Monday, October 29, 2012

Equalizer 24 Hour Event RR

What: Equalizer 24hr Run
When: October 27, 2012
Where: Des Moines, IA
Goal: 40 miles


A long, long time ago (2011)… in a forum, far, far away (Beginner’s Forum)… There was this idea to venture to this town in Iowa called Des Moines. Once there, strangers from around the U.S. would meet up and run on a 1.9 mile path around, and around, and around a lake. They would run on this path for 6, 12, or 24 hours. For some reason, this sounded like a good idea to these strangers.

In a More Recent Time:

This year has been stuffed full of one issue after another for me. I had frequent ITB issues during the first quarter of the year. As of July, my right shoulder has been painful enough to prevent me from doing a run longer than 8 miles. It has also prevented me from truly racing. My longest run of the year was a half marathon. I’m only averaging about 20 miles per week for the year. To say I was undertrained for the event is a massive understatement. Still, I wanted to meet up with those fellow strangers and run around, and around, and around that lake. It took a little, miniscule amount of arm twisting, but I still registered for the 24 hour event. Since I will have turned 40 a month before the race, 40 miles became my goal. I registered for the 24 hour event because I didn’t think I’d be able to reach 40 miles in 12 hours. To say I was a little nervous would be a lie, I was REALLY nervous! My longest run ever was only 20 miles and now I wanted to cover twice that distance within 24 hours, while dealing with a shoulder injury and no real training. Kids, don’t try this at home!

Race Weekend & FE:

I took Friday off work so I could get some things done around the house before heading to Des Moines. I ended up leaving around 12:30 and getting to the hotel around 3:30. When I got there, the door to the room was being held open with towels, but nobody was there. I was hesitant to load my stuff into the room, but figured what the heck and did it anyway. Finally, the cleaning lady came in and said something I could not understand. I said “what,” she said it again and motioned like she was vacuuming. I realized she was asking if I wanted the room vacuumed. I said no, she looked surprised, said “OK, sorry,” and quickly shut the door.

I started getting ready for the next morning, posted to the FB group that I was at the hotel, and had a beer. A little bit later, I realized I had a message from Shari (StepbyStep). We ended up arranging to meet in the lobby, check out the course, then head over to the pre-race dinner at Bennigan’s.

Shari, myself, Mandy (MadisonMandy), & Kristen (Runny_Babbit) made our way to the park, walked to the bridge, then decided to turn back so we could make it to the dinner. At Bennigan’s, we met Brad (Messenjah) & Pam (learningdaily). A short time later, Dian (Guest2634) and her sister Susie arrived. We also met the RD, Chris Zeppa, the eventual 24 hour winner, Jeff Woody, his wife, and his mother. I also talked with other runners who were going to be doing a race in my neck of the woods in a couple of weeks, the Pilgrim Pacer Marathon. Dinner was fun, but it was time to head to back to the hotel.

When we got back, we went our separate ways. I read the latest edition of Trail Runner magazine, then got ready to call it a night. About 10 minutes later, I got a call from Shari asking if I wanted to head to their room and meet up with everyone else, naturally, I agreed. Talking with everyone was a lot of fun. We introduced a few of them to the Gangnam Style video and Mandy may, or may not have, broken a chair. A little while later, Susie, Dian’s sister, suggested that we would like the kinky stuff. That got a big laugh from the group, eventually, she realized what she said and proved to us that she was talking about vodka. The great company was just the distraction I needed before the race, but it was getting late and I headed out to get some sleep.

Race Morning:

After partaking in the continental breakfast, we each made our way to the park, set up camp, and got ready to start. After a short prayer and a very long rendition of the National Anthem, we were off. I had to keep reminding myself that this was not a typical race and that I needed to run SLOW! Shari and I ran together for about the first two hours. It was great running with Shari! We were able to talk as if we were old friends which made the time fly by quickly. We were averaging roughly a 10:30-10:45/ mile pace and avoided Mandy’s wrath by keeping each loop above 20 minutes.

The rainbow bridge on our first loop.

The lake on the other side of the bridge.

The path from the same point.

Another picture of the path.

