This past weekend I accomplished something that four years ago I never thought existed let alone something I would even attempt or train for and then go out and do. I started out this year eyeing what I would achieve this year. My goals were centered around spending family time, bagging peaks and enjoying the backcountry (especially with my kids). I have never been a huge fan of racing because of the pressure and strain that it seems to put on the joy of running for me. Well I knew that if I wanted to reach new distances and accomplish more that I would need to target a race. It happened to be an early season 50k out on Antelope Island. Saturday that came to fruition as I successfully completed my first ever ultra at the Buffalo Run 50k in under 8 hours.

I learned a lot during my run out on the island this weekend. Here are a few of my takeaways.

Time doesn’t matter

Yes, there are often cutoffs in major endurance races, but you shouldn’t worry too much about the time. It is good to have goals, but the key is really to get to the finish. Often when you get too focused on time you end up pushing too hard and burning out. I had set a realistic goal, but ran to finish where I knew that I would stay comfortable.

Your GPS battery will likely die

If your going to to rock the GPS watch then make sure it has a long battery life. The one that I used died when I still had my last 6 miles to go. This was a little frustrating, but also made for a worry free finish as I wasn’t focusing on time or pace, but just enjoying the time out there. It would be nice to look back and analyze the data however.

Ibuprofen or some other anti-inflammatory can be great

I was really feeling stiff after about mile 18 and I pushed through to 21 at the next aid station. It never crossed my mind to take anything, but another runner offered me some Ibuprofen and I decided to take 400 mg. Normally I would not take Ibuprofen on a run and especially experiment with new things on nutrition. It was a gamble, but I figured if I ate something solid I should be okay. I pushed through the next half mile and then my legs relaxed and my body came back to life. I was able to run well for the remaining 10 miles. Nothing blistering, but much better than I fear it would have been. Luckily this did not come back to haunt me at any point over the next 10 miles. I think that on every long run from now on I will be bringing Ibuprofen. There are risks with this and hopefully something like fish oil will work just as well so that I can find a natural solution. I will be experimenting with this over the next little bit.

Some of the other key things that I learned from my first ultra

  • Salty potato chips are amazing
  • Just keep running
  • The trail is amazing!
  • Your body is more capable than you think
  • If you think you have enough salt with you you probably don’t
  • No matter what, have a drop bag

The race was great, but the day came with its disappointments. Leslie was running the 50 miler out threat the same time. She went to bed the night before excited and ready to compete, but had been dealing with a quad issue this past week. Well, that quad tear got to her at about mile 15 and she attempted to work through it, but was unsuccessful and had to pull out of the race at 20 miles. I felt horrible that she was not able to complete her race and goal. What was even worse was that she had stepped away from the finish line when I finished so she wasn’t able to watch me finish.

It was a great feeling to complete such a distance. This felt much better than my marathon did last year. The opportunity to be fit and capable to run these distances and find so much joy in doing so is helping to more fully enjoy life.