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The Unspoken Rules of Being a Badass: A Runner's Guide

2013 Delano Park 12 Hour Ultra Race Report – Charlie Taylor

2013 Delano Park 12 Hour Race Recap
March 9, 2013

When I read the description of this race, I knew that it would be a good test of how ready I am to run my first 100 miler, so I signed up early in January.

Training had not gone according to plan most of the first of 2013, I am about 100 miles behind last year at this point, but last year wasn’t what I had wanted it to be either. Other than the 2 races I have run, a 50K and a 100K, I have not run but about 2 runs over 20 miles. Some of it was due to injuries that I had in early December and some of it as just plain lazy I guess. Last Saturday, I had intended to knock out a 20, instead, went on a trail run with my friend Doug Boomer on our pipeline course. We had discovered a new trail and as we ran through the woods, we came upon a property line fence. Boomer climbed over it and as I stepped on the bottom wire to cross and swung my leg over the top wire, the bottom wire broke, hurling me directly to the ground with 2 of the barbs gouging a big place from the back of the knee all the way up into my butt cheek. I was bleeding like a stuck hog and I know Boomer wanted to laugh, but I think he didn’t because he thought he might have to come over and help me get out of the clutches of the barbed wire. Well, we went on and finished our run, seeing that we were still 5 miles from the car, with my leg throbbing with every footstrike. So now, I have a 12 hour race a week later and I have cut the crap out of my leg. Just what I needed!

Fast forward to Friday night, March 8th. Because I am cheap, I decided to drive down to Decatur, Alabama the night before and try to get some sleep in the truck instead of leaving early Saturday morning. Terri thought that I might be uncomfortable trying to sleep in my Ford Ranger so she graciously offered me her van. It was only 140 miles away and I made it to Delano Park around 11PM, was happy that I could park within 20 feet of the course, and did so. It was about 35 degrees, not terribly cold, but I figured that I would be ok with a little bit of cover. I crashed pretty quick and sometime around 2AM, woke up freezing. At that time I decided that I probably should put on a few more articles of clothing and went back to sleep, having covered up a bit more. I must have slept pretty darn good because the next thing I remember, It was daylight and there were cars around me everywhere. I didn’t hear a one of them come in. Sure was glad I had the best parking spot on the entire place!!

The race started at 6AM and it was still in the mid 30’s. It is pretty nice on these kind of races because you have your stuff right beside the course and every mile, you pass your spot. I decided to start out with a bunch of clothes on knowing that I could shed anything I wanted any time I wanted to. I had set all my stuff out so that it would be easy to grab whatever I needed as I passed, wasting very little time. One thing I consistently see in these kind of races is runners spending a lot of time stopped at their spots. I don’t think many of them realize how much overall time they are wasting and if they could just cut the stops by a minute each, they would be able to get more miles in. My goal was to spend about 20-40 seconds at my stops.
6AM and the race is on. The course was one mile long and kinda wove in and out, backtracking itself in one place-separated by a banner, then a couple little rises (about 10 foot of climb in the entire loop), around a water tower, past Decatur High School, then back to the start/finish where you crossed over the timing mat to start all over again. I intended to start out at a respectable 8:40-9:00 pace and never get any faster than about 8:30. My mileage goal was 65 miles. Having never run a 12 hour event before, I was not sure how I would feel in the latter stages. I had run 54 miles last summer in a 10 hour event and was sure I could do it, but I do remember “falling apart” the last couple hours.

My first miles were right on target, 9:04, 8:44, 8:37, 9:01, and 8:36. At Mile 8, I took my first it stop and that one came in at 10:15. I hit the 10 mile mark in 1 hr 30 min, feeling pretty good. I continued back on my goal pace, stopping again at mile 13 and was at 15 miles in 2:18. It was getting rather warm, the high was supposed to get to 70 and I made sure to drink a lot of water and shed more clothes. I had also drank about 6 oz of ASEA before starting and intended to drink 2-3 oz every 30 minutes. I hit the 20 mile mark in 3 hours 3 minutes and felt like I might be able to top out at 70 miles instead of the 65 goal I had set.

