Sunday, December 10, 2017

Blood Rock 100: Snow Covered Hills

This weekend was the Blood Rock 100 mile (and 50 mile) race in Oak Mountain State Park, Alabama, my 2017 goal race. I would say I trained adequately, but not well,, running the 50k distance three times since the end of September and working up to 2600 feet on the stairclimber. What I had planned to be my longest training run had to be cut short at 4 hours. Those 4 hours were miserable, as I was having a hard time coping with the cold with temperatures in high 20s. I was almost grateful a new injury forced me to stop and then take a few days off: Achilles tendonitis. I had never struggled with this before and wondered if it could be related to my Inov8s. I tried running in my new pair with the same uncomfortable pressure on my Achilles when climbing, but decided to go ahead and switch to this pair since it likely had better traction.

Since this was the first year for the 100 (Blood Rock 50 was run last year), it was difficult to predict a finishing time. The course was going to be challenging and cut-off time was 35 hours, so I chose under 30 hours as a goal. I created a pace chart by looking at the elevation profile, and estimated a time of 28:40. However, this was assuming everything went perfectly, which I new was unlikely. 30 hours seemed a reasonable goal.

As I was driving to Alabama, snow was accumulating in Pelham and particularly on the tops of the mountains I would be climbing. The forecast low for Saturday night was 22 (I’m not sure what it actually got to). I found myself very anxious about all of this, particularly driving to the race in the morning with wet roads turning to ice overnight.

I needn’t have worried. The roads were fine, and the trails were beautiful. The park was closed but the race was allowed to proceed, so we were the only ones getting to enjoy the snow covered trails. I brought everything Nathan and I could think of to keep warm and never struggled with being cold.
The course is made of 2 50 mile loops. The race starts with a little bit of road and some gentle, flatter trails for a few miles before the tough section begins. There is a series of climbs which are very steep, and everything I wanted to use to bolster myself (rocks, trees) was covered in snow. I had been hoping we would time reaching King’s Chair, an overlook spot, with sunrise (race started at 5 AM), and that is exactly what happened. A fellow runner (Alan/Allen?) kindly took my picture.

It was at this early portion of the race that I diagnosed the problem with my shoes: they were too small. I had a pair of road shoes in the car but they would never make it up these steep, slick climbs. So, I would have to run 100 miles in shoes that were too small.             

The first aid station (other than a jug of water perched on a railing) wasn't until 11.8 miles in. It was advertised as a "minimal" aid station, but let me tell you what the volunteer fed me: a lemon risotto pancake. By far the best thing I ate all day.

Soon after leaving the aid station, I was told by another volunteer/onlooker that I was the first woman for the 100 mile. Oh brother, it was too early to think about that!

From this first aid station, the course varies between some easier sections and sections with 1-2 significant climbs. Despite the small field (38 were signed up for the 100 and another 20 something for the 50), I found I had company for the majority of the first lap, which was a pleasant surprise. A sign had been moved on one section, causing me to mistakenly omit a short portion of trail, so I made plans to repeat this portion on my second lap. A nasty climb on a powerlines section was heralded by a pop-up aid station from residents of the nearby neighborhood, who probably enjoyed seeing up struggle up the steep grade on a soggy trail from snow that had started to melt and nothing to hang on to. The final section of the race was much quicker and easier that I expected, and I was pleasantly surprised to arrive ahead of schedule in under 13 hours. I ended up being the first woman to finish 50 miles (though was about a 1/3 mile short on my distance at that point).

I was planning to try to take the touch section with multiple climbs easy to try to save my legs for later, but it was impossible to get up some of the climbs without shooting your heart rate up. This section took my a whole extra hour on the second loop. Now that only the 100 mile racers were left, I was receiving lots of congratulations and encouragement for being the first female. Apparently I had a 5 mile lead on 2nd place as of ~75 miles, which threatened to make me complacent. I did an out and back on the section I had missed, actually doing it three times instead of 2 on the lap. I also got turned around trying to figure out how to repeat the section I had missed and climbed an extra big hill by mistake. So, I more than made up for my omission in the first lap.

