Je Me Souviens (I Remember) – The Quebec City Marathon/Marathon des Deux Rives (August 26, 2012)

When I was growing up in Boston, my Dad would frequently load the whole family into our old secondhand car and drive north to Canada. We visited Montreal, Quebec City, and Ottawa, stopping along the way in various small towns in New Hampshire and Vermont and New York. When my two sons were teenagers, we made a road trip to eastern Canada so I could revisit some of my favorite places and surprise my husband and sons with the thrilling strangeness of visiting a foreign country that is at the same time different but familiar. Unfortunately, during that visit, my husband came down with a 24 hour bug during our stay in Quebec City and could not see the sights with us. Our trip this year, then, was a chance for him to see what he missed and so I built in time for ‘playing tourist’ as well as do the race.

The marathon in Quebec was the third in my current attempt to complete a marathon in all 10 provinces of Canada (I’m not sure yet about trying to include a race in the 3 territories). Race weekend is a big event in QC, with several distances offered, including a 5k kids run on Saturday and a full marathon, half marathon, and 10k on Sunday. There were a number of reasons to select this race as my Quebec choice: it was in a quaint and beautiful city; the course ran along both sides of the scenic Saint Lawrence River; and probably most important to me, there was an early start for walkers, giving walkers and slower runners a 7 hour time limit.

Our adventure began on Friday, August 24. We were supposed to leave early in the morning from Jacksonville, change planes in Atlanta to fly to Detroit and then leave for QC in the early afternoon, arriving around 3:30 pm. However, the flight to QC was canceled, with the only option for getting to Quebec a 7:30 evening flight which would not arrive until late evening. It was a very long day. We were extremely happy to finally arrive at Jean-Lesage International Airport around 10:30. A short taxi ride for a flat rate of a flat rate of $35 (plus tip) brought us to the Hilton Quebec, a fairly new, immaculate, and attractively decorated hotel in close proximity to the Conference Center (site of the race expo), shopping, and restaurants. Our room was ready (naturally, since it was so late) and we were given an upgrade to the Executive Club; this was where we ate a continental breakfast every morning and snacked on cold and hot appetizers every evening. We even made a quick stop there for some bottled water and chips and dip before it closed at 11 pm.

After a good night’s sleep, we were ready to do some serious sightseeing. We headed down to the river since the race website had mentioned that we needed to take a ferry and then a bus to get to the starting line. This turned out to be not the case, at least not for this year; instead, there were buses (no ferry) that would pick up runners at the finish line in QC and drop them off at the different starting points across the river in the town of Lévis. We found this out at the expo, a mid-sized affair that had a lot of booths advertising Canadian and European races as well as several that sold various running products and services. Picking up my bib (with chip attached) and tee shirt (gray and green short-sleeved tech) and reusable tote bag was quick and easy; there were no lines at 10:30 in the morning, although I did return a couple of times during the day and found that the crowds had multiplied dramatically. I later discovered that several of the downtown hotels, including the Hilton, had special buses that would take us directly to the starting line without having to walk to other buses at the finish line, half a mile away. This turned out to be a real advantage, since I just had to walk outside the Hilton and climb on the marathon bus for the 30 minute ride to the start.

I managed to get on the first bus and was ready and eager for the early start at 7:30. I met up with Jim from Thunder Bay, Ontario, whom I had met at several other races. He was trying to do marathons that began with a letter of the alphabet and Quebec City was his attempt at the letter Q. Weather at the start was around 57 degrees but predictions were for the temps to hit the mid-80’s, with high humidity. We counted backwards from 10 (in French, of course) and we were off. I never really saw any course markings (unlike the yellow tape that clearly marked the Reykjavik course) but there were volunteers at every turn, so it was hard to take a misstep. I knew that once the regular starters began catching up with me, I would be surrounded by people, and that was indeed the case, so it was just these early miles that I had to watch for signs that I was headed in the right direction.

This course is point to point, with all races starting in the city of Lévis, on the south side of the St. Lawrence River. We ran and walked through neighborhoods and along bike paths, with the river almost always in view on our right. At 22k, we passed by the half marathon start, and some of the runners took advantage of the huge number of portapotties, now vacant, that had been set up for the people doing the half. Each kilometer was marked, beginning with 42.2k and counting down. I have a hard enough time wrapping my head around kilometers versus miles so it was really challenging to count down in k’s and trying to figure out how many miles I had completed and how many I had still to go. I finally just began looking forward to the next k marker and was grateful each time I passed one.

