Disclaimer: I’m writing this after not sleeping for over 32 hours, so it may not be in the most logical order. Nap time after this.
After running an 8-hour race (and completing 35 miles in it) a few months ago, I wanted to test myself on a longer fixed-time run. I had planned to just do this on my own for fun (since I’m deployed and race options are rare here)… until a couple people from RWOL mentioned contacting a stateside race to see if they’d let me participate “remotely.” I contacted Peanut Island 24, which had a 12-hour option. I fully expected the RD to say no, but he said yes! He agreed with letting me use my Garmin distance, although I would be doing the run on a loop I’d chosen to emulate the actual race as much as possible.
I decided to raise money for the Fisher House charity in conjunction with the race. The RD gave me a discounted race entry fee since I wouldn’t be using many of the amenities but would get some goodies from it. However, after looking back and realizing some of the proceeds from the race go to a different charity, I donated the difference to the charity. I didn’t want to get a break and essentially take from the official race charity to give to the charity I chose. I raised $1,220 for the Fisher House! Thank you to those of you who have supported me, whether it’s been financially or otherwise.
So, getting to the race itself…
Since I planned to do the race from 10pm on New Year’s Eve to 10am on New Year’s Day, local time, I decided I’d get ample sleep the night before the race and take a nap the evening of the race before it started. However, as life happens, neither of these happened, haha.
The loop I chose was .71 miles around. It went right by my living area, which made it convenient. It was also inside a blocked off area, mostly, so I could wer headphones for 90% of each loop. I also liked that it wasn’t totally flat. There were a couple flat parts with a couple noticeable gradual uphills and downhills. I like this for variety and it also gives me a good signal where I should run and walk when I get really tired.
I stashed some food/water and extra layers of clothing near my building but out of the way enough that it wouldn’t draw attention as a “suspicious package.”
I really didn’t know about a mileage goal prior to the race. My previous distance PR has been 35 miles during my 8-hour race, so I figured I could do at least that many. However, the 8-hour one was during the day, not on joint-damaging roads, had manned aid stations, and had other runners! Since I’d have 4 more hours, I hoped for 40 miles, and I figured that if all went well, I’d be somewhere between 40 and 50 miles. I even wrote out how many miles I’d need to cover each hour (taking into consideration faster running at the beginning with gradual slowing) for 50 miles, although I thought that was not really realistic.
I started running at 10pm last night. The first 3 hours were uneventful and I was running a lot faster than I’d anticipated. Near the 4-hour point, I realized I could break my marathon PR, but I opted to run slower, in the best interest in the rest of the run. However, I did beat my previous 50k PR by 17 minutes! I was taking a gel every 45 minutes, which typically works for me. However, when I tried to take my 4:15 gel, I gagged and my body refused to eat that gel or any other gel for the remainder of the race (meaning the other 7:45 of it!). I was concerned but just started drinking more Gatorade mixed with water. The only other fuel I took in was cheez-its on multiple occasions and a part of a boiled potato (which happened to be on the dinner menu last night!) with salt.
After the first few hours, I got lonely since there was no one else running or even walking around the base. 2am-5am was pretty quiet, but I just kept focus on my mileage goals each hour. At 6am, one of my sergeants came and ran/walked with me for a couple laps. About an hour later, another captain I work with did his (fast) 12-mile run on the same loop as me to keep me company (sort of). Hours 9-11 were the worst for me because my feet and knees were really sore and I felt drained, However, The last hour or so, I got a second wind and things felt a lot easier. My deputy commander also came out at the very end to cheer me on.
So… My total mileage in 12 hours was 51.88 miles! (That’s roughly 73 laps, FYI.) I couldn’t believe it! That’s a distance PR by over 16 miles and way beyond how I expected to do.
I’m now walking around like an old lady, and my voice is really hoarse because it got quite cold in the middle of the night and I kept coughing. However, I have a really cool story to go along with my “ailments.”
I definitely want to do another timed race in the future. However, I have no desire to do one with just me. I know I was running it “with” the runners who were stateside, but when I’m running for hours and hours with no one around physically, it’s just not the same!
I can’t think of a better way to have started the new year!
Here is one pic from after the race (in my oh-so-stylish and comfortable Air Force PT uniform):