Saturday, June 13, 2009

FANS - the more full story

I arrived at Lake Nokomis at 6:30am prepared to fight off a bright, sunny day.
Donned in shorts and a short sleeve shirt, I chatted with Helen and then weighed in.
With agility and oneness of purpose, I quickly returned to the truck where I added to my body a long sleeve shirt and running pants.

I then helped one of the volunteers set up a tent. When I could no longer feel my fingers because of the cold, I returned to the truck where I added to the long sleeve shirt and running pants: gloves, hat, another long sleeve shirt and a coat. Then, I sat in the truck with the heater on.

When I run, I run hot. I never run with pants on unless it's below 10 degree Fahernheit-even then, reluctantly. So, at 7:56, I stood at the starting line with a short sleeve, long sleeve and shorts. This worked fine until it began to rain - about 20 minutes later.

Rain, aka wetness, is fine. Wind is fine. Cold is fine. When all three converge, it is not fine. At 8:40am I was not fine.

On went running pants, a running jacket, gloves and a hat. All were soaked clear through by 9:00am. I had no water proof clothing and only two more long sleeve shirts. I had to ration.

Around noon, Marty and the kids arrive. The boys ran 1 lap with me. Then they left.

I started to get real cold. What to do? What saved me? A black trash bag. This kept new rain out and a little heat in. I must have been quite a sight: my head sticking out from the bottom of a trash bag, arms inside, holding the opening tight around my waist so the bag wouldn't flare out into a large dress.

Fast forward to 3pm. Three hours into a new pair of shoes; completely soaked. Rationing dry clothes was starting to look problematic. I had only two long sleeve shirts left.

I called Marty, back home, preparing to attend Addis' graduation ceremony.
"Yes, I already know what you're going to ask. More dry clothes."
"How did you know?"

5pm, still wearing the trash bag, my lovely wife pulls up. She had very wisely thrown in several items that literally saved the run and enabled me to run through the night: a water proof running jacket (that I didn't know was waterproof until then) and non-water-retaining gloves.

With dry clothes, and the potential of keeping the upper body dry, I ran well until about 10:30 when a good friend from church suddenly appeared. Dean ran 1 lap with me, then chatted with the Hansons (also from church. Their son Aaron was running and they were crewing). He ran the second lap to catch me, and then, as I persisted, ran a third lap with me.

Around 11, I realized that I wasn't going to hit 100 miles, and decided to just beat 76, my previous long distance. Around 11:30, I found that I was really tired, so took a 15 minute nap in the truck. The next two laps were great followed by a tough third lap. So, I napped again for 15 minutes. Again, the next two laps were great followed by a tough third lap. Each good lap was taking me about 38 minutes; bad laps about 45 minutes.

Running through the night was beautiful. I've done many nighttime runs, some starting early and ending some time during the night, some starting very early (1am) and running until light. I had never run through the night before.

I napped a third time and woke at 6:30. I ran two final laps in 33 minutes each and then began running the short laps with everyone else. I felt great at the end and ran behind Michael Henze, the overall winnner, for about 12 minutes at a blinding pace. It appears that I may have covered over 2.5 miles in the last 22 minutes.

Would I do FANS again. Beforehand, I had decided I would only do it once. Why run on pavement around and around when Kettle Moraine is the same weekend? After the run, I said never again. Marty, however, said, "Yeah. And by Wednesday you'll be saying something different."

Wednesday morning I decided that I'd do FANS again next year if possible. Why?
1. It's close to home. I don't have to spend an extra night away from family.
2. The family can come watch and help.
3. I ended up liking the 2.4 mile loop. I knew exactly when the aid station was coming and when different landmarks would show up. I could very easily use different landmarks as "carrots;" "I only have to run until I reach...." and I was never surprised.
4. The volunteers are incredible! It is very heartening to have people encouraging me every 35 minutes.
5. The race is very conducive to talking with other runners while running. I met so many runners that I've heard about or read about but never met.
6. As long as I was mindful of my form, the pavement was not bad for me. My trail shoes worked very well. It was only when I had to switch to road shoes that the blisters began.
7. The aid stations were stocked really well. I have never eaten such good boiled potatoes!
8. The race shirt is, after Afton (sorry Wynn), one of my favorite.


David Ray said...

Congrats again! Props to the wife for coming to the rescue.

Helen said...

Great report Joel and well done on making it through the terrible conditions!! Despite how awful it looked for people out there I was completely taken in by the race and think I will have to do it myself next year!! BUT I'll be starting with the 12hr...