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Across the Years Six Day

December 28, 2019 to January 3, 2020


So I was doing a lot of planning for this event both physically and mentally.  Visualizing reaching my goal, staying positive, and packing well by bringing everything.  I was also going to be traveling with some really great running ladies.  I will have to admit that I was a little intimidated by Van and Jess.  What came out of this is even more respect for both of them as runners and especially as wonderful human beings.  What happens at ATY, stays at ATY, well some of the juicy stuff but not all of this.  I write these reports to remember and remind myself not to do this stuff again.  Not this time, we were already planning for next year before the race was over, a very special experience indeed.

First day in the RV okay, slept about seven hours and we learned how to use the thing.  Heat is crucial during the cold nights and the RV had great heat.  Getting ready for day one and the nerves are kind of scary, six days is a long time, 144 hours is a long time to count down.
Good to be on course with all the other RV people, glad we didn’t stay in a tent as the weather was terrible, on and off raining all day.  Fun to be with Jess and Van.  I think there should be tests done on us, how often do you have extreme runners who run six and ten days.  Lip balm, lotion, toe tape, we should be testing their products as this event would be a true test as to whether the products actually work or not.

Even though this is my first six day I have goals for myself.
I looked at other results and read some six day race reports.  Most reports kind of get slim towards the end.  So I’m going to try to take some notes as I experience this event.
A goal 75, 60, 60, 50, 50, 50.  345
B goal 70, 60, 60, 50, 40, 40.   320
C goal, 65, 60, 55, 50, 40, 40.  310

I wrote this on a note card and looked at it often about a couple of months before the race.  Notice that they are all over 300, I was determined to get that new 300 mile buckle.

Day one
No rain, muddy from previous rain, sunny and windy, cold at night
I ran well, marathon in 5:16, 50k in 6:28, ended my night a little short of my goal, with only 68.5 miles at 1 am.  At the beginning of the day I was in sixth place and then shortly after about 15 miles I started to move up and eventually was in first place all day.  Don’t know if I like that, a target on my back.  We will see if I saved anything for day two.  My toes are already a little touchy and had to change shoes after only 20 miles.  Time for some rest, hopefully sleep. I did sleep but it didn’t feel like it.  This was the longest break I took, about 4.5 hours.

Now when the race starts and ends at nine am you have all night into the next morning to rack up miles.  So overnight I added almost ten miles so my true day one total was 78 miles.

Day two
Started off well, could still run, but taking more frequent walk breaks.  Woke up in second place. The 75 year old woman got ahead of me while I took my break.  I took back the lead after 15 miles.  Hotter today, no wind.  More toe issues. Need to take breaks to put my feet up.  Enjoying the ride, chatting with people and listening to Wait Wait...Don’t Tell Me podcast.
Gotta go for more miles, writing this with my feet up after draining two blisters.  Gotta get back out there.  Hudson get going, dammit.  I do a lot of self talk and Van and Jess will tell you I make a lot of noises.

Got up to 115 total miles.  Walking slowly and the feet really hurt so I am going down early tonight at 9 pm.
Slept or rested for four hours then came out running.  Did a bunch or miles, then the feet hurt again and I was weaving so decided another nap was in order, short one, only an hour, then more miles.  I think I ended day two with 134 total miles, so 56 miles for day two.

Day three
Rick brought us Starbucks, a double mocha and walking with Jeanie helped me get a bunch of miles, now having eggs and toast and getting off my feet. Going to see if I can run in a bit.

No running today, lots of walking and talking.  Going to take a nap early to try to see if I can actually sleep.  Had eggs again, yum. I even ate a hotdog.  Just because I wanted the sweet relish.  Yum.

Kind of spacey right now so I definitely need some sleep. Tata

Napped and then ran some loops, 4 per hour, now walking 3 per hour.  Watching people in shorter races finishing their 100s and leaving and  talking about taking a shower, ugh I stink.  A shower may be in my future.
At 165 miles, had to drain a blister and now sitting with my feet up.  The blister is in between my toes, not sure how to tape that, so just kept draining it and it eventually healed itself.  Kind of don’t want to go back out there, but I must.

Day three ended with 188, not expected but grateful for that number.  Means I have a lot of miles in the bank for 300. I think I finally slept a little, or enough to get to REM because I felt refreshed.  Day three mileage, 54 miles.

