Saturday May 18 at 9 am I started my goal race of the year – 3 Days at the Fair 24 Hour Race. I had hopes and a detailed plan to complete over 100 miles. But I stopped after 10 and a half hours with 45 miles. Huh? Really.
This is a fixed time event, which means trying for as many miles as possible in the time allowed. It is different from the typical fixed distance race where we try to finish in the least time possible. You can stop and restart at your own choosing. There were several other races in progress at the same time, 6 Hours, 12 Hours, 48 Hours, 72 Hours, 6 Days, 10 Days. It was a little like a carnival or fair with running as the attraction; and it was held on a county fairground on a one mile loop. Race details and results can be found at https://sites.google.com/site/njtrailseries/fair
In spite of all my training, planning, etc I was not ready mentally for things to get difficult a few hours into the race. From my knees down to my feet, I was sore and achey like is normal after a long time on your feet. The sunny weather made me hotter than just the air temp in the low 70s.
My friend Angie was in the 6 hour race and I ran the first hour with her before switching to my run/walk plan. Later she and I did some miles together in the last hour of her race. By this time I was lamenting (whining) how I felt and that I no longer had any interest in continuing to try.
I tried to give my body (and mind) a chance to pull out of the slump by walking more, focusing more on fluids and food, interacting with other runners. Eventually I called my wife to talk about the trouble I was having. She gave some medium strength encouragement to continue trying, but also gave non-judgmental consent if stopping was what I wanted to do. I resumed the effort for 10 more miles, then decided to lay down for a nap before deciding whether to quit. My legs did feel better after the nap, but my motivation still had not returned. I knew that I could continue since my body still worked ok and I felt like I "should" continue, but I just didn’t want to. So I officially withdrew from the race.
Why the problem?
The thing with my legs may have been related to the heavy compression socks I was wearing. While laying down I kept the socks on until I decided that I would not return to the course. Soon after removing the socks I got up and walked to my pickup truck to pack up my supplies. Once I finished with that and started toward the place to turn in my timing chip, I realized my legs felt completely okay. Maybe the socks restricted ciculation to the point of bringing on leg pain.
A number of other things may have also contributed to my lack of motivation. My stomach was a little off due I think to my dinner meal the night before and eventually the heat and effort. I had not slept well due to the noisy surroundings where my tent was placed. And my preparations had focused on the practical details of food, equipment, run plans. There was significant physical effort in the last 24 hours collecting and setting up everything. A runner who I follow online has pointed out that while many realize that the mind decides what the body will do, the mind is also part of the body and is affected by the same conditions that weaken the body.
Now after the race I realize I was over-confident and neglected to really acknowledge the challenge I was facing physically and metally. I had a successful prior 24 hour race. I read and copied what successful runners have done in making my plan. So I had taken for granted I could and would step up to overcome the difficulties. I found out how wrong I was about that.
In spite of how things went for me, I enjoyed being there. Already I am thinking about what’s next and how to prevent a similar result.