Sunday, May 20, 2012

Mind the Ducks 2012 Race Report

Another year, another Mind the Ducks race completed. I can't believe it! This year was definitely an interesting year and while I didn't make my mileage goals, I learned a lot and am so happy to have been at this year's race. Like always, this report is long, so you have been warned!

Before the race even started, I knew it would be different for a handful of reasons. Most importantly, my mom/sherpa for races couldn't make it. She's not missed a single marathon or ultramarathon before this one and couldn't get out of a work conflict. Instead, the BF came as my support. It was tough to be there without her as she's truly my #1 supporter with my crazy running, but I was so lucky to have the BF come instead and boy, I couldn't have done it without him. 

The BF and I got to Rochester on Friday, explored the town, picked up last minute items I needed, and went back to the hotel to relax. We found a local bar/Italian restaurant to eat dinner and get my carbs in. I came back, laid all of my clothes out, organized everything in our bags for the race day, and then walked the BF through where and what everything was (he didn't know electrolyte pills existed, which he thought was pretty cool). While my mom and I have a settled upon system, I was worried how the BF would work out ours.
Start of the race (Photo by Tom Perry)
After decent, but not great sleep (per usual for the night before a race), we packed up and drove the quick 10 minute drive to the race. Getting there was still nerve-wracking because I was still mentally in denial that I was truly about to run/walk for 12 hours. I picked up my bib, said hey to some of the racers I knew from previous years, found a spot for the BF to sit that had some shade, but was also really close to the path, and just nervously walked around.

Soon enough, the race was underway! The first hour felt like it took forever because I was able to keep track mentally of the laps. I kept looking at my pace and I was going faster than I wanted to, but I felt like I was moving so slowly. Once the first hour was over, I lost count of my laps, which was great for me mentally as I slowly got into a rhythm and didn't think so much about how many laps I was doing in an hour.
(Photo by Tom Perry)
The temperatures got to abnormal highs for Rochester that time of year and the heat hit very early. Around hour 3.5-4, the heat really hit and nearly everyone was affected by it. I had downplayed the heat in my head before the race, but I really wasn't prepared for it. I found myself really slowing down, which wasn't something I did the last two years at this race. I started to freak out a bit mentally, especially because of how exhausted I felt, but I just kept on pushing forward.

**Warning: discussion of bodily fluids coming up!** Around 6 hours in, I realized I hadn't been drinking enough. I went to use the restroom and my urine wasn't just yellow, it was dark yellow. Bad bad! I knew I couldn't keep running like I was or something bad would happen. I talked with Shelley, the RD, to confirm that I was dehydrated. She told me I needed to sit down and drink a lot of water. I told her if I sat down, I'd never get up and got her okay to walk around if I agreed to religiously drink water.

(Photo by Tom Perry)
The next 45 minutes were painful. The BF was amazing and walked them with me, pushing me to drink and eat (I hadn't been eating enough, either) the whole time. I needed to be pushed to do that, so he was amazing to do that. At this point, I hit a serious mental low. I was in 3rd or 4th place for the females, but kept seeing all of these women pass me with each lap I walked. I was so physically drained and I knew there was still about 5 hours left in the race. I so badly wanted the race to just be over. The BF wouldn't have any of my negativity and kept pushing me to think positively.

After those 45 minutes of walking, eating, and drinking, I had enough of it and couldn't handle the lack of running while everyone else was (even if the heat had slowed down most everyone else, too). I slowly got back into the running/walking cycle I had created and actually felt pretty good. The walking time allowed me to save some energy and although I was running so much slower than I'd like, I knew that was all I could do and was at peace with it.

