On Friday night at the pasta party, I was hanging out, looking for somebody I know and couldn't find anybody, so I sat down with two guys and chatted about running and stuff. They told me where to run in California and in Michigan, and I told them where to run in Houston. I could tell that they were much more experienced than me and it seemed that they were probably pretty good athletes. Turns out, Jasper from California came in 12th in the 50 miler, and Jim from Michigan won the 50K! They didn't tell me they were that good. And I was talking to them and totally feeling like crap because these guys were really fit, and meanwhile I'm one of those guys you can't even tell is a runner without seeing him run.
Anyway, the race was difficult. Even as early as the 8 mile mark, it was difficult. Most of the aid stations are usually 2 to 3 miles apart, but for some reason it felt like forever. I was trying to calculate when I'd reach the next one, but since I was going a lot slower than usual, I couldn't do it. But those aid-stations are awesome - everything you can find at a Sunmart, you can find at the aid-station - my favorites were the fig newtons and the oreos and the gum drops and the little peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and the pretzels and the granola bars.
Towards the end I was happy anytime I managed to string together more than 5 minutes of running at a time. :) It was hard, and with the terrain, it was a danger anytime to step on uneven ground, since my legs and ankles were fatigued to the point that it was hard to stay in control. And a couple times I kicked the invisible tree root and went flying, never falling all the way, but flailing wildly, doing crazy crazy things to stay upright.
I appreciated the encouragement on the course. SLTM race director Robby Sabban assured me that I probably wasn't going to die. I think Bill said something similar - I hung out and talked to Bill for a minute or so because he's cool, but also because he's trained in emergency medicine. And it was good to share complaints with Holden out on the course. If I were him, I'd have mailed the chip back. :) There were also some peeps running the 50 miler encourageing me at the end, when they still had another loop to do. One guy said, "alright buddy, it's barbecue time!"
It was definitely the hardest race I've done. It only took 24 hours for me to want to do it again. Especially since I think I'm going to give the afghan to somebody for Christmas so I'll have to run it again if I want one for myself.
Here are some things I learned in my first ultramarathon:
Listening to: Cat Stevens - Miles from Nowhere (Look up at that mountain, I have to climb.)