Tuesday, February 26, 2013

My First Ultra Marathon

I still don't even know how I was able to do it. My training plan, which I had laid out in October to allow me five full months to build up to a 50K race, was shot to you know what over and over and over. I needed this training though. About 4 years ago I did a 10K cold turkey, and I really struggled to run start to finish so I wanted to adequately prepare myself. 

About 5 weeks into my training last fall, I was at the ER being treated for a foot fracture. After about 10 weeks or so of healing, my foot was finally feeling better. I tried to play catch up on the 10 weeks lost and had two weekends of an 8 mile run and a 10 mile run...then at mile 8 of that 10 mile Saturday run my foot was hurting again. It wasn't ready yet. It did finally heal...but then I ran into a pole at the rodeo. Yes, it was a funny as it sounds. My knee was killing me and I was officially out until the week of the race.

I figured I should do something before race day so I ran 3 miles for speed this past Tuesday. The race was Sunday. To recap, the longest I had run in my life was 8 miles a couple of months ago, so the plan for Sunday was to push myself to the 10 mile mark and then walk/run/walk/run as needed simply to finish. I told Biz that I wasn't going to be silly about it and that when I was hurting or hitting a wall, I would stop. So, I bobby penned the heck out of my bun, slapped on some no chaffing gel, bought some Oakleys, a hand-held water bottle and a cute keep my hair out of my eyes headband, double knotted my shoes and was ready to go.

It is crazy for me to type this next sentence, but I was able to run the entire way. All 31 miles. HOW?! No idea. I wasn't tired. My back was kind of hurting and my feet were getting sore, but not enough to consider stopping. I just kept going and going and going. I was praying pretty much the entire time; I kept reciting Phil 4:13 in my head, early on a woman was holding up a huge sign with Isaiah 41:10 which is one of my favorite verses, and I was a broken record asking God to get us all through because I knew I couldn't do it myself. Boy did He ever pull through. I ran with my brother and his girlfriend, and we did stop for a few bathroom breaks or to give the kiddos a quick squeeze whenever we saw them, which were nice mini-refreshers, but we kept a slow pace, stayed fueled...and I am ready for another one! The energy of the crowd was amazing, bands were playing along the way for the first 12 miles or so which was awesome, and overall it was a great run around every neat part of Fort Worth. 

I think I was able to do it because I was literally thinking there was NO way I would physically be able to run that far, and wasn't remotely considering to run past mile 10 or 12. Zero expectations on myself. There was no pressure and I certainly wasn't going for time (I really, really applaud those that do marathons or ultras and can keep a 7 or 8 minute pace - WOW). The goal for this race was to simply enjoy it and finish. Mission: Accomplished! Now that my injuries are healed and I can finally start back to CrossFit, I look forward to seeing what the next race will be like. 

Does anyone out there do ultras and have any great ones they recommend? I have heard of the Keys 100, which is 100 miles from one tip of the Florida Keys to the other with a 38 hour limit I think...as if that makes me feel any better. I was telling a friend about that today and said well, at least you can have a crew drive along with you for help, to which he replied, so you mean a psychiatrist can come and tell you you're crazy?? Made me laugh ;) Obviously I am nowhere near ready for that and the heat would be the hardest part, so I think keeping it around the 50K mark is good for now. Any suggestions, let me know! 

Below are some snapshots from the race on Sunday. Bravo to everyone that went out and did it from the 5K to the 50K!! I am so proud of us and I'll see you next year!

6:30am and it was about 30 degrees outside! We walked over to the starting line. 

 One last photo op before starting....

...and a shot of our shoes. Inov-8 is the brand, and they are a company in England that started with the goal of being specifically directed towards Ultra runners. LOVE them, and definitely a key element of getting me through!
{Side note: these help you NOT heel strike which is the complete wrong way to run, another reason why Five Fingers are also so great. The idea of "needing support" is so 1999. Read this article HERE in New York Magazine for further info and don't feel too bad, it's not you, it's your shoes!}

My first time to see the kids around mile 14 and I was SO EXCITED!!!

Teeny stretch and we were off again...

...until we saw them around mile 18, where sweet Squish was waiting to give me some lovely flowers he had found!

Raced to him and Munch for some recharging hugs :)

There was just a small bend in the trail so my brother carried Squish for a little bit before dropping him off with our crew again: my mom and Biz :)

Leaning in for a sweet kiss.
Between mile 18 and 20 the sun was really heating up. I did not want to overheat as that would add fatigue, so I had to regretfully lose my top. Was NOT planning on doing this otherwise I would have layered a tank top underneath my long sleeved shirt!!

This boy is going to run with me one of these days, I know it.

Around mile 25 I believe. We just split from the marathoners and have a separate loop to go around to complete the 31 miles.

Squish sprinted out as we turned the corner into the final stretch to the finish line, and we held hands and ran across together! It was awesome.

Our amazing team. We did it!!!

I am looking so rough here but I had to post it. This was inside picking up our medals and shirts, and I leaned on that pole. It felt so good to stop running for the first time in 6 hours that I never thought I was going to move again. I actually think I am asleep with my eyes open.

The best part of the run: I tucked one of the flowers from Squish around mile 18 into my water bottle and was able to look at it every time I took a sip. Heartsies.

...and THEN I had a photo shoot at 9am on Monday! {The magazine it was for is a secret but you will find out SOON!} See my awesome sunburn? My entire back is that color as well, and I have a pretty fabulous spandex shorts tan line. Yay for hair and makeup :) I *might* have worn compression recovery leggings under some of the long dresses...shhhh...