Call it a lack of discipline on my part when I signed up for a race I know I shouldn’t since it was so close to my marathon date. But I am an addict to running, I confess.
I had a free weekend and it felt weird of not running in something officially sounding event. I want to go somewhere far since the pattern has been to drive couple hours way each week to run.
The race Lake Ridge Endurance Run was held at Lake Claytor this year. It was their inaugural event. They had it last year but it was low key due to the pandemic (officially it was canceled/probably for insurance- liability issue) and was a fatass event for people who were willing to show up.
This year was for real. I drove down to Lake Claytor in Dublin, Virginia. I had a camp site reserved but there was very to no sleeping to be had. In the end, I didn’t sleep.
I could pick my start time at among the four choice 1 pm, 7 pm, 1 am the following day, or 7 am the following day. The race ended at 1 pm Sunday, so the 6 hours had more choices and no choice of start time for the 24 hour people. Almost all picked 1 pm since that was the most logical choice. No one wanted to run at night if they could help.
I originally chose 1 pm for sanity’s sake. But I accidentally/incidentally woke up late that race day morning and arrived to the race just 5 minutes after it started. I blamed the hour long traffic I encountered while traveling to the race site or the side stops to get breakfast and lunch, or partially gotten lost when I didn’t check what I entered into the GPS and it took me to another part of the Lake Claytor that was 5 miles away from the actual race site. It was not a good morning. I packed on the morning of too hence a bit late getting started on the road. The trip was 5 hours drive away. I was lucky that I was only 5 minutes late! But late is still late and missed the start.
There were not a lot of us, about 20 ish. Many were signed up for the 24 hour event. I signed up for the 6 hours but felt the distance might be too short, so I switched to 12 hours. This meant I would be running from sunset to sunrise. I always wanted to have a night time training (without sleep) for my upcoming 100 miler. This was a perfect opportunity to do it.
By midnight, the wind picked up a bit, not strong but soothing. The temperature was supposed to drop to around 50 F, but I felt hot though. I picked up my long sleeves when I arrived back at the aid station but didn’t wear it.
The adventure started. It was not much to be said. Time flew by. I did loop after loop. Sometimes I passed people during my loop, other times I was by myself. It was lonely when I didn’t see anyone. There were only 20 of us. Actually by night fall, half of them were already finished (The 12 hr people who started at 1 pm were done and so were the 6 hour). I was the only one who started at 7 pm. My chance of seeing anyone was slim. One was attempting a 100 mile, and I was hoping to get to see him on the course. I ran pretty much at his pace. In the end, didn’t get to see him – I think at one point he was at the station when I was there.
I like night runs due to not able to see things clearly. I like the sensory deprivation. I sometimes tried to close my eyes and run, except that I would trip on rocks and roots. I called them branches because they were like branches laying across the path. I tripped on the same root on every lap! Luckily each time, I didn’t fall. Only in the morning after the sun came up did I see what I have been tripping on. They were wickedly big roots.
One point at night around 3-4 am I got spooked. I don’t usually afraid of ghosts or creepy stuffs. But earlier in the night I was scared by some deers and some smaller critters, probably a raccoon. I saw their shining eyes staring at me. I jumped. I knew they were deers in my head but still the hairs on my back did not believe me. It was an auto response. At 3-4 am, there were no animal but the cool wind blew on my back. I felt like it was a spirit. It was a section of the course that the temperature noticibly dropped a few degrees and it was especially windy. I was genuine scared. I did not want to be out on the course any more.
Then came 5 am and 6 am. I knew the night had passed. I was uplifted. I knew I was out of time to do one more left. My race would end at 7. I tried very hard to get back by 6 so I could do one more lap. I came in at 6:24 am. It was not enough for one more lap unless I run at a 7 min pace. (Sun rose around 7, probably like 6:45). I went back out for one more lap even though I know it wouldn’t make it. It was the best lap – mostly because I was happy.
I finished strong. People congratulated me on finishing. I love the race a lot especially seeing the sky getting brighter and everything was alright on the last lap. I put in 52 miles (only 48 miles were counted, the other 4 miles were done beyond the 12 hours so they were not counted). It was my first time doing a 12 hour race so I was not very good at managing my time. Looking back, I could have squeezed in that last lap if I had spent a bit less time at the aid station.
This post is not much a traditional race report. The course is 4 miles long. Mostly runnable trail. Some sections had a bit of root and rocks. I ran on all. Those who were not used to the distance or the trail complained about it being rocky. A few ate dirt. I almost did many times but my balace was good (I trained myself by running on a balance beam or road curbs). The elevation was not much but over 10 loops it started to get to me. I think I had done over 3000 ft change overall. Aid station was at the start. I was able to keep the pace of one loop every hour. People volunteering were nice as always. We had people serving us through out the night (I told them to sleep, we runners can help ourselves). We could set up our own station too. I did but did not use it. Their food was better than mine. I stopped at every lap and that might have been way too much. If I do it again, I might stop only every 3 laps.
It was a small event so everyone would know everyone after the first loop.
suggestion to self. Prepare a whiteboard/and (own) extra dry eraser makers to count loops. They had electronic tracking, but for sanity sake, I like something visible and tangible. RD gave us some markers but their markers dried up by middle of the night due to usage/exposure.