Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Arkansas Traveller 100, 2015 - 25th Anniversary of Race

21 times in 32 hours
Lisa Gunnoe - AT100 2015, 25th anniversary

After spending years at the Pumpkin Patch Aid Station at the Arkansas Traveller 100 it became a goal to finish this race myself before my 50th birthday.  After many shoulder, back issues and injuries it seemed impossible to happen.  A winter of no running and working hard to lose weight helped make it seem slightly possible.  On a trail run on April Fool's Day I decided to give it a try.  I'm 49, so it was time to step up to meet the goal.   My entry into the AT100, 2015 was posted on April 1.  Yes, I'm an April fool for sure!

Because I'm not blessed with athletic talent in the least, but I am blessed with a passion for running and a don't quit spirit, I knew I had to take this serious.  Every mile, every calorie, every core workout, every push-up had to be taken seriously and treated with respect to honor the miles, the race, and those who helped me get through.  This was the very most intense six months of my life. Not only would it take serious respectful, training, but it would also take a miracle.

The miracle was in the way of people who were willing to share their time, wisdom and knowledge to get me through.  People shared their notes to crew and pacers, pace charts, drop bag suggestions, taper suggestions, then crew and pacer sacrificed a whole weekend of their time for me.

My family made the greatest sacrifice.  A long run for me isn't a morning event, it is an all day event with a nap afterward, so Chris didn't see much of me during the summer.  He also stepped up to take care of the Pumpkin Patch Aid Station during the race.  Kim gave up a week of work and flew in from Maryland to help as well.  

Jeff Beason, Chris Beason, Elaine Gimblet, Lisa Gunnoe, Shela McAnally
It was about twelve minutes till 6AM, time to go and I forgot to get my bib number.  Yikes!
Andi had warned me to set a time limit on fiddling with drop bags, but I didn't listen so was caught fiddle farting with them instead of getting things done.  After finally getting things together, bib on, fuel retrieved, it was time to GO!

Photo by Steve Griffin - Frantic bib application

First Goal:  First figure eight loop in under 4 1/2 hours.  I hadn't been able to do this in training, but kept telling myself that during training I wasn't rested or tapered, but tired.
The section between Browns Creek Aid Station (mile 11.9) and Lake Sylvia (16.4) is just killer.  It is so technical.  I love technical, but it is hard to be fast on those rocks.  I made that loop in a bit over 4 hours then spent 12 minutes messing with band-aids and feet.

Shela, Chris, Jeff, Alston helping me get my butt out of the aid station - Lake Sylvia
Pumpkin Patch Aid Station (mile 22.1) has been my favorite place to play during the race for a few years now.  To see it from the other side, runner, having family and friends warm greetings was a completely amazing experience.

Pumpkin Patch Aid Station
Between Lake Sylvia and Lake Winona (mile 31.9) tummy troubles set in.  Forgetting to put Nuun in my pack, meant too much water, too much hard work and poor tummy wanted to go home.  It wasn't horrible bad, but never really went away the rest of the race.  When I realized that what was coming out of the hydration pack didn't taste as it should, doubling up on S-caps till getting to Lake Winona to correct the oversight.
Using an Ensure between each drop bag, then picking up the next Ensure was a very good idea.  That and potato soup got me through after tummy said NO MORE to anything else.

The mental battle began early, at Pigtrail (mile 36.1) I realized I was an hour behind the red line. This just wasn't good news.  It was hard not to panic.  After coming out of Bahama Mama (mile 43.2) and slowing down even more going over Smith Mountain the battle intensified.  I took three pictures of sunset and the 45 mile sign so that I would at least go home with that.  Then it was time to draw on the mental training, a summer of no complaining and rewriting negative stories in my head, was going to be put to the test.  As I was thinking about what was going to be said when that first cut off was missed, it was time to put a stop to such thinking.  I yelled, "NO" (in my head only, not out loud) then told myself this was my story and I get to write the ending.  It wasn't over till it was over.  Then trying to grasp onto one of the many mantras read over the weeks what came to mind was scripture,
Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."  Of course that had to be deconstructed.  "I can do hard things through Christ..., I can do very hard things through Christ....Then it occurred to me that "all things" was much bigger than "hard things" all things encompassed seemingly impossible things, so that was repeated half a million times making my way through the darkness of my mind to Powerline (mile 48.0).

