Monday, May 17, 2010

"3 days at the fair" 24 hour run: race report

the inaugural "3 days at the fair" was a series of multi-hour races that kicked off with a 48-hour run on friday morning and ended with a 6-hour version on sunday, at the sussex county fairgrounds in new jersey. i signed up for the 24-hour run - my fourth 24-hour race in the last few years. my goal was relatively straightforward, reach 100 miles over the course of the day. unfortunately, after a solid start (50 miles in 9:43), i hit the wall during the second half. despite 14+ hours to run another 50 miles, i managed only 40 more in 13 hours. i finished with a total of 90 miles in 23:06:11 - well off my goal. that's the short and sweet version!

now for the details. emmy and i carpooled to the race. the sussex county fairgrounds are just over an hour from my house and the 9 o'clock start time made driving the logical choice. we arrived at 8:15 and could see the 48 hour runners on the course as we found a parking spot and set up our gear (chairs and drop bags). the heavy wind gusts that greeted us when we got out of the car were a tip off to how difficult the first few hours would be. after the very first loop, both of our chairs had been blow over!

for a relatively small field, there were plenty of familiar faces. meredith, ray, steve, in the 48-hour race. susan, fred, shiran, and byron in the 24-hour race. the race director, rick, set us up with our "live" bibs - the timing chip was already attached on the inner side. the course was an 0.86 mile paved loop (with a small stretch of gravel) - and the course was well-lit (so we didn't need headlamps during the night). there was a lap sheet to convert the laps into mileage - and hourly results were posted. i kept 5 loop splits on my watch, along with the splits for 50 miles and 100k.

my lap target was 117 - which corresponded to 100 miles. 59 loops equalled 50 miles (50.61) and was my short term goal. i started off feeling good and ran the first 25 loops in 5 loop splits that ranged from the low to mid-40 minute range. during laps 30 through 60 my 5 loop splits slowed to the mid-50 range. my 50 mile split (loop 59) was 9:43:19 - but by that time i was starting to feel the fatigue catch up to me. i had been taking a lot of fluids (mostly ginger ale, vitamin water, and plain water) to offset the dehydration from the sun and wind.

but all that liquid took a toll on my appetite. most of the time my stomach was full of soda and it contributed to my lost desire to eat (as hard as that is to imagine - or for me to write it, in retrospect). despite tons of great food (burger, hot dogs, pizza, pasta, quesadillas, to mention just a few of the excellent choices) i couldn't face the prospect of eating much of anything. what really saved me during the late night and early morning hours was the hot broth! i took a cup out with me on many a loop (as much for warmth, as nourishment) during those hours.

the poor nutrition strategy showed up in my 5 lap splits, which had now slowed to well over an hour (between 1:05 and 1:30 for laps 60-90). despite the progressive slowdown, these laps (half walking and half running) were still fun. marge, who had come down to volunteer, wound up running at least 50k - mostly with emmy, but a solid chunk of hours with me as well). the highlight of the early evening was the incredible fireworks display that took place adjacent to the course just after 9:30 saturday night! the low point was traversing a stretch of the course populated (polluted) with party goers sneaking smokes (and there were a lot of them), also on saturday night.

my personal low point came in the wee hours of the morning. loops 90-100 seemed to take forever (and were almost entirely walking). both 5 loop splits clocked in at 1:45+ each! but, as the sun rose, my spirits picked up and i did my last 5 loops in 1:27 - and reached a total of 105 laps in 23:06:11 (90.07 miles). at that point i called it a day. i think it was the earliest time of the morning (8:30) that i celebrated the end of a race with a beer (sierra nevada pale ale)! susan won the women's race, and emmy took second. shiran won overall and byron took second place. rick awarded them some incredible local pottery for prizes!

all in all this was a fantastic event. rick, his family, and the many volunteers put on a great weekend. even the scorekeepers were awesome (correcting my lap counts at least twice during the day)! while i didn't reach my hundred mile goal, i'm still very pleased with my mileage total. plus, in addition to seeing plenty of old friends, made a few new ones too!

all "done" :D

here is emmy's race report.
here are my race photos.


CTmarathoner said...

nice report and photo of start!! Considering that you crammed in Sybil 50K, Greenbelt 50K and more mileage in the 2 weeks prior you ran an awesome that i think about it you did not eat or drink very much from 50 miles on...Marge kept turning around on each loop at 1 an 2 a.m. and and saying 'where's Frank?' and would catch up (you were 8 miles ahead anyway).. what a nice event Rick pt on--so, so glad we went, even if it did set back your training. now please recover in the next couple weeks:-)

cherie said...

fantastic job! great to see you out there!