My favorite section of the course was as we passed over the Quebec Bridge; the view of the river and the two shores was magnificent. Once on the Quebec side, we followed the river almost exclusively; while it was very picturesque, there was no shade at all. The temperature was now in the upper 80’s and it was intensely humid, even for someone from Florida. I had worn a short-sleeve tech shirt but it was dark in color. I kept wishing I had worn a white sleeveless shirt instead. Many spectators had set up sprinklers for runners and volunteers handed out thick wet sponges. I gratefully took the sponges to wipe the salt and sweat from my face and arms. Some people inserted the sponges in the neckline of their shirts. We were warned by the bike-riding medics to slow down and take it easy, and I decided that was probably good advice to follow. I purposely took my time during the second half of the race because I could tell that cramps were inevitable if I moved too fast, despite my judicious use of S-caps and potato chips. A number of people were felled by the heat and several ambulances brought people to local hospitals. I considered it a good training adventure before the certain heat and humidity that would await me in Tupelo on Labor Day weekend, so I decided to forgo any attempt to come in under 6 hours.

There were quite a few spectators in Lévis; people came out of their homes to cheer us on (in French), saying the equivalent of ‘lookin’ good’ (I had to ask someone for the translation) and ‘great job.’ On the Quebec side, spectators were sparse but the wonderful volunteers provided a healthy dose of cheer. The aid stations were spaced about 5k apart but were more frequent for the last 10k. All had water and energy drink (Heed, I think) but several had bananas and oranges and other snacks.

Because of the intense heat, I was overwhelmingly grateful to see the finish line. I heard the announcer mention my name and town as I crossed the mat in a chip time of 6:01:06. I took a few more (very slow) steps and a volunteer placed a medal around my neck, photographers snapped my photo, and another volunteer handed me a bag as I passed down by a table loaded with food: chocolate milk, yogurt, oranges, cookies, trail mix, and bottled water. The medal was attractive, with a colorful blue and green lanyard, but the most unique aspect of the medal was the battery on the back; when the button was pushed, 6 little lights on the medal would flash.

My husband met me outside the runner’s area and we (even more slowly) walked up several hills back to the Hilton. Quebec is a hilly city and some of these hills are fairly steep. Now I was ready for a shower and several hours of sleep before we headed out to a unique restaurant called L’Astral in the Loews Le Concorde Hotel. This restaurant was on the 33rd floor of the hotel and rotated, thus giving us a panoramic view of the city; the food was excellent and well-worth the price (which was extravagant for us). I slept well that night.

Usually we leave the day after the race. Some faster runners leave immediately after finishing, since they can run a marathon, return to their hotel, shower, pack, and make a flight home. That is never possible for me, so I take it easy after the race and return home early the next day. However, on this trip we decided to stay an extra day so we could see more of the city. It turned out to be a good idea; we walked to the Citadel (QC is the only walled city on the North American continent), took a tour, and watched the changing of the guard. We had a buffet lunch in our hotel and then returned to the riverfront area for more shopping. Our goal was a chocolate shop, La Chocolaterie du village, and when we finally located it, of course we had to taste test several varieties of  delectable Belgian chocolates.

It was an early night for us, partly because we were fatigued but also because we had an 8 am flight the next day. When we reached the airport, we discovered that the Delta computers were not working in QC so all the checking in, baggage drop-off, and passport identification had to be done by hand. Remember when everything was done by hand? It took a long time to get 39 people checked in, with all that involved, when only 2 agents were doing everything the old-fashioned way. As a result, our flight was delayed by about an hour, but fortunately our connection in Detroit was not due to return to JAX until afternoon. While it made our day a bit longer than it had to be, we were grateful that we made all our flights and managed to get home without any real problem.

The Quebec City Marathon is very definitely a walker-friendly marathon and a great destination race. I would highly recommend it. Be sure and take the early start and be prepared for temperatures that may be hot and humid. Take advantage of the sights and food and history of QC and enjoy the city and the race.

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Reykjavik Marathon – Iceland (August 18, 2012)

There is something magical to me in the words Reykjavik and Iceland – I think of trolls and Vikings, geysers and waterfalls, volcanoes and pristine countryside. In our recent trip to Iceland, I was not disappointed. Maybe I didn’t actually see any Vikings or trolls, in person anyway, but I did learn quite a bit about this fascinating country. The history of Iceland is full of sagas, mostly fact, some fiction, of the earliest Norwegian settlers who were indeed Vikings searching for rich soil and pasture. And the folklore of Iceland is replete with tales of elves and trolls who cause mischief and strange happenings throughout the country. What better place to choose for a marathon?

