That is what I thought about last weekend at the Lakefront 50 miler. One step at a time, one brick at a time until I finished.
The race started at 6:30am. With the customary pledge before every race repeated by all the runners this day.
"There is no place we rather be, than be with you here today"
We were off. The plan like most of my Ultras is just to run as I feel and see how it goes. It actually started off as a nice day. The race was 4 loops of 12.5 miles and all paved with some soft running path to ease the feet a little bit.
The first loop was going pretty well. Felt pretty good the 1st 10k and even negative split the second part of the 1st loop and ended up coming in at 2 hrs. So maybe I thought I could run a PR today. But the day just begun so anything could happen.
The second loop went pretty good as well. Running a little slower because I knew I still had long way to go, but with the second loop finished I clocked in with a 4:07 time for 25 miles. Hmm maybe an 8:30 finishing time was a possibility.
Then on the 3rd loop, the drama began. I knew it would, because I seem to usually start bonking mentally and physically around 30 miles into an Ultra Marathon. I was running a little slower and walking a little more. My ankles and feet were hurting a little more from all the "Bricks" I have logged under my feet so far.
Around mile 32 I started to pick it up a little bit and was experiencing no cramping at all, but was getting a little bit sleepy out there. I could have stopped and taken a nap along the race course, for sure. So I needed to wake up so I took a chance and ate some Oreo cookies to get more calories in me. I usually stick to what I know concerning nutrition, but I took a chance. The cookies actually made me feel better, than at the next aid station I ate more of them. My pace was consistent but I also started to feel more ankle pain from all the hard pounding.
But I was able to move along and finally finished the 3rd loop, albeit a little slower. One more to go, WooHoo, I just wanted to get to the 10k turnaround and I knew I would be okay. The temps seemed to drop and winds seemed to get stronger with 12.5 miles to go. I was getting cold and more tired and not having a good time out there.
"Where the hell is that final turnaround???" I kept asking myself. With another 10 more miles to go it could not come soon enough, because I was getting a little beat down.
Then at last, the turnaround, another 10k to go. I tried running a little more and just focus on my steps ahead. The headwind became a little bit of a tailwind now so it made the journey back a little bit easier.
One aid station at a time: 3 left, then 2, then 1 left. One more mile to go, I tried picking up the pace a little more. With not to far to go, I actually got a little choked up, just thinking this would be my last ultra for the year and the journey I have been through so far.
I sprinted in and finished in 9 hours and 13 minutes. 14 minutes off my PR from last year. But I will take it, even though I thought I could maybe finish in at 8:30, then my thoughts were maybe 8:45, then just get me under 9 hours, then I finally realized it did not matter what time it was as long it had a finishing time next to it. I did come in 29Th out 76 people who actually finished. There was another 20+ runners who DNF'ed of DNS'ed so a good day in my book.
I was glad it was over. The aftermath was a bit painful thou, my feet and ankles were in pain and a bit swollen and could not really sleep for two days. But like anything else, I feel active recovery works best for me after my Ultra races.
So with a 6 mile trail run 3 days after the race. I will take it a bit easy and look forward to the 2009 race schedule. For now, I'm going to run a little during the winter so I can watch the leaves fall to the ground for now.
Gotta luv those fall weather trail runs!