I took a little longer break at mile 21 and stretched the legs a bit. My miles were starting to be in the 10:00-10:30 range and I crossed the line for 26.2 miles in 4:06, not a bad time considering that I still had almost 8 hours to run. My 50K split was only 15 seconds over 5 hours, which would have been a great finishing time on some of the 50k’s that I have run, however, some of them are crazy hilly and this race was flat.

My mile splits are getting a bit slower and this is the time in ultra races where the little demons start talking to you, making you want to quit and telling you how stupid you are for running. I pressed on, ignoring them as much as possible. When one runs ultras, there is a lot of time to think of things and if you don’t find something positive to think about, the negatives will kick your butt. My trick is to constantly do the math on the percentages of how far I have gone and what percentage I have left. When the clock hit 6 hours, I had just crossed the line for my 35th mile and from there it was downhill, halfway to the finish. Now as I’m sure everybody can imagine, this is easier to talk about than to do but it does do something in my mind, knowing that there is less time to go. Mile times crept into the 12 minute range and during this point, I took a 5-6 minute break and really stretched out. This 20:12 mile turned out to be my slowest mile. I hit 40 miles in 6:57 and then 45 in 8:04. I started feeling better and getting the splits back down into the 11’s. I remember thinking that I had 4 hours to run 20 miles and hit my goal. That should be easy. Should be, but then again, I had already run 45 miles. I started concentrating on getting 5 miles per hour, including my stops, which were coming more often. A lot of times, I would stop for 10 seconds and drink some more water. One good thing about running mile loops is that I did not have to carry anything.

As I got closer to 50 miles, I thought that I might be able to break 9 hours (I had run 8:55 in my 10 hour run last year), but crossed the line for 50 miles in 9:03. Now the finish was getting closer, but still a long way off. Mile 55 was at 10:07 and I hit 60 in 11:08. My last 4 miles were 10:31, 11:50, 10:03, and 8:50. When I crossed the line at mile 62, I had 23 minutes left and knew that I could get 2 more with an outside chance of 3. When I completed mile 64, there was a bit over 5 minutes left and I went on, thinking that I might get close and they might count it, but ended up being 3/10 mile short, officially finishing 64 miles.

I always knew how far I had run and occasionally later in the race, the race director would call out the distance as I crossed the line, but I never knew what place I was in. I did know about the guy who was first overall, heck he lapped me 14 times, but I knew there were several others that I had not lapped and had not lapped me and I figured there were several of us that would be close to each other. Turns out, first place was 78 miles, 2nd was 68, 3rd 66, and 4th thru 7th had 64. I was the last of those 4 and ended up 7th overall and first place Master division (over 40).

I felt good at the finish, however, I had finished pretty hard and immediately went to my chair and sat for 10-15 minutes. 12 hours continuous running really takes a toll on the human body! As I mentioned earlier, I have been drinking ASEA for year now, and drank about 16 ounces during the race and I attribute this to my amazing recovery process. After finishing, I had relatively little pain, which is a common thing for those who drink this amazing product.
With the race being over, I got my award, loaded the van and headed back home to Gallatin, cleaned up, and got a great night of sleep.

What did I learn while running this race? Call me crazy, but I like these kind of races.. a lot. There is plenty of time to think, the pace is much slower than marathon pace, and I actually do pretty good at long distances. I’m learning more and more how to eat before my stomach starts growling in races and how important that is to not bonking. I also got to see super Awesome Dewayne Satterfield win the 50 mile race in a crazy 6 hours 23 minutes (or somewhere close to that)

What did I like? The race was very well organized, plenty of food and drinks and most importantly, plenty of cheering folks to help you keep going. The one mile loop was nice because it allowed me to break each lap into halves, they did go by pretty fast (in my mind at least). Friendly North Alabama folks, as always. I have come to really enjoy those North Alabama races.

What did I not like? Nothing really. The gravel got a little soft in a couple places and it would mess with footing. That little 10 foot climb became something I dreaded every lap (you have to have something to dread). I really did not like having to stop and remove my shoes a couple times to get gravels out.

Will I do Delano Park 12 hour again? Definitely

What’s up next? This Saturday, March 16, I will run the Savage Gulf Trail marathon in Bersheeba Springs, TN. This thing runs down into what they call the grand canyon of the east with lots of technical footing, lots of climbing, lots of big rocks, and a couple creeks to cross. Me, Doug Boomer, and Scott Jordan are gonna go see what we’re made of.

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