You had me at pumpkin pie….and Coke (1st 50K recap)

….and My Story Runs On….

WOW!  Where do I even begin? Another major goal achieved in My Running Story:  my first 50K. The most exciting part about this is that I feel like a baby learning a bunch of new things about trail and ultra running….it was an amazing adventure and looking forward to more learning and running!

I have so many random notes about my experience yesterday that I’m just going to bullet point them out:

  • Coolest thing about Aid stations on trail/ultra races are the food and drinks!  Sure there is Gatorade and water…but I also had the pleasure of eating pumpkin pie, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, peanut M & M’s, dates, and potatoes…and there was more!  And of course, I can’t remember last time I had a Coke but there is nothing like a nice cold shot of Coke in the middle of long trail run!
  • Trail running is much more of a solo sport. Sure you can do a trail race with a friend but it seems to me that most people are on their own.  It’s a very supportive group of people too…so nice passing each other and hearing lots of “way to go girl” or “nice job”.  As social of a person that I am, I do enjoy some of the solitude of trail running. There is something about being out in the middle of the desert for hours…..can’t really explain it…
  • I always love to wear my Fellow Flower when I “race”, not really for good luck but I just like it as part of my race attire…. note to self, when you’re out in nature, bees tend to be drawn to it….or maybe it was all the Honey Stinger products I was consuming too 😉

Race recap and learning lessons
Again, I have a lot to say but I’m trying to recap so I don’t bore you with the little details….

I’ll admit to feeling a little cocky after my Sedona Marathon experience.  I had trained well (more on that below) and since I had such a great experience there in high altitude, I figured I could finish the 50K in 6-7 hours.
I’m happy with my pre-race preparation.  I focused on the right nutrition, I rested and slept more than I normally do the entire week before the race and hydrated a lot.  I’m also very aware of not expending unnecessary mental energy on the “race” day itself.  I wasn’t nervous and I was just looking forward to a fun first 50K experience.  Trust me, I know people who stress like crazy before a big event and it’s a big waste of energy.
The scenery was breathtaking and there were a variety of trails: single track, double track, rocks, etc.
We started out with an immediate incline.  I knew it was coming because one of the things I did before this race, was go out and run about 70% of the course (thanks to my friend Elaine for doing that with me)! From a strategy perspective, this was one of the best things I did.  Since I knew that was happening right away, my goal for this race was to conserve as much energy as possible so I did some good, fast ChiWalking up those hills instead of trying to kill myself right away…and of the course the downhills were a blast!  I also decided not to wear my GPS watch.  I had it with me, hidden in my water pack but I knew that I would be more worried about my pace by having it on my wrist (again, didn’t want to “waste” any mental energy).  Because I didn’t have it easily accessible, my friend Elaine suggested setting alarms on my phone to remind me to fuel. Fueling before and during the race were some other things that I did better than I have in the past and it was important to me that I stayed on top of my fueling and salt pills.
Sometimes I use music when I run and sometimes I don’t.  I chose not to until about mile 16.  I was enjoying the scenery and focusing on my form.  At about mile 16, I needed something else to keep me motivated. Trail running requires you to be more mentally engaged because where you put your feet, matters!  Having the music was a nice change.

THE ISSUE started at about mile 18.  My right knee started feeling tweaky.  This was new territory for me as it’s rare that I have any pain due to my ChiRunning background. Right away I started thinking about the possible things that were causing it and started working on my form again….I tried and tried and it didn’t go away.  For some time, all I could think about was why and how did I do this?  My mind took me everywhere from too many salt pills to the capri pants I had on….I kept going but was annoyed by the twinge…thankfully it was bearable but it did limit me from running more.  I reached mile 23.6 (the start/finish line) at 1pm and I knew I was going to be way over my estimated time. I did not allow my ego to get involved in the conversation.  I thought long and hard before I reached that point as to whether I should stop or not.  I’m very grateful for the Body Sensing skill that I’ve learned through ChiRunning.  I was very objective and knew that I would keep going forward, it was just going to be at a much slower pace than I expected.  The cutoff was 9 hours and I knew I could finish it in that time, even if I had to walk the last 7 miles….which is what I did for the most part.  I would never have continued on if I knew I could potentially hurt myself enough to never be able to run again and I’m proud to be in a good place mentally to be aware of that.
The last 7 miles was tough with lots of inclines.  My knee was just too tweaky to run for any period of time but I kept up the momentum with ChiWalking and ran a bit hear and there on the straight and downhills (also this aggravated my knee more which was annoying me…nothing like running on a good downhill!).  Keeping momentum is something else that I’ve learned in running/walking and a great skill to apply to life.  If you start slowing down too much, you get too comfortable and performance starts to decline more and more….so I kept the pace I could.
I was ready to be done and about a mile away from the finish line, when there was a mirage….is that Suzi?  My friend Suzi who DOES NOT trail run….yes it was!  She had on her regular cute clothes on but happened to have a pair of sneakers in her trunk.  What a relief to see her and talk to her for that last mile!  I had been updating a few of my friends with my pace but never mentioned the knee issue because I didn’t want anyone to worry.  I had quite the posse waiting for me at the end and seeing my friends and boyfriend was the best sight to see!  First words I remember yelling at them as I was running by was:

“That was the F*&%ing hardest thing I’ve done!”

