Delirium Ultra 24 Hour, Bluffton, SC 1,2

Elevation: 20'

February 9, 2013 - After a restful week of vacationing on Hilton Head Island 
with Annie I was healed and ready to go for this timed event.  A 24-mile
run on the island on bike paths in four hours the Sunday before showed me
I was prepared for a good outing.  With a comfortable 10 a.m. start I was
even able to sleep in and begin the effort in full sunshine with temperatures
already hitting the mid 50's.  Everything was set for a good day.

About a hundred participants in the 6-, 12-, and 24-hour events would begin
together at Buckwalter Place in Bluffton, about twenty miles east of Hilton 
Head.  The course wound in a certified 1.713-mile loop around a commercial
complex, which included Publix, Subway, Jersey Joe’s Pizza, McDonalds, and
a bowling alley, on a nice Greenway Trail designed to showcase the foliage and landscape of the local area known as the "lowcountry". Throughout the event, restaurant smells would waft their way through the woods to tempt runners and hikers to take a diversion for eats. I stood my ground and did not yield, but I did think about it!
The field thinned quickly on the pine-needle covered trail with nary a root or rock to be found. On an early section out of the start and only aid station the trail took a slalom route through the pine forest with half a dozen 90-degree directional changes in quick succession, then crossed several bridges over wet areas before returning to the start on about a half mile of paved side- walk along a busy boulevard. Each loop required runners to cross three roads. Most drivers in cross traffic were super patient and courteous, but there were instances where negotiation by sign language became necessary to cross safely! During the first six hours I clipped along at better than a 6-mph tempo for much of the way before slowing to 5-mph to cover 19 laps for over 32 miles. I'm not completely sure, but at the time I thought the lap counters shorted me one lap, so thereafter I took a greater effort to make sure they counted me every time around. I felt good and was eating a gel after every second lap and drinking lots of water. While I stopped for probably no more than a half-minute each time I hit the aid station, after six hours I took perhaps a ten-minute break to change clothes, restock, use the restroom, and chat with some other runners in the warmth of an otherwise perfect day. From this point forward I took more time at the aid station than I normally would do in other events, losing at least a half hour of running over the course of the day. As I headed out after a comfortable break, a 5-mph tempo, or three laps per hour, was still comfortable, but after a couple hours that deteriorated to closer to a 4-mph pace. About the time the sun went down and head lamps became necessary I started getting dizzy and mildly hypothermic. By eight in the evening, after ten hours on the course and 50 miles my balance was deteriorating after two hours of dizziness, my stomach was upset, and I was close to shivering as temps dropped to the lower 40's, so I withdrew after 29 laps. Legs were great, but the rest of me turned to jello. Am not clear on the cause of the dizziness, as I am seeing it increasingly at events of longer than six hours - perhaps it is low blood pressure, or my underlying Lyme disease, or an emerging sinus infection, or reaction to high levels of pine pollen - don't know!! I am seeing, now that I have arrived at what others may consider "old age", my endurance is not what it used to be. Despite adequate training I don't seem to be able to extend my endurance. Perhaps I've never had good endurance! The leg speed is still there and with training my stamina is exceptional, at least out to six hours, waning thereafter. It is tempting, even for me, to be self-critical of my mental staying power. There is a factor of ennui after doing beaucoup laps on a short loop course. Nevertheless, my mental stamina seems as good as my physical stamina, so it seems more appropriate to lay the blame on physical limitation. I guess every person has to face this at some point along their aging trajectory. What I take from the Delirium event is that I should probably limit my racing to six hour events or shorter and enter events of no longer than 50 miles, or ten hours of running. I just need to accept that I have missed out on the longer, tougher events that are perhaps better suited to younger athletes. My hat is off to the aging veterans that continue to go the distance. Long may they run. Long may I continue to shuffle down the trail, as well!!!