Sunday, June 6, 2010

FANS 12 Hour Race Report

I went into FANs with major reservations about looping around Lake Nokomis all day as I had said I could think of nothing more painful to do. Wayne and Karen said it's a fun event to do and they convinced me it was worth doing and as it turns out I was wrong, they were right and I loved it.

Short report
First 40 miles went absolutely great, I was having a blast and I was on track for 52 miles without any problem, fueling was working, weather was great (I like running in the rain) and then the wheels fell off like I have never experienced before. Last 3 miles were a chore, yes I only did 43 as I was pulled by the medical folks.

Long report
My wife drove me up for the race and we got there fairly early about 6:45 or so. The race starts at 8:00 am. We ended up being able to park on the street right at the start/finish area. I had scrambled a bit getting ready for which my wife commented that I was a bit nonchalant concerning this race. I think that came from my lack of enthusiasm over the race but I do have to admit I did myself no favors in not getting my act together earlier.

The course is a 2.42 mile loop around Lake Nokomis run on an asphalt/concrete bike path with a 1.65 mile out and back loop to start the race.

My pre-race plan was to run these loop times:
Loop 1 - 20:48 (minutes:seconds)
Loop 2 to 5 - 31:12
Loop 6 to 9 - 32:24
Loop 10 to 13 - 33:36
Loop 14 to 17 - 34:48
Loop 18 to 21 - 36:00

Basically, I was allowing for a 30 second/mile fade every 4 loops, if I stuck to my plan I would have hit 50 miles with 20 minutes to spare. I thought it was conservative and very doable but since in my previous 50's I had fueling issues which slowed me after 30 miles I wanted to see this conservative plan work. I also planned to take an S-cap every 1/2 hour just like I did in the previous marathons as that seemed to work great.

I had made my shoe selection the night before, I was again running in my North Face FireRoads. I had worn them at both Lincoln and Fargo and though at times their cushioning (especially on concrete) may have been a bit light they were my best choice. I again was using Les's foot goop of Vaseline and Desitin as that also had worked at the marathons. So with the feet lubed up, shoes on, I was ready.

We found Wayne and Karen and I dropped off my stuff at Karen's shelter. Wayne and I were doing the 12 hour and Karen was doing the 24 hour. My plan was to run the first few loops with Wayne and Karen and depending on the pace, fall back or stay with them. I knew Karen was planning on going out harder than I planned. My primary goal was to maintain fueling and have energy from the 25 to 45 mile point of the race. My secondary goal was to get in at least 50 miles.

Getting myself ready before the start

The three of us, ready to run

Tents line the course near the start/finish
I walked over to see if I needed to check in and I saw Helen doing the check in so I walked up to check, she called me by name. Ok, that was nice even if she got it from my race number and looking it up. She had me go ahead and get on the scale again, I was up 2 lbs from the night before. At FANs you have to be weighed before the race and every 4 hours during the race.

The atmosphere at FANs is real relaxed for a road type event, I really do like that. The course is technically not closed to the public as we run on a bike/pedestrian path the entire time. So occasionally we have to loop around folks just visiting the lake for the day. These signs are pretty much everywhere.

The race folks gave the final instructions and we were off.

Pre-race instructions
The pace seemed fine early on but when I saw the first short loop split it was bit faster than I wanted to go.

Loop 1 - 19:01 (Karen had shown us how to set our Garmin's to track the loop times which worked out well for tracking each loop as you could check your loop mile pace average, I guess this is what happens when you read the instructions).

As we work our way around - Loop 2

After the short loop, my wife left but was planning to return later in the day to run a few loops with me. On the first normal loop (loop 2), the pace was again fairly quick. It wasn't hard, just faster than I thought I should go, as my goal was to have energy later in the race. I told Wayne and Karen, I would do one more loop with them and would then bid them on there way. I told Wayne to go with Karen as I knew he could go faster than me and since Karen was already in a zone and focused I knew it would give him the best chance to hit the miles he was capable of, if he stayed with me, one of two things would happen, I would continue to go too fast or he would go too slow neither of which seemed to make sense.

