Chasing 42

Life, the Universe, & Running

Archive for the tag “Garmin”

Tech Lust & Cyber Monday Sales

I’ve written before about running sans-music, but still needing to track my stats. My Garmin 405 plays a huge part in this obsession. I bought it about 3 years ago, shortly after I started running seriously, and it has been a faithful companion. I love the wireless syncing capability, and it has a small enough profile that I don’t feel like I’m wearing a computer on my wrist! However, the touch-sensitive bezel has always been a bit “touchy”, so to speak. In addition, the battery life has gradually decreased (or have I just gradually upped my distance?). At any rate, the battery no longer lasts for more than 5 hours, and certainly doesn’t stay with me long enough to accurately track an ultra-distance race or training run.

Despite its current shortcomings, I’ve managed with my Garmin 405, but I’ve been doing more and more research for a replacement watch. I consider myself a bit of a technophile, and as such, I spend a lot of time reading technology blogs and other websites, and I stay up-to-date with the latest products. The result is a very specific set of requirements:

1. Long battery life (at least 10 hours, preferably even more)

2. Easy syncing with my computer and online tracking systems (Strava, DailyMile)

3. Compact size- I know it’s not going to be a tiny watch, but I don’t want it weighing me down either!

4. Durability- I want it to have an element of ruggedness so I can trust it won’t fall apart after one fall on the trails

5. Data Customization- I won’t pretend I don’t like the bells and whistles so the more data and more customization I can get, the better!

6. Eye-Catching- I own an iPhone, iPad, and Macbook Pro in large part because of the aesthetic of the hardware and software design, so I want my watch to possess a similar style.

As such, my tech lust is currently directed at the Suunto Ambit. This watch seems to have everything I’m looking for, and all of the reviews I’ve read are incredibly positive. The only downside is the cost. Alas, this means spending some time saving up, but it will assuredly be worth it. Interestingly, but not surprisingly, this watch didn’t find it’s way into any Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals. However, plenty of other running and fitness gear certainly did end up on the receiving end of some deep discounts!

Tech lust at its finest!

In previous years, I’ve enjoyed the hunt for great deals during Black Friday, particularly because I love finding the perfect gift for someone. However, I suppose I’ve mellowed a bit, but I’d much rather sleep in the day after a delicious Thanksgiving meal with friends and family, and sip my coffee in the morning with a good book in hand. This year, I did exactly that.

*Stepping on soapbox

In large part, I also find it a sad comment on our society that stores are opening earlier and earlier, to the point where Thanksgiving can’t even truly be a day to spend with family. This is, of course, disproportionately true for those folks working at these retailers, often without the option to take the day off because they need what little money they are being paid in the first place.

*Stepping off soapbox

Although I don’t enjoy the hunt for deals in brick-and-mortar stores nearly as much anymore, there are more and more deals to be found online. This has given birth to Cyber Monday. With my fellow runners in mind, I’ve pulled together some great deals on running gear of all sorts. For those looking for a gift for the runner in your life, or for some gear to help prepare you for winter running or the next race, there just might be a deal out there for you…in fact, I’m fairly certain! Happy hunting 🙂

14 Essential Holiday Gifts for Runners- Active.com

ZombieRunner- one of my favorite online running stores!

Top Sports and Outdoor Sales

Running Warehouse

TriVillage.com- 20% off most running gear!

DC Rainmaker- great blog overall, with listing of Black Friday sales, many of which are still in effect

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Hijacked by Hills: Surf the Murph Race Report

After so much research, preparation, training, and organization, it almost seemed surreal to be heading up to MN on Friday afternoon. The beautiful epicurean and I left early enough in the afternoon so we had time to get up to MN and visit with family, as well as get settled and have a nice relaxing dinner. I may have felt some nerves, but more than anything I was just anxious to get out there and start running! The combination of so much training and the taper of the past few weeks had left my legging revving pretty high, just waiting for the starting “gun”. I didn’t quite know what to expect from my first 50-mile race, and this race met all of my expectations and more!

