Monday, March 16, 2009

Delano Park - 12 Hours of Wet and Wheezing

I had been looking forward to the Delano Park 12-Hour race for a number of reasons. First, I turned 50 on March 11th and so thought I had a shot to break the 50-54 age-group American record for women in the 12-hour race. Hey, I would only be 50 plus 3 1/2 days! Can’t get much younger than that in my new age group. All I needed was 73 miles. My previously 12-hour best was at FANS with 67.73 miles. Second, it would be a great training run for the World 24-hour race in Italy upcoming in May. Third, I would get to see Jamie and David Donaldson, who are the sweetest couple I know!

My first objective started looking dim when, on my birthday, I reluctantly visited the UrgentCare as my lungs were just not working too well. Bronchitis was the official diagnosis. This was something new for me! The doctor, however, didn’t say I was forbidden to run, but only gave me the dire prediction that I would not do well (thanks, Doctor!) I kept thinking there would be a miracle cure by the 14th but that in fact did not happen.

Roger and I arrived in Huntsville, Alabama on Friday, the 13th (omen?) We immediately headed to a local restaurant, the Blue Plate, for fried catfish, cornbread and peach cobbler. We then visited the Marshall NASA Space Museum before heading to Decatur, which was the site of the race. We hooked up with Jamie and David at the hotel and then headed to pick up our race stuff and loaded up on pasta. Did I mention that it was raining the entire day?

Well, the rain did not let up. It continued throughout the night and actually until about an hour left in the race. The good news was that the temperatures were nice, between 48 to 54 degrees during the 12 hours and the numerous Dogwood trees lining the course were in bloom. The bad news was that I couldn’t breathe very well and parts of the course were under water (i.e. water up to my ankles).

Once I woke on race day feeling no change in my breathing, I decided that this was no day to break any records. I would just plod along and get some training miles in. Plodding was not all that enjoyable given the wheezing and coughing and wet and muddy conditions but somehow the hours “flew” by and with about 6 minutes left I crossed the finish line with 68 miles (there were no partial laps and I didn’t have time to do another lap). The entire race, my Drymax socks stayed comfortable on my feet even though everything was soaked!

Of course, the entire day, Jamie was flying by me looking fantastic. She ended up with 78 miles and was OVERALL Champion. Way to GO! She will be a force to be reckoned with in Italy. Look out FRANCE!! I ended up 5th overall, 2nd woman and “Grandmaster Champion.” I guess it paid off to turn 50 for the race!

After sandblasting our legs and feet to get all the grime off and attending the awards ceremony, the gang headed to Mama Blues buffet for more fried food!

Kudos to the race organizers for their Herculean efforts to drain the course of excessive water. Guys were out there in the rain with pumps, shovels and rakes all day long. We could have been running in a river but towards the later part of the race the course was actually pretty dry. Other than the water, the course was as advertised and a pleasant place to spend 12 hours.


  1. Hi Debbie!

    You are such an inspiration! You never stop going even when you are sick! We had such a great time with you guys too! I can only imagine how fun Venice will be :)! I hope you feel better soon!

  2. Debbie, Congrats on your win! Watching you pound out the miles I never would have guessed you were having any breathing trouble! Kudos on a job well done. BTW - I can't believe you found the Blue Plate. I thought only locals went there. LOL! Good luck in Italy!

  3. I am in awe, cousin. Hope your bronchitis is gone gone. Best of luck in Italy...BTW...we are off to the Galapagos and Machu Picchu in November...any advice?

  4. Hey thanks. And I am envious of your trip to South America. I have never been to Machu Picchu (on the list) but we were in the Galapagos in 1999 (before they switched to the U.S. dollar). If you have some time in Quito, go to the Otovalo market (a side-trip - I think less than 2 hours). Well worth it.