Loop 2 time - 29:14 (not quite 2 minutes)

So after loop 3 I bid them goodbye.

Loop 3 time - 29:46

As I headed around on my 4th loop a friend of mine from work came running up and said he was going to run the loop with me. We had a nice chat about the race and about what I wanted to do for the day. He had come out to run with friends from his running club, Minnesota RED.

Loop 4 time - 30:31

Loop 5 went fine and I was starting to get into a groove. Wayne and Karen had introduced me to the course and how to run it with some nicely planned walking breaks. They would walk the Cedar bridge, the walk would begin at a large tree that they named the walking tree. After the bridge, they would run until Mt. Nokomis, a15 foot hill where you run in the grass, this would be a much shorter walking break and then maybe walk a bit back around at the start/finish area. My plan was to follow their plan and it was working well, it was about a mile from the start area to the bridge, about 3/4 of mile to Mt. Nokomis and then about 3/4 to the start/finish.

Loop 5 time - 30:52

Loop 6, 7, 8 and 9 came and went. I was doing just fine, it had started raining I think around loop 4 or 5 and it was coming down throughout all of these loops. This led to some early chafing issues which I didn't really need. In hindsight, I should have worn shorts under my running shorts but I hadn't thought about that at all, that may go back to the pre-race planning but in my defense I knew it was going to be in the low 70's so adding extra clothing wasn't really even a thought.

Loop 6 time - 31:14
Loop 7 time - 31:31
Loop 8 time - 32:34
Loop 9 time - 34:19

So some of the changes in my loop times were the result of dealing with the chafing, I was adding Vaseline as much as I could. On loop 9, I stopped and went into the port-a-pot and tried to smear Desitin and Vaseline on the chafed areas. I was so wet, it was hard to get it to stick. It may have been in this loop that I had a good conversation with Les bout S-caps, he told me that S-caps made him sick on days like this. I told him that I needed them as they kept me from getting nausea. He said same for him on hot days but not on a day like today.

I was using two new things during the race as part of my fueling, Hammer Perpetuem and EFS Liquid Shot. I also had plenty of HEED, strawberry flavor that I intended to drink when I wasn't taking in Liquid Shots or Perpetuem. I used the Liquid shot during the 3rd loop and I found it to be a bit sweet and almost gagged on it. It is vanilla flavor and has a good taste (not gu like) but I wasn't too sure about it. I took in about 2/3 of it during that loop, the nice thing about the liquid shots is that you don't necessarily need water. Each bottle has 400 calories so it does add some decent fueling quickly. I also had some Clif shot bloks, sport beans and chocolate #9 available as well. During loops 6 and 7, I ate the Clif Shot bloks. For loops 9 and 10 I took in a 1/2 liter of Perpetuem and it seemed to settle well. I drank my second bottle of it during loops 13 and 14.

The loops were flying by and it was somewhere near loop 10 where I had to admit to myself that this was a lot of fun. My fueling was working, I had energy and I was really enjoying myself. I was fairly well holding to my planned loop time pace and the only time I got off track was when I took time to deal with the chafing. I was starting to walk a bit through the start/finish area but I used that time to eat granola bars from the aid station and to grab extra fluids from my bag.

Loop 10 time - 32:28
Loop 11 time - 33:28
Loop 12 time - 34:20
Loop 13 time - 36:09
Loop 14 time - 35:28
Loop 15 time - 32:27
Loop 16 time - 34:37

As I completed loop 16, I saw that my wife had returned and I told her I was doing great. I was pumped, the fueling seemed to be working, I had energy, everything was working as planned. I went ahead took off from the shelter as she needed a few minutes to get ready, her plan was to run the opposite way and catch up to me. It was as I headed around on this loop that I noticed I was starting to get a bit nauseated, oh great the S-caps weren't working or was it I had taken too many as Les's and my previous conversation kind of resonated in my head.

