I was certain of running 100 miles at The Delirium 24 Hour Endurance Race in Ridgeland, SC. As I write this I'm reminded of another ultra running mantra.
"Nothing is certain except the uncertain."
This was a flat 1.695 mile loop course with one aid station at the start/finish area. The loop would need to be completed 59 times for 100 miles. My strategy going in was to pick three "walk" areas on the loop to take a 60 second break and run the rest while keeping aid station stops to a bare minimum.
My split goals for the entire race were to complete the 1st 50 miles in 11 hours and the 2nd in 13 hours. I've never ran a flat 24 hour course so I had no idea if this was even a realistic possibility for me. On top of this my training has been virtually non-existent in January.
After some reflection from the race my 1st mistake was made by not sleeping close to the event on Friday night. I had to get up before 4 AM and drive three hours on Saturday morning. This ended up working against me later in the race.
Either way, the Delirium began promptly at 8 AM on Saturday morning and I felt great. I don't recall ever being this rested heading into a race. It was raining as we started running and this continued through early afternoon. The rain contributed to some muddy areas, but one area of the course was about 100 yards of complete slop. It made for a nice walk break so it naturally fit into my plan anyway.
I run in Hoka shoes and it was great to see them as a sponsor for the race. They were allowing runners to "sample" their shoes and I saw pair after pair of new shoes getting trashed in the mud.
Running with new & old friends allowed the first six hours of the race to go by really quick.
I was shocked to hit the 31 mile (50K) mark in 6:03. This was only 15 minutes off of my fastest 50K race time and it made me question if the pace was way too fast. I didn't concern myself with it and just kept running by feel and even added a fourth "walk" break section into the loop to slow things down a little more.
I hit a low mental & physical spot from miles 25-40. This is completely normal for me and I knew it would pass. It did and I started to feel much better around mile 50.
The 50 mile split time was 10:13. This would give me 13:47 to complete the 2nd half of the race which is about a 16:30 min/mile pace. Basically a brisk walking pace.
The lack of hills and flat terrain began to break by hips down at mile 55. By mile 62 (100K) I was really struggling to run. I was still shocked to finish the 100K distance in 13:10 which was well over an hour off of my fastest time.
Walking became a struggle around mile 70 and my hips were on fire. I was even beginning to feel what seemed to be shin splints coming on in both legs. I had thoughts of trying to push through it, but staggering around the loop for six more hours without a hope of getting 100 miles helped me decide to stop around 75. I was deliriously (fitting description) sleepy by this point at 2:00 AM after being up so long and several cups of coffee wasn't even helping.
I'm excited to come away from a great race where I was able to actually run more miles in a single event than I ever have before. I'll keep the 100 miles within 24 hours goal stashed away in my head for next time. I have a better idea of what I'm getting into now.
A huge "Thank You" is due to the race director Tim Waz and so many volunteers who counted laps, prepared food, emptied trash cans, and simply offered a word of encouragement. This was an outstanding event and we are very fortunate to have it in South Carolina. There are also 6 and 12 hour race options. If you're looking for a well organized event that will allow you to test your endurance, then get this one on your calendar early because I'm sure it will fill up even faster for 2015.