What do you get when you cross Cinco de Mayo with the Kentucky Derby? A wild 24-hour race on the north shore of Lake Erie, of course.
Weather in Cleveland has been crazy all spring, with one day hot and the next freezing. For the spring edition of the North Coast 24, as race day approached the weather was all over the place. On the Thursday night before the race, Suzanna Bon from California, flew in for the race. I picked her up at the airport and we swung by the race course so she could take a look at it. That night, the temps were close to 90 degrees and the Lake was totally still - no breeze at all. I told her that by Saturday the temperatures were supposed to cool down and that the prediction was for a NE wind. I joked that a NE wind would be good as a cool wind would be blowing across the Lake (since the water temp is only 50 degrees right now) just as long as there were no whitecaps.
Well, I should not have joked because when we arrived at the race on Saturday morning there were definitely whitecaps on the Lake. Next door, at the Edgewater Yacht Club, they were registering 25 knot winds (almost 30 miles per hour), not quite gale force winds but pretty close! Given the direction of the wind, the decision was made to reverse the direction of the course and run counterclockwise. That way, when we were running closest to the Lake, the wind would be at our back.
|Suzanna Bon and I early on in the race.|
With the wind, the temperature stayed quite cool, which was good. Early on it was cloudy but by mid-afternoon the clouds had blown away and the sun was out.
|Sabrina Moran, running west with the tailwind.|
|Windy day at the Lake.|
My plan for the race was to try to run 71/63 mile splits for a 134 total. The first half of the race went pretty well and I hit my 71 mile target exactly. By 10:00 PM (13 hours into the race) the wind finally died down but by then it had worked some damage on me. I am a bit of a "leaner" when I run normally. Usually, in the later stages of a 24-hour race I am really starting to lean. With the wind so strong, from the start of the race I was leaning excessively into the wind. Over time, I think that had some negative effect on the muscles in my hips. By 15 hours, my hips were killing me. Not only were they hurting but they felt like they were locked up. I went in to the medical tent and got some of Dr. Andy's medical students to stretch me out. I stopped again at 18 hours (hit 100 miles at that point) and 20 hours for more stretching in the medical tent. The stretching/manipulation worked for awhile before everything went back into a locked position.
I felt like quitting but my crew members, Sarah and Karen, reminded me that if I quit they would have to go home to their kids and they were having so much fun that I couldn't wreck it for them! Ok, I said, I will keep trudging along....
While my race was less than stellar, I did have some entertainment. Both Jon Olsen and Serge Arbona were running like maniacs. And I swear that every time Jon passed me (which was MANY times), he would say some encouraging words.
On the women's front, early on Jenn Shelton and Emily Uhlig were running world record-plus times. I was certain they were much too aggressive in their pacing and both dropped early in the race. Sabrina Moran and Connie Gardner took a more conservative approach and it definitely paid off for them. I knew before the race that Sabrina could "easily" hit 140-plus... the question was how much over 140 could she run?
To a slow-poke like me, it looked like Sabrina and Connie were fairly close until that last few hours of the race. Then, Sabrina must have drank some jet fuel as she took off like a rocket. She was lapping everyone on the course. It was an amazing performance to witness.
So, at the end of the race, when all the dust settled, I just hit 200K, with 124.6 miles. This is not my best race nor my worst. Given my lack of training and hip issues, not a bad training run.
There were stellar performances, however, First, Sabrina Moran, with unofficial race results, set a new American Record with 147.9 miles. I can see her hitting 150-plus in the near future. Jon Olsen had 158.53 miles, just weeks after taking 7th place at the World Championship 100K. Serge Arbona had a nice run with 153 miles and Connie Gardner, always consistent, again ran over 140 with a total of 142 miles. We should have very strong men's and women's teams for the World championships in Poland in September.
Special thanks to my very dedicated crew members, who kept me laughing:
- Courtney - one week away from delivering her first baby - "Maybe if I run with you I'll have a Cinco de Mayo baby;"
- Sarah - "This is fun, I like bossing around runners - they do what I say, not like my kids who ignore me;"
- Karen - "No whining, I did my part to get you in shape for this race;"
- Else - "I was going to sign up to run the race but I overslept and so didn't get here until 9PM;"
- Mindy - "You said not to let you stop so get moving - it's right here on your instructions under miscellaneous."
And of course to Roger, who set up/broke down the tents, made guest appearances and even bought me a new good luck charm from a local garage sale during the day. I will have to take that one to Poland and give it a real test there.
**Photos courtesy of John McCarroll. Thanks, John!!!
**Photos courtesy of John McCarroll. Thanks, John!!!