My first ultra is under my belt and it was a success. My first goal was to finish - accomplished. My second goal was to complete it comfortably - accomplished. My third and final goal was to run it in under 5 hours - accomplished, thanks to a shortened course (chuckle, chuckle).
Overall, it was a great experience. The day started off rather dreary. It was cold and damp, having lightly rained all night long. Then there was confusion at the start. For the first time in about 16 years they decided to alter the starting point, and the course volunteers were unsure where we were supposed to gather to get this party started. Once that was settled, we got off to a bit of a late start, but we were all quite glad to get moving and warm up.
I felt really good and smooth throughout the first lap, running all of the hills, which I later regretted. The second lap was a strong effort as well, but I got smarter this time and walked a few of the big hills to conserve energy. When I came through the start/finish checkpoint after lap 2 I received a big shock. The clock showed 2:09:00 (sub 9:00 pace)!! Whoa!! I wasn't supposed to be in until about 2:25:00. OOPS!! That would come to haunt me soon as well.
Lap 3 made me pay for my mistakes thus far and I started to bonk. Fortunately, I had brought along four 8 oz. bottles of my homemade electrolyte, which helped me a bit. I also was not aware until just before the race that there was a drop/staging area where you could put extra personal support items. Had I known this, I definitely would have packed myself some extra goodies. In addition, I was expecting more food and drink at the aid stations than was provided. I was later informed during lap 4 that this was because of the 25k and relay runners whom they did not want to worry about taking up the "good stuff". So, lap 3 I really struggled to keep moving and I could tell I was fading fast. I needed some calories badly. To my credit, I didn't panic and kept running when I could and drank extra sports drink at the aid stations, hoping the "good stuff" would be out on lap 4.
Lap 4 was the beginning of my comeback and eventual strong finish. First off, psychologically is was great to have the 25k'rs and relay runners off the course. It just got too crowded with all of us on the course at the same time, especially in the sections with 2-way traffic. Again, like lap 3, I just kept moving when I could and focused on making it to aid station 1. When I got there, I was overjoyed to see Coke, pretzels, and Cliff Bars in abundance and ready for us to consume. Needless to say, I pounded down several Cokes, ate 1 Cliff Bar, and a handful of pretzels. Within minutes it hit my bloodstream and I was off like a rocket. Except for a couple of really big hills, I ran strong and steady the rest of the way and finished feeling great in 4:54:00+ and 31st overall. If only I hadn't bonked!! Oh well, I had fun, finished, and learned a lot, and that's what this first race was all about.
Other things to note about today. I got to meet Steve Quick and chat with him briefly. How cool! Congrats to Steve as well for redeeming himself for last week's disappointing run by winning the overall male category! Well done, Mr. Quick!! Unfortunately, I didn't get to meet too many other people, such as Kel and Keith. I did see Carl Gammon in attendance though. Oh, did I mention the course was muddy? Very muddy, but yet fun to splash around in and get nice and dirty. It was a great joy to finally get some miles in on some trails as well. My body definitely noticed the difference. Thanks to everyone who volunteered at the Trail Mix and made it an enjoyable experience. Time to rest up and get back to training on Monday. Next up is the Ice Age Trail 50-miler that I will run with my brother. He put in a great 35-mile training run on the course today, so it looks like he'll be good to go. Should be great fun!!