Friday Evening: I set out my clothes for the next morning, got my drop bag ready, and laid out my breakfast so I didn’t forget to take in any early nutrition. I made a last second decision to wear my shorts over my running tights and commit to having them on for the entire race. The forecast called for early morning temps in the high 20s and highs in the low 40s so I figured I was safe. I had done a good job of carbo-loading the past two days, so I had a nice simple meal of quinoa with roasted vegetables and chicken. I may have wanted a beer to calm my nerves, but I resisted. I set the alarm for 4AM and closed my eyes in an attempt to get some sleep.

Am I really going to do this? The bed was so much warmer!

Saturday, 4AM: When I was young, I could never sleep on Christmas Eve. The anticipation of waking up the next morning to see what Santa had delivered was too much for my little mind to take, and I tossed and turned the entire night, seemingly amped up on a bottomless pot of coffee. The anticipation for this race matched that excitement, and I found myself tossing and turning quite a bit, but still jumping right out of bed (quietly, of course) as soon as the alarm went off. I proceeded to get my running clothes on, and consume my banana w/ peanut butter and protein bar, along with 12 oz. of water. I was ready to go!

Packet Pick-Up, 5AM: There was no packet pick-up the day before the race, no doubt because of the small number of participants. Thus, they began handing out race packets @ 5AM, and we arrived at the park shortly after 5AM. We had driven out to the course the night before, but I was still paranoid enough about something going wrong that I didn’t want to take any chances. As expected, the fact that I over-planned meant that we arrived with no problems, I walked right in and picked up my packet, and headed back to the car to stay warm, all in about 5 minutes. I’ve never been a fan of “hurry up and wait” and this was no different. Can’t we just start running, already?

Race Debriefing, 5:45AM: All of the runners convened around the starting line to listen to one of the race directors give us a heads up. Everyone performed their own personalized warming dance, huddled around headlamps, covered in varying layers of cold-gear. A few folks managed to come in varying degrees of costume as an homage to the impending pagan ritual of high fructose corn syrup gluttony. I figured that dressing up for my first 50-miler probably wasn’t necessary. The director’s debriefing consisted of letting us know that the trail had been personally marked by her with reflective ribbon, the trail was in great shape, and they had seen plenty of deer and only one pack of coyotes. Great!

Lap 1, 6AM: The “gun”, otherwise known as the race director yelling “go!” and starting the clock, went off @ 6AM, and our shivering group of runners headed off into the dark, light dancing playfully off the various reflective materials as our headlamps and flashlights pierced the darkness of the forest. I’ve never started a race in the dark, nor had I ever used a headlamp and/or flashlight to run, so this was an added virgin experience. I quickly realized several things. First, my headlamp wasn’t putting out enough light to be helpful, but my flashlight (which conveniently clipped onto a pocket in my gloves) worked perfectly. Second, NOBODY WARNED ME ABOUT THE HILLS! I suppose it should have occurred to me that they didn’t randomly name this race “Surf the Murph”, but good grief! The first 5.5 miles contained enough elevation change to make me sea sick and leave my quads burning. This didn’t bode well for the next 12 miles. However, I was hopeful that contained within this 17 mile loop would be some compensation for the hard labor we put in during the front half of the course. The middle 6 miles did provide some respite from the undulation of the previous 5.5 miles, at least in as much as the hills weren’t quite as steep. After the first hour or so, the sun began to rise, and I was able to start taking in my surroundings. Despite several close calls on the downhills, I had managed to stay on my feet, and I gained some confidence as the morning sun illuminated the beautiful wooded trail we were running along. The aide stations were wonderfully spaced every 3-4 miles, and very well-stocked with nutrition as well as eagerly helpful volunteers. One of my favorite parts of small races is the volunteers always seem to be experienced runners themselves. Having that kind of support and encouragement along the way goes a long way! Now, lest we get complacent with the smoothly rolling hills through the fields during the middle 6 miles, we were revisited by the storm surge of the final 6 miles back through the beautiful tree cover. The hand-made signs encouraging us to talk to our pain and embrace the hills made it clear that the organizers understood the joke they were delivering. They just weren’t terribly eager to deliver the punch-line! I came rumbling up one more hill (of course) towards the starting area, happy to see smiling family, and felt like I had already run a marathon. I had to repeat that journey twice more. Lap Time: 3 hours 14 minutes. 

