Ultra Running Weekends

Natural Bridge Caverns Logo
The first ever cave start duathlon
November 22, 2010
Bike Handling
Working on my biking
February 26, 2011

Big Bend Ultra MarathonHave you ever heard an idea and jumped on board, later to ask yourself, what in the heck was I thinking? Sometime last year, my wonderful friend Amanda McIntosh had an idea to run three 50k races in two weekends. I loved the thought of pushing myself just to see what my body could do so I finally jumped on board for a two 25k races and a 50k race. I had never completed an ultra race and thought this would be a smart way to ease into this whole thing. The group of people that joined in on this journey could not have been hand picked better. We laughed, I cried, and we had more fun than I thought imaginable on our car rides.

The first of the three races was in Bandera. I was told by several people that this was the one of the most difficult courses. THEY WERE RIGHT! I completed the 25k/15.5 mile run in just under 3 hours. Not a land speed record, but I loved the course. It was rocky, hilly, and unforgiving at points. I can’t wait to go back next year. When we finished, we took a quick trip to San Antonio to shower and take an ice bath for recovery. Yep, that wasn’t the best idea since it was cold outside too. I was unable to stay in the water for more than 30 seconds without feeling like my toes were going to fall off. That seemed to be a foreshadowing for the following weekend too.

On the road to Louisiana for the Q50, my first 50k. That’s right, the next day after my grueling 15.5 miles, I was going to run my first ultra run. We made it to Mandeville Louisiana at 1:30 am. Up the next day praying for no rain for the race. We started in the cold and I wasn’t quite sure how my legs would make it but I thought about making it through the first 15.5 mile loop and making my decision at that point. I started slowly and watched people slowly disappear in front of me. I met woderful people on the course, including a group who got lost going the same way I did. I also met girls who were tired of just running marathons and wanted something more, and the woman who was doing the relay with her husband. They followed us around in their SUV yelling for us the entire last 10 miles. Put a smile on my face. I came in from the first loop feeling pretty good so I went back out and was able to pick up the pace a bit, I think. It did start the sprinkle, then rain on me but it just made me run a little faster. I finished in the rain with my good friend Amanda at the finish line waiting for me with a hug before we got out of the rain. Awards were already going on but I didn’t care. I had finished my first ultra run. That night Charles Dye cooked us some excellent food and we talked until I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore. The next day was a long drive, but not before a huge breakfast. I was home and carb loading for the next race in Big Bend the next weekend.

Big Bend 25k was more than I could have asked for. The 8 hour drive was well worth the scenery. I had not camped in a tent for almost 10 years so putting up the tent proved to be an interesting experience. Thanks to Josh for helping with his strong hands to put my stakes in the ground so my tent didn’t blow away. I knew it was going to be cold but only thought about race clothes and failed to bring a thick jacket. I did what any good former Iowa resident would do and layered my clothes to keep warm. Apparently two pair of socks, two pair of pants, three shirts, a pair of gloves and a hat weren’t warm enough. Even WITH an awesome sleeping bag. So, my toes (which I needed for the race next day) were so cold they hurt. Sleep evaded me most of the night. I couldn’t wait to get up and run so I would be warm.

Race morning was a bit hectic since the other people I was at the park with were doing the 50k and I was only doing 25k. They were leaving on the buses to the start an hour before me. I sent them off with a happy good luck and went back to my tent to warm up and get the rest of my clothes on for the race. I was ready and headed for the shuttle with my camelback and my drop bag for after the race. Once we were on the shuttle and on our way conversation started about the cold and the race ahead. I realized I had left my camelback in the laundry mat where I was waiting for the shuttle. Luckily the group in the shuttle wasn’t too mad at me and the driver turned around to get my bag. This also allowed us to be in the warm van a little longer as we had to wait ouside until the start of the race. When the race finally started, I warmed up quickly and couldn’t stop looking around at the beautiful views. The run was over too soon. As I picked up the pace close to the finish, I was able to pass several people and was feeling great. I ended up being 3rd femaile finisher. The weather was perfect so I waited at the start for my friends who were running the 50k while cheering other runners in. Everyone finished and we were back on the shuttle to our camp site. The ride was like a Six Flags roller coaster. Forty minutes of bouncing was enough. We had a great night with a dip in the hot springs and sleep did not slip away from me. Not even the cold could keep me awake. Funny ending to my story… As we were packing up the next day, I gave Amanda back her sleeping bag only to find out that I was sleeping in it insdie out. Hmmmmm maybe that is why I couldn’t get warm! Next time, I will know.