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Hampster Endurance 12-Hour Run - Run

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Bellingham, Washington
United States
69F / 21C
Total Time = 11h 45m
Overall Rank = 3/
Age Group =
Age Group Rank = 0/
Pre-race routine:

The night before the race I planned to stay off my feet and just recharge my batteries as much as possible. I didn't taper much because this was not an "A" race and I was going to train through it to a certain extent. Alas, my wife wanted to take my son to the county fair instead. I felt since I was already going to consume the whole next day with my race that I should just keep my mouth shut and do this for my family. After 4 hours of walking I had to say enough was enough though. I got up early and had a cup of coffee and a granola bar.
Event warmup:

The weather was perfect with a little bit of a breeze and overcast skies. For a mid-August day it was going to stay cool all day long which was awesome. There was no need to physically warm up before the race because the pace was to be very slow with preplanned walking early. The folks at an ultra are a very different breed. Very, very friendly and they are the chattiest group I've ever seen at a race. They all seemed to know each other though were from all over the region. I talked with a guy who had run a marathon in all 50 states and I think he would have told me about every one of them had I not had to break away to use the bathroom and finish setting up. There is much to learn from Masters like that as I was about to find out.
  • 11h 45m
  • 50 miles
  • 14m 06s  min/mile

This was my first running event over 26 but I was pretty confident that I knew what I was getting into from IM lessons learned. I had a preset plan for pacing, hydration, nutrition, and resting that evolved and changed throughout a very long day. One of the things that I am learning for long events that it is important to be able to adapt as circumstances warrant. A gameplan is helpful but the ability to make good decisions is really key to doing your best.

After a quick group photo at the starting line we were off. Two guys took off very fast and a few of us looked at each and said those guys are either super good or super stupid. They ended up being super good as they started lapping people on the fourth lap. It was very humbling to see serious ultra runners. Also pretty darn inspiring.

The first half of the loop is flat and I planned to run these stretches at about 30 seconds per mile slower than marathon pace and walk up the hills that were along the backside of the lake. Eat and drink at the one aid station each lap. Started with gel, shotblox, and G2 for the first 20 miles before getting really sick of it. Everything went perfectly until about 25 miles. I was about 45 minutes ahead of schedule and thought this is really good or really bad. Didn't take too much longer to figure which one. It was not comfortable to run any slower but I should have walked more frequently to preserve myself better. Being that the park was still open to anyone and it being my home turf I ran into several tri and running buddies who were training that would jog along and chat with me. It was cool because time went by quicker but three times I wasn't paying attention and ran up several of the steeper hills that I should have walked. I noticed this too when running along with other racers that I would enjoy some conversation but would alter my pace or skip a walk zone or miss a bathroom because I was distracted. It was very different from even a marathon in the amount of time you bonded with other racers. I think this was the greatest joy of the day was getting to know some of these people. Hearing their stories, where they were from, what was their motivation, their strategy, their goals. It made a 5k feel very impersonal by comparison. In the latter stages of the race it actually got very lonely at times if you went for an hour or so without some kind of contact with one of your fellow runners.

As I approached 25 miles, I started thinking how nice it would be to just stop at 50k, the distance required to "finish" a 12-hour race. I was cramping and getting tired from going too fast early and I didn't see the point in killing myself for another seven hours with little hope of resurrecting anything close to a real running pace. Timed events on loops make it so easy to just say I've had a good day up to this point. I've got a good 50k time and for a first attempt I can live with that. But as I came up on that mark I ran into Mr. marathon-in-every- state-wise-owl. I told him I felt like crap and was cramping. He just smiled and said eat yourself some potato chips at the aid station. That'll make you feel better. Gotta get some salt in you. I was pretty sick of gels so I figured what the heck. I washed the chips down with some Coke and ohhh did it taste good. I took a few steps out but turned back for another cup of Coke. I was hooked on my crack. This was the first of several winds that came to me in the second half of the race. I starting walking more frequently but felt good when I ran. I was really starting to think I could hit 50 miles and I got really focused and determined.

I had another dark spell at about 40 miles but then I saw my son who had just showed up with a Go Daddy Go sign. He was waving it over his head and came running down the trail to hug me. I decided I would just walk a lap with him and my wife. I was ahead of my goal again and just wanted them to be with me. I don't know what it was but the last seven miles after that I just went into a zone. I felt better than I did 20 miles ago and wished that I could figure out what exactly mentally and/or physically was enabling me to carry on. I actually started pressing pretty hard instead of just surviving. I hit 50 miles, my optimistic goal, at 11:45 and decided that was good enough and hit the stop button on my Garmin and strolled slowly over to the start/finish area.

After the 12 hour clock expired the race director came over and said she had something for me before I left. I figured it was a finisher medal but she said I was third overall and she had an engraved trophy glass for me. I could not believe it. It's been 35 years since my glory days. As sore and tired as I was I could not lay in bed and skip church the next morning. I really felt this was yet another gift to be able to experience this after all I've been through and I just wanted to go and say thanks.

