On Saturday April 20th, 7am out at Lovell Canyon, I prepard to embark on my longest run yet. A 50 mile ultra marathon, filled with hills, little to no shade, and fellow runners just as crazy as I was. I began my day by stepping out of the car and Oh no!, You have got to be joking! I forgot my water bottle at home, on the counter, the one peice of sustinance between the scattered aid stations on the course. What at first seemed to be the death of me, turned out to be, I think, a saving grace. Not only did it save me the hassle of carrying it, but having to stop at each aid station evoked discipline and the driving force of "reaching the next aid station. Just get to the next aid station!". The course was an out & back 11 mile track, on road, riddled with uphills on the way out and some soothing downhills on the return. We did two completions of this course before embarking on our final 6 mile out & back to complete the run. It was set up to be a long day.
I started out easy, let people pass me as always happens at the start, and told myself that I would see them again. I kept a comfortable pace, probably about 10-11:00 min miles, stopping att the aid stations just long enough to grab a water & electrolytes before continuing on my way. I was feeling good. When I finished my first 22 mile loop, I was in good spirits, feeling like I have a shot at doing pretty well. So as I started out again, uphill almost for the first 5 miles, I talked myself into the place of "You are doing great! I can't believe my hips feel good. No knee pain?!? I might do pretty well!" It was about mile 30 when my boyfriend let me know that the 2nd place female was no more then 3 minutes in front of me. 3 minutes?!? I could catch her. So I kept my pace, stayed steady until ah ha! I saw her! I continued to keep her in my sights for the next couple of miles until I knew I could make a pass, and that's just what I did. I picked up my fast walk to a steady run and ran right by. As I approached the 33 mile aid station, I didn't see her. I knew I had to be quick and stay ahead of her. At this late in the race, it is difficult for people to really dig deep enough to overcome a substantial deficit, and I knew that.
I left the aid station, put my headphones in, and ran! I ran all the way back, stopping only for aid stations. Stopping only to grab my snacks I had packed, and thankfully remembered to bring! I ran and as I did I passed the third place guy! I just ran past a guy, oh my if I can keep this up I am in good shape! I got to the start, only 6 more miles to go. I could feel myself starting to fade a bit and starting to feel the fatigue. As I pulled out I could see the guy I had passed coming in. Then, the girl I had passed not too long ago as she approached the start. There was no way I was going to lose this now! I ran out, turning back just enough to be sure I was not losing my lead. I hit the turn around, "Oh My God! I only have 3 miles left!!". That was all I needed to get myself to run, run to the finish, thinking only "It's all downhill. It's all downhill."
As I saw the finish, and knew I was mere feet from completing my longest run. From taking a 3rd place finish in a 50 mile race, my FIRST 50 mile race. I began to break down in tears of joy, it was so overwhelming that I had put in all this preperation and all this effort for over 9 hours, and I did it. I was going to finish in 3rd place! I ran into the finish line, flashing the number two with my fingers, knowing I was the 2nd female finisher and it felt good! I crossed the line, cried a little as I hugged my boyfriend, as I greeted the dogs, and had an overwhelming feeling of pride & accomplishment. I did it! I finished in about 9 hours 15 mins, only one male and one female preceeding me, and I couldn't have been happier.
Preperation physically will get your body ready for the race, but it was the mental work I had done on my long runs. The runs out for 3+ hours, the runs on the treadmill for 90 minutes of monotany, the runs I really didn't feel like doing but I got done anyway because I knew that is what I needed to succeed. It was all these mental tests that helped me prevail. And it is the mental preperation we do that ultimately allows you to push your body to it's limits.