With 10 hours left, I realized at the pace I was going, I was going to come very close to not getting in 60 miles. That was just unacceptable to me since my first year I ran ~59 miles and last year, I ran 68.8; I had to do at least 60! I told myself I had to pick up the pace and deal with the pain later. I picked it up and was going around marathon pace. I also was the 3rd placed female (1st was Deb Patterson, who ran an unbelievably smart race, and 2nd was Kelly Nash, who was there last year and is a talented and tough racer). I realized that not too many laps separated all three of us (Deb was 4 ahead of me, meaning 2 miles, and Kelly was 2 laps). My increased pace could possibly change up the places and my hyper-competitive nature fueled the pace for my legs.
(Photo by Tom Perry)
Running that fast at the end of the race really does feel amazing. Everyone at the race was supportive and nice, saying things like, "Someone got their second wind," "Way to kick it, girl!," and "Looking strong!"Just after the 11th hour started, I was able to pass Kelly and sneak into 2nd place. I felt determined and with Deb only 1.5 laps ahead of me, I felt like the fox on the hunt. Sadly, this fox lost all of her steam with 30 minutes left. The BF ran a lap or two with me trying to coax me to keep up my pace so I could catch Deb, but I just couldn't do it. I wish so badly that I had it left in me to do so, but I had left it all out there and fell short by just 30 minutes. I trudged through the last 30 minutes just to get them done. In the end, I finished with 61.7 miles, just .5 miles away from 1st place.
Can't say I look great towards the end of races (Photo by Tom Perry)
When I finished the race, I knew I hadn't met any of my original goals, but the heat was nothing I had even considered when creating my goals. I felt happy that I had not quit like I wanted to, came back from dehydration, ran a decent amount of miles, and for the third year running, was the 2nd placed female at this race. Days after, though, I got the post-race blues and started questioning my race. Could I have pushed harder that last 30 minutes to catch Deb? Could I have raced a little smarter to take into account the heat? I had run 7 more miles last year, so I just honestly felt a bit down on myself. Now, 8 days later, I'm feeling more at peace with the race, but with more fire in my soul to come back next year and prove I can do even better.

This race, though, will be one I always come back to. The course is beautiful, the volunteers are amazing, and the RD, Shelley, puts on such a well-run and fun race. The racers who come are always sweet, competitive, and supportive. I got to meet some amazing people and even witness a US record be set (way to go, Mary!). While I missed so many friends from previous years like Jesse (virtual hippie training friend extraordinaire), Vanessa, and Ryan, I met great new friends like Patrick and can't wait to meet new ones next year.


Total Miles: 61.7
Place: 2nd Female, 6th Overall
Toenails lost: 0!!!!! That's a first!!!

Here's the race video from Shelley, if you are interested:


  1. So glad to hear you're getting past the blues, Rebecca! I was so impressed with the way you hung on through that rough patch and really turned it on at the end. I've not got the experience you already have, as you know, but I do know that with ultras you just can't know all the curves that might get thrown at you any given day. You rolled with it and really left it all out there! I hope you can still move from peace to pride. You earned it.

    1. Thanks, Pat! So great to have met you and glad you had a great race, too! Here's to hoping next year is cooler (that is if I can convince you come back again!).

  2. Congrats!! It's truly amazing that you had the fortitude to start running again after that dehydration bit. This race looks like a blast. I may just have to do it next year!

    1. Thanks, Kristin! It was a tough race, but I'm glad I was able to push through to the end. You should definitely come up next year as it's such a great race. It's my favorite race to date!

  3. Rebecca,

    CONGRATS! You ran a great race. You were FAR stronger than I was at the end, and if we had been running a 13 Hour race, you'd have beat me quite soundly. I remember you FLYING past me at one point and I felt completely demoralized.

    Thanks for being such a fierce competitor. I was scared out of my mind that whole last hour, knowing that you and Kelly were gaining on me, but it resulted in running more miles than I ever thought I had in me. I surprised myself, and I thank you for that.

    You're a very talented runner, and I'm already looking forward to seeing you at MTD next year. :)

    1. Deb,

      Thanks so much and a major congrats to you on your win! You ran a supremely smart race and are a talented runner. It was fun to attempt to catch you the last few hours (okay, who am I kidding, it was painful!).

      I hope you're recovering well and can't wait to see you next year!!