How do you run a 5K every hour for 24 hours? How do you even train for it?
At Pemberton 24, we were given the opportunity to run a 5K every hour for 24 hours this past weekend. A 5K race starts at every hour. The rule is unless you are at the starting line at the beginning of the hour or else you couldn’t run it. You have to finish before the hour ends or it doesn’t count. It was a novelty to me.
Running a 5K in an hour was not that hard, but how many I could do was a challenge. Exactly how should I approach this race? I tried to run it like an ultra, by starting very slow — basically walking it.
I figured this is a good way for me to test out some ideas on preparing for the Devil Dog 100.
First of all, I needed some practice time for night time running and second, I wanted to experience sleep deprivation. It seemed silly to beg for suffering, but my last two 100 races, night time was where I struggled.
My strategy was, to walk as many 5Ks as I could and hopefully to do all 24 of them.
The result was: I found early on, power walking is tough! I initially thought I could walk the whole thing and maybe at the end, run, but to me walking is actually harder than running! because it uses different muscles and I was not as fit in walking, to my surprise.
Even early on (like by 5 loops or so), I realized I couldn’t do all 24 laps of these by walking. I started feeling soreness on my feet and others those minor muscles, exactly like if I were at the end of a 100 mile run. It was a big “oh no” moment. My goal was at least then make it to daybreak, to get 12 hours in (we started at 7 pm).
Sleep deprivation was not as bad as I anticipated. By morning, 6 -7 am, I felt a bit of tiredness. Sleep would be nice but in theory, I think I could survive for another few hours. I did not test how much longer I could stay up.
I decided to tap out, since there was no need for me to claim the bragging for me of doing a 24 hour run. I came to test some theory and I got my results. I got my training time in. Beside, I was not really arrived ready to do all 24 laps. Having that done would be nice, but I was not going to kill myself over it. I also have a marathon the following week, so I need a quick recovery.
I mean I was prepared for the run but some last minute changes threw a wrench in my operation. I was working that Friday, when I should have taken the day off. I thought I could do both working and then leaving early for the race. I had things packed up and loaded up my car before the trip. However, I did not check the forecast the night before, and weather had turned colder than I was prepared for. I had long sleeves and pants but I did not bring a jacket. I did not realize it was that cold until I got to work (as I walked from the car to the building). The temperature was to drop to 45F (cold for me) that night and with the rain, it would be more than unpleasant without a thicker outer layer. I had to make a decision, to brave the cold for the night or to get the jacket, which would delay me from arriving at the race on time.
I chose on getting the jacket. Then I just sat in the traffic for the next five hours watching the clock eating my time away. Google map always say only two and half or 3 hours to get there. It never predicts the traffic correctly for me. I made it to the event just barely. I got right in to the event without changing from my work clothes and ran 12 hours of 5k (12 laps). I just put on my bib and got into the starting coral just in time. Luckily, I had my running shoes on. They were not trail shoes, but they were sufficient.
I knew no way would I try for another 12 hours without proper clothing and shoes, or else I would be miserable. My feet were beginning to have blisters. I felt hot in certain parts and I knew I need to take care of them.
I had exactly the same tiredness in pretty much the same places as I had at last year Devil Dog event. My lightbulb went on, aha, I realized what costed me that race must have been the power walking that stressed my different set of muscles, since when I train to do an ultra, we I do not train on the power “walking”. Hardly ever do I take a weekend out to power walk for 12 hours. Now my feet were tired because I power walked for 12 hours straight. I felt I was about to fall over. But if I run, I should be okay.l, I think.
I decided to take some rest and get some sleep first. I had not set up a tent yet, since I arrived late and I had not even unpacked. My personal aid station and all the things I needed were not available to me. They were there. I packed them but they were locked away in the car. At the end of the first couple loops, I tried running to the car and geting them out. Usually I only had a small window to do it. Because my car is so far away, I gave up getting all my things. I had my tent. So I set up the tent, unpacked, crawled inside and slept. Not sure if I did really sleep or not, but having my eyes closed for about an hour and half was good. Couple hours later, I got up, changed, rehydrated myself, and ready for some more laps. I fixed up my feet, etc. They were starting to go bad and I was glad I stopped just in time to fix them. Cleaned, then lubed and all. I changed shoes too. People around me joked about, wishing someone would massage their feet too. These, sleeping, unpacking, and cleaning took 3 hours off the clock. I missed the starting for the 9 AM run, so I waited for the 10 AM. I was now ready for round 2.
For the rest of the day, I decided to run instead of walking. True enough, my running muscles were unhampered. My legs were as fresh as they could be. I did another 8 laps easily (with one lap I sat out for lunch – I did not need to, but decided this was not a do-or-die race, and so I might just relax and enjoy the race’s local food from a food truck). I finished with a total of 20 5Ks done and that is 100k or 62 miles. Not bad for a weekend. And I did not feel as tired as if I truly ran a 62 mile race straight.
My run was not hard, since we had an hour to do each 5K, I took my time with the running. I only ran “hard” in the last few laps and still, it was not really tiring. I put in a lot of miles but it was not stressful at all.
There were many who completed all 24 5Ks. I did not stay around too long to celebrate with them because I was wet and cold. The race event allowed us to camp out for a second night. I did. I knew I could probably drive home, but just be safe, I decided to stay for the night. Glad I did, I had a foggy mind even by the next morning. Effects of sleep deprivation hit me much later even after a good night of sleep. I was all goggy the whole Sunday.
I liked the camping aspect. Many came for their friends. It was a festival. We had theme run every hour. I was not into dressing up, and so kind of forgot about that part. I think it was a lot of fun if I had come with friends and dressing up.
Take out – I might come back next year to get a true 24 hour 5k. I feel though this race gears toward the general public. There were some serious runners but many (non runners) joined us only for a few laps, which was not bad at all. I am not complaining. 4 laps is a half marathon and 7 laps a full marathon. I saw many were hook into doing 4 laps or more. Grandpas and kids and do it. It was like introducing the public to running and trail running no less. I think it was fun and well done.
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