Sunday, July 18, 2010

It's all built up to this...

Okay, this is a seriously long race report, but after I ran for 19+ hours, I think a long report is due.

Ah, where to begin? The week of the race, I really was not getting enough sleep. It was a combination of nerves and just not being diligent about when I went to bed. Friday, I packed and my family and I headed to Philly. I went, checked into the hotel, and picked up my race packet (which included getting weighed in, as well as getting my blood pressure and temperature checked). Afterwards, my mom, dad, brother, and I headed Marathon Grill. I had the best roast turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans slathered in butter, salt, and pepper, and a cranberry bread pudding. It was the perfect pre-race meal in that it had protein, carbs, and some yummy fat. J Went back to the hotel and went to bed at 10 pm. I didn’t sleep well, but I still got more sleep than earlier in the week.

At 7 am, I had to get up, get dressed, and head to the race location to get a spot. We ended up being able to set up our tent right next to the course. I ate some Pop-Tarts, attended the pre-race meeting, met up with another fellow Drexel Track club member who was doing it, and got myself ready. Before I knew it, the gun went off and we were starting! I was worried because I woke up tired and that didn’t seem like a good start for a 24-hour race. The heat was seriously oppressive and it was only 10 am.

The first loop (8.4 miles long) went by really well, though I realized my miles were a bit slower due to the heat and the time it took me to refill my water bottle and get food at the aid stations. I didn’t see the food at the aid stations for most of the first loop (it was usually kind of at ends of tables where I was focused more on the drinks in the middle…silly me), so I was pretty hungry after the first loop. I took me a few hours to kind of get my eating right, which was pretty annoying. The food at the race was not nearly as good as the Mind the Ducks 12 hour race and in just a few short hours, none of it looked appetizing.
I had a great plan where I called my mom with 1 mile to go (I ran with my phone in my belt) and told her what to have ready for me. This allowed me to run in, get what I needed, and head back out in a minute or two.

Loop 2 went okay, but the heat was starting to really affect me. When I finished it, I wondered how I was really going to make it through the whole race. I was also getting really bored. I had my iPod stocked with music, but I was already so bored. Luckily, 3 miles into Loop 3, I met a guy who I ended up running most of my race with. His name was Glenn and he was doing his second 20in24 Lone Ranger Ultra. He had completed 84 miles last year and was going for 100 miles this year.

With Glenn, I ran the rest of my 3rd loop and we only separated in the 8th loop. With all that time together, we talked about everything and anything; we even had a debate about religion! He was a really nice guy who had been running for a long time, so I was great to run with a vet and learn from his experiences.

I had some friends come by me during my race and it was so amazing to see them all support me. I also had some friends volunteer to pace with me during the run. This started at the 6th lap. Kristin, a girl in my co-ed honors fraternity, was my first pacer. She had never run more than a 5k, but quickly volunteered to pace my 8.4 miles. She did great! The most memorable time in our loop was when it got dark in the loop, I looked to see the moonlight on the river and said, “Wow, the moonlight on the ocean looks so beautiful.” Glenn and Kristin would NOT let me live this down. :-\

Another one of my brothers from my co-ed frat, Neal, came to my rescue as my 7th loop pacer. Around this time, 12 hours in, I started feeling so nauseous. It was dark and I was using my headlamp, which made me feel motion sick. I think my stomach was also revolting from all the physical strain I was putting it under. I felt so sick at this point and wondered if I could keep going. Neal was fabulous in that he kept me thinking positive and got me talking about anything and everything so I was distracted. I really thought that might be my last lap because I felt so terrible, but I knew I wanted to do at least 2 more loops to run at least 70 miles. Glenn also told me that I was not allowed to think negatively, so once I had those two cheering me up and some Maalox in my belly, I felt amazing. The best part of this lap was turning the corner to the last ¼ of a mile to see 10+ of my fraternity brothers screaming, cheering, and dancing for me. I actually stopped and started to tear up. My friends are so supportive of my crazy running and seeing a huge group at the turn made me just melt.
For my 8th lap, I had a very special pacer, my younger brother, Joey. I got him (I should say, strongly convinced) him to run high school cross country my senior year and his freshman year. He hated it so much that year, but he slowly started to enjoy it and by the end of the season, he was hooked. He ran all 4 years and ended up captain of the team, just like I had done my senior year.  He hasn’t run much since he graduated, but when I asked if he would want to run a loop with me, he was actually totally game to do it. In a lot of ways, we’re opposites in that I am obnoxious and never shut up, while he’s much quieter and more reserved. I was worried that maybe we would run out of things to talk about, but he was great! Glenn was slowing down, so Joey and I pushed ahead. He was extremely positive and made me not think too much of how much pain I was in. I am lucky to have a great brother who helped me through a tough time.

After the troubles of the 7th loop, and when I finally caught my second wind, I knew I would make it to at least 9 loops. I originally aimed for 10, but I knew that I physically could not do it. My awesome mother/Sherpa convinced my friend Maddie, who had done the Midnight Run (they had a run at midnight that was one loop long), to do my last loop with me. She got her friend Steve, also a Midnight Run participant, to join us. My nausea never fully went away and it definitely came back during this last loop. Maalox was seriously my hero this race.  The loop was slow slow slow, but at that point, I was just enjoying that I was almost done and that the sun was beginning to rise.

As I was able to sprint the last little stretch of the race, I just felt this immense sense of accomplishment. I cried briefly after my 12 hour race. It just is such an emotional overload and the culmination of so much work and effort. The same thing happened with this 24 hour. I just broke down in tears because I was so emotionally overloaded (and so exhausted!). I was proud of myself for covering so much, disappointed I didn’t reach my goal of 80+ miles, relieved the race was finally over, and a bit sad that this big event I had built up so much to do was over with.

Overall, I think I’m sad that it’s all over. I will be happy to have a brief break in training for at lest a few weeks before Marine Corps Marathon training, but I am a bit saddened that my big race is over. I guess this just means I have to plan another one…


Time-19 hours, 16 minutes, 26 seconds
Distance- 76.1 miles
Place- Overall: 43/208, Female Overall: 10/68


  1. great job rebecca! i imagine it was the heat that make you sick to your stomach.. not much you can do about that. you are heroic for the way you kept going, though. as for the boredom, i think that is due mostly to the long loops. glad you found a buddy to make the time go by. hope you recover quickly!

  2. Great report! Sorry I just got around to reading it, I forgot you had a blog! Anyway, great job, and I hope you're rested up and planning your next episode of craziness for us to read about.