Saturday, September 17, 2011

World Championship 100km, 9/10/2011, Winschoten, Netherlands

Race Start!

(Post written, in part somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean during the return from the race).

Somewhere in Europe or in transit today are several exhausted American runners, team managers and their crew. Tired and pleased and sore. We did what we set out to do: we are bringing home a Men’s Gold Medal and a Women’s Silver Medal. Yes!

The adventure of World Championship 2011 started many months ago for all of us: training, qualifying, selection, getting time off from work and more training. The travel, for me, has been going on for just over a week.  I’ll write a bit about the days leading up to leaving, share a timeline for the trip and then The RACE.

Friday, September 2: The Upset

I was out for my last hard effort of an interval workout on the Boone Greenway about 3:30pm, Without warning my right foot started to burn and tingle. It got worse. I went to my chiropractor appointment with Doctor Fidler and almost flew off the table as his shirt touched my toe. It hurt to wear flip flops. Each time my toe touched something in a certain way I experienced scalding pain. No exaggeration, by far the most intense hurt I have experienced. This came on absolutely unexpectedly.

I iced it and soaked in Epson Salts that night. A little better. Next morning I had x-rays and a gout test. Nothing weird. No good explanation. Now what?

Then I remembered Dr Ross Jenkins, a podiatrist I’d seen in 2009 after Vermont 100 left me with lingering foot issues. He’d given me his cell phone and said to call him if I needed him. I didn’t know if the invitation had expired, yet I was desperate. I called and he agreed to see me in his Lenoir office, the following day, Labor Day Sunday at 3pm.

Saturday: September 3: Packing, cross-training, taking Celebrex. Had a date night with George. Worried about foot.

Sunday: September 4: Cut 1:40 min run to 1:20. Foot hurts-but only after 40 minutes and then it ached and progressively burned.

Good news, though! Dr. Jenkins did more foot x-rays and an exam. One of the nerves between my Great toe and 2nd toe is inflamed-accounting for the burning and numbness. He gave me 2 shots of dexamethazone into the top of my foot and showed me ways of creating orthotics from shoe inserts. I got directed to ice and keep with the Celebrex. This is an issue I must deal with after Netherlands, yet hopefully with excessive kindness, I hoped, the foot would  respond and I could run  (and run well) on Saturday. I partially re-packed and added 3 extra pair of running shoes  and my ugly, scuffed clogs to the large travel bag. I was willing to change shoes, however many times I needed to during The Run.
Tools of the trade by trial and error! (Adventure= "that which has an unknown outcome!"

Monday, September 5: Had a massage appointment and another appointment with Dr. Fidler. Foot much better. Yet I broke out in a rash and then in hives from head to toe. Blotchy swollen. I realized I must have been having a reaction to yesterday’s injection. All doctor’s I could think of calling were closed. Dr Fidler suggested I get in touch with Dr Jenkins again. I hated to do that, yet I did pester him, he was kind and called in prescription of Prednisone I could pick up at Rite Aid on my way down the mountain to the airport.

Wheew! Took off  from Charlotte at 4:05 pm, changed in Philadelphia,  then on to Amsterdam, NL, arriving 8:40am. Netherlands is 6 hours “behind” us in NC. Amy Sproston was on the plane too, so we assisted navigated the airport and getting coffee together before going separate ways-she was off to meet teammate Meghan, and I to find my hotel, drop suitcase and rent a bicycle.

Tuesday, September 6. Navigated my way to Notting Hill Hotel where I’d secured a really good deal. A quiet place with wifi, luggage storage and a tea maker.
Got a Great deal on this place, booking 12 hours before my arrival

Not speaking more than 2 words of Dutch I was very grateful for the kindness of the local folks and their willingness to assist a language-impaired American. I rented a bike and rode in the rain for over 2 hours, went for a run in Vogelpark ( Dutch version of Central Park) and being too tired to meet up with Amy and Meghan, instead bought a yummy bowl of salad with chicken and some wine at the grocery across the canal from my room and was asleep by 8pm.

Wednesday, September 7: Another run with light strides in Vogelspark. Foot feeling even better! Picked up another salad at the grocery to eat for lunch on the train. Took the tram to the train, switched 3x and arrived in Winschoten, Netherlands. The local organizing committee was shuttling runners to our accommodation site and I met 3 Canadians along the way.
A view of the bungalow village

Bike parking outside the main building of the complex
Moved into a small bungalow I would share with Peggy and Randy Lycans, David Riddle’s in laws. Really nice folks, enthused for David and very supportive of the whole Team.

Team meeting was at 7pm. Since I hadn’t been the grocery store yet in Stattskanal, Pam Smith and her husband Mac shared some food with me. The best wild rice, salad and sliced chicken ever!

Previewing the course and getting kinda wet!
Thursday, September 8: Grocery shopping, getting organized. Most team members went into Winschoten to run the course in the rain. Stretch. Hang out with legs up.  Resisted urges to go for long walks to explore.

Friday, September 9: 25 minute run (in the rain) in the morning. Met with support, filled 19 bottles with Gatorade and water, readied other fuel supplies and other items that might be needed.
Filling and labeling bottles
Team photo shoot. Transport back to Winschoten at 5pm for Athlete Parade.
Mac and Nathan chillin' before the Parade
Our Turn!
One of the many teams walking up to the parade route
Chicken, potatoes, veggies and a bit of wine for pre-race meal
Arrived back at bungalow by 8:15 pm. Quick, yet good dinner. Bed by 10:45pm.

Saturday, September 10: The RACE!

