Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Hawthorn Half Day

You know how everyone has those friends that have a habit of talking you into things you would normally not be interested in at all? Well, last year my friends that have a habit of talking me into all sorts of silly things were talking up this fantastic race that they did. And before I knew it, I wanted to do the race too, because they made it sound AMAZING! That race was Hawthorn Half Day. And I ran it last weekend. And my friends were right, it was fantastic!

The race is like this:

-3.1 mile loop

-12 hours to run it as many times as you can or would like to

-set up “home base” right by the start/finish line… which means all your own snacks and liquids every 3.1 mile loop!

-at 11.5 hours the course changes to half mile loops. Any finished loop is counted for total mileage.

Simple enough, right?

My day started early with my ride picking me up just before 5 in the morning for the one hour-ish drive. I spent the drive creating and questioning and recreating and reassessing a semblance of a game plan. My only real thought was…. It is a cool morning, get in as many miles as you can before it gets hot (highs were looking to be in the mid 80s). I had a fantasy of 50 miles, but my reality was that I knew my body wasn’t really ready for it. But hey, if things went well, maybe? My real goal was to find out how this whole timed race thing works and have a great experience. I definitely aced the real goal! Here are some of the highlights.

Thanks to a team of four runners from my running group we had a shade tent, oodles of coolers, tons of snacks, first aid, chairs to rest in, and two crew members to cheer us on and help with refills!

Miles 3 to 15 were AMAZING! I felt relaxed and was able to run with my friends off and on, chatting and getting to know the course. It was a cool morning for June and there was even a bit of a cross breeze that made the sections with no shade more bearable. My pace was right about where I wanted it to be, things were looking good!

Somewhere on the next loops things got not so good… not BAD, I just had to manage some pretty bad side stiches that slowed me to a slow walk for about a mile until I could get my electrolytes, liquid, and breathing evened out. However, during that time I started to get tired… my questionable training was starting to rear it’s head, so I started to really think about what I wanted to do with the rest of my day.

I knew that four more loops would get me to a 50k. But I had to have this bizarre conversation with myself that involved convincing myself that a 50k it a respectable distance… What a dumb thing to have to convince yourself of, right? What kind of moron has to say, “you know, it’s really ok to be done at 31 miles. 31 miles is a good effort for a day”. It shows how warped my reality has become. I had wanted to get past the marathon distance in the race which 31 miles would accomplish. That’s good! But it was becoming clear that my body was not interested in the full 12 hours. My feet were swelling, which is normal, but they were starting to hurt more than usual. I’m not sure why it was so excessive, but the idea of being on them for the full 12 even at a walk seemed awful. So, I let go of the twelve hour goal and made a deal with my swollen feet that I would only ask them for a 50k and then we would all call it a day.

I had asked my friend Debbie what her goal was and it took her a while to admit it… she wanted to do a 50k. Now, let’s be clear, Debbie had never run beyond the half marathon distance. And I’ve talked to her quite a few times about running a full marathon and she ALWAYS said no. In fact, she has told me time and time again that there is NO WAY she would do a full marathon. But at some point along the course… she admitted it. She’s been a consistent runner for a few years now and had been averaging 30ish mile training weeks even though her long runs weren’t ridiculously long. So I said, “Let’s do it”!

Our friend Christy had to take a break to rest up a muscle pain, so Debbie and I took off on two more slow loops to get to the 50k mark for both of us. We walked a lot, told jokes and stories and said hi to anyone along the way that would stop to walk with us. BUT, we were both going to get to the 50k distance, which started to feel really awesome.

At one point Debbie started talking about how she loved a part of the course, then she loved the race, then she loved EVERYTHING! I told her she was wasted on Ultra-endorphins. But we were both happy at how the day was unfolding and happy to have good company to share it with.

We crossed the mat for the last time of the day and turned in our timing chips. To me it seemed a bit anticlimactic to end the race early, but I felt good about my effort and knew I had made a good choice for the day. AND I knew that if Christy was feeling better and I still had my chip on me, she would make me suffer through the last few hours! She clocked a phenomenal 34 miles before calling it a day and agreed that if I hadn’t given up my chip she would have had me back out on the course.

I took my shoes off, cheered for runners as they passed, snacked, and shared war stories with the crew members and friends.

With a half hour left we all headed over to cheer for the final half mile loops. It was terribly exciting! Who knew that at the end of a 12 hour race these people would have so much left in them? I stood with friends and cheered for people I knew, people I had just met, and people that I spent the day giving well wishes to as they passed me. We yelled for people to do ONE MORE LOOP! It was a wonderful way to wrap up the day.

Final thoughts?

This was a wonderful race. It was well organized and filled with lovely people. I’ll definitely be back. What would my goal be for coming back? Maybe that 50 miles or maybe to go for the full twelve hours. Or maybe my goal will be to just have another lovely day surrounded by fun people that enjoy doing something I love to do too.

I got to run and walk with someone that made the AMAZING jump from a half marathoner to Ultra Marathoner in ONE day! That’s something special to see.

I got to spend a day with people I adore and meet lots of great new people that spent a whole day supporting friends and strangers alike.

FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER, MY NUTRITION WORKED! This is such a big deal for me I’m going to write an entire post on it soon.

Maybe my Ultra-endorphins are still kicked in, but I loved this race and the people that made it a fantastic day. Yep, I think I love EVERYTHING…

Run this race:

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