2013 Eastern Divide Ultra 50k
It’s now been over a week since I (slowly) completed my first ultra marathon. It actually took longer to get over an annoying post-race upper respiratory infection than to get over the post-race muscle soreness. I feel great at this point, but I am still scheduled for another few days of rest to insure complete recovery before jumping back into fall marathon training.
I really am amazed and proud of what I accomplished. I uploaded my Garmin earlier this week and all I could do was stare in awe at the course map in front of me. 30 miles of dirt, rock, mountain, fire road, single-track and goat trail. I did that…I DID that!!! I decided months ago that I was doing this race, running farther than I ever had before, on more challenging terrain than I’d ever done before, and now I can say that I actually did it!
Jacque was also racing her first Ultra, and I was SO happy to have her encouraging support throughout training and on race morning. We only ran together for a few miles, but having someone familiar to hang out with that morning probably kept both our nerves under control and the negative thoughts out of our heads. I also cannot give enough thanks to our wonderful significant others! Hugh and Memo allowed us to drag them into middle-of-nowhere-Virginia where they patiently waited at the finished while we ran for almost 7 hours through the wilderness. What great guys!
For the first 4 miles of the race, the only feeling I had was “pure joy”. We skipped along boulders right on the river’s edge and soon made it to the beautiful Cascades waterfall. Absolutely amazing!!
At mile 4, we stepped off the single-track and onto fire road. Some of it was your typical gravel fire road, but other sections were filled with technical, gnarly, rocky ups and downs that could only be traveled in an ATV. I was basically out there by myself, only occasionally catching a glimpse of a runner way in the distance. The peaceful quiet of the mountain forest put my mind at ease. One foot in front of the other…one foot in front of the other…that’s all this is.
We ran on fire road until mile 22 where we stepped back onto single track of the Mountain Lake Resort. Yeah. Try asking tired legs for balance and precise muscle coordination that single track requires…I’m amazed I didn’t bust my tail! I passed an absolutely spectacular view around mile 25 a hundred or so yards off the trail. If nothing else, this view made the whole trip worth it!
Leading up to this race, I tried to imagine how I would feel running farther than I’d ever attempted before. How bad would this hurt? How soon would I hit the wall? Truth is, I never actually reached that dark place. I never even noticed when my Garmin ticked past 26.2, the threshold separating the “known” from the “unknown” in my personal running experience. I was feeling the miles, sure, but I was still running as I crossed the finish line and still had a smile on my face! Hugh can tell you, I was in a happy, bouncy state of disbelief when I crossed the finish line. 50k!! ULTRA marathon!
I wasn’t running with any kind of time or goal in mind, but I ended up finishing in 6:49:02 which I was ecstatic about! I had a smart, solid run over difficult terrain and could not be more proud of how I did!
The feeling of accomplishment is hard to describe. I guess that’s what I love about running. You set your mind to something, you train for it, you do it. But as runners we never seem to be satisfied with just once. We’ve hit a milestone, and immediately we start thinking of the next one. The urge to do it all again…perhaps faster, or even longer…has been constantly ticking through my mind. Who knows, maybe there’s another Ultra in my future! Still chasing….
...Oh, and I just noticed....one of my bucket list items, DONE! :)