Friday, October 14, 2016

Oh The Pain! Fixing The Blisters and Chafing

After finishing the Ouachita Trail 50K in April Bob Marston talked to me about challenges I faced during the Arkansas Traveller 100.
My feet!

Karen Hayes recommended Lambs Wool to me to to use around my toes to prevent blisters.  I have major blister problems most of the time.
I use Injinji Sock Liners, so the traditional way of wrapping the toes with lambs wool won't work.
This is the procedure I use to keep my feet snug and blister free for miles and miles.

Supplies:  Lambs wool, scissors, lube of choice, bandages, Injinji sock liners, Drymax socks
My big toe is a big problem!  I have the least problems with Hoka One One shoes.  But... that leaves me with what I call the Hoka blister on my big toe.  So it gets special attention.  Before applying the wool I apply the lube to help keep the wool in place while I pull on the Injinji sock liners.

Lube, then wool

secure this extra padding on the big toe with a large bandage
sometimes paper tape is needed around the bandage to make sure it stays in place for 40 miles +

Lube each toe

cutting the wool the proper size to fit, make a cap for each toe, place over the end of toe

Carefully slip on Injinji sock liner not dislodging the wool covering each toe

Blister problems on the heel, no problem, same procedure. Lube, wool, sock.

pull on Drymax sock over Injinji sock liner
For the lube I use for feet:
1/3 petroleum jelly
1/3 baby diaper rash ointment
1/3 aloe jell
5 drops DoTERRA Lavender Essential Oil

During the Arkansas Traveller 100 - 2016  I didn't wrap my big toe in this method.  I paid for it.

I did have to add a layer of wool at Lake Silvia between the two socks, under the ball of  my feet and under my heels.  All went well after that.  So last year, taking my shoes off 5 or 6 times and spending over an hour on messing with my feet.  This year, 9 minutes, that is all I spent on my feet.  Those big toes are nasty, but I think I could have gone the whole race without messing with my feet again.  I DNF at mile 48 with a sprained or torn calf muscle.  Race recap here.

Lube for other delicate areas:
1/4 petroleum jelly
1/4 baby diaper rash ointment
1/4 aloe jell
1/4 intimate silicone lube of choice, I used this, Wet Platinum 
5 drops of DoTERRA Lavender Essential Oil

Many times when I'm alone I have to apply lube around my body under the bra strap.  I have found a kitchen spatula does the trick in reaching those hard to reach places behind my back.

Last year my hydration pack ate my back up.  I was bleeding by the time I got to the finish line!
It was a bit extreme, and in the heat it didn't help, but no chafing!

I purchased a Nike short sleeved compression shirt one size too small (medium instead of a large)
wool under the strap around my body,
Make sure there are several gaps in the wool as it shrinks as it gets wet and dries, so it needs to be able to do that without constricting your chest.  I didn't understand this and had to cut it in several places during the race.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Learning How to Be Strong Through The Storms

Reading these words this morning has changed my day:

How is that?  Emily Quallen participated in the Arkansas Traveller 100, 2026 Edition.  Emily shares her experience in training and then her experiences with God out on the trail.  She has reminded me to invite Him not only into my runs, but also into my day.  I pray, I often think about, talk to God.  I don't specifically INVITE Him to be with me.  

I publish it here with Emily's permission.  She doesn't have a blog, she published it as a note on her Facebook page.

Thank you Emily for the reminder!  How often does the scriptures use the word "remember" in one of its forms?  We are so easy to forget.  God has reminded me using his lovely daughter Emily.

