McNaughton Park, Pekin IL
30 Mile Trail Ultra
1st Place Overall
4:01:00 (New Course Record)
Im finally able to sit down and reflect on my first ultra because I feel theres a lot to take about. I learned about myself both mentally and physically through this challenge. With this being my first Ultra I didn't know what to expect. What I did know is that this will be the longest run Ive ever done to date and I knew there was a good chance of going into the hurt box.
My training going into this race was not your typical training plan for an ultra or even a marathon for that matter. My training consisted of most of my runs being 10-12 miles 4-5 times a week. During the months of August to October I was running workouts more gauged towards 3mile XC races because I was helping out with the local HS team. I would run to and from practice do the workout and hopefully get in a "long" run on the weekend if I wasn't working. I say "long" run because if your training for an ultra a long run should be anywhere from 15-23 miles. My longest might have been 14 ish only a couple of times. My longest mileage week was 65 or so. So with all this said I went into this race with an open mind that it might not turn out great. When I ran my first and only marathon back in 2013 I died the last 10k and I trained for that. Here I am going 4 more miles with less specific ultra training.
Race Day-My goal for this race was to hold a solid pace and to just make it to the finish without going into the hurt locker too much. I just wanted to challenge myself, put myself in an unknown situation and see what happens. I think you can learn a lot about yourself when you put yourself into unknown challenges like this. Im not going to lie though I did want to win and get a new course record as well. This race stands as the 2nd installment of the big spring event in April-The Potawatomi Ultra Races. This event was smaller and much more low key, which I thought would be perfect for my first Ultra. The course was a 10 mile loop 3 times with each loop having 1100-1300 vertical feet of climbing. So not an easy course but not the worst by any means. There was also a 10 mile race that went off with the 30 mile group. The gun went off and I found a nice pace I could manage and found myself in 3rd overall with the 10 milers included. A few miles in I was running nicely with a fellow from the south suburbs of Chicago who I found out has some ultra experience. I decided to stay with him for a while and thought he'd be able to pace well with. I found out quickly he was not as strong on the uphills. Once we came on the back half of the first loop which had some good climbs I pulled away and never saw him again. I just gained pace and kept chugging along. Went into the second loop feeling good. My food intake was feeling good. I used a ESF fueling gel that had electrolytes and 400 calories on the 2nd and 3rd loops. I drank 16 ounces of water on the back half of both the 2nd and 3rd loop after the aid stations at mile 5 ish. I started feeling it at mile 27. But it was unlike my shutdown mode I had for my first marathon. My paced slowed a little but I was able to keep moving forward. I power walked a couple steep hills late in the 3rd loop and caught a second wind with 2 miles to go. I cruised in the last mile and felt great.
I was thankful to have my parents and wife there with me as a grinder out my first Ultra. They were a huge help in getting my food ready to grab at the aid station. Im really glad I ended my 2015 racing season with this race. Its encouraging to have this result under my belt and going into next year. In 2016 I want to focus on trail and mountain running. I want to show others that a flatlander can be competitive in that world against others who live in mountainous areas. I also just enjoy the training that it provides and theres just something about running on the trails that beats any run or race on the roads. Theres something about the long grueling climb that I enjoy. I already signed up for my next Ultra in March at Clinton Lake 30 Miler. Im excited about what next year has to offer. Time for 3 weeks of down time and then its back on the grind with a long block in the winter months of just cycling, stairs, incline treadmill, lots of squats, and leg press to strengthen the legs to get them ready for another long and hard year of racing. Till next time.