Just wanted to give you all the details of the North Country Trail 50 Miler I ran this past Saturday. It was my first "ultra" and it was a blast. The location was in the beautiful Manistee National Park in northern Michigan. It was a 2 loop course on a single trail throughout the forest. The weather was ideal, low 50's at the start and around the low 70's during the day. I took all of your advice and loaded up on HEED and Endurolytes the day before. I know it made a huge difference during my run. The first 25 mile loop went well, came in at 4:50 and changed socks and took my Advil. I felt confident about the 2nd 25, but at the same time I was going in unchartered waters having never ran longer than 5:30 at one time. The first thing that I noticed was that it got significantly more quiet on the 2nd loop, no gung ho runners like the start and the marathoners had finished their race.
I banged my right foot on a tree root at the beginning of the loop and thought I broke it, but the numbness went away on the first downhill thereafter. Amazingly, that was the only time I lost my footing or nearly tripped. About 1 hour into the 2nd loop my first and really only problem cropped up, a little embarrassing but my shorts were soaked wet and I developed a tremendous amount of chaffing in all the wrong areas. Nevertheless, my good friend Pam who was crewing for me saw my "pain" on my face at the next aid station and drove like Mel Gibson in "Road Warrior" to get me a dry pair of shorts from the parking area and meet me at the next aid station 25 minutes later. Looking back now, it was pretty funny, but I have never felt so relieved to put on those dry shorts.
My pace started slowing on the 2nd loop and I found myself running alone for most of it. At times, my mind started running some not so positive dialogue, but I snapped out of my self pity and loathing by thinking about my kids, especially my oldest son Ari who has autism. I focused on how fortunate I am that I can run thru the woods and my only worry is my aching body, compared to the daily sensory barrage my son encounters and how brave he is to put up with all his situations on an everyday basis. Grateful perspective is always the best tonic for aching feet and screaming quads.
My friend who was crewing for me agreed to pace me in for the last 10 miles. I found out during the run that a sub 11 hour finish would get me in the Western States lottery. I had my goal. With 10 miles to go, I was about 15 minutes behind the 11 hour mark and then I remembered what you told me about the 50, the race does not begin until after 30 miles. Well, I figured even if I were to walk the last 10 miles, I was still going to be in pain and very sore at the finish, so I decided to go for it and try to run all the downhills hard and really powerwalk/run the uphills to the finish. Amazingly, and with the presence of my pacer behind me, I started to pick up my cadence and speed. We got to the aid station 4 miles from the finish at 10:06. I had a drink of flat Coke and ran the last 4 miles in without stopping to finish at 10:57.
I have never pushed myself physically like I did those last 2 hours of the race and I have to thank you for allowing me that opportunity. The past several 1/2 and full marathons I have run, I was the one that everyone passed at the end. I never trained properly or had a clue on nutrition and hydration. Coach Lisa, thanks to your workout schedules (especially the rowing, weights and jump roping) I was physically ready to push it to the finish and not have anyone pass me in the last 10 miles. For a change, I was the one saying "on your left", what a great feeling!! I found out that I could block out pain, mostly the blisters and other assorted foot ailments that popped up when I was running the long downhills hard and fast at the end. Mostly, it was your kind encouraging words that I was on pace with my workouts and the confidence you instilled in me that I could accomplish this endeavor.
Thank you Lisa for the example you set for all your clients and the world to see, from the Double Badwater to your commitment to all of us to"running with a purpose".
Just like it is said that "there are no self-made millionaires", after this weekend I can emphatically state that "there are no self-made Ultra Marathoners" as well.
Thank you again and looking forward to the next one. Who knows, maybe I will enter that lottery for the Western States, but only if I have you one my "team".