Thursday, June 16, 2022

Nanny Goat 12-Hour Race Recap

A couple weeks ago I did something I had never done before - I ran a timed event. Instead of running a race with a set distance, the format of this race was to run as far as you could (or you wanted) in a set amount of time. I decided on the 12-Hour option {with the help of my physical therapist} at the 14th annual running of the Nanny Goat 6H/12H/24H/100M

The options were 6-hours, 12-hours, 24-hours or 100-miles. 

Originally the hubby and I were going to be back in Michigan around this time and I had my eye on another timed event that was right near my sister-in-law's house, but we swapped our plans around (doing a Christmas trip with his family to Mexico instead of a summer Michigan trip to see them) so that event was no longer a go. Seeing as I had a 30-miler on the same day as this race, I tossed around the idea of registering for the 6-hour option. (Like I mentioned, I had never done a timed event before, not to mention this one was running ONE MILE LOOPS, so I wasn't sure if it would be my cup of tea.) Then, the next time I went to physical therapy I asked my PT if she thought I could register for the 12 hour instead. My thought was, I had 30 miles on the schedule for Saturday and another 20 miles on the calendar for Sunday, so why not do 50 during the race and then have a rest day on Sunday?! To my surprise (and delight) when I explained the set-up to her and my idea, her thought was that OF COURSE I SHOULD REGISTER FOR THE 12-HOUR!  #ShesMyKindOfGal


With her seal of approval, I pulled the trigger and registered. Sure it may have only been a week after the Bishop 53K, but if I had the distance on my calendar I needed to get it in whether I was at a race or running around my neighborhood. (Note: I am not "racing" any of these events - I am using them as training runs, more to get in the mileage that I had on my schedule, so I'm not technically tapering for them. I know that might not be what everyone would do, but #YouDoYou.)


When I was telling the hubby about the plan I realized how "silly" things had gotten in the midst of this 100-miler training... I mean, we had gone camping the weekend before where I ran a 33+ mile mountain race on Saturday, then came home, ran 15 miles on Sunday, worked Monday through Friday (along with tackling my midweek mileage), would have one day off (Saturday) before working Sunday through Thursday and I thought the best thing to do with that single day off would be to run for 12 hours?! Sounds perfect, right?! Like I said... "silly"! [Side note: when I realized how 'unavailable' I would be, I suggested the hubby hit up some friends and go camping over the Memorial Day Weekend since I'd either be working or running the entire time. He quickly changed his tune from a little flabbergasted to encouraging about my plans ;)]


I'll be honest, I went into this race very underprepared. Not in the sense that I wasn't trained (remember, I was planning to simply use the event as a way to get in my weekend mileage), but I felt so ill-prepared mentally. Like I mentioned, a few days before I had an ultra marathon in Bishop where we camped for the weekend and then worked Monday through Friday so I didn't have time to think through the logistics. (Not to mention I added this to my schedule very late in the game compared to when I normally register for races.) I think it wasn't until I got home from work on Friday night (after 7pm) that I even looked to see how long it would take me to drive to the event Saturday morning so I could figure out what time to set my alarms. That is soooo NOT me - I'm a planner to the n'th degree - so not having a ton of the details figured out definitely had me feeling a bit out of sorts, but I tried to let those nerves go and get ready to the best of my ability.

I laid out my #FlatCarlee for the race in hopes that I wouldn't forget any of the really important things come race morning. 

Race morning came real quick (remember, the hubby went camping for the weekend, so that meant I'd have to walk and feed the pup before leaving for the day), especially when we you don't get to bed until almost midnight because you have a ton of stuff to take care. Thankfully I wasn't planning on "racing" this event because I knew I was definitely NOT on my A-game. I could tell it was going to be more of a 'show-up-and-get-it-done' sort of day. I got ready and hit the road. 

Let's do this thang!

