Sunday, November 23, 2008

Nathaniel's 6/12/24 hour run Nov 21 08

"The woods are lovely dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep".
I'm not sure a 12 hour night race through the woods is what Robert Frost had in mind when he penned those words but they seemed pretty appropriate to me throughout the night. Nathaniel's Run started at 6 pm on Friday night.. I chose to run the 12 hour option although with temps in the 20's, maybe the 6 hour was the smarter choice! When I got to the Prairie Center where the race was being held, I found a good close parking spot.. where I could access my car trunk just meters from the course. Since I was self crewing, this was very important!
I checked in, got my handmade number, t-shirt and a certificate/thank you from Nathaniel himself. Nathaniel is the race director's nephew, he is 6 (I think) and he has cerebral palsy. The first year Nathaniel's Run was held, it was fund raiser for Nathaniel's family, and in subsequent years it has been to benefit other help programs. This year it was for Heartspring, a center for kids with special needs. The laminated certificate is complete with a handprint from Nathaniel and it is.. hands down, the coolest race item I have gotten! I got my stuff laid out and tried to keep warm with a big puffy jacket and lots of hugs from friends. There was a quick pre-race meeting which Nathaniel himself was at (all bundled up and adorable) and then we were off.. Kyle a fellow Trail Nerd led us all on the first lap as he threw down glow sticks to double mark some of the turns. The course was well marked with flagging and signs but the glow sticks came in handy as the evening progressed and weariness set in.
Our group consisted of Debbie, Deb, Laurie and I for the first 20 miles with others joining in and leaving us periodically. We stuck together and in typical Nerd fashion told jokes, stories, teased each other and farted a lot. The course was a pretty easy 3.35 mile loop and was mowed grassy areas, gravel roads, and wooded sections with multiple stream crossings. Luckily all but 1 of the crossings could be jumped, but one of them was way too wide to jump, so about the time my feet were dry, it was time to get 'em wet again! Surprisingly, my feet are in fine shape with no blisters!! I did something right.. I'm just not sure what it was!
About 3.5 hours into the evening, my husband showed up and walked a lap with me, it was really cool to be able to share my race with him. He said it was fun, but not fun enough to do it for 12 hours (darn, I keep trying to convert him!).
After he left I was on my own for the rest of the night, Deb, Debbie and Laurie were just doing the 6 hour race. It was a darn cold evening, and the wind & cold were the worst on the front side of the course, standing at my car, and for the first mile or so, it was colder than snot.. after that the course drops down and is less exposed and I was able to warm up with no problem. I really liked the short loops for the ease of aid.. some loops I carried water & food and some I did not.. and having ALL my stuff every 3 miles was almost too much, I spent way too much time trying to decide what to eat and what to take with me.. too many choices! At midnight Bobbi (a fellow Nerd) showed up to do the lap counting and she brought the BEST hot veggie soup.. it was completely spot hitting.. warmed me up and gave me a huge jolt of energy. It was the perfect timing as I was getting pretty darn chilled and tired of fruit.
I was really enjoying running along in the woods in the dark with my iPod on, at times the world narrowed to only the circle of light from my headlamp and the music pounding in my ears and at other times my thoughts drowned out the music. After the 6 hour runners finished the woods became eerily still, I would go loop after loop without seeing anyone, and then boom.. either another light would show up over my shoulder or I would spot a glow ahead of me. Everyone seemed to be in the same solitary mood, a few words were exchanged here and there but everyone seemed content to be running alone. The most human interaction I had for about 7 hours were the lap counters, they were cheerful and encouraging even though I'm sure they were freezing!! At one point I came upon Gary Henry (of fame) as he was eyeing the stream crossing with reluctance, he asked me to carry him across... let's just say Gary is not a fan of getting his feet wet!
As with all long runs, I had a few ups and downs.. but overall I felt remarkably good. I was peeing on almost every lap and my energy was pretty consistent. At one point I broke down and had a vegan peanut butter & chocolate chip cookie.. full of fat & sugar.. all stuff I normally avoid, but it was the best thing EVER and I ran a couple of great loops on it, I also imbibed some coffee.. caffeine is something else I avoid, but man, it was GREAT. I guess it's true what they say.. you'll try anything to get you through the long races (well, almost anything.. still no animals!)

It was a completely enjoyable race, I took it slow since I didn't really have a specific mileage goal in mind other than somewhere between 40-60 miles. I didn't want to wipe myself out and have to take off a bunch of time afterwards so I just took it easy and slowed down when I felt like it. I was very pleased with my nutrition, I was mixing coconut water and plain water in my bottles to give me some extra calories and I was very satisfied with how that worked. My headlamp is great except for wearing it for 12 hours gave me a huge welt on my forehead! I was even wearing a hat under it.. I'm going to try some moleskin on the backside and see if that helps. The light has 2 settings on it and I really liked switching between the 2.. it gave my eyes a rest when they got tired. On the backside of the course there was a long, grassy hill with real easy footing and I would turn off my headlamp while I was going up it.. the stars were amazing and there was just a small sliver of a moon. I could tell when I was reaching the top of the hill because the footing got a bit rocky and I would turn the light back on so as not to miss my turn at the top.
I ended the 12 hours with 53.7 miles... good enough.. and it made me very happy that I finished in good spirits and feeling pretty good. I was however very glad I was not doing the 24 hours! I went home and crawled in bed with the husband and slept for a few hours then got up and was surprised at how relatively not sore I was. The right knee needed some icing and arnica.. I'm not sure what that was about.. I didn't fall or anything, so it's something to keep an eye on. Spent Saturday napping and lazing around the house and finally fell asleep for good at about 9 pm, and slept like the dead.
Today I went for a 4.5 mile hike with the husband and dog and did a few small bits of easy running.. my legs were tight and sore! I'm hoping to be able to still get in a long run this weekend, but we'll see.


David Ray said...

Awesome run in the night. Way to HTFU as the Atlanta group is now fond of saying.

"cold as snot"? That's a new one.

Cynical Mud Babe said...

Ah yes, HTFU.. that's been a favorite saying of mine also! Very appropriate at times!

Kim said...

Very nice run! Good way to get some experience in for night trails!

Ben, aka BadBen said...

Awesome, Coleen!
You are a TFBA!

bat said...

Great job on the run! Glad you enjoyed the soup. :)

Timothy Chen Allen said...

This was inspiring-- I'm doind a trail marathon tomorrow and I've been kind of wingeing about it because I have a head cold. I'll be running that acronym through my head: HTFA... HTFA....

Michelle J said...


That is awesome!!