Day four, new territory for me
I have completed three previous 72 hour races at ATY with my top mileage at 204.  So anything past 204 is a PR.
Walked all morning trying to keep sub 20 min miles.  Lots of people to walk and talk with.  Met Tom R, superintendent and talked education.  Amazing how the laps fly by when you have a good conversation to distract you.

It is now 1:45 and I have gotten to 200, nap time.

Got up from nap and starting walking and talking.  This is the fun part of the run, lots of socializing.  After my feet warm up I can walk quite well and once in a while i can still run.  Met up with Jess and we walked easy for several miles.  Great to talk to the queen of happiness and positivity.  No lost underwear here.  Inside joke.
Met up with Van and we walked some loops, stories stories stories, shhh, too much to tell here. Finding someone to walk with at night is helpful to keep from weaving and staggering.
We are looking forward to a shower on day four.  Going to take a rest and then push forward gently. Right now at 220.  But who’s counting.
Midnight sparkling cider, a wedding and fireworks.  All good fun.

End of day four, 235 miles, so 47 miles, my smallest number because only walking.

Shower, bliss, oh how nice it feels to be clean.
No running on day three, worried about toes, tender, because they were tender and I was not sure how good the tape job would hold I walked until I could re tape after a shower.  I tested them out and ran ten miles to start day five. It is Hot and sunny.  Didn’t like what the aid station was offering so I’m going to cook eggs for my own lunch and sit in the layback chairs

Ran hot in the sun, stopped sweating so had to pound down some water. After a few laps of this I started sweating again, phew.
Slowed down a little bc I realized I may have been pushing too hard.
Then laid out in sun and had a nap, bliss.  When I woke up people said, oh the sleeping princess is finally awake.  Apparently a lot of people saw me sleeping and sleeping is not easy in a race like this.  Jess took a funny picture of me sleeping like a champ, probably snoring.

After my shower I felt so good and pushed it.  Later that day my legs, especially my knees kind of gave out on me..this scared me as I thought my race was over.  I ran into Van and she said you probably are overexerting yourself and need to take a break.  So I did and slept for three hours.  I decided that was so scary that i would walk the rest of the way as I did not want to have to shut down my race.

Started walking with Marcia, my competition.  She has been an ultra runner for some 20 years and has done vol state, badwater and western.  We chatted and then she asked me if I was going out all night long.  I told her that I would do what the body allows me to.  I think she didnt want to be out there and was trying to find out my plan, I was sufficiently vague.  It was good to chat with her and find out a little about who she is.  And I’m competitive and she is ahead of me by two loops.

I was hoping for dinner sooner than it was ready.  I have been getting very hungry for the last two days.  I feel like I’m eating and drinking lots yet not enough.  So I go back for seconds or thirds of the sloppy joes.  I don’t even like sloppy joes but I need calories.  As I watch the top three women in the ten day race, Annabel, Jess and Van, it looks like they are thinner each day.  People comment that it is difficult to take on as much calories as we are burning. I just know I’m hungry all the time.

Now at 258, taking a break for my feet.  After three hours my feet talk to me and say go sit down and get off the feet, they actually are yelling at me.  Weird visualization of feet yelling, teehee.

Almost 5 am, did another ten miles,  now at 280.  Time for nap or at least getting off my feet.  Seems easy to fall asleep these days as we are so tired.  Going to try diff shoes when I get up.  Hope to get another five miles in for the day and that would be fifty

286 end of day five, so 78, 56, 54, 47, 50

Almost had a race ending breakdown on the afternoon of day five.  Everything hurt to the point that I could hardly walk.  I had pushed myself too hard that morning and needed more rest.  So I took a four hour rest and nap.  It did the trick, still in pain but not debilitating to the point of having to stop.  I think I might have already written this...

Eating well and still hungry.  Always hungry, tired of eating.  But only way to feel good is to eat lots,  must be burning lots of calories and not able to replenish, weird feeling.

RV is great, heat at night magical for sleep.  There are times when all three of us hit the RV at the same time and it is sweet as we giggle and are amazed at each other. Glad to be traveling with Van and Jess.

