Monday, August 14, 2017

Race Report: 2017 Endless Summer 6-Hour Run - Back from Injury!

It's been a long journey to get back to regular, healthy running since my injury nonsense earlier this year, but I'm back! After a decent training block, I hopped into the Endless Summer 6-Hour Run in Annapolis, Maryland. I decided to do this race because (a) I wanted a long 'supported' training run, (b) it was a good excuse to work on getting better in the heat, and (c) since it was a timed event, I thought it would be a good way to ease back into ultra racing. 

Overall, the race probably went as well as it could have, but that's not to say it wasn't really tough. The temperature and humidity made for a long, difficult day of racing. While I struggled a lot near the end of the race, I was able to maintain my early lead and secure first place male overall, just half a mile behind the overall female winner! Below is a quick recap - I kept it short because it wasn't the most interesting race or day in the world! 

Woke up to this

Quick Stats:
Total Time: 6:00:00
Total Distance: 39.43 Miles
Place: 2nd Place Overall, 1st Place GP, 1st Place AG
  • Shoes: Altra One 2.5
  • Shorts: Rabbit Quadzilla
  • Shirt: RAD Rabbit Technical
  • Socks: Random Bargain Bin Socks
  • Nutrition: Tailwind, vFuel, Coke, Water, Ice, Sour Patch Kids

A couple of general notes for those reading this who are planning to run the race. They use a chip system to track distance, place, and lap splits. You pass two different checkpoints throughout the race so they can ensure you are on course, and to help with the final calculations. Once the race is nearing the six hour mark, you grab a flag with you bib number, and place it in the ground next to where you finish when the time is up. They then add that distance to what the chip measured. 

One cool thing about the chip system is that it was connected to a big monitor at the start of the loop. This allowed you to check you stats in real-time. At first I really liked it, but since I started in first, I grew more and more concerned about maintaining my position as the day went on! Tough mental game, for sure. 

Finally, even thought it was only a four mile loop, they had two aid stations because of the heat. The second aid station was at the half-way point, and they had water, ice, and a hose to spray people down - it was awesome!

First 3 Hours
The race took place on a four mile loop in Quiet Waters Park. We toed the line at 730, and most were already starting to sweat before the run. I had planned to go out near the front, but made sure to monitor my effort as to not get my heart rate up too high. I ended up running the first lap with a former professional triathlete, and we both were the first to come back to the start line. After a quick stop for some ice and a new bottle of Tailwind, I headed back out on my own so I could control the pace a little better. 

The next couple of laps were nothing too special - just tried to keep moving at a decent pace, while doing my best to stay cool and keep the calories moving. The temperature kept climbing, and I could easily see from the chip-linked monitor that I was slowing with each lap. At the start of each loop, I took in a lot of water, filled my hat and shirt with ice, grabbed a new bottle, and took off. The ice really did help, but only for so long.

Photo Credit: Denise Hyde

Last 3 Hours and Finish
The heat really, really began to take its toll. I was doing my best to keep moving, but was needing more time at each aid station to get lots of water and ice. I kept using every trick I had, including getting sprayed by a hose at the second aid station! I also tried to incorporate mindfulness as much as I could - focusing on my breath, legs, and the various sensations I was experience, all while trying to not judge.

As I marched closer and closer to the six hour mark, I found myself slowing down, just hoping time would move faster. I really wanted to hold onto the win, but I just couldn't push myself any more. I kept checking my watch, but each time it seemed as if only a few seconds had past.

Like most races, though, I just stayed focused, and reminded myself that (a) I chose to do this, (b) I knew it was going to be hard, and (c) despite seeming like it wouldn't, the race would end! And sure enough, as I entered my last lap, I moved halfway around the loop, and finally heard that air horn I'd been waiting for! I set my flag in the ground, and then took a seat before heading back.

Since I was halfway into the loop, I had to walk about a mile back  (it was a four mile loop, but there was a shortcut through the middle). As I began to walk, my breathing became labored, and I was getting dizzy. Another runner was walking with me, but I had to tell him to move on because I had to sit down. I honestly thought I was going to have to give in and get medical help, but I figured if I could just make it to the start/finish, I could get some ice and chill out a bit.

Eventually, after about four stops, I made it back, got my ice, and sat until I could breathe a little better. I then headed to my car, changed my clothes, and went to the award ceremony where I promptly stuffed my face!

Next up - MD Heat Race 50K in Patapsco Park!

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