Saturday, July 27, 2013

2013 Merrill's Mile Race Review

As some of you may know, I had a very successful run at Merrill's Mile. I figured I could go more in depth than, "OMG I RAN 100 MILES!" so here it is.

Pre Race

Diet
Up to this race I had ate a mostly vegetarian diet. I kind of waterfalled as time went on. By that I mean, I mean I started out as a fruitarian about 3 months before. About a month later I was mostly vegan. Another month went by and I was vegetarian, then about a week before the race I ate whatever I wanted.

While this was never intended, I find it prepared me well for the race. It got me down to race weight. I also found that recovery while on a Fruitarian diet was phenomenal. The flexibility in the diet as time went on was enjoyed also.

Running
I would say that I moderately increased my mileage in the months before the race. I know I didn't run nearly as many miles as many 100 mile training programs suggest. I focused more on not getting injured and figuring out how to run in times when I didn't want to. For example, I may not have been out running 15 miles every day, but I was able to pencil in two 40 mile training runs on similar ground that Merrill's Mile was on weeks before the race. I think this helped me more than anything as it helped me develop an eating plan and a gear change plan. I discovered that I did really well in my Vivo Barefoot Evo II for the first 20 miles, then switching to my Hoka Bondi Bs for the remainders. After doing this twice I knew I had to do something similar in the race.

Confidence
I was pretty confident in myself the weeks before the race. I felt prepared and confident. I was telling people that I was going to attempt to run 100 miles. They asked me if I thought I could really do it, and without hesitation I responded, "Yes."

So now that I took care of the diet, fitness, and the mind, I was ready to run 100 miles.

Race Day

I slept fine the night before the race. I stayed up late two nights before so I would be tired. I was not nervous or anything and went right to sleep. I woke up, got myself ready, and everything went according to plan. Since I have a morning routine I was able to just do it and not run into any issues.

My parents picked me up and we headed out to the Ranger Camp. We met up with our friends John, Deborah, and Angela. We set up our homes for the next 24 hours.

It was also at this time that I met Kyle, the leader of a study group who had asked if they could monitor everything I ate. I thought that was an awesome idea and agreed.

Willy lined us up at 9 AM and told us some basic guidelines. There isn't much to say about running around a 1 mile loop. He was pretty certain someone would get lost, assuring us that if they did he wouldn't go looking for them. Then, at the end of the speech, he turned his back and said, "You guys can start if you want to..." John and I looked at each other and set the pace.

We had agreed to try to run a majority of the race together. We started out at a 9:30 min/mile pace and decided to keep it at that for as long as possible. We feared that if we started out too slow we would not have time to finish.

About 7 laps in John had to make a pit stop. He told me to keep going. I ran a lap and didn't see him coming the other way. I walked by the porta-john's and yelled for him... Eventually I figured out that he had already left. I ran a fast mile and caught up to him. After a few more laps we got separated again and didn't really see each other for the rest of the race.
Cruisin' With The Hokas

I kept at my pace. A marathon rolled by and I was at a little over 4 hours. Am I doing this right? Don't people strive to run marathons this fast? I kept thinking that I was going too fast, but decided to stop thinking and keep running.

The rain started around 2PM. It varied from a light mist to a medium shower. Still, I kept running my race. I kept my head up. I knew that it was going to rain(I didn't have to look at the weather forecast, it had rained every day for the past 2 weeks). The rain felt good and was better than the alternative - Sun. I took my shirt off and chugged along.

As far as nutrition goes I stuck with Gu and grabbed an occasional snack from the aid station. At this time I was about an 8 or 9 on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being dead and 10 being on my perfect run. Despite all the rain, my feet were holding up really well(thanks to Swiftwicks).

After 27 miles I switched to my Hokas. I made this decision based on feel, and I could feel some minor stresses from my Vivos building up. The lack of flexibility in the Hokas is a good thing for ultras sometimes.

Miles 27-55 were honestly just running. I slowed down a little bit, but was still keeping around 10:30 to 11 min/miles. Still too fast? Not sure. I didn't want to question it.

When mile 55 rolled around things got miserable. The rain opened up and we were running in a thunderstorm. I really wanted to take a break, but my rule for this race was NO BREAKS SUCK IT UP! In the heaviest of the storm I decided to change socks. This would give me time to inspect my feet. My mom helped me get my socks off. My feet looked like they had been in a bathtub for a month. I had some sweet blisters. We popped, covered in superglue, and put a sock on. Blisters couldn't stop me now.

By mile 57 the second wave of runners started. All 4 of them.

