from mile to marathon

The journey of a thousand leagues begins from beneath your feet.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

the ultra-runner

They say that once you run a marathon, even if it is your last, you are a marathon runner. Always will be.

Somehow this does not seem to apply to ultras. Ultra-runners are hardcore. They run ten miles in the morning that way I brush my teeth. Their weekly mileage is that of a different species. They have run at the very least a 50-miler or two, and they plan for the next half a dozen or so.

I do not feel that simply putting 50 km behind me one sunny day in Utah qualifies. I am not an ultra-runner. I am a marathon runner who has run an ultra.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

i am going to

I don't know what possessed me or how I got myself into this, but I am going to run an ultra. Okay, so it's the tiniest ultra one can find, a 50K, but half of the time I am scared - I can barely finish 26 miles, what made me think 31 is no big deal?

To make things just a bit worse, I have not trained properly - not more than for a marathon, in any case. I got sick at the end of September, a cold, fever, sore throat, the usual. I prescribed myself lots of vitamin C and bedrest, and I managed to get rid of the fever and to put in some mandatory long runs, the biggest one a 20-miler. But I have not increased my weekly mileage a bit, and I have not completely outrun the illness.

Otherwise, I am excited - I am going to run an ultra, I am going to run an ultra. Okay, so technically I am not going to run this thing. I am going to run, walk, crawl, whatever it takes.

What it takes, I decided in the end, is fueling. I cannot do 50K on empty, as I did a couple of marathons, and I am so tired of getting queasy with gels and such, I switched over to real food. The New Mexican breakfst burrito with green chile. A little bit at a time. Each bite during walking breaks. Slow. Steady. The race has a nine hour cutoff. Plenty of time.

It's the Goblin Valley ultra-marathon in Utah, October 23rd.

I am going to run an ultra.

Friday, October 01, 2010

american discovery trail marathon

September 6. It was more a dirt road than a trail course, more flat than downhill. The trails, as few as they were, went up and down and up and down again, but I did not mind since they came with shade. It was a hot day.

Thinking this would be serious trail business, I had made up my mind beforehand to take my time and not care about pace. So when the heat became too much I just walked. I walked a lot. To my surprise, I still came in under five hours, which is fast for me.

What was even more of a surprise is how good I felt. The sun bothered me, but otherwise I was fresh almost until the very end. Fueling did not give me trouble (it's true I did not eat much). I never hit the wall. Only the last mile became truly difficult. I wanted to walk again, but I felt weird about walking so close to the finish, as if I would let someone down, although no person would have cared. So I pushed on, and it was hard. When I entered the final loop I was slightly nauseted, dizzy, hot and cold at the same time, and just shy of a heat stroke, or so I thought.

I poured the bottle of iced water someone handed to me at the finish all over my face, and in two minutes I was whole again. That afternoon we drove five hours round trip to the Sand Creek Massacre site, only to arrive there 11 minutes after it closed. On the way back, holding the car steadily at 15 miles over the speed limit, very decently I thought, I got my first speeding ticket.

Yet it was a fun day, after all.