Sunday, January 04, 2009

Those Ultras are Hard


I ran the Carrboro 50K yesterday and I've got a whole new level of respect and awe for ultra runners. That was one tough run. The Carrboro 50K is held in the spirit of Fat Ass events so there wasn't a registration, no bib number, and the aid station stuff was donations. Also the folks were super friendly.

So I pulled up to the start, thinking I'd get in a 4 hour training run and if things felt good keep going as long as I felt. The course was setup perfect for that strategy since it was a figure 8 w/ 2 big loops and the aid station at the intersection of the 8. This was also the location for the drop bags. It looked like there were about 30-40 runners milling around, there was food, coffee, and even a fire pit to keep us warm. I was nervous, but saw a couple of fellow Carolina Godiva running club members and that settle me a bit.

So off we went. I think it was about 35 degrees at the start, so it was a bit chilly but warmed up to the 50's later in the day. The course winds through Carolina Forest. The trails are basically small hills on single track with lots of roots, a bit mud and small rocks to trip you up. I saw a couple of folks around me go down, but they jumped back up quickly. I stumbled more times then I could count, but I think I was going so slow I was able to prevent falling.

I got through the first 2 loops and had around 20 miles in at 4 hours. I was taking it slow and steady, but man it was difficult to maintain even 12 min miles. I've got to lose some weight for sure, I felt it on those hills. But I digress. So after the 20 miles were up, I figure what the heck do another half of the "8" and see how I feel. The hosts at the aid stations were so cool, one lady even filled my water bottle for me. So I was topped off and decided to head back out. At this point it boiled down to just keep running, no matter how slow. We started at 9AM and it was getting close to 4PM when I was finishing. That was playing mind tricks on me, thinking I've been out running for most of the day.

I finally finished. There were 7 runners that did the whole enchilada and I came in next to last. Since I didn't see anybody else out on the trail, I was getting worried that the aid station was being left open just for me. I mean they'd been out there all day cheering for us and taking care of us, so I was feeling kinda guilty for being so slow.

According to my Garmin Forerunner 305 (thanks for the cool Christmas gift Lisa), it took me 6:21 to finish, that's 12:29 pacing. Its weird cause I actually ran the whole way, but it was slow going. I know this sounds like a little whining, but that single track, the roots and at least according to my Garmin, the total ascent of 12K feet, added up to some slow running.

All in all, it was a very cool experience. Running past 4 hours became almost trance-like. I felt like my breathing wasn't taxed much at all, and to some degree the pain in my legs and feet went to a semi-numbness. Then for maybe the last 2-3 miles a strange euphoria kicked in and I felt really good. After I finished, a nice lady served me up some Recoverite, a serving of some awesome vegetarian black bean chili at the finish, I was given a nice Nathan hand-held water bottle holder, and then to top it all off, Frankie Beverly and Maze was on the radio when I was leaving the parking lot.

My legs hurt, my feet hurt, I've got a blister on one of my toes, but I've gotta admit it feels real good that now I've completed an ultra.

Peace,
Rob

8 comments:

Lloyd said...

welcome to the other side. congratulations!

Laura said...

Hey- I was the last to finish. The run was great fun and our hosts were terrific! Glad you enjoyed the event. Hope to see you again!

rob said...

Lloyd, thanks bro. I got geeked about these ultra things after hearing about your adventures. I think running a 100K would be orders of magnitude harder than ironman, it just felt like that after finishing a 50K.

Hi Laura, it was great seeing you out there. Congrats on finishing. That was a really good day. Looking forward to doing it next year.

Dr. Marc and Tanya said...

Rob,
You are no longer an Ultra Virgin!!It's amasing how terrain and a few extra miles add up to more time on the feet. Isn't the Ultra atmosphere and the people great! I love the family feel. Way to go! and see ya on the trails!
Marc

Donald said...

Congrats! That's crazy stuff though.. I think I would have trouble churning out a 5k right now. Hope all is well. Happy New Year!

Pam said...

WOW! congrats!

Pamela Ann said...

I have not yet crossed over, but I'm looking forward to it. Congrats! Are you ready for more?

rob said...

Dr Marc-Thx man. I'm looking forward to the next one.
D-Happy New Year to you to bro. Hopefully this running will keep a couple of lbs off so hopefully I won't have to walk up Snake Mtn.
P-I'm looking fwd to reading about more of your adventure in the '09.
Pamela Ann-I'm sure I'll be reading an ultra report soon.