Saturday, March 10, 2012

Race Report - 2012 Delano Park 12 Hour Race

This year´s Delano swag;-)
I really had no plan for the Delano Park 12 Hour Race this year other than showing up and hanging out with friends. This would be my third ultra within 4 weeks, having just completed two of my goal races for the year (Fuego y Agua 100K and Double Top 100M). As a result, I really didn´t want to set any goals for this one. Instead, I wanted to treat it like a bonus mile run and a party. I admit, I did set a very small goal when I lined up race morning (complete an easy 50K by lunch), but other than that, I just wanted to hang out, eat good food and help my fiancee Anya accomplish her longest running distance to date. Suffice it to say, we both met our goals. While I barely met mine, she blew hers away by running 50k for the day. Until Saturday, her longest run had been a 15 miles training run a few months back in preparation for her second half marathon. Now, she actually has an ultra marathon distance under her belt. That´s another reason I like timed events. Folks can just go out there, aim high and more often than not, actually accomplish it.

Richard came by my house at 4:30AM Saturday morning to give me time to find a spot to set up my canopy at Delano Park. I had sent RD Eric an email asking about spots for tents and he had no objections. He only advised us to show up by 5AM or else we might find ourselves without a convenient parking spot behind our tent. Sure enough, when we rolled up at the park, people were already busy setting up shop and getting ready for the race. I was smart enough to let Anya sleep in just a little, so she would be well rested for the day;-)

Anya showed up shortly after Richard and I finished setting up our spot right across from the bathroom just after the starting line. As you can see in the pic below, both Anya and Richard had a hard time waking up for this one.

Race morning started off a bit on the chilly side.
I remembered that there were about 5 or 6 tents last year and maybe even less the previous year, so imagine my surprise when I took the snapshot below just minutes before race start. The Park had developed into tent city with around 15 tents and canopies lining one side of the course around the start/finish area. If I hadn´t known better, I would have thought I was at a tailgating party. Aside from folks running a few laps, some running a few more than others, the atmosphere was the same. Folks were cooking out burgers and enjoying a cold beverage of choice (beer? Gatorade? who can be sure).

Tents and canopies lined one side of the course.
The race started shortly after 6AM and I took off like I was being chased. I decided to run hard until I would fold. After all, I was running on empty after last weekend´s DT100, so this was to be a run to see how I was feeling. Sure enough, after 15 miles of decent running, I started to run out of gas...and motivation to push. Instead, I took a looong break. After a little less than an hour, I decided to pick it up again to log the 50k I promised myself before lunch. Richard had packed in his stuff earlier after getting his own recovery run in. Anya was still sticking to her plan, run 5 miles, take a break, run 5 miles, take a break, and so on. By lunchtime, I had completed my mini mission and Anya had accomplished her goal of 20 miles. We still had 6 hours left. What to do? Well, first I went to a fellow local runner´s tent (thanks Cary Long and crew!) to enjoy a freshly grilled burger (meat for me, vegetarian for Anya, yum yum!). Next, I put an idea in Anya´s head.

¨You know, even if you walked for a few hours, you could easily log 31 miles and still feel alright.¨ ¨Really?¨ she replied and that was that. After a nice long lunch break, we went for a speed walk in the park. Three or so hours later, Anya had completed her first ultra marathon distance of 50 kilometers. This was quite a rewarding experience for me. After having had two amazing ultra experiences over the last 4 weeks, I actually  was lucky enough to pace Anya to her first ultra. It had been a great 4 weeks for sure.

Her smile gracefully hid the pain her first 50k finish had to had left her with. 
During the course of the day, I met lots of runners, but I also failed to meet a few others I had planned to introduce myself to. Hopefully, I am more successful in doing so the next time around. Thanks again to Eric, Jon and their tireless crew of volunteers for putting on yet another fantastic Delano Park 12 Hour event. Every year it turns into more of a party and people continue to break course records and put on amazing performances. This year was no different with Kathy Youngren as the overall winner of the 50 mile race in under 7 hours and the Fleet Feet Huntsville relay team ¨destroying¨ the old course record with 117 completed miles. Very impressive and awe inspiring!

2 comments:

  1. Awesome month for you and Anya!

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  2. Great blog... I hope to do Delano next year... I am impressed with your ultra running.

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