Sunday, September 26, 2010

Self Transcendence 24 Hour - Race Report

Well, this one will be pretty easy to write. I drove up to Ottawa on Friday for the Self-Transcendence 24 Hour run. I arrived just in time to get this shot of me in front of the Parliament building downtown before the sun went down. 

Sight-seeing? Check.
I then drove over to the dome and got some sleep in the XTerra Inn. 10 hours of sleep, to be accurate.

In the morning I set up my table and was ready to rock and roll. I swear the location I chose had nothing to do with my neighbor's back-side on the left there.

At 8:00 a.m. about 50 of us were off and running around the 400m track. I settled into my prescribed 9 minute pace and adjusted my liquid and electrolyte balance to suit the warmer-than-expected dome. After 2 hours (roughly 13 miles), I noticed a strange pain in both of my legs. It wasn't muscular, but more like a bone ache deep inside. I ignored it and continued on figuring that it, along with all dozens of other pains that pop up in a 24 hour race, would just go away.

An hour later, to my great surprise, I started yawning while running. Seemed about 20 hours early for this to start happening, but I brushed it off and soldiered on. I was still running my 9 minute pace, but for such an easy cruising speed, it was becoming increasingly more laborious to maintain...and what the hell was up with that ache in my legs? It kept getting worse. When I passed through the marathon mark and finished up the 4th hour, I felt like I needed a nap. Like, really needed a nap. What in the world was going on??

Over the next couple hours, I pulled out all of my tricks that I usually save as motivational elements for much, much later in races (music, 5-hour energy shots, etc etc). On this day, all of those things would serve to give me temporary jolts of adrenaline, but all that fuel was needed just to fight and keep my pedestrian 9 minute pace.

After the 6th hour, I was so wiped out I decided to mix a recovery drink and walk a couple laps to try and do something to snap my body out of the funk. I can normally run 24 hours on a surface like this without walking a single lap, so the fact that I needed to walk so hilariously early (and after two 5-hour energy drinks!) proved something was wrong, big time.

Immediately after starting to walk, I noticed my leg pain felt much much worse than when I was running. All I could do was grunt out two laps of walking before the pain forced me to start running again. I had no clue what was going on, but I figured I'd let my recovery drink get in my system for a couple hours and see how I felt then.

At the 7 hour mark I was out of tricks, and even though my leg muscles felt good, that weird bone ache was now spreading up through my hips. When I heard my lap-counter say I was on lap #193, I figured I'd get through 200 laps (50 miles) and then try to regroup somehow. As it turned out, I hit the 50 mile mark in 7 hours 30 minutes...exactly 9 minute pace. From an outsider's prospective, you could say I ran those first 50 miles precisely to plan and was in great shape to knock out another 95 or 100 miles. The reality was, I was fighting those first 50 like I had already covered 100 miles before them. I was completely wiped out. I staggered over to my aid table and plopped on the ground for a solid hour of moaning and grunting. My body was done. Clearly, this was not my day!

So, what the heck happened? Probably a couple things: Most significantly, my body is still probably still dealing with the trauma from my 150 miles of hell on the Long Trail a month ago. I figured the flat terrain and easy pace of this race would be OK for my legs, and from a muscular stand-point, I was right. I didn't have any specific muscle pain or fatigue, just that overall lack-of-energy and the strange bone pain. Probably a result of my body needing more general recovery time than it had. Also, for the week leading up to the race, I was super-tired during the day for some reason. I had to take a 3-hour nap a couple days after coming home from work, and the night before the race I was fast asleep before 9 p.m.. Maybe I have some random cold coming on, who knows?

The bottom line is, I gave it my best effort, but my body just didn't want to play along yesterday. The lesson to be learned here: I need to space out my major events next year. I enjoy 100+ milers so much that I forget it's probably smarter to mix in shorter races between them to allow for better recovery.  I hate the fact that I dropped from so many races this year, and I need to learn to plan my schedule accordingly next year to make sure this doesn't happen again. I know I have a big 24-hour run in me, I just need to learn to get myself to that starting line in better shape.

Speaking of recovery, this is officially it for 2010. I'm taking 6 weeks off, and then starting a proper training schedule for 2011. I'll come back a smarter and stronger runner from what I've learned this year, and even though I won't be sporting the Red, White, and Blue at the World Championship next year, I'll use the coming months to quietly hone my skills in training. That way, when I do make it back to the Team, I'll be better equipped to help them bring home a Gold Medal!


nmp said...

That is too bad that it just wasn't your day...probably wise to stop at 50 rather than potentially making things real bad by continuing.

Enjoy a nice break! Any plans for next year?

UltraBrad said...

Well, Dan, I had a pretty similar day. Ran 62 which gave me a 5 year total of 500 miles and called it a day. Was hot, but I went out easy enough and was doing pretty well. Had some pretty bad chaffing going on and decided to cash out and go do the good father/husband thing to help my wife drive home. Legs feel fine today, but I'll take it easy for a while to recover my mind. Rest up and soak in some good recovery.

Jamie Donaldson said...


You are an amazing person and runner! I know you'll have your day again soon!

Dan Rose said...

Nick - With the Worlds out of the mix for next year, I'll put my fate in the lottery gods for a late spring/summer 100 (Massanutten, Western States, and Hardrock)...but if I'm as unlucky as I've been in the past, I'll miss out on all of them and probably flip a coin between doing the Sri Chinmoy 6-Day in NYC or Barkley. I'd like to focus on both of those in separate years to race them at 100%. Depending on which major race I do in the first half of the year, I'd also like to try my luck at the Spartathlon in September. That may need to wait for 2012 though...

Brad - Sorry things didn't work out for you either, but I know you're like me and took plenty of enjoyment in getting to spend some extra time with your wife and Finn. Congrats on the 500 miles, and good luck to you and your dad at Des Moines next month. Congrats to him on running a marathon in his 50th state!

Jamie - Accomplishing my goals wouldn't be nearly as sweet if I didn't have so many failures and hard-learned lessons along the way. A fortune cookie once told me, "every truly great achievement is at first impossible".Thanks to amazing runner-friends like you, I always have plenty of inspiration to pick myself up off the ground and keep working to reach my goals! 2011 should be a great year for doing just that!

Chris Roman said...

Good call all in all, get some well needed rest and rock on for 2011. You are an amazing inspiration my friend :)

JW said...

Rest up, DR, and take care of yourself on the 6 week break. You still rock hard!

Ric Munoz said...

I'm sorry your race did not turn out as planned, Dan. But there's no doubt you'll come back stronger (and faster!) in the new year. To echo the sentiments already expressed by your faithful followers, you never cease to inspire others -- thank you for that.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a nice low key recharging period of training is in order ... good for the body and good for the soul.

Make sure to have the discipline to give your body what it needs - Don't give into racing too soon and you will come back with guns a-blazing!

Michael Henze