Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Way Back Wednesday: The Hawthorn Half-Day Relay 2008

As I have done a couple of times thus far in my relatively new blogging life, I'll use today's post to reflect back on an excellent event for all to consider who live in the mid west or just really like a road trip. The weekend of June 14, 2008 provided the opportunity for anyone who was willing to make their way to Terre Haute, IN to complete an ultra-marathon.

The Hawthorn Half Day Relay is a 12 hour event (hence half-day) held in Hawthorn Park which is a 256 acre (68 of which is water) park and wildlife refuge just outside Terre Haute, IN. Inside the park is a campground, archery range, playground, and trail network to fully satisfy a variety
of needs.

You can participate in the event itself by entering a two man team, six man team, or as I did in the Superman division which means you are running the whole darn thing. I think the idea of entering the Superman division was part of my thinking process which led me to do this event. I think just saying, "Yeah, I'm running in the Superman Division" maybe made up for some abuse that I took on the playground as a young child in elementary school. Who the heck knows. It sure makes for a good story though!

We left on Friday morning and drove to Terre Haute. After checking in at the Super 8 and grabbing a quick lunch at Fazolis, we headed to the park to do the packet pickup and while there decided to walk/jog the course. Why you ask did we decide to walk/jog a course that I was going to travel 13 FREAKING TIMES the next day? I have no clue!! It seemed like a good idea at the time. It most certainly was NOT necessary.

Now for race day.... the course itself was a 5-K loop through the park which was mostly trail, with some grass, and a little pavement. You were to complete the course as many times as possible while taking all the breaks you desire. The more breaks you take, the less you are moving forward.... duh. The last 30 minutes, instead of starting a new lap, runners were to run a half mile loop out and back to add mileage.

The start of the event was much like any run you go to. Everyone seemed to take off like their tails were on fire even though it was 7 a.m. and we were going to be circling this lovely trail until 7 p.m. You can see from the action photo above, I was in no hurry. The other gentleman in the picture and I were actually wondering what the heck was everyone's hurry. It was actually a relay event which meant runners on a six man team only ran every sixth lap (sissies) so they definitely needed to go out hard. The 12 hour guys.....

Ok, now for lap times. Remember, this is a 5-K loop which we are traveling for 12 hours. So pace is very important. For normal people like myself, finding the right run/walk ratio was key so as to assure that you could function for the duration of the 12 hour period. Alternating running 2 minutes and walking 2 minutes worked really well.

  1. Lap 1..... 37:38
  2. Lap 2..... 38:49
  3. Lap 3..... 40:49
  4. Lap 4..... 43:24
  5. Lap 5..... 40:01
  6. Lap 6..... 43:33
  7. Lap 7..... 54:08
  8. Lap 8..... 57:34
  9. Lap 9.... 1:13:00
  10. Lap 10.... 40:55
  11. Lap 11.... 48:54
  12. Lap 12.... 1:06:00
  13. Lap 13.... 1:03:00

Alright, now nearly 12 hours later.... lets talk. You would think that over a 12 hour period you would get bored. Yep. But not like you think. Your focus is so strong on completing the lap and doing the run/walk thing that time moves along. Focus, concentration, and relaxation is so important. The 12 hours was probably worse for my support team. That would be the wife. She was the one stuck in the park all day long while I was running.

Laps 10 and 11 are the really weird laps. I had wanted to run with a couple of gentleman who were veterans of several hundred marathons each. I had Googled their names from the entry list. On lap 9, I met up with Ray Scharenbrock. (Google his name if you have some free time. His numbers are phenomenal.) I had the privilege of doing most of lap 9 with Mr. Scharenbrock who is now 77. He was still in recovery from a very serious illness and was running an ultra-marathon. Geez. I'll be honest. We started off the lap walking the uphills, jogging the downhills and mixing up the flats. When I found out who he was, I was like a kid in a freaking candy store with a handful of cash. I soaked up more information in that lap than you can imagine.

I finished my lap with Ray and sat down with my wife to change shoes and socks. Have you seen the monster blister on the upper right portion of my blog? Yep, its from this event. It was just starting. I was so pumped from my lap with Ray that I was totally fired up again. My next two laps (10 and 11) were back to nearly what I was doing eight to nine hours earlier. Then... the blister. My final two full laps were back pretty slow. I was mostly walking. At around 6 p.m., I had to decide what to do. I decided...... BREAK TIME!! I was afraid I couldn't finish another full lap so I changed socks and shoes again and waited around for the 30 minute out and back finish.

Now... you guys have seen my 5-K times. Last Tuesday, my Homecomers 5-K time was 28:12. Not blazing I understand. A couple of you most likely snickered a little when you saw it. Well.... after logging 40.3 miles in eleven hours (remember, I took a thirty minute break), the 30 minute out and back loops began.

I comfortably ran 3 miles (6 loops) in the final thirty minutes or so to finish my day with 43.3 miles. I had set a goal to run a minimum 40 if the body would allow. It was really weird how easy the 3 miles was after having already logged over forty miles. 43.3 miles was good for 27th place out of 42 individual runners. One would always like better, but hey--I had just logged over 43 miles. I was pretty pleased with myself.

I learned many things over the course of this event. Too many to mention. Enduring 12 hours of moving forward gives you time to ponder many things. I learned that a REDBULL and a HANDFUL OF GUMMY BEARS is like running super unleaded in your car. This became a ritual for the start of each lap. I learned that S-Caps are great for maintaining hydration/electrolyte balance. (12 hours and clear pee, WOW!) I learned that blisters suck.

I was honestly getting close to taking a major break and lowering my goals for the day until my lap with Mr. Scharenbrock. I don't think he had any idea how much our visit helped to calm me down and get me back on course. My wife was very patient throughout the day. I honestly had my cell phone in my little belt pack with my supplies. Any time I needed fresh socks or a snack, they were waiting when I arrived back at the start line. Go C !!

After the event, they fed all the participants for free as well as family members who purchased a meal ticket. The event concluded and we headed back to the Super 8 for an icewater bath and a nice soft bed. The blister of mammoth proportions stopped any activity in its tracks for a couple of weeks. Ultra-marathon #2 was in the books.

As always.......... THANKS FOR READING!!


  1. As you guys read this, one thing to keep in mind is that when I stop and rest between laps or change shoes, that time is IN my lap time.

    In a way, I should exclude those times kind of like you do the transition for a tri but I just haven't for any of my 3 ultras. It would make my splits more compareable if I would.

    Laps 9, 12, and 13 definitely involved rest, socks and shoes, and/or blister repair-lubrication.

  2. Playground, Archery Range. Hmmmm.

    I need to get up in on one of these endura-relays one day...

  3. Wow
    you have done some really cool races!~

  4. DRog--The two ultras I've posted about were both great. They were "safe" ultras. Cover the distance you want. Take a break when you want.

    I'd like to do a 50K where I HAVE to cover 50K. Honestly--just haven't been brave enough.

    Patrick--was hoping I might catch your attention with something related to the run. You know, the supreme effort pushing through the pain kind of #%&*. Ha!! :)

  5. Wow, I can't even imagine doing a race where my splits were measured in 5K distances. Amazing man.

    I'm with you on including the "transition" time for each lap. If it counts towards your overall time, you might as well!