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On the edge of the desert...: Ragnar del Sol Ultra Race Report

Take 4 or something on this blog post.  Most issues are fixed, still some font weirdness that I am unwilling to spend time messing with.  I am publishing words first, then putting in pics one by one to find out which is causing the problem. But ANYWAY:
We Cant Stop Here - Cat Macro

One of my favorite books begins: "Somewhere near Barstow, on the edge of the desert, the drugs began to take hold".

Well, we weren't near Barstow, but we were in the desert. There were no drugs, but there should have been.  I think about Fear and Loathing because it is a weird story about weird people, and this was a weird adventure for Girls Heart Rockets.

Weird because, right up front, we had to DNF for the first time ever.  Also right up front: it wasn't because I was injured, or anything, I actually ran very well, but it was an unavoidable conclusion.   There was a point where our journey down Highway Grit was going to take a surprise exit onto Stupid Blvd.  We pulled over just in time. This is that story.

I began by flying to Phoenix, where I chilled at the hotel for a few hours and waited for the rest of the team to arrive.  Captain Serena Eley drove in from New Mexico with our new teammate, ultra-running superstar Ruthanne Hamrick.  Ruthanne is, for lack of a better word, a total and complete badass.  She has (among many other accomplishments) come in 2nd overall in the Copper Canyons Ultramarathon twice (that race will be familiar to anyone who has read Born To Run- Ruthanne has beaten the Tarahumara- and won/donated back literally a ton of corn in the process).  

Meeting us there and rounding out the 6-person team were Jenn Burke (Personal Trainer is her job title, but that doesn't begin to describe her expertise in all things fitness), Jordan Wirfs-Brock (Leadville 100 finisher and , my body double. We have the same build, same strengths, same weaknesses, so we pay attention to how the other is training),  and Malanka Riabokin (who ran on one of the original GHR teams).  We all got in, and turned in for an early night.  One thing we did learn - why Jenn and I switched legs.  Originally I was going to run the 27 mile anchor legs, and she would do the 38 mile 5th leg.  Until this happened a few weeks ago:

 


 

Yup, that's a complete and total elbow joint dislocation. Its a miracle she didn't tear anything or need surgery. But:  Grit.  She strategically applied KT tape, put on a compression sleeve, and was good to go (she's also running the Napa Valley Marathon this weekend). 
 
We woke up at 545, got in breakfast, packed up Ruthanne's SUV, and were off to the starting line for our 930 start.  Serena was up first, and as usual, beat everyone in her heat

 

https://scontent-a-lax.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn2/t1/p235x350/1506483_10102168908446915_546272665_n.jpg

 

I love her face here.  "Oh, you want to keep up. Cool. Let me know how that works out for you". 

 


Serena killing it with a 7:13 pace through her first 11 miles.

She handed off to Jordan, who also killed it during her legs.

 


The handoff to Ruthanne

 


This is where things started to get weird.  It was really, really hot.  I noticed that I had peed once, if not twice and every exchange.  Not good.  I wwasn't holding onto my water.  I took some endurolytes to try to fix the situation, because my 20-mile leg was fast approaching.

Ruthanne took off, and we met her halfway through at the next exchange.  She looked alright, but she tossed her full water bottle at us, and yelled something that sounded like "I feel awful".  Serena thought she must have said "take my bottle".   We waited at the handoff point, and she was behind on pace.  So much so that we thought she might have taken a wrong turn.  Ruthanne, after all, is one of The Running People, and The Running People are not undone by 11 mile jogs in the sun. 

 

 

Sure enough, when she got to the handoff to Malanka, we found out things had gone wrong.Ruthanne was not doing well.  She had to stop twice on her run to use the bathroom.  She was struggling to run a 10 minute mile.  We got her cleaned up, put some ice on her, and put her in the shade, hoping that just some electrolytes and a cool down would fix the problem.

