Thursday, October 24, 2013

2013 Antelope Island 100k

After the finish
It has been a while since I've posted here. A lot has happened. I recovered from my vein surgeries, I paced a handful of races from 1/2 marathons to 100 milers, I had a job change and started the relocation process, I've summitted some peaks with friends, and I have dealt with some upset peroneal tendons in my left ankle. But this post is about none of those things. I'd like to write blogs about them all but I honestly don't know when or if that will happen.
I thought I was ready...

Ok, so I returned to the 50k distance in August with the Sapper Joe 50k, paced the last 25 miles at the Wasatch 100, paced the Top of Utah Marathon, and paced the last 38 1/2 miles at the Bear 100 again. I hoped all of this would be good preparation for my first shot at 100k. The Bear was 3 weeks before the Antelope Island 100k and so two weeks before the race I did my last long run of almost 22 miles with what I thought was similar elevation change to the race.

The week leading up to the race my wife got sick. I was worried that I'd get sick too and spent the majority of the week sleeping in, hydrating, and taking Zicam to avoid getting sick.  

For fuel I planned to use Tailwind nutrition as exclusively as possible. Tailwind is a calorie and electrolyte drink (that comes as a powder) that claims that it is all you need all day. Really. I first used tailwind the week after the SapperJoe 50k and had been using it on all my long runs, a few medium runs, and every race I raced or paced. Tailwind has a challenge. You purchase 4 50-serving bags, tell them your goal race, and then train and race with Tailwind. If you are not satisfied, you can get your race entry fee refunded up to $150.  I signed up for the challenge and hoped for the best. I have some friends that love Tailwind and swear by it. 


I first heard about Tailwind through podcasts from Tailwind has customer service nailed. Between the handwritten thank-you notes, responsiveness to questions, and fast service, I don't think their service is matched anywhere I can think of. They even included extra servings and Performance Enhancing Kokopelis (PEKs from TrailRunner Nation) in each order. I wore 2 during the race. 

tattoo banner

I planned on filling my Geigerrig Rig 500 (2L hydration pack) with Tailwind and running with it. I don't have a lot of experience running with bottles and I'm comfortable with a pack so my hands can be free. I was also worried that bottles would run out on the longer sections. The pressurized system of the Geigerrig means I wouldn't have to suck my fluid out. 


Ok, so race morning I woke up early and drove to Antelope Island. I checked in and got my stuff together and met some friends in the tent at the start. I was especially glad to see my friend Christie there. She is from Boise and was there to pace her friend Bertha in her first 100k. Even though it was 5:30am, Christie brightened up my morning like the sun.
With Christie (aka human sunshine). I am crouching down here.
So a few minutes before the start Jim Skaggs (RD) gathered us together and gave us our last warnings and instructions for the course. This is a fairly small race with only 31 people registered. I'm not sure how many started but only 24 of us would finish.
Dinkin' around

The race started promptly at 6am (as promised). It was dark but with the full moon it was beautiful and several runners started without lights. I was not one of them. I just went with what felt natural for the first flat section and up the start of the first hill. I talked with Nate Younger a bit. I had just met him but have been aware of him because of Sapper Joe. According to UltraSignup we were given similar finish goals. I quickly realized he had more ambitious goals than me and I let him go.

Beautiful moon set

The first section is about 5.5 miles and consists of a longer hill at the beginning and a shorter, steeper one just before the Elephant Head aid station. I probably ran more of the first hill than I should have and could feel my left ankle getting a little aggravated on the side hill. Luckily that faded soon and didn't turn out to be a problem. At the first AS I just got some water to rinse out my mouth and heading down the trail. I had mixed my Tailwind stronger than normal.
West side... Yes, that is the trail.

The next section is about 8 miles. It starts with a mile+ downhill that is a good time to open up the legs a little. Then there are some switchbacks and a few ups and downs. Eventually you get spat out near the beach with the toughest footing on the island. It goes from large, loose gravel, to baby skull rocks, to sand. It was tough to move well there but you just keep going. This was on the west side of the island where the general public isn't allowed and I thought it had the best scenery.  After this you end up going up about a 3 mile hill with about 1000' gain to the North Sentry aid station.

