Sunday, November 28, 2010

My Mother Road Trifecta

On October 10, 10.10.10, I ran the Mother Road marathon from Commerce Oklahoma to Joplin Missouri.  It is called the Mother Road because part of it is run on Old U S Route 66.  The original super highway that ran from Chicago to Los Angeles.  The Mother Road ain't what it used to be.  Most of it is now state highway or even just under local care.  Which is to say the road is in many places in disrepair.  Nevertheless I had decided that if I was successful in finishing the Mother Road 100 run, then I would attempt to finish all 3 Mother Road races being run, at least partially, in Oklahoma.  This would mean that if I was successful in the 100 mile run, I'd have to run a marathon a week later.
Well I finished the 100 mile race in 24 hours 30 seconds on Sunday, November 14th.  Sunday was also the last day to register online for the Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa.  You could still register at the expo, but I didn't want to leave it to chance, or give myself a reason to back out.  I registered that night when I got home. 
I didn't attempt to run until the Thursday before the marathon.  That didn't go well, every muscle in my legs was still sore, and I really couldn't run.  I "jogged" for two miles before giving up.  Still on Saturday I rode with some friends to the expo and picked up my packet, bib, and timing chip.
I decided that I would just see how it went the next day.   The next day I rode with Willie, Adi, and Willie's son to Tulsa.  I had thought about getting a room and spending the night in Tulsa, but Adi said they were going up both days, so I decided to just ride with them.  We got to Tulsa in plenty of time before the start, parked and walked down to the "Race Village."  This year Tulsa had 3 corrals, and they had stated that your bib would be checked before you were allowed to enter a corral.  They were based on your estimated finish time, so you could say whatever you wanted as an estimate.  I was truthful and entered over 4 hours.  This put me in the 2nd corral, but when we entered there was no one checking and I was in the 1st with Willie.  I decided I didn't want to be there, and moved back to my correct corral.  There was about a 5 minute delay between corral starts so I watched the first one start and waited for my start.  We're off and I'm running around a 9:30 pace.  I usually take a few miles to get going so I just settled into a comfortable pace.  I never lost sight of the 4 hour pace group and as I felt better, I dropped the pace below 9 and slowly gained on the pace group.  I passed them but then settled into a 9:05-9:10 pace so I wasn't pulling away from them.  I didn't feel bad, but never felt good enough to pick up the pace.  Around mile 14 I started feeling pain in my legs, both ITBands were hurting and I knew it was time to back off.  I started walking some and trying to fuel up to see if that would help.  As we entered the worse part of the marathon, South on Riverside into the wind, I recognized a park area which was the start/finish for the 50 miler I had done in Tulsa back in July.  I knew they had a full bathroom there, so I left the course to go spend some quality time there.  Upon reentering the course, I felt like a new man, and began to run again.  My pace was still slow, over 10 minute miles, but at least I was running steadily again.  Once I made the turn around on Riverside and had the wind at my back I was able to drop the pace back below 10 minutes and felt like I might be able to finish under 4:25.  I ran the rest of the way in and finished just under 4:25. I finished the Route 66 Marathon thus completing my "Mother Road Trifecta."  For the record, the first Route 66 Marathon in 2006 was my first marathon.
What did I earn by doing this?  Nothing above what anyone else earned in each race.  Why did I do it?  I wanted to push my body to the edge.  I did do that.  I have run twice since finishing, and feel like I have made it with no permanent damage.  I may have an ITBand problem.  But I have run up to 5 miles without pain, so I'm not sure.  I will gradually increase the distance to see if it triggers the ITB pain, but so far so good. 
I have no plans to race anymore this year, but a 5k near the end of December isn't out of the question.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Mother Road 100.3 - Final Chapter