 

In the meantime, I was on deck for my 20 mile run. It was split between a 13.5 mile leg (the longest in Ragnar history), and a 6.5 mile leg. I would be running at sunset, so I got to the exchange, got into a vest, strapped on my headlamp and blinky light, and got into the game.


Malanka handing off to me in my lucky shorts.

 

Of course, right before Malanka came into the exchange...my Garmin freaked out. It would not get to the 'ready to run' screen. All it would do is show my elevation. I didn't have time to play around with it, so I just started the stopwatch, and told my team that I now had no clue what pace I was going to run. I said at the very least, I would default to distance training pace, which is 8:30 miles.

 

Thankfully, I noticed which mile marker we started out on the highway, so with the stopwatch, I was able to crudly calculate my pace. The trouble was, it was a divided highway, so the mile markers were easy to miss. Thankfully, there were water stations at miles 4 and 7 (divided highway equals no van support). I didn't need water since I had my pack, but it was a nice check on my mental calculations.  I was running a lonely uphill stretch of Arizona desert, but at sunset, it was quite beautiful. I was keeping a good pace: not tempo, but faster than training. I came up into the first exchange, and saw a wall of cheering people.

 

Since the 13.5 was Ragnar's longest leg, they had a special exchange, and were handing out medals to the runners who completed it. I have to say, I handled it like a boss. The exchange was a "U" shape. I came in at the front, made a twirling motion with my finger to the volunteer, grabbed my medal, tossed it to a teammate, and airplaned out of there. Apparently I shouted "Unfinished Business!!" while running on.

http://gifrific.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/like-a-boss-andy-samberg.gif

 

I finished up the last mile of the 6.5 in the dark, with no water. I passed a girl who did NOT APPRECIATE being passed. Whatever. Stuff the 'good job' I gave you then. I passed a lot of people. I was not passed. I came into the exchange at 2:30:44 - that is a 7:30 pace - I felt really, really good. I grabbed a bag of gummy bears and we quickly launched to the next exchange, since Jenn had the short legs.

 

From here - things went south. Serena ran her second set of legs in a boss-like fashion. Then came Jordan's second leg. She ran it very well. And then, about a half hour after she finished, she proceeded to start throwing up. She didn't look as though she could make it to her last leg, which was 13 total miles (9 +4). Things came off the rails quickly after that. Ruthanne tried to run, and was very proud of herself for not losing her intestines, and managing a 12-minute mile. This was not right. She handed off to Malanka, and said "I don't know if I should run anymore". Then she immediately said she didn't mean it, and needed to run more.

 

Serena asked if I could take Jordan's last leg, since she was now unable to hold down food or water. I said ok. I started out my second leg (9 miles), not know if I would only run my scheduled 38 miles, or 38 + Jordan's last 9, or 38 + Jordan's full 13...and that was all contingent upon Ruthanne actually being able to run her last leg. I slowed up to compensate, but still held 8min/miles. Passed a lot of people. Did not get passed. Felt really good. I had no reason to think I couldn't run extra, despite the fact that I had already ran 29 miles, and still had 9 of my own to go. I didn't see my team halfway through my leg, and figured it was because something had happened.  They ended up taking Jordan back to a major exchange to get medical help.  She was done. 

 

Malanka, with marathon but not ultra training, could not run anymore than her assigned legs. Jenn was out for extra because of her impending race and totes fucked up elbow. Serena had a 50 mile A-race in a few weeks, so she didn't want to kill herself over a Ragnar. I found myself, at 4am, saying something crazy like "I can run the rest if you just get someone to take those 4 miles". My lack of sleep was leading me to volunteer to run a whole extra marathon on top of my 38 scheduled miles. I didn't really even process the fact that Jordan was still in the medic tent, unable to keep water down, and Ruthanne was in the nearest porta-potty.

 

This was the exit to Stupid Blvd.

 

Thankfully, Serena pulled the van over (literally and figuratively) and made the call for us. We would DNF. I was mad at the time, because dammit I could run those miles!!! But I was also so, so tired. I had been up for over 24 hours, and was pretty out of it.

