Not a bad view for a few hours!
On a blustery, windy and cold day, I finished my first ultra. Finally. After a disappointing Skyline to the Sea race in October, which was to be my first 50k, I am now able to say I’ve run an ultra. I ran 30 miles in 9 hours at the San Francisco New Year’s One Day race this past Saturday, January 5th, 2019.
Last October, I overestimated how difficult the Skyline to the Sea course would be. I missed the halfway cutoff and settled for a marathon finish. Which was fine. It was a difficult race and I’m glad I did it. People tried to tell me how hard it would be. Of course, I didn’t listen, I rarely do, unless you hit me upside the head with the proverbial two by four, I’m not going to get it. After that technical and trying trail race, I understood.
So, I was determined to finish an ultra as soon as I could. Last year, I had volunteered at the SF New Year’s One Day and that was a lot of fun. It was directly on NYE then, so we not only provided snacks and food, but passed out bubbly at the strike of midnight.
My hydration for the day
The Golden Gate National Recreation Area management has changed this year and from what I hear, the new guy is not a runner, so it was nearly impossible to get a permit, thus the date change. A smaller crowd participated this year, but as usual, it was a friendly, energetic and excited one. I was nervous, but promised myself that no matter what, I would finish at least an ultra distance. Coastal Trail Runs is the local running company sponsoring the event every year. They do a great job and once again, they didn’t fail to provide a wonderful race. I met up with many friends and made some new ones.
We runners can have fun in the wind and rain! And we did!
The race started at 9am, which about 50 or so of us starting either 24, 12 or 6 hours. I chose the 12 hours. We began going counter clockwise, but once one loop was completed, we could go whichever direction we wanted. After a few times, I switched directions, but found the original direction my favorite, so I did more loops that way.
The rain would start suddenly, sprinkling lightly and then sometimes would blast in a massive downpour. It was really bad at one point in the race. The rain was nearly horizontal with the wind shoving it into our faces. It was then when I knew my shoes and socks would never get any wetter. The good part was that I didn’t have to avoid the puddles any longer. I ran in wet feet for about two hours. Even though the rain stopped for a bit, the wind didn’t until nightfall. It was wildly windy all day.
At a high energy moment – haha!
After many hours, my legs had nearly given out. I knew I was undertrained. Let’s face it, with the smoke from the wild fires forcing my training to a near halt and then my nasal infection, I couldn’t get all the running miles I wanted to, so I had looked forward to a lot of walking later on in the day. And that was fine. At about my 6th hour, I started walking more than running and stopped at the aide station and had a small cup of chili. It was so delicious! It kept me warm for an hour!
At hour 7 it hadn’t rained for a while, so I changed to my second pair of shoes and socks and my feet thanked me. That kept me going for two more hours. By a bit after the 9th hour, I reached Mile 30 and I was done. Toast! Baked! Done.
And I was happy for it.
But here’s a few things I learned. My feet swell a lot after the long miles. That’s probably why I lost my big toenails at Skyline to the Sea. Next time I buy shoes, I’ll go up a half size. I’m new to the ultra stuff, I learn things every day. I also learned I’m not hungry after really long races. I don’t mind eating something small, but I don’t have the appetite for anything big. I have a huge appetite after small races, like half marathons. Then, I can eat a horse, but 30 miles, nope. I had a small slice of pizza and that was all I wanted. And the last thing I realized is that I don’t sleep well after long races. I didn’t really learn this, but I remembered this from previously. I stay hyped up and can’t relax.
It’s a learned curve. I’ll get better at this as I go along.
I’m proud of myself, I’m happy of my effort and I know that I’ll be better ready and prepared before my next ultra, the Gateway 50k at Mt Shasta in June. I cannot wait!
Keep Moving Forward!