The 12 hour race is still painful to think about and I have been procrastinating writing even the shortest of race reports.....
The 12 hour race was on 2/23 at Rohr Park in Bonita, California. Rohr Park is a 5k loop of dirt trails and cement sidewalks intertwined throughout a park and circumnavigating a golf course.
Despite the course being significantly longer then the Across The Years course, it is a loop nonetheless and just as mentally tough.
I had got sucked into signing up for this one as my first race of the year , less then a month before it was to take place. I was cautiously optimistic going into it since I had a few hundred mile training weeks in a row on the pavement for the Taji100 challenge. The downside to those big weeks was that I was coming into the race overtrained and slightly injured. I had to look at the race as an opportunity to just run all day with my friend Jeremy and a few others, treating it as more of a party.
5:30 am : Me and a small group of other lunatics doing the 12 hr race embark on our first lap in the dark. The group quickly divided and I found myself running with Jeremy and a guy named Joe. It was dark enough out that we missed the first turn without knowing it. After running about a quarter mile we quickly realized that something was off when we were running on a golf course fairway. We kept pressing on, hoping that we would rejoin with the trail. After running in circles around the inside of the golf course, the day was looking to not be a good one. We finally spotted the starting line across the fairway and decided to keep running until we passed 5k of distance. After passing the 3.1 mile mark we ran back to the start line, which was now visible due to the increasing light in the sky. We had tacked on an extra half mile and were dealt a huge mental blow to start the day.
Autopilot mode.... The first 20 miles felt like we were on autopilot and we ran non-stop without any walking. We would fuel up every 10k at our cars with food and drink that we had brought. Bringing your own supplies is a must for this race since the supplied food and water were in short supply.
The autopilot mode eventually caused us to crash, me mentally and somewhat physically and Jeremy physically. Around mile 27 Jeremy had to sit out a lap to attend to a growing pain in his feet and legs. I kept pressing on, hoping that I could hit the 50k mark in 6 hours.
From mile 24 on I was beating myself over the head for signing up for another looped course. I could not think of any good reasons to keep pressing on... except that I had told everyone that I was going to get 50 miles done that day. I had really screwed up making this my first race since the 24 hour.
This was my first race that I had used a heartrate monitor as a tool to determine my pace. As I clicked away the miles into the 30 mile rage my body was in rapid decline according to my monitor. My 147 heartrate pace slipped gradually from 8:30 pace down to 11:00 min/mile pace. After passing the 50k mark, anytime I ran it would immediately spike to 160 heartrate no matter how slow I went. I knew that I would get more injuries if I kept that heartrate for the many hours yet to go in the race, so I had to employ a run/walk strategy for most of the remainder of the race.
After getting above the 40 mile mark I saw the light at the end of the tunnel and began to pick up the pace again, mostly running. I was envious of Jeremy and the wife sitting on the sidelines and wanted to join them. The endless hours of sun were starting to get to me, so I wrapped the shirt on my back around my head. I looked like a person wandering through the desert, in hopes of scavenging every last bit of shade. She told me I looked ridiculous, but I did not care since races like these allow a person to stop caring about what others think and perceive of you.
I finally passed the 50 mile mark on my Garmin in 9 hours and 38 minutes halfway into one of my laps!! The sad part was the lap was only going to make 49 official miles when I finished it. After finishing the lap I waited for her and Jeremy to join me for the last lap. It was a very long lap since Jeremy had to limp walk it with us, bringing his total distance to 60k. Over an hour later we finished the lap, giving me 52 official miles and 54 miles on my Garmin in 11 hours and 7 minutes. We called it a day and I finally got to sit down for the first time.
If you want a bare-bones, fat-ass style ultra with no frills, this is the race for you. No t-shirt,medals or timing chip for this one.
Pros: Nice course if you can handle lots of concrete sections and almost no inclines. The scenery is always changing with the never ending flow of civilians on the trail and in the park. All of the competitors, like at other ultras, are friendly and motivating. The course is very visually appealing with all of the trees and greenery.
Cons: Lots of obstacles on the trail with all the random people walking/running/skipping/rolling around the loop. You will not survive on only the food and drink provided. No timing chips made for an annoying day of having to check in after each loop, messing up the flow of continuously moving... sometimes they didn't hear you and you wondered whether that 3 miles counted.