Thursday, May 24, 2012

Reach the Beach Ultra Relay (the final leg)

The death final leg
6.88 medium, 6.47"easy" (my ass)  13.35 miles. 9:42 pace

Incase you missed it...
Meet my team

Tip #1 when deciding to run an ultra- if you can avoid having your LONGEST leg be the last leg... go ahead and do that 

Tip #2 when deciding to run an ultra- if you can avoid being one of the last runners so you aren't waiting as long and sleep deprivation / not fueling properly is really setting in... go ahead and do that too. 

Needless to say, I had to deal with both of these issues and BOY did they affect me... HARD! It wasn't until after talking with my mom on the phone (yes they wanted updates) after my first run that she pointed out I would be running my 'half marathon' in the afternoon. CRAP- how did I not think about this. Despite living in Nashville, the heat and I don't mix. I can whip out some crazy fast times (for me) when its cold, however when its hot, I'm like a completely different runner. (heads up other Ultra team in July, don't expect same results from me )

I tried not to let the heat freak me out too bad, however, Scott happened to run 12.6 right before me, and he FELL apart with the heat. I have no idea what his time was, but he was definitely hurting and not even 1/2 way through his race he announced he was done. To give him credit where credit is due, he did have the hardest run and the most mileage, I guess it was just hard to conceptualize him falling apart since he is such a strong runner. 

Ignorance is bliss--- ready for my final run. 

I didn't match at all, and it was actually kind of fun to be in yellow socks, tiger print spandex, and a hot pink tank--- made easy spotting for my team. 

On to the trot run....
When Scott handed me the baton one last time, I figured it would be awhile before I saw my team since he would want to rest / regroup etc, so I knew I needed to take it easy. Add to that the fact that I have ZERO people in front of me, and it doesn't really feel like a 'race' for me. My legs felt surprisingly great (thank you compression socks), however my energy was LOW. 

My first 2 miles were 7:57 and 7:50---- I knew I was in trouble because there was no way my body would hold up for those paces. Right now with my running- sub 8s aren't hard by any means, however when I need to be 'refueled' for me depends on pace, NOT mileage. The faster I go, the sooner I need some replacements. Throughout the trip I had been downing a "new to me, but now obsessed with" drink...
Zico Chocolate Coconut Water

I've done coconut water before, but never chocolate flavor. Even warm it was AMAZING. Do you like smores?!?! Then you'll love this. So despite downing at least 3-4 of these, something was still off (I'm thinking  not enough protein)

By mile 3 I was toast. I finally said screw it and had to stop and redo my headphones so I could have them in my ears. I know they weren't allowed and even though I was told somewhere in the rule book it said if you were caught with them on there would be a 1.5 hour penalty, I didn't care bc they left out the penalty in the power point during safety check, so maybe I'd just get a slap on the wrist?!?

WOW did it make a difference in terms of motivation (although looking at my splits you wouldn't know it) I should really start all my races music less and then turn them on about 3 or 4 miles in to get extra motivation. Unfortunately there was an official RTB vehicle out patrolling, so I kept having to take them out so I wouldn't get caught. For quite some time I thought they were on to me, but it wasn't until later that I realized they were just monitoring more because of higher temps and being so close to getting done (temps were sunny and high 70s)

I cannot break down the miles for you, but I can assure you it was all a  miserable nightmare, so here is what was noteworthy...

During the run my van supplied 4 gus, water and gatoraide every time they stopped. They also gave me a bandana to wipe my sweat, then later taking that bandana and soaking it so i could wear it around my neck (which later got  moved to my chest) and 1 large orange that Jodi so graciously peeled for me. Despite all this, I was INCREDIBLY famished. I have NEVER been so tired or apathetic during a race in all my life. I just didn't care anymore. What really aggravated me is that my body felt fine (surprisingly so) but there was ZERO left in the tank. 

So here's the reality- I gave up. I walked like it was going out of style. Majority of my splits were in the 10s and  my slowest was 11:48---- yup, ZERO consistency.  Going through the first exchange was also a different experience- this time when I had to announce I was 'ultra', I got a lot of sympathetic, "ouch i'm sorry" vs. cheers. 

Not EVERYTHING about this run was bad though (surprisingly). The amount of support I got from the other vans was overwhelming. One van in particular, "The Misfits" stopped several times to ask me if I needed anything. (wow do I look THAT miserable, or is the fact that I standout and you're noticing that I'm still running way past the first exchange?) During the course of my 2nd half  they gave me 1 full bottle of water, 1 full bottle of gatorade, and 1 full bag of strawberry gu chomps (which are amazing by the way) 

Within the last 3 miles I was walking past this house and these 2 guys were carrying groceries to the house. They asked what I was doing, I told them, then they offered me some cold white wine since they didn't have water.... I'll take it. At this point everyone thats in front of me is running in pairs, which is kind of cool, so I made a goal to just run to them, run with them, then pass them. One pair were walking so i stopped and walked with them for a minute and as I went to go on, the guy announced "that chick is running an ultra, how cool is that!" Just hearing him say this was all the motivation I needed to keep going. 

