It’s official. I have completed my first Ultra Marathon (50km @ 7:33:04). Thankfully, I was able to complete it with some great friends through a course that was extremely challenging and well-hosted by PCTR.
First things aside; I finished it and am extremely proud of the accomplishment. Yes, I walked, Yes, it took me 7.5 hours and Yes it may not be a fancy time, but it was my first one and my goal was to finish injury free. Mission accomplished.
The course was through Redwood Park in the Oakland hills and was comprised of a 20km loop, followed by a 10km loop and a repeat of the 20km loop. Repeating the first loop was actually a nice twist. I suppose it would have been nice to be on a new stretch, but there was reassurance knowing that we had accomplished this leg before and comfort in knowing what to expect.
Our pace was comfortable. We ran when we could and walked the majority of the steep hills. Actually there were three terrains we faced.
- Steep hills
- Steep descents and
- Rolling hills — I struggle to think of straightaways longer than a few minutes of running.
I ran with friends and we split into groups of 2. I ran with Manny and we stayed together the majority of the time with my getting slightly ahead in the incline and him “eating up the descents like Pac Man.” Believe me, Manny attacks the downhill portions. We caught up with the other group and ran the last 6-7 miles as a group of four. We all were taking it nice and easy and were happy to cross the finish line whenever we got there.
The all important question: Would I do this again?
Yes. I had a blast. I ran at a comfortable pace, walked when I needed to and forced myself to run when I didn’t want to, but needed to. The hills were un-runnable at sections with the inclines being some of the steepest hills I’ve ever seen on a course. This coming from someone that has conquered Big Sur’s Hurricane Point and runs California St. and the hills of San Francisco on a regular basis.
Trails are great.
It is much easier on the legs and doesn’t have the hard impact of the road. But don’t get me wrong, trails are no joke. I worked muscles in my legs that they weren’t used to. Also, the uneven terrain did some work on my ankles. No sprains, but just the uneven planting of the foot is tiring on the ankle joints.
Mile 23 I ate a bug.
Ha. I was moving along and it flew right into the back of my throat. I started coughing and had to take a sip of water to wash it down. Of course I had to tell Manny and make note of the mile for the blog.
The redwood trees were amazing. They provided great shade and views that were spectacular. There were sections where we were so high that the dense fog and mildew was around us. It felt like it was going to rain, but it was just residue from the morning. I actually had to stop a couple times to take in the panoramic views.
None. That is the best thing. I did almost sprain my ankle twice on an uneven landing, but was fine thankfully. I also almost tripped once. If anyone was near me I apologize for the expletive I shouted, but I thought I was going to bite it. Ha.
PCTR put on an amazing event.
There was food and water every 10km and the course was well marked. We only got lost once (would have been twice had not been for Eagle Eye Manny). Trails runs are well known for getting runners lost and tacking on a few extra miles. Tragedy averted.
And there it is. There is plenty more to include and I’m sure I will in the weeks coming up. I’ve never been on my feet for so long and it was quite an experience. I’m definately seeing another Ultra challenge in 2010… but maybe something with slightly-less hilly. Or at least one that doesn’t include a moment where I stand at the base of a hill, look up and say: “No ‘effin way.” (and then do it!)