Saturday, November 1, 2008

Surf the Murph - Unexpected Experiences.......

Some days you get up, get ready, show up and everything goes exactly as planned. This morning did not quite go as planned.

I got up at 5, so that worked fine, got ready, that went well, arrived at Murphy around 6:15, picked up my packet (flawless execution by Les, Cindy and their team). I received a nice technical long sleeve shirt, I needed that. So my morning was going great, I have been training fairly well in Murphy and I thought I had had a decent taper for it, so what was I expecting but my 50k PR, now that wasn't actually asking for too much since there was no snow (Chippewa), no heat (Afton), I thought I had everything teed up. That's about when Murphy showed up, no not the park, Murphy's Law, if you aren't familiar here you go:

Murphy's Laws

  1. If anything can go wrong, it will.
  2. If there is a possibility of several things going wrong, the one that will cause the most damage will be the first one to go wrong.
  3. If anything just cannot go wrong, it will anyway.
  4. If you perceive that there are four possible ways in which something can go wrong, and circumvent these, then a fifth way, unprepared for, will promptly develop.
  5. Left to themselves, things tend to go from bad to worse.
  6. If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.
So what happened, well I finished getting ready, put on my shoes, gaiters, hat, jacket and gloves (decided against pants - figured I would be fine in shorts) as the temp seemed to be in the upper 30's and it was supposed to be getting warmer, grabbed my lights, put on the Nathan and headed to the start line.

Les (I think) gave us the instructions. I was getting my NikeIpod+ ready so I was kind of zoned at and was at the back of the pack so I figured I wouldn't have too much to wrry about, so right at 7, we were off, I pushed the time on my HR monitor, pushed the center button on my Ipod to start the time/distance and immediately recognised a few logistic issues. The HR monitor didn't start as I had left the chest strap in the car, the Ipod froze. I debated going back to get the HR monitor but chose not to, I had intended to run at a prescribed HR pace as that's how I did my training. I figured I could get by for one loop without it. I instead focused on rebooting my Ipod, I could not get it to reboot, I took off one of my gloves, no success, took off the other glove, it still wouldn't reboot. So I glanced at my watch and said I guess I will go by it. Since I was fooling around with everything I stayed at the back of the pack, talked to Les, I think he mentioned he would the sweeper for the course, the pace was slower than I wanted so I decided to move around a few folks. All was going well, I had moved into a nice spot, all alone and no visible lights in front of me and I was starting to pull away from those behind me. I was stoked, even though the start was a bit more stressful, I was doing ok. I was in Murphy, there were stars in the sky, it was a beautiful morning and had the makings of a great day.

I proceeded around the course, I was so content as I knew everywhere we were headed. As I went up the a hill by about #3, I got my Ipod to reboot, set the button to start recording time and distance and then selected my podcasts but they didn't start. No, what else was going to go wrong, then I remembered that if I selected shuffle songs, it would normally work and it did. I decided to go ahead and listen to music for awhile and settled into a nice rhythm I flew down the #4 hill, made it up the #6 hill with no damage except when I tried to get a drink from my Nathan and I couldn't get anything out. I must made a lot of weird noises as I struggled to drink, as a women in front of me turned around, I muttered I couldn't get anything out of my Nathan. She then stopped and asked me if I needed a drink and then I got it working but what a nice thing to do. I do like my camelbak's mouthpiece better than the Nathan's. Oh, I should mention that this was my first drink, so much for taking a drink every 15-20 minutes. But I didn't sweat it as I still felt good and I quickly got back on track, heading towards the first manned aid station.

I talked to another runner whose name now escapes me, does anyone else have memory issues during and after long runs? He was from LaCrosse, I think, we ended up running together for the next few miles and into the aide station.