Emily Quallen finishing the Arkansas Traveller 100, Oct 1 - 2, 2016

Arkansas Traveller 100 Mile Race Recap
Logistics This was by far the most challenging mental aspect of the race. By the time we were done working everything out, I was praying for the run to begin if not for the simple fact that logistics would then be completely handed off to my amazing crew captain, Tori Plunkett. For someone who is a natural planner, this was a first for me to have most things be organized while in another state. My amazing friends at the Arkansas Wilderness Ministry spent hours gathering pacers, crew members, supplies, and a whole lot of patience for what was to come. I finally landed at the Little Rock airport the Thursday before the race, and we spent a majority of the remaining time buying food, meeting pacers and crew members, getting briefed on the race, and working out mile by mile logistics for personal needs. In total, between myself and Missy, the other runner representing the Arkansas Wilderness Ministry, we had two crew shifts to cover the 30 or so hours of running, and 6 different pacers to get us each through miles 48 to 100. Prior to arriving, I had easily spent hundreds of dollars, if not more, on flights, nutrition and hydration gear, shoes, clothing, and of course groceries for the 7 months of training. To balance 75 mile weeks with being a full-time student, a member of Army ROTC, a volunteer at a local ministry, and an occasional lab technician had been taxing to say the least. I was ready to be done and to have some semblance of a social life back.
Physical Aspects The longest training run I had ever done prior to this race was 50 miles. Yes people, 50 miles. Training for an ultra is not about getting close to the actual distance (depending on the race) as much as it’s about time on your feet, and learning how to run tired. Dog tired. I would attend events like weddings that went well into the night and then go run 27 miles alone in the dark. I would wake up Saturday and run ten miles up and down one mountain, ten up and down another, then get up Sunday and run 30 more. I would finish lab and homework on Wednesdays and cover my bed in running gear so that I would be reminded to go run a half marathon before I could sleep. I turned down many things and many people to spend hours alone with the road or the trail or the snow and God. He always has been and always will be my most constant running partner, without whom I would not be able to do what I do. I invite Him on every run, always, and He has never let me down. He was the one who gave me the strength. He was the one who allowed me to train on minimal sleep, while simultaneously working out with the Army, and still trying to get in climbing sessions and hiking with my friends. During the actual race, it was clear that all of those hours of mountain running (my most masochistic run being up and down a mountain four times to equal 44 miles of up and down), long nights on the road, and early mornings had paid off. I was having fun. In fact, the first 50 miles felt like nothing. I was amazed, and relieved. I picked up my first pacer at mile 48 and we continued to make good time until I dropped her off at mile 68. My next pacer would take me up and over Smith mountain which rises up to a whopping 1400 feet (which is actually quite a bit for starting at sea level) and would be the toughest part of the 12,000 feet of elevation gain offered by the course. That’s when things began to get tough. I had neglected to pop any of my blisters, because I was afraid that if I took my shoes off I wouldn’t get them back on (your feet swell horrendously over the course of 100 miles) and I thought I could tough it out until the end. By the time I picked up my next pacer at mile 84, I was seriously hurting. I was still the 4th place female, and was actually on track for an amazing time, but I knew that it would drop from there. At mile 70 I pulled my hamstring, and it had swelled up so tight that my stride was half it’s normal length. The flashlight in the back of my running vest had also chafed my back until it was bloody, requiring some improvisation on the part of the medical team. I hadn’t noticed it likely because your body goes into survival mode after the first ten hours or so (for me typically), making you much less aware of injuries and illness, sometimes dangerously so. My stomach and kidneys were still functioning well, so that was a huge plus, but it was time to go slow. My last pacer, Amanda, and I shuffled off into the night, climbing up yet another of the rocky forest service roads that never seemed to flatten out. When we hit mile 90, I thought I would be relieved. Instead, I was a mess, physically and mentally. Amanda was a huge blessing and as I began to fall apart, she read the entire book of Ephesians and some of Philippians to me on the trail. I honestly don’t know that I would have kept going without her; everything literally hurt that much. Ultimately, we shuffled very slowly into the sunrise, and eventually across the finish line. I have never been in so much pain for so long, nor did I realize that I had the capacity to get through it. As I crossed the finish line in 28 hours and ten minutes, two hours under the finishing cutoff, one of the race directors came up and congratulated me. “You’re a different person now”, he said. And he was right.
Spiritual Aspects In the past, running was always an escape for me. Now, it is a way to connect with the God that gave me the precious ability to do it in the first place. There is a great quote by Eric Liddell that says, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast! And when I run I feel His pleasure”. I may not be terribly fast, but I feel the most connected to God when I know that He is running right beside me, blowing the wind through my hair, and the air into my lungs. When I run I am not running away from life, but near to Him. It is because of this spiritual connection with running that I try to make a point to use it for His glory. My first ever 50-miler was a fundraiser for Officers’ Christian Fellowship, a national fellowship organization for military officers of all branches. This particular run was a fundraiser for the Arkansas Wilderness Ministry, a women’s backpacking ministry started by a dear friend of mine, Tori Plunkett. That being said, I also speculated that God had an additional, more personal purpose behind the race. And boy was I right. As the race progressed, I began seeking more earnestly why God was having me run it. At mile 61, He finally answered. I had hit the turnaround and was on my way back toward the finish, 39 miles away. It was getting dark, which was a welcome change from the heat of the sun. We had been running for about 14 hours or so (give or take). I asked God yet again why He was having me run the race, and this is what I heard: ‘if by suffering through this, you gain even an ounce of understanding of how much I suffered for you, then it will be worth it. Then you will know that you can trust me’. At first I didn’t quite understand. The concept made sense, but I had yet to suffer. In fact, I felt great! But when the suffering came, it was relentless. I remember crying out to God at mile 90, begging Him to take the pain away, any of it. He was silent, and I wept. He never intended to take it away. This was my chance, albeit not nearly comparable to the cross, to begin to understand just how much He loved me, just how much He had sacrificed for me, despite my sins. The pain grew, and with the encouragement of my last pacer, I kept moving forward. Every step was excruciating. Every rock I hit moved the skin on the bottom of my feet, not all of which was even still intact. My hamstring was noticeably swollen and getting tighter, but with the desire to truly understand as much as I could about the One who had saved me in so many ways, I kept moving. By the time I crossed the finish line, all I could do was take the few steps to a nearby lawn chair and then I was unable to stand for several hours. It would take another 24 or so before I could even put all of my weight on my feet (for about one minute at a time). I still cannot believe that I finished, and I readily credit it to God, my crew, my pacers, and some serious stubbornness. I still cannot begin to imagine the suffering that Jesus endured on the cross, but knowing for certain that it was significantly more than what I experience from 0600 on October 1st to 1000 on October 2nd, I do know that my God is a God I can trust. My God is a God of love. My God is a God of mercy. My God is more selfless than I could ever be, and I am so unworthy of the love He gives me anyways. After finishing, I wondered why He chose 28 hours as my time, when He could have extended the suffering even to the 30-hour cutoff. It was then that I turned to Matthew 28. This chapter of the bible describes Jesus rising from the dead, for He did not simply suffer to die. My God is alive. And because of Him, so am I.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Well That Didn't Go As Planned

