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Apr 06

Delano 12 Hour Endurance Race 2016

delano-parkShould I or shouldn’t I?  Do what?  Attempt to enter a 12 hour endurance race?  Still haven’t reached my limit so why not?  How do you set goals for something you’ve never done before?  Just take a stab…

Goals:

  1. Show up
  2. Finish
  3. Sub Goal 1 – Finish an ultra distance of over 31 miles
  4. Sub Goal 2 – Go farther than longest race attempted – over 35 miles
  5. Sub Goal 3 – Run 50 miles!

The story…

Race starts at 6am. So I have to leave the house no later than 4:30 am so I need to get up at 3:45 am.  Everything is already laid out – clothes, change of clothes, food, drink, visor, etc…  Like most races I can’t sleep so I’m up earlier than usual.  Take a shower then load the car and head to Decatur for my first endurance race.

Now for those who don’t know about endurance racing…  They are timed events, simply run as far as possible in the allotted time.  You can drop at any time.  It’s chipped timed, which means you wear a timing chip on your shoe and it keeps up with your laps. Pretty simple right?  Did I mention 12 hours.  This one will be from 6am until 6pm if I can hold out.

As I get to the race I get one of only a few parking spaces left.  I’m early because that’s just me!  Now it’s time to get some rest.  I pull my jacket up on me, recline my seat, and close my eyes, about 45 minutes until race time.  All went well for about 5 minutes.  That’s about how long it took someone to find the parking spot across from me, backs in and leaves his lights on – which of course were now shining in my eyes and they weren’t turning them off!  So yes, I turned mine on and flashed them on and off SEVERAL times to no avail.  OK, whatever.

Eventually it’s time to get to the starting line and I recognize my 2 nemesis have shown up.  The 2 ladies that pass me toward the end of what seems like EVERY race we’re all in.  But they are really good runners and they always let me run with them so it’s all good.  We all toe the line and the horn sounds…  Were racing.  Now racing is a relative term in ultra racing.  They all at some point become a trade off of running vs walking.  You can choose to run a lot and slog toward the end of the race, or walk too much and not finish well.  The optimum solution is to hit a sweet spot of combining the 2.  You just have to have done it enough to know what you’re body is telling you and listen to it.

Did I mention that most timed races are oval anywhere from 1 mile to 3?  Delano? 1 mile loop!  So now the race is also mental having to deal with the same 1 mile for 12 hours.

There’s an old saying in ultra running – if it hurts to run and it hurts to walk – then run! So you know at some point it becomes all about who’s willing to suffer the most.  For me, ultra running is a big head game, you must overcome the mental aspect.

So throughout the day my strategy was to never stop.  Literally, never stop.  In the end it worked out pretty much like I had planned – FOR ONCE!  Unlike the Dizzy Fifty Ultra where I messed up my nutrition, I hit this one spot on.  What did I eat throughout the day?  Peanut butter sandwich triangles, fruit and a lot of Mountain Dew.  Every so often i would slow down to grab something to eat while still moving for the most part.  I would walk just long enough to gulp down any liquid without spilling it all over myself, and I did that for 12 hours, only going to the restroom once.  I was for the most part moving for 12 hours.

What about those goals when all was said and done – glad you asked. I saw 35 miles plus, pass with time still left on the clock.  Then I had to make a decision.  Could I actually get to the 50 mile mark?  I started to calculate my time per lap and realized if I could keep this pace for the next 4 hours then I could do it with about 10 minutes to spare.  But what it was going to do to my body to keep this pace may not be worth it.  So that occupied my mind for a lap or two.  I mean, if you’re not an ultra runner, nobody really understands running 50 miles, what it does to you mentally and physically.  Even if I did it, who else would even care?  Well, I would!  I still had a goal ahead and I’m goal driven. So for the next several hours I kept the pace, then I started to really try to speed up – some.  Yes it was a gamble as I could cramp and not make the 50.

In the end I made the 50 with 15 minutes to spare.  As I came across the finish line for the last time, the race coordinators were encouraging me to run that last mile.  Nope, I’m good!

Finished 18th overall out of 80 runners that day in the 12 hour solo.

Finished 5th out of 17 in my age group.