Running my first Ultra just kind of happened. Of course I had to train for it, but the opportunity kind of just worked out. I was already training for the Ottawa Race Weekend Marathon end of May, so when the talk of doing the Niagara 50K came up, it seemed doable! The 50K would be 3 weeks after the Ottawa Marathon, the plan we were using suggested getting TWO 42.2km training runs in prior to the 50K. Okay, sign me up!
My running friends who started it all had enlisted approximately 17 other runners. They put a Facebook group together and started sharing their training plans with the group. The highlight for me was joining them often on a Saturday longer run. My coach had already started me on the double long run idea for my weekends, Saturday being the shorter of the two. The idea was learning to run with tired legs. It was nice to have others to run with again.
Training through the Winter for 2 big goal races sure helps get you out the door on some miserable, cold, Winter days! Overall training went well, but I seemed plagued with lower leg issues throughout the fall/winter training. By April/May I didn’t know if it was even possible to get through the marathon, let alone the Ultra. I was doing everything I could to get relief. I had chiropractic care, acupuncture, massage, graston technique and dry needling. It helped, but it didn’t 100% get me pain-free. I started making “deals” with myself. If I could just get through and finish the 50K I’d take as much time off of running as I needed…until I was 100% pain-free, and I believed I would. 🙂
Being that it was an out of town race, it meant driving, so I enlisted my daughter (and her friend) for company. We headed out early Friday morning (the race was Saturday). I figured that I was now pretty much a professional for packing for out of town races as I had learned the hard way about forgetting race gear. You can read about that here: Forgotten Marathon Bag. Apparently, there are always new lessons to learn.
As we were driving near Oshawa, ON a random thought jumped in my head. I must have aimlessly been visualizing packing up my bag because suddenly I realized that I did not pack the clip to close the bladder that goes in my hydration pack. What!!!??? How was I going to run 50K without a pack on! I know that maybe I would have been okay with the water stations (every 5km) but I like to be in control of when I hydrate. Plus I had a special hydration mix that I now use and didn’t want to rely on a different electrolyte drink. Ugh!
So, my sweet daughter, who is accustomed to handling my unexpected crazies prior to race day, was now on a mission to google local running stores and find me a new hydration bladder or pack. After only finding 2 stores at a cost of approximately $80 I decided I just didn’t want a new one, this was stupid. Okay, what could I do?? Think….Walmart!
I’ll buy super big office clips and that should work. So we pulled into a Walmart somewhere off Hwy 401 and found some clips. This had to work, right?!
We arrived in Niagara mid-afternoon and decided to hit the outlet mall first. Race pick up wasn’t until after 6pm so we had time to kill. This is a smaller event and there was no expo, just pick up the cool sweatshirt and race bib.
Quick dinner, check-in to hotel and then off to explore the falls! Just so spectacular. I was only out for a bit and then it was race prep and early to bed.
I had arranged to meet friends in the lobby at 5:45am. Four of us drove out to the start line together and met up with the rest of our Orleans runners.
My plan going in to the race was to run my training pace for my marathon training. About 40sec. slower than my marathon race pace. It doesn’t seem much to add 8km to the end of a 42.2km run, but it really does ADD to the race! Keeping an easier pace was just part of the plan, the other was just to finish. I took time to take photos along the way and took a 17min. break to refresh, reload and refocus at the halfway mark.
It was a very cool experience. I’m so glad I decided to jump on board when the others from my running group signed up. Also, I had the privilege of running mostly behind a couple who ran the Ultra together and got married at the finish line.
The scenery was stunning, and it helped pass time being distracted with amazing views. My “bladder” in my hydration pack worked out with the $2 jumbo clips. During my recap after my race, my coach helped point out that I have an amazing ability to shut out negative thoughts, discouragement, pain, etc. once I cross over the start line. During the race it’s all about completing it. Even when in pain, I somehow shut it out and keep going. Telling myself I’ll deal with it when it’s over. A lesson that I will now carry with me as I continue to train for new adventures.
Oh, and my promise to take time off after the 50K? Well my coach helped me recover smart. I didn’t have to stop running, but I did start more trail running during the recovery process. I am currently 3 weeks completely pain-free for the first time since last October! I also happen to be rethinking my future running goals, because I fell in love with trail running.
I enjoyed this race so much, that I plan on running it again in 2016. It looks like there is a new group of runners wanting to join me.
Have you run an Ultra before? What was your experience? Would you recommend it?