My usual habit is to create a report immediately following a race, mainly for my own satisfaction, but also for distribution among fellow runners, friends, and relatives.
For the last seven years I have run the multiday race Across the Years — 24-, 48-, and 5x72-hours respectively. Today it's January 20th, and I'm just beginning to write my personal report.
The change in my priorities is because for the last three years I've helped organize the race and have written extensively about it on the web site at www.acrosstheyears.com. Furthermore, yesterday I submitted a general (not Lynn-specific) article for Ultrarunning magazine. Dave Combs also sent in an excellent report. Which one UR publisher Don Allison chooses to publish remains to be seen. Eventually I will include the text of one or the other on the race web site for all visitors to read.
With all that wrap-up, I've had no opportunity to write a personal summary. In order to get that task off my to-do list, I've concocted this abbreviated report, written in the assumption that readers already know a little about the basics of the race, or can quickly find out by visiting the web site, where there is an enormous repository of useful information.
My goal for the 2005 72-hour race was 325 kilometers — 201.96 miles. With a 500-meter track a metric goal makes more sense. If I'd made it, I would have run 0.62 more miles than Don Winkley got a few years ago, at which time he was my age now, and also won the race overall. Don was amused by that goal when I told him about it.
My previous rounded mileages for ATY, listing chronologically, were 168, 163, 180, and 188. I was third overall with the 180, sixth with 188, and expected to be lower still with the 201 because of a powerful field.
In 2005 we had an explosion of interest in the race, filling it early with superb runners. As I surveyed the field, I predicted that for me to finish any higher than 10th would require the run of my life — even if I made my goal, which was definitely within reach.
When the race was over I had accumulated 229.0 kilometers — 142.294 miles, a personal worst, for 18th place out of 33 runners who logged laps. Obviously something went wrong. What happened?
I had an excellent start. Some might argue that I committed the rookie mistake of going out too fast, but I'm sure I was well within my limits.
It was my intent to sleep the bare minimum. Last year I got by on about five hours spread out in little chunks throughout the 72-hour race, and I finished very strong. Could I go the whole 72 and totally blow the doors off my PR? Which is not to say that going without sleep is necessarily an effective way to accomplish one's goals — but to the degree that I could do without it, I would.
I passed a marathon in six hours, 50 miles in 13:40, 77.050 at the 24-hour point (I was hoping for 80), and arrived at 100 miles in 32:54, earning myself a 100-mile buckle. By chance of circumstance, I needed only one more lap to bring my lifetime mileage total over 1000 miles, an event that was greeted with great cheering from the aid and timing tents. Last year we began awarding 1000-mile jackets, and we had them prepared in advance (with names embroidered on them) for all runners we were reasonably certain would qualify by race end. Every single one did so. Receiving mine was certainly the most satisfying accomplishment of my race this year. Cassandra Johnson, Martina Hausmann, and Andy Lovy also made it over the 1000-mile point this year, all of whom were expected to do so.
With 100 miles in 33 hours, I was seemingly well on track to get to 200 miles with 39 hours to go. But by that time I began to sense an accumulation of impending physical problems that ultimately proved to be insurmountable.
By the time I finished my 1000-mile lap, my brother Dean had arrived. Dean lives in Arizona, is a massage therapist, and had been there for a couple of hours working on other runners. He then spent at least a half hour on me. It was about time to take a meaningful break anyhow, which by the time I was done with everything, took about 54 minutes (the lap split time).
A number of factors contributed toward taking me out for what amounted to the rest of the race, all but one of which was manageable. In approximate order of annoyance (from least to most), they were as follows:
At a minimum, you had some inflammation in that part of your foot, and the neighboring bones of the foot weren't seated just right, but that happens from the repetitive foot strikes in an ultra. So I mostly just articulated all the bones and freed them up a bit. It's easily possible that this is a mechanical problem involving the mechanics of your foot plant; your shoes; the way you were leaning; etc. ... If this persists, I'd certainly make sure that you don't have a stress fracture.In fact, it did persist for about a week after the race, but I'm fine now. I'm of the "Ignore it and it will go away" school of medical treatment philosophy.
Muscles can only contract. In order to do so, many things need to be in place, like glycogen and electrolytes. When one is missing or insufficient, the muscle reacts differently. When a muscle is fatigued or does not get sodium or potassium or a host of other chemicals, it stops firing. When that happens, it no longer contracts. The opposite muscle in the back or spine is still firing, so the body will lean in the direction of the muscles that are still working.What a wonderful explanation! In short, once it starts during a given race, there is little one can do to correct it. The affected muscles need both rest (not an option during a race) and replenishment.
We know it is a local issue, not a global one, since when that happens in any given individual, the lean will always be in the same direction regardless of the type of race or the direction of the turns. A blood test may not pick it up since the global amount of potassium may be normal, but the particular muscles that are fatigued and out of potassium are not. Potassium is most implicated since it is the electrolyte needed to make muscles fire. Giving someone potassium may help, but the potassium goes throughout the body, not only to the affected area, so there needs to be an attempt at finding out just why that muscle or muscle group stopped working.
It is usually due to inherent muscle imbalances, short leg, spinal issues, gait issues, etc., and if those issues are addressed, then the muscles can regain firing and the lean stops, or at least slows down. There is a firing order of muscles that needs to occur in order to stay upright, or to move, walk, run, or turn; one must not only work with the muscles that no longer fire, but also with the other muscles and bones and joints that may be causing the imbalance.
It was the iliopsoas problem that led me to accept, not long after the 100-mile point, that I would not make my 200-mile goal or anything close to it this race. That fact did not take me completely out of it, but I changed my strategy from that point on.
I love running ATY too much to give up entirely. It was not long before I found that I could go just a few laps at a time before my back started to ache, forcing me to stop, stretch, and sometimes to take a bit of a break from it.
Therefore, I also got a lot more sleep at ATY 2005 than I've gotten previously, including one break where the total lap time was 6:52:56. Not all that time was spent in a sleeping bag, but much was.
For the rest of the race my routine was to travel anywhere from two fo five laps, sometimes leaning against a chain link fence to stretch or rest, do some sitting, along with a bit of sleeping in a chair now and then, and to take digital photographs. At least I managed to get several hundred pictures of the race, including the day before, the finish (the last twenty minutes or so), and the awards ceremony, nearly 300 of which are now in the race galleries on our web site, along with contributions from other sources.
Across the Years has been special to me since the day I first encountered it as an observer, on December 31, 1998. In the last three years, working with the others who help to put it on, it has become even more so, not just to me, but to the multitude of participants who have generously shared their opinion that it has become one of the best such events in the world.
Although nothing formal has been decided, there will probably be another race again next year, in which we expect to make many more improvements. When the time comes, we will be making an announcement through the running lists, to be preceded by the appearance of new information on the web site. Meanwhile, for more information about how others did, and to view the enormous picture collection, we invite you to visit the web site at any time.