I was so excited to run my first ultra-marathon this year. The half marathon is still my favorite distance. But the half marathon really pushes me, helps me commit more to my training and volume and my body feels better when I'm deep into marathon training. I wanted to push myself further with the ultra-marathon. I debating often over the past couple years, but the timing didn't feel right. I wasn't ready. But this year, the timing felt right.
I was really particular about which race I committed to, because I didn't want to run on a technical trail. I found the Sugar Badger 50K (which also had fifty mile and half marathon distances available). It was going to run through my hubby's stomping grounds, on a crushed gravel trail that I was semi-familiar with and runners were also guided through a train tunnel.
After the race was cancelled due to COVID-19, I opted to defer my entry until 2021. I'm still super stoked to run this race next year and complete my first official ultra race -- 31 miles.
I was a bit bummed as race day approached last week. The entire weekend was slated to be perfect, beautiful running conditions. I had a lot of quarantine miles under my belt - like a lot. I had a couple of 20+ milers under my belt. But still no "official training" in the books. But as the weekend approached, I decided that I wanted to pursue it. As quarantine came to an end, I wanted to go into this next chapter with a bang. So I decided to do it. I was okay with walking. I was okay with taking breaks. I didn't really have a plan about how it was all going to go off. But I was going to log thirty-one miles.
Thursday night, I layed out my clothes and my nutrition. And I set my alarm for 4:15 am on Friday morning. I have always been an early riser. But had really gotten out of habit during quarantine. But, I did it. I woke up with butterflies in my stomach. I ate some breakfast, had a cup of coffee, got dressed and used the bathroom a million times.
I loaded up a few gels and gum in my handheld water bottle. And I loaded up a cooler with more energy gels, water and sports drink and stuck it outside. At 5 am, I headed outside just as I hoped I would. I started my watch, and off I went.
The first few miles were slow and tough. I though, hey maybe I'll cut it short and try again tomorrow. My body and head were just physically tired from being out of routine, I think. But I pushed through and tried to embrace the slower pace - around 10:15-10:20 and enjoyed the sunshine an cool air and breeze. I headed around my neighborhood and through Sheehan Park and over to the Carriage Hills neighborhood. I didn't really have a route planned, but just wanted to enjoy myself. So I headed over to that area, since it's one of my favorite locations to "run long". I looked around as I ran past Patrick Marsh and headed back through the high school and back home. At that point, I kind of forgot about the miles or the time and just went based on how my body was feeling. I wanted to feel good both physically and mentally after running this distance. I started trying to embrace the morning and my surroundings.
I saw a couple clients out walking or running around town. And that was a nice way to break up routine and the songs on my playlist. I ran out of water around mile 11 and made it home around mile 19. I was feeling good physically, but was really thirsty. As I arrived home, I saw hubby heading out with the dog. My watch was starting to die, so he got me his running watch to finish out my run (rookie mistake). He asked what my plan was. I was hoping for at least a marathon, but still hoped I could push through to mile 31. I didn't give a lot of answers. I drank a lot of water and loaded back up on gels and headed back out.
I ran some shorter loops, repeating much of my first seven miles. I consumed a third energy gel. My hip flexors were starting to get tight. I kept reminding myself to pick up my feet, bend at the knees and the ankles. I could feel my lower back starting to hurt a bit, and then reminded myself to work on my posture. Then I returned home for more water and to towel off. After my water bottle was loaded back up. I headed back out for a small loop around my neighborhood and surrounding area. I started completing negative splits and was getting faster with my cadence. I was feeling good, but ready to be done. My watch was approaching five hours and I knew that I could reach my goal of finishing. I never stopped to walk, which amazed even me.
I ended up finishing up the final mile through my neighborhood, on flat terrain and arrived at my driveway at 5:13. As I approached our mailbox, I saw my husband and toddler running up to great me. She wrapped her arms around my legs and hugged me while I tried to catch my breath and compose myself. I told her that I "just needed a minute" and I semi-collapsed into my husband's arms. Emotions came over me. After I could look down at her, she presented me with a handmade metal, which I will proudly display with my other medals.
I am really looking forward to next year's event and completing the race among other runners. This race had only one participant and this race was me against myself.