Celebrating the New Year this Decemeber 31st will be done in an entirely different way this year than I ever have! At 11:59pm that night I will be 15 hours into my first 24 hour race at the “Across the Years” Ultramarathon in Phoenix, AZ!
Yikes! and another Yikes!
Yes that definitely deserves a double Yikes!
I have to say that I am really excited and (at least at the moment) not nervous. I really like looped timed races and have done one 12 Hour (where I got 54.2 miles) and 3 or 4 (I forget for some reason) 6 Hour’s at The Flatlanders Ultramarathon in St. Louis, MO. To me it seems like there are ultrarunners that gravitate towards tough trail races (and see how fast they can race them) and there are others that go more for the timed races (and see how far they can run). Of course many do both types of races, but it seems like most enjoy one more than the other.
I really lean towards flatter timed races. I generally enjoy tough trail races and have done many (including my longest at 60K at the Land Between the Lakes in Kentucky) and sometimes don’t enjoy them like this years Quivering Quads Half Marathon Mud Run, but there is something about the simplicity of running around a set loop for hours on end and seeing how far you can go that I find enticing. As I have said to others (even other runners) that have wondered as to the thrill of such a race… “You don’t have to worry about what type of hill might be coming up, you don’t have to worry about how far it is to the next aid station, you don’t have to worry about if the weather is going to make the course a lot different.. you only have to worry about the running. If you really love to run.. the feeling of running.. the mechanics of running.. the pacing of running then you should like it. It is all about the running!”
So I have completed 4 (or 5.. its kind of funny I am going to look up if I have done 3 or 4 of the 6 hours) of these type of races and have always in the back of my mind thought about doing a 24 Hour. It just seems to be a new level of challenge in many ways and for whatever reason now seemed like the right time to finally pull the trigger and sign up.
I have also been fascinated with this particular race for sometime mostly because of the format of it and because of a friend of mine had won a previous 72 Hour. The format of this race is unique in that it is many individual races rolled up into a multiday event. There are multiple 24 Hours, 48 Hours, a 72 Hour and this year they introduced a 6 Day race into the mix! Yes a 6 Day race. A whole new level of wow and crazy!
Across The Years is a fixed-time event featuring several race options.
The object is to travel as far as possible in the time allotted.
- The 6-day race begins on December 28, 2013 and ends on January 3, 2014.
- The 72-hour race begins on December 29, 2013 and ends on January 1, 2014.
- The 48-hour race begins on December 30, 2013 and ends on January 1, 2014. You may elect to start on December 28, December 29 or January 1. Results from all starts will be combined in the final standings, but awards will be given out on January 1.
- The 24-hour race begins on December 31, 2013 and ends January 1, 2014. You may elect to start on December 28, December 29, December 30, January 1 or January 2. Results from all six starts will be combined in the final standings, but awards will be given out on January 1.
They call it Across the Years because you run… across the years and that is what I wanted to do so I chose the December 31st start for my 24 Hour. The amazing thing is when I start there will be some that will be half way through their 48 Hour (some will just be finishing their 24 and 48 Hours), there will be some that will be 2/3 of the way through their 72 Hour and this year there will be some that will be less than half way through their 6 Day! That will really be something.
It is actually at a very cool and unusual venue.
Across the Years will be held at Camelback Ranch – Glendale, located in Phoenix, Arizona. the spring training facilities for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago White Sox. Camelback Ranch is a state-of-the-art spring training facility for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago White Sox. It opened in March 2009, and features lush greenery, a lake with waterfall, and smooth dirt and gravel walking paths. The race route is a USATF certified 1689.5 meter (1.0498 mile) loop consisting of 85% dirt paths and 15% asphalt/concrete. The track averages 10-20 feet in width, with a minimum width of 8 feet.
They also have a pretty cool head cam video of the course
Surface Breakdown (Detail)
Asphalt – 0.19 km (12%)
Concrete – 0.05 km (3%)
Packed Gravel Trail – 0.29 km (18%)
Across the Years is one of the worlds premier timed looped ultramarathons and runners come from all over the world to participate in it. Some of the worlds best runners are there. In the last few years world records have been broken as well. The 48 and 72 Hour World Records were broken there. The legendary Greek ultrarunner Yiannis Kouros set the 72 Hour World Record with over 323 miles! Incredible.
