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it-takes-a-village

Running can be a lonely sport.  Yes, you can’t throw a rock in certain parts of the country without hitting a running club or group, but ultimately, at its very core, running is an individual undertaking – YOU must put one foot in front of the other to move forward; YOU are the engine that makes you go; YOU and only you can take you from point A to point B.

But it’s rarely just about getting from point A to point B, is it?

I was reminded during the TARC 100 that running is truly the most team-oriented individual sport I have ever participated in.  It is something I have always known, and even written about here, but I felt like I was completely immersed in the team aspect of individual running during my nearly 28 hour journey last weekend.

I would not have had the will or the means to cover 100 miles in so short a time had it not been for Erica & Maddy (my pacers from 54.5 to the finish), Doug (who crewed for me from 25 to 75), the volunteers at each of the Aid Stations and Road Crossings or my wife Jess constantly checking in via text offering words of encouragement.

On the Sunday morning after the race, still unable to collect my thoughts fully, I wrote this on the TARC Facebook Page:

Thank you to the TARC Staff and volunteers! Your enthusiasm throughout the night and day and night again was energizing and helped keep the darkness of doubt at bay. I know that my buckle-status was in part achieved because of you – THANK YOU!
Also, the tenderness with which you treated those of us who finished was amazing.

I would then later post this about my two pacers:

So the enormity of what these two women did for me on Saturday is just finally sinking in. Erica…paced me from mile 54.5 to mile 75 and Maddy…paced me from 75 to 100. Erica had never met me (online or in real life) yet she jumped right in and kept me going for 6 hours. Maddy, whom I have long admired as a runner, heard I needed help and drove over at the drop of a hat to shepherd me through the final stages…I cannot possibly do either of you justice with words (as my eyes start to well up). Thank you!

Without these people, I would have simply been just some fool running in the woods.  I also would have had the common sense to stop after about 6 or 7 miles, probably even sooner.

To paraphrase Elizabeth Warren’s and Barry O’s often misquoted line, “You didn’t build that”, I didn’t do that…WE did that!  And it is not just the volunteers or my fellow TARC racers or Doug or JB or Erica or Maddy or Jess.  It wasn’t just the Charity Miles App that allowed me to raise funds for my charity of choice with every step I took; it wasn’t just Mophie, the company that donated two battery packs to keep my phone, and therefore the Charity Miles App, running for 28 straight hours; it wasn’t just Julie C and her beautiful daughter showing up at Mile 50 to remind me who I was running for…

It was YOU!  YOU helped carry me to the end when my legs were failing.  YOU helped drive me to the finish when MY will was breaking.  YOU delivered strength when the darkness of doubt came over me.  YOU made sure I got the silly not so little belt buckle at the end of the day.

This villager would like to thank his village for being part of and helping me finish my first 100 mile foot race.

Thank you.

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So the TARC 100 is now 11 days away.  This past Saturday, with my very first 100-miler rapidly approaching, I figured I should collect some data as I tried to get my logistics in order.  One of the aspects of running that we as endurance runners can control to some degree is our hydration level.  Hydration is one of the factors that can determine whether you can actually even finish a race.  Dehydration can lead to a breakdown in your ability to run and in extreme cases shut you down completely.  What many of us often forget is that over-hydration can have just as devastating of an effect on our bodies and our ability to continue as dehydration.  So how does one determine how much water and electrolytes to take in?

Well, you have to have data, and one of the easiest ways to determine how much water you are losing while running is to take a sweat test.  Before going out for a 60 to 90 minutes run, you strip down to nothing and weigh yourself.  Then while on your run you do not take in anything – no hydration, no food, nothing.  Upon returning home or to the gym, you once again strip down to nothing and hop on the scale.  Subtracting your post-run weight from your pre-run weight tells you just how much water you have lost with each pound representing approximately 16 ounces of water.  You then divide the number of ounces by the minutes you ran and then multiply by 60 and that is your hourly sweat rate in ounces per hour.

And that is what I did – I ran 7 miles in 59.7 minutes outdoors in the heat.

My pre-run weight was 176.8 pounds.

My post-run weight was 172.6 pounds.

I did the math.  I checked it twice.

And then I panicked.

excessive-sweating

Just under 68 ounces of water per hour.

Granted I was running about 3 1/2 minutes per mile faster than I plan to at the TARC 100; granted it was 91° outside; but 68 ounces per hour???  That’s over a 1/2 gallon of water I am sweating out!  That was nearly 2.4% of my body weight in an hour.  Race officials don’t like that.

Now obviously I will not be running the TARC 100 without hydration, however, from what I understand, it is difficult for our bodies to comfortably consume more than about 28 ounces of liquid per hour.  That leaves me with a 40 ounce hourly deficit.  Multiply that by the 24 hours I hope to complete the race in and you get a 960 ounce deficit, better known as 60 pounds.

60 POUNDS???

Obviously I can’t lose 60 pounds in a race, but the numbers do have me concerned when it comes to my ability to replace what is lost over the course of 100 miles.

If any of my ultra-running friends (Steve? Maddy? Goji? Jeremy D? et al) have any words of advice or wisdom, I would greatly appreciate them right about now, because I am sitting here sweating…sweating because I’m in a panic about sweating too much!

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