A few days before the 26th running of the Arkansas Traveller 100 I posted this to my Facebook page.
Hit me hard if I ever do that again.

The stress of this race started a few weeks before.  Walter our elderly gentleman German Shepherd Dog is on the last chapter of his life.  Chris decided that we couldn't use Walter with a pet sitter, so he was going to go either stay home (I would kill him) or take Walter.  I have a firm, hard, solid rule about no dogs.  The first year out there, allowing one dog got us eight dogs and all the chaos and poop they generate.  I LOVE dogs!  But the race isn't about your dog!
So Wally went with.  Wally knew a few people who were going to be out there, Shea and Vance, so at least Chris would have help keeping him cared for.

After it was all over Chris said never again.  He was very stressed by it all.  Later he said to give him a month to get over it.
Wally and Shea

Crew and pacers this year:
Kyle Hicks - Crew Chief
Chris Beason - Pacer & Crew
Jeff Beason - Pacer & Crew
Elaine Gimblet - Pacer

Kyle Hicks at the pre-race meeting with me.
Last year's challenges had been my focus for this summer's training block.  I stood on the starting line confident in my training and working out the challenges from last year (blisters, aid station management)
Chris, Kyle, Me - we are ready to rock & roll.

And we are off!
Browns Creek outbound, 5.2 miles, 1 minute to get the trekking poles off my pack.
I had to mess with the heel of my shoe at Flatside, mile 8.6.  Less than 1 minute.
Browns Creek inbound, mile 11.9, in and out 

Add caption
For the first 16.4 miles I was very near last year's schedule.  This really added to my confidence.
Coming in to Lake Sylvia Aid Station, 2 minutes behind last year's schedule.
I did have to take my shoes off.  UGH.  I added some more lamb's wool to pad certain places on my feet.  This was the last time I took my shoes off, or had to mess with my feet.  So I think I did figure out the feet.  Time in aid station, 8 minutes.
Things starting to go bad - can't breath!
Between Lake Sylvia and Cross-Roads is way to early in the race to have things start to go sideways.  But when it does.....  I couldn't breath.  This turned out to be a bad breathing day.  Uphills, were impossible to power-hike.  I need to power-hike as fast as I can to make it.  At this point I could still run down hills, so that is what I did.  Walk uphill as fast as my lungs would let me.  Run downhill.

By the time I got to Pumpkin Patch, mile 22.1, I was struggling, panicking and my head was not in a good place.  Chris and Vance calmed me down and got me out of the aid station.  Time in aid station 2:46 minutes.  At this point it was time to start using the ice hat and ice bandana.

