FANS 24 hour walk: preparation, talent and attitude

I’ll say more about the exciting news that we have 5 new Centurions (those who walked 100 miles or more in 24 hours at an official race): one American (from Oklahoma), two Dutchmen and a couple from Australia. I should point out that they endured humid conditions, a couple of rainstorms and some mud (on the gravel part of the course).

The Australian couple are incredibly fit; they biked from New York to get here and they tied for first (in the walk) with 105 miles. The American was third with 102 miles; he looked so strong throughout the night; I could detect no degradation of his (excellent) walking technique at any time, even when he was well past 90 miles.

Screen shot 2015-06-07 at 3.30.50 PM

In this post I’ll focus on my race. Given my sleep deprivation, some of the names of the people I met are gone; I’ll look up those names when the finisher’s list comes out.

Particular shout outs: Jenny (?) who helped me take stuff to my car without my asking, The Greene’s (John won the 12 hour walk with 51 miles; Betty took photos throughout), David Hollman who, off of his second Comrades finish, gave encouragement and helped out, Barbara Curnow who walked part of the last long lap with me (she won the walk many previous times), and others I met on the course and did some distance with. I heard some interesting stories.

My race: I knew coming in that I was grossly underprepared. I had gone a grand total of 20 miles, two times total. Most week had: 1-2 swims, 2-3 weight lifting sessions, 3 runs (6-8 miles; one a 5K race), 2 walks (6, then longer; 14-20). That is grossly inadequate preparation.

But I just got the urge and I felt that doing this would get me going again. I set some very modest goals and almost reached my “B” goal; attitude held me back.

Facts about the Race
race is at a state park near the airport; the airport hotels are really, really close (3 miles or 7 minutes by car). I stayed at the Hilton but the other nearby places are fine.

Venue: state park; course is one 1.73 out and back, followed by multiple 2.136 miles loops. Bike path, long section on gravel road, one section on coned off park road (about .5 miles), bike path. The gravel can get soft and muddy; it was ok this year.

Pre race dinner: in a community center. My recommendations: get directions from someone who knows the place. The address is misleading; it is right where 11’th S. Av. splits into two roads (straight, then a turn on a road, then straight again) and Mapquest had me going on one very narrow, “parking on both sides” road to get there. The dinner IS worth it though, unless you have celiac or some other condition.

Personal Report
Total: 59.9 miles (ARRRGH!!! 60.0 sounds better).

What I did right: I did keep the effort under control early, so I never had serious nausea. I also focused on salt and small portions of food.

What I did wrong: I let sleep deprivation get to me; I had more to give in the final miles but didn’t; so while I had something left for the final 2.5 miles (very strong), I would have been better served using some of that over the final 3 hours.

Course: 2.136 mile loops (with an initial out and back); it featured park road, bike path and one gravel stretch (which got slightly slick with rain; nothing serious this year).

Note: after the rain, there were frogs and toads out and about. They were very cute.

Start: pleasant weather at first; it was to warm up to get uncomfortably warm.
Lap 1: 3.866: 1:03:12: took my time; I lined up at the back. The rest of the laps are 2.136 miles each.
Lap 2: 32:29 1:35:42 mile 6
34:21 2:10:03 8.14
32:46 2:42:50 10.3
34:37 3:17:27 12.4
37:00 3:54:27 14.5
37:44 4:32:12 16.7
32:57 5:05:09 18.8
36:19 5:41:28 21.0 (my long walk distance; getting hot here)
35:40 6:17:09 23.1
37:15 6:54:24 25.2
34:59 7:29:23 27.4 (1.2 past a marathon)
34:54 8:04:18 29.5
37:12 8:41:30 31.6 (just past 50K..HOT )
39:31 9:21:02 33.8
38:20 9:59:22 35.9 (started to feel it)
43:26 10:42:49 38.0 (stopped; exhausted; food was starting to not digest)
6:42:18 17:24:49 40.2 (back at the hotel room; finally felt good 5:30 or so into the rest, drove back, finished the lap)
37:22 18:02:12 42.3 feeling good again
42:19 18:44:32 44.5 ate soup and one slice of pizza;
36:07 19:20:39 46.6 good
34:38 19:55:18 48.7 good but wondered: is 50 miles ever going to get here?
36:14 20:31:32 50.9 good but after this lap; I just got mentally tired of pushing
1:12:40 21:44:12 53.0 sat down twice; thought about bailing; sleepy and mentally exhausted
1:03:40 22:47:53 55.1 sat down twice; wobbled and finished the lap with a new friend
38:57 23:26:50 57.3 was really struggling until Barbara Curnow caught me; I walked with her and she perked me up.
6:44 23:33:34 (half mile; started to push after 60; I had misread 57.3 as 57.5
6:14 23:39:49 pushed
6:13 23:46:02 pushed; wanted to catch Jeff Hagan
12:03 23:58:05 best mile; really after 60.
1:22 23:59:27 last .125 mile; thought that put me to 60.1, but it was only 59.9. went so hard my bottle of water popped out.

Note: my final 2.615 miles took 32:37 (12:28 pace) So I did my best walking right at the end. Had I been mentally tougher, I could have squeezed out at least 1 more long lap and perhaps .5 less in the final surge; that would have gotten me 60 +.

So attitude matters.

Talent does too; I have very little of that (my body is too big to be good at this, and I am not a good athlete) but, in my case, there is very little doubt that my lack of preparation hurt me badly.

Of course, long walk training prepares the body (specificity). But it also prepares the mind; it isn’t always easy to distinguish when you are really “in trouble” and should stop vs. when you are just having an attitude attack and are capable of pushing through it. The long training walks help with that.

I am not down on myself for not preparing as this was sort of a “whim” event for me, just to see what my baseline level is based on a “generic keep in shape” program.

I might focus a bit more on distance this year:

Leanhorse 50K (long time limit; not ready for 50 m) August
Peoria Marathon (October)
McNotAgain 30 mile trail (November)
Houston Ultra (24? “fast 50” (goal: sub 13?) December

Training plan:
I’ll have a goal of one longer walk every weekend (20 +) and two medium walks (2:30-3 hr at a faster pace) during the week or weekend. My teaching schedule should all for this. I’ll supplement with 3 shorter runs (3-6, one “faster”), 2 swims, 2 weight sessions.

Ultimate (Walter Mitty) goal: one more 100 finish (30 hour on a reasonable course).


June 7, 2015 - Posted by | Friends, ultra, walking | , ,


  1. […] photos: here are some of my favorite shots from June’s FANS 24 hour event. Though my 59.9 miles was, well, what I could do while untrained..dang..”if only” I had […]

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