Hinson Lake 24 Hour race Report 2009 – Joe Lugiano

Date: Mon, 21 Sep 2009 12:42:58 EDT
From: Joe Lugiano
Subject: Hinson Lake Race Report (A little long)

Well, another 24 hour event at Hinson Lake is in the books, and hopefully is back home safely and recovering well. A big thanks to RD Tom Gabell and his family and friends who staffed the timing and aid stations throughout the whole 24 hrs. They did a great job keeping track of runners and supplying their many needs. Hinson Lake is a nice venue for a 24 hour run with a course that is almost completely shaded and a surface that is almost perfect for running. And where can you find a race that charges only a dollar an hour and you get a shirt and nice insulated drink cup with the race logo on it and all the food you can eat. Thanks again Tom and thanks to all the great volunteers who made it happen.

I chose this event as my first serious race since my earlier race at Iron Horse was foiled by a 95% blocked artery that required a stent about 2 weeks before the race. After the stent was in place it was suggested that I take it easy for the next few weeks and following further testing I was allowed to run longer until I could finally resume training. So my longest runs before Hinson Lake were only up to 5 1/2 hrs. Since high mileage training works well for me I felt a little under prepared but needed to find out just how my fitness level was improving.

Before the start:
My wife Hannah (my chief crew for the last 30 years and more seriously the last 20 years that I’ve been running ultras), drove down early on Saturday morning. We got up about 3:30 and after packing made the drive down from our home in Cary in about an hour and forty-five minutes. After picking up my race packet, we were able to get our canopy set up and to get a small table set up to work from. Other runners and crews were arriving and setting up around the Lodge and along the course. It was also a chance to greet old friends (Jim O’Neil and Sue Norwood, Fred and Susan Dummar and some of their friends, Byron Backer, Ray Krolewicz and to meet many new ones including some of the early legends of the sport including Gary Cantrell, Doyle Carpenter, Larry Robbins and many of the rising stars like Juli Astairs, Brad Smythe, Liz Bauer, Jonathan Savage and so many others.

The Start:
At a few minutes before the start everyone gathered for a brief prayer and then runners were off. The day started off a little overcast as the sun was rising over the lake. A pretty photo op. As the day started off in the 60’s there was hope that it would stay a little on the cooler side but as the day wore on, the sun came out and the humidity level rose a little as the temperatures climbed into the lower 80’s. A little warmish but it just reminded us to drink more. By later in the afternoon, some clouds moved into temporarily drop the temperature. Later a nice breeze picked up and early in the morning, the temperatures did cool back down into the 60’s.

The early part of the day saw many groups of runners strung out along the course as the field began to spread out. The early leaders were passing continuously throughout the day and it was a little difficult to see who was in first place but the Leader Board helped as the laps clicked off. As the day wore on and more people reached the goals they set for themselves, the field began to thin out and there were longer gaps between the groups and individuals that were still on the course. By early evening, there were fewer groups of runners and more single runners / walkers making their way around the course. Occasionally a group of 2 runners might pass but by early morning there were even fewer of these to be seen.

My Race:
My goal for this race was to try to get as many miles in as I could, but to keep moving for 24 hrs. My ideal goal was between 80 and 100 miles. I didn’t succeed at either but managed to be running / walk for at least 23 hours and did cover 71+ miles.

I started off running comfortably and walking occasionally. This was my 3rd time at Hinson Lake so I was aware of some of the areas of the trail that could potentially cause problems. One area is a little sandy, one area is a little canted to the left and a short area across the parking lot has some sharp gravel on it. I think that over time, each of these areas contributes a little bit more to foot problems that may develop later and did.

I started off the day wearing my Air Structure Triax 12 shoes, Ironman Triathlon socks, and Arizona Trail Gators from Joe Dana. I’ve worn this combination for many years with good results. I didn’t get any grit in the shoes even though both were just caked with the dust from the trail. I’ll blast that off with a hose later. I did use a little Body Glide on the feet before I put the socks on. A little Body Glide between the thighs and Sports Slick in some vital areas get me pretty comfortable most of the time.

I carried a bottle with my electrolyte solution for the first several laps and then switched to water for the rest of the time. Over the last 20 years I’ve found that too many electrolyte drinks get hard to stomach after a while. So I drank water on the trail but when I hit the aid station I would drink some Ginger Ale or Coke along with a snack of chicken, cake, cookie, pizza (later in the day), soup (potato and chicken noodle), a cracker or two, a couple of gummy bears and a twizzler at one point, and then around meal times my wife would grill a hot dog and put it on a bun with mustard. That along with a cup of cold Sweet Tea really hit the spot. Only 1/2 a hot dog can be just enough to keep you going. An occasional Susan Dummar recipe Energy Bar, later some Hot Chocolate kept me going without feeling any loss of energy or down periods.

My energy level seemed to remain pretty high during the whole time. I felt no real muscle soreness at all and I attribute that to the easy running and walking that I did throughout. I enjoyed talking and running and walking with many people throughout the day and night. The many laps I did with our Umstead HQ Aid Station Captain Sally Squier throughout the day were great fun. Sally kept me running longer than I have run in some time. I ran with quite a few folks who had run Umstead so we had lots to talk about.

During the night as Gary Cantrell was adding just one more lap to his total we spent some time together as we talked about the problems that have kept his racing distances down, it was great to see him throughout the 24 hours, adding just one more lap, hour after hour. I don’t know whether it was the challenge that he had with Byron or his competitive spirit that drove him to keep on moving but it was inspiring. Laz it was a pleasure to finally meet you and to share that time with you.

It was also inspiring to see Jonathan and Brad, Liz and Juli, pushing their limits lap after lap. What great performances. Some of it was competing against the other runners, some of it was competing against themselves to see how far they could extend their limits.

My Problem:
As I started to get a bruise / blister inside the ball of the foot about 8 hrs. into it, I knew that it was going to slow me down later. I had no other blisters and even though this is probably a blister, it is deep under the skin. I know that it will go down in a day or so and in another few weeks the skin may peel off so for the time being I’ll keep it heavily padded and try to keep the shoes a little looser so it doesn’t pinch the skin and time will heal it. Because of that, I changed my race goals. Decided that once I was over 70 miles I would be happy with that and enjoyed the last hour from the chaise lounge cheering the runners as they continued to add laps their totals. I’ll have a different solution to that foot problem for next year and hopefully will get many more miles in.

The Finish:
In the final 20 minutes or so, Hannah and I went over to the deck at the finish line to watch the runners make their final surges to cover distance before the final alarm went off to signal the end of the race.

How inspiring to see so many just running as hard as they could as the clock ticked down in the final minutes and seconds.

Another year is in the books. Thanks again to Tom Gabell and his great family and staff for putting on another successful event. Thanks to my wife for being there and always being willing to help me and everyone else. This is one of her favorite races for me to run. I’m already looking forward to next year.

Joe Lugiano
Cary, NC

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