Lap 2, 9:14AM: I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to head back out, but the sun was up, I was refueled and restocked, and ready to roll. My legs were already pretty darn sore but I had a better idea of what to expect, which was nice. Again, the first 5.5 miles were brutal, and they all seemed new in the daylight. Suddenly I was cursing entirely new hills, and my catchphrase for the day quickly became “seriously?!”. The worst part about this loop was having a complete sense of what to expect and knowing I had to do it for a third time before I was done. I definitely took full advantage of the aide stations, though, and the brief rest at each stop was very welcomed. Around the half-way point, I began running with a far more experienced ultra-marathoner, and it was great to hear about some of the other races he had done, as well as pick his brain a bit. He had done the race twice previously as well, so he gave me some great pointers on tackling some of the hills. This lap also saw the first of 4 distinct distance memories, that of the half-way point. At that moment, however briefly, I relaxed and let out a giant smile, announcing the milestone to a runner a few yards behind me. She didn’t seem all that amused. I rolled into the starting area at the end of the second lap, holding onto a better pace than I had expected. Lap Time: 3 hours 28 minutes. Total Time: 6 hours 42 minutes. 

Lap 3, 12:50PM: I did a lot more refueling before venturing out for the third lap, which I was not looking forward to “running”. A fellow runner came into the start area a minute or so after me and announced that he was done. He had cramped up and had no interest in trying to run the third lap. Was I feeling leg cramps at that point? Maybe I was? At any rate I left my wonderfully supportive parents, announcing to them that I wouldn’t be back there for at least 4 hours, and I gingerly headed out. This time I knew exactly what to expect. That didn’t make it any easier. I repeated the same 5.5 mile torture for a third time, all along calming myself with the reminder that each hill I tackled would not be one I’d need to tackle again. I found myself alternating between walking and running a bit more on this third lap, and didn’t even try to run up any of the hills. As expected, the descents just kept getting more and more painful, as I felt my quads get shredded. My next distinct distance memory came at mile 38.5, which was around the end of the 5.5 hill torture. I’d never been so happy to see an aide station in my life. I cheerfully continued on, hitting 40.1 miles (my next distinct distance memory), which marked the longest single distance I had ever run. From there, the last 10 miles were probably fueled by a strange combination of emotion, commitment, vanilla wafers, and M&Ms. Final Time: 10 hours 49 minutes. 

I’ve never been so happy to see the word “finish” in my life!

I had mentally established a goal of finishing in under 11 hours many months ago, based on what I thought I knew I was capable of or planned to be capable of in the future. When I approached the final hill and could see the finish line, I’m pretty sure my entire body let out a sigh of relief as the intensity of the day hit me like a wave breaking on the shore. I crossed the finish line, somewhat unceremoniously, but was greeted by the beautiful epicurean and my mother. In their own way, each of them understood not just the accomplishment, but the work I had put into it, and they were all the congratulations I needed after such an incredible day.

Do I look as tired as I felt?

It felt absolutely incredible, and all of the miles I had logged seemed that much more worth it. I had just run 50 miles! I gingerly headed to the car, eagerly awaiting the shower and warm meal that awaited me. This leg of my running voyage was complete. I guess the best way to learn how to surf is to be thrown into the waves after all. Oh, and I guess I have a new PR, eh?!

The awards were personally branded for each finisher!

Let the Preparation Begin!

When I ran my first long distance race (Dam to Dam 20K), I was exceedingly nervous. I begin thinking about the day and preparing a full week in advance. I made sure I knew what I was going to be wearing, what I would be eating, and I had my schedule all worked out. This process worked well with my sometimes OCD personality and my overly organized nature. The same thing happened with my first marathon. As the races have piled up, however, I’ve become a lot more comfortable with the process. I know what to expect, how to prepare, and I don’t give it nearly as much thought anymore. I’m comfortable with those distances and the races that accompany them. Now, a 50 mile trail race…this is all new territory for me!

