The last couple of weeks have been... well, they've been there. The first week after Umstead I didn't do much outside of work other than sleep and eat, and a lot of both. Last weekend I started to go stir crazy - went to spin class Sunday morning and had to fly out that afternoon to NYC for work. I got in early and boredom sent me to the hotel gym and the treadmill. The rest of the week was basically a repeat - work all day, sneak in a few miles, head out for dinner and drinks with my coworkers (it's a vicious cycle, but I felt less guilty about all the food by at least pretending to run a little). By Thursday afternoon, I was worn out enough I took a nap in the airport terminal. Friday I drove up to VA to be part of "Team Awesome" at the Virginia 24-Hour Run, to raise money for Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society. There were 12 of us, and over half the team was made up of some no-joke, high-mileage-in-a-hurry runners (no, I am not one of them).
A few weeks ago I wasn't sure how I'd feel after Umstead - injured or burned out were high on the list of possibilites, but last week I wasn't feeling any of that. So.... the goal was 50 miles. Timed races are more fun than they sound - there's no such thing as a DNF, no one is going to laugh at you for walking as much as you want (though this can be said of most ultras), and they tend to have a pretty laidback atmosphere. Some friends talked me into my first 24-hour race last year by presenting it as basically social hour with a bit of running here and there.
It was windy and muggy most of the day - mid-April is just not a good time for 90% humidity. The warm temperatures were at least a happy change from this cold winter stuff. Shortly after full dark the cloudy skies opened and we went from dry trails to 4 or more inches of water standing on the trails, plus rain blowing sideways from at least three directions. After the storm passed and the skies cleared, I did my last two laps with my buddy Jim, and on the very last one we didn't bother with headlamps - the full moon was more than enough light and made for a good ending to a really long day.
What surprised me the most was how tired I got, and how quickly. The course at Hampton is FLAT, so unless you put yourself on some sort of time or distance schedule for run/walk breaks, it was hard for even a lazy runner like me to find a legit reason to slow down for a minute or two. The first two laps were good - got the typical aches and pains from not being warmed up, but those passed after a couple of miles. And then it went downhill.
Everything hurt, but I wouldn't say any of it was balanced or symmetrical. My right shin hurt, my left quad hurt. The hamstring started grumbling. Then my left calf and right quad... it was annoying, but ultimately by 10 miles in I felt like I'd already done 50. The only comfort there was that I had so recently seen this level of pain, and knew that as sore as I was, it wasn't going to get any worse. It wasn't injury pain, it was muscle pain and fatigue. Nothing to do there but keep moving and keep it easy. And keep up with the ibuprofen...
Things got better when I switched from chocolate-covered donuts to real food, and I maintained a state of steady discomfort for the rest of the day. I had a couple of really good laps right around 7pm - I like to run at that time of day anyway, it had started to cool down some and the rain had picked up (but not yet become torrential). The storm was interesting - lightning strikes visible in multiple directions, thunder immediately following, and then the rain - hard enough that despite my hat and headlamp, I honestly had trouble finding the trail. Caught up with another runner, and our two lights got us through the worst of it.
It was a 24-hour race, we are not going into time because that is not pretty. A lot of time, though, was spent parked on my ass at our Team Awesome HQ, doing my part to make sure that the obscene amount of food we brought and our crew fetched did not go to waste. I am listing out what I ate for a couple of reasons: 1) When I do fess up to my strange hobby, the most common question is what do I eat. 2) I am either embarrassed or impressed by what I did manage to eat, and still can't decide. And I'm sure the list is missing something. Probably several somethings.
52.5 miles (double marathon). No, it didn't take 24 hours, and I actually left the park shortly before 2am on Sunday after sitting around for a while (we started at 7am on Saturday).
8 or more chocolate covered Sweet 16's (mini donuts)
1 chicken and cheese quesadilla
2 slices of white pizza (with spinach)
3 pieces of fried chicken
1 cup mashed potatoes
1 biscuit with honey
4 mint Oreos
2-3 Ghirardelli double-chocolate brownies with peanut butter cups
salt and vinegar Pringles
Wavy Lays (way too many)
grapes (no clue how many)
48oz+ of Dr. Pepper
4-5 small bottles of Sunny D
at least one tube of Nuun tablets
3-4 gallons of water? (just guessing)
several cups of Dunkin Donuts coffee
One ice-cold Yeungling at the end of the night
Don't get into an eating contest with me. It might not be pretty.
Oh, and FOUR blisters on ONE foot. One even had the pleasant manners to pop up in the same spot as the blister I had a Umstead. Ouch.