our camping chair) among the campsites already setup. At 8am we heard the “all runners to the goat pen” announcement meaning it was time to be corralled for last minute instructions.
At 8:15am the goat pen gates opened and a flood of runners ran through the barn for mile #1. The day prior, a few groups had set up camp in the barn stables with their personal needs for the race. However, food and hydration was provided by the event after every lap. This was a huge perk considering my latest journeys have required me to carry everything I need. An electronic check in system was in place so the brain power to remember lap numbers was not needed.
The day started out like any other ultra run. I knew I was going to be on my feet for awhile, so I tried to keep the pace consistent. Something I’ve learned about myself is that I strike on my forefoot. Due to this, my calves fatigue faster than I want them too. Damn you calves! I’ve noticed that fatigue usually hits in the 20-30 mile range. However, Nanny Goat gave me an opportunity to experiment with a more mid-foot strike.
Unlike most ultra marathons, I saw my fellow runners constantly during the event. When I could see and speak to others, the extra encouragement was a great way to build comradery on the course. In general, just having the company was pleasant!
I bagged a marathon distance and overall I was still decently functioning. I did notice some knee pain around that point, but I could only hope that it wouldn’t flair up too viciously later on. 50k came and went and unfortunately, the pain grew stronger. My calves were ok though!
After every lap, Randy was eagerly cheering me on from our camp chair and I was so thankful for that. After blasting through 23 miles earlier that morning for marathon training, his main goal for the day was to check out the madness of relentless lap running…and to tell me to keep moving when all I wanted to do was take a nap.
After completing 35 miles, I knew that 50 miles would be my end goal for the day. Yes, I was tired, but it was more a joint issue as the limiting factor. After doing the same repetitive motions for miles and miles and miles on flat ground, at some point(s) your muscles, joints and mind are eagerly going to say “screw you.” Fortunately, I ran the first 35 miles rather swiftly so I had plenty of time to complete the final 15 miles in under 12 hours. However, at this point my right knee was “over it,” but I still had to complete the 50.
The count down was in full force and I was stoked to put my bracelet through the reader to record each additional mile. Rather than chill at the food and drink table before each check in, I’d snag water, bananas, pb & j or watermelon, and bring these contents to my dusty backpack situated by our dusty camp chair. Dust and dirt caked everything! I started calling this area my personal buffet.
Randy was so clutch that day. I knew I had someone to report to after every lap and that became a huge motivational point for me. In other words, he was holding me accountable to keep moving. I highly recommend having a support crew (even if it’s just one person) should you decide to do something like this.
Covered in dirt, dust, and sweat (temperatures cracked the 80s), the 50 mile mark rolled around and I was eager to get that electronic bracelet off. I definitely went through a series of ups and downs (physically and mentally) during this time challenge event. However, like any other ultra run, I just kept in mind that it was all about “relentless forward motion.”