Friday, December 11, 2015

Eat, Pray, Run

At the end of September, we drove north through the Thousand Island area of New York and then on to Ottawa for the 2015 Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 24-hour race.
Sri Chinmoy was an Indian spiritual master who taught meditation in the United States.  He also advocated athleticism to achieve spiritual growth and enlightenment, including distance running.  This 24-hour event has been in existence for 35 years and is put on by members of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team.
Try to be a runner, and try all the time to surpass and go beyond all that is bothering you and standing in your way. Be a real runner so that ignorance, limitation and imperfection will all drop far behind you in the race.
                        Sri Chinmoy, The outer running and the inner running, Agni Press, 1974
For a number of years the 24-hour race has been held indoors at a 400 meter track covered by an inflatable dome.  I was intrigued by the idea of seeing how far I could run in a controlled environment – no beating sun, no wind and daylight all the time.  I planned an ambitious race, seeing if I could beat my prior 12 hour best of 72 miles; 100 mile split of 16:52 and 24 hour best of 134 miles.

In the dome.
In keeping with a very simple approach to the race, there was no chip timing.  Instead, I was assigned to a personal lap counter.  Over the course of the race, the individual would change.  They were all, however, very diligent in recording my laps and always smiling and encouraging. 
The course had signs posted along the oval with spiritual quotes from Sri Chinmoy.  Every six hours, we changed directions and got to see new quotes.  In the middle of the night, a group of team members performed meditative music with sitar-sounding instruments.  I thought this might lull me to sleep but it did not!  Very fascinating.
I was probably too ambitious in my pacing and after 8 hours was feeling pretty beat.  At that point, I knew it was going to be a long race….  I walked quite a bit the second half of the race and ended with about 120 miles, which was good for first place woman and second overall.  Not exactly the distance I wanted but as Sri Chinmoy said:
                        A great champion is he who wins all the races.

A great champion is he who participates in all the races.

A great champion is he who does not care for the results of the races — whether he is first or last or in between. He races just to get joy and give joy to the observers.

A great champion is he who transcends his own previous records.

A great champion is he who maintains his standard.

A great champion is he who remains happy even when he cannot maintain his standard.


Friday, May 15, 2015

Outrun 24 Hour Trail Race - Conquering the HILL

The winter has flown by and between work and curling I didn’t have a lot of time to run this winter.  Feeling like a slug, I started looking around for a 24-hour race this spring that fit my work schedule and jump-start my running.  Lo and behold, I found the Outrun 24 hour, just a half-hour's drive from my house.  How convenient!  The only problem was that it was designated as a “trail” 24-hour.  Hmmm….  I was intrigued.  Just how would this work?

I tried to sign up online only to discover that I was waitlisted.  There was a cap of 175 runners and it was SOLD OUT.  Obviously, a popular race.  I was assured by the race director that a spot would open up and I got “accepted” within a week of registering.  Now, time to TRAIN!
I quickly signed up for the Canton Hall of Fame Marathon to get my long run in, which was one week before the Outrun race.  I finished the hilly marathon in 3:47, so I guess I was ready. 
I next thought I should check out the course since I was nervous about the “trail” part, not having run on a trail in a VERY LONG time.  I took a drive after work to run the course, a 1 mile loop on a hiking/cross-county ski trail at Chapin Forest in the Lake County Metroparks. 

Gradual downhill section of the course
We would be running the “parcourse,” which had a gravel path with few roots, a wooden bridge and a short stretch across the asphalt parking lot.  The trail terrain could best be described as a roller coaster.  While the trail started fairly flat, there was a steady climb before reaching the dreaded HILL.  Now, this is one big HILL and it didn’t take much convincing to decide there was no way I was going to run up this HILL for 1 loop, not to mention running it 100 times.  My plan then was to always walk the HILL.  On the downside of the HILL, there were two short fairly steep descents, then some ups and downs before a gradual downhill to the starting area.  Since I would be walking the HILL, my real concern over 24 hours was the steep downhill parts.  I knew my quads were going to be trashed; it was just a matter of time.  Also, after running just 5 loops on my “practice” run, the bottoms of my feet were already hurting from the gravel paths.  My Brooks running shoes weren’t working so I hoped my padded Hokas would provide sufficient padding.
On race day, the weather was beautiful.  Cool at the start although it did get a little warm during the day.  We were spared extremely hot and cold temperatures.
I didn’t wear a watch thinking there would be computer timing.  Well, there was manual computer timing (no chip timing) but with my old eyes I couldn’t see the screen very well.  For the longest time, the only thing I could read on the screen was the clock with the time of day displayed, not even my lap counts.  I think there was also a computer leader board but I couldn’t read that screen either.  Oh well, this was more of a casual race so I decided to just run/walk how I felt, go with the flow, and not bother “racing” or hitting pre-determined split times.

Although with 175 runners the start was crowded, within a few minutes, everyone spread out.  I ran most of the time by myself, which was surprising given the number of runners.  Fairly early in the race, I felt in the mood to listen to my audio books.  I immediately got engrossed in “V is for Vengeance” by Sue Grafton and then “Everything I Never Told You” by Celeste Ng.  The hours flew by.  I had set up my own aid table and periodically stopped for water, gels, and Perpetuem.  I ended up bypassing the official aid station altogether.  It was a bit off course and seemed like too much work to get to it.  My own table ended up being pretty handy as it was right after the start area and a few feet off the course.  This was my first race where I did not eat any solid food, not even orange slices or bananas, and it worked out well.
On the downhill at Chapin Forest
Hokas worked great on the course.
Finally, after 23 hours, I hit the 100 mile mark.  I was very tempted to stop but I had about 40 minutes left so I thought I could get a few more laps in.  Plus, I wasn’t finished with my audio book and was dying to find out how it ended!  Out I went and stopped at mile/lap 102 with about 10 minutes to spare in the race.

After I packed up my stuff, I swung by the breakfast area to see about getting a race shirt.  Larry Orwin was kind enough to give me an extra breakfast ticket.  Not being too hungry after ingesting  non-stop nutrition for 24 hours, I managed to eat only one-half of a muffin!  I then checked out the results and found out I was the 2nd female (first female had 104 miles).  Got a cool trophy, mug, Mountain Hardware hat and socks.  After a quick nap in the parking lot, I drove home and mowed my lawn.  A successful and productive day!

Bonus mug for running for 24 hours
Trophy with the "Leg" on top - People took turns running with "Peg Leg"