So here are my thoughts and crazy experiences of my very first 24 hour race….
A few months back a fellow Orange Mud Ambadassador put the idea of running this race out into the world. Always a sucker for a challenge, I jumped at the chance. Informed my other half and she told me I was crazy. My response…. “Well you are with me, so….” To prepare I put in a cubic butt load of long runs and two-a-days. Did I feel completely ready? No. Was that the first time I’ve felt unprepared? Hell no… so all systems go!!
The day before the race, we packed the kids in the car and headed to Philadelphia…. Land of the cheese steak and pretzels. After a 4 hour journey turned into 5, we were checked into the hotel and ready to rock. Walked the mere one mile down to boat house row (hotel location is important btw) and snagged my race bib and awesome schwag bag. I’m a sucker for any race that gives you socks. Let’s be honest runners… socks can be a huge expense. On the walk back to the hotel we took in some sights and got some amazing food truck grub. Then it was time for sleep… which didn’t go well. I woke, however, with a sense of adventure.
I’m not going to lie. I was nervous as hell! I had never ran a 24 hour before. I was out of my element. Heard so many people talking about their strategy. So many varying ways to run…. I chose to run by feel. Little did I know, it would help me immensely. We mulled around waiting what seemed like forever for the race to start. Then suddenly I found myself at the starting line ready to rock. Bang!… We were off and running!!
My mood was high when we started. Nerves were settled. All I had to worry about was the wicked heat and humidity we all knew were coming. Thankfully, I had my Orange Mud Vest Pack on. Let’s take a look at the race course. No out and back. No point to point. Just an 8.4 mile loop. Aid stations roughly every two miles…. but you got to run past the Rocky Steps every lap!
After the first lap I noticed people waning in the rising heat. I felt like I was flying! Partly cause I kinda was. I just felt great. When I wanted a break, I walked. When I wanted to run, I did just that. Running by feel was working. I was gaining ground. Crushing my fear of lap races, I made a lot of friends along the way. People were roller coasters of emotion out there. What a pleasant mix of runners. Young, old, race snobs, spartan racers, weekend warriors, ultra runners…. every category was accounted for. After lap 5 the race director had a chat with me. Told me he was impressed, that I looked strong. I felt strong!! Each lap was faster than the last. My 100 mile goal was looking like a walk in the park (no pun intended).
Gia would keep me updated on their activities as I ran. Those lucky ducks went to the zoo while I endured the heat and humidity with ease. The sun was setting, It was headlamp time. Awesome…. I love night running…. in Philly…. with unsavory characters (non racers). Let’s just say I had no issue picking the pace up. About 12 hours in, what I didn’t want to happen… well it happened. My knee popped something fierce. The old reminiscent pain I’ve felt before had revisited. I was torn apart because I knew what it meant…. My race was over. I had to play the smart runner. I also had to finish the lap I was on. So I walked/hobbled 6 miles. I felt like I let everyone down. That I had failed. At the finish line, I let them know I was done. The race director shook my hand and told me they were impressed with my effort. Then told me my distance… 62 miles. 62 effin miles! Furthest I’d ever ran!! So it wasn’t a total loss…. Brought a smile to my face.
I learned a lot at this race. That I run much better by feel. That it is our struggles that define us. That unlocking the ability to be a better runner is in your mind. So I will be back next year to attack this race again. In fact, just so it is in writing, I’m aiming for 120 miles next year. There was something amazing about 24 hour races. Sure there are many other runners there….. but you are really competing with yourself, and I love that.
Huge thanks to the following:
- all the selfless volunteers that helped out
- the aid station that was ran by runners…. best by far!
- everyone who supported and cheered me on in this endeavor
- My other half, Gia …. without your love and support I have no clue where I would be in life