And it was but I felt amazing.  I will admit that outside of my knee, I had energy and felt great.

So I was the 4th to the last person at the end finishing at 8:24:32.  And I am so good with that!

Running and Life Learning lessons:

  • Be prepared for what you are going to do. Between the training, running on the trail beforehand, fueling, resting, etc, this helped me the most.  I’ve prepared for races before but not as much as this one and it paid off.
  • Listen to your body.  It knows what’s best for you always.  If my knee told me that I should stop, I would’ve.  I figured out the knee issue was related to my training.  Although I did quite a bit of trail running to train, my longest run on a trail was 15.5 miles.  My knee just wasn’t used to the terrain and hills…I was asking it to perform double what I asked it to during training.  Great lesson learned!
  • Keep the momentum going. It’s good to take a break and rest but if you need to do something or get somewhere, don’t lose momentum.
  • Be present in each moment.
  • Be grateful.  Don’t even know where to start here but…..thanks to Danny Dreyer for creating the ChiRunning technique, I would never have considered this in a million years……thanks to ALL my running friends/communities…too many people to mention (Friends 4 Fitness, Running for Brews, my ChiRunners and all the people I know that are runners)  Runners inspire runners and that’s what keeps me going.…thanks to the Coury brothers from Aravaipa Running who put on an amazing event.  I highly recommend their races….Thanks to Cave Creek Regional Park for gorgeous scenery!….It was a long way to drive and I didn’t want to pressure any of my friends but I was very grateful to see Vicki, Suzi, Krista, Elaine and Greg’s smiling faces at the finish line!  And a huge thank you to my boyfriend Greg who is soooo supportive of my crazy training schedule and races.  This means the world to me!
  • Celebrate! Yes, I still had energy at the end of the day (weird realization when we were driving back home that it was almost 5pm…what the heck?  I guess I was running for 8 hours!)  Met some of my friends for a cold beer and an awesome grilled cheese sandwich that I had been dreaming about for HOURS 😉

And THANK YOU for reading my blog and being part of my running journey!

From My Running Story to Yours….
(if you feel inspired to share your comments, do so below…I want to hear your story too!)

0 thoughts on “You had me at pumpkin pie….and Coke (1st 50K recap)

  1. Great story and great job..I can’t tell you how many times I also said “That was the F*&%ing hardest thing I’ve done!” and then a couple months later I am signing up for my next is such an addicting adventure..I am loving choosing races across the country and knowing nothing about them but what I read and signing up..I have signed up for one in TN this Sept..wanna come 🙂

    • One of these days I will plan one with you Debbie! I know I’m already addicted so looking forward to where it takes me…mainly just enjoy the outdoors and nature and running in it! the rest is all icing on the cake!

  2. Lisa, congratulations on obtaining your objective even though you probably never realized what that objective was. Yes, you undertrained for a serious ultra trail race, and yes, you aimed very high for your first one and sorry, 6-7 hours was not going to happen, now you know. What you did achieve was a) learning to stick it out and the rush of completing a impossibly difficult effort, b) learning to experience pain and how to compensate for it, and c) completing something difficult that you worked for. I wrote 8:45 on a piece of paper Saturday night. You blew through that time and that was amazing! Your last 12K after 23.5 was a brutal stretch (including the 2 downhills on sore knees). Now the question is “are you an ultra trail racer or was this just an experience?”. If it’s the former, welcome to the club and take all you learned into the next one.

    PS: Having someone to run you in is an incredible lift if you are hurting. My buddy Scott ran me in at Rock ‘n Roll and I finished my first marathon in 6 years. Now I’m looking for #52.

    PPS: Keep wearing your flower. Flying things are a pain on the trails. They are looking for moisture, not fake flowers. Like me, you sweat a lot.

    • Glad I had a chance to see you before I left! Thanks for the comments…definitely plenty of learning lessons for me but glad I listened to my body in the end…I’m sure this will not be my last ultra as I really do enjoy the trails and distances…no real racing for me though…just having experiences that I can learn from 😉
      Congrats on the marathon! I remember seeing you quickly there too 😉 52? that’s amazing!
      You always have great words of wisdom so thanks for sharing!

  3. Hey, Lisa, Great race report. It seems you did everything right on race day… including learning some lessons. It’s all good. You have such a good spirit and I’m sooooo proud of you for inspiring so many others to run and enjoy life. I’ll see you this weekend. I can hardly wait to run in the desert again!


    • Thanks Danny! All in all I was happy with the run…now I can’t wait for the next one! You were right though…if someone asked me right now whether I’d prefer to run a marathon on road or a 50K on trail….trail all the way, baby! Looking forward to this weekend too! Rain or shine! 😉

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