2012 Freedom Park 24 Hour
My goal for Freedom Park 24 Hour was to qualify for the USA team that is going to the World Championships in Europe this spring. Unfortunately I had a bad day, with multiple problems that caused me to withdraw after 12 hours and 69 miles.
1 Race Recap
The weather for the race was ideal with lows around freezing and highs of 51f/10c, scattered cloud and no rain. The first 9 hours were reasonably uneventful. I found a good run/walk pattern that gave me the average pace I was aiming for, and while I had some pain in my legs, things were stable. I had a few low spots during this time, and my Mood State was generally poor, but I kept moving okay. Around 9 hour into the race several things started to go wrong. My stomach, which had been doing well, started to hurt, though there was no nausea initially. In addition, my left Piriformis muscle started to throw a tantrum. I'd been having issues with my Piriformis since the Table Rock Ultra three weeks earlier, and I'd been using the The Morton Stretch during the race to keep things under control. I decided to slow up to see if I could bring things under control, but this seemed to make things worse rather than better. The Piriformis made it hard to even walk, and the stomach problems had turned to nausea, so around the 12 hour mark I dropped from the race. The nausea persisted for about 6 hours after I finished running, peaking around 3-4 hour, making the journey home rather grim.
2 What Worked
- Walking Breaks. Over the first few laps I tweaked my Walking Breaks so my lap times were right for my target pace. I didn't worry about pace or number of laps per hour, just keeping my lap times right. I set my Garmin so it displayed the average lap time, which allowed me to track my status nicely.
- The Morton Stretch. I did the Morton Stretch every 3 laps (~3 miles) which seemed to work well. It helped keep my legs fresh and my Piriformis under control for longer than would otherwise have been the case. I became aware that I was having symptoms of low blood pressure when getting up from the stretch.
3 What Failed
- Nausea. The nausea and stomach issues are concerning as I've had similar issues on several races. This is not entirely surprising given how common digestive issues are in ultra, but I need to understand the cause so I can avoid the issues in the future. Here are some thoughts on possible causes.
- Fuel. I used Ensure rather than my Go Juice, partly to see if this would help with the stomach issues and partly because the colder weather means that I didn't need so much hydration. While this might have caused an issue, I've had the problem with other fuels, so I don't think this is the case.
- Dehydration. While it was cold and I was urinating well for most of the time, it's possible I had become dehydrated. I found myself thirsty a few times in the race and drank some DIY Electrolyte Drink which seemed to help. For comparison, in the 2011 North Coast 24 Hour National Championships I was drinking far more in that race and did not have stomach issues.
- Low Blood Pressure. I had symptoms of low blood pressure after doing the Morton Stretch, and had to be careful standing up again.
- Hyponatremia. The relatively sudden onset of the stomach problems, combined with their rapid increase in severity after I'd slowed down and after I'd stopped may be an important factor. I need to do further research into Hyponatremia and the role of antidiuretic hormones, as this may be a factor.
- Overheating. I was dressed to be comfortably warm for most of the time, which could have contributed to the nausea. At the 2011 North Coast 24 Hour National Championships I was slightly underdressed to the point that I had to move at a reasonable pace to keep warm.
- Colonoscopy. I had a routine colonoscopy 10 days before the race, which may have upset my intestinal flora. I had a number of digestive issues after the procedure, so I believe this is a contributory factor.
- Tight Waistband. I like running in compression tights, as they help my legs, but they have a tighter waistband that may cause stomach problems. I swapped to some other tights with a much looser waistband after the problems started, and it might have helped, but it was probably too late.
- Piriformis. While this was a major problem in this race, I understand what happened, so I'm less concerned with it than the nausea. Insufficient time to recover from my last race is the underlying cause, but more importantly, I didn't do enough to fix the muscle. Between races the Piriformis was only twinging occasionally, so I underestimated the problem. In addition to the expected muscle pain I also had some significant pain from both Achilles, which I worked out later was the Achilles bursae, not the tendons. Pain from connective tissue always worries me more than muscular pain, as muscle heal quickly compared with other structures.
- Mood State. I'm not sure if it's the time of year, but I always find my Mood State is lower just after Christmas. I found myself climbing the Ivan Scale rather quickly and struggling with negative thoughts. Listening to some audio lectures (Perspectives on Abnormal Psychology) helped, and I wished I had more loaded.