Well, my venture into the unknown at Run Under the Stars turned out to be enjoyable. This was a totally new experience running on a flat horse track for 10 hours at night. I had opted to run this instead of the SweetH2O 50k and I believe I made the right choice. I wanted to get a good long run in and that's what I got.
Steve Durbin -- RD & really nice fellow:
When I arrived at the start, I ran into several people I knew -- Steve, John, Mike, Cassie & Ellen -- all of which I would see all night in this multi-lap event and would encourage me every step of the way (THANKS!!!!). Seeing people at night was in itself different from any ultra I've run before -- I would not be running all by myself, even though most every runner was in the process of passing/lapping me! I probably chatted more during this race than any other -- many times with runners I didn't know. One person I talked to, Gary Cantrell (Laz, of Barkley fame) walked most of the night & always had something to say. He even SMOKED about a half pack of cigarettes!!!! Carol Westerman, at age 71, who I've seen at numerous events, looked so strong & I had to commend her (she did 37 miles!). I also got in a few words to the many others who lapped me so many times it made my head spin!
The one & only aid station:
As for my race: With the flat, fast track, I took off at what I thought was a comfortable pace. After lap 1, I was soaked with sweat & I would continue to sweat a great deal all night. Looking back, I did go out too fast as I ended up walking some as early as 15 miles, with much more walking as the night wore on. Although 10-11 minute miles are not fast, apparently I was not in the shape I thought I was in. With the half mile loops, it was easy to stop at my drop bag to drink up -- which I did even though I didn't get thirsty. I was concerned that I was not drinking enough as I didn't have to pee. Finally, at about mile 21, I had a small urge to do so and I kept with this continual drinking pattern till morning. After 88 laps, I had about 3 minutes to get in another half mile lap -- nope! I'm happy with 44 miles, even though I thought if I had paced myself differently at the start & it had been about 10 (preferably 40) degrees cooler (as forecast), I had a chance to push 50 miles.
As for my "issues" this race, I had a couple and they were totally of my own doing:
My first issue was my lack of proper running gear! I had hoped to use my trail shoes as I thought I would need traction on the loose track. After arriving at Carson Downs though, I quickly realized after I walked on the track that road shoes were needed! The base material was what I call "manufactured sand" -- small limestone fragments that tend to deteriorate/weather after time -- along with dirt. The size of the fragments was much, much smaller than I expected. The dirt & limestone was a bit loose at first & had been mechanically raked. There were some divots made by horses, but not too many. When everything got packed down by all the runners after a few miles, the track was like a hard dirt trail. It was a bit uneven surface with the rake lines & divots showing thru, but nothing you could trip on. I did bring my only useable road shoes (about 7 years old) that I had used in road races up to 10 miles, but had never run in them more than that at one time. They were rather loose fitting so I knew blisters would be a problem & they were after about 30 miles. I used some extra lube, an extra pair of socks & tightened the laces the best I could without cutting off circulation. The shoes were so worn though that my feet were still loose within the shoes, but I was able to finish with the extra measures I took.
My 2nd issue was all in my head! The forecasters led me to believe that it would go down to the low 60's with winds from the north after midnight -- why do I keep listening to them? I (foolishly) had expectations that it would cool down as forecast & I waited & waited & it never happened. It felt like it stayed in the 70's all night with dew points in the 60's (humid for me). With a non-existent wind after the 1st few hours, I sweat up a storm all night. I brought 2 gallons of water & gatorade & I went thru every bit of it -- I never expected to use it all. I peed all of 3 ounces back out. It was tough mentally to block out the cool weather thoughts/hopes during the run, but this should have never been an issue if I had any sense.
WINNER: Congrats Ellen!
With this experience with the "minor heat" in this race, it really makes me question my desire to return to Mohican this year. Had it not been for a cooling thunderstorm late afternoon last year, my run at Mohican would have ended 20 miles earlier. I'm going to continue to prepare for the 100 miler anyway and hope I get lucky with the weather. I sure hate to make a decision on whether to run or not based on unreliable forecasts though, but a decision will have to be made!