My friend Michael talked me into doing an endurance run, an event with a time limit rather than a distance, e.g. run for 6 hours. The one we went to was the Labor Pain 12 Hour Endurance Trail Run in Reading, PA.
Pretzl City puts on some fun events - I've done a few: Chilly Cheeks, Mt. Penn Mudfest. Even better, a few other friends were also going - Carrie and Cindy. Michael also brought his son Graham along, but Graham didn't run as he was recovering from an injury.
Michael was from the area, so we even lucked out and were able to spend the night at his friend's house and not have to drive up that morning.
We arrived at the race and staked out a table in the pavilion area. It was already warm while we were setting up our stuff.
The race began and I hung back, not wanting to get trampled by the faster runners and knowing that typically these events wind up having a funnel effect the first place we enter the woods. Sure enough, about half a mile into it, we were all waiting patiently to get on a trail.
I ran a fairly easy pace and felt OK, but the trail was rockier than I thought it would be. There were various minor hills, short sections of the road, and overall it was a relatively clear trail except for chunky rocks. No stream crossings! By the end of the first lap, it was hot and humid and I was thinking that I'd be happy with the marathon distance.
This event has a cool premium - clothing embroidered with the milestone distance you completed. Milestones were 26.2, 50K, 40M, 50M, and maybe something higher like 100K for the absolute trail running animals. If you didn't hit a milestone at all, you'd just have the item with the race logo, which is also cool. So my initial goal was 50K, but by the 3rd lap it became a marathon.
At the end of lap 3, I decided to wait up at the pavilion for Michael and/or Cindy. As it happened, they both showed up almost simultaneously, so we all started lap 4 together. Michael said he wasn't feeling well and planned to stop after lap 4. Cindy and I ran together and by the one aid station on the course, had run several minutes ahead.
We talked and both came the same conclusion: today, in the heat and humidity, a marathon was the new goal.
Lap 5 brought some relief from the sun and heat... it rained on us for a few minutes. The rain didn't really cool anything down unfortunately. And it passed but a few clouds lingered which was nice.
2/3rds through our lap 5, Carrie passed us on her lap 7 (!!). She said she was scaling back from 50M to 40M and disappeared around a corner. She zoomed by so quick I think I heard a Doppler effect in her voice!
Cindy and I entered the pavilion and finished up our lap 5, which meant we just had to run to a turnaround for the marathon. Shortly into the trail we came up to a tree with the "marathon turnaround, after 5 laps" sign, touched it, and headed back. At this point, oncoming runners would yell out congratulations, since we were running backwards and they knew we were done with whatever distance we had planned. Basically the marathon and 50K had turnaround points.
Overall it was fun, hot and humid (but then, the weather is uncontrollable), and I'm looking forward to receiving my embroidered race premium. The race cycles between hoodies, jackets, and fleece vests - this year happens to be the fleece vest year so that will be nice in the fall/winter.