With no traffic I was able to get to the ranch in plenty of time. My game plan was to check in, grab my bib, scope out a spot along the course to set up my stuff and maybe do a quick loop to check everything out. When I got up to the check-in table I heard the volunteers chatting about how they were running low on safety pins. Carlee to the rescue! I told them I had a nuun tube full of them that I could grab to refill their dwindling stash. (Let's be real, runners probably have a billion laying around, so I always keep some in the glove box in case people are in need - and loandbehold they came in handy!)

I knew these would come in clutch one day ;) 

When I was coming back to the check-in table with the pins I saw an awesome runner friend, Eric, who invited me to set up my stuff with the rest of his crew. He was so kind to welcome me in with open arms - RUNNERS REALLY ROCK! 

Note: I didn't get a picture of us PRE-race, so this is after I had already finished my running for the day... 

My setup wasn't too fancy, but it got the job done. (And of course I over packed, like on most trips ;))

Once I had "set up shop" I decided to get a lay of the land. I knew in my limited research that we'd be running one mile loops around the family horse ranch, but honestly that was about it. I meandered around a bit to see where the potties were (spoiler alert - I would be spending more time in them than I had originally expected/ anticipated), say good morning to some of the ponies that were boarding at the ranch, get a look at the aid station, check out the start/ finish line, etc. 

The aid station was fully stocked ALL DAY LONG! The volunteers there were AWESOME!

Eventually it was time to line up at the start for a little pre-race chat. The race director welcomed us to her family's ranch (how awesome is it that they do this?!), gave out some awards and wished us luck before it was time to get to going. 

Time to run!

I had three main focuses for the race. First, I wanted to be/ stay injury-free. Second, I wanted to make sure to listen to my body. Third, I wanted to focus on time on feet/ mental toughness. [I also had three mileage goals in the back of my mind, but those were secondary to my three main focuses. 1: 30 miles (since that's what I had on the calendar for the day), 2: 50 miles (that was the mileage I was supposed to tackle for Saturday + Sunday combined, meaning I could take a complete rest day on Sunday), 3: 62 miles (which is a 100K and would only be an option if it turned out to be a perfect day and I really was only pondering it because there were extra "awards" you could get if you hit it before the 12-hour mark).]

For the start of each lap you ran through the barn - a pretty unique experience!

My plan was to jog five laps and then walk a lap (and then repeat). I figured during my walking lap I could fuel (either taking my PROBAR BOLT chews or something from the aid station) and rehydrate. While I ran I carried a NATHAN handheld filled with water, but had some nuun electrolytes in my cooler that I figured I could grab on the walking lap.

Having something cold on my walking laps was very refreshing!

The first couple laps were all about figuring out the lay of the land. The first portion of the loop went through the aid station and where most people set up their personal crew areas. The next section was on pavement and was what I'd consider to be more of an alley for the ranch (this was my least favorite part of the loop). After that you ran through my favorite area, which was a tree covered stretch with soft dirt (soft that helped with impact absorption but not too soft that it sucked your momentum #IYKYK). Finally you were coming back onto the ranch grounds and getting ready to do it all over again. 


I decided to wear my road shoes for this race since some of it was pavement and what wasn't definitely wasn't
rocky or technical. Some folks were wearing trail shoes, but I think I made the right decision for me.

The weather for the event was near perfect. Well, I mean, don't get me wrong, I would've much preferred less humidity, but for it being Memorial Day weekend, I don't think we could've ordered better temps. We had overcast skies (it even misted for some of the morning) for the majority of the day and temperatures in the 60s/70s. I heard folks who had run the event before talk with one another about how we truly lucked out with Mother Nature and I couldn't have agreed more. 

The weather app was pretty spot on. I would say we really only got two-ish hours of sunshine the whole day.

My game plan was working out nicely for the first few miles... until it didn't... I'm happy to report the issue that popped up was not my hamstring/ glute/ abductor (that I'm going to PT for) but was my stomach. Yep, I did my best to keep my gut in check, but by the fifth lap I knew I was going to have to pull over to a port-a-potty. I don't know if it was the fact that I took my vitamins before the event (I normally take them with my second breakfast ;)), that I hadn't been fueling great during the week, that I was on my period and my cramps were causing stomach issues too or that it just wasn't my day. No matter the cause, I felt as though I was running from port-o-potty to port-o-potty for a while during the middle of the race. #NoFun

My stomach was NOT having it... 

