The Tour de Pain: 3 races in 24 hours. The one that most people in Jacksonville know about is the “normal” race… where it’s a 4 miler on the beach, a 5k on the street through neighborhoods, and a 1 mile sizzler in the middle of the hottest part of the day. What people don’t know about is the EXTREME version of this race, held a few weeks after the Gate Rive Run. Oh, it’s still 3 races in 24 hours, but the mileage is ramped up.
A 10k, a 5k, and a half… all within 24 hours. It was my birthday present to myself, and this year I was thrilled to get Channel 4 to sponsor the $100 fee to enter the race. Despite medication for a sinus infection and bronchitis, I made plans to spend the weekend after my birthday pounding the pavement with Kat and Tiffany (who flew back from Charlotte for the race)
The 10k – This race was Saturday morning, in the midst of a cloudy day and rain just barely on the horizon. At this point I had almost 5 full days of meds in me and I was starting to feel pretty good. My coughing was minimal, my breathing much easier, and everything was feeling great. Until Kat texted me and said that she was fighting a chest cold. She was coughing harshly, stuffy like crazy and just miserable.
I felt bad for her, and was concerned when she said she was going to run the race with me. I had not planned for this and had my goals that I wanted to meet, brought my music, and was fully prepared to run alone. Thankfully, she understood and said that we could run my pace and that I was going to use my music.
The race started pretty normally, but the humidity in the air was obviously going to be a problem. We ended up walking over the bridges since I forgot they were even in there, and then ran hard as much as we could. I didn’t mean to push her while she was sick, but I wanted to make one of the races count for being a strong finish knowing I had two more to do… and knowing that the first one was my best chance, I made sure I worked my legs right.
“Do you have a sunburn?” Kat asked, poking my arm with her fingertip.
“No, why?” I asked, turning to look at her. Her face widened in concern.
“Oh my God, Jamie you are so red…” she said. I nodded and shrugged. I was hot. My body temp was way higher than it should be. But that wasn’t going to stop me.
Main Street bridge was easy, and the Acosta was the typical steep hill it always is. We ran out and then over “the hump” that we like to call “Little Acosta” that takes us from the downtown area over to Riverside Avenue, and that was significantly steeper than I remembered it being too. We ran down to the Riverside Arts Market (major props to the cops who stopped the traffic for us runners. That would have been hell going through. And to the officer who showed us which way we are supposed to go around the vendors setting up) and then down the Riverwalk where Kat and I always run. At this point, we were chatting along the way… making plans for the train bridge that was coming up. At about this point, the rain started.
“We’re running the train bridge,” I said to her. She groaned. I smirked. This is the exact bridge we run when we are doing our speed work on Wednesdays and I know that we could make it up the random bridge that was partially inclined then flat then inclined and then flat again. It would suck; it always sucked… but it would be worth it. And wouldn’t you know it, there was a race photographer at the top.
Once we got past the photographer, we walked a bit to catch our breath. I held the railing of the suspension bridge that went over the tracks and then on the way down the “toilet bowl” we ran. We crossed the finish line which was right at the Jacksonville landing at about 1:16, which is only 2 minutes slower than the 10k the weekend before… when I was in the throws of my ick and was flat.
Proud of my time, I high fived Kat, grabbed water, cheered Tiffany on to crossing the finish then darted to the green tardis (also known as a porta-potty) because sometimes a girl just has to go. We made our plans to meet up for the 5k later that evening and then went our separate ways.
The 5k: By the time I got home, the skies were starting to build, and the rain was coming. I got into my place, talked to my mother-in-law and made my way into the shower. While I was in there, the skies opened up and a torrential downpour came. We waited the rain out, went out to have “breakfast” and I ate lunch, then enjoyed some time together.
The second race was Saturday evening at 6pm, and my goal was to leave by 4:45 pm to make it downtown and find parking and get ready to go. I got dressed and literally changed my outfit like five times trying to pick out an outfit to wear. Thankfully, the last purple tank top was the one I liked most. I then did my hair in a tight braid and got it back so that after the race I could just change clothes and meet the family at the Jacksonville Shark’s game. Did I mention that we got tickets to go with my parents who would be at the game? Well, we did. And kick off for this indoor arena football team was 7pm. Thankfully, a 5k would be quick and I can just change clothes and meet them there.
So after the rain passed, the skies cleared up and the sun came out and WOW, did it get hot. Driving to the race, I grabbed my sunglasses because I knew I would need them. I parked over by the CSX building and got ready, then walked over to where the race was going to be held. We stood around and chatted as we waited for the start of the race. Kat ran with me again, but I knew we wanted to take it easy during the 5k knowing we had a half marathon the next morning.
When the gun went off, we did a slow run behind the runners. We were already feeling the earlier 10k in our quads and I knew I was going out after the race so I didn’t want to kill ourselves. We ran the Mini Acosta like usual, and headed down to the Riverside Arts Market turn, and then hit the river walk. We ran up the train bridge and down the toilet bowl and to the finish line. We crossed at about 39 minutes, which is about on pace for what I run it when I do my training runs. Could I have done it faster? Absolutely. But I wanted to save my legs.
