Thursday, July 31, 2014

Christmas in July 24 Hour

The Christmas in July 24 Hour Race was one in a series of races including a 6hr, 12hr, 5k and 10k that started with the 24hr at 10pm July 15th.  It was a one mile loop in a scenic park in Lisle, Illinois.  The race producers went all out with the Christmas theme, there were trees and lights everywhere, giant inflatable snowmen and Santas, and tea lights lit the whole course.  Loli and I came dressed appropriately:

Ho Ho Ho
Loli was going for her very first ultra and I thought I had a good chance of a win and maybe a shot at beating my 24hr PR of 130.2 miles if the weather stayed cool like it had all week. 

It was fun to start a race at night instead of way too early like a lot of races.  The only problem was starting at night meant that we were going to have to be awake longer than if we just woke up and went straight to the race.  I tried to sleep in but failed miserably.

I went out fast, stupid fast, but wanted to have some fun in my Shanta suit before it got too hot.  I ran the first lap in 7:30, then took the suit off and slowed down to a slightly less stupid 8:00-8:30 pace.  The only person that stayed with me in the early miles was Chuck Shultz, good friend and fellow finisher in our 410 mile length of Illinois run.

It was a festive atmosphere with a couple hundred people on a one mile loop, we were all constantly passing each other.  I thought it might be getting hot once the sun came up, so I wanted to get as many miles in as possible while I could.  By the 12hr mark at 10:00am I had around 75 miles in and was in the lead.  I felt comfortable about my lead, the only person I was worried about was Heather Zeigler, who was still in striking distance.

It was also getting hot.  The week before had been cool, but it looked like we were going to have a cloudless day in the 80's and we were running on a blacktop surface.

Ah! It burnnns!!
By this time I could tell there wasn't going to be a shot at getting a PR so I switched to my hot weather gear, slowed down some and switched to my all liquid diet which is easier to digest in the heat:

Mmmm, Ensure and Jim Beam.
Meanwhile, Loli had been moving all night long as well.  I thought she would rest or even sleep through the night but she just kept going and going.  I could see the concentration on her face.  Her strategy was to count the lights and then the flowers along the course to distract from the pain.

401, 402, 40- Shit! Where was I? 1, 2, 3...
By mid-day the heat was getting to all of us.  People were starting to drop like flies, bodies littered on cots and under trees.  Loli finally had to stop and lay down on a cot and Chuck called it a day.  I kept going but was slowed to a crawl.

I thought people might catch me but if anything I was getting farther ahead.  Around 18 hours in I was miserable and far enough ahead that I decided walking might be more fun.  It was!  Mostly because Loli had risen from the dead and decided she wanted to keep going to see if she could get 100k.  100k!  2.5 times as far as she had ever been in non-ideal conditions. 

Still Smiling.
Mercifully, the Sun finally started to set and it cooled a bit.  I think we might have even ran a few more miles slowly and painfully.  I think the only person who actually ran the whole day was Juan "Machine" Juarez, who ended up in 2nd place and I think a PR of 103 miles or so.

At the 23 hour mark I had had enough and called it a race at 110 miles.  First place! And one of the most interesting awards I have ever received:

Yes, that a three foot tall nutcracker.
Loli decided that it wasn't really a 24 hour race unless you went as hard as you can for 24hrs so she put in a few extra miles at the end and ended up with 66 miles.  Amazing!

Thank you everyone!  It was a good time and well organized, I probably will be back next year.  Also thank you Hersh and Nate for the pics and the memories.  See you at the races!

1 comment:

LoLi Arosemena said...

I cant wait for the next one