I’ve certainly spent plenty of time thinking about this race, but now that it’s only a few days away, some of my original nerves and original running OCD are coming back into play. I don’t mind 🙂 I’ve gathered all of my clothes, supplies, and food for the day of the race and separated it into my suitcase and drop bag. I’ve also compiled a tentative schedule for the day so I know when everything is taking place, but also so the beautiful epicurean can track me effectively since I won’t be running over any timing pads or checking in with my phone while I’m out in the woods! I even have a folder of information complete with maps of the course (which I’ve studied), and other race-specific information. There is no packet pick-up until the morning of the race, which is a bit annoying, but I’ll work with it.

All packed up! Bring on the trails 🙂

It’s going to be a quick weekend and the schedule will be tight, but I’m ready for a whirlwind running weekend! I’m not normally a fan of getting up at 4AM for much of anything, but I have a feeling that even though I’m going to try and get to bed by 9PM, I’m probably not going to sleep much. Adrenaline can go a long ways!

My home away from home on Saturday!

Look forward to a full recap next week- I’m sure I’ll have a bit of extra time to write while my legs are recovering!

Watching the Clock

I’ve mentioned before that I love statistics and thoroughly enjoy keeping track of my times, miles, totals, etc. The fact that I maintain Strava and Dailymile profiles should be evidence enough of that (feel free to click and follow me if you’d like!). With the numbers in the back of my mind, I’ve found myself in the past week getting a tad more antsy for my upcoming 50-mile trail race. Although I know that I’ve put in the miles and my training has gone well, I still just really want the race to get here! I may not be warding off the injury gremlin, but I’m still pacing back and forth in my head quite a bit. The fact that I’m of course tapering and thus running far fewer miles than I have been isn’t helping either. The weather has also been pretty darn gorgeous, especially with all of the fall colors, so I’ve wanted to run even more.

One of the most beautiful college campuses in the country!

So, although my training plan called for relatively slow and comfortable runs of 7/5/7 this past week (Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday), I may have walked out the door on Wednesday afternoon intent on something different. Our neighborhood is pretty much the quintessential small town neighborhood with beautiful old-growth tree-lined streets and well-established homes. Just going for walks with the dog is enjoyable because it “feels” like a neighborhood is supposed to feel, or at least how I always assumed it should. I only had 5 miles on the schedule for Wednesday, so I wanted to experiment with running solely in the neighborhood, staying between two parallel streets 7 blocks apart.  I figured I could run up and down the streets doing “neighborhood repeats” and see how many miles I could squeeze in before I got bored. I started out at a relatively comfortable pace as I planned out the moves in my head. However, after the first mile I was feeling really good. I hadn’t really run a 5k distance since my race this summer, and I was curious if my training had increased my speed anymore, despite no intentional speed work. Thus, I took off and pushed myself for the next 3.1 miles. It felt great to speed up and down the tree-lined streets, all of which were so quiet you’d hardly know anyone was living there. I kept an eye on my Garmin, and after running the math and cutting out my warm-up and cool-down distances, I had kicked out the 5k in 23:24, which was a new PR (non-race, of course). Well what do you know, eh?!

Split Time Distance Avg Pace
Summary 34:21.7 4.33 7:56
1 8:22.5 1.00 8:23
2 7:54.4 1.00 7:54
3 7:48.1 1.00 7:48
4 7:42.1 1.00 7:42
5 2:34.7 0.33 7:51

I was feeling pretty good about myself, and my legs still felt great later that night. This is good, since speed work a week and a half before an ultramarathon probably wasn’t my smartest move, but I did shorten my total distance to account for the speed, which helped quite a bit. The next day, I had 7 miles on the calendar at half-marathon pace, so I knew I could go a tad bit quicker. However, my brain has an uncanny ability to never shut off, so I still had the previous days 5K success on my mind. The 10K race has been one I’ve not run all that often and has become increasingly more awkward distance-wise as I’ve increased my mileage. I’m at the point now where I don’t really feel warmed up and fully comfortable until 5 miles in, which isn’t much good for a 6.2 mile race. However, I was feeling really energized and it was another gorgeous day, so I decided I’d give a 10K a try and see where I was at time-wise. My PR up to that point was 54:09, which is certainly respectable, but I felt like I had more in me now. I was right.

