I know, that is a CRAZY distance! …not as crazy as 100 miles, but it is still an ultra and it takes a special kind of runner to finish the race. My husband, Chris, and other trail runners I met while living in Birmingham, AL inspired me to take on this task. I met my husband in Birmingham in 2014 right before running my 5th half marathon (13.1 miles). At that point in my running, I just wanted to go as fast as my legs could take me. I set a lot of PRs (personal records) that year. While we were dating, Chris ran his second (SECOND!) 50 mile race at Lake Martin, AL and I got to volunteer at one of the aid stations. I loved cheering him on and waiting on him at that aid station. I got to see his enthusiasm, his determination, and since he passed through the station a few times, I saw how challenging this sort of race can be. I also got to see how other runners tackled the course. Some only ate specific foods. Some ate everything in sight to get the calories to fuel their race. Some drank Mountain Dew, some drank Tailwind (a type of electrolyte drink with less sugar than Gatorade). Others took a shot of Jack Daniels before heading back out on the trail! Some laughed and approached the trail as a big, fun game that had a medal or a belt buckle (for the 100 mile finishers) waiting for them at the end. Others struggled a little more. I was inspired by each one that came through, even those that DNF’d (Did Not Finish).
By the time Chris finished the race, I had committed to attempting my first marathon. That marathon was HARD, as was the second one I did. But being Chris’s “Aid Station Angel” at the Lake Martin 50 miler opened up the possibility in my mind of someday running an ultra. As impressive as those runners were to me that day, they don’t have anything that I don’t have. Sure, some (especially the top 10 finishers) may have more talent than I do, but really the only thing that separates me from an Ultra finisher is the training. If they can train for and finish a trail race of this distance, so can I! …barring injury or pregnancy.
In 2015 I decided to go for it. I started training for my first 50 miler while we were living in Atlanta, GA. Then, almost two months into my training, my running started to go downhill. (No pun intended, and not “downhill” in a good way.) I ran an 18 miler on the trails at Kennesaw Mountain. I had so much energy! I happily traversed through the woods, up and down hills before heading into my job at a local running store. Then, just a few days later, I struggled to finish a 3 mile run. The following weekend I had to cut a 12 mile run down to 7 miles – walking that final mile back to the car. I thought I was just struggling to adjust to the Georgia summer heat. Turns out, I was pregnant! My 50 miler would just have to wait.
Now my daughter is almost 2 years old and my body finally feels fit enough to tackle the 50 mile training plan again. My race will be in March and I will be training for almost 4 months so that I can finish strong. This blog will journal my journey as I train. I’ll share my training plan, my triumphs, my struggles, my favorite foods for fueling my training, and my recovery methods. And of course, I will post all about the big race in March. Hopefully this inspires others to be more active, but if you are content to live vicariously through my crazy running, that is totally OK! Either way, this will be an interesting journey!