What do you get when you mix a pavement runner with three amazing friends, a crazy hair cut, rain, mud, a tree root, a watch named Miriam and spread it out over 50k? An ultra experience that you’ll never forget. Oh ya, and muddy gloves.
Let me start at the beginning. This past Saturday, myself and three friends decided to run another Ultra Marathon. The week before the event, rain was spotty, but the weather gods decided to give a good down pour the day before to make the course a little “extra ultra” and to keep it interesting, they also added in some more rain for the first 3 hours.
Needless to say the course was muddy. When I say muddy, read: covered in puddles of mud that cause you to get the same feeling as when you are on ice skates and have that second of sliding where you think you are going to fall.Yes, 30+ miles of that. I don’t know what we were expecting considering it’s a dirt trail and it’s raining, but there were an abundant amount of areas where we decided to carefully maneuver through ankle deep mud. A couple times mud decided to try to steal my shoe unsuccessfully. Oh ya, you know the running shoes that have “breathable” sections for air to flow? Mud and water flow just as easy to your socks and feet through there, too. I have trail running shoes and didn’t wear them, but it’s a long story and now is not the time to discuss.
The first four miles were horrible. Not because of the conditions or terrain or company, I just wasn’t feeling it. It was one of those days where I felt like I was never going to get into a comfortable stride. So what do you do when you feel like you don’t have it at mile 4 of an almost 31 mile run? Keep going, duh. Luckily around mile six I found my stride and started feeling at ease. Running with my three friends (Chris, Lori and Larry) definitely helped.
Shortly after that, I decided: It’s muddy, I don’t care, I’m just going to run through it. Screw you mud, I’m doing this! And I probably don’t have to tell you what happened next, but I will anyways. BAM! Foot hits a tree root and I am three inches from my face in the mud. Luckily it was early on in the event, so my reflexes were still active — I ended up landing in a push up position. This could have been much worse than only having muddy gloves and a bruised ego. If I didn’t stop myself from falling, I would have been covered in mud from head to toe on the front of my body with over 20 miles left to go… not pretty, but that’s what I get for disrespecting the mud, take note, don’t disrespect the course. If you’d like to know how hard I bit it, someone in front of our group made a comment (which I heard about later, but can’t remember). That’s right, someone (loose guess) 75-100 feet in front of us heard me fall and commented aloud.
The hills (read mountains) were challenging and we walked a good portion of them. Delirium and hilarity started to creep into our group around mile 12, it may have been sooner, and never left. It was a really good bonding experience between the four of us. We would just break out into laughter over the most random things. Here are a few that will make little sense without context, but this may give you a taste of what our mind frame was:
- Chris’ Garmin watch is named Miriam (for reason’s I can’t share)
- Larry and I are not running 50 miles in April — that idea has been thrown away and stomped on.
- The sixty plus year old man, called us kids and said we were difficult to pass. Is that funny, inspiring or sad?
- I said limpy, but Lori thought gimpy was better.
- Lori is fast and is doing fine, keep running Larry.
I will continue to elaborate about certain things throughout this week (especially the last 10k), but together we conquered a tough course through difficult conditions and are closer as friends for it. When you are climbing 4,530 feet, over 50k in the rain through the mud for 7+ hours, you share an experience that you will always remember. Oh ya, I mentioned a crazy hair cut earlier. Here is what I did to my hair the night before! Ha! It’s supposed to be a mohawk, but I dont have much hair, so this is what I get. Anything to get you through the next mile, right?
When we finished, I said that I was retiring from Ultra’s for awhile, most likely the rest of the year. I’ve done two in the last six months and would like to focus on getting faster in the Marathon distance and although (really) long slow runs can help, I think I’ll focus on tempo runs, track work and 20+ distances. Sounds good, right? Well, not more than 2 days after my so called “retirement,” I get an email from Lori about another PCTR Ultra event in mid-April. There is a marathon distance and a 50k called Skyline to the Sea. She is interested in doing the marathon distance… and guess how I responded? Here is my reply e-mail copied word for word:
“Didn’t we just say we are done like 2 days ago? LOL. I’m leaving my calendar open for a couple weeks to decide what I’m going to do… but keep me posted. I’m sure I can be talked into running anything (except 50 miles). And if we do it, might as well tack on the extra flippin’ 5 miles. :) Did I just say that? I told Chris I was retiring from Ultra’s for awhile…. oh well.”
Yep, some things never change.