This Run Lift Mom Podcast Episode is an audio journal recap of the 2020 Nutcracker Endurance Run 12 Hour Ultramarathon. Enjoy!
Why would you run for 12 hours?
An ultramarathon is defined as anything beyond 26.2. Typically, runners cover a specific distance like 50K, 50 miles, 100K, or cover a longer distance as a team in relay ultra events.
The Nutcracker Endurance Run is different. It is time based, meaning you choose a time (3, 6, or 12 hours) and run as many miles as you can within that time.
The only way to DNF (“did not finish”) with one of these things is to not show up. If you feel rough several hours in, you just stop. Whatever you run in that time period is your score- easy.
Why would you do it again?
I was drawn to this race again for no other reason than I haven’t been able to run in person for a race this year. My 100 miler was pandemic cancelled and ended up being a virtual.
The organizers of this race did a great job creating a safe environment, capping registration (when they could have sold more) and requiring masks in the starting area, aid stations, drop bag areas, and finishing area.
There was actually not a lot of pushback on this- everyone considered the mask a minor inconvenience and we were all just grateful to be out there.
Slow and steady, ran with my pal Sarah and we had decided beforehand to do 9:1 Galloway method.
The idea here is recovery- using a run walk ratio yields similar times as running outright but you’re able to recover faster. It’s very popular in ultrarunning and helps mentally as well- when you are in the pain cave, looking forward to the next walk break is a helpful mental anchor.
I was hyperaware of my feet getting blisters so I changed socks and shoes every 10 miles.
As I’ve discussed previously, your feet will give out before your legs do and I wasn’t taking any chances.
I also ate for the first time at mile 20- quick burning foods like bananas and white potatoes.
I don’t recommend everyone fast for this long in a race environment, but I do urge you to consider your personal lifestyle when making the decision.
As an example, I typically fast until lunch and always train fasted. I wasn’t going to eat at 5 am just because everyone around me did.
I had some tough mental moments in the 40s, but this was a race where the wheels just didn’t fall off physically at any point.
There’s a reason why: I followed my training to a tee. I didn’t miss any key runs or overall weekly volume. I hit all of my cross training efforts and prioritized sleep.
I’m not the most talented runner ever, but I am durable (not sure if this is a “talent” but it’s helpful).
That means if I can get the training inputs- which, admittedly, are absolutely within my control- I put myself in a position to succeed.
Since the course was a 5 mile out (to Dunn) and back (to Erwin) course, I knew this would be my last “loop”. For some reason, that gave me a mental lift.
I typically resort to liquid calories at this point and am grateful to continue taking in quick burning carbohydrates with trace fat and protein.
In my early ultra running days, I had a lot of issues with digestion. For most runners, it gets rough 8 hours in until you have some practice. I wish there was a better directive to help you if you’re new to the sport, but there isn’t. When you mess up, figure out what went wrong and fix it.
Listen to everyone, follow no one as Dean Karnazes says. That’s true in fueling and training!
In the last hour, we ran 1 mile loops since you had to complete a mile by the ending time at 6:30 pm for it to count. I know going in circles sounds whack, but this was my favorite part.
By sheer nature of these mile repeats, I got to run with and give frequent passing high fives to other participants and friends on course. It lifted my spirits and I was reminded why I love ultras so much- the people.
Runners at events like this are just very different from your traditional road runner. For the most part, they aren’t running for glory; they’re running for camaraderie, the opportunity to be off road in nature, and the ultra experience.
And the winner?
For the second year in a row, it was me! I beat last year by 3 miles and feel really great about the effort.
My friends did really well, too- that was the best part. We all had great days!
As I write this blog, I’m almost 24 hours out and I don’t have any pain outside of what is expected. I did a lot of walking today (which I know sounds counterintuitive but always aids recovery), got on the inversion table, and worked on hydration.
So glad I got to race in person in 2020!
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