I let it be known that my plan was to run for 2 hours and walk for many, then rinse and repeat. Wouldn’t you know it, right at the 2hr point my itb started really complaining. Although my completely inadequate training was the biggest culprit, I also think the approximate ½ mile bridge had something to do with it as well. At this point, I was at about 12 miles and still had a long way to go to reach my goal. I walked/ran the rest of the lap, then rolled out the hamstring/itb with the stick.

I went back out and walked for a few more minutes, then tried to run again. That didn’t work so well and I was forced to walk. I was able to manage to mostly maintain a 14:30-14:45 walking pace for a while. I was tiring, my itb was acting up, but I pressed on, mostly due to the persuasion of Mandy and encouragement of everyone else. Brad and Dian each took the time to walk with me and encourage me to keep going. I cannot express how much I appreciated it and how much it motivated me to keep going.

Although I was moving slow, I was still moving. I was now finishing the laps in around 27-30 minutes. I had decided that I wanted to finish the marathon mark before stopping. At 6:09:xx, I hit the 26.2 mile point and earned the race hoodie. When I got back to the aid station, I stretched for a bit and decided I wanted to finish a 50K before stopping. It took me a while, but I finished the 50K in under 7.5 hours. I was hurting even more at this point.

If I’m remembering correctly, it was at about this time when I used my TENS unit to try and soothe the itb. It worked a little and I went back out. I knew that if I stopped too long, I wouldn’t reach my goal. I had 9 miles to go and wasn’t going to stop until I reached my goal. I was moving even slower now with some miles taking 20 minutes to finish. I still pushed forward.

When I had three laps left, I saw that I might be able to hit the 40 mile mark before 12 hours. I picked up the pace. To me, it felt like I was flying. To the Garmin, it was only an 18 minute mile. I was determined and managed to hit the 40 mile mark in 11:54:xx. When I finished the lap, I was at 41.03 miles according to my garmin. Unfortunately, I missed seeing the 12 hour runners finish. Brad and Pam both did awesome! On my last lap, I grabbed my camera to take pictures of the rainbow bridge since I didn’t think I would cross it again while it was lit.

I stopped. I rested. I cheered. Then, I sat in my car because I was getting cold! After a while, Kristen finished and asked if I could give her a ride back to the hotel. I obliged, realized I left my wallet and room key back at the park. After dropping Kristen off at the front entrance, I decided to see if I could get another key card. I asked for another key to my room and without even asking for ID or any other information, I was given a new key card. I tried to rest, but couldn’t. I finally managed to get about 2.5 hours of sleep.

At about 6:00 I headed back to the park. Shari had started another loop. After talking with Mandy, I decided to go with Shari on her next loop. If I knew how fast she was walking, I might not have agreed to it. The loop started off well, but by the time we reached the rainbow bridge my itb was back to complaining. However, talking with Shari allowed me to push through and keep pace. When we got to the end, Chris Zeppa (RD) joked with me about how long that lap took. He jokingly commented that he’d ask if I wanted to keep going with the ¼ mile to the cone and back, but he didn’t think I had time to finish one trip. At the urging of Mandy, I made the loops and ended up adding another mile to my total. I finished with a little over 43 miles. Since I knew I wouldn’t be able to get another mile in, I chose to stop and cheer Shari on to her attempt to reach 90 miles. I was, and still am, very impressed with her determination and proud that she reached 90 miles.

After the awards, we cleaned up camp and went back to the hotel to get cleaned up. Dian and Susie said their goodbyes and headed out on their long drive home. Myself, Mandy, Shari, Kristen, and Pam went out to lunch and had a good time reliving the weekend.

All of the RWOL peeps were great people! I had a blast and enjoyed meeting each and every one of them. I could not have reached my goal without the help and encouragement of all of them. To them, I say a very heart felt THANK YOU! I hope we can meet up again sometime.

The Aftermath:

Today I’m walking up and down stairs fine, my quads are a bit sore, but overall I’m doing OK. I have some pain in my left foot, but it doesn’t seem to be too bad. I’ll take a few days off, then try doing a few easy, slow miles. I’m supposed to have 2 races this upcoming weekend, only time will tell if I am able to run them.

I completed my first marathon, first ultramarathon, personal distance PR, and more mileage at one time than I have all week. Needless to say, I'm very happy with how things turned out.