It seemed even if I walked it in, I would likely still win the race, which wasn't helping my motivation to keep moving. My legs were pretty cooked and I had slowed considerably, even though I was still able to maintain a 10 minutes running, 1 minute walking pattern on easy trails. I was on the penultimate section when I realized that if I came into the aid station at 27:30, I could reasonably hope to finish under 30 hours. I was in and out of the aid station quickly and set off for the last 8 mile section. There's a good bit of elevation change initially, so it's hard to make good time. Then, when the trails leveled off, I was disturbed to find my brain didn't seem to be working properly. This is melodramatic, I know, but I couldn't seem to make the connection to tell my legs to run even though I wanted to. I was also hallucinating profusely and couldn't look down the trail because every time I did, I saw a sign that wasn't there. I think I will blame sleep deprivation. I fought to run short portions and accepted that I would probably finish around 30:30. Somehow, I found myself at a sign (a real sign) that said "Cabins," which is where the finish line was, at about 29:53. Could I really be that close? I ran a little faster than I had been and indeed, crossed the finish line in 29:57.

I got some cool swag for finishing and for winning the women's race:

But my feet suffered dearly from wearing too small shoes all day. In addition to multiple blisters, check out my toenails:

Overall, the race was really well done, especially for being a first year event, and the volunteers were so helpful (for this crewless runner) and enthusiastic. The running group based in Birmingham is definitely a close knit group with a family feel.

Now after a few days of work, it's off to Sweden for recovery and time with family. Then training for IMTUF 100 can begin!

Thanks for reading.


Sunday, October 29, 2017

Stone Steps 50K: The Sweet Spot

The Stone Steps 50K is respected as the toughest and most competitive ultramarathon in the Cincinnati region. The race is held in the Mt Airy Forest, my favorite place to train. I ran this race today as part of my training for the Blood Rock 100, and so had a couple recent 30 mile runs under my belt. Because I know the trails well, I was reasonably confident that I could run 6:20-6:30 for an overall time. The race is made of four 5.3 mile loops, each featuring the Stone Steps and Gummi Bear Hill climbs, and three 3.3 mile loops. The trails in Mt Airy Forest are challenging, so I planned to run the longer loops in 1:05 each and the shorter loops in about 40 minutes.

It was chilly day, in the high 30s at the start. The sun never appeared, so it didn't warm up. There was some mud on the trails, but not enough to dramatically affect your pace. Basically, it was as close to perfect running conditions as you could get.

I had taken the day before totally off running, and felt great on the first loop, coming through the main aid station in an hour. Quicker than planned, but I was mostly letting the trail do the work for me by cutting loose on the downhills and moving steadily on the uphills. Heading out on the first short loop, which is a lollipop, I nearly collided with the first place female, more than 2 miles ahead of me. It actually made me feel relieved: No point stressing about trying to win this thing. I just hoped she wouldn't lap me. I finished the first short loop at 1:37, then the next longer loop around 2:40. At this point I thought, "Wow, I'm still at 6 hour pace. I hope I don't blow up."

After another 8.6 miles, I was leaving on a short loop at 4:17, but definitely feeling more tired. I told myself that if I came back through the aid station before 5 hours, I would have to give a good effort to break 6 hours (something I hadn't done in a 50k since my first ultra 8 years ago). I came through in 4:55 and heard Geoff Peterson telling another man (Marcus) to get moving so he could break 6 hours. Within 10 steps of the aid station we had made a pact to shoot for this goal together. I set the pace and he distracted us by telling me his ultrarunning life story (I don't think I would have had the breath to do that same).

Whew, those Stone Steps were tough the 4th time. Luckily, there were still downhills so gravity could move me forward quickly. Marcus fell behind 3 miles into the loop, leaving me to navigate the obstacles (specifically lots of unleashed dogs) of the last 2 miles alone. I hadn't seen another woman since the first mile, but I came close enough to high five the second place female (Randi) as I started up Gummi Bear hill in the last mile. She was friendly and talkative, but I really could only huff and puff. I knew I was going to be cutting it VERY close to break 6 hours since it was all uphill from here. I let Randi go ahead and despite the very gentle grade of the incline that followed Gummi Bear Hill, I still had to allow myself two 10 second walking breaks, one when I was within sight of the finish. BUT, I finished in 5:59:44 for 3rd female (14th overall). 4th was right behind me (who knew?)

I am super pleased with this race because I often run too conservatively in races and feel I cheat myself from discovering what I am capable of. Once I tried to go out hard (Broken Toe 50K last year), and while I DNF'ed for a different reason, I would have slowed considerably if I had continued. Here, I ran close to even splits and it took everything I had to finish in the time I did. It was a "Sweet Spot" of effort.

