VA 24 hour run for Cancer

Carter and I hanging out before the race

Carter and I hanging out before the race

The normal 2.5 hour drive down to Hampton, VA was a nightmare- due to the rain and tornado warnings bringing high winds- it took a long, SCARY 4 hours! AS soon as we arrived at the hotel, I made my dinner and tried to organize (and reorganize) all of my things so that excellent crew Chief Max- aka BEST boyfriend in the world- would be able to easily find things for me. I also created a nutrition document that listed what i needed after every loop.

Race morning came early; the start finish line was nestled next to a beautiful lake- which at the break of dawn was crawling with mosquitos. DEET and sunblock were a MUST have item for this race.


I knew going into this race, I would be racing against the clock, course and myself. My basic goals were:

  • To find my free and my happy place while runningva 24 w
  • Keep my heart rate under 164
    o   Average- 148
    o   High-177
    o   Under 164- 22h:48m (still could work on this)
  • Break the current course record/ Break the VA state record for my age group
  • Run 120 miles

The course was a 3.75 mile lollipop course that was measured with a 2 foot gain at the start of the course (you got to pass a “Bark Park” with cute dogs playing).  The course was pretty deceptive as in it felt like it could be classified as mildly rolling towards the end of the 24 scereryhours.  The course had a 20 foot section of precarious roots if you weren’t looking, other than that it was a soft, groomed trail. There were barely any negative effects from the full on downpour that the loop received the night before.  Runners were informed that the back section of the course had been improved with new bridges built and wood chips spread where there were trail flooding issues- I cant imagine trail conditions if this was not done- for that I am grateful. The loop had a water aid station 1.5 miles in and a porto-potty about 3 miles in.

I loved this woman- she had a different sign every loop her son came around- she was out there for at least 12 hours cheering us on at the start of the lollipop

I loved this woman- she had a different sign every loop her son came around- she was out there for at least 12 hours cheering us on at the start of the lollipop



The race is a fundraiser for cancer. It Raised $16k this year. There is both an individual and team competition. Many ultra newbies went out and walk/ jogged/ skipped to 50 miles. It made my heart smile to see the people I chatted with on the trail make their 50 mile goal. There were 11 different state age group records broken at the race! The top two men also pushed each other to new PR’s and a new course record of 126 miles.



The first 30 miles (up to lap 8) I kept pretty consistent 9:00-9:25 mile with one 20 second walk break taken in the later part of the laps.

The first lap, I ran around dodging the silk worms, thinking with close to 300 people coming through a lap, I wouldn’t have to worry about them any more. WRONG- these silk worms just kept multiplying and falling from the trees. I pulled at least 10 off of me each lap.  The worst was when the got in your eye or dropped on the back of your neck- on many occasions, I did the freak out dance trying to throw them off of me. They kept the run interesting and something for the other female runners and I to bond over.


Miles 30-62 – I slowed down because I couldn’t keep my heart rate under 164.  Laps were

I was as happy as this dog with my popsicles!

I was as happy as this dog with my popsicles!

in the 45 minute range.  Every lap, I stopped and got ice water sponged on me and left with a popsicle. The first time I asked for a popsicle, Max handed me a melted bag of strawberry mush- My heart broke inside- at least it tasted good. He saw the disappointment and sadness on my face and RAN a mile to the grocery store to buy me new and intact popsicles for the rest of the race.

During the afternoon hours, one of the racers had a heart attack- Luckily, there were runners around him that performed CPR until EMS arrived at the scene. I arrived at that part of the loop when they were implementing the AED. THAT, friends, is scary stuff to witness.  Thankfully, they were able to revive him and took him to a local hospital. Every time I passed that spot again in the race, I sent a prayer up to God for a quick and speedy recovery.

  • maria herron I hit 50 miles at 8:38.
  • 12 hours- 66 miles.







Miles 60- 85
: Usually, I get my second wind around mile 60 that lasts until mile 75, that second wind never happened, I just kept a steady burn until mile 85.  I had my first cup of Mountain Dew which was delightful. They allow pacers on the course at 9:00 pm – I was happy to have the company. I had been running alone most of the day.  The RD had arranged a group of volunteers from a nearby army base to work as lap counters during the day and to act as my pacers to switch out with Max at night.


My awesome pacers! Thanks guys!

Mile 85 is where I started to grow nauseous.  It was disheartening because Max and the army volunteers were there to run with me and I ended up doing more walking than running with them. At least I was walking at a fast pace.  Around mile 90 is where I threw up for the first time.  However, a few miles after 90 is where my nutrition plan backfired big time on me. Imodium, tums, pepto bismal, you name it, I took it, while it slowed things digestively down, the nausea was overwhelming- and I was still frequenting the forest and don john.   I hit 100 miles at 20:01- this was still on target to reach my 120 goal if I was still nutritionally sound. However, with the lack of calories in my body, it was rebelling.  I sat down for 15 minutes trying to gain the will and energy to get back out there.  It was when I started the next loop, I realized that my feet kinda hurt- to the point that it was more painful to walk on them then run.  Before I went out on my last lap, I sat for about 25 minutes, cold and exhausted. There was a bag of popcorn which sounded so good at the time that I devoured.