I have heard that the number one reason for DNF's (did not finish) in ultra races is due to fueling (I should probably fact-check that before I put it in my blog #Oops). I knew that if I was losing a lot of my calories in the port-o-potty every stop that I needed to start replenishing them or risk running into a wall due to the fact that my system was being depleted. This meant that every lap or so I was grabbing something from the aid station. This is NOT how I would normally fuel during a race, but I knew I needed to start taking in some calories or it would make for a VERY long (and probably painful) day. 

I think the popsicle stop was my favorite during the day. 

If you've been around my corner of the InterWebs for a while, you probably know that for most races 50K or less I tend to get by with water, nuun and my PROBAR chews. Once I go over the 50K mark I tend to start adding in "real" food. The thought behind this is that I can usually finish 31(ish) miles before I go through too many meal times. I can "get by" with chews for a long morning/ afternoon of running, but once I start missing too many "meals" my body needs something a little more to satiate it. Throughout the day the aid station had some great options. At one point I grabbed a small portion of a bean and cheese burrito (my body was definitely looking for something salty and the green salsa I poured on hit the spot) and towards the end of the race I even grabbed a hotdog bun and put pickles and ketchup on it for something a little more filling than chews. I don't know that the "fuel" I added into the mix necessarily did anything to fix my tummy troubles (thankfully I didn't have to use the port-o-potties after around mile 25), but at least it kept me fueled enough to plod along.

You know it's an ultra when the aid station has a full buffet of food to eat, right?!

Originally the game plan was five miles of running, followed by the one mile of walking. Well, once the runner trots started making their way into my laps the 5/1 intervals sort of went out the window. It quickly became "run when you can, walk when you need to". I will be honest and say that I was pretty bummed. I know, I know, I'd much prefer to have stomach issues on a "training run" rather than during my 100-miler, but my hamstring wasn't giving me trouble, the weather was almost perfect and the course was as flat as you can get for an ultra - I should have KILLED it... But you gotta deal with whatever shows up that morning... and that morning was an upset tummy. I did my best not to let it affect me, but it did. 

Trying to keep a happy face... 
Photo Credit: Steve Heisler Photography

Remember earlier where I explained the loop we were constantly running? Well, the back alley portion (my least favorite part to run) had a little out and back portion on it, so it was a great place to cheer on fellow participants. When I'm having a rough go, it helps me to focus on others so I get out of my own head. I tried to cheer on as many people as possible. 

Making my way around the "cone of death" and you can see behind me the runners going in both directions.
Photo Credit: Steve Heisler Photography

Originally I was concerned about the one mile loops. Seeing as I had never done an event like this I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was worried it would be a temptation to want to sit down at your stuff every mile. I'm happy to report that it wasn't as mentally taxing as I was expecting (maybe because I was focused more on my tummy troubles than the repetitiveness of the laps). I would say, though, that if I could make a suggestion to the race director it would be to see if we could switch directions every maybe 3 or 6 hours. Being able to go the opposite direction might help "change it up" a bit both mentally and physically (rather than turning in the same direction lap after lap, hour after hour). 

It was nice to know that my stuff was never more than a mile away. I even was able to stop and
use my massage gun a couple times during the race when my body was feeling a little extra tight. 

I did really like the format of the race though. Once we got a lap or two in, it was pretty hard to tell who was on what lap. Don't get me wrong, you still knew who the speedy runners were, but I liked that we were all sort of on the same playing field. You couldn't really tell if someone was on lap 10 or lap 30, which somehow was comforting and encouraging ;) 

I had to chuckle when I saw this sign after you exited the barn... 