I hit my pace hard, and never really let up as I kept myself moving forward. I was paying more attention to my posture and stride, as well as my foot-strike, and it is still amazing to me how much of a different those adjustments have made. I hit the 6.2 mile mark and looked down at my watch to see 50:48 staring back at me. I had destroyed my previous PR! Alas, there was nobody around to hand me a medal, or announcement my name as I arrived at the finish line. I had to settle for some furry critters greeting me as I came back in the house with a smile on my face.

The Garmin doesn’t lie!

I suppose after I check this 50-miler off my list, I may need to register for a few more 5K and 10K races to make it official 🙂

Unpacking the Running Knapsack: Chasing White Privilege

In my non-running life, I am an multicultural educator. I work with students preparing to be teachers and assist them in the process of providing a multiculturally-inclusive curricular experience for their students. I also live and work in Iowa. As such, a majority of my students are White. Although not exclusively, a majority of my students, like a majority of White Americans, have never really thought about what it means to be White. As a White male, I know first hand that you don’t have to think about it when you grow up in America. You take it for granted. Acknowledging the existence of White privilege and the impact it has on individual choices and opportunities is hard for many folks to do. Heck, it was hard for me to do. If you’ve never thought about this yourself, or are unsure of what exactly I’m talking about, please start here.

Photo Credit: transgriot.blogspot.com

This post is not an educational or philosophical piece, per say. This is a blog about running. However, I’ve been giving some thought to the intersection between recreational and distance running, and White privilege. Last year, Runner’s World ran an article titled “Why is Running So White?”, and they examined the racial realities of the sport and attempted to deconstruct the “why”, as well as offer suggestions on how to change the current norm. In case you aren’t aware, of have just never thought about it before, running is a very White sport.

Now, before you start discussing the elite runners in an attempt to contradict this statement, I clearly and fully acknowledge their presence. However, I’m not talking about the folks winning races, getting big paychecks, and being sponsored by shoe and apparel companies. I’m talking about the normal individual in this country who laces up his or her shoes in the morning before work, or after a long day of work, or wakes up early on the weekend to head out for a training run. Perhaps the goal is a 5K, or a half marathon, or even a marathon. I’m talking about the people you see running on the road as you drive by (and if you are like me, you turn to sneak a quick peak, to see if you know them). Have you ever asked yourself why almost everyone you see running is White?

Take a look around next time you step up to the starting line, ready to hit start on your Garmin. What do you see? Who do you see? Who don’t you see? Now, running is certainly not a sport for everyone, and there are hundreds and thousands of other activities that are vying for peoples’ time, effort, and money. As a country, we do not suffer from a shortage of opportunities to distract ourselves. At this point, you are probably saying to yourself, “I guess more White folks just choose to be runners than other groups of people who pursue other interests”. I mean, “marathons” did make it on the list of Stuff White People Like. 

Photo Credit: mandmrunningclub.wordpress.com

In many venues, running has been heralded as the ultimate equalizer in sports. All you need is a pair of shoes and the open road, and you are off. Other sports require far more financial means and organization. Surely then, running should be the sport that eclipses all racial and class boundaries. However, the reality is quite different. In fact, race/class/gender have everything to do with who runs and who doesn’t. Although perhaps fairly low on my knapsack of advantages, White privilege still allows me to run with relative ease. Let’s consider this further:

1. running is recreational for me- I do it in my free time, with no hope of financial or personal gain (other than the goals I set)…does everyone have that time?