 

We couldn't check back into our hotel, because it was 6am, so we drove to the finish line and I promptly fell asleep in the drivers seat. After an hour of nap, I saw things more clearly. This was totally the right call. We got to spend Saturday around Phoenix. Jordan was able to keep down some water and felt better- her problems were probably acute dehydration (she came from Boulder CO cold to Arizona hot) - she mentioned that, like me, she was having trouble keeping her water. Ruthanne, however, did not feel better, and went to the doctor this week. She got food poisoning. Well, at least it wasn't a stomach virus that the rest of us now have.

 

Anyway, it was time to leave Arizona. I still had an amazingly fun time, and can't wait to do a post about all the good movement tips I learned from Jenn while there. The team immediately vowed to come back next year - same team, same legs (except for me, I don't need another cactus medal for running half a leg - Jenn will take it and I'll do what we originally planned to do).  So, next February: Girls Heart Rocks, Unfinished Business. 

 

Oh, and speaking of that damn medal -  When the girls saw it, they called my reaction exactly: "she's gonna be pissed that the mileage isn't right."  My first words when I saw it? "Fuck that, the mileage isn't right".  Whatever, I fixed it.


Photo: Fixed!

 

 

 

 

Race Preview: Ragnar Del Sol Ultra Relay

A few years ago I was conned into joining a team of women scientists (We love running and brownies and science.  Read about us here: http://www.girlsheartrockets.com/about-us)  for a relay race across Utah.  I instantly fell in love with distance relays.  They are like a marathon, a road trip, and a sleepover crammed into one event. A standard even would be a team of 12 people, each running 3 times to cover a distance of about 200 miles. There is no stopping, you run through the night and get whatever sleep you can in the back of a van filled with 5 other stinky people.  A 12-person relay has two vans of 6 people, so there is a bit of 'down' time when the other van is 'on'.  

This weekend I will be doing my first Ultra Relay.  Its a bit different, but the same general principle.  Instead of 12 people each running 3 legs, 6 people each run 6.  Our legs will be back to back, so Runner 1 of an ultra team would complete the same legs as runners 1 and 2 of a regular team.  We will constantly be driving, so less 'down' time.  

 I was going to be runner 6, the anchor, which only had 27.7 miles of running.  However, my captain emailed me this morning, asking if I would switch to runner 5, which increases my mileage to 38 miles.  Eep.  

 So that's a lot more than I was planning on, but really, once you are ultra-trained, you're ultra trained.  Once you get past a certain fitness threshold, its all mental anyway.  

Here's the plan: Fly into Phoenix on Thursday, meet up with the other team members at the hotel. Decorate our van. Go to sleep.  Up at 6am Friday to make it to the start line in time for check-in.  Start running at 930am. 

Here are my legs (I'm running legs 9+10, 21+22, and 33+34)

9/10 - 13.5 and 6.5 miles, which totals 20 miles for my first leg

Leg 9 Leg 10

21/22- 8.9 miles total

Leg 21 Leg 22

33/34 - 9.1 miles, mercifully slightly downhill

Leg 33 Leg 34

 I'll have my gels, my red vines, a trusty van of compatriots full of assortments of food and water.  It'll be grand.  And a very valuable experience. I'm just trying not to remember that 38 miles will be the longest distance I've ever run in a 24 hour period.  

 

Whatever!  Fun!

Keepin' it real

I was really looking forward to getting my picture from my utlra.  Like, really, really, epically looking forward to what I was sure was going to make me look like every bit of the badass I felt like.

http://alcantarphoto.zenfolio.com/p561677967/h3d3c61a3#h3d3c61a3

So that didn't happen (sorry, can't directly post).  When I saw this picture, it was bad.  Really bad.  Really, really bad.  It had been taken at the exact moment I stopped sprinting for the finish, at the moment when the full mass of my body slammed forward.  I didn't look like the the torso in my avatar...I looked like I couldn't run a mile.  It wasn't that I looked HYOOG, just that I looked really unfit. I had mutliple chins, but no muscle.  There was nothing tight about my body.  I felt really bad about myself, and the picture brought some tears.  I realize that race pics are derpy by nature, but I wanted at least one to make me look like the fierce competitor I am.  

