All About Angela

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Pullman Winter Ultra 50k Recap

I am now an official "ultra runner". It's hard to believe that I ran over 31 miles....until I have to move and then it's a painful reality. In all honesty....I did not train sufficiently for this distance. I have not ran over 20 miles in 2 months (since my last marathon in early October). While I have been running more than ever before, the long runs have been insufficient.

This was an unsupported "Fat Ass" event....that means there were no aid stations, road closures or volunteers. I felt this would be an amazing training experience. The course was one 7.75 mile loop that was ran four times in order to reach 50k.

We arrived in Pullman (three hours from home) around 6 PM on the night before the race. Something about these short drives exhaust me. After a couple beers, we ended up inhaling sushi takeout in the hotel and calling it an early night.

Breakfast before the run consisted of two chocolate poptarts sandwiched together with almond butter. One might question this choice but I swear it's the best race fuel. Additionally, I had 3 scoops of Amino Energy mixed with 10 - 12 ounces of water.

Ready....I think
When we arrived at the starting point, the RD warned us that it was slick. Thanks to freezing fog, everything was coated in a thin layer of black ice. Yes....I could have worn any of the traction devices that I have BUT the amount of ice was not enough to really dig into. I knew that the temperatures were going to rise enough for the ice to melt. While ice spikes would have prevented a fall, they would have been extremely painful to wear on bare pavement.

Starting was almost comical. Running was impossible. Everyone was taking these baby steps and sliding all over the place. Any hope of reaching a certain time vanished. The course was a paved running loop that went around town. Some sections had a narrow grass shoulder that I ran on whenever possible in order to avoid the ice. When there was the option of running on the road, I took that because there was gravel to provide traction. Each loop had an elevation gain of approximately 400 feet. On a normal day, that would be insignificant. makes hills quite terrifying! I called the first loop my dance with death. The extra work of stabilizing myself on ice definitely caused additional muscle fatigue. It seems like you're working twice as hard for each slow mile.

Jeff was there at the end of the second loop. He had all my provisions including chocolate and soda. Running long distances has taught me that whatever causes a nutritionist to grimace will be your best friend. I tried pouring soda into a small bottle to sip on for the third loop. That was a stupid idea! About 1/4 mile into the third loop, the bottle exploded and I was covered in sticky brown liquid. I was in good spirits and finally able to run on the path with full confidence. The final two miles of the third loop was when I started to hurt.

I fully intended for Yoshi to run the fourth loop with me. I knew that he would have a blast and I figured that he would provide comfort (companionship) when I needed it the most. However...he became an unwelcome distraction. Things that normally don't bug me (like him wanting to meet other dogs) were driving me insane and causing me to snap at him. About two miles in to that loop, I looked up and saw Jeff standing at an intersection. He was there to cheer me on. He walked with me for about 1/2 mile and I told him that I couldn't take Yoshi any further. He was there when I hit the marathon distance. I began to cry because I could not fathom five more miles. He encouraged me and told me just to walk when I had to but run when I could. I ran (hobbled) away from him with a determination that I was going to finish. I walked about 40 percent of that final loop. It's now become a blur. I know those final miles felt like they took forever. I watched recreational runners jaunt past me and resented how fresh that they looked. I wanted to yell at them. I wanted to tell them how far that I had gone. I wanted to justify my turtle pace and the pained look on my face. I wanted them to know that I wasn't some out-of-shape couch potato.

Back at the hotel, I immediately hopped in a hot bath and demanded that Jeff bring me a PBR. My recovery meal was a plate of Carne Asada + two GIANT strong margaritas. I'm super proud of this accomplishment and excited for my next 50k, which promises to be MUCH harder given that it's a trail race with an overall elevation gain of 5200 feet.

*I forgot to mention that only five people finished the 50k - all within forty minutes of each other. I was the only female (that means I won my gender division haha). I was technically last but I am not phased too much by this being that the final three of us finished within five minutes of each other.