So this past weekend I sort of ran my first ultra marathon - the Fondren Urban 12 hr Ultra. I've been eying ultras for quite some time now, but none ever seem to fit into my schedule (there's always a marathon in the way). This ultra was perfect for several reasons:
1 - It was local (so I could sleep in my own bed and use my own shower);
2 - It was cheap ($25);
3 - It was to benefit a good cause (Cheshire Abbey - a dog rescue organization);
4 - It was an URBAN ultra (meaning no trails since I still am scared of trails); and
5 - It didn't conflict with any other races on my schedule.
So it was pretty much a done deal when I read the announcement.
|Ready to run in circles for 12 hours!|
I sort of did and sort of didn't train specifically for this race. My goal was to run 50 miles in the 12 hours. I mean, I can run a double marathon so I should be able to run 50 miles, I think. My training consisted of doing many marathons this year and really only one weekend (recently) where I ran back to back long runs (21 miles on Saturday, 21 miles on Sunday). Good thing about a timed race is that there really is no finish line. You run whatever you want to and stop whenever you want to. If you want to run 6 miles that day, then that's what you do. If you want to run 60 miles that day, well then that's okay too! So I didn't really feel any pressure to complete 50 miles, it was just sort of a soft goal. To be considered a "race" for me, I only needed to complete a 50k, which I'm pretty sure I could do in my sleep.
Packet pickup was at the local Lululemon store in the Fondren area of Jackson. For this race there was the 12 hr solo race, 12 hr 4-person relay, and a 5k race. All races were $25/person (so $100 for the relay). Our packets included some cool snacks, a water bottle, some discount coupons, a Fondren Urban Ultra sticker, and a Fondren Urban Ultra t-shirt. I love that it was a cotton blend shirt as I have way too many tech shirts! I wish more races would give out cotton shirts!
|Lucky number 43.|
Race morning I was up early so hubby and I could get a good spot to set up my tent. I think that we were the first ones there (besides for the RD's). We got a pretty good spot and hubby was able to set up my stuff without problems. The course for the race was a 3.1 mile loop. So when completing each loop, I would be able to grab anything that I needed from my tent. I packed my hydration pack full of enough goodies so that I would not have to stop until after my 4th loop. I planned on taking in some food after every loop.
|Ready to see what the day will bring.|
At 7:00 AM we were off. Obviously my plan for this race was to go out slow and then slow down and of course walk the hills (there were two on the course). As I said before, this was a 3.1 mile loop course. There was an aid station at the 1.5 mile mark and then also at the start/finish. Both were stocked with water and Gatorade. I never stopped at the 1.5 mile aid station so I am not sure what kind of snacks they had, but the start/finish aid station had lots of goodies - pretzels, peanut butter, chips, candy, cookies, bananas, oranges, etc. Good selection and I was never in need of anything. Many people probably think that a 3.1 mile loop course for an ultra sounds just awful, but it is actually kind of nice. First of all, you never go a long time without passing your "stuff" and the aid stations. I also had several objects that I looked for on every loop........
|Tiny dead turtle just before mile 1|
After the tiny horse, there was a hill. I always looked forward to the hill because I could definitely WALK!
|Tiny library at the top of the hill. How adorable! Right at mile 2. Ya know, just in case I needed to sit down and take a reading break.|
The tiny library was followed by about a half mile stretch of flatish road and then you start to make your way up the other hill on the loop. This is the "big" hill on the course and was about a half mile long - practically all the way to the finish. I, of course, walked it. So that's a snapshot of the course. Fairly "flat" except for two noticeable hills that I walked from the very beginning.
I finished the first few laps with no trouble except that my right hamstring just never wanted to loosen up. It started to just become annoying. Fueling seemed to be going well. At each loop I ate something - Honey Stinger Waffle, Salted Caramel GU (yummy), Peanut Butter Power Bar, banana, chips, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Pop-Tarts - so pretty much mostly junk. I didn't wear my GPS since I knew that the battery would not last 12 hours and I didn't want to be consumed with my pace at every mile. I was more concerned with my time for each 3.1 mile lap so I just used a cheap-o Timex Ironman watch with a timer and a lap function. This went well and I was able to stay about 20 or so minutes ahead of where I needed to be after each lap. After 7 or 8 laps my hamstring was full blown hurting. I texted hubby to please bring me some ibuprofen to see if that would help. I hate to take the stuff while running (I have recently weened myself completely off using it during long runs), but this was an emergency. Everything else felt great - no tummy issues and feeling full of energy. I resolved to just getting to the 50k mark and then taking a short break and reassessing everything. Hamstring was definitely starting to slow me down a lot and I finished the 50k in a not very respectable time of about 6:43 (although I didn't check in with the timing people until after 7:00).
|Done with 50k|
After finishing the 50K, I stretched a little and even used someone's foam roller but nothing seemed to help loosen my hamstring up. I pretty much figured that I probably wouldn't be able to do 50 miles and I would likely have to walk for the rest of the time. So I ate my piece of pizza and proceeded to walk the next lap. While walking that lap, I called hubby to see if he wanted to walk the next lap with me. He ended up walking the next two laps with me. I ended up walking the 3 laps after the 50k mark and that brought me to about 10:40:00 into the race. The walking had loosened my hammy up a bit, but it was still sore. I decided to do one more lap and call it a day. I actually ran (although very slowly) that last lap. A pretty decent time too - about 40 minutes - which put me at 11:20:00 when I finished the lap. I was VERY tempted to do another lap, but I decided to call it a day after 14 laps and a total of about 44 miles - only 6 miles short of my soft goal of the day.
Overall, I was pretty happy with the day (besides the hamstring thing). My fueling was pretty good for a first attempt at taking in "real" food while running. No tummy issues to speak of and I felt full of energy the whole time. I probably could have hydrated a little better but I'm not sure how to stay 100% on top of that. I never felt thirsty so I guess that's good. I did get one small blister on one of my toes where my toe sock was pulled down too tight. Nothing major. I'd say my biggest complaint was that there were hives on the top of my feet when I took my shoes/socks off. Never had that before. They didn't itch, but were "hot". They went away by the next day though. No big deal.
This was a great first ultra and I look forward to doing it every year! It was only $25 but I'd easily pay double that and not blink an eye since the money went to a great cause (Cheshire Abbey dog rescue). This was a local race for me so obviously there were no other expenses for me.
Next up for me is the great state of California!!!! I get to cross both a half marathon and a marathon in California off at the end of April - American Parkway River Half Marathon on April 26 and then BIG SUR MARATHON in April 27! Pretty stoked about that!
Oh, and we got another dog...............
|Bella makes 4........|