Monday, April 30, 2012

The 6 Hour Race

Yesterday I tried a new challenge, a race that was about seeing how far you could go in a given time rather than one where you see how fast you can cover a certain distance.  The race was 6 hours long circling a 3.25 mile loop.  Well, the course was more of a P shape with an overlap for a little over .6 miles in each direction as one finishes one lap then starts the next.  I really liked that layout because it allowed me to pay attention to the other female runners to know my place and whether we were getting farther away or closer to each other.  I also saw a number of the same guys lap after lap and was able to gauge how I was doing relative to a number of other runners.  

Yes, I know I only ran Boston just under 2 weeks ago, but the heat kept me from pushing too hard.  I took the time between races fairly easy, maybe 4 runs, 2 lifting classes, 2 times on the stairs, so I was feeling ready to go.  My friend Chris also decided to take this challenge.  The race was scheduled to start at 8 and packet pickup was supposed to be done by 7:30, so we started driving at 5:30.  We arrived a little before packet pickup started and they were running late, so we kept warm in the car.  The weather was amazing, frosty to start with, little wind, clear blue skies, so many people showed up for day of registration.  I set out a chair and my bin of supplies, decided that with the sunshine warming me, I was probably fine to run in just shorts and my singlet.  A couple port o potty stops and we were ready to go.  

A couple minutes after 8am 99 people set off on this adventure.  I was hoping to run 40 miles, which averages out to 9 minute miles, but I knew there would be some stops to refuel, potty, check my feet, so I thought 8:40s might be a good pace.  Chris and I set off together, I was watching as the group settled into their paces, trying to note where the lead women were.  I was pretty sure there were 2 women in front of me, also one who looked like she would be a strong runner settled in a little behind me at what I was guessing was a 9 minute pace.  Chris and I were a little faster than 8:40s but not by much, so I decided not to worry, the pace felt really slow.  The course rolls gently through some fields, beside a golf course, along a creek, past some memorials, and by numerous benches.  There was a spot where you could see the field of runners for a distance in front of you as they made the left hand turn to run along the creek.  We were running along a paved bike path that had the mileage marked out on the ground every .1 of a mile.  There were other people out enjoying the day walking their dogs, riding their bikes, doing a training run.  All in all, I thought it was a good course.  

Chris and I made it through the first lap in about 28 minutes, seemed doable.  I grabbed a chunk of banana, a glass of Heed, and off we headed for the second lap.  In that out and back section, I confirmed that there were 2 women in front of us.  It was good information to know, but at that point, it wasn't going to influence how I was running.  I knew I needed to run my own race, try to start out conservatively enough that I would have gas left in the tank at the end.  There was a little breeze to keep us cool, the sun was rising higher in the cloudless sky, very pleasant running weather. We passed an older couple who I think were also participants in the race about half way through that lap. That lap was also right around 28 minutes, good stuff, but lots farther to go.  

At the beginning of the 4th lap I took a quick potty break.  The lead female was looking strong and extending her lead by a little bit each lap.  The second female wasn't too far ahead.  During this lap, Chris's left foot was starting to hurt him.  He decided to change into more rugged shoes after that lap and see if it helped.  I went through the lap point a headed out as he changed his shoe.  I'm pretty sure the second female was refueling right by the lap point when I went by, so I moved into 2nd.  The first place male lapped me very shortly after I started my 5th lap. I kept looking over my shoulder for Chris, I didn't see him when I made the left hand turn and could see runners for 1/2 mile or so behind me.  Ok, I guess the other shoes didn't feel any better, I need to get comfortable running on my own.  Shortly into that lap I had noticed that I was starting to get some hot spots on my right foot, so I decided to attend to that next time I went by my stuff.  As I sat down in my chair to switch out my sock and add more baby powder to my foot Chris went racing by.  Yay, I would still have company.  

We started out on our 6th lap.  I was still feeling pretty good, taking in some calories every lap.  I had brought pb & j on a flour tortilla, I used that to supplement the fare offered at the aid station.  Chris said his foot felt good during his speedy lap chasing me down, but that it was hurting again at my pace.  It was getting a little warmer, but still quite reasonable.  It looked like the guy who had been running with the lead woman wasn't with her any more.  She was still running strong.  When we finished that lap, I needed another potty stop.  Unfortunately it was occupied and another woman was waiting...  very slow start to my 7th lap.  At least it gave Chris time to put in his orthotics. One mile into lap 7 marked 20 miles into the day!  I told Chris we were halfway there.  He said no, since we were still a bit under 3 hours.  In my mind I was halfway done.  Just a little later, Chris decided he needed to walk it in.  I supported his choice to listen to his body and headed on my way.  

