Tuesday, May 1, 2007

24 Adventure Trail Run Race Report

A long report for a long day.

The day before

My stomach was still upset when I woke up at 3:30 am to make the hour drive to the airport for my 6:00am flight. After I got my boarding pass and checked my bags I tried to eat as much as I could handle because I knew if I didn’t I would be to weak to run the next day. To make a long story short, I ended up waiting 7 and a half hours at the airport because my original flight was canceled. I ended up flying into a different airport and taking a taxi to the airport I was supposed to fly into so I could pick up my rental car. I have only flown 2 times in my life and both times my flights have been canceled. I must have a flying curse! After picking up my rental car, and being hassled about buying the additional insurance coverage, I made the 30 mile drive to Prince William National Forest in Triangle, Virginia where the race would begin at 7 am Saturday morning. After slogging through the heart of the D.C. Friday afternoon rush hour I arrived an hour before the pre race meeting. I gathered all my bags and laid claim on a cabin, which was a great deal because it was part of the entry fee. After settling my things I went to the main hall of the camp area where dinner was being served. I sat and ate spaghetti while talking with Jason, he was a young runner who had come in from Pennsylvania, I think. We talked about how we had both run a 50 miler but had never done anything like this before. It was nice to talk to someone who was in the same but as me, or at least I thought he was in the same boat as me. As it turned out Jason went on the WIN the race!! What a stud! And I really nice guy too. The pre race meeting lasted about 15 minutes and covered the normal things: aid stations, food, course markings, course conditions, weather, safety…There was a nice prize drawing at the end of the meeting where I walked away with a new Petzl headlamp. After the meeting I went to a gas station down the road to pick up some last minute items before returning to my cabin. There were I total of 6 beds in the cabin I was staying in and by the time I got back a nice group of people from Maryland had filled up the remaining five. We chatted for a few minutes, then they left to eat and I got settled in for bed. I was very tired with my long day of airport woes. I slept well for about 2 hours, then woke up to the sound of loud snoring coming from the next bed. At that point I knew I was in trouble. I rolled around and tried to get back to sleep, but it wasn’t happening. After about 15 minutes I made the decision to ditch the cabin, with my sleeping bag in hand I head for my rental car. I knew there was no way I could run if I didn’t get some good sleep. I slept well in the Pontiac Vibe. I woke up at 6 got some breakfast and got ready for the race. I had decided that my new Keen Wastach Crests were broken in enough to wear, and I had my old shoes as back up.

The race starts (miles 1-8)
A last minute check to make sure all of the relay teams had been checked in, “are the ‘Blueberry Delights’ here?” asked RD Alex “Yes” a man replies “but I didn’t pick that name!!” Seconds later we were off. My strategy was to start out at 12 minute miles and see what happened from there. My stomach issues had subsided late Friday night but returned early in the first loop and stayed with me until around mile 6. Other than that The first loop was really comfortable. I was wearing my Garmin and checked it periodically to monitor my pace. After the first lap I saw that I had averaged 12:30 and felt comfortable with that so I rethought my plan to run 12:30 miles.

The second loop (miles 8-16)

This was probably my most comfortable loop of the day. My stomach issues were gone and my energy was high. I was carrying my hand held and filled it at each aid station, along with taking 1 endurolyte cap each 30 minutes.

They always take the pictures on the up hills when I am walking, lol.

The third loop (miles 16-24)

I met up with Susan on this loop. We had run the last few miles of Bel Monte together a few weeks back. Our running styles are much different. She charges past me on the up hills and I fly by her on the downs. We ran together for the rest of the loop. With about a ½ mile to go in the third loop I start feeling short of breath and light headed. I am not sure how much of an effect my sickness had on my race, I guess that could have been the cause. When I returned to the start finish line I was sure to take in a lot of electrolyte drink. I hadn’t been drinking much of it because I was taking the caps but I thought it might help. This aid station was the beginning of my demise. One of the major things I learned about running a 24 hour race or a 100 miler is that rhythm is very important. You have to make sure you take care of all the little things like food and drink before they become big things. If you wait to long, you lose your rhythm and that is a very hard thing to recover.

The fourth loop (miles 24-32)

I had to walk the first mile of the fourth loop so I wouldn’t puke up all the drink I had consumed. After that I was back on top of the world. The middle of this loop was probably my highest point in the race. I felt great, I was floating along. This comes to another thing that is very important in a race like this: When you get high do everything you can to maintain it, realize how good you feel and do everything you can to stay that way, encourage other runners and pass on your good vibes. When you lose that high, do everything you can to get it back. With about 2 miles to go in the fourth loop I realized that I hadn’t peed in a few hours. I didn’t have to go at the time but I wanted to inspect the color to judge hydration. To my dismay the brownish-yellow color was the darkest I had ever seen. I didn’t understand it, I thought I had been drinking a lot, how could this be? So when I got back to the aid station I spent another long break chugging 2 water bottles and eating pizza and grilled cheese. This zapped my previous high really quickly and once again threw my off of my rhythm.

Stuffing my face in the background

The fifth loop (miles 32-40)

Again I had to walk out of the aid station for a while before I could begin running again. I can’t really remember what happened this loop. It was late in the after noon and the weather was reaching its high. I was beginning to slow considerably.

