Saturday morning I got up early and headed to Annapolis for the Endless Summer 6-hour run at Quiet Waters Park. The course is a 4.1ish mile loop on paved walking/running/biking trails in the park. The object is to run the loop as many times as you can in six hours. The race started at 7:30 and I got there about 10 minutes before 7, snagging one of the last parking spots in the close lot. I met a fellow Marathon Maniac in the port-a-potty line and we chatted for a few minutes, then met another at the race briefing. After the race briefing, a local runner sang the National Anthem and then it was time to start. Bonus - you know how sometimes they do the National Anthem before a race, and there is no flag, and so you don't really know what to look at? Problem solved here - just look at the woman that sang:
|This is the woman that sang the National Anthem before the race. Photo by Denise Hyde.|
I decided that since it was hot, I was going to run in just a sports bra and shorts. First race I've ever done that and was a little self-conscious, but got over it and was glad I did as the temps started to rise. I also had on a new pair of shoes with only 12 miles on them. Smartest move? No. Somewhere along the second loop my second toe on my left foot started hitting the front of my shoe every step. It hurt. I think I spent a good lap and a half thinking about the merits of getting a small section of that toe surgically removed - a sort of toe plastic surgery. And at the time it seemed like a brilliant solution. At some point either it went numb or something else started hurting more, because I forgot about it.
|Running in just a sports bra and shorts. Photo by Jimmy Wilson.|
I got into a rhythm, stop at the start line aid station and refill my water bottle, grab something to eat if it looked good, walk off starting my next loop while I ate, then start running. Round the corner with the friendly volunteers who would cheer and got more excited every single loop, curse the small uphills and the super steep downhill, nearly miss a turn that lead to a steep uphill, walk the steep uphill, run by the dog park and the volunteer camped out with Vaseline, body glide, tums, etc., walk up the other steep uphill, grab a cup of Gatorade at the midpoint aid station, then settle into a nice run for the last 2 miles. Walk up the short uphill to the start/finish aid station, where the volunteers called out my number and marked my time for the loop. About every 6 miles I took a Gu. Repeat.
The volunteers were all amazing and entertaining and helpful and encouraging. They really made it fun. 3 or 4 laps in and they had ice cold cans of Coke and Mountain Dew. The next lap (I had been running a little over three hours), they had popsicles. The girl calling out numbers each lap kept calling me 408, and I'd have to correct her and point out I was 403. Finally 20 miles in she started getting it right, and it became a joke. I'd be coming up the hill, she'd call out 403, I'd cheer for her, the other volunteers would cheer for me and for her getting it right, and we'd all start laughing. Sounds a little goofy now, but trust me, at the time it was hilarious. After four hours of running in the heat and sun, it doesn't take a lot to be hilarious.
At one point the race director, a former Marine, multiple Ironman finisher, and Badwater finisher (among other things) ran a loop of the course, checking on runners and enjoying the day. He ran with me for a little bit, asking how I was doing, if I needed anything, etc. Very nice. And of course that was the point where a woman taking pictures was standing and she snapped this picture:
I finished my 8th lap (32.9 miles) in 5 hours and 33 minutes. In order to run as far as you can in 6 hours, you picked up a little flag with your number on it before your last time out, and then at 6 hours exactly, they blew air horns throughout the park. At that point you were supposed to stop running, plant your flag next to the path, and head back to the pavilion for food, fun and awards. So a 4-mile loop, I'm running about 10 minute miles at this point, and I have 27 minutes to go. I calculate that this will take me about as far from the pavilion as possible when I finish, but I grab my flag and head out anyway. I was feeling good, I finally paced a race right (unlike the last several races I've done it seems, where I've run out of gas before the race ended), and I wanted to get as far as I could. I passed a bunch of people that last loop, I was smiling, I was having fun. Nothing hurt anymore. With less than two minutes to go according to my garmin, I passed a woman walking. She asked if it was time to stop and plant our flags, and I told her we still had a minute or so. She said she was just going to walk then, and I kept running. The horns sounded, we all planted our flags and started the walk back. My garmin had me at 35.5 miles - I was pleased. There was another guy that finished in about the same place as me and the woman right behind me, and as the three of us got to the road, a friend of his happened by in a car and gave us a ride back to the pavilion. That was awesome, since as soon as I stopped running, everything started hurting and I did not want to walk a mile and a half back!
Back at the pavilion, I was just fried. I changed into flip flops, took a couple ibuprofen and put on a shirt. Ate a little and waited while they gathered up the flags and determined the results. The woman volunteering at the first corner came up and talked to me for awhile and told me I was running really strong. She introduced herself, and I realized it was a superfast chick in my age group with superfast kids that win all kinds of races in Annapolis. I tried not to embarrass myself or come across as a stalker as I gushed about her running and her family, but I'm not sure it worked with that whole social awkwardness thing I've got going.
Finally about 3:30 they did the awards. The announced the winner of the 40-49 age group and it was the woman that I passed with less than two minutes to go. So I got all excited - I must have won the overall masters! Well, they got to the overall awards and called her back up for that. I went up and asked, and they said they didn't see my flag out there but would check into it. I told them I passed her right at the end, my flag was maybe 10-20 yards ahead of hers, we came back together and they could even ask her. They still haven't posted official results, so I don't know if they will have me down for 35+ miles that I actually ran, or the 32.9 that I was at the last time I went through the start/finish.
On the one hand, I know how far I ran, and I know I ran farther than any other masters woman that day, and I don't need another plaque. I keep telling myself it's no big deal, and it shouldn't take away from the great run I had and the fun of the day. On the other hand, it is disheartening not to get any recognition for it. I've won a few small 5Ks, and placed in my age group in distances up to a half marathon, but this would be the first time I won something in an ultra. So I hope they went back out and found my flag.
If you've made it this far, thanks for reading. I've got nothing more to share except my splits:
Minutes per Mile Avg Pace