There were a couple more positives from this race: 1) It was my first long run in the cold for awhile, with some lessons to keep in mind for Blood work: specifically that Honey Stinger waffles get hard in the cold and it is really hard to keep yourself warm after a hard effort. 2) Between participants, volunteers, and spectators, most of my Cincinnati/Dayton ultrarunning family was at the race today, making the race even more special.

Next up is Blood Rock!


Sunday, September 24, 2017

Germantown 50k: Women's Day in the Heat

The Germantown 50k yesterday was my first race in nearly a year, and it is so good to be back to some "steady" running. This year's "A" race is the Blood Rock 100, which is December 9-10 in Alabama. I have run some this year, but without consistency until this month. David Corfman inspired me to attempt running every day for the month of September. It's been nice to get out the door every morning and if I don't feel good, I only run 2-3 miles, but most days I do feel good. For long runs, I ran 26 miles on the trails Caesar Creek 3 weeks ago, a hard 15 miles on Mt Airy trails 2 weeks ago, and then a hard road 17 miles one week prior to Germantown.

Jaguars teal. This may be the reason the Jags were dominant in their game the next day.
I wanted to target a 6 hour race, but 2 things had me nervous about this: that time would have placed first female last year, and the forecast indicated a very hot day. I sought out unique way to calm my pre-race jitters, painting my toenails as suggesting my Krissy Moehl in her "Running Your First Ultra" book:

and purchasing more varied running food than I typically use:

Mmm, look at the appetizing variety!

I also made a point to use my favorite water bottle, special because I have run so many miles with it that the logo is completely worn off:

It was a comfortable 65 degrees at the start of the race. We set out on the very nice trails of Germantown Metro Park where we would complete a 7.75 mile loop of double track trails 4 times. The trails have periods where there are fairly steep hills and rocks/roots, but there are large flat sections too: all very runnable. I was shooting for 11 minute pace + a few minutes of wiggle room per lap with plan to reassess if needed. This pace was very comfortable for the first half of the lap, but the second half had some tougher hills and I started to wonder if my plan was reasonable. I finished the first lap in 1:26, right on pace, but expecting I would slow with the heat.

I finished the first lap as 5th female but got through the aid station quickly and started the second lap as 3rd female. I accepted that attempting to break 6 hours would likely back-fire in the heat and settled in to a plan to slow by a few minutes per lap. I finished the second lap with a total time of 2:56.

The course is set up with a short out and back to access the start/finish/aid station from the loop, so you get a glimpse of everyone within 4-5 minutes of you. The second place woman came out to start her third lap 4 minutes ahead of me running hard, and I knew if I tried to match that pace it would not go well for me. A few miles later I realized that I getting very hot, so I stopped to walk and eat for a few minutes and felt much better after. I finished lap 3 in 4:34. I didn't see anyone on the out and back section, which relieved me. There was no reason to push hard, I could just run consistently and likely maintain my position.

It was getting steadily hotter (it was 91 by the time I finished), so I gave myself carte blanche to walk up any and every hill on the 4th lap. About a mile from the finish, I saw Aneta who told me, "You're third female. She's about a minute ahead of you, so pick it up." Oh, man! I tried, I really did, but there were some big hills right after that and I suspect she was already past those by the time I saw Aneta. I was still pleased with a finish time of 6:11 for third female, 2 minutes behind Betsie who was second.

As it turned out, a woman had won the overall race (decisively so!) and my third place female was good enough for fifth overall! Perhaps the heat brought out some strengths among women. The original 2 lead men dropped out of the race, and I suspect the heat contributed to that.

Had the race been any longer, I would have needed to make some significant changes, especially with my salt intake. It was very minimal during the race and I started cramping as soon as I stopped. So I grabbed every source of salt I could find at the finish: gatorade, S-caps, potato chips, and once I cooled down a bit, even soup:

The race directors and volunteers were so supportive, some of them even learning my name to cheer me on in subsequent laps. The course was incredibly well marked. It was a low budget race with a lot of heart poured in; I loved it!

