2014 Silverton 1000 Mile Challenge Recap

For me, I guess, it’s easy to give updates when things are going great and as planned. But when it’s not going the way I want them to it’s hard to tell everyone that I’m letting them down. I gave it my best, but it’s still tough for me to put in all the effort I did in preparation and the race itself only to come up so far from my goal. I do want everyone to know that I am happy with my race, more specifically how much smarter I ran this year vs. last despite not having the miles to show for it.

Most importantly I want to thank Mark and Sharill Hellenthall from the bottom of my heart for not only for hosting another great race and helping me promote Laps for a Liver, but for pushing me throughout the race to keep going when things were getting tough.

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Finishing last years race at 350 miles in 6 days I learned a lot about myself and about multi-day racing that I felt would give me a much better shot at finishing the whole 1000 miles this year. The biggest things I learned from last years race was that I needed to take care of and preserve my body at all costs, and that I’m not getting anywhere hanging out in the aid stations.

My Plan

I knew that this year I needed to start out slow (15-20 min/mile) and walk ALL the downhill. Last year running the downhill destroyed my knees after 2 days and was what ended the race for me. Sleep and nutrition were the things that I handled really well last year, so I wasn’t too overly concerned on changing anything with that.

In general, this was my game plan:

  • Eat solid food
  • Eat often
  • Stay hydrated
  • Walk the downhill
  • Run steady
  • Sleep 15mins-1hr/night
  • Don’t hang out at the aid station
  • Look like a Goob
  • Have fun

Day 1

I went into the race surprisingly calm and focused.  There were a lot of things I should have been worried about but I guess I’m not one to worry about what I can’t control. The first day went as good as I could have wanted. I was eating and drinking well, the weather was cool, and everyone was in high spirits. Heading into the night it started pouring and rained throughout the night with temps dropping to around 40 degrees. I had the legitimate rain gear with me and was enjoying the weather everyone else seemed to be dreading.

My goal mileage for the day was 65-70, my end mileage was 70.

Day 2

Early into day 2 I started running into “issues”.  My IT band started tightening up along with many other muscles. I was trying to be acutely aware of what my body was telling me so I had a chance to take care of things before they had a chance to turn into race ending injuries. As much as I wanted to stay out of the aid station and keep running, keeping my body loose and injury free was one thing that I felt needed to be first priority.  This day was probably the most frustrating day of the race. I felt great, my energy was up and I was ready to run except for a handful of muscles and tendons. I spent 6-7 hours getting worked on over the course of the day and night.

My goal mileage for the day was 65-70, my end mileage was 53.

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Day 3

Starting day three I felt like all the time I spent getting worked on had finally paid off.  All the issues I had during day 2 completely disappeared. I felt 100% and fresh as a daisy! I went back to spending more time on my feet and was having a great day. Looking back I feel I got distracted and spent too much time in the aid station again from having fun and talking to all the people who showed up for the 3 day race. There was a lot going on in the aid station and it was easy to stop and chat rather than just power through.

My original mileage goal was ~60 miles, I increased my goal to 65 miles due to the low mileage I ran the day before, my end mileage was 58.

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Day 4

I was still feeling great with small issues popping up here and there, but it seemed that they would disappear fairly quickly after I got them worked on in the aid station. I came to the realization that I wasn’t getting the mileage I needed to make the 350 mile cutoff at the end of Day 6 so as much as I wanted to avoid this scenario, I had to pick up my pace. I still knew that running the downhills was a horrible idea and hiking faster uphill would just cause my legs to blow up, so there were only 2 things I felt I could do to pick up the pace: run the flats and stay out of the aid station at all costs.

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I threw on my Ultimate Direction Race vest so I could run through the the aid station only grabbing water and what ever food I need. I felt like I was moving faster and staying out of the aid station more, but at the end of the day it wasn’t the case. During the day it got really hot and the sun was unrelenting. I decided to take an hour nap early in the afternoon when I felt like the heat was taxing my body more than it should be.  It felt good to get some rest but looking back I think that time could have been better spent moving.

Going into the night I started getting worries about making the cutoff. This was the first time where I was actually concerned about making the cutoff  instead of worrying how many extra miles I could bank by the 6th day. I had a real rough night when I started slowing down even more when I couldn’t push myself to run the flats any more. All that was going through my head were the numbers I needed to to reach to make the cutoff. Around midnight I came to the conclusion that I had no chance of reaching the cutoff. I was still slowing down and it was hard to keep a 22min/mile pace even while staying out of the aid station. I wanted the race to be over with and just get a full night of sleep. My emotions surprised me, I felt the whole race I would never reach this emotional space that I was in at the time.

This night was a turning point for the race – before morning I made the decision to drop out of the 1000 Mile Challenge. It was not an easy decision and it definitely was not what I’d hoped for but I could not justify pushing by body to its limits knowing I would not be able to make the 350 mile cutoff by the end of Day 6. Rather than suffer another two days only to walk away from the race miserable I decided to get some legitimate sleep and make the most of a few days on the trails with friends over the weekend.

Day 5

After a few hours of sleep I started out the day with a new take on life, I changed into my 80’s gym outfit and decided to have fun out on the course with the friends I’d made last year and over the past few days. Another runner, Emilio, had started with the 1000 Mile Challenge in sight but had dropped to just the 6 Day earlier in the week – he was still gunning for 300 miles and we spent some time on the 1 mile loop getting to know each other.

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Without the pressure of covering X miles/day the race got a lot more fun. I was able to chat with people in the aid station, help out other runners with food/gear and just relax while still getting in miles. That afternoon Emilio hit his 300 mile goal and I decided my new goal for the race was to tie his distance.

Day 6

The weather stayed nice after the first night of rain and with a lot of people coming out to the race for the 72, 48 and 24 hour races the course stayed relatively busy up until the final cutoff at 9am on Day 6. The final hours were inspiring – people were chasing down goals ranging from a 12 year old running her first 50K (heck, her first distance over 10 miles…all on a whim!) to Colby beating the flu to cover 100 miles to Ed conquering altitude sickness for two 100 mile finish to others hitting milestones and PRs. It was incredible to watch and looking back I’m glad I was able to step back and really take it all in! I did manage to hit my newfound 300 mile goal and technically finished the 6 Day race in second place, since Emilio hit 300 miles first. It was his longest distance at that moment in time and it was a great experience to share with him!

Ultimately my time at the 2014 Silverton Multi Day/1000 Mile Challenge was not what I had hoped for but once again I walked away from the race a smarter runner with a little more experience that will hopefully be able to propel me the full 1,000 miles in the near future.

I want to say THANK YOU to everyone who encouraged me and supported me, both at Silverton and in every other running endeavor I’ve changed after. More importantly, I am so incredibly grateful for everyone who donated to the Laps for a Liver fundraiser. You all donated more than $2,500 to Jake’s liver transplant…THANK YOU! We’ll be back again in 2015, stay tuned for details!

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