Post-mortem on my first ultra

First I ran an ultra.

Then I went to the beach for some ultra-relaxation.

Then I spent 15 hours Saturday driving home –the ultra of car rides.

So what’s next on my list? Well, I must confess, a certain word does come to mind

Yes, now that a week has come and gone since my first ultramarathon, I think I can focus on what really matters. Running another ultra. And doing it smarter and faster.

But please don’t tell Mrs. Trail Boy. She thinks I’ve finally got this ultra nonsense out of my system. She’s glad this race is over. Over the past few months, as I headed out for a long run, she used the word “lunacy” more than once. She hopes to see a little more of me around the house to help with home repairs and the like.

I see her point. The bathtub needs to be recaulked. The shutters need a coat of paint. The front porch is crumbling on one side. And I’ll get it all taken care of.

But first things first.  How can I take a half-hour off my time at next year’s Buckeye Trail 50K?

Fortunately, I had a week at the beach to think it over. And here’s what I’m come up with.

For starters, I can slash 10 or 15 minutes simply by speeding up through the aid stations. As this was my first ultra, I came to a complete halt at each and every aid station, taking my sweet time to lovingly examine the cornucopia of M&Ms, pretzels, PB&J sandwiches, Gummi Bears, bananas, Hammer Gels, watermelon slices, etc. etc., that ultra races are famous for. Average time per aid station: five minutes, I would guess. That was way too long. Move along, fellow, there’s nothing to see here. Get your water, get your food, and keep moving.

Second, if I can just stay on my feet — rather than tripping over countless roots and rocks falling to the ground repeatedly, like a drunkard in a funhouse — I can take off another five minutes. I fell to the ground three times on Saturday, and stumbled a half-dozen additional times, requiring a brief time-out to see if I had broken, skinned or bruised anything vital.

Third, if I get in better shape, I can trim another five or ten minutes. There was no need to haul an extra 10 pounds of Trail Boy around the course.

Fourth, I need to do more ultra-long training runs — four and five hours. My longest training run this year was about 3:45. It was a tough run, with lots of hills, but not enough time on my feet. During the fifth and sixth hours of my race, I could feel my legs screaming in protest. I should have prepared them better for the long day ahead.

And of course, now that I know what a 50K distance feels like, I can train a bit smarter and increase my running speed a bit. I don’t need to be so conservative. Sure, power-walk the steepest hills. But run (slowly) up the milder ones.

OK, now that I’ve got it all figured out, I’m good to go. Check me out next July.

In the meantime, there’s a really cool 50K trail race in northern Indiana in December I’ve always wanted to run…

To read the full race report, in tortured verse, click here.


One Response to “Post-mortem on my first ultra”

  1. run2boston Says:

    Shortchange the aid stations? But what if they’re serving pie?

    — R2B

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