I wish I could say that I picked up my pace and raced till the end, but that would be a big fat lie. What really happened is I ran for 2 minutes maybe then walked. Then I repeated that... over and over until the finish. I had NO kick when I handed off to Katy, and as soon as I was done I shouted to one of my teammates "running a half marathon in this heat, this late in the afternoon, on my last leg is stupid- I'll be in the bathroom" haha no joke. 

This is how you know you're close with your teammates: Upon returning to the van I said "I know this is a little TMI, but what does it mean when there is blood in your poop?" (mine was BRIGHT red after run). Apparently I was so dehydrated, that the gu chomps went right through me and that was the red I was seeing, NOT blood. 

So obviously you can see that my run wasn't pretty. I dry heaved a couple times. I fantasized about all the food I was going to eat when I finished, and even more so, going to the bathroom when I was done. I was so confused as to why I had no energy left. Normally I eat like crap during relays--- 3lbs of gummy bears (I had ZERO on this trip), granola bars galore, and crackers. This go round I had a few peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, a few hard boiled eggs and a burrito at one of the exchanges, nuts, fig newtons, and a TON of gus / chomps, beans, gels during run... its not like I starved myself. I'm thinking next time definitely need some meat... beef jerky even since the salt will be good. 

Poor Katy had her longest leg too 14.4 miles--- she's a bad ass though and didn't need much help from us, so with about 4 or 5 miles left in her run, we high tailed it to the beach so we could park and then cheer / run her to the finish.
On our way to finish line- attempting to "wiggle"
Kyle, Scott and Craig looking all bad ass walking to our cheering point

We FREAKING did it.

Later we found out we placed 2nd in Ultra Mixed out of 13 teams and 40th overall out of 175

We got our free Mexican and beers and just sat and rested for an hour or two before we all hobbled back to our hotel in exhaustion. 

So that was our relay. To be honest it was really hard to recap this because with no sleep the whole time, everything just kind of runs together. I've had so many people ask me how I trained for the ultra and my first instinct is to say that I didn't, because when it comes to running, I didn't do anything different (even though my intentions were to increase mileage)

What I did do was a TON more cross training- at least 2x week I went to boot camp and really focused on increased leg, arm, and core strength. Lunges, wall sits, kettle bells, russian twists, planks galore. Its amazing how much EASIER running is, when you're just stronger. Although I fell apart on my last leg, it had ZERO to do with my muscles, and everything to do with proper fueling, sleep, and heat. 

Still a win in my book, and I'm anxious to see how my next ultra goes with my all lady team for the Ragnar Northwest Passage. Unfortunately this week we had a runner bow out due to family conflict, but Katy graciously agreed to step in so now I get to do another race with her (and it helps that shes stupid fast too )

I know a lot of people out there are curious about ultra relays and what would you have to consider before making that decision etc. I'd like to do a future post where I can lay out everything I learned / recommend, so if you have any questions you want addressed, please let me know and I'll make sure to include them!! 


  1. Lisa...sounds like a hard race, but for the heat and circumstances sounds like y'all did great!! I know I couldn't do it! You're outfits are AWESOME. I live in Nash too and i totally understand your battle with the heat...not to mention we are going to be in the 90's this weekend! yuck. early morning runs here we come!

  2. You are a freaking rock star!!
    It was a tough finish but you still rocked it!

    And I totally thought you said we got A free Mexican LOL.

  3. Things to try: chocolate coconut water.

    See also; It's SO COOL you did an ultra, despite how dragged down you felt, I CANNOT IMAGINE.

    The costumes were AMAZING, your team sounded GREAT and you = my hero.

    PLEASE come and run in Minnesota! Would LOVE to meet you!!!! :)

  4. Wow, I am in total awe of you and your teammates. As hard as it was, YOU DID IT!! Nice work on second place, thats amazing!

  5. Oh wow, what a rough way to finish. But, you finished and you all did so well. (BTW, this doesn't sound fun to me, but I'm glad you liked it)

  6. Way to push through! You rock! I love your shorts too:) At least you looked cute even though you felt terrible:)

  7. Way to be awesome! Makes me want to do a relay (although maybe not in the ultra category). You are one tough lady!

  8. Love the outfits! Way to push through. That sounds so rough, but you did it! Congratulations!

  9. Wow, what a a crazy adventure! Running in the middle of the afternoon is rough. Way to stick with it and finish. You and your team rocked it, and looked awesome doing it!

  10. Heat makes us all just melt like snowmen. For realz. I'm all about some 11 minute miles on a hot day too :) I have a feeling this summer is gonna suck.

    So, you ate hard boiled eggs??? Before running?? While running? Let me tell you what would happen to me if I did that?? OMG. HAHAHAHAHA!!

  11. I'm exhausted for you just reading this, but what an awesome experience! I look forward to hearing some of your tips/tricks, too!

  12. you did it, congrats! awesome job. what do yall get for 2nd place!?! did you find the nutrition was easier on a “regular” relay? i’m just wondering what to expect for HTC.

  13. i loved all your recaps! it has me SOOO pumped for july. and i'm going to be waiting for that "tips" post on ultras :P

  14. oh, and the pic of the guys walking down the side of the road.. you know, the awesome one.. was that just a randomly snapped pic?? it totally looks like a pic that would be part of a teaser for hangover 3 or something HAHA