Over on the Train Like a Mother Facebook page, Beth shared a race report. We thought you might enjoy it, too, even if you don’t ever want to run for 24 hours!
On May 20, 2017, I found myself on the start line of the 24-hour race at Three Days at the Fair. 3DATF is an event held on the NJ state fairgrounds in Augusta, NJ, hence the name. The course is a one mile loop that is mostly asphalt with a small section of dirt/grass. There are multiple race options from marathons & 50ks, 6-hour, 12-hour, 24-hour, 48-hour, 72-hour and 144-hour (yep, that's 6 days!) events.
I wasn't sure what to expect as I hadn't even committed to run it until eight weeks prior. Last year I had my first experience at heart rate training when I joined the Outstanding Marathon TLAM group with Coach MK. While I had a good training cycle, I did not have a good race day. It was hot and humid; and a massive headache resulted in a DNF at mile 16. I had been planning on doing a spring ultra but just before Thanksgiving life threw a curve ball at me.
My mom was diagnosed with lung cancer and would be going through treatment in the months ahead. I put the ultra on a backburner. As an alternate plan, I signed up for the Traditional Marathon group with Coach Amanda. I wanted the structure of a plan and thought I might do the (close to me) Pocono marathon -- or not even do a race at all depending on how my mom was doing.
In March, my mom's PET scan showed miraculous results. Her lung tumor now half the size and the lymph cancer was gone! She was feeling good, too, and would only need two more rounds of chemo. I made the decision to switch gears and sign up for the 24-hour ultra.
At that point, I had done the first 10 weeks of Crush It, which is a fantastic plan and one that I look forward to doing the full 18 weeks for my next marathon. I made up my own plan for the next eight weeks leading up to the race. I incorporated much of what I learned from heart-rate training -- and also used knowledge from Ellie, our nutrition guru.
My husband crewed me for this race, as he does for all my races. He is an endurance cyclist and exercise physiologist plus he loves me and loves to see me reach my goals. I couldn't ask for a better crew! He set up a table with all my supplies: nutrition, extra clothes, shoes, a chair and footrest, my foam roller, and assorted first aid items.
My race plan was to take a one-minute walk at the end of each mile and also walk an entire loop every ten miles. Later in the race, I added in some more walk breaks as needed. Twice in the race I took a 30-min rest as I was feeling nauseated. I veered from the nutrition plan I had discussed with Ellie...don't ask me why!...and had been taking in too many calories. I felt so ill at one point that I was ready to call it a day and stop. At 62 miles I thought, “100K is a solid run! Why I am doing this?"
Scott was sound asleep all tucked into his sleeping bag at the car. I couldn't bear to wake him so I sat down again, had a little pity party for myself, then decided I was too cold sitting there and that I might as well take a few more laps. Some kind of ultrarunning magic happened because by mile 70, I felt great. I kept running. And running.
There is a big screen that shows you how many miles you've completed, what place you are in, your last lap times, and your average lap time. I hadn't been paying too much attention to it but for much of the day I noticed I was in sixth place in my event. Then in the early morning hours, I noticed I was in third place. When Scott woke up around 5 a.m., he told me if I kept moving I could probably move up to second place, which I did. Then he told me that if I kept running for the full 24 hours, I could get first place. I would have been perfectly happy to just walk for the last two hours of the race -- or even stop when I hit 100 miles. But I kept running.
When I came through the timing area after 108 miles, only 15 minutes were left in the race. People were cheering and the race director was shouting "one more mile!" The LAST thing I wanted to do was one more mile. I really was ready to stop. Scott gave me some last encouraging words and I was off running. Somehow I ran that final mile in 10:28. It was one of my fastest of the whole race. That last mile brought me to 109 miles and bumped me into first place female. It was an exciting end to a long, long day.
I will remember this race as one that I fought for, one that I pushed further than I could have imagined. I am grateful to be able to do this crazy thing I love. All the knowledge and support from my husband, TLAM club Coaches MK & Amanda, and Ellie is a huge part of what brought me success. It takes a village to raise a BAMR!