Time spent on course: 10.75 hours
Miles covered: 53
Okay, so I didn't even come close to making the 24-hour mark, but I'm still super-proud to be able to call myself an ultra-runner! I ran 50 miles in just under 10 hours (as in, 9 hours and 58 minutes) and, for the most part, felt great. Here's a quick breakdown of how the day went:
Sole Sister Cindy and her husband Dan were at my house by 6:30 am to drive me to the race. We felt intimidated as we unloaded our stuff onto a picnic table underneath a shelter as we'd brought so much stuff. However, we later learned other people had their cars there. Dan dropped us off and came back throughout the day, so we had to have everything out.
Speaking of stuff, I waaaaay overpacked. (Shocking, I know). I bought $100 worth of food and didn't eat one bite of any of it. Not one. The race had plenty of food. I brought a bunch of clothes and didn't use half, although I will say if I had stayed the night, I would have used a lot more of what I brought.
I was incredibly worried that a .95 mile loop course would send me over the edge, earlier rather than later. Nothing could have been further from the truth. LOVED this course. So much so that I never once pulled out my iPod to listen to music. I ran with people the entire time and chatted. The short loop actually worked in my favor. If, for example, I was thinking about stopping to walk a bit or get the gravel out of shoes (!), it was so easy to convince myself to "just do one more lap" and then stop. I just kept doing laps instead of stopping and it was great.
My God, I had a great run. I ran a marathon in 4:37 and hit 30 miles like it was nothing. It's such an amazing difference running a slow pace. You never go anaerobic so you're never working so hard that you're short of breath. My legs started to tighten after mile 30 but really, I was amazed how relatively easy it was to go the longer distances. I started to feel it more around 40 but it was right around mile 45 that I realized I was really slowing down. Of all things, my ankles were what gave out, especially my right one. Quads and hamstrings were tight, but they were doing okay overall. After mile 45 I felt like I had small spikes digging into my ankles with each step. It was better while running but if I stopped to walk and started up again? Ow, ow, ow...
Who knew it was possible to run 30 miles on primarily gatorade and Reeses Pieces? One thing about this race... I have never eaten so much sugar in my life. I never really ate much of a meal, instead grabbing a small handful of food at the aid station after each lap. I tried to drink a dixie cup of gatorade on each lap and alternated between small PB&J squares (ate a lot of those), handful of pretzels, 1/4 of a banana, and again--Reeces Pieces. Chip, an accomplished ultramarathoner and my friend Cindy's support crew, kept encouraging me to eat more salt, as did friends who showed up during the day. I tried pretzels but they were like chewing sawdust. I finally got some goldfish crackers down and then my friends Don & Kathi showed up with hot, salty, tomato soup which was AWESOME and totally revivied me.
I never got the point where I was hostile about taking in food but I think I might have if I'd stayed the night. It got harder to eat as time went on. As it was, I never really felt like eating anything, but I made myself grab something on each lap, having been told that once you go into carb/calorie deficit on an ultra, you can't climb your way back out.
Oh my God. I must have been a very, very good person in a former life to be blessed with the friends I have in this one. I can't even begin to explain how crucial friends were in getting me through this race. My friend Marty showed up around 12:30 and ran with me through miles 27 to around mile 36. Then my original running buddies Jack & Royce, along with Josh and Iris Sutcliffe, arrived to run laps with me. (Iris is the one who got me started on this madness.) They got me through to about mile 44, when Don & Kathi (and Brewster the wonder dog!) arrived. Not long after that, my friend Gary showed up (wonderful surprise!) and the three of them ran me through to mile 50. My friend Chris was all prepared to show up and run with me from 10 pm to midnight but I had Blair call him around 6 to report I was dropping out.
There all along of course was Sole Sister Cindy Barbour and her friend Chip and her husband Dan. I also met some great people on the course, running and chatting quite a bit with Alison, Sarah, and Neil.
Deciding To Stop
I had such a great run. Why quit?
A few reasons. One is that although I had a great run, I put out too much energy too early. There was no way I was going to last 24 hours. From mile 45 on, I slowed significantly with each lap. My last 2 laps were walking laps and it took me almost 20 minutes to walk each.
Then it got dark. I knew the dark and cold would affect me mentally, but I didn't count on how much. The sun went down and my motivation to keep going went with it. I was cold, my teeth were chattering, my ankles were screaming, and I just wanted to curl into a ball somewhere and get warm. My hat is off to people who ran through the night. I can't imagine having the mental toughness it takes to do that. Kudos.
The other thing is that Cindy and I found each other (we ended up running on opposite sides of the loop from each other for most of the day) and both agreed we were done. We'd done what we set out to do, run an ultra, and we felt good about what we'd accomplished.
Blair arrived about 5:30, right when Cindy and I had decided we were about done. He walked a couple of laps with me, poured me coffee, then packed the car up, packed me into it, and drove home. I was MANIC from the sugar - talking a mile a minute, bouncing in my seat. Then about 10 minutes from our house, I crashed, and practically fell asleep. It must be fun for him, living with the Jekyll & Hyde that is me.
The After Effects
I felt okay on the ride home, stiff, but not terrible. Once I got home on the couch, however, I started to hurt. My ankles were swollen to the point that I really feared I had twisted or hurt something. I took some Advil, iced them down and went to bed. Slept the sleep of the dead and woke up feeling great. Swelling has gone down and although I'm stiff, I felt worse after running Savannah then I do today. I've been told to expect that the first endurance run I do, anything over 4 miles, will be rough, but that I shouldn't do anything other than light walking and stretching for about 3 days.
I admit it. I may be hooked. I had such fun and felt so amazingly good overall during this run that I'd be lying if I said I wasn't thinking about doing another. One that I perhaps actually train for! There are a bunch of beautiful trail ultras around us. That would be a lot harder than the nice flat course I ran yesterday, but it would be a new challenge.
Thanks again to everyone who sent me e-mails wishing me luck and for everyone's love and support. Hugs and kisses to all of you!