Saturday, October 5, 2019

2019 Thru The Leaves 50K Results (or: I'm Running Ultras Again!)

3/x overall

What a welcome back! A few years ago I hung up my ultra racing shoes, which was a depressing, but based mainly on the fact that it stopped being fun. I was trying so hard to be really good I just started to hate it. I quit ultras in 2013 and in 2014 stopped running marys.

I always said that I would come back to running/racing when it was fun again. In 2016 I came back, but slowly, just getting into half marathon shape only to help my friend Matt through his first half, then getting in marathon shape to help him in his first marathon.

After a recent half marathon with my lovely wife, I figured out I could come back to longer races and this time I wouldn't be competitive. I burned out before, and this time around I want to do it for a long time, so I had to hold back.

So a month ago, I decided to enter this race which didn't give me much time to up my mileage from 35ish to 70ish a week. I managed to get three long runs over over 4 hours done on Saturdays starting super early so I would finish each run with my peeps in the Grass Lake Road Runners club.

My goal today was simply to enjoy the run, not racing, but just enjoying. It really was everything I wanted it to be, though the course had so many roots and rocks I'm surprised I only fell (hard) twice considering my luck with tripping hazards on trails.

The course was one of the toughest trail runs I've done, with maybe 20% of the course being flat. It only had ~3000' ft of elevation change over the whole course, but the switchbacks and the 90+ step stairs slowed everyone down.

I ran the first two and half laps with the eventual winner, Zach Cain (the other guy in my finish line picture) who was running his first race above a distance of half marathon. He skipped the marathon distance and went straight to a 50K, which takes guts.

He wasn't totally sure how fast to go out, so him and I ran with another runner (the eventual 5th place finisher) chatting about races, our pedigrees, ultras, hundos, etc. Turns out these two guys did research on ME because they saw I was entered and at, my street cred is solid.

Eventually Zach took off and then I ran with the eventual 2nd place finisher and we also had the standard ultra runners conversation for a half a lap, and I wasn't on my own until 60% of the way through the race, when i started my 4th lap. I had been doing fine doing their pace but once they hit on of the few long flat sections, they took the opportunity to make up some time and picked up the pace which I was not in the mood for.

By myself I slowed a little but not much, taking only a few walk breaks on the steeper uphills as well a the 95+step set of stairs we had to do each lap. At least they had a good aid station at the top.

I was totally happy with my results. (podium!) This was exactly what I hoped it would be. A solid, yet fun run to give me the taste again. The ultra 'community' is completely different from the 'marathon' community. I have many friends I have met from running ultras. I have zero friends I met through running marathons, and I have ran 8x as many Marys as I have Ultras.

Ultra runners are just more laid back, going out to enjoy the event and the camaraderie. The races also have way more fun volunteers and the food spread is always awesome. (My picks today were Pringles, Coke, PB&J tortillas) I don't know if I ever want to do a road marathon ever again.

What now? Well, I need to recover a bit (feet fairly sore) before I make any commitments, but it felt good enough I can continue on in this new chapter. Thank you, Ultra Gods, for letting me back into the realm,

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