So sometimes, an open weekend pops up and I decide to see what races are online. Last Friday, I signed up for the Brazen Racing Dirty Dozen run. This race was one that I did back in 2013, where I finished 5th place overall covering a total of 39.75 miles.
If you have never done a timed run / race, essentially it goes something like this … you show up, line up at the start, the horn blows and you run a loop course, trying to complete as many miles or laps as possible. The one who logs the longest distance is the winner.
So on Saturday morning, I got up early for the 7AM start time for the race, leaving my house around 5AM to give myself some time to get to Pinole Shoreline Regional Park, check in, grab my swag, and set my self up with my goodies at the start area which I would be passing through every lap. These are a good test of endurance running, where you don’t need a crew to meet you at different spots and locations along a course, because with a loop each runner can just set up shop and know where their goodies (snacks and hydration needs will be).
For me I set up a folding chair, laid our different layers of clothing I could change in and out of, sacks that separated my Nuun and a stack that had some of my gels. I also had my back pack sitting there with some additional socks and shoes as from previous experience having the ability to change those would make my feet comfortable during the race.
Once the 7AM start time came about, I was now on my way with a couple other hundred or so runners who toed the line. The event consisted of a the 6 hour run which I was participating in, a 12 hour run, and through the course of the day there were two (2) 5ks and two (2) 10ks for those who were out there supporting the distance runners. Along with the individual events, were relays for the 6 hour and 12 hour times.
Without really spending much time to really train for this event, my goals were ambitious to cover 40 miles in the allotted 6 hour time on the course. Even with this in mind, I knew that I would need to run smart and start off easy. Also having run this event and along this trail previously, I knew how I would approach the run. The key for me was to get to 20 miles at 3 hours, run the flats and easier climbs, and hike areas which could take a toll on me over the course of time.
At the 3 hour mark I was where I needed to be, 20 miles on the dot, however at this point, I was feeling fatigued, my legs started to seem pretty heavy. I was able to find some focus and get to the marathon distance just before the 4 hour mark, so I was still in tact for getting to that 40 miles.
During the race, after each lap was completed, next to the main aid station located at the start / finish line area, was a large screen that counted each runners laps and total distance. For most of the race I was in 2nd place, which I was happy with. Looking at the 1st place runners splits for his laps, I knew I had a chance to get after 1st place, if I could find my legs under me.
At the 50k mark, my legs felt tight and sore and pushing through to 1st place would mean getting some luck out of the first place runner that he started to feel the same I did or in my case worse than I did in order to pass him at some point. The tough part of the loop course is you really never know who is in first and who is where along the course, unlike a normal race, where you know the person in front of you is the person you need to pass.
After 5 hours, I started entering my loops in the short loop. The purpose of the short loop is to make sure that each of your miles counts. The short loop was a distance of just under .7 miles, while the long loop was about 3.6 miles.
With the final hour coming to an end, I was really tight at this point in my legs and I dropped from 2nd to 3rd place, based on the lap counter on the large screen.
The final countdown started to let runners know to get their asses over the timing mat to get those final miles officially recorded. I finished with a total distance of 35.12 miles.
I was a little disappointed in my overall mileage but was still happy that I could get 35+ miles out of my legs and finishing 3rd place still isn’t bad.
After the event, each entry included a post race luncheon, so I grubbed on some food before making the trek home. As I was driving home, I started to think, where did it break down during the race compared to when I ran back in 2013.
Here is what I think cost me some time and mileage in the race …
- In 2013, I had a buddy who paced me at times when needed
- In 2013, that same friend “crewed” for me, mixing my hydration and helping me with my nutrition pulling food for me
- In 2013, I ran more miles, I was much fitter
- In 2013, there were faster runners on the race, who I was able to run with and chat with. For most of the race I was alone except for passing people. Everyone’s paces where all over the place.
- In 2013, it was cooler with a stronger coastal breeze than it was in 2016.
Still I am happy with chasing this goal, perhaps I will attempt another go at it in a year or so, when the opportunity arises.
Have you ever attempted a timed endurance run? What are your strategies going into this?