The first person I saw at Powerline was PoDog.  He gave me a hug and told me to keep at it.  The water works turned on to weeping as I got another hug to steel me against the rest of the night.  I knew I put long sleeves in my drop bag, ugh, no.  Shela McAnally, my crew and massage therapist (Massage Me in Searcy) literally gave me the shirt off her back so long sleeves would be available if needed!

Picking up a pacer was amazing!  Chris Beason, a fellow Team RWB member and marathon runner, was my first pacer.  She had trained many training runs out on those service roads so she was ready. What great company, reminding me to keep moving just a bit faster, a bit faster, a bit faster.  She said when the leaves were blowing in the trees, the trees are applauding your effort.  That is so beautiful!  She paced me to the turn around (mile 57.9) and back.  I don't remember much, but potato soup and nodding off while walking up hills.  You know how your head bobs when you nod off in church and it wakes you up, yup, that is how it was, very glad to be using trekking poles! Chris would run ahead and get me some potato soup.  I was able to get in and out of each aid station, almost running through.  Thank you to Chris!

With Chris Beason, she is a great pacer/runner/friend!

We made it back to Powerline (mile 67.9) with 7 minutes till cut off.  I asked if it was possible to finish the race being so tight to cut offs, Elizabeth assured me it was possible, she had done it.  I HAD to mess with my feet!  UGH!  So off the shoes came, change bandaids, add lube, fresh socks, step into different pair of shoes.  Oh hell no, they won't work!  So back into the old shoes it was. Carrie DuPriest, volunteering at the aid station, was counting down the minutes for us to do this race car pit stop and me to get my butt out of the aid station.

Jeff Beason, Chris's husband and another fellow Team RWB member, was my next pacer.  He really had his job cut out for him getting me back over Smith Mountain!  There is so much rough terrain out there!  Sleepiness and loss of steadiness was a large challenge here.  So was the negative talk in my head.  I'm very glad to have had the tools to shut that bitch up!  I'm also very glad to have trained with and be using trekking poles.  I don't think I could have kept moving without them.  I fell down once and stumbled many times.  Jeff wasn't afraid to push me and did a fantastic job.  Hats off to you Jeff!

Jeff reminded me after reading this that we had a book club conversation while on the go!  LOL  We are both book junkies, lots of overlapping genres.  I do, with his reminder, remember a bit of this!  LOL  He was telling me about his latest book purchase by an author whose first name is Marina, I believe!
Jeff also fessed up to telling me our pace was a wee bit faster than he was telling me it was!  He was trying to keep me going, just a bit faster, just a bit faster!  It was brilliant!  I'm so glad he did.  Thank you Jeff.

Training run with Jeff Beason.  He has mad skills at getting one through.  

The first half mile out of Bahama Mama (mile 72.6), with a headlamp on, the quartz on the ground looks like many camera flashes, it was hard to not just stop and watch!  There was a blister developing on the fore foot on my left foot, I thought it was a callous acting up, it felt like a knife in my foot every time the rugged gnarly stuff was crossed.  This, along with balance issues, really slowed me down!

It was a miracle to make it in to Lake Winona (mile 83.9) .  Jeff was a good sport to keep me moving with all that was not working with my body.  I used the port-a-john, changed my shirt, removed the torture devise of a bra and kept moving with Elaine Gimblet to pull me through till the end.  "Just a little shuffle, just a little shuffle, you don't have to run, just shuffle" was the mantra on in.  I think the course by Rocky Gap (mile 87.2) was created by the devil himself to use as a torture devise on poor feet.

Elaine pulled it off and got me through last cut off at Electronic Tower
My husband, Chris and daughter, Kim, had a long intense time of it.  They were running the Pumpkin Patch Aid Station.  They never did. They spent the whole race, when not taking care of runners, listening to the HAM radio for number 100's progress.  He said at one time I was too far behind, but always seemed to make it up.  Chris had faith in Elaine.  He told Kim that Elaine had this, she would get me through.  Well, getting into Electronic Tower (mile 91.4) so tight to the cut off, didn't help his stress level!  Apparently I had three minutes to spare.  Again, YIKES!