So when I stumbled upon this blog entry today, it made me feel a lot better:

http://asklaurenfleshman.com/2013/11/keeping-it-real/

 

01-oiselle

 

This is Lauren Fleshman. She is an elite runner who has been ranked as high as 7th in the world.  She runs a 15 minute 5k and a 2:37 marathon. She was walking in a New York Fashion Week event.

This is also Lauren Fleshman, but in the middle of a workout:

 

photo 3-2

 

and so is this, without 'hyper-flexed' abs:

 

photo (26)

 

Moral of the story?   Lets all relax a bit about unflattering photos. We can't have lights and make up and hair artists around constantly.

Moving Forward: The ReGlutening

NOTE: this is not a post about gluten.  Gluten is yummy and if you have no intolerance, you should enjoy it. This is a post about glute strength.

 

Its time to assess my training, and see what I can do better.  I had a very strong debut ultramarathon. One might even call it 'surprising'.  Now I want to look into what I can do to move from "pleasant surprise" to "perenial contender".  I also call this getting up to the "shoe contract level" (not that I expect to get a shoe contract, but I like to be able to compete with the folks who do).  

Some of things I can improve come only with experience. My race management could have been better.  A tighter aid station plan would have shaved 10-15 minutes off my time.  Boom.  Lesson learned. 

The one area that I can definitely improve is my uphill strength.  Right now, I walk most hills.  I am ok at lower grades - I can run up a mile long, 300ft increase with no problem.  However, you start stringing some of those together, and I run into a problem.  A steep uphill is a no-go for me.  My heartrate gets too high, my stride gets inefficient, and it ends up being better for me to walk.  If I could find a way to start to get up these hills, I could start doing really special things.  Who knows?  Maybe I could be one of those shoe contract people. Maybe I could...

 Nah, best to leave idle speculation for the idle speculators.  Getting up hills will make me better, and that's all that concerns me.  Everything else (medals, race comps, free shoes) is just tasty frosting.  

So how do I do this?  I have to improve my glute strength.  Its your ass that gets you up hills, so I have to get dat ass.  I will attack this on many fronts:

1) Run up hills, stupid.  The only way to do it is to do it.  I will start picking out long climbs, something like 400ft-600ft up in 1-2 miles. Entire runs will consist of running up, running down, and running back up until my mileage is filled.  Running, not walking.  It will hurt. 

2) Hill sprints!  Get up short, steep inclines with a quickness.  It always hurts.

3) Glute strength training.  I really slacked on this during the run-up to my ultra. I have no excuse, I just have to do better.  This means more squats, more lunges.  It also means I will add hip thrusters, pistol squats and glute bridges.  I won't do all the exercises every day, but I will at least do 2 kinds.  I will have to start weighted lunges again.  This is going to kill

So I expect to be in pain for a while.  This is not going to be easy. It is going to be enormously frustrating. It is going to make me feel weak.  It's going to suck.  But its also going to work.  

Sean O’Brien 50/50 race report

OR

 

How I figured out I am awesome at ultrarunning.

I wanted to wait to write this until pictures from the event were up, but they aren’t yet, and I’m going to start to be in danger of forgetting stuff, so here we go.  You can check out video of the 50-miler here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZNdYIOLHmU


I’m not in it, but it shows you the trails I was on.  If pictures are posted later, I’ll do a photo-blog.

Anyway, February 1st I ran my first ultramarathon- a 50 kilometer trail race in California.  The race ran on Backbone Trail (BBT), which is a 60-mile long path of awesomeness that runs along the Santa Monica Mountains, from Will Rogers State Park in the Pacific Palisades to Point Mugu State Park.