Our adventure began in the wee hours of Wednesday, August 15th; our flight from the JAX airport to Logan in Boston (via Atlanta) was due to depart at 7 am. Once in Boston, we had to pick up our checked bags and wend our way to the international terminal where we checked in at Icelandair, made our way through security again, and then waited for our evening flight to Reykjavik. Soon we met up with some other marathoners, including Steve and Paula Boone, founders of the 50 State Marathon Club. This trip was the group’s international excursion for 2012 and I had expected a fairly good-sized group to join us but it turned out that only a couple of 50 Staters managed to make this trip. We may have been small in number but we had a lot of fun. Dave from Indianapolis, Sock-Monkey Boone plus Darcy and myself and Steve and Paula comprised a pretty select group. Darcy and I had booked the US part of our journey directly with Delta but the Iceland segment was a package offered by Marathon Tours and Travel. It was a sold-out trip and we met a lot of racers from Canada and other parts of the US. Some were doing the full marathon, others the half or 10k, while still others were traveling as companions to racers (like my husband Darcy).

Even though the flight from Boston to Reykjavik took only 5 hours, we passed through 4 time zones, so by the time we arrived in Iceland it was 2:30 am Eastern time but 6:30 am Icelandic time. We had been up for over 24 hours and were about to begin our 1st day of sightseeing – all part of the fun of traveling. I’m not usually bothered by jet lag since I adapt fairly quickly but I do tend to get a little punchy by the time I’ve been up for a day and a half without sleep. This didn’t bother any of us – we quickly adapted.

Marathon Tours had arranged for us to transfer by motor coach to our hotels. There were 3 different hotels available; two were downtown in the center of town while ours, the Radisson Blu Saga, was a 15 minute walk from the city center. This turned out to be an advantage, at least as far as I was concerned, because downtown tended to be quite noisy at night, with bars and restaurants and music. This was especially true for Culture Night, a popular festival in Reykjavik that attracts people from all over Iceland and is held on the evening of Marathon day. Multiple stages were set up on this night and live bands performed until darkness (and since this is the land of the midnight sun, there are only 2 or 3 hours of darkness in August).  Around 11 pm on Culture Night, there was a spectacular fireworks display over the harbor.  We were able to view the entire show from our hotel window.

Although we couldn’t check in yet, we were able to leave our bags at the hotel so we could make our way unencumbered to one of the other hotels where we could have some coffee and meet other tour members. Lunch was at the Hofnin Restaurant near the harbor. I must admit I found this first introduction to Icelandic food not very appealing. We were served a watery soup that consisted of some corn niblets, potatoes, cream, and a dollop of butter – very unpalatable. The main course consisted of a kind of fish called char and a starch consisting of bulgar – neither appealed to me. After lunch we had a motor coach tour of the city; we drove by Hofdi House (meeting place of Reagan and Gorbachev and reputed to be haunted), the stately Hallsgrimma church (Iceland’s tallest building and prominent landmark) , and the Perlan Saga Museum (where we had some delicious ice cream).

The tour ended around 5 o’clock and we were able to check into our hotel. We quickly unpacked and headed out for dinner with Steve and Paula. Yearning for some familiar food, we remembered passing by a Subway close to our hotel – a sub sandwich was just what we needed for sustenance. Then it was back to the hotel and finally to bed. I think we collapsed around 7 pm and went to sleep!

I woke up around 6 am. This hotel did breakfast right. The restaurant opened at 4:30 am so early risers like myself could eat soon after waking. We had a buffet breakfast every morning (included in our hotel package) and there was a hot line that opened at 7 am in addition to the cheeses and breads and smoked salmon. Plenty of food here and most of it was very good so we usually filled up for the day. After this first day, I awoke at my usual 4 am and headed to breakfast first thing.

