Remember this one folks? The Tour De Pain? Three races in about 24 hours?
How could we forget?
There’s really nothing easy about Tour De Pain. It’s a fairly grueling, August challenge, and while it’s not exactly fun, it’s cool to see exactly how much one can endure throughout the series of races.
4 Mile Beach Run
Guys, I don’t think I have ever run a hotter, more humid, more miserable race. It was close to unbearable. I can say that pretty confidently, as someone who trains and races in one of the hottest states in the country. It was brutal.
I got there early enough to snag a parking spot, but it was still rather far from packet pickup and the race start, due to some nasty construction in Jacksonville Beach. By the time I got my bib and tank, dropped everything else off in my car and went back to the start line, I was already dripping. Yuck.
Usually, being on the ocean affords a gorgeous breeze, but the air that night was hot. And the sun was blazing.
On the plus side, the sand was hard packed and very level. That definitely helped with my hips and my gait. Usually, after a beach run, my legs are sore and achy, but not this time.
The course is two miles out and two miles back, with one water stop at the u-turn. I think this was the first time I’ve taken hydration during such a short distance. It would have been foolish not to.
The way out was fine, and we did have a little benefit of some of the shade from the buildings, but the way back… Ugh. At one point, an emergency vehicle sped towards the finish line, and I made the decision to not push. It wasn’t worth it. I plugged along, focused on one thing: getting it done.
When I crossed the finish line, I grabbed a quick drink and hustled back to the car. I wasn’t interested in anything but something to eat and a shower.
Race #1. Done.
5K Road Race
The 5K road race starts in the very early morning and at a location a little closer to my home. I still had to set my alarm and be out first thing.
This portion of the race is fairly easy. We run on a familiar course and it’s mostly shaded – sure, it was early and I was tired, but it was great feeling the road under my shoes and getting to stretch it out on the asphalt.
I was really, really happy to see that finish line.
Two down, one to go!
1 Mile Sizzler
We spent the time between races at one of little man’s friend’s birthday parties. I was hoping that Mr. PugRunner and little man would come with me to the final race, but it had been a long day for them and they wanted to get home. Totally understandable and it was a good thing we had brought two cars.
The weather was, as the name of this particular race indicates, sizzling. The final one mile takes place in the heart of downtown Jacksonville, starting at 4:30 in the afternoon. It’s an awful time to run, especially in August, but it also makes for a rewarding finish!
There are four waves that go out for this run, to keep crowding on the course to a minimum: Masters Men, Open Men, Masters Women and Open Women. Since I am 40 this year, I finally got to move out of the last wave and into the Masters Women group. Not being in the last group took a bit of pressure off of me and I was glad for that.
Runners make two loops around a big block, before kicking it to the finish line at the Landing.
I had some technical difficulties during this mile. I was adjusting my music on my phone before the start, got caught off guard by the gun and couldn’t get my phone back in my armband. I had to do the whole mile, clinging to my phone for dear life. It totally distracted me from what I was doing and knocked me out of my groove. Boo.
It was still pretty exhilarating to charge down that final straightaway and know that the 24 hours of running were over and it was time to celebrate!
And beautiful views!
And pizza and beer!
While it’s always a difficult series, I do love the challenge Tour De Pain presents. That final finish line is a welcome relief, but the journey to get there is even better.
Do you have a summer race series in your town?
What’s your least favorite time of day to race?