I floated on through the first aide station, there were other runners there but with my trusty Nathan I was in good shape, except that with all of the messing around with the Ipod and the Nathan, I had forgotten to take any S-Caps so I quickly took one. About then, I had a slight misstep, and got a fairly intense pain in my left arch, it felt exactly like it did in August. I kind of ignored it and hoped that it would be like an ankle roll and get better over time. I made it up the #14 hill, the pain seemed to sticking around so I decided to make a strategic stop to my car and switch shoes. I was running in my Vasque Mercury's and was switching to my Vasque Velocity's. The Velocity's have more support so I was hoping that would help the arch. I was also going to grab my HR strap. I would have worn them from the start except they have about 550 miles (the Mercury's have 150) on them and I normally only get 300-400 miles out of a pair of shoes.

I made it past the start/finish line and noted my time was around 1:3x something, opened up the car, switched shoes, decided to drop the stocking cap and grab my old Grandma's hat. I checked my Nathan, plenty of fluid so I was off again. The Velocity's did help as I left the aide station and I was getting back my confidence. Oh blank, I had forgotten the HR strap, ok, run the 2nd loop without it. I met up with another runner named Steve, he said he had run his first 50k the weekend before and decided to run the Murph as he felt good. We talked for awhile, he mentioned many of the blogs he reads, he commented on Helen and how amazing she was, Julie Berg and how she had qualified for Boston, we discussed that neither of us were in love with Grandma's or TCM's polices concerning Ipods. I like my podcasts. We continued to chat about family, running and many other things. He mentioned what he was drinking I commented on my love affair with Clif Shot Electrolyte Crisp Apple and he said I know who you are, I read your blog too, I can't believe people read my blog but then again I do follow 30 or more so who knows, anyway I was flattered. BTW, the Runners Gate (in Lakeville) did have my electrolyte and they do give the MDRA discount so I wanted to correct that since last post I said I didn't think they did, I didn't ask about MN-DRS but will next time I go in.

We proceeded through the northern section and I was trying to ignore the foot pain but it was getting to me. I told Steve to take off with the runner from Lacrosse, wish I could remember his name and they quickly moved ahead of me. I made it to the aide station, I think Adam was there, I should have introduced myself, maybe next time. Onto a totally random subject, I got to take leadership training this week for work and I now know that I am not "anti-social", I just like autonomy. If you read their description of autonomy, it said things like - likes to work alone, lead projects not people, creative, likes to solve hard problems, of course one of the negative traits they mentioned was may appear to be anti-social.

Anyway, back to Murph, did I say yet how beautiful the day was becoming, wow. I couldn't believe it, what a day on November 1st in MN, a fall day instead of a winter day. As I left the aide station, my foot was throbbing, not good. I was still running fairly well so I decided to ignore it one more time. The #14 hill really caught my attention, the foot did not like it at all. I caught up to another runner who was limping, he said his IT band was causing some serious pain so he was stopping at the 25k point. I thought about it as I moved away from him, should I stop, the foot was not getting better and I was starting to have hip pain, probably from compensating. I decided to make the call at the aide station, I got there around 10:30, ran into a co-worker (Paul) who had done the 25k. We talked for a bit. He asked how I was doing, I said ok then mentioned to him that my foot was a bit sore but it was such a nice day, I was continuing on. I stopped at the car again, dropped off the jacket and walked over to the aide station. Talked to Paul for awhile longer and he walked with me onto the course, said our goodbyes and I was off again.

I was having more pain on the hills then I wanted. It wasn't bad enough that they were steep but they were killing the foot. I was having to stop halfway up the hill for the pain to subside. I was having serious thoughts about cutting back to the start and calling it a day. I then did a reality check, was I here to PR or to enjoy myself? I decided to enjoy myself, I want to do a 50 next year, if I am going to do that then I need to manage these bad moments or I will never get it done.

I stopped and looked at one of the lakes, what a beautiful day and what a nice park, did I say that already?

