First: try my hardest to BQ at the Philly Marathon in November (scary!)
Second: try another ultra longer than a 50K.
The Born To Run 100K was such an awesome experience and great challenge that I just knew I wanted to do something like that again. I needed something somewhat near home as we couldn't afford another far away running trip this year and now that Niko is in Kindergarten (real school, ahhh!) we can't be doing things that would cause him to miss school. I didn't really find any 50 milers or 100Ks that fit into my time frame as I didn't want to do something too close to November. But then something else popped up along the way in my quest to find a race, The Sloppy Cuckoo 12 Hour Challenge. Not only did running a 12 hour make me super excited but it takes place in Pennypack Park which is less than 20 minutes from my house and VERY inexpensive, awesome!
|Training in the Wissahickon|
|Like I said, tecnical terrain is not easy for me. Just one of my many falls in training ;-)|
|My own personal aide station|
|Slacker! j/k ;-)|
|Cuckoo moms! Our friend Jen from Niko's daycare|
Then it was time to start! There was 100 runners in the 12 hour.
I was up towards the front with about 10-12 other runners. I hung out with this lead group about the first 3 miles until we were passing the aide station in the middle of the loop. After that the leaders disappeared and I knew by the speed they took off at that I was not going to even try to stay with them.
|Jen and I at the start of the race|
|Just before we disappeared into the woods|
I didn't spend much time between laps 1 & 2. I was running with my handheld bottle full of Tailwind and had a second one in the tent ready to go. I LOVE using Tailwind and really think it helps me stay better hydrated and fueled especially keeping my electrolytes in order but it does make me thirsty hence why I like to have a second handheld full of plain water. This system worked well for me throughout the day. Only one or two laps I ran with just a single handheld but most of the day I used both, which really wasn't a hindrance. My stops at the aide station in the middle of the course would be just to grab a cup or two of plain water to drink and to pour on myself. After the first two laps, I also ate a piece of PB&J and an Orange slice each time through. Then once I got to the main aide station at the timing area, I would get my bottles refilled, drink a couple cups of plain water, dump a couple on my head, grab more PB&J and orange and then run to my tent. At the tent I had pre-measured baggies of Tailwind and would dump one in one of the bottles, put ice in my hat and grab a gel or energy chews to carry in case I felt that I needed something in between stations, which there were a couple occassions I started feeling hungry so I ate a gel or the chews. Emir's half marathon started a half hour after my race so he was not at the tent after lap 1. After lap 2, one of my best friends Lauren was waiting for me with her son Ryan. She thinks I'm absolutely nuts but clearly she's very supportive anyway ;-) It was so nice to see friendly faces. She had brought me a donut (thank you!) and made signs out of my face on a stick.
|seeing on myself on a stick definitely made me laugh :-)|
|Emir did have time to get a picture with me (Ryan) before racing off to get the kids|
Anyway back to the actual course. The first 3 miles or so leading up to the aide station in the middle of the loop were fairly flat, just a few small uphils that in the later laps would reduce me to walking but nothing terrible. In general the terrain was not too technical just a few rocky spots, tree roots and one large tree across the trail that you had to climb over. The second half a little bit of a different story. Not long after the aide station was a hill that was definitely steep/long enough that needed to be walked everytime after the first go around. Then there was this very interesting maze section that just kept twisting and turning in circles around each other and you could see other runners in the other circles going around, it was fun but weird. It for some reason reminded me of Alice in Wonderland, I kept expecting to see the creepy cat smoking in there somewhere. After that there were a bunch more hills not extremely hard but enough to add some challenge when you are doing a 12 hour race. Probably what slowed me down the most in the second half of each loop was the terrain. The terrain was definitely more technical than the first half. Some sections had tons of rocks and tree roots that made for very tricky footing especially once I started piling the miles on my legs. I am proud to say I only had 1 actual fall, although I tripped at least a thousand times. Throughout the 6.55 miles there were probably close to 10 trees down that needed to be climbed over (not as big as that one in the first 3 miles) but it adds up as the miles add up. There were also several spots where you had to be careful to duck under trees, not going to lie, totally bonked my head one time. You get delerious out there!