Seeing family at Pumpkin Patch (mile 93.7) was so amazing, energizing, fantastic, and emotional. They gave me some pumpkin pie and had to push me out of the aid station.  If I was speedy I could have made 30 hours, but I know me and on a good day it would take a miracle.  It wasn't happening that day.  My goal was 30 hours that not being made at least I would finish.

Elaine and I were making our way down 132C, rough bugger, and low and behold a lady was laying beside the trail!  What could this be! Well, mothering instincts took over and that was a good distraction.   Heidi's legs, quads, had completely locked up.  She laid down beside the trail as her pacer went to get help.  We sat down beside her, talked to her and ask her if we could massage her legs some to see.  She was so close to the finish line.  After a bit of massage, Heidi walked some with us holding on to her, then she walked on her own using one trekking pole.  She was going to finish too!  She and her pacer had gotten off course by 6 miles. When they figured it out she had 12 bonus miles!

Katerine Seywerd total Badass!  
No running or even fast shuffling happened after that.  We just walked in.  As we were on the last bit of road, Kim, my daughter, and some others came out to walk in with us.  It was so amazing. Someone told me that the finish line was still up for us.  That was when the water works turned on. The finish line was still up even though we were two hours late!  I'm not mentioning much about Heidi and her story, that is her's to tell.  I'm amazed and in awe of this very tough running chick!

Kim Gunnoe, Lisa Gunnoe, Katerine Seywerd, Elaine Gimblet
The hugs, the tears, the gratitude, the hugs, the runner leg hobbling, the sore feet, the belt buckle, the 25th year spike, the bib number with 100 on the front and names of people who really struggle with physical challenges on the back, these all come together for a grand finish!  I can't explain the feeling.  I still can't a week later.  It isn't like that first 1/2 marathon or 50K which left me feeling HUGE, powerful and like a gorilla on cocaine.  It is a quietness that I can't quite explain.  It almost must be carefully guarded because it is so private, personal and precious.

That night, at about 1 AM, not sleeping, I got up to take an Epsom Salts bath.  After the bath I slipped getting out of the tub (Help!  I've fallen and I can't get up!)  hitting the side of the tub right on the ribs, OUCH!  A week later, I have gone for a run twice, my feet are okay, my legs are okay, my ribs hurt like crazy!  Kinda feeling like a badass old! old! woman!

It would be interesting to read reports from pacers, crew and family.  My version may be a great fantasy hallucination.  Who knows what really happened!

I can do this in 30 hours!

..... and I only cussed 21 times in 32 hours.

What Went Well:

-Being distracted by aid station prep pre-race
-Brain training!  Attitude training, doing push-ups for cussing or complaining throughout the summer
-Breaking race down into sections, aid station to aid station, never thinking of it as 100 miles
-Managing pace at first of race
-Managing fueling even when stomach stops playing along (Ensure & Potato soup)
-Hydration/electrolyte management (Nuun & Ginger Soother in hydration pack, water in bottle)
-Training with and using trekking poles
-Strength training, core and upper body
-Choice of pacers and crew
-Support of family and friends

What to Improve:

-Don't give husband such heart attacks by barely making cut offs.
-1/2 size larger shoes for late in the race
-Improve chafe protection for bra and hydration pack area
-Study blister fixes
-More hill work
-Continue weight loss
-Even though done well, learn better aid station time management
-Continue core work and strength training


Hoka One One Bondi 3
Injinji sock liners
Thorlo Experia socks
The North Face Better Than Naked Capri & shorts
Zuala Latitude long sleeved tee - color silver, specific for heat management
Nike Team RWB shirt
Gregory Pace Hydration Pack
Ultimate Direction waist pack without bottle
Petzl Nao headlamp
Black Diamond Distance Z-Pole Trekking Poles 110cm
Buff - to wear under headlamp
Fuel - Huma Jell, Lemon and Mango, Pro Bar chews
Hydration/Electrolytes - Ginger Soother, Nuun Tablets, S-Caps

Added names to back of bib, friends and loved ones who have true physical challenges who would love to do their equivalent of what I'm doing helped me stay strong when I wanted to quit.  I had a finish line, and end date to suffering, they don't.

Not bad, not bad at all

This one stated on that dang callous Still not bad

Couldn't do push-ups for cuss words during the race, so decided to donate a dollar for each one.  Sent a few extra just in case. 

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