This past Saturday, November 13, 2010, I ran in the Mother Road 100.3 one hundred mile run.  This was the third and final version of this run.  The race is put on by Thomas Hill and Bret Sholar.  Anyone that knows them knows that they put on first class quality races.
The first Mother Road went from Oklahoma City (Arcadia) to Tulsa (Sapulpa).  The second version went from the western border to Oklahoma City (El Reno).  And this final version went from Baxter Springs KS, to Tulsa (Catoosa).  Thus completing races that covered one end of the state to the other.
I remember the first run, but was not ready to run that far yet.  When the second Mother Road came along, I still wasn't ready for the whole thing, but good friend Joel McCarty asked me to pace him the final 35 miles.
My experience pacing him was invaluable.  I remember him persevering through the cold, darkness, and pain to push on to a finish.  I told him I had never cried after finishing a race, but I was close to tears watching him push on to a 100 mile finish.  So when this opportunity came along, I knew I had to run.
I had run one other 100 mile run, Rocky Raccoon in Huntsville State Park, Huntsville TX.  I finished that run in a little over 27 hours.
This race was to be similar to Rocky in that I really didn't have a crew up until the week before the race.  While Cara and Randy Nance had agreed to crew me, I knew they had other people to crew also.  And in a race of this distance, the runners would really get spread out as time passed.  The week before the race Bill Goodier offered to crew me.  The week before Rocky Raccoon Willie and Bill offered to crew and pace me and without their help I'm not sure I would have finished.  I already had Joel lined up to pace me for the Mother Road from around midnight to the finish.  Everything seemed to be falling into place.
Bill got me to our hotel the night before, and to the start line the next day.  It was cool but a storm front had passed through the day before with rain.  So we were fortunate that the rain was over. 
The National Anthem, a prayer, Don shoots the gun and we're off.  I started at an easy pace and felt pretty good.  There were aid stations every 6 to 11 miles, but besides resting a bit I wasn't eating much there, Bill was taking care of my nutritional needs.  I did the first 30 in right at six hours which was my goal.  Bill was concerned that I was drinking plenty, but might not be eating enough.  He was right.  In almost every ultra I run, there comes a time around 30 miles where my stomach gets queasy and nothing appeals to me.  So I stop eating, and mostly drink water because the sports drinks are sweet and by this time I'm sick of them.
But I was still making good time.  I had aches and pains but none that grew bad enough to concern me. 
As darkness approached my pace began to really slow down.  I was tired, but I knew the problem was I hadn't eaten enough and now I was paying for it.  I came into Vinita and passed a Sonic as I approached the next aid station.  While they were certainly appreciated, there were problems at several of them.  In at least three they either didn't have soup, or it wasn't warm.  When I saw Bill, I asked him to go to Sonic and get some Tater Tots.  When he got back with them I thought I was living the good life.  I scarfed up the tots and felt like I could go on.
I arrived at the Chelsea aid station which was where Joel would join me.  This was in a warm hotel room and Randy and Cara were there also.  I had some more soup, picked up some Gator Aid and Joel and I headed out.  I had given up on a sub twenty four hour finish and was planning to just walk it in.  Joel convinced me that I was making good time and still had a shot.  We started running as much as walking and I began to think it was still possible also.  We both knew from experience that when daylight came, we would experience an additional boost. 
Bill continued to keep us fueled and updated on our pace.  As daylight came I still could run so I kept running as much as possible.  Joel would encourage me but not push me.  As we approached the finish I knew it was going to be close.  I was running as much and as fast as I felt I could but was really hurting now.  Not injury hurting, but tired and sore from running so long.  The last few miles were very hilly and despite that we continued to run.  As we approached the running track which was the finish I started running as fast as I could.  Bill was already there and ran to read the clock.  As I entered the track he said fifty eight minutes.  I thought I can do two minutes, but then he said fifty nine minutes and I knew I was just going to barely miss sub twenty four.  I continued around the track and saw the clock turn to twenty four hours.  Final time, 24:00:30. 
I am very happy with my finish.  I felt that I was running as hard as I could near the end and know that I would never have finished that fast without Joel encouraging me.
Many thanks to Bill who had to have had the hardest job.  Trying to meet my needs and drive a little bit at a time.  To both Bill and Joel for giving up more than a day of their time to help a friend reach his goal.