Ran my first ultra this morning at the Dirty German Endurance Fest. By day I am but a mild-mannered high school German teacher, so this race was right up my alley. There were 3 races on offer today: a 25k, a 50k, and a 50 miler. I had wanted to go with the 50 miler since last December, but eventually dropped to the 50k because I didn't get in as many miles as I wanted to this winter. Next year, perhaps...
Located in beautiful Pennypack Park in Philadelphia, the race begins and ends at a small pavillion and is comprised primarily of a 15.5 mile loop through the park. The majority of the run is in the shade and is gorgeous. My God, how I love trail running.
Stevie accompanied me to the start. We arrived at 7am for an 8am start. It was still a little chilly that early in the morning.
We parked ourselves right by the finish area and pavilion where poor Stevie had to contend with over five hours of German folk music and a man with an accordion.
I decided because the weather was supposed to be cool that I would run without a hydration pack or a handheld bottle. The aid stations were spaced out perfectly so that this was not a problem.
And let's just talk about aid stations, shall we? As a marathoner, I'm used to water and Gatorade and the occasional Gu, but at every aid station along this course I was greeted by a veritable smorgasbord of options: cookies, crackers, chips, M&M's, PB&J sandwiches, boiled potatoes, trail mix, and Mountain Dew! If being an ultrarunner means I never have to see another Gu or Powergel again, then sign me up.
The race itself felt more like just another long run. There were no spectators at all on the course, and there were long stretches in which I ran completely by myself. I guess this is par for the course in ultras.
Never having run an ultra before, it's hard to tell what is normal and what is not. I walked up most of the hills, and wanted to run faster on the straightaways, but was too tired and too sore on the second loop. Did I not taper enough? Did I not train enough for the distance involved? Did I not fuel properly? I managed to save enough gas for the end and was moving pretty quickly in the final few miles, and finished the race at a dead sprint. My unofficial time was 5:11:32:
You might notice that, according to my Garming, I didn't run a full 50 kilometers. The loop was supposed to be 15.5 miles, which the 50k people would just run twice. When I finished the first lap, I noticed my watch only read 14.68. I was paranoid that I had somehow cut off a section of the course and asked a few others about it during the second half of the race. I talked to a guy at one of the aid stations who said he made and marked the course himself and guaranteed me it was 50k. He also let me know that sometimes Garmins can get a little wonky on the course under all the trees and bridges. I guess I'll take his word for it and claim I ran a full 50k.
I had brought a chair with me and a cooler full of beer to dump into my beer boot, but as soon as I finished it started to cloud over and cool down, and I was too cold to sit in a park drinking beer. So I went home and had some there.
Here's to a great day of racing, and enjoying the benefits of running long.