Saturday, September 26, 2009


You heard right!  Today I completed my first Ultramarathon- a 50K race (that ended up being close to 32 miles!) on hilly trails.  Here's the 'run'down with some pics!

Yes, true story, this was my bib!  No, I did not plan that it would have my blog name on it!  The race was called "Run Woodstock" and it included a bunch of races over the course of the weekend; from a 5K-100 miler!  It was all on trails and they had tons of hippie stuff and bands playing and people camping out everywhere.  Totally "far-out" atmosphere.  I'd had my eye set on this race for awhile since it was a 1st annual and it was only about 30 minutes from my apartment.  There was the 50K, a marathon, and a half marathon set to go off this morning.  I originally planned to do the half and add on for my long run of the week, but as time progressed the 50K's allore grew and grew.  I knew with the hills and trails (both of which I'm not a fan of) I would never be able to go under 1:30 and PR in the half.  Same with the marathon.  Nope, the only way to set a PR today would be to try something new!

I ate a banana and cottage cheese in the car on the way there.  It was pitch dark when I arrived at 6:30 and the tents looked super cool all lit up!  I registered, signed my life away in a waver that all the ultra runners had to sign, then headed back to my car to get ready.

This picture is me trying to be chill, but really just looking tired and stoned.  (they gave out the beads at registration!)

This picture is me saying "Yikes, I'm running 31 miles very soon!"

I headed over to the start just before 7:30.  The 50K, marathon, and half all started at the same time.  We, (the 50K-ers) started with a 5 mile loop, then did a 13+ mile loop twice.  The others just did the 13+ mile loop.  Having no idea what to expect from the course and trying to mentally prepare myself for running for 5+ hours, I decided to keep my pace conservative.  To me, the main appeal of the 50K was being able to go slow, because lately it has been hard running 15K's and 1/2 marathons at 6:50 pace. 

After an anticlimatic "go" we were off!  It was semi-light now and we headed into the trail on the 5 mile loop as a pack.  Quickly, I passed all of the woman and most of the men, which worried me, but my legs weren't ready to go super-slow.  I settled in with two older men.  We talked a bit, but the pace felt slow.  I planned not to look at my Garmin much, but made the mistake of looking at it when I *thought* the loop should be almost over.  Bad call.  It read 2.8 miles.  I thought, "oh man, what am I doing!?!?!"  Going up a hill, I dropped the two guys and was alone.  Finally, I came out into 'base camp.'  5 miles down, 26+ to go....

"Camp" energized me as I headed out for my *1st* half marathon loop.  I spent about 2 miles literally talking to myself outloud.  Yeah, sounds crazy, right?  I was analyzing this job situation I spoke of briefly and it helped to talk it out a bit.  Plus, my pace was slow so I wasn't loosing my breath at all.  4 miles into the loop, I hit the 1st aid station.  I was about 9 miles in and downed a few glasses of dilluted gatorade.  Fun fact about me: I NEVER eat or drink during races.  When I set my marathon PR 2 years ago, I literally ingested no food or liquid.  Probably not the best, but it works for me.  Anyway, I was nervous because I knew with temps in the 60-70 range, and the fact that I would be out there for so long, I would need some energy in the form of calories.  Leaving the aid station, I felt good.  I was trying to break the race down mentally so it wouldn't seem so overwhelming.  The hills were brutal though.  Not gonna lie on that!

As I continued on the first loop, I started to pass half and full marathoners (remember they hadn't done the original 5 mile loop.)  This was actually a highlight of the race because it got really lonely out in the woods and everyone was really encouraging.  And obviously I felt pretty bad ass.  12 miles in was the 'main' aid station, halfway around the big loop.  Everything looked so delicious! PB&Js, trail mix, fig newtons, bananas.  I knew that I couldn't go to solid food though, without training and with still having 19 miles to go.  So I moved on. 