Oh well. I was about to the walking tree so no worry. I took another S-cap. When I got to the other side of the bridge, Karyn had caught up to me. I told her about the nausea but we were able to do some running but my walking did increase. I told myself you are doing great, just relax a bit and let the nausea past. During this loop I asked her if she could run ahead and get me some Desitin/Vaseline as the chafing was a bigger concern than the nausea. I also asked if she could mix me another bottle of Perpetuem and to grab a ginger chew as I was starting to think my fueling might be getting light so that should be enough to get me all the way around and I hoped the ginger chew would resolve the nausea. I made it around and grabbed my sport beans and took off as she mixed up the Perpetuem. Of course, I didn't tell her that and she thought I was still in the bathroom. Oops.

Loop 17 time - 37:56

I had come through loop 17 (about 40.75 miles) in just a bit over 9 hours so I had almost 3 hours to go a bit over 9 miles. I was able to run a bit but the nausea was getting worse, much worse. I knew I could walk it in and still get to 50 miles and that is what I told myself I would do if needed. As I walked up to the walking tree and made the turn onto the bridge, my back twinged. I had been having back pain on and off since about 4 hours into the race, probably from the concrete and my shoes, at least that was my theory. I was thinking that maybe I should switch shoes at the end of this loop. Karyn caught up to me and handed me the ginger chew, I started chewing it and of course gagged almost immediately. Keep it together, I told myself as I knew I was capable of walking a mile in a little over 16 min/mile pace. I looked at my watch and I had completed mile 42 at the 9 1/2 hour point, so all I had to do was run 8 miles in 2 1/2 hours. I told myself again that I was fine, just relax and keep moving, don't panic. As we came off the bridge, I twisted a bit I think as I was gagging again and the back pain was intense. Ok this was not good. Karyn and I talked about what to do and I said I don't know, we stopped at a bench and I tried to stretch a bit. It didn't help. I knew I was getting cold so again I asked if she could run ahead and get me a dry long sleeve shirt as I was really getting chilled. I continued on but at a really slow pace, I am sure I looked like an old man (even older than I am) as my steps were short. The back pain was constant as was the nausea. I finally made it through the start/finish area.

Loop 18 time - 51:46 (mile 43 took 23:45) , I came through in loop 18 with just a little over 2 hours left in the race (mile 43.17 at the 9:58:06 point in the race per my Garmin).

As I neared Karen's shelter, I saw Karyn had a chair for me. Good, I would sit down, change shirts and maybe shorts, stretch out the back and then get on my way. I made it onto the chair and about then a FANs volunteer came up, he looked at me and said "You do not look good". I said I was fine, just a sore back and a bit cold. He said you need to go to the medical tent and see the doctor. I meandered into the tent. They had me change into dry clothes and immediately wrapped me up in mylar blankets. I am sure that if anyone went by as I changed in a fairly public area (they tried to give me privacy) they would have been amused, I do know it is hard to remove wet clothes as they hold blankets up around you. The Dr was a bit concerned about the swelling more concerned about the shaking I had going on. He wanted to get my core warmed up, so he had me drinking coffee. He asked when I last peed, I said 5 or 6 hours earlier. He asked how much fluid I had taken in and about my S-cap consumption. He took my pulse and blood pressure. Apparently my BP was fairly high. The Dr wasn't that concerned about it as he said the machine he used can read high. The volunteer who was there later told me it was 165/90. The Dr had said it could read 20 or so points higher. My BP is normally 115-120/75-80. Something I will probably recheck on another day. We discussed that maybe today wasn't the day that I should have been taking an S-cap every 1/2 hour, I did slow down my consumption a bit after the conversation with Les but I was still taking one every 30 to 45 minutes. He again commented on the amount of fluid I had taken in and the fact that I had not peed. I think it was during this discussion that he had get back on the scale. My weight was back down. My weight had varied like this during the day, morning weigh in had me 2 lbs heavier from the night before, 2 lbs lighter after 4 hours, back to pre-race weight after 8 hours, 2 lbs lighter when the Dr weighed me. At some point they had my wife go and get the sleeping bag we had in the car, I do know that it was nice getting wrapped up in that and helped me feel a bit warmer.

