Flatlanders 12hr race report
Round and around and around we go…The Flatlanders 6 and 12 hour timed race is held in Fenton Park and put on by the awesome pair (and fellow SLUGS) of David and Victoria White to help benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association. It’s a 1.4 mile loop of pure fun, mixing shade with open areas and, as the title suggests, pretty flat (about 33 ft per loop).
63 toed the line that morning at 7:30. It was a pleasant 75 degrees (heat wave having broken the day before), and the tents and self-aid stations were set up. 41 would be running the 6 hour and 22 running the 12 and it was obvious from the start who the fast ones would be. My goal was to stick with an 11-12 min per mile pace for as long as I could and see if I had any gas left in the tank later in the day. 3 hours in, about 10:30, I had run about 15 miles, so right on the 12 min pace. The problem was, it was getting warm. It was sunny and humid and the temperature was on its way to 90. Some reports of the heat index put it at close to 100. Not sure if that was true, but it felt like it!
To combat the heat, I had decided to try to cool off my pulse points. I used 3 water scarfs (with gel beads or something in them that swell with water and stay relatively cool)- one around my neck and one on each wrist. That plus the ice water I kept in an ice chest (and alternatively used to drink or spray myself with) seemed to do the trick. At no point did I feel overheated or sick from the heat (of course, it could have been because I was moving so slowly!) Regardless, after the first 15, I slowed considerably, taking more walking breaks, sitting a bit to eat and generally distracting myself with conversations with fellow runners. There was a great group of people out there, so conversations were very interesting!
Clouds covered us from noon to about 2 and although it didn’t completely cool off, getting out of the sun was welcome. There were sections that became “sun gauntlets”- 1/3 to ½ a mile of exposed course. I had decided to try to “run the sun” and walk the shade. Didn’t always work, but it was a good distraction. In the meantime, I couldn’t help notice the number of times I was being lapped by the eventual winner of the 6 hour, Jon Cash. I had lost count, but he turned in an impressive 45 miles in 6 hours for the second best distance ever. I determined to at least do that many miles in twice the time. Luckily, relief came in the form of my lovely wife and two boys! With Patrick in the stroller, Joseph and Sandra gave me a boost through a couple of miles. Sandra, giving me encouragment and distracting me with stories, Joseph sprinting ahead and then saying “Can’t catch me!” or “come on dad!”. I couldn’t have asked for a better mid race pick up.
As the day wore on, the heat continued to take its toll. My goal became to run enough to do sub 20 minute miles and a few times, even that was a struggle. However, something clicked about mile 41 and I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself and really push it. Encouraged by a shout of “go FASTER!”. I ran the next two miles at a 10 minute pace, surprising myself and starting to think that I might get the 50 miles I originally though was going to happen.
What I forgot was, at that point, I had been running for over 10 hours. My legs reminded me and I slowed again to a 15-17 min pace. I came around the bend for the last time and started the out and back sections (about .2 miles which everyone was doing). The goal was to go back and forth in the final amount of time to get as far as you can. After one or two out and backs, I once again decided “now or never” and ran the last .7 of a mile on what felt like a full sprint, but was actually 10:45 min pace, finishing with 47.8 miles, good enough for 9th overall. (and I just edged the 6 hour winner)
Compared to my 38.2 at Howl at the Moon 3 weeks earlier, I ran 10 more miles in 4 more hours. It was cooler (15 deg at the start 10 deg cooler at the peak) and I think that made all the difference. I will still continue to experiment, and have the 60k Hocking Hills Indian Run coming up on 9/21 where I’ll test out the UltrAspire SJ vest in preparation for the Hunter/Gatherer 50k in Texas on 10/5 (no aid stations).
Congrats to Tommy Doias on his 69.91 miles on the 12 hour, setting a new masters record and to all the other runners that braved the heat. The aid station volunteers and lap counters were superb and went above and beyond, fending off bees and helping break down tarp/tents after the race!
Highly recommended race.