Embrace the sufferfest. April 30th, 2016 I set out to attempt my third ultra. What you DO is who you are, not what you THINK about. Want something bad enough? Grind and kick your own ass.
Back in January I wrote about a pretty simple training plan from the Ultra Ladies 50k schedule. I am terrible at following plans, but wanted to successfully complete this tough race. Success meant not getting lost on the trail, not getting too close to cutoff times, and having the chance to take pics on the trail. For me, it’s all about the pics. Here’s what worked and what didn’t.
- For the most part I was able to follow the weekly miles. It’s a basic plan that works for getting miles in. It was difficult to get all the mid-week miles in due to work, so I focused on quality runs during that time.
- I didn’t plan enough for changes in elevation. I was only able to train on mountains in PA a few times during this training cycle. What I lacked in elevation training was felt on race day.
I also got creative with my training. I ran the Febapple 20, part of the NJ Trail Series, and Naked Bavarian Marathon in place of two scheduled long runs. I was joined by some amazing people for all or parts of other long runs. Shout out to Gladys, who joined me while pregnant in her third trimester, for the last three miles of another long run. I joined Runhole for one of their training runs. Really cool peeps out of PA. I cross-trained on Sundays with the Uptown Gentlefriends. That Sunday crew is mostly made up of OCR racers. Very different from me. Love them madly.
Race Day AM
It’s 3am and I fumble through my gear, get dressed, grab coffee, hop into my jeep and head to upstate NY. My adrenaline kicks in about an hour into my drive so I started blasting my music and singing like a wild woman. Arrived in just under two hours. It’s beautiful up there. Look over my running plans. Okay. Lets do this. Woo-hoo!
After a 20 minute wait for the buses, groups of 30-35 were shuttled to the main race site. I’m used to smaller indie races and this was a trail set up on commercial crack. In a good way. The vendors, fire pits, and a three foot high central water jug was pretty cushy. I kept running into / chatting with familiar faces from my tri-state races. NY, NJ, PA strongly represented. Roll Call…
- Balls of Steel. Loved the guy in leopard speedos and no shirt with the Buddha belly.
- Honorable mention. An amazing mother-runner killing it at 28 weeks pregnant.
- Beasting it. Type one Diabetic chick; you struggled, but rocked out on that course.
Talk Thirty To Me
This 50k is a challenging race for anyone attempting their first ultra. If you under-trained, you may finish, but will be in a world of hurt. My plan was to mentally tackle the miles in groups of 10 at a time. Quick breakdown.
- First 10 was spent chatting it up with some amazing runners. I ran a good portion with a seasoned endurance athlete, Katie. Not only was she badass, but she dropped major knowledge. I shed my layers at mile 5. The morning turned into a tank top & skirt kind of day.
- Second 10. My mind went bonkers. Rambling thoughts. These hills are killer. Oh, look at the trees! What the fudge, another hill? Am I taking in enough calories? God it’s beautiful out here. Am I normal? Hell no. Oh, wait, yes I am. I really need to stop talking to myself.
- Last 10-11. I was tired and had to focus on the downhills. Tired of kicking rocks. Tired of the hills. And all at the same time elated to run downhill. Elated to have this opportunity. Elated to kick rocks. At one point I pulled out my cell and checked social media. All the well wishes popped up in my feed. Everything was good.
I struggle for the last 2 miles. My gps watch died and I went into freakout mode. Last quarter of a mile I was in tears. Wild and crazy and lovely, happy tears. And then the icing on the cake. I saw Katie at the finish line cheering me on. Perfect. Then I saw an old co-worker from the Operating Room cheering me on. Beyond Perfect. This race rocked.
31.1 miles. 9 hours and 41 minutes. Beer me.