Thursday, October 31, 2013

Equalizer Run RR

What: Equalizer Run
When: October 26, 2013
Where: Des Moines, IA
Distance: Whatever is covered within 24 hours
Goals: A) 50 miles
            B) 43 miles (distance covered last year)
            C) 26.2 miles (minimum for the hoodie)
Final Distance: 50.5 miles

The Weekend Before:
On October 19th, I ran my first 50K. My plan was to run it easy, but that quickly changed at the 21 mile point when I was told I was on pace for a sub-6 hour finish. I pushed a bit and ended up falling hard at mile 24. After the race, it was painful to straighten my right leg. I decided to take it easy and only ran once (on Thursday) the week leading up to the race. That run went well, but I could still feel a twinge in my knee.

The Day Before:
I started packing at around 10:00 in the morning so I could be on the road around noon. I packed a tent, blankets, camp stove, food and hydration supplies, selected the running clothes I planned to wear. The clothes included multiple shorts, pants, short sleeve shirts, long sleeve shirts, 3 pairs of shoes, multiple pairs of socks, and multiple jackets. I hit the road around 12:15ish.

I arrived in Des Moines and checked into the hotel around 3:30. I went to wally world and bought some other food items for the race. Suddenly, I got a feeling that I forgot something at home. I decided I better lay out the clothes I planned to wear at the start of the race. Shoes/socks - check. Shorts/pants - check. Shirts...where are those darn things. F@%@! I forgot the shirts. It turns out I put them beside the bag, not in it, ooops. Back to wally world I went and bought some shirts. It turns out I did have some long sleeve shirts from previous races in the car, but just like the new shirts, this would be the first time time they would be worn. Thankfully it was just shirts that I forgot, I already planned on using waterproof band-aids so I wasn't worried about chaffing.

There was a pre-race dinner and a sports bar located 37 seconds away from the hotel. I had a burger and beer and enjoyed conversing with friends, old and new. We left the bar at about 8:00 and I went back and finished laying items out for the race.

The Race:
Since the temp was in the upper 30s/low 40s, I started in shorts and a long sleeve shirt. I settled on starting the race in my Pearl Izumi Road EM N2s. My plan was to switch to my Mizuno Wave Riders after about 2 hours and then finish in the Brooks Ghost.

I met up with friends for breakfast at the hotel. We had planned to get to the race location by 7:00. We left on time, but unfortunately there was a major traffic delay and we arrived about 7:15. After unpacking everything from our vehicles, we set up the tent. Before long, it was time to line up for instructions. I thought I had time to mix up my hydration bottles, but I was wrong. Since this was a 24 hour event and only a 1.9 mile loop. I decided to go without the belt for the first loop.

At about 8:00, we were off. I fell in with a couple of runners, Tim and Britt. Just like with most of the other ultra runners I've met, conversation came easy. The loop seemed to end quickly, we ran it at about a 10:00/mile pace. After I crossed the line and made sure I was counted for a lap, I stopped at our "base camp" and mixed up my bottles and put on the hydration belt.

Tim, myself, and Britt during the first lap.
The next mile I ran too fast at a 9:18 pace. I settled down after that and averaged right around a 10:00 mile until mile 15. I stopped at the "base camp" every lap and nibbled on something or refilled a bottle as needed. After lap 6, I changed my shoes as planned and headed back out in the Mizunos.

After lap 9 (Mile 17), I started walking several sections of the course each lap to conserve energy. Then around Mile 21, I started getting pain in my left calf. It felt like a knot and was sore to touch, but it wasn't acting like a cramp. I decided to start walking from that point to start taking it easy on the calf. Somewhere around Mile 25 I was starting to get pain at the base of my shin, just above my right foot. It hurt to put too much pressure on it or flex the foot. I could still move forward, albeit slowly, so I trudged onward. At about 2:15pm (Mile 28ish) I took a break for a couple of hours to eat a sandwich and massage the calf.

At about 4:20, I changed into the pair of Brooks shoes and headed back out to start Mile 29. I decided I wanted to make it to at least the 50K point before I took another rest. I made it to about 32.75 and decided to go grab some grub with a couple of friends. Since I have never had Chipotle, that's where we went. I must say it was a pretty tasty burrito. Then again, I was hungry so it might not have been as good as it seemed.