The only thing I was disappointed in was the fact that there didn't seem to be many goats at Nanny Goat... Okay, okay, so again, I might not have read the details very closely and assumed we would be running on a GOAT farm... WRONG! There were some fun animals on the ranch, but the goats were in limited supply. (Apparently the name of the race comes from the fact that the original race director was called "The Old Goat" and it had NOTHING to do with animals on a ranch.)

You always have to pull over for a character stop, #AmIRight?! 

I finally found some goats! I may have had to zoom in with my iPhone 8 camera and
still couldn't see them great, but I promise there were a couple out in this field... 

I'm not sure if I'm the only one who runs into this, but once I start walking more than I am originally planning on, I have a hard time getting back on track with my running. I definitely ran into this issue during the race. Once my stomach started giving me problems and I was walking more than expected it was like my mind gave up and I couldn't find the strength or motivation to keep running. Don't get me wrong, I was still running about 75% of the lap (walking the back stretch), but I couldn't get back onto my 'run 5 laps, walk 1 lap' groove. I'd say that it was more mental than physical, but it still sucks.  

You can totally tell I'm walking here...
Photo Credit: Steve Heisler Photography

I was still keeping a decent pace, but I knew my 100K goal was long gone about halfway through my run. Originally I was thinking I could run to the 50 mile mark and then walk until the 12 hour time limit expired to see how far I could go, but I knew I needed to be smart, listen to my body and "live to run another day". The 'smart' move would be to get in my 50 miles (however long that took) and call it a day... so that's what I did. (I also texted that decision to the hubby and a couple friends so that I wouldn't be tempted to do something silly and keep going {because I know myself too well ;)}.)

If you decide to stop prior to the end of the race you just tell the timing team and then go grab a medal from the RD.

#RealTalk - I did run an extra lap because my watch hadn't shown 50 miles when I hit 50 laps (the course is certified, but as we all know, our GPS watches aren't necessarily spot on the entire time and I'm a numbers nerd). When my watch "dinged" for 50 miles I was at 9 hours and 59 minutes (although my official stats show me finishing 51 laps in 10:06:22). 



I saw Shelli, the race director, once I finished so we snapped a picture and I thanked her for putting on such a fun event. 

Not only do they host the event, but they open their ranch and home 
up to runners for the weekend! They even let kids swim in the pool!

When I was talking about the event with the hubby (after I got home from work and he got back from camping), I was trying to describe it and the best I could come up with was that it had a Ragnar-like vibe. The atmosphere is fun and inviting for all, but there are still runners out there trying to race and win. It was cool to have a homebase to come back to whenever you needed it (some of the 24-hour runners actually had tents and RVs where they could nap during the event). There seemed to be people of all different ages and abilities on the course - which is always awesome to see. I was extremely appreciative to Eric and the Inland Empire Running Club for welcoming me with open arms, cheering me on when they saw me and offering to help in any way they could. With that said, I probably wouldn't do the event again "on my own". I think if I was to register again I'd want to have friends out there with me. I think the relay option is intriguing, although I'd want to be able to run with my friends so that'd be something we'd have to figure out because if we were on the same team we wouldn't be running together. It seemed like a large chunk of the runners were doing the 6-hour option, so maybe if I was doing it solo I'd do that one. It was definitely an awesome experience (and a great way to get in miles for my 100-miler), but only time will tell as to whether I add this on my race calendar for future years. 

I was finishing around the time the sun was setting, so it was nice to have a sweatshirt to throw on for the ride home.

PS Of course I have to give HUGE props to the photographers who were out on the course! Thanks for the free race photos, Steve Heisler! (Also, we were gifted a printed picture when we finished the race, how awesome is that?! I actually sent mine to one of my pen pals and forgot to take a picture of the picture - oops! But still an awesome souvineger!)

PRO TIP: When you see a photographer, tell them you plan to jump
and then count down so they are more likely to catch you in the act ;)

Oh yeah and you better believe I picked up at least three pieces of litter while running loops for my #3PieceChallenge!

Not as many pieces as my last couple races, but that's because I didn't have my vest to stuff everything in.

Have you ever run a timed event before?

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