Sunday, April 5, 2015

Pickled Feet Ultra Report

The Pickled Feet 12 hour race was something else. I alternately enjoyed and despised it throughout the day. The despisement (I don't care that that isn't a word. Y'all should know by now that I make words up all the time in the name of bloggy goodness) has nothing to do with the race itself, the organizers, or the location. Those things were all quite wonderful. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's start at the beginning, shall we?

We (we is me and my mom, in case you were wondering) drove up to Meridian, Idaho the Friday before the race. It was a beautiful day to be road tripping. We had a nice, uneventful drive and checked into the hotel. I was thankful to find such comfortable beds there, since I knew I would need some comforting after 12 hours of running. We headed over to Eagle Island State Park to check out the scene and do a little setting up while there was still daylight. I was pleasantly surprised by the park. I had seen pictures of it online, but they really didn't do it justice. There were nice grassy areas, ponds, and rivers.

Some creepy cool old barns along the course.
The aid station was set up right by the bathrooms that had running water. I love running water, you guys. I was able to check in that night instead of having to do it in the morning, as well as set up my pop up canopy, which allowed me to sleep in a bit more on Saturday morning. We watched some of the runners that were participating in the 100 mile, 24, and 48 hour events, then we headed off to get some dinner.

The start/finish/aid area.

I was feeling so optimistic when we left the park. The weather forecast was showing partly cloudy skies with a high in the low 60's. How could it get any better?! We had dinner and settled into bed. I managed to get a fairly decent night's sleep. I'm slowly getting better at sleeping the night before a big race. That's a big deal. I don't think I even had the standard pre-race nightmare of missing my alarm.

We got to the park at 5 a.m. to finish setting out the things that I would need throughout the day. I had overdressed and ended up changing into short sleeves after we'd been there for just a few minutes. The sky was solid clouds and there was a warm breeze blowing. I didn't think too much of it at the time, but I should have. I attended the pre-race briefing and lined up with my fellow competitors. At 6 a.m., we were off, running through the darkness. The line thinned out fairly quickly and I just did my thing. The first hour was pretty uneventful. I finished my first two laps right about when I had expected to. It seemed a bit warm, but that would change and quickly.

While I was out on my third lap, the weather turned nasty. In another race report I read, it was described as "biblical" and I think that's the perfect way to describe it. All of the sudden, there was a shift in the wind, it got freezing cold, and rain started to fall. The wind then picked up and starting tearing off tree branches and kicking up dirt. I had gritty eyes and a sad face by the time I had made it around to the end of the lap. The sight that greeted me there was one of pure destruction. All of the tents that had been set up along the course were obliterated. My own pop up had been bent all out of shape and was laying on the ground in a heap. All of the things that I had brought, changes of clothes, shoes, snacks, chairs, everything was scattered around the ground. So of course, I had to do something about that. My mom had gone back to the hotel because I didn't figure I would need much support for the first half of the race.A very nice man who was crewing for another runner helped me clean everything up. When he realized that I was a runner and not a crew member, he told me to just go back out on the course and he would take care of the rest of it. I wish I could remember what his name was, he was so kind.
I enjoyed having the option of switching up the directions throughout the day.
So I grabbed my jacket and buff and headed back out onto the course. The problem was, that in stopping to clean things up, I had gotten very cold and wet. The jacket and buff helped somewhat, but I just seemed to keep getting colder. By the fifth hour, I started shaking so hard that it was difficult to stand. I ended up in the aid station under the heaters for about 20 minutes. I got some warm food and that helped too. I didn't end up taking my jacket off until hour 7. At that point, everything I was wearing was wet and cold. So I changed into my long sleeved tech shirt and then things were a little more comfortable.
Being very sad about the destruction. Also, way puffy and swollen looking. I was having a rough day.
Things got a little better for awhile. The sun was out and there were some new faces on the course because the 6 hour race started at noon. Although, seeing all the fresh, chipper faces kind of made me want to throw rocks at them because I was not feeling fresh and chipper myself. Every runner was very nice and it was fun to see them throughout the day. By hour 9, I was just power walking the laps. I couldn't really get the running thing to work very well. My hips did protest too much. But after walking a few laps, I was able to throw in some bits of running here and there, The important thing was to just keep moving. And that's what I did. I did my best to just keep on keeping on.
I don't know what I was thinking, okay?!
That about sums it up.
I was so happy when just before hour 11, they opened up the short loop so that we could bust out some easier laps and try to get the mileage up. I was feeling a bit better by this point (I had fueled up pretty well around hour 10 and that helped my mood considerably) and ran some pretty decent paced laps of the short loop. Then I walked some, ran some more, walked some more, and just kept trudging along until the last minutes of the race. I finished my last lap at 11:56:48 and I knew I would most likely not get one more lap in with that little time left. So that was that. My Garmin showed a distance of 40.32 miles, longer than the lap count of 39.20. But that makes sense with all the extra back and forth that happened going to the restrooms, aid heaters, etc.
A happy finish.
The race organizers had a post race dinner all cooked up for us when we were done. There was a lot of good food that I couldn't force my body to eat. I guess it wasn't feeling too hot after the day it had just had. I did manage to get some down and then it was time for the awards ceremony. I think this was my favorite part of the whole day. Every single runner of every single event was recognized by the race director. She personally handed out all the awards, which were very cool wooden plaques.
I love everything about this swag.
 I have never been recognized in a race before, since I never win or place. It was kind of magical. I ended up placing 19th out of 33 participants in the 12 hour race. I was really exited about that. It was better than I had thought it would be. And I was 7th place out of 17 women, something I did not expect at all. I get so down on myself for being a slower runner. But when it comes to stubbornly plodding along, I actually do alright. I'm really loving these timed events more and more each time I do one. I didn't hit my goal of 50 miles for the day, but that's alright. I really feel like I did the best that I could do for that day and I can be satisfied with that. Besides, I have a 50 miler in June that will get that distance checked off my list. I would love to do this event again next year, and I'm even contemplating entering the 48 hour option. Why not, since I'm giving the 48 hour a go at the Jackpot next February. I don't have a life anyway, so why not spend all my time training and running?!

Until next time, happy running!


  1. Nice job! Way to hang in there and get a ton of miles in! I'd like to do a timed event. I'd probably do 8 or 12 hours to start. I might be able to get an ultra mileage out of that time frame.

  2. Timed events are amazing! There's no worry about getting a DNF. They're kind of like big running parties. I highly recommend them.