27.3 miles completed
First of all, I HAVE NO IDEA how to eat for a long run that begins in the evening. Until now, I have never run a race or endurance event that didn’t start first thing in the morning. In fact, that’s why I do all of my long training runs at the crack of dawn: to be ready for early morning starts!
So yeah, the Broadway Ultra Society Pajama Romp 6-Hour began at 5:00 pm. It was a “nice change” and I appreciated being able to sleep in and leisurely get ready throughout the day. I did plan food: a cinnamon roll for breakfast and plain pasta for lunch with plenty of fluids. I meant to eat the pasta at noon, but it was closer to 1:00 pm before I was able to eat. I think this was the primary problem I had during the event.
The Pajama Romp takes place each July in lovely Astoria Park in Queens, but this was my first time to run it. The course loop is about 1.28 miles of asphalt, with a couple of hills, nothing too difficult. The park itself is interesting and offers a lot to look at. There is a skate park, a large pool, a playground, bocce courts, and a running track. The Triborough and Hell Gate bridges run straight through the park, so each loop means running under each bridge twice. There are amazing views of the East River, Wards/Randall’s Island, and Harlem. And as the course grew dark, we were treated to fireflies over the northern grassy areas!
The start/finish area, clock, and timing tent were tucked in between the southeast end of the track and the field house. (Real bathrooms yay!) We lined up on time, but started about five minutes late. There was a threat of storms right at 5:00, but the clouds blew over with just a sprinkle over the park. Weather for the event couldn’t have been better. It was humid, but cool and breezy for the entire six hours.
I chose this event to experiment a little bit with fluids. I’m a diehard Tailwind fan and I stuck with that; however, I didn’t run with a pack this time. I usually run with a full pack (70 oz./2ish liters) and sip as I go, but my Nathan 020 is a couple of years old and lately it has stopped feeling good to run in. The straps are stretched out, making it hard to properly adjust, and the buckles poke out and rub in all the wrong places. I’m just not happy with it and I haven’t had a chance to buy anything new. Since the Pajama Romp loop is pretty small, I opted to take a cooler with water bottles.
I bought six 12 oz. bottles of water and mixed up a stronger-than-usual ratio of Tailwind-to-water in each. The New Fluid Plan entailed picking up a new bottle once per hour and drinking the full 12 oz. over the course of one loop, then supplementing with plain water from the aid station in between. (I was running about four loops per hour.)
This didn’t work at all. I still felt over-full from lunch at the start and as soon as I downed the first 12 ounces of my new Tailwind mixture half an hour later, my stomach rebelled. I tried to stick with the plan, but after downing the second bottle, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to. I stopped drinking at that point to let my stomach settle…which resulted in a bladder spasm at the end of hour two. This is a BAD THING. I don’t have bladder spasms very often, but when I do they are hugely painful and 99.9% of the time they are due to dehydration. At that point I was between a rock and a hard place.*
I considered dropping, but decided to try to recover if I could. Throughout hour three I was forced to slow down due to bladder pain and I began sipping six ounces of flat cola each time I came through the aid station. (BUS events always have flat cola, which is perfect for upset tummies.) I ended up taking three (THREE?!!) bathroom breaks during that hour. During hour four I continued to go slow, but I switched to sipping six ounces of Tailwind each loop. That’s about the time my husband arrived. I walked one full loop with him and felt a lot better by the start of hour five. I knew my bladder would relax if I could take in enough fluids and I could get enough fluids if I could get my stomach settled.
My methods worked. For the last two hours I was able to regain my normal pace and I actually finished stronger than I started. I estimate that I lost somewhere between 3 and 4 miles during my “down period.” I still finished with 27.3 miles, which is the same distance I completed at the 6-hour run back in March with zero training. I’m actually pretty proud of myself for being able to recover and finish. That’s the first time I’ve had something really yucky happen and been able to figure out how to fix it.
Aside from intestinal/bladder issues, everything else held up fine. I was going to run in my brand new Altra Intuition 2.0s, but after a couple of runs in them I decided they were just too squishy and my body isn’t used to them yet. I stuck with my 1.5s and they were awesome. I ended up with two tiny toe blisters and minimal chafing anywhere else, so that made me happy.
As usual, the aid station, timing volunteers, and race direction were amazing. (Go Richie!) I was too beat up to stick around afterward for awards. Not sure if I got anything or not; I guess someone will contact me if I did. Final results aren’t up yet, so I don’t know how I placed either. At any rate, this is an event that I would recommend, particularly if you’ve never done a timed race before. Location and race direction can’t be beat. The only worry would be heat/weather, but those are things that can be compensated for. I expect to line up for the Pajama Romp next year.
Pre-race preparations at the baggage area.
Running south under Hell Gate Bridge.
Running south along the water.
The timing tent and our fabulous loop counters.
The famous pajama bottoms of the Pajama Romp!
* The playground at Astoria Park is called Charybdis Playground. I felt this was appropriate to my situation.