Thank you to Kristin for her race report!
On a Friday night a little over a week ago, I found myself in Lisle surrounded by festive lights and holiday decorations to run the Christmas in July six-hour ultra. The race started at 12 am and ended at 6 am. The goal of the fixed time race was to run as many miles as possible within the six-hour time period.
My friend, Erica, had convinced me to sign up for it only a few weeks prior. Having never run an ultra before and having no time to really train for it, without hesitation I agreed to sign up because the race’s website said, “DNF’s do not exist.” It was comforting to know I could run a few miles and then head home whenever I felt like it.
The irony in me being there was that I had spent most of the winter training for the Ice Age 50, which is held in May, but backed out at the last minute because I didn’t feel ready enough. For this race, my only goal was to stay awake and keep running for as long as it was fun. And surprisingly it was fun! For almost all six hours!
Photo from Erica
Even though the course was only a mile, it had enough variation that each lap felt like a mini adventure. We would run up the hill, around the sharp corner, down the hill, across the bridge, through the woods, past the pond, onto the sidewalk and then into the warm and cheery lights of the aid station. Oh, how I loved that aid station!
I easily lost track of the number of laps we’d completed and instead settled in for the long haul. The effort felt easy and the minutes ticked away thanks in large part to Erica’s great company and the incredible people cheering along the course. Every now and then I’d stop for snacks, including some much needed Espresso Love GU, Wheat Thins and gummy bears. I kept an eye on the golden last quarter moon inching across the sky.
At some point in the night I realized I had run over 26.2 miles, but it seemed insignificant because I knew I would run more. Without a finish line telling us it was time to stop, we kept on running. A little before 5 am, it was like somebody suddenly turned the lights on. The sun was rising and for the first time I could see the details of the course and make out the friendly faces of the volunteers. I got a second wind as I realized the end (and my bed!) were in sight. We had plenty of time to finish our last lap, so I slowed down to revel in it instead of sprinting to the finish.
When it was all said and done, Erica and I had run a total of 33 miles. I could hardly believe it. It wasn’t the ultra I had planned on running this year, but it made me an “ultra runner” nonetheless.
A huge shout out to the organizers, volunteers, and the incredible spectators that cheered for us each lap like it was the first time they’d seen us. Also, thank you to Erica who, like Santa, arrived bearing gifts. She brought me my first pair of CEP compression socks, which I ended up wearing all night.