I can say that I did it, and I can also say that I WON IT! I ran my first 50K (31mile) ultramarathon race on 13 September. I’m not sure how many women started the 50K, but by the end I had finished ahead of all of them! I am the most surprised!
I woke to thunderstorms and there was a question of whether or not we would be able to run it as the leftovers of hurricane Ike rumbled through. The race started an hour late (to allow the lightening to clear) and it poured rain for most of the first half of the race, soaking my shoes, causing them to feel like bricks on my feet (not to mention chafing!). The temperature was around 80F and the humidity made it difficult to breathe.
The distance is to be respected! I had trained to survive it and not thrive in it, and that is what I did. I ran the first half marathon with my friend Jeff (who ran the marathon distance) but our average mile pace was way too fast for me to maintain throughout the whole 31 miles. I really wanted to believe him (he is so encouraging) that I could maintain that pace through the whole race, but the reality was different. It was way too fast of a start for me and I paid for it later!
After the first 13 miles I slowed down to a more reasonable pace around 9:00/mile but near the end of the marathon distance it was slower than that as I hit a huge wall. Although I had consciously started taking in calories early, the glycogen depletion by my too-fast start was taking it’s toll. I was forced to walk most of the last 5 miles because every muscle in both lower legs were severely cramping – remember the bricks on my feet?
The course had several repeating loops so that spectators could stay in one place and cheer the racers at consecutive miles without having to move themselves. At one point I came through that aid station and my dad was confused – perhaps by the fact that I was not stopping despite the fact that I looked to be near death – he asked, “are you still running?” “I’m supposed to be!” I replied. Finally, the last mile and I was able to pull it together and have my electrolytes near enough to homeostasis to run it in.
It felt great to be done, after 5:09 hours of running, it was about time! Like I said, I trained to finish without dying, and that is what I did. I didn’t find out until the middle of the next week that I had one when Jeff looked at the website results and phoned me.
Would I do it again? You bet! But I’d rather have a friend out there with to spend all that time together! Anyone up for it? Let’s go!