Thursday, April 26, 2012

Virginia 24 Hour

Guess I need to do a race report on the Virginia 24 Hour run in Hampton, VA last weekend.

For the second year in a row, I was part of a 12-person ultra team, Team Awesome.  Team competition in a 24 hour race is amazing.  It adds a terrific new dimension an already fun format.  Essentially each team member goes as far as they can and you simply add all the distances together for a team distance.
Team Awesome 2012 LtoR John Price, Kati Craig, Frank Lilley, Ladonna Kapustensky, Tony Mollica, Shannon McGinn, Jim Plant, Alana Garrison-Kast, Matt Smythe, Tom Gabell, Cheryl Lager (missing Mike Senko)

I already knew about half of my teammates from last year's team but the other half I was just getting to know through this run.  Leading up to the race our team captain, Shannon McGinn, set up a Facebook group as a way to start to get to know everyone and a great way to make team plans.

I was a substitute this year.  Originally I had told Shannon I wouldn't compete due to my hip surgery.  I knew I would not be able to really excel.  But about a month before the race, Ray Krolewicz had a change of plans and said he shouldn't run, so Shannon asked me again.  I told her if she couldn't get anyone else I would come.  No promises about distances though.  But how cool is it to be Ray K's replacement!!  (I'm sure when someone thinks of Ray, I'm usually the next person that comes to mind!!  :-)  )

My hip seems to have good days and bad days. My longest 'run' had only been 11 miles and I limped back the last 2 miles on that outing.  Don't get me wrong . . . averaging my runs out I definitely am getting better . . . but I still have a few really bad days.

So my plan was to not run . . . but only walk.  I felt like this was my best chance for getting a fairly long distance.  But I've got to admit that walking every step makes one feel like a second class citizen.  Something about walking in a running race.  I almost always do a combination of running and walking, but this time . . . no running at all.

That's Chad in the middle (Steve Durr on Rt and Elizabeth Montgomery on Lt)
I rode over to Hampton, VA with Chad Wollenburg, a friend who had also decided to do the 24 hour run.  We had a ball!  Great pre-race dinner and maybe a drink or two!

Cheryl seems happy to be getting started!
Got to Sandy Bottoms Park at 6 am and setup our team 'camp' right on the race course.  Perfect spot just before the start/finish line and right near the bathroom!  Finally got to meet all the new team members, and just after 7 am we were off.

I ran . . . okay . . . only about 20 yards . . . but I ran!  But then I start my walk.  For the first lap I did it in reverse so I could get pictures of everyone running.   Then I returned to the 'normal' course for all other laps.  One of my teammates, Matt Smythe, was concerned that maybe my reverse lap would count as a negative lap against us!!  :-)

The Sandy Bottoms course is both really nice and really bad.  Nice, in that you have about a mile where it's an out-and-back and you can see everyone plus you run both through the woods and by some beautiful salt marshes.  Bad, in that parts of the road/trail have large gravel (especially nasty at night when you can't see very well) and about 1.5 miles of the course is within 100 yards or less from I-64 (very heavily traveled!). 

Kati Craig & Matt Smythe
At all ultra events, the participants are just awesome folks.  But adding the team concept even makes the day more fun.  Everyone is so supportive!  I wish every 24-hour race added a team competition component.

Saturday started out mild but the temperatures quickly rose.  Not sure how warm it got but it was pretty warm . . . maybe into the 80°.  Not terrible at all . . . but few were used to dealing with the heat and by late afternoon folks were suffering.  Lots of stomach issues out there!

But for me I actually LIKED that it got hot!  It made more runners walk more . . . thus I had more company!  Really nice to walk some with some of my teammates that normally I wouldn't get to talk much with since I'm so slow and they are so fast!  Tom Gabell, Shannon McGinn, Matt Smythe, Alana Garrison-Kast, and Ladonna Kapustensky are some that come to mind that would join me for a little walk each lap.  Made my day a lot more fun!

For some crazy reason Jim Plant, Kati Craig, Mike Senko, John Price, Tony Mollica and Cheryl Lager either never walked or just never ended up walking near me!  I hated that but that's just how the laps turned out.  We still got to cheer each other on when we passed.

I maintained a pretty steady the whole time.  I took a pretty long break after only 3 laps to tape up my feet . . . I felt some 'hot spots' developing and wanted to stay ahead of a problem.  But by 20 miles I had blisters anyway.  So the question was: 1) do I stop and try to address the blisters (remove the tincture of benzion, tape, drain the ones I could see and then re-tape) or 2) just suck it up and continue one.  I chose #2  so I pretty much suffered all through the rest of the race.  Pain wasn't terrible.  I took ibuprofen which I usually don't do and I believe it helped "take the edge off" the pain.

I got really tired out there.  Physically, I felt like I had gone 75 miles.  Just dead on my feet by the end with nothing left.

But the good news is my hip did fine!!!!  It would start hurting / tightening up some but after 1/4 to 1/2 mile it would ease off!  That sequence kept up the whole time.  Really good news.  I'm sure that walking is what allowed me to do this!  Had I tried my walk / run I'm convinced my hip would have stopped me.

My dream goal was to finish 50 miles and get a plaque.  That goal kept me going.  About 2:30 am Sunday morning I finished!  About 19 hours and 10 minutes or an average of 23 minutes per mile.  Honestly, I was as proud to finish 50 miles at this race as any other race I can think of.  Maybe I did just walk, but it still took 100% of my available energy and I had nothing left at the end.

Team Awesome Captain Shannon McGinn with our trophy!
Oh . . . and for the second year in a row, Team Awesome won the team competition and for the second year in a row, we set a new course distance record (803.5 miles or just under 67 miles per person!)  Sweet!


  1. I had a blast Frank! It was great to meet you! Oh and I did walk.

  2. Awesome job, Frank! Walk or run, you still covered the miles... and all things considered with the hip and blisters, that is quite remarkable! Congrats!!!

  3. 50 miles is great! Glad to hear the hip didn't give you any real problems.


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Littleton, North Carolina
World's Slowest Runner . . . well, at least in contention for the honor. Just your average "below average" runner.