Monday, November 23, 2009
I don't suppose there's a whole lot to say about a race like this, but I'll try to recap it the best that I can. It was a .5 mile pancake flat paved loop and you just run round and round until the 24 hours is up- simple as that. I flew down to this race solo and it was a whirlwind of a trip, but it all went relatively smoothly, so that was great. The Prefontaine 'stache worked wonders, and will stick around for the remainder of the month in celebration of Movember to support men's health.
After getting in to Dallas Friday evening and having dinner with some friends in town there, I had a good night's sleep at the hotel. Then I was up and at it fairly early Saturday and off to the race for a 9am start time. I made many mistakes in my plans for this race, but I guess that's how we learn. After registering for the race and booking my trip and everything I learned that many things I had assumed were not in fact true. Because this had been the national championship race in previous years, I assumed it was again this year (whoops, the nat'l championship got moved to Ohio this year and happened about a month ago). Then a few weeks prior to the race I started hearing many words of warning from friends all over the place who warned me that this was not a good race, poorly run, etc. There are even groups in the Dallas area who were boycotting this race.... little did I know. Oh well, despite this onslaught of new information, I figured I'd be prepared to support myself from my car and how bad could a .5 mile loop possibly be?
So once at the race start, I got a prime parking spot right on the loop and set up the car as my personal aid station with all the food/clothes/hydration I would need for 24 hours. This worked great, although the aid station proper ended up being pretty well stocked throughout and the volunteers were extremely nice and supportive. So the air horn went off at 9am and we were off on the loop. There were a handful of 72 and 48 hour runners already going on the loop, and I recognized Amy Palmiero- Winters running strong and said hi to her- fun to see a familiar face. She is an incredible inspiration too, and seeing her out there trucking along so strong after 24 hours already was awesome. The weather was cool and overcast- perfect. The first loop was over before I knew it, then the first hour was over, and pretty soon the miles and the hours started piling on. In terms of specifics, there isn't much to say. I ran pretty steadily through the day on Saturday, and as night came I still felt pretty good. Somewhere in the night I noticed my lead was about 16 miles and I lost a good deal of motivation to push hard, but I kept trucking along, walking when I needed to and just keeping the loops going. Not having trained on pavement at all, I felt my body getting battered by the hard road, and this was not something I was used to. Another fun aspect of the .5 mile loop was that I was able to run with my phone for some loops when I felt like it, so I got encouraging words from my wife, my brother, and many friends throughout the day and late into the night from some brief phone calls and lots of text messages. The night was cold, but dry and I just kept putting on layers as needed. I brought 3 pairs of shoes along so that I could switch as needed, but ended up staying in my TNF Vozas throughout the entire race- no sock change or shoe change required at all. Sweet ride.
I hoped for a strong second wind when the sun rose around 6:30am, but it just didn't really happen. I kept plugging along, and then with about 1.5 hours to go I picked it back up and ran fairly strong for the remainder. Some friends from the area came out about an hour before the end too, and it was fun to chat with them a bit. I finished just a few minutes before the 24 hour mark and ended up with 115.6565 miles for the win. I had hoped to run significantly farther, but the pavement beat me up more than expected and like I said it was mentally tough to stay motivated without someone nipping at my heels or someone to chase. As soon as the race was over I knew I had to shift gears to "get to my flight" mode. I went straight to the car and closed down my mini aid station, got everything all packed up, put a warm sweatshirt on, threw away all my trash and was ready to roll at about 9:20. There was an incredible brunch spread prepared by the aid station volunteers so I indulged in a delightful plate full of eggs, bacon, sausage, and pancakes. I let the race director know that I had a flight to catch, but the awards dragged on for quite some time unfortunately. All the race participants were extremely friendly, and it was fun to meet some new folks there. After the awards, I was immediately on the road for a stress-filled drive to the airport. Long story short- I got there, returned my car, did a lot of stressful fast walking with a very funny looking pained stride, made my flight, had an uncomfortable 4 hour flight home, drove home, rested for the rest of the day, and slept 12 hours Sunday night. A whirlwind of a trip, but a fun one nonetheless. A few lessons learned- I'll do better research before blindly signing up for races in the future, and I'll be looking for a nice dirt trail course for my next 24 hour excursion. This trail guy just isn't used to so much pavement. Thanks to everyone for the encouragement and support before/after/throughout! I'm excited for some serious calorie replenishment in a few days celebrating Thanksgiving. Happy early Thanksgiving- we all have so many many things to be thankful for!