I felt tired but good for my easy 4 miles day (again in 90 degree heat) and am looking ahead now to the Stone Steps 50k as next training race for Blood Rock.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Burning River 100 2017: Bringing home the buckle

The smell of victory.
Two straight DNFs will mess with one’s brain and wreck one’s body. Humbled but uninjured after Burning River last year, Jordan convinced me that my racing year wasn’t over; that I should count the 72 miles I ran as a training run, and maintain my level of fitness after a short recovery. The Tunnel Hill 100 in November seemed like a good second try at a buckle; a double out-and-back course on a flat, fine-gravel recreation trail in Vienna, Illinois. After having a support crew and pacers at Burning River, I went solo for this attempt; camping overnight at the start and utilizing aid stations. The first 50 miles went well; I stuck to my run/walk plan and kept up with food (even grabbing a whole ‘lunch’ around noon), reaching the halfway point in 10:30. I stopped long enough to put on warmer clothes and started back out as the temperatures dropped. I had planned my clothes on the assumption that I’d be running, but a recent knee injury restricted me to walking, and I couldn’t generate enough heat to stay warm. I told the aid station worker at mile 65 I was done and curled up next to the fire pit. I got a ride back to the start with another runner’s crew and crawled underneath two sleeping bags before driving home the next morning.

After some soul searching, I realized the Burning River DNF bothered me most, so Jordan encourage me to target it again this year. I made a training plan to address my shortcomings from last year; I raced two 50ks and a 50 miler, incorporated speedwork, hit the weights at the gym, and introduced myself to that special torture which is the stair climber. I ended up running fewer miles total in the run-up to this year’s race, but was convinced that quality would trump quantity.

The days before the race were relaxed. My parents came to Cincinnati to watch Fuller, and I hitched a ride up to Akron with a fellow runner whose accomplishments and experience were inspiring and educational. Jordan joined me later that evening, and I was in bed by 9:15.

The 1:30 alarm to catch the bus went off after a good 4 hours of sleep; I sat around at the start to save energy, and felt calm as the seconds ticked down to the start. Committing to not make the same mistakes as I had last year, I made a point to walk across the starting line so as not to go out too fast and to set a conservative tone for the day. I deliberately kept to the back of the pack during those first 11 road miles, walking even the slightest hint of an uphill. I wore a GPS watch for the first half and obsessively checked that my pace never went faster than 10 minute miles. And through it all I felt awful… Every injury I’d dealt with this year made itself known, and I felt under-trained and out of shape. I finally started to loosen up after 20 miles when I first saw Jordan at Shadow Lake. I picked up more shot bloks, decided against carrying solid food (the aid stations had great options), filled up all three water bottles, and got back on the trail. The weather was still cool and the trails lush, and I made a point to take it all in and thoroughly enjoy myself.

All business at the Meadows.
Photo credit Pat Dooley
As I was familiar with this section of the course from last year, the next few sections flew by. I felt like I sprang to life when we finally hit some proper single track on the Buckeye Trail. The mix of trail surfaces would turn out to be a good thing; about the time I’d get tired of pavement, we’d be back on a bridle trail or single track. Around mile 36 I encountered my first real challenge: my right leg began to seize up and I had searing pain in my hip joint. I was pretty sure it was a bad cramp in my quad, so I decided to hobble as best I could to the Meadows aid station at mile 38, see Jordan, address the cramp, get some salt and Advil, and get back on the trail. Jordan could probably tell I was struggling as I came into the aid station, and she got right to work with the marathon stick on the very obvious knot in my right leg while I lay back gritting my teeth and trying not to scream. All of a sudden a woman appeared and said, “Is he cramping? I’ve got just the thing.” In a moment she was back with magnesium cream all over her hands. All but elbowing Jordan out of the way, she said, “I’m going in!”, reached her hands up my shorts, and began to mercilessly work on the knot. I have no idea what she looks like because I was squeezing my eyes shut to the pain. After about 30 seconds, I felt the knot disappear, cried “STOP!” to this ultra-angel, and thanked her profusely. Once the Advil took affect 30 minutes later, it was like the cramp had never happened. Whoever she was, crew person or volunteer, she saved my race. I hopped up, got some Nutella, banana, and potato chips wrapped in a tortilla (so good!), and got back on the trail, feeling like I had a new lease on life.

I had crafted much of my training this year to prepare specifically for the next 12 miles. While there aren’t any really long climbs at Burning River, there are a lot of them, and they’re steep and rugged. The time I logged on the YMCA stair climber really began to show on this section as I powered up the climbs, even passing some relay runners when the hills got especially steep. Last year I became demoralized heading into the aid station at Boston Mills when I realized I wasn’t going to break 10 hours, but this year I was pleased to cover the first half in just under 12 hours. I loaded up with more shot bloks, headlamp and flashlight, potato chips and a pickle, and set out with Jordan feeling better than I had all day.

