Christmas in July 6 Hour Race

I’m not going to lie; this is going to be a tricky race recap to write as sleep deprivation has made it almost impossible to accurately recall all the details of this soggy all night run-a-thon.

Leading up to this race I had gotten in a ‘couple’ long training runs; it was unplanned but somehow my 2015 training schedule had taken a turn towards triathlons. Going into the race I was hanging my hopes on muscle memory and hoping for unexpected strength I might have gained through my triathlons to get me through the night.

I had no set expectations other than to ‘have fun’ and not get injured. I would be completing this event with My Ultra Bad Ass Girls Extravaganza (UBAGE) as some of my crazy running friends refer to us. Basically, we’re a group of running mommas who set out to have a GNO (girls night out) running for 6 hours. #iknowyouarejealous

About the event, Christmas in July takes place in Lisle, Illinois. It’s a certified .97 something paved mile loop with a hill mountain about ¾ of the way through it. My girlfriends and I opted to run the 6 hour event which started at MIDNIGHT and went until 6am. The weather was hot and humid for race day night. Take a look at the temperature reading on my dashboard just hours before the event.

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When we arrived at the race we set up camp and took silly pics.

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From left to right…Front Row: Kim from Running on the Fly,  Karen from Trading in My Heels and then me. Back row: Barb,  Maggie,  Teri from Reinventitude and Penny.

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We checked out the race scene which was SO FUN. There were Christmas lights and music; it was very festive. It was almost like a mini Christmas tent village that we got to run through every mile. There were drink and food tents as well as the cutest award tent too. (Nutcrackers!)

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The paths were lined with luminaries and tons of individual “campsites” as there were some serious hardcore people there doing the 12 hour and 24 hour races too.  (See, we’re not crazy…there are crazier people than us!). While we waited to run we saw the runners from the 12 and 24 hour race running by us…this was really about to happen.

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We lined up and off we went into the lightening ridden humid night; we settled into a decent pace mid to upper 10’s. I gasped when I saw the hill mountain on my first loop. I thought; “OMG how the frick am I going to run this hill all night?”  There were 7 of us in our group total, we ran in “clumps” lol. We didn’t want to all stay together because we’d cause a bottleneck on the course. I stayed with Karen and a girl named Sonia that we met on the course for the first 9ish miles. Karen and I have tackled some really cool events together, it only seemed right to have her by my side.  I could see all my friends throughout this part of the race, just slightly ahead of us. Karen had devised a plan to stop for drink every 2 miles and food every 5. I’m easy, seemed like a good plan so I went with it.

IT WAS SO HOT. Omg…SO HOT

I had taken my inhaler throughout the night (#asthmatic) but I was still having a hard time as heat is one of my ‘triggers’.  Karen’s schedule was working out great; I really like running the one mile loop as running through the “village” gave me something to look forward to. Somewhere around 9 miles (I could be wrong) Karen started to feel sick. We had stopped for a drink and I took one look at her and I knew she wasn’t ok, she looked out of it. I felt her arm and she was FREEZING. Ummmm, it was wicked hot out; no way should she be cold. We talked for a little bit and she told me not to wait to for her because she didn’t know if she was even going to rejoin the race.

I went on, but I had a tummy ache about it; I felt bad. It was the middle of the night and did I mention that it was POURING rain by now.

Absolutely down-pouring.

So here I am,  running in the rain underneath a bevy of Christmas lights listening to Christmas music while eating a large slice of pizza. I laughed outloud to myself as I saw the rain bouncing off my soggy pizza. #whattheheckamidoing I was trying to wrap my brain around what I was doing…this had to rank up there among the strangest things I had ever done in my entire life.

I stopped at our camp for the next 2 loops to check on Karen who was still there resting. She still looked weakened and sad. I felt awful for her; I gave her a huge smooch (it really was a big old kiss on the cheek) and then I headed back out. I didn’t see Karen at camp the next loop; my heart sank as I thought she left the race.

