Ok, I’m finally home from work Tuesday with a race report!
I drove down to Virginia on Friday, about an 8 hour drive. I camped out at the race, which was at Camp Brady, a Boy Scout Camp. (A huge Boy Scout reservation, actually!) Since the race did not start until noon, it was very strange to wake up and just lounge in my sleeping bag before breakfast pangs sent me to find food.
After food, it was time to tape the feet and arrange the food and clothes. My tent was right on the race course, so it would be a quick and easy stop for anything that I needed. As I set up, someone walking by yelled “hey are you Kim? I loved your podcast!” Wow, someone knows me way down here in Virginia, and remembered our podcast. It turns out to be Dave, who now has his own podcast, called Running in the Center of the Universe. Dave was on a relay team, and looks like he’s already got a podcast out about the race!
It seems like the 24 (and 12) Hours of Momentum Race has about doubled in size from its inaugural year. There were more relay runners than soloists out there, and I believe more 12 hour soloists than us crazy 24 hour runners.
We’re off promptly at 12 noon, and I watch just about the whole race scamper away ahead of me. Whatever. I got all day. And all night.
When I first started reading up on running a 24 hour race from the running gurus, they all talked about ‘strategy’, like running 5 laps and walking one. Humpf. My strategy is my typical ultra running strategy-walk the uphills, run the downs and flats. Besides, I wanted to see what the trail looked like, since this was advertised as a 5 mile trail loop.
And trail it was! This was a tough course! It was alot of little ups and downs, never ending. Some flat sections, but mostly rolling up and down. Luckily it had not rained much, so the trail was packed down dirt, but if it had been wet it would have been slick. It was pretty rooty also.
Now when I say tough, it’s tough because you are repeating loops on it. If you were just running it, say 5 or 10 miles, it would be a fun little workout. But repeated loops, the ups and downs (and mainly the little downs) will take its toll on your legs.
I ran with 2 ladies running the 12 hour solo, and they were not real pleased with the trail, seeing as they were from Virginia Beach and it was flat there. I tried to give them encouragement, since I’m Ms. Happy Positive Trail Goddess out there on the trails. They were also worried about the night running with all the roots. I told them it would be good practice for them. I hope they ended up with a good experience out there, I think the trail was a bit more than they had expected!
I think it was in the first loop that we came upon a female runner, who had stopped. She said there was a snake in the trail, a “big black snake”. I said, man, I forgot my camera, and we 4 females went forward. Yep, there was the snake, about 3 feet long, pretty small as black snakes go. Since he didn’t want to move, I just detoured about 3 feet into the weeds around him. The other females followed, as I remarked “Mrs Snake” should be around here somewhere. Sometimes I can’t help it…
Starting at noon, we hit the heat of the day head on, but it wasn’t too bad, the trail was mainly shaded, and I knew it would cool off soon. I was pretty much just enjoying my run, noticing new things on each lap. I had landmarks to look for as soon as the 2nd lap, something to look forward to. The first mark was the “Pirate Ship” a boat constructed at the edge of a pond. Boy Scouts were there for the first 5 hours of the race, fishing and having fun as we ran by. The second mark was the long switchback. The third mark was the unmanned water stop (with Portopotty nearby) around the 3.5 mile mark. Next was “the snake area” to look forward to. Next mark was the lake. When we hit the lake, there was probably less than one mile to go. Actually, this area was the most treacherous, with roots ready to trip you up here.
I maintained a good pace and stops for me. I would decide ahead of time what I wanted out of my own stuff to eat. The first 3 laps I did use just Hammergel, then I added a Payday bar. Around 630pm or so, I ate a small amount of spaghetti and garlic bread at Race HQ. I had learned my gluttony lesson at this year’s YUT-C 50K about over eating so I made sure I kept it to a small portion.
Darkness finally fell, and I reluctantly donned my headlamp. I really like my Myo Exp headlamp, but wearing it for so long does drive me crazy. I also picked up my tunes on the first night loop.
On my drive south, I discovered I had broken my Zune somehow. There was nothing on it but 3 songs and whatever podcasts I had synched the night before. Luckily, I had brought the fully charged backup iPod, so I started listening to that.
I have gotten better at night running,and staying awake during night runs, and this race was a good learning experience for me, since I was alone and had no pacer. Music helps me alot! I need the stimulation to keep me going. I’ve also learned to start caffeinating early-I started drinking coffee around 10pm. I was also eating small amounts steadily.
Of course, you slow down much more at night and this was no exception. It did help that I had been on the course numerous times now, so it was much more familiar. I just kept the tunes, food, and caffeine going.
I always came into the race HQ smiling, and Mark, the RD, commented on it finally. I didn’t tell him I was the Trail Goddess, since he didn’t know me that well, but I did say I’m always happy to be out on the trail. And when you come into a nice warm place, where folks are smiling and cheering you, well, of course you should radiate that back!
My iPod finally gave up the charge and I switched to my Zune. I was so happy to see I had a few “upbeat” podcasts to listen to, like “Munchcast” and an episode of Running with the Pack, where they mentioned Ashland Dave, who I had just met earlier that day! Small world!
It’s alway darkest before the dawn
I was doing pretty well at night. But as the night wore on, I was sick of drinking water, sick of eating, tired of being tired. I got back to race HQ about 5am, and knew I still had almost 2 hours to go before daylight. Boy I was crabby at myself. I bitched and moaned to myself as I walked down the slippery hill out of the race HQ. Funny, stopping was never an option, but I was just crabby. I had picked up one of my horrible junk food options-a chocolate pie and a cup of coffee. I told myself I would go on, no stopping, and I could walk the whole damn loop if that’s what it took. So I took my time, eating my pie and drinking coffee, pretty much walking most of the loop.
And then the sun came up..
And miraculously, all was well again in the universe. I loved myself again. I loved the trail and running. I had energy. All was great.
But, at this time, the legs weren’t going too well. I was at the point of starting to turn sideways for the downhills. As I ran in the sunlight, I saw my shadow. Then I walked, and looked at my shadow. I believe I was walking faster than my shuffle along.
I stopped after this lap, 12 laps in around 21 hours. But, to my surprise, I actually ran 13 laps, for a total of 65 miles. (20:56) I can’t believe I messed up counting, but the ultra brain pretty much dies after 30 miles or so. I was also 4th of 8 solo runners! Ha ha! I’m liking this 24 hour running thing. I may be slow, but I’m determined. I can place higher in a race due to my stubborness and focus on relentless forward motion, no matter how slow!