Monday, July 16, 2012
Well, I did it. I ran my first ultra. :D This past Saturday, the 14th, I tackled the Dances with Dirt race at Devil's Lake, WI.
I was shaking scared the night before and sick to my stomach with nerves all day on Thursday. It wasn't so much the distance that scared me (I ran 3 marathons in 5 weeks to prep for the race - including tacking on 2 extra miles to the middle marathon so my longest run was a 28 miler), I felt like my training was solid there and I had 31 miles in my legs. It was the terrain that was scaring me stupid. ;)
It was a really difficult course - incredibly hilly, lots of spots with stupidly bad footing that were unrunnable for someone of my skill level (and I'd say for about 90% of the other runners, too!) and it was a nice humid, hot day. Definitely the toughest trail I've ever run but boy, it was fun (now, in hindsight). I wish I'd been able to look around a bit more at the absolutely stunning scenery but I had to watch my feet like a hawk. I got in one nice digger about 7-8 miles in. Still not sure what I tripped over! Isn't that always how it goes? Smashed my big toe pretty good and gave some blood and skin to the trail gods. Small knee scrape and some elbow bruising, nothing too bad at all! Certainly woke me up and made me pay better attention for the rest of the race, though. I had a lot of near misses and big trips but no other falls. Yay.
The worst part, for me, wasn't the running or the climbing or the falling. I got bit on the upper thigh by a deer fly about the halfway mark and Holy SH!T did that hurt. I have never had any bite by any creature hurt like that. Best part was how paranoid it made me the rest of the run. If I so much as saw a fly buzzing around I started frantically sliding my hands over my rump to make sure nothing was landing on me. Soooooo not an experience I want to repeat. Hah.
I finished in 7:17, including about 25 minutes of pit stops for eating/talking with my crew and having them respray me with bug repellent and fill up my bladder in the hydration pack. Actual running time was sub 7, per my Garmin, which was my silly personal goal. I'm super proud of myself and think I ran a really great first ultra. I'm pleased with my time and happy I didn't do anything too phenomenally stupid to injure myself.
AND, I "won" my first real race! I took third in my division (F30-34) and wasn't that far off the second and first place gals. I got a little flashlight that has sharp, face shredding edges for self defense as my award. Pretty cool! It's the first time I've ever placed in a race that acknowledges such things. I'm still really happy and pleased! I kinda won! Sort of! Close enough!! :D
Feet held up great. No blisters (thanks Injinji socks! You rule!), my new Montrail shoes were great, my gaiters kept rocks and junk out of my shoes just perfectly. Love the Nathan hydration pack I got for this run. Felt like my gear and my fueling were both really solid. My quads and hamstrings are sore but no more sore than they were after my last hilly PR-paced marathon. I woke up day after the race with my whole upper body/core just screaming. Even my forearms ached! I think that was mostly due catching myself during the fall and it's eased back considerably. My shoulders and upper back are still a little achy but not bad at all! :)
The darn fly bite is actually the worst thing! I've got a welt/rashy spot that is literally the size of my palm and about 10 degrees warmer than any other part of my body. Dousing it in calendula and aloe, taking antihistamines and trying not to itch my skin off! Darn awful deer flies are evil little b@stards.
I've got my first 50 milers in August. North Country in Manistee, MI. I've been told that I'll find NC to be a cakewalk compared to DWD since the trail is not technical and the course is mellow. Looking forward to tackling that new distance, too. :D Not scared yet but I'm sure I will be as it gets closer. Just wanted to share. I'm still a bit dazed that I did this thing and that I actually think I did pretty well at it. It feels so dreamlike and far away, but still really awesome.