The Stinger 12 Hr Endurance Run

Back in March, before our race seasons had begun and before they were cancelled, I got an idea to run 50 miles as 5k laps around Lake Peachtree. To sweeten the pot, I also raised nearly $1000 for the National MS Society. There was no support team – just a trunk full of snacks and extra water. It turned out to be a hotter day than I was ready for and the loop was far hillier than I knew. At 37.5 miles, with my toes totally blistered and my quads burned out, I capped it and went home.

Fast forward through 8 months of quarantine, social distancing and the pandemic — I thought I’d give it another go this year but set myself up for a greater chance of success. I found a local race – a 6, 12 and 24 hour endurance race held at – omg – a highschool track. If I thought 16 laps around the lake was dizzying, what would 202 track laps be?!

Race day started off in a frenzy — I forgot my nutella sandwiches at home and wasted 20 minutes driving to go back and get them. Hindsight: not worth it since I only ate half of a single sandwich during the race! I arrived with my boyfriend – my primary support crew ❤ – about a half hour before the race would start. We checked in, strapped one of those neoprene timing bracelets to my ankle, and set up a teeny spot on a towel on the infield.

The runners started off around the track slowly, in a big, likely not covid-friendly hoard. Only 2 laps in, my friend Scott showed up on the sidelines to cheer! He joined our teeny spot in a camper chair with my boyfriend and I said hi to them about every 3 minutes as I lapped and lapped.

Somewhere around 15 miles, my nemesis and bane of my running stamina arrived: blisters. The three littlest piggies of my right foot were screaming. I attempted to muffle it with layers of KT tape, a roomier pair of running shoes (that I purchased the night before) and a dry pair of socks.

I would like to tell you that the blisters settled down or that they were manageable or something other than what really happened — they just kept getting worse. I would round out a few miles before that “oh no” sensation would hit and I knew something had gone wrong: another, deeper blister forming and breaking. UGH my toes!

During one of the pit stops, the crew beside mine came over to tell me, “Paul says hello!” I racked my brain: Paul, who? And then, the light bulb turned on. I’d been wearing my Infinite Multisport t-shirt for several hours before changing, and Paul is the president of the tri club. I had friends from “back home” in Detroit cheering for me, too, and I was so heart warmed by this small world connection out here in the suburbs of Atlanta.

Taking frequent breaks and holding onto a steady pace, the first 26 miles seemed to go off without a hitch, minus my toes, and my best girlfriend arrived with a cowbell to cheer on the back half! Knowing my PR distance was 37.5 miles, I felt comfortable getting back to that distance. Famous last words.

After mile 38, my quads started to feel gassed out. I was gulping down various drinks from skratch to gatorade to body armor water. I felt thirsty, I felt exhausted. This was the first of the sobbing breakdowns en route to 50.

It was slow. It seemed like I was not progressing. I learned my watch was ahead of my actual distance around the track. I was feeling so defeated by the exhaustion. At some point, I knew there were only 20 laps remaining. 5 miles until I could raise my arms in victory. I was running (hm, maybe, just jogging) 4 minutes on, walking for 1 minute and I felt like I was going nowhere. The laps weren’t adding up. It seemed every time I did a lap, there were still 20 remaining. I was crying. My groin was tightening up. The skin of my abdomen cried out every time I began to jog from the constant up-down motions.

My little support crew rang their bell every time I came around – each lap stretching out longer and longer. And then we were finally there. Only 4 more laps. 4…3…2…1… and I was done. Those final laps I ran just to finish. I dug deep. I found that grit within. I sat down on the infield next to the finish line and sobbed. I could barely walk for so many reasons, but I was done.

I finished 50 miles (and small change) in 11:00:14, with a moving time around 9 hours.


Traipsing 50 Miles

On Saturday, March 14th, 2020 I rose before the sun and tried not to focus too hard on the long day ahead. The trunk of my car was stocked full: 6 Gu packets, 2 bananas, 3 Pickybars (plus another bar cut into pieces in the pouch of my water bottle), 2 PB&J sandwiches, 8 bottles of water and 2 BodyArmor drinks – just to list the food. I also packed a change of shoes, 3 changes of socks, 4 shirts, a spare sports bra and change of shorts along with at least 3 bottles of sunscreen, 4 visors and one spare bag to catch all of the laundry.

That’s an exhausting list and I haven’t even started!

I began the run around 7:45AM with the intentions of running about 10 hours plus time for changing, filling water bottles, and resting. My route was a 3.55 mile loop with the option to go about 4 miles with an added detour. The first half marathon went by in a breeze – the day was over cast and warm in the low 70s. I was holding onto a sub 12 pace with my heart rate hanging out in low Z3/ high Z2. The plan felt like it was holding together!

I stopped around 15 miles to change, update the ‘gram, get more water and food. From 15-26 miles also went by rather quickly. I noticed the bottoms of my toes were chafing so they got some balm and a change of socks. My shoes were also growing a little snug so after 26, I changed into my second pair.

From 26-30, things were starting to come apart. Right in this time, a friend from our local cycling club came to meet up with me. He found me out on the route on his mountain bike and hung near me for a lap. It was mid-afternoon at this point and growing quite hot – his bike computer said 83 degrees. I was struggling to keep my heart rate down and struggling with the rolling hills of the lap. We finished right around 30 miles. I changed my top and my socks once again, laid out a towel near my car, and laid down with my legs up. My feet were really getting swollen and 1L of water was not quite enough for the single loop!

I charged up my phone and made the decision I would head back out onto the loop and try to stay out until my boyfriend arrived. At 34 miles, I sent another update to everyone following along on social media, pulled on some calf compression sleeves, and hoped for the best. The last lap was, of course, my longest lap time wise. I was struggling to jog for more than a minute at a time and found myself struggle marching through the lap. With only a few blisters on my toes, but no juice left to push on in my quads or hamstrings, I finished at 37.5 miles in 7:24 and called it a success in my first attempt at 50 miles.

I am extremely proud not only of the distance I covered, but the donations I was able to raise for the National MS Society. To date, I have raised $900!

Thank you to everyone who supported this journey by following along, commenting, cheering, and donating! There will be another go at it 🙂