At North Sentry I made a critical mistake. I needed to fill my partially empty pack but I put in enough Tailwind for an empty pack. Over-concentrated again. Leaving this AS you wind your way down the mountain on a dirt road down to the main road. It was on this section I saw my first wild life. I bet there were well over 200 buffalo in groups on both sides of the road. Others later commented that they had to go through the groups but I was never even close enough for quality photos with my phone. When you get to the main road you follow the dirt portion of it past the ranch before you jump on the trail.
Long flat stretch on the East side

After a few more miles and crossing the road you get to the Nine Mile Gate AS. I had a drop bag there. I dropped off my long sleeve shirt and gloves and my lights and picked up another package of Tailwind.  I got some water and took off.

The section from Nine Mile Gate to Lower Frary flew by. It is only 3 miles but I was in a run 5 min walk 1 min pattern and that distracted me from the fact I was starting to hit a little low.
Lower Frary

At the Lower Frary AS I saw Christie again and that was a huge boost. I got some water and ate a Tootsie roll and headed out.
Filling up at Lower Frary

From Lower Frary it is another 6.6 miles to the finish/start. I had signal on my phone so I texted my wife my progress and kept up my run/walk pattern as best I could. This was probably the lowest I felt all day and it wasn't helped by the giant sunflowers from hell that littered the trail. Just before the finish, is a super steep but short hill that I walked up. Then it was less than a mile to the start/finish.

At the start/finish I emptied the sand from my shoes and discovered holes in the balls of my socks. Unfortunately I'd have to go another 5.5 miles to get to my replacement socks. I grabbed a couple of ginger snaps to eat and refilled my Tailwind.

I walked most of the way up the long hill that I ran the first time. I spent the time trying to hydrate/fuel and when I got to the top I was able to get moving pretty well. As I power walked the final hill to the aid station I say Nate Younger coming back down. He wasn't feeling well and was DNFing. I wished him well and got to the AS.

At Elephant Head I took my time and changed socks into compression socks and added a new insole in my shoes. I spent over 10 minutes here. Meanwhile a guy came in and left. I would see him on and off for the next 15-20 miles.

West side...

I started to feel better after the sock change and with the downhill. I feel like I was moving pretty well on this 8 mile section with the exception of the horrible traction section and I walked most of the last mile up the hill.
On the West side...
I got to the AS and was able to fill and get out just before the guy who had caught me at Elephant Head.

I got moving again down the hill and saw the same large group of buffalo. At this point I was tired with about 40 miles on my legs, I was already smelling the barn. I just kept up a steady run/walk pattern with most walking breaks limited to a minute.

I got to the Nine Mile gate AS at about 50 miles and topped off my pack and grabbed some Mountain Dew (my first caffeine of the day). I picked up a light because I wasn't sure if I'd make it to the finish before dark. I knew the next section would go quickly so I headed out.

When I got to the Lower Frary AS I got a hug from both volunteers, 2 small cups of Mountain Dew and a 1/2 banana. I looked at my watch and thought that if I hurried, I could finish in 13 hours. UltraSignup had my target at a little over 13 hours so I wanted to beat that.

At this point I was pretty tired but I realized that running a 12 minute pace or a 10 minute pace hurt equally, so I opted for a faster run to compensate for my walk breaks. I feel like with my excitement, I ran more of this section than I did the first loop. As I got to the last hill I saw Michelle who was in the 50k. I had paced her husband Ryan at the Bear 100 and he had run the 50k. I encouraged her and headed up the hill. Ryan was at the road and I stopped for a quick photo op. Then I headed off with the goal of sup-13 in mind. 

About a mile to go...

As I neared the finish I could see I'd make it under 13 and was excited. I dropped my hat and pack as I entered the chute so I could do my traditional somersault across the finish. Luckily, Ryan was there to take a photo. I ended up finishing in about 12:54 in 12th place out of 24 finishers.
My traditional finish line somersault
Hanging out at the finish I got chilled and quickly put on my dry clothes and ate my buffalo chili. I had a good time hanging out and seeing people finish. After a while I felt like I needed to get home.
At the Finish with Ryan Anderson
I got home fine but was feeling quite stiff. Later that night I got up to use the restroom. I finished my business and then the next thing I knew I was waking up on the floor with my wife standing over me. I don't know if it was just exhaustion, if it was sickness finally setting in, or something else.