With Jordan there, the race became even more fun. We chatted about the day, and I told her all the stories I’d accumulated so far in the race. My next big issue began to creep up, and would define much of the rest of the race: I could feel blisters forming on the balls of my feet. Learning from last year’s mistakes, I’d come prepared with 4 changes of socks and a crude blister kit. The left foot was the worst, so I found some band aids and medical tape at the Ledges aid station and did my best to reduce the friction. My poor taping job didn’t last long, so at the next aid station (Pine Hollow 1), I covered both feet with Vaseline and put on fresh socks from the drop bag. While dealing with blisters, I was covering the section where my race fell apart last year, and I was combating anxiety by comparing how I felt now to how I remember feeling last year. We passed a bench where I’d laid down during the race and first contemplated dropping; Jordan suggested I stand on top of it and strike a pose. Which I did. I could easily tell I was so far better prepared this year. It gave me encouragement for the way ahead.

Speaking of encouragement: in the weeks and days before the race, Jordan had reached out to family members and old running friends to record messages and videos that she saved to her iPhone. She showed them to me as we were approaching aid stations or when she sensed I needed a pick up. She even read Facebook updates from our Cincinnati based running group. It was an awesome feeling knowing so many good friends were rooting for me to succeed.

As it got full dark, the primary difficulty began to be fatigue. Once I passed Pine Hollow 1 at mile 72, I was in unexplored territory, running further than I ever had before. I was surprised by how bad my feet hurt (blisters and general soreness), how good my legs felt (once the cramp was dealt with, my legs felt great), and how dog-tired I was. So many times, I just wanted to lay down in the trail and go to sleep. Feeling desperately tired, I sat on a stump, and discovered the beauty of cat naps. I put my head on my knees, asked Jordan to get me up in two minutes, and tried to relax. It worked wonders; I felt reset, and once the stiffness of sitting wore off, I could run again. I repeated this a number of times through the night (probably more times than Jordan thought prudent), but it was the only thing I found that really helped the fatigue.

I’d been warned by past finishers that the loops at Pine Hollow and the Covered Bridge were the toughest sections of the course, and they did not disappoint. Both consisted mostly of horse trails, and those fine animals had torn up the trail surface something fierce. With blisters on both feet, every misplaced step was painful (which seemed to be most of them). These trails were also really steep; I got confused trying to decide if the light I saw above me was the moon or the headlamp of a runner further up the trail (it was frequently the latter). Once we reached the Covered Bridge 2 (definitely my favorite aid station; they just seemed to be having the most fun), I knew most of the remaining course was towpath or road. The blisters required more attention; this aid station didn’t have medical tape, but they did have BIG band aids and duct tape, which finally fixed the buggers. I commented to Jordan sometime later that I’d temporarily forgotten I had blisters, such was the magic of the duct tape (it’s going in my pack from now on).

Now I was back in familiar territory, having paced Jordan for the remaining sections when she ran this race in 2011. We tried to make better time now that the running surface was easier; if I couldn’t run, I tried to keep up the ‘ultra shuffle.’ I took another catnap at Botzum (or tried to; helpful volunteers kept checking on me, and I felt bad to see their apologetic faces when I said I was trying to take a nap), got one last dose of solid food, and got serious about getting this thing done. Jordan suggested we run 5 minutes and walk 2 on the long stretch of towpath to the next aid station. Like magic, after 10 reps we were at Memorial Parkway, the last aid station before the finish. I topped off my water, planned to survive on shot bloks til the end, and set out for the last 4.2 miles of my first 100 mile finish.

As we got closer to the finish, the emotions started to hit. I’d fought for this finish for a long time. When I first contemplated running 100 miles, I wanted to earn a place in the ultra community, and to fit in with our running group (we know a lot of very accomplished runners). But after a year and a half of training and two DNFs at the distance, I just wanted this for me. Around mile 99 or 100 (the course measured 102.2 this year), I pulled ahead of Jordan, let the emotions come, and just flew down the trail. The feeling of running that fast with that many miles in my legs was worth every mile of training. I didn’t really believe my body was that capable, but it is, and it was a magnificent feeling. Jordan caught up to me as I slowed down approaching the infamous series of steps (they really weren’t that bad) in the final miles before the road back in to Cuyahoga Falls.

They say don’t celebrate too early, and it’s true; my little life-affirming wild-man trail moment caused my butt to start cramping once we got on the road section into town. Chastised, I walked most of the last mile, running again as I approached the finishers chute with that great big clock that signifies the end of most footraces. Crossing the line, I put my head down for the volunteer to place the buckle around my neck. I found I was laughing and crying at the same time; crying out of happiness, and laughing because I couldn’t believe what I’d just done. This was a long time coming, and I wanted it bad.