Winschoten turned into a running festival! At 9:50am National Teams were called into the start corrals-and with oodles of enthusiasm and great relief, we started to run. 10 loops of 10km. The guys took off and Amy, Meghan and Devon started running together.

Devon, Meghan and Amy (hidden by Meghan)
They were a tad too fast for me-yet they stayed in sight for the 1st  one and a half laps. Then Pam was there and we ran almost 2 laps together before her stomach started to give her some worries and she needed to slow down.
Pam and I finishing up lap 2
I enjoyed our run time-babbling about weddings and family and random things.

Teams had 2 support stations on the course, each 5km
I think it was during the 5km point on lap 4 I realized we must have passed one of the other girls while she was in a porta potties as I was told I was in the 3rd team position. Run on. Lap after lap.Run on pavement, lots of bricks. I took in my nutrition according to plan and what would be 18 S-caps on this very warm, humid day. Think about Cheryl, George, Mom, Dad, kitty, Ron, Michele…think about nothing.

Run through sprinklers, cool with sponges.

Pretend everything was down hill. I kept on feeling good until about 2km into lap #8 before the “poops” started. 2 porta pottie stops and one side of the path stop all in the next 1.5km. I was scared my race was over.

After those stops I felt somewhat better, yet knew I needed to switch to no calories and just water for awhile. I took 1 Imodium with 20km left to go. Better this left. Just taking water and S-caps. Passing girls!

With 10km left to go, I was tired, and excited and a bit limp as I still wasn’t taking in calories except for sips of cola. I could get through this and get it done! Devon had to drop-I knew Meghan was ahead…yet had not a clue who else was still out on the course, or where they were. I had no idea of my position compared to others. I bobbed along, my whole body wanted to be done, brain too! With 5km left to go, Timo, one of our team managers was at the aid station and cheered me, “ 7th in the World, keep it up, Annette, keep it up!”.

I almost cried. Really? Top 10 at my 1st 100km World Championships? O-M-G! I felt wobbly, yet no way was I going to be passed at this point. Made a quick stop with 1.5km to go to pour some cola down and kept it up. My last few laps were slower, yet the finish line approached I heard Meghan Arbogast being announced as she crossed, 2 minutes later, Denmark cheering for Gloria who was just behind me. She and I had swapped positions 6-7 times during the last laps. I would not be passed again and sprinted for the line, clocking 7:49:59 a PR by :10:24…and in what I learned was 6th place. So-very exciting!

A few meters from the finish line, Gloria behind me
The top 3 men and women and a random 4 of the top 10 were chosen for drug testing. I spent the next 2 hours shivering under a blanket laying on a locker room floor with other women doing the same as we drank and drank while waiting for our tired bodies to be willing to pee, under watchful eye of the doping authority. Lion Caldwell, our team doctor accompanied me. He was very patient and a good sport about the whole thing…I was feeling dopey and was glad for his guidance. Finally I gave a sample and signed off. I hoped the prednisone I was taking earlier in the week wouldn’t be a bad thing. It is a steroid-just not a performance enhancing one and we reported that and the Celebrex on the official documents.

USA Women at awards ceremony illuminated by a projection of the American Flag
The day ended off with a meal at a pizza place and a fine awards ceremony celebrating Michael Wardian as 2nd place, Andy Henshaw, 3rd, with Team USA men winning Gold! USA women won silver and Meghan Arbogast set a new 50+ world record! Full results here.

It will take days, perhaps weeks for me to process this experience. In the meantime I share a deep thank you to my USA teammates, Lin and Timo and Lion, team USA supporters who helped so very much. Also of course to George and kitty and the folks I work with. I am also appreciative that Montrail has been very supportive of the road running that has taken over since June. I do look forward to getting back to the trails in a few weeks, yet for the next 2-3 weeks, I plan on taking a break from training and just getting out and doing something everyday…-run, walk, swim, cardio class, just because it is fun!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Brief report of World Championship 100km run, Winschoten, Netherlands, 9/10/2011

Running before it got too hot...somewhere between 30 and 50km of 100km...  

Quick report. It is almost 22 hours after finishing as I post...Yet drug testing, awards ceremony, eating, sleeping and a temporary breakdown to the Dutch railroad have gotten in the way.

Team USA with our awesome doctor and managers just before getting read to go to the Parade of Nations on 9/9pm

What an amazing Team we had this year: Womens: Devon Crosby-Helms, Meghan Arbogast, Amy Sproston, Caroline Smith, Pam Smith and (me!). Guys: Joe Binder, David Riddle, Andy Henshaw, Matt Woods, Chad Rickliffs,and Michael Wardian.

Dang, I am currently sore and impressed with us! Here is a quick low-down, more to follow this week!

On a thrilled personal note I ran a PR and met my goal of 7:55...actually clocked a 7:54:59 (yay!). Wound up, as Timo one of our managers says, "6th in the World". Holy buckets!  (Yes it was VERY humid and quite warm, so there was some crashing and burning), yet despite that I feel pleased and happy, especially since I had to withdraw due to injury when The Team was readying for Gilbraltar in 2010.
Meghan set a World Record for 50+ in this distance. Super studette! Congrats Meghan!

We women wound up with Silver Medal as a Team with Meghan as top scorer, followed by me and Amy who came back to life after some serious GI issues! Russian Women were Gold and Japan Bronze. Please see complete individual results and times at:

USA men were true studs: Michael Wardian and Andy Henshaw as 2nd and 3rd respectively. Matt Woods scored for the third spot giving Team USA men the GOLD!

Many thanks to EVERYONE who helped all the Team USA athletes and all the runners in this passionate adventure.

Warning: I expect my real race report on this to be very long, so please check back when you have some energy and attention for lots of rambling details and photos!