Sunday, May 15, 2011

3 Days at the Fair: 48-Hour

(laughing at "Everything hurts except my injury.")

First of all, BIG congrats to all racers this weekend, both at 3 Days and beyond. There were so many events going on. My heart was with you MassaNUTS, running the trails in George Washington National Park. What a fun weekend to be an ultrarunner!

Race results:
1st woman, 3rd overall for the 48-hour event
(172.4178 miles total, 131 coming from day one)
(Literally, the last 8 times I've been in a newspaper, I've worn THESE, my favorite pants.)

I like long races, and I like timed circle events. My focus for 2011 is the 24-hour, so the 48-hour race option at the NJ Trail Series’ “3 Days at the Fair” provided a unique opportunity for some over-distance training. I hoped to kick it hard the first day to test my 24-hour fitness and then hang on FTW (for the win) for the 48-hour if possible. Ultimately, this is what happened, but it was sloppier than that and involved more suffering. Excuse me, I mean “edification.” It involved a lot of edification.

Whenever someone asked me what my goal was, I gave a conservative offering because I didn’t know how my body would respond. I still don’t know, in the form of any principle of generalizability. There are so many unique factors per 48-hour time period that it is difficult to know—even in broad strokes—what will happen. Looking at the entrants list, I knew there were several big guns present. I expected them to run evenly-paced races and wanted to hang back with them but knew I had to run my own race. I know that sleep deprivation is excessively demoralizing for me, so I translated my early enthusiasm into big mileage, crossing my first 100 miles in 16 hours, 53 minutes. This included a few sneaker changes, leg rollouts with “the stick,” and attention to nutrition and hydration. It felt light and casual, which was appropriate.

At around mile 120, my stomach rebelled, similar maybe to the incident in Steinbeck’s esteemed project, The Grapes of Wrath, when Winfield eats too many peaches. I finished off the day with another 11, wrapping up 131 miles. This is an encouraging sum because it all seemed fairly mellow, particularly the latter half, when I inculcated more breaks into the run in anticipation of day two. I feel confident about where I’m at for the 24.

At around that time, I met up with Deb again. We were both in pain, but that was to be expected. In these races, suffering is a ubiquitous state of affairs. So either be an encouragement, or say nothing at all. Do no harm. That’s in the Hippocratic Oath.

(Early the 2nd night.) If I had to pick one person to run a paved 0.88-mile loop with for two days, I'd pick YOU all over again, Debbie Horn.

The course was punishing in its small, paved circle with gravel kind of way. My stomach was worsening. I hadn’t eaten in a while, meaning my blood sugar was off, and my eyes played tricks on me. I thought I saw a pile of cats—one body, lots of heads—along the posterior of the course, but when I ran over top of them, they dissipated.

Heading back through my crew area, I laid down for a bit, hoping everything would correct itself. Nothing changed, but the pavement-pounding from day one reverberated through my legs. I made the decision to leave, telling RD Rick and a few friends I would return as soon as I could keep food down.

At home, I waited. Just before 5, I wandered into the kitchen. My cat strided in and rubbed up against my leg. “I don’t even know if you’re real or if you’re a hallucination like the other cats,” I said. “Smokey, tell me. With your feline insight, what’s the feasibility of there being a multi-headed dissipating cat?” Then I ate, and all was well! I returned to the fairgrounds, alit with joy. Hark! I bring you good tidings of great joy. There is a world outside of this paved circle, but this world here is better. It was like an inversion of Plato's "Allegory of the Cave." I lost 8 full hours of running, which was not ideal. Rule number one in a multi-day: Ideal doesn’t happen.

Forty-one more miles occurred. I would expound if I remembered them. There was rain, and I think at some point the McNulty children were dressed in costumes. Rick and Jennifer McNulty are the race directors for the NJ Trail Series events. They are runners themselves and are incredibly kind and attentive to their racers. They kept everyone fed and laughing. Their children camped out with us all weekend, and they are intelligent and splendid. Splendid!

Hug from sweet Anna. She won the 24-hour.

The race ended well. Admittedly, I got the giggles. I was running with Bill Gentry. Partial laps are not counted, but we wanted two more...Who even knows why? So we started sprinting. Bill is fast. I was hanging on with all I had, mumbling, "Oh, my gahhhh. Adrenal fatigue." The people were cheering at us loudly, but I felt so far away, like I was outside of myself watching it happen. As we sprinted, I peeked to my left. The young McNulty daughter was dressed as the Grim Reaper, just standing there, observing us.

Female Whiner. I mean Winner.

I am writing this blog in the kitchen, eating everybody's food. What a fun weekend. Thanks for crewing, Mom and Dad. Congratulations, everyone! Now I feel a bit more like this girl:


  1. Congrats! 131 in 24 hours should put you on the US 24 hour team. And who can resist a race report with references to Plato and Steinbeck? Sorry if I put the idea of hallucinations in your head (my best were half rat, half stick insect). Now I'm off to see if Debbie's posted a report on her blog.

  2. Those last two laps were INSANE! I am SO glad we did them together. :) You really are amazing! Great report, too.

  3. Great report. I knew you would kick ass if you ever ran one of our races. Can't wait to see what you can do next time.

  4. Way to pull off the win for the 48 hour and stepa bit out of your 24 hour comfort zone. I can tell you loved running with Gentry and especially those last two laps. He can keep your mind off of any pain.

  5. Deb has her race report up now (she says nice things about you) and so does Meredith Murphy, who I'm guessing you didn't meet.

  6. Thanks you guys!!

    Steve, I did meet Meredith. She's very sweet! And I saw Deb's report. It's funny because I was a fan of her running before I met her, and now I get to hang out with her at races! This sport is cool like that. And she is hilarious and wonderful.

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  8. Sabrina - just reading this after having signed up for the 12 hour this May. This will be my first timed event and I'm going for at least 50 miles. Any suggestions you have on changing of shoes, etc I would appreciate it, or insight in general. Congrats on your 2011 accomplishment and I hope to see you at the 2012 event.