Virginia 24 Hour Run For Cancer, There are few races that really capture the spirit of Ultra Running, this is one of them. I first ran this race when I began my venture into ultra-racing. In the years since I first toed the line at Sandy Bottom Nature Park, Hampton, VA I’ve learned a ton about the sport and met an equal number of good people along the way. This would be my fifth running of this event (52.5, 50, 75, 71.5 and this year 75 miles again) and second year as Captain of team Run4Life.
For me the event fell 20 days after completing my first 100 mile race. The weeks prior, much of my time was spent dealing with some nagging issues leftover from Umstead. Next thing I knew I was packing my gear bags for the 24 hour run and putting final touches on our team logistics. You’ll notice I did not say tapering nor carb loading. While in recovery mode both of these staples got over looked. On top of that I had not given much thought to what my goals should be. Race morning all the logistics fell into place and after the rules/safety brief and our team pictures it was time to roll on down the trail. Taking that first step of the day I still had no idea what my plan would be.
I debated with myself the week leading up to the event, should I go for a fast 50 miles, a solid 20 miles at marathon tempo, or should I not run at all? As I followed the pack away from the start/finish line I finally settled on one part of the plan. I would follow the 1 mile run/2 minute walk cycle that worked so well at the Graveyard 100k and Umstead. Although, I still had no idea how far or how long I would push it.
Note: All pace times include pit stops (any time off the course).
Long sleeve tech tee, base layer
Umstead 100 shirt, over top
Opedix core-tech shorts, base layer
Long distance race shorts, over top
Nike Air Pegasus shoes
Dirty Girlz Gaiters
Hand held water bottle
8 Layer socks
Garmin 201 GPS
GU by GU Energy Pure Performance
Race Primer Supplement by Runners High
Hammer Nutrition Endurolytes
The forecast called for a dry day with highs in the upper 70fs and lows in the mid to upper 40fs. Our midday high reached 84f. We had some wild thunderstorms the night before but the trail conditions were near perfect, with only a few wet/soft spots. Sandy Bottom is a 3.75 mile lollipop loop course.
(24 Hour Run For Cancer, because someone can’t)
Start – 37.50 miles, 10 laps, 7 hours 40 mins (12:16 pace) – The opening laps were pretty easy, my legs felt good, my lungs were working well and my stomach was in check. Although three things happened that I was not suspecting. #1 After battling IT Band Knee issues since Umstead, I thought for sure my right knee would be giving me fits. The pain had hurt so bad in recovery that I was a bit fearful that it might cause my first DNF. A pair of Opedix core-tech shorts which enhance the kinetic functioning of your body eliminated my IT Band issues. More on these shorts later…short answer is THEY were awesome. #2 A series of blisters on the ball of my left foot popped up almost from the beginning. I continued to monitor this issue and at the end of lap 10 I doctored my foot up with some blister Band-Aids. #3 I believe as a result of slightly favoring that foot, a bit of tenderness developed on the inside of my left foot. All in all at the end of lap 10, I was running well and had the door open for another 100 mile performance.
(running with Paul)
45 miles, 12 laps, 9 hours 22 mins (12:29 pace) – In just two laps my left foot really began to bug me, more so during my walking time. I was able to run pretty hard on it when I was in the run cycle of the run/walk plan. While in for a pit stop I had a local blister expert Frank L. take a look at my foot. He taped some cushioning over the blister Band-Aids. This provided enough cushioning to keep the blister in check for the remainder of the night. It was at this time that the tendon pain (inside right below my ankle and the tendon on top of my big toe) really began to flare up. I was able to stick with my run/walk plan but the events of the day where starting to wear me down. It was at about this point that I really questioned if 20 days was enough recovery time after my efforts at Umstead.
52.5 miles, 14 laps, 11h 09m (12:44 pace) – At the mid way point I was well ahead of the 100 mile goal pace. I was still feeling pretty good overall, except my foot. My GPS was showing I was running around 10:30 pace continuing with my 1 mile run/2 mile walk routine. Looking back I was losing too much time getting to my food/liquids. I did not do a good job laying everything out at my base camp. Each time I had to dig through my kit bag to find what I wanted. I should have laid it all out like the aid stops do. Lessons learned.
60 miles, 16 laps, 13 hours (13:00 pace) – This segment featured a really low point for me and an equally high one. Everything else was working as advertised but the tendon on the inside of my left foot and the blisters were really beginning to get “painful.” Not just sore, not hurting…PAINFUL. One of my rules is if I get stabbing pain…I’m done. It was also about this time that my mental game got weak. At the beginning of the day another 100 mile finish looked like a real opportunity. As I was approached 60 miles, the door to this goal began to swing shut. With the effects of a hot day, and my feet I could not stop the momentum once it got started. 100 miles, I just did not want it anymore. Going into Umstead…I thought about the 100 miler nearly every day, but going into this race it was “just” a “add on goal.” I had not really committed myself to it. To run 100 miles you have to be all in. And I was not. The Highlight: Michele came out to support me and went out with me on this lap, in her flip flops! This girl is crazy; we fast walked this lap at a tune of 12:30 minute per mile pace.
75 miles, 20 laps 17 hours 05 mins (13:40 pace) – The Battle Begins at Night, and the battle raged with my left foot. Full darkness was in effect, but my Knuckle Lights powered the way. Laps 18, 19 and 20 I ran alone and back to back. I could not wait to get done with this race and call it a day. My mind was ready to tune out. In those three laps, compounded by the blisters, my left ankle/tendon had really gotten angry with me causing me issues with every step/footfall. I had had enough. Also I found that during this time, I really had a hard time eating and drinking. I’ve never had this issue before. At long races, 50k, 12 Hour, 100k, 100 miles and previous 24 Hour Runs I’ve been able to keep my appetite and control over my stomach over the course of the day. For some reason during the ladder stages I was struggling to eat and drink. After lap 20 I made my way to the scoring table and was happy to be done. To put this race into perspective just 20 days before I had put forth a big effort to gain my Umstead belt buckle and even though I came up short of 100 miles I ran 75 miles nearly an hour faster than last year. It was a good day!
On the team front, Team Run4Life 2014 looked a little different from a year ago when we won the event, but the same support, laughter, good will for each other and the other runners was present. I could not have been prouder!
(Steve setting the course record)
Steve 126 miles, new course record and winner of the event.
Paul 78 miles
Brian 75 miles, time PR
Cara 75 miles, distance PR
Andrea 75 miles, distance PR
Ally 52.5 miles, distance PR
Shannon 52.5 miles, distance PR
Kelly 37.50 miles
Kim 37.50 miles
Chris 30 miles
Jon 22.5 after flying cross country to get there
Mike 15 miles
Best quote of the day: From Steve, “People see the numbers, they have no idea of the pain we go thru to get it.”
Best thought of the event: From Andrea, Anyone can do this. There were people out there that were all shapes and sizes and some of those people, I was truly shocked to see at the 12 hour mark still going. Then as the night went on they kept going… and going. Regardless of their goal, or how slow they were moving and how much pain they were in, they were DOING IT. That, to me, was so unbelievably inspiring.
Run4Life…..run for your life, Will you?
Other Virginia 24 Hour Run For Cancer Race Reports:
Steve’s Win and Course record.
Cara’s thoughts from the girls side of things.
Frank’s look on goals during the 24 Hour run.
Megan aka First Female’s race report
Dave M’s race report