Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Delano Park 12 hour 2016

I've never done a timed race like this before. My friend Tammy told me that Delano Park 12 hour was her favorite warmup race to gain some confidence and test the fitness/nutrition strategy before the Umstead 100. She's done it for several years, and Kelley really wanted to visit Alabama again so I decided to jump in. Delano Park is in Decatur, just on the other side of Huntsville. And it turns out that Huntsville is the only city is Alabama that we can drive to without having to go through Atlanta, which Kelley also really liked. So this was setting up to be a good race.

The drive down was uneventful, we got all the way across NC, into Tennessee, across the Blue Ridge Mountains, got to kiss Georgia for a couple of miles and ended up in the Central time zone. Chattanooga was beautiful we crossed the Tennessee river several times, and that actually made me want to swim in it. Ironman Chattanooga, Swim the Suck 10 miler, whatever. That river looks like a lot of fun, and fast.

We got into Decatur around 10 pm and checked in. Ended up in the very next room from Tammy and her husband, they agreed to give me a ride to Delano Park in the morning so Kelley wouldn't have to get up or be stranded without a car, so that was really nice. I love changing time zones by going west, it gets so much easier to wake up early in the morning.

And sure enough bright and early I was dressed and in the hotel lobby eating breakfast by 5 am. We made it to the park in plenty of time to get my packet and get everything setup before the 6 am start. Timed races like this are a very strange format. This park contains a 1 mile trail. So they start at 6 am, and you run as many laps as you can until 6 pm. Everybody who completes at least 1 lap is considered a finisher. Totally fine to sleep in and start late, sit down between laps, change clothes, or even leave early. Just do what you want. Turns out, it's a pretty amazing format.

This is the trail through the park

Tammy and I ran together for many many many laps

This is the start/finish line on the other side of the park
It was an absolutely beautiful day to be out there. Started out in the 30's, so I had on a long sleeve shirt and long pants. Tammy and I started out together, and stayed together through the first 18 laps. We started out a bit fast, she had just ran a 4:15 marathon the weekend before, and I wanted to be very conservative here anyway. They had food at the start/finish line so my bottle was never dry and I got to eat every mile.

At mile 27 I knew I had Alabama knocked off of my 50 state list, so that was goal #1 completed. I stopped for a selfie.

Happy marathoner
 After that, well, I kept on running. It got slower, for sure, and there were a few laps of just walking. The sun came out and it got pretty hot. At one point, the cast of "The Wizard of Oz" from the high school next to the park came over and sang/greeted the entire course. And this guy kept following me all over the course.

Run like Godzilla is chasing you
Also important, I did become a fashion icon. The trail shoes that I started the race with did not last. After 25 miles I had to switch out to the road shoes that I brought as a backup, those trail shoes were toast. I hoped they would last through this race, but they did not have another mile to give. So I put on the pink road shoes with my orange shirt and green shorts.

Fashion. Icon. You wish you were this pretty.
The best part of this race is the people. On a one mile course, you end up passing, and eventually slowing down to talk to and walk with, everyone else who is in this race. It doesn't help when everyone there knows Tammy. I met some of the coolest people there, including an adorable younger girl with boob chafing problems (hey, I had a bleeding nipple too) and another girl who was only a week younger than me. Of course, when we figured out that we had both just turned 40, and I had her by a week, she made fun of me for being the old guy. ha! Got to love trail running people. Man we are a crazy bunch.

with new friend Chelsea

Obviously I had not seen Kelley yet but I would glad to be done.

41 miles! the last one took 22 minutes

Happy finisher
I was so glad to be done. Everything hurt after 41 miles. I was ready to be off of my feet for a bit. I really don't see how I'm going to be able to knock out the other 60 miles in just a few weeks. Delano Park was a wonderful race, and a great way to knock Alabama off of my 50 state list.

We found a local brewery in Huntsville called Below The Radar, and it was pretty amazing. I had first dinner there, then another dinner after we got into Tennessee. We wanted to cut the drive time down, so we made it to the other side of Chattanooga saturday night. Turns out, sunday was the Chattanooga Marathon, so every hotel was booked solid. Eventually we got far enough east to find a nice hotel, and drove the rest of the way back on Sunday. Splitting the drive like that made it a lot easier.

Kelley got to see the Rocket Center (Space Camp) while I was running, and got to go through the Botanical Gardens as well. So much fun! Overall we had a great trip. I am actually looking forward to going back to Alabama sometime!

1 comment:

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

I am glad that you had a good experience with this race. I am sure it helps that there were lots of interesting/fun people on the course to talk to as I think it would get a bit mind numbing to run the same mile lap over and over and over and over!

I can't believe how fast your 100 is coming... I'm wishing you the best of luck with that as I know those races are a total beast.