Saturday, November 17, 2012

Race Report: Run d'Amore 50M

We got to choose our bib #s and I was able to get #50 for the number of Ks or Ms I'd be running. We all knew it'd be miles. What an incredible experience.
Run d'Amore bib and swag.
I got to choose the bib# and I chose 50 for the number of kilometers or miles I'd be running.
We all knew it would be miles :)
On Saturday, November 10, I completed my first ultra: 50 miles that took nearly 17 hours to complete. The best way to describe this experience is horrifically awesome. It was nearly 11 pm when I finished and it was freezing, but I refused to give up. I was expecting to finish at least 4-5 hours earlier, but my IT band started bothering me before I even finished the first marathon. It was only a minor annoyance at first, but eventually it became too painful to run at all. I made the mistake of seating down to get a blister looked at and that was the last straw causing the IT band to get too tight. I had to walk, sometimes barely even a shuffle, for the last 10K, but I finished in just under 17 hours with a total of 51.2 miles and I'm now officially an ultra marathoner!  It was both harder and easier than I expected, and worth every painful second. So you bet I'll be doing it again :)

Day after with my race shirt
Race Shirt
Stats (50M = 51.2 miles):
  • total 50M time = 16:59:44 (I made the ironman cutoff lol Race cutoff was 36 hrs) 
  • moving 50M time = 15:37 (lots of stops to change, pee, eat, etc) 
  • moving 50M pace = 18:38 
  • moving half marathon time/pace = 3:14 @ 14:48 
  • moving marathon time/pace = 6:51 @ 15:41 
  • moving 50K time/pace = 8:19 @ 16:03
As you can imagine, what transpired over those 17 hours is a bit of a blur, so I'm going to post a bullet list of the highlights instead of my typical race report.

Swag: Awesome black long sleeve tech tee, goody bag with lots of samples, tasty and plentiful food, and heart shaped handmade medal.

course scenery
Course: 2 mile loop at Harvey Bear Ranch Park, San Martin, CA. I know this sounds dreadful, but I really like it because it's easy to adjust layers and nutrition when you only have to plan 2 miles at a time. If you make a mistake, you only have to endure it for 2 miles. It's also a lot easier mentally to tell yourself to run 2 more miles. The loop was actually 2.05, which is why 25 laps netted me 51.25 miles.

Food! Running an ultra is way different than any other race because you get to eat all kinds of stuff you wouldn't dare otherwise. It's like a buffet on the run. Many of the runners brought things to share, including my homemade granola, cookies, candy, soups, and the RD ordered pizza after sunset. That was the best pizza ever! Also, coke tastes damn amazing when you've been running for hours.

It's gorgeous out here
Scenery: The race started at 6 am and it was still pitch black, but it was clear so we could see tons of stars. As we finished the first few loops, we saw the sunrise and the fog slowly rolling over the mountains. It was breathtaking. We were treated to the same gorgeous views as the sun set and the stars greeted us once again.

Weather: The forecast called for cold temps and rain. Thankfully, the rain never materialized and once the sun came up it was perfect running weather. The oddest thing is that one half of the loop always felt cold while the other warm, specially when the wind kicked up. It got really cold after sunset, and those were the hardest miles because I was walking them, in the cold and dark, and in so much pain.

My partner in crime. She got me into this mess :p
Tracy, she got me into this mess
Running Buddies: I ran most of the first 50K or so with Tracy, who talked me into this race, and that was awesome. The miles flew by as we chatted and she introduced me to the other runners. Her boyfriend Scott was there to crew us, and he ran a few laps with us and even biked along to bring us food. They were both amazing! After 3 hours, we switched directions so we could see all the other runners and that was awesome.

Reverse Psychology: After so many miles, even at a slow pace and using 1:1 intervals, running became a chore. We started to hate that damn beep every time it was time to run, so I tried to trick our brains by saying "Yay!" instead of "ugh" every time it was time to run. Scott joined us for one of these laps and got really into it with us. Every time the beep came for us to run, we'd throw our hands up in the air and scream "Woohoo!" It totally helped!

