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And the race report you’ve been waiting for!! The Back on my Feet 20 in 24 Lone Ranger occurred on July 17-18th, 10am to 10am. I will try to make it less stream-of-consciousness than the Niagara race report.

It took me until the Thursday after the race to compose a summary email to send out to everyone who wanted to know how I did. I went on vacation, and the words wouldn’t come. This post is obviously far more delayed than that. I’m very proud to have completed 67.648 miles in the race, and I raised over 1,300 dollars for Back on my Feet (my goal was $1000). But my mom summed up some of my feelings about the race with this (paraphrased) statement “You sounded more excited when you finished the Philadelphia Marathon than you do right now talking about running 67.648 miles”. Yes, yes I did. Why? I don’t know… I ran slower? More on that later (another post). Here are the details.

I ran 50 miles in 13 hours, took a break for 6 hours (slept for 5), than ran 17 more miles between 5:30 am and 9:45 am. At the start of the race, I was considering going for 100 miles. Then I got off track by an hour (would’ve had to finish 50 miles before 12 hours for the 100 mile goal), so I had to re-evaluate. Part of me wanted to try to run through the night, but then I finished a lap at around 11pm, and my feet and knees hurt, and I decided to rest for at least 2 hours and then re-evaluate again. After watching the Midnight Madness loop start off and shoving some food in my gullet, I decided to sleep for three hours. I figured I couldn’t run well at the moment, and that sleep would enable me to run faster when I woke up. And if I could run faster in the morning, I could get in as many miles as if I had to walk from that moment until the end of the race. I took Ibuprofen and went to sleep. My knees were killing me! They hurt at whatever angle I tried to rest them. I blame my knees for me deciding to sleep until 5am. I woke up halfway at a few points in the night, and my knees definitely hurt less when I actually got up at 5am than when my alarm went off at 3am.

I started off the first lap trying to go slow. Lone rangers were encouraged to line up after the relay racers (since we were probably all starting off slower). The starting line was kinda exciting, but long race starts don’t got nothing on the feeling of getting ready to race a 5k. I barely warmed up! Just unloaded my stuff into Lloyd Hall and made sure I had everything ready for the coming hours. I had to change watches at the last minute because my Garmin had low batteries, so I plugged it in and switched to my watch that just has a timer. The loop started off going up the biggest hill of the loop (which really isn’t a bad hill at all). It was pretty hot already. After reaching the first mile marker and water stop, I slowed down to walk a bit. I got a few comments asking if I was OK. Maybe I was ambulating slower than the average ultrarunner at the start of the race? I was just employing a strategy designed to last for 24hours. I finished the first lap in about 1:30. F aster than I intended, but not too fast. I took a brief break in Lloyd Hall, to get out of the sun and to check my watch (not charging properly?!) My mom was volunteering at the timing table, so I got to see her at the end of each of the first three laps. Coincidentally, as I passed one of the boathouses my friend Lauren exited! She had just finished rowing in the Schuylkill. Perfect timing. We chatted for a bit while I was taking my break.

Lap 2 was relatively uneventful. Still got some comments when I was walking. I finished this lap just under 2 hours. With the fast time of lap 1, I felt like I was keeping ahead of pace and took a longer break. I was wearing my oldest and most comfortable pair of shoes, but after two laps their cushioning was shot. Time to switch shoes! Pair #2 were Asics, recently purchased for the purpose of this race.

Lap 3 was getting really hot! Fortunately, there were small towels at every aid station to dip in ice water and to drape over yourself. I wore mine around my neck, some people draped it over their heads tucked into visors. I tried that approach, but felt the neck drape kept me cooler. I wore my iPod shuffle for this lap. I have a sweet headset that locks the shuffle sitting above my neck, so there are no chords to get in the way. Unfortunately, this spot was where some of the ice water got concentrated, so the shuffle started not working after about 6 miles. I finished this lap in about 2 hours even. On the Kelly drive portion of the lap, someone in a car going the opposite direction called out my name, and slowed down to wave out the window. I found out later it was one of my co-workers. At the end of the lap, another co-worker happened to be driving on Kelly drive on the race side, she was stopped at the light when I finished the lap and was very impressed I had already finished 3 laps and was getting ready for number 4.

Lap 4 started off normal. I saw my friend Gabi eating lunch by the Art Museum steps. She made a sign for me! I felt like I was reasonably on pace. Half way through the lap at the aid station, a runner from the Reading area started talking to me. I wasn’t sure if he was just chatting at the aid station, but then he kept pace with me for a mile, and then made me promise to finish the lap with him. He had a bunch of races under his belt, and he was aiming for the 100-mile mark. He helped me drop my pace this lap back down to about 1:45. He encouraged me not to walk as much as I wanted to, and had some entertaining stories about running in Reading. At this point, my ultimate goal was to get to 80 miles. The breaks I was taking between the laps were taking up the time and put me off the times I needed to hit in order to get to 100 miles.

Lap 5 I had a pacer! My friend Kate started working at the timing booth after my mom, and was able to leave her duties earlier than planned in order to run with me. I grabbed some food, got pictures with Kate and Gabi, and headed out. Kate and I talked about lots of stuff, it was awesome. Lap 5 took about 2 hours.

