- What? Stinger 3-Hour
- When? November 11, 2017
- How long? 3 hours
- Where? Hampton, GA
- Strava activity: https://www.strava.com/activities/1270763781
I didn’t train specifically for this race, but I was coming off a solid half and semi-solid marathon within the 3 weeks prior, and I was attending this race anyway because Mark was running the 12-hour (there were 3-, 6-, 12-, and 24-hour options). I decided to sign up on a whim after realizing I’d find it otherwise difficult to run during Mark’s 12-hour, so why not run for 3 hours before settling in fully to my crewing duties? I felt like, based on my half and marathon times, I could aim for ~20 miles and at least get a taste of what a track ultra would be like.
This trip involved a long road trip from Durham to McDonough, Georgia, but we fortunately were able to head out early Friday morning because Mark had the day off from work. We had packed everything up the night before, including packing all our fuel and water bottles into our fancy new cooler (one of the awesome prizes Mark got for winning Hinson Lake), so we were able to just roll out of bed, throw our shit in the Jeep, and get on the road. We stopped at a Whole Foods and grabbed plenty of lunch + dinner items and then drove the remaining way to our hotel.
We stayed at a Tru by Hilton, which is some new hipster, minimalist-looking Hilton hotel brand that turned out to be totally dope. We met up with a friend who was also running the 12-hour race and his wife and then settled into our room to get some down time after the long drive. Mark and I eventually went out for a 2-mile shakeout (doing parking lot loops, Mark’s favorite thing), got Panera for dinner, and then went to pick up some remaining crew items.
We got to a Walmart nearby to pick up some last-minute stuff and came to the realization that…OH FUCK, WE FORGOT THE COOLER. I totally panicked – we had no Tailwind, no gels, no water bottles, nothing. It was way too late to find a local running store, and we were definitely not going to find Tailwind or other run-specific fuel at a Walmart. Meanwhile, Mark was laughing at our error, not stressing at all (or at least not letting on to me that he was stressed) – he quickly determined what replacement items he’d need and how we’d store them, and we contacted our friend to see if we could steal some Tailwind (he said yes, thankfully). I calmed down finally, we bought the stuff we had picked out, and we got back to our hotel + promptly went to sleep.
We woke up pretty early and got ready for the race; a few outfit changes later, I settled on shorts + singlet with a long-sleeve, figuring I could easily drop clothes considering the race was…well…on a track. We eventually headed out and arrived at the track, just 5 miles from our hotel, around 45 minutes before the start. We set up our little crew station, attended a short pre-race briefing, quickly stripped of sweats, and lined up at the start.
We were off right at 8 am – the start of an ultra is always funny, because most people plan to be out there for 24 hours and don’t exactly take off fast. Since I was only running for 3 hours, I went out pretty fast (for me), around 8:35/mile pace, and found myself running behind an ultrarunning legend, Joe Fejes, there for the 24-hour. I paced off of him for a while, taking sips of Tailwind periodically for fuel, and I kept checking in with my HR and how I felt – overall, really good (and HR stayed lower than at any point in the half marathon, which seemed weird at the time, but probably had everything to do with the ease of running on a perfectly flat rubberized track).
Laps clicked off uneventfully for a while. I felt consistently good and at ease despite running what seemed kinda fast to me. I noticed around mile 11 that I could either PR my half again or split my PR from 3 weeks prior, so I decided to pick it up a bit for funsies to make sure I at least hit it. It was insanely cool to go through the half of a 3-hour race at 1:52:xx, hitting a time that seemed wild to me just 3 weeks prior, and then to continue on for another 1+ hour.
After surging a bit into 13.1, I slowed, but not by too much. I ended up having 2 particularly slow laps in the last hour – one for a sudden but necessary bathroom break, and one for a moment of mental weakness where I decided I, for some reason, really needed a sip of Coke from the aid station (this was dumb and very unnecessary). Despite the 2 stops, I managed to get 80 laps just as the 3 hours came to an end.
I won the race by ~5 miles and totaled 19.76 miles officially. I ended up running 20 total, including the trip to the bathroom – this only matters to me because running 20 miles in 3 hours is REALLY promising considering I could only manage a 4:18 marathon two weeks prior. I definitely could still feel that lack of long runs, as my legs got insanely tired around the half, but I was able to keep moving well despite that.
As soon as the race ended, I ambled over to the other side of the track to get my award:
I hobbled back across the track to begin my crewing duties. I got Mark set up for success for the next hour or so and headed out to get warm (ahem, to get Starbucks), but when I came back, he was having some achilles weirdness that he didn’t want to push through. He called it a day at 6 hours, and we stayed around to support our friend as he got his first 100K. We eventually headed to our hotel, took the best shower of all time, and got a very forgettable dinner, before heading to bed.
I’m running an 8K on Thanksgiving (Gallop & Gorge in Carrboro), and I’m excited to actually race something shorter in distance to see where my fitness is at – this race was super encouraging and a TON of fun. I am really into the idea of running a track ultra, because it was never boring and is logistically perfect – I totally get why people like them. This race sorta changed my mindset re: not wanting to jump into another marathon training cycle, because now I think I could train and run another one quite well. We’ll see what’s next after the upcoming 8K, because I’m just loving training without much structure at the moment.