Shoes with cut outs for day six
So about five years ago I came home from ATY wanting to cut off my little toes as they always get lots of blisters and cause me so much pain.  I had seen other people cutting out part of shoes.  I wanted to try this so my husband cut holes for both big toes and little toes, places I usually get blisters even with pre taping.  I brought these shoes to ATY for the last several times I have gone and never ended up using them as I was doing the three day or two day events.  Well this year was the year for these shoes.  I was tentative about wearing them as I never really tried them for more than a few steps at home.  They were magical and while everything else hurt my pinkie toes did not.  These modified shoes are probably why I got my goal mileage.

Can’t keep track of what day it is for vitamins.  Trying my best to take them when I remember.  O my watch says the day, I guess I could have used that but that would have required my brain to be working efficiently.

I know why they do these events on a closed course so runners are safe while brain stops functioning properly.  I see and hear people talk about using a port a pottie only to leave it not knowing which direction they were traveling.  The brain needs sleep to function and not everyone is getting the sleep they need.

At 3:00 pm on day six I completed 300 miles.  This is the turn around time (every six hours we change directions and see one another face to face) and so there are a lot of high fives.  Going to nap, when a goal is reached a treat is in order, the treat I choose is a nap.

Fun to walk with Darro and Tom and Gary and Rick, lots of good stories. The camaraderie is the best part of ATY.  Got to 500k and then took a break, got to 320, then took a break.  Pineapple quesadillas, yum

Feet are good once I get going and warm up.  Weird feeling on ankles, probably because of so much exercise or so many days.  It felt like water flowing inside of my ankles.  Any weird sensations like this and I just want to sit down or lie down so as not to do any damage.  I figure my body is giving me warning signals, signals I have never experienced before.  2:30 am going for my last nap before finishing my first six day.

Got up before 4 am to get this thing done.  Walking now after a nap takes almost a full mile to warm up the legs and feet and get going again. So this gives me five hours to get what I can get. Planning on 330 or 333

Walking is tough, body hurts especially the feet.  I’m staggering due to lack of sleep.  A lot of runners choose to walk during the day because it is easy to stay awake and choose to run at night as it helps a person stay awake.  I decided after day five and my scare that I would only walk on day six, so weaving I go as I walk tired.  Duh, have some caffeine.  Sure enough a cup of coffee wakes me up and no more staggering.  I eat a lot, I mean a lot.  Every one to two hours I need to eat things.  And the number belt they gave at the start which was tight is now slipping off me.  Just how many calories am I burning?

320 miles, I run into Marcia, first place woman.  I tell her I am not chasing her and i am chasing a big number for my PR and first six day race.  I congratulate her.  We then walk some loops together, company is grand in the middle of the night.  I am so happy to not have to chase her and am pleased to do what I can do to meet my goals.  I also don’t want to do permanent damage. My knees are stiff and my feet hurt awful, my Achilles is acting up as well as plantar fasciitis.  My arthritis in my big right toe makes my right foot alien looking from so much swelling.  It is so stiff I cannot bend it.  I don’t want to do permanent damage and am not sure whether I’m doing that so better safe than sorry.

The last three miles are typical Jill, big cry each mile.  Hopefully no one was around to see the big ugly cry.  So worth it and carthartic.  Maybe that is why I do this stuff.

Finish line, remove the ankle timing bracelet, I’m free.  Luckily I’m wise enough to bring my shower bag on the last loop so I don’t have to go back to the RV to get it.  I have breakfast with Marcia and then we hit the showers.  
Sitting in the sun after being clean is wonderful
Running walking and talking for six days is wonderful
Spending time with running friends is priceless
Hitting a big goal is splendid
Hanging out with Jess and Van is lovely
Time for a nap

Brain malfunction after race on Friday.  I think I’m going home on Saturday. Worried I cannot rally to do this. Call husband he reminds me I don’t leave until Sunday. Phew. He tells me to go to sleep which is what my brain needs.

Lessons learned
Bring all the shoes, especially the larger size ones and the cut out shoes
A blister may heal itself if you drain it often enough
Don’t bother changing into PJs to go to sleep, just take off your shoes and lie down
Caffeine is good when you start to stagger all over the course
Work at walking because in a six day you do a fair amount of walking
Find clothes that are easy to take off and on to layer up for all the temp variations at ATY
Also have a big bin on the table to put clothes in so they don’t get damp
Have friends order pizza and salads later in the race because you are going to be extra hungry

Thanks for reading 
I hope your 2020 goals are reached

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