canlake50

FINISHED! On Saturday, October 12, 2013, at six o'clock in the morning, I set off with a group of 27 runners, cutting a path around Canandaigua Lake 50 miles long. The first hour was pitch dark, the first thirty miles, a piece of cake. By 35, I wished I was somewhere else, and by 46, I became convinced that my vital organs were shutting down. Still, I ran. I ran the bulk of the race, walking only up hills and stopping for a couple minutes at each of the eight aid stations. Mom, Dad, and Boyfriend met me at four of those; seeing their faces and their arms waving as I crested each hill was like a magic elixir to my fortitude.

There came a point in each marathon I have run when I seriously considered dropping out at the halfway mark or a little bit after. That never happened at Canandaigua. I never once feared that I would not finish or tried to convince myself to quit. Every climb (and there were many) just promised another gorgeous view. Every ache in my legs, my hips, my back just urged me on. Move faster, finish sooner, I told myself, and it worked. I crossed the finish line in 9 hours and 41 minutes–9th place out of 27 women, and 46th in a field of 100. 

Thanks to everyone who supported me in this crazy endeavor. It was painful and ugly and hard, but those nine hours (and change) were some of the best of my life. And runners, if you can run a marathon, you can run an ultra. Trust me. 

Photos, from left: mile 23, mile 38, finish line.

Running things.
  • Ultramarathon training is ticking along, in case you were wondering. I’m about a week behind schedule with a 20-miler planned for this Saturday and 17 miles behind me (completed two Saturdays ago from East Hampton to Bridge and back again; Stephen Hands Path is an awesome running road, by the way). 
  • I had no gel on that last long run but needed more than water to survive it. Thank God for Starbucks’ Refreshers! Filled a water bottle with the hibiscus tea, and the combo of sugar and caffeine got me through the last 9 miles with energy to spare.
  • It is not easy to train my body to run slower than normal. Right now, I’m finishing mid-distance runs at about 7:45 minutes per mile, but on race day, must tone it down to at least 10 minutes per. To ease the transition, I take 2-minute walk breaks every 13. Not only does this practice break the run into easily-manageable quarter-hour chunks, but it forces me to slow down, breathe, and reset my pace.
  • Yoga is saving my life. Whether it follows a short run or precedes a longer one, a 60-minute Vinyasa class does wonders for my strength, stamina, breathing, everything. I know the practice isn’t for everyone, but if like me, you need another activity to augment your training plan, go with the flow.
  • Kate convinced me to run the New York City Marathon with her to raise money for CampInteractive so now, three weeks after 50, I get to go for another 26.2. Insanity!! 
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Opening scene from Chariots of Fire.

T-minus 42 hours till the ultramarathon gun goes off!