I ran my first ultramarathon on Saturday, the so called "Pigtails 50K". For cross training, I ran the Portland Marathon and Seattle Marathon this year. A real runner, Mike Lynes, horse traded with me and I agreed to try an ultra. In return, he agreed to do a bike race this year. Mike, of course, won the 50K, beating the course record by 4 minutes. Anyone who knows Mike will not be surprised that he held the course record from the previous year.
The ultra crowd is cool. Far fewer people are interested in running a distance greater than 26.2 miles. Those who do show up have low resting heart rates, protruding cheek bones and carry their water with them. The pace is slower. I have no idea but maybe all ultras are on trails? This one was. It was a glorious day but muddy from Friday's rain. The tempo was deliberate.
I noticed that fellow runners seemed encouraging and not competitive. The competition was with the body, not other runners.
I ran just fine. My body rebelled several times but I beat it into submission. Hill after hill took it toll. My calves cramped over and over. Then the stomach complained. I forced it to take gu, blocks and even a brownie ever ten miles. I drank three full water bottles at ten miles each and finished the race dehydrated. Just as the pain started to get the best of me, I looked up. The sun was out. The trail at the point was cut through the woods and light flickered all around me. I have not seen the sun for awhile and I was happy to have it along. The sun is a very good athlete. It never talks too much on runs and I am always sad to see it go.
It turned out that this was enough. I commented to the forest that I thought it was glorious and trudged along in my trance. 26.2 miles came and went and I didn't care.
When I got home, I found this video on youtube about ultramarathons. These dudes are different than bike racers but I kinda dig 'em.