May 2, 2015 — Cassoday, KS
50-miler #1 / Ultra #5
This is it. The race I trained for for 20 weeks. I documented everything for 140 days. Seriously. I have an Excel file with miles run (912.16), time run (125:17:47), time playing basketball (26 hours), time on the bike (37 miles), time in the pool, soda drank, weight loss/gain (+3.2 lbs overall), etc.
My longest run ever coming into this had been 46 miles — 44.28 officially at KUS 12-Hour race in November of 2013. I tried and failed to hit 50 miles on a few occasions, twice on solo runs, once in a 100K, where I had to drop to the 22-mile distance. I knew I wasn’t ready mentally — and probably not even physically. So charting everything for nearly five months kept me focused on the goal of finishing my first 50-miler.
I started my training plan on December 15. Most days for those first few weeks, it was in the -20s here. I ran treadmill miles. I ran indoor track miles. Sometimes, I sucked it up and ran some outdoor single digit temperature miles — you know, when it was warm.
When February rolled around and my mileage went up, I was outdoors regularly. Mostly pavement, some trail (including a March 7 50K race), some dirt. The back-to-back 18-milers on March 21/22 were big for me. I somehow managed to run 20 seconds faster on the second day, when I really just wanted to get it done and expected some walking. Two weeks later, I ran 20 in Wichita with my great friend, Mike B. Stout, before an incredibly windy 20 solo the next day. Fast forward another week, and I ran a solo 31 in the afternoon. Battled stomach issues throughout, and still managed to get in 10 more miles the next day. My heavy mileage was done. It was taper time. One more 10/10 weekend, one of which was in 30 degrees, 30+ MPH wind, and constant rain. Nice little adventurous run that was. All that was left was to compulsively check May 2 weather reports every 10 minutes, put together drop bags, and fight off the panic attacks.
The temperature felt great at the start. I pretended it would last, and it did for longer than I thought.
Goals: 1) FINISH. 2) Don’t get last. 3) Beat 13.5 hours. 4) Beat 12.5 hours.
I honestly only cared about Goal #1. The others were really just throw-ins. In the end, I beat all but #4 — although my watch showed 12:28:40 when it hit 50 miles. So, I sorta met all my goals, maybe? Whatever.
Miles 1 – 8 — Average pace: 10:40/mile
I felt good early. The sunrise was beautiful. I was able to stay in the moment, and enjoy the scenery. Zero walking before the first aid station. I focused on my breathing and was holding up fine. Though I was glad to see the aid station and get recharged a bit. Ate a handful of Cocoa Puffs, and a few M&Ms, refilled my water bottle, threw a Jolly Rancher in my pocket, changed my shirt, grabbed my iPod, and kept going. This would be the only aid station where I did not sit down. Looking back, perhaps I should have.
Miles 9 – 17 — Average pace: 14:11/mile
I hit a wall. Hard. I was unprepared for the next 8+ miles of hills I was about to encounter. I struggled into the next aid station accompanied by some serious doubts.
My wife, Kami, was a savior here. Just seeing her was a big boost, not to mention her assistance. She was fantastic all day long. I drank some chocolate milk, popped a Gas-X pill, two Ibuprofen, and an S-Cap. This is when I puked. I hadn’t thrown up since November of 2001. I was a Junior in High School before a basketball game. Streak over. This would prove to be a huge turning point in my day. I downed a slice of watermelon, drank some Sprite, and soldiered on.
Miles 18 – 25 — Average pace: 13:42
Crazy to think I actually sped up a bit after so many miles, but like I said, turning point. Despite feeling better overall, the temps and the winds were starting to kick up a notch, and the mileage was starting to take a toll. Again, I was ready for an aid station. On the positive, at least these miles weren’t as hilly. I began to see the leaders heading back the other direction. I expected this to be demoralizing since I was much further back, but it was honestly just nice to see some other humans out there. I also got rained on for a mile or two, which felt fantastic.
I took two more Ibuprofen, ate some Pringles, something else I can’t even remember, drank some Powerade Zero, and changed my shirt — I actually did this at every aid station, which I’m glad I did. Definitely a nice refresher. This aid station is a bit hazy to me overall. I remember chatting with Kami and RD Jason Dinkel, seeing badass ultra runner April Calloway, and that’s about it.
Miles 26 – 34 — Average pace: 16:00/mile
My slowest miles of the day. If I’m being honest, I don’t remember these miles very well at all. All I know is that it was getting hot — fast. Lots of walking here.
I got to see Kami one more time at the aid station. I probably ate and drank some things, but again, I don’t even remember.
Miles 35 – 43 — Average pace: 15:36/mile
Puked again at mile 38. Sped up a lot from 38-40. Caught up to awesome runner, Megan Swett and three of her friends at around 39. Ran out of water at 41+ with over a mile to go until the last aid station. Remember that Jolly Rancher I put in my pocket at mile 8? That came in super handy here.
Here came the last aid station. Other than my great friend (and groomsman), Mike Stout, my favorite runner is probably Elden Galano. Elden, an 18-time 100-mile finisher, was working this aid station, and he had told me prior to the race on Facebook that he’d kick me out and make sure I finished. Seeing him was a boost, for sure.
I ate more here than I had eaten all day, and it helped immensely. Two popsicles (yes!), a handful of Pringles, a couple cookies — and that’s just the stuff I remember. As soon as I stood up, I knew I was going to finish. Onward I went.
Miles 44 – 51+ — Average pace: 15:53/mile
These miles were beautiful. I received a text from Mike reminding me to soak it all in during the final miles — and that’s just what I did. They weren’t fast, but they weren’t painful either, surprising as that sounds. The finish line was a great sight to see. On one hand, I know I put in the work and the training, and knew I was capable. On the other hand, I can’t believe I ran 50 miles! I’d like to eventually conquer the 100-miler, but for now, I’ll enjoy this, and yes — even be a little proud.
Thank you to everyone who supported, encouraged, and motivated me along the way. And thanks for reading, if you made it this far.
Until next time… Here are some pictures…