Back in 2014 I ran Endless Summer 6 hour race having no idea what to expect. I hadn’t raced more than a half marathon my entire life, I was just coming off a knee injury and my longest run for the race was 8 miles. Stupidity works for me and I managed to have a decent race.
Fast forward to 2016. I have run 8, 12, and 24 hour races and 50 miler to boot. I didn’t taper for this race (and had a long run of 20 mile last weekend) but I was hoping that stupidity would save the day once again.
So I arose at o’dark hundred to load up the car to make my way to Quiet Waters park in Annapolis, MD. Knowing it would be warm, I brought my cooler loaded with 7 frozen bottles of Tailwind, 4 change of shirts, spare pair of sock, my drop bag with 20 gels and more unnecessary crap. Personally, I’m surprised I didn’t bring my foam roller (OK, I forgot it, but I didn’t want to admit that).
I arrived and unpacked my stuff on a chair right by the trail and told The Pig not to eat all the Sport Beans this time. He said OK, but I think he had his hooves crossed when he said it since by the end of the race they were missing. I guess that is his price for crewing me.
After a well done version of the National Anthem, we all lined up to start the race. The person behind me said, “I’m going to be back here and not up there with the ultra beards”. Maybe I shouldn’t have trimmed my beard for the race.
The course. Note lots of trees but no quiet waters.
So we were all off, and given the number of people it was a bit congested for the first mile. The first mile came in at 11:45 and I had three thoughts simultaneously (yes, you are thinking that is a week’s worth for me and I appreciate you keeping that to yourself.)
- Darn that was a slow mile.
- Hey, I didn’t start too fast for once.
- I have sweated through my entire singlet.
The last one was the one I was concerned with since I had planned on swapping shirts every couple of laps but I didn’t have 6 singlets, so I was going to have to figure something out.
Yes, I realize that everyone is hoping for an early fall in DC so you can stop reading about me sweating.
The next mile I started to get in the rhythm and the field started to thin out. I was around the last of the runners so I was basically going to be running the next 6 hours alone. Although this race doesn’t allow headphones, I have to admit I didn’t miss them much.
Each lap was 4.15 miles (though my Garmin was showing them shorter). I came into the aid station in 45:30 and stopped by my chair to swap shirts, get a new frozen bottle and put new safety pins on my bib number because two of them came off during the first lap. Fortunately I had spares and The Pig quickly passed them to me (though in retrospect the idea of either of us having a sharp object in the middle of a race probably wasn’t all that bright).
I was off on my way, but the transition took longer than I wanted and the next mile split was over 12 min/mile which I wasn’t looking for that early in the race. I picked the pace up (it’s all relative folks) and was feeling OK about the race so far. Sure, I was sweating Niagara Falls off me, but the sun was still behind the clouds and as far I was concerned it could stay there.
I stopped again to get a new bottle at the end of the 2nd lap. My bottle had frozen into the ice so I had to pull out a block of ice and bang it against a convenient log to free my bottle. I looked around for The Pig to determine why he hadn’t taken care of this for me, but I saw he was talking to one of the female relay runners. I just hoped she didn’t have a jealous boyfriend.
So I went off on my 3rd lap and the humidity was getting to me and I was having to slow down to keep from over heating.
If only this were true I’d be People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive
Along with slowing down I noticed that my shoes were starting to squish. I thought about swapping socks at the next lap, but I knew that would take a while. I also put some thought into what I was going to do about my shirts since only had two left and had 4+ laps left (I hoped). I pondered this as I trotted along the course (it wasn’t like I had much else to occupy my mind). In the end I made a decision to do something I had never done in a race before.
Those who get ill easily may want to stop reading
I decided to run a lap without a shirt.
Normally I would NEVER consider this. The list of reasons stretches from my abs of jello to the screams of terrified children. However, desperate times call for desperate measures so when I hit the end of lap three (49:31) I took off my shirt, re-applied my sunscreen, got another bottle and took off before anyone noticed.
For once I was glad I was running alone. By now the sun had come out and so on top off all my other problems, the glare off my pale white body was probably blinding anyone within sight. As it got hotter I started to walk anything that resembled a hill. It slowed my pace, but kept me cooler. I finally got back to the start/finish area. On the other laps there were people cheering as you went past. On this shirtless lap, there was stunned silence. I am going to assume that everyone was in awe of my studlyness (hey, I’m running a 6 hour race and given my running skills, self-delusion is a requirement).
Lap 4 (52:39, and there is a theme here of slowing down) I put on my next singlet, grabbed a new bottle, got some Sport Beans from The Pig (grudgingly) and was off again.
Running Lonely Central (aka mosquito central) Fortunately I had bug spray. I only accidentally shot it in my eye once.
By this point I was walking at increasingly frequent intervals but I tried to think of this as an exercise in hot yoga and embrace the heat. It didn’t work, but hey, it was worth a shot. It was around this point that my stomach started to rebel and didn’t want to take in liquid. I slowed my Tailwind intake (I was going through 20-25 oz a lap). It seemed to work because after a couple of miles my stomach settled down (maybe it was upset that I wasn’t showing it off by going shirtless).
The lap ended and The Pig gave me a pep talk as I changed into my last remaining singlet, grabbed a bottle and went out again. It was around this time that my calves started cramping whenever I tried to run. By mile 24 I was basically just walking, but at least my race walking skills kept it under 14 min/miles.
Finally the horn went off and the race was over. They give you a flag to plant in the ground when the horn goes off, so you can get partial lap credit (and including college I LIVE for partial credit). In the end I had 28.45 miles. 44th out of 123 runners. Better mileage than my last 6 hour race, so I’ll take it.
As I walked back to the start/finish it started to rain. Sure, wait until after to cool me off. Thanks Mother Nature.
After the race I met Ray,
@CharcoalSkyline, from Twitter. Ray was running his first ultra and in fact was so dedicated to the idea that he ran extra mileage after the race. Totally badass and a good guy to boot. I also got to see Felicia, @12for1200, who had a good day and got top military female honors.
Ray and The Pig. This is before The Pig scarfed down three hamburgers.
Ray, The Pig and I after the race. Yes after complaining all blog about the heat I am wearing long sleeves (it actually is a cool shirt and provides sun protection). No idea what the pink blob in the corner is. Picture credit to
I started to get overheated so I figured it was best to go back home and celebrate with The Pig and some beer. Which makes 6 hours totally worth it.