Its not easy becoming ultra. It takes endurance, strength (both mental and physical) and oh, just over 8 laps of Lake Quannapowitt. (Nearly 10 to reach 50k status) 🙂
July 25, 2015 is now one of my top favorite days EVER. Seriously…
There was not a single thing wrong with “ultra day” and sooooo many right.
I’ve started and deleted this blog three times, because when you have a great story to tell you want to do it justice. And i’m still not sure I can, but i’ll try.
When I signed up for the 12-hour option of the Ultra Around The Lake over the winter, I knew I was gambling with the weather. An ultra in July? I had to be crazy.
I got lucky…i had trained in heat, and that morning was a gorgeous, partly-cloudy, 60-something degree morning. Predicted high of 73.
I had nerves early in the week leading up to it. I also did not run in the week leading up to it. Only crosstraining.
But two days before, when i finished my last training session, a calm came over me and the nerves left. Just the sense of knowing the work was over and soon the fun would begin. And as my sole sister said, I would “sparkle and smile every mile.”
The day before the race I got all my gear together. Everything I could potentially need for running in circles for hours. Extra clothes, safety pins, bandaids, sunscreen, sunglasses, extra hat, glide, hair ties, etc. And food. Snacks and gels and heed and tailwind.
And race morning, with the car packed with a tent, chairs, and enough to fuel a small country for a week, my hunny drove me to Wakefield.
Check-in was easy. I got my stuff and headed to setup. Just outside of the tent village, and right along the route.
The magic of a small race is that there is lots of room to spread out. 🙂 We set up and waited for my sole sister, who was going to “sherpa” for me for the day. And when she showed up I had “edge of tears” moment number one. Because my girl got me balloons. Purple (super)star balloons. And the coolest ultra race sign ever. 🙂
The start line was, as the race director stated, very “high-tech”. A freshly drawn chalk line. 🙂 Lori and Kevin watched me start the “add-on loop” (designed so loop 8 will end as a marathon split) and then waved and cheered as i passed the tent on the first full 5k loop.
I ended loop 1 (at a decent and easy pace), jogged to the tent, kissed Kevin, and continued on.
Loops 2-4? Pretty much all the same. Hit the 2nd mile marker, think “look kids, big ben, parliament”, laugh, and keep going. In between laps was a quick stop at the tent for fuel (either gel or heed) and chatting with other runners on the way. Making sure to encourage the 24-hour runners, some of whom really looked like they needed it. (Side note – as someone who hadn’t planned to do even the full 12 hours this year, I cannot imagine the amazing that it takes to go 24 hours. Aaron, dude, you are a rockstar!)
Lap 5 things got a little tougher. We’ll call this the “wall” lap. I was at about 14.5 miles in and wanting a walk-break. I willed myself to mile 15 and then walked 1/4 mile while drinking. And then simply slowed my run pace and finished the lap.
And now…the run/walk strategy began. Walking the first mile to eat & drink and then slowly running the rest of the loop.
And lap 6? Felt amazing. Way better than lap 5. And lap 7? Great too.
Lap 8 was the marathon lap. I checked in with Lori, told her to let me finish the marathon alone, and then join me in ultra-land.
And again, the run/walk strategy. And I crossed the marathon split in 5:01:25.
Gotta say I’m quite pleased with that. Its faster than Disney and two of my Bostons. And I wasn’t even trying for a marathon time. 🙂
So I hit the tent, and there was Lori. With a 50k sticker. My goal. A visual reminder. That in less than two laps i’d be there. So we walked a mile, and ran the rest. And this loop, when I spotted the 50k mark drawn in the road, I pointed at it and said “next lap, you’re mine”. 🙂
As we approached the start/finish Lori ran ahead to fetch me fruit snacks (I faithfully consumed something every lap!) and I grabbed more water from the aid table.
We walked the first mile and ran to the marker. And took pictures. And I bent down, kissed my fingers, and touched the sign. There, was “edge of tears” moment 2.
Now, i treated myself to a littke extra walking. Grabbed a water and then walked to mile marker 2. By the pretty blue house. And then started running. And looked at Lori, mystified, when my watch beeped mile 32. I said “i just did 32 miles. How am i still running?” She replied “because you’re ultra girl”
When I hit the mat at the end of the loop, I knew I wanted to walk one more. To cool down and take pictures and just soak it all in. I texted Kevin that i was almost done and to head up.
And much to my delight and surprise, when I rounded the corner, there he was with Gus! (Edge of tears moment 3). I petted my dog, gave Kevin a kiss, and went to take my victory lap.
And at the end, I approached my tent with a “honey i’m home!” Which amused some of my fellow runners, and settled in with my medal, a beer and a smile.
So amazing…and i’m already looking forward to next year. See ya at the lake!