Sunday, July 22, 2012

I am, as of this point, an Ultra Marathoner

               Dances With Dirt 50 was a success, in that I finished in under 13 hours, and it was my first ultra. I was holding a 10 hour pace for the first the 35 miles. It was very clear to me that every step after 27 miles was then the longest run I have ever traversed in my life. This is always an energizing experience for me, and not daunting, like it could be, if one's thoughts turn against themselves.
               Once I hit 35, my muscles felt tenderized. I never had cramps, as I have gotten better at keeping on top of my electrolyte chemistry. My body was rejecting a little is all. I have read about this happening the first few times. Your body does not know what is going on, and is trying to get you to stop. It's our job as ultra-runners to tell our body to "Shut the fuck up. Work with me here. We'll get through this together." Which brings me to the next bump I ran into...erratic heartbeat. But do not fear, my friends. Yours truly had it under control. Once I started getting short of breath unusually, I took my pulse, and walked for bit, thus losing a lot of time. But my goal was to finish, not have a heart attack. Sounds worse than it is. I was not worried in the least. 
               Of course, after this point I started keeping a closer watch on the time. I got another burst of energy at 42 miles. This is when I realized I am hooked. Ultra is my new junk. Once I hit my last aid station, I had an hour and a half to finish the last 4.5. However, this 4.5 is no ordinary 4.5. It is arguably the toughest loop in the whole race. We started the race out with it, and we are now finishing with it. I got stung by a bee/wasp/hornet the first loop and ran 40 miles with a sting in my shoulder blade. The guy behind me got stung in the head, and a couple others got stung 2 or more times. ....so....the loop. 
               It is a climb up the bunny hill at Devil's Head ski resort, then a barrelling down the triple diamond hill to the finish. There is a cut through rough brush that will slow you down a bit. Needless to say, It took me 1:25 to get through the last 4.5 miles. I finished in 12:54:57. Usually 40% finish this race of the entrant field. This year was better. It was closer to 55%. I was 54 of 56 finishers, I believe. 
               I loved every minute of it. Time was irrelevant. I had to dig deeper than ever I did previously just to keep moving. I had to be loving to my psyche, I had to kick its ass, I had to good cop/bad cop it. I 'ran to mom' when dad said to buck up. "Well, what did your father say?" You get the idea. It felt amazing to run across that finish line. I ended up sprinting across to the end. How? I haven't the foggiest idea. For the last 1500-2000 feet I felt no pain. Shortly thereafter, that is another story.
               When I got there I was hungry for a piece of meat for protein. I took the last hamburger in my hands and ate it plain with no bun. It was the best burger I've ever tasted....and usually I hate ground beef. The beer was gone. Fuck. I'm not a drinker, but a beer or two after a race is a welcome reward. The moral of this lesson is.....get there sooner next time. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Dances With Dirt 50, 9 days until go-time.....

               I am a bit nervous, but I am quite confident that I can keep moving for 10 hours. I think I will do better than 10 hours, but it depends on heat and many other things. The race starts at 5:30am, so hopefully it will be cooler and I'll get a good jump before the heat hits hard. However, if the current weather is any indicator, it won't fall below 80 degrees all night. The past couple runs I've done at night, it was still 88 and 85 degrees at 10pm. So, I just need to buckle up and put on the big boy pants. It's going to be hot. It's going to be grueling. It's going to be a life-changing first-time 50. I'm feeling great. Don't worry about me.