Wow! It was finally here! FANS 12 hour race weekend. It's the big goal race I have been building up for. My race choices this year worked on strength and endurance. I learned some tough lessons at a few. They weren't fun, but I am thankful for the knowledge they gave me. My goal at FANS was to finish a 100k in fewer than 12 hours. I had a solid race plan and was anxious to see it work for me. I was excited to be wearing my super cute inov-8 F-lite 301 urban racers! My rockin' husband was crewing. Race plans were in order! Now it was time to see how many miles I could crank out in 12 hours.
The FANS course is a 1.656 mile out and back, and then a 2.4217 mile loop around Lake Nokomis. It's a beautiful urban park setting. FANS has a 12 and 24-hour race, both with a 8am start. For the last hour of each race you had the option to run 1/4 mile out and backs. This option is open so all your miles will count. If you didn't finish a loop before the cut-off, that loops miles do not count. The race course primarily follows the path around Lake Nokomis with a couple small detours or "short cuts". The course is fairly flat with a long bridge as one incline. Then one true hill named Mt. Nokomis that was 15 feet at the beginning of the race...
I went to packet pick-up Friday night and got weighed in. The rules were very clear that they would be weighing you every 4 hours. If you lost 5% of your body weight you would be pulled from the race until they felt you could go back out. I was a little worried about this. I had never weighed myself during a race and did not know if I would lose weight. I would just make sure I ate and drank plenty.
Getting a quality night sleep was part of the race plan. This was going to be easier than most ultras because of the 8am start. I had a nice comfortable bed at Microtel in Eagan . I woke up about an hour before my alarm. Oooo...Nightmares! I kept dreaming that they pulled me off the course at mile 57 because I had lost too much weight. Eeeek! I promise you, I don't normally have nightmares I lost too much weight.
Our friend Dorn Peddy was running the 24-hour race and we were sharing a race area with him. When we got to Lake Nokomis he already had our canopy set up and was sitting back relaxing. It was exciting seeing all the colorful tents lining the course and everyone preparing. Runners/walkers, volunteers and their families were everywhere! The Minnesota folks were Fantastic! I didn't know anyone but I was welcomed by smiling faces. I felt very comfortable. We set up a few more things in our station. Then went over our race plan. Dorn's a speedster. I'm a steady runner. We figured his 24-hour race pace would be my 12-hour race pace. We decided to run together. Royal (my hubby) was a prepared crew chief. I was confident he would keep me hydrated and fueled.
The Race started at 8 am on schedule. Immediatly I tried to keep to my race plan, run 10:30's until the 4-hour mark. This is hard when your excited-fresh and everyone is passing you. I kept an eye on my pace. It was usually around a 9:45 to 10:00 running, but my overall pace was still about 10:30. It took me a few laps to realize I was spending too much time at our tent. It was great seeing my husband every 2.4 miles, but if I was going to reach my goal I better get through the station a little faster.
Gingerich leads the pack at start
Gingerich leads the pack at start
When I hit the 4-hour mark I was feeling really great and didn't really want to slow down. I still had 8 hours of running and made the smart decision to stick to the race plan which was slow down to 11 minute running miles. At the aid station I hopped on the scale, "up 3 pounds! Keep running" Huh!?! Ran for 4 hours and gained weight!?! Dorn hopped on the scale, "down 4 pounds...go eat!" Which he had been doing all day, M&M's, chips, Coke. Hmmm....
It was lightly raining most of the day. This helped in staying cool. It was 70 degrees, and since the course had little shade I think we would have been feeling warm. I continued to run with Dorn. I wasn't talking much. I was using all my energy concentrating on running. I was quietly enjoying the run and park. My body felt strong. I was feeling happy and positive that it was going to be a successful race. I enjoyed seeing that even on a rainy day the park was full of people walking dogs, fishing, biking, swimming, and running.
The only time I said anything was every 2.4 miles when Dorn kept missing the beach house "short cut". I was getting kind of annoyed with him. This made me have to talk every 2.4 miles and that was energy I needed to run. I politely reminded him for the first half of the race. After that he claims I started shoulder plowing him to lead him in the right direction. I think it was a little nudge, he was just getting so skinny that it felt like a shove. Meanwhile, I was rapidly gaining weight, I was now up 5 pounds.
I was coming up to the 8-hour mark. The race plan was to be at mile 43. I was just a tiny bit behind schedule so I picked it up a little and hit the 8 hour mark at mile 43. Cool, that was fun. It's so nice when things work out as planned. This gave me a little mental boost, my next 3 laps were quicker. I hit the mile 50 mark at 9 hours 21 minutes. WOW, I had never run 50 that fast. I was feeling great! At this time I knew I could stay into it until the end.
When I got to the start/finish area my husband said I had passed the 2nd place female on that lap. I was now in second and feeling awesome! Dorn was talking about the shirt I was going to get for finishing a 100k in under 12 hours. I was excited about that but I did not want to celebrate. I've learned things can turn quickly. I still had 2 1/2 more hours to run. I needed to stay focused.
As the day went on I settled in to a solid pace. I was using all my will to stay in to it. I was tired, but happy because my body felt strong. When I got to the final lap to finish a 100k in less than 12 hours I had plenty of time left. I could walk part of the lap and still do it. This day, walking was not part of my race plan. I was determined to run in strong! My running pace wasn't speedy this lap but I kept moving along. I made a little bargain with myself to motivate me to keep running, "when I get to the 100k line I'm walking the out and backs, that will be my walking break for the day". That last lap was tough. I was tired and looking forward to sitting down. I rose over Mt. Nokomis and it was downhill to finish the 100k. I was finally there! All the wonderful lap counters and people were cheering. They rang cowbells every time someone reached the 100k point. It felt great to hear them ringing for me! I checked in with my lap counter. It was time for out and backs.
I walked about 25 yards of the out and backs when I saw a strong female running out of her shoes. I just knew that was the 3rd place female, Kathy Uknis. I had to break my walking break promise and took off like I was running a 5k. I didn't know what her mileage was and I didn't want to get passed here. I managed to crank out one more mile when I was running on empty. For a total of 63.07! 2nd overall Female-6th overall finisher. A huge personal record! Fastest 8 hours...PR 50 mile...PR 100k and fastest 12 hour! Geez!!! Was I tired! Time to sit down!
Carolyn Smith 82.69 course record
Michele Hartwig 63.07
Kathy Uknis 61.40
John Sorkamp 85.49
John Mass 83.69
Dave Eitrheim 66.62
Congratulations to everyone! 3 courses records broken!Thank you to the FANS group for putting on a wonderful race and raising money to enrich young adults lives. Your hospitality was exceptional and I look forward to coming back. I have to give a huge congratulations to Tom Andrews who did the 24 hour race with a broken foot (hockey injury). He was on crutches and did over a 50k! Local legend Fast Eddie at the age of 70 cranked out 87.79 miles for the 24-hour race. It was his third ultra in the last 8 weeks!