Monday, August 15, 2011

Ultra Marathon #2 (8/15/11) - Mahlon Madness 50K

My first completed ultra marathon. I decided to keep track of how I felt at the time of the event so that I can look back and realize how it all started. I know for sure that in the future, I will finish many more ultras and eventually an ironman triathlon which is practically my ultimate goal.

The relief of finishing such long distance is rewarding. To see the finish line, I forget how much pain is running through my legs. I forget that its been almost 8 hours since I started the run. All I see in front of me is the finish and my face probably with a bigger smile then ever. It all started in July of 2010 with a 4 mile run which I thought was pure hell. A year and a month later, after a few injuries and one failed ultra, I am proud to say that I've become one of the crazy people who surpass the norm and turn into maniacs. There is no money involved, there is no trophy, just a big congratulations, some junk food that tastes like a 5 star dinner course, and post race muscle fatigue (means PAIN). But I just did something that maybe (my guess) 1-2% of the world's population can only do and that is an achievement on a different level. I am definitely proud to say that I am a ultra runner and my life has changed since, in a way that I've never imagined. On Dean Karnazes' (ultra runner) 30th birthday, he decided to leave the bar and run 30 miles back home. A month into my 30th birthday, I've accomplished 31 miles and it won't stop there. I'm not Dean, nor will I ever be, but I've been re-born into someone that I never thought would become and I'm definitely loving it.

Loop 1 of 4: An easy 13-14 min pace. Through my previous experience, I decided to think more strategically and decided to just take it easy and save some leg for the last loop. The course had its ups and downs. I chose to walk the uphills and run the rest. There were boulders, mud, gravel, etc.  but nothing too difficult. It was a easy 7.5 mile loop that I didn't have a problem with (except for a slight stomach problem at around 5 miles.

Loop2 of 4: Again, I too it slow and walked the uphills. This time around, I started getting hungry due to not eating in the morning. I took the same strategy, but by mile 4, I was getting really hungry and I started feeling fatigue through out my body. My legs still had some fuel in them so overall, I felt fine.

Loop 3 of 4: The hunger got to me and I stopped at the aid station after the 2nd loop and grabbed all sorts of food. Bad thing was, I ate too much. I was so full when I started my 3rd loop, that about .3 miles in, I decided to walk about a mile to ease the stomach down. This is where I think my problems began. I felt a little groggy and I had difficulty breathing. All this lead to losing my mentality and I started feeling tired. Each step felt heavier and tiring. By the half way mark (3.75 miles), I walked another mile. I was about 19 miles in. At the turn back to the starting point, my legs were starting to hurt, especially the hip and upper thigh area. My running felt slower and I was tripping over rocks that I thought I cleared over (My legs weren't lifting as high as I thought). I ended up walking the last 2 miles and slightly running back to the start.

Loop 4 of 4: Last loop, I knew that I was going to finish, but I my legs were practically out of gas. My mentality was starting to daze off and at around mile 2, I thought I was lost. It's really weird because you know you ran the same course three times already, but yet, I didn't recognize my surrounding. I started to get worried that if I'm lost and I took a different route, I would be screwed. So I walked the entire first half of the loop. By the time I reached an area where I recognized, I tried to run but I guess the walking got to me and I couldn't get myself to run. During mile 3-5, I decided to change it up a bit and try forgetting how much pain I was in. I came up with this ridiculous method of walking 100 steps and running 200 steps. I would count each time in my head and eventually, saving overall time, rather than just walking the entire loop. I don't think this method works for everyone, but it sort of worked for me. I shuffled the last mile and eventually finished. 7 hours 54 minutes, which was the official time. I expected to finish in 6 hours, but I completely underestimated the trail. Lesson learned.

As I wrap up this ultra marathon, I've learned a lot strategically and now I have confidence of running other ultra marathons. Next up is the Yonkers Marathon, which I hear is difficult, but it is shorter than an ultra so I am pretty confident that finishing will not be a difficulty, rather this time around, I will look to run the entire 26.2 miles.