The Hinson Lake 24 is a 24 hour run all you can stand event around beautiful Hinson Lake.
The course is 1.62 miles. Yes, 100 miles is 66 laps. 8 am on a Saturday until 8 am on a Sunday; it is a really cool event
It is a unique opportunity during an ultramarathon to meet a lot of people. You can pass or be passed by folks and it is surprising how many will chat and then move ahead or behind and then you see them again hours later.
My friend Giju flew across the country to crew for me, and I knew my friend Melissa was going to participate, but it was going to be my first 100 miler on a trail, albeit a very short one.
I actually tripped in the first lap in a patch of roots, but realized that there was a pretty tight pack of runners and it limited footfall visibility. I fell back a bit and let it spread out over the next couple of laps.
During the day it warmed up, but wasn’t particularly hot because of the lake breeze. I passed a lot of runners on the sidelines who were suffering from lack of food or water, and I noticed most were young men running shirtless. I remember wondering if they weren’t used to running shirtless in a breeze and lost track of their sweat-rate. Fortunately, there were no major injuries in the event and the course was really accommodating to provide support.
Into the evening the group really thinned out. There were a lot of folks that had come to run either shorter distances or had planned on participating for 12 hours. There were many people still running and we started to recognize each other from earlier in the day.
It cooled down to 42 degrees and I realized that I was able to move much faster without as much effort. It stands to reason, but the difference I noticed was hardly believable.
During the day, at roughly 80 degrees, I was really concentrating on my form to keep my heart rate (HR) below 140 bpm but could not unless I was going to slow down to 11 or 12 minute miles. I decided to just see where my body landed and at 155 bpm I was moving around 9:30 and thought that was going to have to do.
Comparatively, at 42 degrees I realized I was running 8:30 miles and my HR was consistently between 111-113 bpm. I never focused on HR before, but that discovery led to me a training approach for winter that I look forward to every year now to lower my HR. I even managed to squeak onto the leader board.
It started to get later and the crowds became thinner and fewer between. There were some great characters on the trail and I hope I never forget Ray signing Strawberry Fields from the Beatles at the top of his lungs over the otherwise quiet lake.
My friend Melissa finished her run at 4 am, and with 4 hours of running to spare still managed to place 6th female and top 25 overall with 91.20 miles completed. It was a spectacular effort.
The last 4 hours were comparatively lonely, it is what you might expect more on a point to point race. Even when you saw other runners there wasn’t much talking anymore and hardly even any eye contact, but that may have just been me and tired eyes.
I remember starting lap 66 and thinking, my feet feel sore, but less than two miles to go; my goal was the 66 lap/100 miler. I finished with about a half hour to spare and decided that was enough.
The race end results placed me 22 overall which isn’t bad for my first trail ultra and a starting crowd of 275 people. I learned that stopping early kept me from moving higher on the list, but that is not really important.
At the end, sitting under the liftgate of my car, Giju helped me take off my Vibrams. I knew there was some trouble down there but had no idea how bad it was. Running in Vibrams without socks on roads is one thing, and on trails it is another. I managed to accumulate trail grit in my shoes that gradually wore away the skin on my feet, the result being my feet scabbed and glued themselves to the insides of the shoes.
Giju is a surgeon by trade, and it impressed him.
He looked me in the eye and said ‘Sorry man’ and he wasn’t quite sure how to proceed. I said just peel them off, they can’t stay on forever and this won’t be as bad as the salt bath waiting for them at home.
Two salt bath soaks a day for a week and I was right as rain. Lesson learned, no long trail running without gators.
This is definitely a race I want to do again (with gators), and look forward to doing so.