I hobbled up the #6 hill, have I mentioned that I don't like that hill? I was getting passed by the front runners throughout this loop, they all gave me encouragement. You don't see that in road races. After that hill though I was able to get into a bit more of a running motion. I made it to the aide station, talked to a women there who said she lived in Lakeville and had done the 25k. We both agreed that Murphy is a special place. I mentioned my foot, yes I was getting preoccupied with it. About then I heard some other runners coming into the aide station, I didn't recognize any of them until I saw Les's coat, oh no, I was about to get passed by them and he said he was sweeping the course. That got me out of there quickly and motivated me for the remainder of the day. I got through the 3rd loop, it was tough, took about 2 hours and 10 minutes, I think.

Onto the 4th loop, a simple task stay ahead of Les and don't get swept. As I approached the dreaded #6 hill, I was running ok and was enjoying myself. I saw a gorgeous blue jay and the a bright red cardinal, I stopped and watched them for 10 or 15 seconds, last weekend in Murphy I had seen a huge red headed woodpecker, I looked around for it but didn't see it, back to running. I got a call from my daughter asking how I was doing, I said fine but probably didn't sound great. I had talked with my wife while I was on loop 2, it was nice to talk with both of them. Ok back to that hill, it about did me in, I had to stop 4 times going up it. I think in the future I will always run Murphy counter-clockwise to avoid it, I wonder if I can get Les to change the course :-). I ran ok through the back stretch, a few stops because of the foot but nothing too bad and made it again into the horse park aide station. I talked to the women from Lakeville again and another guy who was there asked if I had seen Wayne N., I said that I didn't know him and yes it was possible he was behind me (more likely ahead) but about then Les and his small group came in and Wayne was with them. That got me out of the aide station and I worked my way through the remaining 2.5 miles without disaster and yes I did stay ahead of Les but not by much.

So was this a good day or a bad day?

In the past I would have been bummed big time, I would have felt like a failure, to be so far off of my goal, I had wanted to finish in no more than 7 :30 hours and I felt that a 7:15 was possible and I ended up finishing I think, around 7:50 (7:46 was my official time) as my Ipod had quit after 4:51 and 21 miles), not sure exactly so I will need to wait for the official results . And I would have beat myself over the foot, you know maybe the foot really wasn't that bad, I should have pushed through it more.

My answer is, this was a very good day. A very good day indeed, yes, I made mistakes, I had some Murphy encounters, I struggled at times but I got through it and enjoyed myself. I met Les, Wayne and many others and got to enjoy for almost 8 hours one of the metro's more beautiful regional parks on probably the nicest November day I have ever seen since we moved to Minnesota. One last thought, "Surf the Murph" will definitely be on my calendar for next year, thank you Les, Cindy and volunteers for putting on a great event............


Matthew Patten said...

Those who have gone on long runs with me know I suffer short term memory loss after a few hours.

I believe it is a nutritional thing, and connected to glycogen depletion.

Sounded like a good day. Wish I were there.

Kel said...

Sure was a perfect day for a run in the woods, wasn't it? I'll be doing more runs out there in the future :)

PS> Yes, Adam was crewing the 5.5 mile aid station.

Londell said...

Nice post and great spin on murph/murphy. Look at this as great mental experience for the 100. I know I had only made 77 miles but after 24 hours everything was going well but I believed they were not. I still regret not continuing... So getting through a race where it seems everything goes wrong, the best training you could get. Take care of the foot... Was hoping to see you at the UMTR event last night? It was nice.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you finished It was a nice day I was not able to tell how much pain you were in while we were talking It was nice running with you and I will see you again sometime as we seem to be on the same track Steve

Mike W. said...

Steve - when I was talking with you it was more of an ache with an occasional sharpness. So it was manageable. Nice meeting you, let me know which 50 you decide to go for. We might end up at the same one.

Matt, Kel and Londell - thanks for the comments, look forward to seeing you all on the trails.

Wayne said...

Hey, Mike... it was nice to meet you after the run. Sounds like you managed things very well, both during the run and afterwards in concluding it was a good day. I'm sure I'll see you at some other races, including next year's Surf the Murph -- this one's a keeper.


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