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Six Days in the Dome Redux - 48 Hour

August 23, 2019

Running on an indoor track for 48 hours

I was so looking forward to this race because it was going to be flat.  After my DNF at Western States I needed something I felt confident in running.    I like to run flats and you can’t get much flatter than on an indoor track.  I hadn’t run a 100 in over seven months and for me that is a long time so my confidence was a bit sketchy.  We were to run at Pettit Ice arena, indoors and climate controlled.  It was a cool 50 degrees because the track circled two ice rinks.  No weather to deal with, just the monotony.  

Running a track, where each loop is slightly over a quarter mile is different.  I have never done a loop this small and am not sure I liked it.  Sure it was nice not to have to deal with elements like dirt and mud and rain and sun.  But it was also a little creepy being inside for so long.  At one point I kept asking people what’s the weather like outside.  Finally I just had to go see it and sat out in the sun for a few minutes.  Running indoors for a long time is like being part of a dystopian novel where the aliens are testing the people by having them run around in circles, being fed and playing the same music over and over.  They wanted to see how the people reacted to this experiment.  Weird.  Yes the music they played all day and night sometimes cycled through the same songs.  At times we sang to the music to perk ourselves up but by the 4th, 5th or 6th time you heard the same song you just went, ugh, not again.  I feel for the six day people as 48 hours in that environment wigged me out.  Maybe I shouldn’t listen to a dystopian novel when I’m running these events.  I’ll stick to comedy next time.

I met up with the crazy Canadian Susan Hui.  We shared a hotel room the night before the race.  Being around her energy for too long can really sap you.  She was bouncy and talkative even while doing her best and setting PRS for herself.  Everyone in the venue knew Susan as she is so friendly and this weekend she was fast.  The turtle was on fire!

The race started at 9 am so they gave us the talk before about not running side by side because the track was only three lanes wide.  So if you were to have a conversation it was like trail running you had to follow each other, passing in the second lane and walking slow in the third lane.  I was excited at the start and of course went out fast.  I didn’t think I was going fast until my first mile was under nine minutes.  Whoa Nellie, slow down.  I settled in to a good pace although probably faster than I needed.  I basically ran 70 miles without much walking if any.  Then I walked 50 miles, took a nap and was able to run again.  I think I should have had a better plan for approaching the pacing of this race.  I was looking forward to running.  I kept telling myself I like to run, so run.  I had a very positive outlook for all of the race and was enjoying the journey.  Thanks Aurora for my motivational cards.  I looked at them and even carried them with me for many laps, reading them and channeling the motivations, “just keep swimming” was my favorite.  Although “infinite patience” was the name of the game for an indoor or for any track race.  You can’t get too excited at looking at the screen that shows you your mileage each time you pass it because you really haven’t gone very far since the last time, only a quarter mile.  So it seems like it takes forever to rack up the mileage.  I was enjoying this big screen that showed everyone’s places.  I started in 16 or 17th place and at one point was in 9th place overall in the 48 hour race.  People kept leaving the track and you know me, I just keep swimming.  But for the women’s race I was in either 4th, 5th, or 6th pretty much the whole time.  There were three extremely tough top runners and it was impressive to watch them rack up the miles.

That is one of the great things about loopy courses you get to see the race unfold while you are in the event.  On day one the 30 people in the 48 hour race would also run with 19 people in the 24 hour race, so only at most 49 people on the track.  It was relatively easy to manage each other on the track and avoid running in to people.  On day two another group of 24 hour runners would join us and this group was about 30 people, so sixty all together however this group had some fasties.  Super fast Zack Bitter and Pam Smith among others.  It was a little intimidating when they were about to start.  It felt like they could possibly run us over as you are not as steady after 24 hours of running.  Zoom zoom zoom they came by us so fast, wow. I had to really concentrate on hugging the inside lane to not impede their progress.  It was also fun to walk in lane three so you could see them zoom by and they were just flying by, amazing.  It was an exciting day to get to see world records broken.  Some records were set on day one only to be broken on day two.  Two super fast and strong ladies in the 60-64 age group were fascinating to watch, especially their crew.  Debbie Horn set the 100k, 12 hour, and 100 mile records on Friday and I think Pamela Chapman Markle broke them all on Saturday.  Debbie did walk away with the 48 hour record for her age group.  The crews were helpful getting them what they needed but also keeping them going and letting them know where they were at so they could adjust their pace or enjoy the moment of accomplishment.  That must be a super tough job crewing in a cold venue with no views.  These elite runners were friendly to us mere mortals.  That’s the way we roll in ultra running.

I usually have a tough time sleeping the first night so I didn’t even try.  After I got a hundred miles I gave myself a treat and went outside to see the sun and confirm that I wasn’t in that dystopian novel being tested by aliens. After a 100 miles I usually start giving myself little treats every five miles.  A treat can be something like sitting down with my feet up for a few minutes to eating something to calling my husband.  Just a little motivation to keep me going.  I listened to a book and some podcasts so those helped.  I tried to sleep upstairs in this room that they set up for sleeping but everyone kept coming and going and it was not conducive to sleep, so I gave up.  I found a pad to lay on just off the track in the venue and tried to sleep there.  I schooled myself on others who were doing the same.  I used a buff to block out the light and earplugs.  I should of got the noise cancelling head phones out but was too lazy.   The first time I tried to sleep next to the track didn’t work too well, but getting off my feet helped.  The second time didn’t work either.  But the third time I got two hours of sleep, yes.  After this I could run again.  Sleep is important and I suck at it.  Gotta learn how to sleep during an ultra or I’m going be a mess at ATY six day.  Yes I am signed up for the big one so I’ll have to put on my big girl pants and give it a go.

Now you would think in a lighted environment without the elements of nature you would not hallucinate.  On day two I started seeing stuff.   I came around the corner and saw this huge spill on the track.  They had let us know earlier that we should tell the race directors if anything was spilled on the track so they could clean it up to avoid anyone slipping.  So off I go to notify them and as I approach the spill I realize or see that it is the track emblem, a symbol that I had already gone by many many times before.  I swear it really did look like someone spilled their latte everywhere, weird.  I also kept seeing spectators off to the side of the track but they were just the big recycle bins shaped like a large coke bottle.  Give me some time on my feet and I will see stuff whether it’s there or not.

After not having done a hundred for a while and after a DNF you really question whether you still have whatever it takes to do these silly things.  I really really got emotional as I reached a hundred miles.  For about four or five laps I would cry on the backside of the track where no one was.  It felt so good and so important to me, silly I know.  Then all smiles for rest of my time on the track, enjoying the journey, except the last hour.  I kept telling people I thought I signed up for a 47 hour race as my legs were done during the last hour.  But really I was low on calories as I asked for food immediately after the race ended.  Usually in the last hour I am cranking out every bit of distance I can. This time I enjoyed cheering people gettin some.  I met really great people that run extremely well.  I did get 135.5 miles, not as much as I hoped but my third highest mileage out of the six 48 hour events I have completed.

So at the completion of 90 miles of Western States I could hardly walk the next day.  Even a day or two later it was so difficult to bend my legs I could hardly sit.  The pain and stiffness lasted for two weeks.  I am walking fine one day after this little 135 mile run. Flat is fast and flat is good to you in the recovery.  I still like running in the mountains but flat is my jam.

We will see what the future holds as I cannot say never again or I will never do that kind of an event.  After the Mt Si Relay when I first saw an ultra runner I told my husband I would never run 50 miles.  After my first hundred I told him I would never run another.  My husband will remind me not to believe myself.  Right now I would say I won’t run a track event again, what do you think...I always change my mind. Smile.

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