Sunday, September 22, 2013

Wait-Did I Really Just Decide To Turn A Training Run Into An Ultra???

The blog has been silent for awhile for no other reason than I am too busy to update it.  Also-not much to say!
I am presently working on training for Nike Women's Marathon (NWM) that is held every year in late October in San Francisco.  This year is the 10th anniversary and I had to intentions of getting in, but surprise surprise-My group was selected in the lottery!!
This is truly just a fun run for me to run with few of my girlfriends.  This will be marathon #2 for me and #1 for both of them.  It's weird that I am the veteran this time around!

Right before we were selected for NWM, I had started a 60 challenge group for the Insanity workout program.  I was about three weeks in and was feeling fantastic!  All my tweaky injuries seemed to have been resolved by the head to toe workout Insanity was giving me.  There was a running/Insanity hybrid program I could have followed, but I knew that time was not going to favor that type of training.  SO-I decided I would try doing Insanity workouts during the week (no runs or only one run) and then I would do a long run on Saturday mornings.
The girls and I had already decided to go with the Hal Higdon Novice 1 program as it fit with my time and realistic goal of finishing the race-not necessarily setting out for a PR.

With that in mind-Last week we ran our 18mi training run and this week was going to be our 14mi step back week.  I had found a local 50k put on by the Seattle Running Club that sounded like a blast!  Beer + Running = Great Times in my book!!!  I talked one of my training partners into going for the run.  The Fat Glass 50k  works quite simply-Start with a 12oz beer, run 5mi, drink another beer, then record your lap time.  The goal was to do as many laps as you see fit.  Michelle and I had decided we would do three laps and call it good.

Let's interject here a few facts.  First and most important-I really know nothing about Ultras.  I know that anything over the marathon distance is considered an Ultra and a 50k is generally thought of as the shortest Ultra distance.  I also know most of the time they are run on trails.  I also know a lot of food is generally involved.  After that-I'm clueless.  That also goes for official training for Ultra distances.  I have heard that it frequently goes by time rather than miles but even that is something that I'm "pretty sure" I heard rather than something I have actually researched.  So let it be known I DID NOT train fro this as a race!

The week leading up to the run had me thinking about 5mi laps.  Thinking about doing six 5mi laps for some reason seemed like a realistic thing to do.  Running 30mi seemed overwhelming to even begin thinking about, but 5mi at a time-that I think I can do!

Friday night I had the most crazy dreams and after my mind telling me with increasing certainty that I was for sure going to run the 50k it seemed to make sense.  I won't bore you with the dream except the end which is where I finished the 50k but had to jump off a bridge into a river below-which of course I did.  My mind woke up and decided that meant it was time to take the leap of faith and see what I actually could do!

Michelle and I get to the race and I'm not even sure she was prepared to be in the drinking division, I of course told her there was No chance we Wouldn't be drinking!  So after our first delicious 12oz of Mac And Jacks (which they so kindly donated) our day of drinking and running was on!!
We ran, we chatted, and we finished our first lap in a pretty happy place!  By the time we got to mile 4 we were ready for beer #2-amazing how that worked!
Back out on the trail we start talking about how good we are feeling and Michelle asked me "You going to try to run the whole thing?" which I honestly don't think I had talked about, but maybe I did.  I was like "I'm not sure-maybe?"
Michelle and I priming for our run!
Then we got to talking about the rest of our training plan.  Next week is our 20mi culmination of our training plan-but Michelle will be out of town.  We had been trying to figure out how to run that run together as that is just a REALLY long time to run alone.  Our options were looking ok but not great.  So we got to thinking maybe running four laps for just over 20mi would be a good option and then just doing an nice long taper.  At some point this turned into Well if you (Michelle) run four laps I will run six-maybe.  Michelle has been having a little knee pain so we decided to go out for lap 4.  Michelle was in quite a bit of pain, so she did an out and back finishing her day with 20mi.  I finished the loop with the host of the event and we just were talking and he said this would be his last lap.  I decided that yeah I was done too.  I didn't have anything to prove other than having a good time.
After the lap we were sitting around and it was brought to my attention over and over that no woman was going to finish the 50k this year.  I think they could tell that I have a slight competitive side and I just couldn't leave that alone.  About that time our host said he needed to go out for one more lap because he couldn't let another guy best him.  Well that was all I needed!  I was two beers and a hot dog in, so I was feeling great on the break-shoes and socks already off-but just like that, I was putting on my shoes and socks and getting ready to go! What The Hell!!!  Who is this crazy woman!!
I also knew that I had a volunteer pacer for my last lap if I truly was going to do this!

"Is This Really Happening???" Was all I could think as I took those first steps.  I'm not going to lie-I still felt great!  A few twinges here and there, but nothing that was painful or new or strange.  For sure NO red flags saying "STOP!!"

This is where I need to talk about the timing of things.  This was NOT fast.  My running was consistent and comfortable and not super slow-but-between each lap was a half hour to an hour break.  From beginning to end I think it was 10hrs 32min for me to complete this whole thing.  I know my running time was 7+hrs.  Not quick. Frankly I am NOT letting time effect how I feel about finishing!!

So the wrap up-Michelle had been kind enough to wait for me through 5 laps, but she really needed to get home and I couldn't blame her.

My little group of three headed out to the trail-Chris who had offered to pace my last lap as he had only run 4 previous and another guy-whose name I forgot-who was going to to be the "sweeper" to pick up the trail markers because yes-I was going to finish Dead Last!  I knew I kind of had to get out of my mind a bit so for the first time that day I was going to listen to music-which by the way I DETEST doing on a trail!  It goes against everything about trail running to me.  This was going to be the exception though.
Chris was in front pacing a nice pace, but then he walked up a few of the hills which is of course normal, but at that point I just had to get this done.  After we turned a corner at some point I got out in front and I took off.  I just had to run the way I needed to and that was not conservatively at that point.  I felt bad because I had a small flashlight, and I knew Chris had nothing, but if he and Mr. Sweeper hung together they would be fine because he had a headlight.  I really did feel bad about dropping him after he so nicely volunteered to pace me.

I came off the trail and hit the pavement which is all downhill to the finish and even though there was no finish line to cross, I of course had tears of happy in my eyes.  Everyone was gone except for the host family, but I didn't care-I knew I had run every stinking mile and that is all that counted!

So for $20 entry fee-I drank beer all day, ran 50k, ate a yummy hot dog, won a blaze orange beenie, a Bud Light beer tap, and two empty growlers.  Not a bad Saturday.
That is how pretty I look after 34mi!

I also need you all to know how amazing my husband is.  He spent the whole day keeping our kiddos safe, happy and fed while I went out acting like a crazy fool.  The poor guy had no idea that I may even try this and he got a little nervous when I didn't call or text around the time he thought I should be done.  At the end though he is so proud of me and I am so glad he supports me fully.  This is not something you could do without love and support from all around!

So now you know how I became an Ultra Runner :-)


  1. Sarah!!! this amazing!! i mean, you are amazing!! way to go! love ya, thanks for the great inspiration! Paul Schroder

  2. Boggles my mind to think about running that far! Way to go!