Spoiler: I finished 🙂
Now? To the good stuff!
I really should be grading my assignments since they’re due in fewer than 8 hours, but I have SO MANY THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS that I need to type them out so I can focus. Sorry students 🙂
If you missed it, you can read Part 1 first 🙂
Saturday night I was in bed by 10pm and set my alarm for 4:45 so I’d have plenty of time to wake up, eat and hit the road – even though the course is only mere minutes away by car.
Same as my marathon, I picked ROAR as my wake up song instead of the typical iPhone alarm music.
I managed to get up right away, feed the kitty, drink two sips of coffee (and have a successful pre-race poop. #sorrynotsorry) and enjoy my two Eggo waffles. Eggo waffles are the breakfast of champions, and ultra marathoners. Fact.
I had organized all my race gear the night before and had my pre-race drink, beta-alanine and gels all organized and I just needed to stuff them into my pockets after waking up.
I filled my hydration pack with my Vega Electrolye Hydrator, grabbed my phone and head phones, took a selfie and hit the road.
I may have purchased an Oiselle hoodie (and….two tops…..) at the Expo on Saturday….
I determined it would take the same amount of time to take the train (I’d have to walk about 6 blocks to the train and they don’t run super frequently in the early morning hours) so at 5:30 I hopped in my car, opened up the sunroof, cranked the radio (it was playing Sing, so so perfect) and headed to Stampede Park.
Ten minutes later I pulled into my parking spot and got everything ready for bag check. It was then I realized I forgot my headphone adapter for my iPhone. Bummer. I even took the time to make a playlist and buy some music on Saturday for the run. I made plans to run with Erika (who I met at the Expo on Saturday) so I hoped we’d be able to chat along the way.
If I desperately needed music I could pull off my battery pack and use that – otherwise, I was on my own.
Before heading to the bag check I walked over to the grandstand to check out the finish area and took a picture of the empty finish line and hoped I’d be making it across in a few hours.
After checking my bag I wandered back near my car to meet up with Michelle, Antje and Erika before the race. Erika and I ran into each other on my trek to our meeting area and chatted about our race plan.
Originally we were going to run with a pacer, but it sounded like our pacer didn’t really know the pace, or the route and he wasn’t planning on walk breaks, so we decided to be our own pace group instead.
After we got ourselves in our corral we saw a 4:25 marathon pacer and thought about maybe running with him, since a 4:30 marathon was pretty darn close to the 5:30 ultra we were thinking of running, so we lined up with him and decided to see how it went.
After the typical announcements, they played the anthem and we were off. Ish. We did our typical walk to the start line and then we started running…..and the 4:25 pacer just took off. The race was a big race with the ultra runners, marathoners and half marathoners all starting together, and Erika and I weren’t about to sprint to catch him, so we settled into our own pace and started chatting.
About the 2km mark I remembered Bart said he’d be running a 2:15 half, which was pretty dang close to our pace, so I hoped we’d see him some place along the way, so I decided to keep my eyes open for him.
Near the 5km mark I looked over and saw someone walking on the side of the road.
Erika and I made our way through the traffic to say hi.
I managed a selfie with him and Bart (and his spectacularly long arms) took a selfie with myself, Erika and Martin Parnell. The four of us ran together for a while, chatting with Bart and then Erika and I sped up a bit and commented on just how freaking amazing it was to run with Bart-Freaking-Yasso during our first ultra marathon.
It was just such a phenomenal moment.
Tweeting with Bart!!
— Bart Yasso (@BartYasso) June 1, 2014
Everything about this weekend has just been so amazing and wonderful and just out of this world amazing.
Erika and I continued on out way, keeping our eyes open for a port-a-potty without a crazy huge line. Some place around the 15 or 16km mark we found one right before a water station and the water station had sponges. Oh. My. Heck. They were amazing.
I wouldn’t say it was crazy hot out, but given that it was 20C without clouds or sun, and us Calgarians were used to running in about 12C, it was warm for us, so that sponge was a God-send and I loved it.
There was more excitement at the port-a-potty as I saw my friend Jen who was running her first marathon (wooo! Go Jen!) and saw hawt-Simon (also known as the illusive 5:30 ultra pacer) run past us with his pace group. Erika and I half-heartedly tried to catch him, but we certainly weren’t going to push ourselves to find him.
It was at this point I started to scare Erika with my running math. I have a pretty accurate pace clock in my head and I started guessing our pace and/or distance at certain points and it was pretty.freaking.accurate.
We hit the 21.1km point at 2:10 and it was at that point I started wondering if I might even be able to PR the marathon course. I didn’t go into it with a marathon PR goal, but I was feeling good and just held it there in the back of my mind.
Just after the half marathon point my left knee started to be a bit of a crank. I’m not sure what exactly caused it, but after any downhill it started to hurt a bit and I was very much not impressed. All it took was a quick walk and it was back to feeling fine, so I just commented to Erika that my knee was being a jerk and continued on my way.
At the beginning, we both agreed we wouldn’t think about how far we had to go until at least half way, and there was to be no talk of food until the halfway point. Seeing the 25km sign, I had to stop and take a selfie with the sign!
Not a booger; just my nose-ring
I was half way to an ultra marathon! 😀
Once we were over the 14th St bridge and onto Memorial I felt pretty good about things. This was where we’d be making our double loop to add on the 8k distance and it was so cool seeing so many people running the loop. When we hit it there were people already on their second loop with their orange bracelets and it was awesome.