My mile times were starting to rise, but I pushed on. I met a bunch of people on the loop, it’s great how you can meet random strangers and become instant friends in an ultra-marathon. This race was full of the nicest people ever. Our group had disbursed by now, with everyone kind of doing their own things, I’d see an occasional gal from the group from time to time which was uplifting.

At one point I saw my friend Teri (who rocked this race BTW along with my new friend Barb!) and I asked her where Penny and Maggie were…I had seen everyone else except them. I knew they’d be running a similar pace to me and I hadn’t seen them in what seemed like hours. #missingmygals Teri said something about seeing them a little bit back; and that they were running with Karen. Wait!!?? Karen is still here? My heart lifted, I was so glad she didn’t leave. I also met up with Kim from the group sometime around this point and we ran for a bit together. Kim and I had never met until tonight (we’ve been FB friends forever) so it seemed like we knew one another for ever. Kim has been struggling with hip pain; she showed a lot of grit out there that night by gutting through some tough miles.

Kim and I got separated (potty break?) and I wanted to meet up with my other girlies so I decided to take a walk break in hopes that they would catch up with me as I walked. I walked an entire loop looking around for 2 bobbing headlamps (Penny and Maggie) those girls ran stride for stride with one another and I could easily spot their rhythm, but I didn’t see them. That loop took me 20 minutes. When I didn’t see them,  I crossed over the timing mat again and this time I figured they had to be close so I sat down on a picnic bench to wait. My mile split for this mile ended up being 40 minutes!!! (Eeek) Ultimately I found the girlies and latched on with them. We walked/ran together except when we got to the hill mountain, then we would walk.  #becauseitsucked

Every so often I’d see Teri and Barb go by…they were really killing the pace and doing a great job! It’s crazy how this race went. I’m so happy I waited (btw…physically this rest was very needed too!!) to catch up with my friends and see them…it made my heart feel good to connect with them in the darkness, but then somehow we separated (fuel stops, water breaks and potty visits).  Karen was feeling better so she went ahead to try and make up some miles and I found myself running alone again.

I was half running and walking up the hill mountain when I started making small talk with the guy next to me about the sunrise. As we ran up the hill, we could see the sun rising over the horizon; it was all different hues of pinks and oranges. It was stunning. That sunrise chit chat started a conversation that lasted through the remainder of the race. Paulis and I ran 5 tough loops together, talking about “life”…my husband and daughters, his girlfriend and destination races. (He’s run in some really cool places). Somehow a running friendship budded with the sunrise; we pushed each other through those last few miles. I practically stalked him after the race to take a picture and friend him on FB. Afterall, a sunrise ultra-friend can’t be forgotten!

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I ended up running 27 laps which wasn’t too bad considering I had one lap that took me 40 minutes and another that took me 20. I was 4th place overall in the 39 and under age group.

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Barb and Teri both placed, check out their cool nutcracker hardware!

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As an added bonus our sweet friend Wendy from Taking the Long Way Home on FB met us at the end with donuts!! #awesomesupport

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We all went out for breakfast which was yummy…the conversations were funny and cloudy. We were all so tired and walking funny that I’m certain people thought we were drunk. #drunkonexhaustion

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We’re already planning next year, tents and all. 12 hour race here we come!!

XOXO Mish

5 thoughts on “Christmas in July 6 Hour Race

  1. wendyistakingthelongwayhome says:

    As much as this looks like fun (:P) I will take a pass. I will, however, continue to be your biggest cheerleader and donut bringer. I’m so proud of you and all the other ladies for gritting it out on such a hot, yucky night!

  2. kboland77 says:

    Ohhhhh, Michelle!! We have been through so much together. You did incredible. I am so lucky to call you my friend. You did so much for me that night…the smooch was the best. Xoxoxo

  3. Sue @ This Mama Runs For Cupcakes says:

    You guys are so hard core!! I would love to do this with you one year. I don’t know if I could handle a 1 mile loop though, I might go crazy! Way to go mama!

  4. Teri B. says:

    Michelle, what a wonderful race recap! I’m so so so happy we finally got to run a race together and it was my favorite one to date because of all the #girlpower! You are an incredible athlete and incredible friend. Looking forward to next year already!!! Xo

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