Post race
Warm down:

I actually felt really good when I finished. Walked around for 5-10 minutes. Had my podium picture taken and then went straight out to beer and pizza. I was very tired both mentally and physically the day after. I'll start back in training tomorrow.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

There is a lot that I learned from the day that will make the next one better especially early pacing and patience. It has been my downfall in the last few marathons that I have run. I have to figure out how to better preserve myself for the latter stages of these long races. .

Event comments:

This is the second year of this race and will continue to grow with a 6 hour option next year. The course is so pretty and is very well suited for a timed event. Great venue for family and spectators to hang out at the park and lake.

Last updated: 2013-08-16 12:00 AM
11:45:00 | 50 miles | 14m 06s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
Performance: Good
Course: The course is a 2.6 mile loop around the prettiest small lake on a crushed gravel path that is flat and open for about half with the backside of the trail winding through a heavily wooded area that has a several small hills and some small rollers. 214 feet of elevation each lap which really added up through the day.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2013-08-20 2:38 AM

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Bellingham, WA
Subject: Hampster Endurance 12-Hour Run

2013-08-20 8:40 AM
in reply to: #4833948

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Subject: RE: Hampster Endurance 12-Hour Run

Steve, this is a lovely RR.  I'm struck by your humility and gratitude.  That's what these races are really all about, huh?

You have completed so many big events since your cancer diagnosis and treatment.  It seems like you live your life fully, and that is very inspiring.  I am very impressed that you walked around the fair for four hours the day before an event this long!  You are are a good husband and good dad :)

I like hearing about the emotional/mental ups and downs of a long race like this.  Love the potato chips advice from marathon-in-all-50-states man.  Isn't it cool how you can bond with people at events like this.  It's like, "Hey, man, I know you get it."

Well done all the way around. Hugs.

2013-08-20 9:50 AM
in reply to: #4833948

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Austin, Texas
Subject: RE: Hampster Endurance 12-Hour Run

Wow - what a great story you have from "just" 12 hours of your life.  Really inspirational to read about your experience (aaaaaalmost makes me want to try it, but I'm gonna build back up to 26.2 first!).

Really happy for you that you not only hit your goal, but seem to have taken as much away from the race as you put in (and a trophy, to boot!).

Congrats on the race and the podium!


2013-08-20 9:54 AM
in reply to: #4833948

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Livonia, MI
Subject: RE: Hampster Endurance 12-Hour Run
WOW, not only did you complete this insane 50 mile run but you also managed to finish 3rd overall??  That is amazing Steve!  Solid good work.  And you even made it to church the next morning Smile  Love the report, very inspiring.  Congrats and enjoy the recovery time.
2013-08-20 11:33 AM
in reply to: noelle1230

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Subject: RE: Hampster Endurance 12-Hour Run

That is fantastic, Steve. Waita stick it out!!! I can't even imagine how mentally tough that would be on a loop course, let alone the physical part.


Mmmmmm chips and soda!!! Now you are speakin' my language!

2013-08-20 11:46 AM
in reply to: Asalzwed

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Subject: RE: Hampster Endurance 12-Hour Run
Originally posted by Asalzwed

That is fantastic, Steve. Waita stick it out!!! I can't even imagine how mentally tough that would be on a loop course, let alone the physical part.


Mmmmmm chips and soda!!! Now you are speakin' my language!

^^This was what I was thinking about.  I have a hard time with running a long distance on a short loop.  Like a horse to the barn, I pass home and I am headed in.  Fantastic that you were able to focus and continue on!  I am humbled by your great outlook, and as someone else mentioned, the way you live life to the fullest.  Congratulations!

2013-08-20 11:48 AM
in reply to: Asalzwed

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Jenison, MI
Subject: RE: Hampster Endurance 12-Hour Run
I'll give you the 3 Is on this one. Impressive, inspiring, and insane.

I struggle running in general so I am blown away by the ability to do this. Very impressive. Your grace in your reports and posts always shines through, so I can only imagine how well you handled it out there. I'm inspired to push myself to do something beyond my norm, so you may have just given me the final push to sign up for a fall HM. And...running 50 miles is insane, but I love it.

Congrats on your 3rd place! That's amazing no matter what, but especially on your first attempt!

2013-08-20 1:38 PM
in reply to: #4833948

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Englewood, Florida
Subject: RE: Hampster Endurance 12-Hour Run
Wow, that is a truly awesome experience. Congratulations for doing it as well as you did, and thank you for sharing it as well as you did.
2013-08-20 4:33 PM
in reply to: cdban66

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Austin, Texas
Subject: RE: Hampster Endurance 12-Hour Run

Wow - that is amazing.  What an incredible day of highs, lows, and metal toughness. 

2013-08-21 9:36 AM
in reply to: #4833948

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Subject: RE: Hampster Endurance 12-Hour Run
Fascinating RR, thank you!!  Lots of very good things in there, physical, mental and spiritual.  It had me smiling throughout.  Congrats on your 3rd OA and a great race, impressive!
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