Last weekend I ran my first ultra, the Way Too Cool 50K, and I was going to write up a short blog post but then I wrote about the two lessons I learned for Wednesday’s newsletter instead, and then I thought I’d just like add some stuff here when photos come out, and then they didn’t come out and I had other stuff going on like work. So, anyway. Here’s the nitty-gritty if you want it.
This feels like an important point, but maybe it’s not: I ended up getting two stitches in my hand the Thursday evening before the race on Saturday morning. I was in front of our house with Snoop, a dog started to bolt at him and when I tried to pick him up I got scratched. Deep. It was definitely not a big deal, though the urgent care doctor was highly skeptical about me racing. Oh, next Saturday, he said, you should be fine in a week. And I said, no, in 36 hours.
Add that to the list of things doctors have been wrong about.
Fortunately, it was dry for the start of the race. Hallelujah. Not already being wet and cold at the start was basically all I was asking for, since we got cold and wet pretty quickly.
I pushed it fairly moderately hard for the first hour loop, through the mud and the surprising creek crossings. Somehow, I thought when they said “river crossing” that meant, like, one or two, like over our ankles or calves or something. I didn’t think we’d be up to our knees in cold water two miles in. Evidently, this is how I cross even the smallest creeks, which is basically a photographic representation of how not prepared I was:
My group had a mini-powwow about which trail to take (and I committed us to what turned out to be the right one before letting the other guys know I actually had no idea). And then I got dropped. I was struggling to keep pushing it on the long downhill around mile 10 and I kept thinking about falling on my hand. That doctor would not shut up about NOT falling on my hand.
Then there was a long period where I was cold and getting hailed on and not sure how I could finish. I knew I was getting passed by some guys, but I also was passing a few, so I figured it was OK? And I was still in 9th, and I am highly motivated by racing, so there was no way I wasn’t going to just keep moving. Plus, I had been really hungry for awhile and forced myself to down too many gels too quickly, but it seemed to sort of come together and by the time I got to the mile 20 aid station I thought, “Only ten miles to go, I’m basically done!”
In retrospect, I think I slowed down too much though. I got passed by Ilyce and another woman around mile 23-24. I power hiked up the hills. I slogged through the mud. At the mile 26-ish aid station I passed the one woman back and was back in the top ten and I was determined not to lose that. As determined as one can be when one is too tired to remember not to run straight through the shoe-sucking mud for the last 30 minutes.
Eventually, I finished, but I don’t know if I felt super excited about it. I had to sit down because my joints hurt. Then I had to walk as quickly as possibly (which was not that quickly) to the car to change into dry warm clothes before I lost feeling and circulation in my hands. And I almost made it.
Gear (in case you wanted to know and since I had literally no chaffing or blisters):
Smashfest Queen ultra long-sleeve, which they’re out of right now but I highly recommend
Dig Me sports bra
Pair of light old tights that I pull out whenever it’s a mud shitshow and have somehow not torn after almost ten years
Light running gloves, with these REI waterproof mittens over them to start
New Hoka Speedgoats with two runs on them, because I didn’t own any “trail” shoes and had to buy something
Solomon hydration backpack thing that wasn’t ideal but was sitting around our house, mixed about 250 calories in the water
Many many vanilla Clif gels (which was easy since they were also sponsoring the event, so I didn’t have to tap into my emergency stash of margarita shot blocks stuffed in the pack)