So it's the day after my first ultra, and the body is sore, but the spirit is elated! Let's take it from the beginning, shall we?
I packed up the night before, trying to remember all I'd learned both from my own training mistakes and from other people's suggestions. Remembering my post-marathon underarm chafing (two areas the size of an entire large bandaid, stickey part and all!!!) I resolved to Body Glide anything that might even hint at chafing! I also brought a spare pair of shoes and socks, as well as some shorts (although when it's cold I prefer to run in long pants). Food-wise, I figured the aid stations would be enough, but I also brought some Accelerade powder (it works really well for me), a couple of Clif gels, as well as some Clif Shot Blocks, the margarita kind with extra salt.
So I got to the race and it was COLD! Picked up reg stuff, then set up my chair and my backpack full of goodies. (The course was a 3 mile figure 8, so I'd be passing by my stuff every 30 minutes or so.) One thing I noticed was that there was a line for the MEN'S bathroom, but none for the women. Don't think I've ever seen that! I went back and sat in my car and cleaned out the console and the glove box (I never seem to find the time to do this) and listened to music. Got out of the car with 10 minutes till the race start and there was my birth father!
I may not have mentioned this, but my birth father, in addition to being a great guy, is a record-holding ultra runner. When he was 56 or 57, he set the North American record in his age group for the 48 hour race, running 214 miles! So having him out there was like being with a celebrity who knows everyone. We chatted before the starting gun, and then it was time to run. Jim stayed out there for 4 hours and it felt so good to have someone who was there for ME, you know? Plus he's great at reminding you to take care of yourself out there, as he has so much experience with running ultras.
So the first 10 miles were a blast! The day was perfect for running, crisp temps, a slight breeze, no rain. The course was 1/2 flat trails and 1/2 paved and there was lots to look at, but during these easy miles, I spent most of the time chatting with other runners. Each time I saw Jim, I'd stop for anywhere from 2 to 4 minutes and talk. (I was SERIOUS about this not being a race where I focused on time.) And eat a Fig Newton. And drink something.
After 10 miles I pulled out my iPod and started listening to music, mostly the stuff from the SF Marathon, with some new songs thrown in (Mr. Blue Sky by ELO and Next Phase by The Isley Brothers are current favorites). Since I almost always run to podcasts, the music was a nice change of pace.
By mile 15, I was toying with the idea of running the 50 mile distance, but as my brain was a little befuddled (which I find highly amusing) it took quite a while to do the simple math of "Ok, so if I run 10 minute miles, that's 6 miles per hour. I started at 8:30, so by 9:30 I'd be at 6, by 10:30 it would be 12..." and so on. But as I approached mile 20, all thoughts of going another 30 were out the window.
I knew that Tim would show up at some point during the day and I was looking forward to seeing him. Well, as I finished mile 21, there he was! It was so great to see him. He'd come out ready to run with me. At this pont, I decided to change shoes (turns out to have been a good decision as I had no blisters after the race.) Then he snapped a quick picture of me doing more math, indicating 21 miles:
...and then we headed out together. I'm used to Tim being the faster runner, but today as I already had some miles under my belt, I got to set the pace and it was a slow one. (My Garmin, which is set to turn off when I stop moving, showed my overall pace as a 10:05 for the entire race.) After about a half mile, he was able to hold back enough so that I wasn't just trotting behind him. (Thanks Tim!) We chatted and waved at fellow runners and it was just so fun to have my husband out there with me. He stayed for 6 miles and took some video as I ran:
After Tim left it started to get harder and I could tell I was slowing down. I'd started the race slowly, but still faster than I'd planned, but I think what made this race tough is that I really didn't train for it. Yes, I've been running this year, but my longest run was a 15 miler on January 3rd and finding the time to run while helping my parents with their stuff has not been easy. So while slowing down didn't come as a surprise, it had me questioning my "I'm gonna do 39.3 miles because I can!!!" goal.
I crossed the finish line, but I don't know how long I took, as my Garmin was stopping when I stopped, and I didn't check the clock time. A volunteer removed my shoe tag and I was done right? Nope! I changed into a fresh shirt and trotted back out again, only I'd underestimated how difficult it would be, emotionally, to start running again after I'd finished! Also my left hamstring was starting to feel a little twingey -- never a good thing. So once again I was trotting and doing mental math, and when I realized I'd be out there for more than an hour more to hit my goal, I decided to stop at a nice number (33.3 miles in case you're wondering) and call it good.
And you know what, I really do feel great about the race! At one point I was feeling kinda bad that I was only doing the 50K, but then I thought back to the race in November where I had so much respect for the 50K people, and I thought, "Hey, I'm one of those people today!"
This brings us to today. My lower back, hamstrings, glutes, quads, calves, knees and ankles all feel overworked. Well, duh! I just made them run 33.3 miles! After church this morning we stopped by Starbucks. The day after an ultra, when you can't decide between a glazed old-fashioned donut and an apple fritter, guess what you do? YOU GET BOTH!!!