About two months ago, I was looking for a running event in early July. A run that I could have fun at and challenge myself. While searching for races in Northern California I came across the Dirty Dozen & Half Dozen 12 or 6 Hour Endurance Run. I looked at the website through it out to a couple of people to find out that one of my running buddies ran it last year and did pretty well in 2012 when he ran 39.02 miles in the allotted 6 hour run. After checking it out, I decided to go ahead and register for it. By registering for this event, I officially entered myself into my first endurance event. Previous to this event, my only experience in and around endurance events were by crewing or pacing fellow runners and friends.
Packet Pick-Up: Wednesday July 3
With the run being held on Saturday July 6 and a holiday falling on the Thursday before, the race group (Brazen Racing) two scheduled early pick-up dates on Wednesday July 3 and Friday July 5. Since I was about half way between Sacramento and the Pleasant Hill Fleet Feet on Wednesday, I opted to make a quick stop and pick-up my race goodies.
The packet pick-up was pretty simple, I arrived at Fleet Feet in Pleasant Hill and walked in to be greeted by their friendly staff. After a quick signature on a waiver, I was provided my bib, goodie bag and hooded sweatshirt.
Race Day: July 6
|the start line|
With a 7:00AM start, it didn’t cause for too early of a wake up since Pinole is only a little over 60 minutes away. After having my morning smoothie, cup of java and packing up my goods for the day, I picked up my buddy Gary who was coming along to help me during the event. He held the fort down while I was running and took some awesome photos through the day.
Upon arrival to Point Pinole Regional Park, folks were already making their way to the start area with their folding chairs, ice chest, running packs and everything else they would need for the next 6 or 12 hours. The event also included a series of 5k, 10k, and relays for the endurance times. So there were plenty of people at the park all day long.
After setting my folding chair up and organizing my personal aid station, I had about 10 minutes to until start time, so like all other races it was time to head the the line. With some some pretty thick clouds and strong winds, I didn’t expect to start the run with layers. I was wearing a shirt and long sleeve shirt over it. In fact it was pretty chilly that if I had gloves with me, I probably would have worn those to start the run as well.
|coming through the shoot with some layers during the windy start|
While at the start, myself and other runners got to chatting trying to figure out what paces / mileage distance people had in mind. About 5 of us were talking 40 miles or more with 2 guys really trying to push the speed and go 42+ miles in the 6 hours. After a few quick good lucks the horn sounded and my next 6 hours would be consumed by running a loop trail around a beautiful scenic route with a few interruptions of food and hydration breaks.
The first 5 hours of the run would take runners around a 3.37 mile trail loop, where a majority of the trail were dirt fire trails with some areas of grass and pavement. Along the 3.37 mile loop, there were 2 water / aid stations. The first station about 2 miles in and the other located at the start / finish area where there was one set up by the race and other would be my own personal aid station. Along with the aid stations there were bathrooms along the course. This loop was well supported with all of the amenities a runner would need for the time they would spend at the park.
|the personal aid stations and crews|
As we made our way out of the start area and following the lead bike through the well marked trail, I found myself running the early part of the event with the eventual women’s 6 hour run winner. Michelle, from North Carolina, was a very strong runner who just came off of a 2:55 marathon not too long ago. Michelle’s boyfriend took an early lead and didn’t look back for the first hour until Brian Purcell of Vacaville made his move and crushed the course record by running a distance of 43.6 miles in the 6 hours.
The first few hours was about staying steady through the fire trails that offered some pretty challenging climbs as the hours passed. However, the view along the water and through the eucalyptus grove made it easy to repeat the laps time and time again. After about 5 laps Michelle took it to another level and cranked out faster loops than I was able to at that point in the run.
After the second lap I started to make sure I kept track of hydrating and consuming calories, rather than waiting until I needed it and at that point it would be too late. Even with a well stocked aid station I still opted to bring an ice chest with a couple of goodies that I thought I might need or would like to make sure I had access to during the race. In my ice chest I kept a couple small bottles of Coke, Sprite, Ginger ale, bottled water, Chobani Greek Yogurt, and SunRype fruit bars. I do not use gels so having my go to foods is critical on longer runs. I only used the provided aid stations for water, pretzels and PB&J sandwiches. Sticking to my game plan of consuming calories and properly hydrating kept me from bonking out and getting an upset stomach which is common on ultra distances by many runners.
|a quick grab of some goodies out of my ice chest|
I hit mile 22 just under the 3 hour mark and then started to slow down a bit as time on my feet would be challenged today. I hit my marathon mark just under 3:40. For the most part I felt pretty good through the run except for my legs just getting a bit tired. Mentally I was feeling sharp and my tummy was feeling good, which was a bit of a concern for me since I was tackling the longest distance I have ever ran in a race or training.
After hitting the 26.2 mile point, I had enough time to work in a few more “big loops” before the 5 hour mark. At 5 hours, runners would be directed to run a smaller .67 mile loop. This small loop was mostly gravel and paved road with a very short distance on grass where the timing mats were located. The reason for the short loop was because at the end of the 6 hours, a runners distance is based on complete loops only, so distance is rounded down based on the last completed loop.
|moving from big loop to little loop|
Once on the little loop just after 5 hour and 20 minutes, I was now in gut it out mode. At this point in the run I was just tired from moving for more than 5 hours. I looked down at my Garmin and saw I might be able to crank out enough distance to possibly break 40 miles. As I got closer to 5 hours and 40 minutes the reality of breaking 40 miles started to become a challenge and a bit distant. I knew 40 miles was a stretch but I would try to go for it anyways. I crossed the mat at a distance of 39.75 miles with a time of 5:57:21. Trying to push another .25 miles in 2 minutes would not be possible, so I stopped there like many of the lead runners at that point. My distance was good enough for a top 5 finish and 4th in men.
|feeling good after 6 hours 🙂|
After the 6 hour count down, runners were treated to all kinds of food and of course the bling. The event was well organized and was awesome. I think anyone interested in trying an ultra event for the first time should look into the Brazen Racing Dirty Dozen and Half Dozen Endurance Run. This might be one to try again in the future.
|the bib & BLING!|
Have you ever ran an endurance event? Or are you planning on doing one soon?