Hi there, I'm Suzy!

Hi there, I'm Suzy!

I uplift other women in the areas of running, lifting, and motherhood and create community for servant leadership.

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2021 Nutcracker 6 Hour Race Recap

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Final race of the year! Here’s my 2021 Nutcracker 6 Hour Race Recap!

Why would you run for 6 hours? 

An ultramarathon is defined as anything beyond 26.2. Typically, runners cover a specific distance like 50K, 50 miles, 100K, or cover a longer distance as a team in relay ultra events

The Nutcracker Endurance Run is different. It is time based, meaning you choose a time (3, 6, or 12 hours) and run as many miles as you can within that time.

Success is inevitable in this format. The only way to DNF (“did not finish”) is to not show up!

I have done the 12 hour race twice- once in 2019 and again in 2021. This year, I opted for the 6 hour because my Husband’s retirement ceremony was the day prior.

It would be kind of rude to leave for 12 hours on his weekend!

Pre-race briefing in Erwin, NC

Miles 0-10

It rained right up until the point we were briefed and began running.

Having done this exact race for 12 hours in pouring rain previously, I was prepared to have a wet day (ponchos, hats, and all the other things) but didn’t want to!

The course here is simple: you run five miles to Dunn, NC on a dirt trail- this is not aggressive terrain at all- then turn around and run back.

I parked my car right at the start, so at the end of each 10 mile out-and-back, I simply went to the trunk rather than arranging a drop bag area.

Ran the first 8 miles swapping stories of parenting multiples with a twin Dad. I love making friends on the course and will purposely look for people without headphones to do so!

Somewhere in the first 15 miles, cause shirt.

Miles 11-20

I knew it was going to be an off day when I had made it into double digits and hadn’t yet found a groove.

It is really hard to put a finger on what was happening with my mind; my body was fine but I was in a mental pain cave all day.

I even used all my go-to mindset tricks and the only thing that gave me any relief was self talk that sounded like this: “you’re only out here for 6 hours instead of 12“.

…which is a problem.

No matter which distance (or in this case time based option) you opt for, you should be having fun.

Turned it on for the camera, didn’t I?!

Changed my shoes and socks at mile 20, which drained a lot of time but I was hyperaware of my feet getting blistered.

As I’ve discussed previously, your feet will give out before your legs do! I didn’t need another reason to complain in my head.

It’s unseasonably warm in NC this year and got to 65 degrees on race day!

Miles 20-30

Tried to distract myself with audio books and Peloton classes.

Side note: preload the ones you really love so you can revisit them, almost like a power song. The Beyonce 20 minute run is a favorite of mine.

Hit the marathon (26.2 miles) point faster than expected around 3:58. I should have been feeling great, right? Still felt off.

Not physically, mentally.

It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be there- I did! Just couldn’t find my groove.

Accurate reflection of my feelings

Miles 30-37

At Nutcracker, when runners cannot make the complete 10 mile out and back within the allotted time, they have the option to do single mile loops until the clock runs out.

Here’s the kicker, though: you cannot do more than 9 single laps.

What of you go out for the 10 and don’t make it back in time?

None of them count.

And 10 miles is a pretty long time to make a “final” decision like that- you can feel very different at, say, 30 than you do at 35 miles.

I had just shy of 90 minutes left at this point, so it was an easy decision to go for loops.

If you are reading this and contemplating this race, this is something to consider.

The trail is gorgeous!

Here’s an observation about those loops I want to mention: I started walking at this point.

I hadn’t stoped to walk all day long.

With the exception of fueling and shoe changes, of course.

Yet, when I saw other people walking, something in my head was like, “it’s okay to walk- everyone else is doing it

I don’t know if this can be attributed to my already weak mental state or just plain ol’ peer pressure…but there we are.

The last 7 miles were a 8:2 run/walk ratio and I was absolutely spent by the end.

Even with the running and walking combo, I secured first female overall by and third overall with 37 total miles.

The leading men (including the twin Dad from early in the race!) ran 42 and 41 miles.

It was not a bad performance, yet I just felt MEH about the whole day.

Final thoughts

I am strangely at peace with this experience.

When you’ve been a runner as long as I have, you know there will be great days and there will be not so great days. And they don’t always correlate with performance.

You can have a great day and a slow time.

You can have a crap day and a fast time.

Hindsight is 20/20, but I got trigger happy about race registrations this year as events began opening up post pandemic and apparently there is too much of a good thing.

I had a really busy race schedule this Fall and Nutcracker 6 Hour may have been my mind crying “uncle”!

This gives you a nice idea of what folks do out there- all ages, too!

I will absolutely do this race again because it can’t be beat in terms of pure camaraderie and holiday spirit (lots of people dress up much more elaborately than a tutu!).

If you are toying with the idea of a longer distance but don’t want to commit to a specific race distance (half marathon, full marathon, or ultra), this is a great way to dip your toe in the water.

There’s literally no way to fail here unless you don’t show up.

It’s also is a not for profit event and 100% of proceeds benefit Dunn Police Athletic League, Dunn Rotary Club, and Dunn-Erwin Rail Trail. Registration is relatively inexpensive and the swag is always great!

This year’s shirt is moisture wicking and lightweight- I dig the “buff nutcracker” image, too!

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