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Monday, July 8, 2013

Hotter than Hell Marathon Race Recap

Oops, I ran a marathon.

My friend Celeste put pressure on me this week to run the Hotter than Hell Marathon. It's a tradition: the race starts at midnight, but you can start anytime after that as long as you finish by 9 am. You keep tally of your 2+ mile laps on a white board, and you bring your own fuel and supplies. I've always wanted to do it, but I've always been injured!

This year I reluctantly agreed, making Celeste promise that we could both drop out if anything hurt. I rolled out of bed at TWO a.m. and got dressed. I made a risky choice and wore a jog bra and booty shorts. I don't wear that combination often, and neither for a race of this distance, but I did NOT want saturated shorts or a wet T-shirt slapping against my legs all morning.
This is basically the most flattering picture of me EVER. My thighs are twice as big in real life, I promise. Seriously, I'm questioning even posting this inaccuracy. 

I drank a cup of coffee, skipped breakfast, and loaded up my cooler. I brought:
- Five mini sample packs of Sports Beans
- Three Powerade fruit pouches
- A bottle of water (there are fountains for refilling)
- Two bottles of Gatorade
- A liter of club soda
- Extra socks and shoes (rain was forecast)
- Spare shorts in case I didn't like my outfit choice
- Garmin and ipod (didn't use the music and barely used the Garmin)
- Chapstick and sunglasses

I arrived at Audubon park at 3 am. David, bless his soul, actually woke up and came out with me to check the scene out. It was surprisingly crowded! The Louisiana Ultra Runners had started running at 8 pm, doing a dusk-to-dawn event, and since many people had started at midnight, they were starting their last few loops. The shelter area was full of coolers, chairs, a big white board, heaps of sweaty clothing, and a table with water and Gatorade coolers.

Celeste was a little late, so we didn't actually start until after 3:30. The course is 13 loops around Audubon park. Normally the track is 1.8 miles, but turning down the drive to the parking lot to get to the shelter makes it over 2 miles. We ran the first few loops in the dark (the park is pretty well lit for most of the course, though), and right away Celeste told me to slow down, or she wouldn't be able to finish. I was surprised, since she's super fast, but we settled in to 8:30s. She confessed by mile 10 that she was impressed she'd made it to ten - the furthest she'd run in months was 8 miles two weeks ago! Crazy child!
See Lisa's name to the left? She completed 13 laps alternating walking, running, and biking. She's PREGNANT.
At the end of each loop, we stopped at the shelter to put our hash mark on the board, grab something to drink, or - more often than not - stop to chat. I knew a lot of people out there, and everyone was very chatty. The ultra runner crew, especially, were very talkative. I started with sports beans at mile 8, and alternated sips of water and Gatorade at each stop. I never used any of the other things I brought. The weather was not bad at all - it was 78 or 80 the whole night, but humidity was over 95% for most of it as rain threatened (it never rained on us though!).
The sun started to rise a little before 6 am. By that time, Celeste had hit the wall. She said her feet hurt, but let me tell you, I know a WALL when I see one! We still had far to go, but from this point on I was really dragging her. The funny thing is that I felt fine. The slower pace felt completely effortless and I was brimming with energy!
Part of the Hotter than Hell joke: the T-shirt is long sleeved!
I did have to make several potty stops, though. Something about the weird hour of the race was messing with my stomach (perhaps undigested dinner?!). This allowed me to do a little faster running, though, since I would run ahead of Celeste, take a bathroom break, and be done by the time she got to the shelter. When we had two laps left, David met us and ran the rest with us. Poor Celeste was a trooper: she was miserable. But she kept plugging, although our pace plummeted (We ran 8:30's for most of the race, but 10 min pace the last four miles, and our overall pace was quite slow counting in all of our shelter stops).
Finally, we were on our last lap! I had left my Garmin on the whole way, although I didn't really look at it, and we were at 26.5 before we even turned into the "finishing chute" (a line of plastic turtles pointing at the finish). Final time? 4:28. Longest, slowest marathon ever. But I felt great. I grabbed a beer and some jambalaya, then drove home, showered, and got to church early!


  1. Ok. I need to meet you. That kind of crazy-on-a-whim long run/marathon is exactly something I would do. LOL. I did a marathon from my house once... alone... just for the heck of it. I wanted to. Haha.

    What's also crazy is that I looked longingly at that exact race/event in the Southern Running Journal this month.

    Congrats on your super long run. In the words of Scott Jurek, "Sometimes we just do thing."

    1. You would love this race then! It's just - nuts! The whole thing! Come do it next year.

  2. You are awesome!! I would kill to run a 4:28.

    Insane that in the middle of the night it is still so hot there.

  3. This sounds like so much fun! And I am assuming nothing hurt since you finished? That is the best news of all. :) Great job girl! And yes, you look awesome in your pic!!!

  4. That's a very interesting concept for a race, but it sounds like a blast.

    I would love to have a flattering picture like that...something tells me that's exactly what you look like in real life.

    1. OMG. I am SO glad that the Michael who left this comment was you! I read it at work as "I would love to have that picture" and you know, Michael could be a
      And nope, that picture is totally lying. I don't look anything like that. My thighs are literally twice that easily.

    2. LOL that's totally hilarious! You thought I was some weird creepy guy...I get that a lot!!

  5. What a crazy event! But how cool that you did it. And you are rocking the booty shorts/sports bra!

  6. I SOOO have to run this! You did terrific and you look awesome! The t-shirt is great (LOL) too. Congrats!

  7. Wow, craziness starting at 2 AM?!?

    Thanks for the glute/hip routine, I got a ton of good feedback about routines. At least it won't be for lack of options now lol.

    Also, didn't you have gluteus medius pain at iliac crest a while back? I watched this guys video about what I'm dealing with (pes anserine bursisits) and liked it a lot.

  8. Just found my way over here for the first time from a link on Genetically Challenged Athlete's page.

    And I have to say, as a recent transplant to the tropical climes of Singapore, you had me at: "I did NOT want saturated shorts or a wet T-shirt slapping against my legs all morning." As someone who USED to live in a place where light, wicking clothes actually DRIED on long runs, so flappy shorts didn't matter, I have done a recent 180 in my apparel advocacy. I can't seem to preach to my local clients enough: light and wicking doesn't apply at 85% humidity. Go for the spandex. Seriously. GO FOR THE SPANDEX.

    PS Don't make excuses or apologies. You look great in that outfit. Embrace it!

  9. Sorry, busy week and just now catching up. Great job on the race Grace! I didn't know you were anywhere close to marathon shape right now, and that sounds like a really fun event. Maybe Michael (the female I live with) and I will have to get down there and do it some day. On a side note, I'm seriously planning on booty shorts for my next race ... there, everyone's been warned!

  10. I love a race where you can have a beer after the race and BEFORE church! Haha! That looks like a fun one!

  11. Running a marathon at night sounds like the perfect time! I ran 10 miles in the rain the other day and my tempo shorts were STUCK to me. It was horrible. Way to run and way to dress properly for the occasion!

  12. OMG lady! that sounds bananas! Congrats on the finish!

  13. Wow - you ran a marathon. That is crazy! I feel like my name and marathon will never be said in the same sentence, unless that sentence is using a past tense. And dang - despite not running as much as you normally do this year, your body still looks great!!

  14. So that must be the explanation to the post with just a was not my idea or something like that...

    Oops I ran a marathon...would love to say that one day...!

  15. Good work! Miss I'm supposed to be recovering from my whacko injury but I'll go run a casual marathon instead! I'll buy that camera from you if it means an automatic thigh reduction! LOL.