For 144 days we had been training for this, and yet I was still nervous. Coach Ed runs with me and my running buddies on weekdays, but he has never actually seen me on my long-mile runs. He is a very positive Coach, and he would never criticize my efforts, but after all the time and effort he has put into our team I really didn't want to disappoint him. Deep breaths...and off we went. Gabby and I had gone to the end of the course to drop our cars off so we didn't have to run the 27+ miles back, and thanks to the fact that CalTrans has decided to start EVERY freeway construction project at the exact same time, our group actually had to start our run 15 minutes after the rest of the other runners.
We were lucky. Until we actually reached the Santa Ana River Trail entrance, the skies were covered with think overcast clouds. However, once the clouds burned off, it was HOT! It was a beautiful course, but there were very few shady portions to protect us. We had to stop more often than usual for water breaks to cool down and re-energize to enable us to continue our relentless forward motion. The company was great! For over 18 miles a fellow EC100 racer, Ray, kept us entertained with his music that floated out of his backpack speakers. Thanks Ray! You really helped us stay positive throughout those miles!
In case you didn't know this, Coach Ed is a minor celebrity around these parts. Throughout our jaunt, we would hear shouts from bikers and runners alike, "Hey Ed! There's the Jester! Love your hat! Can I get a picture with you, Ed?" The great thing about Ed is that he is completely humble about his contribution to our running community. For years he has been cheering marathoners at both the start and finish of their races, and he even waits for the last runners to be sure they get the accolades they deserve for finishing...no matter how long it take them to finish. And then there is this whole experiment with coaching six first-time 100-mile hopefuls to their first 100-mile finish...
But to us, Ed is Coach Ed. And on the course yesterday he was such a support to us all! He pushed a buggy filled with ice, water, and snacks for the entire 28-mile run and dispensed wise hints and suggestions the entire way. And while all three girls made it the entire way to our final stop at Denny's, there were definitely lessons we learned because of this training run:
- Nutrition: We could have all done a better job on our nutrition. I brought Stinger chews, chocolate covered espresso beans, and that was just about it. Debbie brought more substantial food like avocado and watermelon. Gels were not enough fuel and, duh, chocolate melts and makes everything else in the same bag a mess. Debbie's food was smart, but she needed to eat more frequently. Ed brought a snack made by his amazing wife, Martha--lightly roasted raw coconut and cashews with a little honey, sea salt, and sesame seeds, YUM! Next practice leg I will try watermelon, avocado, Martha's yummy coconut/cashew snack, and some peaches. Not sure how we got on peaches, but at about mile 20 we all were craving a nice, juicy peach!
- Sun Protection: I did use sunscreen before the run, but I never thought to reapply and today I am paying the price. I have a pretty, bright-red colored neck (back and front) and shoulders. It is still a little hot to the touch, but I got lucky it wasn't a worse burn considering the blazing sun that burned down on us for almost five hours yesterday! I will be reapplying that sunscreen more often on my next run.
- Foot Care: You all know how paranoid I am of blisters after my Texas-sized beauties at Nanny Goat, but I still have a thing or two to learn. My feet were fine with the A&D slathering, Ballega two-layer socks, and larger shoes, but Debbie ended up with a nice, pebble-sized blood blister. Ed suggested Running Goo on her feet, and Debbie plans on going a half-size larger on her next pair of shoes. It is amazing how much your feet swell when you run ridiculous miles!
- Give Back to Others: After over seven hours on the course and eating a well-deserved meal at our Denny's meeting spot, we were all anxious to head home to our families. As we walked to our car a woman approached us and asked us if we were with the EC100 race. Her husband had started 3 1/2 hours after all the other runners, and he was still about three miles out. Without much thought, Coach Ed headed out to run in this last runner, and we all waited to cheer him on at the finish. It is amazing how certain things are meant to be, but we were meant to meet this amazing couple. From this experience we all learned the importance of giving back to a sport that has given us all so much. Heck, I truly believe that running saved the former 230-pound sedentary person I used to be--how can I ever pay someone back for my life? Thanks Coach for the most important lesson I have learned throughout this wonderfully crazy journey!