Monday, August 12, 2013

(Photo courtesy of Brian Gaines at New Leaf Ultra Runs)
8-Hour Sunburn Run 'Race Report'

On July 28th, 2013, New Leaf Ultra Runs organized a 8-Hour Sunburn Fun Run (for members only).  These type of runs are considered a "Fat Ass Event".  It is not an official race, there are no fees (however, donating is a good idea) and no real awards.  It is definitely not a race.  If you are looking for a medal to prove what you did for the day, you are signed up for the wrong event.  You aid yourself with drinks, snacks, etc and for this run you decide how much you want to run/walk during the 8 hours.  (People did bring plenty of food and drinks to share so you never needed to worry about food.)
Why did I sign up?
People (non ultra runners) asked me over the last couple of months because they knew I have been training for a marathon and for my first 50 mile race.  Two main reasons why I took on the challenge.  1. I wanted to train in the sun (barely any shade on this course).  My last marathon was a disaster at the Miami Marathon due to heat so I have been trying to build back my confidence.  2. Because on that weekend I had a scheduled 20 mile run in my training plan so I might as well run it with a group of people.  (Oh and because I am stubborn and I like challenges ever since I lost 150 lbs.)  Note: In 2011, I ran just over 27 miles in the 6 hour version of the yearly NLUR Sunburn event.

How did it go?
The weather ended up being perfect!  It was actually a bit cool and offered a different twist for this end of July ultra-running event.  When packing my bag for the day, I actually had to make sure I had enough cut off and short sleeve shirts.  I even wore a light jacket to the event because it was that chilly in the morning.

Event Details
The 8-hour event took place at James ‘Pate’ Phillip State Park in Bartlett, IL at 8am.  The course we were using was a 2.28 miles and made up of crushed limestone.  After each loop you needed to record the lap # on a board.  Then you could refuel, change clothing, rest, use restroom and then continue on if you desire.  I brought my own cooler, supplies and fruit for the group.  You definitely did not have to stay for the entire event and could leave at anytime.

Running Company
There were up to 75 people scheduled to attend the event.  A lot of the runners I do not frequently talk to but I knew my friend Raul would be there.  We had chatted during the week and we were hoping to run some laps together.  When the race was about to begin we started talking and then started the run together.  As we began, he told me his goal was 30 miles, I told him mine was 20 or so.  However, since the weather was spectacular and if his goal was 30, we might as well go for my first 50K (31.1 miles).  We said we would go for 50K if we felt good and we were not killing ourselves.

The Event - Running/Walking
Going into this event, my left hip was a bit sore, but nothing too serious.  However, I had felt pretty good that morning and during the week before so I decided to still run this event.

We figured we had to run 14 laps to get to the 50K goal.  The first few laps were run faster than we should have done, but we were also thinking that this would give us some cushion for later in the day when we knew we would have to walk.

Raul and I ended up together the entire event.  We were going at similar paces and we just enjoyed talking to each other the whole time and seeing and meeting everyone that ran past us.  We also ran or walked with a few other people throughout the day.

It didn't take too many laps before we decided to start walking a bit to make sure we were pacing ourselves.  Either he or I were going to make sure we were not hurt ourselves so if we had to walk we were going to do it.  Once I got past 20 miles, anything on top of that was just bonus in my opinion.

If people think walking is "cheating" at an ultra-runner event then they have never participtated in one.  Walking is part of the game and many people do it.  Yes, the great runners will run the entire event.  I am not a "great" runner, I am a person who runs, so I have no shame in walking.

I never changed my shoes but I did change my shirt about 4 different times.  From cut-off to short sleeves and back.  The cloud coverage was playing games with us all day and I couldn't decide what I felt most comfortable with but toward the end when it got warmer I stuck with cut off dry fit shirts.

Before the event, I drank some coffee, ate 1 slice of Ezequiel bread with almond butter.  To the event I brought 1 gallon of water, 6 Powerbar energy gels, 2 full cans of C2O Coconut water and Nuun Electrolyte Tablets.  One of the other reasons why I wanted to attend this event was to see how I would do with fueling for my 50 mile race later in the year.  I didn't bring too much food because I knew people would have pretzels, snacks, etc so I could always grab that before I heading out for another lap.

