The third annual Pickled Feet 48/24/12/6 Hour and 100 Mile Runs were held on March 27-29, 2014 at the beautiful Eagle Island State Park in Eagle, Idaho. The Pickled Feet Ultra Running team has a huge list of things to improve on for next year, but all reports put this as the best year yet. From Jimmy John’s to Panda Express to bacon cheese quesadillas, bacon avocado sandwiches, potato soup, cheesecake, and so much more, the amazing food lineup kept runners fueled. All runners received a medal and a sweet t-shirt, and after the race, we send out personalized shirts and buckles based on mileage achieved. Eagle Island State Park fully supports this race by allowing runners to camp on the lawn or in RVs in the parking lot, and we are so grateful to the park staff, especially Ranger Matt Cooper for being so accommodating.
The following report was written by Pickled Feet Ultra Running staffer Rachael Bazzett, who claimed the top female spot in her first 48 hour event. Rachael hand-painted all 30 overall winner awards the week of the race while finishing grad school mid-terms, recovering from strep throat, and coordinating race sponsors.
The Pickled Feet Run is one of my favorite events of all time. At first thought, a fixed time run may seem terrible, but this race is a great experience from start to finish and is truly accessible to anyone. If you just want to see if you can handle running for six hours, if you are looking for new mileage highs, if you want to experience running through the night for the first time, if you are looking for your first 100 but stress about cutoffs – new things are possible for all, and the runners, ranging from seven to 79, truly proved that.
People often ask, don’t you get bored running in circles? My answer is that having an aid station and bathrooms every two and a half miles, cheering friends and runners every loop, and sharing the journey with those who may be fifty miles ahead or behind never gets boring. The Pickled Feet course is basically all trail; runners take in views of the Boise foothills, the Boise River, and the beautiful landscape of Eagle Island State Park while enjoying more aid station goodies than could be imagined and hanging out with the most fabulous running community around. That’s not boring.
Wrapping your mind around a first attempt at a 48 hour race takes some mental preparation, acceptance of uncertainty, and humility. I ran the Pickled Feet 24 Hour Run in 2012 and 2013, so when the race directors added a 48 hour option, I was all ears. Ultrarunning always presents ways to explore new challenges and go beyond what you once thought impossible. With a few 24 hour and 100 mile races under my belt, 48 hours seemed to be a natural progression.
Instead of approaching the race with a set plan, I wanted to test out what a two-day event would be like, but was also hoping to wind up in the 140 to 150 mile range. I fell short and ended up with 123 miles, but more valuable than the miles were the tools I gained that will make me more effective on my next go-around (and around, and around). The following are some of my secrets. If you haven’t tried a fixed time race, break out of your comfort zone and make some of these discoveries on your own:
- Set incremental goals. A local running coach/race director friend ran a loop with me right after I hit 100 miles. He told me we were going to set my next goal, which I responded should be 105 miles. He replied, how about we get to one o’clock? That’s 20 minutes. Set smaller goals, have more little victories. It will keep you going longer.
- Recognize that miles under 100 count for something. This seems really silly, but it was a real mental trick. I knew I was going to surpass 100 miles, so 100 felt like the first milestone that was worth anything to me. To have 85 miles down without feeling any sense of accomplishment for having made it that far, only thinking about the 15 miles that still lie ahead, is pretty demoralizing! Fifty miles counts for something too. So does five.
- Set a pace structure. Not all the time, but some of the time. Toward the end of my race, I was running for a half mile and walking for a quarter mile, and was able to maintain that for quite a while without feeling like I was burning up my legs. I had taken a very, ahem, leisurely approach to most of the race before that. That was fine for this first-time experience, but I know I can give it a bit more.
- Don’t justify. In my low points, it was easy to say I was struggling because I was recovering from strep throat or that my feet were bugging me or that I had been pushing through grad school midterms all week. No one wants to hear it, and it is another thing that discounts your accomplishments. Own your race and keep your thoughts out of that negative space.
- Ride the waves. Sometimes, having a specific goal can become debilitating if that goal extends beyond reach. I had moments where I felt like I could run forever, and moments where I just wanted to be done. In two days, those two thoughts can fluctuate dozens of times. Don’t call it a day if you don’t have to do so. Ride it out and get back on your feet.
- Readjust your goals. A hundred and fifty miles seemed reasonable in 48 hours, especially on a flat course. However, the ebbs and flows of the day kept me moving really slow. I wanted to be able to run at the end, so I was very conservative in my movement for a lot of the time.
- Take care of medical issues. Around mile 75, I started having a weird allergic reaction on my feet (cause still unknown). They were hot and swollen and very painful. Fortunately, Pickled Feet had an MD on staff who took care of me with some Benedryl. This knocked me out for about six hours, but I bounced back when I woke up 3 a.m. and didn’t stop until the end of the race. Many variables must be considered: nutrition, hydration, blisters, etc. Take care of these things as they arise, and you will have time to get back in the game.
- Be strong at the finish! I had the more miles in the last six hours of my race than I did in any other six hour segment, and I was running for most of them. I had juice left! I didn’t stop pushing until I heard the finish horn at 6 p.m., and that was a sense of accomplishment.
The Pickled Feet Runs are produced by Pickled Feet Ultra Running (pickledfeetultras.com) and are part of the Scott Sports Idaho Trail Ultra Series (idahotrailultraseries.com). The next race will be March 26-28, 2015 (http://24hour.pickledfeetultras.com). For full results, visit Ultrasignup.