Tuesday, November 17, 2009
RI 6-Hour Ultra... Post-Race Thoughts
Total full Loops Completed: 13 = 35.1 miles
Total Add-on loops completed: 2 = 1.8 miles
Distance: 36.9* miles!!! in ~ 5:44 minutes
Overall Awards: I was the 2nd woman overall!! The 1st place was 41.4 miles
**THIS IS A CORRECTION- I originally posted that I got 3rd, Allison (who was given second) sent me a note to tell me to check the updated results-- I actually got second, they had given her an extra 2-laps. Craziness!!!!
*For this I give myself a silver (just short of a gold) for myself (read last post)
This race was actually a big surprise in many ways. All the parts I thought would be challenging and scary (running the same loops, getting the distance in) were actually pretty easy while the parts I thought would be easy (the course, the competition) were very tough!
I started by doing the first 9 loops plus the extra distance for the marathon and felt great with ~3:50 time. When I finished up the 10th lap I stretched a little to give my tight knees/hips a break then went off for 2 more. After that I made myself use the rest room because I hadn't all day and was worried because my fingers were swelling like crazy. I finished up another loops and decided I was definitely tired. I had enough time to finish another loop, but I was worried I was going to get halfway around and my body would say "OK I'm done" and I wouldn't finish up a loop... so I opted instead to take my 2 "add-on loops." This turned out to be a good idea because by the time I got to that 1.8 miles I was getting very tight. After my last two loops it was 5hours and 44 minutes into the race. I was happy to have run MOST of the 6 hours, because it seemed most people stopped after the marathon or 50K distance.
A few people (including myself) made comments about running the same loops for 6 hours and how much of a mental challenge that would be. Turns out, its actually a huge advantage for this sport that is 90% mental (I truely believe that). You only had to run 2.7 miles at a time-- if you kept telling yourself that, it was awesome. "Just one more lap." There were a few "goal points" you could shoot for too (marathon, 50K, 50 miles), which would break your run up even more! This was especially great after I completed the marathon distance at 3:50 and had the choice to "go out for 1 or 2 more"... turns out I went out for quite a few more.
I knew I would be running more than 26.2 miles. The most I had run was ~28 miles in the DWD (by accident) and I wasn't sure how my body would take it. Turns out 26.2 is getting easier and easier!!! And going past that? Wasn't bad at all. It was especially nice because there was no pressure to get to a certain milage.... just as many as I could/wanted to do.
The course looked to be very smooth and flat from the pictures and I thought -- "hey! at least you know whats coming up on every loop! It has to be easy!" WRONG. The course had some pretty good sized rolling hills, especially in the back portion of the loop. At first I hardly noticed them, keeping a steady pace of 7:50 for my first loop. Well by the 5th or 6th loop, somebody must have watered those hills, cause they got bigger!!! As for the "knowing whats coming up"-- that's not always a good thing. It made you dread certain points of the course and made you question if you really needed to do another loop. haha Definitely a challenege, but fun.
I wasn't sure what kind of showing they would have at this race beause it was the first one and it was a timed race v. a specific distance. But, turns out there were 80 ultra runners signed up my marathon morning. Not only that, there were some pretty good ultra runners!! In fact, a gentleman came up to me around my fourth loop and said "So I assume Daniele is in front of you." I said "umm I don't know who Daniele is!" He looked at me like I was crazy and said "the US ultra marathon record holder!!" -- well exqueeeeeeeze me! Daniele WAS in front of me-- I know because I ran with her for the first 4 laps and she has a very unique running style. This is Daniele Cherniak who came in first and is a fairly well known ultra marathon runner.