Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Hinson Lake 92.7 miles.....Believe in your dream; your body will follow

I am currently on the couch thinking about all the wonderful memories I have from last Saturday's Hinson Lake 24 hour Ultra.  I am still in complete shock that I exceeded my goal of 90 miles.  Our local newspaper reporter (and fellow runner friend) Eddie Wooten, asked Dena & I to write a short report on the race, so here are the basics that I shared with him:

The race: 8th Annual Hinson Lake 24-Hour Ultra Classic

September 28th – 29th, 2013
The place: Hinson Lake, Rockingham, NC
    My entry fee: $24.00

      About the race: Run as many miles as you can around a 1.52 trail loop. There were many runners that came to just put in a few laps and there were some who relentlessly hammered out a ridiculous amount of miles.

          Entry limited to 240 runners.  
Why I went: This was my first year at Hinson Lake.  My friend, Dena, told me how great it was to run a longer loop than Crooked Road (1.52 instead of .95 miles per lap).  She was definitely correct.

        My goal going into the race was 90 miles (I completed 75 miles last year at Crooked Road, so it was a natural progression).  I completed 92.7 miles. 


 Pluses:  This type of race is ideal because you are only minutes away from food, drink, bathroom, massage table, and PEOPLE!  The people in and around this race are fantastic.  Most everyone chatted, even in the middle of the morning.  


     Minus: It gets dark and once it gets dark it is hard to keep your energy levels at an optimum level.  The temperature only went down to 54 degrees, but after running all day my body definitely felt cold in the middle of the night.

I ran in 3 different pairs of shoes and I think I have a complete collection of every type of sand used to create the path in my shoes. Not sure if I need a washing machine or a trashcan.


     Racing tidbit:  I can be out on a 6 mile run and feel like it is an eternity.  I’m out on this course and if I feel like walking..Guess what?!  I WALK!  (I ran approximately 27 miles before I did any walking-if I plan on breaking a 100 miles, I’m going to need to walk earlier). 


     Another morsel-you really do not tire of the loop.  It was really great because you start over a bridge, then you pass all the tables of lap counters.  After the lap counters are the tables of drinks (Gatorade, water and the magical elixirs: Ginger ale, Coke & Mountain Dew).  Many of the runners set up tents along the lakeside so that by the time you pass all the fun people crewing for their runners you’ve already hit ¼ mile marker.  Then you cross a whole lot of foot bridges (in the dark you pray you are running straight so you don’t fall off).  There is a really long 300’ bridge complete with a gazebo before you enter what they call Mt. Hinson, and what I call climbing land of roots, divets holes, and loose sand.  This section was challenging mentally and physically once you started getting tired.  Then it was the section where you were counting the sewer lids till you saw the last ¼ mile marker (up a brief hill) which emptied you into the parking lot near the bridge where you began.  Some laps seemed to go by so quickly, other laps felt like an eternity.
In my last blog, I told you that my friend, Dena, was also participating in the event.  She exceeded her goal as well.  We probably couldn't have done it without the help of her husband, Blair, and some friends, Melissa & Daniel.  Here are some pictures with some of the gang, Blair took the picture so he's missing!  No other race would I have dared to stop and take a photo...that would have been valuable seconds!  That's one of the biggest reasons I love these ultra events.

 I have to say, I smiled quite a bit.  Even when I was feeling really tired.  I cannot believe that your mind can tell your body what it can and cannot do.  My mind was in a great place before and mostly during the race.  I don't think I doubted my abilities more than a few times.  One of the times I questioned my ability was when my right leg cramped up at 11:58pm quite a few times.  I ingested 5 packets of mustard (talk about a cramp elixir!) and decided to get a massage.  I had just finished over 76 miles so I knew I had already completed my personal best from last year (75 miles).  I knew if I could get my leg to stop cramping so much, I could indeed get my 90 miles.  I was focused, determined, and steadfast.  I find the body such a fascinating machine.  Last year I completed 75 miles around 7am in the morning.  This time I had finished them a full 7 hours ahead of schedule. 
Anyhow, I stopped to stretch, roll, get a massage and eat some food for about an hour and a half.  And then, like a miracle, I actually ran 6-7 laps continuously.  Running!  I cannot explain how that happened.  I doubt I will ever know what triggered my desire to keep going.  Although I did reach up and touch my Black Fellow Flower in my hair a number of times between 3-4:30am. 
That is the thing about life.  You never really know what you are capable of until you test yourself.  Could I have completed a 100 miles?  Probably, but that was not my goal.  My goal was 90 and I basically did that last (61st) lap while waiting for my dear friends to come and pick me up to go home.  I walked on all sides of my feet (a couple of fellow competitors said I looked like a drunk sailor walking) and slowly took in the realization that I had indeed succeeded what I had set out to do.  I ended up 5th woman overall and 24th among 275 athletes. There was an impressive array of runners from all over who encouraged, smiled and made me happy to be right where I was.  I stayed over 21 hours and was safely in my driveway when the race officially ended.  I'm sleepy, but ecstatic.
This race fills up quickly, so if you want to join in on the fun, check their website in January!

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