Loop six (miles 40-48)

I can’t remember this loop either, lol. I know I was moving pretty slow and was unable to get back the rhythm I had already lost twice. I think I ran this loop in about 2:30

Loop seven (miles 48-56)

I took of my shoes and reapplied Vaseline to my feet at the aid station before leaving for the loop. I left out of the aid station slowly on my way to another slow loop. Then less then a mile in I was past by a runner, he told me to run with him. He was moving pretty good and I didn’t know if I could keep up but I thought, what the hell, and gave it a try. It turned out that his pace was manageable, althought he was pushing the hills hard. His name is David Snipes. He had just run Promise Land 50K the same morning and drove 4 hours to run through the night at this race, what a stud! He helped me out big time and we went on to run the lap in 1:50, a huge negative split for me at that point. Come to think of it, it was pretty stupid for my to run the loop that fast at that point in the race, but if it wasn’t for me keeping up with him I would have been reduced to a walk for most of the lap. This brings me to another important lesson: having someone to run with and talk to makes a HUGE difference in such a long race. His company made the pace seem easy, where as if I tried to run it on my own at that point I would have really been struggling. It was getting dark at this point and I was quickly losing motivation to run. I was glad Dave was able to pull me through that lap, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up with him for another. I took waaaaay to long at the start/finish line at the end of loop seven. I sat around for about 30 minutes eating and resting, another big mistake.

Loop 8 (miles 56-60)

By the time I left the aid station I was completely out of “running mode” all I could manage was a slow shuffle, not even a walk. I just couldn’t get myself to speed up. My legs weren’t dead, I just didn’t feel like moving. At this point I knew the race was slipping away, it was a matter of how much longer I could hang on. I walked for a while on the trail then found a log to sit down on. A sat for about 10 minutes while a few runners passed by and asked if I was ok “yeah” I replied “I feel great, just resting up for my big charge, watch out!” I eventually got back up and walked a little while longer. I came to one of the hamm radio operators that was helping out at the race. He saw me moving so slowly and asked if I wanted to sit for a while. At that point I was in no condition to decline a good sitting opportunity so I sat and listened to his stories about running 15 miles while in the army and about all the “Pussies” in his hamm radio club that didn’t want to carry a backpack into the woods and camp out all night. He was a really cool guy and I enjoyed his company. He told me that some people had gotten to this point on the trail and turned back around for the start/finish line, and that I should consider it. There was no way I was going to do that. I had already walked a mile, and I would have to walk another mile back to the aid station without even getting credit for it. Plus the section that I had left to go to the middle aid station was much easier terrain than what I would have had to go through to get back to the start/finish line. So I started walking, reciting an excerpt from a Robert Frost poem that Mike told me last week “The woods are lovely dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep."
Over and over again. With my two sit breaks it took me 2 ½ hours to cover the 4 miles to the middle aid station. When I got there it turned out that the Hamm radio operator had radioed the start/finish line and told them to send someone to pick me up. Scott, one of the RD’s was waiting for me. I was bummed about that because I was hopping to sit at this aid station and try to see if my desire to run would come back. But I decided to take the ride back to the start/finish line. As I pulled myself into the truck, my race was over.

I am not disappointed or mad about my performance. I wanted to get in 70 miles and it would have been really great to run all night to get in more night experience, but I was out there for 17 hours and had a great time. I plan on going back next year at taking some revenge. I ran this race as training for Mohican but I think there is a big difference between a 24 hour race and a 100 miler. In a 24 hour race when you get tired there is less and less motivation to get to a certain point. When I was out there on the trail sitting on the log I thought to myself, every second I sit here I am getting one second closer to the finish line. A 100 miler isn’t like that. If you sit around you are getting nowhere. I think my personality is geared more towards a race with a set distance not a time limit. I stopped after 60 miles because I didn’t have the motivation to continue to 70. You can damn sure bet that if it had a 70 mile race, I wouldn’t have even thought about stopping at 60. Or if it had been a 100 mile race I would have ran until the time limit was up. But because there was no set distance and all I had were distances that I would have like to reach, I didn’t have the motivation to get there. A 24 hour race is a unique experience. This doesn’t make me worry that I won’t be able to finish Mohican. I am not saying that I will finish, but I think I can. The final thing I learned is that there are so many elements that go along with a 100 mile race. So many things that can go wrong and end your day. This is why veteran 100 milers can still DNF at any time. When you are running 100 miles it isn’t solely about running ability, the mental aspect is huge, and if you let one thing slip through the cracks you might come up short.


Anonymous said...

I am glad I was out there with you in some way, even if I wasn't running with you. I was thinking about you during the hours I figured you would be running, and wondering how it was going.

Also, I have cooked up several of my experiments I am going to try at the Pig. I haven't clued Kim into our plans on that yet, but will try to email her tonight or tomorrow so she can she if she wants to try some of it.

I did 22 miles today....the first 11 pretty good...solid...in 1:46 and then the second 11, after I had lunch with my 4 yr old (your girlfriend) I walked at least half....really took it easy because of what I have planned Thursday and Sunday!

Rob "Buckeye" Powell said...

You did a great job! You got yourself a great training experience getting ready for the Mohican. This is why you are doing all of this right? 17 hours of training is huge and what a great mental training run as well. This is training you do not get from 50 milers or from marathons.

Addy said...

Great report! Sorry it took me a few days to respond :)

It definitely seems like you learned a lot in this experience, even if you weren't able to finish quite what you set out to do. Having been sick the week before, especially, you accomplished a lot! 60 miles and 17 hours is amazing.

Your comparison between the time vs distance events totally makes sense. I think I'm more of a distance person too, even though I haven't tried to tackle a time one yet.

Congrats on doing a great job out there! A lot of times not finishing a race can have as much potential value for future events that finishing one has.

Mohican is going to go great!!!!

Sensationally Red said...

I really enjoying reading your account. It was sincere and beautifully written. You are the man!!! One of these days...I'm going to tackle a 50, so I'm taking notes all the time. Keep up the good running.

Josh said...


Thanks, I did learn alot and I will apply it all to Mohican in June!

Josh said...


I don't know about well written, but I did get an A in English my freshman year. I guess my posts can't help but be improved after reading your eloquently written blog. Along with Addy the English major!