This is a race report about a race that happened nearly three months ago. Deal with it.
This last October, I ran my first ultramarathon. Overall, it was a success because it was a new challenged and I finished. However, I was literally the last person to finish. I took myself outside my comfort zone, learned some lessons, and maintained a sense of gratitude throughout, despite the nearly 9 hour cold and rainy odyssey.
Factoring in mileage, The race was an ultramarathon in the loosest sense of the word. It was a 50K, or 30 mile, race. Only four miles more than a regular marathon. Where it lacked in distance, however, it more than made up for in elevation and technical terrain.
This was the race that taught me that I am not a trail runner. And I’m okay with that. I work a lot, recently got married, just bought a house and am settling down. As it is I am having a hard time fitting hill training into my schedule. I’m lucky if I can do road running or train on a treadmill. It may just be that I’m a road distance runner.
This 30 mile course nearly broke me, and it took nearly 9 hours to complete. But I’m certain it wasn’t the mileage that got me, it was the steep inclines and descents that got me. Without sufficient hill training, the multiple 2,000 ascents and descents (4 each, all told) reeked havoc on my muscles. And with an already technical terrain made even more tricky by debris and fallen trees from a severe windstorm the night before, cold temperatures, and a downpour for the last four hours, this made for one of the more challenging races of my running life.
Despite all these challenges, this still managed to be one of the most fun races I’ve ever participated in. I joined forces with another ultra-newbie who was in the same predicament I was in. We kept each other’s spirits light and reminded ourselves that if you’re not feeling challenged, you’re not growing.
This will not be my last ultra. It may not even be my last trail race. But it has literally pushed me to my limits and, whatever happens next, it’s definitely made me stronger.