Some surprising truths struck me during the race. I realized running 100 miles is not a physical challenge; it’s a mental one. While I think there’s a base level of fitness required to cover the distance, a strong mind is vastly more important. One quote from a recent training article stuck with me and saw me through many miles: it’s not about how you feel; it’s how you feel about how you feel. Many times I’d repeat to myself: my feet hurt, but that’s okay; I’m tired, but that’s okay. Fatigue was a much bigger challenge than I expected; my cat naps seemed to work, but next time, I’ll bring even more coffee.

Some technical stats. I ate at least 20 packets of shot bloks; I’d packed solid foods in drop bags, but went with aid station fair which worked well. I drank 4 servings of Roctane and 3 6oz cans of coffee. I carried 57oz of water at a time (two hard 21oz bottles and a 15oz collapsible flask) and by rough estimation, I probably drank 4 to 5 gallons of water (the thought of drinking water would eventually begin to turn my stomach…). Five days post race, the only lingering issues are the blisters, and I know those will take time.

I haven’t figured out the 100 mile distance, but I’ve got my foot in the door now. I’ve earned the right to contemplate and dream of steeper and higher races, and look forward to getting back to the work of training.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Broken Toe 50K: Aborted Experiment

                Yesterday was the Broken Toe 50k, a race I had signed up for on a whim as I was feeling fairly good after Grindstone. I had a secret strategy for this race (secret because anyone reasonable would try to talk me out of it). Typically, I run conservatively, sometimes feeling I could have gone faster. I wanted to push the pace from the beginning, a bit of an experiment. I viewed it as a 31 mile tempo run.
                I started out the first mile (road, mostly downhill) at what still seemed a comfortable pace and found myself in the top five—the top five men, that is. I looked at one of them and said, “I’m not this fast. Where is everyone?” A couple people passed me, but then as we turned onto the leaf covered singletrack, I immediately passed them back.
                The trails were beautiful with lots of great views of the lake. It was really a great course with some nice ups and downs (a few of them steep enough that I could walk without feeling guilty about it) and rocks and roots buried under the leaves. I hit the 4.7 mile aid station at 55 minutes, not all that fast, but I was still very much at the front of the pack. The next aid station was ~ 8.7 miles, and I arrived there at 1:40. I was hopeful I could run a sub-6 hour race.
                We headed back to the main aid station, a section that I understood to be 4.6 miles. I was running along at my “fast” pace, finishing some shot blocks, and looking for a good tree to pee behind. Wham! I was on the ground. My knee stung enough that I limped a little as I started to run again. Good time to pee then; I would also get a chance to recover from the fall. The knee didn’t bother my much as I kept going. What I did start to notice was my heels. I had grabbed a pair of Smartwools without much consideration in the morning, and apparently this pair had holes in both of the heels. The shoes I was wearing rubbed right at those holes. I made plans to get band aids at the next aid station, which should be coming soon.
                Except it wasn’t. I wouldn’t reach the next aid station until 2:49, even though I didn’t really feel I had slowed down. Thankfully, Lori was at the aid station and had bandaids in her car. I stuck them over the places where my heels were already bleeding and cheerfully headed back on the trail, glad to have found my solution. Two minutes later, the pain was back. I stopped a couple of times to adjust band aids and socks, but it soon reached the point where it hurt just as much not matter what I did. I have run 11 hours with bleeding heels before. The pain only got worse and I soaked socks in blood all the way down to my toes. I did not want a repeat of that experience, so I turned around and walked back to the aid station to drop out, having run about half of the race.
                I’m still pleased with the day. It was starting to get hot when I stopped and I would have needed to slow down for the rising temperatures. I likely overshot it some with my faster pace, which just means I got a better work out in for the 16 miles I did run. And it was fun to pretend to be fast for a morning, hanging out with the men in 4th-ish place. During my last attempt to fix my sock, the next woman passed me and looked super strong. I feel confident she would have passed me soon even if my heels had not given me problems.
                Today I’m sore in some interesting ways, some which I can attribute to my fall and some which seem to be from running faster. One has me puzzled: the muscles between my ribs, equally on both sides. Any thoughts?
                After 12 miles last weekend, 16 yesterday ended up fitting perfectly into training for the next race: Lookout Mountain 50 Miler.
                Thanks for reading!

Not sure how I scraped the front of the knee and bruised the side