Some things I learned about ultra-running during Rocky Raccoon:
- If someone tells you that it's an "easy" course for an ultra, feel free to ignore them. You absolutely never know what 50 miles+ will bring, and you certainly can't predict how much tougher mother nature can make it. It may not have the elevation and climbs of many other ultras, but that's ok... it's plenty hard! No such thing as easy at that distance.
- Volunteers and crews at ultras are quite literally the nicest people ever. They are there to help you. Let them. It's not like a marathon where you run by and grab a cup. They sincerely greet each person, ask you what you need and do whatever they could to fulfill that need. If they didn't have a food you were craving, and could find it, they would have it prepared for you by time you came back around. They will pop your blisters, change your socks, hold your hair back while you puke. No kidding.
- Don't ever say "oh, those aid stations are close enough". The furthest between stations for this race was 4.4 miles. I thought that was no big deal, but when you're hurting and it's pitch black dark, that can be a long long time. You need to be prepared to take care of yourself as well.
- Ultra-runners are the most supportive people ever. No one cares about your pace. Everyone is a rock star for even being out there... and all of them truly appreciate that. Other runners genuinely cared how you were doing. And despite being a back-of-the-packer... I never once felt like anyone out there gave a hoot about my time.
So what does that leave me with??? Well you know I can't just leave my schedule as is... I think the ultra got a piece of my heart. I was asked if I thought that I would turn into ultra-chick and leave the roads behind... I sincerely don't think so. I still love my road marathons. I still love White Rock Lake. But for now, ultras are like a new boyfriend where you're excited to explore all the new possibilities... but I know that the charm might wear off soon enough, so I'm riding the wave while it excites me.
The plan for this year is 3 additions to my schedule...
- In May, I will be going to the Zion 100 in Utah with my friend Suann. No, I'm not running 100 miles... yet. But *she* is. It'll be her first 100. And I'm honored that she asked me to pace her... so I'm going for it. Not sure how far yet... probably anywhere from the last 25-34 miles depending on which aid station she wants me to meet her at. Those miles will probably be during the darkest hours of night down the back side of a canyon. Should be exhilarating. I cannot wait.
|Palo Duro Canyon|
- In October, I plan to do another 50 miler in Palo Duro Canyon, Texas. It's supposed to be a gorgeous race, and I'm hoping another partner-in-crime is gonna meet me there.
Along with that, I'm obviously still planning to stick with the other marathons I have planned, but I expect to be cutting back a lot on the quantity of races and sticking to the stuff that really makes me happy. I've already planned out my 6 major races for 2013. Yes, I'm that much of a planner. Crazy, I know.
Do you plan ahead? What distance has your heart?