I'm looking forward to running Terri Hayes' FATS (Fork Area Trail System) 50K this weekend near North Augusta Georgia. If I add up all of my ultra marathon races & organized fun runs this will be my 22nd ultra event since I began with Buncombe on May 3rd, 2009. That's 22 in about seventeen months. If you know me, I rarely push myself to run fast at these, but just set out to finish strong. I will push myself to finish though!
By the way, how did I get here? I was motivated while watching the 2008 women's summer Olympics marathon on the couch and decided to go for a run that evening. I walked 100 yards and nearly passed out. Ran a road half marathon, then full marathon, finished and thought I would like running on the trails better. Googled trail running and found Christian Griffith's Chattooga 50K race report. Then I met Race Director Terri Hayes and signed up for her 2009 Chattooga 50K event. I was so anxious to run it that I decided to run her Buncombe 34 Mile Race one month before. That was my first ultra.
My past three ultra events have seen me fall short of my goal for each of them. First, The Foothills Trail Run in July 2010 was extremely hot and I did not finish it. Next, I ran The Long Cane 50 mile race in Greenwood, SC and went off course which caused me to cut the mileage short for the day. I did receive credit for a 40 mile official finish, but it was tough to stomach another mishap. Finally, just last weekend I came up short on the Foothills Trail again making it 60 out of the 77 miles.
I feel frustrated about coming up short three times. I am a very analytical and obsessive person and that makes it even tougher to deal with not finishing. On the other hand, these were very difficult and demanding events that required patience, strategy, thinking on the go, and endurance. It always does me good to get "slapped down". It humbles me, breaks me down, and then I can build myself back up stronger than before.
Today I'm feeling that it is vital for me to finish the FATS ultra this weekend. There is no such thing as an easy 50K, but compared to many this one is on much more forgiving terrain. I plan on showing up rested and ready to have a fun day running in the woods. It will be nice to run without a watch again.
The weekend after FATS I'm excited to be running with my wife Beth. It will be her first official race - The Spartanburg IRecycle Half Marathon! I'm really looking forward to sharing this experience with her and she is going to do great because she has trained so hard for it.
The Pinhoti 100 mile trail run is then right around the corner in November. I've never felt more prepared for a race than I am for this one. My personal battles with the Foothills Trail over the summer have provided the perfect training ground and I'm glad that I had the chance to lay down the ground work for another 100 miler.
More than anything, I'm thankful to God for my health and the ability to get out on the trails and do this! It's been tough not meeting my goals recently, but looking back at all of the beauty that I've seen & experienced makes me so content. I'm very thankful for all of the incredible people that I've met and had the pleasure of spending time getting to know.
Ok, here is some stuff that I have learned this summer.
- I don't need salt caps (S!Caps) unless it is near 100 degrees or extremely hot & humid. I get enough salt & electrolytes through the food I eat.
- That leads to another finding. I have been drinking way too much water. I can safely take in 30 ounces of water / hour in extreme heat. 20 oz. / hour if more ideal for me. I noticed several problems that developed when I was drinking more than that over the summer.
- I DO need to eat a little something every 45-60 minutes during an ultra. I will bonk after 2-3 hours with no food.