What another amazing weekend spent running Crooked Road 24 hour ultra! This event still ranks as one my favorite and the whole vibe of it just leaves you smiling and happy. What more could you ever want from a race!?
It’s held in Rocky Mount, VA at Waid Park. The course is a .95 loop that consists of packed trail to cinders to a small section of asphalt to gravel. Each person just runs as many laps as they can or want to in 24 hours. Each lap is counted by a volunteer and we pass by a snack table that has pretty much anything that you could think or want to eat or drink. My favorite is a sip of Coke and PBJ with chips added to it for some crunch. They bring in McDonald hamburgers for lunch and pizza around 6pm. Coffee and salty chicken broth is available around dark and through the night. Fellow runners (capped at 120 runners) are of all ages and abilities and super supportive of each other. The event is just one big Smilefest! You can’t help but be happy and have a good time at this event.
I stuck with my packing list and successfully packed in 3 bags. I know, I know…I said I’d pack in 2, but I forgot my running bag in that count! That’s still better than usual!
4 of us were caravanning from Greensboro and we left a little late and arrived to the race around 8:10am. Since it’s a 24 hour event, we didn’t feel too pressured to get there right at 8am. By the time we got ourselves organized and dressed appropriately (the starting temps were in the 20’s), we headed to the starting line to pick up our bibs and hoodie sweatshirts. We caught up with our friends who had already started as we made our way around the first lap. Cara and I started running together and with the exception of a few miles on Saturday when we all needed to zen out a bit to our music, we stuck together for all the laps. We started slowly and ran for most of the .95 mile loop, slowly adding in walking on the two hillier parts of the course. The great thing about ultra running, most people walk the hills! Saving energy becomes a necessity!
We caught up with Christine shortly after a few laps and the three of us stuck together for several loops around the course. We’d walk here and there, using it as an active recovery break. I put my heart rate monitor on after the first hour to better keep track of how hard I was running. Keeping it about 140 was my goal, knowing that is my “I can run all day” pace and effort. We ran for several hours and stopped to take a stretch break right at 22.5 miles. We grabbed Carole too and the four of us sat and took a much needed break. Johnny and Henry made a pit stop too when they saw us sitting down near the cars. Normally I’d take a break about every 10 miles so I was a little concerned we had waited too long to get off our feet for a bit. We sat, stretched and rolled for about 40 minutes and we all mentioned that we needed that and felt rejuvenated.
Cara and I made a game plan at that point, hoping to make it to the 50K mark before dark. Christine was ahead a few laps because she was there at the start, so she’d get in some extra miles past 50K. Carole met her “run a marathon” goal and we all cheered and hugged when she finished her 28th lap!
We headed back around again, getting in a few more miles before true fatigue started to creep in a bit. By this point, most of our group was feeling the miles and aches and pains were starting to show up. I still felt pretty good, nothing was really pulling or hurting. I was getting tired and having a hard time feeling fueled. We were making sure we were drinking and eating enough, grazing at the snack table as needed. I just felt like I was having to work hard to get each lap vs ever falling into a groove and letting the miles just pass by.
At 4:30pm, our goal had switched to finishing up by 6-6:30pm and hopefully we’d have a 50K done by then. I decided not to change into warmer gear as the sun went down, which was a huge mistake. It got really cold, really fast and I wished I’d put on my running pants vs sticking with capris. I sucked it up for the next hour or so. I would have changed for sure if we were staying out there any longer than we did! Cara and I finished up with the 50K right at 6:10pm and headed back to the car to head to dinner and the hotel for the rest of the night.
Our game plan was to head back out by 4:30am. Cara and I got up at 4am and her knee was not having it. She was in a bit of pain and made a wise decision not to head back out to run. Carole did not have a good night sleeping and just felt off. She was smart and listened to her body. Our friend, Cindy, was still out there running. She was well on her way to reaching her 100 mile goal. Yes, 100 miles in 24 hours! She’s a different breed of runner than I am. Christine and I got dressed and were back on the course by 5am. We checked in and started our laps, hoping that I could make it to 40 miles by the time the 24 hours rolled around. We checked in to see where Cindy was and waited for her when she came through on her lap 105. We ran around with her for her 106th lap (100th mile), trying our best to keep up with her! She got that lap finished and reached her goal, even setting a new VA state record for her age group for the most miles run in 24 hours. She’s a true rockstar! We said good-bye to Cindy and Christine and I picked it up again to get those laps in!
Christine reached 40 miles the same lap Cindy got her 100, so any miles past that was a new PR distance for her! I was 2 laps behind her so we just kept going. I got my 2 laps in and got my goal of 40 miles completed! We still had time to spare, so we decided to keep going around until the end. We got our bright orange sticks from our lap counters in preparation for the end of the race. We got 2 more laps in and knew we had 5 minutes left until the horn. I quickly grabbed my camera as Christine took off! I caught up to her and we went on a full out sprint for the remaining 2 minutes. We got around about 2/3 of another lap when the horn sounded. We stopped and dropped our sticks marking our location. I ended up completing 45 laps (43.3 miles total), having run 12+ miles on Sunday morning!
We left to warm up and meet the rest of our crew at the hotel for breakfast. It was great to spend the morning just checking in on each other, celebrating each other’s successes and recount the numerous things that happened over the last 24 hours. Johnny even made a cameo! We thought he had left for home, but he was out there running until 9:30pm?! We had no idea?! Even though we all felt a little beaten up and exhausted, we all agreed that we couldn’t wait for next year’s race!
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