The Race For The Ages in Manchester, TN was such an unusual event that I am going to write another blog just about the experience. For this one I will concentrate on the prep for Lilyan’s Run. After the near disaster that was the Holston River Endurance Challenge I was worried about what Stage IV might hold. I put off signing up for this until literally the last moment as I beat the dead line by about 1 1/2 hours.
My beautiful wife and daughter went along to support me. I really don’t think there is anyway possible I could have tried this without them. We pulled into Manchester about 20 minutes before the start and still had to get camp up and ready, check in and change clothes. Oh, and of course, I hadn’t really had much sleep the days leading up to this, that seems to be a recurring bad habit. We hurriedly set up the canopy and then I was off to the start line, just a few minutes late. When I hit the course I hadn’t seen it and hadn’t talked to anyone so I was feeling it out as I went.
The course itself was concrete and pavement. It used part of an existing greenbelt along the Little Duck River before turning onto a roadway and wandering past tennis courts and ball fields, up a hill and down a steep hill past the start/finish line. There was pretty good shade for the first 1/4 or 1/3 of it but the rest was going to be out in the sun during the day time.
As for the run this might be the last race before Lilyan’s Run arrives next month. It was time to try and put the lessons learned through the summer to good use. The first thing to work on was fluid and electrolytes. The Saltstick Caps were the key to the plan. Two to start and a few every hour. After a couple of hours I changed my fluid after watching and talking to others. I started carrying my fluid with me, sipping on it throughout the lap. This allowed for a slow but steady intake and helped to avoid the feeling of water sloshing around in the stomach. After a while it became second nature.
The combination of fluid and electrolytes seemed to do the trick. While I still cramped it wasn’t nearly as bad as previous long runs. I also didn’t suffer the same… um… gastric/neurological problems as at the Holston.
Food remained a mystery to me going into this event but I think it may have shed some light on it. While most events have all kinds of candy, cookies and other sweets lined up as well as fruits, nuts and the like, here they had full heavy meals. While it seemed strange to me that this was the way to go I tried it out. Eating a full meal then walking about 20 minutes before starting to run did the trick. There was still some discomfort but I actually did much better than expected. The food provided the fuel needed to keep going.
MY BIRTHDAY! Did I mention that my beautiful wife and daughter were there with me? Imagine my surprise when I returned to our camp to find balloons and red velvet cupcakes for my birthday! Not only did they subject themselves to shear boredom and camping without showers or a bed for the weekend, having to ice down my knees and bandage my blisters, they still managed to plot with the race officials to hide my birthday stuff. Could I ask for more?
At the end of the run I couldn’t feel better about the prep. I had managed to stretch my event personal best distance from 30 some miles to 72! The fluid, electrolyte and food changes seem to be working as is the mental and physical prep for Lilyan’s Run to come.