Sunday, December 30, 2012

Run Like the Wind - 12 Hour Race Report

Training for a 100 mile trail race means lots of long, self-supported training runs, which can be challenging to execute without significant planning … or, my preference, finding races that match your training distance and enjoy a long, catered training day.

My training plan called for a 40 mile run on December 1 or December 8, so I had the choice of running either the old Sunmart 50 miler in Huntsville or the 12 hour Run Like the Wind (RLTW).

Running Huntsville would have been great prep for Rocky (same course), but Mark (co-conspirator for Rocky 100) was only available December 8. I could have run Huntsville solo, but if you are going to run 100 miles with someone else, you better train long with them as well. Also, secretly, I really wanted to try RLTW … the .6 mile loop really appealed to my anal retentive nature and I liked that it was a format that I had never tried before.

The .6 mile loop had a lot of character, twists and turns and tree coverage so it was actually quite enjoyable. It only took 89 laps to have it fully memorized!

I have to say I was a bit unsure how to mentally tackle the 12 hours, other than to break it into smaller segments, which was still a bit overwhelming the first couple of hours. There were four races happening simultaneously – the 3, 6, 12 and 24 hour races, so for the first 3 hours the course was pretty full. There was a significant drop off at the 3 hour mark and then again to a lesser extent at the 6 hour mark. Mentally, at 6 hours, I had to stop myself from saying, “you are ONLY halfway there”. There were probably 20 of us between the 12 and 24 hour race so for the last 6 hours the course was pretty quiet. The nice thing about the short loop though, is that you still see people often.

Ultimately, we broke the race into 4 mile blocks (that’s when we stopped for food), trying to mimic the distance between aid stations at Rocky Raccoon. Ironically starting slow made my legs feel heavy, like they were missing much needed pep in my step, but I knew it was going to be a long day and that most of the people flying by me in the early laps were running much shorter races. It was a pretty warm day too and I just wasn’t feeling awesome, I was ok, but tired. I ended up taking a 5 Hour Energy around the 3 hour mark that definitely helped my mood and thankfully it didn’t make me sick (I had tried 5 Hour before, but not running).

It’s funny, the first 3 hours felt long, but when the clock actually hit 3 hours, it was a bit of “wow, already 3 hours!” The next 3 were similar. It got dark between 6 and 9 hours and the race totally changed. With the drop in temperature, Mark and I both started to feel a lot better. If there were any “bad” hours they were early in the race and then again somewhere in the 8 to 10 hour range. The last 3 hours felt like they passed the fastest with the last hour passing in a blur.

Our families who dropped in and out throughout the race were there for the last hour and a half, and that helped too. We typically walked the .6 mile after eating and my boys joined us on one of those laps and loved it. Flashlights in the dark on a foresty trail – how fun!

We passed the time by coming up with funny names for the various turns on the course and coming up with nicknames for some of the other runners – mainly the 12 and 24 hour crew.

The turns were named (in order):

-Trashcan Turn
-Trash Can 2, Electric Boogaloo (aka The Sequel)
-Orange you glad there are chairs there (aka the retreat)
-Smoke'em if you got'em
-Agility Alley
-It’s all downhill from here
-Delirious decisions
-Wrong Turn
-Toilet Turn

These names evolved over the 12 hours and two of the names came in the last hour, so it really was an all day activity.

Some of the fun nicknames for the other racers – Happy Feet (Austin who was always in a good mood), Bacon and Eggs (dude had cool skull tattoos on his triceps that were made out of bacon and eggs), Vibrams (Dat who did the race in Vibrams) and we were named by Austin the “Dynamic Duo”.

Speaking of Dynamic Duo … one big realization I walked away with was that the only thing harder than running 50 miles (and later 100), is running those miles with another person (or more specifcially the same other person). The company is great and to be clear, I wouldn’t trade it, but the flip side to that is that it is unlikely you will both feel good at the same time, bad at the same time or have to stop at the same time for things like bathroom stops. This works for us but it takes serious commitment to stick together.  Just ask Mark how he felt when I was sick in the woods earlier this summer at Reveille Ranch and he watched the majority of the field run by.

Back to RLTW, the race director, Sam, is an AMAZING cook, and he does a heck of job catering this event. We ate well every 4 miles (and obviously could have done so every .6 miles). Gourmet grilled cheese, ham and cheese, burgers, veggie burgers and the staples like PBJ and boiled potatoes … and so much more.  I seem to recall various pastas and lasagna.  Oh and delicious potato soup!

Bottom line, I highly recommend trying out this race format and I give this particular race an A+ for support! We got t-shirts (not technical, which is my preference) and medals (all finishers received the same medal) but the real gem is in the core support crew that was ready, willing and able to make sure we had everything we needed.

Oh, as for results, we ended up with just under 53.4 miles (my longest run ever!) in 12 hours, which was good enough for 2nd and 3rd place overall for the 12 hour race (in an admittedly small field)!

Another step closer to the Rocky Raccoon 100!


Raul Ito said...

I ran the six hour and it's so funny how I could picture each of the turns based on your names for them as I read your race report. Very accurate names.

Kurt @ Becoming An Ironman said...

I'm actually considering doing a race with this type of format next year, so it's great to see that the loops are manageable. And I agree with you that the crew for that type of race is the biggest perk. I'll take a willing crew over a killer medal/shirt any day!

I have to admit though that I'll probably take the course on my own. I know a couple of people that might be up for the challenge, but it sure takes more commitment than I have to stick with that person the whole way. haha Now, if it was a point-to-point race, then it'd be easier to stick with them for safety sake.

Awesome job finishing the 50+! The 100 should be a piece of very tough cake! haha