So now it has been several days and I have done my first run since the race but I am still feeling the race. I am starting to think about another ultra but I'm not sure I'm read for a 100 miles yet. Maybe I'll start with the Buffalo Run 50 miler. Time will tell.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

I'm so Vein (Part 1)

I am not a doctor or anatomy expert. The following information is presented more or less in layman's terms because that is the terminology I understand. Any misinformation or exaggeration is because I don't know everything about everything yet. But hey, you are here and this is my blog. Jeremy Run's This. Feel free to comment and correct anything I screw up but as far as I understand and am willing to understand currently the following is true. I provide it partially for my own record but also so that those who care will have one (hopefully) consistent account of my vein journey.
Anatomy Lesson #1
The human body has miles and miles of blood vessels. (I don't know how much and I'm too lazy to look it up now.) The vessels that take blood from the heart to the body are arteries and the ones that return thee blood to the heart are called veins. In humans the veins in the legs are equipped with one way valves that help keep the blood from falling back down to the feet. If these valves do not close completely or do not close at all gravity takes over and the blood pools in the lower veins. This can be very uncomfortable (achy, burning, itchy) and is often visible in the form of spider veins and vericose veins.Like breast cancer this is more commonly found in women who may "earn" them as part of the birthing process but can also affect men. The main cause of varicose veins and venous insufficiency in general is genetics. However, symptoms can be exacerbated by long periods of inactivity, hours and hours on your feet, or sitting for prolonged periods of time.

Temporary solutions to the pain and discomfort include wearing compression sock/stockings and use of Ibuprofen or other NSAIDS to help with the inflammation.When these simple measures are not enough or the discomfort becomes too great, getting rid of the failing veins can be achieved through surgery.Traditionally veins were able to be "stripped" but this is a fairly invasive procedure requiring significant recovery time. One less invasive alternative is ablation. This is a process where a catheter is inserted in the vein and as it is removed sections of the failing veins are cauterized shut. For some reason I used to have the strange idea that new veins would grow in the old veins' place but that is not correct. The ablated vein gets absorbed and the blood is forces to return to the heart through the other healthier veins.

My History:
I have many relatives with varicose veins and that is most likely why I have mine but I didn't always have them. My first recollection of having any strange visible veins in my legs is from shortly after I was hit by a car in 2002. It was a minor hit where I was more concerned about my Discman than my body and no medical or legal attention was given. But during the collision my right shin collided with the car's bumper. Soon after I noticed it was a little purple and was tender. I thought this was a bruise but in the ensuing years it has turned into what I affectionately call my 3D tribal tattoo, my biggest, grossest, most noticeable, and most painful varicose vein.

Up until 4-5 years ago the veins weren't too bad and weren't achy enough to worry but in the last several years they have become more and more noticeable not just to the eye but also with regards to pain. For the last few years I have begun wearing knee-high compression socks when I would go on a long run, have to be standing for a while, or while traveling. This has helped some but has not completely eliminated the discomfort. About a year ago I went in for a free vein screening with Dr Grover in Logan, UT. He told me a little about the causes and options for my situation. The next step would be an ultrasound to find out which veins were not working properly. I was not ready for this yet so once again this topic was shelved while I continued to use compression socks multiple times a week.

In the summer of 2012 I finally caved and went in for the ultrasound. Dr Grover took pictures and did and ultrasound on both legs, both upper and lower. I had always thought that the problem was just what I was able to see but we found out that I had venous insufficiency in both legs both upper and lower. In order to test the veins they push on your leg to instigate blood flow and they time how long it take for the valves to close. If it take more than 1/2 second then the veins are bad enough that they are covered by insurance. I had veins that took longer in both my upper and lower legs. The fun thing: the gnarly one in my right lower leg didn't even close for 2 seconds while we watched it. We gave up waiting for it to close. I shared the news with Martha and we made arrangements to do the operations in January to eat up our insurance deductible so that any further problems for the rest of the year would be taken care of.

