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Learn : Ultramarathon Story  

Running Background:

marathon photoI consider myself a beginner runner and I primarily run because it's fun. I decided to run an ultramarathon because I wanted to see if I could complete 50 miles and feel good at the end. Mission accomplished.

Training:

My training started by building my base with lots of hiking on trails in Colorado, over the last two summers. A typical week was 25-35 miles of hiking with an average of 6-10,000 vertical feet of elevation gain. Then I kind of caught the running bug again, after reading a couple of good books on ultras. In July, I began adding running miles, peaking at about 35-45 miles per week total. I think a solid base of hiking and skiing in the winter allowed me to ramp up quickly, without injury.

The best training advice I received was to treat the source of an injury, not the symptom.

Race Day:

The 2007 Lean Horse 50 Mile Ultramarathon was better than expected. I woke up at 4:00 am, after a reasonably good night's sleep (5 hours). The morning was foggy and still dark until right at the start. The fog was surreal during the first hour or so. Really magical. The first 16 miles was hillier than I expected. In retrospect, I think this was a good thing. Training in the mountains of Colorado, I really only know hills. It would have been harder for me to run the flats for hours on end. The hills tell you when to walk, or run. Miles 17-25 were on the rails to trails path known as The Mickelson Trail. Great running surface, smooth and wide. At mile 25, I turned around to repeat the first stretch.

I ran pretty well most of the day. I realized at around mile 42 that I wasn't eating enough solid food. This started to affect my stomach, making it even harder to eat food when I really needed it. At about mile 45, I came very close to throwing up. But, nothing came. It made me feel better, though. Then, I had some Mt. Dew (one of my vices) and felt a great little surge. It got me to the end!

One of the hardest parts was watching the clock. My primary goal was to finish. I knew I could go the distance. My secondary goal was to finish before the cutoff of 12 hours. I made it by 15 minutes, in dead last for the 50 milers. There were many others who finished after me, in spite of missing the official cutoff. I was very happy to have made that cutoff, even if I was DFL (Dead F*@ing Last)!

One of the best experiences was seeing my wife and my 3 year old daughter at many of the aid stations. My daughter would run out smiling to meet me, and jump in my arms. Awesome!

Recovery:

My recovery wasn't too bad. I did some light walking that evening and the next few days. I ended up icing a swollen foot, which didn't start until the next day.

Running Gear Recommendations:

Montrail Hardrock Shoes
Extra motion control to help alleviate any IT band problems.
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Insoles
Custom-made insoles from my physical therapist. I had pain in my IT band 2 weeks prior. But, because of his efforts, I ran 50 miles without any pain at all.
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Nathan HPL #020 2.0 Liter Race Vest
My hydration source.
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Tips/Words of Encouragement:

You don't have to run fast to finish. I would estimate that I walked 30% of the course, mixed in with running. I could have gone faster, but was looking for a good recovery and no ongoing soreness, or injury. One entrant walked the entire 100 mile course in around 28 hours.

Plans to Run Another:

I'm planning to run more ultramarathons. I'll run the Heartland 100 in mid October, 2007. Why? To see if I can.

For my next ultramarathon, I'll eat more solid food, eat earlier, and eat at every aid station.

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