24 hours is a really long time to be running. Some might even say it’s crazy or stupid. I’d like to lean more towards the description of badass or pretty awesome, but either way it has it’s challenges.
Last week I finished my second Pulse Endurance Run with the 24 hour time limit. In this race you run 2.8 mile loops around Eagle Island for the designated time frame (48-24-12-6 hours). Last year had some tough weather conditions with cold and flooding that lead to a mid-race course change. I also took a nap during the night for a few hours. I still finished with 75 miles which at that time was a distance PR for me. My goal this year was to try to beat my distance and challenge myself to stay awake the whole time.
This was my first big race since having a coach and being on the Gauge 20 Running team. My coach, Cody, has really pushed me hard with training over the last few months to get myself ready for big miles. I had to do a lot of my runs on the treadmill as well as deal with some winter weather in order to get my time on my feet. One of my big training weekends included two 8 hour days back to back. Luckily Stephanie went with me and Eric joined for one day to drag us tired girls along. Honestly, it sucked at the time, but I’m glad we did it because it made a huge difference in feeling prepared.
March 23rd, I took the day off work and gathered up all my stuff I’d need for the race ahead of time. I tried to take a nap in the afternoon so I was prepared for staying awake all night. My mind was all over the place so I was able to doze a little bit, but not really get fully asleep. However, I still felt rested. I showed up to the park early enough that I could organize my stuff and hang out for a bit to get ready. David and his cute puppy came to watch for a bit. Coach Paul and another G20 teammate, Emily, showed up at the start to help get me ready. Paul checked that I had the plan from Cody in my head, offered some other advice, and then we were off! The plan was run the first two laps as freebies on pace, then switch into endurance mode, which would change periodically throughout the night.
In this race, you’re not allowed to have pacers until you are half way through your time goal. Paul and Emily were throughout the night, meeting me at different points along the route just to check up on me. They both decided to go to sleep for a bit so they were rested for the morning to help me. I got the overnight pace plan and spent pretty much the entire night alone. Most of the other runners were taking breaks too, so I really only saw a few people throughout the night. I usually don’t listen to music during a run, but I did this time. Partially to help me stay awake, and partially to drown out the critter sounds freaking me out in the dark. Before going to bed, Emily slipped something in my pocket “for inspiration” she said. I didn’t look at it until about 3:00am, and it definitely lifted me up knowing my team had my back. Staying awake all night, alone, is hard, but I just kept moving and watching the time until I knew I could have pacers and the 12 hour people would start.
Paul was up before light to check in. Jessica showed up around 6:30 and she ended up running with me for about four hours. That girl is seriously awesome! She gave me someone to talk to, helped with keeping me on track for time, and kicked me into gear when I just wanted to stop and stretch. Lots of friends were out to volunteer at the aid station, so it was nice to see friendly faces and have people helping out. Paul never let me stop for long. Usually just long enough to grab a snack, something to drink, and the occasional ibuprofen. “Take it and walk” he’d tell me. Not everything agreed with my stomach, but overall fueling was great. The pain on the other hand, was tough to push through.
At noon, the 6 hour people showed up. So other friends and my other team mate Drew were out offering their encouragements while running. Kristine and Jody ran some laps with me and Paul looped around regularly with me. That’s the best part about this event-having plenty of people with you. As the miles ticked by, the pain increased and I slowed down, but I never stopped moving forward. In the middle of the afternoon, I hit beyond the 75 mile distance and was officially in uncharted territory. Paul was by my side when that hit, keeping me updated on where I was at in competition. On the loop that would have put me at mile 78, I felt a blister in between my toes pop. It felt like someone was stabbing my foot and I tried not to cry. Paul told me to make it around that lap and we’d fix it up. Minutes later he rode up on his bike with a chair and first aid kit, plopped it down in the grass and taped my toes up for me. He told me to make it back to the aid station and he’d do a better job on it. I hobbled as best as I could to where he sat me down and cleaned off the dirt and fluid-seriously painful! I cried a lot! But he bandaged up my feet, helped with my socks and shoes again, and kicked me out to do more laps. Dealing with my stinky, blistered, runners feet, doctoring me up, and not letting me quit-if that’s not a great coach, I don’t know what is.
My friend Joe came out around 3:30. I was moving, albeit slow, but still going. Joe helped me run some faster laps, told me stories, and jokes. Laps only count that you finish, so in the last hour of the race, they open up the short 0.3 mile course so you can rack up more distance. Laps were taking me about 40-45 minutes now. Twenty minutes before the short course opened, and Paul said I could get one more big one in. I pushed it pretty hard and then switched onto the short loop. I tried to run a little bit, but had to walk some of my loops around because I was hurting. They announce your mileage each time you come around and I thought I was okay. Each time I’d come around, I could hear my friends cheering me on from the aid station. I came around with what I thought would be my last loop and the timer announced I was only at 88.98. Oh I got pissed because there wasn’t enough time to make it another lap around, but I was going to try. I was literally sprinting, not sure how, trying to make it. I missed it by one corner and just lost it. I collapsed into a chair and just started bawling like a big baby! Stephanie gave me a big hug, Joe was there to help. Paul said “those better be tears of joy”. They weren’t. More like a combination of anger, exhaustion, and pain. Maybe it’s barely short officially, but I’m still calling it 89 miles. Good enough for second female and third place overall.
I couldn’t eat afterwards. I went home, cleaned up, and went straight to bed. The night was harder than I thought it would be. Pain was radiating through my legs, waking me up in tears. I slept as much as I could, but woke up to go to breakfast with Stephanie and Eric as is tradition. We woke up to a stupid amount of snow and were all thankful it held off for the race weekend. They both ran the 48 hour race, so we added up our totals and it came to 328 miles all together! So Sunday was spent eating everything and not moving unless I had to. David was nice enough to come visit and bring me ice cream and Band-Aids. I told him I was never doing this again, but we all know how that usually turns out.
Luckily, the next week was spring break, so Stephanie and I took a vacation. We surprised my kids with a trip to the Oregon Coast, visiting Crater Lake along the way. Lots of exploring, shopping, whale watching, beaches, and relaxation. We decided post race vacations are a great idea! I get back into training tomorrow. Next up of my running list: Weiser River 50k in two weeks and then shortly after that I’ll be chasing that 50 mile distance again, this time hoping for a finish.