I could see their headlamps in a line on the other side of the loop. I felt like crying. I have no idea why. Maybe it was because I was alone for so long. Maybe it was because I was tired of getting rained on. It was probably multiple things. So instead of holding it in I started to cry. I intentionally said things to myself to get it out, "You're not going to finish. You are going to make it this far and fail. God hates you." Blah blah yada yada... I cried. A quarter mile later I felt much better and was glad I got that out of my system. The weather seemed to reflect my mood and the rain calmed.

The miles started going slower after mile 60. So was I. I was trying to keep myself motivated and keep myself moving. I would walk half a lap, then run half a lap. My goal was to keep 12:30 min/miles but I was really around 14 or 15 min/miles.

It was around this time that I realized that the aid station had coffee. About every other lap I drank a small cup of coffee. I would go 2 laps, feel good, try to get another lap, and be dying for that cup of coffee. I gave in and just tried to remember to drink a cup every two laps. 

John and I, trashed
All this caffeine was making me have to pee, but I was getting faster. Not much faster, but faster. My dad started to run with me and discuss my strategy for later. He had been moving a majority of the time I had, but he was in much better condition than me mentally. We tried to do the math and figure out how much I could slack off. Even with these considerations, I kept my 15 min/mile pace. I just couldn't run any faster.

Finally I hit mile 84. It was around 4:45 AM. I needed a break. I sat down at the aid station and tried to get some nutrition. I felt like junk and was so tired. I told my dad, "Let me sleep for 2 minutes." I don't think I actually fell asleep, but I did reset my brain. The next thing I know my dad says, "Tyler wake up. You said 2 minutes and I gave you 3." I looked around and got myself up. Moving forward, at any speed, is better than sitting down.

My dad explained to me that I had to run 16 miles in 4 hours. I could do it if I ran... Wait what was that number? He started doing math again. We calculated how much I could walk if I wanted to hit 100 miles. He encouraged me to run more. Then, as my Circadian rhythm kicked in I started to wake up. My dad also was looking at the leaderboard and said, "Tyler, no matter what you do, you are going to be in 4th place. The person behind you is far behind and the person in front is 7 miles ahead." I said to my dad, "Forget that math, let's just run it in." 

Now, keep in mind both of my parents had been on the course for 24 hours. They had taken maybe a few hours of break in a wet tent, but nevertheless... They started tag-teaming. 

My dad would run a lap with me, talk to me, and make sure I was comfortable. Before the finish of the loop he would call out what I needed to the aid station. They would hand it off to me and I could continue running. My mom would run with me and do the same. I was so impressed with my parents during this time. They were just mechanical in what they were doing. They ran right next to me and were ready to run when it was their turn.

After a 12 miles I surprisingly had caught up to 3rd place. They were walking and I made a fast pass at what felt like 9 min/mile. They didn't follow or notice.
100 Miles - 23 Hours 52 Minutes

At mile 99 I realized that I could get a sub 23 hour 100 miler if I ran the last mile under 14 minutes. I ran it in around 7 minutes and 40 seconds. I came in one mile ahead of 4th place. When I came through the finish I was greeted by a man who looked like Caballo Blanco. I extended his arm and gave me a hug. After the hug I realized that it was Willy. For a moment there though... who knows? 

My dad didn't stop though. We started walking and got another mile in. Then for some reason we went around again. At 102 miles I thought that I was done. I sat down in a chair and relaxed for the first time in 24 hours. 

Then the person in 4th place didn't stop though. They were at 101 miles. If I let them catch up to me at 102 miles then we would be tied. When they walked by I followed them. 10 feet behind them. I had 30 minutes left. They weren't moving fast and neither was I. As I made the final turn I saw them turning in their timing chip. They were done. 

I walked through, getting 103 and turned in my chip. I was done. Willy handed me my belt buckle. Finally.


I sat down while my poor parents and our friend Dave packed up our stuff. I felt like I was being useless, but I could barely move. I stiffened up and got cold. When it was time to go. I got in the car and fell asleep. When I made it to my parents house I got out of the car and threw up. Sweet! We joked about it and I went in to sleep and eat for the rest of the day.

Here is the chart of my nutritional intake for the whole race. Thanks Kyle & Daniel!

Note: I would like to say that I was out there for me that day. I know I got kind of competitive there at the end, but it was really a driving force to keep me moving. In fact, when my dad first told me I was getting close to 3rd place I said, "I don't care, I just want to get 100 miles." Mentally it pushed me, so it became pretty important there at the end. If I had gotten 3rd, 1st, or last I would have been happy that I got 100 miles in.

A special congratulations goes out to Errol Josephs and Beth McCurdy.



A huge thank you goes out to all of the volunteers, friends, and family they helped me succeed in this race. I never could have done it without you.


1 comment:

  1. Tyler-Great and inspirational report. I admire the support of your parents. Keep up the great work!

    ReplyDelete