Monday, November 11, 2013

Now THAT was one hell of a birthday!!

This year it turned out that the Croatan 24 race was on November 9-10 and November 10th is my birthday!  Didn't take much for me to decide that this was going to be a great way to have some fun!

Actually the race was intended to honor the birthday of the Marine Corp and the race participants were urged to use the race as a means to support The MARSOC Foundation . . . "established to provide benevolent support to active duty and medically retired MARSOC personnel and their families as well as to the families of Marines and Sailors who have lost their lives in service to our Nation."  What a great thing to do!

Unfortunately . . . I had a group of people who had pledged their financial support to the American Cancer Society for my April Virginia 24 race.  I had an accident falling from a ladder (and later surgery on problems from that accident) and couldn't run that race.  Luckily all the folks had agreed to defer their support to the Croatan24.  I felt a little bad about that but Race Director Brandon Wilson told me not to worry.  So I didn't!

Birthdays . . . mile and the Marine Corp

So this was my birthday as well as the Marine Corp birthday!  Honestly, birthdays are no big deal to me at all  I drove my family crazy that I to me it's just another day!

Suzanne Ballard's birthday was also close as was one other lady whose name I missed, so Suzanne brought some "head thingys" to wear . . . don't be too envious!  Wore mine the first lap and the last!  Lots of fun!
Even Valmir Nunes was jealous and wanted a picture with Suzanne and me!

If you are a runner, you know how a kind word while you are running just plain lifts your spirits!  And in an ultra even, we all constantly are trying to lift the spirits of everyone around us!!  That's one of the main reasons I love ultrarunning and ultrarunners . . . honestly the most supportive group of folks I've ever been around!  So I decided to have some fun with them and had a special birthday shirt printed for the race.

Talk about an idea that worked!!  I had a blast with kidding around with everyone!  If you aren't an ultrarunner you may not full understand the BRILLIANCE of my idea!!  LOL!  First the shirt did give runners something to talk about!  But more than that it gave them something really hard to do and think about as they ran!  Math becomes quite hard to do as your mind just plain doesn't work so well as the miles add up.  And trying to do long division in your head is quite the challenging task!!  So for a long, long time I wouldn't tell people how old I was . . . I told them to figure it out themselves!!  While the answer is 64, I got some really funny answers!!  I thinks folks enjoyed it as much as I did!

Never in my life have I had so many people wish me a happy birthday!!!

The Course
I simply can't imagine a prettier place to run a 24 hour race.  The track was a 1.3 mile loop through coastal salt marshes and tidal forests.  You really just had to be there . . .

The Race
I had a great race.  Actually ran a PR (Personal Record for you non-runners!)  57.53 miles.  But one of the BAD things about 24 hour race is you can think about all the many things that happened and that you did that held you back from even higher miles!!  Secretly I had really, really hoped I could run my age . . . 64 miles!  Now THAT would have been awesome!  But stuff happened that kept me from doing it!  Still . . . I was very pleased.

Over a 24 hour period a whole lot happens!  You have peaks and you definitely have valleys!  The peaks are great but the valleys are the key.  They just challenge your mind . . . way more difficult than challenging your body.  I honestly came within a hair of quitting at about 8 miles!!!  My toe hurt soo bad!  But a friend messaged me and reminded me that there was a good chance that the pain might subside with time and miles . . . and it did! Thank God for technology and smart friends!  The pain was always there but manageable.  There were periods it would get bad . . . but then the pain would back off some.  That went on the whole 24 hours.

Running bends your foot way more than simply walking. And flexing my toes is what causes my pain.  So to ease the moving of my toe I quit running around noon Saturday and decide to simply walk.  A good and necessary call but not running held me back.  Walking just takes too long to cover the miles I had wanted to do.  When I did the math it was clear 64 miles was impossible without more running  But I could have done 60 miles if I hadn't slept for 1 1/2 hours!!  Damn!

But other than my foot issues and some blister problems, I felt great! Okay . . . great at the first and still motivated at the end!  I was still moving strong when the race ended.  I had more in me that I just didn't have time to let out!!

A few special memories from the day in no particular order:
  • Just after midnight, I had an awesome version of "Today is Your Birthday Day" by the Dooms!!  They had obviously planned the song out as they each had their own parts!!  Loved it and I smiled a bunch of miles thinking about it!
  • Just finished another lap past midnight and when I got to the aid station, Heather Wilson presented me with a birthday cake . . . picked out by her awesome daughter Rebekah!  Was a little disappointed that there was no dancing girl in popping out though . . .
  • The eventual winner, Mosi Smith, just made my race!  What a cool Marine!  One of the nicest and most humble folks I've met!  He makes America proud!
  • Marine Major General Mark Clark (Commander of MARSOC) joining the fun for his first ultra . . . running over 43 miles!  A fun guy too!
  • Jonathan Savage is just an awesome guy!  Always trying to help and motivate others like it's his responsibility!  Just don't know of any other runner that has studied and knows that much about our sport.
  • The opening ceremony for the race was honestly amazing!  Presenting the colors, the cake cutting, the playing of the National Anthem  . . . just a very, very special day.
  • Had dinner Friday night with Valmir Nunes and Connie Gardner!  So much fun talking with those two!  Of course it took an interpreter to talk with Valmir as he speaks Portuguese!
  • Caleb Wilson positioned himself after the first bridge and took it upon himself to "high five" everyone that passed . . . every time!!  He was so happy and enthusiastic!  Made me smile every lap he was there!  And when he finally left (after maybe 8-10 hours) I really missed seeing him!!!
  • I love running miles with Susan Dummar!  Time just passes quickly . . . and I laugh a lot!!
  • Was so impressed with another marine I sort of got to know during the race, Maj Jeff Harrison.  Seems like a great guy and was trying his first ultra . . . oh . . . and he completed over 50 miles!!
  • Charles West just coming down to the race to help out and see friends!  Awesome!
  • Getting to see two running friends do what in my mind is almost impossible (though there are plenty that do it!!) . . . running 100 miles + in the 24 hours!  This was a first for both John Dailey and Tim Scott - two more just plain awesome Marines I've gotten to sort of know.
  • Also, getting to see Cam Kelly totally annihilate his best 100 mile race time by 6 FREAKIN' HOURS!!!!!  He finished in 21:17!!  Unbelievable!
  • Loved that every time Cherie Yanek passed me she slapped my butt for my birthday spanking!!  And she passed me a lot as she completed about 110 miles!!!
  • Ended up raising just over $2,700 for the American Cancer Society.  I thought about this the whole way.  I knew that each mile I did added over $47 to the contributions . . . so I REALLY wanted to go just as far as I possibly could.  The time I thought about quitting I thought of this!


  1. Awesome Frank! This and Hinson Lake are on my list.

  2. Okay, I just have to do this next year since my birthday is November 7th and I'm a Marine. Don't know how I missed signing up for this :-( Pretty sure I can run my age....57!!!!!
    Lynne Evans

  3. Very cool! Wish we would have been there... sounds every bit as fun as Hinson! Glad you had a successful run and WOW, that's a lot of money to have raised! That is SO awesome!

  4. Frank - what an awesome effort on your part! C24 was such a great event; it felt like a reunion more than a race. Best of luck at CR24!


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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.