I made various adjustments at the lap point, one time I switched out the left sock, another I grabbed some immodium, I reapplied body glide...  I should have thought to add sunblock to my lower back when I tucked my shirt up into my sports bra, but I didn't.  Around 4 hours in, I was about halfway through my 9th lap and I could tell I was getting to the point in the race where it doesn't feel easy anymore.  I chatted with one of the other runners about how it would be nice to push the fast forward button and have only 15 more minutes to run.  There were only a couple men who had lapped me, I was still watching for the lead man to lap me again.  I had been consistently picking people off, lapping some, also passing some who had been staying just a little ahead of me for the rest of the race.  As I came in at the end of the lap I was still watching where the lead woman was.  I realized that she wasn't increasing her lead, in fact I had started making up a little distance on her.  Stink, that meant I needed to stay focused and working hard to see if I could keep cutting into her lead.  

The breeze had picked up so there were some stretches where we were fighting the wind.  Sometimes I would have someone to run with for a mile or so.  I would chat, sometimes they had something to say back.  I was really impressed by the perseverance of so many of the runners and walkers out there.  They just kept going even though the distance was wearing on all of us.  As I approached the end of my 10th lap I was only about 3/4 of a mile behind the lead woman.  Ok, gotta keep working, need to dig deep.  Got another full bottle of Heed, ate a Honey stinger waffle, needed to keep fueling, still more than 7 miles left.  At the end of the 11th lap, I was only about 1/2 mile back.  No rest for the weary, stay strong, stay focused.  Off I go, less than 5 miles until 6 hours are finished.  I can do it.  End of the 12th lap, she is about .3 ahead, still gaining on her.  Only 15 minutes of time left, I'll definitely make it past 40 miles, don't think there is enough time left to catch her.  

As I went through the lap point I asked what the deal was with the next partial lap.  They said we had to finish the whole lap and then they would prorate the distance we would have gotten in before the 6 hour make.  Ugh, I had thought I only needed to run 15 minutes more, now I find out I need to cover another 3.25 miles.  Nothing to be done but get out there and do it.  I passed the 1 mile mark, yay 40 miles!  Right about then I caught the first place man (he was still 2 laps ahead of me), he was walking.  I said come on, and he joined me running.  He asked me if I had caught the first place woman yet.  I said no and pointed her out ahead of us.  I said I could sprint to catch her, but didn't want it that bad/ that way.  Then I realized how much ground we were making up on her by just running a steady pace.  We made the left hand turn and were by her, 5:55 into the race.  On we went, at 6 hours my Garmin read 40.84 miles.  We kept going since they were going to base our distance on how quickly we finished the whole lap.  I kept glancing behind to see where she was, I really wanted to walk it in rather than keep running.  She wasn't close, but we only had 1 1/4 miles left, keep going.  So far I had only walked through the aid station, I hadn't walked out on the loop, why change that now (because I had already finished the 6 hours, that's why), keep going.  I watched the tenths tick by on the path, counting down.  I tried to keep encouraging others as we went by.  Less than 5 minutes left, you can do it.  Only .4, .3, .2, it is getting so close.  Finally crossed the finish just under 6:13.  They prorated my distance to 40.785.  The lead man ended up with a new course record by .05 miles, I can't help but feel like I helped him get there in the end.  I am so pleased with how I ran.  

I had some gnarly blisters on each toe next to my little toe on the top side toward my middle toe.  Not quite sure how I managed that. I also ended up with a little chafing, sun burn on my lower back, sore knees, and a sore lower back, but it was all worth it.  Such a good day.  

The stats:

6 hr Endurance

40.785     Danielson, Heather Rochester NY Overall Female
Distance Name City State Category

6:00:00        End Lap 12 1418
Time Last Location Bib

1st Female  5th overall

Location Overall Time, Place at location   Segment Time,   Rank Segment Pace

End Lap 1 0:27:58 26 0:27:58 27       08:36
End Lap 2    0:56:02 23 0:28:04 22       08:38
End Lap 3 1:24:19 22 0:28:17 24       08:42
End Lap 4    1:52:32           23 0:28:13 22       08:41
End Lap 5   2:20:29 21 0:27:57 19       08:36
End Lap 6    2:47:56 17 0:27:27 12       08:27
End Lap 7    3:17:44 15 0:29:48 16       09:10
End Lap 8 3:46:58 14 0:29:14               6       09:00
End Lap 9 4:15:43 12 0:28:45              5       08:51
End Lap 10 4:45:01            8 0:29:18 6       09:01
End Lap 11 5:14:18 8 0:29:17 4       09:01
End Lap 12 5:44:12           6 0:29:54 4       09:12
End Lap 13  6:12:58 5 0:28:46 1       08:51

The swag:

Thanks for reading.  


  1. Relentless forward progress! Congratulations, Heather.

  2. Congratulations, Heather! That is one cool trophy...well-earned I might add.

  3. Congrats Heather...great job, report and hardware

  4. Awesome job, Heather !! And cool swag, too ! :)

  5. Congratulations Heather! Awesome race! You're an inspiration!

  6. Way to keeping pushing forward and sweet swag!

  7. Well done, congratulations. That's something, especially so close to Boston!