Friday was our first full day in Iceland. We had signed up for the South Shore Excursion Tour and this turned out to be a good decision. We saw quite a bit of the countryside and lots of sheep and Icelandic horses, as well as greenhouses ( a short growing season means that Iceland must import most of its fruits and veggies or grow them in hothouses). Here are just a few of the highlights we experienced:
• the infamous glacier volcano Eyjafjallajokull (the one that erupted back in the spring of 2010 and brought air traffic to a standstill for several days)
• the Seljalandsfoss waterfall
• Vik, a small village and southernmost town and rainiest place in Iceland
• the Skogafoss waterfall
• a black sand beach with puffins nesting in the basalt lava formations
All in all, a great day. As we drove back to our hotels, we stopped at the race expo where we picked up our race bibs, chips, and tee shirts. Now it was time for me to obsess over how I would do in this race.
This is a relatively small race (only 675 marathon finishers). As usual, half marathoners far outnumber full marathoners, and there is also a marathon relay,a very popular 10k plus a 3 mile fun run for kids. The full and half races began at the same time, 8:40 am. Of course, I was ready to go by 7 am. The race booklet had instructions and pictures and maps in both Icelandic and English, but the maps were fairly complicated and the streets all had Icelandic names (naturally), so I had to trust that the course would be well-marked and easy to follow.

Paula, Steve, Darcy, and I headed out to the starting line around 7 o’clock. We stopped at the porta potties several times, took some photos, watched the crowds, and listened to the music. There were no corrals per se but signs listing minutes per kilometer helped us decide where to line up. For me it was pretty close to the rear. We started right on time and as usual once we began, my tension disappeared. I was feeling pretty good and decided that as long as I didn’t get lost, I would be fine. It didn’t even matter if I came in last, but I really wanted to beat that 6 hour time limit.

The course was very scenic. We passed by stately buildings, the National Gallery of Iceland, City Hall, the National Museum, our hotel, the University of Iceland, and the city center – and that was just the first 12 k. We headed towards the harbor and passed by the Sun Voyager, an aluminum sculpture that resembles a Viking ship. The weather was perfect – in the 50’s to start and the 60’s at the end, with no rain in sight, but a pleasant wind that cooled us off without freezing us. A lot of the course was on bike paths. Some of the bike riders came uncomfortably close to me but I kept myself acutely aware of people around me and managed to avoid any unwelcome encounters. The course was marked with yellow tape and there were volunteers at every questionable intersection. I later heard that some racers felt the course was confusing and not easy to follow; I suspect that they were probably looking at the beautiful views or talking or listening to music, because I never had a problem. Of course, I spent much time looking at the ground, watching for those yellow markers – I had to remind myself to LOOK UP so I could appreciate the great views.

I really enjoyed this race but it wasn’t easy. No hills, no rough trails, no dangerous potholes – but it did feel like a long long race. That may have been because the course was marked in kilometers rather than miles, and 42 k always seems like a greater distance than 26.2 miles. Still, every k was marked with a sign and that helped a great deal, and of course the kilometers went much faster than miles would have. There were several Canadian power walkers in the race and most of them blew right past me mid-race but one of them was having some trouble around mile 18. I thought I was the last walker, but Laurel caught up with me around that point and we helped each other get through the rest of the race just by hanging out together. Neither of us was up for talking much; we concentrated on conserving our energy for the race itself, but just having the companionship was a big asset. I crossed the finish line in 5:49 chip time, received my medal, and met up with Darcy and the Boones and several Maniacs.

It was a good race. After a hot shower and brief nap, my husband and I had the best meal of the trip – a buffet dinner at our hotel restaurant where we tried all kinds of Icelandic delicacies, including roast lamb, smoked herring, and lobster bisque. The key here was choice; there were a variety of well-prepared dishes and we could try as few or as many as we wanted. We discovered several that we really enjoyed.

Our trip was not over yet, though. We had another full day tour on Sunday. This was called the Golden Circle tour and it took us into the countryside where we visited the Pingveller National Park, site of the first Icelandic parliament and a geologically unique area where the tectonic plates from America and Europe meet but are slowly drifting apart. Another stop was at Gullfoss, a beautiful waterfall, on to some hot springs, and finally the Blue Lagoon. We returned to our hotel fairly late and then decided to make one final sojurn into the city to try one of the famous Icelandic hot dogs (made of lamb and not to my taste at all). We spent the rest of the evening packing for our early departure to the airport on Monday.

We were very pleased with the way Marathon Tours handled everything, from the flights and city tours to the way the Tour company representatives congratulated all of us at the finish line, even back-of-the-packers like myself.  Our Icelandic tour guide, Kristin, was excellent as well, and patiently answered all our questions and told us some intriguing tales of about Iceland’s history and folklore.

