TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

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Monday, May 28, 2012

Nanny Goat 2012

How do I blog about Nanny Goat, a 24 hour race, in just a few pages?  Yikes.  I’ll begin with the race specs.  Run for The Wounded Warrior Project, this race was basically how many miles you could run in 24 hours (beginning 8AM 5/26/12).  Runners could also begin at 8PM for the second 12 hour option.  If a runner made 86 miles by the 24 hour mark, he/she would be given four more hours to make 100 miles.  The course was a mile loop (not exactly elliptical) that brought us through a working ranch, past horses, through orange groves and ended with a run through a barn where our mile was recorded and projected on the wall.

Having never run more than 32 miles, I took on this race as an experiment, an experiment on what my mind and body would do when I ran past my maximum.  However, in the back of my mind, I hoped I could make that 86 miles to gain the extra four hours for 100 miles.  (I also really, really wanted to run an Old Goat race). 

I decided to drive out to Riverside the morning of the race instead of spending Friday night like many of the runners opted.  I watched photos pop up on Facebook a little jealous, as runners set up the night before.  I made a good decision though because I already spend too much time away from my family.  Waking rested at 4:30 AM, I was in my truck by 4:45 and headed east for the event of my life. 

When I arrived, I set up my spot alongside the barn – a small tent, with a sleeping bag, an ice chest with some of my favorite fluids, potato chips, lots and lots of Nuun tablets, changes of clothing and shoes, etc.  I met some of my running neighbors then set off to look for Steve and my running friends Judi and Matt. 

Pre-race, I mingled with numerous runners I’ve run with in other races.  Other runners, I’ve met on the trail.  A couple runners were running friends that I haven’t seen in a long time.  The pre-race atmosphere was exuberant, like a family reunion, a family reunion of down right crazies.

I left the garmin at home, as well as my vest, though I did pack a handheld.  And I buckled on my running belt to start the race – zipped inside, my phone, camera and lip balm. 

 Amped and ready to go with Judy & Matt W.:

Me & Hwa Ja (whom ironically I met with Judi & Matt while running Harding Truck Trail):

Race Director Steve Harvey gives race directions before herding us into the barn:

Runners listening very, very carefully to race directions:

Me listening very, very carefully to race directions:

And we we off.  The mile was mostly trail, some dirt, some grass.  There was an asphalt portion with dirt on both sides that the trail runners like myself chose to run.  We ran past chickens and colorful roosters.  There were too many dogs to count (lots of border collies, all friendly) and also lovely horses.  My favorite part was running through the shady orange trees.  Within five miles, I took off that running belt and threw it in my tent. 

At times the loop seemed extremely short.  Other times it felt quite long.  I learned quickly where the gopher holes were, and also where the giant ice-chest filled with bottles of water was located.  I took that bottled water frequently and dissolved a Nuun tablet into it.  I phoned home occasionally.  I chatted with old friends and new friends, learned the names of familiar faces.  I after all, saw the same people over and over and over again. 

Lucinda (Lucy) J. carries the U.S. flag the whole race, as she does in every race I’ve seen her run (She has amazing strength):

Running out of the barn:

Twenty miles came and went with cool breezes and no pain.  My hamstrings were a bit tight, which is unusual for me.  I thought the culprit may have been the flat terrain.  26 miles came and went like the easiest marathon I’ve ever run.  Mind you, I was pacing myself – I had lots and lots of miles to go.  By about mile 30 congestion was building and I began hocking loogies to get that phlegm out.  But alas, it would stay with me for the remainder of the race.  After hocking quite a few in a row, I turned around to discover three guys running right behind me.  Being raised a “lady” Smile I apologized for my vulgarity.  The guys laughed and one of them said, “This is Nanny Goat, it’s what we do.”  I chuckled and replied, “I didn’t even learn to do that until I was a runner.”  The guys laughed harder.  Though fatigue was setting in, most everyone still held themselves together.  Actually, it was great group, even when suffering terribly.

And then, AND THEN I changed my socks.  My feet were blackened from dirt.  I didn’t wash them because didn’t want to waste time.  I simply squeezed into the clean socks (yes, my socks seemed too small) .  You would not believe how these socks put new life into my feet.  I have never before felt how good a clean pair of socks could feel.  Who knew?  When I came upon Judi and Matt again, I ran over to them, “Have you changed your socks????”  They smiled wide and said with great relief, “Yes!!!!”  No explanation needed.

