Going into the North Coast 24 Hour National Championships, I was not feeling 100%, but feeling very hopefully – because confidence is much more fun and positive than self-doubt. I didn’t have my best race, or my worst race, but I did have a whole lot of fun. How is it possible that so many things could happen in just 24 hours?
We went to the pre-race where, where the amazing Dr. Andy Lovett gave me some ointment cream that he swore would protect me from blisters. (It didn’t. My feet suffered. Sigh.) Then Jackie and I headed to the hotel, where we fell asleep at 9pm. Success. Turns out, Cleveland is kind of like those YouTube videos you know you’ve seen and loved online. Ha!
|me and andy!!!!|
Chris and Dave arrived at 2am but I barely woke up. I slept pretty good, had pre-race bowel success, and ate, feeling okay. The day before I flew, I was so nervous I could barely eat lunch before my flight. We checked in at the start, set up our stuff inside the pavilion in case we had the rain they predicted (No matter; the entire where we placed our stuff flooded, but luckily, most of our stuff were in plastic bags.), and said hello to friends. Let’s get ready! Wheeeeee!
|HUGE ultrarunning hero - John Geesler. Swoon!|
The course is a .9 mile loop through this park (essentially around a parking lot, but it’s actually nicer than that sounds) with the Lake on one side. There were tons of people in the park, so that added an interesting people-watching element; one vegan weightlifter was working out at 10 a.m. until the first rain came well after dark. There were kites, multiple wedding photo shoots, families picnicking, seagulls, that sort of thing. The course is a paved loop, with some slight ups and downs, but nothing too bad. (In the middle of the night, you will find yourself walking “the big hill.”)
|ready to run at lakeside|
Because the lake is alongside the course, you get wind. Lots of it. This course is known for being windy. At times, the wind was so tough you found yourself using tons of energy just to propel yourself ahead. Some people confessed to me that they gave up running and just walked.
The race started a few minutes early, and we were off. I took off too fast, as usual, yelling at myself for running sub-9 minute pace. I got a cramp early in and was forced to slow down, which was a good thing. I chatted with everyone, ate gels, laughed.
The day was hot. It was supposed to be a high of 80, but it was much hotter than that – mid to upper 80s. I felt parched, and needed to make sure I was quite hydrated, but not drinking too much to cause the dreaded sloshing stomach.
Marathon in 4:10. Okay, a little faster than my best 24s, but not too terrible. 50k in 5:05. Okay. Okay.
Then in the mid 30s, my hamstring tightness grew worse. I went to the medical tent to have my hamstrings stretched. And again a little while later. And again.
And then my period showed up two days early. I spent much of the race begging for tampons. Thank you, ladies of North Coast 24!
It took forever to get to mile 50, or so it felt. 9:40. Ugh. 50 to 60 felt really awful. It took forever.
In the 70s, Chris warned me, "Cherie, it's going to rain." I had read an article about thunderstorms in Outside Magazine the day before. "I am going to stop if it's thunderstorming." I really wanted to go to medical and get them to stretch out my super tight hamstrings, but I figured I'd wait until the thunder and rain arrived.
I kept running, feeling kinda crappy. The miles dragged on. Where was this rain? I wasn't eating a ton - nothing looked appetizing (Well, mac and cheese did but I knew where that would land me!) and I ended up eating some vegan pizza. I do love cheese, but not when running.
I dragged on. I ran. I took a 5 hour energy shot. I changed my shoes. I ran some more. I ran some more. I put music on - it pushed me ahead. I flew. It felt great for a few laps. Then, I slowed down. Ran. Ran.
I came in. "You should stop now. The rain is going to come," Chris told me.
"Well, can't I just do one more?" I asked. It was only drizzling.
"No. Stop now."
"Really? I can't just do one loop - only .9 miles?"
"No. You can't."
So I went to medical and as they began working on my legs, the skies opened. Good timing. I thanked Chris profusely. I had medical pop some blisters and then I relaxed for a while.
Then, as I was pulling on my shoes, it let up. I head out and put in some more miles.
I ran on. Sunlight was coming, I knew it. I said hi to everyone I passed, and smiled. Only a few more hours of this hell/love.
Around mile 92, I connected with Isiah, who later won the men's race with 154 miles - in his first ultra! We ended up running together until I hit 100, at which point I drank water and ate a little extra food, and then spent the last hour running, walking a bit, laughing, smiling, so glad it was almost over.
|Hitting 100 miles|
I hit 104 miles. And then nearly 105. But it was over.
Far from what I wanted, but still, a pretty decent race. 5th USATF woman, lots of blisters, lots of soreness, lots of fun with friends, lots of hallucinations (Why do people do drugs when they can just run 24 hour races????), and some fantastic tater tots after. Yep, that's a good race!
|NY/NJ crew post race (Where's Zandy?)|
|Tired runners, yay|