The course was a brutal out and back. starting in Malibu Creek State Park, that involved 6000+feet of climbing over 32.5 miles (a true 50k is 31 miles, but trail race distances are estimates, because you are constrained by where an aid station or turnaround can go, and really, what’s a mile here and there between friends?).  It was designed to be a premier race – a competitive ultra that brought the top runners out to play.  I wondered a lot in the weeks leading up to it just what the hell I thought I was doing.

Training

I decided to start veering into ultra-running after my fall marathon, in part because I have an opportunity to run the 90km-long Comrades Marathon in South Africa this June.  Having never run beyond 26.2 miles, I knew I needed to start upping the distance, and this seemed like a great way to do it.  I went through a training plan that was not unlike a marathon plan, but there were a few differences

1) I cut out tempo and interval runs.  I did no speed work after November. 

2) I went up to 60 miles per week by January (marathon plan has me topping out at 54).  My mid-distance runs went from 10-12 miles to 12-15 miles long.

3) I ran at least 60% of my miles on trails. This meant they were slower.  This also meant hills. Lots of hills.  The hills were the reason I could get away with axing all speed-work (Intervals, after all, are just hills without the elevation change).

4) Back to back long runs.  For a marathon, I would maybe run 4 or 5 miles the day before a 20 mile run. For this, I would run 10, 12, even 15 miles before a long run. 

5) I ate while running. Solid food.  Red Vines.  PB&J. 

All in all, this felt easier than marathon training, even though I dedicated more time to it.  Not worrying about pace can be very freeing. 

As far as strength training goes, I played things loose.  I did an arm day every week, and tried to do sets of bodyweight squats, planks, and lunges every day.  I did not stick to this as well as I should have. I don’t have an excuse for not sticking to it.  It didn’t kill me, but I will have to work on it more in my next round of training. 

Nutrition

Eating like a pregnant person?

Eating like a pregnant person.

2700/day.  Shoveling whatever food I could find into my mouth.  120g protein per day.  350+ grams of carbs daily for race week. Maintained weight.  Legs at 12.4% body fat (one thing the impedance body fat scale is good for – measuring the fat in my legs).  You could bounce several rolls of quarters off my ass. 

Gear

I went out and got re-fitted for trail shoes.  As I had suspected, I fit into the Brooks Pure Grit.  They worked so much better than my New Balance Minimus’.  I was able to like, go down hills without busting ass.  I had my trusty Nathan Hydration Pack (2L), in which I also carried body glide, 2 tangerine Power Gels, and a supply of Red Vines.  I also packed a drop bag with a change of socks, a different pair of shoes, a new shirt, some salt tabs, gel refills, blister kit, and anything else I could think of that I might need.  All I ended up needing from it was the gel refills, and I could have done without (the course had Gu, and I would rather use something I know I am used to, but in a pinch Gu would have been fine).

Race

My big question leading up to the starting line was: Am I training, or am I racing? I decided to go out there and run my own race.  Don’t kill myself if I feel bad, don’t be afraid to do something awesome if I feel good.  I know I am a talented runner, but the thing I was lacking was experience.  I decided to go out conservatively, and see what I saw along the way.  I would re-asses at the turnaround point. 

So, I got up at 5am, ate a banana and toast with peanut butter.  I went out and stopped at the ATM for parking cash, and swung by Starbucks for my pre-race coffee. 

I arrived at the starting line around 6:15.  The 50-milers had already taken off.  I got my bib, and attached it to my shirt.  A quick bathroom stop, and it was 6:45 already, nearly time to start.  I lined up and hardly had any time at all to think about what I was about to do.  It was ~50 degrees at the start, and everyone else was complaining about it, but I knew it would be perfect.  The first and last 3 miles of the race were on a stretch of trail that I had already run (the Malibu Creek 22k).  I knew what it was like on a hot day (it was like being roasted alive), so I was happy for the cool temperatures. 