The Nanny Goat Loop:


I don’t know when I stopped to take in a burger fresh off the grill.  It was well before mile 32.  I had been taking in calories all along.  I train taking in calories.  I had already seen a couple runners vomit during this race.  I wasn’t sure how I would react after eating such a solid item.  I certainly have never eaten beef while training.  I have to say that it was probably the best burger I’ve ever tasted.  (And it was cooked by my running friend, Rob W.) 

I walked to my tent eating my burger with cheese and mustard and finished it off sitting in the chair Judi and Matt lent me.  I was back on the trail quickly with a handful of potato chips and also my handheld full of water and a dissolved Nuun tablet.  I decided to walk that first mile after the burger.  Ends up my stomach did just fine.  In fact, I think it gave me more energy.

I continued on running, running through the barn.  Runners were still laughing and smiling.  We were feeling it though.  The 8PM starters were arriving and my muscles were tightening.  I stopped to foam roll and headed back on the trail.  And I ran again and again through that barn.  Steve Harvey put his talking stuffed goat up to his megaphone for some extra entertainment.  There were “The Dudes in Pink” who were recording their laps, as well as beers, on a big whiteboard!  My friend Rob, who is an extremely amazing ultra-runner was super supportive every time I ran through the barn.  As an added surprise, I saw an old trail running friend, David C.  (not old as in age) getting ready for the 8PM start. I don’t believe I have seen him since the Saddleback Marathon 2010. 

Smiles from Rod W. as I ran through the barn once again: 

Starting to “feel” it":

Mile 32 came and went with a little “yippee” from me to celebrate the longest I’ve ever run.  By mile 40, my knees ached terribly.  I stopped alongside the horses to stretch when a border collie approached me.  He stood at my side, his fur touching my leg as I stretched my hamstrings, quads, IT band and calves. 

As I finished stretching the collie ran off to a man who seemed to be struggling as he shuffled along the loop.  By now, it was growing dark.  I took in dinner, fresh off the grill – a tiny piece of tri-tip and a good portion of rice.  Though the beef tasted good, I felt that I might choke swallowing it, so I was sure to chew and chew and chew. 

Miles 41 and 42 were excruciatingly painful for me.  I had absolutely no strength, which was frustrating, because I still had my mind.  I stopped  to ask Rob how to get my strength back.  He suggested food, fluids and rest.  He fetched me a cup of rice and a fork.  I ate that rice sitting in my chair outside of my tent.  Then I crawled inside changed into some night running clothes, found my headlamp and put a knee brace on each leg.  Then I phoned my husband and said these agonizing words, “I can’t run any more.”

“Yes you can,” he said.  “This is what you do!  At your weakest is when you become stronger!” 

I groaned in pain into the phone.  “I can’t,” I said.

“You have the amazing ability to keep on running,” he said.  “Just run one more mile.  Just one.” 

I agreed to a twenty minute rest and tried to sleep.  But I couldn’t sleep.  My knees ached terribly.  Kids laughed and shouted around my tent.  And I could hear cheers and shouts every time a runner stopped and accepted his/her finisher award.  After twenty minutes hubby called to “wake” me, I filled my handheld with V-8 berry blend, and managed to crawl back out of the tent and get myself on the course. 

Ready to run again after crawling out of my tent:

The sun completely down, I ran alongside runners who were draining and runners who had just begun the race.  Steve was surprised to see me in the barn again and exclaimed, “Where have you been?”  I replied, “Well, you said ‘No whining,’ so I went into my tent to do some whining in private.”

By then I had completed my fourth mile after telling my husband I would run one more mile.

My newfound energy did not last long.  As I ran into the barn to record mile 51, I told Rob W. and Christine B. that I couldn’t go on anymore.  “But you look so fresh!”  I knew they were pulling my leg.  Even though they insisted, I ran through the barn straight to my tent.  I groaned making my way back inside.  I phoned my husband at 11:30 pm.  Growing a bit delirious from muscle pain I told him that I was done.  I was going to call it and collect my finisher’s medal at mile 51.  He reminded me about my so-called “amazing ability,” which I didn’t buy for a second.  But he was uplifting nonetheless.  He convinced me to take a nap then at 2:30 AM get up and collect my medal.

