Moving toward race day from Black Warrior on February 15, 2014 was an interesting one. I ran that race and set a PR for my 50K time by almost an hour. From that day, I went into a ‘funk’ for about two weeks. So much negative fear that my running partner, Kathy, almost had to say, “enough”.
I just did not think I could run 50 miles. I did not know what was going to happen, but I did not think I would finish. I started to get annoyed by myself. So, I said, “enough”. From that point on, I was not going to put anymore negative words into my head. This was not a “la la la, only say nice things”. It was more like, “You WILL finish. You WILL finish.” In addition to the specific words of affirmation, I visualized myself at the finish, running in, over and over. The truth was that I was completely prepared, and I needed to communicate that to my head. I had to close my eyes each day and see myself running across the finish line, after 50 miles. The power of positive affirmation and visualization cannot be matched.
March 29, 2014: Lightening and thunder at 4:30 am. I was up at 4:45 am, making coffee, drinking water and eating a bagel with peanut butter and honey. The rain was steady, as we drove to the start. Excited, ready and chatty, time to start! The race started without a lot of fan fare at 6:30 am.
There were two aid stations set up on the course. We would run two 25 mile loops. Within those 25 mile loops, you would hit each aid station twice. So, each 25 miles had 4 aid stops. (Imagine a four leafed clover, with two dots across from one another in the middle.) The first leg went from miles 0-8.5. The second section went from miles 8.5 to 13.0. The third section went from miles 13-18, and the final section went from miles 18-25. (These are all approximate. I may be off by a mile or two per station.)
Any first time 50 mile runner knows to walk the hills, especially in the beginning. The description of this race was “rolling” hills. There were some “rolling” hills, but there were plenty of hills that were at least 250-400 feet up. This would not be bad for a 5 mile run. For a 50 mile run, this is tough. Now, add mud and creek crossings. The weather was perfect. It was in the 60s with cloud cover and brief period of rain. The mud was the worst on sections one and four. The most runnable section and my favorite section was section four. The aid stations were staffed with great people and great food, peanut butter and jelly, grilled cheese, dark chocolate m & m’s, salt and vinegar chips, gels, granola bars, water and Heed.
My goal was to keep a smile on my face and to keep moving, Relentless Forward Progress, right? This did not get tough until miles 34-42. My lower back was hurting. My legs were hurting. I was complaining about the mud. I told myself to keep moving forward and stop complaining about the mud. I could not wait to get to the last aid station stop before the finish line. I was planning on taking my vest off and putting on my fuel belt. I reached mile 42.5, put my fuel belt on and took off. It was a whole different feel. My back felt better. My legs felt better and I ran almost all of the last 7.5. I wish I would have put my fuel belt on sooner. There were tears coming here and there, when I thought of my family being at the end. I ran up the hills and I ran down the hills for this last 7.5 miles. It was a great feeling to cross the line. 🙂
To me, 50 miles is not harder than 50K. It is just different. This year, I completed my third 50K. I have been running trails now for 3 years. Black Warrior taught that I do not have to start out slow anymore for 50K. Now, 50 miles took me back to my first 50K. I knew that I had to start out slow, if I wanted to finish well. I finished well. It took me 12 hours and 36 minutes.
I’m starting to think about my next 50 mile race. How can I change my time with out speeding up too much? For my next, I will not stay as long at each aid station. Guys, think about it, if I stayed at each aid station 5 minutes, that equals 40 minutes. It does not mean do not stop, but I could plan on only stopping at 1/2 the stations for 5 minutes. Also, I could have run more hills in the beginning. I was running up hills in the end. It felt good to run uphill. If I had the energy and power to do that for miles 43-50, then, I could have done more in the first 43 miles. I also want to work out this whole “vest/pack thing”. I am going to experiment in a 50K with a hand held and a fuel belt.
Overall this was a great race. I cannot say enough about the trail running community. I love these small races. They bring out some GREAT people, volunteers, race directors and runners. I would run Lake Martin again, and I would recommend this race!
I would love to answer your questions! I would also love to hear your comments, your races, your fears.