The fall (ish) race season is in full swing which gives me regular reasons to sit down and write... you're welcome.
This past weekend, I joined many others at the starting line for Labor Pain 12 hour endurance race for the second year. (You can read about last year's nonsense here
.) I didn't really have any lofty goals other than to complete the 50k distance. This seemed like the most reasonable plan since my training has been a little all over the place this year. About a month ago I realized Labor Pain was fast approaching and, although I completed weekly runs of up to 15 miles, I decided I better get my butt in gear and run at least one 20-miler prior to race day. I was able to get the miles in and felt a little more prepared for a 50k.
Since the race kind of snuck up on me, that means I also waited until a few days before the race to confirm carpooling, food and packing all my stuff. Like last year, Brad, Bekah and I drove together. Also like last year, we met around 5:00 AM to load the car and make the drive to Reading, PA where the race is held at Reading Liederkranz
. Once we arrived, we grabbed our bibs and swag before setting up "camp" for the day.
|Tank top swag. Not pictured: pint glass with the logo!|
After last year, the small group of us decided we were going to try to have more runners from our area join us- we succeeded!! We had a really nice showing of Harrisburg/Carlisle area runners so we saw plenty of familiar faces throughout the day.
|Most of the crew|
This year it was announced that there was less space to set up tents, but we got there early enough that we were able to claim a decent space. It's really nice to have a home base at these types of events. Since we run all day, we pack snacks, extra clothes, water, and all kinds of other stuff we (probably don't) need. Having a home base allows us all to have a place to come back to when we need to grab water, fuel or just take a load off for a few minutes.
We were supposed to attend the "pre-race meeting" at 7:15 AM. This is where Ron from Pretzel City Sports
explains how the course is marked, things to be careful of, and gets everyone all pumped up to run stupid amounts of mileage during the 12 hour period. I say supposed to because, in reality, this meeting actually started at 7:30 AM instead and the race started about 15 minutes after.
It was super humid already at the race start so we knew it would be a challenging day. As we got ready to start, I was a little nervous because I had been nursing some soreness in the tendon next to my shin bone on my right leg. This pain was, funny enough, similar to that of my injury earlier this year but on my other leg. I rested most of the week and then used KT tape and a calf sleeve on race day to hopefully keep any issues from occurring during the race. Thankfully, my body cooperated and carried me around the 5 mile loop a little over 6 times so that I could run the 50k distance for the day.
|First loop shot. I can tell because it's the only time I wore my shirt.|
For me, the first loop was more about reacquainting myself with course and getting a feel for how my body was functioning in the ridiculous weather. Thankfully, the sky stayed overcast for most of the day and I didn't have to deal with the extra heat. The first loop basically flew by and before I knew it, I was back at the start/finish line. I removed my sweat soaked tank top, grabbed more water, hit the bathroom and then headed off to start loop 2.
|Like last year, I took a photo every 10 miles. This was the first.|
At the beginning of loop 3, I ended up talking to a woman who I deemed to be a little crazy but a lot badass. To start each loop, you run out of the parking lot and onto the road. You then have to cross the street and run up a paved hill. If I'm being honest, I think I actually walked that dumb hill almost every single loop. On this particular trek up the hill and as we entered the woods, this woman told me how she was making a second (third?) attempt at an ultra. What happened at the others, you ask? She had seizures. She told me each time she tried to run longer distances, she had seizures at mile 13. She was beyond excited that she was now at mile 15+ and hoped that this meant she was safe. I was equally scared and excited for her. The seizures were a recent development since she started going through menopause and it seemed that putting on some weight while working with her doctors might have finally fixed her problem! I told her a few times how amazing she was for being so determined to achieve her goal of running an ultra.
|I think I freaked the guy out behind me! |
As you may be aware, Pennsylvania's summer has been wet, hot, and humid. Sometimes all at the same dang time. I am definitely on team OVER IT, but our crazy weather did make this course a pretty awesome level of muddy. The picture above was maybe a mile into the course and brought a smile to my face every time I passed through it. When I saw the photographer there on loop 4, obviously I had to be a little dramatic!! There were some other fun muddy spots on the course, but I am pretty sure this one was the best.
|Dripping sweat at mile 20|
After much procrastinating over going back out, I finally left the comfort of my chair and made my way back out to the course. My last two loops I was accompanied by badass ultra runner Jeremy
. I don't get to run with him often, but it is always a pleasure to share miles with him. During these miles, he told me about some ultra trail running superstars as well as exchanging our fall race line-ups. It helped pass the time and even if I did still complain a lot about how miserable it was, Jeremy stuck with me and kept me entertained.
In hindsight, I realize I could have definitely made it another full loop or more had I not felt so defeated by the heat and humidity that day. As much as I thought about running those extra 5-10 miles, I also didn't want to end up hurting myself. I have other races and running-related obligations and I didn't want to think about missing them because of another injury. That being said, I am happy with getting those miles in and testing my body once again to do crazy things and see how it reacts.
|All done- 31-ish miles in about 7 hours and 57 minutes|
At the end of the day, I was dirty, hungry, and a tad smelly. During loop 5 with Jeremy, we were eyeing up a nice looking stream as a possible cool off spot. It was shaded and looked like a nice place to unwind for a few minutes once we were done. After we completed the last miles of the day, we returned to our little camp area to sit for a few minutes and then headed to the stream. Jeremy decided to drive us over and we quickly laughed at how badly we smelled.
|Absolutely beautiful. Incredibly refreshing.|
After we had our fill of cold water, we headed back to the race area to get cleaned up and put on some clean, dry clothes. I wish I would have snagged a picture, but there was a fun "shower" situation hooked up by the race director which really was useful to help clean off some of the mud that I had collected over those 31+ miles.
|How about those tan lines?|
|These shoes were new and spotless at the start|
All in all, I'd say I had another good experience at Labor Pain. I will not-so patiently be waiting for my "premium" as they call it at this race. Basically what that means is your finisher shirt with your distance on it as long as you finished 26.2 miles or above. The race director sets milestone distances such as the 50k, 40 mile, 50 mile, etc that they will put on your shirt. If you finish less than that distance, your shirt will not indicate your distance. What better incentive to run all of the miles? This year it is a hoodie which is perfect because I live in them all winter.
Labor Pain was, once again, a great time. The food spread is wonderful.. HELLO CHEESEBURGERS, the volunteers are so friendly and helpful, and the race is pretty inexpensive especially since you can run all day. Guess I better start figuring out my goal for next year.. another shot at 50 miles? Highly possible. Stay tuned...
Have you ever gone into a race semi-injured and just hoped for the best?
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