Wow! What an experience. I have been attempting to put together my thoughts ever since I crossed the finish of my first 50K this morning (did that really happen?!) Prior to today, 26.2 was the furtherest I had ever logged on these legs (well, 26.6 if you want to be technical, since I am not great at running tangents) so it was a truly NEW adventure, for sure!
You see, I had been considering an ultra – distance run for quite a while now. After lots of research, talking to ultra-marathoners, and scouring race schedules, I finally narrowed it down to a local event; literally, in my backyard! When I read about this race, I printed out the registration sheet immediately and wrote a check (old school!) to get myself on the roster to this little-known gem.
Training for this event was a bit unconventional, as it was just two weeks before my 26.2 with DONNA and I was working on a modified Hansons Marathon Method – which, in short meant this: it was going to be my longest run in my 10-week training schedule after weeks of not topping 16 miles in “long runs.”
Sure, I had run Space Coast Marathon on December 1, as well as a random 20-miler mid-December, but otherwise, I had been focusing on a combination of “higher mileage” and controlled speed-paced runs – and although I may live just 15 minutes from the park where the 50K would take place, I had only done about 4 short trail runs before taking on this race; but I still went in with tons of enthusiasm and a surprisingly low amount of anxiety.
So, back to the recap…
I woke up this morning at 5:30 (race was set to begin at 7:30). My goal was to get out the door by 6:15 so I’d be there nice and early for parking and to chill out in the car for a while. Of course, no matter how quiet I attempted to be as I got ready (even changed and prepped in the guest bedroom) Dug heard me and started barking! So, I took him on a quick little walk, which calmed him down before I tucked him back into his bed.
I had packed up a change of clothes and a towel for post-race comfort, a water bottle for pre & post race hydrating and my morning treat du jour: a Publix donut! Don’t ask me why, but donuts have always been great race fuel for me, so I don’t mess with it – y’know, why fix something that isn’t broken?? 😉
The drive over was spot-on, 15-min, and park fees were waived with registration, so I was able to drive back to the start area and park super quickly. “Packet” pick up was also simple: there were volunteers at the picnic pavilion, and ziplock bags were packed with our bib #s and one of the coolest piece of swag I’ve received at a race: an embroidered windbreaker! There was also a big map of the course, so I took a quick look to see confirmation of what I had read in some race notes of past: basically, it’s 4 loops (7.75 miles) and has a mix of sand, gravel, paved road and grass. After hitting the restrooms (yay real restrooms!) and chatting with some fellow runners, the sun was starting to come up and we were all getting stoked!!
At 7:20, the race director gave us final instructions, and at 7:30 on the dot, he said, “Okay….GO!” Hah! Yes, nothing like runDisney fireworks, but it was definitely nice and low key 🙂
I’m not gonna recap each mile (I was thinking about it, but that would have made this recap wayyyyy too long) however, I can say this: I definitely felt totally immersed in each of those 31 miles today. You see, I had dedicated each mile to friends, family and other people who have inspired me along my running journey. Each name meant something different – and each reason reminded me something huge: that although 31 miles was big, scary, and at some times difficult – there are so many things in life that are much harder – and this kept me going! So although I won’t be posting the full list, I can say this: each one meant a lot, so if you’re reading this, you know who you are 😉 Oh, and Carlee rocked my world by running 10 in solidarity with me, which explains that awesome pic there –>
No, instead of recapping each mile, I will tell you some things that I did learn from today’s race (and if you have more questions, I’d be glad to answer them in the comments) 🙂
- Making non-time related race goals is awesome for ultras! My two big ones today: finish strong and don’t trip and fall. I was glad to accomplish both, which is huge since I am the klutziest person you will ever meet.
- People that run ultras are super courteous and seem to smile a lot more than road racers 😉
- Coke (even if you usually don’t drink much soda), PB-filled pretzels and M&Ms taste amazing at Mile 20, when you realize there are still 10 more miles to go!
- Volunteers are always awesome, but you couldn’t ask for better ones than the ones on course today! I thanked them every chance I could.
- When your Garmin clicks past 26.2, it is a profoundly indescribable feeling.
Package that all with a totally unplugged run (phone in car, iPod at home) and meeting some really cool people on the course (Taryn, above, not only rocked Sparkle Athletic, but won 1st female; I magically came in second, let’s see how many actually ran once the results are posted, hehe) I am just so proud and to have completed my first ultra distance race and proclaim: I AM AN ULTRA-MARATHONER! 🙂