Monday, November 14, 2016

Azalea 12 hour endurance run

Azalea 12 hour endurance race

Race: Azalea 12/24 hour endurace race
Date: November 12th, 2016
Finish Time: 8 hours, 02 minutes
Distance: 40.18 miles
Gain: 1518 ft

Amazing race swag from great sponsors!
The Azalea 12/24 Hour and 50 mile race took place at Ravine Gardens State
Park located in Palatka, Fl. The course was a 2 mile paved asphalt loop (USATF Certified). I didn't read the part of the description that said "includes difficult inclines and declines that will challenge both your physical fitness and mental fortitude". Woops. I did some math and figured I'd probably get 50-60 miles in 12 hours on a paved trail in cool weather (since I got 51.5 done on a trail in 100+ degree heat)... Boy was I wrong about everything. We started at the highest point of the Ravine, ran through the parking lot by the beautiful historic entrance of the park, then we winded down into the Ravine, and back up to the top. Along the route we got to see beautiful scenery, wild life, and historical landmarks including outdoor
amphitheater, Court of States, and other original structures dating back to the 1930s.
Best aid station volunteers EVER!

I planned to use this run as a fuel training run. With 2 mile loops it would be easy to try new and different things to see how I felt while out and about. Without distance restraints I knew I had more leniency with my pace to try different things without worrying about time cut offs.

Training Objectives: #1 I really wanted to work on eating more while running because I typically don't eat or drink very much except water. #2 I also wanted to work on keeping my aid station stops very short (which requires advance thought and preparation while tired). #3 Lastly, was trying something different with listening to an audio book to try and pass time. I normally don't listen to anything while running I just run but I thought maybe a podcast or audio book might be a good option when I am bored on long runs or struggling with the mental side of things.

Beautiful Azaleas
My little aid station tent setup
Pre-race gathering
My husband and I planned to get there 45 minutes early to give us time to pickup my packet, start setting up my little "aid station" and prepare for the race... so we got there at 6:15am. Apparently I didn't read the race information well since #1 I thought it was a flat course, and #2 the race started at 8 NOT 7. Woops again. On a positive note we had prime picking for tent location for my aid station and parking since we were SOOO early :) 

Winston (the RD) did a really great job having everything so organized, and Mike Melton did the timing for the race and he of course is on of the best! The race started promptly at 8 am and I was off. As soon as I exited the parking area and started on the asphalt trail my first thought was "Oh Crap..." right off the bat we went down and up a hill and I realized, this was going to be a tough course. Sure enough, it was a tough course! Imagine doing 2 mile hill repeats for 12 hours... OH GOODNESS. It was going to be a LONG day! The first mile of the loop was kind of like rolling hills, there was a bathroom on course (not an outhouse, a full amazing bathroom). There was a slight uphill section around here that I used as a planned walk break. I'd wanted to try the method of running 1 mile, walking 1/10th and this worked out perfect since it was uphill anyway!  The 2nd mile was more difficult, you had a 1/2 of mile or so downhill with a steep 'S' turn before heading up hill for another 1/2 mile or so. This stretch was miserable, my feet took a pounding going downhill, and my legs took a beating going back up! I picked up my phone after loop 1 (2 miles) and started my audio book. I listened to it for 3 1/2 hours and I will say, it was awesome! By then I was roughly 20+ miles in and mentally needed a break up in the run. Justin joined me around the 4 hour mark for a few miles and this was such a breath of fresh air! Justin joined me for 2 loops (4 miles) and he took a break and Jason joined. Jason and Jess arrived at our little aid station and Jason and I ran 4 miles then Justin joined us for 2, then Jessica joined us as well! It was fun having everyone there to chat a little, but I was really starting to struggle. 

My hips were feeling the elevation, along with my knees and Achilles. I wasn't sure how much longer I "should" go on. I had to keep in mind this was a training run, and I had more training to do so I didn't want to overdue it and require a longer recovery which would result in less training... such a hard call but I decided to call it at 20 loops, 40 miles. I had walked almost all of my last 2 miles when I decided to hand in my chip rather than continuing the mostly walking with a little running routine I was settling into. I knew I could walk all night but I think my hips would end up requiring so much more recovery than I am willing to give them at this point in my training cycle. As I am still recovering from the Jacks 50k 3 weeks ago, my left hamstring is super tight and my hips are hurting pretty good ANNNNND I have a 6 hour training race next weekend I'm hoping to get another 50k in. It's that crazy time in my training cycle so I'm anxious to see how my body handles everything.

I turned in my timing chip as I passed through and Mike (the timing guy) was in shock! "You've been so consistent" he said. I knew my muscles were taking a beating from the elevation, and I didn't have a lot of recovery time so it was in my best interest to stop. 

Justin ended up doing 8 miles, Jessica 8 miles, Jason did 15 miles (making 31 for the day) and 40 for me. I am pretty sore and feel like this was the hardest I have ever physically pushed my body and my mental capabilities. I cannot believe how hard that 40 miles was. I was proud of this run because I achieved the things I set out to do. #1 eating - I consumed more than twice the calories I typically eat on my long runs. In total I started with breakfast of an english muffin with 1/2 a banana and BCAA vitamin shake. Then over the course of the run I also consumed 1/2 banana, 4 slices of watermelon, lots of grapes, 1 pickle spear, 1 large pack of Justins Chocolate Hazelnut butter, 1/2 avacado rollup (this was AMAZING), 2 small Gatorade, 8 (or more) 16 water bottles, about 6 oz of coca cola, and 6 salt licks. I also drank a CleanShake Protein shake as soon as I finished the race. #2 aid station stops I had 22 minutes of "non moving" pace which were aid station and bathroom stops. In 8 hours and 40 miles I am very pleased with only 22 minutes of stops! and #3 Audio Books I listened to my book for over 3 hours and my equipment worked well and the book was awesome!

My hips are a bit sore along with my quads and hamstrings but overall (day 2) I am feeling good! I am not experiencing the crazy fatigue I normally experience, just sore from the elevation. I think the combination of consuming more calories/salt and the BCAA vitamin shake and the protein shake at the finish really helped! Getting all this figured out really gives me confidence for my 100 mile race in January, so nervous but excited.

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