Disney Songs: Eventually, that wasn't enough fun so we started singing Disney songs. That. was. awesome! We brought a little on course entertainment to the other runners, so that was a nice bonus. But more importantly, it distracted us from the pain. I posted about this on Facebook and solicited songs to sings. A fellow Galloway runner commented with "Dig a Little Deeper." I was a little annoyed at first thinking she was telling me what to do instead of helping me sing Disney songs, but then she reminded me it was from Princess and the Frog and I just had to laugh. It was so perfect! So remember this trick when the going get's tough, and sing this song

99 Bottles of Beer: After I started running alone, I started singing this song but I was so tired and my brain so foggy, that I had a hard time remember which number. I started singing faster so I could more easily remember the next number, but then I realized I was running faster to match the song tempo and finally tired and gave up around 89 bottles.

During last mile it occurred to me that running this ultra is just the absolute most absurd thing I've ever done ... Then I switched running shoes to run in crocs and now it's just ludicrous but man do my feel feel amazing.
running in crocs
Crocs: Around mile 37, I stopped to change socks and shoes because the socks I was wearing were too thick and my feet were really warm. My feet seemed swollen, so I put on my crocs instead and ran a few laps in those. It was quite amazing and added to the absurdity level that made this even more fun and help distract me from the pain.

Other Runners: It was even more evident while completing this ultra how amazing the running community can be. As I walked, shuffled, and dragged my feet along during that last 10K in the dark, every single runner that lapped me greeted me and made sure I was ok before continuing on their own journey. Some stopped to show me some stretches and I had the pleasure of walking a lap with one gentleman who was on the last lap of his own 50M and he shared some words of wisdom with me. That helped me walk that lap a little faster.

Sleep Walking in the Dark: By the time the sun set, I was walking and my brain was so foggy from fatigue that I felt like I was sleep walking. I was moving slowly because bending my knee hurt. I tried walking backwards, sideways, dragging that leg, you name it. Anything to avoid bending it.  I was holding a knuckle light in one hand and texting Jason on my iPhone on the other hand. It was really hard to see ahead of me unless I held up the light, and I tend to drift when I walk even when I'm not half asleep. At one point I was texting or checking facebook and when I looked up I was all the way on the other side of the road lol That scared me a little and I focused on keeping the light in front of me and walking straight. Then the bitter cold hit and I was shaking. Thankfully, that's when Jason arrived and he helped me get on a warmer jacket.

Last Lap: Jason rented a zip car to come get me because I wanted to sleep in my own warm bed after I finished instead of a tent in the cold. He arrived just in time to walk the last lap with me. That was awesome. I was able to push myself a little and walked those 2 miles faster than the previous 4 I had done alone.

50 mile finisher! So happy to be done and that I get to go sit in a warm car. It was FREEZING after the sunset.
happy 50 mile finisher!
Finish: As I neared the end of my final lap, I looked at my watch to see what the damage was and I could see it would be close to 17 hours (which is the cut-off for most Ironman events). I joked to Jason that maybe I would at least make that cut-off, but I was not about to speed up to ensure it. I said "I'm ok with 17:05" or whatever. But as I crossed the finish and stopped my watch, I saw it was 16:59:45 and found it hilarious. And then Alan, the Race Director, fetched my medal and as I went to grab for it he said, "oh no don't go reaching out, there's a ceremony" and I laughed. Then he got everyone's attention and announced we had another 50M finisher, that it was my first 50 and first ultra and I just beamed with pride. I almost cried, but I think I didn't have energy to do so. I was just elated that I had done it and that now I got to go sit in a warm car.

The photo to the right was taken right after I finished, and you can see the elation in my face. I was smiling through the end. Even when I was shuffling along and every step hurt, I was in good spirits because I knew I was going to finish this. You can also see my ridiculous outfit that is such a missed matched assortment. When the sun went down and I got cold, I just grabbed the nearest things I could find to stay warm that involved the least amount of bending. None of these outer layers would I ever wear to run, but when you are tired, sore and cold, anything will do and they did indeed keep me toasty warm.

Wrap Up: So that's the highlights of my experience. It was an incredible experience, filled with so much love and support from an amazing group of runners. I am sure I'm forgetting something, so if you notice I don't talk about something you expected to read or have any questions, comment and I'll update this post. Stay tuned for my next adventure :) View more photos on flickr or click play on slideshow below.

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