My friend Jan Ryerse won the 72 Hour overall in 2003 with 241 miles. He is noted on the Across the Years website for having not slept the entire 72 hours! I talked to him about it a few years ago and he said it was a combination of being chased all three days by female ultrarunning legend Martina Hausmann (who at the end of 72 hours of racing was only 5K behind him) and just being too amped up to sleep (he tried here and there but couldn’t do it). What an amazing adventure that had to be. He said on the 3rd night that the evergreens surrounding the loop became Christmas trees and at one point bats started to fly out of them.. sleep deprivation can have it’s impact 🙂
This race was the first that I have ever registered for where (in addition to the basics on what size shirt you want and etc.) they ask you if you want to rent a tent, a cot, a table and other “multi day” items that could help. That was kind of cool (and a note right from the start that was in for something a bit different than your typical race). I got the “goody bag” which has a race jacket and other cool items, but didn’t sign up for the tent and table.. I think I may contact the race director and get them though.. I think it will definitely come in handy. I don’t plan on getting the cot because I don’t plan on sleeping!
But one thing I do plan on doing it live tweeting on my progress (and probably lunacy at a certain point) during the race. That is one of the cool things about it being a looped race is that I am never far from my phone. I plan on having a chat hashtag as well where my followers can go and check on things and send me their comments to help pull me through (and also make me laugh 🙂 )
So I will be documenting my training, recovery and nutrition plan this week (it is long enough to require another post) and will also be reporting on my weekly progress every Sunday for that previous week. It will help keep me to my goals by publishing out what I ended up doing. Harder to skip a run, gym workout or meal when I have to tell you all that I did!
I will quickly though write my basic philosophy for my training at a high level. My plan is to train to run and walk on tired legs, but not by running 6-7 days a week. That is definitely a legitimate approach to getting in the “running on tired legs” type of training and if you can stay healthy I think can definitely work. There are three basic reasons why I don’t want to go that route though: 1) I don’t like running that much and will not give up the gym 2) I will be incorporating relatively serious leg work in the gym that will put my legs in a significantly tired state when I do run (and also strengthen my legs which I think is going to be critical for this race) and 3) I will be working hard on becoming a very strong walker and this will get my legs more tired and extra work. Walking will be a significant part of my race and training to become a faster and stronger walker will be a big part of my training. In the past I have become a strong walker and I look forward to the benefits of training it again. I will be writing more about the specifics on my unique training approach this week.
I will also be writing about the specifics of my nutrition (breaking down the meals) and supplementation approach. Most programs and books detail how to set up your running week and 12 – 16 week running schedule but don’t talk about how to eat and supplement your diet to give you a more effective program (or they have a half chapter that says something like “make sure to get protein and carbs in after your runs”), but I know that it is crucial and I will detail my approach here.
The last thing that I will write here is my goals for the race. I have never put my goals for a race out to the world before but I will now for this one. I think it will be good for me by making me focus on what I am trying to do, keep me motivated knowing that I have goals to meet and my readers know what they are and also give me different levels to try to achieve on race day. There are many different factors (as we all know) that can affect training and race day performance (like injuries and sickness during training, the conditions on race day etc.) so having 5 different goals allows me to take all of that into account and pursue the top but have others to fall back on. They are based on Plans A through E. Plan A is if everything goes perfectly in training and at the race and is definitely a serious stretch. Plan B is one step down but will still be really tough and a stretch. Plan C will feel doable if things go well and will be my main goal. Plan D is just a small step below Plan C and is based off of a specific goal. Plan E is if things go quite badly in training and at the race but is still a goal because it will be a PR. If I don’t make Plan E I got hurt at the race.
Plan A: 100 Miles. Yes the goal of most ultrarunners is to someday run 100 miles in 24 hours or run a 100 miler in 24 hours. It would be amazing and it is the level of mileage that I need to be able to get a belt buckle at this race, but it will be very tough. I will train with this goal in mind and learn as I get closer to the race (through my training) how pheasible it is. Would be very awesome.
Plan B: 90 miles. Still quite an awesome accomplishment and actually not that much less difficult than 100 miles. I figure if I get to 85 or something with 2 hours left I will pursue 90 because it just sounds better than 80 🙂 If it seems like 100 is definitely out of reach in the middle of the night but 80 will be quite doable than I will pursue 90. 90 would be amazing.
Plan C: 80 miles. 80 is very close to my Plan D but will push me just a little bit farther if Plan D becomes attainable. 80 justs has a different ring to it than the 70s.
Plan D: 78.6 miles. Why 78.6 specifically? Well because it is 3 marathons of course 🙂 I have already run a race (my 12 Hour) where I ran 2 marathons in a day, so running 3 would be very cool. Even though this is Plan D, I would be happy if I attained this goal. I would not be disappointed. 3 Marathons in a day sounds pretty cool to me!
Plan E: 55 miles. It would be a total mileage PR. I ran 54.2 in 12 hours, so running an additional .8 should be quite attainable with another 12 hours unless I get seriously hurt out there. I definitely would be disappointed if I don’t run 55 miles that day. Something bad had to happen if that is the case.
A few more posts coming on my approach to this race and then I will start detailing my progress on a weekly basis.
This News Years is going to be one to remember! That is for sure.
Best of luck in your training,