Sunday, March 30, 2014

Missing Common Sense for My First Ultra-Marathon

As I posted a picture of my gear for my first Ultra-Marathon, a 50K (31 miles) with a comment, "What am I missing for my first 50K?" Of course my friend, Erik replied, "Common Sense."

I guess, I lost my Common Sense after signing up for another Marathon after doing my first one in 2008.  So now I am up to 11 Marathon Distance + Races in 9 States. And I definitely lost any Common Sense when I signed up for the 2014 Ironman Arizona!

We arrived at the New Jersey State Fair Grounds, sans any children, early in the morning, with my belly filled with a unsatisfying bagel egg sandwich from a place that supposedly was a bagel shop.  Just because, you have a sign with the word Bagel, does not mean you have the right to call yourself a bagel shop.  It really has to do with the water, but I will leave my rant for another blog.

Any anxious nerves about this race, beyond the tradition marathon of 26.2 miles and on top of that on a muddy trail, back at home and parked the truck near the start line.  It looked like not too many runners were doing this race from the look of the number of vehicles parked outside the start.  This is completely different than the New York City Marathon, where you have to take a bus or ferry to the start line.  It made it convenient to leave my GU and water back in my truck.

Around 7:40, we all gathered around the race director outside of the warehouse and she announced a few instructions and off we went, a mile around the parking lot and grounds before heading into the 10 mile out and back loop which I will be navigating 3 times.

During my first loop, I was trying to figure out the course, what side to run, how I can avoid the mud, ice, snow and tiny streams, but I did not expect to slip at mile 5.39.  During the time my feet gave way, I could hear myself thinking, I still have a marathon distance to run left.  I laid on the ice for a minute and got up trying to get my bearing and checked myself.  A runner ran past and said it happened to him on the first loop, then another runner asked if I was ok, and as I replied, "Yes."  She said, "Keep moving!"  And I listened to her and eventually I caught up to her and passed.

During my second loop, I was more familiar with where to step and I took more pictures to document what I was doing and share with my friend and family the craziness of this cool and interesting race.  The course was the same, yet slightly different, as the snow melted some more and the ground became more muddy.  It was interesting to see the same faces over and over as we passed each other during the day.  I even got to take a picture with a fellow Long Islander, Karl H. who also runs a set of hills in Selden call Selden Hills.    Meeting Super Ultra Runner Otto Lam as a delight as he became known to me in 2011 Wineglass Marathon (see my Wineglass Marathon Post regarding Otto.)

During my final loop, I left my jacket and phone at the truck.  It was getting warmer and I continue to enjoy the course with the addition mud.  This time around, I really did not care as much as I stepped into more mud and the course was unlike the first loop.  The streams got wider and ground was more soppy and muddy!  And I did not want to carry my phone around anymore!

Before I reached the finish line, I had already made up my mind that this was probably one of my favorite races that I have ever done.  While it did not have the crowds, support, excitement, and loudness like the New York City Marathon, this race was the complete opposite, barely no one on the course and besides Irene cheering for me, a handful of volunteers clapped their hands as I ran by.  I completely, lost time for 7 and a half hours, and I got to think a lot and about nothing at the same time. 

So happy to be married to Irene and have 3 wonderful kids who support me on these adventures.  Together we earn our finishes together!

As I cross the finished line, the race director said, "Congratulations." and handed me my Finisher Medallion and a really cool fleece jacket.   Irene continued to take some pictures of my tired body.  However, I was not beat up as I was during my first marathon, and that is a good thing.

Now back to Ironman Training!

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