Tuesday, April 22, 2014

American River 50

On April 5 I ran 50 miles! Well technically I didn't run all of it, I walked a good portion of it too. But hey, that was the plan...walk the hills, run the rest. And that's basically what I did.

In January I signed up for this race, mostly because I wanted to earn the cool finisher's jacket and I wanted to be an "ultra runner", but also because I wanted to challenge myself. I'd run several half marathons and one marathon before so I figured it was time to run even farther. As Lauren says, "we aren't fast runners, so we have to run longer distances for people to be impressed".

To help me with this feat, I joined SacFit Ultras and have been training with them since the beginning of January. All of that hard work and those long weekend workouts definitely paid off. My biggest goal for the entire race was finishing in under 14 hours so that I could earn my awesome Patagonia finisher's jacket.

April 5th I woke up at 2:30 AM to complete my 50 miles. Lauren, Leti, and I approached the start line around 6 AM and met others from our running group. It was so cold at the start, but I knew I had to wear shorts as I would warm up in no time.

This race was so well organized with plenty of fully stocked aid stations. It also helped tremendously that we were able to have our crew at the majority of the aid stations, and we were allowed to have a pacer run with us starting at mile 24.5ish. From my multiple training runs I've come to know the course by the aid stations' names. I finished the race about two weeks ago, and even now I remember my experience by how I felt and what happened at these points of interest. Many many many years from now I want to be able to look back and be able to recall all of the emotions I felt throughout my race. So in an effort to help me be able to reminisce in the future, I wanted to write out a brief, yet pretty detailed list of how I felt/what happened relative to the aid stations. Here it goes!

Mile 0: Start- Started at the back of wave 2, with only 5 other runners behind me. Lauren, Leti, Tammy, Chelsie, Al, Scott, and I started together.

Mile 4.97: Folsom Point- I felt so strong and all of my worries of not being able to finish quickly slipped away. It was awesome seeing several SacFit volunteers at the aid station.

Mile 12.77: Willow Creek- Dan, our crew chief met us here with all of our medical supplies and extra fuel and water. The majority of our group had to take a bathroom break. Yes, I've done my business on the trails many times before, but if I have the option of using an outhouse then I'm going to use it! I snagged some orange slices and potato chips at this station.

Mile 16.98: Main Bar- More superstar SacFit volunteers at this aid station! In between Willow Creek and Main Bar, my right foot started hurting and I starting feeling really nauseated. I thought I needed more salt, so I ate a boiled potato piece and put way too much salt on it...that definitely didn't make me feel any better.

Mile 20.18: Negro Bar- This was the first place I saw Marissa, Heather, my uncle, and my dad. It was so nice to see so many people I knew. I took Ibuprofen for my foot.

Mile 24.31: Beal's Point- This was the first place we were allowed to have a pacer, but because I was running with so  many other people from our group, I opted not to have a pacer at this point. My right foot was still hurting a lot, but I knew I had to keep going. I ate several handfuls of Pringles, but I still felt nauseated due to the nuun I was drinking. I stopped adding nuun to my water, and I think this helped a lot. Marissa, Heather, Dan, my uncle, and my dad were also here.

Mile 29.45: Granite Bay- Marissa, Heather, and Dan met us here. I filled up my Camelback with ice and water. The ice was such a nice treat! I ate another handful of Pringles.

Mile 34.67: Buzzard's Cove- I was feeling really lousy at this point, I just wanted to be done. I remembered hearing that if you're feeling crummy, you should drink soda; the carbonation and caffeine will make you feel better. So I drank ice cold coke and it tasted so good!

Mile 38.14: Horseshoe Bar- More coke and potato chips helped me keep going. By this point I wasn't nauseated anymore, but I was still having a lot of foot pain. My left foot started hurting too...I was in so much pain. The rest of my body felt completely fine, but my feet were killing me. Right after we left Horseshoe Bar, we heard someone throwing up and continuing to run...it made me want to run faster to get out of there!

Mile 40.94: Rattlesnake Bar- Marissa, Heather, and Dan were here. I ate more potato chips and took more Ibuprofen. Marissa, Heather, and Rick started pacing us at this point.

Mile 43.92: Dowdin's Post- This aid station was run completely by SacFit volunteers. It was so nice to see so many familiar faces. My feet were in so much pain at this point; I also began to have shooting pain up my right arch. I was in a horrible mood and didn't want to talk to anyone. This was probably the hardest leg of the entire run for me due to the pain, but I was so close to finishing.

Mile 47.56: Last Gasp- I ate a chocolate Gu about a mile before climbing the Beast so I'd hopefully have extra energy to help carry me up. My foot pains continued, but the rest of my body felt great. I didn't have any muscle pains and I was never out of breath. There were mile markers the last three miles of the race which helped me keep going, knowing that I was almost to the finish.

Mile 50: Finish- Even though Lauren and I ran the entire race with Leti, Tammy, and Chelsie, the two of us took off with about 0.1 miles left because the others were greeting friends and family. I finished the race in 12 hours, 30 minutes, and 19 seconds...just one second before Lauren, and two seconds before Leti. As soon as I crossed the finish line I received my finisher's medal and jacket! My dad, aunt, and grandma were there to watch me cross the finish line; my grandma even brought me flowers! Tons of SacFit runners and friends also greeted us at the finish, it was such an awesome feeling! We all took tons of pictures at the finish line before heading off to the SacFit tent. Lauren and Leti got massages afterwards, then the three of us joined the rest of SacFit to watch the rest of our team finish.

I did everything I wanted to accomplish that day. I ran/walked 50 miles. I finished in under the 14-hour cutoff to earn a finisher's jacket. I had fun. Even though 50 miles doesn't really seem that fun, it was the camaraderie that truly got me through the race. I enjoyed running with several of my SacFit peers and I looked forward to seeing my family at certain aid stations.

I'd like to run another ultra race, whether it be a 50k, another 50 miles, or a 100k. As of right now I don't have plans for another race, but I know I need to set another race goal for myself. That's what keeps me going. I want to stay in shape, I need to keep exercising during the week, and I love being able to treat myself to desserts without feeling guilty.