Scott Weber's 24- and 12-hour run consists of repeats on a 5-mile course, 2.5 mile out and back, in Littleton's Chatfield State Park. The 24-hour begins at 8:00 a.m. Saturday; the 12-hour begins that night, so both end at 8:00 a.m. Sunday. I register for the 24-hour to give me the most flexible scheduling options.
The course itself poses no challenge. The well-maintained dirt road runs mostly level, with just enough very slight undulations that will actually help by providing some shift in muscle groups. But the heat and thinner oxygen will sap my strength. All things considered I expect to complete at least 26.2 miles within, say, seven hours or so.
Miles 1-5. My flight touched
down in Denver just after noon Saturday. I reached the race site a couple of hours later. At 2:40 p.m. I started my watch and set out
on the course. Temps already hovered around 90. Clouds provided
occasional slight respite from the intense sun. I went into persistent
stiff breezes making the very slight downhill
outbound; the same wind feels good behind me as I make the subtle incline
back to the aid station. I meet maybe 10 other participants on the course.
Coach Weber set out ice and water at about 1.7 miles.
Miles 6-10. Leg feeling still hotter. Already shadows fall longer across the road. I plan to complete six sets (30 miles), but in case I have to settle for just 26.2, I count my strides per mile and calculate—conservatively—what I'll need to do for a final .6 out and .6 back. Just for certainty, I'll add a couple of hundred strides beyond my calculations. At the aid station I need some 10 minutes to rest and replenish.
Miles 11-15. Breezes still provide
some sensation of refreshment. My stump now hurts seriously. When I check
it at the aid station, I find I've already blistered significantly.
I ask Coach about completing just 26.2 for course credit. He says he
records official results for early finishers only in 5-mile blocks. I'll
have to do 30 miles to get an official marathon.
Miles 16-20. Temps now linger in probably
the 70's. I'd hate this in any other context. But today, the
fact that the mercury keeps dropping creates an ever-improving
perception of cooling, however slight. A few twelve-hour
participants have joined the crowd.
Miles 21-25. Having company does help.
John talks about his kids, his girlfriend, running, and hiking. When
I return to the aid station Coach says he's decided to accommodate my
plight: he'll credit me for 26.2 once I complete an outbound 1.2; walking
the 1.2 back will not give me credit for my
actual mileage of 27.4. A fine compromise.
I make a final sock change and, now emotionally bouyed, set out to complete my
Out to 26.2. Jay, recently having
graduated college, married, and done his first marathon, chats with me
as I walk—in substantial pain—to the point I calculated as
1.2 miles. For certainty I continue maybe a hundred yards farther and
only then do I enter the effective marathon finish time on my chronometer.
My seven-hour estimate? An hour off. An excruciatingly painful hour off.
Follow-up. Sunday I ice the blisters
during my layover in Charlotte. Going to bed at home just before
11:00 p.m. I fall asleep feeling OK but horrible pain jolts me awake
at half-past midnight. I drive to the Baptist Hospital ER; more serious
cases take priority and I spend a sleepless night until the morning shift
takes over. The doctor provides standard treatment for the blistering,
and a prescription for pain meds to help me through the worst of it over
the next few days.