This post will not do any justice to how my first 50k went. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. This event broke me down to my deepest, darkest place. I was miserable. I cried. I broke down. I wanted to give up very early into the event. But I didn’t. So let’s talk about it.
I went into this race feeing less than ideal about my training since I got really sick for two weeks right at a peak point of my training. I missed work, I missed a 30k training run and a half marathon training run I had on my plan. I was still coughing on race day. I really wanted those big miles during my training but I didn’t get them so I was anxious about this event.
My husband had the weekend off because he wanted to do the event as well, so at o’dark thirty we loaded the car up and drove to the race. We got there about 5:45 (race started at 7) so we could get our bibs, set up our tent and be ready. The race we did was Brazen Racing Dirty Dozen. The way the race works is that there is a 6 hour option and a 12 hour option and you run loops. The loop is 3.37 miles long and at the last hour of each event, they open a .42 mile loop you can do. In addition to the endurance events, they have a morning 5k/10k and an afternoon 5k/10k. Near the start/finish area you can set up a little camp area for any items you want or to just hang out.
I went in to the race thinking I needed to do 10 loops, 33+ miles, but to really get to get to my mileage goal I only needed to do 9 big loops and 2 small ones.
After many pre race selfies, we were off. I had lots of friends doing the race and a friend working the aid station near the camp area.
I finished the first loop with a few of my friends and greatly enjoyed it. There is an aid station about halfway through the loop where we quickly stopped except they were chopping pickles when I was there and I couldn’t handle the smell and had to leave!!! 🤮 On the way in from the first loop I saw Coach Patrick, my running coach! He was there with a group of people from his training group. We got back to the start/finish area and my friends stopped back at the tent to put on sunscreen or change clothes. I stopped at the aid station for Pb&J and kept going and told them they could just catch up to me. I knew every second was going to count for me and I wanted to lose no time.
The second through 6th loops were fine. I changed shoes at one point and cruised through, stopping at the aid stations to eat pb&j, salted potatoes, quesadillas or grilled cheese and a few chips. I was also taking in chews and Tailwind from my pack. I quickly realized though I was not taking in enough fuel. I was burning through it faster than I was taking it in, and around the 15/16 mile mark I was really feeling awful.
When the race got really tough I was reminded of a quote I heard recently “Some women fear the fire. Others become it.” -Rh Sin and when I was struggling I quietly said to myself “be the fire”. If I ever get a tattoo it will say those words. It was the mantra I needed to push through.
My 7th & 8th loops were painful and when my spirit was tested. My feet were blistering over so badly, my little bones in my feet were screaming. I saw my husband during my 7th loop and I started bawling. I didn’t think I could do it. I couldn’t finish, and I told him I didn’t want to let anyone down. I wanted to give up so badly. I was trying to smile but I was struggling. I don’t even know what he said to me in that moment but whatever he said was the right thing.
I finished the 8th loop and my friends told me, you have an hour and a half to finish the big loop and two small loops. I did some quick math and that meant I had to pump out 20 minute miles. My feet slowed me down so much during my previous loop that I was exceeding far beyond that- so I made what seemed like a stupid but ultimately the only reason I finished this race… I put on my Oofos flip flops and decided to power walk the last four miles in flip flops. This is not at all how I envisioned my epic first 50k finish to go, but when you are down to the wire and running on nothing but sugar, bread and cheese, you aren’t necessarily thinking rationally, but I picked up those miles faster than I needed in order to finish. Yes, in sandals.
As we closed in on my 9th loop my watch kept screaming low battery. There was no way I was going to have my watch die during my first 50k and not have credit for it, so I grabbed my power pack and my charger and we gave it a quick charge… which was good because when I plugged it in it it told me 1%. I kindly (maybe not so kindly, I had no mental space left haha!) told all my friends I wanted to finish my two little loops alone and they were more than happy to be at the finish line to wait for me and cheer. I was pleasantly surprised with how short the first little loop was and knew I only needed to do one more to finish. My Garmin hit 31.5 just a hair before the finish so I turned it off, and I cried as I trekked to the finish line, knowing I had pushed through the hardest, most draining thing I’ve ever done. I had 13.5 minutes to spare. For reference, I thought I would finish in 10 hours. I was very wrong 😂 but I didn’t even care.
As I came into the finish area all my friends had signs for me, cheered for me and told the announcer it was my first 50k so they cheered and announced it for me! My friend Tommy was handing out medals and gave me mine. There were no words to explain what I felt in that moment. It was unlike any finish line experience I’ve ever had. It was a test of not just my physical limits, but my mental ones too.
The whole time I was running I kept saying I hated running and it was stupid 😂. I said I was going to quit running and drop out of all my Ambassador programs. Then as soon as my butt was in this chair I asked if anyone wanted to do a group run run in two weeks, and what 50k I should do next. So yes, I did have a good time.
I do want to do another 50k but I need some time away from it. I need to lose some weight and train on the trails more. My next few races are road half marathons which is probably a good thing, to keep me back in my comfort zone for a little while.
But I’ll be back for you, Ultrarunning. I promise.