Thursday, May 16, 2013

How Far Can You Run in 6 Hours?

I am not someone who enjoys laps...I enjoy getting lost in the woods for hours, and enjoying an adventurous journey.  In fact, I would say that I downright dispise laps - it's just really hard for me to keep my mental focus and enthusiasm up when faced with the same terrain and views time after time. 

Dispite my dislike of laps, I opted to attend the Mother's Day 6 Hour Race put on by G.A.C.  It's a rare timed race - the laps are 3 miles (which is on the longer side for this type event), and are trail laps (again, this is rare).  It was really the best I could hope for with a lap/timed course.

My real motivation to be there was to motivate my friend, Meghan, to do the race.  She was gearing up for her first ultra ever, the Pineland Farms 50k, and I thought that doing the 6 hour race would help her get in a long run, in a really laid-back and beginner-friendly environment, and give her confidence that she'll rock her first 50k.  My plan for the day was to get in 35 miles, to cap off a 100-mile training week.

(My training buddy Meghan, my motivation to do the 6 Hour)
As the race started, I was lucky to fall into step with a few folks I knew - Anthony Parillo and Larisa Dannis.  Both are complete running studs, and awesome people, so we easily ticked off the miles while swapping stories of our recent adventures.  Larisa unfortunately stopped to hit the woods after an hour, and while Anthony and I slowed a bit (and took our time while lapping through), we didn't see her again.  I figured she's catch right up, and in hindsight felt bad about dropping her.

Anthony and I continued to run together, taking our time through the lap area - not really focusing on pace as much as enjoying the day.  After about 20 or so miles, he said he was struggling a bit and would likely just opt for 30 miles on the day and then go home.  I was happy to have the company for any portion, and stuck with him regardless of our pace.

(Me, at the 6 Hour race in 2009)

After Anthony left me, I was 30 miles in - and I could focus on just 2 more laps to get in my 35 miles (well, I would be at 36 miles, but that was ok).  I was getting mentally tired of the same lap over and over again, but I tried to channel my former TransRockies partner Sabrina (Moran) Little, who was running in the World Championship 24 Hour race at the same time.  Considering what she was doing, what was 2 more laps? [I will note that Sabrina totally rocked the World Championship - finishing 2nd Overall, leading the US team to the gold medal, and setting a new American Record of 151 miles!]
(Me and Sabrina at the end of 2011 TransRockies - she is my inspiration when mentally I have a tough time with laps)
As I was about 1 mile from calling it a day, I ran past 3 guys who were standing around an unmanned aid station halfway around the lap.  I heard one of them say 'well, there goes first place', and realize that I must have just passed the 1st place guy and his two pacers.  I yelled back to them that I was happy to have a pacer if someone wanted to keep me company, and next thing I knew, Greg Esbitt was at my side, pacing me through the rest of my miles.  Once I was in the lead, I figured I had to finish out the 6 that was a few more miles than I had planned. 

The leader's other former pacer caught up to me in my next lap, saying that his runner dropped after that lap, so he was joining me for some more miles.  We finished that lap (39 miles total), and I did 1 more bonus mile, just to ensure the win (40 miles total).  I was so pleased to see that Larisa, dispite a bit of stomach issues, finished 2nd overall on the day (39 miles) - so the ladies swept the day! [I will note that 3rd place overall was also another female, so the ladies swept the podium, and took 4 of the top 5 spots!]

(Larisa and I after the race - #1 and #2 on the day!)
Meghan had an amazing day, logging 29 miles and feeling strong the whole way.  I've never seen her as happy as she was at the finish line - she is truly an ultrarunner at heart.  She's ready to rock at Pineland Farms 50k in a few weeks. 

All in all, it was an unexpectedly good day.  I approached the day as a relaxed training run, and was pleased to get in the mileage I did.  It appears that I am overcoming my spring hamstring injury and time off training.  It was nice to return to the GAC race and get my second overall win in two runs there. far can you run in 6 hours?

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