After dinner, I decided to try and get some rest. I laid down in the tent to let my calf & shin get some needed recovery time. I couldn't sleep, so I read a book for a few hours and then closed my eyes. I woke up at around 12:30am and headed back out some more. The calf pain had really diminished, but the shin pain was still there. When I approached the rainbow bridge, I snapped a few pics since it does look really cool at night.

I did the math and figured at the pace I was walking, I could reach my goal of 50 miles, as long as I didn't take any more breaks.

I made it to Mile 40ish and suddenly got real foggy headed while crossing the bridge. It was as if I was buzzed or drunk, even though I haven't drank any alcohol. I decided that when I got back to the "base camp" I would stop and try to get some sleep. I made it back at about 3:00am and managed to sleep for a couple of hours.

When I woke up, I figured that my shot at the goal of 50 miles was long gone. I set a new goal of 45 miles and headed out for more laps. This time around, my calf felt fine, my shin was hurting less, but my right knee was starting to twinge. This was an issue that was left over from falling during the 50K the previous weekend. It wasn't changing my gait, so I decided to keep going. Since the calf and shin were better, I was able to pick up my walking pace and make some decent time, all things considered.

Somewhere around 5:30ish, I came up to the "Justice League," a group of people dressed up as super heroes. My first thought was, "oh great, I'm about to encounter a pack of crazies patrolling the park." Thankfully, they were the entourage of Tim, one of the runners I ran with during the first lap. We exchanged greetings and I headed on my way, my mind at ease knowing the Justice League was there to keep the park safe.

At about 6:00 I caught back up to another runner/friend, Brad, and walked the remainder of the lap with him and his family. It felt good to talk and take my mind off of the knee. It was all I could do to keep pace with him, but I managed. When we made it back to start another loop, we decided to start doing the out and back section that consisted of going down the path to an orange cone and turning around. Each out and back section was a quarter mile in length.

With just under 30 minutes to go I was told that I was at 47.46 miles. I tried to pick up the pace, but was still walking. I tried to see how a very slow run felt. It didn't hurt any more than a walk so I went with it. The orange cone was placed on a downhill section of the path. I had to walk this section due to my shin hurting too much while running it. So I walked down to the cone, back up the "hill" and ran the rest of the way. My pace slowly started to pick up and I started to feel good.  Eventually, I started to actually run. It felt really good to stretch the legs out and get some speed going. I knew I was close, so when I made it back to the finish line, I asked how many laps I had left to reach 50 miles. At that time, I was told two laps. I think I just about sprinted those two laps. I asked to make sure I was at 50. I was told I was at 49.46 miles. Crap, this meant I needed to run three more out and backs to reach 50 miles. I didn't even look at the clock, I just took off running as fast as I could at the time. I ended up finishing the out and backs and realized I had some time left so I ran, slowly to get one more finished. I ended up walking quite a bit to the cone and then slowly jogged back to the finish line.

Shortly after 8:00am, the awards were handed out. One of my friends, Dian, made some cool finisher medals for the event out of petri dishes and some advil.

The longest distance covered, actual miles, was 118 miles which made for a new event record. Talk about impressive.

Enjoying the awards with my fancy red/yellow hat.

It felt great to achieve a goal that I thought had slipped away from me. I couldn't have asked for a better finish. I had a lot of fun over the course of the event and met a lot of good people. During my walking sections, I was always asked how I was doing and getting words of encouragement from those passing me. The only thing that would have made this event better is if it was on a trail instead of an asphalt path.

Surprisingly, I never felt as bad after this event as I did after the 50K the previous weekend. I also felt better after the event this year than I did after finishing about 43 miles at it last year. To say that I am happy about both the result and how I felt after the event is a huge understatement. This gives me some hope heading into longer ultras on trails in 2014. I can't wait!


  1. Great job digging deep at the end, Eric! Amazing, isn't it, how motivating it can be when they give you your mileage, you do the math, and realize that your goal is there if you can JUST push a LITTLE more. ;) So glad you had another great run!

  2. What a thrill completing the 50 miles! Knew you could do it - you can do anything that you put your mind to. Keep up the good work!! Love you, Mom