Hello! Happy Friday!
Lots of you out there might be officially on Christmas break at this point too, so double the happiness for that! As an extra special treat today, I’ve got a guest post, written by Rebecca, with her 50 MILE RACE REPORT! She also included a little bit of background info about her running and her training.
This girl works harder than anyone I know (she also sleeps less than anyone I know) and she does an amazing job of balancing being a mom, wife, teacher, coach and runner (she probably has even more roles that I am fogetting). I honestly don’t know how she does it, but she does it well and gives her all to everything that she does. We’ve run TONS of miles together over the years and I am so thankful for her friendship.
Here she is (oh and of course, I couldn’t resist the urge to add in a few comments of my own, so if you see blue words, they are mine :)):
Back in 2008, I had my eyes set on a Sub 3 marathon, with a long-term goal of an Olympic Trials Qualifier. I trained for a lot of years, but never succeeded. I learned a lot in that training and reaching, and I am thankful for it. However, it left me burned. I reached a point where I no longer enjoyed chasing the clock. I needed something new; so in 2013 I began training for a 50 miler. I never made it to the start line, however, because I found out in early January 2014 that we would be having our sweet Savannah in September.
The postpartum comeback was really tough, but with the help of a great coach, Gary Brimmer, I ran Boston in 2015 when Savannah was 6.5 months old. During my pregnancy, I thought and hoped Boston would revive my fire for racing marathons and be the drive in my training to become fast again.
It was at the finish of Boston that I realized how much I’d changed. I had every reason to be ecstatic at the finish of the Boston Marathon. I had run my goal time despite gale winds and driving rains. I had trained and raced exactly how my coach had prepared me to do. And it was BOSTON! Unfortunately, it didn’t bring me the joy I thought it would. And after a difficult talk with my coach after the race, I decided to go on my own to “plow the miles” as he would say. And a side note to explain that this division of the athlete coach relationship was NEVER about him or the training. It was something inside me that I couldn’t explain, causing me to feel dissatisfied with my running.
I flailed around for another year, and in June of this year I decided to train for the 50 mile distance again.
Training Lowdown: I used a 24 week 100K training plan, outlined by Kristy Moel in her book My First Ultra. I looked at the 50 mile plan, but didn’t think it was “enough.” (Yes, I’m one of THOSE people.) <– Truth.
*I ran over 2,000 miles in 24 weeks.
*My peak was 101 miles in 7 days.
*I ran 4 marathons in my training, with a peak training run of 36 miles.
*The basic format of the training was 1-2-3-recover-repeat. For example, 70 mile week, 80 mile week, 90 mile week, recovery week (50-60 miles). The next set of weeks would start with 80.
The Good: For the most part, I was able to run the entire plan. In the 6 months, I only had 2 instances where I had to step back and regroup. I stayed injury-free and only got sick once.
The Bad: There were times that I felt completely exhausted. It was sometimes difficult to balance running with teaching, coaching, and parenting. And until my 36 miler, I pretty much doubted that I could even finish 50 miles.
The Ugly: I did SO many long runs, and most of them were in the South Alabama heat and humidity. A few runs stick out in my mind as UGLY. The first super ugly run was fairly early in the cycle. Sam had done a pace run, but came back to run the final portion with me. I had completely bonked. I remember being less than a mile from the car, walking and crying, and asking her if she thought I could even finish 50 miles. I remember saying, “I need you to be honest with me and tell me I am making a mistake by training for this.” It’s funny to me now. Insert: Of course I told her that she could totally do it. She probably could’ve finshed a 50 mile race even at that stage her training!
The next UGLY came at the end of my “unofficial” 40th marathon. Sam, Jessica, and I ran from the USS Mobile Battleship to Mullet Point Park in Point Clear. Sam had stopped early, and she and Daniel waited at the end for us. Jessica was more than ready to be done, and was trying her best to encourage me. I was not having it, though. I was in my Angry Place. Insert: This is a true state of existance that is sometimes reached during long runs. LOL. Even though I wasn’t wearing a Garmin, I knew as we got closer to the finish that our mileage would be under 26.2. I tried to tell Jessica to turn left and go up the road a little so we wouldn’t have to pass Sam and Daniel. She did NOT want to do that, though, and kept going straight. Imagine me running behind her yelling, “I TOLD YOU IT WOULD BE SHORT!” Hahaha, fun times.
The next ugly came sometime in August, I think. I know Sam had already done her long run the day before, but she was running one loop of 10-12 miles with me. Well, I bonked the entire 10 miles (my 2nd loop, should’ve been 22 miles). It was ridiculous.
After changing my mind about races twice, I finally decided on the Daytona 50, a point to point race running from Marineland to Daytona Beach. My plan was to drink UCAN 30 minutes prior, and then take in Huma gel, alternated with almond butter pouch, every 45 minutes to an hour.
The start of the race provided us with a nice tailwind. It was warm, but bearable because of the wind. I ran with a girl named Grayson, a guy named James, and another guy named Wis. We chatted the entire 11 miles, but I couldn’t help but to worry that I had started a bit too fast. At the aid station, I met Danny (a fellow Brooks ID coach), topped off my water, and used the restroom.