2. I run most of my miles in my community- I’ve learned more neighborhood streets in this community through running than I have through driving. In addition, I run on the road, day and night, with no real worries about my safety, as long as I’m smart. Can others do that? How does where you live impact your ability to run?

3. I can run in a new area when I travel, and nobody is going to call the police because I’m on their street @ 5AM…I’m just running.

4. I have the disposable (for the most part) income to register for races/ purchase new shoes every 400 miles/ buy nutrition/ add to my running wardrobe. How much money do you spend on running every year?

5. I’m encouraged by my family and friends- my parents love tracking my progress, I have a loving and supportive partner, and I run with a community of friends who support and encourage me in my running endeavors. Aside from good-natured joking, I will never face ridicule for my choice to be a runner.

6. When I read about other famous runners and seek inspiration from them, they look like me.

7. Numerous races are marketed towards me and in a manner that is accessible to me…and I can travel to those races.

I could certainly go on and into more depth about how my White privilege allows me the opportunity to run. The previously mentioned article from Runner’s World also mentions “next steps”, such as focusing races on causes of importance to minority groups, and resisting stereotypes that exclude minority youth from active involvement in running, which could set the stage for a life-long commitment. These are certainly important steps to take, and they have the potential to have a positive impact on the sport as it evolves to meet the needs of a broader range of individuals. However, on a much larger scale, the whiteness of running is just one more reminder of the overarching impact and interconnectedness of race, class, and gender in this country. Until we acknowledge our own Whiteness and the influence it has on our lives, and how all of these forces are connected to one another, we won’t be able to break out of the comfortable silos we run in.

Just some food for thought next time you lace up or pin on that bib.

Race Report: Drake Relays 1/2 Marathon

Running is an addiction. I could try and tell you otherwise, but I’d be lying, and it would be pretty clear. After running 40 miles of trails a week ago, my legs needed a few days to recover. I went for a short run the following Tuesday, but only for a few miles. I could definitely still feel the burn in my quads, and I wasn’t walking completely cleanly. In most instances, this should have been a que to rest. In the back of my mind, it was a que to rest. However, when I got home after that short, mildly painful run, what did I do? I signed up for a half marathon (insert eye roll here).

The Drake Relays are a cultural icon in Iowa, attracting running talent from around the world to compete on a national stage as a part of a running festival that takes place over several days. Each year, in addition to competitions for more elite athletes, they also host an 8K and Half Marathon “On the Roads” race. During the first few weeks that I began actually training to run and compete in my first distance race three years ago, I ran the 8K road race. It was one of the first times I had ever pinned on a bib, and despite the rain, it was a great experience. Now that I have upped my mileage a bit, I thought it fitting that I returned to run the half marathon. In addition to it being a very well organized race, the notoriety and location mean there is always a huge local contingent running, and I was lucky enough to carpool down with quite a few friends for the race. Whether its training or racing, running is always more fun with friends, so the camaraderie made  it that much more fun.

Credit: Drake Relays

As luck would have it, the rain actually held off, despite the palpable moisture in the air. In my haste to pack my gear, I forgot my Garmin, so I was technology-free for this race, which turned out to be a rather liberating experience. I started the race comfortably, not wanting to push myself too hard, seeing as how I had finished a 40-mile trail race the week before. However, as the miles flew by, my legs continued to feel really good, and after about mile 8, I made the decision to push a bit harder and see what I had. Not having a Garmin spitting out my mile times made me listen to my body a whole lot more, which proved to be extremely beneficial. I crossed the finish line in 1:53, which shocked me! Not only did I feel great, but I landed a PR by 4 minutes! If I had any questions about the effect of the increased training these past 4 months, I didn’t anymore. I could not have been happier 🙂

So, the adrenaline pumps through your body, the endorphins pop in your head, and you feel the high every time you push yourself. There is no doubt that running is an addiction, and I have no intention of seeking treatment! Bring on the next race!

