For many competitive runners, the challenge they confront is the clock: how fast can they go.
There are a few, though, like former Harrison High School athlete Thailyr Scrivner, who see the challenge in a different context: How far can they go.
Scrivner, who continues to live in Columbus after graduation from Ohio State University, tested herself two weeks ago when she competed in the Burning River Endurance Run, a 100-mile race that took approximately 24 hours to complete.
It was the first 100-mile race of Scrivner’s running career, although she ran 50-mile ultramarathons in both January and February of this year.
The 100-mile race proved even more daunting than Scrivner imagined. Running alongside her boyfriend, P.J. Jaegersen, also of Columbus, Scrivner managed to run 88 miles, according to the GPS system she carried, but race organizers had her at just 80 miles when injuries forced her to retire.
“About the 45-mile mark I began to feel this huge blister on my foot,” she said.
To compensate for the pressure on the balls of her feet, she changed her stride to land more on her heels.
If that wasn’t enough of an issue, Scrivner and the other competitors were running on a technical course, which meant the off-road part of the race had tree roots and rocks on the ground and she had to pay close attention to where her feet were landing on the ground to avoid twisting an ankle.
“It was my decision to pull out,” she said. “We were getting close to the cutoff point where [race organizers] were going to pull us off the course. I maybe could have made it to the next checkpoint in time, but I knew I was putting myself in a position where I could suffer a long-term injury and that would have erased everything I had planned for the rest of the summer.”
For now, the ultramarathons are done. Scrivner has plans to run in marathons later this year in Seattle and New York City with the hope of posting a fast enough time to qualify for the Boston Marathon next spring.
Her love for the longer races hasn’t died, though.
“After graduation, I needed something to occupy my time while I looked for a job,” she said. “I ran in a couple of marathons, but the joy I felt from them was short-lived.”
She started reading about ultramarathons, which she explains runners view as any distance longer than a marathon’s 26.2 miles.
“I wanted to go farther, not faster,” she said. “[Jaegersen] convinced me to run the 50 mile events and people told me if you can run 50 miles you can run 100.”
Leaving the Burning River race was a disappointment, but Scrivner also was confused at how her GPS could be so far off what the course directors reported. After looking at blogs about the race in the days following, she learned other runners had similar questions.
No matter how many miles she ran, Scrivner paid the price. The blisters she only imagined as she ran proved to be real. The marks on her heels were actually bruises. It took until Thursday, four days after the race, before she could get her foot in a shoe.
This in spite of the heavy training that goes into such a race.
To prepare for Burning River, Scrivner ran five days a week. She would sandwich four- to six-mile runs on Tuesday and Thursday around a 15- to 18-mile run on Wednesday. Saturday was her big day with runs going from 20 to 40 miles. On Sunday, she would run between 15 and 20 miles.
One of the training areas she slipped up on was eating enough. She said she discovered too late that she should have been eating 2,000 calories a day leading up to the race. Given that her fitness device recorded a loss of 9,000 from the race, Scrivner realizes her mistake.
“We were running low on energy on the course because we didn’t get enough calories in us before the race,” she said.
Scrivner did a lot of running while at Harrison High School, although most of it was on the soccer field and the basketball court, where she played for her father, coach Stuart Scrivner. Her mother is Laura Scrivner.
Scrivner works as a freelance writer in Columbus, contributing feature articles for fitness magazines. She enjoys the work and also the flexibility it gives her to go out and run 15 or 20 miles when she feels the need.