Delirium Ultra 12-Hour Run - Ridgeland, South Carolina
October 21, 2017 - After a very-concerning acute injury to my left knee this would be my return to racing ultras on trails after six months off. Everyone told me a meniscus injury doesn't heal. After spending all summer to prove them wrong, I was here to reclaim my place on the line to see if I could hang onto youth for awhile longer. The forced time off to rest was tough, but not nearly as tough as having had to cancel ten paid-for events in the past year. I was hungry for redemption.
Tim Waz and the Lowcountry crew put on an enjoyable show. This would be my third time at Delirium - each time on a different course - each time covering about fifty miles on loopy trails. The lowcountry trails must have some magic to them because I generally do not like running loops (I get bored easily), and.... I generally make it a rule not to return to a race for an encore, at least not very often. When it was all over this time, I departed with regrret that this would be the final Delirium due to circumstances beyond Tim's control.
After a restful sleep at the race venue (which just happened to be Tim's back yard) racers set off at the comfortable starting hour of 0900 to chase a 2.5-mile loop through the woods for 6, 12, or 24 hours. The plan was to start conservatively and then stay steady all day at about a 4.5 miles-per-hour pace. Fifty miles in 12 hours was all I wanted to do. This was an organized test run with an aid station and sweatshirt - not a race for me.
But the winds of enthusiasm filled my sails from the start and I couldn't help myself from running the first two laps at about a 6 mph tempo in 50 minutes. The first two laps were social, each spent chatting to a different runner. After two laps I returned to reason and purposefully cut my stride and tempo, abandoning the younger company I had started with to get back to my plan. Despite running a bit quicker than I was used to, I felt well within myself - no increased effort or breathing. I yielded to reason, not fatigue.
First lap with John Durant
The majority of the day was a concerted and measured effort. By the halfway of 6 hours I had comfortably covered about 30 miles. I hung with people who were walking just to visit; I lingered at the aid station to chat with little regard for tacking on additional transition time; I even sat down to rest every few laps - just because it felt good. There was no hurry to it and I was listening more to my body than watching the time.
Temps crept up over 80 degrees by mid afternoon and I could feel the heat under my cap. My increasing core temperature was beginning to labor my production, so I pulled off the course after thirty miles to sit down in my lawn chair by my car. I took off both shoes and put on a dry pair of socks after luxuriously rubbing my bare feet into the cool grass for a bit. Sitting there and watching the rest of the field continue on, I had no concerns about the clock as I sipped down a refreshing Red Bull. When I was damn well ready, I laced up my shoes, donned a dry muscle shirt and new cap, and headed back out under temps that would only get cooler from this point forward.
I ran easily, but always with purpose and controlled strength; I walked more for society, however - walking nearly a whole lap with two fun people from Charleston; I took even more time at the aid station; after dark I turned off my light to look for meteors from the Orionid showers - twice. Running fifty miles was alway within reach. I didn't want to feel fatigued, and toward the end I didn't want to stumble in the dark and hurt my knee, which was all but painless throughout. It was great just to ease into the finish instead of push.
The last couple of hours in the dark were pleasant, from watching the pink glow of the clouds between the twilight and the gloaming to listening to the cricket and frogs in the swamp emerge for their evening serenades. The lowcountry swamp can be a magical place; my mountain heart always thoroughly enjoys coming to run here.
I stopped after using up most of the 12 hours with a tally of 47.5 miles, or nineteen laps. Close enough. My body responded splendidly. My knee did not hurt at all. My legs were not tired and had enough left to continue without pain had that been my mission. My confidence for my 100-mile race the following weekend was where I wanted it to be.
The trails from Tim's back door were wonderful. Regrettably, within a year, the new owner of this tract is going to have nearly all of what we just enjoyed clear-cut. Tim would be moving from his beautiful home and reinventing life with his family from a new venue. I, for one, am glad I was here and did not miss Delirium's swan song. And I look forward to seeing how Tim will rebound with a new exciting event.