I put on a fleece long sleeve over my pink long-sleeved shirt and PAINSTAKINGLY crawled into my sleeping bag.  I could actually hear a few other runners groaning in their tents.  I felt so cold, my teeth chattered.  Stupidly, I didn’t take any pain relievers as I attempted to doze off.  I thought the knee pain would never let me sleep, especially with the occasional loud cheers that came from the barn when a runner received his/her finisher medal. 

2:30 AM my phone alarm rang out.  Like a zombie, I put my shoes and headlamp back on and crawled out of that tent.  I staggered back onto the course along with the other zombies.  I saw Lucy – she wasn’t staggering, but she was suffering.  Everyone was suffering.  I saw Rachel S., a lovely little lady, STILL RUNNING.  I saw my friend Dave C.  I also saw moving wiggly lines on the ground, and was barely able to walk a straight line.  The field had thinned out greatly, a lot of runners that I had seen for many hours were not on the course.

My job at this point was to go through recovery on the trail.  How did I do that?  I walked!  I got faster and my knees amazingly grew stronger each mile.  I took in fluids, but few calories.  I could see my breath in the dark, but nothing much more than headlamps.  Race director Steve greeted me in the barn with enthusiasm.  “Back from the dead,” he said.  “One good thing about me,” I responded, “I’m hard to kill.”  And I kept on going, wishing for, yearning for, the sun.  As I ran in the dark, no one in front of me, I felt so alone, kind of pathetic.  Then I made the turnaround and saw the glow of dozens of headlamps headed toward me.  I nearly cried. 

The roosters called out before the sun even hinted of showing.  I remember at one point stopping with several other runners to check out 4 or 5 roosters up in a tree.  We all chuckled unaware that roosters went up in trees (city girls!).  At the end of my 5th mile back on the course I began running. 

And then I heard this song on my ipod (Thanks Lumberjack) (Another note:  the female vocalist reminds me so much of Annie Harvey): 

When this song was over, I hit the back button and played it again.  And when it was finished once more, I hit the back button and played it once again, and I was “good to go” until the end of the race.

Head Lamps in the dark:

Running through the barn once again (Steve Harvey in the middle):

Freezing my butt off, wishing, hoping, anticipating the sun:

I have never felt the glory of the sun like I felt it on May 27, 2012.  I guess you can call me a “day person.”  It’s wonderful to be able to see clearly where you step, to see clearly the faces of people who pass you by.  Absolutely glorious! 

Running during sunrise:

I know people don’t like to say this about ultras – but by now, this race was certainly, what my friend Rob said, a “Suffer-fest.”  A few runners were crying.  There were a couple vomiting.  Many were limping, lots were groaning.  Others were staggering.  On the other side of the coin, many runners were going strong.  Lots were also smiling, though not like before.

About 5:00 AM, I finally decided to take some ibuprofen.  I took three and continued on to run until 8:00 AM completing a total of 67 miles.  This was my first 50 miler and my first 100k!  I am not disappointed that I didn’t make the 86 miles to earn the extra time.  I’m more happy that I didn’t crack up mentally.  I fueled well with no vomiting or stomach problems.  I didn’t even deal with cramping. 

What I did deal with afterward was this:  swollen red feet (but no blisters) and very painful knees.

Running the last few miles, David C. still going strong:

If you EVER get the chance to run this race, DO IT!  The ranch owners are wonderful to lend 200 or so runners their ranch.  And race directors Annie and Steve Harvey are great.  They take care of their runners with enthusiasm, good food and anything else we need.  They know when to “call” it for a runner and when to let him/her go onward.  They have great volunteers and an amazing cast of participants.  Though I suffered some, I couldn’t be happier over my results.  I got up and ran again after thinking I was done.  Sure, lots of runners finished 100 miles and they deserve the glory for doing that.  As do all the runners who lined up at that start line for such a daunting task. 

See, it wasn’t that bad.  I’m still smiling back at my tent after 67 miles completed (photo compliments Matt & Judi W.):464410_3294174468812_96179819_o

26 comments:

  1. Congratulations Lauren! This was an excellent run, well done! Many new distances covered by you. It does take some time to learn how to run these long ones. Walking and eating proper food is part of the deal. Next time you go 50 or more miles you'll be great. Rest well my friend! Some day we run this one together.

