My first ultra marathon.
Wikipedia states that, an ultramarathon (also called ultra distance) is any sporting event involving running and walking longer than the traditional marathon length of 42.195 kilometres (26.219 mi).
I picked my first ultra distance, as the ‘SMALLEST ULTRA’. A distance of 50Kms, or 31.25 miles. Really not much, if you have completed a marathon, but when most of the minds shut down after 20 miles of running, and you only need to push for another 6.2 miles, the 50K calls for another 11.25 miles of running. Added to it, the obstacles of hills, elevation, and rugged terrain.
I signed up with CoastalTrailRuns, who organize trail races, across the bay area, by the California coast.
Coming to the course description, this is what the 50K looked like:
Elevation gain – 6320 ft
Single Track – 42%
Dirt Road – 44%
Asphalt – 14%
I would say this was my first event, where I wasn’t feeling any butterflies in my stomach. I infact slept well for two nights. I was not at all thinking or looking at the course. Rather, for the entire week I was actually logging 40 miles per day on my bike, and 5-6 miles on the run on alternate days. Remained calm and composed, I would say.
A night before, I had set up my bag with all the things I would need, like- extra clothing, running clothes, body glide, and some gels, and water bottle.
The start time was 8 am in the morning, so I left home around 5:45, enough time to reach Marine headlands. Whether I enjoy the workout in SF or not, but driving their early morning is always fun :).
Reaching Rodeo beach, the parking was around a mile away from the start point, so we got a shuttle drop to the location. The weather was cloudy, and quite cold, that I had to wear layers. I was expecting the weather to warm up, and so I wore a make shift arm warmer, made out of cutting the closed end of used woollen socks :). They serve the best, and just incase you want to get rid of them you can trash them.
Reaching the registration tent, around 50 mins prior to the start of the race, gave me enough time to move around, sink with the weather, use the bathroom, and call my parents as I had nothing else to do during that time.
The race start was right on time. The course starts with an elevation gain of 800 ft. Without letting my running emotions get over me, I kept my nerves, and started slow, even walking the steep sections. Being my first ultra, I thought I will pace myself on my own, and as I feel good.
After the steep section, I started to pick up a little pace. My running form was – smaller steps, quick rotation. This always helps me get into a rhythm and I eventually start passing people on the way.
The first food-aid station was at mile 4, just ate a 1/4 PBJ, some M&Ms, and nuts to keep me going. Beyond this, at every aid station, I consumed a salt capsule, and PBJ with some table salt. And consumed 20 oz of electrolytes every 4 miles. And I never cramped throughout the run.
The course was amazingly beautiful, incredible views
It was awesomely windy, and cold.
As much as I loved going uphill, the downhills were quite demanding. The rugged terrain, had lot of gravel and stones, which need focus and patience while coming down. By the end of 30K, the downhills had almost taken a toll on my quads.
This is me at the 30K aid stop, stretching before starting on a half marathon :).
I piggybacked on a runner for the second part for a good 2 miles, she was doing her marathon. And this helped me with some company and pace.
After the 36th km aid stop, I almost walked the 2 mile climb, which had a grade of +10%.
Once the 2 mile climb was over, I picked up the running pace, and enjoyed the muddy trail –
You can see from the picture above, how foggy it was in the woods. Looks like it had a good rainfall.
The last stretch was either downhill, or flat. And let me say, after running a big distance, your quads will not like you running downhill.
As the finish was getting closer, the happy emotions were setting in. If you would have asked me how was I feeling, the honest reply I had was ‘I AM JUST FEELING HAPPY’.
This is me crossing the finish line. Finish time was over 6 hrs, but now when I look back at the whole course and my run, I definitely can get the same course done in under 6 hrs. Even, 5hrs 30 mins won’t be an overstatement.
Strava link- http://app.strava.com/activities/67162287
Feels good to own this –