Note: I’m posting all my old, pre-blog race reports.  Here’s how my first 12 Hour run went.

What: Labor Pains 12 Hour Run
When: Sunday September 6, 2015 7:30am
Where: Reading, PA
Distance (Time): 55 miles (11:21:48)
Place: 10th of 228 (1st of 48 in AG excludes Overall Winner and 1st Masters)

Top of the World

I almost can’t put into words how awesome this run went. While I went into it planning to do 55 miles, my target would have been 50 if I had known how hard the course was. Between the elevation gain (about 160 feet/mile) and temperatures in the mid-80s, it was no joke.

I always struggle at the back end of these runs, but that was not the case on Sunday. I started slowing down from miles 15-30 like I normally do from my initial 11-12 min pace, yet it didn’t deteriorate once I got to mile 30. My last 5 laps were 62 minutes, 66, 66, 65,and 64. I was in an incredible groove. I don’t typically feel or notice a runner’s high, but there were many times during the day when a wave of euphoria would just wash over me. I felt positive and happy and NOT like I had already been running for 6+ hours. I’m a little bummed this was only a 12 hour run because I would love to know how much longer I could have kept it up.

First Place

Kate and I rolled into the parking lot where the race was being held a little before 6am. The place was completely empty and there were no lights on. What? I drove all around the building, but there was no one else there. OK. We were about 75 minutes early so all I needed to do was pull up the flier and double check where we should be. Turns out we were in the right place, just 45 minutes early as check-in didn’t start until 6:30. Sigh. A couple minutes later, the volunteers started showing up and Kate and I breathed a large sigh of relief.

Race Overview

This was a timed race. Runners had 12 hours to run as many 5 mile laps as they could. Partial laps were not counted unless you were going for a milestone distance (26.2 miles, 50k, 100k). There was one main aid station at the start/finish and a water only stop half way through. The first half of the course was mostly uphill and the last 2 miles downhill before a short rock scramble up to the start/finish. There were some short road sections and three or four road crossings. Since this is Pennsylvania, there were a decent amount of rocks on the trails. This lead to many trips and stumbles, however I only fell while on one of the short road sections. Figures. Luckily, I was able to tuck and roll onto the grass and popped back up none the worse for wear.

Some people might not like the loop format, but I loved it. A one mile loop might get to be too repetitive, but I was never bored with the 5 miles even though I ran them 11 times. I wasn’t really paying too much attention for the first 2 laps as people were fairly bunched up so I was looking at the person ahead of me more than the trails around me. I was doing this to such an extent that I swore I was running a new section on my 4th or 5th loop even though the trail was clearly marked. The more loops I did, the more familiar I became with the trails. I’m sure it helped my performance later in the run as I knew how long the hills were, where to walk, and even which lines to take through the very rocky sections.

Speed Limit 155

So the game plan was to go at an easy effort during the entire run. I initially set my heart rate monitor to notify me when my HR got above 151 beats per minute. After a couple miles though, this seemed too frustratingly low so I upped it to 155bpm for the rest of the race. I had done a long training run a couple weeks back at 155bpm that went well so figured that should work. I attribute most of my strong run to this trick, which saved my legs for later in the race. They never got completely thrashed and the next morning I was hardly hobbling.

Nutrition

I changed up my nutrition plan a bit for this race. I used to rely solely on gels, however after getting burned by my last race having virtually none I decided to supplement with Ensure. And thankfully I had four 8oz bottles in my drop bag or I would have been in serious trouble since again there were no gels at the aid stations. I supplemented with Twizzlers (early), bananas (whole race), and a cup of Mountain Dew after each lap later in the race. Overall, I’m guessing I put down 150-200 calories an hour, which is probably a little more than I’ve typically done in prior races. I’m sure this also had a positive contribution to my performance.

Lucky or Good?

Now I sit here and wonder if I got lucky on Sunday or if I’ve finally started to figure out this ultra thing. This could have just been a stars aligned type performance. Next up for me is the Oil Creek 100 mile in 5 weeks. This race scares the daylights out of me (100 miles and almost 18k of climbing). Part of me wants to be very encouraged, however part of me wonders if I’ve peaked too early. I can’t wait to find out.

Final Thoughts

You gotta keep swinging in life. I had four straight meh-to-poor ultra performances leading into Labor Pains. Nothing in my training signaled that I had a run like Sunday in me. But if you keep plugging away, making tweaks and changes; then good things are bound to happen eventually. Sometimes even great things.

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