After this, except for Lake Winona, mile 31.9, all aid station stops were in and out under a minute, only the time used to re-ice both hat and bandana.  The aid station volunteers were so perfect.  I would take both off coming into the aid station.  They would fill up with ice while I would drink Mt Dew and Gingerale on the rocks, then out I would go.

Making progress, really thinking I might be able to snap out of it.

This spider was pacing me uphill - and beating me
Club Flamingo, mile 39.4, in and out in under 3 minutes.  I left my hat and bandana because it was cooling off and I would want them for the morning.  This was the best place to leave them.  I searched for a flashlight, which was in the next box not this one.  So with no light, off I went.  

Deep in the not breathing cave.  Really scared for my race.
At Bahama Mama, mile 43.2, a dear aid station volunteer gave me a flashlight.  I'm so glad you can get a flashlight at Walmart for under 3 bucks, I didn't have to feel guilty about taking her light.  I did promise to give it back, she told me to keep it.  I will pay it forward.  A volunteer walked me out of Bahama Mama praying with me and helping me get my head right.  Breathing was still so labored.  I was at this point 45 minutes behind last year's pace.

I got into Powerline Aid Station, mile 48, maybe at 8:15 with a cutoff of 8:30.  I was done.  Kevin King, Susan McCourt, Eddy Light, came over from the Pumpkin Patch Aid Station where they were volunteering to see what the heck was going on.  They knew I should have been at Powerline long ago.   I told Kevin I couldn't go on because I couldn't get out and back before the next several cut offs.  He reminded me that I couldn't quit.  I needed to go on till I hit a cut off if that was going to happen.  Okay almost came out of my mouth when I felt what can only be called a "snap" in my left calf.  I think I heard it too, but at mile 48 and arguing, I don't know for certain.  But I could no longer put weight on my left leg.  My race was over.

I went back with Chris, Kyle and Jeff to the race start/finish and was checked out by medical.  Rehydrated and then Chris, my husband, took me to the Pumpkin Patch Aid Station where I spent the rest of the race.
Grinding it out.
This is what I posted to my Facebook page on Oct 6, 2016

Kyle HicksJeff BeasonChris Burkett BeasonElaine Moss Gimblet
Thank you for being the most amazing support a girl with a dream could possibly have. You all just nailed it, what great pit stop aid you gave.
My heart is full with all you gave to me.
Jeff will be running it himself next year.
Kyle's path is still being defined. 
I look forward to working with Chris again next year to get this done, Kyle too if he isn't pacing or running it himself :O
Last year Elaine wasn't given much to work with, this year I didn't even get to her. I already have her booked for next year.
100 in under 30 is doable for me. I will do this.
Kevin King, Thank you for being out there. Thank you for the proper amount of "bullying". You were right.
"God grant me the courage not to give up what I think is right even though I think it is hopeless."
Chester W. Nimitz
I forgot that, Kevin you reminded me.
Thank you Eddy LightSusan McCourt and Kevin for going to find out what was wrong. It meant the world seeing you out there. You saw me at my very worst and you love me anyway.
I have more support, more love, then any one person can ask for. I am most blessed. Thank you all for being in my life.
Chrissy Ferguson read PoDog's post again. I can't say it better. Not only do you share in so many ways, but you shared the very best of what trail running is all about with all of us. Through that we all get to love on and share with each other. You and Stan are priceless treasures.
Carrie DuPriestMichael DuPriest, PT Paul TurnerRobert Vogler
Thank you for gluing me back together.
I can walk about wearing Chacos. There is something about the foot shape that I can walk without straining my calf. When I can run again my goal is to be more fit than I am today.
Yes, I'm sad, so sad, but I count my blessings and it is fuel for next time. I did so many things right, things that I got wrong last year. Things just went wrong this year! LOL Next year I will know more, make different mistakes but with enough dedication, training, clean eating, and that wee bit of luck 100 under 30 will happen.
None of this would be in my life if my non-runner husband, Chris, didn't support his crazy runner wife. He would be much happier I think if I didn't get 100 under my skin. He supports me anyway.
It is lovely how trail running, ultra running, running, brings out the ability to count blessings, feel gratitude and just love life!

Much improved over last year.  I think I have figured out not to have the big piggies blister now. 
My current cardio 
It is a week later, a week and two days.  I'm still unable to run.  I can walk as long as I don't try to stride out.  My goals are to be stronger and lose weight while I'm resting and healing.

If I don't find another 100 that is Lisa friendly soon after I can run again, I will set my sights on Arkansas Traveller 100 - 2017 edition.