When I finished the
New River Trail 50K on Saturday, I felt like
I'd done battle and lost because I missed the cut-off at the
finish. I wasn't feeling very strong
psychologically, that's for sure. I'm still in a funk on several
levels about the
race -- and what it all means -- three days later. I hope to
gain some strength from it eventually.
Peaceful view of the New River along the trail, afternoon of
The whole world seems to be in crisis mode right now. There's
the financial crisis that is affecting the entire globe. Huge
banks and businesses are failing as a result of the mortgage debacle
and other Pollyanna lending practices.
Credit is virtually frozen for businesses and individuals.
People are losing their homes and their jobs.
Those who still own a home have seen its value drop
significantly. Prices on goods and services are soaring and
consumers are reluctant to purchase anything but necessities, so
many businesses are going belly-up
The various stock market indices are bouncing wildly up and down
like a ping pong ball. Retirement accounts and other investments
have lost huge sums of money. I'm not even going to get
into the contentious presidential race Is there any other
It's a vicious circle and no one knows if we've "hit bottom"
yet or how long this recession or depression will last.
And with all the doom and gloom, I'm sitting here worried about
my performance in a race????
Yes. I am . . .
. . . because the main thing that keeps me sane in this wacky,
unpredictable world is my running. And that seems to have gone
to pot, too.
GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS: ANOTHER RACE ANALYSIS
This section gets a bit technical regarding fluids and
electrolytes. If you've had problems with cramping or swelling
during a long run or race, it may give some insight into what
went wrong. If you aren't interested in the subject, enjoy the
pictures as you scroll down to another topic! Photos in this
entry are from our training run on the New River Trail on
Deer in the Mist (New River
Trail, morning of 9-17-08)
I'm not sure what I could have done in the race OR in training
to accomplish my simple goal of just finishing under
seven hours, the time limit required for an official finish and
the nice technical shirt given only to the finishers -- but
I've got to figure out exactly what's causing my leg cramps
so I can prevent them (not just fix them after they start)
before my next races, and especially before ATY. Even after the
calf and hamstring cramping began, I held a fast enough pace
through miles 16 to 26 to finish the race in time. It was only
after the adductors (inner thigh muscles) started cramping in my
right leg at 26+ miles that I was reduced to walking and
overshot the time limit by nine minutes.
The good news is that my stomach and feet were fine the
entire race -- no nausea, no blisters, no swelling of my
extremities from the heat and extra
exertion. Sometimes I have problems with one or more of those things, too. And I had sufficient
energy, motivation, and enthusiasm to run those last five miles;
it was incredibly frustrating to not be able to resolve the
adductor cramping problem and resume running at any point during the
last hour and a half.
Sculpture along the New River Trail across
from Cliffview Campground
The most common, logical reasons for muscle cramping are lack of
electrolytes and/or fluids during warm or hot weather.
- I should
be acclimated; I've been running in weather in the 80s
and 90s all summer and fall and it didn't get that anywhere near
that hot during the race.
- I took a total of 25 Endurolyte capsules during
the race, which should have been enough sodium, potassium, and
other electrolytes for a cool, foggy
morning and sunny, less humid afternoon (temps ranged from the
mid-40s to lower 70s). I consumed additional sodium and
potassium in my Perpetuem energy drink. That's not as much as it
sounds: Endurolytes have only 40 mg of sodium and 25 mg of
potassium per capsule, compared to 341 mg of sodium and 21 mg of
potassium in Succeed!Caps -- which is why you have to take a
bunch more of the Endurolytes.than S!CAPS to get the same amount
- It's pretty obvious in hindsight that I didn't take in adequate fluids
I didn't urinate for over seven hours. Previously I've gone as long as
twelve hours during the day without peeing in warm to hot races, which is
NOT good (once it cools off at night, though, I pee frequently).
At NRT, I drained at least a 20-oz. bottle of water
every hour, although I had to ration it two times on the longest
section between Fries Junction and Chestnut Yard. I made a
mistake by not drinking additional water at each aid station
because I was in such a doggone hurry. I was definitely
dehydrated and didn't fully understand to what magnitude during
the race -- until it was too late to reverse the damage.
Cliffview Campground on 9-17-08
I think I consumed enough calories. I drank most of two bottles of
concentrated Perpetuem mixed in water, a total of 12 scoops, enough for six
to eight 20-oz. bottles when mixed at regular strength. I also had about
ten ounces of Hammergel.
The Perp and gel totaled over 2,000 calories of easily
digestible carbs, proteins, and fats I ate no solid foods during the race.
HOW DO I REMEDY THIS?
I've got my work cut out for me here. Getting my
fluid-electrolyte balance right has been a work in progress for
many years because of all the variables.
- I need to think back to
what precipitates the cramping and see if there are any
- I probably need to
drink more fluids during races and worry less about hyponatremia because my
history indicates dehydration is a major factor.