As we called to make the appointment, it turns out that I would have to undergo 3 separate procedures.

Procedure #1:

Before Procedure #1: Numbing cream in saran wrap
On January 2nd I left work early and went in to have the first set of veins mapped.Dr Grover had a medical student with him. Ammon was the med student's name. He and the nurse? watched as the doctor lubed my leg up with ultrasound jelly to find the veins that were to be treated. This first procedure would close one vein off in each leg going from my crotch down the inside of each leg to the mid to upper calf. The idea behind this is that since these veins were failing they were putting even more pressure on the veins in  the lower leg. After he'd found the veins he drew a line tracing the vein and called in a prescription for a special cream that would numb my skin. I was instructed to apply the cream along the line 2 hours before the procedure and then to wrap my leg with saran wrap to keep the cream from rubbing off. Apparently it takes about 2 hours for the cream to work. But it was a life saver because I didn't feel the stab me with a needle multiple times to numb the area under the skin. I had also be instructed not to eat or drink within 3 hours of the procedure and I obeyed.

When I got to the office I laid down on the table and they prepped the room for the procedure. They had hospital gowns on and everything. I got to wear some briefs but other than that I was bare from the waist down. They placed a drape over my lower body but taped it to my skin so that only the inside of each leg was exposed. The doctor cleaned my legs and injected local anesthesia to the area around the veins. An IV was inserted in the vein in my calf and through the IV they inserted the catheter on a long wire. Dr Grover just fed it up the vein until it got to the top of the area to be treated. He used the ultrasound to make sure it was in the right place. Then I learned a little more about human anatomy. Did you know that the veins in your legs are housed within a sheath-like membrane? I didn't. It was cool to hear the doctor explain to the med student what he was doing and I asked a bunch of questions.Anyway, because the catheter gets so hot to cauterize the vein closed, they inject fluid between the vein and the sheath to have a buffer zone to avoid damage to surrounding tissues. This creates pressure and is kind of uncomfortable in a strange way. Once the flluid and catheter are in place, they cauterize a small section at a time as they work their way out of the leg. Then the whole process is repeated on the other leg. I remained alert and awake during the whole procedure and was only a little uncomfortable a couple of times.
The line and punctures from injecting fluid
Irritated thigh skin from the tape

Mummy legs after Procedure #1
The worst parts of the ordeal were after the procedure was complete. When they were done they ripped the drape off that had been taped to my leg and that was painful. Then he had to scrub each leg to clean off the iodine that had colored my legs brownish orange. This was not fun because he had to scrub hard right where they had just ripped the tape off and it was cold.

Once I was all cleaned up, The doctor wrapped my legs from foot to crotch with ace bandages that I had to wear until the next morning. This quickly became uncomfortable as the bandages seemed to bunch up behind my knees and pinch my skin and pull my hairs. I went home and rested but I did go for a 20 minute easy walk later that evening.
The wrappings
The mummy unwrapped
My new thigh high compression Stockings
The doctor told me I should just walk and take it easy for 3-4 days but then I was cleared to run easy. The next morning I was so excited to get the bandages off, I didn't even mind having to wear thigh high compression stockings all day everyday for the next 2 weeks. I stayed home from work Thursday but went back in the next day. I went for a walk on Friday during lunch and felt fine even though Martha says I was waddling like I had just run a hard marathon. I think I was only about 1/2 marathon sore. Saturday I went to a yoga class and felt fine. Sunday I went for an hour walk and felt great.

Monday I went for my first run. To make sure I kept it easy I wore my heart rate monitor. I went 6 miles which was probably a little far but I felt ok. My legs just felt a little off. Monday afternoon I had my post-op checkup and got mapped for my next procedure which we thought would be done Tuesday. We thought wrong and scheduled it for Today (1/10/13).
Finding veins for Procedure #2: (Photo Credit Dillan)
Mapping veins for Procedure #2 (Photo Credit Dillan)
So I got to run Tuesday, Wednesday, and I even got up early enough to sneak one in this morning before we had to apply the cream to the new area to be treated. But I think that is a topic for part 2. Stay tuned.