I was still doing some race math in my head and realized a marathon PR was totally possible. Erika stopped for a walk break and I was feeling good, so she told me to go ahead and try for the PR. I was….torn. I wanted to see if I could do it, but I didn’t want to leave Erika behind.
I decided to see what I could do and wait for her at the 43km marker so we could run the rest of the way together.
Running by myself with no music caused me to get a bit too much in my own head. I started thinking about the PR and about finishing and I ran over what would be the marathon mark and just started thinking….and thinking….and thinking.
I visited my doctor earlier in the week to pick up an inhaler as I’d been experiencing some shortness of breath on my runs an at the 34km mark I had to reach into my pack, take a walk break and take some puffs of my inhaler (I’d previously taken it before starting in the morning as well).
The turnaround was at 36.6km an I was still feeling good.
It was no where near as bad as when I felt awful and drained when I ran my first marathon and I knew what to expect. I let myself take a mini walk break, took some water, grabbed a gel and texted Ann, “Wall :)” before carrying on my way. I did my best to just keep running and breathing and not thinking about the next step.
I saw Lindsay around this point and she shouted at me and it was so wonderful and encouraging! I wish I had the energy to shout back at her 🙂
Tova and David came out to cheer and I managed a smile/grimace and said “This is when it hurts” before carrying on my way.
The wall slowed my stride pretty significantly, so I knew the PR wasn’t going to happen and I was 100% okay with it, I just wanted to keep on running. Even with all of it, I still passed the 42.2km mark at 4:31 (4:34 gun time) which I was pretty dang happy about!
And then? Everything hurt.
I pretty much walked to the 43km mark – and took a picture because it was officially the farthest I’d ever run.
Everything was a huge struggle from 39km-47km. I took a lot of walk breaks, took water whenever it was offered and just did my best to keep going. There were moments where I wanted to sit down on the side of the road and just. Stop.
There weren’t many runners around me, and that made it a bit of a struggle and I didn’t want to worry about taking the battery case off my phone and start messing around with my headphones, so I was going to have to dig deep and just push through.
I started running again at the 47km mark and saw a crowd of people ahead. Originally I was a tad annoyed (ugh, people) but running with them really motivated me to keep going. I ended up running the last 3kms at a sub-6min/km pace, so I was pretty thankful they were there to push me through!
With just under 1km to go I saw Victoria standing on the side of the road and she came over to give me a huge hug! This gal stood on the side of the road with her cowbell for hours to cheer us on! Sooooo amazing!! 😀
As soon as I entered Stampede park I knew I was going to do it and I started crying. But I was also running, so it was more like a heaving, awkward breathing noise.
I was 500m away from being an ultra marathoner (guys, I’m totally crying again as I write this. So. Many. Feels).
I remembered reading Salt’s blog about how she threw up her arms as she crossed the finish line of her marathon, so I decided that’s what I was going to do. I pulled my phone out of it’s pocket and pushed through to the finish line.
I know they always announce people as they come across, but I never, ever hear my name. I was so focused on getting across that line.
Once I crossed I donned my kick-ass medal and was handed my amazing beer stein.
Once again: not a booger, just my nose-ring 😛
I wandered around for a few minutes with marathon brain and took a selfie (with my medal upside down. Whoops) and then decided to stand in line to get a picture in front of the finisher sign – I even got the MarathonFoto guy to take a picture with my phone 😀
I made my way inside to grab food.
Except, there really wasn’t any. I ended up with a juice box, cookies and a bag of spicy marinara chips (I’m sorry, but who the hell wants spicy chips after running for over 5 hours?! Definitely not me!). <– more on this, my only complaint about the race day, later.
Jugo Juice was on site making smoothies, but the line was so freaking long since I finished with the 5k runners that I wasn’t about to wait in line, so I headed up the stairs (yes, stairs for a massage). When I got the email in my inbox that I had registered for a massage I wanted to give past-me a high-five!
After my massage I grabbed my stuff from the bag check and swapped my running shoes for Barefooters and wandered around a bit. I met up with Erika for a few minutes before I decided to hop in my car and get myself some real food. There were food trucks on site, but weeks ago I decided I was getting Five Guys for my after race treat and off I went.
They were out of bottled water when I finished, so I bought myself a burger, fries and a bottle of water before driving home for a bath and some food. You better believe I ate fries out of the bag while driving 🙂
I made it home, drank my recovery drink (2 hours after finishing) and sat in the bath with a beer and fries. Oh yes, I ate fries in the bath. I. Am. Classy.
When I reasoned I could stand, I started the shower and decided to get myself cleaned off and human. Ish.
The rest of Sunday was spent hydrating like a crazy person and staring off into space.
I had a bad case of marathon brain 🙂
In the days and weeks leading up to this race, I really wasn’t sure I’d finish. I knew I was fit, but I wasn’t thrilled with my training. I’m still a bit in disbelief that I finished and I’m so so happy.
I commented to Ann that this might be my first and last ultra, but now the endorphins are talking and I might, some day, maybe, consider running another 50k. Although, I’m not certain anything could top running (and Tweeting) with Bart!!
If you have ANY questions, shout ’em out in the comments and I might do a Q&A post as I’m SURE I missed a lot of what happened!
I’m also working on a separate post about recovery that I’ll post later this week – so I’d love to answer any questions you may have about recovery as well 🙂
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