Night training for 100 Miler: Hotter Than Hell, Dusk To Dawn

Last weekend Louisiana Ultra Runners (LUR) put on their annual Hotter Than Hell, Dusk to Dawn night race at the Northlake Nature Center in Mandeville, Louisiana. The race started at 8:02 am with an official finish time of 6:00 am. Since the course was a two mile looped trail participants could run from 2 mile to however many they could get in 10 hours. For those that ventured out for 16 loops or 32 miles, an LUR coffee mug would be their reward!

Action shot during our race

This race is a great event but it’s particularly useful for those of us training for 100 mile events or longer to get some night time running experience under our shoes with the support of others. Since I’ve done very little running in the dark I’d been looking forward to this training run for a while. I wasn’t sure what to expect- would sleepiness be a problem? Would I have trouble running in the dark? Would I be scared? Would I have stomach issues? It was to be a grand experiment.

Justin and I began the race together and at the last minute decided to run the entire race together! We rarely run together so this development was exciting to both of us. We were that annoying couple that laughed a lot, were probably a little too loud, and cheered on people that we passed a little too cheerfully. Oh well. We enjoyed being together! We even coined it our anniversary run since we celebrate 8 years of marriage this month.

Strategy and Performance:
*Run 20 minutes, walk 5 minutes (thanks Garmin for making this easy with a run/walk timing feature): We opted on this strategy since we both plan to use a walk/ run strategy for our big events (my 100 mile race and Justin’s 50 mile race in December). We stuck to it the entire time and it worked great! Utilizing different muscle groups for walking left me feeling refreshed when it was time to run again…at least this is true up until about mile 25 when nothing felt “refreshing” anymore.

*New headlamps: Justin and I both purchased new headlamps for this race. He went with the Black Diamond Spot (200 lumens) and I landed on the Black Diamond Storm (250 lumens). Both are AAA battery powered which I prefer over rechargeable and they are very affordable. The Storm is also waterproof which I think will prove useful with all of my training and racing. The batteries that originally came with my headlamp were defunct but once changed my headlamp powered through for whole race. Next time I plan to test out the green and red light options which are supposed to be easier on the eyes and allows your own night vision to kick in.

*Eat every 40 minutes: Justin made his own fueling cookies to test out at HtH. It was very simple to make and included the following ingredients: chia seeds, maple syrup, honey, quinoa, brown rice, date, bittersweet chocolate, vanilla extract, oats and salt. These cookies worked really well for him. Aside from that we both ate Huma Gels, (all the) Cheezits, oranges and salted potatoes. I plan to try out some homemade endurance fueling recipes next time, too.

Fawn & Justin - HtH 50k Finish
Finish line picture at 4 am!

*Aid Station stop at 10 miles and break at 20 miles: We technically didn’t have 32 miles on our training schedules so we opted to give ourselves 25 minutes of down time at the 20 mile mark to give ourselves a break and enjoy the camaraderie at 2:00 a.m. Before that we stopped and reloaded our hydration and nutrition at the 10 mile marker. We ate up about 8 minutes during this stop but won’t need that much time in the future. We were trying to stay very relaxed at this race since we were testing “systems” and not time.

*Terrain: The race was FLAT and that started to hurt towards the end. I wanted a hill to magically appear! Because this trail offers areas with no roots and areas full of big, giant roots it was important to pay attention to where the rooty areas were. I think I literally was the only person that didn’t fall in this race. One lady stated she fell somewhere between 20-25 times throughout her race. That’s a tough lady!!

*We finished in a time of 7 hours 44 minutes around 4:00 a.m for a total of 33 miles. I’m happy to say that we didn’t have any issues during our race! Our very conservative strategy paid off in performance and recovery. Moving forward we need to dial in our post- race food as we were a bit deficient in that department (can you believe nothing is open at 5 am!). 🙂

I highly recommend this race either as a night time run training or as a race in it’s own accord. We really wanted to keep running until dawn because it’s such a cool idea but we knew we needed to play it smart for our bigger goals. There were many runners who completed the dusk to dawn challenge. I’d love to do this race again next year with that goal in mind!

Training Recap for Week 4 of 24: 52 miles total 

Monday- 4 miles
Tuesday- 7 miles with Edie
Wednesday- Rest
Thursday- 6 miles with 3 one mile pick ups with Justin
Friday- 2 miles with Cash (one of my dogs)
Saturday/ Sunday- 33 miles with Justin at Hotter Than Hell




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