Free State Trail Run: 40 Mile Recap #1

Now that I am relatively fully recovered, I can sit down and share a bit about what turned out to be the most satisfying race I’ve ever run! Just to recap- this past Saturday, I ran the Free States Trail Run 40-miler at Clinton Lake in Lawrence, KS. This was my second ultra-marathon and the longest run yet for me. I’ve been training since January for this race, racking up more mileage than ever before, and I felt comfortable and ready to go when Saturday morning rolled around.

I made the journey to Lawrence with two wonderful friends, and we departed on Friday afternoon. We picked up our packets at a great running store in downtown Lawrence. I, of course, got sucked into doing a bit of shopping and ended up buying a pair of compression sleeves, which proved to be quite useful on Sunday! As is the case with most running-related vacations, the secondary motive is always the opportunity to try new restaurants. With that in mind, we went out to dinner at the Free States Brewery, which had a fantastic selection of in-house micro brews. The Oatmeal Stout was quite delicious!

As always, the morning came way too early, and we were out the door by 6AM to head to Clinton Lake. Although it was a bit chilly at start time, a pair of arm warmers took the edge off, and it ended up being a beautiful day for a run. This was a small race, with probably around 400 total runners (100K, 40-mile, marathon, 1/2 marathon) and the 100K and 40-mile races began promptly at 7AM. Having not run the trails around Clinton Lake before, I was certainly a bit nervous, but the adrenaline was pumping fiercely and I quickly settled into a groove. The race began with a steep descent and a hard right, and at that point, I could already tell that this would be a more technical run than I had ever attempted.

Let the race begin!

In terms of difficulty, Clinton Lake did not disappoint! The entire route was litered with rocks, tree roots, branches, and stumps, which meant that looking more than 3 feet in front of you was just plain foolish. In total, the route consisted of two 20-mile out-and-back loops, which made the aid stations easier to position. I ended up running the first 13 miles or so with a group of guys who were all veterans of the race and the trails in the area, which ended up being a great intro for me! I was equally surprised and elated by just how kind and supportive they were (they were running the 100K race, by the way), and continued to offer suggestions and share stories about other races while we ran. The result was about two and a half hours of running that flew by without any concept of time. We eventually became separated, but those first miles set the pace for a great race. After the first 20-mile loop, I was feeling strong and energetic, despite the intensity of the trails and the distance already covered. I finished the first loop in under 4 hours, which proved to be quite an accomplishment considering the difficulty of the course.

I look like I know what I'm doing 🙂

After restocking on nutrition and reapplying sunscreen and bug spray, I headed back out, feeling confident and soaking in the energy and freedom of the environment. I didn’t bother wearing my Garmin for this race since the battery wouldn’t have lasted the whole race anyway, and I didn’t miss it in the least. I felt completely free and engaged in the run and lost all concept of time along the way. The second loop was certainly more difficult, and the second 10 miles of the loop, which were even more difficult than the first, certainly dragged on for a bit, but I never felt any pressure to move any faster than my body would allow.

The course was very well supported, and the volunteers at each of the aid stations were absolutely fabulous! When I finally made the turn to head up the final hill before the finish line, by heart was racing with excitement, and as I turned to sprint through the finish, my friends cheering me on, I was surprised and delighted by how much energy I had! I was all smiles at the end, and felt far more chatty and normal than I probably should have after running 40 miles. I filled up on water and snacks, and my legs still felt fresh. Strangely, I felt better than after many of the marathons I have run, which was a shock to me, but one I was grateful for in the end.

40 miles down, should I be smiling this much?

All-in-all, this entire experience has been one I’ll never forget, and the race is one I’ll certainly return to in the future. I’m so thankful for such wonderful, supportive friends and an incredibly supportive and caring partner- there is no question that I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish this without them!

Great friends, great races!

So, I now have a 40-mile PR (8:21). Later on in the weekend, I was thinking about beginning to cycle more now that my ultra training is completed, and it occurred to me that I’ve now run further at one time than I have cycled! It won’t last long, but it’s hilarious none-the-less!

More thoughts on the race to come- it’s worth a 2nd post!

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