Sure, it had something to do with Trey being gone. Airfare expenses for our family need to be for him to come here and see the kids, not to some out of state 50 marathon effort.
Yeah, it had something to do with the “food holidays” too. I avoided my typical 5 pound gain with the volume in miles this training effort required.
Mostly though? God put this on my heart because He wanted to teach me through it…and He did.
|Photo credit: Timothy Hale
Lesson 1: Break large goals into manageable pieces
The course was fourteen 4.5 mile loops. I know the photo above is somewhere in the first 4.5 miles (because I took the vest off after that), but if you’d have asked me that day I’d have said loop 1. I can wrap my head around 14 laps. 62 miles? No way- too big.
You know what they say- how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!
Lesson 2: Run your own race
Our Fayetteville Running Club President David would have likely come out anyway to support and even though he only committed to one loop, he accompanied me on my 3rd, 5th, and 7th loop. He even went to my van to retrieve my favorite lipgloss.
Side note: that was an emergency. I put what I thought was a full tube of lipgloss in my pocket prior to the race and – tragedy of tragedies- realized somewhere single digit miles in that it only had a few applications left! The horror! Asking a man in his late 40s to “go to the minivan and find the bright pink bag with the sparkly pink tube of gloss inside” was a bit emasculating, but he did it!
|Photo Credit: Timothy Hale
|A pacer is a good idea for something like this because it’s their job to go YOUR pace. Finding a friend on course? Look, I’ve done it before in an ultra but I don’t recommend it. Why? You need to listen to your own body. The whole “run with friends” thing is great in theory but consider the fact that someone is pushing themselves harder than they should. I know there’s a performance case to be made for it, but if you are about survival and simply crossing the finish line (as I was), I say run your own race.
Lesson 3: Focus on what you can control
It was for this reason I didn’t post to any of my social media accounts. My little ZYIA Active business is booming and blessedly has over 5000 connections on Instagram. I made a conscious decision to remove any external pressures about finishing, which included posting to social media. I make a lot of stupid decisions daily, but I’m proud of this one. In addition to external pressures, the list of things I was able to control was short:
1. My attitude
I prayed a lot. I believe in a sovereign God who already orchestrated the result of this race. Let me be clear: the power over the outcome or my attitude did not come from within me. Girl, I don’t need to wash my face.
I prayed for calm when I tripped (twice) over a root. I asked God for clarity when I needed to decide whether to walk latter miles in pitch dark with only a headlamp available. I prayed for strength when I felt low.
I didn’t look at my watch until I was 30 miles in. I wanted a good cushion of mileage under my legs and to listen to my body until that point. What was my pace? Don’t know. What mile was I on? Didn’t care. This was another conscious choice that affected my attitude.
2. My nutrition
Digestion is a delicate piece when your effort extends past the 8-10 hour mark like this. I knew from previous 50 Milers that I’d need to get in whole foods (quick burning carbohydrates- I love me some Mark Sission but I am not a fat adapted athlete!) in early and often to sustain me calorically in the later miles when I could no longer digest. This race was over the top in terms of what they provided both at the halfway point in the loop as well as drop bag area. I honestly didn’t use any of the fuel I packed other than my Red H favorites (Go Juice, Formula H) I had been training with.
As someone who typically fasts until noon, I waited about 2 hours before putting anything in my body other than caffeine. Was this a gamble? For sure. I had tested the theory on a couple of other marathon race days though and my instinct was correct. Did I take in a lot of ginger ale around laps 10-12? Yep. Was it minimal discomfort for a 12 hour effort? Yep.
3. What I wore
I mean, you knew I was going here. The Chill Long Sleeve was perfect for what ended up being a late 40s/early 50s day with a bit of sporadic light showers. It’s breathable, comfy, and dries quickly.
There was a happy ending to my limited release (now gone) pink pants saga when another ZYIA Active rep sold her size sample to me, which alleviated any anxiety on course. It was important to me to wear something that made me feel powerful and, as silly as it sounds, these were the leggings I pictured wearing when I signed up for the race.
I can’t say enough great things about the All Star Bra for running. Click here to see in app photos of my braline and underarms after 62 miles with no BodyGlide or Vaseline. Honestly, I was so concerned about my feet I forgot (remember? Stupid daily decisions!) and since there was no discomfort, it never occurred to me to apply mid-race.
Things I could not control on race day: weather, trail conditions. About 10 days out, it looked like we’d be running through downpours. Looked a little better a week out with only 70% chance of rain all day, and finally race eve we knew we’d only have a few light, quick showers.
The problem with that? Trail conditions. It was not as muddy as I anticipated but there were definitely some wet spots that made a typically dry course boast “water crossings” on race day. My friends in the Pacific Northwest taught me this fact: there’s no bad weather- just bad gear. I was prepared even though I didn’t need extra shoes, socks, or yak trax.
Here’s the coolest part, y’all: I crossed the line in 12:40 and came in 2nd female overall. I was blessed to share some miles with the winner, Amanda, and she was kind enough to share early advice with me. She’s a very talented veteran runner with many ultras (to include 100 milers!) under her belt and I’m thrilled for her victory.
Speaking of victories, this was one for me as well. It’s the farthest distance I’ve ever raced and I had fun out there. Sure, I can barely walk now but I mean it- it was fun. Giving God all of the glory for a great race and the lessons learned.