It also didn’t help that my eyes were on FIRE because I got sweat and glitter from my eyeshadow into my eyes. I decided to not wear a head band because of the game, and just destroyed my eyes. Mental note: you have tons of headbands for a reason: Wear them.
Coming up to the finish, the DJ started cheering on the “tutu girls” and that was the motivation we needed to finish the race strong. Kat had put on a tutu before she met us, and I was wearing my purple one, so we were thrilled. The crowd around the finish line started cheering and yelling “You go tutu!” and that made me smile. Tutus get you recognized on races, but also get you motivation and support.
Quickly after the race, we went our separate ways. Eric was heading out to the farewell party for one of our co-workers, Tiffany wanted to get dinner and rest, Kat was headed back to her family to rest and fight off more of her cold. I went to the car, drove to a local gas station to change clothes, hit the ATM for parking cash and then headed to the Sharks game.
BTW – at the game, I had lots of protein and french fries for dinner, and for dessert Dipping Dots. Any ice cream fanatic knows what those are! 🙂
The Half Marathon: We got home a little later than planned from the Sharks game (btw – we won!) and I didn’t get to bed until closer to midnight. With a wake up call at 4:45am, a walk out time planned for 5:45am, and the race at 7am… I was tired, and my legs were showing some strain from the 9 miles I did the day before. My quads were tight, my calves sore, and my back and shoulders ached some for some strange reason.
But that wasn’t going to stop me from running that last race.
If the first race was warm and super humid, and the second race was sunny and hot, the third race was proving Mother Nature to be someone who absolutely hated running because it was so freaken cold. The temps dropped significantly over the short 5 or so hours between going to bed and waking up. The race temps were in the 40s, and I was not dressed appropriately.
When I got to the race, I threw on my light weight hoodie and went right to the bathrooms before doing anything else. My stomach was iffy and I wasn’t sure if it was the meds I was taking for the sinus infection/bronchitis (found out they make you queasy…I should have read the label better) or all the gels, or just nerves, but a girl had to go! Kat met me there and I chatted with her for a bit, then dragged her back toward my car so I could get my gear ready.
Race belt with fuel, tutu, sunglasses, and headphones and I was ready to go. Threw a piece of gum in my mouth for good measure. Then Kat and I walked over to her car so she could get ready. Then we walked over to where everyone was waiting to get race ready. Eric and David found us, and we chatted. This was David’s first half marathon and he was feeling the same pain I was in my quads so we spent some time stretching out. Kat disappeared when Tiffany walked up and we stretched as we chatted. Soon, it was race time and we got lined up.
Kat and I were going to run the race together, and we had a solid plan to cross under 3 hours, with a secondary goal of 2:45. Both solid goals, and I thought were totally achievable. When the cannon went off, and we started, we tried to keep a steady slow pace at about 12 minutes a mile because she was recovering from her cold still and we were running on tired legs. The first part of the route took us around downtown some and when we came back around we blew past the bridges (not on this route! wahoo!) and headed out toward my favorite cemetery.
We felt good and had to remind each other to slow down from time to time. Sometimes our pace would increase a lot and we both would end up gasping for air and needing to slow down, sometimes it would be one or the other of us. We kept a pretty strong pace, fueling when necessary for each of us, hitting every water stop, the whole gambit. It wasn’t until close to mile 9.5 that I started to feel myself crashing.
We were on a steady pace to beat 2:45 until about that time. We hit mile 10 at about 2 hours, and Kat looked at me saying we could easily make our time goals…and I wanted it. I so wanted it. But I physically didn’t have it in me. By the time we hit the river walk, I was dragging severely. My legs started to feel heavy, my lungs started to feel tight, and there wasn’t any gas in the tank. I was walking more than I was running, and my internal monologue was not nice. At this point I had already stopped sweating, and I knew I was dehydrated despite drinking at every water stop.
But I refused to not finish, so I pushed it. We walked up the train bridge, and the finish line was not that far away. I kept telling Kat that I would have to go slow because I just didn’t have it in me, and when we did cross the finish line holding hands, I felt a sigh of relief. I grabbed a bottle of water and my medal and moved out of the way. 2:50 finish time. Not my best, but not my worse either. And after everything I already did? I’d take it.
Eric saw our finish, and we hung out until Tiffany crossed. I grabbed a second bottle of water, and it was pointed out that they had beer so I grabbed one of those as well. Then people started to make their leave. Eric wanted to get out of the cold (which I had yet to feel) and Kat wanted to get to her family. Tiffany and I ended up sitting and chatting for a bit before we made it to our cars. Walking hurt after sitting for a bit – my quads, my ankle, my shoulders and back… I hurt. But it was worth it.
Later during the day, we went out to see the NASCAR race at Tilted Kilt, and I scarfed some food down and drank a lot of water. I ended up crashing early because my body wanted sleep, which made me feel bad for my in laws but I was tired. The next day, I felt sore but good. This race is a true challenge. 22.4 miles spread out over 24 hours. And despite everything, I loved every moment of it.