Can I go back now?
As to my race being disrupted I have to admit that at the time I was bit relieved as I wasn't sure I could go on. They had taken the decision out of my hands so I couldn't do much about it. After about a 1/2 hour and 5 cups of coffee, they said I could let one of the massage folks work on my back but first I had to pee. They also said I had to bring a sample back. I went over to the port-a-pot, peed, and made it back. They had sent Karyn to follow me to make sure I was ok. I then was able to get the massage and it took some of the tension off and my back felt better. I was starting to feel like I could go back, the Dr. said no. Karyn had boiled some water and they wanted me to drink that. As I sipped it, I told him it actually didn't taste bad. I was still shaking as I drank the water, I think that may have influenced his choice a bit. I drank another cup and by then I had been there for over an hour. I was no longer shaking, at least not much. I asked if I could go back they said no. At that time, I knew my day was done. My wife reminded me afterward that technically the Dr diagnosed me with hypothermia and that is main reason he didn't allow me back out.

So 43 miles completed, 40 were great and the fueling had worked, 3 were not good at all but the issues were not fueling related. My issues were too many s-caps and maybe the shoes but who knows if not for the nausea maybe the back would not have caused me issues.

Disappointing, yes, but the lessons learned will be filed away and I guess I can take solace in that it is the first time I have ever been pulled from a race. The nice thing about FANs is, it is not a DNF, I just stopped a couple hours before everyone else and will get credit for my 43 miles.

Some things I didn't mention that I have to mention to make this report complete. I met Karen's daughter Kaitlyn, she did a great job of supporting her mom and helping Wayne and myself out. I also met Vicky and Mike, Vicky had made a CD for Wayne that we listened to on the way down to McNaughton. It has a very interesting selection of songs, one of which is about Up'er girls. Vicky gave both Wayne and I Up'er bars, really good dark chocolate. The one she gave me was the consolation prize (it had less of something, regardless it was real good, thank you Vicky) and Wayne earned the best one. Wayne did a great job, completing 54+ miles, Karen finished out the night but I don't have the details on that, regardless congrats for a great effort.

I also met a few additional runners, I introduced myself to Joel Button who was running with a friend Kevin, we ran together for a little while. Kevin works at Mayo and knows the Dr that was in the medical tent as they used to work together. I got a chance to talk with Jim Wilson a bit more than our brief meeting at Afton. Good conversation, good luck at Big Horn.I also talked with Les a couple more times and we heard how I made my way to the medical tent, suffice to say it gave him a good laugh.

Last, I have to thank all of the volunteers at FANs, it's a very good race, has great support, a special event. My thanks to all of the folks in the medical tent for their assistance. I appreciate it more today than I probably did yesterday. I also need to thank my wife for her great support taking care of me at the medical tent and her help in trying to get me through my issues.

One thing I do know is that I definitely want to do FANs, next year. My wife and at least one of my daughters (maybe my other one as well) have said they want to camp out there all day and provide support. I know we missed out on some fun activities by having to take off last night and a few more this morning. I had hopes of getting up to make it for the breakfast but the 5 cups of coffee seemed to keep me awake until sometime after 2 in the morning and I didn't wake up in time to get there.

Now the only the only question is do I want to do the 12 hour again or try the 24 hour? ;-).


Kel said...

Sounds like you did a great job in spite of having a tough day.....and you're already talking about doing it again next year!

See you on the trails soon!

Mike said...

Thanks Kel, btw, you were right on the camelbak as I ordered the wrong one, oh well.

wildknits said...

Great job out there. Running in the rain leaves you a much smaller margin of error re: hypothermia. Glad to hear you have rebounded and are already considering heading back there next year.

Helen said...

I knew who you were!!

Great report - thanks for the details - it is always interesting to read especially for races like this that take such strategy I think.

Hope you are recovering well.

I am always tempted to try FANS when I watch it as it's just such an inspriring race for whatever reason - but by next Spring I'll (hopefully) have come to my sense again :)

JojaJogger said...

I think I was with you a bit on your first loop! (I remember running with a group of three and the gal mentioning the "walking tree") Sorry to hear you didn't reach your goal, but now you have to do it next year :) Great race report, hope to see you next year.


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