by Terrance Turpin
LBJ National Grasslands
March 25, 2006The Grasslands Run
I figured being my first Ultra I better file a report. I do want to thank all the volunteers that made it a great race. A special thanks to who ever order that weather.
As I image everyone says, I wish I had the time to train more. Since late December I was only getting one run a week in. I at least made sure that it was a good run usually a good run ranging between 17-25 miles with my longest run to date being 34 miles.
The first rule you always here from someone when they talk about Ultras is don’t go out to fast. I knew I would break this rule. I’ve never been good at pacing myself and didn’t figure Saturday would be any different, so when I found myself ahead of pace on the blue loop I wasn’t shocked. I was able to slow my self down enought to finish the blue loop at a 10 minute pace (14.4 miles in 2h 24min) which was where I had planned on running. One interesting site was a bit after mile 8 there was one huge wild boar that ran across the trail a bit in front of us, I must say that was the first time I’ve seen one of them out on the trail.
Shortly after the start of the Yellow loop (10.4 miles) I started to feel queasy. I believe I was trying to stay prepared for the whole race and ended up drinking too many liquids and/or some combination that just didn’t go down right. Half way through the Yellow loop, I ended up throwing-up several times. I took a break for a little while and the next 3 miles took me about an hour to complete. During this time I kept wondering if I would be able to finish. I tried to wave them the thoughts off but I knew if I kept feeling this way it would be foolish to keep torturing myself. When I reached the next aid station I sat down and I won’t forget the lady’s reaction to me as she was helping me.
Lady: Are you all right?
Me: Yea, I just need to rest for a bit
Lady: You don’t look good.
Me: I’ll be ok
Lady: No, I mean you really don’t look good. (hmm and I’m not even half way done yet)
Lady: You want me to call for them to pick you up?
I rested for a few minutes more and as a couple other runners passed through I got up and started moving. I was half expecting the aid station to radio ahead to warn others that I was still moving. As I started moving the thoughts of not being able to finish began to dissipate. I still had concerns because how slow my pace had dropped to. Luckily I had bought plenty of time on the Blue loop and I just had to have a couple of good miles on the White loop and I’d be good.. I wrapped up the Yellow loop in 2h 36min for an average over the loop at a 15 minute pace.
The white loop (14.5 miles). Luckily I was starting to feel better. I tried to keep my focus on running as much as I could and then resting to let whatever queasiness was left subside. I came to the first aid station at my original race goal pace of 12 min miles. This helped to regain some confidence and allowed me to stop worrying about the cut-off time, as I now knew I was feeling well enough that I’d make it barring injury. I continued to stop at each aid station for a couple of minutes to rest and to make peace with my body. The distance between the aid stations at miles 6 and 9 felt more like 10 miles then the 3 it actually was. At one point I even stopped and sat down under a tree to just to get a bit of relief. A bit before mile 9 I think it was Dave Billman that asked me if I could run so I started up again. That helped to wake me up and to get me to start concentrating on the run again. I took a break again at the mile 9 aid station as my back had been hurting for most of the white loop. However as a couple others strolled into the aid station I felt a burst of energy (well as much as you can have running 50 miles) and quickly regained some of my pace for the remainder of the loop. I finished the white loop in 3:30 min for a 14:29 pace).
The Red loop (10.7 miles). Ah that felt good just to be on it. The first aid station felt a bit further then I thought it was but just being on the red loop made running a lot easier. That same stretch of land between aid stations that seemed forever on the white loop still felt long on the red loop but knowing the finish was in the single digits miles away felt good just thinking about it. I smiled as I passed the tree I sat under on the last loop, just knowing that I felt much stronger this time around. Coming through the aid stations this loop I wasn’t stopping for anything more then some water. I was actually surprised at how well my pace was while I was running. My legs actually never got sore until around mile 45 and even then it wasn’t much more then an annoying discomfort. When I crossed the road by the damn I knew the finish was close. The gentlemen there told me that the sign was wrong it wasn’t 1.5 miles to the finish it was actually 1.7. I told him I didn’t believe him the sign had the shorter distance and that is what I’m going with. The last distance felt good. I took one last walking break after the horse trail finish markers just to make sure I had the energy to run through the finish. All in all I was able to finish with a pace of 13:04 for the day, a bit slower then my second goal of 12 minutes but I still met my primary goal which was just to finish my first 50 miler. So I can say I am very happy with the performance and it didn’t feel half as bad afterwards as I was expecting too.
When I started training for the run I told myself that this would be the only one I would do. It was simply for the challenge, to learn a bit of self-patience and to be able to say I did it. So I do find myself slightly surprised that two days after the race I am already thinking about the next ultra.