2010 Freedom Park 24 Hour
The story of this race begins with a training run 10 days prior to the start. This hill repeat session included some hard Downhill Intervals (~4:40 pace), which is on fast enough for my biomechanics to start to deteriorate. I noticed a slight twinge in my left forefoot during this training, but nothing more. The next day it was painful to walk on the foot, and I started TLC (ice, Massage, etc.). The symptoms subsided mostly, and I could walk without significant pain by the day before the race, so I decided I would at start and try to do a few laps. I would not have started a distance race, but a timed loop course like Freedom Park means I'd never be more than half a mile from the aid station. The morning of the race, the injury flared up again and it was painful to walk. Having come to the race, I figured I'd still try a couple of laps to see how the foot responded. The first two laps felt like I had a rusty nail embedded in my foot, but the pain eased off towards the end of the second lap. The foot stayed reasonably okay until about mile ~110 when I started to notice it again. At that point, I realized I had enough of a lead built up that it was extremely unlikely that I could be caught. I was on pace for ~140 miles total if I continued, but I'd have to pick things up to hit 150, which was unlikely. Therefore I reluctantly stopped at mile 116 (118 laps).
1 What went badly
This is a race where the lessons are learned are mostly negative.
- Racing with an injury is a dangerous thing to do. The nature of the loop course and a strong, well voiced commitment to bail out at the first sign of problems mitigates the risk somewhat.
- Having no real idea how far I could go, and expecting to have to stop at any moment was a major distraction. It was hard to relax and focus on covering ground.
- Because I did not expect to go far in the race, i did not prepare in the way I would normally. I'd never intentionally be unprepared for a race, so this has been useful as an accidental experiment. It has shown me the value of some of the preparation.
- I did not spend time visualizing the race, the possible problems, the goals and the strategy. As part of this process, I store 'creative energy', spending time relaxing and meditating.
- Because I was focused on TLC on my foot, I did not spend time preparing my other muscles. Normally I'd spend time in the few days before a race using the Foam Roller, the stick and the Thumper to make sure there are no issues.
- I did not prepare my gear as well as I should have. For instance, I know that my Garmin GPS only has 20 hour battery life, so I used my Polar, but I did not change the recording interval. Therefore the Polar only has a record of the first 16 hours.
- In most races there are emotional low points, but experience teaches that if you keep moving, they will pass. For this race, the emotional low was much deeper, darker and longer lasting than any previous race. I have no explanation for this, other than possibly the lack of preparation noted above.
- I only have a detailed record of the first 16 hours, but it appears that I was stopped for about 5% of the time. On a loop course like this, even a brief pause adds up. That 5% is about 40 minutes over 16 hours, but is only 24 seconds per lap.
2 What went well
- The course was good, being a 0.9859 mile paved loop that was lit at night. It is slightly rolling, which helps break things up and uses different !!Muscle|muscle!! groups. The weather was also kind, unlike the previous two years.
- A mid-race Massage of my left hip flexors helped keep them loose. I always have a problem with my left hip flexor, and I'm finding that I a few moments massaging them in a race seems to help prevent continuing problems.
- I did not drink as much of my Go Juice because the cool weather did not require a lot of hydration. I used the 'ad libitum' approach of eating or drinking what appeals at the time, and that worked well.
3 Other Notes
- In spite of the issues, the race went reasonably well. I took and kept the lead after running the first couple of laps with Scott Hayward, the runner who completed the 208 mile Blue Ridge Relay Race solo. Scott had a bad day, but he also has an indomitable spirit and a cheery disposition. It was also great to see some of my ultrarunning friends, especially Shannon and Jimbo.
- I believe that timed races like this are one of the purest forms of running. There is nothing but you and the distance - no navigation issues, no logistical problems or anything else to get in the way.