The last lap, Max and I walked hand in hand just about the entire way- it was a good feet collagebonding experience. We talked about my race nutrition and how to optimize it for next time, the house that we just put an offer on- how to improve it and customize it to our own preferences.  It was this lap that I was brought to tears with how bad my feet hurt- I think my stomach pain masked the foot pain.  I had developed and ingrown toenail, blisters the size of a soda can on the balls of my feet, bruised upper, and heat rash. This lap took over 1.5 hours to complete.



I came walking in to the finish physically, emotionally, and morally defeated.  My face was white as a ghost- a sign of how depleted I was. I questioned my desire to run, if I even deserved to have such lofty goals of higher mileage and If I was meant to run ultras.  The race director encouraged me to use the remaining time to keep adding mileage- but I was DONE- D.O.N.E -done.


Even with all of the hurdles I faced at this race- I still was able to accomplish a triple crown of achievements with 108.75 miles

  1. First female/ 4th overall
  2. New course record
  3. VA state record for the 20-34 female age group

Luckily those feeling have since subsided a week after the race- It was just a bad experience, that I can learn from.

rd pic 

Of course I couldn’t have done this with out my sponsor TSTARRUNNING and the super cute skirt that gave me an extra bit of speed and confidence!

Lessons Learned:

  • Dry Ice is needed to keep popsicles cold overnight
  • Must add some binding food to my all liquid nutrition strategy (Im thinking pretzels, cherios, bread)
  • What nutrition works for other stellar runners- wont work for me.
  • No amount of bug spray will keep silk worms off of you
  • Having your crew keep track of your mileage is a good idea to make sure you are getting proper credit for laps run.  (there was an issue where Max had to prove that the volunteer missed a lap)

Nutrition: ~4,170 calories

  • 9 Boosts Plus’ at 360 calories each (3,240 calories)
  • 6 fruit popsicles at 60 calories each (360 calories)
  • 1 liter Mountain Dew (~440 calories)
  • 1 bag smart pop popcorn  (130 calories)
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10 Responses to VA 24 hour run for Cancer

  1. Kimba says:

    I go with the formula 300 calories per hour X 24= 7200 calories for 24 hours. I’ve been having nutritional issues also about 100K into races. What about adding little bits of solid food-even a few handfuls of chips, a sandwich wrap, will help add calories in.

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  3. Steve Speirs says:

    Great recap, Megan and congrats on your impressive race. Just curious – do you typically suffer badly from blisters? I usually get blisters on both little toes, but for some reason my feet were surprisingly tore up after this race.

    Hope the recovery is going well.

  4. FIRST: CONGRATULATIONS!! 1st female and VA State Record is absolutely amazing!! Well done!! You are incredible runner with so much talent and speed!! I always love hearing about your adventures.

    This is my two cents about ultra fueling. Everyone is different, and every body has different needs. But everyone has a base that they need just to survive in a day. When you run continuously for 24 hours, your needs are much higher, however it is really hard to take in as much as you need because it takes energy to digest the food. Energy that is going to pump blood to your legs so you can keep running. By the time your stomach shuts down, it is telling you that it does not have enough energy to do all the things you want it to do. It is rebelling because it cannot continue to have you move forward AND digest what you just put into it. BUT the nice thing about 24 hours is you have time. And you have time to make up time. It is okay to slow down and digest. I like to eat early on in small consistent amounts (steady intake of calories—ALL day and part of the night). This means I have to run slower in the beginning in order to let myself digest what I am putting in. When choosing the food I am eating, I think about what would be the best tasting thing I could eat right now, and that usually tells me what I need. I tend to overpack with food so I have options. Of course, now that I have said all of this, it seems important to say that what works for one person may not work for another. And, every time I think I have a food and hydration plan, it never goes the way I expect. I think being flexible is also important. Needs change depending on the weather, and what you ate the day before, how tired you are, etc..

  5. Justin Reed says:

    Great job and excellent report. Sorry you didn’t hit your goal but you were moving really well every time I saw you. This was my first time past 40 miles and I’m much slower but I had some potato skins with bacon that were pretty salty that I ate a handful of after every five laps or so to go along with more typical race nutrition. I only did 75 miles but those skins seem to provide salt, carbs, and for me are easy on the stomach. Like you said though the same nutrition doesn’t work for everybody. I hope you get your nutrition needs figured out and get that 120 next year.

  6. Keith Straw says:

    Thanks for the detail Megan. That heart rate goal has me thinking I should try the same sometime. Nutrition-wise, you and I are similar. Lots of calories from liquids. As for the foot thing, I hope that you find that your body adapts to this long stuff. I used to have issues, but I’ve been in the distance game for maybe a decade now, and have no blistering or soreness at all. I wish I could suggest a quick fix, but I think this is one of those runner’s growing pains that should (hopefully) go away.

  7. Michael N says:

    Meghan, Congratulations for the win and setting the new records. You were really doing great and was going steady all day. I also remember seeing you suffering past midnight, but your kept going. your recap is very good and you captured the key moments of the race as a whole, not just your own experience. The lady cheering her son and everyone else; the guy who suffered the heart attack; and last but not least the silk worms… I have never faced anything like it before and it was annoying.
    With regards to nutrition, I must agree that you probably needed more solids. While Boost is excellent for shorter ultras of 10-14 hours, it can really mess the stomach if one consumes them for a whole day. A friend of mine who used boost as his main nutrition, used to always get sick after the15hr mark on 100s. His problem was that there were not enough solids in him and the sloshing of the liquids in his stomach would result in nausea.

  8. Wendy says:

    Thanks for sharing your story, you are an inspiration.

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