Laps 5 & 6 were probably the hardest for me. I knew I wouldn't be seeing Emir, the kids or anyone else I knew until probably after lap 6. It was during these two laps that the girl who ended up winning the entire 12 hour zoomed by me like I was standing still. I was like "damn!" and just made me feel a bit sad that I seemed to be going slow especially when a few other 12 hour runners went by me. I didn't know it at the time but those other people that passed me actually were on laps 3 &4. They had taken a long rest break which is how they were able to speed up for a bit. But when you are in the middle of the woods, you don't know that and people zooming by can feel devastating. It didn't help that also during this time the 10K started so there were herds of people zooming by. I had to stop multiple times to let people go in the single track sections. It was during these two laps that my Garmin decided to lose satellites multiple times. It would come in and out. I didn't realize until later that a few times when it told me that I did a 15 or 16 minute mile it was actually way off because of losing connection. So that was only adding to my pity party. I was trying to calculate in my head "well if I can just try to keep up this horrible 15 minute pace, I might be able to squeak out the 8 laps I need to make my goal." But even my math was not going well. I had myself convinced that there was no way I would make my goal. I spent the greater part of those two laps lamenting about this and also coming up with a million reasons why I needed to stop and the excuses I would give Emir for why I didn't make my goal. It probably didn't help that this also was the hottest part of the day. It was not a dog day of summer type of day but for end of September and a 12 hour race, it was hot. Even in the woods it was pretty steamy for a good part of the day. The high was probably close to 85 and there was definitely humidity in the air. The heat was also what led to probably what is my biggest mistake since I've started ultra running. Towards the end of the loop was a teeny, tiny stream crossing. There were a few small rocks so that you could avoid getting your feet wet. However in my "I want to die" laps 5 & 6 state I thought it would be fun and a good idea to just run through the water. Well actually the first time I sort of fell in it as there were several of us crossing at the same time and I was rushing, but the cool water felt AMAZING so then the next lap I ran right through it. Let me also explain how I had made the decision to not wear my Thorlos trail socks. I really wanted to have calf compression during the race, so much so that I thought it was more important than my socks (stupid). I do have my Bioskin Calf Sleeves however the compression in those is so intense I know I cannot wear it while running for more than a few hours. Which is how I came to the decision to wear my mizuno compression socks which I have worn for 4-5 hour runs without an issue. Well let's just say, my feet were not feeling so hot laps 7 & 8 as they got chewed up from being wet :-( I will NOT do that again. ALWAYS choose Thorlos, always!
|Coming in from lap 6|
|Cindy giving me a roll down before heading out on the last lap, ouch!|
|Trying to finish strong!|
I was immediately rewarded with a wooden Cuckoo whistle and a German weather station with a 50 mile plaque. Every runner in the 12 hour was given a weather station with whatever milestone they reached starting with 26.2, very cool! Then the RD asked me if I wanted to hang out a bit longer because he thought I may have won an award, what?! So I said sure as I wasn't moving anywhere too fast at that point and I wanted my German sausage. I downed some delicious German food, rolled around on the ground for a bit and had Emir remove my shoes and socks. It was an ugly scene to say the least but I really wasn't surprised as I knew what I had done and I had felt it on the last two laps.
|There actually is a worse blister on my right heel that has hurt all week|
|the left is the German weather station awarded to all finishers who completed at least 26.2miles (mine says 50miles). On the right is my 3rd place female finisher German Cuckoo Clock. I can't wait to hang them both up!|
Lucky for me I now have enough time to relax, recover and enjoy my accomplishments the last couple weeks, new half PR and my 3rd place. Before I know it, it will be time to engage in some intense marathon training for Philly (eek!!).