Last weekend, I stepped up to the ultra plate once again. This year in April, I ran a 50k in 6:38 and I felt good at the end and knew I could keep going, maybe even do a 50 miler. Then in June, I managed to get myself signed up for the Snowdrop Ultra 55 which in over New Years Weekend. So a 50 mile training run seemed like a good idea. Next thing was to find a race north of here. Texas has been so.freaking.hot!!
The perfect race seemed to be at the Prairie Spirit Fall Classic 50. It was in Ottawa, Kansas. The course was an out and back on a rails to trails path. The weather turned out to be perfect. The start was a bit chilly at 29F with a slight NW breeze, and I cooled off again after the sun went down but by then I only was cold for 3 miles.
50 miles is a long ass way! I mostly ran completely by myself. Everyone in the 50 mile race, all 30 of us, started in our own wave. By 5 miles in, we'd pretty much sorted out by speed. The course is mostly lined with scrub trees, with soy bean fields on either sides. We went north through town for 2.25 miles and then went south until we had gone 27 miles. Then turn around and go back 23 miles. Psychologically, this race layout is perfect because going to the turn around seems like little more than a marathon and going back, 23 miles doesn't sound like very far.
What do you think about for 12 hours of straight down the path by yourself? Mostly, I had in my head a song by Gloria Gaynor called "I Will Survive." Just the refrain over and over. I kept checking my pace. The first 15 miles was all running at 11:30 pace. Then I switched to 3 run x 2 walk. I maintained a good pace to the 27 mile turn around; arriving there in 6:20. There was a train crossing just before I got to the turn around so I took an extra long walk break and luckily, the train passed. The guy at the aid station made me a fresh hot grilled cheese sandwich which enjoyed. I also used a nice warm bathroom and washed my hands in hot running water.
Going back the last 23 miles was into the wind. It wasn't a bad wind and the day heated up into the high 40s. I slowed down however. The thing about me is I often think about quitting when I am in a race; and I mostly run marathons. For this race however, there were no thoughts of quitting at all. It was like finishing was a fore gone conclusion. And furthermore, I experienced no problems with blisters or with my knees or feet. My upper body became a little achy from my back pack. I drank 3 Ensure 350 calorie protein drinks plus numerous gels and a couple of bars.
On the higher thought plane, I wondered if I was in alignment with the universe. Whenever my mind seemed to wander into negative territory, like what if my knee starts hurting or I have a heart attack or something, I checked my alignment. The negative thinking went away and I just kept going forward. I'd realize that there was nothing physically wrong with me so no point in projecting some disaster. I projected finishing instead .
Why was I doing this? I am a single person so there is no fan club I'm trying to impress. I started ultra running as a way to pray and for a hope of self transcendence. Deep prayer didn't seem to be happening. The other reason was because I wanted to see what it would feel like. In the past, after a 50 mile race, I would fidget in bed and if I had to get up my legs felt like nails. That didn't happen this time. The running part never felt that bad and later, I never felt that bad. Amazing the shape I am in.
I did get a little choked up as I pulled into the finish line. I did it! 12 hours 26 minutes. Awesome!
The race itself is pretty bare bones. The t-shirt was cheap and ugly. The buckle did not come with a fancy ribbon. The aid stations were ok and the volunteers good.