Bottom line – this was a good destination marathon and highly recommended for walkers who can meet the 6 hour cut-off (or close to it – the last finishers came in at 6:19). For travelers in general, the downside is that Iceland is quite expensive and one can easily spend a bundle on food and souvenirs. Even those Subway sandwiches and hot dogs were quite pricey. However, being aware of the high costs in advance helps with budgeting. Practically everyone speaks English and we found most people to be very helpful and welcoming. Since Iceland counts as Europe, this is my second continent in my quest to complete a marathon on every continent.

Hot to Trot 8 Hour Run – August 4, 2012

It’s been a long wet July and we still have at least another couple of months of hot and humid summer weather ahead of us. The hardest part of living in a warm climate that gets even hotter during the summer months is the dramatic lack of races. Of course, that’s because nobody in their right mind would want to run or walk very much in the heat. Most Florida runners and walkers take a break from training during the summer. However, there is at least one race that caters to the masochistic racer who is determined to find a way to run during the summer without traveling all the way to northern Canada.

Hot to Trot is that race. It is a timed event, 8 hours in duration, that is held in Sweetwater Creek State Park, just west of Atlanta. The Georgia Ultrarunning & Trailrunning Society (known affectionately as G.U.T.S.) puts the race on and this year Ryan Cobb did a masterful job in his first attempt as race director. To enter, you must either know Ryan or send him your credentials as an ultrarunner. This is not because it is necessary to qualify by time or mileage but rather to make sure that participants understand how to manage nutrition and hydration in hot humid weather conditions. Not a problem, I think, as I send Ryan my past ultra results; surely training in Florida heat has inured me to any potential problems.

Only 100 people can enter the race and I manage to get in. I purposely go out in the middle of the afternoon almost every day in July to walk, walk, and walk some more, as preparation; I welcome the sweating that covers my torso and my dripping tee shirts as proof that I can handle the heat. As race weekend approaches, I begin gathering my paraphernalia for a drop bag. We are warned to bring our own electrolytes and pain killers but the usual array of aid station goodies as well as Heed (no Gatorade) and water will be available at the single aid station. Since the course is a 1.18 mile loop, we will pass this one aid station many times (we hope).

On August 3rd, my husband and I head north to Lithia Springs where we had a hotel reservation at a brand-new Hilton Garden Inn. We made great time and arrived well before check-in time so we made a trial run to the park to check out the location and how long it would take us to get there. It turns out that the park is a short 10 minute drive from the hotel which made it extremely convenient. After a filling lunch at a neighboring CrackerBarrel, we return to the hotel, finally check in, and I try very hard to relax. I still don’t understand why I get so anxious before a race. If this were my first, or even my 10th, race, it would be reasonable to be nervous but, come on, this will be number 115, so I tell myself sternly to knock off the worry and somehow I manage to get several hours of sleep. Still, I wake up with the usual concerns: will I get lost? will I trip and fall? will I manage to get at least 27 miles in so this will count as an ultra? Notice that none of my concerns involve the heat; I am fairly confident that I can manage heat.

Packet pick-up begins at 6:30 race morning so we leave about quarter past 6 and follow the signs to the parking area. We are early. Volunteers are just beginning to set things up, so we wait around trying not to get in the way while doing our best to help in little ways like holding up a spotlight so people can see. The sky begins to lighten and more people come and the bibs and shirts are handed out. The tee shirt is a dark short-sleeve tech shirt with Hot to Trot emblazoned across the front and back. That is sure to be a conversation starter so I’m glad the shirt actually fits me. In our goody bag there are plenty of Lara Bars, a gel, and a nifty eye shade with the Hot to Trot logo on the shade. Another good idea.

After I set up my folding chair, put my drop bag on it, and afix my bib to my mesh vest, I’m ready – but it’s still pretty early so I walk around listening, asking questions, and trying to calm myself with some positive mantras. I am really not feeling so nervous now (it’s too late for that) and my biggest concern at this point is deciding whether to unzip the bottom portions of my new quick dry racing pants to make them into shorts. The weather is starting to heat up so I decide the shorts is a good idea. A couple of zips and I am cooler. I know, I know – the rule is, never wear anything new on race day – so I am taking a chance, but because the weather forecast predicted thundershowers, I wanted to wear something that would dry quickly. It did indeed rain – in fact, it POURED for several hours straight – so that was a good decision.