18+ miles into the race, I hit base camp again.  I felt strong and I was really proud of the fact that I had been running the whole time when SO MANY people were walking up the hills.  I knew what to expect on the second loop, which was a blessing and a curse in one.  I had 4 miles until the aid station and all I could think about was the flat coca cola they had.  mmmm.  It sounded so good for some reason and a guy I trained with in the summer told me that he swears by it!  I was hungry, having only ingested the gatorade up to this point.  When I arrived at the oasis, I chugged 2 glasses of coke and a glass of mountain dew!  Delicious!  I knew that the sugar might bother my stomach, but it seemed so much more appealing that a gel or gu (which I've never had!)  About 1/2 mile after leaving that station I felt great!  I was even chanting "Su-gar, su-gar."  Hmmm, yeah 23 miles into it might have had something to do with it.  I knew I had 3 more miles until the "big" aid station, so I continued onward....

** brief pause in this long story for my to go move my laundry from the washer to the dryer...perhaps you should get up and get a snack!

I must say, I never thought that I would not finish.  It wasn't that I was cocky or confident or anything or felt sooo great all the time, there was just no other option!  I was completely disoriented in out in the middle of trails and I had to get back some how!

I arrived at the "big" aid station.  More coke, yum.  The people there were really friendly, and I knew I had 6 miles to go.  I kept saying really corny things in my head like "I'm an ultra-runner!"  And "I'm really doing this!"  I was passing more people who were in different races and I was clicking off the miles.  My form on the hills had deteriorated pretty badly, but that is to be expected.  Finally, my watch clicked over to 30 miles!  I couldn't believe it.  The most I have ran since last May is 15 miles.  The most I've ever run is a full marathon.  This felt like totally uncharted territory and I loved it.  Then I hit 31 miles and was pissed!  Where was the finish??  This is supposed to be a 50K!!!  For some reason this angered me more than I should!  Then, I emerged from the trail, heard the music, and saw base camp!  Yay!  Crossing the finish, I didn't know what to expect.  My legs had been moving for 5 hours and 15 minutes.  Surprisingly, they didn't cramp up.  I immediatly voiced that the race was long to the two guys at the finish!  I said "this was 31.75 miles!"  They were surprised that I had run the 50K, not the marathon and informed me that I was the overall female winner, and that only 6 men had come in before me!  After collecting my random prizes, grabbing a sandwich and a cookie, and soaking my legs in the lake (ahh, good call,) I was on my way home.

Here's the loot.  My bib, and the t-shirt (once again with my blog name on it!)  My pink beads, and the peace-sign metal for winning my age group, and the 'dog-tags' for being a 50K finisher.  Most random is the trophy.  It literally said on the box "Girl Taking Her Jeans Off Trophy."  Random? Yes indeed.  But I told you, it was a random race!

Even more random is the fact that they gave me this plaque with the trophy.  But I'm unsure of where on the "Girl Taking Her Jeans Off" I am supposed to put it??  Oh why oh why couldn't there have just been a sweet cash prize?

And here's the 'official Garmin.'  31.75 miles in 5:16:10, 9:58 mpm pace.  Would I ever in a million years be proud of running that kind of pace?  Not before I saw that course.  But after that course and seeing the karnage of people walking up hills and tripping over tree roots, I am mightly proud of that pace!  I'll be interested to see the results of all the races and how paces compare.

And lastly.....
Food reward!

My sis convinced me to go for a blizzard.  She also said I had to take a pic of it upside down for the blog.  She also said my blog posts are way too long.  So ha!  I took this pic for her, but she had to make it through the worlds-longest-blog-post to get to it!

Me in all my sweaty glory!  I am an ultramarathoner!  Hear me roar!


  1. omg you are crazy. but in an amazingly-wish-i-could-be-like-you way. that's such an awesome accomplishment!

  2. Awesome, awesome job!!! I loved reading your race report!

  3. I cannot believe you ran 31 miles! you should feel like a super beast right now!! I loved reading about your race, and that is the coolest named race ever, I'm so jealous!!

  4. Stephanie (justrun4fun)September 26, 2009 at 10:36 PM

    Congrats Theresa! So fun to read that report and I'm glad you had such a memorable experience! Those are some interesting but cool prizes!

    If I ever run an ultra, that's EXACTLY how it would come about...totally on a whim, like every one o the best or newer races. You da bomb!

    I can't wait to talk to you more...but there's too much to write in an email much less a blog post! But I didn't want you to think I'd abandoned you...cuz u know I cant just leave my hero when she also shares my heart :)


  6. incredible job! i loved reading the report. also, girl taking her jeans off? best trophy ever. major wtf moment when i saw that.