0430 Race morning: So Jason how do you feel? I’m excited to start and want to get going.
The logistics are interesting. Jason has been honing his nutritional needs for months. He is confident in his fluid and nutrition intake balance. He will burn more than 15,000 calories in the next 24-plus hours. The winner will take somewhere around 14 hours. There is a 30-hour race time limit.
Here in Huntsville State Park in Huntsville Texas the weather is cooperating. It’ll be clear with lows near 40F and highs in the 50s. This will help minimize issues of hypothermia, and with the nutrition plan and hundreds of miles of training in the cold damp northwest this should be very favorable conditions for his body.
0600 start time: So Jason how do you feel? Let’s get going.
You never know going into a marathon if all your training prepared you well enough for the challenge facing you on race day. It goes doubly for ultra-marathons.
10:25 AM, 20 miles – lap one complete in just under four and a half hours. So, Jason, how do you feel? “I feel like I’m holding back. I feel great. I know the pace is a bit fast but it feels natural. I walked about 3 miles to start.”
One of the tricky things about ultras is measuring out your effort. It will always feel controlled and easy the first half – if you are pacing it right. If it doesn’t feel pretty decent, you’re in trouble already.
We see him at 35 miles and he looks good but mentions some ache in his lower back area. After a short sit, he is off again.
3:25 PM, 40 miles – lap two complete in just under nine and a half hours. So Jason, how do you feel? “My stomach was a little upset but it’s OK now. Also my head feels just slightly foggy. (sitting to change clothes) Boy it feels so good to sit down.”
Low carbohydrates and fluid issues can contribute to foggy-head. Electrolyte imbalances can cause issues with your stomach. He was still coherent and in tune with his body. He was alert and clearly relating how he felt. These are critical aspects to consider as a runner answers questions about their status. Through some discussion, it appears his carb levels are pretty good; his electrolyte however may be off because he has taken not only electrolyte pills but additional electrolyte drinks along the way. So he’s back to water only for a bit. A small peanut butter and jelly sandwich is a nice sponge in his stomach. It provides carbs and absorbs any sloshing from fluids.
The last advice to him is to take his time at the rest stops. Get a breather. If your head is still foggy, lie down and put your feet up and rest a bit. Blood is shunted away from various parts of our bodies in extreme exercise such as our brains. It goes to the critical body organs and muscles needed to keep you alive and moving. So, much like a patient in shock, elevating feet and be just the trick.
Dry shirt, and socks (one blister on toe #3 on the right foot) and back to layers of clothing along with headlamp check. The last couple hours of the next lap will be back in the dark.
He is off and running. Halfway through this lap he will have run farther than ever before in his life. His sister Shirley and I leave for Starbucks. Unlike Jason, we need something to keep us awake. The next juncture of 60 miles is the first point at which he can have a pacer run with him. We need to strategize how we do this.