I ended up taking 1 energy gel at hour one.  No more the rest of the day. A few snacks (few pretzels and homemade items) here and there between laps the rest of the day, but honestly not much at all.  At hour 2, I did put a Nuun tablet in my handheld water container and it helped keep me energized with electrolytes.  I did drink an entire can of the C2O Coconut water at hour 4 because that is when my legs began to get heavy and where our walking started to increase.  I also drank a whole one right after we were done for the day.  For me, there is nothing more refreshing than an ice cold coconut water after a day like that.

I did drink a lot of water throughout the day.  I ran with a handheld and filled it up when necessary after each lap.  I also drank a couple of cups of Gatorade, but not full cups. I am not a Gatorade fan so I didn't consume much.  Water was my main liquid and since it was not hot, it was fine that day.

End Results
After the 3-4 hour mark, it did become a challenge.  All Raul kept saying is "lets get to lap #7 and everything is downhill from there".  I loved the thought process and that is exactly what we did.  Once lap #8 came along we knew we were more than half way there and according to the time left we knew we could reach the 50K mark if we desired.

At one point (like hour 6) I decided to sit down and that was probably a bad idea since it was hard to get up.  My left hip was hurting a bit more as time went on, but I was not in extreme pain.  After around lap 8 or so, we decided to walk ALL small hills (trust me this is a flat course so we looked for any small incline) and jog very slowly the rest of the lap.  There were some laps we walked almost the entire 2.28 miles.  Another goal of Raul's was to get to 31+ mile mark and have it done by 3:30 (7.5 hrs) when the grill was going to start and the burgers he was thinking about were going to be cooked.  After 4 hours or so, we were really looking forward to the BBQ after the event and we imagined all the food we were going to eat.

Right when we were going to start our last lap my friend Ruth showed up and said she would run the last lap with us.  We explained to her that it was more of a walk lately.  However, she insisted we keep moving our feet and just jog the whole time.  She found ways to talk to us to disturb us and forget about the "pain" we were feeling at the 7+ hour mark.  The last lap, with her help, ended up being our fastest one in the last 4 hours.

Bottom line...We ended up hitting all of our goals.  We finished with 32+ miles.  We completed our "run" before 3:30pm and I now can call myself an ultra runner.  None of it would have been possible without a running partner that day and the perfect weather.

After Thoughts
I was sore that night, but no pain.  In the morning, I was still sore, but a LOT better than I expected.  I felt good and felt like I had not created any permanent injuries.  I took the next 2 days off of running.  I did some house cleaning, lawn mowing, etc to keep moving but no exercise.  On Wednesday morning, I decided to run at a slow pace.  However, in my right hip/upper thigh area I felt a bit of a tweak, so I cut the run short and decided I would not attend my track's speed session that night.

Ever since then, that area has not been the same.  However, I did run on it for 2+ weeks.  It has been frustrating because I have foam rolled it, lacrosse ball rolled it, went in for a massage, stretched, etc and it still has not gone away.  Therefore, as of 8/11, I have decided that I will not run for a while.  I am not sure how long of a recovery time I am going to need, but I am still hoping to cycle, weight lift, etc. to keep in shape for my third marathon in September and my first 50 miler race in October.

So was completing a 50K at a non-race event worth it all?  Hard to say right now.  If I would have stopped at mile 20, would it have prevented this injury?  Maybe.  However, no one knows for sure. At this point though since I have put my marathon and 50 mile race in jeopardy I would say that it was not the smartest idea.  The good news is that I got to know Raul a lot more (when else would 2 guys chat for 7.5 hours straight) and I met and hung out with some of the coolest runners I know.

Oh and the BBQ afterwards was great and fun too.  Thanks Brian and Kelly (the club owners of New Leaf Ultra Runs) for putting on a great event!

Thanks for your support as always. 
By: Fred Lechuga

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