At 6:55, the race director started announcing rules and information to us.  All of a sudden, we were counting down.  Then we were off. I really didn’t have time to get nervous. 

The first few miles were a blur. I was toward the front of the pack, and happy with the 9:30ish pace we kept up the first round of single-track switchbacks.  I hit a downhill (that would be a dreaded uphill 5 and a half hours later) and let fly.  I didn’t care right then about conserving anything. I was high on the joy of running.  We crossed a stream and hit the backbone connector, which was a looooong 1500ft, 2 mile climb up.  I jumped to the side and let some runners pass me, then started walking. 

Walking is hard for my super-competitive brain to handle.  But I did ok.  I let a few women by me, fully aware that I would catch them on the downhill.  They were wasting energy, and I wasn’t.  I found some friends and we chatted while walking.  One guy said “hey, I know you, you worked at Wrigley!” (the USC Wrigley Science Campus on Catalina Island). It kept those miles light and cheerful.  Sure enough, I got to the ridge, and saw that the pack of women wasn’t that far ahead of me, and now I was still on fresh legs.  I started reeling them in, one by one.  I got to the first aid station, 7 miles in, in really good shape, after scrambling over some rocky paths. I took one gel, some watermelon, and some baked potatoes dipped in sea salt.  Ok, and I gave in and tried Coke while running.  Sweet nectar of the gods!!!! I see why everyone likes it.  From here I am converted and drink coke at the other aid stations. 

 From here, we would descend on BBT.  Descend I did.  Like a mountain goat on speed, I was off.  I may have even stuck my arms out and ‘airplaned’ around some corners, out of sheer joy.  I started leap-frogging with a girl who was running the marathon.  I was walking all the ups and screaming down the descents.  We laughed and exchanged words every time we passed each other.  I put her down for good a few miles before the marathon turnaround (and second aid station). 

I came into the aid station, declined my drop bag, and took two salt tabs and another potato.  Due to the cold and high winds, my fingers were swelling pretty badly, but nothing that would impact my performance.  I had to make it 3 more miles to the turnaround.  From here, I started counting women coming back the other way, to get an idea of how I was doing.  No women were coming.  1 mile.  2 miles.  Then a pack of about 7 passed me about half a mile to the turn around.  HOLY SHIT!! I realize I am in the top 10.  In my first race.  They aren’t that far ahead of me, and I have been conserving energy like woah.  My brain starts churning out paces and strategies and I have to calm myself down.  I say that I still have 16 miles to go, and these women all have what I don’t – experience.  Still. Damn. I am in it. 

The uphill to the turnaround is about the longest mile of my life.  Remember, a 50k is only supposed to be 31 miles.  15.5 is what I am looking for.  Well, that passes. No turnaround.  16 passes.  No turn around.  16.1…16.2…SWEET HOLY JESUS WHERE IS THE TURN AROUND???  There it is, 16.35.  I refill my hydration pack, down a gel, and am back on my way.  The volunteers tell me I look good.  Whatever, I look like a human salt lick. 

I feel really good halfway through. No aches, no pains. I wanted to make it halfway in 3 hours.  I made 15.5, and 16 in three hours, but was slightly over for halfway.  No biggie.  Now all I had to do was run home.  

I run back down into the mile 18 aid station. This time I take my drop bag and get my extra gels out. More coke. More watermelon. More potatoes.  The volunteers unzip my pack, load me up, and take my trash.  One tells me how good I look. I laugh.  She jokes that I should toss my hair.  I say I would, but I would just hit her with salt and sweat.  I trudge out of the aid station and back up to the single track of BBT. 

