So the goal here is to run as many 1.25 mile loops of this park as you can in the 6 hours. The park is hilly, by Florida standards! It is an old dump so there are some small rolling hills and one hill in the back which I am pretty sure got bigger as the morning went on! I started running and quickly realized my headlamp did not help me much on this trail in the dark. I was worried about falling on my face on lap 1.. Not a great way to start! Lap 2 another girl came up along side me. We ran side by side for a bit and then eventually started chatting. She (Jessica) seemed nice and said she had never run an ultra before. After the 4th lap we both quickly stopped for water and then resumed. Lap 5 I passed my friend Miranda who made a comment about our pace. I think that was the first time I looked down at my watch and saw 7:50 pace! My GPS watch tends to bounce around on the pace but I could feel that this was faster than I had planned to run! The girl I was running with then mentioned her sub 3 hour marathon PR.. I knew that I needed to slow down or risk spontaneous human combustion!! After 4 more laps we stopped again and this time I took my time and let her go. I hated to do it but I figured this would hurt way less in the long run! (get it .. Long run!)
As I started running again who should come along but Dean Karnazes himself! We ran for a whole lap together… it was a very surreal feeling as I have seen him on TV, read his books and now I am running with him?! We chatted about his paleo diet vs. my vegan diet.. Kids.. He was super friendly and down to earth. After a little while we caught up with John Pyle carrying Old Glory and I ran in the middle. As we came thru the rest stop area I was praying that someone was there with a camera.. What a cool photo that would have been.. Running with 2 guys that have run across the country and me in the middle!
The laps after that started blurring together. We totally lucked out on the weather. It was overcast until about the last hour which was really a big help. I ran with all kinds of different people and sometimes by myself with my iPOD cranked which helped block out the screaming from my legs! I hit the 26 mile mark and realized I was definitely slowing down especially on the big hill in the back. I made the decision to start walking up it. I don’t think my run was much faster than I could walk up that part anyways. I do remember about mile 30 a really good song came on (Stabbing Westwood!!) and I was running seemingly effortlessly.. Felt like I could fly.. I was invincible.. I ran about half a lap that way and then the feeling was gone and I was back to plodding along :)
I was worried I would find running in circles boring but the loop was just big enough that it really wasn’t. The hardest bit was dealing with the reality that no matter how fast you run you still have another 2 hours… or 90 mins etc. to go. I started doing math in my head about how many more laps I could do in the allotted time. I really had no idea how many laps I had done and I had stupidly left the AUTO PAUSE feature on on my watch which meant when I was walking up the hill it was pausing each time. Oh well, I was wearing a chip so I would know at the end. Suddenly I had less than 30 minutes left. I figured I could run 2 more loops. I was running with a guy who had also been at the store the day before with his 2 young kids and his Dad was out there supporting him. As we came thru the clock was blank. I asked the timing guy how many more minutes. There was no credit for partial laps so there was no point in starting another one in less I had at least 10+ minutes, 15 minutes he said so off we went… all the way round.. Up that darn hill one more time.. Running up it this time because the next time I stopped running I was stopping for good! And then just like that I was done running! I had completed 30 laps which was a total of 37.5 miles! About 6.5 miles further than I have ever continuously run before!
At some point the other girl Jessica had caught up to me (1 lap ahead) but was saying her IT BAND was bothering her and had stopped to stretch. I had not seen her after that so I had no idea where I had placed but she had indeed continued to run and completed 32 laps compared to my 30. So I had 2nd place female and my friend Michelle in 3rd. There were SO many supporters out there that cheered with enthusiasm the entire morning.. I think they deserve medals too. They also took all the great photos! I am still struggling to walk normally but It was such a great experience I am so glad I did it!
6 HOUR TIMED SOLO ULTRA RUN
30 laps completed, 37.5 miles, 2nd overall female