My friend Billy was willing to pace me later at night around 10pm, but after lap 5 it was getting dark, and I was behind my original schedule, so I called to see if he wanted to run with me for lap 6. He was down, so I rested for about 30 minutes waiting for him to arrive. Runners were supposed to wear reflective  vests at night, so I was sporting a super hot yellow reflective vest. It was weird running in the dark. Philadelphia doesn’t really get dark because of all the street lights. I had a headlamp with me just in case, and I did turn it on at some bridge underpasses, but it was in no way necessary. I had changed out of the wet clothes into dry ones for the night (figuring it would be colder and I wouldn’t need the ice towels). Unfortunately, the humidity didn’t go away! Though it was technically cooler, I felt hotter because of the dry clothes. Billy runs faster than I do, so he was able to get me to push the pace for this lap, we finished in about 1:50. This was the big 50 mile mark!! I finished at about 10:53.

Now the debate began. My feet were really sore during lap 6. I wasn’t sure I would be motivated to keep running if I headed back onto the course alone. I wanted to see the glow in the dark midnight madness runners, but didn’t feel like running. I decided I could at least take a two hour break and watch the start of the midnight madness loop. I soon decided sleep was in order, not more running. I mean, I made it to 50 miles! I wasn’t racing anyone, nor any previous times, so I figured the amount of recovery I would get from sleeping was very worthwhile. And I guess I wasn’t ready to have my first Ultra event involve sleep deprivation. I went to sleep around 12:30.  I aimed to get up at 3 or 3:30, but that didn’t happen. I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t make the same decisions when I am in the process of waking up that I would make otherwise. More sleep always wins over anything else, unless the motivation is really high. So at 3:30am, my knees were still sore, and I was still sleepy. I set my alarm for later.

I had motivation to get up before 5:30am when the pajama loop started, because a friend was running it and we promised to see each other. I managed to get up at 5am, and pull myself together enough to get back on the course. I was wearing my third pair of sneakers, also bought exclusively for the purpose of changing shoes in the middle of this race. I heard the pajama loop start, and then I left walking in the other direction. I wasn’t sure I would be able to run again, but I was able to walk at a 17min/mile pace at first (thank you Garmin for that useful information). I was able to speed up the walk to about 15min/mile at some points. After about 2 miles, I saw my friend running. After that, somehow I managed to start running again, and running at a reasonable pace (10min/mile). Walking fast takes mental fortitude, and I was impatient to be moving, so I guess after warming up for 2 miles, running stiffly was better than trying to walk fast. I saw my aunt on the bicycle tour. I noticed she has exactly the same bike that I do. Did not remember that… my family and Aunt and uncle used to ride West River Drive on Sunday mornings when it was closed in the summer. I managed to finish lap 7 in 2:15! I was now confident I could get a second full lap in.

Lap 8 started after a brief break. Garmin watch ran out of charge, so took it off again. Got music again, it was playing well since it dried out overnight. I resolved to not let it get too wet so it would last through the entire lap. At each aid station, I had to pick up a bracelet in case I didn’t complete the full lap they would know how far I got and could credit me. One lady at the 4 mile aid station had been there the night before. I guess she stayed up all night. My parents happened to drive on Kelly drive on their way to pick me up, and they saw me =) I missed one of the last aid station bracelets, but I knew I was going to finish the lap within the time limit so it didn’t matter. At about 9:45 I roll into Boathouse row for the final quarter mile. WHOOOOOOO, oh man, how awesome. I got to the timing chute and they say I could go ONE MORE mile if I can get to the aid station in 13 minutes. I thought about it for a second, because I was running within that pace still, but decided against it. I wanted food and chair!

Here’s the official results (the splits include the breaks I took):

#241 Baumgarten Joni Philadelphia PA F 24

Splits: 1:35:55, 1:56:30, 2:26:35, 2:04:36, 2:14:07, 2:37:00, 8:48:42, 2:02:52

Overall place 71, Female place 19, 8 laps, 67.648 miles,  23:46:17

I would’ve jumped up to 58th place (15th for females) if I had run that last mile. Oh well, I will know better for next year =)

My parents hung out with me while we saw the awards. The winners were literally handed cash (no envelopes), which I thought was a bit risky. The top male and female winners both broke the course record, so they won an additional $1000 on top of their first place winnings. I had my crocs on, and was meandering slowly in the directions I needed to go. My parents were great. They carried most of my stuff to the car, had food ready for me, and drove me home. We stopped to pick up more fruit for me to snack on. My mom washed all my dishes while I sat and ate some more, and my dad prepared a couscous salad (some for him to eat) for me to eat off of the rest of the day. I showered, sent them off with the reassurance that I was OK, and crawled into bed. I slept for about 4 hours, woke up and watched TV, then slept for like 8 hours. I was really in a haze that evening. I was feeding myself, walking around relatively easy, and watching TV, but everything felt surreal.

For the rest of the week, I could walk pretty well, but I was definitely exhausted through Wednesday. I found myself staring off into space a lot. I’ve been tired in the past month after the race, but I got right back into the swing of Ultimate starting on July 25th (Wildwood, baby!), so that was a part of why I was still tired. Maybe next time I should schedule my Ultras not during the busiest Ultimate season.

So in conclusion, I had a great time, and I’m definitely preparing to do more Ultras, probably doing the 20in24 next year (though I have to remember that the race negatively affected my Ultimate summer, hmm, tough decisions). The next scheduled race is the Toronto, and I’m tentatively planning to break 4 hours (we will see how I run when I start focusing on this training again).

Categories: recovery, running, Ultras
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