From here, I just methodically make my way back up. One foot in front of the other.  I never feel like I am not going to make it. I don’t hurt (much).  Ok, my glutes start hurting.  I am still walking the ups and destroying the downs.  I pass some women. I don’t know if they are running the marathon or 50k, so I just keep the hammer down.  The mechanics of walking start to hurt more than the mechanics of running, so I shrug and run.  I make some friends.  Max.  Ethan.  Ethan has a go-pro.  I hope he is ok with much of his race footage featuring me on his heels.  I hit the last aid station, and the volunteers descend on me like a pit crew at a Nascar race.  I am unzipped, re-watered, handed food and gels.  I stop and chat with them. They look confused.  Only later do I realize that they are giving me awesome attention because I am in podium contention.  They didn’t expect me to dick around talking to them.

I make it back of the exposed rock scrambles, and hit the downhill I have been waiting for.  I am ready for it, and I light it up.  I look at my watch, which is registering a 6:30 or lower pace.  This is fucking awesome.  I see a woman ahead of me, walking. 

***psychology of races time***

Its time to be a little bit of a dick.  She isn’t hurt, she’s walking. She’s exhausted, but she’s also probably a competitor.  If I shuffle by her, she might give chase.  She might see weakness and pull another level out of her tired body.  However, if I blast by her with a smile on my face?  If I wave ‘hi’ and say “good job!” cheerfully as I pass?  She isn’t coming after me.  If I do those things, she will know she can’t keep up.  If I put someone down with 3 miles left in a race, I’m going to make sure they stay down. 

 

I do this to her and another woman.  I don’t look back. 

They see me: not tired and not worried about them. 

 

I blast down the hill and come back to the river crossing.  It is now higher, and I have to splash through it, and run the last mile and a half with wet feet. Whatever.  This takes some of my momentum away.  I am trying to keep running.  Just to that tree.  Just to that boulder.  Just get to that hill and then we walk anyway. 

I get to the top of the hill, and chance a look back. None of the women came after me.   I know that all I have is a half mile left.  All downhill.  It’s pure joy.  I pass Max for good (sorry Max), and sprint across the line with a huge smile on my face.  It is not the arm-flailing, tired, lets-just-get-this-done last gasp of a marathon, it is power and joy and endorphins.  There is a crowd of people waiting across the finish line.  They cheer as I finish.  The race director tells me to hold on.  I came in 5th, I placed. I get a a trophy (it’s a mug!).  I exclaim: “You’re shittin’ me!!”  Everyone laughs.  The  girl I was leapfrogging with earlier comes up and gives me a hug.  She came in 3rd in the marathon. She tells me my downhill stride is crazy cool to watch and that she hopes she sees me at more races.  I have my picture taken a lot. 

I excuse myself to go handle my emotions.

Stats

5th Female overall.  3rd in my age group.  25th overall finisher, in a time of 6:05:33. 

6100ft of elevation gain. 

4 powergels; 6 cups of coke; 4 salt tabs; two handfuls of kettlechips; 3 slices of watermelon; 2 red vines; 5 chocolate covered pretzels; and 5 red potatoes dipped in sea salt consumed. 

One badass experience. 

Post Race

I haven’t quite processed everything from this race yet.  I am struck dumb sometimes by the realization of what I did.  I placed, in my very first ultramarathon, on a very tough, super competitive course.  I ran conservatively.  I dicked around at aid stations (25 minutes at aid stations, in fact. If I had cut that in half, I would have come in 3rd).  It didn’t even hurt that much.  Sure, there was glute and hip soreness, but it didn’t last very long.  I drink tea out of my trophymug, and feel very happy. 

This week I walked 11 miles, and ran 11 (I will do a 9 mile run Sunday to take it up to 20 miles for the week). 

What’s Next?

Ragnar Del Sol as part of an ultra-relay team.  February 21-22nd.  I have had my recovery week, now I will go back up to 35 miles, and start putting in some two-a-days for distance relay prep. I am running anchor, and I don’t have that many miles (27.7 total).  After that, I will get into the meat of my Comrades training, which will include longer back-to-back efforts.    

 

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