Mind the Ducks 12 Hour Race

May 9 2015 Webster, NY

On Friday May 8 I flew to Rochester, NY for this race. My plan was to crew for Mary, who would try to re-gain her national age group record.

After picking up our bib numbers at the race headquarters motel, we went to a nearby runner friend’s house for supper. It was a wonderful meal, and we carb-loaded for the race.

In the morning, we got ready and headed to the course about 5:45, for a 7:00 start. The weather forecast was not good for racing - calling for 87 degrees by 11 am and not relenting until 5 pm. With nothing to do about that, we all started at 7. I started near the back with no real goal. My training has not been good in the heat of Chandler and I didn’t have any real aspirations. I started jogging 2 miles, then walking a quarter. The course was a loop around a man-made lake, slightly over 1 mile long. At about 0.22 miles, you crested the only hill on the course. So I used that as my point to start running again, having walked from the timing line.

This in the first hour, still only in the low 80’s (F). Impressive knee lift!

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I kept this up for 2 hours, after which I had completed about 10 miles. It was starting to get hot, so I decided to walk for an hour. At 3 hours, I tried the running pattern again, with less and less success. I had broken a sweat in mile 2, and it was getting hotter. I added the sun drape to my hat. At 4 hours I decided I was walking again. I grabbed my phone and checked the temperature - 87 degrees, as forecast. I decided right then I would walk for 6 more hours, until 5 pm, when it might start to cool. There was a nice breeze at one end of the lake, but it was a warm breeze.

I found I could walk about 16:00 pace if I pushed it. But I also had to stop every lap at the aid station to fill the water bottle, sometimes waiting in line to do so. I started cramping in the 5th hour, and popping salt sticks and other electrolyte replacements, and drinking as much water as I could. Each time I started to cramp, I treated it with no confidence, but each time, the cramps resolved. So if I ran a little to get my “walking” pace to 17:00, I could stay on track.

By this time, Mary had conceded the record attempt due to the heat. At that point, I told her she could crew for me. I was feeling pretty good, better than I had any right to feel. And I was figuring if I could make 3 mph, I could have a PR. So I was really trying to “race” - given that meant walking at 20:00 pace for 6 hours. Doesn’t sound like racing, does it? 10 miles after 2 hours, then 3 mph for 8 hours, would put me at 34 miles. Then I would have 2 hours to run another 10 miles. Of course, it wasn’t too realistic to think I could maintain that walking pace for 8 hours, without stopping, but I did plan to do that. And I wasn’t sure that I could run as “fast” for the last 2 hours as I had for the first 2 hours.

So I forgot about the next 8 hours and just tried to finish each mile under 20:00. I knew I was putting a little bit in the bank lap by lap, because I was actually walking faster for a change.

Bearing Down

By 8 hours, I needed 14 more laps to make 45. I figured 17:00 pace got me the 3.5 mph I needed for that. Except, it kept getting harder, and I had to run a little more each lap to get my pace back down to 17:00. And the cramps kept coming back. Later on, I realized that every time I took a drink of Coke, I got cramps within 10 minutes. First time I ever noticed that. I started pounding more and more water, more salt sticks, changed over to endurolytes, and took another 800 mg ibuprofen about 4 pm (9 hours into the race.)

Just trying to get through...

I hadn’t stopped for anything since a porta-can stop in mile 2, except to dump some pebbles out of a shoe. Now I didn’t have to stop, nor did I have time to stop. At 9 hours, Jim Miner told me I was second in my age group. Of course, that meant he was first, so I asked him how many miles he had on me. 9. I told him to go sit down, I could run another 9 miles. But he didn’t. I did finish second in the 60-99 age group, which is the first time I’ve ever finished 2nd. I ended up with 45 laps, 45.54 miles, stopping with less than 7 minutes on the clock, since I couldn’t finish another mile lap in 7 minutes, and this race doesn’t credit partial laps.

Me, finished

Pretty good PR, which I had no right to. Especially on a day when the high hovered at 92 for most of the afternoon. What if I had actually trained?

On 10/14/1995, about 20 years ago, I ran my first ultramarathon. It was in northern Virginia, and called “Andiamo” which means “let’s go!” in Italian. It was 45.5 milers. Same distance as I ran Saturday. But I ran it then at age 42 in 8:06 - almost 4 hours faster. Of course, I had 2 natural knees then, and carry 20 years more maturity around with me now. :-)

Here is the race website:
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And here are the age group results:

Why do I keep doing this?

06 06 - The Land Of Make-Believe

25 years ago, next month, I started a project that would take 5 years. A man visited me one day and gave me a paper with these words on it:

Excellence can be attained if you ...

  • Care more than others think is wise.
  • Risk more than others think is safe.
  • Dream more than others think is practical.
  • Expect more than others think is possible.
  • Perform more than others think is needed.
  • Improve more than others think is probable.