Just before the 8 am starting time, Ryan the RD called everyone together and gave a few basic last minute instructions. The course was marked with white streamers at crucial points. For a loop that was only a little over a mile in length, there was a surprising variety of terrain. We started on single track with a series of up and down hill berms followed by a short section of paved road which then led to a gravel tank road. Many people said that the tank road was their least favorite section but I found it to be relatively easy. It reminded me of the 7 miles of gravel and rocks in Anchorage and gave me no real problems. After the tank road portion, there was a small area of grass followed by a brief section of sand and then more single track dirt trail. Here there were some roots and rocks that could be a problem and I tried to be careful in my footing but nevertheless I managed to do a face plant on loop 7. I don’t think anyone saw me go down, fortunately, but I had bloodied my right knee and hand so when I reached the end of the loop I stopped at the (real) rest room and washed myself off. But the hardest part of the course for me was still to come: the Hills from Hell. These were not only steep but were covered with humongous roots and rocks that were arranged on a slant so that my right hip and leg had to take a much higher step up than my left. Just before we reached this point there was a neat wooden bridge; we then took a right turn that led up to the Hills from Hell. In between the Hills there was a slightly level section that allowed me to catch my breath before continuing up the second Hill. The Hills were followed by a steep gravel covered trail that led to the timing chute and aid station. We repeated this circuit again and again, as many times as possible in the 8 hour period.

The good news was that once I reached the wooden bridge, even though the hardest part was just ahead of me, I knew that the end of the loop was near and I was about to check off another mile. Most people walked the hills, including the gravel incline at the end of the loop. I walked the entire loop every time although in the very beginning I tried to run on the paved portion because that was the only part I was pretty sure would let me remain upright. I found that on the gravel hilly portions I could usually power walk faster than the runners who were walking the hills. On the other hand, the runners flew by me on the trails and I was amazed at how they managed to do so without tripping.

Yes, the weather was warm and it was kind of humid, but the thunder showers that came down on us for around 4 to 5 hours during the race cooled us off a bit. Unlike the usual steamy humidity that follows rain in the South, it was actually pleasant and there was a cool breeze every now and then. My clothes were soaked (although my new pants/shorts did keep me sort of dry) and my shoes and socks felt like bricks. Around mile 15, I decided to change into dry socks and shoes – my drop bag was not waterproof, however, and my “dry” socks were damp but still felt better than the soaked ones I took off. Rain is just one of those things that happens. Although the sand got damp and there were a few puddles to go around, I was glad that the trail stayed relatively free from mud, probably because of the tree canopy.

Since this was single track, I had to listen and watch for runners coming up behind me; I wanted to be careful not to hold anyone up as I picked my way cautiously along the trail. Around loop 19, I met up with Lia, one of the runners I had chatted with before the race began. She had tired a bit and decided to walk with me on her next loop. She was great company for me (and I hope I was for her as well) and really took my mind off the aches and pains that had started to accumulate. This was mostly due to general fatigue because trails tend to be very kind to my feet and legs and that was the case here.

Earlier I had figured out that I would need to complete 23 loops in order to get to 27.14 miles so I could count this race as an ultra. As I approached the end of the 23rd loop, the people in the timing chute (who were exceptional, by the way, and cheered me on by name every single time I came through) said that I had time to do at least 2 more loops. I was happy to do at least #24 because that would ensure an ultra for me. Lia was at least 2 loops ahead of me and wanted to complete a 50 k agreed to go around again, so we took off on another circuit.
Now I had 24 loops under my belt and was ready to call it quits. As I passed through the chute, I mentioned that I was DONE to the timing people and they said “Oh, no, you have to do another loop because you’re in the running for an award.” I couldn’t resist that possibility, so Lia and I took off for one last loop; we managed to complete that final loop in less than 15 minutes (a record for me). I had a total of 29.5 miles at that point.

At 4 pm the race ended, the burgers were cooking, people were starting to pack up and leave, and the race director began to announce the awards. The fastest (hottest) male and female were given prizes and so were the youngest person to run the entire 8 hours and the oldest person who had completed the most loops. And, yes, I WAS the OLDEST (I did have some competition) and received a lovely painting by Gabrielle Perry, a local artist, and a $25 gift card to Phidippides Running Store as well as a case of coconut water.  It was a fun race with wonderful people and great volunteers.  I’m not sure I would do it again because of the difficulty but I have been know to change my mind!