- I need to
experiment with Succeed!Caps again. They have a lot more sodium
than Endurolyte capsules do. I quit taking S!Caps several years
ago because I seemed to be retaining too much fluid during races
(hand, leg, and foot swelling). Swelling can be caused by either
too much or too little sodium in proportion to fluids. I was never sure which problem it was,
but assumed it was getting too much sodium in the S!Caps. It's easier for me to
control the edema with the smaller doses of sodium in Endurolytes, but
maybe I'm not getting enough now. It's complicated.
- I need to do more research
re: the role of potassium, another necessary electrolyte. Last year at ATY I was given two
separate high-dose potassium pills when I cramped up and they
(plus more fluids and sodium) worked fast-but-only-temporary miracles
during the race. Should I be taking potassium supplements, or am I getting enough in my diet? Should I
take potassium separately during races?
I'll ask the RN or MD who gave the pills to me . . .
WHAT ABOUT FUTURE RACES?
The New River Trail 50K sounds easy because it's flat and smooth,
but even Jim says he probably couldn't have run it in seven
hours. Neither of us is used to running that pace so long
without more walking breaks.
We both prefer a hillier course that offers more
relief to the leg muscles. This should be good training for me
for ATY, though -- it's even flatter than the NRT.
A portion of Chestnut Creek along the New
Jim also gives me credit for not hopping into the sweep van when
I was hurting, but sticking it out to the end. I think he was
just trying to make me feel better! I don't think he would have given
up under the circumstances either. I was so focused on
finishing NRT that I think I would have crawled to the
end before quitting.
I don't consider this race a failure even though I didn't make
my time goal. I came close and I gave it everything I had. I
think that's why it's so frustrating -- missing that shirt
by so few minutes after trying so hard. At least I was listed as
a finisher and I never, ever
considered dropping out even when I knew it was inevitable that I
couldn't finish in time. I'm still a fighter, slow but stubborn.
"The spirit, the will to win, and the
will to excel are the things that endure. These qualities are so
much more important than the events that occur." -
Still . . . this experience does make me hesitant to enter any future
ultra with a time limit that is strict for someone as slow as
I've become -- another 7-hour 50K or
even 7½ hours on a hillier course,
or a 12-hour 50-miler. I'm just not fast enough any more. I'm
'way, 'way past a 4:50 50K and 8:20 50-miler now
-- those were the good old days! Sure, I can say I'll do enough
speed work to GET faster again. But I did that all summer and it
wasn't enough; I was always on the edge of an overuse injury,
even with tempo runs at only 80% of max HR (i.e., not as hard or
fast as speed repeats).
I like pushing my limits and I'm sure I will
again (like trying to run/walk 90 miles in 24 hours at ATY), but
I think you can understand why I'm a little hesitant to throw
any more money toward races with tight time limits. I can't
afford it any more emotionally than financially. It's not "cost
effective" in either regard.
Maybe I should just settle for mediocrity, like this Agnes
cartoon in Sunday's paper:
Naw, I don't think I'm that discouraged yet!
This quote from our ultra running buddy, Dan Baglione, who in his
70s, says it well:
will to do does not always overcome my physical limitations,
but the soul
to dare lives on."
The day after the race (Sunday) I took it easy, just doing some
gardening and walking through our woods with Cody. I wasn't real
tired but my legs were sore from the cramping and over-use of
the same muscles on the flat course, so I didn't push it. I did
some self-massage and took Ibuprofen, which I take regularly for my
arthritis. In retrospect I should have done even more
to relieve the DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). Ice and more elevation probably would
Yesterday (Monday) I was about halfway into my routine two-mile,
moderately-paced walk with Cody in our hilly neighborhood when I
got a sudden pain deep in my groin on the leg where the
adductors cramped so badly during the race on Saturday. This was
something new in my 29 years of running and it hurt so badly,
especially downhill, that I could barely make it back to the
house. Poking and massaging to find a pressure point didn't work;
it was so deep I couldn't reach it. Ice did no good either.
Ibuprofen eventually helped. I
sat as much as I could the rest of the afternoon and evening so
I wouldn't strain it any further.
Triple C Farm along the New River Trail
north of Cliffview
It still hurts today., although it's better. I was so worried
about it, wondering when I resume training for my
races, that I didn't sleep very well last night. But I had cabin fever and
wanted to do some exercise today. Thankfully, I discovered that
cycling didn't hurt my leg at all. I had a great ride on my road
bike on the River Greenway in Roanoke and relieved some of my
stress. Tomorrow I'll ride Jim's trail bike while he runs.
If it isn't one thing, it's another. I overused my leg muscles,
tendons, and ligaments so much on Saturday that simply
walking rolling hills was too much of a strain two days post-race. In
retrospect, walking those last five miles in the race wasn't the
greatest idea. I knew I was risking injury if I ran, but since
it didn't hurt anything but my ego to walk, I didn't
realize I might still be risking further damage.
fragile I've become! As I get older, it's so much easier to get
injured and takes so much longer to heal. I'll just have to take it easy until the
injury heals. Looks like this will be a week to cycle instead of
run and walk.
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody, and
Tater (in spirit)
© 2008 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil