Two years ago, I came up with the idea of running further than a marathon – not such an unusual idea… to people who have run ultramarathons… A crazy idea for people who have run half marathons… A positively ludicrous idea for people who don’t even run!
In any case, I managed to complete the distance, submitted an article to Marathon & Beyond about my experience, and got it published in the May/June 2004 issue.
Somehow (I think through the insistence of Jasper and Todd Byers that 50K wasn’t REALLY an ultra), I convinced myself that I could complete a 50-miler.
OK, look at this in a reasonable manner. Remember when you first began running and 5K was a long way? And then a half marathon? And then a marathon?
OK. So, I’ve worked up that way, too. And after completing a difficult 35-miler in 14 hours, I figured 50 miles would be a (hopefully shorter) piece of cake!
I decided that I would run the American River 50, because it was the same weekend as a party in Davis with my college buddies. I would like to say that I did some special training, but my I did my usual path of a lot of races, basically culminating with my slowest Way Too Cool 50K in three years and a recurrence of plantar fasciitis.
Suddenly, it was April 3rd and time to do the run. I decided to follow my original advice in marathoning – start out slowly and speed up if I feel better (walk all the hills).
The first 20-odd miles turned out to be paved. I just treated it like a long marathon training run at about a 9-minute mile clip.
By the time it turned off to trails, I had a little hip pain, due to the angle of the path, but I still felt pretty good. By the time I reached 27 miles, I wondered if I had gone out too fast (4:36) and at 31 miles, I wondered if this could count for a 50K, too (5:45, PR!)!
Suddenly, though, the temperature shot up to the high 70s. I got to an aid station a little low on water.
The volunteer told me that he was running low on supplies, but that the next stop was only 1.9 miles (though technical), so I should be fine… 1 hour later and I have still not reached the next aid station and I’m wondering if I’m delirious in thinking that I’m doing faster than 30 minute miles! Finally, though, I reach the aid station – 4.9 miles! Argh!
The sign says 1.9 miles to the next station. Hmm… Can I trust it? Nope. Only a mile.
At this point, I am reduced to walking, and the grade increases markedly (300’ of climb per mile for the final three miles!), but I can feel my legs about to cramp and the last aid station before the end… is it soon? Should I take a Gu? Do I have enough water? The people around me say “Yes! Stop complaining!”
At the aid station, somehow I am recognized – a tall Hasher ultraguy.
Cool. So, one of the volunteers walks back to his car (the finish) with me as company, and we actually pass a few people at our clip. When the course flattens out for the last 200 meters, I decide to try and run (usually a BAD idea), but I feel really great and pass a man twice my age to finish in 10:34:00!
If you can believe it, I am interested in running another!