03 March 2018


The start/finish area the night before the race. This stretch of the course would be lined with canopies and tents the next day.
My wife asked if I would run this race about 4 weeks earlier. The Delano Park 50 Mile and 12 Hour races take place in a park centrally located in Decatur, AL on a flatish 1 mile loop of packed down gravel just a short 20 minute drive from our house. Since I was in the middle of training for another 100 mile race, I decided to join her for the 50 mile distance while she ran the 12 hour event. 
View from the start/finish area.
I picked up our race packets the night before the race, mainly to have an excuse to set up our canopy tent near the course to save ourselves some time on race morning and maybe sleep a couple of extra minutes. We still had to get up at 4AM to load up our gear and hear to Decatur for the 6AM race start.
My race plan was easy. First and foremost, have fun. This race always has kind of a party atmosphere feel to me with all of the tents and canopies along the course and runners just running loops and taking breaks whenever they want. It is also the perfect location to try out nutrition strategies, since you get back to your personal aid station every mile. My plan was to follow the same fueling plan as in my previous 4 races over the last 5 weeks. One Honey Stinger gel every 45 minutes, some base salt every 60 minutes and Coca-Cola as needed in the later stages of the race. From a running perspective, I spent allw eek trying to figure out a pace I felt I could sustain for the full 50 mile distance. I finally settled on 9 minute pace.
I ran the first 2 loops with John Nevels, DeWayne Satterfield, Luke Hough and Aleisha Chaffin, all of whom would run the 12 hour distance, but clearly had plans different from mine as I had to dial it back after two loops to stick to my original plan of 9 min miles. That was pretty much the last time I ran with anyone, even though there were nearly 100 runners on the 1 mile loop. As much as I wanted to speed up or slow down to chat with other runners, sticking to my plan meant that I could only exchange very brief words of encouragement with other runners. The first 20 miles were pretty uneventful. I was still running in a winter running jacket and gloves. I would start shedding my layers about halfway through the race.

I had started to pay closer attention to the distance after abut 20 miles and I started to look forward to grabbing my iPod and headphones (something I haven't done in a very long time) for the last 20 miles to keep me on track. By that time, I had stripped down to a running singlet and shorts as the temps had warmed up a bit and the sun was almost above us. I would only realize that evening that even that fairly short time in the sun had burned both my neck and my shoulders. 30 miles in I started to listen to an eclectic mix of music, a playlist I had put together just for this race. This kept my mind occupied for another 10 miles. The final 10 miles required a bit more effort, but I also started to see the light at the end pf the tunnel.

With just a 10K or 6 laps to go, I decided I would try to push the pace a little to see if I could improve my original target time just a little. With 4 miles to go, I drank my first 2 cups of Pepsi to give me a final push and that definitely helped. Overall, my fueling plan had gone according to plan. I had stuck to it and I never experienced a bonk of any kind, not physical or mental. I really pushed on the final mile to cross that finish line exhausted, but feeling extremely good physically. 50 Miles is not a common race distance for me, so I even managed a 30 minute PR along with an overall win. Yes, it as a very small field of runners in the 50 mile race, but that did not diminish my excitement of how the race had played out for me. I set a goal and a pace, I managed to stick to it and I was still able to walk straight after. I call that a great day of ultra running.

Now all that was left to do was to pick up a 6 pack of beer and wait for my wife to finish the 12 hour event. Thanks to RD John Elmore and his entire crew of volunteers and to all the other runners, who were never short of providing encouraging words to each other. I'm not a fan of loops, but I really like this race:-)
Finish line photo with RD Jon Elmore.

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