Danny ran with me until Mile 16, where Sam picked up. Our pack had split up by then. (Read: they left me.) I was okay with this. I was feeling fine, but felt the pace was a bit too quick for me. I knew I had a LONG way to go. I topped off my water again, and drank some ginger ale at the Mile 20 aid station. (For those people who were tracking me, the tracking mat was ACTUALLY at the 20 mile marker, not at the 22.5 as the website reported, which made it appear as we had all gone out blazing fast).
I was really thankful for Sam in this portion of the race. I had some irrational thoughts. I was feeling OK, but not AWESOME, and it really scared me. Sam asked me what my favorite running memory was/is. And I had nothing. HAHA! We both talked about that our favorite memories have nothing to do PRs and more with fun times with friends, like relays. I stopped at a gas station to use the restroom, and we took a selfie to send to Jessica. We redirected my energy to making it to the next aid station. At this aid station, I changed my tank, put on my reflective gear, got fueling from Daniel, and more ginger ale. I hit the marathon point at 3:45.
Sam took a break here, but luckily I had caught up to Wis. It was really nice to run with him. This stretch is where it got dark. Despite our blinking lights, people still didn’t want to get out of the way, and I was in no mood to be polite. We made talked about a lot of stuff, but honestly, I can’t remember any of it. I kept telling him not to let me slow him down, but he insisted he wanted to stay with me. “We’re a team now,” he would say. It helped a LOT. I knew at 38 we would turn onto the beach, but it seemed like we would NEVER get there. I gave up on my fueling products here, too. The thought of one more gel or almond butter pouch made my stomach turn. Also, in the dark things appear to be closer than they really are.
We turned on the beach and met Sam again. It was weird running on the beach. It was packed, but still kind of hard to see because it was so dark. Wis and Sam used their lights, but I didn’t have one. And then… at Mile 41 I fell. It happened in slow motion. I could feel myself going down, but couldn’t stop myself. Thankfully, no harm done. I got up, dusted off, and continued on my way. At the Mile 42 aid station they served … chili. Chili. My mind is still blown about that. I chugged down more ginger ale, and we hit the road.
You would think I would be miserable at this point. While I was moving slowly, I didn’t feel absolutely terrible. Yes, I was ready to be finished, but I wasn’t in the pain cave like one would think. Insert: I had two of Rebecca’s favorite YouTube videos loaded on my phone, just in case she went to her angry place and we needed a distraction, but she never even needed them! Sam called Jessica and put her on speaker. We chatted for a while, and before I knew it, we turned on the beach for the final 2 miles.
We could see the finish for the entire 2 miles, but I just didn’t think that it actually was the finish. Sam even called Daniel who could SEE our blinking lights. Until I was about to run through the finish line, I didn’t believe it was the finish. Crazy how the mind works. We had an interesting conversation as the finish line neared. We talked about if we would cry or not. I had a feeling I wouldn’t. (And I didn’t.) Also weird, I trained for so long for the race, for that finish line moment. You would think ALL THE FEELINGS would be attached to it.
I ran 8:22 for the 50 miles and placed 2nd female, and 5th overall.
There was a tape for us to break at the finish. I was very confused by this. I even asked if I won, simply because I couldn’t imagine any other reason it being there. Apparently, they put those up in super long races for everyone sometimes.
I really didn’t feel too bad, but honestly, the details are blurry. There were hugs and congratulations, then talk of dinner. The rest was fairly nonchalant, leftovers at the hotel for dinner, gave S a bath and went to bed. The next morning, we attended the awards ceremony and got on the road home.
What’s next, you ask? I have a few ideas, but for now, I’m focused on recovery. Surprisingly, I think I need more mental than physical recovery. My legs feel pretty darn good, considering… but, I need a break mentally from the pressures and structure of training. And I’m definitely not ready for a 100 miler, nor do I think I want to do one.
Since this is already a novel, I do want to add a bit about a few people who supported me big in this journey.
Keith. Obviously, your spouse supports you. This guy, though, takes all my crazy ideas and never thinks twice about them. He was in “daddy mode” many early mornings so I could train, made lots of dinners when I was too exhausted, and drove all over creation with our toddler to support me.
Sam. Sam has been like a sister to me for nearly 6 years. She is another person that never even bats an eye when my crazy ideas come up. She encouraged me on more runs than I can count, believing in me when I didn’t believe in myself.
Lizzie & Jessica. Lots of miles. These gals ran and biked with me in the thick of my high mileage training. No better sisterhood than a running one! Sometimes it’s just about being together that means so much, not having to face obstacles alone makes them easier. Lizzie particularly, got up at dark o’clock to ride 10 miles with me before her own 16 mile run. Then she rode another 10 afterwards just so I wouldn’t have to be alone for 36 miles. That’s friendship, people.
Rhea. I met her at the midnight marathon I did in New Orleans in July. It only took me a few miles to realize I was amid greatness. Then it took me another 20 miles to ask her 1,001 questions about the 50 mile distance. Then that wasn’t enough for me, I asked her 1,001 more questions via messenger. Her knowledge was priceless!
Wasn’t that incredible?! If you have any questions for her or if you just want to tell her that she is AMAZING, feel free to comment and I’ll pass it along!