Saturday, May 19, 2012

"Do you run 100 miles all at one time?"

It seems like lately I am getting more and more questions about my hobby - running ultra distance trail races.  I get lots of questions like:

"Do you run all 100 miles at one time?"
"Do you stop to sleep?"
"Do you walk at all?"
"What do you eat?"
and the most common question asked when someone finds out that I run 50 and 100 milers...

Well, I can answer most of these questions in one form or another, and will attempt to in this blog.  I don't usually have a whole lot to say about the subject, because to be honest, I don't spend a whole lot of time thinking about it.  But, with my training for my upcoming season getting underway, I figured this might be a good way to take you along with me on my journey.

I'll start briefly with my running history.  I started distance running in 2007 with the Country Music Half Marathon in Nashville, and the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco.  These races were the first of each distance for me, and if you would have told me when I crossed the finish line of each that I would go on to run even longer races, I would have told you that you had lost your mind.
Approaching the finish line of my first full marathon in
San Francisco with my buddy, Rachael Delcambre.
But, as it has a way of doing, running was slowly becoming a part of me. I was no longer a person who ran, I was a runner.  I loved running alone, and I loved running with my friends.  I was lucky in the beginning to be a part of Team in Training, a fundraising arm of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  TNT provided me with the guidance I needed to get through these first events uninjured, and helped to foster my love of the sport.  I went on to be a mentor, then a coach with TNT.

It took me to some amazing places...

Sunrise run across the Golden Gate Bridge.

On a glacier cruise in Alaska with the girls I coached in 2009.
These are now very dear friends.

I highly recommend TNT as a way for beginning runners to get the training and support they need to get started.

5 full marathons and numerous half marathons later, I found myself looking for the next thing.  See, this is where your friends can get you into trouble.  I was talking to my friend, Mark Delcambre (that is his wife I ran my first full in San Fran with), and he mentioned ultra marathons.  I guess that is what I needed to hear because before I knew it, I had signed up for the Rocky Raccoon 50 miler in Huntsville, Texas.  This would be my first ultra (any race over marathon distance), and my first trail race in February 2010.  
With Shelby and Josh before the race.

11 hours and 48 minutes later. 

When I finished my first 50 miler, instead of thinking "I am NEVER doing that again, I was thinking "I can't wait to do that again!!"  I felt so at home out there.  Even though I ran the entire 50 miles by myself, I never felt alone.  I was in the woods, where I love to be, and I was occasionally crossing other runners who were also happy to be out there enjoying the day.  Trail races really are a totally different world than road races.  I had found my home.

A few of my other races:

Bandera 50 k -  2011

Bandera 50 k - 2012

Cactus Rose 50 Miler -  2011
Rocky Raccoon 100 miler - 2011

Rocky Raccoon 100 miler - 2012

Wild Hare 50 Miler - 2010

Wild Hare 50 miler - 2011
So, here I am at the beginning of my 4th season of ultra marathon training.  Buckle up, folks.  I anticipate lots of stories to come.  On my race calendar for 2012/2013:

July 28th- Big Butt 50k in Clinton Mississippi
Thanks to my friend, Donald Cleveland, for introducing this particular nugget
of stupidity into my schedule. For those of you who don't know this story, here
is how the conversation went:

E: "So, Donald, what's on your race calendar this year?"
D:  "I have been meaning to talk to you about that.  Would you be 
interested in doing a 50k (31 miles) or 100k (62 miles)
trail race in Mississippi in late July with me?"
E: "Hmmm - I don't know.  I would really have to ramp up my
training pretty quickly, and it sounds really hot."
D: (the magic words) "It's called the Big Butt"
E: "I'm in."

October 27th - Cactus Rose 50 miler in Bandera, Texas
Race description from the website:
No Whiners, Wimps, or Wusses : A nasty rugged trail run.
Bonus Points for Blood, Cuts, Scrapes, & Puke

The first 25 mile loop:

The second 25 mile loop:

November 17th - Wild Hare 50 Miler, Warda, Texas

January 12, 2013, Bandera 50k, Bandera, Texas

"This is not the longest, toughest, baddest, or most extreme event in 
the state of Texas, but it is a fair test and a fun frolic over many miles of rock & hill. I 
initially laid out this route, attempting to use every steep climb and rugged descent. Since 
that beginning, the course has been tuned a bit over the years to where it now is. I prefer 
single track to any sort of road, so it is mostly single track. The only time you will be on 
the park road is to cross it. My goal was to create a long distance trail race that was as 
difficult as possible, yet still runable, so it isn’t easy, and it wasn’t intended to be."
--Joe Prusatis, Race Director Extraordinaire

And, lastly, the site of my first ultra, and one of my favorite places on the planet.
February 2, 2013, Rocky Raccoon 100 miler

" It is our intention to provide the very best Texas 
hospitality. We do our very best to take good care of you. Rocky Raccoon is built 
for speed & comfort. The aid stations are close together and staffed with 
experienced trail runners. They will best understand your needs, and will provide 
more encouragement than sympathy. Our volunteers are the heart and soul of 
this event; so don’t be surprised when they treat you like family. We want you to 
finish and will do what we can to help you achieve this goal."
--Joe P.

Run 100 miles of this...

And you get this:

So now you have an idea how the next nine months of my life are shaping up. At least my race calendar.  This is on top of raising two AMAZING teenagers, running a business, and - oh yeah - trying to have some kind of social life.

Hang on folks - it may be a bumpy ride.


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