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    1. Thanks Johann. I hope the next time I do 50 miles I'll do great. I would love to run this race with you!

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  2. Congratulations, 67 miles!! I'm taking notes. 50 miles is on my List...

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    1. Thanks Giraffy. I never dreamed that I would run 50 miles one day. Very pleased with 67. Hubby was a great help with his phone pep talks : )

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  3. Great job Lauren... I have already penciled this one on my 2013 race schedule.

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    1. Thanks Jeremy! I hope that you do run it. I think you'll really enjoy it. : )

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  4. Congrats on an awesome run (and great pics as usual)!

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    1. Thanks Jessica. I'm glad I got 50+ miles in before Twin Peaks!!

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  5. Congratulations! You were so consistent and strong out there - you were running while others were walking. You did a fantastic job and I love that you did not quit and that you kept pushing until the end. Alan also says congrats on a wonderful race and huge mileage tally!

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    1. Thanks Rachel & Alan! Good to see you both. What a race! What a race!!

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  6. 67 miles. Crazy-amazing!!! I'm getting a bit intimated about ever running with you again. Steve and Ann are great folks and put on some amazing races. You can't ever say you didn't put in the hard work Lauren. Very motivating!!!

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    1. Thanks Hank. Don't be intimidated by me. You will always be faster than me : ) I'm hoping we can get some Twin Peaks Training Runs in together over the summer. One that I have in mind is Up Indian Truck Trail to West Horsethief and back. I'll keep in touch.

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  7. WOW! Awesome! I loved reading this. Super photos too.
    You are one tough runner.

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    1. Thanks for reading Paul. It all almost seems like a dream now. A wonderfully agonizing dream. : )))

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  8. Absolutely amazing accomplishment. I've been hitting a wall at around 30mi but you've inspired me to try again.

    One thing about your post though sent up a red flag in my mind - taking ibuprofen during a run. That can cause kidney damage. http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/medicationanddrugs/a/NSAID_endurance.htm has some info on it but you can find others. It seems the only thing you can take is acetaminophen.

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    1. Thanks Ed. You are such an amazing runner, you can definitely do something like this. I have heard about the dangers of ibuprofen. That's why I waited until 5 AM to finally give in and take some. I didn't know acetaminophen was a better option. Thanks for sharing the link.

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  9. Simply amazing. So impressed that you cracked into new territory! Sounds like you had a tough go but came through it with flying colors. I've attempted an 8 hour race and didn't come through quite as well as this. But it certainly makes me want to go back and try it again!

    PS - Glad you liked the music!

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    1. Thanks Lumberjack! Yup, I had a tough go, but I listened to my body (which is very important to me) You should definitely try again. I don't think you'll regret it.

      I love, love, love Edward Sharpe. He is so funky & cool (I read up on him to learn that Edward Sharpe is the name of the character in a novel he was writing, you probably already know, about a messiah that can't get the job done, because every time he comes down to earth he keeps falling in love. LOL)

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  10. Awesome, awesome and more awesome - Congratulations! I think small loop timed races are about as much fun as you can have while running - I love the format.

    This one has been on my radar for a while, and in fact almost signed up for it as I was working in that part of the world last week. I'm thinking 2013 I will almost certainly bite the bullet; your pictures have certainly helped me make my mind up.

    Congrats again!

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    1. Thanks!! If all goes well Jimbo, I will be there next year too. Hope to see you there.

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  11. Wow! You are amazing, incredible, fantastic!! I think you handled this race extremely well. Id love to do an ultra/24/100 run one of these days. Ive read so many recaps, but this may just be the best one.

    Congrats on a race well run!

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    1. Thanks Khourt. I am pleased with my "experiment."

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    1. Thanks Glenn! When life settles down a bit, perhaps you might want to try this one -- it doesn't matter how many "laps" you do, one will get you a finisher's medal : )

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  13. Congrats on the 67 miles Lauren. See you next year.

    The Jester

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  14. Thanks Ed. You are a great inspiration. At first I thought I'd hate a race like this. Now, I'm thinking I'll definitely be there next year. Have a great weekend!!!

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