Since beginning to run longer and longer distances, my idea of a training run has changed considerably. My sense of anticipation has also shifted quite a bit, to the point where anything less than 50 miles doesn’t really trigger any of my pre-race jitters or antsy feelings. That was certainly the case this time around as I approach the 3rd year of my birthday run tradition.
I went to the Labor Pains 12-Hour race last year because it looked like a fun way to spend my birthday, and I knocked out 40 miles in the heat and humidity, and enjoyed every minute of it. The weather was considerably different this year, but the goal was the same. September typically marks the beginning of the fall racing season for me, and luckily the weather shifted to accommodate, with cooler temps and light rain/ overcast skies. This was less than ideal for the epicurean’s relaxation and reading plans, but it proved to be excellent running weather…mostly.
We arrived about 30 minutes prior to the 7:30 start time, parked in almost the same location as last year, and I made my way to packet pickup. Other than the weather, the biggest difference this year was having company for part of the day. Michelle, a local friend, decided to make the drive up and use the race as her long run for the weekend, and it was great to have a familiar face to run with for a good chunk of the day. Our paces are very similar and we run a lot of miles together in general, so it worked out quite well.
To refresh your memory, the course is a 5-mile loop with close to 1,000 feet of elevation gain. Runners complete as many loops as they want, stop when they want, and start again if they want. There is an aid station at the mid-way point, and the trail is mainly wooded single-track. All the rain this year added mud to the equation in copious amounts, and I did plenty of sliding around throughout the day.
In general, my legs were feeling really good, and my pace remained relatively consistent throughout the day. Michelle and I ticked off the miles pretty smoothly, running the flats and downhill portions, and walking a few of the larger uphill sections after the first few laps. She ran the first 25 miles with me (plus the extra 1.2 for a marathon finish), and it made the time just fly by having someone else to run with consistently. After we said our goodbyes, i kept on moving and knocked out my final 3 loops with relative consistency.
As usual, it was a very well-organized race, the aid station at the start/finish was nicely stocked with a variety of snacks, and I made sure to help myself to the beer at the half-way point during the last few laps as well! The weather may have been soggy and less than ideal for relaxing outside (sorry, beautiful epicurean!) weekend day, but it still proved to be an enjoyable day. I still have a few more years before I need to head back out for a 9th lap, and I will continue to return to this race as my birthday run tradition continues. I’ll keep #chasing42 for yet another year!